Alaska Anniversary Photo Shoot

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When Daniel and I took our Alaskan cruise, one of the most exciting parts of the trip was meeting up with one of our wedding photographers in Juneau for a 5-year anniversary shoot. And honestly, the whole day feels like I dreamed it. There were a few mishaps, like the fact that our original location was covered up by clouds and it rained on us a lot. But it really didn’t matter because we had the most incredible time wandering around Mendenhall Lake with Catie, and I will treasure these pictures forever!

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Nugget Falls. Aka, the waterfall of my dreeeeeams.

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Cool story – see that glacier behind us? The adventure excursion we took later that day included paddling across the lake, hiking up on top of the glacier, and exploring the ice caves underneath!! AH-MAY-ZING. Pictures from that part of our trip are here.

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In this next little mini segment, Catie told Daniel to cuddle up close and whisper in my ear. So naturally, he did this: ⇓ ⇓

Catie: “Whisper sweet nothings!”
Daniel (seductively): “I love asparagus…”

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Man, I like him.

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The pose above has almost become a “signature” for us – we have an engagement picture and a wedding picture posed and positioned exactly like this, so I asked Catie to take one like them to keep the accidental tradition going.

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SIGH. I seriously want to take a photographer on all our vacations now. So dreamy! Thanks again, Catie! ♥

 

 

Five Years.

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Five years. We’ve been married for five whole years. Five is a “milestone” year, right? It feels like one. We aren’t in the glorious throes of parenthood or figuring out what it’s like to be middle-aged yet, but we’re not exactly newlyweds anymore either. We’ve laughed a lot. We’ve traveled a lot. We’ve stumbled, fallen, and helped each other up a lot. I earnestly hope that God allows us decades more of doing life together!

Daniel – I love you more and most. Thanks for embracing my crazy and not running away. :) Happy Anniversary!

Married Monday: Purity

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“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (ESV)

For years, I, Laura the good little Christian girl, associated the word ‘purity’ with one thing: sex. Therefore, being ‘pure’ ultimately meant one thing: don’t have sex before you’re married.

I went through True Love Waits.
I wore a silver ring with a heart and cross on it.
And I didn’t have sex before I got married.

But did that mean I was really pure?

(I’ll give you a hint…the answer is “NO IT DID NOT.”)

The biggest problem with my teenage view of purity is pretty straightforward: it communicates that purity is just physical, and that once you’re married, you don’t really have to worry about being ‘pure’ anymore because you’re no longer a virgin. This assumption completely misses the point of why we are encouraged to keep ourselves ‘pure’ in the first place. “Purity” and “virginity” aren’t synonyms. Purity isn’t not having sex, or only having sex with the person you’re married to. Obviously, the details look different for singles and married folks, but there’s so much more to it than just the physical stuff. You might be a technical virgin or you might have only slept with your spouse, and you’re thinking, “I followed the rules! I’m good!” But if your mind is consumed with thoughts about making out with attractive guys, or your obsession with male celebrities’ bodies? Come on now. That’s not purity. Your thoughts are just as important as what you do with your body.

Paul went so far as to tell us in Philippians 4:8 that “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, is there is anything worthy of praise, THINK about these things” (ESV; emphasis mine). THINK about these things! Use this verse as your guide for purity, not what the world tells you is acceptable. Proverbs 16:25 says “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (ESV). We are in major trouble if we start looking to pop culture for advice about purity. Culture would tell you, “Do what feels right! It’s okay to flirt with that guy you work with, even though you’re in a relationship – you know it’ll never go anywhere; it’s all in fun. And that daydream you had about kissing the guy from your gym? Don’t feel guilty, it’s no big deal. Everybody does it. Oh, and go ahead and watch that movie – those sex scenes aren’t really real, and who cares if they pop into your head later? Besides, *male actor* is SO. HOT.”

Am I stepping on any toes yet?

Let’s get real for a hot minute: guys are not the only ones who struggle with lust. Can I just squash that myth once and for all?? The verse that women love to quote to men about lust applies to us too:

“Everyone who looks at a [man] with lustful intent has already committed adultery with [him] in [her] heart” (Matthew 5:28, ESV).

I don’t care if you are single or married: your mind soaks things up like a sponge. If you constantly fill it with graphic descriptions from books like 50 Shades of Grey, sex tips from magazines like Cosmo, and scenes from movies like The Notebook (even if they ‘don’t actually show anything,’ which is honestly a stupid thing to say), you’re setting yourself up for failure. If you’re honest, you know those things don’t lead to a clean thought life.

In the same way that I wish someone had told me why you wait until you’re married to have sex, I wish someone had explained genuine purity to me before I got married. I had no idea that I would still have to actively work on purity of heart and mind while being happily married at the same time. But I didn’t build protective habits into my thought life as a single girl, so why did I expect that things would magically fix themselves after I got married?? Silly Laura. Marriage does not fix you. Only God can fix you.

Ultimately, the reason we should desire to maintain a pure heart, mind, and body is because God asked for it and deserves it. Purity is required of all of us, whether you’re single or you’ve been married for 30 years. As followers of Jesus, we are set apart on purpose; we’re called to something higher, something better! We are supposed to think and act differently from people who don’t follow Jesus, not get swept up in the current of ever-changing cultural norms.

So what are some practical ways to make purity a priority?

If you’re single: Don’t read or watch trash! Fill your mind with good things, not things that make you wish you had someone to be with. And remember: it’s not enough to remove the damaging stuff from your life. You’ve got to replace it with Truth. Dig into the word, and pursue your Creator with no agenda. Don’t build a relationship with God assuming that He owes you a relationship because of your obedience to Him.

If you’re married: You’re not off the hook! Same advice goes for you; don’t read or watch trash. Your eyes should only be for your husband. He is your standard, not Channing Tatum. Watch your husband with intention, and point out the things you find attractive about him. If you just can’t find anything attractive, pray that God would soften your heart and remind you of why you picked him.

Both teams: Keep a vigilant watch over your heart, and take EVERY thought captive, like it says in the verse above. Just because a thought comes into your head and it “feels right” doesn’t mean it’s from God or acceptable to God. Test everything with the Word of God, and be obedient to Christ. Your heart and mind are too important for you to be lazy with them!

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?

Vacation Reveal: We’re Traveling To…!!

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…..ALASKA!!

WE’RE CRUISING TO ALASKA!! I can barely breathe every time I think about it! Both of us have wanted to do this for years, and it still hasn’t sunk in yet that we’re actually going. We’ll be cruising with Princess, a first for us – our only other cruise was with Royal Caribbean, and we visited Honduras, Belize, and Cozumel. For this cruise, we have four ports of call in Alaska and British Columbia, and we’ll be doing some scenic cruising through Glacier Bay. We even get to explore Seattle for a day or two to bookend the trip!

We’ll be stopping in:

I’ve been doing so much Googling and Pinteresting and TripAdvisor-ing, and my WORD, the photos!! My heart has skipped so many beats it’s unhealthy. My dream location is almost always a big body of water next to awe-inspiring mountains, so this is basically heaven. And being the organizer that I am, I’ve already been planning everything down to the tiniest detail – even mapping out the route from our cabin to different locations on the ship, making lists of “must-see’s” and good eats at each port, and figuring out how much time we’ll need to walk everywhere. There’s only one thing that I’m unsure of, and that’s what to do with our bags on the last day of the trip.

Here’s our problem: We arrive back in Seattle on a Saturday around 7:00 am. Our flight isn’t until around 5:00 pm that night. We’ll need a few hours to depart the ship, pick up our bags, and go through customs, but we have a big chunk of time to kill, and I’m not sure what we should do in the meantime. I figured it would be nice to try another local restaurant, but do we just drag our bags around with us? I’m stumped. Any ideas?

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As far as general Alaskan cruise advice goes, here’s what others have told us so far:

  • Bring your own binoculars for wildlife sightings on the cruise because the ship will charge you an arm and a leg for a pair
  • Pack clothing pieces that you can easily layer for more warmth or remove to cool off, depending on what the weather does
  • Explore the ship fully as soon as possible so you can find your favorite place to enjoy the view for the rest of the trip
  • Visit the Mendenhall Glacier ice caves in Juneau
  • Don’t spend the extra money on a room with a balcony – there are lots of places to take in the scenery on the ship, and you’ll hardly spend any time in your room anyway
  • Remember to pack a few things you don’t normally need for a Caribbean cruise (rain gear, warmer jackets, gloves, hats)

As the trip gets closer, I’ll share my packing list, travel checklist, and maybe even a peek in my suitcase…!

Oh, who am I kidding; you’ll definitely see the inside of my suitcase.

Have you been on an Alaskan cruise before? I welcome any advice or suggestions!

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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?