Ten Things Tuesday #3

Annnnd it’s a streak, y’all.

Three weeks running.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who made this possible.

(you’re the real stars…

not really.)

(that just sent me down a youtube rabbit hole of Jenna Maroney’s best moments.)

Which seems like as good a place as any to start this week’s ten things:

  1. Playlist of the best moments of 30 Rock: go here. It’s just…so good.
  2. I miss living with a clothes dryer. Not for most things, but for towels and sheets? come ON. Nothing compares. I say this as I look at the two laundry racks currently festooned with stiffly drying clothes. sigh.
  3. Recently all I want to wear are Big Ol’ Sweaters. pants optional. The vibe I’m looking for is ‘shapeless.’ I’m wearing this one right now:
    get it here
    get it here. (that’s me in the picture. Lasik truly does work wonders)

    (but full disclosure I do not wear pants when I blog at home. i mean are you kidding me? that is the behavior of sociopaths.)

  4. I love poking around on other people’s blogs but I am so so so so uncomfortable about commenting. Am I the only one?  Is it that awkward for everyone else? I sense a post on this topic coming on…
  5. Ann Voskamp is a champion and basically everyone knows it, but this post messed me up, is messing me up, shall will should would may might must can could continue to mess me up, for always, because that’s what Jesus does: he messes you up. Read it, read it, read it.
  6. Over the past week I’ve come to some uncomfortable realities about my habits and my health, and the result of those things is this: I have had Brussels sprouts (Shannan’s) for two days in a row, and yesterday Nate made me run up a hill. I almost divorced him but Jesus kept us together.
  7. Do any of the rest of you use the stickynote feature as a sort of mental trashcan, so that whatever is stuck in your head ends up there and it multiplies and stages a hostile takeover of your desktop screen? Just me? Okay then.
  8. I found coconut water at Emart and I’ve been hoarding the last two bottles. So good.
  9. Four more nights with the Serial Killer Eye Guards. I’m gonna miss those weirdos. (no I’m not.)
  10. The East Coast of the US is getting HAMMERED by winter storms, and I’m so jealous it’s making me a little twitchy. Be safe, but o my friends, revel for those of us whose winters are barren.

 

About 2014

Most years I’ve been the one saying ‘I can’t believe it’s already [year]!

With the appropriate reference like ‘I’m still writing [previous year] on my [thing not as outdated as checks]!

Cross it out, y’all. (via)

But this year?

Oh baby. Not this year. Six days into 2015 and 2014 feels light years away, and that’s the grace of God. Feels like settling in for a long drive, but knowing that you’re heading home.

I’m late to the ‘year-in-review’ posts (and the Christmas posts and the New Year’s posts and the all the posts okay) so let me just say this:

2014 was the worst. It was the best, but it was the worst. It really was, and I’m allowed to say it. I was at my worst and my best in it. Six days into the new year, with 2014 ever growing smaller in the rearview, I can say that I’m grateful for last year, stone-cold hard-truth grateful. And also that I welcome every day of 2015 that takes me further away from it.

We’re nearing the end of the heady wintry combo of Christmas-New Year’s-anniversary– 1 year of marriage in five days!!!–and so Nate and I have been interjecting ‘remember when’s’ throughout the days since January 1. They’ve run the range from the fun

(‘remember when we took our wedding cake to the hotel room and it melted so we drank it from the champagne glasses that the hotel sent up’)

to the mundane

(‘remember that this time last year we were skyping and you were in the Tokyo airport and I had just gotten back to Daegu’)

to the please-shall-we-forget-that-bit

(‘remember when we had a giant fight on Valentine’s Day because of a miscommunication via text message’).

But aside from hilarious-to-us conversations I’ve been prompted to ruminate on the past year and on its highs and its many lows.

Highs:

Last year was stable professionally. We have good jobs and didn’t have to worry about them. We could afford the many hospital and doctor visits. We could afford the juicer we ended up buying (on sale, with gift cards) which happened to contribute to the decrease of said hospital visits. One of my little brothers got married and another little brother became a dad for the first time. I made this blog. Nate made a blog. Nate began the ordination process. We decided to move to California. New friendships sprouted and old ones bloomed.

And of course, I married Nathan.

and he grew This Beard. #bless #plaid #yea #amen
and he grew This Beard. #bless #plaid #yea #amen

I can’t explain how much God has used him in my life, and how much it’s meant to grow with him. I’m addicted. Marriage has been the setting for some of my worst moments this year/ever, but that’s meant that it’s also been the setting for God’s greatest redemptive work in me. Our first year has tested our vows in some very literal ways. Better and worse and sickness and health. You guys, my husband– he’s incredible. So patient. So faithful. So funny, and so sweet. And biceps for dayyyyyz. #slay

Even just writing that paragraph has distracted me from the lows of the year, which is no small feat.

Lows:

2014 was the Year We Got Sick. Because listen.

I had mutant canker sores for weeks that reduced me to eating frozen bananas because it was all I could tolerate. Nothing helped, until a combination of brushing five times a day and alternating rinses of hydrogen peroxide and Listerine healed it all up. Now, nine months later, I still get the occasional canker sore more frequently than I used to, but nothing as bad as that initial festerfest. Then, Nate had UTIs. UTIs that eventually landed us in a Korean emergency room with our pastor and her husband in the middle of the night, UTIs that eventually got diagnosed as chronic prostatitis. In a healthy young man who was barely 30. Which was treated with drugs that gave him such awful reactions that we decided diet change and hoping were better than drugs and misery. Thank God, dietary changes he made have made a huge difference, and he hasn’t had an episode or a hospital visit in months now. Then there were the series of colds and coughs and Nate-threw-out-his-back LITERALLY  when we were heading out the door to church.

Then there was early summer, when I caught what we thought was food poisoning, wherein I was incapable of being out of bed for more than a few hours at a time and couldn’t eat anything but popsicles, and this went on for weeks, until my 27th birthday.  A Wednesday night, when I stared at 3 positive pregnancy tests and texted a picture to Nate at work. Followed by a Thursday of progressing from panic to joy to plans for the future. Followed by an early Friday morning cab ride to that same emergency room, a transfer to a different hospital, and a three-day stay before the minor surgery that removed the remaining traces of what had been.

Mutant Canker Sores and Prostatitis and Miscarriage.

I have so many posts written and unpublished about the miscarriage, and maybe one day I will share them, but the nutshell is that God is good, good, good. And He took very good care of us, and that counts as a high, even in the low of it.

Aside from physical sickness, 2014 was the year God knocked away every single thing I relied on or thought I could trust that wasn’t founded on Him. This was the Big Stuff, the stuff that hurt worse than any illness. The repercussions that linger long past aches and pains.  It was an everything-must-go sort of year. Relationships I’d built up for years were uprooted. Self-image completely dismantled. Beliefs overturned and revealed to be false. Wounds. Betrayals, even. Hurt like I did not know was possible.

I have seen that even the lows glorify God. In the midst of turmoil this year–physical, spiritual, emotional– I’ve learned to take the tumult to the Throne of God. Because this year knocked me out. Dragged me down low, took me places no one at all could reach me, including Nate, no one at all but Jesus.

Which is why I will remember 2014 as a year of Mercy over Judgment.

Mercy in the form of nurses who spoke English and slipped us encouraging notes when they saw us grieving.

In a husband who sacrificed himself to ease my mind in the midst of his own pain and hurt. Who repaid good for evil and patience for selfishness. In friends and family who prayed and fought for us when we couldn’t fight for ourselves.

Mercy in the words of Scripture that spoke the pain I couldn’t articulate. Mercy in the love of Christ to press me to the lowest point so that I could see how much I need Him. Mercy when I deserved to be condemned and abandoned and everything around me reinforced the idea that I would be. Mercy in the upward glimpses that come so often now.

At the end of it I’m so glad for 2014. So glad I am learning to put my hand in Christ’s and let Him lead the way into what’s ahead, no matter what it is.

A wee bit of thanks

I am thankful.

There are people who get grumpy about how thankfulness get so jam packed into this particular season and who inquire why folks don’t express gratitude more during the rest of the year, come on, right, ugh.

These are probably the same people who get annoyed by “I love you” mid-February.

But I say go for it. I am thankful all year round and I love my fambly and my Savior all year round, but what’s wrong with dedicating a holiday to it, drawing a little more emphasis than normal, surrounding love and gratitude with celebration? Calm down, cranky Facebook demagogues.

(but don’t start me on New Year’s resolutions. jk.)

Our wee little, baby little, fledgling Thanksgiving went off without significant hitches. We slept in (8.30!) and while Nate ran I made a triple batch of these beauties for the office T-day party before whipping up a salad and boiling the water for STOVE TOP STUFFING. A wedding gift that we’ve never yet used meant we could fit the entire meal (excluding salad) on one dish. Which we then ate off of communally. Hashtag life hack.

IMG_0339
the chicken looks terrifying. which is what you get when you buy it from the back of a pickup truck.

 

After Nate prayed a Thank You prayer, we feasted whilst watching a Friends Thanksgiving episode marathon. The football episode…so good.

we are all Chandler Bing.

Then a quick jaunt to work for a few hours for me, biscuits in tow, and now I’m home and Boy is working, and I am resisting mightily the leftovers in the fridge til he comes back to share them. #WifeOfTheYear

I’m thankful for so much this year. Not least of which that this year will soon end.

(Is that too sour? It’s true, though it’s also a topic for another post.)

But before it does, and before we move on from this amazing, carb-laden holiday:

I’m thankful for Nate. For our sprout of a marriage. For all the laughs and plans and dreams and lazy times and busy times and serving times and for making me better, and making me believe in better. I love you.

I’m thankful that I have what I have. I could live with less and I believe I will in the very near future. For now, we have jobs and money and benefits. I’m grateful.

I’m thankful for family far away. I miss them so much. I’m missing the crop of McNieces and McNephews grow up, and I hate that, but I’m grateful that they are there and well and provided for.

I’m thankful for family close by: friends who are family who will make leaving this country so, so hard.

I’m thankful that I’m loved and forgiven and valued by the Creator Himself. I’m thankful that there is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. I’m thankful that no matter how dark reality is, we have hope in Him.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Chewing the Daily Bread

Ug. Oof. Ow, even.

First, read this.

Oswald, sir, this is unfair.

Very few of us know anything about loyalty to Christ…[a]ll the rest is pious fraud.

Because it’s the sort of stop-you-in-your-tracks line that makes you reevaluate, or just plain ‘valuate, all the things you’ve been casually ushering into your heart. (my heart. that’s the one I’m talking about here.)

Oh Lord, where is my pious fraud?

Where am I resisting dependence on Him? Where am I, whether absentmindedly or out of sheer unredeemed cussedness, disloyal  to Jesus?

Rebellious is a sin word. Disobedient, too, and resistant. Those ones are easy to nod thoughtfully and soberly at, easy to analyze and think deeply on.

Disloyal is more. It’s personal. It’s betraying someone who trusts, someone who is owed loyalty. It stings worse.  It rips my perspective from mental assent to thrust it in view of the Cross of Christ. Where my Savior was crucified, and where I am bound to follow by my choice.

Right now, the Boy and I are facing some Stuff. Like a multiple choice question where all of the above and none of the above  seem like equally valid, textbook answers. I could make arguments for both sides, each seeming more Right than the last. Today as the Boy and I walked to the subway station on his way to work, we talked about the Stuff in the light of this devotional.

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How about this way?

What if my response to hard things isn’t that Christ-loyal instinct? That unmistakable witness? What does that mean?

Some things are easy to surrender, but when I think about others, the only answer is an honest-as-I-can I don’t know.

It’s a learned submission, a deliberate choice, that I assume I’ve got down and thus fail to practice.  But He keeps bringing me back to the brink of it. This is the loyalty of God when I don’t act like I know the meaning of the word.  Have I chosen it today? in all things? Or do I yet hunker inside that brittle enclosure of human independence?

Lord, today (again) I resign my rights. Hide my life in Yours. 

Mobile Word Ministry

I learned from my mother, who always told us the same story: ‘I said I’d never marry a pastor.’ ‘The last thing I wanted was to be making babies and oatmeal.’ ‘I swore I’d never be in the same room with anyone under 12 if I could help it.’

Thus saith Sally, 35-years married to a pastor, mother of 10, sometime 4th-grade teacher, and purveyor of millions of bowls of oatmeal.

Lesson being: never say never. (courtesy of my mother, and also, the Biebs.)

So I didn’t. I never said never.

I just thought it.

But then came The Boy. And I retroactively realized that the never (verb) never rule applies to thinking as well. And I couldn’t be happier that I got it wrong.

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From our first post-engagement Bible study, lo these many moons ago.

Because this guy’s got a calling from Jesus. He’s the most pastor-y person I know. He can’t help it. I married a pastor-in-training, a pastor in heart and head and all but employ.

We believe that God has a place intended for him to minister…for us to minister, as much as those italics make me squirm.

And the first step–scratch that. The millionth step already, in two lives full of steps, is here. “The ministry blog” we called it to ourselves, during the 2014 Spring of Planning that became the 2014 Summer of Inevitable Delays. The labor of love from the girl who spent years blogging sporadically about things that didn’t matter at all, and The Boy with a gift for saying things that matter very much but to whom ‘blog’ was a sound you made about food you disliked. But it’s real, and it’s up, and the words God gives The Boy every week are for everyone to read. Now it’s called Mobile Word. Because the Gospel isn’t static but dynamic. Made to move. Just like we are.

Devotionals every Tuesday, reflections on the Word and the Walk every Thursday.

Go and read. And may it bless you the very most.