Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Stacey (page 2 of 5)

The Beauty of My Wife

** This is written as part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday **

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Today I just wanted to follow up on yesterday’s anniversary thoughts with a brief note on the beauty of my wife. Regardless of anyone else’s evaluation of her, I know Stacey to be the most beautiful woman in the world. I know that because she lets me see her heart. I have the unique privilege, of all the men on the earth, to know my wife intimately on a personal, emotional, and spiritual level.

Here’s how the appreciation of beauty is related to relationship, specifically friendship:

The world thinks we idealize our friend, and tells us that love is proverbially blind. Not so: it is only love that sees…. We only see what dull eyes never see at all. If we wonder what another man sees in his friend, it should be the wonder of humility, not the supercilious wonder of pride. He sees something which we are not permitted to witness. Beneath and amongst what looks only like worthless slag, there may glitter the pure gold of a fair character. That anybody in the world should be got to love us, and to see in us not what colder eyes see, not even what we are but what we may be, should of itself make us humble and gentle in our criticism of others’ friendships. Our friends see the best in us, and by that very fact call forth the best from us. — Hugh Black, Friendship

If that is true in friendship, then how much more in marriage. Beneath whatever flaws anyone else might see, what I see is ‘the pure gold of a fair character… the very best’ in her. Love is not blind; love sees truly, more than what others are permitted to witness. As we have lived together, talked together, and seen each other in all manner of circumstances these past seven years, I consider it a privilege like no other to be granted access to my wife’s heart–to see what makes her so beautiful. The more I come to know her, the more I stand back and rejoice in her beauty.

I’m sure you men who are married would say the same of your wives. To see her heart is to see something so tender, so precious, so gentle and loving and kind that it is hard to put words to it.

I think that in experiencing this, we’re beginning to taste something of the heart of God. 1 Peter 3.4 says to women: ‘Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.’ Where once I spoke of ‘inner beauty’ with a vague idea of what it meant, after living with my beautiful wife these past seven years, I think my hard-heart (and hard-head!) is finally beginning to get it. And what I see is glorious. It makes me love my wife like I never thought I could. And it makes me love my God even more.

An Open Letter to My Bride on our 7th Anniversary

Today is our seventh wedding anniversary. To celebrate God’s goodness to me in giving me my wife, I wrote the following letter to read to her in church (since it happens to be on a Sunday). There are a few inside jokes here (she hates when I try to be funny, and she doesn’t like my attempts at poetry), but I did write it for public consumption, so I thought I’d post it here. I’m so thankful to God for her. His wisdom and grace and kindness to me are manifest here, in my wife, more than anywhere else (apart from Christ, obviously). So here is the letter I wrote to her for our 7th anniversary.

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My Bride, my wife, my lover, my friend,

Don’t worry, I will try to keep this short. I will endeavour with everything in me to not embarrass you.

I will not try my poetry, I will not sing or dance,
I won’t try to be funny, that wouldn’t be romance,
for I know that a show is not what you would like,
and my trying to rhyme would probably seem trite.
And I would not make little of your love for me
because you’ve impressed me these four years and three…

Okay, I’ll stop. But I do want to publicly thank God for you. I remember the moment you appeared in your white dress at the end of the aisle in that little church in Welland. I think my heart actually stopped for moment. I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness to me. That was seven years ago today.

Bride & Groom

You have been a faithful friend, confidant, and support to me through seven years, five jobs, four houses, three children, two churches, and one argument. Okay, maybe more than that. But you’ve loved me, listened to me, supported me, challenged me in all kinds of good ways, and breathed God’s strength into me through your words of encouragement. We have been through much inconsistency these few years together, but you have shown me the meaning of consistency and faithfulness in your love for me.

According to Matt Chandler, Adam’s words when he first saw Eve in the Eden could be paraphrased as ‘She’s mine!’ After seven years of marriage I’ve never felt that more strongly for you. I rejoice at how you ‘fit’ me. You free me up for gospel-labour, you make my home a joyful place to be, you diligently and biblically mother my children, and you constantly remind me that I’m to be leading our family to Christ from a heart that genuinely wants me to lead. I treasure you for how God has made you.

I treasure your wisdom and joy, your humour and courage, your insight and truthfulness, your weakness, and the faith that overcomes it. I love hearing you pray. I love kissing you. I love calling you mine. I love that we think alike when it comes to just about everything.

The moment I decided to marry you was the moment I realized that you made me love God more. You still do. How could I ever thank you for that?

I can’t believe it has been seven years. I can’t believe you still let me hold your hand and call you my own. I can’t believe I’m still such a bad husband. I can’t believe God has given me such a precious gift in you. But I can believe that you are God’s gift to me. You are bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, the source of just about every single blessing in my life. And I praise and thank God for you.

What I thought I saw when you appeared on our wedding day was God’s goodness. What I’ve come to see every day since is that being married to you is a continual experience of coming to understand just how full of wisdom and grace God’s goodness really is. I had no idea then; I’m just beginning to see now.

I thank my God for the woman he has made you, for how you reflect him, and how you make me love him.

Thank you for being my wife,
With all my love,

Julian

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** I decided to post this letter here as a part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday. I cannot help thinking of my wife and how God has blessed me through her whenever I reflect on his goodness to me over the course of my life. **

Church Plant Update: Meetings Begin!

We are very excited to announce that our church plant core group will begin meeting on the evening of Sunday, October 3, at 5pm!

Here are the details in a summary:

  • Where is it? The first two weeks (October 3 and October 10) we will meet at Julian & Stacey’s house. Subsequent weeks will be held at Nabil & Tania’s house. Contact us for addresses & directions.
  • When is it? We will meet at 5pm and hope to be done our official meeting at about 6:10. There will, of course, be time for fellowship after for as long as you can stay.
  • What’s the purpose? Three things. (1) We want to dive in to the Word of God together and ask, ‘What does God call his church to? What kind of church does he bless?’ We’ll be studying the book of Acts together. (2) We want to pray together. We want to make prayer instrumental, not supplemental to all we do as a church. (3) To get to know each other even better.
  • Can visitors come? Absolutely! This meeting is for everyone who is committed, but also for those who are just hoping to find out about us and to figure out if they want to join us.
  • What else is in the works? Lots of things! They will be announced as plans develop… but the best way to find out is just to come join with us!

Please contact me for more information.

See you Sunday night at 5pm, God willing!

Julian

Things That Never Get Old

I took the morning off today. I took my girls for a long, long walk in their stroller, then we went to the park and played with the swings and the slide, ran around like crazy people, and played in the sand.

As we were playing, I was filled with joy and delight in all that God has given me in this life. I am overwhelmed with blessing in my life.

At the exact same time, however, I felt twinges of sadness. Why, you ask? Because I can’t remember the last time I took time and just played with my girls like that.

Life has been so busy lately. We bought a house, began renovating, and found the work that needed to be done was a lot more than we had anticipated. That, combined with the usual September busy-ness at church, has made for a long stretch of working every waking moment.

I don’t like that. Busy is not what I was created for. It robs me of joy and peace and makes me frantic and tired. It brings constant temptation to stress and anxiety (a.k.a. pride and disbelief).

Busy is not what life is for. Being busy causes me to miss out on good things. Important things. The best things.

Lately, after our day of prayer, I thought to myself, ‘I never get tired of praying. I never pray and then think that it was a waste of time. It never gets old. It’s always worth it.’ Today I had that same thought while I was playing with my girls.

That got me to thinking, what are the things in life that are always worth making time for? What are the things that never get old? What are the things you can do with your time that are always worth the investment? Here’s my first attempt at a list.

  1. Prayer — private, family, corporate prayer with brothers and sisters from church
  2. Time in the word — reading on my own, studying for preaching, sitting under preaching
  3. Going on dates with my wife — we generally just get away somewhere where we can sit and talk… I can never get enough of that
  4. Playing with my girls — especially when I haven’t wasted all my energy on everything else so that I’m too tired to enjoy them
  5. Eating meals with my family — time sitting, talking, learning fighter verses, hearing the funny things that kids think to say…
  6. Time at ‘my’ Starbucks — not that Starbucks is worth the time, but when I’m there I have a good book or just my Bible, sometimes my list of people to pray for… I sit, enjoy coffee, the change of scenery, meet with God and seek opportunities to share the gospel with the people I know there. It’s always refreshing.
  7. Preaching — I’ve found that even when I preach and feel like it was a ‘bad sermon’, I hear reports from people of how the Spirit is working in their heart. His word will not return to him void, so it’s never a waste of time to preach.
  8. Being with people — one of the saddest things that can happen in my job and in life in general is when I get so busy with ‘stuff’ that I don’t have time to be with people and open up my heart to them and have them do the same with me. The more time I have to just be with people, the more I’m amazed at how I see God in that person and the more I’m blessed by them.

These are the things that I love. I’ll never get to the end of my life and think, ‘Man, I wish I had spent less time doing those things.’ Would you have the same things on your list? What would you add / change / delete from your list?

The question I suppose I should ask is, ‘What are the things in my life that detract from these things?’ And then, is that necessary? Is it what is best?

I’m praying tonight that my God gives me grace to prioritize and wisdom to know how to find better balance so that I don’t miss out on the very things I’m put on this earth to enjoy.

I Have Got to Get Me One of These…

The world’s largest (and most insane, I would add) alarm clock. Well, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to to sleep through this.

I’m just not sure what Stacey would think of it…

{HT: The Blazing Center}

Proverbs 18 and Your Tongue

Last night at GFC we read the Scriptures publicly (like we aim to do at all our meetings). We’ve been reading through the book of Proverbs one chapter at a time at our prayer meetings. This week we found ourselves in Proverbs 18.

When Stacey and I got home we spent some time looking at a few of these proverbs again. I was really challenged to think about the tongue again. The Scriptures pull no punches when making statements about how we speak, how it affects others, how it reflects our heart, and how we will be held accountable for our words.

Here’s a little collection of proverbs (just from Proverbs 18) on the tongue. Note both the negative and the positive results you can reap from simply speaking. I hope it helps you to carefully consider how to use your tongue today.

  • A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
  • The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
  • A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.
  • A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.
  • The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.
  • If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
  • An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
  • The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
  • A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarrelling is like the bars of a castle.
  • From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.
  • Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
  • The poor use entreaties, but the rich answer roughly.

Remembering Five Years Ago

* UPDATE, 3/12/09 * The embedded media player has been disabled because some silly people still use Internet Explorer and apparently it was playing the music all the time. You can download the mp3 here and listen to it with your own player. Sorry for the inconvenience! *

1833 days ago, I made the best decision I’ve ever made. On January 24, 2004, I proposed to the love of my life. I was astonished when she said ‘Yes.’

Come to think of it, she never actually did say ‘Yes,’ but she did hug me, so I took that as a good sign. Turns out I was right to assume she meant to say yes because she actually married me. By the grace of God, we were married that summer (June 19, 2004), after 5 excruciatingly long months of engagement and anticipation of taking my bride.

Tonight my bride is out of town with some of her friends on a mini-retreat of sorts. That leaves me at home alone listening to love songs and pining after her. Seriously.

In particular, ‘Astonished,’ by Kepano Green caught my attention tonight as I was finishing up the dishes. It tells the story of meeting a girl, falling in love–being amazed by love–and beginning a life together. That gave me pause to reflect back on the days when I first began to fall in love with my wife.

I think their word is ultimately suitable. I was ‘astonished.’ I remember that after each date, when I was driving home, I would think to myself, ‘How can this be real? How could God have blessed me with this amazing woman? Why in the world does she seem to like me too?’

After we’d been dating for about a month or two, I wrote her a poem. I never showed it to her until the night when I proposed, though, because it talked about us being married, beginning a family, and loving Christ together till old age. I waited to show her to protect her heart, but I knew from the outset that she was the one for me.

I don’t think it took Adam very long to figure out that Eve was his completion (Gen 2.22-23), and it didn’t take me long either. I know it doesn’t work that way for some people, but I knew as soon as I met Stacey that God had made her to be my glory (1 Cor 11.7).

Tonight, five years later, I remain astonished at no less than three things.

  1. I’m astonished that she still loves me.
  2. Time after time I have sinned against my bride. Over and over again some horrid sin has overtaken me, or some deep-rooted sinful heart idolatry has been exposed, and I’ve thought, ‘That’s it; she can’t possibly love me anymore. I’m absolutely unlovable.’ But every single time she has shown me love and forgiveness that I can’t justify or rationalize. Her love for me has been gospel-love: undeserved and overwhelming. It is enduring and steadfast and forgiving. I’m astonished she still loves me.

  3. I’m astonished that I could let a love so extraordinary become ‘ordinary.’
  4. Days turn into weeks turn into months turn into years. As time goes past, the things that were once unexpected become expected. Things that were novel become mundane. I begin to expect things from her that I have no right expecting. I don’t know how, but somehow in my apathy, I get used to ‘being in love.’ The admonition I once found superfluous has now become a rebuke: ‘Rejoice in the wife of your youth’ (Prov 5.18). God forgive me for taking for granted a love that you have so graciously given.

  5. I’m astonished at the wisdom and mercy of God in giving her to me.
  6. Of all the lessons I have learned over the past five years since I have proposed, this may well be the one I’ve learned the most number of times: God made her for me. She is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She is the one created to be at my side. She completes me. She is perfect for me. The wisdom of God in giving her to me is mind-blowing. The areas where she is strong compensate for my weaknesses; her few flaws are in areas where I can assist her, by God’s grace. And those areas where we are both weak have caused me to grow in my sanctification in ways that I never would have been motivated to, had God not given her to me. Day after day, year after year, I’m increasingly astonished at the wisdom of God in creating her to be the perfect partner for me.

Praise God for his grace! Tonight I’m praising him for my wife.

Click here to go to Kepano Green’s site and buy their CDs. Here are the words to their song ‘Astonished.’

Oh the first time I wrote your name on a paper, you were astonished
And we went down and ate by the sea and there you were astonished
When in so many words, I told you how my heart was yours
And me, the stranger, finding favour, there… in your eye

We watched stars and they crossed there in the sky, look there, well I was astonished
And you grew in my heart every night and I was astonished
So I wrote in the air how I was feeling, you wondered what I’d said
Though unaware we were beginning something that would never, never end

I have evidence framed in my room… there you stood so astonished
When I asked you to be with me soon, oh, you were astonished
And I promise you there, we were not dreaming, diamonds were on the sea
And we were aware that this was beginning something that was surely meant to be

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