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.

It’s Okay to Believe in Impossible Things

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Traffic conspires against you and makes you late for work the day of your big meeting.

Your kids are unyieldingly defiant, no matter what tactic you try.

Your car is stolen in broad daylight.

No medical explanation exists for the infertility waging war on your desire for children.

You don’t get the job, even though you were qualified.

Your spouse makes no effort to have a healthy relationship with you.

A global pandemic affects your ability to get basic necessities at the store, takes away your source of income, steals the joy out of planning your wedding, forces you to deny yourself all physical and social interaction.

We’ve all been there.

Every single day, unfortunate things happen to us, through no fault of our own, and we don’t know why. Even more unsettling is the reality that we may never know why. After awhile of being continually disappointed, we start to feel suffocated and disillusioned by our own expectations, and we may even start to wonder why we ever thought things might go our way. In those moments of doubtful wondering, if we aren’t careful, we take the first step down a very steep, sloping hill toward a valley of bitterness.

Why, God?? Why me?
How could you let this happen?
Don’t you see my suffering?
Don’t you hear my cries for help?
Are you ignoring me?
Do you even love me?

Does this sound like you? If so, I have two things to say.

#1. First, God is not scared of your big, hard, scary questions. You can’t intimidate, overwhelm, annoy, or stump him with your Whys and your What Ifs and even your Where Are You Right Nows. …………BUT. Even in your most hurt, angry, lonely places, He is still the God of the universe with ultimate power and authority over everything in existence. And if you are a Christian, you are still expected to exercise control over your tongue. Yes, even when you’re mad. There is a difference between coming to the Lord in brokenness and asking Him to heal and restore your bleeding heart, and coming to the Lord in malice, hurling insults and blaming Him for things that go wrong.

#2. I can’t speak for you, but when I start to spiral into an angry valley, it always boils down to the same thing: I don’t trust God. I don’t trust that He’s good; that He’s still on His throne; that He’s controlling every moment of my existence; that His way is better than mine. I stop believing that He genuinely loves me. I stop believing that He can do impossible things.

To tell you the truth, I think we’re all scared to believe in the impossible because we’re too prideful. We just can’t stomach the idea of being caught off guard, of looking foolish, of praying in expectation for something that doesn’t end up happening. We don’t want to get our hopes up. We’d rather protect ourselves in safe, comfortable layers of realism and acceptance of what we can make sense of in our own minds.

But therein lies the question. Since when are our minds the pinnacle of knowledge and wisdom?? Are we really so naive that we would spend our entire lives only believing what we can see and feel?

Take a walk with me, faith family. Let me take you a few thousand years back and remind you of a few impossible things you already believe.

I’m not talking about believing in things that are simply improbable.

I mean things that are literally not possible.


An obedient man built what was probably the largest boat that’s ever existed in human history without having any idea of what a flood was. And that flood ended up covering the entire earth.

A husband and wife who were 100 years old and 90 years old, respectively, conceived their first baby.

An exceedingly deep body of water, as deep as about five Empire State buildings stacked on top of each other, parted in half for people to walk across on bone-dry ground.

A man was swallowed by a whale and lived.

During one of Israel’s battles with the Amorites, the sun and moon stood still in the sky without moving for almost an entire day.

A man prayed for a drought, and no rain fell for more than three years.

The same man completely drenched an altar, wood and all, with gallons upon gallons of water, prayed again, and fire instantly consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the water, and even the stones.

A woman’s flour and oil continually refilled themselves in the midst of a famine.

A man spent an entire night in a pit of starving lions and survived.

Three men were thrown into a furnace so hot, it killed the men throwing them in, and they came out without a single burn or scorch mark.

An army of 300 men defeated an army of over 135,000.

A virgin conceived and gave birth to a baby.

People who had been blind, deaf, or crippled their entire life could inexplicably see, hear, and walk.

A couple loaves of bread and a few fish fed tens of thousands of people – twice.

A man’s ear was cut off and then immediately put back on, fully healed.

People who were really truly 100% dead took their second first breath and came back to life.


Can I tell you something? It’s okay to believe in impossible things. It’s okay to get your hopes up. It’s okay to know that the odds are stacked against you and still choose to trust that even if you don’t get the happy ending you’re asking for, God is able and He loves you. Our God is unstoppable. What He shuts, no one can open, and what He opens, no one can shut.

Just for today, will you let these incredible, historical, real events give you hope for the impossible things in your life?

 

 

 

What I Know For Sure.

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Let’s start this off strong.

I don’t know a lot.

In fact, I feel like the older I get, the less I actually know. Does anybody else feel this way?? It’s like my brain is pulling a Benjamin Button. In every new life stage, I’m both the smartest and the dumbest that I’ve ever been.

But there are four things I know for sure:

  1. I’m not ‘enough.’
  2. Life is a series of waiting rooms, metaphorical and literal.
  3. The ‘hustle’ culture is overrated and damaging.
  4. I literally don’t know what I would do without God.
  5. I’m bad at math.

One of my goals for the year is to take a break from TV at least one day per week, and take a break from all social media platforms at least one day per month. Yesterday was my day off of social media, and I was shocked to discover how many times my fingers mindlessly wandered and opened those apps throughout the day. Of course, as soon as I did it, I would snap out of it and close the app. But still, I reflexively tapped those apps probably 20 times, and for no other reason than that I was bored. I wanted to know what was happening in the social world that day. I didn’t want to miss something ~iMpoRtAnt~ and be left out or left behind.

Adulthood is hard. I’ve talked a lot about that in various posts, but it bears repeating, especially because of the savage mischief-maker that is social media. Don’t get me wrong, it has its perks; after all, you’re probably reading this post right now because of some form of social media. And yet in spite of all the new connections it may spark, we’re lonelier and emptier than ever. I’m convinced that no generation has been more aware of all the things we don’t have. We are bombarded daily with hundreds of things that we’re supposed to know, be, have, and do. And a lot of us actually manage to keep up, or at least look like we’re keeping up. Sort of. But behind all of our photos and memories and virtual transparency (because it’s cool to be *real* now), we’re all still secretly terrified that it’s not enough. We don’t know enough, and we’re not doing enough.

Worst of all, though, is the fear that we ourselves are not enough.

And you know what? I think that fear is justified.

Because deep down, we already know that we aren’t enough.

We can’t create, curate, fabricate, or initiate enough beauty, humor, authenticity, popularity, or overall goodness to overcome the fact that

W E .  A R E .  N O T .  E N O U G H .

We will never be funny enough, pretty enough, smart enough, athletic enough, or good enough when the measuring stick is our own self-perception or the rest of the world’s standards. Telling ourselves we’re enough in the mirror or slapping the phrase on a t-shirt does little more than bury our fear underneath a mountain of self-focus and self-help. Ultimately, our merit and abilities won’t get us very far if the focus is on what WE can do, because at one point or another, we will inevitably fail. Our skills are limited. Our energy will run out. We can’t fix other people’s problems. We can’t even fix our own.

Guess what, though?

“Being enough” was never our job.

Jesus is enough for us.

He is strong enough, smart enough, worthy enough, perfect enough. We are made whole only through a relationship with Him, and until we surrender to Him completely, we will never be able to relieve the taunting, lingering ache of “not enough.” If Jesus was enough to satisfy the debt of every human being’s sin, once and for all, then He is enough for our day-to-day. And when we bravely and humbly tear down our altars to ourselves and lay our pride at His feet, we learn that our strength to do literally everything comes from Him. We discover that the absolute best place to be is NOT behind the wheel.

The truth is, I’m not in control. I want to be. But I’m not. And that is so counterculture. We are conditioned from an early age to believe – genuinely believe – that we have control over the outcomes in our lives. We are told that if we do A + B, we WILL get C. Our DIY #bossbabe world screams “You can do anything!!” and encourages us to hustle hustle hustle to get what we want, and we buy into the lie that if we work hard enough and believe hard enough and pray hard enough…we can make God do whatever we want Him to do.

That’s what we’re really saying.

It’s ugly, isn’t it?

We want so much to believe that we know what’s best, and that if God would just get on board, then everything would be golden.

But that’s not how it is.

The Bible says that God’s ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9), and His sovereign Will always plays out exactly the way He planned from the very beginning (Proverbs 19:21). But we have hope, because He loves us (Ephesians 2:4-5) and everything He does is for our good (Romans 8:28). In the face of that kind of love, we can let go of the burden of trying to be enough for others, ourselves, and even God Himself. We can release our desperate desires to be famous for something; our need to be liked, respected, or envied; our unrealistic expectations; our selfish aspirations. We can be free, truly, and live a life marked by real joy and real peace.

It sounds contradictory, I know – giving up your autonomy and yet also being free. But it’s real. The most freedom I’ve ever felt in my life has come when I stop trying to control everything, surrender to God through prayer, and remind myself that not only is He big enough to handle my wants and my needs, but He is also worthy of my trust because He has a perfect track record and has never, ever failed to do what is best. If He thinks I need something, He’ll give it to me. If He thinks I don’t need something, He won’t give it to me. And even though I may not like it or understand it at the time, I will still choose to believe that He is right and He is worth following. After all, I don’t really have any right to hold anything back from a Person who gave up everything for me, who died so that I could live. I owe that Person everything, I think. ♥

Behind a Happy Marriage

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

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

But guess what?

We are still super happy.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Are You Willing to Hike?

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

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

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

Whoa. What?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pinterest and Jesus never cease to inspire me. ♥

Married Monday: How to Pray for Your Husband

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

7 YEARS.

Wow.

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

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

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

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


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

#1.

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

#2.

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

#3.

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

#4.

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

#5.

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

#6.

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

#7.

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


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

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

Community and Why You Need It

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WHY YOU NEED COMMUNITY:

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

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

You need people to encourage and support you.

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

You need people to hold you accountable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I sincerely hope you have people like mine. ♥♥

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The best is yet to come.

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On my sister’s phone.

Walking through Target.

Listening to a radio show.

Scrolling on Pinterest.

In the mail.

Think God might be trying to tell me something? ♥


“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 1:6b

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” — Isaiah 43:19

“[The righteous man] is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid.” — Psalm 112:7-8a

“And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” — Isaiah 32:17-18

Married Monday: My New Wedding Vows

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Dear Daniel,

Remember that sweet June evening when we said our vows under those beautiful trees in Love County? We decided not to write our own because, knowing the two of us, you probably would have struggled to get five full sentences down and I probably would have still been furiously writing after six or seven pages. ;) We’re very different, you and I, but in the midst of all the messes we’ve waded through together, we always come back to those vows. Those covenant promises we made to walk shoulder to shoulder and hand in hand until death separates us. For better or for worse, it’s you and me.

I think we can both admit, though, that saying vows is much easier than keeping vows. Since the moment we stepped off of that stage, we’ve learned that we had and still have a lot of expectations for each other, that sometimes the little things are wayyyy more irritating than the big things, and that serving each other does not come naturally. With that said, I have a few new vows I would like to make to you.


— I vow to keep turning your socks right side out, even when it drives me crazy that you don’t do it yourself.

— I vow to do my best not to use the words “always” and “never” in a fight, because they aren’t realistic.

— I vow to not stick my cold feet on you under the covers when you’re almost asleep.

— I vow to stop judging your Amazon obsession.

— I vow to forget your gross, weird, unattractive moments and keep totally crushing on the sexy beast you are.

— I vow to teach you more about empathy and let you teach me more about logic.

— I vow to try to stop gasping uncontrollably when you go all ‘The Fast & The Furious’ on me in the truck.

— I vow to take your secrets to my grave, including the funny iPhone videos I’ve taken of you when you weren’t paying attention.


I can’t promise that I’ll always love you 100% unconditionally, because I’m a sinner, so I’m pretty much guaranteed to mess this marriage thing up a lot. But I can promise to run toward Jesus with everything I have, to respect you, to apologize when I fail, to trust God’s plans for our marriage, and to love you as hard as I can because He loved us first, and that’s the only way we can love each other in return.

I love you so much, kid. You’re the coolest guy ever, and I can’t believe I get to be married to you. ♥

XOXO,
Your wife

P.S. I also can’t promise that I will stop stealing the covers, because I’m asleep when I do it and literally have no control over that. #sorryyyyyy


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