Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Root of the Root – Marriage in the Second Decade

I loved his writing before it was trendy. Before it made it in to movies. Before it was quoted in books. As a lover of books and words and poetry, I knew e. e. cummings before he was pop culture cool. And being a writer who loves breaking rules, his eccentric, whimsical ways with grammatical and linguistic rules has always appealed to me.

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] has always been a favourite. As my anniversary rolled around this year – twenty one years with my guy – it was those words that came to mind. I’m not going to claim to have all the answers (or any answers) about marriage. It’s a mystery. But we’ve crossed the threshold of decades together, so maybe there is something I can say.

We Carry Each Other
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
This is one thing I know for sure: I would not be here today without my husband. I’ve written here and there about his patience, his caring, and his hands that have held me through all the trials that we’ve walked through. He is there. Sometimes it seems like he has always been there. And I carry him with me, even when we are apart. I carry him with me when I am head over heels dizzy about him. I carry him with me even when I am furious and frustrated with him – when I want to throw a skillet at him. Trust me. It happens. Marriage between two flawed, beautifully human people produces laughter and tears. And through it all, I carry him with me. We carry each other.

We Fear Nothing if We Are Together
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
After twenty-one years together I feel like we’ve discovered our groove; our system; our jam. We have turned into one of “those couples” who can finish sentences and get inside each other’s heads. We have those moments (more and more often) when one person comments on something and the other laughs and says, “don’t even – I was just thinking that!” Together, we can tackle everything from a new debilitating diagnosis, to financial crisis, to traffic (a friend once told me we are Statler and Waldorf – remember the Muppet theater? – when we get in the car). We can do this because we’ve done it before. With a huge helping of God’s grace and strength. And because we work.

If I share nothing else – perhaps with those who are still in the three to five year phase of their marriage vows – I have to share this: love and marriage is work. To live and breathe move in and amidst each our lives in (mostly) harmony requires commitment, investment, a bucket of grace, and a flexible sense of humor. Even the best of friends (and it really is the greatest if you’re married to your best friend) will butt heads and be unable to see eyeball to eyeball. The parts that help you balance each other are also the parts that will make you go head to head and nose to nose. But stick with it. Holding fast together through the storms and the waves is the best thing you can do. You will deepen together. You will grow together. You will find refuge together. You will find your love that endures.

We Still Find Wonder
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
I’ve read somewhere that after a certain period of time, marriage can become dull and boring. Its participants falling out of the sparkly, shiny Disney romance that marks the beginning of a courtship. But listen up people (or perhaps don’t listen – to those other voices) – it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m not saying that you’ll live in a permanent haze of glistening romance twenty-four-seven for ever and ever, but don’t believe for one second that you have to fall out of anything or lose those shivery feelings.

You will have days of the mundane ordinary, but you will also have days when you feel like giggly teenagers sneaking around the halls at school. There is no expiration on romance.

One of my favourite things about my husband is that he brings out my goofiness. I don’t have much, but he can find it. I love that he makes me laugh. I don’t laugh enough. I love that I can be wholly and fully myself with him – the good, the bad, the crazy. He might be the only person who sees all the facets.

The thing that makes the laughter happen; that makes the sparkle still happen; the makes the romance linger – find wonder together. It might be as grand as a trip to Paris with a stopover in the Tuscan country side (massive props if you pull that one off!), but it can also be as simple as a walk along the seaside watching the sun set. Finding wonder together means the willingness to slow down; to deliberately set aside time for each other; and to learn what the other person loves and share that with them.

Marriage is good. It’s hard. Damn hard. But it’s good. It was created, blessed, and called “good” by One much higher than I, and I believe that Word. I believe it is the root of the root, and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky. I believe it with my heart. I believe it with my life.
So to Shawn Patrick, on the advent of twenty-one years of doing this marriage thing together – I love you. I carry your heart, and love that you carry mine. I am never without you. You do all the things to me. With you, I am not afraid. I am ready for whatever life brings our way. You are my sun and stars. I will be the moon of your life. We share the deepest secret that nobody knows and it goes as deep as the root of the root and bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of this thing called life. I love you. Let’s do a few more decades together. That is all.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Fulfilled :: A Book Review and Giveaway

“God has a plan, and He is always willing to share His plans with us. He reveals His way to us through the truth of His written Word. We can trust Him and believe what He says more than what the surrounding circumstances are telling us.”
There are so many nuggets of truth like this; woven into the text of Fulfilled, by Danise Jurado. When I was originally asked to review her first book, I wasn’t sure who Danise was and what story she would tell, but I’m so glad I dived in and found out.

Danise has served as a pastoral counselor at Angelus Temple and The Dream Center in Los Angeles, California under the leadership of Pastors Matthew and Caroline Barnett since 2001. She is also the Director of The Dream Center Transitions Program. Danise is a gifted speaker and teacher; sharing at churches, conferences and faithfully teaching a weekly women's Bible study at The Dream Center. She is passionate about encouraging and equipping people to reach their most fulfilled life in Christ.

Fulfilled: Learning to Live the Life God Promised, is full of authentic, vulnerable moments and scripture references that have been close to her heart as Danise shares her journey with us. She walks us through from Forgiveness, to Restoration, to Change, all the way to Living Fulfilled. Each chapter guiding the reader through meditations, practical application, and homework (yes – homework!) designed to help us apply God’s truth in our lives and find freedom in His name.

Danise reminds us that clinging to God’s truth is not always easy or comfortable, but that opening ourselves to Him in complete vulnerability is a risk worth taking; because God is our only safe place. Under the shelter of His wings, we can let go completely. We can be our imperfect, broken selves, and know that God our Father holds in in His hands and calls us His own.

She challenges us to embrace seven principles for lasting change:
  • Revelation – change needs to happen
  • Education – change what we know
  • Proclamation – change what we say
  • Meditation – change what we think
  • Action – change what we do
  • Motivation – change takes time, so don’t quit
  • Recognition – change what we see
Danise is frankly honest about the struggles she and her family have been through. She speaks candidly about addiction; about wrestling with food; about overcoming situations of loss – fighting back after multiple robberies made her family’s dreams for their own business seem impossible. In every situation, she steers her readers back to God’s word – encouraging us to ground ourselves fully in the truth and to arm ourselves with the protection of spiritual armor.

In the end, it is about allowing God to be the author and definer of our faith and our lives. Surrendering fully to Him so that we can live fulfilled in the life that He has designed for us and is calling us to.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

It has been a privilege to read and review this book from Danise Jurado. I’ve enjoyed it so much and found it to be full of encouraging and eye opening truths. I’m happy to have a signed copy of Fulfilled to share with my readers, a generous gift from Danise. Just click through the link below to win her book and a Fulfilled tote bag. I look forward to announcing the winner at the end of the week!

Fulfilled Book Giveaway Danise is also hosting a $100 give away for participants who post an image of the cover of her book (on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook) and tag her @DaniseJurado and use the #Fulfilled hashtag on social media!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Prayer for the Middle School Years

It’s back to school time again, if you can believe it. It seems like just last week we were standing crowded together under shade trees watching our girlie cross the bridge in her graduation from fifth grade. A milestone. Leaving the elementary years behind. I always think summer will be longer. But back to school is just weeks away (thankfully, still weeks), but Target has had their “back to school” section up for over a month and transition day for incoming sixth graders is next week. It’s time.

My sister had a special blessing ceremony for her son a couple of weeks ago. He and my sweet girl are making the journey into Middle School at the same time. She asked that we gather to pray over him, and if we’d like, to write a prayer, a hope, a blessing for him.

 As I sat to write, they both came to mind. These beautiful kids, just eight months apart. It’s hard to believe that our babies are ready for this – possibly the hardest of all the school years. Weren’t they just little bugs running around in the back yard a month ago? He’s growing into a strong young man – quiet at times, but full of energy and exploration. And my girl? My Amazon princess dominates the scene (this is probably my last summer to be taller than her) but still smiles her sweet, gentle smile. She reads voraciously (inhales is more like it) and engineers the most amazing creations in Minecraft.

I wrote this prayer; this blessing for them both. This reminder; this chronicle of hopes and dreams for where they’re heading. I did read it as we prayed over him that day – only making it through without choking on my own tears by holding very tightly to my husband's hand. It's an awesome thing, launching our kids out there.

As You Begin Middle School 

This is a door.
A threshold.
A gateway to your next grand adventure.
The beginning of a farewell to the boy (and the girl) you have been;
As you look ahead to the young man (and young woman) you will become.
Above all else, remember, you are loved.
The God of the universe
who cast bright lights into the ink dark sky;
who marks the movements of all creatures great and small;
He keeps His hand on you,
and He loves you.

Remember the foundation from which you come.
The strength of your family,
the history of their faith,
the lessons and ties
that bind your hearts one with another,
And remember, you are loved.

Remember the feel of the grass beneath your feet;
the cool squish of mud between your toes.
Remember the feel of a bare branch
in the palm of your hand
as you climb through the trees.
Remember to breathe in the air
and look to the sky;
not getting lost in all things
of hard steel and gleaming technology.
And remember, you are loved.

Remember to be brave
in the face of all things unknown.
Press the boundaries
and make your way.
Discover what lies
beneath, behind, and beyond.
Do not be afraid to stand alone.
You are never alone.
Remember, you are loved.

Remember to be kind.
There is pain and shame and terror
in everyone’s story –
and some stories are not yet told.
Remember that gentleness
turns away wrath
and is its own brand of matchless strength.
Never forget grace –
For yourself and for those around you.
And remember, you are loved.

Remember life can be hard;
and things worth achieving
are worth the work and the trial
and every measure of yourself
you pour in to them to accomplish your goals.
But remember too,
that life is full of hidden joy
and sacred spaces
that can unlock your deepest laughter –
enough to make the stars shine.
And always, remember you are loved.

Remember that even this doorway
is only a passage through
to another journey.
There are more thresholds to cross,
more paths to wander down
more places to discover.
Any stumbling block
or celebration in these next years
simply become building blocks
in the creation of your character
and your experience.
They will make you who you’ll become.

Remember that the Lord goes before you.
He walks behind you.
He walks beside you.
He carries you in the palm of His hand.
He is strength in your weakness,
He is your rock and your hiding place,
He is your light and your salvation.
Remember that you are His,
and He knows your name.
And always,
remember you are loved.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

purposefulfaith.comThese words aren't just for our kids. I'm linking up with Kelly Balarie and friends at the #RaRaLinkup to encourage others. I hope you are encouraged!

Monday, August 10, 2015

When Friendship is Born :: An FMFParty Snail Mail Give Away (for Round 7)

There are so many reasons we write. We are called. He speaks to us though His word or through prayer and we have something to share. For some of us, it is almost as simultaneous as breathing. The words wrap themselves around the lines of our heart and wend their way out into existence to empower, encourage, and exalt those around us in our communities.

Joining in the letter writing adventure that is #fmfpartysnailmail takes all of those reasons and focuses that love and encouragement on one person at a time. One letter at a time. One week at a time. We reach across time zones and state lines (even countries at this point!) and bring a smile to the faces of the women on our lists and the knowledge that a sister in Christ is praying for them and thinking of them.

If you participate in the #fmfparty and this community, you’re probably already building friendships and growing relationships based on faith, shared interests, and a love of words. This is just another layer of that friendship.

The fmfparty community has been such an important part of my life over the past months. From the very first conversation on Twitter that sparked it, to all the rounds up until now. Life happens and I try to listen, so I chose to sit this round out, while still remaining on the leadership team, and am so grateful for grace from my fellow leaders for this downtime. But I didn't want to miss it all completely, so I'm excited to host this week's giveaway with lovely items donated by participants in Round 7. 

This week's giveaway is $25 to Dayspring from Kaitlyn, an Amazon gift card, stationery, and stickers from Shannan, a bracelet from Patti, "Building the Christian Family You Never Had" by Mary E DeMuth from Debi, "Let's All Be Brave" by Annie Downs from Tara, and a crocheted hat by Andrea! Entries are open to fmfparty snail mail Round 7 participants only, and we look forward to sharing the winner at the end of the week!

In 1 Thessalonians 5 (MSG), Paul writes: “So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.” You’re doing this. We’re doing this. Keep on doing it!

#fmfpartysnailmail giveaway - week 3

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!