6 months of marriage… Considering others above yourselves…

consider others above yourselves(this passage was read at our wedding… I always found it to be one of my favorite descriptions of Christlike love in Scripture)

Last week I shared a few fun pictures for our 6 month of marriage anniversary. Today, I wanted to share a few serious thoughts about marriage; where we are at; blessings; challenges; and what we’ve learned and are learning!

I think back to our engagement. It was a blur of changes, anxiety, transition, opening our hearts to fully know each other, and eager anticipation. We could not wait to be husband and wife before the Lord! Regardless of my anxiety of what marriage might be like, and possible challenges we might have, I had complete peace about marrying this man, and believed with my full heart he was my soul mate and that the Lord Himself had brought us together. We knew it was of Him and wanted to get married as soon as we could; we wanted to follow His will for our lives and believed that this was honoring to Him.

We almost got married in the winter as to have as short of an engagement as possible, but because I was trying to finish graduate school, we waited until May… 10 months from when he proposed. As much as it was hard to wait, there were blessings in that waiting; we got to know each other so much more during that time and had 5 months of living in close proximity to really get to know each other on a deeper level in every way before entering the union of marriage. I think this time was a gift from the Lord to prepare us for life together.

I remember counting down the days, like a child counts down for Christmas. 235 days, 200 days, 100 days, 50 days!!! It was super exciting when it got to 30 days, and I made Richie a countdown on a dry erase board. It didn’t feel real during that time; but it felt quite exciting. Me; a wife? I still felt like a little girl. Richie and I were in a LD relationship for a few years and had only really been together in close proximity for a few months. Marriage is forever. A part of me would understand the seriousness of this. Yet the other part of me was just so excited to be the wife of my best friend that I didn’t think much of the realities of marriage.

Finally, after waiting for 10 months, one day our wedding day arrived! I was so excited, I think I slept maybe 3 hours the night before, but on that adrenalin high, I still felt so awake. It was like a surreal dream waking up on my wedding day. Getting my makeup done. The whole time, I just had this giddy smile on my face and kept repeating “I’m getting married!”… I will never forget the smile on my husband’s face or the tears in his eyes when he saw me walking down the aisle in my wedding dress. The day was just a blur for both of us, and slightly overwhelming, but so beautiful, special, and like a moment from a fairy tale. We are both quite introverted, and when the wedding was over though, we were actually a bit relieved. I can say that there was no let down, as some brides describe when their wedding day is over. Just pure joy. Especially as we were about to go away for the first time together. Stay the night together for the first time ever; us. alone! And this was all with God’s blessing. We felt like we were going to unwrap the biggest wedding gift of all. After holding it together all day, I started sobbing on the way to the hotel; tears of joy and emotion. We were married; it felt like an incredible dream and my heart was overwhelmed with joy. On our honeymoon, I remember us feeling like we could never feel a negative emotion again; like we would be a 10 on the happiness scale forever. We were on this cloud.

Then we came back to stay at my parents home. The cloud popped somehow quite quickly. Maybe it was exemplified by the fact that while there was not a cloud in the sky from our wedding to the end of our honeymoon, when we were driving back and almost at my parent’s home where we stayed for  a few months, it stated to rain. We were and are still happy, but we had to deal with real life stress and transitions. And learn how to live together in real life as husband and wife.

We have gone through a lot together. I’ve had to start doing a lot of growing up, moving away from my parents home, and living independently from my parents for the first time ever. I’m a new professional working at a new job that is my first professional job out of graduate school. We have moved and have set up our home together. We’ve had to work to set up routines together. We’ve had to work on redefining our relationship to my parents, which he felt was too involved before. I’ve had the challenge of balancing time with my husband, with time with myself (which i value especially under times of stress which have been abundant lately), and time with work (that takes alot of time). We’ve basically had to go from 2 individuals who love each other and lived in a long distance relationship and met to have fun; to 2 kids, working to grow up and live adult lives together, holding each other and trusting Jesus to lead us… So we’ve had to deal with a lot, although we are growing through these challenges.

We have never had a fight, because we do not fight. That’s not how we deal with things, as two unaggressive people (we are more the “lets be silent and deal with this later” type). But we have had some nights where we’ve had to really work to communicate with each other about our views, wants, and needs. And that’s hard for us as two people who naturally tend to not deal with things. We’ve had times where we’ve both been like, “this year has been much harder that we’ve thought it would be”. Sometimes, even when you are married to your soulmate and best friend, I’ve learned that it takes going against that selfish nature that seems to rule most of my choices, to put that other person first. It takes work to bless even your most cherished person. We’ve both had moments where each of us have uttered the words “i’m a bad wife”, or “I’m a bad husband”. We both tend to be down on ourselves, but we are learning… Marriage has thrown my selfishness into my own face and has showed me that it’s very much a struggle sometimes, especially when tired or overwhelmed, to put even my favorite person above myself.

As stated above, at our wedding, I had my friend read Phillipians 2: 1-11 about imitating Christ’s humility. I always read that and thought it was the best example of selfless agape love, the kind of love we want to have in our marriage. Being married for several months, that passage is so fitting, and something to meditate on every day.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death –
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

I am so grateful for the gift of being married to my best friend. For all of the challenges of early marriage, we have had just as many days of joy and blessing and bliss. We are learning so much and are thankful to the Lord for bringing us together. I’m excited to see where our journey, hand in hand, leads us!

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Give Thanks to the Lord…

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(this above is a view from my Thanksgiving day jog by my inlaws’ home in rural Connecticut)

Praise be to the Lord,
    for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.

 

So very much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. This past year reflecting back, we’ve had so many changes from last Thanksgiving. So many blessings among the challenges and changes. He is the giver of so many good things.

a reflection on my ED journey

“I guess I thought that I had figured you out… I heard all the stories and I learned to talk about how you were mighty to save; but those were only empty words on a page… until I caught a glimpse of who you might be; the slightest hint of you brought me down to my knees…”

I have been thinking a lot lately about my past struggles and how, while it’s unfortunate that I’ve gone through with them and still struggle to some extent with types thoughts that have brought me to extremely dark places and took so much from me, that it’s helped me to have a tangible way of understanding my sin and His Grace. Just that alone, makes this struggle, which I consider my biggest cross to bear in this life, something I am grateful for.

I’ve been thinking about this for a few reasons. One, I’ve been struggling to implement a food plan at our home. Structure doesn’t come naturally to me (or my husband), and with all of the new things in my life (new marriage, newly living away from parents, new career), sometimes I feel my head is spinning and meal planning is just one thing that doesn’t get done. Some nights we just don’t get around to it. My husband is very easygoing and is fine with eating snacks for dinner… and he doesn’t have a food problem (other than that he doesn’t eat a lot in general), but for me, just grazing doesn’t work or not having a plan at all doesn’t work. I need structured meals to have that sanity with food. I’ve had a few days with really no regular meals and those ugly thoughts start to creep into my mind. There was one night this week that felt like a struggle and my eating, while not terrible, was not really “ordered” and my thoughts were definitely bordering on pretty “Dis-ordered“. It’s at those moments that I realize that I really am like an addict. I believe that I will never be normal in this area. And that’s ok because this is just a part of who I am. And I have to accept that and utilize the strategies that I’ve learned and have been led to over the years to keep food the most non-issue possible.

I’ve also been thinking about this because, I realize that this November marks 10 years since I fell into the trap of an eating disorder for the first time, at age 15. It was right around the time of Thanksgiving 2005, and it started pretty suddenly. Like a bad awakening to a new reality. Before that I was basically a carefree kid.

It was not one thing that caused it… it was several things that came together all at once, and all compounded to be catalysts for this. It was that age that I started to care what others thought of me… I realized that I felt like a misfit w/ others and suddenly, it made me sad. I remember crying one night and pouring my heart into my journal; i wondered if i might be depressed. I felt ugly and I got this idea that no one really liked me anyway, so I would pull away from my friends. This was relatively easy as a homeschooled high schooler- isolating was easy, since homeschool group activities were only held once a week (and i then isolated for many years and got into this patterns where it was so hard for me to share my heart with others). I felt so bad about myself that I came to believe that everyone saw me as a loser and my friends were just my friends because they felt bad for me. I had such low self-esteem, but the one thing I liked about my appearance that I otherwise didn’t like, was that I was thin. Until that point, it was natural and people told me that I looked like a ballerina or a skinny minnie from time to time. And I ate that up and felt proud inside when people told me that… or told my mother her daughter looked so tiny. And my mom who has always struggled with her weight was proud of me, and would verbalize that she was proud to have a thin daughter.

At this time, I believe I started to develop my adrenal condition (late onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia), and my metabolism significantly changed (in addition to just developing more of a woman’s body) and while I once could eat anything and not gain weight, I suddenly was eating less and less but still had a belly for the first time ever, and fought hard not to gain weight. I thought I’d be happy if only I got back to my original technically underweight size, or less.  Around this time, I was misdiagnosed w/ PCOS (similar symptoms to my adrenal disorder), so I tried to restrict my diet to “manage” my condition, as research shows that overweight women with true PCOS do well eating low carb and extremely healthy. Ugggh. Suddenly it was all I could focus on. food. my body. I had to do something… so I started obsessed and read diet books and websites and it because my focus. Food. and my body. That’s what life became. That’s what I basically became.

Also at the same time, I discovered vegetarianism and then quickly veganism and decided it would be a “great” decision, mostly for the animals, I said (although , I think deep down there was more to it). . I felt proud. I was not just “Liz”. I was “Liz the vegan” and felt I had something that set me apart from others and it became like a religion. I ate special. I was the healthiest. So I obsessed about this and spent hours on vegetarian forums and looking at recipes.I discovered exercise around the same time… and quickly became addicted to that too. Just all these factors at once compounded and I fell into a very dark hole of obsession. A hole of isolation. Of harming my health. Of hurting my family. I regret it greatly since it involves so much darkness and sin in my heart… but through this journey to balance and sanity, where I might never get to, but I strive for it… I’ve come to know Jesus in a very real way.

I remember once in early college I was just in a very desolate place inside of my heart and I read one of the miracles about Jesus touching someone and healing them, in an instant. I cried out that Jesus would heal me… in faith. And He has slowly and still is healing me. I have gradually come to this beautiful place where I truly desire to live for so much more than my body. To live a legacy. To internalize that “charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” and to praise Him for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!

And most of the time I’m ok with where it is now and surrendering my body… although it’s much larger than I would have chosen, and definitely not stereotypically even close to perfect, or “thin” (I have days where I struggle, but for the most part…). I have come to a place where I know that where I need to be is living healthy, balanced, but completely letting go of my body’s size and number and leaving it in the hands of its creator. What better of a place could I leave it? And no, I’m not there all the time to any means, but I’m getting there, one day at a time. It’s truly a balancing act for me… to live healthily, but not fall into any area of ED, especially w/ my adrenal condition which is often associated with metabolic issues (so I have to be somewhat careful in moderation of what I eat), and because of that, I’ll likely never be healthily skinny, but that’s absolutely ok. He is healing me, in His time and way.

I used to think that when I recovered I would become that carefree 14 year old who I was before ED. I’ve come to learn, that I never will be, because I was a kid then, and even if I didn’t have an eating disorder, I would be a lot different now than I was as a young teenager. Plus those dark years have shaped me, both in good and bad ways. Although I am more of an anxious person now, and believe I will always have hang ups about food and my body, I think that my ED years has given me a much greater heart of compassion towards other, especially those struggling in their own darkness. I am healthily a different person now. I’m becoming a woman and have had so many different experiences. It’s ok that the “true me” is different from the “me” before the ED. I’m discovering who she is every day. And I am grateful for this journey.

He has led me to so many answers throughout it. Just one example of an unexpected gift through this journey is that because of the hormone problems I caused because of my eating disorder (almost no cycles for 8 years… then I got it back after gaining above a certain amount and reducing exercise after stumbling upon internet research on hypothalamic amenorrhea- which I had but because of my other endocrine conditions, many of the doctors missed esp since I was technically a low- normal weight for most of many years after my initial restriction… like I said I’m good w/ dates and I got my first period in forever 2 years ago yesterday; and it’s been regular since), I was getting frequently blood work because of this endocrine mystery, which led me to accidentally find out by a mistakenly ordered blood test I had my genetic adrenal condition, that likely would have gone undiagnosed until I was trying (possibly unsuccessfully, or having miscarriages) to get pregnant. I now have answers that could help us in the future, because having a baby is one of the deepest longings of my heart and my husband’s (and this relatively rare condition often leads to usually treatable fertility issues), and believe me, I’ve prayed a lot about this in my life especially during my 8 years of hormonal hell; that the Lord would somehow let me have a baby someday… and I still pray sometimes for our future children I love so much and do not yet know (we don’t plan to start trying for a year and a half or so, who knows what the story will be). Our future baby (ies) will be so prayed for… I can tell them I’ve prayed for him or her for my whole life and that they are a miracle and their life has much purpose.

Have to get back to work, but overall… I wouldn’t have chosen to fall into an eating disorder 10 years ago. I would have never dreamed of it, actually. But it happened. And it’s worth it because I have a clearer grasp of my sin and the great grace of my Lord Jesus Christ who died for all of that. The enemy may have laughed and intended it for my harm, but the Lord intended it for good. It’s part of what brought those words on a page I had read so much to life and made me really seek Jesus to be my healer… and the slightest hint of Him brought me down to my knees in humble surrender.

-“God takes the junk of our lives and He makes the greatest art in the world out of it.” -Rich Mullins

Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Joel 2:25  And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.

 

 

New Every Morning.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

So Grateful for this truth.

This is a view from my sunrise run this morning. =) Amazing that God made this artwork, and it’s just one of His billions of masterpieces.

runviewnov182015

as the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God

Restless…

deerpantwater

I often am quite restless, and I go from activity to activity, item to item, and to various compulsions to fill some elusive gap in my heart. That gap that the Lord fills, but that the enemy cunningly tells me that I am empty; desolate. So I run to more things expecting them to fill me, yet they don’t, and I am left yearning for more, and mad at myself that I filled myself with nothingness. Food, over focus on exercise, even Facebook can all be things like that (I often find myself on there when I don’t want to be and wasting tons of time that should go to productive things, work, my husband… no it’s not wrong to go on, but I have the conviction in my heart that it’s not how the Lord wants me to spend my time right now)…

In John 6 , Jesus said to His disciples, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

So often, I forget that my very heavenly daddy is the bread of life, the one who can fill all of my hungers. I then look to myself, upset that I have once again come to that desolate place, but at those moments I just need to lift up my hands to Him to fill me. Although, I believe that as a Child of the Lord who has the Holy Spirit inside of me, I’m constantly filled with His spirit, I believe that it’s a day by day and moment by moment decision to live by that spirit, and the desires of that spirit and to realize how full and complete I am in Him. And that He can and will fill any of my hungers.

I have realized something interesting recently about my relationship with the Lord, through my relationship with Richie. I tend to isolate myself and sometimes don’t connect emotionally when i’m overwhelmed. Pushing away emotional connections is natural for me especially when busy or stressed as a strong introvert. I did this to an extreme all during my desolate teen years (pushing people away) and had pretty much no close friends who really knew my heart, and i still struggle with falling into losing contact with people, since in a way it’s natural for me to feel i don’t need others… but the Lord has shown me over the years that while it’s ok to need my alone time, it’s also important to connect deeply with others so that He can use me to bless other people’s lives (and them mine)…  This is a trait that I want to work on also before I have kids because I want to always be emotionally present for them… This trait sometimes tends to lead me to not take time to connect with the Lord and cut Him out of my life, and fill with other things. And then I always feel angry at myself and like He must be mad at me and think I’m a disgraceful child.

This past week has been busy at work and I’ve gotten home late with little time for my husband many nights. I hate when I see my negative traits come into play in my marriage, especially because I know that my husband very strongly values quality time as a love language (as do I, but I would say that I more strongly appreciate touch and words of affirmation). Richie has shown a great deal of grace to me and has only said that he is just sad because wants even more time with me. In my heart I feel I deserve an angry response for being a bit neglectful of my relationship, and putting it second to work, and that wasn’t the case.

Well, I realized that it’s probably like that, to some degree with my relationship with the Lord. When I do not put Him first (and so often I admit that I don’t), He just yearns for more time with his dear child… He’s not angry. Just sad and wants that intimacy again with me (sometimes I tend to picture the Lord as righteous and full of anger when we do wrong things… He is righteous but so very loving and wants a close relationship). It’s hard finding that balance of putting Him first, but it’s been wonderful to have this realization and take some of the guilt and fear out of the equation.

Today, I choose to lift my empty hands to Him and allow Him to fill me and to be my all satisfying bread of life. And I choose to realize that any hunger or restlessness or emptiness I have in my heart is because I yearn for more time with Jesus.

Psalm 41:1-2 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

Romans 7… boy can I relate to these words

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at

work in me, waging waragainst the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

My relationship to working out

pmachine 2 machine1

Let me preface this by saying… I love working out. I workout most mornings. It’s like my morning coffee and gets me going for the day. I try to do something fitness related most mornings. Running is my favorite workout (though I’ve had lots of running injuries lately, so I haven’t done very much of it), and I get an indescribable high after a great run. Even better is a run in a beautiful area. Working out is good for my body and mind- i’m completely hooked!

At the same time, I can take fitness to a level that really isn’t good for my body or my mind. I can overdo it, and put it in front of time with my husband, or worse time with the Lord. This hobby can easily turn from a place of enjoyment (where I truly believe the Lord wants me to be with it), to a place tainted with comparison, pride, vanity, and control. Years ago, in a dark place, I used working out to control my body size in an unhealthy way. At that time it was about thin, not feeling good. By God’s grace, I workout mostly to feel good, and do it in a pretty healthy way,  but I still sometimes feel those thoughts creep in sometimes, and at those times I need to take them captive and once again hand over my body to its creator and give those thoughts to the Lord.

Sometimes i still find myself putting it in front of things that I know are more important… or focusing on it through the wrong lens- wanting to use it to be lean and look like a fitness model instead of doing it to feel good and leaving my body in the hands of its creator where it belongs… using working out to change the shape of the body God gave me as a gift… it’s at those times that the Lord brings me back to that place of surrender of exercise and my body; realizing that it’s His to do what He wants with and it’s sinful to spend excessive time and energy devoted to controlling it and shaping it, and obsessing over it… (ya know… it’s so temporary anyway… the Bible says, “Beauty is fleeting but a woman who fear the Lord is to be praised!” how sad would it be if i spent my life chasing after obtaining an idol that is fleeting)

That happened this past week. I found myself taking pictures of my body that has a bit of extra padding on it, according to my opinion. Frequenting my fitness pal. Comparing myself to those who workout more. Yesterday, I spent 2 hours at the gym when my husband was off of work and wanting to spend time with me. I’ve been thinking again of taking off a bit of weight (I don’t believe this is a sin for most people, but I do believe it is for me, because of my tendency to obsess and put it above the Lord… it is my conviction that I need to be healthy and leave my body in the creators hand). Then this morning, I was running before church. I twisted my ankle. Not badly like this winter when I was on crutches, but enough to stop my run… probably enough to stop my runs for a short while.

I sat down and cried as I waited for my husband to pick me up from the side of the road… It was discouraging because I love to run, and was just starting to build up to longer runs again after injuries. But it made me take a step back and once again realize that I need to place my body and my love of working out in the hands of the one who has given me those gifts… We then went to church (although my first thought was not to go as i was upset).

All in all, it was just a reminder of the fact that working out is just a gift from the Lord… but i need to keep in mind that I need to do it for the right reasons and not place it in front of things that are more important. And most importantly leave my body and leave working out in the hands of the one who created those things. And remember that my life is about so much more than my outward shell that is so fleeting.

“I don’t have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthly list of all that I enjoy
It’s an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy… I want to leave a legacy, how will they remember me… did I choose to love? did i point to You enough to make a mark on things?”