Marriage exposes the blemishes on our soul

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In light of the unfortunate release of the 50 Shades of Grey Movie this weekend, I thought I would write a post honoring marriage. I try to read a marriage book once a year, and this year I’m reading The Mystery of Marriage which was recommended by Elisabeth Elliot in one of her books that I read last month. This marriage book is different than so many others I’ve read. It’s not full of tales and guided instruction on what-to, what-not-to, how-to handle this thing called marriage. It’s written rather poetically and so far in my reading explores some of the implications for the heart and soul that come from saying “I do”. One quote I read last week has stuck with me even though the analogy was a little gross. I guess that’s probably why it stuck with me! Well, that in addition to its poignancy. It’s regarding how deeply we are exposed to this other person and to ourselves as a result of the depth of intimacy that comes from sharing life with someone.

“If a man has a pimple on his private parts, then his wife will know about it, and only his wife, and the same will be true of the minutest blemishes on his soul. For hiding is not what marriage is about.” (emphasis mine)pic2

And that’s what is so scary about this movie. I haven’t read the book, won’t watch the movie, and don’t care to know more than what I already know about it. According to what I’ve heard, lots of (strange and often abusive) physical intimacy between an unmarried, uncommitted man and woman (I don’t know to what extent or any details). The beautiful thing about marriage is that you are fully exposed, can’t hide, and everyone’s ugly side eventually will come out. And, there you are with someone who loves you, is committed to you for better or worse, and is there despite knowing your worse. Heck! I didn’t even know my own ugliest side until I got married.

It’s toxic to be so physically intimate with a person, to expose that side of yourself while wearing a mask over your soul. It’s toxic to them, it’s toxic to you. They never know you who you really are, and you never will know who you really are. They never work out the kinks in their selfish soul, and neither do you. Nothing good can come of such a relationship.

pic3But marriage. Whoa! Get ready for sanctification in the best way! Get ready to realize you are a work in progress. You may have thought you had it all together, thought you were incapable of such deep selfishness, thought you really weren’t that in need of grace. We all do to some degree, don’t we? I can’t tell you the blessing though of realizing this deep sin, and having someone walk along side you encouraging you to kill it. And the fruit of realizing from one year to the next that by the grace of God you really are a leeeetttlllle bit more patient, more kind, more full of grace. Oh I know I still have such a long way to go, but I can tell a vast difference in my heart from our first year to now, year six. My husband even remarks how I’ve grown to be so much more gracious, though I don’t think overall I’m nearly as gracious as I hope someday to be. What if I just had a purely sexual relationship with him, and never sought to be more gracious, more kind, more holy? Ugh! I would hate me! Yuck! I’m still often disappointed by how far I know I have to go, but am encouraged by the work that has been done and is still continuing. But we must open our hearts fully, let them be fully exposed. It will hurt, but the greatness of His work in our lives is so rewarding!

Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

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Getting my read on

love-of-booksA few weeks ago I stumbled across a really fun idea for selecting books to read in 2015. Check it out! I had already selected several books I’d like to read this year, but this list is particularly fun because it pushes me just a little bit out of my reading comfort zone and challenges me to tackle reads I otherwise might have not considered.

Here’s my 2015 list.

1) Nesting place (published 2014) (Book published this year) (January)

2) 1,000 white women (This is a book that my mom loves) (April)

3) Harry potter– I know, I know, I know. About time! Everyone has read it!

4) Crime and punishment (originally published in Russian- this will be the toughest one!)

5) Of mice and men (should have read in high school)

6) Bird by bird (author I like- Anne Lamott) (January)

7) Either The Tiger’s wife or Blind man’s garden (My friend Deb has great taste and she recommended both of these.)

8) Disciplines of a godly woman (I love the cover!)

9) A family apart (childhood read) In fact, the only book I remember from my childhood besides Sweet Valley High. And there is no way I could stand the mortification if my husband caught me reading Sweet Valley High books.

10) Parenting with love and logic (This is one I have been meaning to read)

11) Unbroken (on bestseller list) (February)

12) Lonesome dove (A genre I don’t usually read)

book What are you reading this year?

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Sophia Jane

What a joy it has been to welcome Sophia into our family. What a blessing for Eleanor to have the gift of a sister, and what a blessing for us to get to raise two girls!

Sophia means “wisdom” and Jane means “gift from God”.

She was born on May 17th  at 5:38am after four and a half hours of labor. It was extremely painful, much more painful than Ellie’s birth. In fact, I say it was three times as fast and three times more painful than Ellie’s birth. My theory is that the pain increased so quickly that the endorphins couldn’t keep up with the pain. If you are interested in more details you can watch the video I recorded with the birth story.

She was 7 pounds 11 ounces and 19.7 inches.

And here is a photo bomb of the last month and a half. Some fun highlights: my mom came to help us- what a tremendous blessing! You can see I look tons like her, but the girls take after their dad. Who knew I’d ever live with so many cheeky people?

We had a Starbucks in the hospital- one point over homebirth- and so Scott got us some more than once. Yum!

Ellie loves being a big sister. Everyone always asks us if she is jealous. The answer is no. She’s delighted to have another friend!

My friend, Elif, who is the girls’ Turkish aunt, met Sophie when she was five days old.

One week after she was born my mom, Ellie, Sophie and I hopped on a boat and went to a nearby island. You can see Ellie and I drinking our Starbucks on the boat. What a fun day!

We’re still enjoying lots of cuddles and sweet days with our little one. She’s grown a lot and is a sweet, chunky, hiccupy baby.

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Slowing down and learning to be okay with it

Today I’m 30 weeks pregnant with a squirmy little sweetie pie that has certainly reminded me that it’s time to slow down. With a busy and active two-year-old to keep in mind, mentally I had prepared myself for not slowing down until after baby made his or her appearance. I think I forgot how the last ten weeks of pregnancy necessitates slowing down, and was feeling a little too ambitious for my own britches.

This weekend I had a lovely get away weekend. The first night involved getting out to get some shoe shopping done, and then I spent the night at the home of some single girls in my church. The next night those girls watched Ellie for us while Scott and I hopped over to a nearby island to sit and be in love without a toddler requesting to pee every so often or to tell us what the name of every item on the table was called. It was magical. But, even the getting out the door was tough. In fact, by the time I got to the girls’ house Friday night I was dead. Cleaning and cooking and playing with a toddler in the midst of preparing to leave for the weekend is a lot more difficult when hauling around 20 extra pounds!

A few weeks ago I had a forced slow down that should have been a cue that slowing down is inevitable. I was stuck inside for two weeks with a nasty cold that was tough to shake. And, once I was feeling better and ready to get on with my life, I sprained my ankle while walking to the store to finally get caught up on groceries and cooking. The funny thing was that when I sprained my ankle I dared not believe it could be true, so hopped up (figuratively, not literally) off the sidewalk and waddled on with my shopping. Once I got home my ankle was the size of Atlanta and I resumed my cooped up, shut-in lifestyle for another week. It was depressing.

The problem is that I have so little grace with myself. I have pretty high expectations of what I’d like to accomplish on any given day, and it’s beyond frustrating to be inhibited from getting my to-do list done. Moreover, I have a language to keep learning that’s not simply going to implant itself in my mind from living in this country. And as an extrovert I really do enjoy seeing friends! So to be a little more home bound for a few months sounds as appealing as eating cabbage soup for lunch everyday for the rest of my life. No thank you!

However, just this week I’ve had a turn around. I don’t have a choice on this slowing down matter…my dogs are barking! I do have a choice on to accept this slowing down with grace or with resentment. I think I’ll choose the former. I’ll soak up more and more hours of these one-on-one moments reading and building towers with Ellie. I’ll take great pride that my family members are all in clean underwear instead of considering it an at least accomplishment. And I’ll be okay with the fact that my one outing for the day was to the grocery store knowing it’s no easy feat pushing a 30 lb toddler in a stroller, walking a 20 lb belly, and hauling 40 lbs of groceries the one kilometer home. Instead of tackling a to-do list of 15 things I’ll scale down to a to-do list of 3 and be okay with one of them being taking a nap and considering it cuddle time with the little one growing in my body. And, when I do get extra hours of studying language in or get some great quality time with friends I’ll be grateful for the extra special blessing that it is.

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Ellie’s big day

I rarely sit down and blog because when I have free time I pick up the books and study Turkish. Even though I get tons of practice speaking daily with moms at the park or clerks at stores, and I can get by quite well, I want to continue to actually get better and to use more sophisticated language structures. I also want to be able to speak about more complex, or just plain different, subjects. So, that doesn’t leave a ton of time for social media, but as fellow busy humans, I’m sure you understand.

At any rate, we had a fun week last week. A couple of months back Ellie was one of those rare humans who gets spotted out in public and invited to be a model. The manager of a baby clothing company here in Turkey saw her and asked if we’d be interested in letting her be in their summer catalog. Now, as a side note, it’s no secret she’s cute, but Turks cannot get enough of blue eyes and blonde hair, so in their book she’s ten times more beautiful because she has such rare features. So she’s basically the token asian kid you find in kid’s brochures in the States. It doesn’t hurt that she’s cheeky, has the world’s cutest dimples, and is not camera shy. The photographer hasn’t sent me any of the great photos yet, the ones that will make me cry, you know. But here are some of the bloopers (at least that’s what I call them).

 

First of all, I demand to know who taught her this???? Does she think she's a Victoria's Secret diaper model?  Second of all, is this dress not the cutest?

First of all, I demand to know who taught her this???? Does she think she’s a Victoria’s Secret diaper model? Second of all, is this dress not the cutest?

Secondly, it's positively shocking that no one has ever stopped me on the street and asked me to be a model for their catalog.... Or maybe not so shocking? And, again, isn't this dress so cute?
Thirdly, it’s positively shocking that no one has ever stopped me on the street and asked me to be a model for their catalog…. Or maybe not so shocking? Although I could be THE look for goofy maternity moms all around the world with an expression like this! More importantly, isn’t this dress so cute?

This outfit is way too big. Is that going to be the new style for 2014? I guess we all have to wait to find out.

This outfit is way too big. Is that going to be the new style for 2014? I guess we all have to wait to find out.

Here I am buttoning up her dress. She's beautiful.

Here I am buttoning up her dress. She’s beautiful.

Here we are for a little mid-session snuggle. She made it the whole time without whining or crying, but she needed a little mama hug for reassurance. I guess that's excusable for a child that's not yet 2.

Here we are for a little mid-session snuggle. She made it the whole time without whining or crying, but she needed a little mama hug for reassurance. I guess that’s excusable for a child that’s not yet 2. And look at Baby Rank #2 cooking away!

 

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Coming soon to Istanbul…

Well, after a crazy few years we decided 2013 was going to be the year of No Big Changes. So glad we gave ourselves a break from international moving, having babies, changing jobs, changing homes, saying tearful goodbyes, and international flights. However, the Ranks are movers and shakers so we decided to shake things up for 2014. In May we’re expecting another baby! I’m 12 weeks now, and found a great doctor here in Istanbul. She assures me the baby is developing beautifully. I think I’m most excited for Ellie to have a sibling. She’s such a social butterfly that it will do her (and me) well for her to have a friend at home.

This pregnancy has been a tough one, much more difficult than with Ellie. I’ve done my fair share of vomiting, and Ellie learned a new phrase- “give Mommy some space” You know it’s your second when you cannot even vomit in privacy. Yuck! My gag reflex was out of this world, and nothing, nothing sounded good to eat. The fatigue was pretty special. Ellie would hit the sack around 7:30 and I wasn’t far behind. Thankfully around 11 weeks I turned a corner. I feel so much better and the fatigue is bearable. More and more things are sounding yummy to make and eat, and I’m finally able to invite friends over for dinner again. I so love hosting, and missed seeing people!

I had an inkling I was pregnant about a week and a half after the baby was conceived. It was 9:30 in the morning and I wanted nothing more on earth than a juicy, steak burrito (really a durum for those who know what that is). I tried to find one, but no one was open. Later that day, I had one and nothing was more satisfying on the planet. Women who’ve been pregnant know the thrill of having a craving met. It’s bliss. A few days later I had a positive pregnancy test and am still craving beef. Maybe it’s a boy? Guess we’ll all find out in May!

One embarrassing story was one evening I was headed to a girls’ night at our church. On the way I was riding a double decker bus and sat on top. There was a lot of stopping and starting and I had the feeling I was going to vomit. I walked down the stairs and stood by the door to get off at the next stop, but we were stopped at a light. I needed to get off immediately, but couldn’t open my mouth to speak or I would’ve had an accident. Not sure why, but the driver opened the door and I rushed off and vomited in the nearest tree. I looked up and two men were staring at men. I assured them I was pregnant, then vomited again. It was so embarrassing. I’m sure they thought I was drunk or something since I was only 7 weeks at that point and not visibly pregnant.

We’re delighted, thrilled, praising the Lord for this gift!

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One year in Turkey

While on vacation we celebrated 1 year in Turkey. 1 year! It’s been such a wonderful year, full of so much adventure and blessing. Thankfully, since we started off our overseas life living two years in Hungary, we got out most of our culture shock blues while living there. So even though most would consider Turkey a more challenging place to live, we have yet to experience culture shock. Rather, I adore living here! The people are incredibly warm, the language is super fun to learn, and our neighborhood has lots of parks and adventure to keep both Eleanor and I busy. It’s incredibly easy to make friends, at least compared to Hungary, so my extrovert heart is often overflowing with thanksgiving.

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, blessings has been our church. We wanted to be a part of a church where Scott could serve considering the language he’s already acquired and his gifts. But, to throw Ellie and I into a full on Turkish immersion experience early on would be a little much. Our church is an international church in Turkish. We have a lovely blend of people from all over the world, and many Turkish brothers and sisters as well. I’ve been so challenged and blessed by the people in our church. When I think of many of them the word Grace comes to mind. I can’t say I’ve never met such gracious people, but I don’t think I’ve ever been part of such a grace-filled church. Since I struggle understand grace and being a gracious person myself, I’m deeply humbled.

Scott continues to blow me away with his work-ethic and dedication to studies and his work. I don’t think I’ve ever met a hard worker in my life. No wonder he slept so much on vacation! He needed it! He’ll start a grant this fall, and we’re excited to see how this program helps him to finish his PHD. It’s no easy task, my friends.

In case you haven’t heard, I co-authored a book with Scott. You can check it out here!

Even though I helped with that book project, generally I am pretty strict about my time commitments in this season. Basically my three jobs are to support Scott, take care of Ellie and learn Turkish. I’ve not blogged much because I realize every spare moment helps when it comes to language learning. I’ve been waking up at 6am to have time with the Lord, check my email only twice daily, study language for two hours while Ellie naps, and spend the rest of the time hanging with Ellie and keeping up home. We also like to visit friends and I enjoy lessons with my teacher twice weekly. Life is simple in this season since I have so few goals, but that’s okay. I need to learn language, and it will never be easier than it is now.

One year later. Ellie gets the award for most changed.

One year later. Ellie gets the award for most changed.

One year ago!

One year ago!

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