This week, I experienced a life-altering revelation; I have no idea where I’m going in life. Alright, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. It could be much worse. At least I have a few things to anchor me (and honestly, those are the most important things in life anyway). I have my Lord, who has a plan for me and gives me a purpose through and beyond the details of my life. And I have my husband, who is my eternal partner on this planet and gives me support and a home base. I also have a world of opportunities available to me, if I’m willing to work hard enough, and a wonderful support network of awesome friends and loving family. So I can’t say that I’m completely lost. But as far as career and life direction go, it turns out that I really don’t know what I’m doing at all.

Yes, my dream is to be a novelist. I want to write young adult science fiction. But the reality is that I most likely cannot make a decent living solely on that. At the very least, I won’t be able to start making money right away. In order to even start this kind of career, I need to be in a place financially where I can survive without making a dime for at least several months. Even after I finish writing my first book and get it published, there is the likely possibility that I won’t make enough money to live on from its sales. So overall, I just don’t think that I can realistically focus on writing fiction as my main source of income. That leaves me with a question; is there anything else that I can do for a living that I will actually enjoy?

This question has been haunting me lately. I’ve tried searching career databases for anything that sounded remotely right for me. I’ve tried looking into career paths that I’ve considered before, like teaching. I’ve tried thinking about the alternative, about being a stay-at-home mom with my future children and focusing on that instead of having an outside career. The truth is, that may still be what I want to do. I can picture myself spending my days taking care of my family and homeschooling my kids, writing novels on the side for extra money. That sounds great, actually. But the problem is that kids aren’t kids forever and once they grow up, I’ll be left with nothing to focus on but my novels, and I fear that that won’t be enough to satisfy me for the duration of my life. More importantly, I don’t know how long it will take for my husband and I to get to a place where we can live on his income alone. Even if this is the path that I take, what on earth am I going to do in the meantime?

It’s all a bit confusing and scary. The first thing I did when this all hit me like a ton of bricks was to pray with my husband. God obviously knows exactly what I’m going to do and He has a really awesome plan for my life. So we asked Him to help me see what that might be and to trust Him to help me find my way there. The second thing I did was to come up with a plan. For now, the main component of this plan is researching all of my options. I’m reading The Purpose Driven Life to ground myself in a purpose beyond my career, which is what matters most anyway. I’m also reading a few career-planning books to help me figure out how best I can use my God-given talents and abilities in satisfying work. With any luck, I’ll be on a clearer path in a month or two.

I write all of this to say that even though I feel lost and confused right now, I don’t have to be afraid. And the same thing can be true for you! Sometimes it’s hard to see, but the truth is that God has a plan for you. He has a great plan for you! And I don’t just mean a rhetorical “you.” I mean you, the person who is reading this right now. God doesn’t plan for bad things to happen to you, but He plans around the bad things that He knows will happen to you. He plans those things into the awesome grand plan! So if you’re thinking that you messed up His original plan for you and now you’re off track and lost forever, then you’re wrong. He knew what path you would take, and He built your plan around that. So don’t be afraid when it comes to your future. You have great things ahead of you. It’s never too late to start walking on God’s path for your life.

Whether you feel lost like me right now or you know exactly where you’re going, it’s always good to take stock of your life and think about whether you are on the right path for serving God’s purpose for you. Are you heading towards something that will bring you joy and fulfillment and that honors God? If the answer is yes, then you are on the right track. If the answer is no, then why not reassess? Pray for wisdom and guidance, do some research, and take the time to really think about where you’re headed. We only have one life to live here on Earth, and it’s so short (especially compared to the eternal lives ahead of us). Let’s make the most of it and live in the best way that we can— living with joy for God’s glory.

Love, Respect, and Boundaries!

This week has been absolutely crazy. If I’m honest, most of my weeks are pretty crazy lately. Big decisions are being made, unmade, and remade. Changes are happening left and right. And the ups and downs of my walk with God are always there, making things even more interesting. Every day there is something new for me to learn and some new way for me to grow. This past week, a big portion of that has been relating to my husband’s parents.

In-laws can be a pain in the butt. It’s nothing personal; it’s just a fact of life. When you get married and take on somebody else’s parents as your own, conflicts are bound to occur. It probably has something to do with the way that nobody really knows how to deal with your parents as well as you do. And when your spouse is put in the position of having to deal with your parents in such an up close and personal way as only occurs in families, well, it’s hard. For me, learning how to navigate the dangerous waters of the MIL and FIL (mother and father in law) has been a struggle. Again, it’s nothing personal against my husband’s parents— they are good people and they love my husband deeply, but we have many differences in personalities and beliefs that cause problems for us.

If I’m honest, it has been difficult at times for me to love my in-laws. Part of the problem is that it has been hard for them to let go of my husband and allow him to make his own decisions. I totally understand, because I imagine that when I have children, letting them go off and start a new family without me will be really hard. But from my perspective, as his wife, it’s quite frustrating. I love my husband so much and I love the fact that we are a family, and that we can make our own decisions together. Having somebody watching over our shoulders and treating us with little respect for our independence isn’t always easy to handle.

But the fact is, God loves my husband’s parents dearly and He forgives them every time they make mistakes. He wants them to turn to Him and live their lives for Him. He definitely doesn’t want to see them hurt or upset, and he definitely does want me to treat them with love and respect. So how can I balance my need for independence with my God-given command to love and respect them? More importantly, how can I fulfill my life purpose and point two of his lost children back to Him? It takes a lot of patience, that’s for sure. It also takes an open, compassionate, and forgiving heart. Fortunately for me, those things are all available to me through the power of God living in me. I just have to harness them.

Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time), I find it difficult to set aside my pride, anger, bitterness, and fear to let God’s gifts of patience, love, and forgiveness take over. Many times, I just want to make my voice heard, have the upper hand, or protect myself from discomfort, and so I am tempted to be unkind or unloving to them. It’s not easy to set aside your own feelings for a greater purpose. Getting your own way feels so good sometimes, and being kind to somebody who is upsetting you often doesn’t feel good at all. But that is what God calls His children to do!  He commands me to love them, forgive them, be kind to them, and respect them as human beings and as my husband’s parents. Not only is it good for me, because it makes me more like Jesus, but it is also part of God’s purpose for my life. Are his parents ever going to turn to the Lord if they see the two closest examples of His followers in their lives acting like jerks? No way! We have to be reflections of Jesus for them, and that requires us to behave with a higher standard.

That still leaves the question of how to balance our need for independence as a married couple with their wishes for my husband as his parents. I think the key here is boundaries. Setting boundaries can often be difficult for Christians, who feel guilty when they have to tell somebody “no” or ask somebody to stop doing something that harms them. They feel that they should be self-sacrificing to the point of putting everybody else’s wants and needs ahead of theirs. But the truth is, Christians need to take care of their own needs just as much as anybody else, especially if they want to stand any chance of helping others. How can I be a kind and loving example of Christ if I’m starving to death? I can’t!

Setting boundaries with parents is an important need for a healthy marriage. When you get married, your spouse moves into the #1 spot in your list of priorities after God. Your parents can and should still be important to you, but they cannot intrude on the rights and responsibilities of your spouse if you want to have a healthy marriage. Plain and simple, they need to step back and allow you to become a new family with your spouse.

I am so proud of how well my parents did this. There were some hiccups along the way, but now we are in such a great place. They respect me and my husband and our decisions, while still being supportive and there for us if we need it. I thank God all the time for giving me such amazing parents!

Unfortunately, it hasn’t been as easy for my husband’s parents. And that is where the boundaries need to come in. It is perfectly acceptable (and in fact, necessary) for us to step back a little from them when we need to. That might mean making decisions that they don’t necessarily agree with, asking them to treat us differently, or simply telling them “no.” The important thing is for us to do these things with love and gentleness. We cannot make decisions based on anger or to spite them. We must treat them with respect, even when we disagree. Respect doesn’t mean bowing down to their every wish; it just means listening to their point of view and giving it value when making our decisions.

I depend on God to give me the grace to love my in-laws. I know that they are only trying to do what they think is best for my husband, and I can respect that. I also know that my husband and I can set up boundaries where necessary to make sure that our decisions as a family are based on what is best for us and what God is calling us to do. As a result, we enjoy a strong and happy relationship that honors God. Even though it isn’t always easy, loving other people is a huge part of God’s plan for us as individuals and as a family. As the Bible says, “we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19), and that applies not only to each other in our marriage and family, but to the people around us as well.

The Write Decision

I am not the type of person who finds herself in a miserable situation and stays there. Don’t get me wrong— I lean on God for strength and pray for endurance while I’m in it— but I guess I’m just not a “wait it out” kind of girl. I am action oriented and when I don’t like something, I try to change it.

Take my job for instance. In fact, take all of the jobs I’ve ever had. From Chuck E. Cheese’s (I used to be the mouse) to Kids’ Factory (after school childcare) to the library at my old university to nannying, my longest record for holding a job has been 15 months. The reason for this is that once I get sick of a job, I can’t justify staying. There are so many other, better things that I could do for work and staying in a miserable job is not something I feel I should do. So as long as I have no obligations to fulfill, I am out of there.

Just this past week, I decided that it was time for another job switch. Unfortunately, now that I have more financial responsibilities it isn’t as easy as just quitting and figuring out my next steps later. This time, I had to really consider how I can make enough money to pay the bills without doing what I do now (that is, taking care of kids all day). The solution that I came up with isn’t exactly foolproof, but it has great potential. I’m going to finally do what I’ve always wanted to do; I’m going to be a full-time writer.

After talking with my husband, praying for guidance, and doing a lot of research, I tentatively made the decision to quit my nanny job and start writing for a living. Little did I know that my “tentative” decision was much more final that I realized.

The next day at work, I talked to my main client and gave her a month’s notice (much longer than usual out of consideration for her— she’s busy enough already without having to search for a new nanny). As it turns out, she was probably going to have to replace me anyway because she wants somebody who can work five days per week for ten hours a day (no thank you!). The next day, my other part-time client who I was hoping to keep for supplemental income while I get off the ground told me that she won’t need me any more except on occasion. The timing of all of this sent a pretty clear message; if I hadn’t made the decision to leave my jobs already, the circumstances would have made it for me! Like it or not, I am now writing for a living.

To be honest, I’m slightly terrified. I mean, making a living as a writer is not the easiest thing in the world, especially when you have limited experience like me. It’s even harder when your passion is for fiction! But I have a feeling that the recent turn of events in my life is not purely coincidental. No, I think God is telling me loud and clear that it is time to pursue my dreams. And I am choosing to believe that God will provide. I am taking a step of faith and trusting Him to take care of me. Let me tell you— it is one of the most exciting, terrifying, exhilarating, and awesome feelings I’ve ever had. I’m going to be a writer, and God is going to help me!

Besides the awesomeness of God on my side, I am also incredibly blessed to have an amazingly supportive husband. He is my biggest fan, encourager, and helper, and probably the main reason besides my trust in God that I am able to believe in myself and give this a try. He finds resources for me, comes up with great ideas for finding work opportunities, is continually optimistic, and truly believes that I will succeed. Financially, being married has provided me with the opportunity to make such a bold career move— he can pick up the slack while I’m trying to figure all of this out. Together we are a team, and we delight in helping each other achieve our dreams. Together, with God’s help, we can do anything

This is a pretty crazy time in our lives for me and my husband. In four months, we are going to be buying a house and moving about 2 hours away from where we live right now. My husband is currently in the process of leaving school and starting his own business. I’m changing jobs from nannying to freelance writing. It’s a lot to process at once, but it’s so exciting! And I want to thank you, my readers, for following me through this journey. This blog is attracting more and more readers every week, and that is something I can barely dare to believe. I am incredibly honored that you would take the time to read about me and my adventures in life, and I cannot thank you enough. You are the reason I write!

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

-Philippians 4:13

I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.

-Matthew 17:20 (excerpt)

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

-Romans 8:28


Free At Last

Since tomorrow is Easter, I thought it would be most appropriate to write something about it. After all, this is the day when Christians celebrate the fact that Jesus rose from the dead 2,000 years ago, completing the process that God set in motion to free us from our sin!

Easter gives us more of a reason to celebrate than any other holiday of the year. It means the triumph of good over evil because Jesus rose and defeated death, which is Satan’s favorite invention. It means freedom from sin because Jesus took it all for us and left it behind in his empty grave. It means we can receive the gifts that God promised to us; peace, joy, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life to name a few of the best. It means that we, too, will never have to face death because even when our bodies die our souls will live forever with God in Heaven. That’s a seriously awesome reason to celebrate!

But as amazing as all of that is (so amazing that we can’t truly comprehend it the way God does), it isn’t exactly breaking news. We’ve celebrated Easter for a very long time and I fear that everything I’ve said may not make any impact because it’s become so clichéd. “Yeah, yeah, Jesus rose from the dead. We get it.” Even though it’s amazing, the sheer repetition of it may have some of my readers bored.

So instead of just blathering on about Jesus’ awesomeness (which would be way too easy), I’ve decided to go back to the roots of my blog; marriage. Specifically, I wanted to try to write about what the Easter message means for marriage! Think that sounds like a stretch? Well then read on!

I think that the overall theme of Easter is freedom. Again, this is the day that Jesus rose from the dead and proved once and for all that sin and death have no place with his children. So what if, in our marriages—including future marriages for those of you who aren’t married and other close relationships for those of you who don’t plan on ever getting married—what if we acted on this? What if we lived with an eternal perspective, focusing on the big picture instead of the little things in our day-to-day lives? What if we treated our spouses like the precious and eternal beings that they are? What would that change?

Well for one thing, you can be sure that we wouldn’t argue over stupid little things like how he didn’t clean the dishes well enough or whether or not we should buy a new toaster. We would probably relax just a little bit and realize that not everything has to be perfect or go our way. I’m thinking we would be a lot more joyful because of the awesome fact that no matter what happens to us here on earth, it will all just be a tiny blip on the map of our indescribably perfect never-ending lives in Heaven. And that kind of joy emanating from both people can only improve a marriage, if you ask me.

Not only that, but I think that if we saw our spouses closer to the way that Jesus sees them, we would treat them differently. One of the promises that Jesus gave us right before He died was that if we asked for things in His name, then he would enable us to do them. He even promised us that we could do even greater things than He did if we let the Holy Spirit work freely in us. One way that we can take Him up on that promise is by letting Him work in us every day to become more loving, gentle, and self-sacrificing spouses. How can we do that? It’s all about spending time growing closer to God through reading His word, prayer, worship, fellowship, etc. and then listening to the promptings that the Holy Spirit gives us. It’s so much easier to hear God when we have a close relationship with Him, and honestly I believe that that is the key to cashing in on all of the wonderful gifts He wants to give us, including awesome, joy-filled marriages.

The freedom that we celebrate on Easter is something that we can live in every day. We can live in freedom from our struggles and trials in life by knowing that there will come a day when all of the pain of life ceases to exist. We can live in freedom in our marriages when we see everything from God’s perspective, and know that we don’t have to let little issues get in the way of satisfying relationships with our spouses. We can be the freely loving, gentle, forgiving, and passionate husbands and wives that God intended us to be, because Jesus gave us the power to. We are free to enjoy our marriages as a wonderful gift from the God of love! Thank you Jesus!