I have so many blog posts that are half written, and who knows if this one will actually get finished either. I tend to start writing when the house is quiet and things that have been building up for a while just start coming out. It’s 9:30pm and I should be doing my work so that I can go on to bed at a reasonable time, but instead I just want to get some things off my chest.

My life is beautiful.

It is not what I thought my life would be and, to be sure, there are parts that I wish were different. But I am thankful. I love my job. I am healthy. I am surrounded by people that love me. I have an incredible husband who in every way is more than I will ever deserve. This life is beautiful.

My life is hard.

There are things I wish I could change– moments in time I would like to do over. There are patterns in my life that have developed over the last 20 years that I am slowly unraveling. There are circumstances that I wish I could control and people that I wish understood me better. This life is hard.

My life is not my own.

There are many things I wonder about, many questions that keep me up at night. But here is one thing I know- I am not my own. I’ve been bought with a price, and though I forget again, and again, and again, Jesus reminds me that I am his. My life belongs to another.

My life is a constant contradiction.

I saw something on Twitter or Facebook recently that said something like, “If you are a jerk then you have missed the Gospel.” I honestly don’t remember who said the quote (sorry if it was you!) but I think maybe you were talking about me.*

Because I am a jerk– All. the. time. I might be pretty good at concealing it, but deep down it’s there. Except, here’s the thing… I haven’t missed the Gospel. I just forget it. In that moment when my husband gets home a little later than I thought and I FREAK out on him… I’m forgetting the Gospel. When I give in to anxiety and obsess about things I can’t control, I’m forgetting the Gospel. When I get annoyed at a person (a soul that Jesus loves and died for) because she didn’t do something on my timetable, I’m forgetting the Gospel. In fact, I think we can say that any time we as believers act in a way that is opposed to our nature in Christ, it’s not that we have missed the Gospel (ie, that we don’t understand and embrace it in a salvific way) it’s that we have forgotten it.

Forgetting seems so benign… as though we can’t really help it. On any given day, I forget to bring the diaper bag along on an outing or I forget where I put my keys when we get home. Sometimes I can’t remember if conversations really happened or if I dreamed them. Just like the foreign language you learned in high school or the trig graph you used to be able to draw…. things that used to be clear are now foggy.

And so we need to remind ourselves. We need to be constantly about the business of reminding each other of the Gospel. And I will tell you from personal experience when someone does this for me, it’s like a window being opened in a room that has been shut up all winter. The beautiful sweet air of the Gospel flows freely into my heart and whispers truth to my soul. I’m reminded of the better way, the True Way, of being human. And for a moment I can stop being a jerk. Not because I’m trying harder, or because I understand things better, but because I’ve been utterly captured by the Gospel. And for that one brief moment, I stop being a contradiction and I remember who I really am. A daughter of the King.


*[To be fair, I think I know what what he/she is getting at… that being a jerk to other people isn’t consistent with the love of the Gospel, and if we’ve been really changed by the Gospel we will love others like we’ve been loved. But I know that I have been changed by the Gospel… and I’m still a jerk. I don’t always love other people (even my husband!) the way I’ve been loved. I’m selfish and petty and lazy. But, I’m thankful that one day those things will pass away and I’ll see clearly then what is now so foggy.]

Friday Roundup 2.10.12

I’ve got some really good links this week! And, if you’re like me, you could use some food for thought. I’ve been absorbed in the day-to-day tasks of being a wife and mommy this week– I haven’t done a great job of getting outside myself. But these articles have helped me think a little… which is always good!

Watch Your Conjunctions in Parenting from The Gospel Coalition. Jeremy Pierre echos many of the ideas I’ve been reading about in Give them Grace. I like what he says about exchanging “but” for “so”.

Using but may be communicating something we don’t want to say—namely, that there is some kind of conceptual opposition between “I love you” and “You need to obey.” […] The but has to go. Try so instead. “I love you, so you need to obey.” This conjunction more effectively communicates the logical relationship between the two concepts. It’s not a relationship of opposition, but of grounding. The reason you are to obey me is because I already love you. This is how parents can be grace-based while insisting on obedience. We should never communicate even a hint of opposition between parental love and children’s obedience.

The Single Greatest Determiner of a Lasting Marriage from She Worships. Sharon writes about a study she came across from Psychologist John Gottman. Fascinating stuff here… convicting stuff.

Specifically, Gottman conducted a study in which he videotaped newlyweds discussing an issue about which they disagreed, and then he tracked the couples over the following years to see which couples stayed together and which ones divorced. […] And what were the characteristics of a doomed marriage? Gottman observed that in couples who later divorced, there was an element of contempt in their disagreements with one another. While arguing, they were condescending, they froze one another out by refusing to listen, and they tore one another down with name-calling and insults.

The New Christian Abolition Movement from CNN. Reporter Eric Marrapodi educates us on sex trafficking and what some groups are doing to combat it. The story is centered on what is going on in my beloved state of North Carolina, so I found this to be especially close to home for me.

Motivated in large part by their religious traditions of protecting the vulnerable and serving “the least of these,” as Jesus instructed his followers to do in the Gospel of Matthew, World Relief and other Christian agencies like the Salvation Army are stepping up efforts and working with law enforcement to stem the flow of human trafficking, which includes sex trafficking and labor trafficking. “Jesus didn’t just go around telling people about himself.  He also healed the blind and healed the brokenhearted, he freed captives, and I think that it would be ridiculous to walk up to someone who is hurting and tell them, ‘Let me tell you about the Gospel,’ and then walk away while they’re still hurting,” Mitchell says.

The Return of the Journal of Biblical Counseling (!) from Between Two Worlds. Justin Taylor briefly explains why so many of us are excited about the JBC returning. David Powlison, who ranks right up there with Keller in my book, is the editor of the JBC. Piper says of Powlison:

Among living authors who think deeply about the Word of God and the workings of the human soul, I know of no one who writes more perceptively or ministers more deeply to me than David Powlison. . . . There are many today who specialize in soul-care or deep, faithful grasp of biblical theology; but there are few who do both. David Powlison does both.

I hope your Friday is amazing, friends! Now go and read something (The Hunger Games do not count… in case you were wondering!) 🙂

And then this happened…

I love old things. Old houses, old barns, old people. Truly, I’ve thought for a long time that old people are actually way cooler than new people. The same goes for furniture and dishes. I live in an old house and have a lot of old stuff in it. And it’s worked out pretty well.

And then this happened.

This china cabinet was given to me by my parents. My dad’s family acquired it sometime in the 1930’s. As a little girl growing up, I remember it being filled with pretty china and crystal– this exact china and crystal, actually. When I got married, my mother asked if I wanted any of the family china. I had always loved her china and was thrilled that she was offering it to me. It’s a beautiful pattern– subtle silver and gray accents on bone white china. Very understated considering it was purchased in 1974!

I’m not a terribly sentimental person when it comes to stuff. I will throw away things in a heart beat. I don’t like clutter and have no problem tossing out things that have served their purpose but are no longer needed. But when the shelf collapsed today and glasses and cups started sliding forward, my heart sank. I’m pretty sure it happened in slow motion. The shelf slowly gave way… like someone who has been holding up something too heavy for too long. It just decided it was time to take a deep breath and lay down its burden.

I texted Michael a picture and asked him to call me. He said he would fix it when he got home. And so I walked past the sad china cabinet all day, hoping that we would be able to rescue the china and crystal inside. When Michael got home and assessed the situation, I think he was almost excited. It was like a puzzle for him– a giant version of Jenga. We put some pillows down on the floor and rehearsed what we would do. The original plan was to open the left door very slowly and use a wooden spoon to support the pieces that were resting against the door. The wooden spoon quickly proved too wide, so we opted for a metal spatula. That looked like it might work, then we realized it was too short.

Then, with an excitement that I can only describe as knowing that you have the right tool for the job, Michael quickly ran to the barn and grabbed his T-square. Who knew the day would be saved by a really big ruler?

We were able to save every single piece– that’s just crazy to me! Nothing broke when the shelf originally gave way, and nothing broke as we opened the door and cautiously removed the china and crystal piece by piece. It was such a chaotic mess with glasses and cups all tangled together. And then, as if nothing happened, it was all put right again.

This whole episode has made me think about how often I feel like my life is the jumbled up china cabinet. Everything is precariously situated, just waiting for the door to open and my life to come crashing down. We’re all so delicate and fragile– we will break if we aren’t careful with each other. But, I also know that we can all be put right again. Sometimes all we can do is wait. Though it feels hopeless, I know we won’t stay jumbled up forever. Of that I am sure.

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You are Fantastic

The past few months at the Holm house have been a bit tougher than usual. Long days, health problems, hurting friends, heavy workloads, lack of sleep– it has all worked together to produce some weariness in both Michael and myself. And while I think we’re handling things well, we’re also tired. I know I haven’t been as cheery as I normally am when he comes home. I am still so happy to see him after a long day of just me and the Bullfrog, but I haven’t been communicating it as well.

Marriage brings together two people and creates something special. But even though you may love your husband and he may love you back, often it takes more than love for a marriage to survive.

Our marriages need to be tended everyday like gardens. You can’t just water your plants once a month or forget to pull the weeds. If you do, then you won’t have a garden very long, but instead a place where the garden used to be. You have to be aware of the conditions outside– has it rained recently? Is it going to get above 90 degrees this week? All of that needs to be taken into account to help you plan how to tend your garden.

There is so much that happens in a given day that can bring you closer to your husband. It can also pull you just a tiny bit farther apart if you aren’t careful. Being aware of those things, and adjusting how you care for one another can really go a long way to helping your marriage survive. If there is distance between you– if you don’t feel close– it’s not going to magically fix itself if you “give it time.” Contrary to popular opinion, time doesn’t heal all wounds… in fact, given enough time, we’ll all die and rot away.

Tending your marriage is going to look different for you than it does for me. For instance, one of the things Michael and I will do when we need to spend time together but we’re too drained for anything else is to play Nintendo. Specifically, Mario Kart. This is probably not going to work for most of you, but for us it’s a fun thing to do where we are interacting, snuggling, joking, and trash talking each other. He always beats me, but that’s okay.

And of course, there are the date nights, flowers, cards, and sweet texts throughout the day– we try to tend to our marriage in as many ways as we can. So when I came across this blog post from How About Orange I decided to stop what I was doing right then and make a banner for Michael. It was during J’s nap and he had already slept for about an hour and a half, so you know I was on borrowed time to try and get anything else done. But, I didn’t file it away to do later, when the ideal circumstances presented themselves. I like to imagine there will come a day when my house is clean and I’ll have a space to myself where my craft supplies are beautifully organized. There will be music playing and a cup of hot tea sitting next to my sewing machine. I will also have more than 15 minutes to spend working on a project. But, that day is not today (or likely to be anytime soon) so instead I furiously printed, cut and pasted, and strung this banner together. I did not design it myself, cut it out perfectly along the lines, or print it on card stock as recommended. This is not an example of me at my creative best; it is instead an example of how I tended to my marriage today. Right Now.

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