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?

Married Monday: Good Hard Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ways to Create (or Recreate) Married Fun:

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

What advice did people give you before you got married?

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

 

 

Married Monday: Expectations

rings

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

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

(Well…not without a list, at least!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Married Monday: Why It Matters

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“Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.’” Genesis 2:18 (NLT)

One of my favorite wedding pictures isn’t one you might expect, like the first look, walking down the aisle, or the first kiss. It’s a photo of us facing our audience right after we were announced as Mr. and Mrs. Hendrickson. We were looking down at our feet, holding hands tightly and taking our first steps off of the platform into the grass below. Our first steps. Just like babies. We were SO ready to take that step because it meant that we were finally, actually, really married.

I love the joy on our faces in that photo. Maybe if we had known some of the storms we would weather in the next few years of marriage, we wouldn’t have been so eager to jump off and get going, haha! We made powerful promises to each other that day, but we had no idea what we were really saying. It would have been terribly easy to just stay on that platform, surrounded by the people who love us most in the world. But oh, how would we ever have the chance to prove that we MEANT what we said in our vows?

"A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for." William Shedd |

William G.T. Shedd said, “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” We were never meant to stay on that wooden stage in the woods. We took that first step, and every step we’ve taken since has been together, for better AND for worse, for richer AND for poorer, in sickness AND in health.

But we couldn’t have done it without help. The Gospel has transformed both of us through marriage, and we are so different now from those people we were on that day years ago. That’s why who you marry matters. You are picking the person you’ll grow with for the rest of your life, through years and years of changes. Ann Voskamp puts it so beautifully: “That’s the unspoken miracle of marriage: you vow to keep loving someone who keeps growing into a mysterious stranger.”

Not only that, but you are the picking the person with whom you will model to the rest of the world what you believe about God and how He relates to His people. That’s what marriage does! Have you ever thought about that? Marriage was created for God, not for us. A covenant isn’t saying “I promise to keep my vows…as long as you keep yours.” A true covenant means “I promise to keep my vows, regardless of whether you keep yours or not.” Marriage was designed to reflect the God we follow – the God who loves us even when we don’t love Him, the God who made a covenant with us and not only keeps it, but took the punishment we deserved for NOT keeping it. God chose marriage as His primary symbol of His relationship between Himself and the church, so honor Him by taking marriage seriously.

If you’re not married yet: pray that, if God gives you the gift of marriage, He will give you joy and patience to endure the difficulties.  And if and when you do get married, don’t pick the person you’re most attracted to, or the person you’ve been with the longest, or the person you’re with because you’re lonely and want to be with someone. Pick the person who actually imitates Jesus and motivates you to do the same.

If you’re already married and struggling to remember why: intentionally reflect on the promises you made. Pray for your spouse, even when you don’t want to. Choose to love them even when you just hate them. God can restore anything. No marriage is too far beyond repair.

This is the first post for “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?

New Marriage Series, Coming Soon!

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In case it wasn’t obvious, I kinda like that guy up there. ^^ We’ve been married three and half years, and each year that goes by is better than the one before. The longer I’m married, though, the more I learn that a good marriage doesn’t just happen by accident – it’s created with intention.

The world we live in now paints a very weird picture of marriage, and I’ve had just about enough. This blog is about engaging people in conversations about things that matter, and marriage matters. It’s one of the best representations of God’s relationship with us. As married believers, we have been charged with the responsibility of representing Christ through our relationships with our spouses – we can’t NOT take that seriously.

I’m a “healthy marriage” advocate. Our nation needs more of them. We are painfully flawed humans, but we have a powerfully great God, and I believe He has a lot to teach us about our relationships with each other and with Him through great marriages.

So, to start things off right, I want to hear from you! What would you like to discuss? What topics related to marriage are important to shed light on?

Wanting // Waiting // Worrying // Withdrawing: Part III

part III

I convinced myself that if I didn’t let myself want kids with my whole heart, I wouldn’t be COMPLETELY shattered if/when it didn’t happen. Just a little bit shattered is better than completely shattered…right? I set up emotional buffers for every worst case scenario. I wanted kids desperately, but I was afraid to want them. I was afraid to get too attached to the idea, because….what if it never happened?
Wanting // Waiting // Worrying // Withdrawing: Part II


Besides getting married, having kids is the only thing I’ve known for sure that I want to do with my life. It feels like it’s been carved on my heart forever. It’s kind of incredible to think how many decisions I’ve made based purely on that desire. (1) I went to a Baptist university hoping to find a good Christian boy to marry who would would be the perfect godly husband and father. (2) I wanted to be an actor on the stage and in film, so I began school as a theatre major. During my first year, however, I discovered that I didn’t ‘want it’ as much as you have to ‘want it’ in that field. If I really wanted to act, I would have to give up a lot of other things, and I wasn’t willing to compromise having a family for a fleeting possibility that I might get my big break somewhere. (3) Even though we don’t have kids yet, Daniel and I have already adjusted a lot of our choices  around a future that includes them, like where we live and what we do with our money. I can’t separate the desire from my person: it’s part of who I am. I’ve tailored my entire life around it. In my moments of career uncertainty, I’ve always subconsciously fallen back on having kids, reminding myself that even though I have no clue what I want to do with my life, having kids is the one thing I do know. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar.

So…how do I deal with the fact that wanting kids doesn’t necessarily guarantee that I’ll have them? It’s a scary reality to embrace.

I’ve dreamed about it forever: the moment when I find out I’m pregnant, sharing the news with our families and friends, feeling those tiny kicks, finding out if it’s a boy or a girl, watching my belly grow, giving birth, and holding that baby in my arms for the first time. I never imagined it any other way. I should mention at this point that I know getting pregnant isn’t the only way to have kids. But regardless, brace yourself, because I’m about to say something really un-churchy and weird: adoption was never really on my radar. I was aware of it, of course; it’s not like I grew up living under a rock. I heard all about different adoption agencies and organizations through my church, and I even knew a few kids who had been adopted into their families, and, as I got older, couples who decided to adopt. I thought it was a terrific idea. But for some reason, I hadn’t ever considered it for my own family. I don’t know why, exactly. I think I just assumed that my future family would look just like the family I was born into: a dad, a mom, and the kids they created together.

But then I met Baily.


Baily is my future sister-in-law (come on, February!) and a complete darling. Her story is incredible, and I’d love to have her share it here, but for the sake of time today, I’ll abbreviate. Basically, she was adopted into a family…in her twenties. She was already considered a grown woman, in college and on her own, and yet a couple with two other teenage children learned about her situation and could think of nothing better than for Baily to join their family. I had never heard of anything like it before. Baily brought the concept of adoption to life because she related it to the Gospel:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” — Ephesians 1:3-10 (ESV)

How could I have forgotten this? God adopted me into His family. I wasn’t supposed to be part of the family, but He handpicked me and made me feel at home in His arms. I did absolutely nothing to deserve Him choosing me, and yet He chose me all the same. What a beautiful picture of His great love toward us, and a unique way to show that kind of love to others.

Without meaning to, sweet Baily convinced me of both the beauty and the possibility of adoption as a way to make children part of our family. I still long for the chance to physically have children, but for the first time in my life (which yes, is incredibly embarrassing to admit), I’m open to other options. My unintentional narrow-mindedness is shifting, by the grace of God.

Even after all of this, though, I still couldn’t shake a lingering, sinking feeling in my stomach brought on by one tiny little question. I’ve spent my whole life wanting to have kids, my whole life looking forward to those feelings of fulfillment that are sure to only come from those experiences.

But……………………………what if I don’t feel fulfilled?

What if I’ve spent all this time waiting for it and it’s not everything I hoped for?

What if that first baby, that prayed-for, hoped-for, begged-for baby, is snuggled up against my chest one night and I’m looking down at him or her with tears in my eyes because I DON’T have that “Ahh, this is what I’m meant to be doing!” feeling?

What if?
What if?
What if?

There it was. Finally, after all this time, there it was. The monster I was afraid to look in the eye. At last, I was forced to come face-to-face with this terrifying question. All of my worrying, all of my questions, EVERYTHING, had finally come to a head in one overwhelming, defining moment.

It doesn’t matter if I give birth or adopt. If I look for fulfillment in my children, for that feeling of total satisfaction, peace, and security, it will never come. From what I’ve observed, kids are not exactly manufacturers of satisfaction, peace, and security. Kids are wonderful and God uses them in unique ways to reveal pieces of the Gospel to us, but they can’t help but be like tiny convicting mirrors, reflecting your flaws back to you. If I look to my kids for contentment, I will never fully be at peace. I will never feel completely safe and established on steady ground. I am grossly imperfect, and my miniatures will be sinners too. There is only one Person in my life who doesn’t reflect my sin back to me when I look at Him.

Here’s the raw, unfiltered truth:

Christ. is. enough.

If I’m not able to physically have children, He is enough. If I have a difficult pregnancy, He is enough. If I am completely healthy and have lots of healthy babies, He is still enough.

No matter what, He is enough.

He is enough.
He is enough.
He is enough.

“But what if – ”

No. No more.

I have spent my entire life “What if”-ing. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t get caught up in stressing about things that haven’t even happened yet. God’s purpose for my life is not for me to be trapped in a constant web of panic, fear, and doubt. He has never been unfaithful to me at any point in our relationship, and He won’t fail me now. His plans for me are always good; I know I can bank on that.

This series doesn’t exactly have a ‘happy ending’. It doesn’t end with me being like “And now I’m pregnant and everything’s JUST SO PERFECT!”, though that would have been a neat way to announce it. :) I’m still scared. I’m scared of things that are out of my control. I’m scared of having a perfectly healthy baby and then ruining it with terrible parenting. I am the world’s worst at creating unnecessary things to worry about, but the best truth in the world is Christ is enough for me. Jesus is and always will be better than anything else I’ll ever want. Lord, make my heart believe it.

“Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
    in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.”
— Psalm 112:6-8 (NIV)

“The Lord is good,
    a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he knows those who take refuge in him.”
— Nahum 1:7 (ESV)

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
    My hope is in you.”
— Psalm 39:7 (ESV)

Wanting // Waiting // Worrying // Withdrawing: Part II

Capture

Being around the Burkes while Trinity was growing that first year was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I had such great conversations with Brittany about being a mom, and about being a wife while being a mom, but I learned just as much just by watching the three of them together. The more time we spent with them, the more the guilty coldness surrounding my heart began, ever so slowly, to thaw. Little piece by little piece quietly dripped away until one day, I startled myself by thinking, You know what? I think maybe we could do this after all.
Wanting // Waiting // Worrying // Withdrawing: Part I


Since we got married, Daniel and I have consistently had the same timing mindset as far as kids go. We made a pact early on that if one of us started wanting a baby and the other person hadn’t said anything yet, the one wanting a baby would speak up. We had ‘check-in’ conversations every so often just to make sure we were still on the same page, and each time, our mutual agreement was “Not yet.”

Until one sweet day, when our mutual “Not yet” turned into a mutually nervous but excited “…………..Yes….!!!!” I was convinced I would get pregnant immediately. I just knew I was the most fertile person walking the planet.

The first month went by.

Then the second.

Then the third.

Friends around me began to get pregnant right and left, some with their next child. I celebrated with each of them sincerely, rejoicing that God was blessing them for the first or second or even third time. But even though next to no time had gone by since our decision, I couldn’t seem to quiet the steadily-growing panic inside me, fueled by a nagging voice that kept whispering things like….

Why aren’t you pregnant yet?
Why is it taking so long?
It didn’t take ____ long at all.

What’s wrong with you?
Something must be wrong.

What if you’re infertile?
What if you can’t ever have children?
What if you get pregnant and miscarry?

You’re never going to have kids.
Your parents will resent you for not giving them grandchildren.
Your life-long hope and dream will never come true.

I knew that these thoughts were not from the Lord, but it was very hard to take such pervasive and haunting thoughts captive. I didn’t want to think about stuff like that, but just “trying not to think about it” did absolutely no good. (If you weren’t already aware, let my story be proof that Satan does not fight fair. He will jump at any chance to take your deepest fears and spread them out in front of you, paralyzing you and distracting you from your ultimate purpose of glorifying God with your life. I made the mistake of dwelling on my fears and giving him opportunity after opportunity.) I struggled with the knowledge that it was possible to want something good, something God created the desire for, but that God could still choose not to give it to me. I also felt silly for freaking out, considering the fact that it had only been a few months and we weren’t even necessarily trying to have a baby. The few people I had talked to about it had all but rolled their eyes at me, telling me what I already knew – that we hadn’t been trying that long and that worrying wouldn’t help anything. So I stopped talking about it. I was emotionally confused enough without someone telling me to stop worrying.

Just a few months shy of a year later, Daniel and I were laying in bed one night, almost asleep but still talking to each other drowsily. Sleepily and half-jokingly, Daniel said, “So…do you still want a baby?” I half-laughed in response, but suddenly my eyes started filling up with tears. Daniel had rolled back over by this point and from his even breathing, I could tell he was finally asleep. I stared up at the ceiling and thought, Do I? The last year had been draining and disappointing. Each month, I knew I was waiting for something, I just didn’t know which thing it would be. And each month that came and went without requiring a pregnancy test made me feel like my body was mocking me: “Well, you failed this month! Try again next time.” I didn’t know how much more of that I could take. To add insult to injury, that mocking voice kept reminding me that I was impatient and stupid because it had only been a YEAR. I knew people who had been really really trying to have kids for much longer, and people who had stopped trying because they had been told it would never happen. I felt like an idiot for being so frustrated and so distrustful of God after such a short period of time.

I realized something that night. Even though we had decided we were ready for kids, I hadn’t truly opened my heart to the idea. In that short year, I had my heart broken over and over by multiple stories of friends who joyfully announced their pregnancies, only to lose their sweet babies weeks later. Multiple friends. It wasn’t until the last few years that I realized how common miscarriages are, and I have since reached a place of debilitating worry. Something that used to seem so rare suddenly became a possible reality I might have to face. I couldn’t deal with it, and without knowing it, I started to withdraw and shut down. I convinced myself that if I didn’t let myself want kids with my whole heart, I wouldn’t be COMPLETELY shattered if/when it didn’t happen. Just a little bit shattered is better than completely shattered…right? I set up emotional buffers for every worst case scenario. I wanted kids desperately, but I was afraid to want them. I was afraid to get too attached to the idea, because….what if it never happened?

What if my fears were true?
What if this ‘thing’ that I wanted to do my entire life didn’t happen?
What then?


If you missed Part I, read here.
Read Part III here.