Category Archives: Spiritual thoughts

Preparing For a Marriage, Not Just a Wedding

In 28 short days, I will no longer be “Goods for Life.” I will be “Morris for Life.” Til death do us part; for better or for worse!

I would say the fact that Devon and I are really, truly getting married in less than a month has hit home in the last couple days. We won’t just be engaged; we’ll be married! I’ve realized some areas I need to work on in my relationship with him in order to build a strong foundation, and I’ve been really working on those. In the midst of the excitement of engagement, sometimes I get carried away in preparing for the things that aren’t going to last a lifetime: like the candle centerpieces, or the hairstyle I’m going to have, or the reception music.

Don’t get me wrong: Planning a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we definitely want our wedding day to be special. We desire it to be a reflection of the love God has given us for each other and to build His Kingdom. But if we’re not careful, we’ll fall into the trap that so many engaged couples do: prepping for the wedding, not the lifelong marriage.

While having a long-distance engagement has definitely had its down side (missing each other beyond expression every day), one advantage has been that we’ve taken time to go through a few books together via the phone or Skype. I thought I’d share a few of them for any engaged couples out there looking to prepare beyond the wedding.

Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts – We went through this workbook that has about 25 different exercises specialized for men and women. It walks you through everything from talking about your family background, your future desires, sex myths, financial planning, and more. It’s been great to help us start communicating about those issues!

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus – Even though we haven’t quite finished this one yet, we’ve gotten a lot out of it. It gives a lot of great analogies, like how men need to go to their “cave” to think and recover, while women like to talk through their problems.

The Five Love Languages – I know this is one of the most popular relationship books of all time, and rightly so. We read this at the beginning of our relationship, and learned the importance of keeping each other’s “love tank” full by expressing love in the way the other person needs it (not just in the way I need it!)

There are so many great books out there on relationships, and if you have any recommendations on what we should read, let me know! We’re trying to do all we can to build a solid foundation for a God-honoring relationship.

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The ME Disease

Our society trains young people to be focused on me, me, me. You can be anything you want to be. Reach for the stars! Want to be a doctor? You can do it! Think you can shake and jive like Shakira? You can be the next pop sensation!

American society has tainted its youth to think that life is all about them. I teach at a public high school, and I see it every day. Even most of the kids from low-income families desire fame and fortune — not to help their families get out of debt or achieve a high standard of living; but just so they can be famous, drive fancy cars, and have nice stuff.

This way of thinking does not prepare young people for the real world. In real life, most of them will not be celebrities or own their own company. And that’s OK. It’s OK to be part of something that is bigger than yourself — to be an engineer who designs safe bridges for people to travel on, to be a kindergarden teacher who helps children how to read and write. Young people need to be taught that real life starts when you give yourself to the higher purpose of serving others.

When our society becomes less egocentric, we will really start to move mountains. It’s the people throughout history who have not been concerned just about their own well-being, but about the interests of others, who make the biggest difference. Think Andrew Carnegie, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln.

Let’s practice living for the bigger purpose. If you haven’t read The Purpose-Driven Life, I highly recommend it. When you are living for something (Someone!) bigger than yourself, then you really start living!

The Biggest Wedding This World Has Ever Seen

My whole life, I’ve known this day would come — the day when my prince and I will be united; when two will become one.

However, as a little girl, I was never the type to daydream about my wedding. I hadn’t even thought about my wedding colors until after we got engaged. I had never touched a bridal magazine until just a couple months ago. Now, if you’re wondering if I’m excited about getting married, you can ask my roommate or my students — the people who see me every day and have to hear me rambling on and on about June 11th, 2010 — and they will testify that I am ecstatic!

With this rising anticipation blossoming inside of me each day, I find myself beginning to understand why Jesus compares himself to a groom in the Bible. Maybe that was partially for us engaged girls who need to be reminded that as exciting as getting married is, our lifelong relationship with Christ and His return are even more exciting!

I was just reading Matthew 25:1-13, the parable of the ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom. Basically, the groom (symbolizing Christ) was coming to take all ten young ladies (symbolizing Christ’s followers) to a banquet, but five of them did not have enough oil in their lamps to stay up waiting for the bridegroom. While they were out buying oil, the bridegroom came, and those five women did not get to go to the banquet.

Essentially, five of these women were distracted by something else when they should have been focused on Christ. In modern day terms, maybe they were too busy watching Entertainment Tonight and reading celebrity magazines that they weren’t thinking about God. Maybe they were caught up in becoming successful businesswomen. Maybe they were swept into the whirlwind of raising kids, keeping their husbands happy, and maintaining a clean household. But something distracted them from Jesus.

As glorious as wedding planning, raising a family, or having a career may be, I never want any of those things to steer any of my focus away from Jesus. I want my lamp to be burning brightly, so that He can see that I am waiting for Him more than I’m waiting on any life circumstance!

Getting married, having kids, finding my life’s calling, are all exciting. But I won’t find any of my fulfillment from those things. My fulfillment comes from my connection with the Bridegroom.

May all of our hope be in You, Bridegroom! May we be found captivated by the wait for the biggest wedding of all time — when we, Your Church, are united with You forever!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

How Does A Christian Date Righteously?

This past Sunday, I had the joy of hearing my former pastor in Tulsa, Willie George (a.k.a. Gospel Bill). He spoke on a topic that all of us need to hear (yes, even engaged people!)– how to date righteously! It was probably the best message I’ve ever heard about dating, so I felt compelled to post the notes. Please take time to read and process them!

Church on the Move
– 1/17/10
Willie George

“How Does a Christian Date Righteously?”

There are 2 dangers in singeleness:
1. Independence
2. Interdependence – when you can’t function without being in a relationship

Before getting into a relationship, you need to consider:
1. How is your relationship with Christ?
2. Where do your values (yours and his/hers) come from?
3. Are you sensitive to the counsel of Godly friends?

-Marriage is primarily about holiness, not happiness. (Colossians 2:10)

16 Christian dating principles:
1. Maximize your singleness for God.
2. Don’t pursue a serious relationship until you’re ready to get married.
3. Be reasonable in your expectations.
4. Don’t be legalistic about dating. –Don’t quibble about words like “date,” “courtship,” etc.
5. Don’t have a romantic relationship with an unbeliever.
6. Only be in a relationship with 1 person at a time.
7. He should initiate; she should respond.
8. Look at who God puts in front of you!
9. Use technology wisely! (internet dating, etc.)
10. Invest in a romantic relationship only with someone you’re entirely attracted to.
11. Only date someone who agrees with you on the major theological issues.
12. Guard your heart. Don’t commit quickly.
13. Be careful of legalism (not letting people in on a 1-on-1 basis) and libertanism (thinking every relationship will lead to courtship).
14. Marry someone who will be a good fit for every season of life you are in.
15. Pursue only someone you genuinely love.
16. Do not have sexual contact until you’re married.

Perspective Shift

I’m seated next to one of my favorite places in Houston — the long, rectangular-shaped pond at Hermann Park. A few minutes ago, I was seated on the west side of the pond, which is almost completely shaded by magnificent oak trees.

Hermann_Park_Texas

Since it’s nearly 4:30 in the afternoon, the sun is now shining down upon the east side of the pond. So while I was sitting on the west side, I couldn’t actually see into the pond. To me, it simply appeared to be an opaque, green mystery.

But after a few minutes of sitting in the shade of an oak tree, I decided that some Vitamin D and sunshine would do this pale skin some good. So I ventured to the east side of the pond, which is facing the slowly descending sun.

Here, the sun shines upon every part of the pond, revealing that the pond is not 10 feet deep as one might guess from the other side. Rather, it is only about 6-9 inches deep, filled with little rocks on the bottom.

From either vantage point, I am still looking at the same pond. But when I switched sides, I switched perspectives. I gained a totally new understanding of how deep the pond is.

Sometimes in life, we are so focused on what we can’t see — what is unclear in the future. We get frustrated because we can’t see how deep the water we’re about to tread into is. At those times, perhaps we just need to ask God for a perspective shift. He may not change our “pond,” or present circumstances, but He will give us a clearer view of our situation.

Even if your current waters are murky and deep, you can know that even “when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” Isaiah 43:2

Be encouraged today through a perspective shift!

Embracing A Season Of Rest

Life is filled with so many twists and turns. One month we may be the busiest we’ve ever been, stressed to our limits, and the next month, we may be calm, cool, and collected, with everything perfectly in order.

The last month of my life has brought about so much change. Just a little over a month ago, I was still working as the online editor for a publishing company. But about two months ago, I accepted a job to teach English and journalism at a local high school starting in the fall. Most normal people would have just kept their jobs until the school year started, but I had it on my heart to go on missions this summer. Because I was going to be gone for a chunk of the summer, I prayerfully decided to quit my job before going on the trip.

So I went to the Philippines for two and a half weeks. And God did “more than my mind could conceive” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10) in such a short period of time.

Me and Angel, my God-daughter in the Philippines

Me and Angel, my God-daughter in the Philippines


Edith and I led these beautiful teenagers to accept Jesus!

Edith and I led these beautiful teenagers to accept Jesus!

Now that I’m back from the trip and re-situated to life in America, I’ve been spending the last week and a half resting. I have not had a period of rest like this since 2006 when I returned from the Philippines and was searching for my first job out of college.

I’ll admit, this period of rest has been awkward at times. I forget what it’s like to just read a book while lounging on the couch, to run around a park without having to worry about my next scheduled activity, to sit at the mall and watch ice skaters while writing a blog entry.

I’m thankful for this season. God knows what His children need. He has calmed my spirit and allowed me this time of transition so that I can be fully focused on the next task — pouring into the teenagers I will see every day in my classes.

The Paper Sack Lunch

Today at work, I ate a delicious lunch that I had prepared for myself this morning. Everything was perfect — a turkey, cheddar, lettuce and tomato sandwich, a peach, and some chips. Everything was there, except for one critical element: the napkin.

Every week day of my life from age 4-17, I always had a napkin in my brown paper sack lunch. Sue Goodier carefully prepared my lunch each morning, and always remembered to include a napkin so that my hands or face wouldn’t be grubby. And sometimes, she even placed a sweet note in my lunch sack: “Praying for you!” “Do well on your Algebra test!” etc.

I always had my paper sack lunch. And the napkin was always there. I was always taken care of.

That napkin got to me today while I was eating my grown-up girl lunch without a napkin. If there’s anything my parents gave me, it’s the gift of consistency.

Our society is one where parents are often literally absent, or absent in mind and spirit. I’m directing and performing in a play at church this week in which the dad is so wrapped up in the NBA finals and the mom is so consumed with bills that they don’t have time to play with their daughters. Sadly, many parents today forget that their children are a precious gift from God — and they only have about 18 years to train them up in the way they should go.

Back to the napkin. My parents gave me consistency. I always made it to school, and made it there on time. I was always at church on Sunday morning; there was no other option. I was raised with faithful, consistent parents, and for that, I am immensely grateful.

I look forward to the day when I can put napkins in my children’s lunch sacks — when I can fill them with sticker-clad notes about how much I love them and how proud I am of them. For now, I am allowing God to build consistency and overflowing love inside of me. For when my day to have a family comes, I don’t want to miss a single opportunity to give love and consistency.