The Marriage Disciplines

There were definitely a few things I was apprehensive about when Tim and I got married (thank you, pre-marital counseling), but communication wasn’t one of them. I quickly discovered that the intensity of my desire to be a good communicator did not necessarily match my actual communication skills.

My ability to craft a winning speech or talk for hours on a date weren’t the tools I needed in the face of conflict and day-to-day life with another person. I may have a rich, complex internal dialogue, but that didn’t really translate within a marriage relationship.

The type of transparent communication I coveted wasn’t going to grow from complacency. I knew I needed to practice – practice voicing my feelings, articulating my thoughts, and encouraging Tim to do the same. But it’s easy to grow comfortable when your relationship is going smoothly. My commitment to bettering our communication would fade until the provocation of an argument or a misunderstanding brought the need to light again. My concern would reappear until our conflict was resolved and the business of life and our daily routine buried any urgency.

Bettering our communication would require intentional practice, patience, and discipline.

Discipline isn’t something I generally associate with marriage. Discipline makes me think of parenting and meeting personal fitness goals. But I also think of discipline as it relates to our spiritual lives. Spiritual disciplines are practices that put us in a better posture to connect with God. They don’t always come naturally and require intentional practice, patience, and, as the name implies, discipline.

Marriage Disciplines

In the same way, I believe there are marriage disciplines – practices that put us in a better posture to connect with our spouse. These practices don’t always come naturally, but through intentional practice, patience, and discipline they help our marriages grow deep and strong.

The marriage discipline concept sprung to life in my mind and heart as I considered ways Tim and I could work on our communication. Framing the challenging aspects of growing in that area as a marriage discipline made the effort seem worthwhile because I know how much spiritual disciplines like simplicity, lectio divina, and journaling have transformed my relationship with Christ. Wouldn’t investing in disciplines like couples prayer, love languages, and communication be equally transformative in a marriage relationship?

I’m convinced that they would. And I’m acting on that conviction. Stay tuned for how I’ve been practicing the marriage discipline of communication and how you can, too!

Surprised by Motherhood: my story

For me, motherhood was quite literally a surprise. Tim and I had been trying – trying not to have a baby, yet. I was thinking three years into our marriage would be nice. Maybe then I would have done all the things I thought I should do before having a baby.

So, when I woke up that morning feeling pretty nauseous, I took a pregnancy test not because I really thought I was pregnant, but because the idea of being pregnant would niggle at me until I ruled it out completely.

I left the test on the bathroom floor to percolate and promptly got distracted by dirty dishes and unpacking the house we had just moved into the week prior. It wasn’t until I almost stepped on the white stick on my way to the toilet that I remembered I was waiting on some important news.

I bent down. Paused. Blinked. Bent down further. Two blue lines were staring back at me from the bathroom floor.

This wasn’t a hubby’s home early, it’s a brand new car, I aced my test kind of surprise. There was no confetti, no candles, no cake. I even took four more tests in the next 36 hours to confirm it actually was the surprise we thought it was.

From the very start, motherhood was a surprise. And if the last 15 months is any indicator, I will continue to be surprised by motherhood.Surprised by Motherhood

I was surprised by the anxiety and fear that gripped my heart at every doctors appointment.

I was surprised by the grief I felt as my season of life changed.

I was surprised by the struggles I had with my growing body. (Well, knowing my history, that wasn’t a big surprise.)

I was (pleasantly) surprised by the way the development our little one was knitting Tim and I closer together.

I was surprised at how much love a heart can hold for such a small person.

I am surprised by how something could be so hard and so wonderful all at the same time.

I am surprised by the grace and joy so intricately woven into everyday with our son.

I am continually surprised by God’s faithfulness to meet me right where I am.

~~~

 

It’s hard to see the significance when you’re so weighed down by the mundane. And it can feel like everyone else around you is busy doing big, important things while you have worn the same spit-up-stained sweatpants three days in a row.

Lisa-Jo Baker in Surprised by Motherhood

The journey to, from, and around motherhood is a sprawling story with often complicated plot lines. Lisa-Jo Baker shares her journey in Surprised by Motherhood. Her story is beautifully written and engaging, grace-filled and encouraging. I cried, I laughed, and I amen’d my way through her tale of loss and redemption. It’s a must read for any mom!

But, I believe God loves us too much to leave us flailing in our self-centered universes, so He delivers these tiny reflections of ourselves into our homes with earthquake effectiveness.

Lisa-Jo Baker in Surprised by Motherhood

Mediterranean Quinoa Kale Salad

Sturdy and fresh, this crunchy salad pairs perfectly with grilled meats or stands alone for a simple meal.

Mediterranean Quinoa Kale salad

It finally happened. And it happened with a vengeance. James got sick and we all went down with him. There have been snot-suckers and piles of tissues and lots of lying around this week. My one shining moment of was this salad, prepared before our pestilence required Dominos, Vitamin Water, and Lofthouse cookies.

The name – Mediterranean Quinoa Kale Salad – makes it sound fancy. It’s not, really. I’m not even sure it should be deemed Mediterranean, but it had olives in it and I thought Mediterranean Quinoa Kale salad sounded a bit better (at least a lot easier to say) than Quinoa-Kale-Olive-Carrot-Cucumber-Feta-Balsamic salad.

And there you have it – the ingredients that make up this tasty salad:

I wanted a salad with quinoa but not a quinoa salad, if you know what I mean. I cooked up a 1/2 cup quinoa and made sure to evaporate all the extra moisture so the cooked quinoa wouldn’t clump in the salad.

It’s been too hot to roast the 5lb bag of carrots we have, and they’ve been taunting me in the fridge. Two of them were silenced with the grater. Now I’m left with 4.7lbs of heckling vegetables.

We had feta leftover from a quinoa salad I made last week. (Too pea-laden for Tim’s taste but I loved it!) Let’s pause for a moment and acknowledge my maturing cheese taste – I had FETA-formerlyknownasbarfcheese- in my fridge.

I was overcome with pride at having feta in my fridge, so the cheese dictated my other salad ingredients. Olives and feta always get paired in Greeky salads. I can’t always get down with the Kalamatas, but I love black olives. Aren’t cucumbers also a Greek (hey, I thought this was a Mediterranean salad…) salad staple? I assumed so…

To fulfill my non-quinoa salad desires, I added a couple handfuls of chopped baby kale. It would have been a couple handfuls of the power greens mix from Costco, but most of the bags looked a little wilty. (I could smell the gross seaweed aroma just looking at the moist leaves at the bottom of the bag.)

We are never without balsamic vinaigrette.

And that makes a delicious, hearty salad! None of the flavors are overpowering. Everything stays crunchy even after several days dressed in the fridge (don’t ask me how I know that…)

Mediterranean Quinoa Kale salad

Mediterranean Quinoa Kale Salad
Print
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • ½ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 large handfuls (approx 3 cups) baby kale
  • 2 large carrots
  • ½ cucumber
  • ½ cup feta crumbles
  • 1 (6oz) can black olives
  • balsamic vinaigrette
Instructions
  1. Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a mesh sieve. In a saucepan, bring 1 cup water and quinoa to a boil. Take off heat and cover with tight fitting lid. Let sit for 20 minutes. Uncover and place over medium-high heat. Cook until no moisture remains on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Chop baby kale.
  3. Peel and grate carrots.
  4. Peel and de-seed cucumber. Cut into strips and dice.
  5. Drain olives. Put a few on your fingers and eat them. Roughly chop remaining olives.
  6. Mix quinoa, kale, carrots, cucumber, olives, and feta in a large bowl.
  7. Toss with balsamic vinaigrette to taste. I used about ⅓ cup.
Notes
The tossed salad can be kept for up to three days without getting hinky.

 

Sam

For reasons other than patriotism, July has truly been a month of freedom.

What often entraps us are our repeated offenses and that has definitely been the case for me. But, God has been faithful to soften my heart and bring me to a place of surrender with body image issues and contentment struggles that have previously stuck closer than a shadow.

Healing is a process, but the lightness of being I’ve experienced from accepting the freedom that God and His word offers is a gift.

A certain Samaritan woman is no stranger to both the sins that can shackle a soul and the freedom found in taking God’s hand. Her story is more relevant that I ever imagined. Read more about her story of shame, redemption, and hope on Kindred Grace {HERE} today! (You’ll also get to see a photo of my Elizabeth Bennet moment in Scotland…)

~~~

If the Samaritan woman’s story intrigues you, I recommend grabbing a copy of Paperdoll: What Happens When an Ordinary Girl Meets an Extraordinary God. Natalie Lloyd (who you may recognize as a columnist from Brio Magazine, my first magazine addiction) follows “Sam’s” journey to the well and her encounter with Living Water. She dissects the story in a way that makes it relevant and relatable to our society and culture. Natalie writes honestly and is a wonderful storyteller. The book includes great study questions, too.

Our worth isn’t wrapped up in what other people say about us, either. Our worth is woven into the fabric of God’s Word, into the ultimate truth that sets us free to be the unique, beautiful, godly women we were created to be.

Natalie Lloyd inPaperdoll

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On vulnerability, battle cries, and Glennon Melton

When writers commit to vulnerability in their work, they are inviting readers into the most sensitive areas of their lives. Layer upon layer of garments, grit, and grime are shed with every word until nothing is left but the bare essentials. Authenticity and truth-telling leave a person naked and unarmed. It’s both a scary and freeing place to be.

Too often, we view vulnerability like a super power, treating those who possess the uncanny ability to be completely honest like they are made of cold, hard steel, brandishing their mistakes and faults like a sword. What we view as a weapon is hardly even a shield. Instead of deflecting or conquering pain and trials, authenticity leaves people bare and unprotected.

It’s easy to respond with judgement even though the battle cry of vulnerability is, “I’m human. I’m just like you!”

We heap on expectations and assumptions like transparency equals perfection. The fact is, authenticity and vulnerability don’t exempt one from mistakes. Truth-tellers are brave, but they are not invincible.

Carry On, Warrior

Glennon Melton, of Momastery.com, is well-known for being one of those brave truth-tellers. She has made a name for herself writing about faith, marriage, and motherhood with an honesty that can be shocking, humorous, and heart wrenching all at the same time.

The blogosphere has come to honor and glorify this type of all-or-nothing honesty and, in turn, readers have come to demand it.  But, we don’t always remember that life is a process. What is true and real right now may not be true and real a week, a month, a year from now. It is unreasonable to apply static standards to the ever shifting seasons of life.

Most of my readers have agreed to an unwritten rule that we don’t use the truth’s I tell against me… I walk onto this field every day without armor or weapons, by choice, and so the risk is that every once in a while, someone will shoot. It happens, it hurts, and it always makes me want to quit writing.

Glennon in Carry On, Warrior

I have been guilty of being a sniper, standing on the sidelines applying static standards to the conclusions someone has made about the ever shifting seasons of in their life. As a consumer and producer of this type of honesty, I want grace and tenderness to infuse my response to vulnerability. I want to see past the point where my views intersect with theirs and appreciate where our thoughts may diverge.

It is with this in mind that I read Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, Glennon’s collection of new essays and best-loved material from her blog.

Glennon is unflinchingly honest about her “brutiful” life, sharing the ins and outs of addiction, a shotgun marriage, motherhood, and friendship. Her perspective on life and faith will appeal to Millennial Christians who are frustrated by the anti-this, anti-that sentiments prevalent in religion today.

I didn’t always resonate with her sense of humor (though I won’t go to the dentist without thinking of her) and her challenges with motherhood/marriage aren’t quite the same as mine, but I found her honesty disarming in the best of ways.

There were gems like this:

But when your miracle doesn’t happen the way you planned, it becomes important to look for peripheral miracles. Peripheral miracles are those that aren’t directly in front of you. They’re not the ones on which you’ve been too damned focused. You have to turn your head to see peripheral miracles.

Carry On, Warrior (261)

And, since the book contained selections from her blog, I will be able to refer back to some of my favorite pieces.

And then, there were the pieces that reminded me of other writers I love and admire and their unique battle cry.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Carry On, Warrior – in part for the reason I think everyone should read Can I Ask That and also for those little gems that challenge and bloom into truth for the giver and receiver.

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