[Peaks and Valleys]

Now this is strange, people....two posts in one week??

I think the only reason I can equate to this is my poor baby is sick and since getting his antibiotics today he's taking a realllly long nap. Though the circumstances aren't ideal, I can't say that I'm not enjoying a few quiet moments :)

I'm taking advantage of this quiet to ramble a little. So if you're actually reading this, I apologize in advance if it's not coherent. I just have to get some things out of my head and onto paper.

So, what is on my mind?
A lot.

I'm sure it's at the Lord's prodding, but recently I've been thinking of what my spiritual life was like just before I got engaged while still single. I feel like I was so much more on target with where I *think* I need to be......Am I the only believer here, who has this "level of godliness" in their mind that they equate with being a decent christian?

Does that make sense?

Like, when I was single...I feel like I had so much more time to be preoccupied with prayer, christian literature, studying the word, being excited about it...and telling others about it. Emphasis on feel, because I'm still not sure I would say back then I was better than am I now, because God has certainly used my marriage and becoming a mother to further sanctify me, but still.......do any of you ever feel that way?
Amidst the hecticness of life, I sometimes feel like I've become callous to certain things....or maybe....much less more emotional and excited than I used to be. Don't freak out internet....it's not like I'm depressed or something, I just want to be more passionate about my relationship with the Lord than I am. I always admire my husband in this-- at times a bit jealous even (I know you're reading this hunny!) but it's true! Your passion for the things of the Lord and your relationship with Him is my example and encouragement to keep on keepin' on. To run the race and finish it well.

I don't want to just let my mind go numb every time I get a break during the day to sit down and breathe for a minute....I want to more proactively think about my relationship with God. I want to more frequently be listening for His still small voice.

Over the holiday break I got way out of line....No devos for almost a week. After my house was finally clear of overnight guests which stayed there for a week....I desperately felt it.
I'm glad though- because it reminds me I am His child...I do have the holy spirit there to prod me when I need it.

Since Christmas break, I'm back in the word and trying hard to stay regular with it (I'm not/never been perfect!!) I've been feeling the Lord show me that I'm not as good as I always imagined myself to be. I needed it. I have a tendency to overlook those sins that christians sometimes brush off as the "little" ones...the ones that aren't "so bad".....Pride.
There's a good book on this topic I had started before life got crazy that I need to work on finishing. There's several others I want to start too...haha!

I digress...back to my point. Being proactive about my relationship with Him....
Recently at our mom's bible study at church, we studied the story of a missionary woman who described her spiritual life as a series of continuous "peaks" and "valleys." She put it into words that I whole heartedly felt and agreed with....something that I never thought of before: when we go through the "darker" times of our spiritual lives, where it feels like we're not as near to the Lord as we'd like to be, it's not that we've started over at square one again, it's likened to a valley. We're just on our way up to a peak, so that we're currently dwelling in the shadow and feeling the loss of the sunlight. Soon we'll be on the peak again though, and so excited to be basking in His warmth and glory, that anything less than that makes us feel worse than we did, (the valley again.)

I'm starting to believe valleys are necessary and inevitable. We are humans with a sin nature....we can never be perfect. And sometimes, we need discipline. Reminds me of a verse one older woman at church reminded me of when I was feeling down once:

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
(Hebrews 12:5-6 ESV)

Another thing the Lord has helped me remember in the past few days.....to feel "better" again, I need to remember the gospel. There is a quote I read once which has always stuck with me... "dwell where the cries of calvary are louder than the clamor of the world"...I believe is how it goes.

Once finding the above verse in Heb., I found a few other verses that reminded me of just that:

"But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
(Hebrews 10:12-17 ESV)

He remembers my lawless deeds no more! How awesome is that! So....because of this amazing wonder; I can now do this:

" Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

(Hebrews 10:19-23 ESV)"

So, there you have it.

I can have full assurance, I have been forgiven of my shortcomings, and to not remember that and thank the Lord for it is a sin all in itself!!

I think that's probably a smaller snipped than what is in my mind at the moment, but I think the rest is all still grey matter that has yet to manifest itself into words. It'll come.....eventually ;)

Until next time,
Love, peace, and lots of starbucks,



[My Career: The Mommy Life]

Hello friends of the great world of the wide web!
I know I really don't blog much, but occasionally, when I'm not chasing the cat off the furniture, doing dishes, laundry, or feeding a very-hungry-little-bear  kid, I do have thoughts every now and then... ;)

I'm definitely not disciplined enough or just don't have time to devote to the daily blog thing, but I like to write every once in a while so I can look back at what grand scheming things were in my mind at the time ;)

Last night, the thought crossed my mind that my life today is nothing I ever expected it to be. And this morning, a photographer's blog I follow mentioned the same thing for herself.

For example- when I was younger (much younger) I even used to promise myself I'd never have kids! (We all know how that turned out...) I didn't always get along with siblings sometimes, and I didn't like it when my baby brother cried....haha! Surprisingly though, I still didn't think I'd want to have children all the way up until I was about 18 or so. I think college and the prospects of maybe meeting my husband someday changed that opinion ;)

So, how is my life different than what I expected? It mainly goes back to the whole idea of my "career" and education, I think.
I think after the combination of graduating high school (where the counselors made a huge deal about your career/future), entering college, and ending a high-school relationship, I was truly concerned about my career, and where I would be employed someday. I didn't want to live with my parents forever, and wanted to have a life of my own. I felt like I was responsible to provide. So, naturally... I went to college.

There, I worked for an advisor/student events director, and both he and his wife worked full-time (despite having 2 kids)-- and so of course, he was always encouraging me to be successful too. And, at this point, I had no prospects of being married any time soon, so of course I worked hard to find where God wanted me to go. In my opinion, (pause here to pick up container of cheerios that was just dumped out on the floor...) I believe I was doing the right thing-- working, finishing college, looking for future employers, etc. But, when God brought Ben into my life, my horizons started changing.

After my 2nd year at college started, (Ben and I were dating at this point) I became unsure about the degree I was working on in graphic design, and didn't like any of the local firms our class had visited and interviewed. I just couldn't picture myself behind a desk all day. If anything, my heart still longed to be behind a camera...but my school didn't offer a photography degree. I started questioning my future a lot at this point. I think Ben was the drop that started my tidal waves of emotion and unsureness, but it was probably for the good. God was changing my perspective of what my life would be from what I had always pictured it being.

I remember journaling a lot about this topic, and talking to a lot of older mentors. Am I going for the right degree? God has me at this school here for a reason, right? Why does that include school debt? Do I really want a g.d. degree? What about photography? .... etc. 

Well, by the end of the year and a half of knowing/dating each other, you know the story....Ben proposed. It was the instigator for much change. We discussed a lot of options for me, and ended up concluding that I should just transfer schools, wrap up with an associates degree (cheap!), and Ben encouraged me to do what I really loved: photography. And we did!

This is just exactly what I never imagined doing, however. My whole curricular life, (especially in high school for some reason), I felt like I was doing what I was doing so I could go to a 4 year and graduate with honors and get a great job! And I had worked so hard till that point... pushed myself to the limits, many sleepless nights and tear stained tests with not-good-enough-grades, and gained many pounds of stress to prove it. It had been drilled into my brain for so many years, that it was such a strange feeling to go against the tide and be different than the world. Or what the world expected.

I got slack for it too. Mostly from the advisors at my college, and especially the one I worked for. He and the other lady who worked with us in the office seemed to be questioning Ben and I when we told them we were getting married....as if we had no idea what we were doing, and were making a horrible mistake.
The world's plan says, you don't get married until you're established and have lots of $$$$ for a nice house, car, kids, etc, etc. Ben and I knew there was a higher calling involved however....God's plan.

Well, most of you know how the story goes from here....We were married, I finished up an A.A. at Butler, and then at graduation I was about 2 or 3 months pregnant with Ethan. Had I ever imagined this is how my 'career' would begin?
Not what I ever expected.

An associates? Married by age 20??!! Working meager jobs until Ethan's arrival, and then staying home?

Definitely not what I expected. But what God expected.

I'm so thankful He knew what He was doing when he started my "career" out at little ol' McCollom Elementary school-- my life which involves chasing after a toddler, a cat, and keeping up with friends around the corner. There's much more to my life that that of course, and photography still is a big part of my life, thanks to my loving husband, but it still amazes me to think of where I am now.

And yes, it is a career. At times I think it's more important than any job I could have ever taken. It is to serve my husband and to raise our child(ren). To serve our neighbors, and friends. To be a witness. To be a working part of our local church body. To clean, cook, do laundry, pick up cheerios and everything in between. And, though this life is nothing I ever expected or dreamed of doing...I love it.

No amount of schooling or college could ever prepare me for what I am doing now, and no idea of the world's would have ever told me I should quit school and pursue it. But we did. And the Lord has over and abundantly blessed us with exactly what we needed at the exact times when we needed it. He has been so faithful and good to us. I just can't wait to see what else He has in store for the year 2013. Who knows? Maybe I'll be promoted from having two mouths to feed to 3! ;)

(And no...that doesn't mean I'm pregnant! ha!)

Much love from the Jung House,