Friday Uplift, 2/27/15

“Even before a word is on my tongue O Lord, you know it completely.  You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.”  Psalm 139:4-5

Last week I said I was going to “spend a few weeks in psalm 139”, and so we continue into verses 4 and 5.

Verse 5 of psalm 139 has been sticking out to me today.
“You hem me in”
I looked up that word, “hem” in the original Hebrew is this word “tsuwr” which means to confine, or shut in, or enclose.
I love that image of being surrounded by God, of God enclosing me.
God is on all sides.
God is before me and behind me.
Instead of feeling claustrophobic, it ends up making me feel secure and safe.
There’s a song that we’ve sung at church a few times, called “Future/Past” that comes to mind when I hear this psalm.  The song says,
“You, you are my first, you are my last,
you are my future and my past.”
(Watch/listen to it here)
This is God to us.
Before us.
Behind us.
In the past.
In the future.
All around us.
And what is God doing with us?
The end of verse 5 reminds us that God isn’t just watching us from far away, but laying a hand on us…
In almost every occurrence in scripture, the laying on of God’s hand indicates blessing or healing.
That is the promise of this verse.
God surrounds you, encloses you within his loving, healing touch.
I hope you feel that hand of God on you today.
Be blessed.

Friday Uplift, 2/20/15

Almost missed the chance to Friday uplift! I hope I catch you all before bed tonight… otherwise, consider this your weekend uplift 🙂

“Oh Lord you have searched me and know me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you know my thoughts from far away. You search it my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my days.” Psalm 123: 1-3

I was thinking I’d do a few weeks on psalm 139. There’s so much comfort in this song, and a reminder that when things seem to be less than perfect, or out of normal, God is in it with us.
I was reading a book today and one of the author’s main points was that humans have two basic needs: to be loved, and to belong.
And the way we can best have those needs meet is by being authentic and being known. When we are known, then we are loved and belong because of those things that make us who we are.

Yet so often we try to find love and belonging in the wrong places, just to fill us up.
But it’s like junk food.
It’s great in the moment, but feels horrible later.
Looking for love and belonging is the same… we try and try to fill the space with people and relationships and work and still we are missing something.
See, when we look to God for love and belonging, we will always get what we are looking for.

This verse was the first to pop into my head. God knows me. Better than anyone ever can or ever will. And even though God knows all of me, the good and the bad, and still loves me? Holy. Cow.
God knows you… And he loves you… ALL of you.

Remember that promise, take it with you, but remember.


Project 12:30 Update

Just wanted to put a little project update out there, for any of you who follow.
This intimacy exercise has done a few things for my marriage at the halfway point:

1. It’s shown how little time we regularly take to intentionally talk about our marriage, our hopes, our dreams, etc.  It’s been a really lovely time.

2. Also, it has reminded me just how little work it actually is to take that time for each other.  Sure, we’re both tired, we’re both busy… there are other things we CAN do… but 30 minutes is really not that much in the grand scheme of the evening, and even just that simple 30 minutes a day can do so much.

3. Some of the questions from the list I posted at the start (find it here) are really not great at fostering conversation (cough cough 6,7, 15…).  But some are just lovely and have brought up interesting conversations.  Last night we were on #22… and the question was “alternate sharing something you consider a positive attribute of your partner, share at least 5 times.”  Man oh man.  Even if you aren’t doing this daily intimacy exercise along with me this month, I HIGHLY encourage you to do just this one on your next date night or intentional conversation night.  Oh all the feels.  And not just the feels, but really hearing the ways you are appreciated and loved for being uniquely you is just about the most wonderful thing to hear.  So do it.  Thank me later.
I think that’s it for now.
There is still time to jump into this intimacy exercise… see the February begins post for how to do it.
If nothing else, this month has shown me that SO FEW people take the time to work on their marriage daily.  We just become robots, or roommates, or business partners.  And while none of those are bad, I think they just aren’t what marriage is supposed to be about.
Anyway, all that to say that it is never too late to start creating good habits in your relationships.  No matter if you’ve been married 20 years or dating ten minutes –  it’s never too late.

Friday Uplift, (02/13/2015)

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe”  Psalm 18:10

Sometimes the things we have put our trust in get a little shaky.
We trust in our health, in our bodies.
We trust in relationships.
We trust in our careers.
And then things happen….
We hear “you have cancer”
“I don’t think I want to be married anymore”
“I’m sorry we’re going to have to let you go”
and suddenly we aren’t sure how to stay standing on such a unstable foundation.
I love this verse for two reasons:
It’s a reminder that when life seems uncertain, when we are shaken, the Lord is strong.  “A strong tower.”
It makes me think of those lighthouses that have been through centuries of storms and still stand tall.
That is God for us.  When we put our trust in God, nothing will be able to knock us down. Not the strongest wind, not the wildest storm.
Notice how this verse says that the righteous “run to it.”
Which to me implies that they are not there to begin with.  It doesn’t say the the strong tower protects those who are there the whole time, it says it is there for those who run to it.
So if you’ve put your trust in something else, and that trust is being rocked, know that strong tower is waiting.
Always there.
Run to it, and be safe.

Friday Uplift, 1/30/2015

I realized today (Monday) that I didn’t post Friday’s uplift… so here it is… late but still uplifting.

The LORD did not set his affections on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all people.  But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.  Know therefore that the LORD your God is God:  he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.”  Deuteronomy 7:7-9

This isn’t the most typical uplift, because this isn’t the most well-known Bible verse.  But it is a verse that, while obscure, has provided me with a lot of comfort.
It starts with a lesson in humility.
The backhanded compliment in the beginning of this text is kind of funny – “God doesn’t love you because you’re great, in fact you’re just the opposite”
It’s a not so subtle reminder for me to be humble.
I’m not all that.
It’s not what I do or how awesome I am that makes God love me.
God loves me because God has promised to love me.
No matter what.
It reminds me of this quote from Glennon Melton:
“I’m confident because I’m a child of God, I’m humble because everyone else is too”
This text is just one big reminder that God loves us.
That God has promised to love us, and will continue to love us, just as he always has.

And sometimes, that’s all I need.
When I’m having a dark day, a hard day, or a day where I’m just “off”…
I think the best thing is sit quietly with this promise:
God loves me.
Not for who I am or what I do, but simply because God is love.
And God has promised to be love.

So take some time, light a candle, and sit quietly in the reminder of this promise today: “the LORD your God is God: he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love”

12:30 Project Update – January ends, February begins.

So January has come and gone… wowza.  When did THAT happen?!

That means Water Month is done and on to the next.
I DO think my habits have drastically changed in reference to water, and I’m not sure I’ll make it to the gallon every day, but I do think I require a lot more water now than I used to.

So, to recap, things I learned in my month of drinking a gallon of water a day:
1. A Gallon is A LOT of water.  That last 10-20 ounces makes a HUGE difference.
2. What goes in, must come out.
3. I did not get sick once. Though people around me were sick, I managed to squeak by without the crud.  It could be a combination of things, but I think the water was the main factor.
4. When I drink other things, I drink less water.  This is a DUH point, I know, but when I have a beer with dinner, or coffee in the morning, I drink less water.  The body only has room for so much liquid, and it’s pretty eye-opening to realize the cost of each drink you have that isn’t water.
5. Same goes for caloric intake.  I eat and snack less the more water I drink.  Funny how often I thought I was hungry when really I was just thirsty.

I think that’s it.
I’m aiming to keep this going, at around 100 ounces a day.  The 128-ounces (gallon) whenever it’s possible.

So that brings us to February.
Which I originally labeled as sex.
This sex month idea all started when I read an article about being married with kids where the author said she didn’t just want to be roommates who happen to be raising a kids together.  This was a powerful image for me… and one that I think a LOT of people can relate to.  I don’t think Sam and I are there now, but we are pretty intentional about not becoming that way.  After a busy week of working, including getting to the gym, evening meetings, and difficult parenting moments, sometimes it’s all we can do to stay awake by the time Layla goes to bed.  And usually I don’t even do that. So to stay awake and then expect us to remain engaged and intimate is a LOT to ask.
This risk – the easy ability to fall into habits that are roommate like, and not marriage-like – is something I want to avoid at all costs.  I love Sam.  He’s my person.  And while I cannot imagine a scenario where I’m not married to him, I can see how easy it would be to develop habits that turn us into roommates and not spouses.

So what does that mean?
Well, originally I thought February’s “project” would be sex once a day with my hubs.  And while that wouldn’t be bad, or impossible, I’ve wondered (as has Sam) if this will turn something good into a chore.  As in, we HAVE to do this as a part of the project, instead of something we WANT to do.  Nobody wants that.
But this is still an important part of my 12:30 project, and I’m committed to it, so I think what I’m going to aim for is 30 minutes of intentional couple time per day to promote intimacy.  Layla goes to bed at 7:30… Sam and I usually are there by 10 or 10:30.  That’s three hours where we work, read, watch tv, surf the internet, etc.  If, in that three hours, I cannot spare 30 minutes for my marriage, then I think there’s another conversation to be had.
So – 30 minutes a day to promote intimacy.
Here are the parameters, in case you want to do this with your spouse this month:
1. No phones, tv, music, or any other electronics
2. Physical contact required (even just holding hands) unless not in the same house
3. Each day we’ll ask one of these 36 questions, starting with 1-4 today, 5-9 tomorrow, 10-12 on Wednesday, and then one each day until the end of the month.
4. Four minutes of eye contact (from above mentioned linked article)

That’s it.
If it leads to sex – great!
If it doesn’t – that’s ok too.
But this changes the focus – and for the better, I think.

Lastly, while I am open and perfectly comfortable talking about this kind of stuff (probably from my youth ministry years), this month’s theme takes 2, and so Sam’s level of comfort cannot and will not be discounted.  And since he hasn’t spent 10 years of his life talking to teenagers about sex and relationships, his comfort level is significantly lower than mine.
So I won’t be daily blogging this stuff.  I won’t be talking about my sex life on the internet.
But what I will be doing is reflect on the questions and my reactions, as well as how I’m feeling as the month progresses.  Sam’s feelings and privacy are important, and I want to respect them.

WHEW!!!  That was  A LOT OF BLOG.

But if you are married, or in a significant relationship, I do hope that you join me in this month of the 12:30 project.  It won’t be easy, but I do think the best things usually aren’t.