Archive | April, 2008

More than just getting by

30 Apr

I was just listening to the new MercyMe CD–my only CD purchase in the past year–and there is one line in the song “Where I Belong” that really spoke to me. It says:

“Everybody tries
To find the purpose for their life
In hopes that one more day is justified

But once you truly see
The very reason why you breathe
It becomes so much more than getting by.”

That line makes me think back to my high school and college days before I became a Christian. My life was just about getting by. Back then, the lyric that triggered these feelings was from Amy Hit the Atmosphere by Counting Crows. The line said:

“There has to be a change I’m sure
Today was just a day fading into another
And that can’t be what a life is for.”

Humans want meaning! We want purpose! We want someone or something that will give us something to live for, to tell us that our lives are not for nothing and we’re not just wasting our time here.

As I was pondering how my life was before I became a Christian and after, I realized that there are still moments in my walk with God when it feels like I’m just getting by. I’m bracing myself as I go to work for another long, restless day. I brace myself for another tension-filled evening with Travis. I stop thinking about how hard it is to be in Colorado, away from my friends and family who I miss so dearly.

As I was getting in the Word this morning during breakfast, Psalm 97:11 caught my attention. It says:

“Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.”

Joy is sown for believers. We get joy. It comes standard with the salvation package. The Lord knows that I need reminders like this–like Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Psalm 97:1 “God rules: there’s something to shout over!”

More than all that, we get joy IN GOD. He is our exceeding joy (Psalm 43:4) and our refuge (Psalm 62:7). He is our praise, our glory, our righteousness, and most importantly, our hope.

“And now, O Lord for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” Psalm 39:7

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:11

So when those days that seem to never end come, or when it seems that there is no limit to my sinfulness, I can turn away from my circumstances and self to the Perfect One, my Redeemer. In Him, I find hope that my life has meaning. In Him, I find joy in being where I am, doing what I’m doing. Like Zane Black said today in chapel, God has it all planned out–we just need to walk in it.

So I praise you Lord for giving our lives meaning, for revealing what our purpose on earth is…and for making our days about more than just getting by.

The excitement builds…

28 Apr

and so does the nervousness. I am prepared for the half marathon this Sunday but still, there’s something about having to run a certain distance one day and needing it to be a great run…the one day that it really matters. Even when I go out on runs in training, I still get a few nervous butterflies. Race day is that much more intense.

But after running 11 miles yesterday, I’m feeling decently confident. I felt good at the end of our run and there were a number of hills in that run. The course in Ft. Collins has a “net downhill with very few turns and hills” according to the website. It has been dubbed “America’s Fastest Marathon.” I like the sound of that.

Here is the course map (the half is in blue): course map

Only 6 more days!

My materialistic dream come true

27 Apr

Ever since I saw a Coach purse however many years ago, I’ve wanted one. Coach is just one of those brands–I love every style and design. The North Face is also like that for me. I drool over just about anything I see that is made by The North Face. They also have one more commonality: they’re crazy expensive.

Which explains why I didn’t have a Coach purse, nor did I think I ever would. I don’t have $300, let alone $300 to spend on a purse. So I relegated my Coach purse dream to the part of my brain that stores all the “Maybe someday…probably never” dreams that I have (those dreams usually involve possessions and things of superficial worth).

But my mom got this gift card for $50 off a $150 purchase. She asked me if I liked Coach purses and I said “Uh…yeah!” She asked me if I would use the gift card if she gave it to me. “Well, $50 off…but I don’t have that extra $100.” And then she said, “Well Dad and I could give you $100 now for your birthday (which is in July).” Sold.

I was still a little dubious about whether I could find a purse that I really wanted for $150. But I was willing to try. So I headed off to the Coach store at Flatirons Crossing and I did find one that I really liked, the only problem was the stupid handle. It was only long to be carried on your forearm, not put over your shoulder. I’ve had purses like that before (and I’ve had a LOT of purses) and it’s always just a little annoying. It’s what separates a great purse from a good purse. So the more I thought about that purse, I knew that if I bought it, I would always be a *little* disappointed about the handle.

Thinking that maybe the Coach store didn’t have EVERY style out on display, I checked out Coach.com. And I found 3 viable options, 2 of which were realistic. 🙂 When we went back to the Coach store yesterday, I found the 2 purses that I liked, tried each on and looked at myself in the mirror. The one I had expected to like better was actually a tad big for my taste. Travis thought the same thing (and the bigger one was more expensive so that was an automatic “I like the other one better.”) I ended up buying the other, smaller one that cost $218. With my $50 off, it cost $182. So I have to pay $82 out of my blow money, $40 for the next 2 months. It’s worth it!

As we walked out of the store, me carrying my ritzy Coach purse inside its own Coach pouch inside a glossy Coach bag, I wasn’t completely sure that I bought the perfect purse. I really wanted one with gold on it but the style I wanted didn’t have that as an option. The one I bought that is very sophisticated and will en vogue even when gold is out. 

Nevertheless, the minute we got to the car (after Travis went to Dick’s Sporting Goods to look at hunting scopes), I transferred everything from my old purse to my new purse. And the more I used it last night and this morning, the more I absolutely love it. My materialistic dream has finally come true!! I am the proud owner of a Coach purse! (And it doesn’t have as much to do with the “status symbol” as it does with the fact that I just really LOVE Coach purses. I mean if you asked me if I wanted a Louis Vitton purse, I’d say no. I just don’t like Louis Vitton.)

So here is a picture of my new beloved possession:Coach purse

Beautiful, eh?

On another note, the half marathon is in exactly a week. Travis and I ran 11 miles today so I think we’re pretty well-prepared.

On yet another note, I never get sick of making analogies between the Christian life and running. So I have another one before I end this post. I have been pretty dedicated to training for this race because I know that if I don’t do the short, weekly runs, I’ll never be able to do the long, weekend runs (or the race for that matter).

My dedication to running makes me think about the dedication I have to other areas of my life, especially my time with God. Too often, I’m not that committed. I think, “Well I have to train because or else I won’t be able to run the race, but it doesn’t REALLY matter if I don’t get into the Word today. I mean, what’s going to happen to me?”

But I think that if I saw the whole race stretched out before me and I saw what would be required of me down the road (or what I would be able to achieve with consistent training), my approach to time in the Word and in prayer would be quite a bit different. God doesn’t want me to spend time in the Word because “it’s a good thing.” It is a good thing but I am not just training for a little stroll in the park when I get in the Word. I am training for battle. I am training for challenges and circumstances that are only possible for me to face and stand against when I am grounded in God. Just as the distance I can run increases the more I train, so the difficulties of the obstacles I can face increases the more I train my soul and mind.

That’s food for thought.

Willpower has a time limit

24 Apr

So today I had a day-long meeting with my Director, her Director, the Sales Manager, the used-to-be Marketing Manager (she just had a baby 2 months ago and is now part-time) and a Marketing Consultant. We were talking about our marketing strategy and budget–if where we’re putting our money right now is effective, what ways we can maximize our dollars, etc. It was very interesting and it gets me really excited to be in the marketing world. This is what I want to be doing.

There are times when I think about being involved in women’s ministry, writing my life story and speaking into girls’ lives as a profession. I hope to do that someday. But I love marketing. And really, I feel SO blessed to have my job and be doing what I really enjoy because to be honest, I didn’t think it would ever happen. When I got out of college and started looking for jobs, and then when I ended up with the job I did, I really thought that my career would never be what I wanted it to be. I struggled with that notion a lot last summer and prayed earnestly for God to give me a job that I loved and was good at when we moved to CO. And tada!! Look at His faithfulness. God is amazing.

Anyway, so I ate a big breakfast this morning (the equivalent of 3 servings of Honey Bunches of Oats and a grande light caramel frappucino from Starbuck’s) so that I wouldn’t get hungry during the meeting. Silly me, I thought that we wouldn’t have any food there. I thought that some people might bring snacks for themselves (and to “share”) but I brought my own snacks as well.

When I showed up at the church though (where the meeting was), my boss Carol Ann had a whole spread of food for us. There was fruit, chocolate, toasted wheat thins, goldfish, coffee, water, muffins. “Man, I shouldn’t have eaten such a big breakfast!” I thought as I walked in. But I resisted the temptation to eat anything. Not only was I full, I had eaten extra calories at breakfast to tide me over until at least snack time around 10:30.

Well, the first part of the meeting went well. Around 10:30, I had some strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, and 1/2 a banana. I also a few toasted wheat thins but I made sure that I was still hungry by the time we went out to lunch. I also drank about 3/4 of my Nalgene so I had to pee 3 times before lunch.

We went to lunch at Red Robin. I ordered water (not Diet Coke!) and the Asian Chicken Salad (not a burger!) I didn’t even eat any of the french fries that they brought out before our food. I was “being good” and holding out for my real meal. I ate my whole salad and the 2 pieces of flat bread that came with it. And then I had 1 french fry. Just one. Oh, the willpower.

But when we got back to the church, all hell broke loose. I had 6 little hershey candy bars, 3 handfuls of Reese’s pieces, a pull-and-peel Twizzler, and some more fruit. I wasn’t hungry and by the time I left, I was feeling sick from all the candy I had eaten. Yuck.

But I mean, there’s only so long that you can sit in front of chocolate, hearing it call your name and resist. Willpower has a time limit. I’m a ticking timebomb in front of sweets. As soon as the timer gets to zero (willpower), I explode and devour everything in sight. Ok, so maybe it isn’t that drastic. But I still went home today feeling like I was pregnant.

It’s days like this that remind me that I need to take care of my body and respect its needs. I can’t starve it and I can’t stuff it. My body has a happy medium and it’s my job to make sure that my body stays happily medium. When I overeat, I feel really gross and unhealthy and it really distracts me (because I keep beating myself up over my failure). When I undereat and count calories, I feel deprived and distracted as well (because then I can’t stop thinking about the next time I get to eat). So the good thing for me is to eat just enough and to treat myself within reason and not worry about the rest. I feel like taking care of my body frees me up to focus on more important things, like God, my marriage, and other people. So the health benefits are mental and spiritual as well as physical.

When I got back from the meeting, I didn’t have time to run 5 miles like I had planned before I had to go teach English. Plus, I was so sore from my weight training yesterday (it didn’t seem like my squats and lunges were that difficult…but then again, my legs did feel jello-y afterwards) that I didn’t know if I could run. And I was so tired that I didn’t want to run anyway.

So I didn’t run. I stretched a little and then took a nap. I really debated about calling Alma and telling her I didn’t feel well (“I have Adhesive Mattressitis”) but I didn’t. I went and taught and I’m glad. And then I redeemed my slacker-ness by grocery shopping and tidying our apartment so that Travis doesn’t come home to a pigsty. So today was an on-off-on day. Not so great for eating and exercising but alas, there IS more to life than that. And tomorrow is another day.

How to: Live in a Christian Bubble

23 Apr

For tonight’s care group (which is like a Bible study for those of you who aren’t members of Grace Community Church), we walked to Baskin Robbins and got ice cream. It was yummy. (I had York Peppermint Patty).

But on the way there and back, we were supposed to talk one-on-one with other people in our group about evangelism, because that’s what last Sunday’s sermon was on. Well, to be honest, I talked to the girls about things other than evangelism because I really want to get to know them better!

When we got back to Paul and Carrie’s house where we meet, we went around the room and everyone said who they had talked to and what were their thoughts/opinions/hindrances regarding evangelism.

And the whole thing got me thinking more and more about evangelism, the reasons why Christians evangelize, what motivates us, and why I don’t evangelize really at all. I mean, I work at a non-profit youth ministry that is dedicated to teaching teens how to share their faith! We’re all about evangelism. So why am I so “bad” at it?

The first explanation (though it is by no means an excuse, and actually could make it worse that I don’t evangelize) is that I work with all Christians at a ministry. You can’t evangelize to Christians. You can talk to them about your faith, encouraging and building them up. Which is definitely a good thing! But you can’t lead someone to Christ who has already been led…

The second explanation (still not an excuse) is that beyond my co-workers and my fellow churchgoers, I don’t know anyone in Colorado. I have no unbelieving acquaintances to share the gospel with. I mean, I guess I know some people that Travis works with but wouldn’t that seem weird to call them up randomly to hang out? Even the woman I teach English to is Christian (or at least agrees with Christianity). I shared the gospel with her and it didn’t seem to be anything new.

I have been thinking about the different activities/clubs I could get involved in to meet some unbelievers. I’ve thought about playing softball with Travis’ work team. During the games isn’t the greatest time to get to know people (since you should be paying attention to flying balls and batting orders) but maybe before or after, there would be food and drinks involved and we could get to know each other? After Travis’ company Christmas party, we went over to one of his co-worker’s houses. I thought it might be the beginning of a friendship but we haven’t done anything since.

I know that I have to be more intentional. Expecting non-Christians to be intentional about forming relationships with other people is a little unrealistic, especially when even some Christians (like me) aren’t that good at it. I have even been meaning to ask some girls I work with or some girls in my care group out to coffee. When I was involved in CO, that kind of thing was routine. Going to coffee with a girl you barely knew wasn’t out of the norm. But now, it seems like it would be a little odd.

To be honest, the thing that it really comes down to is priorities. Evangelism isn’t my priority. It sounds like the sermon on Sunday talked about making evangelism a priority, which makes me interested to listen to it. I know that the Great Commission is right next to the Great Commandment in the Christian life. When we love God and are truly His followers, we will have a heart for the lost and be living our faith in such a way that people can’t help but notice the difference and that we can’t help but share.

I also know that the more I grow in my relationship with God, the more I’ll want to evangelize. But the reverse is also true–the more I evangelize, the more I will grow in my relationship with God. If I am really serious and passionate about an intimate relationship with God, evangelism will be part of my life. My Spirit wants to evangelize and share my faith–I was actually just praying about that this morning. But my fleshly desire for comfort is completely content with my life staying exactly how it is right now.

How to break out of my flesh in the evangelism area? I don’t want to do cold evangelism to people I’ll never see again and yet sometimes I feel like that is my only option if I want to share my faith at all.

Thankfully, in matters related to sanctification and evangelism and really everything about the Christian life, I don’t have to strive or worry. I can lift everything up to God and ask Him to mold me and shape me into a more Christ-like person every day.

My life is in your hands Lord. I trust that You will do what You deem best.

The countdown is on

22 Apr

It is officially 12 days until the half marathon. The past 2 weeks have been so busy and semi-gross weather-wise that I haven’t done much running outside. And then Travis got hit in the shin with a puck while playing hockey so he has pretty much been out of running commission for the past 4 days. I had to run this past Sunday without him (so I only did 5.5 miles instead of 10).

But this week and next week, I have to be on top of my game! No more laziness or playing around. It is crunch time. So yesterday I ran 5 miles and today I ran 7. Tomorrow I am going to recover by doing some cross-training at the Y, Thursday I will run another 5, Friday will be my rest day, Saturday will be cross-training and Sunday will be running 10 or 11 miles, depending on how the run goes. I would really love to run 11 because then I’d be a little more confident about the race. But we shall see…

Today on my run, my little toe on my left foot really hurt for a couple miles. It went away (probably went numb) after a while so I ran the whole distance. I know that I need to get new shoes–I’ve been getting big blisters on the outsides of my big toes from rubbing against my shoes–but somehow, I don’t want to. I like my running shoes, even if they are destroying my feet. And now that the half marathon is so close, I don’t really dare get new shoes. I would have to break them in first and I don’t have time for that! So my little Saucony Grip Propels will have to do for now.

A little motivation that keeps me going is how many calories I burn running. They say you’re not supposed to use food as a reward for exercise but when you’re running long distances, getting to eat whatever you want is about all the motivation you can muster sometimes. I have already planned out my post-half-marathon meal: boneless wings from BWW smothered in honey mustard BBQ sauce. YUM…

 

A great weekend in gold mine country

21 Apr

This past weekend, my parents were in Colorado. My mom has a School Nutrition Association leaders’ conference in Colorado Springs this next week and since Travis and I live out here, my mom and dad came out early (my dad’s flying back tomorrow night) to spend the weekend with us.

Friday evening after work, Travis and I met my parents in Edgewater and ate pizza at the Edgewater Inn. Then we drove to Colorado Springs, switching cars halfway so that my mom could ride with me in our Focus. We had a good talk about marriage and husbands. I am learning quickly that women who have been married for longer than me have lots of good advice to give–and my mom is no exception! It was good to get some girl talk in.

It took a little while to find our hotel but finally we did! After checking in, we went to our room and watched our wedding video. My parents were very impressed with the quality and shocking that the videographer only charged $300 to do it (thought it did take him about 10 months to get it to us!) We are alos very pleased with our wedding video. On May 19, we’ll have been married for a whole year already! Wow, time flies! After we watched the video, we were out.

On Saturday, Travis and I got up at 7:15 to go work out at the Country club gym. Then we ate breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant and headed to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. The website made the Cliff Dwellings sound really cool but after seeing ruins like Chichen Itza and Tulum, the Cliff Dwelling were a little disappointing.

After the cliff dwellings, we drove around Garden of the Gods and took a hike through the main area. I didn’t realize it until later, when my chest started itching at dinner, than I got majorly burnt while we were walking around. I’m so pasty white from it being winter that I don’t have a base tan at all!

After we seeing all the rock climbers and skinny, pointy rock formations at Garden of the Gods, it was off to the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine near Cripple Creek. It was a long drive there through the mountains and everyone but my dad (who was driving) ended up taking a nap.

The gold mine tour was SO COOL. All of us thought it was the highlight of our trip. Our guide had been in the mining business for 25 years and was very knowledgable about mining equipment, terminology, and history. We went down the shaft in this tiny little elevator (the 5 of us could barely fit in it). It was pitch black except for a few lights that were on different levels of the mine. The elevator kept banging against the walls of the shaft. My mom and I were just a wee bit scared. 🙂

When we reached the right level (1,000 feet underground), we got out and walked along the muddy corridors of the mine. First, our guide showed us how much light the miners had to work with: candlelight. They only had either lanterns or headlamps attached to their hard hats! When you’re climbing up to the heights that the miners did and using explosives and loud, dangerous equipment that will delimb or kill you in a matter of seconds, it gives you chills to think that these miners work with so little light. I could never, never be a miner. Never.

Our mine guide showed us the changes in technology of drilling over the years. At first, they just used hammers and long, thick chisels (I forget technical terminology so I’m going to describe it the best I can). The chisels can get to be a few feet long so one guy (called the shaker) holds it in the wall and turns it after every hit and another guy stands behind him with the hammer and drives it into the wall. Then they graduated to a machine that did that and they continued to make improvements on the hand machines. Some weighed about 90 pounds and were operated on compressed air. They also shot water into the wall through the machine to cut down on the dust.

The most impressive and scary thing though was when the miner found a “vein” (area with gold in it), they would drill straight up, 6 feet at a time. As they got farther and farther up, they had to put timbers across from wall to wall, set up a few planks, bring their 85 lb machine up there, and continue to drill. The miners could be hundreds of feet in the air, working with a deadly machine on a just a few planks. Scariness!!

But the majority of miners actually died from carbon monoxide poisoning. They have a special lantern that will go out if carbon monoxide is present. They also used to have donkeys down in the mines to pull the carts of ore up from below. They used to leave the donkeys down there 24/7 and they would go blind but President Roosevelt made it a law that they had to bring the donkeys up for at least an hour every day. After the law was passed, all the mine owners brought the donkeys up and let them go because it was too much of a hassle. Still today around Cripple Creek, offspring from those donkeys are wandering around through town. They’re very friendly too–one came up to our car to say hello.

Anyway, moving on, we drove around Cripple Creek and Victor for a while. We also touring a big open mine owned by DeBeers. They’re pretty much tearing down a mountain in search for precious metals. Stupid. Then we drove back to our hotel and had dinner at the bar while watching the Avs and Wild play. After dinner (at end of the second period), we headed back to our room but soon found out that we didn’t get the game. Too lazy to go back up to the main lobby, we just listened to the radio broadcast of the game via internet. Wild ended up losing anyway. 😦 After that, it was time for bed. What a long day!

Sunday, my parents and I went to the Pikes Peak Greenway so I could run. I mapped out a 5.5-mile loop but when I got to my turnaround point (after running through some sketch areas–lots of homeless people’s stuff around), I realized the loop was a little shorter than I had expected. Add to that I had to go #2 like NOW. I tried to find a place in the bushes but there wasn’t enough coverage. Lucky for me, my mom had been worried about me running in that part of town so I soon saw my parents. I sprinted over to them and we found a bathroom in the park across the river. On the way back, I had to run back and forth around my parents so that they could see me the whole time. My mom worries so much–it’s cute.

After that, we bought some groceries for breakfast and ate back at our hotel room. By then it was 10:30. When we got to the Royal Gorge Park, it was noon. We walked across the bridge, saw a short film about its history, walked back across, took the aerial tramway, then the incline railway, watched some kayakers go down some rapids, and then left. Oh and there was some Cookies ‘n’ Cream ice cream in there too.

After the Royal Gorge, we went on a scenic drive down the Phantom Canyon Road. It used to be the railroad that ran between Cripple Creek and Canon City, carrying the gold out. There were lots of turns and places where only one car could fit. Pretty cool. That road (obviously) led to Cripple Creek. Even though we bypassed the town, it was still a fairly long drive back. We ate dinner at the Stagecoach Inn in Manitou Springs. I had a Southwest Chicken salad, which was delicious and they had biscuits with cherry preserves. Yum!

After dinner, we got lost on the drive home. We drove around for about an hour and by the time we got back to the hotel room, it was PJ time, TV time, and then SLEEP time.

This morning, Trav and I had to go back to work. Boo! We slept in until 8:00, then took showers and packed up. After eating breakfast at Panera, we hit the road. It was hard to say goodbye to my parents and it’s weird knowing that they’re just 2 hours south of where I am typing this right now, instead of 13 hours to the east. Well, that’s about all I have to write about the weekend. It was eventful and fun!

Is this thing still on?

18 Apr

I haven’t done this in a while…I’ve just been running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

Here’s a recap of everything I’ve done since my last blog post:

1. Went skiing the past 3 Saturdays in a row.

2. Ran 7 miles, then 8, then 9 the past 3 Sundays.

3. Went to the final regular season game between the Avs and the Wild.

4. Went to the Frozen Four–two games last Thursday (4/10) and one on Saturday.

5. Went out to eat at a mongolian grill and then to a wine tasting with a couple from church.

Add to that all the craziness of work and daily life and it has been one busy month! So that’s why I’ve been lax on the blogging.

Here’s a highlight from the past month: My understanding of the Gospel is increasing. I feel like I fell back to the bottom of the ladder of Gospel understanding. I had been a couple rungs off the ground but the past couple months, I was lying flat on my back at the bottom, so out of it I wasn’t even sure there was a ladder. I just had–and am still kind of having–a really hard time grasping the impact of the gospel. I could tell you what the gospel IS but I couldn’t say what it DOES. The effect of the gospel on a human being is mysterious and complicated. And awesome. I guess I’ve been trying to take off the packaging and look at the gears so I could figure out how it worked.

I’ve come a little bit closer to understanding how that works. Here’s my journal entry from this morning:

“When we GET the gospel, when we truly understand God’s love for us, we are able to love and serve selflessly and humbly…because we are LOVED…Boasting in Jesus, His death and resurrection, is boasting in the Gospel. It’s boasting in the love of the Father for me, a sinner. It’s boasting in the fact that I am nothing apart from Christ, that He makes me what I am, and I live in daily dependence on His grace and mercy. It’s boasting that I HAVE A SAVIOR! Boasting in the Gospel naturally eliminates boasting about myself and my accomplishments or anything worldly. Like Paul writes in Galatians 6:14–‘But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.’

“The Gospel eradicates our need for the world. We are already loved. We already have a secure future. Our desires have already found their satisfaction. We are already validated as human beings. We already have a purpose.

“THESE are the effects of the Gospel that enable us to live humble, selfless, generous lives. This is what allows me to turn the other cheek, to return good for evil, to be patient and gracious in the midst of anger and hostility. Make it REAL to me God! I want to SEE the Gospel transform my life!”

I know the Christian life is one of constant learning. I just didn’t know that I would have to keep learning the same basic stuff over and over again. But I’m seeing it like I have never seen it before. It’s fresh. And exhilarating. And amazing.

Our God is amazing.

 

Expectations: Unrealized or Unrealistic?

4 Apr

It’s inevitable as a human to have expectations about something. When anticipating a future event, it’s our natural tendency to picture how it will all happen and what it will be like. It’s also inevitable for the event to never turn out how you pictured it.

For women, this happens a lot with marriage. I personally grew up always dreaming. I dreamed about having a boyfriend: he would understand me perfectly and know exactly what I wanted. In high school, I dreamed about marriage: we would have the same interests and go on lots of exciting adventures. When Travis and I were dating, I imagined what being engaged would be like: I would finally be assured that I was loved. When Travis and I got engaged, I dreamed about marriage: we would finally be able to be intimate and share everything. We would lie in bed on Saturday mornings, watching cartoons, cuddling, and eating pancakes. We would go on romantic vacations and explore the world together. We would be so in love and constantly exclaiming “I love being married!” As the wedding grew closer, I dreamed about our honeymoon: a week of relaxation and bliss next to the ocean; a week of uninterrupted intimacy and romance; a picture perfect world.

But when you think about it, where do the greatest romantic movies end? Right after the beloved couple realize they’re “meant for each other.” If the movie went on (and were anything close in semblance to real life), the movie wouldn’t have such a happy ending. It wouldn’t be an unhappy ending either (not necessarily at least) but it wouldn’t leave you with the feeling that everything is right in the universe.

Rather, I imagine the feeling would be more like how my marriage makes me feel. The sense that there’s great potential for the situation but something just doesn’t sit right. That the movie started off great, you could sense the couple’s love for each other was (and is) real, but their current relationship doesn’t really seem to reflect that at all.

This morning Travis and I ended up in a fight on the way to work. About what doesn’t matter. Something insignificant, really. After I dropped him off and was on my way to my office, I started thinking. When we first got married (which will be a year ago on May 19th) and went on our honeymoon, I had a really hard time. I had been trapped in the expectations mentioned above, imagining that everything would be 100% perfect, romantic, and intimate 100% of the time. But as I discovered the first day in Mexico, even on your honeymoon, your life is still your life. Reality is still reality. When you get married, you don’t float away on the clouds with Cupid to sing love songs and feel butterflies for the rest of your life. Husband and wife are still just as sinful as fiance and fiancee–who were just as sinful as boyfriend and girlfriend–who were just as sinful as man and woman. Since we are the same people before and after said event, the relationship will mostly be the same after said event (obviously with a few exceptions).

I learned after our honeymoon that having expectations about the way things should be, especially in marriage, wasn’t a great thing to have. And I have continued learning this throughout our first year of marriage. I can’t expect Travis to be a certain way any more than I can expect myself to know what I want for lunch next Tuesday. Or what book I’ll want to read in July. Or where I’ll want to go out to dinner on November 15th–or if I’ll want to go out to dinner at all.

Neither can I expect that our marriage will be a certain way. I can’t expect us to be 100% in love and intimate all the time. I can’t expect to lie in bed on Saturday morning watching cartoons–if not just for the fact that we don’t have cable at all nor do we have a TV in our bedroom. I realize expectations cause tension and dissatisfaction when they aren’t realized.

But my question is: what do you do about your expectations? What do you do when what you had pictured your marriage being like isn’t at all what it actually is like? If you desire for your marriage to be a certain way, even after the rose-colored glasses have been sat on and squished, and yet it’s not that way, what do you do? “Change it” would be the easy response. But unfortunately, changing a marriage’s dynamic doesn’t happen overnight or easily, as I have found.

I fear that I still have expectations about our marriage and that those expectations are causing me to constantly compare our real marriage against (what I would consider) our ideal marriage. But is our real marriage ever going to measure up? Do I need to edit my expectations so that they are more in line with what it is actually like? Sheryl Crow says in her song “Soak up the Sun”–“It’s not having what you want; it’s wanting what you got.”

Does marriage come down to wanting what you got instead of getting what you want? Are my expectations about marriage just unrealized or are they unrealistic?