A Million Mundane Moments

Reflections on Marriage

Back in November, Ryan and I celebrated five years of marriage. We spent the weekend hiking and enjoying time together at the place where we met: a secluded campground and conference center that hosts summer camps every year. It’s located around the Turner Falls area in Oklahoma, and during the off-season, they have a hotel/lodge you can stay at for a pretty reasonable price. The autumn colors were on full display and we enjoyed a little weekend getaway there to reconnect with one another.

During our getaway, we reminisced about the night we met there 5 years earlier as we walked around camp. The camp has a prayer garden, and we got up early on Saturday to hike up to the garden and check out the sunrise. While we were there, we re-read our vows to one another, and we spent some time praying together about our marriage and our commitment to one another.

a million mundane moments

It was such a refreshing time together. I loved looking back over our vows and reflecting on how we had or had not fulfilled them over the last 5 years. It was a good exercise, to be honest with one another on where we are in our marriage, how we’ve grown, and in what areas we can work to grow more and improve.

I’m sharing about this now because we are just a few weeks away from Valentine’s Day – a holiday known for grand romantic gestures and displays of affection. Ryan and I don’t usually make much of Valentine’s Day – he may get me some candy and flowers, but there are no expectations or requirements.


This is typical of our relationship as a whole, as well. We don’t have regular date nights – sure, we go out occasionally – but date nights have never been a regular thing. We have never felt the need, and I’m okay with that.

It’s not that I believe date nights, gifts or getaways are wrong. I love to go out with Ryan. I enjoyed our weekend getaway for our anniversary, and I delight in an opportunity to get a night alone with him kid-free.

For us, though, our marital intimacy is built on the every day – the support we give one another in pursuing personal passions, the way we share parental and domestic responsibilities, the comfort of being in the same room with each other even if we’re doing separate activities. I enjoy just going for a walk with Ryan or wandering the aisles of Wal-Mart with him as we run household errands. I especially enjoy when he plays the piano while I’m in the kitchen prepping dinner, and then he’ll do the dishes while I give the kids a bath.  I love getting cozy on the couch together after the kids are in bed and watching Sherlock or Parks & Recreation or whatever other show we’re into at the time.

What I’m trying to say is, I just plain enjoy him. I enjoy doing life – normal, ordinary life – alongside him.

Another writer put it this way:

Marriage is made up of date nights and romantic weekends. But far more it is made up of those million mundane little moments. More than it is dancing and candlelight and bed and breakfasts, it is doing chores together, driving to church together, watching a miniseries together, eating meals together. It has been my experience that the more we enjoy those ordinary moments and the more we find satisfaction and significance in them, the less we need or even desire those extraordinary occasions.

This is the biggest thing I’ve learned in our five years of marriage: the value of a million mundane moments. They aren’t grand, they’re rarely Insta-worthy, but they are the most meaningful for us. And they’re the marriage moments I cherish.

a-million-mundane-moments-reflections-on-marriage

So as we go into Valentine’s Day, my encouragement to you, friends, is to be thankful for those million mundane moments of normal life. Delight in them and celebrate the ordinary ways you and your significant other love one another every day.

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The images above were taken by The Bell Photography Co. for our engagement in 2011. I’ve re-used them here because I just love them so much. Also, Ryan read this post before I published it and stamped it with his seal of approval. 

Loneliness, friendship and faith

Loneliness, friendship, and faith

In case you didn’t know, we recently uprooted our lives and moved to a new town. (Again.) (For the 7th time in 5 years.) (You can read more about that here.) Since we’ve moved so many times, we often find ourselves displaced from our network of friends and having to start over in a new place. With these many transitions, I’ve observed that, in my adult life, it’s much harder to start over in a new place and establish quality friendships.

Now don’t get me wrong, acquaintances are easy to come by. But, real friendships, the kind that span the years and traverse the miles between you, are difficult to grow and maintain as adults. I’ve been trying to figure out why that is. What is about adulthood that makes nurturing relationships with others so challenging?

I find this struggle all the more troubling because I’m a Christian. The church is supposed to be synonymous with community. Especially in the Southern Baptist world, we hold fellowship meals and talk about the importance of “not forsaking the fellowship of believers,” and yet church can be the loneliest place for many, myself included.

For example, since moving here last August, we’ve visited most of the churches within our denomination in town. We found ourselves gravitating to one in particular – it’s doctrine matches ours, the pastor preaches through the Bible expositionally (which is our preferred preaching method), and our daughter enjoys the children’s ministry activities on Wednesday nights. We have grown increasingly involved in the life of the church – we’ve joined the choir, and I’m playing bass for the worship team.

Yet, we can go through several Sunday and Wednesday services and nobody talks to us. This isn’t a large church, either – there are maybe 100 people there on a Sunday morning. You may think, perhaps the problem is that we haven’t connected to a small group. That isn’t the case. We’ve been regularly attending the small group class for our age/season of life since we started attending in September. People do talk to us in small group – but, if we are absent for several weeks in a row, nobody reaches out to us – not even the small group leader. 

You may also think this is an isolated incident – that this particular church might need to grow in their biblical understanding of community. However, in our many moves, we have found this situation occurring more often than not. I have often wondered if maybe there is something wrong with me/us because it happens so often. Yet,  the more I talk to other believers inside and outside of my denominational affiliation, I keep hearing this same story of loneliness and isolation among the people of God.

The weight of this problem struck me last week. I was at the gym with an old friend – someone I’ve known for over 15 years. We’ve known each other since high school, and though our lives have gone different ways at different times in adulthood, we have reconnected recently since I moved back to our hometown.

During our time at the gym (we call it “treadmill therapy”), she confided to me that she and her husband are starting marriage counseling. As she shared this deeply intimate struggle in her life, she said to me, “I’ve felt like I can’t talk to anyone about this. I can’t tell my parents, and I can’t talk to anyone at church about it.” She’s felt isolated and alone – navigating the murky waters of the sea of marital conflict on her own.

Her experience is just one of many similar to it. Bible-believing, faithful, church-going men and women who sit in pews every single week are battling unseen conflicts on their own, without a community to circle up around them and go to war with them.

Why? That’s the question I’ve not been able to answer, yet. I don’t understand why it’s been so hard for us to find a community of gospel friendships. I don’t understand why it’s easier to find camaraderie among coworkers than among co-laborers in the church. I think familiarity has something to do with it – the more you’re around someone, the more the relationship grows. Yet, if the gospel is anything, it should be the ultimate source of familiarity – our mutual need for grace in light of our shared weakness.

As you can see, I have more questions than answers. Have you had this struggle in your adult life? Have you ever had to start over and build new friendships? What was your experience like?

To the working mom at church

to the working mom at church

Dear Working Mom,

I see you waking in the early fringe hours of the morning for self care – claiming a few precious moments of solitude for bible study and prayer, or for exercising and meditation. I know how tired you feel throughout the day because of the lack of sleep, but those wee hours of the morning are the only time you feel you can spend on just you.

I see you swallow back tears when your toddler looks in your eyes over breakfast and says, “But mama, I don’t want to go to school. I want to stay home with you.” I know how hard it is to hear those words, to try to make your little one understand how you wish you could stay home with her too and why you have to work.

I see you running errands on your lunch break, so as not to consume precious evening time. I see you grabbing a quick bite to eat in your car in the midst of grocery shopping or paying bills, or munching on a snack at your desk because you used your lunch hour to get a haircut or go to the doctor.

I see you missing group bible studies and/or moms groups, because they’re all in the mornings and you have to work. Or, when there is an evening option, the guilt you feel from sacrificing more time with your kids prohibits you from feeling the freedom to join. I know you wish there was another way, because you miss the fellowship with other women, and you know you need it.

I see you talking with other moms before and after service on Sunday, feeling out of place as they talk about homeschool curriculum or play dates. I know you feel like it’s hard for you to have friends. Most of the other church women are SAHMs, which is fine but you live in an opposite world. I know it’s lonely there.

I see you downcast during Mother’s Day sermons, when your well-meaning pastor extols the virtuous wife and mother who keeps the tidy home, raises the well-mannered children and serves her family joyfully. I know you feel less than. I know you feel like your brothers and sisters around you turn their nose up at you because you choose to work, as if your decision was made without regard for your children’s well-being or the good of your marriage.

I see all of these things because I’m a working mom, too. I know how hard it is to find a kindred spirit, to feel out of place among the family of God, to wish there were more bible studies or blogs written from the working mom’s perspective or to us.

I pray you can find friendships with fellow Christian sisters who encourage you, edify you, and empower you.

I pray you can find church family who support you and love you.

I pray your husband appreciates you and strengthens you.

I pray you know that your sacrifice is not in vain. I pray that you can have confidence that, though you work outside the home, you are motivated by what’s best for your children and family at this time.

I pray you can find rest for your weariness in Jesus. I pray you can believe him when he says, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

I pray you know that, no matter who cares for your child during the day, there is no replacement or substitute for you. There is no one like you in your child’s life.

I know you’re lonely, but you’re not alone. I know you’re weary, and though you can’t see it, I know you’re strong, because Jesus has you. Jesus is with you. He is with your children when you can’t be with them.

With you in Him,

Rachel

5 Scriptures to Pray for Yourself

5 Scriptures to Pray for Yourself

 

Recently, I’ve shared different Bible verses to adapt into prayers for your children and for your husband Today I want to talk about another important person in your life who is in constant need of prayer: you. When I pray, I don’t spend much time praying for myself. I often devote most of my prayer time to others’ needs and requests. If I do spend much time in prayer for myself, it’s generally asking for forgiveness or protection.

That’s why I felt challenged to share this post. When I thought about how I was praying specific requests from God’s Word about my husband’s love for the Lord or my children’s thankful attitude, I realized I need to be transformed by scripture just as much as my husband and children do. Praying God’s Word about myself jumpstarts that transformation. By praying specifically about myself using language taken from scripture, I’m conforming my heart and mind to the image of Christ.

If you’re here today and you don’t spend enough time applying God’s Word to yourself in specific ways through prayer, I hope you’ll be challenged by this like I was. Here are 5 scriptures to pray for yourself:

  1. Replace my insecurities with the ability to trust you and rest in your approval, knowing that if I’m “trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10, see also Proverbs 29:25).
  2. Let my beauty be in “the hidden of [my] heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4).
  3. Give me grace to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, [and] slow to anger” in my daily interactions with my children and husband (James 1:19).
  4. Give me wisdom, strength, and perseverance for the “good works, which [you] have prepared beforehand” for me to do, according to the unique ways you’ve designed me (Ephesians 2:10).
  5. Let me love for others be deep, sincere, and sacrificial, “[loving others] earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22).

Obviously, there are myriad commands and promises in scripture we should apply to ourselves through prayer. This list is just a small portion, but these prayers reflect attitudes or changes that I need God to accomplish in me daily. What scriptures do you pray for yourself regularly?