Who’s the baby now?

There’s something about marriage that turns me into a big steaming puddle of helplessness.

When I was single I enjoyed doing things for myself.

Drain clogged? No problem, let me snake it.

Acquired a piece of do-it-yourself furniture? I did it myself.

My ’91 Saturn won’t start in the middle of winter? Okay, let me just take a wrench and bang on some stuff. Problem solved (sometimes that actually did work).

I didn’t have anyone else to rely on, so naturally, I did what I needed to do when I could do it. Of course there were some things that were beyond my capacity, for which I called the landlord or my dad or a girlfriend to come over and help me, but I always tried to do what I could before asking for help.

Fast forward to today …

“Baaaabe, I can’t open this water jug.” Then I proceed to never open a water jug again and claim that he knows I can’t open it (I can, I just don’t like to).

“Baaaabe, the bowl is too high. I’m too short. Can you get it for me?” Nevermind that when we first moved into our other house I bought a step specifically for that purpose. It was too far away, I guess.

On the phone while he’s in Bungoma and I’m home, “Baaaabe, the knob on the propane tank is stuck. I’m just not going to cook until you come back home, okay?”

I think a small part of my husband at one point enjoyed that Miss Independent was finally becoming a little dependent… in the beginning,  but nowadays even Ray is getting to the point where he asks, “How did you survive when you lived by yourself? I thought you were more independent than this.”

Apparently it’s some kind of phenomenon that happens with women that get used to being around their husbands 24/7. He’s always there to do stuff for you, so you become reliant on that fact… a little too reliant.

Time to make a change

Ray is one of the most accommodating people I know, sometimes to a fault. I used to claim that one reason I was so good for him was because I would jealously guard his time if I felt like people were taking advantage of him. He has such a good heart he’ll help anyone and then wonder why he’s so emotionally drained later. And now look who’s taking advantage. This is bad news bears.

So now I’m declaring independence, well a balance of dependence and independence. I know what happens when I try to be too independent (amoebiasis flashbacks, anyone?), so I’m not aiming for that, but dag. I really do need to find myself a pair of big girl pants and run my pacifier through a paper shredder, ‘cuz a Proverbs 31 woman I ain’t.

If any of you have some helpful tips/advice here, I’m all ears!

This journey is our own

Comparison is a lot like the game Spoons. You can never keep your eyes fixed only on what’s in your hand, and someone always ends up getting hurt (at least when you play Spoons with my family).

Valentine’s Day woes

A few days after Valentine’s Day I posted a blog at She Is Set Apart about the way the lover’s holiday used to cause problems for me as a single person and still does even though I’m now married.

When I was single, using Facebook on Valentine’s Day was difficult because everyone was either posting pictures of their amazing gifts – making me feel bad because I didn’t have any, getting engaged – reminding me that I didn’t have someone to propose to me, or sending me “cheer up, you don’t suck that bad… at least Jesus loves you” posts – which I guess were meant to encourage me as a single woman.

Now that I’m married all I see is competition, oneupmanship. Hundreds of women claiming their husband is the best and sharing all the ways he spoiled her, making hundreds of other women instantaneously lift their expectations of their husband so that when he comes home with a single rose and box of chocolates, she’s looking at him like “That’s it? You hate me, don’t you?”

Long story short, the conclusion I came to on the blog post and in life is that my jealousy is an indicator that my Christian love tank is probably running on low. If I had the love of Christ living inside of me like it should, I should be rejoicing with my sisters and brothers because of the gifts they received. There is no room for jealousy and comparison in love.

Same story, different season

You may be wondering what my point is considering Valentine’s Day was over a month ago. Well, I bringt it up because the comparison struggle has started again but for a totally different reason: babies.

Since we had our miscarriage, just about every single friend that I have back home has announced that they’re pregnant or they’re already pregnant or they recently had a baby. I kid you not, this is true of at least 80% of my close friends.

It can be really hard to think that I was supposed to be on that ship, fell overboard, and now am treading water as the ship sails on. Without me.

As I scroll through my news feed, here we go again with a million baby pictures and birth announcements. It would be so easy for Ray and I to become upset because we had gotten so close to becoming parents, and sometimes I think we both do feel a twinge of envy, but aside from learning how to love others and truly rejoice with them in these wonderful gifts that God is giving them, God has really been giving us a new perspective to tread these murky waters.

Breathing under water

See, at this point in our lives we may not be on our way to parenthood and we don’t know when God will give us the go ahead with that, but with what felt like a tidal wave crashing over us, we’ve discovered that the undercurrent is actually pulling us deeper into our dreams. At this point in our lives we are able to pursue all that God puts on our hearts with total abandonment. The Joshua Blueprint has become our baby.

We’re in a similar position to where I was as a single person. Because I wasn’t in a relationship I was able to get involved in numerous ministries, go on lots of mission trips, and mentor a lot of kids. Now that I’m married I’ve lost some of that freedom, but I’ve discovered new potential in the partnership I have with my husband. Now, as one unit, we can dive into all that God has set before us and accomplish more together than I ever could on my own. The beauty of it all is that we can maintain this perspective through every phase that we’ll go through in life. As we begin to build our family we’ll gain revelation on how we can continue to pursue what God puts on our hearts but in a different way. My friend Kimberly Huffman has a great post about what that looks like as a mother of seven on the mission field. You can check it out here.

That being said, every phase of life looks different. We’re only in the second phase right now and we don’t necessarily plan to be in this phase as long as I stayed in the single phase, but who knows? Maybe God will keep us here for a while so we can spend more time branching out and experiencing new foundational aspects of His vision for us.

Whatever His plan is, our hearts say yes.

I do, but I don’t

Complex.

That’s the word the majority of men would use to describe women: complicated and hard to understand/deal with.

As complex as I know I normally am in my husband’s eyes, my behavior as of late has even got me to the point of wanting to step outside of myself and be like, “Um, I’m not with her”.

Oh, the valley of indecision

In an earlier post I shared a bit about how much I value quality time with myself and that life in Kitale has not been making nice with my personal goals. Ray and I were home together all the time and really rubbing each other the wrong way.

“We need space!” I shouted at his face.

So Ray obliged and began to take on some long distance jobs that would cause him to be gone 2-4 days at a time.

“Come back,” I whispered to the door… then of course I gave Ray the silent treatment for not taking me with him, which made him think I needed more space, but silent treatment obviously means that I want you to talk to me. Duh!

I don’t know what I want.

Do I want space? Yes, but not as much as I once thought.

Do I want Ray around? Of course. As much as I love being with myself, it’s become awkward to laugh at my own jokes without Ray’s laugh to accompany my own.

Do I want to travel? Indubitably. Whether alone or with Ray, I’d rather be outside of the confines of our home.

So my point is …

Pray for Ray.

 

Give it another day

There are moments within the bonds of marriage that one begins to wish the ropes weren’t so tight. You look at your spouse and all you can imagine is how much better your life might be without him. At the very same moment he may be wishing the same. Emotionally drained and too tired to see beyond whatever the injustice was that caused your heart to change, you have a decision to make… to stay or not to stay.

We encountered this scene our first year of marriage a number of times, but it was generally caused by the tension that comes from the initial shock of discovering that your life is not your own anymore. That was to be expected. To tell you the truth, once we got through the first year of marriage, we both gave each other a hearty pat on the back and said, “That wasn’t so bad.” After hearing the ominous cries of “Beware the ides of the first year,” we assumed if that was as bad as it would get, the rest should be fairly smooth sailing.

The devil is a lie.

Moving out to western where we had to start over financially, make new friends, and be together literally 24/7 proved to be much more difficult than we thought. I don’t know if anyone’s done research on this, but when two people are cooped up in the same house day after day with nowhere to go and no one else to see BUT your spouse, it’s like the air becomes stagnant and there are times you could almost swear you’re suffocating. Some of you know the feeling, so you also know what inevitably follows… *ding ding* it’s time to fight.

And fight we did. All … the … time. There were a number of times that we would just sit and look at each other wondering, “What happened? Why is it that year two suddenly became so hard?” Well, we forgot to take into account that all of the things that helped keep us stable in Nairobi, an amazing church, great friends, separate working spaces, and designated date nights were gone now. We had to start over. New church, new friends, new everything.

I make fun of my husband for being a creature of habit, but apparently I become a creature from hell when I’m pulled from the routines I’ve pacified myself with for some time. The first month we lived in Kitale, everything Ray would or would not do would tick me off, and I would pick fights over anything just because. Sometimes I was very much aware that my argument was irrational, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to fight. In the midst of those moments, I often found myself wondering, “Are you going to let it go or are you going to let it fester?”

There are times that everything within me wants to hold on to my anger, but when I choose to dwell in that moment and let those thoughts fester into bitterness, it’s bad news for everyone. The moment I say yes to bitterness, the nastiest comments from the pit of hell coming dripping off my tongue or this urge to leave the house and run to God knows where comes up and the next thing I know I’m standing by the gate. I would probably actually leave the house more often if I wasn’t afraid of the wild dogs and men outside, but there are times when it almost doesn’t matter. When bitterness is in control, I am totally out of control, and I hate that feeling.

We’ve been reading through Paul’s letters to the churches lately and I’ve been reading the book of James in my personal devotions and they’re totally tag-teaming on ripping me a new one. The greatest challenge that has been surfacing from those books for me is to live by the Spirit. I have the very essence of the living God dwelling inside of me prompting me to travel the path away from the cancer of bitterness, and yet my flesh compels me to live in the moment and get everything out so I’ll feel better. Funny thing is, I often believe the proclamations of my flesh over those of the Spirit, but not once have I actually felt better once I’ve torn my husband down or tried to run away.

Why can’t I remember in that moment the last time I yielded to the Spirit instead and discovered that Ray and I were able to quickly reconcile and restore peace in our marriage? When did my emotions dethrone Christ and become king?

Wake up calls like this are happening for me much more often now and I thank God for each and every one. I’ve seen what happens to marriages when unforgiveness and bitterness take root, and I refuse to allow that to even be an option for this marriage. As much as I may feel in that moment of tension that this is it and I’m done, I’m learning to breathe deep of the Holy Spirit as I breathe out my anger and to give it another day.

Though Ray and I have committed to love and stay married to one another until death do us part, all we can really do is take it day by day and continually submit ourselves and our relationship into God’s hands. If my anger wants to convince me to do otherwise, my response must be to give it another day, and as long as I incline my ear to the whispers of the Holy Spirit, the next day is always much brighter than the last.

Our greatest challenges: one year later

Unlike the other posts in our challenges and triumphs series, I (Sam) will be the only one writing this one. The window of time we had to post this didn’t allow Ray enough time to get his thoughts compiled. This is the second part to the post: Triumphs: one year later.

Challenge 1: Adjusting to each others’ schedules

Routine. At times it can be monotonously boring, but most of the time it can be the one thing that makes our lives sane. From the beginning of our marriage we’ve sought to establish routines in various aspects of our lives: goal setting, biblical togetherness, weekend quality time, and so on. Kenya can be an extremely unpredictable place, so as much as is possible, we try to maintain a certain level of sanity by keeping whatever we can nailed down.

When Ray was working in Nairobi city, we lived in Rongai – a sort of suburb of Nairobi, I knew that he would be getting up around 5am so that he could catch a matatu early enough to keep from getting stuck in traffic. A trip that should take 20 minutes can end up being two hours if you don’t time it right. Because Ray knows the general ebb and flow of the city and appropriately planned around it, I always knew he would be in the city all day and come home around dinnertime. Whenever Ray knew something would delay him, he made sure to call and let me know so I could plan accordingly. We had a sweet little system going on.

That was our routine. That kept me sane.

Then his office moved from the city to Rongai which meant he’d be closer, he wouldn’t be away from home as long, and I didn’t have to worry about his safety as much (during that time Kenya was experiencing an alarming number of public attacks by Al-Shabbab, and Nairobi was a major target). Before Ray went to work at his new location, we went over what our new schedule would be and we both agreed that it would be better for us.

For a while it was.

Then the time came when a filming opportunity landed in our laps, and it thrust us into plans for starting our own business. As our home-grown business began to expand and his responsibilities at his other job decreased, he started staying around the house longer.

We share a laptop, and normally when he’s gone I’m on the laptop doing work (writing, transcribing, researching, etc.). Most days when I would wake up, he would still be home on the laptop and either wouldn’t go to the office until the afternoon or wouldn’t go in at all. As far as he was concerned, he was working from home too.

That had me all sorts of screwed up. We hadn’t planned this! That was supposed to be my time! Now because he was home there was an expectation that I would make breakfast or lunch for him and engage in conversation, when I was used to just going to the closest duka to buy mandazi to snack on while I worked. As much as I enjoyed the fact that I could spend more time with my husband, it wasn’t part of the original plan, and trying to balance work and a daily schedule that changed on a daily basis was really frying my brain.

That was a huge point of contention when we lived in Nairobi the first year, but even now that we’re in Kitale and around each other all the live long day, we’re having the same issue. We’re having to come up with new routines. We’re about halfway there. We’ve established when each person is to have their quiet time and when we have ours as a couple, and we also have tried to set times for the laptop so that he uses it until I wake up, and I use it throughout the night (I usually go to sleep when he’s waking up).

As for what happens between that… we’re still working it out.

Challenge 2: Resolving Conflict

Every couple argues, and life in the Wasike household is no exception. We have had our fair share of disagreements. Be the reason emotions, culture, negative attitudes, or just flat out stubbornness and pride, we typically find ourselves coming to the same conclusion: there is no conclusion.

See, what happens is when we find ourselves in the midst of a disagreement, things tend to escalate to the point of me shouting or becoming a little too sharp with my tongue, and Ray shuts down. He hates it when I raise my voice and it hurts him to be on the receiving end of some of the snide remarks I make, so generally when we reach that point he’ll stop talking or I’ll run out of words (it happens sometimes) and we’ll go our separate ways.

A few weeks or even months later, what do you know? The issue is back in our faces and the cycle repeats. We’ve since discovered, closer to the latter part of our first year, that the culprit behind the cycle is the fact that once we cooled down, we never closed the case. We allowed each other to state our closing arguments, but we never agreed on a verdict.

Truth of the matter is, our arguments don’t have to reach a fever pitch in order for us to forget that the issue hasn’t been resolved. Even if it’s over something small, sometimes we both share our opinions and we mistake the other person’s “Yes, I hear what you’re saying; that does make sense” for “Yes, you’re right. You’re always right. Let’s do what you want.” Then when the time comes for the matter we argued about to come to fruition, we realize that we both came away from the conversation with different ideas about our game plan.

Even in our second year of marriage, we’re still finding this to be an issue, so we have to make sure that after an argument, once we’ve both cooled down, one of us comes to the other and says, “Okay, so what are we going to do about this? What’s our conclusion?” Usually I let Ray be the one to state the final conclusion because frankly I do enough talking during arguments, and he needs to feel like he has a voice and the final say so in matters.

He’s really good about coming up with the resolution based on what we both brought to the table, so he usually gets no objections from me, but even if I have objections, I’m learning how to know when to let go. I don’t always have to win, the humble voice of the Holy Spirit is whispering “Actually, you never have to win.” I’m recognizing that sometimes I can be so concerned with being right that I can beat a point to death and do a number on my husband’s emotions as well.

What matters is that we’re in agreement, and the more I learn to humble myself, the better chance we’ll have of that being a reality in our marriage.

 

Triumphs: one year later

Last month as Ray and I were sitting outside enjoying the fresh air, greenery, and exotic bird calls in the warm Kitale sun – a pleasant contrast to life in Nairobi – I opened my journal and came across some personal notes from our counseling sessions with Norm and Jen Jennings last year at At Stake Ministries.

Before I continue, let me just say that if you’re looking for biblical based marital counseling in the Salina area, they’re amazing. We did a three day, fifteen hour intensive course with them at a time when we were fighting all the live long day, and meeting with them brought that season of our marriage to a screeching halt. They really taught us how to understand one another, and to this day we still refer to a number of the resources they gave us. Great people. Great project.

Okay, so back across the pond to Kitale. We spent the afternoon going through our notes and reviewing how far we’ve come this past year of marriage when it dawned on us that we still haven’t posted our challenges and triumphs blog… not that anyone was waiting with bated breath for it or anything, but we still need to follow through with what we said we’d do, so here’s the first installment.

Triumph 1: Eliminating irrational fears

S’ambrosia

One of the exercises we were given during counseling was to write down all the fears we had about marriage, and good Lord did we have a lot to write! Most of what we wrote stemmed from insecurities, misconceptions about each other and marriage in general, and a lack of trust. It also didn’t hurt that the day the Jennings sent us off to lunch to complete this exercise we were already mad at each other. Neither of us held back.

Looking over those lists last month allowed us to really see how much trust and love has developed between us over this past year. Those fears that felt so overwhelmingly real in the first few weeks of marriage, now have either disappeared altogether or dwindled down to nearly nothing. We still have a few issues that we’re working through, but boy did it feel good to be able to cross the majority of those fears off the list.

Ray

When we got married we were given a lot of bad information about what marriage, specifically intercultural marriage, would look like for us. I’m not going to go into the details since we already did a blog on that a while ago, but I will touch on one area that was my worst to overcome.

I heard from other Kenyans that in the States couples divorce a lot, and most of the time they divorce over some things that we Africans would call petty. For a long time I was afraid that she would leave me for the smallest thing, but what I know for sure now is that my wife is not like that. Yes we argue, but having been married for more than a year and seeing how tight we have become through it all, the only thing I can say is MAZE NI GOD! From the beginning of our relationship we said Jesus would be the center of our marriage, and no matter what we encountered, we always looked to His example. That, my friends, kept me going.

Triumph 2: Staying out of ministry for the first year

S’ambrosia

To some this one may not seem like it should be in the triumph category, but if you know me you’ll understand why that is a triumph. Before we came to Kenya we were warned that ministry would be a strain on our marriage. This is a warning we took seriously. We’ve seen marriages crumble under the demands of ministry, and we knew that adapting to life in a third world country wouldn’t be easy for me, so we decided to remove certain stressors that could prove to make things more difficult than they needed to be.

I’ve been involved in ministry ever since the day my parents said yes to the call to be pastors, and I’ve gone nonstop until the day we got married. I honestly can’t think of a season in my life where I haven’t been in a leadership position in ministry. Ray and I both knew that we were called to ministry, but we also knew that we risked making the marriage about ministry, and that’s not a good foundation for any couple. I mean, if the ministry goes, what do you have left to stand on? For that reason we decided to take the first year of marriage off of ministry and focus on building our marriage, getting to know each other better, and learning how to walk with God as a couple before we do it as partners in ministry.

Though we weren’t directly involved in ministry we did take every Sunday to pray about what God would have us do the following year, so it wasn’t like we totally blew off our call for a year. We prayed, fasted, and planned. Now that the year is over and we’re in Kitale, we’re ready to hit the ground running.

Ray

“If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.” Deut 24:5

This has become one the biggest foundational scriptures for our marriage. My wife had been in full time ministry for like the entirety of her adulthood. On the other hand I was in ministry but not full time like her, so I was really anxious to know how she would deal with it. The moment we stepped off the plane she started getting on my case about music, worship, orphanages… blah, blah, blah. Trust me, the list was endless.

I tried to help her make the transition in one way or the other, and gave her some leeway to sing specials at a few churches and volunteer at an orphanage, but as I did that I kept on reminding her about what the first year was all about. After some time it got to a point where I got worried that maybe she was backsliding, lol, she really struggled with this, but in the end we were able to abide by this for better part of the year.

We thank God because we recently got back to mission field, and I cant wait to see what this new year has in store for us.

Until next time …

I have a bad habit of saying “I’ll break this up into parts” and then I never follow through, but hopefully sometime soon we’ll get the challenges blog posted… right after I post the next interesting facts blog and the inner healing stuff and so on and so forth.

Oh, and pssst. Check out the sidebar —>

We’re raising money for a keyboard we need for The Joshua Blueprint. We’ve started working with the kids at Mattaw Children’s Village twice a week, and with vocal lessons and piano instruction coming up it would be a phenomenal help. Check it out and help us spread the word. We don’t have much time left!

Much love,

The latest and greatest marital sensation: grief

Last month I wrote another post over at She Is Set Apart about some of the phases I went through as a single adult. One particular area of focus was the way I typically handled my disappointment or grief in the dating realm.

Now some of you may suspect that I might be one to employ the use of pity parties, but that, my friends, would be an untruth. I actually preferred the use of anti-pity parties and not only sought to find the most optimistic reasoning to help me sort through whatever situation I was facing, but I also scolded anyone who wanted to throw a pity party for me.

Some of my favorite phrases as a single person were things like:

“I don’t think I’m meant to be in a relationship, and I’m okay with that.”

“I’m so happy to be single again. Now I’m free to do whatever I want.”

“I love Jesus so much, and I’m glad there’s no guy to come between us.”

Almost immediately after breaking up with someone or realizing I had been single for longer than I would have liked, these statements would become my mantra. Throwing myself into living out these life mottos, with great zeal I might add, I never allowed myself to really grieve the loss of a relationship. There’s no room for sadness when you’re championing your newfound freedom, right?

History repeats itself

Well now that I’m married, I’m finding another area of grief beginning to surface. No, it’s not the identity issue again.

This time it has to do with babies.

Though Ray and I committed to doing our best to refraining from having children in the first year, there were a few times when we threw the chart (we’ve been doing natural family planning) to the wind and waited to see what would happen.

Regardless of our declaration to remain childless for a year, both of us became so giddy whenever the prospect of a child seemed imminent. We’d talk about how the child would look and what he’d be like and what kind of parents we’d hope to be. But every time the all too familiar “period” would come around signaling an end to that month’s parenting fantasies, we both felt that twinge of disappointment.

But being true to my former self I would immediately say,

“Well, I’m glad. We’ve got so much going on this year that I would hate to do while pregnant.”

“Guess God knew it wasn’t time yet.”

“I’m not ready to be a mom anyway. I just had a little case of baby fever.”

Stuffing is for turkeys

Now none of these statements are false, the same could be said of the statements I declared as a single, but they can be slightly deceptive. In my case, when I immediately snap into “find the optimistic approach” mode when dealing with grievous situations, I’m not allowing myself the appropriate space or time to deal with it. I’m just stuffing. We all know what happens to any vessel, especially one as fragile as the human heart, when it gets over stuffed. It breaks, and usually in a bad way.

Two nights ago I miscarried at 6 weeks of pregnancy.

When it first started I cried simply because I was scared, but once we realized there was no rebounding from the situation, fresh tears of grief were summoned and released. Ray, being the amazing husband that he is, just held me and tried to encourage me to stop crying, but after some time he realized that I needed to cry, as did he, so he allowed himself to add some tears to the mix.

That was all that I needed.

The time we took to just hold each other and cry truly allowed me to come to peace with the situation and continue to hold out hope for the future. Had I not been given that opportunity, I surely would have stuffed it and sooner or later it would begin to seep out in some of the most unseemly ways. Now I can at least use my optimistic statements and know that they’re coming from a heart that’s truly in the right place.

One of the things Ray reminded me of was King David and the loss of his first child with Bathsheba. He prayed and fasted and wept, asking God to spare the child’s life, but when his requests were denied, he got up, washed himself, and went to the temple to worship God. With my husband’s support we were able to actually praise God and receive his consoling truths while allowing ourselves time to grieve.

A season of grief is just that, a season

Throughout this new phase of life (marriage) I’m learning how to allow myself to feel sadness and grief and to learn what those emotions tell me about my inner desires.

Okay, you’re single and you want to be married. That doesn’t make you a bad person. So you’re married and you want to have a kid. You’re not displaying a lack of trust in God if you shed some tears expressing your grief at not having obtained one.

Our sweet Father desires to be the one we lean on when we need a shoulder to cry on. He doesn’t ask us to come to him pretending that our trust in Him leaves no space for the reality of humanity He placed in each of us. Humans cry. Allowing myself to cry and share my disappointment with Him will by no means open any doors to depression, which I think is a real fear many of us have, like once the tears start they won’t stop, but I truly believe there’s nothing healthier than to be able to release emotions as you feel them. I truly believe we’re more susceptible to depression when we refuse to deal with what we’re feeling as we’re feeling it.

Anyway, now that our first year of marriage has come to an end and we’re totally open to the possibility of expanding our family, I’m thankful for this lesson in embracing grief and being honest about its presence in my life before I end up picking up the fragments of a broken vessel.

It finally happened

I always knew this day would come. In fact, I even prayed for it, but I never thought I would respond to its arrival like this…

It was no secret when Ray and I first got together that I was the one who was holier than thou, them, and their mommas. When I requested that the Lord send me a husband who was even more deeply entrenched in spiritual matters than I was, I knew that it would be a hard task even for Jesus. I’m being a bit facetious here, let the reader understand, but in hindsight I must admit that this was essentially my reality for some time.

Marrying Ray caused a fairly extensive paradigm shift for me. He challenged every notion of what I thought I wanted in a husband. Through my relationship with him and some wise advice from some trusted mentors, I discovered that  “marriage material” for a Christian is, in the most basic sense, a man who has a genuine heart for God and is willing to learn and grow even if that means his wife has to become the primary teacher. No matter where a guy falls on the spectrum of expressions of spirituality, those components are necessary. Each of these qualities and more could be found in Ray, so I gave up “the list” and chose to focus on sharpening my husband as he sharpened me.

It’s time to get out the grinding stone

From day one, even though Ray knew I had a deeper understanding of the Bible, he took the spiritual leadership role upon himself by implementing a daily Bible study every weekday. Thankfully he understood that he could still confidently claim that role in our family regardless of who was teaching who. I don’t think he felt daunted or threatened by me as much as he was challenged.

Eight and a half books of the Bible later, I’ve noticed a gradual shift in his excitement and hunger for the Word, as well as the strength of his contributions to discussion. Full disclosure, I used to get upset with him in the beginning because he never had much to contribute and when he did contribute it was what I considered weak sauce. (Put your pitchforks down, people. I’ve changed my ways.) The past couple months he’s actually been challenging my ideas (he’s usually right), digging into cross references and commentary, and demonstrating tremendous growth. At first I was really impressed and pleased by this change.

At first.

Then last month our church did a sermon series on prayer and extended a 21 day fast to the congregation. Ray decided to join in and not only fasted, but went to the 5am men’s prayer meeting, spent time every day in the other room doing personal devotions, and even received his prayer language (something he’s been wanting for a while) while he was in Tanzania. This man has really been pressing in and God has really been doing some new things in his heart.

Meanwhile… a storm’s a’brewing over yonder

I used to be an avid faster, but it’s not something I do too much these days because of a combination of migraines and an extended bout of apathy, so I opted out. Meanwhile, my husband was becoming this super Christian, and I found myself entering this dark place. When he said he wanted to spend an hour in devotions, I tried to discourage him from being away so long. We had movies that needed to be watched after all. When he shared some significant insight he’d gotten from his time with God, I either placidly nodded my head and forced a smile or yawned and rolled over.

After having prayed for so long that he would experience such growth, why did I have such a bad attitude when it finally happened?

Mike Bickle said once at a Onething conference, that when people try to discourage you from going hard after God, it’s usually because you remind them of how much they’re not. At the time those words were spoken, I ferociously nodded my head and circled that quote in my journal because I had plenty people in my life telling me that I was doing too much for God or “too heavenly minded”. Today I have to admit that I am on the other end of the spectrum. I’m the one who feels my desire to experience the fullness of God is waning and every inch of progress my husband makes causes me to feel it even more.

Bad girl, bad girl, what you gonna do?

I’ve bemoaned a certain loss of identity numerous times on this blog, so this isn’t a new concept as far as marriage is concerned. It’s just that this time I’m coming face to face with the reality that I’ve been reveling in a presumed identity as “the more spiritual one” in our relationship, so now that I feel like my husband is a challenge to that identity, I find myself clawing at him every time he threatens to take it away.

Enough with the identity changes already!

Of course this is just a perceived threat because he has not even the slightest intention of “de-throning” me or what have you, but it’s my pride that has caused me to put myself on a pedestal in the first place, and naturally it’s my pride that doesn’t want anyone to take me off.

I need Jesus.

Though I didn’t participate in the fast, I feel like that season was a good time for me because I’ve recently taken some time to do some soul searching and to lay my pride and insecurities (technically the same thing) on the altar of God’s mercy. Once you scrape off the layers of pride, self-righteousness, and jealousy, a tender heart that desires intimacy with the Father is revealed.

That’s all I want.

Admittedly, hearing the chorus members of the Lion King sing “they [the Pharisees] live in you” isn’t a pleasant tune to wake up to some days, it’s still quite a shock to realize that I can demonstrate more of their character traits than Christ’s, but then I just plug my ears and loudly sing the song my mom taught me as a kid:

“He’s still working on me

To make me what I ought to be

It took Him just a week to make

The moon and the stars

The sun and the earth

And Jupiter and Mars

How loving and patient He must be,

‘Cuz He’s still working on me.”

 

The anniversary countdown begins … wedding video highlights

Video

In honor of our approaching one year anniversary (one month from today), we figured we’d share some snippets from our American wedding for those of you that weren’t able to be there. Although there were two cameras during the ceremony, we only have the footage from one to share with you, but it’s still pretty decent. We hope you enjoy!

Oh, and fret not, dear friends. When I say “countdown”, it doesn’t mean that I will be bugging you with an actual thirty day countdown wherein I’ll regale you with 300 things I love about my husband (ten items per day, of course). No need to temporarily unfollow the blog. Just simmer down now.

We will continue the tradition of sharing our challenges and triumphs though, like we did at the six month mark. That was probably one of the most visited posts on our old blog page, so I guess people liked it.

Finally, I’m hoping to have finished a special surprise for you guys next month too, so keep an eye out for that. I think it’s going to be pretty awesome, but I think a lot of things are awesome that no one else does, so if you don’t like it, just smile and pretend, okay? That’s what friends do. Friends don’t let friends know they don’t like the special gift they made them.

(Side note: I wrote this while Ray was in Tanzania. I had been alone in our bedroom for five days, so I apologize for the incessant babbling. I was lonely.)

Gun fire in the streets: 5 minutes of panic

Rongai shooting

Ray looking out from the second floor of the mall at the area where the shooting occurred.

This morning, well fairly close to noon, Ray woke me up to tell me he was heading to work.

He normally leaves around 9am, but lately he’s been going to the office later so he can work on the Internet at home before meeting with clients. Recently I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been getting annoyed when Ray stays home late because it interrupts my “me” time, but today I was extremely grateful that he delayed.

Alarming conversations and unnecessary delays

Ten minutes after Ray left, my friend Whitney sent a text and asked me if Ray was at work. Thinking she was in the mall and wanted to stop in and say hi, I told her he was on his way and should be there shortly.

A few seconds later she called.

“There’s heavy gunfire going on right now at Maasai Mall (where Ray works), tell him to go home!”

All my grogginess suddenly disappeared.

About a year ago most of you probably saw coverage of the mass shooting at Westgate Mall, but what is not reported across the pond is the frequent bombings, shootings, and national threats that happen on the regular here. Just a few months ago a bomb exploded in a bus just down the road from Ray’s old apartment.

You can imagine then the horrific thoughts there were running through my head.

As I was trying to call Ray, my phone flashed “battery low” and threatened to shut off in the wrong place at the wrong time forcing me to delay placing the call while I searched for the charger.

I finally reached him and began breathlessly telling him to come home, but within thirty seconds I ran out of airtime and the phone cut off (I wasn’t kidding about short phone conversations here).

All of these delays were really doing a number on my mental stability. I was this close to throwing on my clothes and running down the road to see if I could just find Ray myself when he called me back.

He was coming home.

Takeaways from today

Later, as Ray contacted guys from work and Whitney updated me, we discovered that four thugs had tried to jack an armored car near the mall and there was a gun fight between them and the police in the streets. All four thugs were killed, and as far as we know, there weren’t any other casualties.

I hate to think of what could have happened if Ray had left for work just a bit earlier and was walking on Magadi Road when all this was going down, but I’m thankful that that’s not how it happened.

If anything, today’s incident has further increased my desire to quit being a baby about the days Ray sticks around the house and to cover him in prayer every time he walks out the door. One of the habits I had as a newlywed of praying for Ray as he left was dropped once his office moved from Nairobi city to Rongai, but I was putting way too much faith in Rongai being “safer than the city” and not enough faith in God. I definitely need to continue covering him in prayer every time he steps out of the house.

We’d love your prayers as well.