Behind a Happy Marriage

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I’ve got a question for you. Married or not, think back to a season when you were unattached. At that time, what came to mind when you thought about marriage? What did you imagine married life would be like? Personally, I pictured lots of Instagram-worthy adventures, a perfect balance of laughter and tender “sharing our hearts” conversations, fancy date nights, a nice house, beautiful kids, and singing in perfect harmony while cooking together in our could-be-a-screenshot-from-Pinterest kitchen. And also I would be lying if I didn’t include the presupposition that we would constantly have the hots for each other. But mostly, I imagined that we would be completely and perfectly and incandescently happy together.

Fast forward to the present. Not to scare you single folks, buuuut….marriage hasn’t looked much like what I imagined, although we do laugh A LOT and our house is a total hidden gem. It’s not that our marriage has sucked, because it hasn’t! It just hasn’t lived up to my (unrealistic) expectations. We’ve been on a handful of really great adventures, but my photos of them are rarely anything special. And we haven’t had nearly as many fancy date nights as I had anticipated. Daniel can’t carry a tune in a bucket, our less-than-impressive kitchen can only fit 2-3 people in it at a time, and we’re still waiting on those kids. We’ve had harder conversations than I could have ever imagined anyone having with the person they love most in the entire world.

But guess what?

We are still super happy.

Wanna know what’s made all the difference for us, behind the scenes?

1. Sometimes, we go to bed angry. But we always go to bed together.
“Don’t go to bed angry” is one of the most repeated pieces of advice I’ve heard from my parents’ generation about how to succeed in a marriage. But there have been multiple nights that we have gotten absolutely nothing accomplished by staying awake. It was better in the long run for us both to shut up, sleep on it, and pick the conversation back up the next day when we were in a better frame of mind. However, we have always gone to bed at the same time, even when we’re frustrated with each other.

2. We check in with each other.
Every Sunday, typically, we walk through our weekly calendars together: what’s going on for each of us at work, lunch plans with friends or coworkers, church responsibilities, weekend activities, etc. This ensures that we’re on the same page for the week and don’t accidentally double-book ourselves or each other. We also text and email throughout the work week, sometimes to touch base about the day and sometimes just to say “Hey, I love you!”

3. We prioritize time together AND apart.
In our busy seasons, we make a point of planning evenings at home together, even if it’s something as simple as making a big bowl of popcorn and watching through the Harry Potter series (which we do every fall, by the way). But we also intentionally put guys-only and girls-only activities on the calendar too! For example, Daniel has a long-standing Buffalo Wild Wings night every other Thursday, and I usually hang out with the girls on Sunday nights.

4. We ask for help.
When our relationship starts drowning under the weight of selfishness, hurtful words, unmet expectations…really just sin in general, we don’t try to weather the storm on our own. We bring in the cavalry. We don’t confide in anyone who would encourage us to do things like punish or ignore the other person, take our rings off, flirt with a coworker, or take a break from each other. Instead, we humbly invite the advice and prayers of our closest friends who have a healthy view of biblical marriage and will lovingly call out sin, challenge us, and cheer us on.

5. We do ministry together.
The really funny thing is throughout our marriage, we’ve discovered that we don’t have much in common. (Those of you who know both of us well probably just snort-laughed.) We have different taste in music, movies, food, hobbies…almost everything. But one thing we have in common is our love for the Lord and our church family, and that is one of the strongest foundations (if not THE strongest foundation) you can have in any relationship. We have individual ways that we use our gifts to build up the church, of course, but we’ve experienced some of our greatest joys in serving together over the years at the BCM, leading multiple small groups, and helping facilitate Lakepoint’s marriage and pre-marriage ministries. 


Our happiness isn’t dependent on the state of our finances, where we’ve lived, the health of our relationships with friends and family, physical appearance, our ability to start a family, or even overall compatibility. Every one of those things has changed multiple times since we met, and if we tried to find happiness or security or comfort in any of them (especially compatibility), we would be severely disappointed.

Happiness can’t be found in things that are constantly changing. It must, instead, be found in something unchanging. Something constant. Steady. Unshakable. Enduring.

Our happiness in marriage is fully dependent on one thing – or, rather, one Person. 

Our gracious, never-changing, ever-faithful God. ♥

 

 

 

Small Biz Spotlight: The Dear Fox

This post is the latest in a new segment I introduced on the blog: Small Biz Spotlight! As an aspiring small business owner myself, I know a few of the struggles associated with running your own shenanigans, especially when it comes to marketing and building rapport. I want to do whatever I can to be an advocate for other people like me. Thanks for reading, and thanks for supporting small businesses!

I’m not lying when I say that Jimi Hightower is easily one of the coolest people I know. She’s the kind of person you become friends with pretty much instantly, and she makes you feel like the most important person around whenever you’re together. We met years ago through our husbands, who were in a big homegroup bible study together, and even though she and her husband Stephen moved to Seattle not long after Daniel and I got married, we’ve stayed in touch off and on. We even got to spend a fun day with them on the tail end of our Alaska trip a few years ago!

Jimi is insanely creative and talented, and she was one of the first people I thought of when I had the idea for the Small Biz Spotlight. In 2016, she and her friend Sarah started an Etsy business called The Dear Fox, and I can’t wait to show you all the cute stuff they make!


Embracing The Chaos: When did you start The Dear Fox? Was it on Etsy first, then Instagram? Where does the majority of your business come from now?
The DEAR/DEER Fox (Sarah): Jimi and I decided to start the Dear Fox one rainy morning at her apartment in Seattle. We love to craft together, especially in a town like Seattle where the majority of the time it is cold, raining, and grey. Jimi taught me to embroider in 2016 and I’ve been doing it since. That morning, we brainstormed names and came up with the animals we most closely identify with and played around with our options, and The Dear Fox was born! The majority of our business I believe is trafficked from Instagram to our Etsy. We have been vendors at a few events, which cultivated more followers via Instagram, who were then sent over to our Etsy for our full collection.
The Dear FOX (Jimi): Back in grad school, we picked out spirit animals for our girl gang and they just kinda stuck. Sarah’s a deer (Reindeer) and I’m a fox. When it came around to the arduous challenge of naming our business, we thought incorporating our spirit animals would be a cute way to make our mark. The Deer Fox was taken, so after playing around with spellings and word arrangements, we finally settled on The Dear Fox, which ended up being cute in its own way. We started on Etsy and then utilized Instagram as a way to market our business. Originally, the majority of our business came through Etsy, but Sarah has been takin’ our wares to craft shows in Tennessee, and so now most of our business is coming from those sales. Etsy can be really challenging because there’s SO much and it’s hard to make it to those first few pages. It’s really important to market what you’re selling in such a way that people will search for it.

ETC: So what made you want to start a small business, and a crafting business in particular?
Sarah: After six months of daily embroidering, I had accumulated so many pieces that I didn’t know what to do next. This has become such a passion project, and a hobby I turn to when I’m feeling anxious, bored, sad, happy, excited. It takes my mind off of everything and just becomes very therapeutic. Turning our craft into a money-making endeavor is only because it is so fun, I enjoy it so much, and I create often. I wanted to share the final product with anyone who is interested.
Jimi: I’ve always been quite the crafter, so when I started making things that I was wearing often, people started asking me where they could get one. I started doing commission pieces, and then realized that I could actually make some money from my hobby and share my creations with other folks. Sarah was in the same boat, so we decided to give pursuing a legitimate online business a shot!

ETC: What training/resources/etc. did you use to get started?
Sarah: Jimi is a constant resource and support for me. Professionally, personally, and as a hobbyist. She and I have a true friendship and connection, and we always bounce ideas off of each other and our group of like-minded best friends. Jimi really got us started from the beginning. From teaching me the craft to begin with, to maintaining our social media, to hearing out ideas and responding to criticism. We make a great team and resource for each other in a lot of facets of our lives.
Jimi: When we first started out, and especially when we were working on getting our business license, I spent a lot of time researching “how to start a business.” Every state is different and Washington is pretty strict, but it was encouraging that a lot of folks were asking the same questions, and I found the licensing websites to be really helpful. Etsy also has a lot of informative blogs that helped point me in the right direction, but they’re very clear that you’re on the hook for everything so it’s important to have your ducks in a row.

ETC: Work-wise, do you consider your business a full-time or part-time gig?
Sarah: Definitely part-time, if even that. We do this for fun. We do this because we like it, it is something that keeps us busy, creating, and working together – which we really like to do!
Jimi: Definitely part-time, and it ebbs and flows. When we’re preppin’ for a show, I’ll spend every spare minute sewing; but then there are times when I won’t sew for months. It just kind of depends on what we have lined up and how much inventory we have on hand.

ETC: Where does your inspiration for your pieces come from, and what do you enjoy most about creating/being an artist?
Sarah: My inspiration seems to come with the current pulse of the nation. In 2016-2017, my work leaned toward the political left for obvious reasons. Since the aftermath, I’ve done lighter themes like fun rap lyrics that can be considered a little risque but in feminine colors and styles. Lots of organic colors and shapes found in nature. And because I work in a zoo, I love to do animals – an animal pun is even better. What I enjoy most about being an artist/creator/maker is working on something that brings me joy and then sharing it and seeing joy on someone else’s face. I love the Weeknd, and I did a fun sexy quote with him but in very traditional stitch style. A woman likely in her 70’s bought it and absolutely loved it, and this was one of my highlights of this whole project with The Dear Fox.
Jimi: I like to create things that enhance and showcase pieces that you love. I sew all of our shawls, and I LOVE picking out the fabric. I have a clear aesthetic (florals, earth tones, and busy patterns), so it can be hard for me to get outside my patterned comfort zone. I like picking fabric that flows and accentuates the patterns and makes what you’re wearing pop. I also make our jewelry displays, which are typically made to order because the supplies are hard to get a hold of, which makes them a little pricier. I LOVE jewelry and was tired of having it all stashed away most of the time (Lord knows I can’t wear it all!), so when I came across an old type drawer at a flea market, I thought a modified version would be a unique way to showcase my jewels. When I make something, I want it to make a statement – sometimes it’s a shawl with a busy pattern that flits around behind you when you’re struttin’ down the sidewalk on a nice summer day; other times it’s a piece of junk that got a new life displaying your memories contained in that necklace you got when you were on vacation, the ring from your grandma, the bracelet your friend gave you, or those earrings you never wear but can’t bring yourself to give away.

ETC: Where do you envision your business going?
Sarah: I envision Jimi and I constantly being open to change and flexible on the direction we take this endeavor. We love growing and learning, and we welcome change, which, in my opinion, can only bring good things.
Jimi: I don’t really know. I know it’s good to have vision and goals and all that, but Sarah and I have always been flexible in our business plan and mostly do it as a way to share our craft and make a little side dough. So, I’m excited to see where things go and am looking forward to opportunities that may pop up.

ETC: What are the top 3 things you’d tell an aspiring small business owner?
Sarah: 1. Be patient, don’t expect to sell sell sell immediately (or ever) in a saturated platform like Etsy or in a creative environment like Seattle. 2. Think outside the box and be malleable. 3. Work with someone you trust, know well, have worked with before, and, most importantly, love endlessly and through thick and thin.
Jimi: 1. Taxes are confusing, especially when you’re dealing with inter-state. However, I’ve found the city/state business and tax reps to be incredibly helpful. I’ve called and emailed them with various questions and they’ve always been helpful and responsive. Odds are, you’re not the only one with that question. 2. Come up with a formula for pricing. There are tons of resources out there to help you come up with your own. Whatever you use, make sure you’re payin’ yourself for the work you’re putting in. For me, it was helpful to have some structure to how I was pricing items because it also made me feel validated if someone pushed back on prices (people can be real rude sometimes). 3. Own it. You made it, you built it, be proud of it.

ETC: And finally, most importantly…french fries, or potato chips?
Sarah: Gotta get that potato chip crunch.
Jimi: DEFINITELY French fries.


And now that you’ve heard a little about them, here’s a look at their work!

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Thanks so much, Jimi and Sarah, for sharing your crafty world with us! To see more of The Dear Fox’s pieces for sale, check them out on Instagram or Etsy.

Look Inside My Summer FabFitFun Box!

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For my birthday a few years ago, my bestie/cousin Jennifer got me my first FabFitFun box. And I was OBSESSSSSSED. A huge box of full-size goodies worth hundreds of dollars for only $30-50 = the happiest of all happy mail.

Fast forward to a month or two ago. I was scrolling on Facebook and came across one of those ads you always see of famous people opening their boxes on video and offering a promo code. This particular promo code was for $20 off of your first box, and I thought, “………yup, I’m doing that!” I set up an account, got to customize a few items, and waited impatiently for my box to ship! There are only four boxes per year – one for each season, and $50 per box. I probably won’t keep the subscription forever, but I’m already looking forward to the next one!

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1. Sutra Professional Mini Travel Blow Dryer

This was one of the items I got to customize. I used it the other night, and it actually worked really well! It took a little longer to dry than normal, but it’s worth it to save space in my luggage for our next trip out of town.

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2. 111Skin Rose Gold Brightening Facial Treatment Mask

I got to pick these too! Honestly, I don’t even remember what the other options were. I saw the $160 price tag and thought “I’m getting the most expensive option I can, since I’m only paying $30 for this whole box!” I would never pay that much for these masks on their own, but I can’t wait to try them.

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3. Odeme Silicone Wine Glasses

This was the last item I got to choose; the rest were all picked for me. Aren’t they cute?? They are microwave and dishwasher safe too!

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4. Living Proof No Frizz Nourishing Styling Cream

I won’t use this myself (already found my favorite stuff!), but now my guest bathroom will have an extra special product for out-of-town visitors who stay with us! If I wasn’t completely sold on MONAT, I would totally use Living Proof.

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5. COOLA Makeup Setting Sunscreen Spray

This stuff is supposed to give your skin a matte finish, while also preserving your makeup, hydrating your face, AND giving you sun protection at the same time! I already know I’ll be packing this for our cruise in October.

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6. Invisibobble® Original Hair Rings

Have you guys ever tried these?? I’ve been curious about them for awhile. I tried one out the other day and actually really liked it! My only complaint was that it was a little difficult to get out of my hair. But it felt very secure and my ponytail never got saggy, and I didn’t ever feel like it was pulling or pinching my hair.

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7. Generation Clay™ Ultra Violet Brightening Clay Mask

Face masks are honestly my kryptonite. I read the ingredients and it sounds like total heaven: desert lime, bentonite clay, davidson plum, aloe vera….yay for my face!

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8.  Whish Exfoliating Foot Mask

Can’t wait to get my feet cruise-ready! Apparently you put it on at the end of the day and sleep in it, and wake up with softer feet. We’ll see!

 

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9. Grace & Stella Rose Facial Spray

Call me a nerd, but I’m crazy about good branding. And this is FABULOUS branding, from the box to the logo to the name…I just love it. I’ve never used rose mist or rosewater before, but I’m a sucker for cult skincare products!

Want to get $10 off of your first box?? Click here to get started!

Our Love Story in 15 Bullet Points

 

1. In 2009, about six months before we met, we both ended serious relationships that we thought were heading toward marriage. This was a spiritual turning point for both of us, and – looking back on it – God’s way of preparing us for each other by performing major heart surgery.

2. We met on August 2nd, 2009, at a housewarming party that neither of us should have even been at for very long. I had just finished working at Falls Creek all summer and was headed back to my hometown for a few weeks before my sophomore year of college started, and Daniel had a movie night planned with other friends and was only supposed to stop by for few minutes. That party was my first visit to Durant, and even though I had a lot of fun, as I drove out of town the next day, I thought, I’ll probably never see any of those people again.

3. A day or two later, he friended me on Facebook, and I sent him a message about something funny that happened at the party. Most casual Facebook conversations end pretty quickly, because one or both of you have nothing else to say, but we just never ran out of things to talk about. We wrote back and forth constantly for the next week, and he subtly (and then not-so-subtly) hinted at wanting my phone number three times before I finally gave it to him.

4. What really sealed the deal as far as me deciding I liked him was the fact that he mailed me his favorite devotional book when I told him I struggled with reading my bible consistently. He wrote a note in it and everything. And he even held me accountable to reading it! I would call him, and he would say “Have you had your bible study today?” If I said no, he would tell me to hang up, go spend time with the Lord, and call him back after.

5. One of my favorite things we did when we were getting to know each other was send lists of numbered questions and answers via Facebook message, both silly and serious. Everything from “Do you scream on roller coasters?” and “What’s your favorite midnight snack?” to “What are some goals or habits you would like to have in your relationship with God?” and “What do you need most to fight Satan on what you’re struggling with right now?”

6. Our entire dating relationship and engagement were 100% long-distance. We lived about 2½ hours apart, and until we got married, the longest length of time that we had seen each other was 9 days in a row. I also didn’t have texting until my last semester of college, so pretty much all of our conversations happened over the phone. Yeah, I know, we actually TALKED to each other…*wink*. Daniel still jokes about how long our phone calls used to be, and how that proves how much he liked me because he hates talking on the phone, but I honestly love this about our dating relationship.

7. Most of our dates happened in Ada, Oklahoma, because it was halfway between the towns we lived in. Those dinners and movie nights were affectionately dubbed “Ada dates”.

8. Daniel took me to one jewelry shop to find out what I liked, and although I had spent years thinking I wanted a solitaire princess cut, I put one on my finger and hated it. I couldn’t stop staring at a round halo ring that the jeweler had me try on, but I knew that whatever Daniel picked out, I would be happy. He ended up custom-designing a one-of-a-kind ring with the help of a local jewelry store where we currently live (white gold, round halo, plain band) and it still takes my breath away.

9. In the spring of 2011, we went on a really meaningful picnic date in Wintersmith Park. Later that year, in July, Daniel proposed at sunset in the same spot, on the same blanket, with the same picnic basket. Nobody secretly took our pictures, there wasn’t a surprise engagement party after, and I don’t even remember most of what he said, to be honest. But it was incredibly sweet, special, and personal. And I was 100% surprised, which was all I really wanted out of a proposal!

10. In the span of about six months, I graduated from college, we got married, I moved to Durant, we became members of Lakepoint Community Church, I got my first adult job, we became leaders at the local Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM), and we renovated and moved into our first home. 2012 was a whirlwind, y’all.

11. Our newly-married season was spent hosting friends at our house for tons of game nights, helping develop the bible studies at the BCM, and surviving Daniel studying for (and passing!!) the CPA exams.

12. Two major milestones happened around the same time during Christmas of 2015 – we moved into our second gorgeous home and got our German shepherd, Fitz!

13. A few years into marriage, our church went through a really dark season, and we started slowly pulling back from the BCM in order to invest more heavily at Lakepoint, which was a super-hard-but-necessary change. But God rewarded our faithfulness and obedience a few years later in the form of an amazing friendship with our current pastor and his wife, and our dearly-loved community groups. Aka, some of my favorite people on earth. Leading our foundation group was so instrumental in the deepening of our marriage.

14. Over the years, we’ve tackled some really hard things together in our own relationship and walked alongside lots of struggling friends and family members through all kinds of things: death of loved ones, difficult jobs, betrayal, family drama, addictions, loss of friendships, eating disorders, divorce, gender transition, chronic illnesses, suicide attempts, infertility, pregnancy loss, and a wide variety of struggles within marriage, like polar opposite communication styles, male/female differences, and just plain old selfishness. Glory to God that He has equipped us to do it all without giving up or running away from the Lord or each other.

15. We have been in each other’s lives for 10 whole years, as of today, and I can say with total confidence that they have been the best 10 years of my life. ♥

Are You Willing to Hike?

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I had a moment with the Lord today, on Pinterest of all places.

I was looking through my friend Jordan King’s boards, and since I was in a particularly wanderlust-y mood, I went to her ‘Adventure’ board. As I scrolled, something about the photo above caught my eye, so I stopped and clicked on it. As I looked at it more closely, a quiet, whispered thought filled my head:

“Some of the most beautiful places in the world can’t be seen unless you hike to them.”

Whoa. What?

Let’s just clarify now that I know absolutely nothing about hiking. And up to this point, I really haven’t had any desire to learn anything about hiking. I’ve heard enough stories (including the one about Daniel’s four-day, rain-soaked, 40-pound-pack nightmare on Eagle Rock Loop) to know that trekking uphill for hours on end doesn’t sound quite like my cup of tea.

But for some reason, I couldn’t take my eyes away from this picture.

Who knows when that photo was taken? It could have been right as he reached his destination, or it could have been before he even started his journey. But regardless, it’s obvious that he is ready to work. He’s got the boots, the pack, the poles – he knows this is going to be more than a leisurely stroll. He’s prepared. And he’s willing to put in the time and effort because he knows what’s coming at the end.

“Some of the most beautiful places in the world can’t be seen unless you hike to them.”

It has always amazed me that God has the ability to speak with a still, small, quiet voice, and yet it has the impact of a strong, powerful, roaring voice that you can’t ignore. I stared at the mountains, the river, the rocks – dumbfounded. How many beautiful places have I never seen because I haven’t WANTED to hike to them? A simple thought, but a dagger to the heart.

How many times had I given up on something because it just felt too hard to do?

How many times had I not even attempted something because it sounded like too much work?

How many times had I been unwilling to put in the effort for something I knew would be beneficial in the long run?

It’s no secret that I struggle with self-discipline, especially when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but this truth bomb really hurt. Genuinely mature adults are willing to not only work, but work HARD, and they don’t make excuses like ‘I just don’t want to’ and ‘That’s just how I am’. 1 Corinthians 13:11 really drives this point home: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” Did you catch it? That action verb, gave. Maturity didn’t simply happen naturally. A decision was made to give up childish ways. We aren’t doomed to stay exactly the way we are for the rest of our lives, but we can’t just sit around and wait for magic lightning to strike us and make us grow up. True adults recognize that their actions affect people they love, and they take responsibility for figuring out what parts of their character are ugly, lazy, or immature, and then learn how to fix them.

But isn’t that exactly how life is supposed to be? Why are we so surprised when something requires work from us? After all, pretty much everything good in life comes as a result of a lot of time and effort:

A thriving family.
Publishing a book.
Building a house.
A healthy marriage.
Good eating habits.
Exercising consistently.
Starting a business.
A flourishing church.
Lasting friendships.

None of these things happen without a lot of perseverance and commitment, and they will always require a sacrifice of self – your time, money, energy, emotion, and preferences. All truly good things will cost you something. Maturity means deciding that those ‘good things’ are worth the hike.

Pinterest and Jesus never cease to inspire me. ♥

Married Monday: How to Pray for Your Husband

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As a young wife, I like to think about ways to show Daniel how much I love him. Some things are easy, like hiding a note in his wallet or taking his favorite snack to work. Some are a little more subtle, like always folding his laundry first so that if I run out of time and can’t finish it all, at least his stuff is done and he has access to everything he needs. But probably one of the absolute best things we can do for our spouses – if not THE very best thing – is to pray for them. It seems very simple, and I think Satan tries to convince us that it doesn’t really make much of a difference a lot of the time. But if we are faithful to do it and trust that God works powerfully through prayer, it can be life-changing.

I was convicted this year about how little time I was spending lifting Daniel up to the Lord in prayer, and to help keep myself on track, I did what I always do: I made a list! And I decided to share it with you all, because I know there are other people like me out there who love looking at someone else’s pre-written lists. They make tasks seem so much easier to accomplish, am I right??

Each number correlates to the day of the month, and for the months that have 31 days, I just pick a random one from the list, or whichever one I think he needs most at the time. Please feel free to use this as inspiration and add any of your own unique prayer needs for your spouse!

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Did I leave off anything important? Let me know in the comments!


This post is part of “Married Monday,” a series I started in order to expose myths and lies we’ve been told about married life, celebrate moments of joy and growth, chew on hard truths and sprinkle them with grace, and remind others (and myself!) that marriage doesn’t work without Christ in it. I have lots of ideas, but I’d love your input too! What topics would you like to see covered?

The 7-Year Itch (and 7 things I’ve learned)

Daniel James Hendrickson and I have officially been married 7 years this weekend.

7 YEARS.

Wow.

I think it feels like an accomplishment because of the “7-Year Itch” people always talk about – that stereotypical rough season in a marriage when things can start to fall apart if you aren’t careful. Don’t get me wrong, marriage is hard no matter how long you’ve been married. But I think the 7-year mark was stigmatized for good reason. The honeymoon season is over, and you’ve probably entered parenthood and learned how challenging it is. In the busyness of life, you might feel like your relationship is on autopilot. You may start to feel distant from each other and wonder if this is all you have to look forward to for the rest of your life.

For anyone wondering: it doesn’t have to be that way.

In some ways, I kind of feel like we’ve beat the odds. There are so many things stacked against marriage in the world today, especially biblical marriage, and I’ve watched A LOT of marriages end in my lifetime. In my honest human moments, I’m proud of us for sticking together through the good times, the really good times, the boring times, and the really really really NOT good times. But at the end of the day, I have no right to be proud, because we couldn’t have done it in our own strength. Without God writing our story and guiding our steps, one or both of us probably would have called it quits a long time ago.

I am really thankful that Daniel and I have a healthy friendship after almost 10 years together and 7 years of marriage, but the two of us – the selfish, broken pieces of the puzzle – could not have manufactured enough of our own warm bubbly love feelings to survive the valleys we have dragged each other through, things that tear many couples apart. We aren’t still together because we’re amazing at relationships (although…I mean…come on, we’re pretty great). God has been very good to us. Not to say that bad things haven’t happened, but in the hard seasons, He has humbled us, refreshed us, and sustained us, and we are so much better for it. ♥


7 things I’ve learned in 7 years of married life:

#1.

Marriage was designed to last for a lifetime, and a lifetime is (Lord-willing) a really long time. Make sure you pick someone who makes you laugh!

#2.

Keeping score (even if it’s only mentally) is a terrible idea, because nothing in marriage is equal at all times. One person is almost always giving more. That’s just how it is. Chores probably won’t be divided up 50/50. Neither will child-rearing, or cooking, or money-making. And you know what? That’s okay. Marriages aren’t supposed to be each person giving 50%. The best marriages come from couples who both give 100/100. And yeah, your spouse may be giving 45% on one particular day, but you still need to give 100%, because that’s what you promised you would do on your wedding day. I’m willing to bet that you didn’t say, “I promise to keep my vows as long as you keep yours.” You can’t control what your spouse is doing, but you can control what you do.

#3.

Conflict does not mean something is permanently wrong with your relationship. Conflict is just a natural byproduct of two sinful people blending their lives together. Remember that you are teammates: you’re both on the same team! It’s “the couple vs. the problem,” not “the husband vs. the wife.”

#4.

Some things are worth getting upset about (harsh words during an argument). Some aren’t (eating the last brownie). Learn what’s worth having a discussion about, pray for a soft heart and willingness to admit when you’re wrong, and let the rest go.

#5.

You aren’t just marrying one person. You’re marrying dozens of people. You might think you’re only marrying the person who’s standing across from you on the stage on your wedding day, but you’re also marrying the person he is with his family members, the person he is at work, and the person he will be 15 years from now. It’s about much more than loving who is in front of you right this minute. “That’s the unspoken miracle of marriage: you vow to keep loving someone who keeps growing into a mysterious stranger” (Ann Voskamp). Your vows are not just a promise of current love, but a promise of enduring love.

#6.

If your goal in marriage is to make yourself happy, you will literally never be happy. Sorry to disappoint you, but when you sign that marriage license, you aren’t signing up for a lifetime of someone else meeting all of your needs and fulfilling of all of your desires while you run around doing whatever you want. Marriage is meant to be a lifetime of intentional, loving service from BOTH people. The point should never be to ‘get something out of it’. Dare to be the one who does more, the one who outserves, the one who outdoes the other in showing honor (Romans 12:10).

#7.

This last one is probably the hardest one. Sometimes, YOU are the one who needs to change. Movies and TV shows have given us unrealistic expectations for the things our spouse is ‘supposed’ to do and say and be, and you need to know that for every expectation you have for them, they will have one for you too. Just because you feel very strongly about something does not automatically mean that you are right. If your pattern in marriage is finger-pointing and never accepting responsibility for your own failures and mistakes, you have effectively put a cardboard box over a plant, starving it of any chance to grow. Pray for humility and maturity, and ask God for the strength to apologize to your spouse and ask for forgiveness. He WILL give you that strength. He’s in the business of reconciliation, after all!


Thanks for putting up with my sass for 7 years, Daniel. You’ll always be #1 in my heart! ♥

If you’re married, which of these lessons has been the hardest for you to learn?

Note to Self: Do More of This

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I have a confession to make. I have a huge girl crush on Caroline Joy Rector of Unfancy. Her approach to personal style, a minimalist wardrobe, and shopping smart is #GOALS, and I spent probably a week straight binge-ing on her blog posts and Pinterest boards. In particular, the aesthetic and concept of her Pinterest board called “LIFE / do more of this” really inspired me, and I decided to come up with my own list of things to do more of.

A few days ago, I read a really interesting post about JOMO vs. FOMO – the JOY of missing out, rather than the FEAR of missing out. I have been feeling especially addicted to technology lately, and I’m about two steps away from getting rid of social media for awhile. I don’t want to spend my life posting and scrolling and judging and comparing. When I thought about creating this list, I made a point of picking things that get me away from a screen and into really enjoying my life instead. I encourage you to do the same!

friends.

Backyard dinner parties.

Social media breaks.

The Prettiest Road Trip in the Pacific Northwest | Seattle Met

Road trips.

Simplify my home.

fall farmers market

Farmer’s Markets.

♥︎→  #fashionphotographer #fashionphotography #trendy #womensfashion #fashiondesigner #couture #trends #fashionindustry #mua #makeupforever

Laugh with friends.

You don't have to match to take a good picture.

Downtown dates.

18 Embroidery Instagram Feeds to Follow – Design*Sponge

Make something.

Dream about the future.


What would you add to the list?

Community and Why You Need It

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WHY YOU NEED COMMUNITY:

You need people to have fun with and to laugh with.

You need people who love you enough to speak the truth to you and challenge you.

You need people to encourage and support you.

You need people to remind you of God’s fierce love and grace when you forget it.

You need people to hold you accountable.

You need people smarter than you who can offer wisdom and advice.

You need people to lean on when you’re struggling.

You need people to celebrate with you AND cry with you.

You need people who are good at the things you’re bad at so you can learn from them.

You need people to serve alongside because there’s way too much work for just one person to try to do alone.

And guess what else? Other people need you, too! God created every single person with talents, abilities, insights, and gifts, and His intent is that we would use them to build up others. The church has so much to gain from you investing in your community and blessing others through your strengths.

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From the very beginning, God designed humans for connection. In the book of Genesis, Adam was tasked with naming and caring for every animal in the garden, and it probably didn’t take long before he realized something was missing.

“Boy elephant, girl elephant. Boy lion…girl lion. Boy giraffe…………girl giraffe……………….hang on a second……..”

Every creature in the garden had a mate, except for him. But God already had a plan for that, because He knew that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone. Adam needed a partner, a family, a community. And just like him, we were never meant to do life alone either. You might try really hard to push everyone away and survive as a lone wolf, but the deep-down truth is that you need people. We all need a group of someones to be OUR PEOPLE.

I sincerely hope you have people like mine. ♥♥

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