Saturday, January 29, 2011

How to fix a short fuse

I have been hearing the term "short fuse" a lot lately.

In reference to me.

It's true. The past week or so I have been kind of on edge and ready to blow.

This morning, I visited the Good Morning, Girls! website and saw this verse and weekly challenge:

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." James 1:19-20

Week 3 Challenge: This week we are going to focus on putting verse into action in our lives. As you interact with your families and friends, focus on being quicker to listen, slower to speak and slower to become angry.

Ugh. Don't you just love when you're slapped across the face with one of those?

Obviously, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my "short fuse," and I started thinking about the underlying cause. In doing so, I googled the term "short fuse," hoping to figure out what causes a real-life short fuse. After reading quite a few explanations with a wrinkled brow, I found this one easy enough for me to understand:

A short is caused when the hot wire (black) touches another hot wire or touches a neutral wire (white). It can also be caused if there is a break in a wire in the circuit. Shorts are a bit more difficult to diagnose because they can be caused by the wiring in your home or in something you have plugged into an outlet.

You probably already know where I'm going with this...

A short is caused when the hot wire (black) touches another hot wire or touches a neutral wire (white).

Back in my VBS Days, I remember one of our leaders doing a cool experiment in which he poured black spots all over a piece of white cloth to represent the sin in our lives. Then he put it in some sort of "magic" solution which washed the cloth white. Black = sin. Jesus = magic solution. White = righteousness. Savvy? (One of the characters used that word in Pirates of the Caribbean, and I've wanted to use it for awhile now, savvy? Heehee.)

Needless to say, once we're made white by Jesus, there aren't supposed to be any more black spots. No more black wires. No more sin.

"Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace." Romans 6:12

When the black wire creeps back in (for me, in the form of impatience, pride, and lack of self-control) and hits the white wire...short fuse.

It can also be caused if there is a break in a wire in the circuit.

This week I fell off the bible reading wagon. I think I went three or four days without picking it up. And my prayer life has been less-than-mediocre. One of my sweet sisters-in-Christ was quick to remind me that our God is gracious and that the only person setting reading requirements for me is me! And thank goodness for that truth! But while I am humbled and grateful for Christ's goodness and grace, I also understand that there are consequences for my lack of discipline. James 4:8 says "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." When there's a disconnect between me and God, when there's a "break" in my wire...short fuse.

Shorts are a bit more difficult to diagnose because they can be caused by the wiring in your home or in something you have plugged into an outlet.

What am I plugging into my outlet?

Colossians 3 (one of my absolute favorite passages) tells us to "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator."

Reading through the list, I can definitely see forms of covetousness, idolatry, and malice in my life. I need to "unplug."

But you can't just "unplug." The outlet is there to be used. Instead, Paul tells us to "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Can I get a collective amen?

If I "plug in" compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forebearance, forgiveness, love, the peace of Christ, thankfulness, a desire and passion for the word, and genuine praise, not only will I not have any electrical problems, but my light will shine for all to see and will glorify God in the process.

My article tells me that when you have a short fuse, you have a few repair options:

1) Reset the circuit breaker.

"Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me." - Psalm 51:10

2) Remove the old wire and replace it with a new one.

"We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." - Romans 6:4

3) If all else fails, call an expert.

"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—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." - Ephesians 2:1-10

Oh, Lord, help me not to have a "short fuse." Rid me of myself. Help me to put off the clothing of old, and Lord, clothe me in your righteousness. Help me to practice discipline and self-control in my life so that I might draw near to you. Thank you for rewiring me. Thank you for being such a good and gracious God, rich in mercy and full of love. I am your workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. Let your glory shine through me!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Eagerly anticipating arrival, enjoyment, engagement and worship

Last Sunday night, I posted the following on my Good morning, girls! (my Bible reading accountability group) wall:

I finished Job last night and it felt so good! This morning, I also noticed a huge difference in my worship at church. I felt more prepared, more natural. Because I have purposed to meet with God each and every day during the week, I was ready to come before his throne on Sunday and thank him for everything he had revealed to me during the week. It was one of the most precious times of corporate worship I have ever experienced.

At church yesterday, I felt the same way. And it felt good. Oh-so-good. I didn't feel forced or distracted. I had already been walking with God throughout the week. I had been preparing for this moment "Monday, Tuesday, Thursday" and I was ready for Sunday. I don't say this out of a "holier than thou" heart. In fact, I say it in complete humility and gratitude.

For years, I have gone to church and have had to "pump myself up" for worship. I would go from spending six days "in the world" to suddenly being transported before the throne of God... totally unprepared...often times tired, weary and forced. I always seemed to have jet lag and had to force feed myself a spiritual red bull on Sunday mornings.

Since I started my daily Bible reading plan, I feel like a whole new woman on Sundays. I am excited for church...longing to go and worship God! I feel like I have been soaking him in all week and am ready to explode into worship by the time Sunday rolls around! I can't help but raise my hands in praise to Author of the Universe. Lyrics which were once words on the screen come alive as I relate them back to my readings for the week. I am brought to tears as we sing and pray about his grace because I have seen it time and time again in my reading this week, and even more, my reading has made me more aware of his grace and mercy in my own life. I am more than ready. I am bursting to worship Him. And it's all because of Him and the work that he is doing in me through the reading of his Word.

As is usually the case with God, He hammered this point home during the sermon on Sunday.

This Sunday, Pastor Bullmore preached the third part in his series on Living for God in Our Ordinary Lives. Two weeks ago, we learned how to live for God in our ordinary family life. Last week, we learned how to live for God in our daily labor. This week, we learned how to live for God in our ordinary lives by gathering together as God's people.

We looked at three Psalms...

Psalm 122 - A psalm of eager anticipation

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

Psalm 133 - A song of arrival and enjoyment

Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore.

Psalm 134 - A psalm of engagement and worship

Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
who stand by night in the house of the Lord
Lift up your hands to the holy place
and bless the Lord!
May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who made heaven and earth!

Beautiful, right?

Oh, that I might continue to eagerly anticipate gathering together with my brothers and sisters for corporate worship. Oh, that I might rejoice in arriving at church on Sunday mornings and enjoy the sweet fellowship with other believers. Oh, that I might be fully engaged in worshiping you, Lord! That I might lift up my hands and bless you who made heaven and earth!

Come, people of the risen king who delight to bring him praise...
Rejoice, Rejoice! Let every tongue rejoice!
One heart, one voice; O Church of Christ, rejoice!

Friday, January 21, 2011

He came like a winter snow...

The Christian blogosphere is filled with Sanctity of Life posts this week (read Kevin De Young's "Jesus Loves the Little Children" post here for a fresh perspective).

I wanted to write something, but just felt like so many people have already done it so eloquently that there was no need.

For some reason, though, the Holy Spirit has laid the following passage on my heart this week...

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

I get choked up just copy and pasting those words on the page.

The baby leaped for joy in Elizabeth's womb when Mary...the mother of the Savior of the world, a tiny baby...greeted her. The baby leaped for joy in the presence of the Almighty God who had become flesh in the form of a tiny little baby.

When this passage first came to mind, I was just in awe of the fact that a baby could worship God inside the womb. Before he took his first breath, little baby John was already praising his Messiah!

But then it hit me. As wonderful as it is to think that an unborn child could praise his Messiah, it is simply overwhelming to think that the Messiah that he praised was also an unborn child. The God of the universe chose to enter into the world as a tiny little baby... a tiny little unborn baby.

The sanctity of life.

For more on this passage, I recommend listening to Pastor John Piper's sermon entitled "The Baby in My Womb Leaped for Joy."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hedges 2: Playing Together in the Sandbox

Last week, I started a series on building hedges to protect your marriage. Installment #1 dealt with building hedges at work (if you missed it, you can read it here). For installment #2, I thought I'd talk about building hedges with friends of the opposite sex. But before I go there, let's revisit my disclaimer for this series...

While I think that all Christian married couples should work to protect their marriages based on these passages and others, not every couple will go about it in the same way. The "hedges" that Dan and I have set up are good for us. They may not be good for you, and that's okay. The hedges you and your spouse put up are between you and God. Period. No judgment here.

Now back to our scheduled programming... :)

For as long as I can remember, I've had a lot of "boy friends."

As a toddler, I had tea parties with Lance and indoor picnics with Charles.

In kindergarten, we played a recess game called Cats and Dogs. The boys were the dogs and the girls were the cats...with one exception. The boys got to choose one girl to be the Queen Dog and the girls got to choose one boy to be the King Cat. Poor little Bruce was chosen to be the King Cat. Me, on the other hand...I had the honor of being the Queen Dog.

If you look at pictures of my Sweet 16 Birthday Party, you'll find my best friend Bethany...and about a dozen guys surrounding us.

And when I got to college, I made a few close girlfriends, but spent a lot of time being "one of the guys."

Needless to say, building hedges with my male friends is still an adjustment for me.

When I married Dan, I had to change my friend habits. I'm no longer "one of the guys" but a wife to one man and one man only. I didn't have to change because Dan is some sort of crazy controlling husband. I wanted to change because I love him dearly and want to protect what we have together.

So what has this looked like for me? Before you continue, remember my disclaimer;)

1) I don't do one-on-ones with my guy friends. Ever.

There are two kinds of guy friends: married and single. Most of my single guy friends have moved away, so I don't have to worry too much about it. But when and if they come back in town and want to get together, they can either come over to my house and spend time with Dan and I, or we (Dan + me + guy friend) can meet somewhere. Honestly, if they care about me, and I love Dan and enjoy spending time with him, then I'm sure they'll enjoy spending time with him too. Plus...and I'm being completely honest here...I don't think I've ever been really good friends with a guy who at some point in time I didn't find myself remotely interested in. Even if I was just interested for a moment during a long-term friendship, I wouldn't want that moment to creep back up on me. So, I'm protecting Dan, yes, but I'm also protecting myself.

Married friends are a bit easier. Dan and I only hang out with friends of the same sex or our married COUPLE friends, and I don't think either of us feels like we're somehow "missing out." It's just double the fun!

2) When we do have "couple friends," I remain guarded.

Sadly, I have known a few people whose marriages have fallen apart when a spouse from Couple A and a spouse from Couple B end up having an inappropriate relationship. To avoid that fate, all communications between me and another person's spouse are done out in the open. Very, and I mean very, rarely do I text or email one of my friend's spouses in the private sphere. They might get a text from me on their birthday or Christmas, but that's about it. No long conversations back and forth, no private facebook messages, etc. If I do happen to send or receive a message to/from a male friend, I try to share with Dan so he's in the loop and not taken off guard by anything, and if I'm the one sending, I might "cc" my guy friend's wife on the text so that she's not taken off guard.

I also try to be very sensitive to my surroundings when I'm with other couples. Either boy, girl, girl, boy or girl, boy, boy, girl at the movie theatre (I'd rather share my armrest with my hubby!), and I try not to sit right next to another married man on a couch or at a table if I can avoid it. Obviously you could take this to the extreme, but as a general rule of thumb, I try to sit next to my husband or another woman.

These are hedges of protection for me and Dan, but I also think that they're hedges of protection for our friends. I would hate for one of my girlfriends to for some reason see my name in her husband's inbox and have that rush of panic come over her. Even if my intentions were completely pure, I wouldn't want her to feel any sort of fear or anxiety. Romans 14 says to never "put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother," and I never want to be that stumbling block. Yes, hedges protect my own marriage, but they also protect the marriages of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

3) I don't touch.

To be honest, I'm not a huge "toucher" in general. In normal conversation, I wouldn't lean over and touch someone's knee or shoulder to make a point, so for me, not touching isn't that hard. But I do try to keep a decent circle of space. I do high fives and side hugs (if you want a good laugh, read Jon Acuff's post on side hugs over at Stuff Christians Like) with my oldest and truest guy friends, but that's about it. corny do I sound right now--high fives and side hugs? Pffft.

4) I do touch.

I'm all about appropriate marital PDA. I hold my husband's hand, rub his back, and kiss him on the head when I walk behind him. These are all little reminders to him that HE is my husband and that I chose HIM over everyone else. Plus, like I said in installment #1, when people see you interact with your husband, they are more likely to respect your marriage.

5) I play taboo.

As I discussed in installment #1, I try not to get all "emo" on my guy friends. No deep, emotional talks without my husband present and no discussing my husband's flaws, our marital issues, or our sex life. I also don't discuss things that I haven't discussed with my husband yet. In other words, no secrets that my husband isn't aware of.

If there's ever a question in my mind as to whether or not I should be discussing something with another man, I try to think, Would Dan feel comfortable if he were sitting here with me right now? Or better yet, Would I feel comfortable if Dan was talking to another woman like I'm talking to this man right now? Do unto others...

5) Center my friendships around the gospel.

If my friendships with men are centered around the fellowship and furtherance of the gospel, then I have nothing to fear. (I totally stole that phrase from Warren Wiersbe, so no, I'm not that amazingly smart all by myself!)

Think about it...

I have non-Christian male friends. If I am constantly keeping the gospel at the center of my heart and mind, then I will not act inappropriately with them. God designed marriage to be a beautiful representation of Christ and his church. If am continually trying to further the gospel, then I will not want to distort this representation. I won't act inappropriately because I will want to show proper respect for my husband to demonstrate the respect I have for Christ. If the furtherance of the gospel is at the forefront of my mind, then I will want to be the best testimony possible so that God might use me as the salt and light in my friend's life.

But there are also my Christian friends who already believe in the gospel. Often times we describe the time that we spend with our Christian friends as fellowship. "Come on over for some fun and fellowship." "Thank you, Lord, for food and fellowship." "Would you like to come fellowship with us as we watch the Bears destroy the Packers?" Good ole' fellowship. :)

But what exactly does fellowship mean? Literally, it means "in common."

As Christians, we have one thing in common: the gospel.

Warren Wiersbe says that salvation is a threefold work: 1) the work God does for us--salvation, 2) the work God does in us--sanctification, 3) the work God does through us--service. We are a saved people who are being sanctified by God in order to best serve and glorify him. If we keep the gospel in mind, then we will never want to do anything to hinder the work that God is doing in and through our brothers and sisters in Christ.


"...Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." - Hebrews 10: 19-25

As a "girl friend," and more importantly as a sister in Christ, I must only act as to stir up my brothers to love and good works, encouraging them, as the Day of the Lord draws nearer.

In closing...

Be a dog on the playground. Have fun with the boys. Girls rule, boys drool, and hedges let us play together safely in the sandbox. All to the glory of God.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Good Morning, Girls!

LADIES! Would anyone be interested in joining a Good Morning Girls group if started one?

Check it out here and leave a comment if you're interested!

Hedges: Building Barriers to Protect Your Marriage

About a year and a half ago, I learned my first lesson in hedges. Part of the nature of my job at that time was to frequently meet one-on-one with people. I didn't have an office, so many of my meetings took place in restaurants or coffee shops. Most of my meetings starting out were completely harmless, but one in particular meeting gave me a wake up call...

This particular time, the man I met with said he had to do breakfast at a specific place. I naively went, not thinking twice about the bad situation I had inadvertantly put myself in. He was young, single, and on the prowl. I was married, taken, and not interested. We were at the restaurant for over two hours, and he really had very little interest in what I had to say about our company. He was much more interested in what I was doing that weekend. He kept putting off ordering food so that I'd have to stay, and I was scared that if I got up and left, I would give my company a bad name. So I sat, squirming, the whole time, listening to pick up line after pick up line, crude comment after crude comment, excusing myself to the bathroom twice just so I could compose myself.

Worst. idea. ever.

Needless to say, I felt violated and ashamed after that meeting. I thought to myself, How could I have prevented this from happening?

Answer: I could have built hedges.

When Dan and I got engaged, I was living with who are now some of my favorite people in the entire world, Bobby and Skeeter (check out their greeting card company here). They imparted lots of little nuggets of wisdom during my time in VA, but one of the nuggets that sticks with me to this day is the importance of hedges, or barriers with friends and acquaintances of the opposite sex, in your marriage. Now that I have over a year of marriage and a bit more "life experience" under my belt, I see how important these hedges truly are. So important, in fact, that I've decided to do a short series on hedges which I'm entitling Hedges: Building Barriers to Protect Your Marriage.

Before I get into the hedges that I've put up in my own marriage, let's take a quick look at what God has to say about protecting our marriages...

Matthew 19:6

"So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Proverbs 31:10-12

"An excellent wife, who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life."

Proverbs 5

"Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well...
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe...

Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD,
and he ponders all his paths.
The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is led astray."

Ephesians 5:25-33

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."

God wants us to protect our marriages. He wants us to protect them so that no man (or woman) will be able to separate what he has joined together as one. He wants us to protect them so that we trust our spouses and do them good and not harm. He wants us to protect them so that we won't be ensnared by our iniquities, but so that we'll instead rejoice in the love of our husband or wife. He wants us to protect them because, in doing so, we also protect the beautiful picture of the marriage between Christ and his church and give glory to him in the process.

Now here comes my disclaimer...

While I think that all Christian married couples should work to protect their marriages based on these passages and others, not every couple will go about it in the same way. The "hedges" that Dan and I have set up are good for us. They may not be good for you, and that's okay. The hedges you and your spouse put up are between you and God. Period. No judgment here:)

Now back to my story and installment #1 of my Hedges series...


After my meeting, I called my friend and mentor, Miss Lisa (who works in sales and totally understood what I had just dealt with), and she asked me what sort of boundaries I had set up.

Boundaries? I thought. I don't have any of those...

She had some great tips for me that I've since used to help build my hedges at work.

1. Try to avoid meal time meetings if you can. Coffee meetings are always best. But if for some reason you do have to meet for a meal, make sure it's breakfast or lunch. You choose the place. If you're doing a meal, make sure it's a place where you order and then sit (Panera, Corner Bakery, Chipotle, etc). That way, you get the ordering out of the way and you don't have to worry about splitting (or not splitting) the check.

2. Two's company, three's a crowd. If possible, invite another coworker or guest so you DO have a third wheel.

3. You choose the place, and you set the time. Don't just set a start time, set an end time, too. You should be able to accomplish what you need to accomplish in one hour, tops.

4. The minute the meeting takes a turn for the inappropriate, nip it in the bud. Simply say, "I'm sorry, sir, but I'm married, and that sort of talk is not appropriate. I'll have to ask you to stop, or I'll need to end our meeting." If he agrees, continue on. But the second he says something else inappropriate, get up and leave. Be proactive and let your higher up know what happened immediately after your meeting.

Honestly, I work in a field with A LOT of men, and I can't remember ever having another problem after that day. I've learned to be up front with my hedges, and I think most men respect that. There have been times when I've outright asked if someone else can join us for a lunch meeting, and I've never been turned down. In fact, it's usually appreciated. And when I've said, "I have a policy to really try to do coffee with people of the opposite sex instead of sit-down meals," they're usually pretty accomodating.

But there's more to work than just meetings, so since then, I've added a few more hedges to my list...

5. Convey my love and respect for my husband to the people I work with on a regular basis. I am very careful NEVER to speak ill of my husband while I'm working (or ever for that matter!). Not that he doesn't have his faults, but I am called to respect him, and by respecting him (in and out of the home), I am able to be a witness to those I work with.

6. Involve my husband in my work world when feasible. When I go to an event or fundraiser, Dan is often my arm candy:) When people see the husband you always talk about, I think it makes them all the more likely to respect your marriage....especially when your husband happens to be 6'8:) Plus, I think it reminds people that you really do have a life outside of work!

7. Don't give out my cell phone number or personal email address. My direct boss and a few other "higher ups" have them for emergencies, but that's it. Work is work, personal is personal. For me, there's no need to mix the two.

8. Guard my heart. This is a biggie. What does it mean to guard my heart? First of all, I don't flirt. Like I said, I work with a lot of men day in and day out. And, well, boys will be boys. If ever a conversation takes a turn in that direction, I either dismiss myself from the conversation OR invite my husband in on the conversation. "Ha...funny you should mention that. My husband was just saying..." That's usually a pretty big hint.

I also try to limit my non-professional conversations to surface level chatter. I'll talk about my weekend or a movie that I just saw, but I try not to talk about personal issues with male colleagues. For example, unless they're reading this blog, most of the men I work with would have no idea that my parents recently divorced and that I've had a tough year emotionally because of it. Proverbs 4:23 says to "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." I strive to guard my heart so I am not even tempted down a dangerous path. I don't cry to another man because I have my husband's shoulder to cry on.

9. Dress and act appropriately. If there's even a question of whether something is too revealing, it has to go through the "hubby check." I try to look feminine and classy when I go to functions. No need to be sexy for a political dinner...even when Mitt Romney is your speaker;)

I'm also very cautious of my physical actions. At events, I do firm handshakes, side hugs and the occasional air/cheek kiss (you know, the obnoxious snobby one that you see in the movies...politicians love those). I don't want to give anyone the wrong impression, even if it is just an impression.

10. Be transparent. Most importantly, I practice transparency with my husband. If anything doesn't feel right, he's the first to know about it, and that works for us.

Proverbs 5 says, "The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin." Unfortunately, we are a wicked, fallen people who need hedges in our lives to protect us from the snares of our iniquities. As earthly brides and grooms, we must put up hedges to protect ourselves from our flesh. But you know what's beautiful? Hebrews says that "the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shephed of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenenat" will "equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever." As Christians, he has given us his Holy Spirit and equipped us with everything good that we need to do his will. And on top of that, while we may stumble at times, he won't. He will always cherish us, protect us, and love us with a love beyond perfection. Praise be to God.

Stay tuned for installment #2 ... Friend Hedges.

Monday, January 3, 2011


2010 was, to put it bluntly, the worst year of my life. For a while I felt guilty saying this, since it was also my first full year of marriage, but Dan agrees, and we're okay with that. Our marriage is solid, we love and appreciate each other more, we had lots of good times...but it still sucked. Pardon my French (I've always wondered why people say that after every crude phrase...anyone know? Hmmm?)

So, let's just say I was ecstatic to ring in a new year. Goodbye 2010, helllloooooooo 2011! Welcome, welcome, welcome! The Stanleys welcome you with open arms! And so does Mariah Carey...


I'm so not a New Year's resolution type girl, but this year, I'm giving it a whirl.

This year, be it resolved, that I, Chelsea Kathleen Stanley, will pursue joyfulness.

Pursuing joyfulness. How hard can it be, right? Ha. Three days in, and it's already a struggle.

So what am I doing to pursue the joy? Here are my sub-resolutions...

Exercise more. As Elle Woods would say, "Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, and happy people don't just go around killing people." your face, Kate Gosselin! (I've been saying that all day for some reason...and I kinda like it, I'm not gonna lie).

I also want to cook more meals. In 2010, we went out to eat a lot because I just didn't have the energy to come home and take care of us. This year, even if it's hot dogs and crescent rolls, I want to have more meals on the table.

More reading. Can I just say, Zion-Benton ruined me for life? I DESPISE reading. Seriously. I used to love it. I was reading novels in kindergarten. I couldn't get enough. Then along came active reading, and I was ruined.

BUT...I'm going to try to love it again. I need something to help me relax, and I think it might just do the trick. So far, I'm halfway through Noel Piper's "Treasuring God in Our Traditions" and I'm actully enjoying myself. Plus, she taught me how to make killer spaghetti. And how cool is it that I get to make Noel Piper's spaghetti for my husband who adores her husband? Ahhh...the circle of life.

No more anxiety. No more depression. No more anxiety. No more depression. No more anxiety. No more depression. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Last year, I had an intense battle with anxiety, and I wasn't quite able to kick it. This year, I'm determined to "be anxious for nothing." A goal that I think will be beneficial for me and my sweet, patient husband.

A while back, during one of my bouts of anxiety, Dan found a strategy for fighting it. It's actually from a John Piper article on fighting lust, but it works just as well on anxiety. He calls it ANTHEM. And it will continue to be my ANTHEM for 2011.

A-Avoid situations that you know will bring about undue anxiety and remove yourself from situations if you know what they're leading to.
N-Say "No" within 5 seconds. "No. In the name of Jesus Christ, I will not be anxious."
T-Turn your mind towards Christ. Think about what he's done for you and who he is.
H-Hold on to those thoughts. Keep holding. Hold on tight!
E-Enjoy! Get to a point where you have been holding your thoughts so tightly that you begin to enjoy and savor Christ.
M-Move into a useful activity (hence, my reading/exercise goals).

I seem to get stuck on H. I turn my mind towards Christ, but I just don't hold on long enough.
Not too long ago, I was home alone when I was hit with a big dose of anxiety. I called Dan, and he told me to open my bible to Psalm 23 and to keep on reading it until my holding turned into enjoying. No joke...I repeated Psalm 23 for 2 hours straight. And in the process, I memorized it (why I hadn't memorized the 23rd Psalm before that night is beyond me, but c'est la vie...) That night, I decided that I had to memorize more scripture. So this year, I am hoping to memorize the book of Philippians. Which brings me to...

I'm starting a study on Philippians...Warren Wiersbe's "Be Joyful." I love the subtitle of the study..."Even When Things Go Wrong, You Can Have Joy." Story of my life right now. I desparately need joy, and I need to find it in Christ. Thank you, Warren Wiersbe.

I'm also hoping to read through the bible this year. Not to "say I've done it." I really really want to. I'm trying a chronological study in hopes that it'll be a better fit than last year's. I am not the type that can read 4 different books at once. Can you say overwhelming? The chronological plan seems to fit my style a bit better. One chunk at a time.

So that's where I'm headed in 2011. A few days ago, Dan and I were talking about how all the bloggers seem to have "theme words" for 2011. Dan decided his would be "brilliant." I thought there might be some "brilliant" meaning behind that word choice, so Iasked him what it was, but he said it was just the first word that came to mind. Ha. I actually came up with my word for the coming year. No surprise here...


And my prayer to go along with it (from Psalm 51)...

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.