not another B+

I have always known a weakness of mine to be that of making everything 'performance-based.' Growing up in an environment of athletics, school, and fairly accomplished family members definitely fostered this trait into one of prominence and reoccurrence. As long as I got the grade or made the steal, and maybe surpassed a peer as an added bonus, I was set. This tendency has dangerous side-effects of misplaced identity, self-conceitedness, broken relationships, etc. But as I have struggled with it over the past 20+ years I've found the worst of it is when it infiltrates my walk with Christ...which unfortunately is not a great leap and therefore happens often.

If I can just do one more act of service, read His Word for two weeks in a row, say something to really inspire a fellow believer who is discouraged..

...maybe it will be enough.

I've been in Sunday school long enough to know that we, as humans, will never be enough. Good works don't get us into Heaven.
And I sincerely believe that in the deepest part of me. God's grace has always and will always be what fills that extravagant gap between His glory and where we fall short. Although that grace is an absolute mystery, I do understand the beautiful concept of it making up for our insufficiency that we may spend eternity with our Creator.
But how do I live that??

In his grace and sovereignty, God has recently placed me in a position where I have less and less access to the temptation of turning to performance..giving me a glimpse of life without this constant battle.
I'm now married, and I would say it's safe to say most married couples don't intentionally seek out a grade or performance assessment of how they are fulfilling their role as a spouse. We fail, daily. This releases me from the desire to perform in this area of my life, seeing as how I don't even know what arsenal I would draw from in attempting to do so..I'm pretty clueless and reliant on God's guidance, the strength of love, and a patient husband.
He has given me two job opportunities that are primarily based on building deep rooted relationships..which is wonderful and healthy, but is somewhat lacking in seeing tangible fruit-I don't leave for home having manufactured a product or compiled a database..but rather hoping and wondering how much weight there really was in a certain conversation, or if I refrained or spilled too much. Relationships are tricky as it is, let alone basing a 'career' on building and sustaining them! It's nearly impossible for me to assess my performance in either of my work scenarios..which leaves me grasping for something concrete and measurable.

Am I doing enough?

God seems to be taking away any opportunities I might seize to try to answer that question with a resounding yes. It's a scary process, since that is what I have know for so long, yet an exhilarating one, as I am being freed and released to understand my identity solely in Him.

John 1:12But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
--> that doesn't say anything about he who performed up to par, or figured out how to be enough within his own abilities, simple he who believes and accepts.

Jesus, humble me, that I may simply and profoundly believe and accept.


til death do us part?

Marriage is like going bald — there's no parting.

Marriage is like a bank account: you put in, you take out, you lose interest.

Marriage may be compared to a cage: the birds outside despair to get in and those within despair to get out.

The formula for a happy marriage is the same as for living in California; when you find a fault, don't dwell on it.

Marriage may often be a stormy lake, but celibacy is almost always a muddy horsepond.

The young girl, who knew nothing and expected everything, looked back at him like a stranger. It occurred to him that marriage was not the safe anchorage he assumed, but a voyage on uncharted seas.

It has become pretty obvious to me that the majority of our country has a slippery hold on the meaning and purpose of marriage. Noting the variety of perspectives shared above, that I tediously gathered from the trustworthy source of google results that popped up from typing in 'marriage metaphors' ...clearly we don't know what to think of it.
As a recent fiancé and now a new wife, this reality is less than comforting. I'm living in a society wrought with divorce and spouses converted into living companions. Even Church leaders, who I would generally turn to as a reliable source of wisdom, seem to be relatively lacking in understanding of what establishes a healthy marriage, since reports of affairs don't decrease in the faith communities.
This is not to say that God hasn't blessed Mike and I with incredible role models in our lives and relationship-we have been supported and upheld by mighty men and women of God throughout the duration of our dating, engagement and marriage relationship through prayers, counsel and encouragement. Yet even those who are faithfully speaking into our lives seem to always come back to the statement that most of marriage is learned by experience. I don't blame our society or our church for setting poor examples-I am very confident in the understanding that one of Satan's strongest battle tactics is to destroy unity, with an especially vicious bent toward the holy union of marriage.
I'm beginning to sense (after only 2 short months) that marriage as a whole is one of our greatest God-given obstacles during our time on earth..but I'm trusting that with that comes one of our greatest God-given blessings and one of the richest experiences we can know. It requires self-sacrifice, vulnerability, intense faith, patience, flexibility, energy, intentionality, creativity, courage, perseverance, and much more I am bound to learn in the next 50+ years.. and all that with a conglomerate of our own experiences, the mistakes of those around us, and the ever available 'wisdom' of the world that forms a somewhat faulty training manual.
And we hope to "beat the odds" and make this thing flourish? yikes.
Though I am painfully aware of how exceptionally difficult it will be to build up a marriage that is strong enough to withstand the torrents and trials that will inevitably come, I am equally confident that the God we serve is one who smiles on marriage, and the intimate union of his children brings him utmost joy and satisfaction. So naturally, he will make himself and his undeniable wisdom and strength completely available to those who are pursuing this feat. I just need to learn how to access it..which I can bet is much easier than I'm making it out to be.
In my devo this morning, I was reminded of a fairly constant battle I find myself fighting: Receiving His Love.
Jesus gently asks..

"Open your mind and heart-your entire being-to receive My Love in full measure. So many of My children limp through their lives starved for Love, because they haven't learned the art of receiving. This is essentially an act of faith: believing that I love you with boundless, everlasting Love. The art of receiving is also a discipline: training your mind to trust Me, coming close to Me with confidence.

Remember that the evil one is the father of lies. Learn to recognize his deceptive intrusions into your thought. One of his favorite deceptions is to undermine your confidence in My unconditional Love. Fight back against these lies! Do not let them go unchallenged. Resist the devil in My Name and he will slink away from you. Draw near to Me, and My Presence will envelop you in Love."

The source of the wisdom and strength He makes so readily available to us is his love. But we need to be open to actively receive that, or we will be left to pitifully attempt to tackle the great challenges of this life (i.e. MARRIAGE) with our own measly strength.

I wrote some considerably ambitious vows to Mike for our wedding day..

"Michael Justin D’Eliso, my Honeypumpkinlover, my manly man, my love.

You are my valiant prince, the one whom I delight in and who takes delight in me. You are a man who knows how to love: you love your God, your family, this earth and the people on it, and me. You love with reckless ambition and sincere earnestness, and I am so blessed to be a recipient of that love.

Standing here with this beautiful group of supporters, mentors and encouragers surrounding us, I want to publicly commit myself to you, as your wife, lover, forever best friend, partner, and fellow Child of the King.

I promise to love you first. I will love you by honoring, cherishing, challenging, and preferring you. I promise to be a wife who believes in you and follows you, whether you lead us to the ends of the earth or to a suburban culdesac. I promise to go on adventures with you, support you in your brokenness, and walk with you beyond your comfort zone. I promise to fulfill what God has called me to do as your wife, so that you may walk out his purpose for you to the fullest potential.

Michael Justin D’Eliso, I pray that God would grant me the grace to be a faithful vessel of his love for you, that in our joining together today, we may embark on a journey of further knowledge of his transforming, abundant, unbelievable love."

..but honestly-how the heck am I supposed to fulfill those? They sincerely came from the deepest places of my heart, however that doesn't guarantee they will be fulfilled in the actions of my body, or even come close. I can only hope to implement these promises through the vessel of God's love, which I first must receive in order for it to be an avenue of pouring out and acting in.

Ephesians 5:1-2

1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love (with your spouse), just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

*italics were my addition


The Corner of 6th and Olive


Chipped nail polish,

The only remnants of the forgotten dreams of royalty,

Now captive in the shattered mirror pieces,

Scattered across the floor.


Like the letters on the eviction sign

That determined this fate.


Weathered and soiled and exposed to reveal

Slipping morals and desperate pleas,

Imposing an age far beyond her years


Meant to be caressed and admired, lotioned and pampered

Yet left bare to gather more wounds.

Tattered lace

A trace of feigned glamour and haphazard lipstick

Tell more than she can say.

Tell a story of mother’s dreams crushed, beauty distorted, fatal mistakes, ambitions violated, lies believed, realities realized and ideals disregarded.

She tells a story she is not capable of speaking,

Her voice dismissed to whatever might fit on a cardboard sign.