Tag Archives: marriage

A Public Display of Gush

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This was originally going to be a short instagram post, this public gush. However, in the days leading up to this November 16th, something was aching in my heart to take it to the blog. I can be louder here. More detailed. Something I feel is necessary today.

So as a pathetic intro, forgive me for my silence as of late; I understand its been quite some time. I do hope, however, that today will spark a new routine that includes this here forum. I sure have missed it.

You may remember our story (here) of our journey together. I love reminiscing in this way. It brings me back to the simplicity of things when life seems to tack on lots of complex nonsense to sift through. The last few days I’ve been lead into this simplicity again. I feel grounded more than before. More sure than before. More aware. That’s what simplicity and truth can do. They ground me. They blow away the muck and I see clearly again. I see not only what had once been seen and became blurry, although yes, that too. I see new things. The next layer deep. The layer that I couldn’t see before because I was busy seeing the previous layer. His timing is so perfect and He brings revelation from such a patient heart. I’m so grateful and humbled.

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This summer when we lived in LA, I distinctly remember an especially difficult day. Well, a bit of a backstory first: we were working alongside each other leading a school of foreign teenagers who had come for weeks at a time to study English and explore California. Long story short, it was a 24/7 gig.

So, this was a difficult day. I felt stretched thin and deflated. Oz and I had spoken and we both found some courage to give each other and made a game plan for the afternoon. I was walking down the hall away from him and onto my destination when clear as day my whole self felt what I had always longed to be true in my own life,

I wish I could go back to find him sooner so I could love him longer…

Except the quote in all of it’s order and execution didn’t come to me quite so clearly.

The longing did.

And don’t be thrown off…this isn’t the first time I felt love for my husband. Not in the slightest. Love seems to be a multifaceted Rubik’s cube of some sort that with each day you learn more how to navigate and experience. There are multiple surfaces to be lead into and explore.

I felt the ache that time together hadn’t started soon enough and my heart was and is full of so much love for him. Sometimes it feels like too much for only now and onwards. Perhaps borrowing from the past, placing our starting marker back a few years would suffice so I could unleash this love sooner and be in this bliss longer with the man who stole my heart in the most courageous way. I couldn’t muster up this quote in the moment, and my flustered state made me laugh. I thought, here it is! Here is what this feels like! And I can’t put my finger on it. It was deeply romantic and not romantic at the same time. Oz wasn’t even in the room anymore. No dim lighting, no candles, no bold heroic movement on my behalf. Except, maybe the latter.

When life is hard and people are mean it is the heroic thing to be present with each other. To know someone so deeply that you know exactly what they need to hear. You know exactly what to do. The kick in the pants, or the extra-long hug. You can read between the lines and call out the brave in each other. Call out the victory and triumph. Even if you can’t fix it or you don’t know how, the effort of holding up each others arms calms many storms. In moments like this one, on that difficult day, I felt our hearts align as one. Functioning together as two individuals who chose to submit to something greater than themselves. To walk together as a unit through it all. This is an inspiring dynamic.

I realize more and more with each married day how incredible it is to live life together. Although we are not perfect at it, we are getting better at being there for each other. And may I remind us all that it has never been just the two of us. Lord knows I’m blind as a bat sometimes with seeing what my husband needs or understanding what he’s really trying to say. Neither of us are mind-readers and we both have thrown our own emotions as darts at the most inappropriate times. Without the humility to go before our Father and pray for wisdom in our marriage, for discernment as we handle each other with care, or being honest enough to go to trusted people in our community when we need a third party to sort through something messy, we would be nowhere near where we are today.

In the midst of my stress and the chaos and fear of our work lives that day, I laughed with relief and joy and resolve that love is much bigger than our circumstances and even our selves. I’d rather go through life as a warrior with this man by my side than to sit in the lap of luxury, ignorant to the beauty that courageous and bold love brings. This love changes us. It transforms us. It gives us a beautiful picture of our Father and how big His love is for us. If I can desire for time to stretch in both directions, forward and backward, simply to love my husband longer and make him mine sooner, how much more is His longing toward us? Afterall, He IS love. And he displayed the greatest of loves when he humbly laid down his life for us. All for the non-complicated fact that He is wanting to spend life together, with us. How much deeper is joy when in we are in alignment with the heart of our Savior. The one who knows us and first loved us. Even when we kicked and screamed and doubted his authenticity. His bravery astounds me and inspires me. He painted us a very clear and simple picture of what love is.

It is with this picture of love, coupled with my own heart’s journey with my husband, that I reminisce on November 16th. Our fifth anniversary of being a thing. We weren’t yet Oz & Bee when we went to breakfast that Monday morning. We were two individuals with a hope of becoming something amazing. There was so much mystery ahead of us. We were a mystery to each other. What’s cool is that there is still mystery. Our first handful of years together isn’t going to look like the next handful. But we are going to enter into it as different people. We’ve got a few tools on our belt now. We have a rhythm together. Still shaky at times, but its there.

In all honesty, I don’t think I need the years we didn’t have together. We weren’t ready yet. We were being primed for a great adventure neither of us knew how to dream about. And although at times I wish I knew then what I know now, I don’t wish that upon me today. I like not having all the answers. I am enjoying learning as we go. I enjoy being present.

And I know I said I’d rather be a warrior than have luxury, but Lord knows I’d never turn down a chance to lounge poolside with a white robe and a cocktail. I could also be very present in that moment. Happily.

Happy High-five years to the making of Oz & Bee. Although November 16th is not our wedding anniversary, I still celebrate it as the incredible first day to the rest of our lives.

You are my favorite human, Oz.

I love you in all of time’s directions,

Bee, your wife.

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A wedding in the summer

Love like there is no tomorrow, and if tomorrow comes, love again.  -Max Lucado


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I just can’t get over the beautiful photos of Jenny and Dave on their wedding day.

 

They were married at Rancho Guajome Adobe Park in Southern California; the same place Oz and I had our wedding. It was so much fun being back there, reminiscing over our own special day. Now it’s their turn. Its a day of calm and nerves all wrapped in one emotion. It’s a day to say goodbye to singlehood and hello to a forever of us. Jenny and Dave are a we now.  I could not be more thrilled for them. Diving into the mysterious and thrilling union of marriage is something quite adventurous.  The depth of what you discover is immeasurable; you discover things about yourself, your spouse, God, love, selfishness, servanthood, family, patience, preference, honor, respect, tidiness, the good, the bad, the ugly and the absolutely beautiful. Never a dull moment and always something to learn.  They are simply gorgeous…inside and out.

Marriage is looking mighty fine on them so far.

Enjoy the photos here and leave a little note for the handsome photographer while you’re there 😉  Here’s a few teasers and some of my favorites.

 

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All photos and editing done by the amazing Aussch Photos.

For contact information, visit his site (link above).

Love always,

Bee

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I used a Word document instead.

 

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I love to write. I know I can’t be the only one who discovers how I actually feel only after reading what I write. I pour out my messy heart to my journal or my, in this case, Word document. Then I read it. Then I hear myself. Then I understand a little bit more whats been making all that racket inside. I don’t start with it all figured out. But I don’t finish with it figured out either. But I do, in the process figure something out. Even if its how to get some relief. Writing is a kind of unique balm that soothes wounds until they can get some proper attention. It even helps show me where the proper attention should come from. It helps me make sense of my mess. It helps me understand how to label my emotions instead of letting them run wild, nameless and unguided. And I can’t say I’m alone in my writing. It’s always been the clearest way I’ve heard God speak to me. I think that’s why I adore keeping journals. Its like a getaway with me and God.

Writing is also a place where I can be brave. I’m learning to be brave, really. I’m not fully there yet. Here’s some background on that…

I used to keep negative things out of my journal and go straight to the hope and a prayer. If I was blaming anyone in my journaling it was probably myself. But even then, I knew that how I was seeing myself in that low moment was not in alignment with the perfect love my God had and still has for me and that my identity was in Him and not in my mistakes and falling short. So self-hatred never had a chance to shine for too long before my Defender came to my rescue and reminded me who I was and even still, who I am. This fear of writing negativity down didn’t come from a fear you may assume…I didn’t fear that someone would find the gossip between my pages and me, read it and be offended or mad at me…I feared that if I let a negative comment be confessed even in the privacy of my locked pages, that I would start to believe it and give a nasty life and power to its existence. And existence that I allowed. Lies are woven in and out of negativity. Lies about people’s worth, about their strengths and gifts.  Lies about their own hurt and their motives behind their actions that cause me pain. Those are lies I am not willing to believe. About myself or others I do life with. At least, I try not to believe. Sometimes I am deceived.

I have known the power of the tongue since a young age. I have clung tightly to writing kindness and truth and declaring God’s promises that are true instead of hashing out gossip and hatred in my secret written confessions. I’ve not done this perfectly, but since I was young I have been convicted to be cautious with what I write down. I have certainly spoken negatively about others….I will be the first to plead guilty of not thinking before I speak and hurting others in the process. But to me, as irrational as it may seem, there has been something more forever about documenting harshness in a journal. It seems more decided. Like an engraving on a stone. I don’t want to record any kind of bashing of another person whom I should be uplifting and praying for. What if archeologists find my journal hundreds of years from now and all I offer them about the identity of so-and-so is how they always failed me and were incompetent and immature and mean or ________?? I see the double-standard here. I see the inconsistency. Writing vs. Speaking…whats the difference. really? I still don’t have it figured out.

But about bravery. I see that in my habit of not writing negatively, I’ve confused it with not writing honestly. And when I don’t write honestly, I don’t get better. And I want to get better at handling hardship and struggle. I’m talking about the hard stuff. Not just the hard stuff within myself, but with others. I am starting to confess the emotions I’ve always been scared to admit in fear that I’d become some kind of anger-monster that only survives off of entitlement and bitterness. But the ironic thing is that I still have the negative things in my head and they have been eating me alive! They are still working to destroy me. I’m still somehow feeding them and they are growing. They’ve gatta go.

I’ve started to be more raw and real in my writing. They outcome is odd. I don’t always feel better about it; whatever the it is at the time. But I do feel like I take steps forward. I start realizing which aches are from which hurts and the pride I have inside wreaking chaos. And in writing honestly about the hurts caused by other people, I’m challenged with loving them in spite of their behavior…I’m confronted with loving them in the midst of their own chaos and it’s manifestations. Yikes. That gets hard. This is my starting point to healing and to abundant relationships. It’s my starting point to understanding more deeply how the Love of the Father stretched out to me when I too was guilty and offensive and in great need of grace. I need grace everyday. I need to realize these things in order to get better. In order to really love someone else from the purest, healthiest place I can. Being brave and admitting the ugly stuff is hard sometimes. I have to submit my emotions to my God and allow Him to discipline me to not dive into a rant-session, but to surrender my aches and frustrations so I don’t have to be weighed down by them anymore. It’s a fine line in journaling between being upset about something and still move towards health and crushing somebody for their responsibility or involvement in an offense which would be a big step backwards. Crushing people is never a step forward. For anyone.

In all of this I am finding more and more that I am in desperate need of my Jesus. He proves himself faithful again and again and again and again and dares me to draw nearer. I can’t figure out life in the big or the small without his guidance and patience and kindness that pulls me into a safe place; without His mighty love that turns my ashes into beauty and my defeated heart into a something strong and courageous. And whole.

 

Perhaps this post is just as messy as my at times nameless and unguided emotions, but perhaps that’s the appropriate layout.

Messy.

  Austin&Britnie-81{{photos via}}

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28, NIV

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” -James 1:2-5, NIV

bee

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When being wrong is better

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I thought today was Thursday instead of Wednesday. Literally all day. I based my decisions off of the “fact” that it was Thursday and yesterday was Wednesday and tomorrow is Friday. But this worked out in my favor, HA! Now, I am well-prepared for Friday’s events AND I still have Real Thursday to finish what I couldn’t finish in Fake Thursday! Bonus!

Today {Wednesday}, I picked up Oz from work early because he has been feeling sick the past couple of days. Sick enough to feel like he can’t teach his class. This is not the norm. The flu is double-gnarly this season so when he said he felt achy I cancelled my afternoon agenda, headed straight for the store and stocked up on anything fresh, filled with vitamin C, green, red and orange, along with some ginger, meds and Airborne. No flu for this house, nuh-uh!

Something I’m learning in all of this? I love taking care of my husband. Not just because it feels good to take care of someone else, its deeper than that. There has been something in me today that has a drive to care for him and tend to his needs. I’ve been working in a gear I didn’t know I had access to. There has been a new layer of thinking to plan out what he needs tomorrow, to think to draw him a bath filled with Epsom salt, to watch what he eats, to remember when I last gave him his cold & flu pills, his airborne, to make sure he doesn’t take his NyQuil to late. And I am not exhausted from it.

I am energized and refreshed. And no, my husband is not incapable of taking care of himself. And I know I’m not the controlling type to have to do everything for him…trust me. No, today I sensed the grace of God to give me a compassion beyond my depths and ability to nurture my husband in the way he needed me today. Beyond my natural selfish ways, something clicked in me and my goal was to be available to him and go out of my way, although it was no inconvenience, to love him.  Now, my heart is full. Not as in a pat on my own back, but in the giving today, I received the blessing. I got to invest in his life in the unique way it called for today. It was also the grace of God that allowed Oz to receive it. And because of that, there has been a great, intimate and fulfilling exchange. Sometimes its hard to receive help, or care from people. But really that’s just our pride. It’s also our pride that keeps us from sacrificing for others. But we miss out. Pride cheats us of blessing. From intimacy. Relationship. Experience**. It is a stagnant and stinky place to be.

Today I thought about what it must be like to care for my children one day. How much more they need to be nurtured… And although I won’t understand the exhaustion that I hear comes with motherhood until I myself am there, I bet that same motivation and without-question kind of response to care for them will kick in by the grace of God.

Today is a great day to appreciate my husband. Without him and without our marriage, albeit difficult at times, I would definitely be missing out on some amazing revelations and blessings. God is amazing the way he works in all things. He is ever-present and always active in our lives. I suppose this post is my way of pausing to recognize Him and the sweet way he weaves through my daily little happenings in quite profound ways. His love is great, mighty and unfathomably deep.

I am so grateful for where we are in life. It is nowhere near perfect, but that is not our goal. We are where He wants us to be and He is with us. In Him there is peace, refuge and rest.

Heres to another day, my second Thursday. May it be as lively and satisfying as the first.

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Zulu.

*Oz wasn’t smoking while sick…that would be a giant no-no. Nor was I knitting tonight…although that would be acceptable. Both photos were taken at an earlier time.

**Please check out Beth Moore’s poem My Name is Pride, It has been ministering to me for years. Here is a link for you to read it for yourself.

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Excited & Blessed

Happy 2013! I love celebrating the new year. Especially the last 2…This year has already proved to be an incredible one. There is just a sense in the air that this is a good year. Lots of favor, blessing, joy and peace. There is a happy rest in my heart. One that I have been longing for for some time now. There is already a fresh squeeze of creativity and motivation to dive into projects, independently and collectively with Oz and friends. I am beyond excited for this year. Beyond. We are settling into our new apartment in the community that we adore. What a sweet gift to live next to great friends.

Here’s how we closed out twenty-twelve:

Oz & Movember met again. However, they stay together pretty much all year long. And I support it.

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We kissed at a friends wedding:

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He finally got his tattoo that goes with mine. One year-ish later.  And best part, my brother got to do the honors. This all went down in this fabulous shop.

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My first Black Friday experience with these gems:

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Sunday Fundays with #ghlg:

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Seaport Village is always stocked with beautiful views, sunsets, people watching and great chai lattes from Upstart Crow

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Christmas sailing with my family!

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Seems San Diego’s great weather is also her greatest fault…no wind in our sails. However it was quite a great day. And we all counted our blessings that we could be together out on the water for Christmas.

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Oz serenading us with some Yann Tiersen on Christmas Eve:IMG_2155

Our New years and 2 years at midnight!

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Oz and I have a goal for this year (well, we have a few goals for this year, but I’m not talking about those right now). Each month we want to venture out as local tourists in southern California. I hope to document our local travels so if you one day find your self in this sunny corner of the country, you get some good ideas of where to go and what to do. This year is going to be such a blast. I will say it again and again. I am greatly looking forward to it and am ready to embrace each season and everyday.

Excited & blessed,

Zulu

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1, 2, 3…

Today is November 16th, 2012.
Three years and two days ago Oz and I went to a mutual friends celebration of one year sober. A glorious and worthy celebration it was. That night Oz and I finally had the chance after a handful of years of just missing each other to actually sit down and talk.

catch up.

reminisce.

learn.

chat.

laugh.

You see, we first met when we were 17. Don’t ask us how…neither of us can actually remember our first exchange.

he liked me.

I liked a boy. A different boy.

Or so that’s what I told him.

(I know…I’m such a brat!)

Graduate.

College.

Me, New Zealand.

Me,Home.

Him, China.

Him, Home

My boyfriend.

My Break-up.

His girlfriend.

No break-up.

My boyfriend.

See what I mean? Just barely missing each other.

His break-up.

My break-up.

Finally…both single. both 22. five years of quick email chats and updates, but nothing more. Until November 14th, 2009.

We came back into the house after playing ukulele on the porch with a couple other people. He was the only person, besides the gal we were there to celebrate, that I actually knew. I made myself look busy at the food table as he effortlessly made small talk with two older British women. I thought to myself, Man, he has really grown into a great guy. I’m glad we’re friends again.

It was cold that night. Peacoat weather. But it was toasty inside. Hence his next move. He -without breaking the flow of conversation with his two new friends – takes off his Peacoat and hangs it on the chair just inches away from me.

That. Exact. Moment.

It was like a veil was lifted and 5 years of acquaintanceship suddenly was this overwhelming gush of feelings. Gushy, heart-throbbing feelings.

Holy crap! It was my mission in life the rest of the night to not make an absolute fool out of myself by accidentally flirting with him. Play. It. Cool. I seemed to hide it well though because I later found out Oz didn’t know I liked him for a while. Too well, Bee…too well.

The next morning I spilled to my mom the story of my surprise and unexpected feelings for “the guy from high school…remember? He’s the one who really likes China…”

Just as we were talking I get a text from said boy. After giddy and witty exchanges and me having paced every square foot of my living room it was set.

“So, Monday it is then. Let’s do Swami’s at 9.”

“Rad, sounds great! See you then!”

We were going to on a breakfast date. Well, wait…does he think this is a date? Does he think I don’t think it’s a date? Is he just wanting to catch up still with “his good’ol friend”? Okay, okay. calm down. It’s fine.

November 16th, 2009. Breakfast at Swami’s.

He paid. For his. I paid. For mine. 

I take the blame for that one. I didn’t want him to think I assumed this was a date if he didn’t want it to be a date – how awkward would that be?! So, I offered a ten to cover my food. Come to find out, when I offered the money, he thought that meant I wanted to make sure he knew this wasn’t a date, but he wanted it to be a date. He thought it was a date. I thought it was a date. Until I didn’t think it was a date. That’s when I paid for myself.

We then moved over to his ’89 pick-up truck to jam on the ukuleles. This moment set our dating soundtrack in stone. The sounds of Beirut, Jake Shimabukuro, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s and Sigur Ros will forever bring me back to our adventures in early love.

The rest is history. We could hardly stand going a day without seeing each other. And we rarely did. I’m sure our family and friends thought we were so pathetic, but we didn’t care. I had never ever felt such deep love for someone until Oz. After 8 months of togetherness, hiking adventures, banana creme pie eating, movie watching, sunrises and sunsets, beach picnics and trespassing, monthiversary breakfast dates and music playing, he asked me to join him in the craziest adventure we’ve ever embarked on : Marriage.

The next season of engagement of five and a half months was quite the roller coaster. And now, 1 year, 10 months and 15 days into our marriage, we are still adventuring and growing and learning what it truly means to commit and promise, love and cherish and enjoy and edify and honor and respect and support and relax and embrace each other in every season we enter. We are daily in need of our Father’s grace for ourselves and for each other. Who isn’t?

We have had a diverse, lively and unpredictable 3 years. This morning it really settled in that we have the rest of our lives together to figure this thing out and I found such peace in that. We’re just beginning on this journey. It’s still fresh and new and mysterious.

May we continue to surrender our will and mind and hearts to J-sus so that He can continue to shape us into the absolute best for Him, for each other, for our family and everyone else we share life with.

Today we celebrate three years together. Here’s to three more. (and then some…)

There were hardly times when we’d venture out somewhere, anywhere without at least one uke.

With all of our friends getting married, we always had fancy dates planned 🙂

Dating at weddings…

Austin spent 6 weeks in Shanghai getting TEFL certified…upon his return he asked me one mighty big question…

I said yes!!

He saw me for the first time and wept…

We were overjoyed…

Humbled and blessed.

First dance to Devendra Banhart’s “Baby”

H o n e y m o o n i n g up the Californian coast!

Our first cooked meal in our new abode.

Our real honeymoon to Spain and Portugal.

Celebrating birthdays and facial hair.

Our amazing trip to Haiti with with our church.

The Golden hour in our sweet abode.

Luke & Kate work wonders with the camera Check out He and She !

{{all wedding ceremony photography was done by our amazing friends Willy & Meghan}}

Thanks for reading and celebrating with us. We hope your adventures in love also bring you to a place of gratitude, humility, grace and joy. Cheers to Love!

XO – Bee

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Sandy Eggo, the first update.

 

 

[[Oz & I visiting Lake Jennings on our way to see some puppies!]]

Well, almost two months of an OzandBee hiatus isn’t so bad right? I’ve stepped away from my previous blogs for much longer, to be honest. But I’m not back to discuss hiatus records. To keep up with being honest, I’ve actually been desiring to get back to writing again about the good and the bad and the life in between, but my procrastination mixed with the overwhelming feeling of playing “catch up” on here has been far more powerful. So today, I’m not going to worry about including every detail from our journey home till now…I’ll let them sneak in here and there as they come. Instead, I just want to keep up with this thing…I liked documenting our adventures. And even though we’re no longer traveling southern China, there are plenty of exciting trips going on in the beautiful southern California worthy of noting in the blogosphere.

It’s taken a while to feel normal again in our own state, city and community. I think the more accurate statement would be we are still trying. We don’t want to actually feel normal again…our old normal was part of the reason we ran away for three months. Old ways, old habits, old mindsets, old old, moldy and gross (to be dramatic). What we are trying to do is to learn how to walk in the new ways, new habits and new mindsets that Father helped cultivate in us while we were in LJ. We learned how to do that overseas, but to come back to such familiarity and try to function in our new dynamic is not as easy of a task as I hoped it would be. And I think with some of the things we’ve faced since being home, I’m realizing that the process our sovereign Father had us in didn’t conclude when the plane left Beijing on September 4th. He has so much more depth waiting for us to dive into. He has so much more healing and growth for us. Healing and growth that could not have happened in our beautiful, yet temporary home overseas, but can only take place in this home.

The familiar one.

The journey continues. The learning continues. And in the midst of some discouragement and struggle, my heart is genuinely relieved about it. I see that God does not wrap our amazing experiences in the best paper with the prettiest bow and set it on a shelf to glance at or simply remember…He builds on them. He widens them and deepens them. He shows us something we think is life-changing and amazing and so exciting, then says, that’s only the beginning. It’s simply  o n e piece of the incredible work of art He is designing. The difference? He sees the whole while I see only in part. And when I take my eyes off of Him, that’s when the discouragement creeps in. I’ve been looking at an unfinished product. To speak in pictures, life is more like a flowing stream than a patchy field of ponds. Thank goodness. Lets keep moving.

The places He brought me to in LJ — vulnerability, willingness and humility — are the places I know I can’t leave if I want to continue on this adventure with Him. It has been in my brokenness that He has healed and restored me. And I consider being back in SD as phase two.

The adjustments to life in SD have not all been difficult. We got to come back to an amazing community and families that love us. And although the summer weather didn’t get the memo that it’s now Fall — I can’t complain. It is truly no wonder why so many people desire vacationing here. We’ve had the chance to catch up with people we missed so dearly and have taken a couple weekend get-a-ways to ease into life here. Photo updates are bound to happen as soon as I can get to it. 🙂

Thanks to everyone who walked with us this summer. It was really encouraging to keep in touch via this blog and emails. We cherish all of your comments and the time you spent reading up on our whereabouts. So, here’s to phase two! I trust it’ll be just as exciting as the first. 😉 Our next batch of writings will most likely include the adventures of weekend trips to the mountains and (hopefully) some lakes too, my answer-to-prayer of a new job, and of course our journey through marriage and life here in SD.

Feeling less overwhelmed,

Bee

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Between Yesterday and Today

Its 0:01 on my clock. The day has hardly unfolded. Today holds a loose agenda and I’m sure we’ll fill the empty time slots with dining, playing cards, walking around old town, reading or Skyping. Perhaps all of the above.

However, my mind hasn’t yet crossed over to the actual today. I still lag in yesterday, which still feels like today. We slice time into days and minutes and seconds, but our minds have never really cared to figure out when you stop thinking about today – or yesterday – and begin thinking about tomorrow, which is today. I guess I’m rambling about this because its late (or early, depending on which day you’re thinking in) and I wish I was tired enough to fall asleep. I still haven’t reflected on all that has happened today (I will stubbornly remain in this day until I notify you otherwise).

We had a good one. Started the morning with a podcast from APC, semi-pathetic time together in our Pr@yers for my Marriage book…I say pathetic not because we don’t like each other, but maybe more so because its difficult for me to genuinely participate in such a manicured book with topics so general that they wouldn’t even offend anybody. Also perhaps because today I didn’t discipline myself to not just go through the motions. When I really take to heart what the mini devos say previous to the pr@yers and discuss them with Oz, we both end up a little more transformed than we were in the minutes previous. Interesting.

After that we ventured out for lunch, which consisted of an egg tartlet thing for Oz and a French macaroon for me (dessert > lunch) then ate some Bao zi dumplings and noodles at our favorite Chicken Noodle Shop.

They know us now.

We’re so local.

And so obsessed with their noodle dishes.

We ran into a neighbor who is from Spain and the three of us waltzed around town for a bit window-shopping and Boba-tea-drinking. We made it back home in time to meet up with our friends, J & L, started a vicious game of Hearts, chatted about pinched nerves and Tiger Balm (shout out to Momma Bee!) and met up with another couple and their two kiddies for an early dinner.

The rest of our evening was…in all honesty, lazy. I browsed Pinterest and Youtubed new songs while Oz played more card games on the iPad. (Hearts is kind of our new thing. The reference to the game may appear frequently on this here blog.) By late evening we came back to reality (Ope! There goes gravity.) and ventured out to the good ol’ Gu Chong for some bing qi ling, aka: ice cream aka: our other [semi-] new thing.

I’d like to say we skipped-to-our-lous like darlings over to KFC (our bing qi ling dealer), but we both were a bit…irritable. Lets say we were having some flesh moments. No one is at their best when they operate from such a hostile place. And it was all to inconvenient that we had to wait in the front of the line for 15 minutes to even order our cones (plus the fries I couldn’t resist). Neither of us was letting go of our previous irritations. In fact, I myself had forgotten about the specifics of what had been so on my nerves for the moment but used the attitude from it to build more attitude for the new issue we now faced at KFC.

I think now, in the odd hour between yesterday and today, its clear that whenever I’m demanding my rights and coppin’ a ‘tude because I’m not the center of the world, I notice that every time I am in that state, in that moment I actually see myself working my way through the following steps:

First off, I’m age five.

I stomp my feet with a pout that starts deep in my brow.

I see I am not getting sympathy from anybody, so I stiffly cross my arms.

Pout still in full force.

I make no direct eye contact with those I love, but peer over at them when I know they aren’t looking at me.

I shift the weight of my head with my neck like I’m even bothered that no one is moving it for me.

I kind of move on when they finally hand over my ice cream. Gee, what took so long.

Now, I don’t think I actually am doing this in my 24-year-old body, but I think the image of me in my head is a way G0d is saying,

 

Seriously Bee? You are being ridiculous. Let me guide you.

And with what sounds like a faint voice, I’m provoked to think upon what better decisions in my mindset and thought-process I could have made if I hadn’t given in so easily to my flesh. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

First, I would have put my husband first.

I could have been compassionate to someone’s needs other than my own.

I would have recognized the opportunity to relinquish my rights – something I desire!

I would have stopped and been grateful for His grace.

For His discipline.

I would have asked Him how to respond.

I would have listened.

I would have surrendered my mind and heart so He could clear out my judgmental and selfish thoughts to make room for life-giving thoughts and patience.

I would have perhaps encouraged the KFC employees who were working their tails off.

I would have had a more sincere apology when I finally came around to one.

I know the list goes on. I am not writing this as an invitation to my pity-party. But I am reflecting on the situation. And in hindsight, I think Chr!st could have been more glorified. And that is what I want more of.

To glorify Him in everything.

To stop and take every thought captive.

To respond with love, patience, humility and kindness, even if  I can think of every reason not too.

I want to actively relinquish my rights. Not just talk about it.

I am grateful for the annoying image of me as a grumpy five year old when I give in to my flesh. Its almost comical how intimately the Father knows us and knows what will speak to us. I do not want to reflect such selfishness, immaturity and pride. No, on the contrary, I want to reflect Chr!st. I want to grow in being quick to listen, quick to obey, quick to forgive, quick to love and quick to encourage. I have such a long way to go. The deeper I venture into this process the more I realize my need for Father’s healing touch and grace. Thankfully, there is no obstacle too complex or too big for Him.

No wonder He has new mercy for us everyday. He knew we’d need it.

In moving forward,today has arrived (actual today). I drench myself in His showers of new mercy and thank Him for a new day. Another breath of life.

I have an incredible husband, an amazing adventure in front of us, wonderful new friends to invest in.

It is a whole new day to creatively worship Him.

There has never been life more abundant.

It is finally passed my bedtime.

The L0rd is my Shepard,

Bee

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A Couple Days to Recover

To recap my last few days in a way that would satisfy my need to include every single detail of emotion would mean that this post would require your attention for an amount of time no one in their right mind should be willing to dedicate.  With that said, I am going to try to jot down the things that really stick out to me…and I’ll just have to be okay with leaving out some details. You’re welcome, in advance.

I will start by saying that it has taken me a couple of days to move on from the fact that after over an hour of writing out the perfect blog post, I mindlessly closed out of the tab without saving it. If you’ve ever been proud of a post only to lose it, you understand the depth of my ache after realizing what I had ruined. Maybe I’m still a bit peeved. Healing is a process, right? Right.

Officially moving on…A few days ago I had to confess (after it was brought to my attention) that I – a (for the most part) easy-going traveler with a somewhat wide range of experience with other countries – was experiencing culture shock. After over a month in this country without having faced this I was convinced I had escaped my chance of ever having it. That probably played into my denial of it. However, I must say that after a day of crying, insecurity and an overwhelming sense of feeling lost and confused (to name a few), it was probably the best thing that could of happened to me. In an extreme nutshell, it brought me to my end. A very much needed and humbling end. Father knew exactly where I was and what I needed too. Immediately after recognizing that anything ‘foreign’ felt so insulting to me, Papa sent a lovely woman our way. She is originally from Michigan and has lived here for over fifteen years. I’m not talking living in a city in China that has been so westernized you feel like you’re actually in Chinatown, Los Angeles. I’m talking living in a village hours away from electricity and running water. Where they don’t speak Mandarin as their first language, but rather their own minority dialect. The girl is hardcore. Its funny because other foreigners (white or non-Chinese people living in China) say that she has been here so long she is now more Chinese than she is American.

Anyway, she ate lunch with us and was cuing me in on some cultural differences that I should know about before I make any offensive mistakes. Mind you, this conversation is taking place right after I tell Oz about how I am feeling and really anything that is honest can and will make me cry.

Eggshells.

She has no idea how fragile the eggshells she’s walking on are.

The G0d-send of a question came out after about ten minutes of our chat.

“So, why are you here in Lij1ang?”

I could feel the tears ready to relocate to the outside of my lids so I quickly diverted the answering to my husband.

Didn’t work.

“I know he can answer, that’s why I specifically asked you, Bee.”

This is the point where I know she is here for a reason, eating lunch with us. Father doesn’t let us suffer in isolation. He sends us community. Even when it’s the last thing we want. He knows when we need to ache with someone else. He knows when we need comfort in a tangible form through someone who has been in our shoes. (In these moments, He is comfort manifested through someone else.) He is faithful in that way. I think its funny (well, not actually funny) that when we are so caught up in our very real heartaches, all that is clear to us is how badly we hurt and how far from ease we are when really, those can be the times where we experience the deepest kind of soothing and place of refuge. I think that to the intensity that our pain is, He matches with a custom-made peace. Perfectly.

Naturally, I broke down. And she let me. Her hand on the side of my face was the permission I needed to be human. I am so grateful for the freedom I felt in that moment. I knew that outburst of raw emotion was my first step towards the maturity and healing that this process would lead me to. It didn’t take away the confusion or aching, not quite yet. But I sensed His presence with me and He is so good at what He does. As I think of it now I’m brought to tears again. Not of sorrow, but of pure thankfulness. And of relief, too. I can feel Him again, even now, with a hug that says I am never leaving you.

My guard soon dropped and I was more open to receiving her advice. The practical and the spiritual. She reminded me that He speaks to us every single day. He knew Oz and I would be here. He knew that that day I was going to be a downright mess. He knew what I needed and He knew what He was doing.

I think in all of this I am learning how much I need to depend on Him. I really wanted to depend on Oz that day. I demanded impossible things from him. But he wasn’t supposed to be my absolute rock that day. J e s u s was. In my moment of absolute weakness and desperation, J e s u s is my only solid foundation. He is steady through trials. He is constant during change. He is familiar in the midst of foreignness. And now I am (still) learning that when I run to Him, he directs me through my maze of confusion and leads me perfectly to victory.

I would not change that day for anything. Since then, my connections with people are more exciting. I am not scared to make mistakes while speaking this complex language. I am getting more out of my experiences and I am more open to new things. I am seeing people more like the Father does and I know that He is growing in me a genuine love for these people and this experience that could not have ever existed in me while pride and judgment where my filters through which I understood my surroundings.

This is a day-by-day kind of deal. I have itsy-bitsy moments where I have to refocus my attitude. “Take every thought captive” is a biggy right now. It is such perfect design that everything I read and come across intertwines with what Pops is teaching me. Even in marriage. Oz and I are learning how to more authentically walk in love towards each other. I must say he is doing quite the swell job – I am inspired and challenged by him daily and am so blessed by how much I see Father moving in his heart. It deepens my  own hunger for transformation in my life. We have been reading a book on communication and have been really enjoying our evenings when we read it together. My favorite part though is when I notice us applying what we’re learning in our outings together. Whoa, this stuff actually works! There has been a renewed and even deeper-than-ever-before connection of laughter, enjoyment and support for each other. Interesting, when I stop nit-picking (mom, you know I hate strongly-dislike that phrase!) at what I wish was different about our marriage (we can all find something, I’m sure) and instead focus on what the L0rd has called me to be, and how excited He is to lead us into that kind of maturity and healthiness, the relationships (Oz + Bee & J.C. + Bee) become so much more fulfilling and fruitful. Shocking, right?

What a concept.

Anyway, there are 4 billion things going on in my head that I’d love to sit down with you and chat about, but I think I’ll give it a rest for now.

Wait! A bit of a recap from today – it was a good day.

We went to our friends’ house (who right now are out of town) to do laundry, and their key didn’t work! Soooo, we ended up hanging out with their neighbor and stayed at her house the entire afternoon and well into the nighttime. She made us Pu’Er Cha (tea) and we had a great afternoon together. We ate dinner there with her friends (Oz and I helped fold the dumplings – so fun) and then enjoyed more cha together. She has a cinnamon colored poodle that actually redeemed the breed for us. That pup is such a babe and super sweet. It was a wonderful day to soak up language and develop new friendships. I’m pretty sure it was the better plan to get locked out of our friends’ house today. {However, we still need to pick up our laundry and figure out how our friends will get back into their house when they get home…but what would China be without a little bit of ma fan? (Ah, that’s a good one to know…’ma fan’ means troublesome, or inconvenience – along those lines. I may be throwing that one around quite a bit.)}

I hope this ramble was more cohesive than I feel it was. Thank you for your continued pr@yers and love. We adore getting emails from you so don’t be shy!

ImageOur new Home Sweet Home.

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Happy belated 4th of July!

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The restaurant with my favorite dessert.

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My favorite dessert.

{Xi Mi Lu}

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Ke Le – the poodle-redeeming pup.

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Lij1ang Old Town during traffic hour.

 

 

Happy mid-July to you all,

Bee

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