Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Worst Sales Pitch Ever.

Only a month into marriage and JD and I realized that we really need something: A bigger car!
Over one month of marriage, we borrowed my dad's Highlander and trailer probably 8 times! So we set out last week to upgrade my car just a little bit. It's not our long-term plan, but it will be great for a while.
This is the back-story of how we ended up talking to the worst used car salesman in the world.

We got back from test-driving an SUV and we start listing a few concerns to the salesman. Here are some of the responses that we got from him:

"Oh- that indicator light isn't a problem! I looked it up on the internet. Trust me."
"You're an engineer?! Can't you afford better than this?"
"The boss is gone now. What do you want? Money off? All I want to do today is make some money so that I didn't work for free. I'll make this work."
"I'll grab the window button out of my car and swap it out for you if that'll make the deal!"
"Yeah- Toyota is the one brand that we don't have to apologize for all the time when customers want to return their cars."
"Oh. That's broken from *big* people sitting on it." (seriously?!?!)
"Since you went to college, life for you is like roller skates. I'm walking without shoes on a bed of oyster shells. Must be nice to be you!"
"Wait. When you got out of school, you must have started at $__________." That was when he tried to guess JD's salary and I knew that we were done.

I don't usually like to jump onto abbreviation bandwagons but SMH! ("shake my head" for you folks like me who don't keep up with what the cool kids are abbreviating these days!)
As I got up this morning and was laughing over all of the silly things that this salesman said to us last night, I thought about the ridiculous things that I've said to people.
I've made assumptions.
I've thought that they must have it easier than me.
I've let my selfishness shine through.
I've said downright offensive things (hopefully only a handful of times).

And I'll tell you what. I'm so grateful that the spirit of the Lord reigns in His children. I'm so grateful that people forgive me for the sometimes harmful words that come out of my mouth! Praise God that He gives us the ability to forgive and sometimes forget! And thank you.
Thank YOU for forgiving the times when I've assumed.
Thank YOU for forgiving my selfishness.
Thank YOU for forgiving the offensive.
And I thank God that He has given you that spirit and has forgiven me!

So today, thank the people who have listened to your ridiculous words. Thank them for sticking with you and forgiving you. And thank our Heavenly Father that He always sees and always forgives!

"O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, Lord
Take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above."
"Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"

On June 17th, we sang:
"Heaven Fall Down" by Phil Wickham
"God is Able" by Hillsong
"Great I Am" by NewLife Worship
and "The One You Need" by Shane & Shane, in celebration of Father's Day!

On June 22nd, we sang:
"Holy, Holy, Holy (Savior & King)" by Gateway Worship
"Whom Shall I Fear" by Chris Tomlin
"Beautiful Things" by Gungor (from their live album)
"Waiting Here For You" by Jesus Culture (LOVE this song!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Worst Advice Ever.

As we were planning our wedding, JD and I got LOTS of advice. Every time someone learned that we were getting married, even strangers, they wanted to give us advice! Being the youngsters we are, we were looking forward to this advice. After all, many people who were close to us that knew we were planning on getting engaged had given great advice!

But then we actually got engaged.
Let me preface this by saying that I really think most people were trying to be helpful. But I think most people’s brains had fallen out of their heads. Here are the most common pieces of advice that we got:

Don’t go to bed mad. (okay- decent enough!)
This is your last chance to run.
(thanks. real inspiring!)
Good luck! I pray you’ll stay together. (seriously?!)
Why get married? Live together and see if it works out. (not even worth addressing!)
The first year is the worst.
The years with kids are the hardest.
Being an empty-nester is the hardest.
(apparently all of marriage is hard!)
You know that most marriages fail these days? - Oh. But you look like a nice couple. (I bet you're a motivational speaker!)
You could buy a car with that wedding budget. Don’t you think you should spend your money more wisely? After all, we are God’s stewards.
Don’t be a dope- just elope. (That one is from a certain bald pastor)
And the final - RUN!

As funny as these are looking back, I must say that they truly terrified me at the time. We had seen plenty of marriages fall apart and the ever-looming statistic of “50% of marriages end in divorce” was always in our minds. It got so bad that one day after church, I broke down and cried. With all of these people telling us how hard it was, was it really worth it? Was it worth the heartache and hard work that seemed to dominate everyone’s time? After a while, clarity started to set in as I realized that what these people said reflected more on them than it did on us. But still, it stung.

One day in Ministry Leaders’ meeting, I mentioned that this kept happening. A day or so later, Marcia Jacobs walked into Hannah’s office and told me how discouraged she was to learn that this was what people were saying. She went on to tell me how much joy Craig had brought her and how her marriage was her most treasured relationship. The next day, JD called me from work and told me of a coworker who had found out that he was engaged that morning. The coworker found JD and told him how much he loved his wife and how happy he was for JD that he would get to experience the same joy that he had. As the wedding drew closer, I had various church members and friends who wished us well by saying, “I pray each day that you find the joy and happiness in your marriage as I have in mine.” Now these were encouraging conversations and the pieces of advice that we needed and treasured!

I can honestly say that I was discouraged in the beginning. But as these stories and real sentiments came from people, I was encouraged.
I think we often forget the impact that our words have on people. Many people’s negative comments about marriage were short, passive sentences or even jokes. But with so many people saying them to us, we began to believe them.
After a lot of reflection, this reminded me that we really need to think about what we are saying. Are we discouragers or encouragers? When we see someone struggling or someone who is having a difficult time, do we sympathize with them and say, “Yeah, I know it stinks, doesn’t it?” or do we take time to encourage them? Do we give into the worldly way of complaining about everything or do we lift one another up?
For me, joking is a part of most conversations, but I know I have to be careful not to joke negatively for very long. Negative comments have become so pervasive in our society as people use social media to “vent” and feel more and more entitled to always share their opinion. But we have to remember that our words reach ears. Our words truly do influence people and we can’t be so wrapped up in our own problems that we forget that what we say really does influence the people we say it to!

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:11

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. -
Hebrews 10:23-25

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. - Ephesians 4:29

So today, I encourage you to use your words to encourage the people around you. Whether it’s about work, kids, marriage or whatever, encourage one another! Think about whether what you’re about to say will encourage or discourage.

This past Sunday, June 8th, we sang:
"Here For You" by Chris Tomlin or Matt Redman
"Reign in Us" by Starfield (an all-time favorite of mine!)
"The Upside of Down" by Chris August (that whole album is fabulous!)
and "Jesus, Son of God" by Chris Tomlin