Monday, March 31, 2008

Not just enduring, but blossoming in marriage

This weekend Jeremy and I got to enjoy a wonderful sushi date at Sugami thanks to a gift certificate that we had saved from my bridal shower (thanks Aunt Lo and Alison!!!). It was such a blessing to have a night out with my sweetheart and best friend, enjoy some conversation together and good food. So often it’s so easy for us to get caught up in routine and busy schedules and find ourselves having gone several days without truly connecting hearts or drawing each other into anything deeper than a superficial conversation. We both desire to do this, we both desire to connect with each other, draw each other out, and know all of the details about each other, but so often fail in our execution of this. We can easily be caught up in chores around the house or the toll that our busy days take on us and then we come home and shut down. We try to be aware of this tendency and when it hits the most… like when we are super busy, so that we can plan a strategy against it. (Like plan a walk date in the middle of the week between our activities so we have some time out of the house where we can talk.) We have definitely noticed that the house is our comfort zone, and just getting out of the house for a walk, coffee, dinner or a drive helps us to make more of an effort to ask each other heart felt questions rather than just hang out and “veg” with each other.

If Jeremy and I, two very relational people with the best intentions to connect with each other and draw each other out, who have only been married 7 months and still have a freshness to our marriage (free from years of built up walls that could exist between some couples) can already notice some difficulty in connecting with each other and drawing each other out then I can see why marriage takes work, and why so many marriages fail when the two parties involved no longer put in that work. I have soooo much respect for all of the couples that we know that have persevered through the difficulties and stayed married for 5, 10, 15, 20 or more years (57 for Grandad and Grandma Diggs!). I know that I haven’t even begun to understand the depth of the complications that marriage can hold, especially once children are added to the picture. I’m just thrilled that I have an amazing man, who has a heart to tackle marriage with me while we roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty putting in the work necessary to not just endure marriage, but to blossom in our union.

One thing that I loved about our wedding ceremony is that our vows weren’t quite the standard traditional version. (see below)

I, Jeremy, take you Shannon, to be my wife, my friend and my life-partner for the rest of our lives. Before God, family and friends I pledge to you my life. I will be faithful to you in sickness and in health, in good and bad times, in times of joy and well as in times of sorrow. I promise to love you as Christ loves His church.

I, Shannon, take you Jeremy, to be my husband, my friend and my life-partner for the rest of our lives. Before God, family and friends I pledge to you my life. I will be faithful to you in sickness and in health, in good and bad times, in times of joy and well as in times of sorrow. I promise to respect you and follow your lead.

Our vows were based off of Ephesians 5:22-33 (below). This shows a man’s need to be respected, and a woman’s need to be loved. One point that Doug made at our wedding was that marriages lacking those needs (love and respect) will not be joyful, they will just be endured. I’m looking forward to many years of respecting my husband, following his lead, and though it’s a bold statement, following God’s will and submitting to my husband in everything. That statement alone is so hard for so many people to stomach today, in the days of women power they seem to think that takes us back in time and looses the “advances” that we’ve made in recent years. I don’t think that God meant just through the 1980’s when he said “submit to your husband’s in everything”. I believe that those words stand for all time, and I should direct my life accordingly. As long as the husband is doing his part and loving his wife as Christ loves the church it makes it a lot easier to submit in everything. When you know and trust that your husband truly has your best interests in mind then it’s easy to follow his lead and submit to him. The challenge may be on the days where your husband doesn’t seem to be loving you quite the way Christ loved the church, then it gets a little harder. These are the days where we as women have the opportunity to show our husbands extra grace and respect by still submitting to them and following their lead. It’s not always easy, in fact I fail miserably sometimes, but fortunately Jeremy knows my heart and desires to show me grace also.

Ephesians 5:22-33 You wives will submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the church; he gave his life to be her Savior. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything.

And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God's word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church.

And we are his body. As the Scriptures say, "A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one." This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

All that said, here’s to my quest for a joyful marriage and not just purely enduring the time that I share with Jeremy. Thank you to all of you for your prayers, encouragement and admonishment along the way. I'm always here to do the same for you in your endeavors.

In love,

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Back from the Big Easy

I’ve just returned from several days in New Orleans with Jeremy’s parents
and sister and had a wonderful time! I feel like I enjoyed a good taste of
what New Orleans is, and the culture of those who live their. I got to
walk through the French Quarter and hear live street jazz along the way. I
had coffee with chicory and a beignet at Café Du Monde. I enjoyed plenty
of red beans and rice, jambalaya, shrimp creole, red fish and some crawfish
from a boil in Jeremy’s aunt’s backyard. I got to watch the Hornets win a
basketball game while an arena full of fans cheered them on. I attended an
Easter church service in an inner city church in the heart of New Orleans.
I drove along vacant streets of houses in ruins from the effects of
hurricane Katrina, and saw some that were in the process of being rebuilt.
I walked the 2.8 miles around Audubon Park while live music was playing,
and then enjoyed a picnic and games in the park while watching some local
animal authorities try to catch the alligator that was loose in the water
less than 100 yards away from us. New Orleans was good to me and I enjoyed
my visit very much! Jeremy’s father was a great tour guide, showing us all
of the houses he’d grown up in, places he’d worked, and giving us an
insider’s knowledge for the local culture.

One thing that stands out to me the most about the people in New Orleans is
their passion. They are very passionate people. Passionate about food,
music, culture, tradition, family, their city, and more. The heart
breaking side to this city is that just a few years after the devastation
and evacuation of hurricane Katrina the city is already the number one
murder capital in the United States again, and rampant with crime. I would
say that this is due to a lot of misdirected passion. There are many
people in the city that are taking all of that passion within themselves
and directing it toward things of this world. It’s just an example of how
polluted my life gets when I direct my passion towards things other than
the Lord. Castlerock is the inner city church that we went to. I noticed
that their mission statement is “Passion for God, compassion for people”.
I would love to see what New Orleans would look like if individually, and
as a city, they were focusing their passion on God and His kingdom. The
result would be one city on fire for God. I will certainly be adding that to my prayer list now that my heart has been stirred with a passion for the people of New Orleans and their culture.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Tribute to My Boaz

I want to take this opportunity to tell you all how much I love my amazing husband Jeremy! Or my Boaz, as I often call him, and have ever since we started dating.

First I'll take a little rabbit trail as to why I call him Boaz... As some of you may or may not know the book or Ruth is one of my favorite books in the Bible, as it a display of what I feel Christ centered romance should look like, as opposed to all the ooey, gooey, gets my needs met type of emotional lusting that gets confused with romance these days. I love romance, and having tried it the world's way and knowing that didn't work for me, once I became a believer in Christ I was searching for something much deeper. Once I read the book of Ruth it really resonated with me that that was what I wanted, I was searching for my Boaz and for the Lord to bring me a man of noble character who would love Him and push me and our relationship towards Him. That's easy to say, but it really takes a lot, it takes a man who is willing to die to his flesh every moment and trust the Spirit to lead Him. It takes a man who can be a strong leader, but not in an authoritarian way, in a humble way. It takes a man who can look at every situation and with prayer and discernment know what direction to lead his family in. I am so thrilled that God has brought me that man! He did it when, where, and how I least expected it, and ever since then the heart and character of Jeremy have continued to blow me away and humble me time after time. God has more than met any of my deepest desires and expectations and given me way more than I could have asked for in a man of God. I do have to say that Jeremy is strikingly handsome, but that's really not anything that got me or kept me interested... or at least was a very small portion of it. As I said, I was searching for my Boaz. In the book of Ruth it never even talks about the physical appearance of Boaz or Ruth, but it elaborates on the great character of each of them. So anyway... I'm sure you get the point by now... I call Jeremy my Boaz because I am astounded by his amazing character and by the way that he honorably pursued me throughout our dating relationship.

Speaking of honorable pursuit... how about a little walk down memory lane and a little of our story for those of you who may not know some of the specific details. (I'll try not to be too long winded). Jeremy and I met at a young adult church service called Refuge that Jeremy used to play guitar at and I attended regularly for several years. After a few dates, prayer, Bible study, and several talks about whether we could serve Christ better together or as singles we decided to actually start dating. Immediately in our relationship Jeremy told me that he felt that the Lord was leading him to protect our relationship from physical lust, therefore we should not engage in any physical affection (such as kissing etc) while we were dating. So we didn't kiss until the day that Jeremy proposed to me, and I said yes... we surrendered the physical aspect of our relationship to the Lord and asked Him to protect it. Emotionally Jeremy also wanted to protect our hearts and not get too carried away or wound up ahead of ourselves. I didn't know his plans at that time, but I always trusted and waited on his lead in our relationship, so Jeremy did not tell me he loved me until he proposed also, and that day was beautiful. It was filled with tears, joy, emotion and the first chance for us to connect physically (just with a kiss) and emotionally in verbally expressing our love to each other. It was well worth the wait, and wouldn't have been the same had we not waited. (Please don't think I'm saying this is the format everyone should use for dating, we don't have any answers at all, I'm just saying this is what we were called to and it blessed us significantly along the way). So that is how my Boaz honorably pursued me, I think that we could honestly say that if a man was pursuing our daughter we would want it done the same way... it's great to have a clear conscious about our dating period.

Dating, engagement, wedding, and 6 months of marriage under our belts and I love Jeremy more than ever! And not in the selfish way because he makes me feel good, or because he does nice things for me (although he does all of that), but really so much deeper. I love the way that through marriage we have both grown in our relationship with the Lord and can serve God together. I love the way that he is so different than me, and that we both push each other to be better people by having different strengths. I love the way that we tackle life together as teammates. I love everything about him, his heart, discernment, entrepreneuralism, A.D.D., randomness, goofiness, musical ability, intelligence, wittiness, individualism, love for Christ, love for his family, and did I say that he's handsome also... I could go on and on.

Jeremy, I love you and am looking forward to persevering through the trials of life with you!

P.S... Happy Birthday Mom, I love you!

Little White Lavendar (read Jeremy's post from earlier today to understand this one)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Approval of men or servant of Christ?

Lately the Lord has been doing a lot of work in my heart and really revealing to me an area that I am finding significance and security in rather than Him. Through several situations over the past month He has shown me just how much I care what other people think, desire approval from others, and get anxious when others don’t approve of something that I do or say. It all started when a friend approached me and told me that she didn’t agree with the way I was handling something, quickly followed by feelings of apprehension and anxiety. After a week of prayer and sorting the matter out with God I thought that I had achieved peace and had mastered the whole art of finding my security in Christ rather than what others thought of me… man was I fooled. Then a week or two later I received a complaint letter at work about me that literally brought me to tears (several times) and caused me to loose sleep. Again I was so apprehensive that anyone had a less than perfect impression of me. I was dismayed at the thought that I was not pleasing everyone. What is awesome is that the Lord wants to free me from this, that He has continued to bring up circumstances and situations since then to continue to show me how deep a hold this approval thing has on me… from the way I dress, to the cleanliness of my house and so on. He is showing me all of the ways that I am in bondage to approval of others rather than experiencing the freedom of His love, security and perfection. As Paul so boldly, but accurately states in his letter to the Galatians, we are not serving Christ if we are focused on pleasing men. Galatians 1:10 Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Pleasing people, or the world, is usually directly in opposition to what we are called to do as servants of Christ. Therefore I need to get a lot more comfortable with people, or the world, being displeased with me and rest in the security of Christ. I desire to be Christ’s servant, solely finding my security, identity, and significance in Him. I am still going through the growing pains of soaking all of this in and letting the Lord sort it all out in my heart, but I take rest in Philippians 1:6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

So if you don’t like this blog, then I don’t care…I’m Christ’s servant!


Thursday, March 6, 2008

From August to Now

We are new to this whole blogging thing so please be patient with us. We can't promise to write anything truly inspirational, witty, or motivational, but we can promise to give you our hearts and you can take those for what they are worth.

Thank you for visiting our blog. We know that these days people are busy, and your time is valuable and we appreciate that you care enough about us to take the time to read this.

All of that said it may be months since we've seen of talked to some of you so a quick catch up on what's going on may be needed to get you up to speed on what we're up to. Therefore this first entry may be quite a long one, but I promise they'll get more brief after that.

The last 6 months of marriage have been a whirlwind of emotions, and growth in Christ. I like the analogy that I read in the book Sacred Marriage that marriage is like a magnifying glass that allows you to see all of your own personal flaws and sins. The last 6 months for me have been a period to learn how to joyfully serve my husband and put his needs before my own, which much to my surprise I was not naturally good at at all. They have also been a time for me to learn how to have healthy conflict, as this was a foreign concept to me prior. I am thrilled to have a husband who is so strong in the areas where I am weak, who shows me grace and unconditional love and is an amazing Christ centered leader for our marriage!

So in the midst of adjusting to our newlywed life Jeremy and I started attending a new church that is in the home of Doug and Joan Dorman (who did our pre-marital counseling). It is a home church, like the churches of Acts and the early church. We get together Friday nights, eat a meal, have worship (Jeremy plays guitar :-) ), and then have some type of prayer, ministry, teaching, discussion etc. We love our church community and have much appreciated the guidance and wisdom that we are receiving from older, wiser, more mature believers who are coming along side us, building into us, and just loving us in every way. Not that we are there to get our needs met, we love the community we have that ranges from age 5- mid 80's that affords us the opportunity to build into the lives of others also. Currently our church is on a read through the Bible in a year plan, which means we read on average about one book of the Bible a week. We started with Genesis, and are so far on 1 Samuel. This alone has been such a blessing to me in my understanding and appreciation of scripture and my relationship with the Lord! First of all it has taken me from having fairly regular and disciplined time in the word, to a deeper level of commitment and discipline just in my time with God. Next it has forced me to persevere through books of the Old Testament (I used to prefer the New Testament and concentrate my reading there) that I in my flesh did not have the desire to read. This perseverance has rewarded me with a whole new appreciation for God's word, how He has revealed Himself, how it should be taken in it's entirety, and has finally broken me free of the "it's all about me" or "what can I get out of this" approach to Bible study and made me realize that it's all about Him. All of that seems so simple... but for some reason it really took me a couple of years to learn it, even after I had heard it so many times.

We are currently taking a one semester long class called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. This class is blowing my mind! I feel like I am learning so much that I am only able to retain about 50% of it, I'll probably be re-reading the text book for years to come. Check out information on the class at The class so far has been a study of how God has revealed His plan and call for world missions throughout scripture, how missions have been used throughout history, and how God is at work through them in the world today. Each week's lesson is taught by a different instructor, who has been a missionary in a different part of the world, and therefore we are getting many different perspectives on missions, coming from all denominations, cultures, backgrounds etc. I've always known that God wanted me to have a heart for His people everywhere, but I don't think that I truly experienced that until I started to gain more of an understanding of His promises, His missionary call, and all of the lost people out there in remote parts of the world. Moreso than anything God has spoken to me and Jeremy through this course, Acts 15, and studying the diverse, cross-cultural church in Antioch, to call us into a deep love for reaching people cross-culturally. We are currently praying about and looking into opportunities to serve Him in that way. I'll save more on that topic for a later blog though, for now, join us in the prayer that He will open doors for us to reach out in love cross-culturally, and guide us in that.

We received our cross-cultural calling at exactly the right time (and as an answer to prayer)... as God's timing always is. Lately Jeremy and I have been spending a lot of time discussing all of these ways that we are getting fed spiritually... through our church, being discipled by others, our Perspectives class, our time in the word, but we were starting to feel like fat Christians who were getting filled up with all these good things, but not going out and pouring any of it out to others. What good is all of this knowledge, all of the books we read, theological discussions we have etc. if we aren't putting them into the action of actually loving others sacrificially as Jesus did? All of that would actually be doing more harm than good for the Gospel as it would be proclaiming and displaying a false Gospel. All of this comes down to our complete need to be filled with the Holy Spirit every second of every day, be aware of every opportunity that God gives us to reach out to others in His love and in His name. I for one am tired of at the ending of the day looking at all of the opportunities that I missed and thinking of how I could have responded differently or made better use of my time, talents, resources etc. I desperately desire to be a faithful steward with everything that He has given me right now, rather than waiting for Him to trust me with more. I so frequently struggle with looking ahead at the next step, like when I have "x" ministry, or when I have a baby and my own family, or when I have "x", then I will make a big impact for God. Then everything will be lined up and I can do great things for Him. How often I miss that if I'm not faithful with what I have right now then He'll never get me to that next step, or maybe He has a different next step in mind that is way better than what I have planned. Needless to say, I need to stop looking ahead, and look at all of the amazing things He's entrusted to me and is teaching me right now, and how I can glorify Him with those and fully yield my plans and ways to Him. Fully trusting in the Spirit will take the focus off of me, and my plans and bring my focus back to Him. Lord, you are awesome and I give myself to you! To quote a David Crowder song "I am wholly yours".

So this is where we are right now. We live in Surfside Beach, about 1 mile from the beach. Jeremy is a Commercial Real Estate Advisor with Sperry Van Ness, Shannon is a Senior Staffing Supervisor for Kelly Services. In some ways we are still in newlwed bliss in that we are all touchy, feely and have the fresh passion of a new marriage, but we've experienced 6 months of the real life ins and outs of marriage and feel like we've been married forever in that we can't remember what it's like to be single, and we dread the day that one of us takes an overnight trip and we might have to one day sleep in different beds for an evening. We are excited about our new endeavor of this blog, and look forward to sharing the journey with you!