Hello (9 years after I caught on fire).

Nine years ago she said Yes.

I proposed in an old fraternity building undergoing massive renovations, the least likely place she would anticipate. Yet, if you know me, it kinda makes sense. After using a Lite-Bright to ask the big question, we sat to thank God and in the middle of prayer my shirt caught fire from a rogue candle.

True story.

I can confidently say it’s been the best near-decade of my life.

Still get goose bumps when she walks in the room.

Finding the good kind of joy.

Kari wrote a new post for {in}courage, up today: “How Joy Comes to Your World.” She begins:

About a month ago we sold our dream house and down-sized into a rental. We lost a lot of money, I guess you’d say.

We lost about 1,000 square feet. Lost that big soak tub. Lost my walk-in closet. Lost our garage. Lost our double-sinks. I guess we lost the tax deduction for mortgage interest too.  Now that I think about it, I guess we lost a lot.

Maybe that’s why I feel so much lighter. Why I feel so free.

What happened? some asked. Lose your job? Unforeseen financial challenges?

Nope. Nothing’s changed except our hearts. We read a little story about a Kingdom:

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

Discovering hidden treasure makes us so excited we do crazy things.

We find crazy joy.

Because that’s what we’ve found in the midst of all this loss. Found this crazy joy of kicking the American dream to the curb and racing back to that field to dig down and unearth that treasure

Identity: everything grows and flows from there.

Do you focus on your main priorities, or your primary identity?

Kari writes:

How many times have we been asked to do the exercise?

List out your priorities as you want them to be … Of course we’re supposed to put God first, then family second, or wait, maybe we’re supposed to put ourselves first, but then what about our spouse, and then work is a must so where does that fit in? I’ll tell you what:

 

No matter how many times I’ve listed out my priorities it’s never revolutionized my life. 

Here’s what’s revolutionized my life:

 

Understanding that it’s not knowing my primary priority that matters but knowing my primary identity. 

 

We do what we do because we are who we are.

What gave rise to this thought? Galatians 5:25:

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

 

A conclusion:

What if I look at my to-do list with that in mind? Keeping in mind that everything that I do I do as a disciple of Jesus Christ, called to fulfill His great commission and be His ambassador here on earth?

 

No where in Scripture are we called to find balance. Our notion of “finding balance” is cultural. Christ calls us to take our whole life — work, play, service, both sacred and secular — and drench it in the water of His Spirit so that as we move about this world we’re soaking wet, dripping all over the world, spreading the gospel not because we’re handing out tracts but because we’re handing out hope.

 

We’re kind, patient, loving, gentle … our life displays the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24).

 

What is our identity? Are we citizens of earth or citizens of heaven? Our identity determines how we live. We can walk in step with the world, running to keep up with the passing pleasures of each new year, or we can walk in step with the spirit, knowing that in His presence is fullness of joy.

{Grateful for my wise, gracious wife. Thanks, Kari!}

Photo by See Margaret

Weighty Words: as … so …

As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” —Colossians 2:6

[Kari writes]: I’ll never forget the first time those words echoed in my heart. College, probably sophomore year, Pastor Mark read them slowly. So walk… the room stood still.

So walk in Him. Of course!  Why hadn’t I understood it before? I was striving, struggling, trying trying trying to live a life of faith. I was frustrated, defeated, discouraged. What was I doing wrong? No matter how early I rose in the morning or how long I prayed I still seemed to struggle. Ready to raise the white flag, I came to Bible study.

As you have received Christ …

How did I receive Christ? As a child. A 5-year-old child. Did I have anything to offer God? Nope. Did I have to rise at 5am to earn His love? Did I try really hard and pray exactly the right words and sweat my way into His kingdom?

No.  How did I receive Christ?

I bowed. I clasped my starfish hands and …

asked.

I asked. I brought empty hands and bowed my head and bent my knees and asked God for the gift of grace.

So walk in Him…

Why do we think that we continue any differently than we began?

Sinners are not only saved by grace through faith, but the saved sinner lives by grace through faith.

Grace is the way to life and the way of life.

[Read the rest.]

Tomorrow, verse 7.

Better than expected.

Few things in life are ‘as advertised,’ and far fewer are better than expected. As my wife often writes about, expectancy is better than having expectations. True Hope does not disappoint, though we live in constant disappointment it seems, a frustration on our ill-fashioned ‘hopes.’

This week Kari and I celebrated eight years of marriage, and I must say that life with her is better than expected. I did have ‘high hopes’ for our life together, yet the trajectory of our shared life, growing in gratitude and humility together daily, as Christ leads us, has been the true joy of this adventure. Here’s to eight times eight more years together in this life!

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31.

Proverbs 31:10-31:

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

[Today is my wife‘s birthday.]

Kari,

You are an amazing woman, fully of godliness, abounding in joy, overflowing with wisdom, and committed to faithfulness and perseverance in our family. (Proverbs 31 describes the trajectory of your life. You are a woman of noble character.)

May our kids come to embrace and embody the Gospel which you adorn so well. And may others behold the beauty and goodness of the one true God whom you serve.

A wife of noble character who can find? I did. (Somehow. Still amazed.) God brought me you.

 

In Christ,
Me.