Tag Archives: home

Friends and Family

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Friends and Family

“The same Jesus Who turned water into wine can transform your home, your life, your family, and your future. He is still in the miracle-working business, and His business is the business of transformation.”  ~ Adrian Rogers

My mom just got remarried over the weekend! Congratulations, Mom and Jim!

They are stopping by our place on their way back home and like any good daughter, I’ve been scrambling around the house cleaning like Mom always did when we had company 😉 After all, I don’t want them to think we live the way we actually live with clothing thrown over the back of the couch, dog toys scattered throughout the house, and empty water glasses on every visible surface…

Anyway, the separation of my parents and their lives with their new significant others got me thinking about God, and family, and His power to transform a negative situation into a positive one. I think about my childhood and I remember good times I had with my sisters and brother; kickball in the back yard, bike rides around the cull-de-sac, playing in mud and convincing my youngest sister that it was dark chocolate pudding, roller blading around the neighborhood and the wrap around porch… There were some good times. Life wasn’t all bad, although I wasn’t oblivious to the struggles that were present.

I think what I’ve learned most about family is that it’s not just the people whose genetic make-up you share that count as your family. It’s about the little old ladies across the street whose houses smell funny, but they’ll always invite you in for some Schwan’s Ice Cream. It’s about the friends you had, then and now, who call just to see how you’re doing, and will come and sit in your living room and not do much of anything at all, but be content in spending time with you. It’s about the people you meet in the midst of chaos and struggle who choose to stand by you anyway. My friends are my family, and my family make up a great bunch of friends.

This is important; so much more now that I’m grown, married, and live hundreds of miles away from my little sisters. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish I were closer to them and my brother. But I’ve seen first-hand how God can take something broken and hurting and use the pieces to build this brand new thing that’s more complex and beautiful than anyone could have imagined it to be. I imagine the fictitious bird, the phoenix, bursting in to flames, and then rising majestically and beautifully from the ashes.

If you think about this transformation in regards to Christianity, you see that the very best things, the only things worth living for come out of death. In marrying my husband, I died to my single self, and became one with him in body and spirit. In the separation of my parents, two new couples emerged with the blessings of step-siblings (and I’m still the oldest 😉 ) From the pain and adversity that came with the divorce came faith the likes of which I have never seen displayed before by my parents. By the death of Jesus Christ came salvation for my short comings and failures; righteousness from the torture and death of an innocent and pure man.

Some times, strong things or people have to take a hit so that a weaker being can survive to be strengthened in the future. In the same way, sometimes, weak things have to die to make way for stronger things to emerge in their place.

I see God working in ways I never really understood but I see now that he had a plan for my family’s mistakes; he had in mind for us all to be stronger, more courageous, and more faithful than we had previously thought possible. And I will praise Him every day for the rest of my life for that.

Left to Right: Mitch, my husband; Step-dad, Jim; Mom, Amy; and me

Small Group

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Small Group

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25

So a while back I mentioned wanting to start up a small group Bible study. Well guess what? I did it! Or I suppose I should say WE did it. Mitch and I open our house to a total of 3 other people at the moment, and we’re hoping we can continue to grow and fellowship with as many people who feel lead to come. 🙂 This coming Tuesday will be the 4th week of our group’s existence and I can’t say enough how proud, blessed, and pleased I am each Tuesday evening as we share scripture and life experiences with one another, growing in spirit and wisdom. I’ll take a picture or two of our next get-together so you can see us all in “action” 🙂

God is good and we would be in a very dark and abysmal place without Him as Lord of our lives. That is what makes our small group study such an amazing blessing; we have found a group of people who desire God and want to walk with the Spirit. I just thought I’d share with you our topic of discussion for next week and give you all some things to ponder this weekend.

We will be discussing the subject of “Choosing to be Servants”.

1. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12– a Cord of THREE strands

  • Is God an integral part of your marriage? Your relationship?
  • If not, why?

2. Ephesians 5:21-33– Biblical Submission: Submitting your right to be right because Jesus is right. 😉

  • What is your first thought when you hear the word “submit”?
  • What does Biblical submission look like to you?
  • Is your marriage following this pattern outlined for us in Ephesians?
  • Do you believe that order and unity under God’s design for marriage are truly more important than demanding to get the decisions “right” based on pride rather than righteousness?
  • If not, why?

3. James 4:1-10– Adulterous People

  • Women, how is submission to God essential in being able to submit to your spouse? And do you Biblically submit to your husband?
  • Men, how is your submission to God critical to you being an effective spiritual/ household leader?

4. Ephesians 2:2-3– Objects of Wrath

  • Are you at war with God?
  • If yes, is that putting you at war with your spouse?
  • What steps can you take to put yourselves at peace with God? With each other?

5.  Romans 5:1-2– Finding Peace

  • How does this scripture relate to your marriage?
  • Do you believe that peace with God or conversely, war with God will ultimately lead to peace or war within your marriages? Why or why not?
  • The fruits of our faith and submission to God’s will are peace, grace, access to God, the hope of Heaven. Do you see your relationship with God bearing these fruits? What about in your marriage?

That is our basic outline for study next week. I’m truly excited about the discussion the scriptures will inspire and the many insights that will be brought to the table. Think on these things for yourselves. If you are NOT married, think about these things in relation to what you hope to find in a future mate. Are you looking for someone based on what is scripturally sound? Are you setting yourself up for failure by going against God’s plan for marriage/relationships? What can you do to change or enhance your relationships according to scripture?

Enjoy your weekend and leave me some feedback on your thoughts/ideas of marriage/relationships and how they are or are not similar to those outlined to the Bible.

Updates

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Updates

“She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” Proverbs 31:18

So far at our new house, I haven’t really done anything to make it “mine.” I did repaint the bathroom in the master bedroom, which I feel is a vast improvement solely based on the fact that the color no longer distorts the lighting when I do my makeup. Three cheers for NOT looking like a clown on Sunday mornings. It actually wasn’t that bad before, but the periwinkle/lavender with chrome and white accents it has going on now is much more my style.

We are discussing/planning to replace the sliding door to the back yard and build on a deck/patio area! This is a major project- the first one we have encountered as a married, home-owning couple thus far so I pray God gives us the resolve to finish it, as well as the finances to complete the project and do it well, and that God just destroys my pride so that we can get through the building project without putting a strain on our marriage… We’ve built things together before for our shows in college, but the infamous “Sweeney Todd Wagon” was just down and out an almost relationship destroyer… or at the very least, it tested us both in patience and communication.

Also, when I start making Thanksgiving and Christmas posts respectively two months early, I’m not crazy, it’s just that with the deployment looming ever nearer, I’ve decided to mega condense all of our holidays as the NC Elstons, so that we get to celebrate them ALL together.

That being said, I need to start planning my Thanksgiving dinner! (And figure out some way to have some football on since we don’t have cable TV) Football aside, I have never cooked a turkey before so this will be an interesting experience. I DO however have wonderful friends who are foodies and HAVE gone all out and made the whole spread before, so I’m looking forward to learning from their expertise!

Lately I’ve been in to the whole DIY thing with making my own cleaning/gardening supplies without using so many harsh chemicals and going toward more of a natural/non-toxic route. May I just say that baking soda and white distilled vinegar are my new favorite things!

Here is a recipe I used for my version of Windex:

  • 1 tsp. Dawn dish detergent
  • 6 Tbsp. White distilled vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. Jet dry solution
  • 1 empty Febreeze bottle; fill the rest of the way with water. Shake before each use
  • I got the original recipe from Pinterest here. I tweaked it to add the jet dry for a streak-free shine. Making your own household cleaning products is far and away cheaper than buying the brand name stuff from the store, and I liked this particular recipe because it was free of ammonia, which frequently irritates my eyes and my lungs. I’ve been finding/using lots of helpful cleaning tips found via Pinterest and you may follow me by searching “edenelston” on the site.

Anyway, that’s my update of sorts. Check back to my page entitled “Home Repairs” for more hints, tips, and pictures of our work on our new home!

Thanks for reading, and God bless!

So Simple, It’s Complex

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So Simple, It’s Complex

I’ve made a recent discovery; faith in God is so simple, it’s difficult. That is, so simple, we over-complicate it… or I do, anyway…

I’ve been doing a study of the various names for God used in scripture and how the various Hebrew words and their meanings all bear significance in identifying God for who He is. For example, “El” was a Hebrew word meaning “god” little “g”. But we see something in scripture that can’t be explained by the “rational thinking” people of that time- El gets hyphenated and added to in order to reveal characteristics of the one, true God. For example, Elohim- describes the nature of God and his plurality, yet unity; El-Shaddai-God Almighty; El-gibbor- Mighty, or Heroic God; El-de’a- the God who knows; El-emet- God of truth; El-kabod- God of glory… All of these are used to refer to the same God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The only problem is that I often times forget that my God is the God of ALL THINGS, and not just the God of some, or most things… I forget that I don’t have to struggle, or go it alone, because I have God on my side.

Too often I ask myself why I experience periods of doubt and uncertainty instead of just leaning on God and relying on His promises… the answer is simple: instead of turning to God, I turn inward and attempt to control that which is beyond my comprehension. It’s like when our lawn mower mysteriously went on the fritz (We bought it in April, so there’s really no reason for it to not be working…) We tried everything… I replaced the air-filter, Mitch siphoned the old gas, and we added new fresh gas, we checked the oil, we changed the spark plug… We consulted the owner’s manual… Now all that is left for us to do since after all our attempts to fix it have failed is to contact the manufacturer and have it replaced or exchanged…

As annoying as the whole lawn-mower ordeal is, what it’s taught me is that I have virtually zero knowledge of small engine repair and/or maintenance… So why do I continue to pretend I do rather than just consult the maker of the product? Why in my life, do I assume I can deal with the stresses and problems that crop up on my own without regard to the One who made me? You see where I’m going with this? I’m not saying to call Husqvarna every time you struggle with anxiety or depression, but I am saying that when there’s a problem in your life you can’t fix, consult your manufacturer God.

Huh… What do you know? I’ve taken an annoying homeowner’s issue and used it as a teaching opportunity… maybe I can be a teacher after all… 🙂 Blessings to you all!

Homecoming

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Homecoming

“Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” Psalm 105:2-4

Saturday night, I was as tightly wound as one could possibly be. I couldn’t sleep despite my best efforts, so I did everything from sipping coffee and reading, to watching TV and eating a bowl of Cheerios (which I tend to go through cycles of craving and then wanting nothing to do with them…) I paced around the house with my Clorox wipes, cleaning every possible surface, and sweeping the floors until there was nothing left to be swept. I styled my hair, and put on a cute (but comfy and loungey) outfit, and I waited. Right around midnight, I started getting the texts from my husband, updating me on his travel status; “We just got off the plane.” “We are boarding the bus” “We are waiting for the bus to leave…” “The bus just left…” “We just got back to base.”…

I grabbed my keys and my purse, and my military ID and I headed off to base… I’m not the greatest driver, and I’m aware of that fact… So as I drove in the dark, the anxiety and nerves really put me on edge and I started to ask myself if I still remembered how to get there, or if I was speeding, because every car that showed up behind me was a cop (bizarre, I know, but it was 2:30 in the morning and there wasn’t much traffic)

Me and Mitch, age 17

I couldn’t believe how nervous I was… My husband and I have been together since we were seventeen, and he still gives me butterflies, clammy hands, and irrationally uncontrollable  giggles. I started checking my hair in the rear view mirror, and giggling to myself, because I realized that his standards of appearance were probably really low, considering the past 6 weeks he had spent with a bunch of other sweaty, grimy, smelly marines, and I was thankful that the bar wasn’t set too high… After all, there’s only so much my over-caffeinated brain could process at that hour, and I was lucky to have been awake enough to attempt “cuteness” at all.

I finally pulled into a parking lot and saw a brightly lit tent and a banner welcoming home all of 1/10. I thought back to the way I felt when he first left… I had braced myself early on for a long and lonely 6 weeks, but honestly, looking back, it hadn’t been as difficult as I had thought it would be. I attribute that to clinging to God’s word, and good friends who kept me busy. I looked around at the groups of marines standing all around, and I spotted him; He had gotten incredibly tan, and if it is even possible, lost weight. I didn’t know what to say to him… I kept trying to think of something profound, or at the very least, sentimental, and all I managed was, “Hey!”

Mitch had all his gear on his back and he signaled for me to unlatch the trunk so he could load it in to the car. I just watched him… (and felt a little like a stalker) I watched the way he moved, the way he interacted with his fellow marines, his impatient gestures, as he waited for the last flight to get in… It was surreal, seeing him so close again. I could have sworn I was dreaming. And as much as I wanted to leap from the car and throw my arms around his neck and never let go, I managed to contain myself until they were finally released to go home.

He decided he wanted to drive home (surprise…not) and I had to laugh at his amazement at how easily the steering wheel of our 2001 Hyundai Accent turned as compared to that of a 7 ton… We talked and caught up the whole way home, and our doggies welcomed him with kisses and puppy hugs.

Now it’s Monday and time to get back to the old grind. He headed in to work today at noon, and as he was getting ready to leave, I asked myself, “Well, he’s home… Now what?” Because the whole time he had been away, I had been studying God’s plan for my marriage, trying to grow in spirit. I had been making daily trips to the gym for workouts, lifting weights to kill some of the anxiety. I had thrown myself full force into cleaning the house and making sure it was immaculate for his return. I had groomed both the doggies and myself, and I had exhausted Netflix… I had reached the summit of the roller coaster… Now what? I honestly felt like I had done all there was to do.

HA! What comes after the first summit of a roller coaster? THE REST OF THE RIDE! I was suddenly hit with the thought that this “work-up” in California had only been the beginning; a test run, if you will… My ride is far from over. I’ve learned a lot about how and how NOT to handle my marriage over the past 40 days. I had uncovered new truth behind the scriptures, and gained new wisdom, but my test hasn’t even been issued yet. Now is the time when I need to hold on to the Lord even tighter as we descend from the “first hill” of our military roller coaster. As challenging as this period was, and as well as I felt I handled it, there is still much more to come. Now is the time I need to really start putting in to practice all the things I’ve gained. I’ve learned how to handle the loneliness, I’ve learned how to cope with the anxiety, and I’ve learned to trust God and pray continually. Which brings me to Psalm 105. Verse 4 says to “seek his face always,” not “seek his face when you feel you may struggle but as soon as things calm down, go back to the way you were before you knew how to trust the Lord…” I’m just beginning. And as a Christian, I feel like an infant who’s just learned how to crawl. I have a long way before I’m walking, and there are many challenges I’ve yet to face, but I have a start. I have the building blocks that it is going to take to get me through the deployment. What I need to do now is not let my focus drift from the Lord. I need to remember that God is ALWAYS my number one, and my first and foremost priority; without Him, everything else is a sham.

I will sing to the Lord. I will give him praise for bringing my husband home safely. I will give him glory, for he has brought me through a trying season, and I am stronger than at the start. My heart rejoices in His holy name because I know I can accomplish all things through Him. I will continue to seek the Lord and his strength because I have no strength of my own. I will seek His face, always… because without him, I am nothing.

Praise be to the God of all creation, who comforts and guides for now, and all eternity. May He never leave my side, nor I His. Amen.

“..The two will become one…”

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“..The two will become one…”

“So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matt. 19:6

Our honeymoon in NYC

I’ve been reading through Matthew again, and I’ve spent the past 5 days just working through this one passage in Matthew. In this specific passage, Jesus is discussing marriage with some Pharisees:

[4]”Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female,[5] and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? [6] So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God joined together, let man not separate.”

This never made more sense than when I read it from the perspective of a wife waiting for her husband’s safe return. NO WONDER it hurts so much when he is away! We are of one spirit! Our collective heart is stretched over 2,537 miles, 1 day and 16 hours road trip, and 2 hours time difference!

But on a more serious note, It really got me doing some philosophical thinking. In essence, “man” is technically causing my husband and I to be separated in the physical sense. We have little and sparatic communication, and virtually no telephone calls. And for a split second, I resented my husband’s job. It just isn’t right for a husband and wife to spend so much time apart!

But as I pondered the deeper meaning of Jesus’ words, I realized what he meant was that marriage is a sacred and holy union. And it was established from the beginning by God, creator of heaven and earth! Over and over again throughout Genesis, we see a pattern of God creating, and looking at his creation, and saying “it is good.” But look in Genesis 2:18- God says for the first time that “it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

We aren’t supposed to be apart! We aren’t supposed to be alone. But take this one step further, and look at what God used to create Eve; He took Adam’s rib- close to his heart, protected by his arm. Not a bone from his foot, symbolizing his dominance over Eve. Not a piece of bone from his skull symbolizing Eve’s superiority to Adam. He took a bone from his side, to symbolize her roll of “helper,” of friend and supporter. This should cause women to feel honored, and humbled- that they were created because God knew from the beginning that it wasn’t right for Adam to have to try to make it through life on his own; that our husbands need us!

We as women should strive to be better than Eve! Not looking to strip the reigns of Godly leadership from our husbands, but standing by them in good times and in bad, supporting their decisions, and respecting their various obligations, trusting God to lead us through our husbands.

And I came to the conclusion that my role right now as the wife of a marine is to be played with the utmost reverence, respect, and honor of his obligation and duty of service to our country, both at home and abroad. I realized that the separation was much harder on my husband, as he was far from anything comforting or familliar. The best thing I can do for my husband, miles apart though we may be, is let him know that I’m still “on his side.” I must let him know that despite the distance, I vow to remain faithful and upright, serving him and God, because I know that being “submissive” doesn’t mean that I’m inferior; it means that I willingly sacrifice my right to be right, because I trust that Jesus was right when he spoke to the Pharisees as recorded in the book of Matthew, and that he still is right today.