Paradigm shift: Marriage priorities

Happiness in marriage is not about finding a spouse who always acts the way we want them to. It is about two imperfect people trusting in a perfect God and conforming to His will and purpose for them. That's a marriage God can bless!
~ Joyce Meyer, Promises for your Everyday Life--A Daily Devotional

I've had a shift in my thinking about marriage. Four years ago, when the ink was drying on my divorce papers, I thought that irreconcilable differences could be avoided if you found the person who made you happy—Mr. or Mrs. Right. As I've been walking with Jesus, I've learned that thinking is about as far from the truth as you can get and still be alive and breathing.

Now I believe marriage hinges on the two things that Jesus said were the greatest commandments: Love God, and love people. Follow my husband as he follows God. Serve and support my husband as God makes him into the mighty man of God he's called to be. Love God, and love people.

Are you still reading?

OK, good because I wouldn't want you to take my paradigm shift to mean that I have no desire for happiness and joy and plan to be some sort of marital martyr.

The plan is that as I love God and love my husband, I'll receive love, too. I haven't experienced this in a marital context (yet!), but I can tell you this works with my daughter. I love and serve her, and she loves and serves me, and we end up unintentionally trying to outdo each other because we're both committed to loving our Lord. (She's seven and very sweet.)  I believe wholeheartedly that God's plan for marriage is the same. So I plan to make that a priority when I remarry because for me, God, love, and serving are all essential ingredients for a true happiness in marriage.

Here's a blog with a perspective on marriage that I think you should read: Marriage Isn't For You by Seth Adam Smith. Enjoy!

The similarity between cups and cameras

Cups and cameras. I don't believe I've ever used both in the same sentence, but after last night both are irrevocably linked in my mind. In Nicaragua, I served in the kitchen at Centro Escolar LifeLink washing vasos or cups. (I actually washed lots of dishes, but I'll always remember the sound of the cups hitting the bottom of the deep metal sink.) At Victory World Church, I serve on the Production Team doing graphics and sometimes (like last night) I serve on camera.

Let me back up in my story a little: One big thing I do differently post-mission trip is listen better. If you'd asked me, I would've told you I was a good listener, but in Nicaragua, I realized that I listen with about 50% of my attention. I think the other 50% was spent deciding what to say next or listing why I disagreed with what was being said. Now I do speak passable survival Spanish, but that was no match for the foreign language immersion I experienced last week. So I learned to listen. Fully engaged, 100% active listening, where I hung on every word and inflection like my life depended on it because in truth my ability to really help depended on understanding what was being said. Yes, we had translators. The LifeLink missionaries are all bilingual, but during the snack and lunch rush, I wouldn't have been useful if I needed to run out for a translator every five minutes. And I wanted to help, not be an accessory putting in time so I could say that I'd been there.

Who knew that being on camera during service basically gives you the same experience?

To me, serving with a spirit of excellence on camera at Victory comes down to listening to your director's lead. Not unlike my experience with cups in Nicaragua.

Doribel and Margarita needed cups washed at certain times and in a particular order so that there were always enough cups, bowls, and spoons for the children. (Real cups, bowls, and spoons by the way. Not the disposables we use here.) No one wants hungry children standing at the lunch counter, and let me tell you, those ladies work with a spirit of excellence and run a tight ship. Our director needs shots and all the other things camera do done at certain times and in a particular order so that we capture the service with excellence. No one wants a guest or member to miss an encounter with the Holy Spirit. And yes, God is more than able, but when I'm on graphics or camera, I don't want someone distracted from worship or the message because of me. 

So last night, I brought my new active listening skills from the LifeLink Cocina de Victoria to the Victory Norcross Campus. I wish I could tell you I didn't make any mistakes, but I can tell you that I had an amazing experience serving that cemented being a better listener as one big thing that I'll do differently going forward.

PS - The photo on the left is of me in mi cocina, and you best believe that these days not one of you can touch me when it comes to clearing out a kitchen sink! ;-)

Be blessed and thanks for reading. More soon...

Cray cray confirmation

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him— (1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV)

Last Saturday, I made a hard decision to follow the Holy Spirit on an important situation in my life. No, I don't audibly hear from God. What I do receive often is confirmation of things I read in scripture that I just know apply to me or confirmation of the knowing I believe I receive from the Holy Spirit about things I need to do or say. 

I got back from my life-changing mission trip to serve LifeLink International in Nicaragua fairly bursting with faith. There's truly something amazing that comes from going away and spending extended quality time with our God. (I guess like Jesus would often do.) And since there was fasting and praying about the situation last week, I know that being filled up on my mission trip definitely helped me make the decision I had to last Saturday. 

So waking up to this verse on Sunday morning was cray cray (crazy) confirmation for me because I know that out of the sacrifice I've agreed to make God is going to do wonderfully and abundantly more than I can imagine. He wants to do that for all of us. Sometimes (OK, most times!) it's just hard to release my pride and my point of view to open up to God's plans and purposes for my life because I can't readily see or even understand what's waiting over the hill. With my personality type that's KOABD, but I remind myself that I should live with a heart wide open because God has good intentions toward me and wants to bless my socks off.

I think that's a good thing, and I can't wait for more confirmation as I move forward post-mission trip. 

More Nicaragua-related posts to come soon!


Suds of solidarity

Hugs. Back rubs. Laughter. Sweets. More hugs and more laughter.

Wash. Or as Linda called it, "Busting those suds!" Rinse. Dry. Repeat.

Wednesday was filled with the rhythm of the kitchen and more bonding with Doribel, Margarita, Doris, and Christina. Linda and I were drawn even more into the amazing thing that happens when women work together toward a goal. I don't even have a word for that that thing is, but I'll definitely accept suggestions because that thing is a think of God and extremely powerful.

It produces momentum... We cleared snack cups and lunch cups and lunch dishes on a dime for all the students coming to the kitchen. 

It produces grace that covers mistakes... I wasn't run out the kitchen when I sliced the tomatoes for our team's lunch the wrong way or when I passed a tray of empty cups to be handed to the children. 

It produces love that looks out for each other... Like when Doris waggled her finger at me for hunching over the sink, and then rubbed out the soreness in my back. 

Sure, Linda and I made mistakes, but the ladies corrected us with smiles and teased us with laughter. Maybe Wednesday was even better because we went to Doribel and Margarita's church on Tuesday evening. Linda shared an amazing message about not letting doubt and discouragement keep you from your God-given purpose. Or maybe we had this experience because we're foreigners and hosts of Mike and Deborah Turner from LifeLink International. I can see why that would be the case, but I'd still love to be able to bottle the solidarity of the past four days and apply my experiences to team situations I've come across in ministry and at work. 

On Thursday, Doribel said she the others could leave but that she was going to chain Linda and I to the sink. I know they'll miss our help on Friday with the fifth member of their team, Rosa, still out. But I think they'll also miss the laughter and fun we've had, especially after we'd clear the children and our team's lunch things away and chat while resting our feet.

I know I will.

#thingsiforgot Part 1

>> How important bleach is for hygiene and disease prevention. 

>> How much fun you can have chasing small children. 

>> That the kitchen is truly the heart of any home... or school. 

>> Hugs cross language and cultural borders. 

>> High fives are universal even if you don't know what they're called in Spanish. 

>> Music is a common language.