40 By 40

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Today, I turn 30.

Wow.

I can’t believe the 90’s were 30 years ago. I’m nowhere close to being old, but dang if that doesn’t make me feel ancient!

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you’re probably familiar with my “30 by 30” list. When I wrote it on my 26th birthday in 2016, I had no clue how the next few years would unfold. There were items on the list that I wasn’t sure would even happen, but they did! But there were also items on the list that I was 100% confident would happen, but they didn’t. Regardless, that list is a prized possession now. I memorialized some of the most fun moments in the last four years of my 20’s, and I can go re-read the list anytime I want and experience that joy all over again!

It just felt right to continue this tradition into my 30’s, so…here we go!!


40 THINGS TO DO BEFORE MY 40TH BIRTHDAY.

1. Find a form of exercise that I truly ENJOY and do it habitually.
Like yoga! I’m a big fan of Yoga With Adriene.

2. Start and maintain a car replacement fund.
My Acura has treated me well, but she’s slowing down…

3. Keep some higher-maintenance plants alive.
A fiddle leaf fig tree and some perennials on the front porch are at the top of my list.

4. Take a class with Daniel.
Something fun, like massage, dancing, or cooking!

assorted fruit and can lot

5. Start planning meals monthly instead of weekly.
My mom is #GOALS for this one – such an organizational inspiration. I’m pretty sure she had her comprehensive shopping list created in Excel before the internet existed.

6. Give away something really expensive, anonymously.
Ideas: pool money with friends to buy a car for a single mom in need, buy a plane ticket for a friend to go on a mission trip, or get really nice Christmas gifts for kids who wouldn’t get any otherwise.

7. See one of my favorite bands live in concert.
Even though music plays such a huge role in my personal life, I’ve weirdly never been a big concert person. But I feel like I need to make this happen at least once in my life.

8. Master the basics of another language.
I took approximately four years of Spanish between high school and college, and it’s embarrassing how little of it I remember.

boats on water near buildings

9. Spend a minimum of two weeks traveling in Europe.
Between the jet lag and the expensive plane tickets, I want to get my money’s worth.

10. Take a sister trip with Robyn.
Harry Potter World????? LET’S GOOOOOO

11. Make at least three recipes from every cookbook I own.
I mean…what’s the point in owning them if I never even use them?

12. Identify mentors in my life, and make time to meet with and learn from them.
The older I get, the more I crave this. I have so much to learn!

13. Set up a home office space.
I’m gonna need somewhere to plan all of those events, right? ;)

14. Send more birthday cards, thank-you cards, and just-because cards.
Snail mail is a lost art. And I’m bringin’ it back.

15. Read at least 30 new books.
Easily one of my favorite things to complete last time! Considering the fact that I had ten done in two years for 30 By 30 (and I wasn’t really trying very hard), I’m pretty sure I’ve got this one in the bag.

DIY: Food Passport for road trips!

16. Make a food passport and fill it with “stamps.”
I came across this idea on Pinterest a long time ago, and it looks so fun! Even though our town is small and we’ve lived here for almost 8 years, there are still restaurants we’ve never visited. (However, for those of you who are locals, I can confidently say that Taste Island will never…ever…EVER make the list of places to try.)

17. Unplug as often as possible. Schedule weekly device-free time and stick to it.
One of my favorite things about our last friendscation cruise was the fact that we were totally unplugged. The only thing I did with my phone for an entire week was take pictures, and it was BLISS.

18. Go sky-diving.
I’ve wanted to do this my whole life, and 2020 is my year to make it happen!!

19. Make my own pasta.
Doesn’t this just seem like the most adult-y thing to do?

20. Spend intentional time nurturing the marriages around me.
Come on, I had to give myself a softball. :) I’m super passionate about marriage ministry, so this one won’t be hard.

21. Pay it forward at least once a month.
I’m already working on a mental list of ideas, like paying for the person ahead of me in the drive-through, leaving a roll of quarters at my work vending machine, etc. But I would love your suggestions too!

22. Make peace with my body’s ‘flaws.’
I read this quote the other day and fell in love with it:
“And I said to my body softly, ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath and replied, ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.'” –Nayyirah Waheed

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23. Celebrate 10 years and 15 years of marriage.
Hard to believe we’re more than halfway to both of those anniversaries!

24. Take another friendscation.
ALREADY. SO. READY. TO. RAGE.

25. Do something risqué.
Liiiiiike take boudoir photos or go skinny-dipping. (Sorry Mom)

26. Come up with a system to keep track of when food goes bad and stop throwing away so much freaking produce.
So annoying. I can’t be the only one who’s bad at this.

26. Break out of my comfort zone and do adventurous things just because I can.
Geocaching, karaoke, trying more unique foods, picking up a new hobby, flying first class, taking a different class at the gym…I have plenty of ideas!

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28. Read at least one book out loud with Daniel every year.
We started doing this on long car trips a few years ago, and it’s enjoyable for both of us because Daniel is an auditory learner and I love to read aloud.

29. Save up for something expensive.
A new car? A home renovation? A crazy vacation? We’ll see!

30. Do some real landscaping in our front yard.
I’m envisioning more plants on the porch, solar lighting along the sidewalk, and maybe a tree or two.

31. Spend one year doing a “month without:” a month without Netflix, fried food, biting my nails, dessert, etc.
My friend Victoria inspired this one, although she actually gives up one thing every year for the entire year, and I’m not sure if I’m that hardcore…

person holding calendar at January

32. Make a calendar for all family/friend birthdays.
I have pretty much all of them on my phone, but I want an actual paper calendar or something so I can look at them all together and keep track of how many birthday cards I need to buy each month.

33. Host a beauty swap or clothing swap party.
I’ve done a clothing swap before, but never a beauty swap. Can’t wait to do this one!

34. Start recording my prayer requests.
I want to remember the days that I start praying about something and the days that God answers those prayers. Even if His answer is ‘no.’

35. Write letters to the 10 most influential people who have impacted my life.
Why do we wait until someone’s funeral to say the best things about them? I’m not waiting any longer. I never want someone I love to wonder how I really felt about them.

36. Play the piano every single week.
When Daniel and I got married, my dad gifted us a beautiful Kawai, and I am ashamed to tell you how often I actually play it. I want to get back to my roots and do that gift justice.

37. Remodel our downstairs bathroom.
That shower, y’all….it needs some help. Good thing I’ve got some contractors in the family!

38. Sponsor a child, and maybe even go meet him or her.
We can’t help every needy child. But maybe we can change the world for a few of them. ♥

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39. Invest in quality skincare and use it consistently.
Gah, I sound like such a grown-up.

40. Host a backyard dinner party, with multiple courses and everything.
This was one of my goals for the year in 2019, and I wasn’t able to make it happen between all of the weddings, parties, showers, and traveling. So I’m trying again!

*Bonus: Each year, visit a new place I’ve never been before. On my wishlist:
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The Grand Canyon
Lake Moraine and Lake Louise in Banff, Canada
Switzerland
Redwood National Park

To see my original post about why I decided to do “30 By 30,” click here!

Robyn’s Wedding Shenanigans

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2019 was the year of  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. After my sister-in-law Amanda’s wedding in March, I immediately started gearing up for the next one – this time, for my sister Robyn and her beau Travis! (Okay, let’s be honest…I started planning Robyn’s wedding shenanigans the day after she got engaged.)

Her bachelorette party was easily one of my favorites I’ve ever hosted! We ate dinner first at The Hall’s Pizza Kitchen, and then walked next door to do an escape room. One of my favorite things about that night was giving Robyn a temporary tattoo of Travis’s face!

After the escape room, we retreated to an Airbnb and enjoyed Princess Diaries-themed snacks. The next morning, after brunch at a place called Hatch, we went to an aerial yoga class, and it was a BLAST!

A few weeks before the wedding, my parents’ church hosted a wedding shower for them, and I got to spend some sweet time with my mom and grandmas.

Her rehearsal was lovely too, and we got to eat at The Pizza Factory for the rehearsal dinner, where the ranch dressing is so good you seriously contemplate drinking it. (Also, can you tell we like pizza…?)

Her wedding day was the absolute dreamiest – gorgeous venue, chill bride, sweet vendors, all kinds of family and friends…ahh!! It was the best day!

I’m convinced that one of the best things about going to weddings as an adult is getting to see people you haven’t seen in years. Robyn’s wedding was basically just a huge reunion, and I loved it. ♥

Image may contain: 2 people, including Robyn Haynes, people smiling, wedding and outdoor

Image may contain: Robyn Haynes and Travis Haynes, people smiling, wedding and outdoor

I love you five-ever, Robyn and Travis! So happy we’re family!

Amanda’s Wedding Festivities

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Remember when I shared that BOTH of my sisters got engaged in the same weekend?? Their weddings were both this year, one in March and one in June! I’m definitely playing catch-up here, but I am so excited to finally share some photos with you all.

The first wedding of the year was for my sister-in-law, Amanda, and her guy, Ryan, and I hosted a travel-themed wedding shower for them through our church.

I also had the honor of throwing her bridal shower based off of “The Office” at my house, and it was such a riot!! I’ve never had so much fun blowing balloons up halfway, haha!

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Amanda’s maid of honor, Alesha, did a fabulous job planning her bachelorette party too! We went to dinner at this super cute (and delicious) place in Dallas called Ida Claire, did an escape room, spent the night at an Airbnb, and went to Six Flags for opening weekend!

Her wedding day was pure craziness, especially when the cold front rolled in as the girls were taking pictures. But the ceremony was the sweetest, the reception was a blast, and she looked SO beautiful!!

Image may contain: 2 people, including Amanda Snell, people smiling, people standing, tree, wedding and outdoor

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, wedding and outdoor

Congratulations again, Ryan and Amanda! Love you guys so much! ♥

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. ♥

 

 

 

Our Love Story in 15 Bullet Points

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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?

14 Days of Love

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If you’ve learned anything about me, you know that I’m a HUGE gift giver. I love picking out unique, meaningful, and sometimes silly things to show someone how much they mean to me. Valentine’s Day is no exception, and last year, I decided to tell Daniel I loved him through 14 Days of Love – goofy goodies hidden around the house, in his car, and even in his office at work!

 

 

 

 

I got all of my ideas from Pinterest and Google, printed off and cut out the little labels, and made a quick shopping trip. To keep things simple, I wrote the labels ahead of time and kept everything hidden…in a non-disclosed location because my husband reads this blog…and all I had to do was pick out a new one to hide for him to find every day leading up to Valentine’s Day.

The pièce de résistance, though, was the bacon roses. Nothing says “Be mine forever” quite like a bouquet of meat! ♥

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How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Are your gifts serious, or silly?

Married Monday: Marriage Advice for Dating, Engaged, and Newlywed Couples

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Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham, said, “Love is not only ‘the union of two good forgivers,’ but also ‘the union of two good appreciators.'” Can’t say it better than that!

It’s important to remember that marriage is blending the lives of two sinners together. YOU are a sinner. YOU are deeply flawed and selfish. And you are marrying a sinner who is also deeply flawed and selfish. Getting married doesn’t automatically turn you into amazingly perfect, selfless people.

Sometimes, romance doesn’t look like flowers and fancy dates. Maybe it looks like one of you doing the dishes because you know the other one hates doing them. Maybe it’s finding a heart drawn in the fog on the mirror when you get out of the shower. Maybe it’s just putting your phones away for an hour, sitting on the couch, and talking about your week. Your methods of showing affection will deepen in value, and gestures of love take on brand new meaning as seasons of life change.

Never, ever, EVER compare yourself or your marriage to others, especially via social media. You will end up feeling prideful or resentful, and neither is healthy.

Know that for every expectation you have for your spouse, they will have one for you too. You’ll find out really fast how “stuck in your ways” both of you are. But also know that while both of your expectations may be valid, you both need to bend a little. It’s unrealistic and unfair to expect your spouse to do all the changing and adjusting in your relationship while you refuse to adapt a little for them.

Your marriage relationship is a picture to the rest of the world about the way God loves His people. Are you displaying an accurate picture?

You will never completely fulfill each other. I know it may be hard to imagine (partially because movies have given us unrealistic expectations for the things our spouse is ‘supposed’ to do and say), but there will always be gaps that no one but the Lord can fill. Ruth Bell Graham also wisely said, “I pity the married couple who expect too much from one another. It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ Himself can be: ready to forgive, totally understanding, unendingly patient, invariably tender and loving, unfailing in every area, anticipating every need, and making more than adequate provision. Such expectations put a man under an impossible strain. The same goes for the man who expects too much from his wife.”

Guard your heart persistently. There are so many things competing for your attention – romance novels, sex-saturated movies, pornography, flirtatious coworkers – and Satan will use as many as he can to steal your affection for your spouse, in obvious ways and scarily subtle ways. Don’t let him. Protect your marriage.

Don’t forget that you are on the same team! When you face conflict, try to view the situation as “the couple vs. the problem” rather than “the husband vs. the wife.” You are teammates on the same side, not enemies in opposite corners of a boxing ring.

Respect and kindness are gifts. At some point (even if it’s just for one 10-minute argument), your spouse will not deserve them. Give them anyway. They are much easier to give when they are earned, but it is much more powerful to give them when they aren’t.

Learn to pick your battles, because some things just aren’t worth arguing about. Don’t look for reasons to be upset. Instead, think long-term and ask yourself, “Ten years from now, will I be glad I fought for this? How important will it be in a few decades that we didn’t agree about this, or that he did what I wanted?” 

Pride will ruin your relationship. You will become mentally, emotionally, and spiritually unhealthy very quickly if you are too stubborn to ask for forgiveness, to accept a genuine apology, or to ask for help when you need it.

Physical attraction and sexual compatibility are a really shaky foundation to build your life on. They are like lighter fluid on a relationship: it will burn hot and bright for a short while, but when there is no other substance underneath to fuel it, the flame will inevitably fade and fail.

Make having fun a priority in married life, not just in your dating life. Don’t let  new responsibilities and schedules and busyness dampen your spirit and spontaneity. Marriage can be SO FUN, more fun than anything else you do, so decide that fun is important and make time for it!

Learn your spouse’s love language as early as possible, and look for ways to show your affection in the way that means the most to him or her – acts of service, gifts, quality time, physical touch, or words of affirmation.

So often, when someone has a problem with his or her spouse, they talk to everyone else BUT their spouse about it. Don’t do this. If your husband is frustrating you, talk to HIM about it and deal with it together.

The best time to invest in your marriage is before you’re struggling. Read marriage books together, go to a conference, or plan a weekend getaway somewhere specifically to spend time reconnecting. The time and money you sacrifice will be worth it in the long run.

Pray so hard for your marriage. Never stop praying for each other and with each other. Pray as if your lives depend on it, because they do. 


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?