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the blog

the blog

thoughts & musings

marriage isn't everything | God is everything | being on mission

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what a sweet time of life. 

earlier this year i decided to say "yes" to something. 
i decided to say yes to more sharing. more writing (i know, you have yet to see that! but i'm working on things behind the scenes for now), yes to speaking up, yes to more marriage study, yes to things i haven't even been asked yet about writing or speaking or marriage. 

months later and i've just been asked to speak on marriage at a women's conference in mattoon, illinois. a dear friend of mine contacted me to see if i would teach a break out session during this conference and without hesitation i said YES. it was totally a God thing too because my friend knew when asking that it was a long shot that i would be available on a SATURDAY. in JUNE. as a wedding photographer, that is unheard of. but every single year i know when there are holes in our calendar that God has something planned. like how this year i also have three weeks off when i am going to be HAVING OUR FIRST BABY!! WHAT IN THE ACTUAL WORLD! bless. 

i came out of a season of saying no and it's so beautiful how God blesses these seasons i'm in. 
the no season was new for me and i did and still do struggle with the no and the feeling of disappointing people. but it's like the airplane oxygen mask thing, i can't help you if i'm dying.
i needed some air. and now i'm back and i feel so refreshed. and God is putting opportunity right in my face, right away. hello, yes season! 

i also love book timing in my life. i just made up that title. book timing. 
i've wanted to read you & me forever by lisa & francis chan for a long time but never picked it up. i was probably waiting to borrow it or just find it at a used book store but during one barnes & noble book date recently, i decided it was time to pick it up. this was just weeks before i was asked to speak on marriage! what lovely timing. i adore this book. it is so good. so good for my soul, so good for my personal walk, and as a result, great for my marriage. i love so many words from it i need to share some today! 

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from you & me forever
- francis and lisa chan

we all have callings from God, and those callings are bigger than our marriages.
seeking His kingdom must be our first priority, and if we're not careful, marriage can get in the way. 

we cannot allow marriage to distract us from the higher calling. in verse 34 (referencing 1 Corinthians 7:29-35, i encourage you to read all of that!), he makes it clear that marriage can turn our eyes away from Jesus and toward each other in an unhealthy way. we end up seeking to please each other rather than pleasing Him. marriage can bring us to a point where our "interests are divided" (v.34), when our goal is actually an "undivided devotion to the Lord" (v.35). 

when things are good in marriage, we are tempted to enjoy each other more than Jesus. when things are bad, we can let our hurts in marriage distract us from loving Jesus. Lisa and i have many whose marriages are "good" by most definitions, but that seems to distract them from their mission. can you really call your marriage "good" if your focus on your family keeps you from making disciples, caring for the poor, reaching out to the lost, and using your talents and resources for others? it is true that a healthy relationship is important for the sake of the mission, but we must be wary of enjoying our marriage too much. even good things can become idols (rom 1:25). the goal is "undivided devotion to the Lord." don't let your affection or your disagreements distract you from His desires, His mission. 

marriage-centered marriages have become accepted and applauded rather than Christ-centered ones. we often hear the phrase "God first, family second" in church circles. while we say it a lot, i don't see how this phrase is actually impacting anyone. think about it. what if you were to switch to a "family first" mentality? what actions would you really have to change? 

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my favorite part is at the end of each chapter they list questions or suggestions to help get you to move into an action. make a change. do something. don't just keep doing nothing. 

for this chapter on not wasting your marriage, some of those bullet points include : 
* sit down with your spouse and honestly evaluate your devotion to the mission that God has given you. 
* what aspects of your life demonstrate that your God-given mission of making disciples means anything to you?
* what aspects of your life stand in blatant disobedience to God's command to make disciples? 
* thinking very practically, how can you being to restructure your lives with the words "make disciples" at the center? 

what perfect timing for my life. 
about to get this baby we've wanted for so long. 
growing even stronger in our obsession and desire for one another as spouses.
moving back into our newly renovated home. 
the luxury. it is excessive. 

the gratitude needs to outweigh anything else here. 

we knew a change needed to be made. we lived in our home and we just soaked each other up and felt ourselves getting stagnant. 
so we did a dangerous, risky thing. we moved into a home with another married couple. 
that's changed things up drastically! six months later we all felt a spirit call to depart from this way of living and to move back. but not to move back to the old way in our hearts.
i believe none of us knew what was going to happen but we all just said yes and we all learned way more lessons in a short time span than we probably bargained for. but we will all be forever changed by this experience. hopefully it has grown us and changed us to be more outward thinking. the desire for privacy has increased but the knowing that hiding away in our own homes because it's more comfortable that way can't happen. we have a huge mission. we get to be a part of building God's kingdom. and although ethan and i know we are placed together in this marriage and we can honor God with it and God uses us in our marriage to bless lives more than if we were apart, our own individual hearts need to be focused fully and firstly on undivided devotion to the Lord.