Married Monday: Choosing Faithfulness

602627_3569987695451_1368828419_n

“Above all, fear the Lord and worship him faithfully with all your heart; consider the great things He has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24 (HCSB)

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3 (NIV)

“To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.” 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 (ESV)

A few months before my wedding, I set up a lunch date with a newly married friend. After asking her how married life was, she looked at me with a tight, tired smile and said, “We actually just had a big argument. It’s really hard, but the good definitely outweighs the bad.”

I remember feeling a bit of a letdown; I had wanted her to smile cheerfully and say, “It’s great!!” In that moment, I was a little afraid that marriage wouldn’t be as awesome as I’d thought.

Now, after being married for several years, I know EXACTLY how she felt! I think back to that lunch date and just laugh. I understand why her voice sounded tired, yet still glad.

Because…yeah. She was completely right, it is hard!

One of the biggest lessons to learn in marriage is how to remain faithful, even when you’re tired/angry/hurt/fill in your own blank. And not just sexually, but emotionally, mentally, spiritually, etc. as well. We are charged as wives and husbands to mimic the relationship God has with His people! Isn’t that incredible?? Our marriages are the picture of God’s lovely connection with us to the rest of the world.

It breaks my heart that the picture too many people see is one of apathy, hostility, boredom, bitterness, abuse, and brokenness. Many people treat marriage as if it is disposable: try it out for a while and if you get bored or frustrated, try it again with someone else. THANK GOD that God doesn’t treat us that way. We are constantly unfaithful to Him, but He never says, “Oh, what?? You don’t love me or care about me anymore? Well, forget you, I’ll go find someone else!”

2 Timothy 2:13 says this of God: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is” (NLT). God is faithful to us A.L.W.A.Y.S, even when we run away from Him. And because we have been shown this great grace by Him, we can and must show grace to others, including our spouses. And my friend was right about another thing: when your relationship with your spouse was initiated and nurtured by God and your marriage points to Him instead of to yourselves, the good ALWAYS outweighs the bad. I may not feel like throwing confetti all the time every day, but I am thankful for my husband every day. Persevere in your marriages, friends! Faithfulness is always worth it, even in the midst of heartache.

Oh, marriage. What a magically, frustratingly, wonderfully purifying thing. ♥

This post is part of “Married Monday,” a new series I’ve 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?

A Tribute to a Little Bird

10933818_10152694826871973_7663661121049294740_n

Orby // Orbs.
Rob // Robs.
Hobin // Habokers // Bokers.
Red Robin.
Robin Hood.
Frobynn.
You have more nicknames than I care to count.
But one name is better than all the rest.
*Sister.*
It’s your golden birthday today.
22 on the 22nd.
How do I accurately capture all of my feelings in a few sentences?
Ha…we both know I can’t. :)
I’ll just say this.
You make the world more golden.
You make people glad they know you.
You are refreshing and life-giving, and I love you for it.
Happy birthday, little bird. ♥

 

Happy Mail

image

My mail has been so HAPPY lately! Some of you may have seen the “secret sister gift exchange” that went around Facebook during the Christmas season, and I was a participant! I sent a $10 gift to a friend’s friend, invited a few of my friends to participate (who sent a gift to my friend, invited their own friends, etc.), and before I knew it, my own surprise packages started arriving.

image

For the gift exchange, I wrote on my profile that I love Target, Old Navy, and Rifle Paper Company, and that I’m a fan of fuzzy socks, stuff for a luxurious bath, chalkboard-themed things, OPI nail polish, any book from Urban Outfitters, minimalist gold jewelry, eclectic home decor, party supplies, and Chick Fil A – and my friends’ friends sure delivered!! I would definitely do this again next year. I only bought one gift and got all these goodies in return! From 6 secret girlfriends, I received:

  • Rifle Paper Co. journals
  • Deep Steep bubble bath
  • screenprinted kraft paper notebooks
  • OPI base coat and top coat
  • handmade slipper socks from the extremely talented Rebekah Shirey

image

image

I also got sweet Christmas gifts from two of my best girls, Janna and Eliya. I forgot to take a better picture of the Christmas ornament from Janna and didn’t realize it until I had already put it away with the rest of the Christmas decor, but you can see it in the first picture! It says “Our New Home,” a perfect gift for this year! Eliya gave me the cutest tea cup, as well as a huckleberry candle and a wood-burned ornament that I’m preeeeetty sure she made herself. :)

image

Notice anything else in the first photo that I didn’t mention? Keep an eye on the blog – my January Birchbox review is coming soon!

What’s your favorite thing to get in the mail?

Married Monday: Good Hard Work

602637_3569689447995_111781027_n

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.” Ephesians 5:25-29 (ESV)

When Daniel and I were engaged, we heard “Marriage is hard work” a lot. Every married person I talked to said it. I know they meant well, but after a while it became discouraging. I remember the look in their eyes, the knowing smiles on their faces. It’s as if they were watching us, young and newly in love, and thinking, “Oh…just wait. You’ll learn.”

Only a few people told me that being married was genuinely fun.

Don’t get me wrong – it is hard work. But it’s also GOOD hard work, and it really is fun!

  • Without even meaning to, you create inside jokes with each other that no one else will completely understand.
  • Anytime you travel somewhere, you get to have your best friend by your side.
  • You know exactly how to cheer each other up and make each other really belly laugh.
  • Gifts, kind words, and acts of service mean more coming from that person than from anyone else.
  • You can be silly and weird, singing in ugly voices and dancing around the house in your underwear like an idiot with no fear of judgment.

You guys. I’m telling you. It is so much fun.

I was nervous at first, but I shouldn’t have been afraid of the hard parts of marriage because they are both inevitable and necessary. Any relationship that’s worth having takes work. Engaged people, don’t be discouraged! And married people, choose your words wisely. Don’t scare future married people into thinking they’ll be miserable all the time. Marriage is fun, even if you have to recreate the fun sometimes.

I don’t want us to become an old callous couple who stop getting to know each other and just get old, fat, and bitter. I don’t want to look at a young engaged girl with that same “You’ll learn” face. I’d rather work my entire life to keep my marriage fun than give up and become lazy and bored. If our desire is to have godly marriages that bring glory to God and encourage others around us, and we do everything we can to pursue that goal (including breathing constant life into our relationships), God will honor that desire!

564159_3570439506746_628082954_n

Ways to Create (or Recreate) Married Fun:

  1. Compliment your spouse for an entire day. No criticism or accusations – just compliments. Look for things they are doing right and point them out on purpose!
  2. Go on a progressive dinner date. Can’t decide where to eat? Go to one restaurant for appetizers, another for entrees, and another for dessert!
  3. Put your phones away. Just put them away and TALK to each other. You used to do it a lot, remember? It might feel awkward at first if you haven’t done it in awhile, but face time with each other is important!
  4. Hide notes for each other. Write a bunch of one-sentence love notes on scraps of paper and hide them in random places for the other person to find – in a jacket pocket, wallet, nightstand drawer, Bible, etc. Get creative!
  5. Start a question-a-day journal. We got ours from Urban Outfitters, but you can get the same one here on Amazon. It’s a great quick way to connect every day through one simple question!

What advice did people give you before you got married?

This post is part of “Married Monday,” a new series I’ve 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?

 

 

Where Should We Vacation?

Adventure Is Out There!:

I’ve probably planned about 47 different vacations in my mind, and ultimately, I don’t care where we go as long as I have a great view, great food, and great company. To save a little money this time around, my plan is to stay in the United States for our next trip.

NORTHWEST IDEAS:
– Seattle
– Portland
– Yellowstone National Park

NORTHEAST IDEAS:
– New York City
– Boston
– Maine

I have too many gorgeous ideas swimming around in my mind – help me choose where we should go! We’re planning to travel sometime between April and July. Should we go northwest, or northeast?

Married Monday: Expectations

rings

“Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” Proverbs 16:32 (NLT)

I will probably never send my husband to the store for snacks again.

(Well…not without a list, at least!)

We had plans to hang out with some friends at our house one evening, and I realized that although I had told them we would have snacks, all we had was popcorn. I asked Daniel to grab a few things from the store, assuming he would come home with cookies or chips and dip. Or you know…NORMAL snack food. Our company arrived and I told them Daniel should be home any minute with food.

The front door opened and Daniel walked in…….holding a 10-POUND BOX of frozen spare ribs, and a 12-pack of Coke.

My friend Jessica instantly made eye contact with me and choked back a laugh. As I went from stunned silence to hysterical laughter, Jessica’s husband Cliff slapped Daniel on the back, exclaiming, “That is THE manliest thing I have ever seen!!”

It’s a silly story that we still laugh about, but this is just a small example of a huge lesson you learn in marriage: EVERYTHING comes down to expectations.

For example – hold on, now, because it’s about to get real – before I got married, my expectations about sex were incredibly skewed. I’m willing to bet a lot of you guys can relate. Culture portrays it terribly: either it doesn’t matter at all, or it’s the only thing that matters. Either way, according to our confused world, sex has been heralded as this unbelievably perfect and euphoric experience, and if it’s awkward or weird or not exciting, it’s because you’re with the wrong person and you just need to keep looking for the right one.

If you grew up in church like I did, you probably did True Love Waits or something similar. As the years went by, you heard over and over to save sex for marriage, save sex for marriage, SAVE IT FOR MARRIAGE ALREADY. But they never really told you why to save it for marriage, so you spend your teenage and early-twenties life wondering and waiting. You guard your virginity (which is different from purity, but that’s for another Monday), just KNOWING that God will surely reward you for holding onto it for so long. After all, that’s like the biggest sin you could commit, right?? And you didn’t do it, so OF COURSE God will be so proud of you and give you the best wedding night ever.

But then, you get married and go on a honeymoon, after all those years of wondering and waiting…and you finally realize why you wait.

You wait because it isn’t a perfect euphoric experience.

But when you marry the right person, it’s okay that it isn’t.

It’s okay that it’s awkward and funny, because you know that when you wake up the next morning, they will still be there.

It’s okay that it’s NOTHING like it seems on TV or in movies, because you know that no matter what, they love you and you have plenty of time to figure it out.

It’s okay that it’s not *completely magical*, because you know that they aren’t selfishly using you. They care more about you than they care about themselves.

And it’s okay that you have a powerfully complex bond with that person now, because you know that you made powerfully complex promises to each other at the ceremony. Vows to each other and to the Lord that serve as a steady foundation and can handle the weight of that kind of bond.

(Let me stop for a minute and say something important. If you had sex before getting married, I’m not judging you. Not even a little. Sex outside of marriage may have bigger earthly consequences than other sin, but it doesn’t make you damaged goods. God doesn’t love virgins any more than He loves non-virgins, and He definitely doesn’t think sex is bad.  He CREATED it, which means it is good, in the correct context. At the end of the day, all sins, from the tiniest white lie all the way up to things we consider pure evil, equally separate us from God unless Jesus is standing in the gap for us. Without Jesus, there is no hope. I’m so thankful God gave us Jesus, His gracious way of wiping the slate clean and inviting us to be reconciled back to Him.)

Sex is just one example of many, but my point is that expectations affect everything. I had no idea how many expectations I had for Daniel until we got married and started sharing space. But the bigger surprise was that he had expectations for me. We both came in with ideas about what marriage would look like and how we expected the other person to act and think. The problem is that I was frustrated when Daniel didn’t live up to my expectations for him, but I wanted grace from him when I didn’t live up to his expectations for me. It’s an enormous double standard to expect your spouse to bend for you when you won’t bend for them at all.

If you’re married or engaged, talk about your expectations with your spouse or spouse-to-be. How often should the laundry be done? What kinds of things should you buy together and what things are a waste of money? Not everyone has the same opinion or upbringing as you. If you don’t talk about them, at least one of you will spend a good part of your marriage either frustrated or disappointed because something didn’t live up to your expectations. Make sure that your own assumptions – about kids, about the future, about who is ‘supposed’ to take out the trash – are realistic. Sometimes it’s better to let go of too-high expectations and compromise together. And of course, talking to God is the absolute best thing you can do. When we center our marriages around Him, He has this neat way of giving us patience, changing our priorities, and helping us see what’s really important.

This post is part of “Married Monday,” a new series I’ve 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?

*Edit: I can’t recall who took the picture of my rings, but it was either Anna Lee of Anna Lee Media or Catie Bartlett of Catie Bartlett Photography! They are both amazeballs, go show them some love!

What It’s Like to Own a Dog

Oddly enough, having a dog is exactly what I thought it would be and nothing like what I thought it would be, all at the same time. I know it sounds weird and confusing, but it’s just true! I spent almost 26 years of my life wanting a dog, and I felt exactly as excited as I expected to feel when we got Fitz. And yet my expectations for what it would be like to actually own a dog haven’t always been accurate. I’ve been surprised by how many different feelings this furry tornado has made me feel – everything from shock, to disgust, to anger, giddiness, pride, intense worry, and – of course – unbelievably fierce love.

Like I said, I always wanted a dog. I asked for one for my birthday every single year until I went to college. (Sidebar – for my 16th or 17th birthday, I asked for a car, a dog, and a phone. And I got a Hot Wheels Car, a stuffed dog, and a plastic baby phone. Thanks Mom and Dad.) But even after all those years of dreaming, I never thought I would get overly attached to a dog before Fitz came home to live with us. I poked fun at people who called their dog their ‘best friend,’ and don’t even get me started on the people who call them their ‘babies’ or their ‘children.’ But I found out how much Fitz actually mattered to me on the day he pulled the leash out of my hands to chase a stray out of our front yard and I thought I’d lost him for good.

To give you some context: we didn’t get Fitz when he was a brand new puppy. He didn’t come to live with us until he was about 7 months old, so while we TRIED to crate train him and teach him how to take walks like a normal dog without pulling our arms out of our sockets, it was much more difficult than it would have been starting with a younger puppy. He is incredibly strong, and although he has a really nice harness that he can’t pull himself out of, he can pull the leash out of my hands, and there’s not really much I can do about that. Anytime he has gotten loose, he just runs. He’s not a good listener once his mind is set on something across the street, especially if it’s another dog. So I’m not exaggerating when I say that when he jerked the leash out of my hands, I’m pretty sure my heart literally stopped beating. I truly can’t remember another time in my entire life when I felt that panicked about anything. I ran barefoot across our front yard that was covered in stickers without even feeling them. I had to stop zooming down our driveway to make myself breathe normally and keep from hyperventilating, because it was getting dark and I had heard the sound of a car swerving down the street just seconds after he ran off. Worst. hour. of. my. life. Thank God for a tribe of friends who were willing to drop whatever they were doing, hop in their cars, and help me look for him. Thank God that my friend Alesha found him and somehow – seriously, by God’s grace alone – managed to get him in her car.

That hour proved that I really did fall in love with Fitz. I had no clue how much of my heart he had stolen until I thought I would never see him again. I never could have guessed, when we got him almost two years ago, that I would fall totally in love and would continue to love him even though he ripped up all of our outdoor furniture cushions, has shed enough hair to cover about 57 other dogs, and NEVER stops begging for a bite off of our plates (and steals bites when we aren’t looking). I can’t really remember life without him, and even though he’s a pretty terrible roommate, I wouldn’t trade him for all the money in the world.

8 New Things in 2016

What up, y’all?? It’s 2016!!

I don’t know about you, but I had the most delicious Christmas break. Having nearly 2 weeks of paid holidays from work was good for my heart. I decided to take a nice long break from MONAT and the blog too, in order to truly relax – sorry I’ve been so quiet lately! (Okay not really.) I spent my days off sleeping in, catching up on unpacking the last few boxes in our house, binge-watching Friends on Netflix again, and enjoying Christmas with both of my families. Oddly enough, however, I didn’t spend much time reflecting over my year. Not normal for me, but whatever. For the last few weeks, everybody’s been recapping 2015 all over social media (so many weddings and babies, dear goodness). And while I could do that, I’m just waaay too pumped about what 2016 will hold to look back for very long. There’s lots of newness to celebrate and good things to look forward to in the Hendrickson household!

And the first thing is…..

1. NO. MORE. STUDENT. LOANS. #everyemotionthatexists
As of last night, I’m free. I’m in a delirious state of shock. It feels like a joke! How brilliant was God’s idea to give me a financially savvy husband and provide us both with jobs so quickly after college?? Without question, my OBU education was an investment worth making, but I can’t lie – it feels really, really good to be done giving them money. Literally tens of thousands of dollars paid off in just three and a half years. Endless thanks to the Lord for allowing us to be student-loan-free so quickly!

photo-1439798060585-62ab242d7724
2. A season of grace and renewal.
I’m long overdue for a warm soak in a spiritual bath. I’ve allowed too many things to cloud my mind with fear and steal away my trust in the One who’s never given me any reason NOT to trust Him. It just makes sense that the new year would happen in the middle of such stagnant season of life, and I’m grateful for new beginnings. God doesn’t want my resolutions; He just wants my love. He doesn’t want me to try harder; He wants me to surrender. If I nurture my friendship with Him and truly love Him, the other things He asks of me won’t seem so difficult anymore.

13. Decorating my new house.
Taking down the Christmas tree was obviously depressing, but I’ve finally been able to unpack my “normal” decorations and had extra time last week to put some up! My style has been evolving over the last couple of years, and I have more wall space that I used to, which was a bit overwhelming at first. But I love starting with a fresh canvas. Watch for a Hendrickson home tour coming up in the next month or two!

IMG_4882.JPG
4. The newest Hendrickson family member.
His name is Fitz, and he is the bee’s knees! He’s a 7-month-old German Shepherd who’s still growing into his giant paws. We’re in the midst of crate training, but there have only been a few bad nights of howling so far. He’s the perfect blend of *happy* and chill, and I’m in love.

SOSU job
5. Celebrating a year at my job.

In less than a month, I will have been a recruiter for Southeastern for an entire year. What!? Sure, I’ve had a few weeks of early mornings and late nights, but there’s something addicting about being on the road. I love the atmosphere, the people I work with, and the fun events I get to help plan (not to mention the vacation days, holla!). It’s been such a great job!

6. Daniel’s CPA exams.
My husband is so hardworking. I’ve never met anyone with his drive and perseverance. The CPA process involves four incredibly difficult accounting exams, and he has already passed two of them since July! I have so much confidence that he’ll pass the other two this year too. Pray for him, when you think about it!

10491282_442358209295840_1181097523329744603_n.jpg
7. My nephew’s first birthday.
Sweet Zeke – he is so cute I just can’t stand it. I’m in denial that he’s almost a year old. Only a few more months and I can add “watching someone eat birthday cake” to the list of things people find mindblowingly adorable when babies do them. :)

8. Vacationing.
When Daniel started CPA-ing last summer, I knew we would need a trip away from work and studying this year. I have no clue where we’re going, but we’re going somewhere! Daniel’s only request was that we branch out from the Caribbean, since we’ve already been there a lot. Right now, I’m considering the Northeast/Northwest US and Europe. I have lots of ideas, but I’d love some help! Where should we go?? Any tips for adventuring well on a more modest budget?

Happy New Year, friends! Hope your 2016 is full of adventure and growth!