Love Is a Choice

This past week, part of my family has been struggling through a tragic turn of events. My stepdad has decided to leave my mom and little brother. His decision was completely out of the blue and based on his feelings that he “doesn’t love” my mom anymore. Upon hearing the news, I was shocked, heartbroken, and obviously upset. Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about this unexpected change.

It’s an excuse that I’ve heard before, both in my own personal life and on countless movies and television shows. “I just don’t love him/her anymore.” “We’re not the same people as we were when we got married.” “I’m not happy with this life anymore. Don’t I deserve to be happy?” There are many ways to put it, but they all reflect the same sentiment. Love and happiness are fragile, they can’t be forced, and all is fair when they are at stake.

Simply put, this is an incredibly unhealthy way of thinking about love and happiness. Following this definition will almost never lead to love or happiness that lasts. Why do I believe that? Well for one thing, I’ve seen it fail over and over again in my life and the lives of people around me. More importantly, though, it’s not Biblical. The Bible is very clear when it comes to defining the right way to find love and happiness. They aren’t things that you have to find, chase, or struggle to hold onto; they are things that you can choose through God.

Contrary to popular belief, marriage isn’t about being constantly in love and filled with adoration for your partner. Marriage is about choosing to love your partner when times are good and when times are bad, when you feel like it and when you don’t. Mature, Christ-like love is not a feeling at all—it’s a verb. Love is something that you give to somebody else, not some feeling that you get.

When a marriage is based on God and true, genuine love, it doesn’t matter how each partner feels at any given moment. Instead, the commitment that both people have made to love each other no matter what is the firm foundation that holds the marriage together. But here’s the key; choosing to love is not something that we just have to stubbornly muscle through on our own. God helps us achieve this kind of love by giving us his spirit and changing our character. He fills us up with His love so that we can pour it back out onto others. In other words, we don’t have to do it alone! And thank goodness for that, because there is nobody who knows how to love as selflessly, purely, and completely as God does.

Happiness is similar to love in this way. It’s a choice that we are all able to make if and when we look to the proper source. Saying that a person can simply “choose” to be happy may seem idealistic, naïve, or even insulting to some people. And they would be right, if it wasn’t for God. On our own, choosing to be happy in situations that we are unhappy with is a paradox, and usually impossible to achieve. But when you add God to the equation, everything changes. God gives the gifts of infinite joy, hope, and peace to anybody who asks for them, and that changes the way that we can look at life. Happiness becomes a choice.

Not only does God offer us joy that is stronger than our situations, but he also shows us a way to improve our situations in life. If we follow Jesus’ example and live the way that He wants us to, our situations in life can vastly improve. Going through life God’s way leads down a much better path than any other way. If we choose to love others, be selfless, surround ourselves with loving people that God wants in our lives, use our gifts for God’s glory, and trust Him to provide for all of our needs, for example, then we will find much more fulfillment in life.

That being said, though, we are not perfect and neither is this world. No matter how much we rely on God or try to live in a way that pleases Him, we will still go through difficult situations in life. After all, this is Earth, not Heaven. This is where the whole “happiness is a choice” thing comes in; we can choose to find joy in God even when our situations are difficult.

Some things in life just suck. Bad things happen, people get sick, people die, others hurt us, we make mistakes, and tragedies strike. During these times, it is appropriate to be sad and to mourn. Even when things are going fine, sometimes depression or discontentment can make us feel unhappy with life. There is nothing wrong with feeling this way. Feelings are not bad, they just are, and we are allowed to feel them. But even in the midst of these feelings, we can choose to find joy through God. There is always something to be thankful for, and God can help us to see that. God helps us get through hard times, and we can always rely on Him because He loves us dearly. This is why happiness is a choice, because God is love and joy and you can always choose God.

When marriages end, it is always a tragedy. When marriages end because one or both partners choose to not love or not be happy, it’s a frustrating tragedy. I’m not saying that marriage is easy or that choosing to love and to be happy are easy things. But they are possible, and when done right, so worth the effort that is required. Marriage, love, and joy are all amazing, intertwining gifts from God. Whenever I see these gifts being misused or searched for in the wrong places, it makes me sad because I know that God has something so much better in mind. There is nothing that I can do to change my stepdad’s mind or fix the situation, though. All I can do is be there for my mom and brother during this hard time, and pray for everybody involved.

In my own marriage, however, it’s a different situation. I am not helpless. I can choose to love my husband every moment of every day, and I can choose to be happy with the life that we are building together. These are the choices that I make, and because of that, I know that my marriage will not fail.



Dedicated to my mom and Justin.

Mom, I am so sorry that this is happening to you. Know that you are so loved by Jesus and by your family and friends. Justin, I’m sorry that you have to go through this. Remember that God is your true Father and that He will never leave you. I love you both so much. Keep trusting God and relying on Him—He will help you through.



Settling In

It’s been a lot of work, but after a very long last few days we are finally moved into our new apartment. We still have a few finishing touches to do to make it feel like home, but so far it’s looking good! Well, as good as it can get anyway.

The reason I say that is that this apartment is a bit, well… shabby, for lack of a better term. At least compared to our last place, I think we can honestly say that we’ve downgraded a bit. For starters, when we moved in it wasn’t quite clean and there were multiple issues we noticed right away that need to be fixed. Over the last few days, we’ve noticed more and more things that are broken, badly repaired, and just plain ugly. The cabinets in the kitchen are warped and messily painted over. There is a gap under our front door, which lets out cold air and lets in bugs. The bathroom sinks are stained and splattered with paint. The appliances are very old and worn. Overall, it’s turned out to be quite different from the model apartment that we were shown when we decided to live here.

Despite the disappointments that we’ve found in the quality of our new apartment, though, we actually really like it. Even better than that, I’ve learned to be less picky and more humble through this experience. I mean, sure, I would love to live in a home where things are all shiny, clean, and new. But really, dealing with imperfections in our home is not the worst thing in the world. Even with all of the things we don’t like, there are still many things that we do like and so many things to be grateful for.

Making the adjustment was really hard for me at first, though. I felt stressed, regretful, uncomfortable, and disappointed when I first saw the apartment. I felt that we’d made a big mistake moving here, and that we were going to be terribly uncomfortable for the next year. But then I had an interesting thought; this move wasn’t actually for my comfort. We moved because we wanted to save money and because, more importantly, we felt God calling us out here. Nowhere in that equation does my comfort take priority, and honestly, that’s the way it should be. My life’s purpose is not to be comfortable—at least, I don’t want it to be! Not when God can offer such an infinitely more meaningful purpose to live for.

When I started to think about what God might have in mind for us out here, I stopped stressing out over the stupid little problems in our apartment. Once that happened, I started to see things that I really like about it! For example, the carpets and floors are all brand new and really nice-looking, the paint is an attractive, neutral, modern color, and the countertops are nicely refinished. Plus, we have a little bit more space than we did in our last place. The outside of the complex is also pretty, and we really like the surrounding area. But more important than all of that is the mere fact that we have a place to live that is safe and comfortable. We have so much to be grateful for in our living situation, and I have no right to complain.

One of the most exciting parts of this move for me was that we got to bring our dog with us. In our last apartment, we were unable to have our dog live with us due to the complex’s pet restrictions. Having him here with us is so great, and I feel like we are finally a complete family. All of our pets are getting along really well, which is pretty amazing considering that we have a dog, cat, bird, and mouse all in the same home!

I am also very excited about starting school tomorrow and settling into my new schedule here. In a few weeks, we will also be searching for a good church family to join and then later, ways for us to serve in church and a Bible study group to join. There is so much ahead to be excited for, and I’m looking forward to all of it!


Moving Out…

On Thursday, Cory and I moved out of our apartment. It was a very busy, fairly stressful, and exhausting day, but we got everything done. Now, we are staying at the Hotel Huff (my parents’ house) for a week. I don’t have my desk set up here, so I’m writing this on my tablet. I just wanted to throw out a quick update for my readers! We will be moving to our new apartment on Thursday, and until then I’ll be enjoying a little vacation time here in the beautiful OC. 🙂

Have a wonderful week, and I’ll post again next Saturday from our new place!

An Amazing Gift

Last week, my husband and I started to explore the possibility of me returning to school full-time. I’m feeling pulled towards a career in teaching more and more, and getting a bachelor’s degree is obviously a mandatory step towards reaching that goal. Unfortunately, working part-time and doing school part-time is a pretty slow way of doing it. It would take me more than five years to get my degree if I could only take two classes per semester, and then there would be another two years for the teaching credential program. That means I would be in school for another seven years!

While that is something I’d be willing to do if it came down to it, it obviously isn’t optimal. But the real problem is the cost of a bachelor’s degree program. With me working part-time and Cory working full-time, we still can’t cover our costs of living without some assistance. Add on the cost of school, which for a university can be quite expensive, and it becomes literally impossible.

Last but not least, there is the issue of my happiness. I know that life isn’t always going to be perfect (actually, it never will be, at least not on earth), and I am certainly willing to make sacrifices now for good things in the future. That’s just basic common sense! But there is a limit to how unhappy I will let myself become. And if I’m being perfectly honest, I was very close to miserable at my old University. There were many reasons for that: the environment was not at all right for a married, Christian woman, for one; the classes were uninteresting and there were few professors who I felt were of good quality; the controlling nature of the school was stifling and frustrating; and the requirement of every student to participate in three months of studying abroad (which would be a huge disruption of my life) was constantly looming over my head. It all comes down to this; different schools are right for different people, and not everybody can work well in every school. My last university was simply not a good fit for me.

When I first left, I thought it was because I wasn’t the “college type.” And maybe that’s still the truth, or maybe there’s another possibility. Perhaps I just wasn’t the right type of student for that specific university, or maybe I’m not the traditional college type at all. Since I left, I’ve been taking classes online at my local community college, and I have found school to be exponentially more enjoyable. I’m driven enough to make sure that I get all of the work done, but I can do it on my own time. I don’t have to feel trapped in a classroom, listening to some professor drawl on while I watch the clock. Instead, I’m free to work whenever and wherever I want! I love the freedom that this type of schooling offers, and it’s made me realize that there may be a way for me to get my bachelor’s degree after all, without sacrificing my happiness for several years of my life. The only problem is affording it.

As I mentioned before, my husband and I are just not financially capable of supporting ourselves with me going to school at the same time, even if it’s just part-time. But last week, Cory’s parents made us an amazing offer that changed all of that. Basically, they’ve offered to pay all of our living expenses while we’re in school if we both go back full-time. Not only that, but they will pay for our school as well! In other words, they are enabling us to do something we simply wouldn’t be able to do on our own; earn our bachelor’s degrees while we’re still young, and do so without taking on any extra debt. It is an amazing gift that they are offering, and we are so humbled by their generosity.

This turn of events has changed my career direction completely. It’s an amazing opportunity that I’ve been offered, and I am eager to accept it! This is a brand new dream of mine and I can’t wait to see where it takes me. Of course, I know that life is an ever-changing journey and I can never really know for sure where it will lead. God has a funny way of changing things up on me and I’m learning not to hold on to any of my own plans too tightly! But until He tells me to do something else, I’m going to keep my sights on becoming a teacher.

So for the next year, I will be taking classes online full-time at my community college to earn my associates degree. After that, I am hoping to transfer to Brandman University, where they have a program for earning a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies with an emphasis on multiple subject teaching. I can take all of my classes online or choose to take some of them on-campus. Since there is a campus right near where we are moving to and a campus very close to where we live now, it won’t even matter if we end up moving back to Orange County in a year or two. It’s a great school and a great program for me, and I’m so excited to get there!

My husband still has his dream to be an entrepreneur, but he is also going to take this amazing opportunity to earn his bachelor’s degree. Like me, he hopes to complete his associate’s degree through our community college and then go to Brandman University, where he wants to earn a bachelor’s in business administration. He plans to start in the spring, since the fall semester is starting in just a few weeks and the classes that he needs are already full. Then we’ll both be full-time college students again, back where we were a year ago! It’s funny how things can change so much.

Well, I think that’s just about enough of an update for this week. Next week, we’ll be all moved out of our apartment and I’m sure that I’ll have plenty more to share. Until then, have a wonderful week and thanks for reading!