Married Monday: R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

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“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:33 (ESV)

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” 1 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV)

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 (ESV)


The way we view men these days completely breaks my heart. Turn on almost any TV comedy and you’ll find a dumb, idiotic husband or dad parading around and looking completely foolish. Our culture’s treatment of men has drastically affected not only female attitudes about men, but men’s attitudes about themselves. Women have told too many jokes about men loading the dishwasher wrong, to the extent that they’ve actually started believing that their men aren’t as capable as they are. And sadly, many men have quietly stuffed down their embarrassment and gone along with it.

When did it become acceptable to treat men like dogs – something to be laughed at, shooed away, or punished when they ‘misbehave’?? Men aren’t stupid. They aren’t dumb, and they aren’t useless. As wives, we are commanded multiple times to respect our husbands, not love them. Why? Because loving comes naturally to us, just as giving respect comes naturally to men. Yes, women need respect and men need love. But God worded it the way He did for a reason. Men have an innate need for respect the same way that women innately need love. Unfortunately, many people have begun to view respect as something that is only doled out when it is deserved, and that, my friends, is a problem. God didn’t say, “Let the wife see that she respects her husband when she feels like it or when he deserves it.” The irony is that if men held the same view about loving their wives – only when they feel like it or we deserve it – wives everywhere would be outraged. They would riot in the streets! So…why is it okay for us to make light of our command to respect our husbands, while holding them to a higher standard and expecting them to love us no matter how horrible we are? It doesn’t add up.

Let me pause and say that I am not naïve. I snagged a great guy, but I know that some of you have irresponsible, lazy, rude husbands. And some of you may have it even worse than that. Please hear me: if you are being abused by your husband in any way, get out of that house and find some help. I am NOT telling you to just sit there and let him wound you verbally, emotionally, or physically. In any other case, however, although you can’t control his actions, you can control yours. This may not be a popular thing to say, but your husband’s rudeness is not an excuse for your disrespect. 1 Peter 3:1-2 even says, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct” (ESV, emphasis mine). Pray that God will give you endurance and genuine love for your husband. Choosing to repay meanness with kindness speaks volumes more than returning meanness with disrespect.

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?

Guess Who’s a CPA??

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Most of you probably already know from my social media posts, but for those of you who haven’t already heard – Daniel did it! He did it!!! He passed his final CPA exam, and now he can officially put letters at the end of his name. To say ‘I’m relieved’ is an understatement, as is saying ‘I’m proud of him.’ I’ve been mentally planning a party to celebrate his new title for months, and now I finally get to throw it!

 The last few years have been hard for both of us, and I’m really glad this season is over. The whole process was obviously much harder for Daniel than it was for me, but it was an intense learning experience for me too. More than anything else, I found out how much I rely on my emotions, and how much I let them control my decision-making and trust in God. For example, I remember having a ‘good’ feeling when Daniel took his first test, and he passed. And I had the same ‘good’ feeling when he took the second test, and he passed that one too! But when he took the third test, I had that ‘good’ feeling about it and he didn’t pass. I was baffled. I felt like God had tricked me. How could I have the same ‘feeling’ but not get the same result? Did I not pray enough about it? Where did things go wrong?

He took the third test a second time, and the week leading up to finding out his results was…yeah. We spent several days feeling nervous and acting like we weren’t. Scores are usually posted around midnight or 1:00 am the day they are released, but for whatever reason, these weren’t posted until 8:15 am the next morning. Hashtag worst night ever. I lost count of the number of times we woke up. Daniel would stir, reach over to check his phone, and then roll back over and stare at the ceiling. Multiple times, I thought, “Oh no…he didn’t pass and he doesn’t want to tell me.” Neither of us slept at all. Around 6:00 in the morning, I started to panic a little. My heart felt like it was about to beat out of my chest, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t coax my exhausted-yet-frantic brain into slowing down. I was paralyzed by the fear that he didn’t pass and would have to take this horrible, awful exam for a third. freaking. time.

As Daniel got ready for work, I buried myself under the covers and tried not to completely fall apart. He came over to kiss me goodbye, and as he walked down the stairs to leave, I pulled the blanket back over my head, feeling ridiculous for being more stressed out than he was. He’s the one that took the test!, I thought. Why am I the one who’s turning into a basket case?

I knew there was only one thing that would truly take my mind off of everything. I sat up, pulled my bible out from underneath the mess on my nightstand, and held it in my lap. Leaning back against the headboard, I closed my eyes and breathed out the only sentence my mind could form: “Lord…I need you.”

I couldn’t tell you what I read. I don’t remember what verses or even what book, but whatever it was, it made me cry. I kept reading, soaking up every word for the next five minutes until my phone rang.

It was Daniel.

My heart stopped. “…Hello?” Moment of truth.

As soon as I heard the words “Babe, I passed!!” come through the phone with more excitement than I’ve probably ever heard him use, all the air went out of me. I dissolved into instant, uncontrollable, relieved tears. We hung up and I put both hands over my face, thanking God over and over for such a well-timed blessing. It was as if two hundred pounds had been lifted off of my back.

That’s the closest encounter I’ve ever had with anxiety, and I have a feeling what I experienced was only a taste of the real thing. For those of you who struggle and live with it on a daily basis…SO much kudos to you. I can’t imagine how hard it is, and I have committed to pray more than ever for my friends who carry that constant burden.

You want to know the weirdest thing? After all of that, I wasn’t even the slightest bit panicked about his fourth and final exam. I was nervous for him, of course, but the anxiety and fear that had clouded my mind for months was gone. I knew he would pass. He had several months to do it, but I had complete faith that regardless of how long it took, he would do it. And he did it on the first try. I can’t even put into words the overwhelming relief and release we both felt when he got his final set of passing scores. ALL glory to the Lord for Daniel’s unwavering work ethic, for our marriage staying healthy, for my sanity still being intact. :)

I’ve said this several times before, but Daniel is incredibly diligent and the hardest worker, and he deserves this win. After filling every spare second of free time with studying and test prep, I can only imagine how happy he is compared with how happy I am. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who prayed for us, encouraged us, and cheered him on when he wanted to quit most, and praise God for this victory!

Do you know anyone studying for the CPA right now, or any other difficult exams? Email me their names and addresses – I’d love to send them (and their spouse, if applicable!) an encouraging letter. Send them to lahendricks12@gmail.com. Cheers!

Married Monday: The Perry Wedding

Earlier this month, we got the privilege of being guests at Dillon and Brianna’s wedding! Since her older sister is one of my best friends, Brianna has felt like a little sister to me for the last few years. I was honored to help with lots of wedding tasks too, like making the bouquets and helping with the decorating for the ceremony! I’ve helped with several weddings since I moved to Durant, and every single time, I’ve thought, MAN, this would be a fun job. Figuring out all the little details involved comes naturally, apparently! I genuinely enjoy the organizational process behind pulling off an awesome wedding or party; there’s few things I love more than seeing all the planning and decision-making come together. Who knows – maybe someday I’ll go pro…!

Bri and Dillon’s wedding day was covered with God’s fingerprints. I love that He is so personal and intentional with us, and even though their day had absolutely nothing to do with me, God gave me sweet little glimpses of Himself in a way that only He could pull off. The best, most God-infused moment for me (besides the ceremony itself) happened just hours before the wedding.

One of my jobs that morning was laying out the aisle runner. With the help of a few groomsmen, I unrolled it, positioned it in the middle of the aisle, and pulled every inch of it tight and flat. But when I stood back to admire my handiwork, my heart sank.

The aisle wasn’t centered with the cross on the stage.

My head swam with panic.

“You have GOT to be kidding me,” I thought. I couldn’t just leave it like that; the aisle would obviously be crooked in every picture and the whole setting would look weird. How could the wedding party have set up all of the chairs the night before and not noticed this??

I debated my options for a few minutes, trying to decide what to do. If I moved just the runner, it wouldn’t be evenly positioned between the chairs. But if I moved the chairs, they wouldn’t be completely even with the stage. And I would have to move all of the wooden signs and flowers jars lining the aisle, which were already perfect. And moving that stupid runner was going to be a HUGE pain in the neck regardless, because it had already taken me forever to try to get it as straight as possible. I spent at least 30 seconds legitimately wishing I could clone myself.

For the briefest moment, I thought, “Maybe we could move the cross…?”

Something in my brain shifted, and I paused.

Right where I stood at the end of the aisle, I sat down, hugged my knees, and looked at the cross, letting out a quiet breath that came out more like a laugh. For a moment, I was struck with a tender image of God sitting next to me on the floor, cross-legged and leaning back on His palms, looking at the cross with me.

How often do we try to move the cross to fit everything else, rather than adjust everything else to fall in line with the cross?

I leaned back against the wall, lost in thought. God is so, so good to me. The fact that He would use a moment like that – at someone else’s wedding, no less! – to convict me and remind me that He is woven into every detail of our lives is proof of His kind, encouraging, sanctifying nature.

Long story short, I got up off the floor and moved the aisle runner, the wooden signs, the flowers, and every…single…chair. But it was worth it. :)

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My silly forever wedding date. We had so much fun at the reception!

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Seriously, how cute are they. ♥

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And how gorgeously simple is this cake?? Props to Jessica Cox!

One of my favorite parts of the weekend was getting to hang out with two of my dear friends/favorite mamas! They are both having boys this fall, and I’m over the moon about it!

I’ve always loved weddings. As a kid, I was really only pumped about seeing what the bride looked like and eating a giant piece of cake. And although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still love those things, there’s a few other things I appreciate more now. I especially love getting to help bring a bride’s dreams to life, whether I’m part of the wedding party or just helping as a friend.

I also never really cared much about the vows when I was little, but now that’s what I listen to more carefully than anything else during the ceremony. Couples promise to cherish each other for better OR for worse, for richer OR for poorer, and in sickness AND health, but most of them probably aren’t considering worse, poorer, or sickness as a reality. I’m filled with emotion at every wedding, remembering the vows Daniel and I said to each other and how little I understood what I was really saying. “They have no clue what they are promising,” I think to myself, smiling knowingly and yet joyfully at each couple’s giddiness and praying that God would cover their first year with buckets full of grace when the newlywed high wears off.

The longer I’m married, the more I love the fact that God picked marriage to be His holy representation of His relationship with His people. He cherishes His children in whatever condition they come to him. He is the perfect embodiment of our wedding vows: we are sick and in need of healing, but He is strong enough to raise the dead. We are poor and have nothing of value to offer, but He is rich in love and grace, and endlessly generous. We are worse than we are willing to admit, but He is better than we could ever dream. He made vows to us that He will never, ever break. Aren’t we lucky to be His bride?

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?

4 Years Married + Accepting Grace

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Marriage looks so beautiful in movies, between the glamorous weddings, the luxurious honeymoons, and the Pinterest-worthy houses to raise beautiful Gap model children in. The problem with this image is it leaves no room for two things: sin and grace. Because the world we live in is flawed, all marriages will experience hindrances, hiccups, and disappointments. Literally every marriage in the world is made up of sinners, and two sinners combining lives does not equal utopia. This sounds stupid, but before I got married, I had no idea how sinful I really am. Married life makes you very aware of how selfish you are and reminds you of the fact that your mistakes (and deliberate sinful choices) DO affect other people, whether you mean for them to or not.

If you grew up in church, you probably heard the same thing I did over and over – that no sin is too big for God to forgive. It sounds great, right? I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a version of that sentence. I’ve even said that sentence to other people myself. And yet somehow, after over two decades of existing on this planet, I found myself empty on one particular night, broken and convinced that God’s forgiveness couldn’t possibly extend to me.

I’ll spare you the details, but I genuinely can’t remember a time when I’ve been more wrecked over the sin in my life than I was that night. My own selfishness finally caught up with me (I was living proof of Numbers 32:23 – “You may be sure that your sin will find you out”), and Daniel got caught in the crossfire. The ugliest moments of my life were laid bare, and I felt hollow, completely exposed and ashamed. I couldn’t see how on earth God could cover this situation with His grace – why would someone who claimed to love Him be so defiant and self-centered?? How could He look at me, weak and muddy and disobedient, and still love me? Still want me? My head spun with condemning thoughts straight from hell: “I can’t believe you did this. You’re a horrible person. If you really loved God, you would act like it. And how could you hurt Daniel that way? You must not even care about him. You’ll never be able to move on from this. This is one of the worst things you could ever do. This will haunt you for the rest of your life.” And on, and on, and on. I was teetering on the edge of really believing those things, and it was paralyzing.

But then an incredible thing happened.

Daniel – my husband, my partner, my friend, the person I had just hurt – became a tender instrument of God, whispering words of grace over me, his voice slowly but surely drowning out the accusing background noise. He quoted Romans 8:1, reminding me that there is NO condemnation for me in Christ, including condemnation from myself. I couldn’t do or say anything; I just sat there and drank in the truth he (and He) was speaking, emotionally and spiritually spent, my heart aching but becoming whole again.

That’s what marriage is. It’s not just planning a wedding, going on a honeymoon, and trying to coexist for the next 50+ years without being miserable. It’s FORGIVING each other. It’s being willing to be the strong one when the other person is weak. It’s choosing to love when the other person doesn’t deserve it. It’s finding the tiny cracks and crevices in their heart and pouring grace into them until they’ve healed.

That experience revealed a chasm within me that I didn’t even know existed. For years, I had been more than willing to believe in God’s grace and forgiveness for other people – but I couldn’t believe it for myself. Anytime I failed, I condemned myself repeatedly, frustrated by my own imperfection. I held myself to an impossible standard and was doomed to a life of disappointment. I think there’s something about our frail humanity that makes it difficult for us to accept something we don’t feel we deserve, including God’s grace toward us. We are totally right to believe that we’ll never be good enough, but when we are in Him, there is no need for self-condemnation. Jesus’s blood covered it ALL, and God’s forgiveness is all we need. If you’ve confessed your sin to God and truly repented, don’t continue to live a life overcome by guilt and regret. His grace is enough.

When I think about how lucky I am to be married to someone who personifies God’s grace to me, words fail me. Daniel continues to love me through my most unlovable of moments and has preached the Gospel to me with words AND actions more than anyone else in my life. We’ve packed a whole lot of life into 4 years, and I can’t wait for more!

What a sweet day. I’m glad the joy didn’t end there. ♥

Photo credit: Anna Lee Photography and Catie Bartlett Photography

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It’s Daniel Day!

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When we met, I was 19 and he was 21. WHAT. We were such babies! And yet somehow, seven years doesn’t seem like the right length of time for us to have known each other. Simultaneously, it feels as if we met only a few moments ago, and also decades ago (yes, I’m old enough to say decades). How is it possible for someone to engrave themselves so deeply and so quickly on another human’s heart? I think it’s because he’s always been part of me, before I even know who he was. He is the guy I thought about, prayed for, wrote letters to, cried to the Lord over, and waited impatiently for.

It’s his 28th birthday today, and like always, I’m full to the brim with things to say. Daniel, we both know that mush is absolutely my forte and absolutely not yours, but I’m sorry – you’ll just have to suffer through me saying nice things about you right now.


I’ve said it a hundred times already, but you are the most diligent, hard-working person I know. Not exaggerating.

You pretend like you’re not good with words, but your short stories, comic poetry and on-the-spot made up lyrics to literally every song on the radio suggest otherwise.

I know you so well, I can tell what kind of mood you’re in just based on your voice.

I love that you ask me what I think about shirts before you buy them. Even though most of the time, I don’t mind if you get one even if I don’t like it, a lot of guys wouldn’t even think of asking.

You are sarcastic and silly, yes, but the truly sweet things you’ve said to me will stay with me forever. Your words are powerful, and you have used them to build me up. I’ll never be able to adequately thank you for that.


It’s not the big, expensive, photo-worthy gestures that make me love him. It’s the small, seemingly insignificant things that continued to add up over seven years. Little things like bringing me Milano cookies from work, warming up my side of the bed when our heat went out, cleaning up after Fitz, and letting me have the window seat on the plane. He’s the best, closest friend I’ve ever had. He’s strong, he’s wise, he’s dedicated, and he’s worthy of all the respect I have to give.

Happy 28th, Daniel! I love you more than Chick Fil A, and that’s saying something. :)

 

Married Monday: How to Choose a Husband

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“The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the LORD.” Proverbs 18:22 (NLT)

“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.” Proverbs 12:4 (NASB)


When I was a boy-crazy tween, I remember spending HOURS at a time dreaming about what my future husband would be like. I made a truly ridiculous amount of lists full of qualities he had to have, and according to those lists, my ideal guy was a muscled-up, well-dressed, animal-loving athlete/musician with a sexy accent, a sensitive side, and lots of money that he earned honestly.

Oh, and of course he had to be a Christian; that was just the icing on the cake.

I can’t help but laugh now whenever I remember those well-worn pieces of notebook paper. Naturally, I realized as I got older that my standards meant my dream guy was basically Superman/impossible, so I let go of a few things and added a few things, but my focus was still on who I was looking for. I forgot that if and when I ever got married, half of that marriage equation included me.

Compared to the time I spent planning who my guy should be, I spent almost no time allowing God to refine my own character.

Have you ever considered that the person you married had expectations about you too? As frustrated as I get sometimes when Daniel can’t read my mind, I KNOW I haven’t lived up to his expectations either. I’m sure he imagined that his wife would be a perfect combination of qualities: beautiful but humble, smart but not arrogant, athletic but not Schwarzenegger, funny but not crass, bold but not rude, sexy but classy, kind but not mousy, and witty but not hurtful, with an ENORMOUS desire to learn every single meal his mother made and cook them as well and as often as she did.

Luckily for him, I meet ALL of those requirements!

Lol…not.

As logical as Daniel is, it’s likely that his expectations weren’t actually as high as I described. But even if they were, it’s not his fault, really – we all do it. Without meaning to, though we would probably never say it out loud, we expect our partners to be perfect. Much like TV or movie romantic leads, they must always apologize first, make at least a couple of ‘grand romantic gestures’, know exactly the right words to say in any situation, be fantastic in bed, and never do anything normal humans do, like use the bathroom, lose their keys, or forget to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer.

I naively assumed that real marriage was like TV marriage, where you can say almost anything in a fight as long as it’s clever, and it’ll all get glossed over and work out in two minutes because the episode is almost over. Before I got married, I never thought about disappointing my husband – I was too busy thinking about how he would fulfill MY needs and make ME happy. But there have been moments in our marriage when I have been inconsiderate, rude, or disrespectful and Daniel’s face made his thoughts very clear: “This is not the woman I fell in love with.” Suddenly, it’s not just about what I want. His needs matter too.

At this point, I feel like I need to point out that it’s not a bad thing to have some standards for your future spouse! It’s kind of important to have some stuff in common with the person you’re picking to do life with forever. But be careful that you don’t set a standard that’s impossible for any human to meet. It’s also okay to reevaluate your “deal breakers” every so often. Some things should always be deal breakers, but some things may not be as important to you as you get older. For example: before Daniel and I met, I wanted to marry a musician. Since I was 12 or 13, I had an image in my head of my husband and I singing in our kitchen, harmonizing perfectly while we cooked dinner. And Daniel, well…at least he LIKES to sing! :) Poor boy couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. But that’s okay. I thought it was a deal breaker, but it turns out…it wasn’t! I wouldn’t give up every other quality he has for a guy who can sing. Learn to find the line between “no standards” and “impossible-to-meet standards.”

You can also argue, however, that my job was never to create a set of standards for a godly man and then go looking for him. Because the Bible is already FULL of them. Proverbs alone describes a good husband as

compassionate (12:10),
hard-working (27:23-27),
honest (12:17),
generous (14:21),
humble (16:18-19),
self-controlled (12:15, 16:32),
trustworthy (26:20),
optimistic (17:22),
and forgiving (19:11).

Proverbs kicks my list in the face.

Now look at the list again. How many of those qualities do you have? It’s not enough to have expectations for the other person. It’s hypocritical to hold Daniel to a standard that I don’t care about meeting myself. My responsibility, then and now, is two-fold: (1) Pursue my own relationship with God and grow into a godlier woman, and (2) Appreciate and encourage the good qualities my husband has and support his growth in his relationship with God.

Whether you’re married or not, it’s time for you to make a new list – for yourself. Pray that God will make you loving (Titus 2:4-5), respectful (Ephesians 5:33), hardworking (Proverbs 31:13, 15-16, 18-19, 21-22, 24, 27), calm (1 Peter 3:4), courageous (Joshua 1:9), good-humored (Proverbs 17:22), and holy like Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

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?

30 By 30

Uh…….. I’m turning 26 in two days.

Let it be known, first of all, that I LOVE my birthday. I’ve loved every single one of my birthdays. I love my birthday so much that I kind of maybe irrationally expect everyone else to know when it’s my birthday, and if someone who knows me doesn’t wish me happy birthday, I’m disappointed that they forgot about my birthday.

That said. Turning 26 is weird.

Turning 25 felt exciting, like I became a new kind of grown-up. I felt important in a more sophisticated way. “Oh, me? Yeah…I’m 25.” (Cue the smug smile.) Turning 26 feels a little like waking up the day after you run a marathon: you’re proud of what you’ve accomplished, but also a little bit ready to just die already.

To cheer myself up, I’m taking a leaf out of a fellow blogger’s book! My friend Caitlin Boswell from Absolutely Bositively created a list of 30 things to do before she turns 30, and I’ve decided to do the same! I’m obsessed with list-making, and I like having stuff to look forward to.

30 By 30

1. Have babies.
This one makes me go “…….whaaaaaaaaa!??!?!!?!” a little bit, but it belongs on the list. :)

2. Take an Alaskan cruise.
Daniel and I have had this on our list for awhile! We loved the Caribbean cruise we took last April, but the next one we go on will have to include mountains, snow, and whales.

3. Pay for someone’s dinner anonymously.
Someone did this for us once and it was so neat! I want to make someone else feel the way I did.

4. Go on a big adventure.
I’d love for it to be some crazy awesome vacation, but I left this one vague for a reason because with Daniel as my best friend, who the heck KNOWS what shenanigans we’ll get into in the next 4 years.

5. Throw someone a surprise party.
I. LOVE. SURPRISES. SO. MUCH. And I love throwing parties, so this is pretty much a necessity.

6. Read 10 new books.
First on my list is a gift from Daniel: Bossypants by Tina Fey!!

7. Learn how to curl my hair.
I know…I know. :( I’m stylistically challenged, but my bestie got me a curling wand for Christmas, so I have no more excuses.

8. Make a complicated recipe.
You know what I’m talking about – the one you’ve had pinned for four years but never attempted because you’re daunted by the ingredients list alone? I’m gonna do it.

9. Complete the 52-Week Money Challenge.
Seems easy enough! And it’s enticing to think about getting to the end of a year having saved that much so simply. The hard part will be not dipping into it for spontaneous unnecessary purchases, like a dog sweater that Fitz would destroy before wearing it but it would look so cute OH MY GOSH.

The Color Run - the happiest 5K ever. I will do this.:

10. Participate in a Color Run.
I hate running with my whole being, but this looks really fun.

11. Deliver meals to new parents.
Because allllllll my friends are having alllllllll the babies. And also because I love to give gifts that they’ll actually appreciate and use!

12. Turn MONAT into an actual job.
This is a biggie, and I kind of scared myself by putting it on here. But this is something I really want.

13. Host a backyard dinner party.
I’ve wanted to do this for years, and now we F I N A L L Y have an awesome backyard to do it in! Come on, summer!

14. Plan a “stay-cation.”
How delicious does it sound to take an entire day off from work, dress up your bedroom like it’s an upscale hotel room, and do nothing but watch movies and EAT? Ahhhhh.

15. Take Fitz on a trip.
I’m not 100% sure that including this one wasn’t a huge mistake, considering he never stops moving right now and is a hyper terror on walks…but after all, he is still a puppy. He’ll grow up eventually and I would love to travel somewhere fun with him as a sidekick!

16. Create a new annual family tradition.
Any suggestions?? What’s one of yours?

photos from each state they visited - glued onto a giant map and cut to fit the shape of the state.:

17. Make a map of places we’ve visited.
I really like this one, this one, and this one. Can’t wait to make one and put it on the wall!

18. Take anniversary pictures with Daniel.
I told myself “Oh yeah, we’ll take pictures every year after we get married!” and that definitely hasn’t happened. Time to be a woman of my word.

19. Spend a long weekend tucked away in a cabin.
Nothing is for sure yet, but we *might* be able to check this one off in a couple weeks! Eek!

20. Update my home decor.
Since we got married, my decorating style has been a weird combination of re-purposed wedding decor, homemade gifts we’ve been given, and odds and ends I’ve bought on clearance from random stores. I’m ready for everything to go together so I feel happy and comfortable when I walk in a room.

21. Make our backyard fun.
I am bursting with ideas, and first on my list is globe lights!

22. Grow the blog.
To be completely honest, I’m not really sure what I mean by “grow” yet. Maybe it’s monetizing, or extending my reach, or writing content that goes viral. Or maybe it’s none of those, and it’s simply learning to create without apologizing for it. We’ll see!

23. Take a group vacation.
When Daniel and I took our Caribbean cruise, we kept thinking the whole time how fun it would be to go back with some of our friends. Fingers crossed that this one happens soon!

24. Give away a few blessing bags.
I discovered these via Pinterest and they are SUCH a neat idea. I hate driving by homeless people with nothing to give them. My goal is to make a couple and always keep one or two in my car.

How To Host A Favorite Things Party! | Twin Cities Moms Blog

25. Have a “Favorite Things” party.
This sounds like so much fun! I think the most complicated part will be deciding what my “favorite things” are – I have wayyyy too many favorites.

26. Visit 5 new states.
It’s really sad how few I’ve visited. The west coast is completed untouched, so this one will be really easy. Especially if we make that Alaskan cruise happen!

27. Go on a fancy dress-up date.
There’s something about a dress that really fits, scarlet red lips, and a good pair of heels that makes a girl feel sassy. We went on one in Dallas about a year and a half ago as part of a marriage retreat weekend. We were the most dressed up we’ve ever been (besides wedding clothes, duh), and we STILL didn’t feel quite fancy enough to be there. We had a blast!

28. Really establish a cooking/cleaning routine.
I’m convinced I’m the worst wanna-be housewife in the entire world. I really really want to be good at things like cooking and cleaning and scheduling, and SOMEtimes…I am! I do like to cook, and I love organization. But somehow I just haven’t mastered the art of housewife-ing. And I want to. So bad. My poor husband.

29. Publish my book.
O     M     G.
Those three words together are terrifying. But it’s honestly long overdue. I need to quit kicking the idea around and actually do it.

30. Take a road trip.
I love the idea of having an ultimate destination in mind but just hopping in the car and driving without too much of a plan, stopping whenever we want, and finding funny little things to take pictures of along the way!

What do you think of my list?? Any suggestions?

To find out how I’m doing at crossing things off, visit my 30 By 30 page.

Married Monday: A Letter to the Singles

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“I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you.” Haggai 2:23b (NIV)

“And you shall be called Sought After.” Isaiah 62:12b (NIV)

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:16a (NIV)

“You are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.” Isaiah 43:4 (NIV)


Sweet singles: I think I owe you an apology.

It’s easy to forget what it’s like to be single when you’ve been married for a while. You’ll have to forgive me; I don’t always realize that some of the things I’ve said to you were more hurtful than helpful. I’m so sorry for reducing your feelings with true but inconsiderate statements like this:

“Jesus was never married and look at His ministry!”
“Paul said it’s better for us to be unmarried anyway!”
“You just haven’t found the right guy/girl yet.”

Once again, Valentine’s Day has made me aware of how much our churches emphasize the importance of marriage, and how our culture constantly highlights losing your virginity as this ultimate life goal to be achieved. In light of that, it’s easier to understand why you struggle with having unfulfilled desires and understanding your value to the church. I know that you know your relationship with Jesus is most important, despite the Bible’s emphasis on marriage and family. I know that you know your ‘season’ of singleness gives you the unique chance to draw nearer to God. But I also know that it’s hard to be content in your singleness, especially if you’re surrounded by friends who are getting married right and left. You want to believe that if you have a godly desire, it will automatically be fulfilled, and it’s hard to grapple with the honest reality that you may never get married. I get it, friends. I really do.

        Mostly, I just want to encourage you with a few truths. I’m sure you probably already know these things, but sometimes it’s nice to be reminded.

You are valuable.
You are important to God.
You have special worth as a single.
You are funny.
You are smart.
You are appreciated.

You are no more or less important than me, married people, single parents, pastors, janitors, or career missionaries.

There are two things I want you to do. First, remember that it’s okay to want to be married. Don’t beat yourself up for wanting that; it’s a good thing. But secondly, instead of sitting around wishing, start actively pursuing love instead of marriage. I love what John Fisher says: “Marriage is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end. Marriage is the servant of love. If we are pursuing marriage we are pursuing the wrong thing because love then becomes subservient to marriage. We start coming up with our own ideas of what love is.”

        Here’s the truth: whether you get married or not, if you focus your eyes on God completely, you will still experience the vast fullness of His love. Don’t worry, friend! You aren’t lacking or missing out on anything! God has lots of ways of revealing Himself to us, and although marriage is one way, it’s not the only way or the most important way.

 Lots of x’s and o’s, Laura

P.S. Want more on this topic? Check out the rest of what John Fisher says about Purposeful Singleness here, or visit www.singleness.org/.

Married Monday: Valentine’s Day Ideas

Couple Heart Hot Air Balloon Card

I LOVE giving gifts, even tiny little silly things. But – this seems to be a theme for me this year! – Valentine’s Day snuck up on me, so I miiiiight not be entirely sure what I’m giving Daniel this year…whoops. In the past, I’ve come up with some pretty creative ideas for Daniel on the fly though, including this stinkin’ awesome candy bouquet!

Candy bouquet for my 2014 Valentine. :) It was ridiculously easy. Click to see the tutorial I used!:

It may be a little sad how proud I still am of this.

I don’t want to give him the same thing every year though, so I’ve been looking for some new inspiration. How fun are these ideas?


1. Set up a tent date.

Tents are magic. I love this idea, especially since we have a fenced-in backyard now, and I could even set it up inside if I wanted to!

Overcome the Outdoors.
2. Man Crates.

These are seriously awesome. They have all different kinds of packages, with themes like “Eating,” “Outdoor,” and “Sports.” Each crate is delivered in a box with an actual crowbar to open it with. How much more manly does it get?

Food Passport - write a bunch of restaurants inside a mini notebook and give as a "gift" with a sleeve of stickers to code each place you visit. Green = awesome, yellow = okay, pink = never go back again. Fun for a weekly date night! This would make a great gift for a newly married couple.:
3. A food passport.

How I wish that the original link for this idea still existed! :( I found this a few years ago and really want to duplicate it. You write a bunch of restaurants inside a mini notebook and give as a “gift” with a sleeve of stickers to code each place you visit. Green = awesome // yellow = okay // pink = never go back again.

You're a Fox Available as a Single Folded Card or Boxed Set of 8
4. A funny card.

I’m partial to Rifle Paper Co., as you might already know, and I have a special place in my heart for truly unique, creative greeting cards!

What do you want for Valentine’s Day?

Married Monday: Choosing Faithfulness

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“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?