A Hug from God


Have you ever wished you could hug God? I have. Many times. In moments of sadness and joy, I have felt my heart swelling AND tightening, somehow at the same time, still too small to hold all of my feelings. But I never really realized that a hug was what I wanted until March 10, 2022.

I was driving home from the gym after teaching my dance fitness class, and I wasn’t really thinking about anything in particular. Out of nowhere, I was overcome with thankfulness for how God has walked with me and chased me down and protected me over the last few years. I felt God’s presence in the car with me – that’s the only way I can say it. I know from His Word that He is always with me, but I felt His nearness in a new way that night. It felt like He was standing behind me, arms around my shoulders, His chin resting on top of my head, and all I wanted to do was turn around and throw my arms around Him. Tears sprang to my eyes and my breath caught in my throat. I slowly reached my left hand up and put it on my right shoulder, half-expecting to actually feel His arm underneath.

I’m a visual person, and I have had a handful of experiences like this with God throughout my life. Let’s dub them ‘visually tangible.’ I hesitate to call them visions because that word sounds more mystical and ‘woo-woo’ than I want it to, and I don’t believe I have the spiritual gift of prophecy. But to explain it in basic terms, it’s as if I have images or videos playing in my head. Think of it almost like a movie montage. I’m not watching anything happening physically in front of me, and I’m not being transported to another place mentally. It’s just like I’m experiencing a really powerful memory. (But sometimes I see things that haven’t actually happened yet.)

Total transparency – I laughed nervously to myself as I typed that last sentence. Please don’t write me off just yet.

ANYWAY. I was having this moment with God in my car, and I was suddenly struck by other similar moments when I recognized God interacting with me on a human level. For example, I remembered that horrible day in 2020 when I found out that one of my best friends and I had both miscarried our third baby on the same day. I was sitting cross-legged on my bed, my head in my hands, grieving and trying to pray but at a complete loss for words, when an image of God with me flashed into my mind. In this picture, He was sitting across from me on the bed, also cross-legged, forehead pressed against my forehead, His big hands on either side of my face. Just sitting there with me, grieving with me. It still gets me choked up just thinking about it.

These moments are spiritual monuments for me, figurative piles of stones to remind me of the faithfulness of God when I am tempted to forget. And boy, have I needed them. In the last year, my heart has broken over and over. I have felt the ache of intense loneliness. The ache of others moving on with their lives and settling comfortably into new seasons, while I feel stuck in the same place I’ve been for years. The ache of watching dear friends and family suffer the consequences of poor decisions. The ache of friendships changing. The ache of knowing that Daniel and I will never be those two young, dumb kids again. The ache of unfairness. The ache of what should have been, but isn’t.

I’ve needed a lot of God hugs.

And you know what? I’ve gotten them.

Every year, I create a new note on my phone to keep track of special memories. I started doing this in 2020 when I needed a reminder that there were still good things happening in the world and in my life. This year, I added a section called “Moments I savored” to capture specific moments that I was keenly aware of savoring, since ‘Savor’ is my word for the year. Moments like…

The first little snow flurry in January.
Laying on the couch with Daniel, our adopted stray cat sleeping between us.
A quiet night at home, fire in the fireplace, reading a good book.
My heart racing as hid in the shadows, waiting to film Cory and Vic’s engagement.
Scream-singing “Take Me Home Tonight” in the car on the way home from Sherman.
Baylor Briggs falling asleep on me.
Breakfast with the Throners on the day of John and Amanda’s wedding.
Walking in the woods.
Boat rides on Lake Texoma, wind in my hair, drink in my hand, Daniel’s arm around me.
Reading at Opera House Coffee and watching the August rain we desperately needed.
Sitting on the back porch of an Airbnb, listening to the world wake up.

THESE are my God hugs.

Whether we feel Him with us or not, God NEVER leaves us, and our knowledge of that truth should lead us to thankfulness. His unfailing love is a constant comfort (Psalm 119:76). When we learn to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness, despite the fact that ‘bad’ things keep happening to us, we start to recognize good gifts from God more quickly. Good things don’t have to be big. And the biggest surprise of all is that sometimes, ‘bad’ things are actually good things in disguise.

My Social Media Fast Recap

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Hello, friends!! It’s been a little while, but I promise I have a good reason.

After completing the 40-day sugar fast earlier this year and having such a great experience, I knew I didn’t want my improved discipline and stronger desire to spend time with God to end! So I did the most logical thing: I kept fasting. And this time, it was from social media. Keep reading to see how those 40 days went…


Day 1: Okay, so here’s what I’ve given up: Facebook and FB Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, and 95% of Pinterest. (I can still use recipes I’ve already pinned, but I’m not mindlessly scrolling.) Today, on my first day of the fast, I conducted an experiment. I wanted to test myself, just to see how many times I would normally check those apps, particularly Facebook and Instagram. I kept tally marks for every time I caught myself looking at my phone for that reason, and guess how many times I did it in one day? 24 TIMES. I didn’t even have a good reason! 99% of the time, it was a combination of muscle memory and boredom. I’ve conditioned myself to open those apps every time I’m waiting for something, like the elevator or standing in the grocery check-out line. Truthfully, I think that number was smaller than it should have been, because I wasn’t picking up my phone as much since I knew I couldn’t open those apps. Regardless, even if I only spent 5 minutes in those apps each time I wanted to open them, that adds up to a minimum of TWO HOURS spent on social media per day. Ouch.

Day 2: The chapter of the book I’m reading during this fast said the following today: “The temptation to take your eyes off of Christ and His buoying Word will be constant. Loneliness may even threaten to capsize you, but what a joy it will be to step out of your boat and follow Him in this countercultural, faith-building, water-walking way!” I’ve already realized something about our use of social media as humans. We medicate and distract ourselves with social media because it’s NUMBING. With all those other voices in our heads, we aren’t forced to confront the silence and deal with our own deeply buried issues.

Day 5: Ugh………well. I did something. Initially, I didn’t give up watching TV by myself because I rationalized it as ‘not social media.’ But after four days of feeling convicted, I finally listened to God’s prompting and surrendered that habit for the remainder of my fast. I am not excited. But I am doing it.

Day 7: It struck me today how perfectly my word of the year – SAVOR – fits with this season of fasting. This fast in particular presented itself at an opportune time, what with Daniel being in school and me feeling a pull to quiet the noise in my heart. There have already been multiple sweet, tiny moments I would have missed out on if I had been on my phone like I normally am, like reading with my cat Chess sleeping on me, having good conversations with Daniel in the car, and talking with friends more.

Day 9: All I can say is WOW. I had the most pure God moment in my car on my way home from the gym. I have already started a separate blog post about this experience, but all I can say for now is that I have never felt so so seen by the Lord. I wished I could physically hug Him. I have noticed my desire to spend time with God is so much stronger, and it’s no coincidence that this change happened at the same time I put down all the noise and started picking up His Word more often.

Day 11: I was sitting in the living room, prepping for Cory’s proposal to Victoria, getting the flower petals ready and listening to instrumental music, and a slow, tender, nostalgic song started playing. Before it was even halfway through, I knew I had to make sure that song was playing when they walked in the door. I was suddenly filled with emotion over how special that moment would be, and how prepping for it wouldn’t have been the same if I was watching TV instead of listening to music. And that moment WAS so special. I got the honor of capturing the whole thing on video. However, after the ring was on the finger and the champagne was poured, I had the strangest thought: “I won’t be able to ‘like’ their social media posts…!” But immediately after thinking that, I had a second thought: “Why do I care?? Why should I be sad? I was there! I literally watched it happen. Who cares that I can’t see it on a social media platform!”

Day 15: Today, I asked myself, “What am I actually using social media for?” Is it really about connection? Or is it because I want to create a certain perception about myself? What a gift it is to realize that (1) I don’t owe anybody anything on social media, and (2) I don’t need to be reachable via social media all the time. While some messages are time-sensitive, most of them aren’t. And I would much rather spend time connecting with people in person than in a virtual world.

Day 18: I miss TV. I reeeeeeally miss TV. I miss it more than social media. This is why God wanted me to give it up. *sigh*

Day 21: I had to pray a lot today. This day was already set aside for fasting and praying over a friend, but I had to pray for myself at least 50% of the time. I prayed that God would help me want to want to obey Him, because today, I really don’t. I want to do whatever I want and not have to pay the consequences. Even though I’ve given up social media and watching TV alone, I’m not being disciplined in other ways….(It’s food. Why is it always food??). And I know God is after my whole heart, not just one area of weakness at a time. The goal was not to surrender one idol and immediately replace it with something else. This is just a “HARUMPHHH” of a day.

Day 23: Matthew 5:29-30 convicted me. I’ve always read this verse in relation to sin and bad things that were always bad to begin with, but the truth is even good things can become bad if we misuse them. It’s better to completely cut something off/out rather than to indulge it and let it consume you. We are fools to think we can control ourselves without God’s help. If something tempts us even a little bit, maybe it’s better to just stay away from it completely.

Day 29: Meh….I’m kind of over this. I’m doing fine without social media, but I still really miss TV and games on my phone. (Oh yeah – I gave those up too.) I’m not getting as much out of this fast as I did the sugar fast. At least that’s how I feel today. Maybe I’ll feel differently tomorrow.

Day 33: Daniel left for Boston today and I REALLY want to watch TV. I’m thinking about breaking that part of my fast early. This is going to be a long week.

Day 39: I absolutely SHOCKED myself this week. Every day, I woke up and thought, “I didn’t watch TV yesterday. And I’m fine. I could do that again today.” And I have!! I’ve been listening to lots of podcasts instead and stuck to my original conviction to give up binge-watching TV alone. This week has been long and busy. I can’t wait to see Daniel tomorrow!!

Day 40: I SURVIVED!!! Since I opened my first social media account in 2006, I’m pretty sure this is the longest I’ve ever gone without opening any of those apps. I’m really proud of myself.

Day 41: It’s the craziest thing – I’m allowed to get on social media now but I honestly don’t really want to. I spent about 30-45 minutes going through all of my missed notifications on Facebook, Instagram, etc., and at the end of that time, I didn’t feel happier. I felt scattered and overstimulated. I watched some funny videos and saw some life updates from friends, but as I scrolled, I thought, “How did I spend hours doing this before?? I’ve only been here for 20 minutes and I’m already tired of it all.” The more I think through the last 40 days, I realize that I learned more than I thought I did. I didn’t really miss social media. And I felt convicted about how much time I devote to noise: things that are empty and a waste of time.


Biggest lessons learned:

  • WHY was I posting? WHY was I scrolling so much? Before I started the fast, I don’t think I would have said, “I’m trying to fill a void”….but I’m pretty sure that’s what I was doing.
  • I realized during the fast that I was less distracted when I read God’s Word. I didn’t know how cluttered my mind was before, and it’s no wonder I had such a hard time paying attention to what I was reading. Now, I’m not mentally ‘full’ from consuming social media and TV all day, so when I open God’s Word, I’m ready to read and listen and process. Consuming that is so much better than the other things I was consuming. My desire for the Word is stronger than ever. I changed my pattern and made my Bible app the first one I open in the morning instead of Facebook and Instagram. Keeping my social media apps off of my home screen and turning the notifications off, even though I didn’t have many turned on to begin with, was also a gamechanger.
  • In one of her chapters, Wendy said, “We’ve all turned to things to quench the ache and kill the pain, to tell us we’re worthy, or to meet some other deep need. Except they never do, which is why we keep cramming more in. We’re always hungry but never satisfied.” I wish I had the words to describe to you how fulfilling a relationship with God is. Nothing and no one else satisfies like He does.
  • Want me to get really personal? You totally do. I know you do. I’ll tell you what I have made god instead of God. I’ll confess my own little-g gods to you, and I encourage you to consider what yours are so you can surrender them to the Big G, the OG, the God of Gods and King of Kings, the only true God who loves us at our worst and sacrificed everything to make us part of His family. Ready?
    • Social media.
    • Snacking.
    • A drink.
    • TV.
    • Filling the silence.
    • Sugar.
    • Attention and verbal affirmation from others.
    • Games on my phone.
    • Eating out.
    • Trying desperately to be perfect and worthy of respect.

GOD. IS. BETTER. We are wasting too much time trying to make ourselves happy with other things. They won’t work. God is who we’ve been looking for all this time. Let’s chase after Him from now on, yeah? ♥

If you want to know more about the 40-day social media fast, click here.

40-Day Sugar Fast: An Honest Recap

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation:  Wendy Speake: 9780801094576: Amazon.com: Books

In the beginning of January, I knew I needed a health reset. On January 10th, 2022, I gave up sugar. I felt like an insane person. Could I really give up sugar for 40 straight days?? Was it even that important? And what was I actually choosing to give up? All sugar, in all forms? Or only some sugars? I struggled in the beginning with how to know what exactly to give up. Was it only things that tasted sweet? Or everything that contained any type of sweetener, even if the food itself didn’t taste sweet? What about refined flours? What about fruit?? Needless to say, my head was spinning.

At some point, however, I found my way. I had already decided to start journaling about my experience prior to the start of the fast, partially to keep myself accountable and partially so I could go back and see what God did during those 40 days. And I’m so thankful I wrote it all down, because He showed up in a big way…


PRE-FAST:

  • Day -4: I’m a little nervous about this…why did I decide to tell somebody else they should do this with me?? Stupid accountability. I spent two hours googling about no-sugar diets today, though, and I feel pretty okay about it. It’ll be all right.
  • Day -2: Spending all week eating everything in my snack drawer at work and in the pantry probbbbably isn’t the best way to prep for next week. But at least I’m removing the temptation, right?

FASTING BEGAN:

  • Day 1: DAY ONE. I’ve totally got this. I’ve only thought about the snacks I forgot to take out of my work drawer like four times, and it’s…*looks at watch*…8:37 am…oops.
  • Day 2: Physically, I feel pretty good, other than a slight headache yesterday. I’m surprised by this – I expected to feel like crap today. Maybe it’s because I’m more physically active now than I have been when I’ve fasted in the past…? I’m loving the book so far! I’m also surprised at how quickly I feel convicted about other things I need to fast from in the future. Giving up one thing and asking God to fill that empty space seems to magnify other addictions, like social media and TV show binges.
  • Day 3: Ugh…I caved. I ate 15 Cheez-Its. I feel so guilty, and I also feel like I shouldn’t feel guilty. It’s not like crackers are a sweet treat, right? So why do I feel bad? What does that say about the state of my heart? It feels like I’ve been doing this forever, and not because of how much I miss sugar but because of how much I’ve already learned. Sugar really was just a doorway to so much more that God wanted to show me. My dreams, my plans, and my prayers are all so small. I’m a little bit scared of how long I’ve been standing with my finger in the hole of the dam, stubbornly holding everything back, because now that I’ve stepped away, the floodgates are starting to open and the Lord is sweeping me up into what He has wanted for me all along.
  • Day 4: I’m really feeling it today. Not physically, but emotionally and mentally. Today was a really stressful day at work, and I felt like I had to re-center with the Lord at least once every half hour. And OF COURSE on this particular day, somebody walked into a meeting with my latest favorite snack – Dots seasoned pretzels. By the end of the day, I had looked at my verse-of-the-day card so many times that I felt like I was craving it, just like a snack: “This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s'” (2 Chronicles 20:15).
  • Day 9: It’s become hard for me to discern what’s okay to eat and what’s not. I can’t figure out if I’m staying within the technical guidelines or if I’m cheating. I haven’t eaten anything that OBVIOUSLY has sugar in it this whole time, besides fruit…but is fruit cheating?? And I’ve felt guilty about eating things that aren’t sweet but that have refined flours or aren’t exactly healthy, like tortillas or corn chips. Is anything that doesn’t taste sweet okay? Am I supposed to be so legalistic that I don’t even eat fruit? Is eating dairy, potatoes, and rice ruining everything?? I just don’t know what to do. I wish the rules were more clearly defined. I need somebody to tell me what I’m allowed to eat. I’m bored with everything I know I’m allowed to eat, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse to eat something I shouldn’t. Why do I feel convicted about eating things that aren’t candy or dessert? Am I just completely missing the point? I’m only a quarter of the way through this thing and I’m feeling discouraged.
  • Day 13: Holy wow, I think my taste buds have recaliberated or something. I ate an apple today and it tasted SO SWEET! I wasn’t expecting that. It’s crazy how desensitized we are to sweet things when we eat them all the time. I wonder what actual candy will taste like when this is over?
  • Day 16: I think I’m over the initial ‘hump.’ I still find myself craving sweet things, but it’s easier to push away. I’m still struggling a little with what’s okay to eat and what’s not, but I think more than anything, I’ve identified other things that I run to, that I need to consider isolating and giving up in the future. Still loving the book and loving the daily verses! I propped up the verse cards on my desk at work, and every time I notice I’m hungry or wish I could eat something I can’t eat, I immediately look at the card, read the verse, and ask the Lord to fill me with His Spirit and/or acknowledge that He is enough to satisfy me.
  • Day 23: I felt convicted by Wendy’s words in the book today: “Don’t be afraid to get hungry; be afraid of a life that never hungers for God.” I think I have gotten too comfortable in this fast. Sure, I still miss desserts, but I’ve already filled that void with other snacks I’m allowed to have. The point was never to simply get used to a sugar-free lifestyle, even if only temporarily. If those hunger pangs are missing altogether, I’m missing out on consistent chances to hear God speak to me. Wendy challenged us to ask God to tell us other things we need to surrender to Him in order to make the most of the second half of our fast. As I was reading, I felt convicted to take the fast a step further and give up one of my favorite things – potatoes. I knew that’s what I needed to give up, because the second that food popped in my head, my knee-jerk reaction was rationalization: HA. What?? Nah, I don’t need to give up potatoes. I’m ALLOWED to eat them right now. Maybe I’m overreacting. Am I being too legalistic? That’s silly. Why would I give those up? …….*sigh*…..I LOVE potatoes….*pouty face* . And the Lord ever so softly said, “I know. And that’s why I want them.”
  • Day 26: Lord God, WHY DID YOU SEND ME THREE SNOW DAYS IN THE MIDDLE OF MY SUGAR FAST?? All I want is a vat of soup and a giant loaf of bread and the smell of cookies in my oven. Daniel hates soup and I can’t eat baked goods and HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME.
  • Day 30: I felt really loved by the Lord today. I got to celebrate most of my 5-year work anniversary with jury selection that lasted almost 6 hours (and I didn’t get picked – sad face), but I came back to work to find congratulatory love notes from my coworkers in the form of emails and sticky notes all over my computer screen. My words-of-affirmation love tank is FULL! Who needs sugar when you have sweetness like that??
  • Day 33: Something I’ve realized over the last week or so is that I’m way more aware of God perfectly orchestrating events together. For example – this week, I had a conversation about God’s sovereignty with a close friend. The very next day, the chapter I read in my sugar fast book talked about that exact topic, and I sent her pictures of those pages as encouragement. I also had the opportunity to serve a friend of a friend in a tangible way after her house burned down. I had JUST cleaned out my closet a few days before, and when I heard about her need for clothing, I understood why God nudged me to reorganize that week instead of waiting until spring. I’m seeing the way life is playing out with fresher eyes, and it makes me wonder if this is how it’s always been and I was just too distracted to notice until now.
  • Day 36: I just need to acknowledge my own self control and write this down for future generations to marvel at….we hosted a monthly divisional birthday/anniversary celebration combined with Valentine’s Day at work today, and the donuts were still warm and there were piggies in fluffy blankies and the smell was intoxicating and I STILL WALKED AWAY. Four more days.
  • Day 38: To be honest, I’m a little scared to end this thing. I’m not 100% sure what my plan is when I’m not fasting anymore, and I’m really scared that I’m just going to go off the deep end again. I don’t want to do that, and I don’t want to give up all sugar forever, but I don’t know what to do instead. God, give me wisdom!
  • Day 40: I. FREAKING. DID IT. I finished it!!! I can’t believe I did it!! I am so proud of myself, and so happy that God gave me the ability to do it. I’m also thankful that the author offered some practical advice for how to move forward in the bonus ‘Day 41’ chapter. I feel much more equipped to step out of this fast without going absolutely crazy. This was such a good experience!

I went into this fast expecting three things: (1) weight loss, (2) better sleep, and (3) spiritual growth. The third one I got in spades, praise God! But I didn’t really experience the first two, and that was frustrating for a few weeks. However, there were other results I wasn’t expecting but got anyway, including: (1) shockingly great mental clarity, (2) more energy, (3) feeling way better digestively, (4) more emotional stability, and (5) more self-control as far as wanting sweet things but building up the habit of saying ‘no’ to them over and over. The lesson that ‘Just because you want something doesn’t mean you should have it’ is a hard one but a necessary one.

I also learned what my biggest triggers were in terms of eating and craving things I couldn’t have. The biggest one was boredom. I had no clue how much I snacked just because I wanted to fill the time. The second trigger was stress, particularly at work. I also became aware of my typical eating patterns throughout the day, like eating something sweet after a meal, and how eating was almost always paired with something else, like watching TV or reading. One big encouragement to me, though, is knowing that those unhealthy patterns be reversed. Healthy action begets another healthy action! I think it was easier for me to choose to do a 40-day sugar fast because I’ve already been building other healthy habits over the last few years. If I tried to do EVERYTHING at once, it would be overwhelming. But because of my years-long journey of slowly, slowly, slowly making changes, it didn’t seem completely crazy to try this out. (Small caveat for people who are interested in this process but struggle with disordered eating – be really careful with fasting. Giving something up completely can be a big trigger for fixation, anxiety, and legalism. Listen to God and He will give you specific wisdom and direction for your situation.)

One other thing I want to share that I forgot to journal about was a day that I broke my fast intentionally. Exactly one week before my fast was scheduled to end, my family had a big celebration for all of the recent birthdays and anniversaries, and I allowed myself a piece of a waffle and two tiny slivers of birthday cake. “BUT WHY, LAURA?” ….*sigh*…Here’s why. Because I only have so many chances to enjoy homemade birthday cake and waffles with my grandparents. Time is short, and although you shouldn’t always use that as an excuse to eat whatever you want, in this instance, I didn’t want to be ~sO lEgAliStIc~ that I missed an opportunity to enjoy precious (and rare) family time and savor the special treats made specifically for me. I didn’t hear the Lord say ‘No,’ so I allowed myself that one break. But you want to know the cool thing? I had the tiniest portions of those foods I’ve ever had in my life, and I was satisfied. I was happy with what I had, and I didn’t feel the need for more. And that felt really good.

Wendy Speake, the author of the book I read, has a really beautiful quote about the whole intent of this fast: “[Giving up] sugar is the doorway through which we invite God to come back into our lives, to sit on the throne, to be at the core of what we need most. But He comes into our lives, and he looks around and says, ‘Thanks for the sugar…but I want it ALL. I don’t want a sugar sacrifice, I want a LIVING sacrifice.’ So what else are you running to, to get you through each day?” And she’s 100% right. Sugar is only one of many distractions I need to continually surrender to God in order to hear His voice more clearly. I thought this was just going to be about sugar in the beginning. But it ended up being about so much more. ♥

Wendy also put together a book for a social media sabbatical, and I’ve accepted the challenge! I’m signing off of all social platforms for 40 days, starting tomorrow, and you should join in too. See you soon!

A 40-Day Sugar Fast

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation:  Wendy Speake: 9780801094576: Amazon.com: Books

Guess what my idea of a fun way to start 2022 was? Yep, you guessed it – completing a 40-day fast from sugar. (I plead temporary insanity.) My friend Ashley went through this book with her community group last year and gave it a glowing review. I knew I would need something strict to kick my butt back in gear after all the holiday celebrations, so I decided to give it a try, and I invited a coworker to do it with me for some accountability.

It’s been 11 days, y’all, and I’m still trying to figure out how to survive the next 29. I haven’t given up ALL sugars completely. For example, I’m still allowing myself to eat fruit and foods with minimal amounts of naturally-occurring sugar, like cheese. But I’ve given up bread, most packaged snacks, candy, desserts, sweet drinks, etc., and it’s been both easier AND harder than I thought it would be.

Even though it’s barely been a week and half, I’m shocked at how much God has already taught me. I’m planning to share a full recap of the experience when it’s over, and I don’t want to give too much away. But here’s a sneak peak at a few of my ‘journal entries’ from the first week:


DAY -4: I’m a little nervous about this…why did I decide to tell somebody else they should do this with me?? Stupid accountability. I spent two hours googling about no-sugar diets today, though, and I feel pretty okay about it. It’ll be all right.
DAY -2: Spending all week eating everything in my snack drawer at work and in the pantry probbbbably isn’t the best way to prep for next week. But at least I’m removing the temptation, right?
DAY 1: DAY ONE. I’ve totally got this. I’ve only thought about the snacks I forgot to take out of my work drawer like four times, and it’s…*looks at watch*…8:37 am…oops.
DAY 2: Physically, I feel pretty good, other than a slight headache yesterday. I’m surprised by this – I expected to feel like crap today. Maybe it’s because I’m more physically active now than I have been when I’ve fasted in the past…? I’m loving the book so far! I’m also surprised at how quickly I feel convicted about other things I need to fast from in the future. Giving up one thing and asking God to fill that empty space seems to magnify other addictions, like social media and TV show binges.

DAY 3: Ugh…I caved. I ate 15 Cheez-Its. I feel guilty, and I also feel like I shouldn’t feel guilty. It’s not like crackers are a sweet treat, right? So why do I feel bad? What does that say about the state of my heart? It feels like I’ve been doing this forever, and not because of how much I miss sugar but because of how much I’ve already learned. Sugar really was just a doorway to so much more that God wanted to show me. My dreams, my plans, and my prayers are all so small. I’m a little bit scared of how long I stood with my finger in the hole of the dam, stubbornly holding everything back, because now that I’ve stepped away, the floodgates are starting to open and the Lord is sweeping me up into what He has wanted for me all along.


This might sound weird, but despite the difficulty, I already know I want to do this again. This fast has been different than others I’ve done in the past. Rather than simply going without something, I’ve been intentionally replacing what I gave up with a stronger, more intentional focus on the sweetness of God and His Word. I already feel a new tenderness from and closeness to Him, and I don’t want to only feel that way for 40 days. I’m so thankful I found out about this book!

The author of The 40-Day Sugar Fast, Wendy Speake, also put together a book for a social media sabbatical, and I think that would be a good experience too! Anybody want to do it with me sometime this year??

2022 Goals + Word for the Year

Five years ago, I unintentionally started my own New Year’s tradition. Instead of creating resolutions that would be too easily forgotten or too quickly broken (like giving up fast food completely, or the all-too-vague ‘work out more’), I made a list of a few measurable, realistic goals: a list that I could come back to a year later to reflect on and see how I grew. And the idea kind of stuck with me! So here I am, for the sixth year in a row, thankful for God’s faithfulness in an unexpectedly wonderful year and turning a hopeful eye toward the new year ahead.

MY 2021 GOALS WERE:

  • Take a class with Daniel and learn something new together.
    Just wasn’t the best year to make this happen – Daniel was incredibly busy juggling school, work, rental properties, new investments, and elder responsibilities at the church. Hopefully we can make this happen once he graduates with his Executive Master’s degree in May.
  • Finally go skydiving!
    I FINALLY DID IT!! A group of us from church tried to go last year and it was too windy, so we got vouchers to come back another time. And one random Friday in September 2021, we made a spontaneous decision to go the next day. And it was AWESOME – the falling out of the plane was the coolest part, the adrenaline rush was unreal! I would 100% do it again. Still can’t believe I finally checked this off of my bucket list.
  • Go a full month without eating out.
    Literally what was I thinking?? There was no way this was going to happen. Major facepalm.
  • Host a backyard dinner party this summer.
    Dara’s “Thirty South” country club-themed 30th birthday party was SO MUCH FUN. We had a crawfish boil, live music, croquet, and everybody dressed up! It was in the front yard instead of the back, but who cares?
  • Take a “just the two of us” trip.
    During Daniel’s break from school in August, we spent an extended weekend at the super cute Caroline cabin in Broken Bow, and it was so lovely! We hadn’t gone on a trip to celebrate being together since our Alaskan cruise in 2017.
  • Make at least 20 of the 37,000 recipes I have pinned on Pinterest.
    SO CLOSE! I’m still calling this a win, because I’m 98% sure I made at least one other new thing and just forgot to document it.
  • Start recording my prayer requests.
    If you’ve never heard of Val Marie Paper, go check out her prayer journals right now!
  • Learn how to make my own pasta.
    Still on my to-do list. I kept delaying because I really want that KitchenAid pasta attachment…
  • Host another “Favorite Things” party.
    Ran out of time, but I really want to do this again!
  • Try something different with my hair.
    I had virgin hair for almost 31 years, but I finally decided to put bleach in it for the first time! Nothing major – just really subtle honey blonde at the bottom. I wanted something I didn’t have to maintain, and I love how it turned out.

• 2022 •

Complete the 40-day sugar fast.

Spend time writing at least once a week.

Start tracking the number of ‘wears’ for my wardrobe items.

Make a difficult recipe.

Start learning the basics of another language.

Do some professional/personal development for work.

Go to at least five live performances (concert, comedy show, Broadway play, etc.).

Finish our living room refresh.

Make a calendar to keep track of family and friends’ birthdays.

Pick up a new hobby.

Take a class with Daniel and learn something new together.

Read the Dune book series.


As I reflected on the last couple of years, I started to wonder what my word for 2022 would be. Until this year, I always seemed to discover my word in December, before the new year even began. But as 2021 came to a close, I felt uninspired. My mind was strangely blank. I didn’t want to force anything, so I just decided to take a break from the whole “Word For the Year” thing. Little did I know that God had three pieces of inspiration waiting for me on Instagram within the first few days of 2022. First, I felt convicted by Ruth Chou Simons’s post about worship before service and being deeply rooted. Second, I pondered Phenomenal’s post about how TODAY is a special occasion. And third, I read Joanna Gaines’s “Have a fun!” post about slowing down and playing more.

Thanks to that nudge from the Lord, my word for 2022 is:

S A V O R .

I want to wear the good perfume without waiting for a special occasion. I want to notice the small, seemingly inconsequential things, the simple joys, and not put so much pressure on everything to be a bucket list item. I want to enjoy the Lord more than His gifts. I want to savor delicious meals without guilt, and good books, and rainy days, and spontaneous movie nights, and how my body feels after a good workout. I want to savor even the hard, uncomfortable things as opportunities for growth and deeper trust in Christ.

If you want to keep up with my progress this year, click here!

What is one of your goals for this year? Tell me in the comments!

Coming Back Home

I’m writing a blog post for the first time since January of this year, and I don’t even know where to start. It’s a strange feeling: wanting to say everything and nothing at the same time, feeling anxious pressure to sum up all the moments I haven’t shared here. Should I even try? Is anyone even out there, still interested in what I have to say after all this time?

2020 kicked my butt. You could remove the COVID-19 pandemic completely and it was still one of the worst years of my life. I experienced failure after failure in virtually every area of my life, and I breathed a literal sigh of relief when we toasted at midnight on New Year’s Eve, running a tender finger over my scars and tending to a few healing wounds. 2020 hurt. But I knew the Lord was going to do something new. How, oh how, could I have known how many new things He would do?

Things as simple as experimenting with HelloFresh and learning to enjoy cooking with new ingredients I would never have tried otherwise.

The pure joy we felt at my brother’s wedding.

Putting bleach in my hair.

A snowstorm.

A Tesla.

A new job.

More new babies than I can count.

Sunday night family dinners.

Dancing with abandon.

Getting paid to do what I love.

Lake days.

Watching two of my best friends fall in love.

Watching Daniel fall in love with a cat.

Heirloom family recipes.

Skydiving.

Becoming a dance fitness instructor.

Teaching a Bible class.

Winning my workplace chili cookoff (which included two entries by executive chefs).

Experiencing the Pioneer Woman Mercantile, South Padre Island, Punta Cana, and IKEA for the first time.

I’m overwhelmed by the good in 2021.

Earlier in the fall, I had gotten into a really good workout routine, and before we started traveling this month, I was actually doing something active for at least 30 minutes every day. (If you don’t know much about me up to this point, just know that this is a HUGE accomplishment.) In the last two weeks, the only times I’ve worked out were when I had to, when I taught the dance fitness class I temporarily took over for a friend. I’ve gained some holiday and vacation weight, and honestly, I don’t really feel guilty about it. I’ve established some disciplines that I’ll get back into easily after our New Year’s hoorah. But I had a revelatory moment after teaching class on Monday night.

It had been a week since I did anything active, and even though I didn’t really want to go to the gym that day, I had to. Because I was the teacher. It was a great night of dance, and endorphins were clearly pumping, because as I pulled out of the wellness center parking lot, an uncontrollable smile came across my face. I felt a rush of joy at the person I had become: someone who allowed pain and loss to mold her into someone stronger, someone who was willing to twerk and bounce and slay fearlessly in front of a mirror without a second thought. “There you are,” I thought to myself. “I found you.”

Have I done everything I wanted to do this year? No way. Have I failed people and derailed plans and bailed on dreams? 1000%. I’m supposed to be a writer, guys, and this is the first blog post I’ve written in almost a year. But now is not the time to focus on all the things I didn’t do. Now is the time to celebrate that I’ve come back home. 2020 was the year of being torn down in order to be rebuilt, and 2021 was the year of rising from the ashes. I am unafraid of whatever the Lord has planned for 2022, whether it be flying or falling on my face again, because I trust Him. He is the one who makes me brave. He is the one walking me home. He has been just as faithful to me in the lowest valleys as He is on the highest mountaintops.


Excerpts from A Liturgy for the Death of a Dream,” from Every Moment Holy

Oh Christ, in whom the final fulfillment of all hope is held secure,

I bring to you now the weathered fragments of my former dreams, the broken pieces of my expectations, the rent patches of hopes worn thin, the shards of some shattered image of life as I once thought it would be.

…You are the sovereign of my sorrow. You apprehend a wider sweep with wiser eyes than mine. My history bears the fingerprints of grace. You were always faithful, though I could not always trace quick evidence of your presence in my pain, yet did you remain at work, lurking in the wings, sifting all my splinterings for bright embers that might be breathed into more eternal dreams.

Let me remain tender now, to how you would teach me. My disappointments reveal so much about my own agenda for my life, and the ways I quietly demand that it should play out: free of conflict, free of pain, free of want.

My dreams are all so small.

Let me be tutored by this new disappointment. Let me listen to its holy whisper, that I might release at last these lesser dreams. That I might embrace the better dreams you dream for me, and for your people, and for your kingdom, and for your creation. …Teach me to hope, O Lord, always and only in you.

2021 Goals + Word for the Year

Four years ago, I unintentionally started my own New Year’s tradition. Instead of creating resolutions that would be too easily forgotten or too quickly broken (like giving up fast food completely or working out every single day), I made a list of a few specific, measurable, realistic goals: a list that I could come back to a year later to reflect on and see how I grew. And the idea kind of stuck with me, so here I am, for the fifth year in a row, thankful for God’s faithfulness in 2020, the most bizarre year of my life thus far, and yet still turning a hopeful eye toward the new year ahead!

MY 2020 GOALS WERE:

  • Continue my streak from last year and spend time in God’s Word every single day.
    I missed one day in the Word this year, and it was because I had an emotionally exhausting day and truly just forgot. I am thankful to the Lord for growing this spiritual discipline in me, and I don’t need to include it on my yearly lists to remind myself to work on it anymore. This habit is fully established, and I sincerely look forward to spending time with God every day. ♥
  • Go skydiving.
    Man, we tried. :( Daniel refuses to do it, but I have wanted to go for years, and so have a few friends from church. We finally scheduled the trip and we drove all the way out there, but it was too windy. The place we went to doesn’t do refunds, but they gave us vouchers to come another time. We’ll definitely try again once the weather is nicer.
  • Do a “no-spend” week.
    We did it! We didn’t spend any money for a full week, other than bills that were scheduled to come out of our accounts automatically. It took some planning ahead for meals, gas, etc., but I think it was a worthwhile experiment. It definitely revealed how easily and often we spend money without thinking about where it’s actually going.
  • Visit somewhere new with Daniel.
    SO. MANY. PLACES. Every December for the last several years, I’ve looked back in awe over how many new places we got to go! In 2020, we went back to NYC for my birthday but visited new spots, like the New York Public Library and Battery Park, and we saw a few new Broadways shows and lots more of Central Park. My side of the family took a trip to Colorado Springs over the summer, where we got to visit Pike’s Peak, Manitou Springs, Royal Gorge, and Garden of the Gods. We got to go to San Diego (first time for both of us to visit California!) for David and Courtney Reagan’s wedding, and we planned a last-minute friendcation to Nashville when our group cruise got cancelled because of COVID. I also took a surprise trip to the emergency room for the first time….! (I’m okay now)
  • Call my parents, siblings, and grandparents more.
    Thanks to the coronavirus, I DEFINITELY achieved this goal!
  • Try something new: an intimidating recipe, learn common phrases in a few other languages, geocaching, maybe a yoga pose. Something brand new to me.
    I did more new things than I expected to this year! Some notable favorites were eating authentic Chinese barbecue in Chinatown – ate the whole meal with chopsticks!! – and petting a kangaroo at the Nashville Zoo. And where to start with all of my quarantine things?? I found out what working from home was like, I attempted braiding my own hair, I learned the best way to roast potatoes, I made homemade freaking croissants, and I made my first chicken pot pie, crust and all (AND IT WAS BALLER). On top of all of that, I started attending Kathryn Jernigan’s hip hop dance class at the gym and fell head-over-heels in love with it. I didn’t think I could like anything as much as I liked her step class, but now I look forward to Turn Up days every single week.
  • Go to a drive-in movie.
    Honestly so sad that this didn’t happen. We were supposed to get one in Durant toward the end of the year, but I think funding was delayed because of COVID-19. The closest drive-in theater is an hour and a half away, and we just weren’t ever able to put a date on the calendar once Daniel started his Master’s classes.
  • Make some emergency preparedness kits – one for the car, one for the basement, etc. ✓
    I used a weekend that Daniel was in Dallas for class to put these together! They were not cheap (and I’m already not looking forward to keeping track of the expiration dates for the snacks…) but I know I’ll be grateful for them someday. It feels good to be ready in case something happens.
  • Have at least one TV-free day per week and one social media-free day per month.
    Not perfect, but pretty dang good. This is the first time I’ve ever made a plan and tried to stick to it.
    January: TV ⊗⊗✓✓✓ // Social media 
    February: TV ⊗⊗ // Social media ⊗
    March: TV ⊗⊗⊗ // Social media ⊗
    April: TV ⊗⊗✓✓⊗ // Social media 
    May: TV ⊗⊗⊗ // Social media 
    June: TV ⊗⊗ // Social media 
    July: TV ⊗⊗✓✓ // Social media 
    August: TV ⊗⊗ // Social media 
    September: TV ⊗✓✓✓✓ // Social media 
    October: TV ✓✓ // Social media 
    November: TV ✓✓✓✓ // Social media 
    December: TV ⊗✓✓✓✓ // Social media
  • Shop local more: downtown shops, summer farmer’s market, etc.
    This one wasn’t even hard. I love how much our downtown area has grown over the last year, and it was an honor to support so many small businesses! Some of my favorite purchases this year were:
    • Salted caramel popcorn, a tan and black floral top, and a funny notebook from Durant Mercantile
    • Cookie Monster ice cream from Caked Up
    • Rose boho overalls from The Trippie Hippie
    • Loose-leaf tea from Tiffany Newton and farm fresh eggs and pumpkins from Freedom Acre Farms at the Farmer’s Market
    • Iced vanilla hazelnut lattes and chocolate chip cookies from Opera House Coffee
    • A cream and sienna striped sweater from Sweet Lil’ Repeat
    • Apple pineapple cider from Old Ice House

• 2021 •

Take a class with Daniel and learn something new together.

Finally go skydiving!

Go a full month without eating out. (I’m scared)

Host a backyard dinner party this summer.

Take a “just the two of us” trip.

Make at least 20 of the 37,000 recipes I have pinned on Pinterest.

Start recording my prayer requests.

Learn how to make my own pasta (and resist the urge to make it every day afterward).

Host another “Favorite Things” party.

Try something different with my hair.


I’m also continuing my tradition of picking a Word for the Year! Since I’ve started, my words for the year have been HopeCourage, Joy, and Discipline. When I chose ‘Discipline’ for 2020 (or more accurately, when GOD chose it for me), I could never have guessed the personal transformation I would experience from January to December. I’m doing things daily and weekly that I never thought I would ever do, like keeping track of calorie intake and looking forward to working out. I can’t believe my life looks like this now, and I am so dang proud of myself.

My word for 2021 is:

P E A C E .

I want you guys to know that I didn’t just pull this out of thin air, or Google ‘word of the year ideas’ and pick out my favorite. I am confident, as I have been every single year since I started doing this, that this word was given to me by the Lord for a reason. I am genuinely looking forward to seeing how this word connects with 2021. Here’s to another year of learning and growing!

What is one of your goals for this year? Tell me in the comments!

20 Questions for 2020

What was the best thing that happened this year?
A lot of good things happened this year, actually! But what absolutely takes the cake was my 30th birthday. Daniel outdid himself (I don’t know if he can ever top it, honestly) and planned a surprise 4-day trip to New York City with eight of our closest friends. For as long as I live, I will never forget coming around the corner to our gate at the airport and seeing my people standing there in matching t-shirts and holding signs and cheering with way more enthusiasm than anyone should have at 3:45 in the morning. BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER. ♥♥♥

What was the most challenging thing that happened this year?
2020 has been a doozy. It’s hard to narrow down what was the hardest, although I would probably have to say my ER visit in May and recovery after emergency surgery. I feel like we all went through a lot of crap this year, though – some people had it a whole lot worse than I did.

Who were your most valuable friendships with?
My Lakepoint people. It was true last year, and it’s true again this year. I can’t imagine going a week without seeing them.

What are some new skills that you learned?
Working out consistently. Completely monumental thing for me. I’ve also gotten better at conflict resolution with Daniel, I stopped being scared of making French croissants and just did it (and they were so good!!), and I learned how to be more minimalistic, intentional, and picky when shopping for clothes.

Pick three words to describe this year.
Exhausting. Disciplined. Resilient.

What was your biggest personal change from January to December?
I think for the first time, I truly like myself. I work out because I love my body, not because I hate it. I have felt betrayed by my body several times this year, but it has also taken such good care of me. And I want to take care of it in return.

What was the best book you read this year?
VERY hard to choose one, so I have to go with three: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (kicking myself for not reading this sooner), The Gospel Comes With a Housekey by Rosaria Butterfield, and What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts) by Nancy Guthrie.

What did you do to serve others this year?
Delivered lots of meals to parents with new babies, facilitated and spoke at the Lakepoint marriage retreat, and supported friends who experienced losses.

Name a couple of positive memory-making experiences from 2020.
Hosted a BALLER 20’s-themed NYE party at our house, completed with a hidden speakeasy. Attended the local IF:Gathering. Fancied up for the Crystal Ball with the Wesberrys. Saw Anastasia on the stage with my mom and sister. Went to Colorado with the Simmas and celebrated my brother getting engaged. Planned my second wedding for pay. Celebrated Les’s 29th at the lake. Visited California for the first time for David Reagan’s wedding. Dressed up as Cruella de Vil for Halloween. FINALLY closed on our 15 acres. Took a friendscation to Nashville (House of Cards and Listening Room Café were the best!!). Made a complete Thanksgiving dinner by myself, turkey and all.

What 2020 accomplishments are you most proud of?
Finding a good groove at work, finally getting into a genuine routine of exercise and more deliberate eating habits, and shopping small a lot more often because of the COVID pandemic’s effects on small businesses. Oh, and MAKING FRENCH CROISSANTS FROM SCRATCH.

What are some things you’ve learned to accept this year?
I am the healthiest and most in shape I’ve been in probably a decade. And guess what? I still have hip dips, my stomach is squishy, and I will probably never have a thigh gap. But I think I finally just love myself, regardless of those things.

In what ways did you grow spiritually?
Holy smokes…I feel like a completely different person. I barely recognize the girl from January. I have learned to trust God at an even greater depth, and I don’t feel as ruffled by things as I used to. I also don’t idolize parenthood anymore. It is a glorious gift, and if I get to experience it, I will be eternally thankful, but it is not something God owes me. He (God) is all I want now, and everything else – marriage, family, friends – it’s just frosting. God’s faithfulness has been on display BIG this year.

What did you gain in 2020? What did you lose?
Gained = way more self confidence, and peace that God knows what He’s doing.
Lost = hope, briefly, but it’s returned. ♥

Name a difficult situation you overcame.
Daniel and I experienced some pretty devastating losses this year. But each one strengthened our relationships with each other and with others, and I’m really grateful for that.

What is something you want to do better in 2021?
I want to get off of my phone more often. I want to stop eating out all the time and making frozen pizza (lol) and actually cook more real meals. I also want to get better at using my time to invest in others – I’ve kind of fallen out of that toward the end of this year.

What was the best thing you did with your time this year?
We got to travel A LOT this year, and most of our favorite memories of 2020 are from those trips!

What was the single biggest time-waster in your life this year?
TV, without a doubt.

What are you most grateful for in 2020?
Daniel. In the middle of the storm, in the chaos of what we’ve both called the most bizarre year of our lives, he radiated strength for me, and he told me that he thinks I’m strong. I’ll never forget that.

What do you want to leave behind in 2020?
Ummmmm…..lol. Everything?

Who do you want to be in 2021?
A Proverbs 31 woman – brave, committed, hardworking, and respected.

Maybe 2020 was an amazing year and all your dreams came true! (And if so, you’re delusional and probably need therapy because this was undeniably a weird year for all of us.) Or maybe this year completely sucked in every possible way, and you’re having a hard time remembering anything good that happened. Either way, we can’t successfully walk into the future without making peace with our past, whether it was good or bad. I can’t think of a better way to close the book (or slam the door?) on 2020. Feel free to join in and answer them for yourself, and let this be your final emotional exhale as we toast to a new beginning again.

Fully Known, Fully Loved

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I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve spent way too much of my married life trying to change my husband.

We’ve known each other for well over a decade now and have been married for 8 years, and I love him more than I’ve ever loved anybody in my entire life. But if you asked me what I wish he did differently, I could come up with a list really quickly.

All of us grew up doing things a certain way, and although we may not always say it, we intrinsically believe that ‘our way’ is the best way. But sometimes, it isn’t. Human relationships, and marriage in particular, have this curious way of drawing out our flaws, of revealing the parts of your person that God wants to lovingly chisel away.

Marriage in particular is one of the most intense ways God makes us more like Him: He takes two jagged-edged sinners and uses each of them to refine and smooth the hard edges off of the other. Marriage is NOT putting on the most attractive version of yourself, playing immature games with each other, and only looking to the other person for what you can get from them. Marriage is two people committing to out-serve each other for the rest of their lives. It’s reprogramming your brain to instinctively strive for what’s best for the other person first, instead of putting yourself and your needs first. Mike Mason’s quote from The Mystery of Marriage is absolutely spot-on:

“What is most unique about the tenacious fidelity of marriage is that it allows for such a really brutal amount of ‘sharpening’ to take place, yet in the gentlest way imaginable. Who ever heard of being sharpened against a warm, familiar body of loved flesh? Only the Lord could have devised such an awesomely tender and heartwarming means for men and women to be made into swords. Yet for all its gentleness, marriage is still a fire and a sword itself, a fire which brands, and a sword which inflicts a wound far deeper than any arrow of Cupid. For it is a wound in a person’s pride, in a place which cannot be healed, and from the moment a man and woman first stand transfixed in one another’s light they will begin to feel this wound of marriage opening up in them. The Lord God made woman out of part of man’s side and closed up the place with flesh, but in marriage He reopens this empty, aching place in man and begins the process of putting the woman back again, if not literally IN the side, then certainly AT it: permanently there, intrusively there, a sudden lifelong resident of a space which until that point the man will have considered to be his own private territory, even his own body. But in marriage he will cleave to the woman, and the woman to him, the way his own flesh cleaves to his own bones. Just so, says the Lord, do I Myself desire to invade your deepest privacy, binding you to me all your life long and even into eternity with cords of blood.”

I think the reason I didn’t see my selfishness as clearly prior to marriage is because I was playing a game. The “Look How Great I Am” game. I never would have admitted it out loud, but I was basically just trying to impress Daniel with all of my *amazing* qualities, and it wasn’t until getting married that I realized how little I actually had to offer. My good qualities weren’t nearly as good as I thought they were, and my bad qualities were a lot worse than I thought they were.

Before marriage, I had never had to be that deeply vulnerable with anyone. Sure, I opened up to my girlfriends and shared my joys, sorrows, and sins with them, but they weren’t as strongly affected by them the way Daniel is. The mirror of your spouse is often the hardest to look into, because (in a healthy marriage) that person isn’t your enemy. It’s your best friend, your person, pointing out your weaknesses. They are directly impacted by your selfishness in a way that no one else in your life is.

The really beautiful thing is that because of Jesus, I don’t have to fear that kind of vulnerability. I am fully seen, fully understood, fully known – and yet still fully loved. Daniel is a tangible piece of God’s unchanging love for me, and when he tells me he loves me, it means infinitely more now than it did on our wedding day. I have done things that have really hurt him, and the fact that he still says “I love you” and means it, in spite of my bad choices and unkind words…well, nothing can top that. And I know that Daniel’s love for me is a tiny match flame compared to the blazing forest fire of love that God has for me.

In one of my favorite books, The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller describes this mystery of being fully known and fully loved in perfect detail:

“The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us. Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us.”

When God shows us the depths of His love for us, it gives a whole new meaning to our human relationships and lays out the map for how we are supposed to love each other. He is the perfect example for us, loving us IN SPITE of the fact that we have done nothing to earn His love, and can’t ever earn it. Loving someone because of what they have done for you is shallow and worthless compared to loving someone because of what God has done for you. That kind of love will change the world, my friends.

Married Monday: 30+ Things People Would Change About Their Wedding If They Could

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Have a first look, or wait until you walk down the aisle to see each other? Invite everyone you know, or keep the event small and intimate? Princess ballgown and a veil, or bohemian sheath dress and a flower crown? There are SO many decisions to make when you’re planning a wedding, and anyone who has planned one can likely relate to the stress and pressure of wanting everything to be perfect.

No wedding is ever completely perfect, of course. Something always goes wrong, or at least turns out a little differently than you had originally planned. But at the end of the day, the most important part of a wedding day is the covenant vows you make to God and each other, and celebrating the love He divinely inspired between you and your new spouse.

If we could go back in time, however, those of us who are married can probably think of at least one thing that we would do differently on our wedding day. Maybe we wish we hadn’t stressed out so much about the font on our napkins (all of which ended up in the trash regardless), or we regret not choosing a better photographer. Never planned a wedding before? Keep reading, and consider taking our advice!


Things People Would Change About Their Wedding

TO ELOPE OR NOT ELOPE:
“I would elope. 🤣 Too much money, time, and energy spent on making other people happy, when the day should have only been about the 2 of us.” — Amber Simon

“Would have eloped! 🤣” — Bri Johns

“Eloped. 😜” — Jalynn Schroeder & Karlie Collins

“Elope 🤷🏽‍♀️🌝” — Laura Robinson


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PHOTOGRAPHY:
“I would have taken your advice and spent the bulk of my money on a photographer!” — Madison Hammock

“Spent money on a good photographer!” — Ashley Caldwell

“Taken a picture with the littles… I don’t have a single picture with flower girls or the little guys. …There’s only pictures of them walking down the aisle.” — Kanda Forbis

“[The] photographer and video to [have] been better – [for the] second one I had the photog for the court house.” — Mary Schmitz

“I would have gotten a photo with my [high school] friends. One passed away a few months later.” — Kacy Hull

“More pictures of Dustin [the groom] at our ceremony.” — Mahalee May

“Have a list of the must have pics for the photog ahead of time. Wish I had a few more fam pics.” — Kate Stitely

“My photos. We went with a family friend photog since she was cheaper and the pics stink.” — Janessa Buckles


THE TIMING:
“I would get married in the Spring or Summer so my Birthday, Anniversary & Christmas weren’t all in a 2½ week span!” — Ellan Edwards

“Starting it earlier in the afternoon, 7pm was too dark for September.” — Kanda Forbis

“I would have made the reception a little longer. We were having so much fun and it went by way too fast!” — Baylee Hundley

“Have a wedding in December rather than August.” — Karlie Collins

“It was perfect! I only wish I had planned ahead & maybe even days or weeks before the wedding done my bridal shots & been up earlier so I could’ve spent more time with guests [versus] taking pictures. However, my pictures are videography are perfect so it was worth it. 😂😍” — Addy Forkum


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THE SIZE:
“I would have done smaller and more intimate. Just very close friends and family.” — Julie Ray

“Destination wedding!!” — Emily Williams

“Amount of bridesmaids and groomsmen. I would honestly love to have had just family (sisters and sister-in-laws).” — Taylor Bryant

“Our wedding party was too big. 7 bridesmaids.” — Kanda Forbis

“Much smaller wedding, much bigger reception / party.” –Tracy Moore-Burnett

“A lot smaller.” — Lucy Newlin


CHOOSE WISELY:
“Different husband first go around. 😂😂” — Mary Schmitz

“My first husband, yep I would have waited on Randy. 🤗” — Pat Moore

“The person.” — Cory Gray (an unmarried contributor 😂)


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THE DETAILS:
“A different dress. It was very large and altered down to fit, the cups didn’t though. [And] more table decor because ours was limited.” — Kacy Hull

“Making sure my mom didn’t have anything to coordinate. She was busy and stressed.” — Katherine Randolph

“When my bustled train messed up at the reception that I would have taken time to fix it.” — Sydney Boyer

“There should always be an open bar…always.” — Dylan Lemons (another unmarried contributor 😂)


HAVING SOMEONE FILM IT:
“I would have hired a videographer.” — Courtney Rhudy

“I would’ve had the ceremony recorded on video. That’s my only regret.” — Tessa Cooper

“I would [probably] say a videographer.” — Ashley McCain

“Book a professional videographer…there is a bootleg video out there somewhere, but I don’t know who has it. 🤦🏻‍♀️” — Christi Gulley

“I would have done pictures after and had more pictures done and video.” — Charity Hill

“A VIDEOGRAPHER. I really wish I could go back and watch the wedding.” — Sheridan Burns

“Would’ve hired a videographer and/or a better photographer.” — Jennifer Briggs


DO WHAT YOU WANT:
“Had the waffle bar like I wanted!!! 😬” — MaRisa Dingler

“Wore the dress I wanted!” — Jalynn Schroeder & Karlie Collins

“Lol I probably would have made myself have a little bit more champagne to loosen up! 😂” — Kassi Wilkey

“To be more in the moment and not stressed over the little things.” — Maddy Haines

“I would love to have had dancing, but weddings were different in the 80’s. Actually, a lot of things were different in the 80’s.” — Dayna Simma

“Caring about everyone else’s opinion.” — Dani Leckie


TOO MANY THINGS:
“We had no $ and got married before things like Pinterest..so I have too many to count. 😂” — Courtnie Whitley

“Lol is there a limit to the amount of things I can change? 😂” — Sarah Hoedebeck


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THE UNICORNS:
“This is gonna shound cheesy, but I wouldn’t change a thing. 😊” — Eliya Bolgrin

“Absolutely nothing! It was more perfect than I ever dreamed! I always tell friends who are getting married, small weddings/eloping is the way to go!! Getting married to your best friend in the mountains with just your closest friends and family is the dreamiest. 😍” — Brittnie Harris

“I’m going to be the annoying person who says absolutely nothing. 😅” — Amelia Helen

“We went to Eureka Springs and only took 3 families plus mine. It was perfect! I [wouldn’t] change anything!!!” –Mary Palmatary-Geary

“Not a thing! We had one mishap that almost resulted in no cake, but my peeps got it taken care of before I knew it.” — Kim Harris-Montgomery


AND FINALLY, THE BEST ADVICE OF ALL:
“Nothing. It was magical. ❤️ Because I had a wedding planner.” — Sara Lin

“I loved my wedding but it was a lot of stress so I kinda wish I would’ve had a wedding planner!” — Cara Crabtree

Would you change anything about your wedding, if you could? Let me know in the comments. And if you’re engaged and looking for an organized, resourceful wedding planner to coordinate your big day, please email lahendricks12@gmail.com!