"There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage."
--Martin Luther

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Reformation Day!

On this day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany, beginning what became known as the Protestant Reformation. I like to take a moment to pause and reflect on the courage of Luther in standing up for Truth even when this pitted him against church leaders. If you get a chance, take a few minutes to read up on his amazing life story.

Today is also Halloween. I know Christians are often divided on how to respond to this day. Because we are new to our neighbourhood and have had limited exposure to our neighbours, I will stay home and hand out candy to the kids. I hope to at least get to know a few names and faces from the area. Bonus: Since it is Reformation Day., I feel like it's appropriate to wear break out my dirndl. That's not weird, right? (Wait, don't answer that... :-D)

Sunday, 28 October 2012

...But God

I recently attended a fellowship lunch with my Bible study group. Our study time is fairly rushed, so we focus on the Word rather than spending much time getting to know one another. The lunch was a wonderful chance to hear peoples' stories, and what fascinating stories they were!

As I listened, there was one common theme that stood out. I kept hearing statements like, “I was so unhappy when I moved, but...” or “I didn't understand why this would happen, but...” We had all had experiences of coming to a place or situation that we just did not like or understand, but God met us there.

It was a great reminder of my own short-sightedness. So often, if I do not see the immediate results or if I feel pressed at this moment, I do not understand why things have to be a certain way. Yet, I have been through so many difficulties that God ultimately used to produce more lasting effects that I ever would have imagined. I must remember to live day by day in anticipation of the “but God” to come.


Ephesians 2:1-5 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. . .

Romans 5:6-8 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Genesis 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

1 Corinthians 1:26-27 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.

Monday, 22 October 2012

One

It's hard to believe it, but as of today, Gil and I have been married for a whole year.  Honestly, it feels like the past 12 months have soared by.  I remember thinking in the midst of our house-hunting search that one day, it would feel like our time renting the condo was a tiny blip in our life, and it already does.

This year has had its challenges, but through it all I have never once looked back and regretted giving up my Ottawa life to marry Gil.  He has been my rock and my best friend in his own quiet way, and I am so blessed to have him.

We are celebrating quietly since, of course, my husband ended up being on call.  I'm hoping we can squeeze in a nice dinner out some time this week, but the most important thing for me is just taking time to remember how we got here and to celebrate the blessing our marriage has been.  Of course, it's an added bonus that a few minutes ago, the doorbell rang and I received a delivery of beautiful roses that my husband had ordered.  Nice work, Gil!

Edit:  We did go out to dinner!  Gil emailed me at 7:15pm to say he would be able to get away from work in time for dinner, and had made reservations.  We went to a great Italian place and came home to enjoy coffee and a cupcake from the same bakery that supplied our wedding.

Looking forward to many more fabulous years together!



Thursday, 18 October 2012

Oh, That Adam and Eve...

Wrecked. Alone. Ashamed. Foolish. This is how I was feeling the other night. I try not to blog much about within my marriage, because those are, well, personal. We do have conflict and strife at times (like everyone does), and this past week was fairly eye-opening to me.

One evening last week, I sat down with Gil to talk about an issue that had been bothering me. It was something we had discussed previously, but I did not feel like he had been working towards making things better, and as time went on, I found myself growing bitter about it. Didn't he care? Didn't he see this was hurting me? I sat down with Gil to have a heart-to-heart talk, and he promised to work on the issue, although he still thought I was over-thinking things. It seems like a typical, boring, married-people discussion, right?

After we went to bed, everything changed. I couldn't sleep, and my mind was filled with doubts and anxieties. Did Gil really care? Had I screwed up our relationship? What if this issue was never resolved and we had to live with it for the next few decades? I oscillated between anger that Gil didn't seem to care about my feelings, and regret that I had brought this up in the first place. I felt like a terrible, unloving wife. Despite the anger and regret, though, my overwhelming feeling was shame. I was embarrased that I been so vulnerable in the first place. I was ashamed that I could not overcome my emotions. To top it off, I was ashamed of my shame, because I should have felt free to be vulnerable with my husband. The words that kept flashing through my mind were, “I feel naked and ashamed.”

You see, that morning I had attended a Bible study where we discussed Genesis 3. Although I've probably read that chapter a thousand times, being married brings it to life in a different way. When I woke up after that awful night of second-guessing my actions, I realized that Genesis 3 holds some answers for me right now. Firstly, that this struggle is normal. Shame is was one of the first consequences of sin: Adam and Eve were suddenly embarassed of being naked, even though they were married and one flesh (not to mention they were the only people around). To me, this means that my feelings of discomfort with being (emotionally) exposed to my husband are deeply rooted, and will take time and prayer to get over. Moreover, verse 16 pretty much guarantees that conflict will happen in a marriage, so if Gil and I have trouble resolving an issue, it's not because there is something wrong with us personally. It seems strange, but the idea that marital conflict is a guarantee actually gave me a lot of comfort, if only because it reminded me that we are normal and not failures at marriage this early in the game. On the other hand, Genesis 3 also holds the promise of redemption. Jesus came and He allows us to break free of the patterns of sin, so that even though I can be sure we will always have conflict, I can also trust that as we grow our characters in faith, we will be growing in our abilities to respond to each other with love and grace.

And our issue? We're still working at it. We spoke again over the weekend, and I apologized for coming on a bit too strong. Gil has also been doing his part to make things better. And I am reminded that there is always hope in Christ, for our marriage and for all other things too!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

On the Lighter Side...

Remember how I blogged about all the pressure I feel about having babies?   Sometimes you just have to choose to laugh instead of getting stressed out.  For example, my mom has lately taken to telling me all her favourite baby names, just in case.  I've reminded her that she already had the chance to name me and my brother, but she persists in throwing random options out there, and honestly, they are all really weird!

The most recent example of this is that my mom just got back from in Italy and was eager to tell me her new favourite girls name:  Lucrezia.  Let's just note that any future biological babies will be Belgian-English-Scottish-Chinese-Canadian, with some Malaysian and German cultural heritage thrown in for good measure, but certainly not Italian.  Not to mention that the only association I have for that name is the Renaissance figure Lucrezia Borgia.*  Sometimes, she makes me want to pull an Elizabeth Bennet and shake my head while softly murmuring, "Oh, mamma..."  It also makes me wonder what kind of name she'd have chosen if she had gone to some place like Iceland** instead.

Does anyone else experience this??  How do you handle it?


*According to Wikipedia, "Lucrezia Borgia (18 April 1480 – 24 June 1519) was the illegitimate daughter of Rodrigo Borgia,  the powerful Renaissance Valencian who later became Pope Alexander VI, and Vannozza dei Cattanei.  Her brothers included Cesare Borgia, Giovanni Borgia, and Gioffre Borgia.  It is often suggested that Cesare and Lucrezia may have had an incestuous relationship." You can read the full article here.  Hmmm, I'm not so sure I want to name my future daughter after this person....

**According to this site, one of the most popular girls' names in Iceland for 2010 was Hrafnhildur.  (And I'm not naming my kid that either!)

Monday, 8 October 2012

Thankful

This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving.  Since my mom is on vacation, Gil and I decided not to bother with turkey, pumpkin pie, etc.  (Actually, I hate pumpkin pie.  Honest.  It is one of the few desserts that I cannot stomach.)  We "celebrated" non-traditionally by going out for a dim sum lunch, because nothing says Thanksgiving like BBQ pork buns.

There is, however, nothing about turkey and mashed turnips that make one more thankful than on other days, so we are still trying to be extra-cognizant this weekend of the tremendous blessings in our life and to be thankful for them.

Some things I am thankful for:
--God's gift of salvation
--50 amazing weeks of marriage to a fantastic husband
--Our home
--Family
--Cats
--The last 10 years as a Christian.  Some of them were very difficult, and I am still growing, but I can truly say I have a changed and redeemed life
--Coffee
--Wonderful friends all over the planet
--The opportunities I have had to travel and see the world

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  What are you thankful for this weekend?

Saturday, 6 October 2012

A Great Day

Last Sunday was a great day.  Our church was having a ministry fair after both services that morning.  As I mentioned last week, I've started serving with the youth ministry, so I volunteered to help at the youth display.  Gil was on-call, so he was out of the house super-early anyway.  Helping out was fun, and I got to know our youth pastor and some other volunteers a bit better.

After the second service, I ran into someone I know from prayer group.  We are among the only younger ladies who attend.  She mentioned that she would be going to a potluck lunch and she had wanted to invite me, but did not have my number or phone number.  I got the information and drove out to the potluck.  It was a fun afternoon, with some games and just chatting with new people.  I left a bit early to head home before a family birthday dinner that evening.

Why am I telling you all these boring details?  Why was this such a great day?  It's not like the potluck games were the most fun I'd ever played, or the ministry fair was amazing.  The great thing about Sunday was that for the first time in nearly a year, it felt a bit like my Ottawa life.  It felt as though I was part of the church rather than someone who just shows up on Sundays.  It felt like I was making friends rather than just shaking hands with strangers at the service.  I love Gil, and I love my life with him, but it felt like I finally had a Toronto life outside of my marriage, and that felt soooo good.

Interestingly, this past week at my Bible study, we were talking about Genesis 2.  One of the leader's comments was something like, "Can we trust God to put the right relationship in our life at the right time?"  The immediate context was, of course, Adam and Eve, but it is so applicable in other areas of life as well.  It felt like I waited a looooooong time for my husband to come into the picture, but when he did, he was worth the wait.  Likewise, I feel like I've been waiting a long time to make friends at our church, but I have faith that God has been using this lonely time in my life to develop me.  Can't wait to see what He does in these new friendships over the next stage of my life!