Under Pressure

Pressure can create some beautiful things. And it can also cause quite a bit of stress.

Here we are, most of the world anyway, on a bit of a lockdown. We are banding together to protect the vulnerable and to provide some sort of pre-emptive relief on the medical facilities all around the world.

We have seen some beautiful moments and heard some heart wrenching accounts. And we have experienced them around our own tables as well: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We are all under pressure in one way or another. As we struggle with bills, meals, focus, patience, health concerns, and a little extra stress, I pray for God’s grace to carry us all through.

Have you found some new ways to cope with stress? It is always good to have a few “go to” stress relievers:

a brisk walk in the neighborhood
speaking a Psalm aloud
taking a nap
singing along with a favorite, uplifting song
chatting with a friend

What other suggestions do you have?

May God grant you His peace during this time of unknowns. He sees you and knows your needs. He loves you and will provide for you in ways you may not see yet. Ask Him to open your eyes to see His work and provision!

The Lord gives strength to his people;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace
. Psalm 29:11

The Meat is in the Marriage!

Landon and Grace!
Landon and Grace!

You may have heard that our sweet Landon proposed to his sweet Grace. Oh, we knew it was coming….they have been dating quite a few years and are hopelessly devoted to one another. That devotion will carry them through the inevitable ups and downs they will encounter in this life.

Disclaimer: I am not trying to sneakily communicate to Landon and Grace through this post–I have been saying stuff like this for years to all of our kids, so they know my spiel! But we are seeing a lot of engagements this year and I have just have a couple of things on my mind.

Just so you know, Grace accepted Landon’s offer! We love Grace and we love her family and we are looking forward to the big party in November! Landon and Grace are in the throes of planning because this wedding is their deal and while we are supportive, if it gets too much for them to plan, then it is probably getting to be too much. Know what I mean? When you are marrying your best friend, everything else is gravy….non-essential…..The meat is in the marriage.

Have you seen the crazy tv shows out there? There is Say Yes to the Dress, Bridezillas, Four Weddings, etc., and with all kinds of things being posted in various media outlets it seems there is a fair amount of pressure to have some fabulous (read: EXPENSIVE) shindig. I am all for fun but I am not all for debt. And some of these potentially beautiful brides act so ugly. I suspect the pressure of juggling everyone’s expectations contributes to this ugliness. Marriage is hard enough work without having the financial burden (and pressure) of wedding and honeymoon debt due to “perfect details”. If you are getting married soon and getting overrun by details keep reminding yourself “I am marrying the person I don’t want to live without and that is the most important detail of the day!” And if you can’t say that, then we have some other talking to do!

Don’t misread what I am saying: There is nothing wrong with having as big and wonderful and detailed a wedding as you can afford to have . . .

but what level of effort and energy and expense goes into the life that follows that sweet day?

I haven’t decided if having Pinterest and wedding planners are good things or not. Ideas are great–particularly ideas that help something be affordable. So, in that sense, Pinterest is great. Wedding Planners? Well, I suppose they may have their place, but it is a tiny place in the corner of a very large universe. Very tiny. Generally speaking, I think wedding planners signal that our lives are way too busy or we are envisioning way too complicated of a day! With all the details and pressure it is no wonder people run off and elope or hire someone to tend to the details! Often mothers and grandmothers and aunts all seem to have their ideas and expectations for an upcoming wedding…and then the guest list…don’t get me started! There are so many difficult decisions to make even for a relatively simple event.

And women aren’t the only ones who are stressed! Think of the pressure guys are under to be romantic and have a photographer sneakily snapping some photos of his perfect proposal. Never mind the guy has just had to find and pay for a ring and come up with some clever way to declare his undying love and affection (think of some of the proposals that are super public–like on the big screen at a ball game…oh boy…)

Talk about pressure….

And we haven’t even touched on the wedding yet—the date, the wedding party decisions and discussions, the colors, the food and beverages, the readings, the vows, the musicians, the honeymoon… So much preparation goes into the day. And for those who love to plan this kind of stuff–they are in their element. For others it can be a challenge.

Any discussion on budgets and debt and what are our dreams and goals for this life? What about children? What about education or travel? What about church? What about your history and how will it impact your future? What about volunteering? Do you have a place to live? Do you have enough for the bills and savings? Do you have a contingency plan? Are you committed for the long haul???

I think if you are utterly exhausted by the planning of the wedding you might need to re-evaulate your efforts. If the meat is in the marriage then everything else is really gravy. And I believe the day should be simple enough that you enjoy it without getting stressed about too many details!

Think of the effort invested in the proposal, engagement, wedding and honeymoon….are you committed to putting all that and more into your marriage?

Marriage will take more of you than you thought you had to give and will reveal your selfishness like nothing else. It requires sacrifice. It is about compromise.

Are you ever really ready for marriage? I doubt it. One thing that is certain is you need a team effort! And a commitment! If you go overboard trying to figure out if you are ready, well, you probably won’t ever be because, honestly, who ever really is? Having God in the center of your life and marriage can make a significant difference in how you view yourself and your spouse and how you deal with the inevitable conflicts and troubles that will come.

If you have been married for any length of time, what advice do you have for those getting ready for this big adventure?

Trouble Focusing?

Ever have one of those times when life is crazy and the concerns of the moment are overwhelming and make it difficult to get your bearings?

  • A car accident leaves a loved one critically injured.
  • A “pink slip” is handed to you.
  • A grim diagnosis comes from the doctor.
  • A crime is committed against you.

Or maybe your stressors are a collection of little situations over time that have become overwhelming and incapacitating. Thankfully, we don’t often experience the big situations listed above, but life can change so quickly. Sometimes, a survey of the things I need to get done or am already behind on can make feel dizzy and disoriented, not knowing where to start.

If the path seems a bit fuzzy, here are some things that might help you regain your focus:

  • Close your eyes and ask God for His strength for the moment.
  • Ask for prayer support. Sometimes just stating the struggle you are going through gets it out on the table and gives you chance to access it.
  • Be honest about your situation.
  • Take a brisk walk for 15 minutes to clear your head.

We all have different circumstances that send us reeling and mess with how we are looking at our situation. We often are unable to see God’s perspective and the work God is doing “behind the scenes”. If you are in a calm time in life, pray for those you may know who are walking through a difficult time. Lift them up in prayer or lend a hand.

I pray you learn from and grow in your relationship with God. Ask Him to clear your eyes so you can get a glimpse of His vision!