What’s on your bookshelf?

I love words.

Ergo, I love books.  And anything that collates words.

If I could, I would spend all of my spare money on books, however seeing as spare money is a fable in my parts, the amount of books I own is inversely disproportionate to  the amount of books I read.  I am so very grateful for the amazing library we have here in our town, and the generosity of fellow book-loving friends, which means I have an endless supply of material to satisfy my craving to consume words.

Anne over at Modern Mrs Darcy is hosting a link up for we bibliophiles to share our love for all things book related – what we read, where we read, where we store it all.  At the moment, the vast majority of our books are stored in boxes in the garage while our back room is (slowly) being made-over.  So for now, my books are contained to my little bedside table shelf:

bookshelf

Books in current ‘rotation’ live on top of the table and I pick up whatever I feel like reading at the time.  On the shelf at the moment:

books

On the list at the moment (in no particular order) –

Train Like A Mother – Sarah Bowen Shea & Dimity McDowell.  Trying to kick my more-comfortable-on-the-couch-with-a-book bum into gear (by reading a book.  Yep, I see the irony), and I love how these ladies write and encourage.

The Power of a Praying Wife/Parent/Woman – Stormie Omartian.  This has become my go-to book for simple, relevant, relateable insight and wisdom.  I really relate to Stormie’s experiences and writing, and I love her heart for seeking and pressing into God.

Reading Like A Writer – Francine Prose.  I haven’t started this one yet, but picked it up from the library on recommendation of some writer bloggers whose art I love.

Sacred Rhythms – Ruth Haley Barton.  This book.  This book is permanently on my bedside table.  I’ve read through it completely once, and am working through it again.  It’s definitely a one-chapter-at-a-time read for me, I need to let the words sit and marinate and take root in me – not an overnight experience!

Lord, Teach Me To Study The Bible In 28 Days – Kay Arthur.  I’m normally somewhat allergic to ‘Do this in 1-2-57 steps/days/practices’ etc etc, but I love Kay Arthur’s inductive study technique, and I’m starting with this book to get into the habit of delving into the word each day.

Lead Me, Holy Spirit: Longing To hear The Voice Of God – Stormie Omartian – This has become another one-chapter-at-a-time book, simply because it is so rich and makes my brain work to take in and absorb what I’m reading.  So inspiring and encouraging, again Stormie’s heart for connecting with the Trinity shows through her words.

I Quit Sugar – Sarah Wilson.  I love sugar probably as much as I love books.  Only I hate what it does to my body.  I definitely have an addictive nature when it comes to sugar, and I love this post from Anne about the real danger of sugar in our diet.  I’ve realised I am most definitely an abstainer, it’s all-or-nothing when it comes to sugar.  Sarah is a passionate advocate of the benefit of a sugar-free life, and her book is a very easy-to-read, often confronting but encouraging guide to eliminating sugar from your diet, without missing out on the sweet things in life.

Knits Men Want – Bruce Weinstein.  My eldest son (16) asked me to knit him a jumper (sweater).  A simple, fitted jumper ‘like my school jumper’.  I was barely able to contain my joy at this request, and I totally underplayed the whole thing for fear of scaring him off with my wildly rampant ecstasy that HE. ASKED. ME. TO. KNIT. HIM. SOMETHING!!!!  Turns out finding a pattern for a very simple, fitted, casual jumper wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, and I’m not confident enough to make my own pattern up yet.  Ravelry to the rescue, and a quick search on my library database had this gem delivered to my doorstep.  Mission accomplished!

Streams In The Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings – Mrs Charles E Cowman.  A dear friend gave this to me when I was baptised 7 years ago, and whilst it’s lain forgotten off an on over the years, it it a wonderfully rich source of inspiration and encouragement.

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are – Ann Voskamp.  What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this beautiful creation?  I haven’t actually finished reading it the whole way through yet, and for me, it’s been because it’s been so confronting.  I struggle with finding joy every day, in the very day, because I tend to get weighed down by all the stuff of life.  I’m in a season now where I need the truth of Ann’s words, as hard as they may be for me to read and start living out every single day.

Help. Thanks. Wow: The Three Essential Prayers – Anne Lamott.  New on my current reading pile, loving what I’ve read so far.

Bird By Bird: Some Instructions On Writing And Life – Anne Lamott.  I’ve been waiting to read this ever since I first discovered it on a writer’s blog (not sure whom it was exactly, so many of my favourite bloggers recommend this treasure!).  Again, loving what I’ve read so far, and so encouraged and inspired by how Anne breaks down the writing process to a ‘one inch square’ view.  I can do that.

Principles of the Enneagram – Karen A Webb.  Anne introduced me to the Enneagram personality typing, and as with MBTI (I’m an INFJ, for the record), I’ve been able to tangibly realise nuances and elements of my personality that I couldn’t quite articulate before.  This was the first book I found and ordered through my library, I’m going to look for more Christian-centred, in-depth writings on the subject.  Any recommendations welcomed!

A Reliable Wife – Robert Goolrick.  Another blogger recommendation, through the first chapter so far, verdict’s still out on this one.

Too Much Happiness – Alice Munro.  Winning this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature brought Alice to my attention, especially the description of her writing as being ‘observations of life around her’.  I haven’t read much in the way of short stories, but I’m finding that they’re perfect for this current phase of my life, where my reading time is limited to a chapter at a time, and I’m looking forward to discovering more short story writers.

The Creative Habit: Learn It And Use It For Life – Twyla Tharp.  Yet another blogger recommendation, and one that’s really resonating with me even in the early stages of the book.  Tharp uses her extensive experience as an artist to frame the ‘how to’ of developing creative habits – life habits, really – in a tangible way that doesn’t leave you thinking ‘I’m not an artist like she is, I can’t do that’.  Loving this read so far.

kindle

My current Kindle reads:

A Million Little Ways: Uncover The Art You Were Made To Live – Emily P. Freeman.  I discovered Emily’s blog last year, and have inhaled every word she’s written ever since.  So many times I find a part of my heart singing, I breathe ‘yes’ to so many words, I squirm when I’m challenged by her questions and musings and just all. the words.  This book, Emily’s third (but the first one I’ve read), is all this and so much more.  It is re-defining what I understand of art, of living as an artist, of just showing up every day and being the image-bearer God created me to be.  I’ll be ordering a physical copy to live on my bedside table, because this is not a single-read book.

Abundant Simplicity: Discovering The Unhurried Rhythms Of Grace – Jan Johnson.  Tsh Oxenreider’s list of summer reading brought this collection of inspiration to me.  It’s yet another one-chapter-at-a-time read, one that I’ve taken copious notes on and am on my way to filling a couple of notebooks with reflections and responses to Jan’s words and questions.  I’m finding it challenging, confronting, and sometimes my answers leave a sour taste in my mouth – not because of the writing, but because of what comes out of me in response.

One Thousand Gifts Devotional – Ann Voskamp.  A beautiful accompaniment to ‘One Thousand Gifts’, learning to find joy in the every day.

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual – Michael Pollan. My whole view and philosophy on food and it’s place in my life has been changing over the last few years, and I often feel that the more I learn, the more I want to bury my head in the sand and pretend that everything’s ok.  Only it’s not.  Due to some health issues I’m having to redefine what is ok for me and what’s not, but it’s more than that – I want to use food in a way that leaves minimum impact on the environment, and that nourishes my family well.  I’m only early into this one, but can already sense that this will be a great ‘how to’ for this process.

The Creative Call: An Artist’s Response to the Way of the Spirit – Janice Elsheimer.  I struggle with focus and direction, especially when it comes to creativity.  I’ve been working through ‘The Creative Call’ off and on for a while now, and know that each time I put it down, it’s because I’m challenged and become fearful.  To quote Jon Acuff, it’s time to punch fear in the face, and let Love rule (that last bit was all Lenny).

I thought this would be a quick little post to link up with Anne and discover what fellow bloggers are reading.  Not so much!  But it was fun, now I’m looking forward to finding inspiration and add to my ever-growing ‘to read’ list.

Any recommendations?  This list has been a bit light-on with fiction, I’d love to find some new authors to dig into.

I am here

 

I originally wrote this post just over 6 months ago on a previous blog, and came across it whilst looking for some work to re-post while I do some ‘behind the scenes’ work on this new space.  Funny, very little has changed in the last 6 months, and what I wrote still reflects where I am right now.

via

I read a lot.  Not as much as I used to (i.e. before kids.  And knitting.), but still a lot.  Blogs, books, magazines (IRL and online), e-mail, newlsetters, general miscellaneous.  So I take in a lot of information, and am still constantly surprised by how God uses what I read to speak to me at certain times in my life.

Now would be one of those times.

When I started this blog (a whole two posts ago), I wrote about how I’m trying to work out who I am (oh dear, yes, I get how pretentious that sounds…).  I’m figuring that I’m on the right track with exploring this path, because over the last few days, it seems that everything I’ve read has been bringing my focus back to this journey.  Nothing more so than Emily Freeman’s e-mail newsletter that landed in my inbox today (if there’s one thing I would encourage you to do today, it’s to go and meet Emily.  And sign up for her newsletter, I promise you won’t be disappointed!).

Emily recounts a story of going to a mall and having to work out where she was, which meant going to a map and looking for the red dot on the map that tells you where you are.  She then goes on to talk about an experience of having to introduce herself at a retreat, and being instructed to ‘share your red dot’.  Where she was right there and then – not her past, and not her future.  Her present.

In trying to work out what to do, to work out where to go, I haven’t stopped to see where I am.

Where my red dot is, right now.

I keep reflecting on where I’ve come from, and setting goals of where I want to go – all good exercises in seeking God and His purpose for me, but how do I move forward if I don’t know where I’m planted right now?

Huh.

Right now?

I’m tired.

There’s an ever-present longing.

I want to cry, but I can’t.

I’ve become so good at managing and containing my emotions (i.e. not letting them out), that I can’t even feel the fullness of the joy and gratitude I’m living right now.

God has answered my longest, most desired prayer in the fullness that He promised, and it still feels like something’s missing.

My house and daily life is a mess.

I feel like I’m constantly playing catch up at home and at work.

I’m re-evaluating my priorities with my time committments, and making some hard choices.

I am blessed beyond measure.

There is so much I want to write right now to temper what I’ve said, to balance what I’ve written with the positive take on things, and it’s really hard for me not to, because all that above?  Feels so whingy and whiny, but it’s where I am right now.

Maybe it is whingy and whiny.  And selfish.  And self-indulgent.

Even so, it’s honest, it’s me and my life right now, and might be the most truthful thing I’ve written in a while.

I’ve been encouraged by these ladies and their honesty in the last few days (and weeks), and I know I’m not on my own in this time of life.  Not in my real life, or in my online life.  I have been so encouraged – and challenged – by reading words that come from a real person’s heart, and grateful that they have had the courage to share, to lay their words bare for me to be blessed by.

I had the absolute joy to take part in a live Influence Network class today, hosted by the beautiful Ellen Parker (being home sick has to bring *some* joy, surely!!)  My participation was somewhat fragmented, as my internet connection dropped in and out, but I was so filled with joy and encouragement by Ellen’s teaching and the other ladies, and I was reminded, yet again, just how much God has created us to share, to teach and to connect.  To think and explore, and to dwell.

I am here.  Wherever ‘here’ is.  And I will be content in the knowledge that here is where I’m supposed to be (somebody please remind me of that when I get all whiny again…….)

Day 31: In the end, and for now

This life we live?  This crazy beautiful, heartbreaking, wondrous life?  It does all have a purpose, despite that feeling of wandering lost in the wilderness at times.  Often, if you’re anything like me.

But one day, one day, it will all make sense.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13: 11-12)

Right now, we think and see and live with earthly-based minds, because that’s where we are – in the here and now, down on this earth.  But on that day, that glorious day, when life and love all comes to completion in the heavens , and we come face-to-face with the One who loves us more than we can possibly fathom, everything will fall in to place, and we won’t be left wandering or wondering anymore.

For today, tomorrow, and all the days to come we have to live out here on earth, in amongst the people we love and don’t-love-yet, we have a job to do, a direction to follow that has been given to us so clearly, there cannot be any doubt.

We are to love.

Actively.

Every. Single. Day.

Even when it’s hard.

Even when it’s really hard.

Even when it feels like we need to turn ourselves inside out just to summon up one skerrick of love-as-God-tells-us.

This is who we are created to be, this is how God intended for us to live amongst each other.  And He sent His precious son Jesus to teach us this.  Even though the teaching involved pain beyond anything we can imagine.

This is why love is the biggest, the most, the greatest.

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (1 Corinthian 13: 13, The Message)

Trust steadily.

Hope unswervingly.

Love extravagantly.

Right now, in my tired, worn out state, I can barely even begin to fathom what it takes to love extravagantly – what comes to mind is that it means to love like God.  To love each other like God loves us.

Without fear.

Without anger.

With hope, and patience, and endurance.

Writing about love, real love for 31 days has shown me that there is so much I have to learn, to discover, to embrace, I feel like I’ve only skimmed my fingertips across the surface of the His truth, of what it is He wants us to know and to breathe deep.

Love is the greatest.

Day 30: Love wins. Every time.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be cancelled. (1 Corinthians 13:8-10, The Message)

Love never fails.

Not now, not ever.

In the end, when this world as we know it is gone and we are living in the heavenly realms with the One who is love, it is love that will endure, not any spiritual giftings or anything else.

But for now, it is love that keeps going, love that never gives up, never gives in, never fails us.

When we choose to love, we are choosing victory and triumph over despair and hopelessness.  I know this, because I chose love, even when it seemed impossible, and He who is love defined made the way for the impossible to become so very real.

My husband and I are living proof that love never dies, love always wins, despite how things may appear at times.  Love changes, yes, and there are peaks and troughs and ebbs and flows, but it is always living and breathing within us.  And that’s because God is love, and whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4: 16).

I’ll leave you with this song that speaks so beautifully of this truth – love never fails, God never fails, even when we do.

Day 25: Love finds goodness.

‘Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth’ (1 Corinthians 13:6 – NIV)

I have to admit, I struggled with this verse when I was fleshing it out, trying to put into words what it means.  All I could think was that true love looks past the faults of the people we love, and looks for the goodness in them.

It’s taken me this long to think of It (duh), but I remembered that there have been great scholars who have delved deep, deep, deep into God’s words to help us understand them.  Matthew Henry has this to say about the verse:

The matter of its joy and pleasure is here suggested: 1. Negatively: It rejoiceth not in iniquity. It takes no pleasure in doing injury or hurt to any. It thinks not evil of any, without very clear proof. It wishes ill to none, much less will it hurt or wrong any, and least of all make this matter of its delight, rejoice in doing harm and mischief. Nor will it rejoice at the faults and failings of others, and triumph over them, either out of pride or ill-will, because it will set off its own excellences or gratify its spite. The sins of others are rather the grief of a charitable spirit than its sport or delight; they will touch it to the quick, and stir all its compassion, but give it no entertainment. It is the very height of malice to take pleasure in the misery of a fellow-creature. And is not falling into sin the greatest calamity that can befal one? How inconsistent is it with Christian charity, to rejoice at such fall!

2. Affirmatively: It rejoiceth in the truth, is glad of the success of the gospel, commonly called the truth, by way of emphasis, in the New Testament; and rejoices to see men moulded into an evangelical temper by it, and made good. It takes no pleasure in their sins, but is highly delighted to see them do well, to approve themselves men of probity and integrity. It gives it much satisfaction to see truth and justice prevail among men, innocency cleared, and mutual faith and trust established, and to see piety and true religion flourish.

Turns out I wasn’t too far off the mark in my understanding.

Look past the faults of those we love.

Don’t revel in their failings.

Delight in their strengths and goodness.

Love truth and justice.

Find the goodness and ignore everything else.

 

Day 24: Love doesn’t keep score

Forgiveness

via pinterest

We’re at the end of 1 Corinthians 13:5 – “Love……..it keeps no records of wrongs’ (NIV).

‘Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others’ (Msg)

Holding a grudge.

Tit for tat.

One-upmanship.

In short, unforgiveness.

This is what love doesn’t do.

It is very easy to hold a grudge against someone, to not forget when they hurt us, or do the wrong thing by us.  We are wronged by people every single day.  Usually by more than one person.  If you think about it, that’s a lot to hold on to.  And keep track of.  And think about what they should do to make it up to us.

Love doesn’t do that.

Love doesn’t hold a grudge.

Love doesn’t keep record of how people hurt us.

Love forgives.

Plain and simple.

I love this. I have forgiven those who did me wrong and have chosen to not have a hateful attitude to them. I pray for them daily and hope one day maybe we can be friends again

via pinterest

I can’t cover forgiveness in one topic, but the best explanation I’ve heard of forgiveness isn’t saying to someone ‘it’s ok’ or ‘it doesn’t matter’, it’s saying ‘you don’t owe me anything anymore’.  It’s saying to the other person ‘yes, you hurt me, but you don’t need to make up for it, I release you of any obligation’.  It’s not just forgetting what happened, and it doesn’t mean that work doesn’t have to be done to repair the damage in a relationship, but it’s letting go of a continual expectation on someone that they have to ‘pay’ for what they’ve done.

Forgiveness

via pinterest

And if you’re keeping score, holding things against people for how they’ve hurt you, and expecting them to ‘pay’ for it, you can guarantee that there are a whole lot of people out there thinking the same of you.  How much easier would it be to just let it all go?  To just drop what we’re carrying, because really, carrying stuff around is really hard work – emotionally as well as physically.  I once heard Dr Phil say that carrying emotional baggage is like having a pair of suitcases that you carry around with you all the time, constantly following you from place to place and they get really heavy.

Forgiveness

via pinterest

How much easier would it be to put the suitcases of unforgiveness down and just walk away?

In the Lords’ prayer Jesus says we are to ask God to ‘forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us’.

Forgiveness is a directive from God.

Forgiveness is one of the foundations of our faith.

We are created in the image of God, and we are to live like Jesus.  The cornerstone of our salvation is that Christ forgives us for our sins, so if we are created to be like Him, that means we have to forgive those who sin against us, who wrong us, who hurt us.

Forgiveness

  via pinterest

This life of real love is not an easy one, and unforgiveness is one of the main barriers we come up against in our relationships.

Forgive someone, and the walls come down.

Put your pride aside, turn away from your self-righteousness and sense of entitlement, and just let go.

It’s what God does for us (without the pride and self-righteousness).  He just lets go of everything we do that hurts him, and because of that, we know true love.

Whole 30: Madness or marvellous? Discuss.

The

 

So, tell me, have you heard of this program?

If you have, put your hand up if you thought it looked totally crazy (my hand’s up).

Keep your hand up if you thought it looked totally crazy, but immediately knew it was something that would do you the world of good (hand’s still up).

Keep your hand up still if you thought you should do it, but immediately dismissed the idea because you knew it would be really hard (yep, still up).

Still keep it up if you dismissed the idea, but kept coming back to it, despite knowing how hard it would be (I’m still here!)

I know your arm’s probably aching by now, but keep it up if despite knowing how hard it would be, you reach a point where you feel so rotten, you know you have to do something, and Whole 30 starts to seem like a good idea.

That would be me last week.

I had allowed myself to fall back into terrible eating habits over the last few weeks, and reached a point where I had a nearly constant low-grade headache, I felt like I was moving through cement, and my head felt like it was filled with cotton wool.  This is pretty much what my brain looked like:

via

I have had about zero mental clarity, and I’ve really noticed that my cognitive functioning has been affected.  Whilst I’m sleeping better than I have in a long while (I’m down to waking up maybe only a couple of times in the night, rather than 6), I am constantly tired and feeling like I need a nap.  I have no motivation, and whilst I’m supposed to be training for a 6.4km local fun run in December, I’m struggling to get moving.

On top of all that, my joints have been aching, which for me is bad news.  Nearly 4 years ago I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis (related to Rheumatoid Arthritis), and it took until earlier last year to get under control with the correct medications, after a flare up of the disease that left me barely able to walk and took a few months to settle.  During this time, I saw a naturopath, who diagnosed me with wheat intolerance (not gluten or yeast, just wheat), and after cutting out wheat from my diet, I felt so much better.

You would think it would be a no-brainer to never go back to eating anything wheat-related, wouldn’t you.  And eating a completely ‘clean’ diet, because of the auto-immune disease I have.  It may be a no-brainer, but I’ve really learnt just how powerful a hold food can have over you if you let it.

And I do.

Five years ago I had an accident at work and was left with a permanent lower back injury, and during the recovery time, I became a comfort eater.  I had previously responded to stress by not eating, but dealing with pain was a new thing for me, and food seemed to provide some comfort.

I’m sure you can see where this is going.

Fortunately my I learnt to manage and live with the ongoing pain that resulted from my injury, but I’d formed the comfort-eating pattern very well.  So when I started to develop the symptoms of the arthritis, and ended up in a lot of pain again, food became my go-to comfort source.

Yep.

Genius move.

When I finally got the right medication and changed my diet last year, and became well and virtually pain free again for the first time in years, I vowed and declared I wouldn’t go back to harmful eating behaviours, as I knew how much better it was to eat clean and avoid the junk.

Except I haven’t.  Because I’m human.  And somewhat addicted to food.

Ok, cut the somewhat.  I’m addicted to food.  This has taken me until only recently to admit to myself, let alone actually verbalise it.

So something has to change.  Actually, a lot has to change, and the Whole 30 program seems to be the ideal start.

I started yesterday (which puts me on Day 2 today), and for the very short version, this means that for 30 days I will not be eating:

Sugar

Dairy

Grains

Any processed food, preservatives, additives etc

Alchohol

White potatoes

Basically, all the foods I love.  And are really bad for me.

My diet will be made up of meat, seafood, eggs, lots of veggies, less fruit, nuts and seeds and ‘good’ fats.  I know this will be so good for me, but I’m already in mourning for what I’m giving up.  And feel like I’m missing out on.  At least I don’t have to give up coffee, and am quickly getting used to the no-dairy version.

I’m under no illusion that this will be a walk in the park, and am relying on the wealth of information, recipes and encouragement available all over the internet.  And it’s only 30 days.

Someone please remind me of that when I’m willing to spare my life for a piece of chocolate.

So tell me, what do you think?  A brilliant idea?  Or complete madness?  Could you do it? have you done it?

Day 15: The story of us (Part 5)

It took 3 years after we separated, a year after we were divorced, for us to start talking to each other again.  Oh, we’d had some conversations during that time, over the phone – once we’d started court proceedings in the early days, we didn’t see each other in person.  It was just too hard, and never ended well.  We had a few phone conversations, but primarily any communication was via my mother-in-law, or brief notes.

A few times, I had asked my husband through his mum if he wanted to start meeting face-to-face when we dropped the kids off and picked them up, but he wasn’t ready.  And in hindsight, I probably wasn’t really, either.  Throughout this whole time, I thought I was coping with everything fine, that I had ‘gotten over’ our marriage breakdown and was looking ahead to all the possibilities life had to offer.  I certainly wasn’t living in regret and wallowing in self-pity – I was studying for my nursing degree, I had (and still have) a wonderful new family within my church and was loving the discovery of living life in Christ, I started running and had a great social life.  For the first year after we separated, I went to counselling regularly and that was a huge help in learning how to live life day-to-day in the aftermath of the death of a marriage.

But there was always something missing, and for the longest time, I couldn’t work out what it was.  Not in my head, anyway, but deep within, I knew what it was.  I just chose to ignore it completely.  He was missing, my husband, my love, the boy I knew I was going to marry even before we began.  The part of my life that had grown to envelop him and his love for so many years was empty, a ragged, gaping wound.  And I just ignored it, as much as I could.  I thought it was easier to just pretend the emptiness wasn’t there, to fill it up with other things and to believe that a new relationship would make everything better, would make me whole again.

Not quite.

In fact, not at all.  God wouldn’t let me ignore how I felt, wouldn’t let me pretend the emptiness wasn’t there, and slowly, over time, He led me into that space I kept trying to run away from and taught me how to just sit there and let Him love me in that place.  And to do that, He started by bringing my husband and I back together, in the most uneventful of circumstances.

My mother-in-law was going to be away for a few weeks, and there wasn’t anyone else who could facilitate the kids going between our homes, so the time had come where it was up to us to start making it work.  And to put it simply, it did.  3 years of being apart had given us the time and space – and grace – for the rawness of our wounds and hurts to settle, to start to heal, and we were able to feel safe with each other again.  We started by meeting in a carpark and then at his mum and dad’s house, and I smile now at thinking how polite we were with each other.  From the first time we met with the kids, I felt such peace and a very real sense of God’s presence, and I knew that it was His perfect timing.

And I knew that I still loved him.  That I had never stopped loving him, as much as I’d tried to convince myself that I had.  I perhaps didn’t love him as I did when we were married, but that deep, true, forever love was still there, and I only wanted to see the best things in life happen for him.  Which, to my mind, included him meeting someone new and forming a new relationship, because he deserved that.  Just like I did.  I fully believed that we would both be happy in new relationships, and that we were in a place where we’d each be ok with that happening for the other.

See, I had it all planned out, because I thought I knew what would be the best thing for all of us.  And really, it’s easier to start again with something new than to repair something that’s broken, isn’t it?  Isn’t that what our throwaway culture tells us?  Don’t worry if it’s broken, you can always get something shiny and new?  It’s what I saw in broken marriages and relationships all around me – broken hearts trying to find healing and wholeness in something new, in someone new.  It’s what had happened for my parents after they divorced, in that they both remarried. I thought that’s what you did after a divorce.

I saw new relationships and new marriages after divorce everywhere I looked.  I didn’t see people holding onto hope for their marriage to be repaired after its’ destruction.

I didn’t see anyone believing that people can change, that what is broken can be made new.

I didn’t see people living the reality of love – myself included.

I didn’t see people fighting to hold onto what they once declared they were to committed to.

I didn’t see ‘for better or for worse’ being lived out in all its’ brutal reality.

I didn’t see people saying ‘This was my fault, too, and I know I need to change’.

And yet I still saw the beauty of love being lived real in the marriages of my friends and family who got it.  Who knew that marriage was a lifetime deal, through everything that life threw at them, and that you don’t give up on your marriage or your spouse just because of how you feel.

Who knew that love isn’t a feeling, but it’s a verb, an action, a choice you make every single day.

Who were living love and marriage as God created it, a promise and a covenant that binds hearts and lives together forever.

That is where my hope came from, where the glimmer of possibility started to emerge.  Not just in the words I read in scripture, not from something someone tried to tell me, but by seeing love and marriage lived for real.  The good, the bad, and the ugly, the easy and the hard, the joy and the sorrow.

As my husband and I got to know each other again, I became more sensitive to everything related to love and marriage around me.  it was like my senses were heightened to everything I wanted to know, I was hungry for information and examples of how to love someone, how marriage works, how you keep your commitment of ’till death do us part’.  And yet I still didn’t believe that I’d need any of that for my husband and I, that we were still destined to be married to other people.  Yes, I know, you can say it – I was a slow learner.  Which was ok, because God is infinitely patient.

But at the same time, my senses became more attuned to the hurt and wounding that happens in marriage, and it was through this time that I developed a heart for seeing marriages not just work, but thrive.  I have often said that I’ve learnt everything I know now about marriage from being divorced, and I am very grateful for the lessons along the way (although you wouldn’t have heard me saying that at the time!!!).

So my husband and I continued to get to know each other again, and slowly and cautiously started to believe that we could actually make this work, that any part of life we created to work together in wouldn’t collapse around us again.  And it was in taking this risk, in having to trust God completely that I started to learn about real love, about living out love for real every day.  He was making something new, bringing out beauty from the rubble and ashes, and creating new life in us.

It was only the beginning, and we were in for the ride of our lives.

To catch up on our story, follow the links below:

Introduction

The story of us (Part 1)

The story of us (Part 2)

The story of us (Part 3)

The story of us (Part 4)

Trust and hope and perseverance (Part 1)

Day 14: Love does not envy

comparison

via pinterest

‘Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have’ (The Message)

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with this every day.  For me, it’s not about things, objects, ‘stuff’, but more about ability, as such.

I wish I could write better (or as well as her, or that blogger, or that author).

I wish I naturally had more patience (like that mum I know who I’ve never heard raise her voice at her kids and never seems to get frustrated with her family).

I wish I was more disciplined by nature (like my friend who is always so organised and has everything under control and exercises every day and only cooks gluten free….).

I wish I had more confidence in my opinions and expressing them (like so many people I know who are so sure of what they say).

I wish I felt assured that I am enough, and I don’t need to keep trying to be more (like so many women I know in real life and online whom I admire).

Before my husband and I came back together again, I so desperately, desperately wanted to be in a relationship, just like the majority of my friends and people I knew – even though I knew their relationships were far from perfect.

I wish, I wish, I wish……..

I can get so caught up wishing for things I don’t have (or think I don’t have – it’s all about perception), that I lose sight of what I do have.

At the absolute basic level of life, I wake up breathing every day, I have a roof over my head, food on my plate several times a day and people who love me.  Everything else is gravy.

I have the ability and the opportunity to write every day, because I was born into a world that values education and literacy, and encouraging creativity.  I write because it is how God has created me, and I’ve been able to realise that.

Whenever I’m impatient in life, with anything, it gives me the opportunity to practice grace – with myself, with other people, with whatever situation I’m in.  If I’m cross with the kids or frustrated with my husband, it’s because they’re in my life, and I love them.  Because we are all human beings, we are imperfect, and we all rub each other up the wrong way at times – if we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t become impatient and cross and frustrated.  So I’ll take impatience over nothing any day.

I may not be as disciplined as I *think* I should be, but I am plenty organised enough to provide my family with what they need, to perform in my job effectively and efficiently, and to know how to take care of myself.

When I am sure of what I know and what I believe, I have no fear in speaking it out, and am learning to stand in the courage of my convictions, even when they fly in the face of what the world around me thinks.  I’m learning that whatever we think or do or say, if we do and say it with love and kindness and respect, and without judgement, it is heard and received as it’s intended.  I still have the element of ‘what will they think of me?’, but I am learning to counter that instead with ‘what does God think of me?’, to live with the power and courage that the Spirit gives us .  It’s working.

I was created in the image of God, and He has claimed me as His own.  I am enough for Him, so how can I not believe that I am enough? Being anything more or less than who I already am will not make Jesus love me any more or any less, He loves me just as I am.

And for the whole time I was praying and hoping and despairing and crying over the desire for a new relationship, God was working in me – breaking me, moulding me, reshaping me into being more like Him (I’m still a long, long way away from that).  Without that experience, I would not be who I am now, and my husband and I wouldn’t be together again.

Strong’s Concordance gives the translation of ‘envieth’ (as in the KJV) as ‘to have warmth of feeling for or against: – affect, covet (earnestly), (have) desire, (move with) envy, be jealous over, (be) zealous, zealously affect’. Love doesn’t feel these things, doesn’t behave this way – we do, because of our humanness, but we can choose not to, when we choose love, when we choose to live like Christ, and not give in to our self.  Believe me, I know that that is far easier said than done, and it’s something I have to be conscious of and work on every single day.

God gives us every single thing we need, even if it’s not what we think.  He knows what we need – not want, but need – more than what we do.  Wanting something else takes our attention away from what we already have.  Envy steals faith.  Jealousy binds up our hearts with bitterness and the desire for what we don’t have.

But when we love, when we choose faith and trust over envy and jealousy, we see what we have, the blessings before us that God has showered on us with abundance.  Which He does because He loves us more than we could ever fathom.

What is your ‘weak point’ when it comes to envy and jealousy?  How do you counter that, and try not to let it affect how you live?