I feel that it may be important to begin this process by looking back at where I've come. Perhaps I'll discover or remember something significant that was long forgotten. Maybe the Lord will reveal just how blessed I am to be where I am at.
The Lord has been faithful in always bringing about growth in my life. He has blessed me with a disposition that (most of the time) has been pretty receptive to growth... but we all have times of resistance, don't we? My time didn't look like everybody's, but I won't get ahead of myself.
I am immensely grateful for the family that God chose for me to be a part of. My two parents are loving, faithful followers of Christ. What a blessing to be raised in such love! Having grown up as the youngest of three sisters, I always have felt the need to compete for approval.
I don't know if anyone in my family realizes that, but now I've just revealed it publicly so we'll see how the repercussions of that statement affect things... oh well. I had the typical "little sister syndrome" growing up. I looked up to my older sisters and wanted to be like them. I'd put on their lipstick and wear there high-heeled shoes when they weren't around. Both sisters were out of the house before I was thirteen, so I did a lot of my major growing up almost like an only child.
It was during those teenage years that the Lord really grabbed my heart and revealed his character to me. As a youth, I became hungry to grow in the depth and knowledge of my savior. Perhaps this is why I am so passionate about youth ministry today... I see what an impressionable age it is.
By the time I entered college I was convinced that the Lord had an extra special plan for my life. But it was in this confidence that came my "resistance" or "rebellion". I had grown up the "good girl" and was very proud of that fact. We are warned throughout God's Scriptures that pride is the fall of man, but the problem with pride is that we are blinded by our own pride, thus inable to recognize when we are infected.
While I (gratefully) was attending an excellent college that I was both excited about and ready to grow at, the opposite sex had got my attention, for me it was one person in particular. And let's just make a long story short by saying that between my own pride and this young man's severe legalism, the self-righteousness that resulted was a rotten stench. I wasn't the type of girl who would resist God by doing drugs or sleeping around, so Satan got to my righteousness. I isolated myself from the world and all things that seemed immoral. It didn't matter if it was a cartoon or a clothing brand or an old hollywood movie. Anything that was remotely worldly was off limits and I sneered at the soul who didn't believe the same. I and my boyfriend were very pious about our conservative belief system. This was my rebellion... During the season of that relationship, I did not recognize myself. I was not Maribeth. I was some legalistic, pompous, self-righteous girl who couldn't figure out why everyone else didn't care about living morally as much as I did. It's a wonder I maintained any friends during those early years of college.
Simpson University ultimately equalled one of the best times of my life. No other time have I been stimulated so intellectually, and challenged to consider global affairs part of my Christian responsibility more than when I was at Simpson. There is no other season in your life where you can live a walk down a hallway from your closest friends. I did some of my best growing there. After the relationship ended with the above said young man, God did a truly amazing work of healing in my life. I began to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit again. I discovered grace apart from the law like I never had before (Romans 6:14, Galations 2:21, Galations 5:4). I discovered the invaluable significance of being culturally relevant for Christ. God used the environment of Simpson to heal me. I no longer feared the world... instead, I saw my God woven throughout every part of it.... yes, even the ugly parts. I loved life again. My identity had been rediscovered.
It was at Simpson where I recognized that God had a call of ministry on my life. It was also at Simpson that I met my husband. People talk about marrying their best friend, and I am just grateful to say that I am as lucky as they. On May 26, 2006, John and I had a beautiful wedding ceremony in Sacramento, California that was filled with family and friends from all over. It felt like a fairy tale. But once I married, I had a new dilemma to face: Real marriage is not as picturesque as the fairy tales. ...As a young Christian woman, marriage always seemed to be the final goal. Well, now I was finally married. Goal accomplished. ....Now what?
I made the mistake of making marriage the final goal.... there was nothing final about it. It was a beginning. I had thrown so much at becoming a wife that, once again, I had to find Maribeth again. I had to come to terms with the fact that just because the fairy tales end with "They all lived happily ever after", it doesn't mean that you ignore the fact that they still continued to live. Let me say, it takes a lot more than romance to make life & marriage work. I think this news comes as a disappointment to a lot of young single women.
John and I had been married just a year, when we left our college town in Redding, a place that to this day holds precious memories of home and friends and wonderful life-changing experiences, to our current home in Visalia, CA. As hard as it was to leave Redding, it was an exciting time for us. It was an adventure. John had been wanting to get involved in youth ministry so desperately. The job that he was holding in Redding (a manager at Buckel clothing company) was so far away from the ministry that he desired to be doing. He would get in trouble for sharing his faith with his coworkers so much to the point where they weren't allowing him to talk about Jesus at all anymore. And we both had been wanting to move in a direction that was with church ministry anyway.
...That was nearly three years ago. It just sounds weird even saying that. I cannot believe it has already been that long. In the last three years we have adjusted to life in small town, agricultural California, threw ourselves into teenagers and youth ministry, we bought a house,
I became pregnant (which then caused my involvement in the youth ministry to go from 110% down to about 8%), and now we are one year deep into parenting the most beautiful, rambunctious little pre-toddler you will ever meet! It has only been recently that I am starting to find my sea legs, getting used to hiring out babysitters, and find a new nitch in the youth ministry again.
It's amazing how even as joyful an experience as becoming a parent may be, you never really realize what freedoms you are giving up. Let me say, it is a lot more than just sleep (though that is hugely significant, I promise). This last year and half was painful for me as I had to literally drop out of everything I was involved in. I was pretty sick during my first trimester of pregnancy, so even after getting through that phase, it made it difficult to jump back in to whatever I was doing. I never fully returned. It's been hard watching my husband go off to summer and winter camps, conferences, and traveling adventures that would normally have me right by his side but instead I kiss him and wave good bye.
...That is what has gotten me to where I am today. I didn't really speak of the various hobbies and passions that developed over the course of my life; those I need to tap back into. But we'll save that for another post another day.
I am learning to accept the changes in my life with pride and joy. I hope I don't seem to undermine the role of parenting in this blog. It is absolutely one of God's greatest miracles. And all who don't want to have children, should really reconsider that decision, but only be willing to weigh out the trade-offs when you are ready.
...It's good reflecting back over my years. Very therapeutic. ...I look forward to writing again. Until next time....