Thoughts from a New Mom: 3 Things Learned in Month 1

One of my goals for this year was to write at least one blog each month. February came and went and, well, I’ve already failed regarding that particular goal. But I’d like to think that I get a “pass” on February, since I got kind of busy having a baby and all. ben1

Anyway, here it is, at the end of March, and I find myself sitting here typing with an almost 5-week old asleep on my chest. The last weeks have been a whirlwind; sometimes the last month just seems like one long, sleep-deprived day. Showers have become quite precious to me. And who needs to fix their hair when you can just wear a hat pretty much every day? And who wants to watch March Madness when I can go to sleep at 8:30? (For only about 2.5 hours, of course).

When our new son, Benjamin Elliot, hit 1 month, I looked back and saw a few things that stuck out to me that seemed really important. Hopefully each day, month, and year of his life, I’ll learn a bit more. But here are three things that, I hope, might be helpful to any soon-to-be moms out there:

1. Rest. No really. 

Everyone says it, but – good grief – it’s so hard to do. If you’re a list-maker and a doer, you will probably find it hard to slow down, even though you know you should. But seriously, no matter how you give birth – whether naturally, with an epidural, a c-section, out in the woods – your body needs to recover. Evidently giving birth is the equivalent of a 50 mile walk (I’d probably say “sprint” actually). So it’s definitely ok to put your feet up – I mean, you walked 50 miles straight for crying out loud. Don’t feel guilty for taking naps, and don’t feel like you have to get a hundred things done. Which leads me to #2:

2. Enjoy your baby. 

This seems like a given, but it’s easy to get distracted by other things. Like laundry, where you’ll get your next meal, who’s visiting when, and what color poop you should be seeing today. I also found myself stressing out about whether Matt and I were doing everything right. Am I feeding him often enough? Am I feeding him the right way? Should he already be in his crib? Which soothing method should I be using for this? Why do I keep getting sprayed in the face during diaper changes?ben2

It’s easy to get stressed out by these things, and I found myself worrying a lot those first few weeks – and doing  a ridiculous amount of Googling to find out things like whether or not Ben’s poop was the right shade of green for the day.

Do yourself a favor: find friends and family who can help with meals, laundry, and cleaning, and take time to just sit and enjoy baby. Stare at him, play with him, take pictures of him – just enjoy him. Don’t spend more time looking at Google search results than you do at your offspring. Google and laundry and food will always be there – but your baby is only a newborn for a short time. I can’t believe how much our little guy has already changed – and he’s only been here 1 month!

3. Write things down. 

Grab a notepad or journal or something and jot down the little moments that you want to remember. First smile. First projectile. First blowout. You don’t have to write a book, maybe just a sentence or a few key words. This past month is already kind of hazy to me, what with all the sleepless nights – so I know I’ll need those little notes to remember sweet moments. My sister and her husband actually wrote down funny things they said after becoming parents that they never would have said before. (For example: “Be right back, I’m going to go take a picture of this poop.”) This is a great way to store memories, and may also be a funny encouragement to read through on the rough days.DSC_0124

I hope each month to share things I learn about being a new mom. Of course, everyone’s experience is different, so I hope it’s not perceived as unsolicited advice – good grief, I’m only one month into this, so what do I know. But hopefully it’ll be an encouragement to someone.

I’d love to hear from other moms – what did you learn in those first days? What helped you adjust the most, or what do you wish that you’d known or done differently? Feel free to comment and share – maybe together we can all help each other learn about this weird thing called mommy-hood.

Here’s to keeping new humans alive, one day at a time.

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Wow, I Can’t Believe You Said That: 4 Things You Should Never Say to a Preggo

I am thoroughly convinced that I will always be pregnant. I will always and forever carry around a basketball-sized lump under my shirt. I will never again know what my feet look like while standing up. It will forever take an act of congress for me to roll over in bed at night. I will always have a tiny little foot weaseling its way in between my ribs. I will never again know the goodness of feta cheese, and I will never see my wonderful old skinny jeans again.tgivingpic

Ok, so maybe all of that is an exaggeration. In fact, it’s entirely possible that in a matter of 3 or 4 weeks, I will cease to be pregnant and begin being a full-time mom (!!??). I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, which both terrifies and excites me.

But even though I am so close to the end, the feelings of endlessness still remain. All you preggos out there know what I’m talking about – in fact, you could probably add a thousand more things to my list. But let me add just one more thing that feels like it will never, ever end: the never-ending comments of friends and complete strangers alike.

Yes, you know what I’m talking about. Words that would be rendered completely inappropriate in any other social situation suddenly become acceptable if you’re saying them to a pregnant woman. No one would dare make comments about my derriere to my face – but pop a baby in my belly, and suddenly my buttocks is up for all kinds of conversation.

So, in an attempt to help all of you who are searching for the right words to say to that preggo in your life, here are 4 things that you can go ahead and put on your list of things to NEVER say:

1. “Wow, you look really tired.”
Newsflash: If a woman looks tired, she probably already knows it. And it’s probably because (get ready) she is really tired. Perhaps even exhausted. There’s something kind of draining about a little dude mooching off of you 24/7, so it’s bound to show on the face of a mother-to-be at some point. As a matter of fact, I’ve never known any woman (including myself) who has appreciated when someone pointed out that she was tired – pregnant or not.

ultrasound2. “Wow, you’re only how far along? You can’t possibly get much bigger, can you?”
I really shouldn’t have to explain this one – but personal experience tells me that I do. Every pregnancy is different, so it’s possible that one woman you meet might look differently than another women you’ve seen at the same stage of pregnancy. I guarantee you that whoever you say this to is already quite aware of her size and most likely has been or will be self-conscious about it at some point, or will even struggle with comparing herself to others. Implying that a woman is abnormally larger than her gestational age isn’t particularly helpful – so just nix comments like that.

3. “Wow, your face is getting so fat, you poor thing.”
Nope, I’m not making this one up. If you’re looking for a sure-fire way to bring a pregnant woman to tears, go ahead and say this to her. Seriously, what better way to tear a woman down and make her more self-conscious than she already is? I mean, the woman is only having her body completely taken over by a tiny, growing human being – you definitely can’t risk having her feel confident or beautiful. That would just be silly. How dare a woman gain weight in any place other than her belly – if she does, she immediately deserves your pity. So definitely make sure that you add the “poor thing” at the end – it’ll be the icing on the cake.

4. “Wow…is this because you’re pregnant?”
Another variation of this one might be, “It’s because she’s pregnant,” or, “Don’t worry, she’s just being pregnant.” There’s nothing more demeaning or frustrating than having your personal opinions, preferences, or thoughts completely disregarded all because you are pregnant. For example: If a pregnant woman is getting frustrated while she’s experiencing bad customer service, it can’t be because of the bad customer service – it has to be because she’s pregnant. Every emotion expressed is blamed on the hormones and is therefore rendered meaningless. Pregnancy isn’t a condition or sickness, so don’t treat it like one. 

My motivation for writing this is two-fold: Part of me hopes that someone will read butternutit and actually take these suggestions to heart. Pregnancy is a weird and wonderful thing – it’s constantly bouncing back and forth between feeling elated, proud, and honored to be carrying a life within you, and also coming to grips with, essentially, an entirely new body and learning how to live with and accept the new changes and decisions that lie ahead.

When your love for the life inside of you is growing as fast as your belly and you’re only just beginning to understand the sacrifices that are in the near future, it can be quite deflating when others choose to make comments to you about the superficial things.

The other motivator is to identify and be able to laugh at the ridiculous things people say to women who are “great with child.” People mean well, and you eventually just have to let these comments roll off your back. It is really quite comical to me how all mental filters seem to completely disappear when a pregnant woman is spotted. There’s something about a round belly that makes everyone feel like they are your best friend. People who, under “normal” circumstances, would never give you a second glance suddenly smile warmly at you and want to know all about your pregnancy. Honestly, I think I could be a serial killer and still have strangers bend over backwards for me because of my belly.

I’d be lying if I said that the comments of some people haven’t brought me to tears in the past 8 months. But I’d also be lying If I said that I didn’t enjoy the inquiries about how my little dude is doing or appreciate the kind, encouraging words of others.

christmasAt the end of the day, I know that most people genuinely have no ill-intentions with their words, and that there is just something about a pregnant woman that occasionally renders people senseless. The miracle of  how a new life is formed, grown, and introduced into the world is just so astonishing that we all feel compelled to commentate on it – and sometimes we do that by stating the obvious or saying slightly inconsiderate things.

So if you see a pregnant lady and just can’t keep yourself from speaking up, go ahead and bypass any comments about her size or hormones and just let her know that she looks awesome – I guarantee you’ll make her day.

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Compassion in Crisis: A Pregnancy Story



No matter how prepared you think you are, there is something a little frightening about those two solid little pink lines.

Matt and I are so excited about our baby boy, coming in February 2015. I was able to write for the Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center blog on this new development in our lives and how it relates to the Care Center. Check out the blog HERE!

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Why Social Media has Ruined My Life


So I exaggerated – social media hasn’t ruined my life. And this isn’t a post lamenting the evils of social media. But it’s a thought that popped through my head today as I was attempting to spend a few moments with God.

I was sitting on our screened-in porch – something I don’t do enough – and began bringing to mind the laundry list of things I for which I needed to pray: my husband, family, job, future plans, friends…the list never ends. But before I began, I happened to glance to my right at our white wooden porch swing. The sun was setting and, in that moment, was filtering through the screened porch in a beautiful way. The view was overwhelmingly calming. It just seemed right. Peaceful. A gorgeous and temporary moment.

So naturally, I ran inside to grab the iPad so I could take a picture. This would be such a cute picture to post! I thought. I snapped the picture, mentally running through witty captions I could place with it (yeah, embarrassing…). I then settled back into my chair in order to continue enjoying the view and to get back to my list of prayer items.

That’s when I realized the moment was gone.

The sun had already set further, so that the light no longer streamed through the screened porch. It was still a pretty and peaceful view…but not the one that had originally made me stop and stare. You missed it, I said to myself.

I was struck by how quickly the moment had passed. I immediately began to hear quiet whispers in my heart, pointing out to me that this was not the only moment I had missed.

Moments from the weekend began flashing through my mind…

Working in the yard. Watching my husband faithfully mow the lawn. Making curtains for our bathroom. Sleeping in. Picking up a pizza just because. Talking with friends. Seeing Matt look at me like he’s always looked at me. Talking about the future. And a hundred other moments that, I realized, I probably didn’t completely enjoy. Appreciate. Relish.

Because those are often the same moments in which I am preoccupied with to do lists, fears, expectations, doubts, and insecurities. And I realized that, just as my temporary preoccupation with a social media picture distracted me from drinking in a unique moment, so also my other daily distractions can steal from the still, quiet, and priceless moments of each day.

As this realization dawned on me, familiar words drifted through my mind.

Be still, and know that I am God.

And then it hit me – how many times had I allowed the stuff of life to steal my moments with my Heavenly Father?

Worries and cares of this life will always exist. But the individual moments that give value to life are fleeting and should be enjoyed and guarded. And that includes my moments with the Creator.

So yeah, social media didn’t actually ruin my life. But I was reminded tonight to not let it – or other distractions – keep me from living in and experiencing moments that are gifts from God.

Don’t let the little moments slip away.

Be still.

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Another Perspective on A ‘Positive Abortion Story’

Recently, a video of a young woman’s abortion procedure has received a lot of attention. This woman said that she wanted to share her story with others and prove that abortion could be a “positive experience.” The video follows her into the procedure and focuses on her face most of the time. She smiles, giggles, and hums during the procedure, continually pointing out how lucky she is and how much support she has. “You guys are my heroes,” she tells the doctors. All the while upbeat music is playing in the background.abortion

The last few seconds of the video she talks about the experience:

“I don’t feel like a bad person. I don’t feel sad. I feel in awe of the fact that I can make a baby. I can make a life. I knew that what I was gonna do was right, because it was right for me and no one else.”

This young woman has received a ton of feedback – both positive and negative. When I saw the video and read her story, the question that kept popping into my mind was, “What is the biblical response to this situation?”  Apparently Emily Letts has received lots of hate mail and even death threats from people claiming that what she did was wrong. Others have responded very positively, arguing that Emily is right in stating that no one should feel guilty for having an abortion. It was right for her, and she shouldn’t have to feel any remorse.

This story has caused varying emotional responses to rise in people. But the thing about emotions is that they can’t always be trusted. Feelings are subjective and can be relative. In situations like this, we need to know what is true, regardless of feeling. So I went to God’s Word and this is what I found:

1. Sin leads us to suppress the Truth. Romans 1:18: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.”  In other words, certain truths are self-evident. God has revealed himself to us in a variety of ways – one of those being through the miracle of life. We are made in his image.

This verse also says that, because of sin, men tend to suppress these self-evident truths. (Suppress: to withhold, to put an end to, to do away with). So it is possible for man to silence truth or pretend it does not exist for the sake of continuing in a desirable path that is not honoring to God (that’s a nice way of saying ‘sin’).

2. We are without excuse. Proverbs 24:11-12: “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ dos not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?”

The thing about abortion is that people aren’t really claiming ignorance anymore. Not too many people are saying, “But I didn’t KNOW that it was a life. I didn’t realize.” The unsettling thing about this video is that this woman acknowledged that there was a life inside of her. In fact, she says that she is “in awe” of the fact that she was able to get pregnant. So her claim isn’t so much ignorance as it is convenience. “What’s right for me.”

This verse – and many others throughout the Bible, including the above passage in Romans – are very clear: we are without excuse.  We can blame our actions on convenience, ignorance, ‘what’s right for me,’ our upbringing, and a thousand other things. But it ultimately comes to the same thing – we have no excuses before God.

3. God will not be mocked. This young woman’s argument is that abortion should be a guilt-free thing. You shouldn’t feel bad for doing what’s right for you at any given time. In moments like these, it can be tempting to follow that logic. We might think, hmm…well, she doesn’t feel bad or guilty…and it doesn’t look like she’s suffering any negative consequences…so what’s the big deal?  

God doesn’t leave sin unpunished forever. The fact of the matter is that one day we will all stand before God and have to give an account for everything we’ve done (2 Cor 5:10; Rom 14:12; 1 Cor 3:10-15). Those who stand covered by the righteousness of Christ will experience the forgiveness of those sins and will enter into an eternity with Christ. The same cannot be said for those who do not know God. God is patient with us (2 Pet 3:9,10) – we don’t always experience consequences of what we do immediately. But His word promises that we will experience them – either in this life or the next. It is not for us to decide what is right or wrong – that is God’s role. He is God and we are not.

4. Where sin runs deep, His grace is more. I’ll end by saying what this post is not: it is not a verbal attack on a woman or an attack on anyone who has ever had an abortion. It is not an attempt to change people’s minds on the issue of abortion – God is the only one who can change minds and hearts. Rather, it is the expression of a desire that truth be known: that life is precious and should be guarded, not belittled and devalued for the sake of convenience or ‘choice.’

The Bible calls sin ‘sin’ and doesn’t apologize for it. Sin is ugly and is something God hates. But the Bible doesn’t just call us out for our sin – it offers a solution in the form of Jesus Christ. The book of Romans says that “where sin increased, grace increased all the more…” (5:20). In other words, nothing we do, no matter how great or small, will ever be ‘too much’ for God. He has overcome the power of sin through Christ’s death on the cross. Nothing can separate us from that. He can heal the deepest wounds and make beautiful things out of our ugliness.

My heart hurts for those who have felt the pain of a past abortion. Rather than trying to suppress, bury, or deny the guilt, my prayer is that those affected by ANY past sin – no matter what it is – would lay it at the feet of Christ, accept His forgiveness, and begin pursuing a life that is pleasing to Him. Christ alone can remove our guilt and give us freedom.

I have never experienced an abortion, but I have known the pain of sin – and I know, with all my heart, that Christ can make all things new.

2 Corinthians 7:10: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret…”

God our Healer, He has overcome.


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Uncertainty: A Short Story


What if it’s not true?

Peter combed his fingers through the tangles of his beard. He glanced to his left, where his best friend – well, he liked to think of him as his best friend – was walking beside him, sharing some story with the others in that animated way of his. His friend was quite the storyteller. He could captivate an audience for hours on end, with his simple words and unorthodox ways. Peter was proud to know him, to call him his friend. And yet…

He’d be lying if he said that his friend never embarrassed him or made him uncomfortable. Sometimes Peter wished that his friend would just keep his opinions to himself and not make so many waves. Who’d have thought someone else would ever make me uncomfortable, Peter thought, laughing unconsciously. It wasn’t exactly a secret that Peter was somewhat of a loudmouth and hothead himself. In fact, sometimes his other friends had given him grief for not being able to keep his mouth shut. Peter cut his eyes at his friend, who was now humming some unknown tune to himself, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings.

This friend in particular had called Peter out for his hot temper from time to time. Maybe that’s what bothered Peter. Because his friend was just as opinionated as Peter, if not more so. But there was something different about his friend. A meekness. A controlled rage at the injustices surrounding them; and a quiet patience with those who were stubbornly set in their own ways.

What if he’s not who he says he is?

Peter swallowed and tasted the dust of the dirt road on his tongue. His hand went to his tangled beard again – a nervous habit he had developed over the last three years.

Peter was the most vocal of his group of friends – the most loyal. Peter prided himself on being headstrong and fearless. He knew he used his large frame and booming voice to intimidate others and assert his strength. These qualities had always worked well for him to make himself heard, known, and noticed.

But his friend had changed all that. His friend had done what no one else had ever been able to do – he had made Peter doubt himself. Made him question his own motives, his own desire for attention and recognition. Made him question a lot of things, actually.

His friend was everything that Peter was not – maybe in more ways than even Peter could realize. His friend impacted people in ways Peter had never seen before. Peter would never admit it to anyone, but at times he’d felt envious of his friend. Of the obvious power and influence that his friend had over others. What he wouldn’t give for that kind of power…

These feelings – the envy, the uncertainty – confused Peter. He knew he loved his friend and would do anything for him. But he felt unsettled in his heart.

Who is he, really? Peter asked himself. At that moment his friend turned toward him and smiled.

“You with me, Peter?”

Peter blinked, unsure as to what his friend was referring. He must have zoned out and missed what his friend was saying. Not wanting to reveal that he hadn’t been listening, Peter swallowed and plastered a huge grin onto his face.

“I’m with you, Jesus. Til the end.”


See any (or all) of the four Gospels for accounts of the relationships between Jesus, Peter, and the rest of the disciples. 

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Marriage is the Best Teacher: 16 Things I Learned in Year 2

Last year I wrote a blog about what marriage is not, which addressed the things I learned during the first year of marriage. On St. Patty’s Day, Matt and I hit year number 2, so I began thinking about what (if anything) I learned during that second year.  I came up with a list of 16 things. As it turns out, most of these are not exclusively about marriage. They could apply to most any part of life – which makes sense, because a big part of marriage is learning how to live life together.  So without further ado, I present to you 16 things I learned about life in year 2:unnamed

1. Life isn’t only about the big moments. 

Life is a million little moments. In fact, the number of little moments will significantly outweigh the “big ones.” The new job, the new house, the proposal, the wedding, the births, the deaths – those things are important but they are not everything. The little, everyday, mundane, normal moments are the moments that add up to equal a life. A preoccupation (or even obsession) with those “big” moments can and will lead to discontentment and dissatisfaction with the beauty of small, quiet, every day moments.

2. “Attract” will eventually become “attack.”

There are many things about my husband that attracted me to him when we first began dating. After marriage, I’ve seen how those very things I once found so “adorable” or “endearing” are the same things that sometimes really irritate me or make me want to pull out my hair. This is a natural part of marriage and is important to identify. God gave me Matt because He knew that Matt would bring things to our relationship that I could not. And I need that in my life. (Imagine my surprise when I realized that Matt has had the same experiences with me!)

3. Rest is a good thing. 

I have always struggled with the issue of rest – I want to make the most of my time and be productive. That desire in and of itself is not wrong. Even the Bible talks about doing everything to the best of your ability and doing it for God’s glory (Colossians 3:17,23). It also talks about the fact that we will one day be held accountable for what we did (and did not do) while on earth. But the Bible also talks about rest (that whole seventh day of Creation thing) and makes a point of showing us that even Jesus retreated and went off by Himself from time to time to be alone. I’ve learned this past year that go-go-going usually leads to burn-burn-burning out. Take an evening off. Watch a movie you enjoy. Read a book. Let your mind rest. We’re wired for it. Rest is good.

4. You can’t change the past.

I’ve spent a lot of the last year trying to change or re-write the past. And I haven’t been too successful yet. Shocker. Things happen – both good and bad – and you can’t do anything to change them. There comes a point where we all have to man/woman up and move forward, while always learning from the past. Clinging to and reliving past victories OR refusing to let go of past defeats leads nowhere fast. I’ve learned that living in the past usually keeps me from living in and enjoying my present. In the words of Paul – “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14,15).

5. Not all respect has to be earned. door

Very few things in this life are free – most everything must be earned in some way or another. Respect is, for most women, pretty important. If you don’t earn my respect, well then gosh darn it, I won’t give it to you. This year I’ve learned that God’s Word doesn’t say “respect your husband only when he is deserving of it.” It says – “Wives, respect your husbands” (Eph 5:33). Period. My husband represents Christ in our marriage. His role is to love me like Christ loves the Church. My role is to submit to him and respect him, in order to be a picture to the world of how the Church should submit to and respect Christ. When I get to heaven someday, I won’t be held accountable for my husband’s actions. My but-he-didn’t-deserve-respect excuses won’t hold up. I am responsible for me and my actions/reactions.  I mean, what if Christ didn’t show his love for us on the cross because we didn’t deserve it? Newsflash – none of us deserve any of God’s gifts. That is what grace is. What a privilege to practice respect and submission to my husband as a means for sharing Christ with the world. So wives, if you are a Christ-follower, you are commanded to respect your husbands.

6. I can’t pour out if I’m not filling up.

This relates to lesson #3 somewhat. So often I’m trying to do 50 things at once, to be all things to all people all the time. I remember at one point in college I actually felt guilty for spending time in the Word because I felt like I should be spending that time building relationships with other people. Whaaa?? Crazy, right? What I’ve learned is that, in order to pour into the lives of others, I first need to be taking care of myself. By that I mean spending time in the Word daily, being in continuous conversation with God, and getting rest. If I want to share water with a friend, but have no water in my cup to give him/her, then we’re both left thirsty. Be filled up so you can pour into others.

7. God shouts in our pain.

In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis said, “…Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Pain has been prevalent in this past year; and so has God’s voice. Granted, I’d be lying if I said that God always felt near or that everything felt good/fine because I knew God was near and real. There were many times I asked God where He was, what He was doing, and why He was not acting. I lashed out at God in anger and blamed Him for many things. But after I was done with my temper tantrums, He really  began to reveal to me the weaknesses in my own character and in my heart. My problems were not merely external – there were internal issues that God was bringing to light. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet with trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-2). Considering difficulties as “joy” is a whole other blogpost in itself. But I can’t deny that God has really worked in my pain and developed my character. Which, in the long run, is what I want.

8. Christianity doesn’t make things easier. 

A lot of people refer to Christianity as a crutch or some pie-in-the-sky belief that people rely on to make their problems go away or seem less. I don’t want to burst any bubbles, but if you want to check out and pretend your problems don’t exist and have an easy and problem-free life – then you should probably stay away from Christianity. Jesus said in Luke 9 that “if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” The cross was used for crucifixion, one of the most horrible and shameful methods of execution at that time. Christianity means accepting that life will be difficult and that the world will hate you for your “intolerant” beliefs. It means practicing self-discipline and denying desires that are self-destructive. The beauty is that this less-than-easy  life is grounded in the hope of eternity that we have through Christ alone. It’s hard. But it’s worth it.

9. Integrity doesn’t just happen. 

Most people admire athletes who have stood out in history as being great and incredibly skilled in their particular sport. We crave the glory that accompanies their stories, but what we often don’t recognize  are the untold stories behind the greatness – the integrity in which their success is grounded. The hours of practice and hard work and sacrifice that nobody saw.   “Integrity” means to be consistently on the outside what I claim to be on the inside. In other words, my actions should back up my words – whether I am being watched by others or not. Integrity means doing the hard things in the quiet moments of each day. Spending time in God’s word even when you don’t feel like it. Working diligently at your job even when your boss isn’t present or watching. Not going to that website or watching that movie even when you’re alone and you know that nobody would know or find out. This kind of integrity – the kind built in the small, quiet moments of life – is what makes a person strong and effective in the big moments of life.

10. Love is not a choice made once. 

Love is a choice that must be made every day. Period. Kind of like the whole take-up-your-cross-daily thing. I’d like to say that when I first told Matt “I love you” however many years ago, I perfectly demonstrated Christ-like love from then on out. But that would make me a liar. Loving others more than myself must happen every day, every moment, every second.

11. Real faith is not dependent on circumstances. 

It’s in the dark moments that we really find out what we believe. Do I have faith only when God is good to me and showers blessings on me? Does my trust in His promises and faithfulness only apply when things are easy? What a weak faith that would be. Real faith can look at who God is, know that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and trust that He will keep his promises.  Job from the Bible is a great example of this. God allowed everything that Job held dear to be taken away from him, and still Job’s faith remained intact. When Job’s wife told him to “curse God and die,” he responded by saying, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” This is a hard thing to accept, but the truth is real – God is God. We are not. He is faithful, even when we are not. He keeps His promises and He’ll do what He says He’ll do.

12. Your spouse is the most important earthly relationship you have.

This probably rubs some people the wrong way, but I believe it’s biblical, and therefore true. Importance of relationships are as follows: God, spouse, family, everything else. This might not sit well with everyone (which I’m ok with), but if my marriage represents Christ and the Church – God’s perfect, sacrificial love – then my marriage MUST take top priority.  My goal in life is to mirror Christ to the world – what better way to do that than through marriage.

13. God answers prayer. running

He really does. There are numerous places in the Bible that talk about the effectiveness and importance of prayer. I mean, if even Jesus Himself spent a significant amount of time in prayer while on earth, how much more should His followers do so? If you are a Christ-follower, please don’t discount the importance and effectiveness of prayer. It is crucial. Philippians 4:6,7.

14. I am flawed. For real. 

Whether you’re a Christian or not, I think all humans can identify with this common issue we all have – imperfection. We spend lifetimes trying to reach perfection, only to be disappointed again and again. Imagine my surprise when I realized that my husband wasn’t actually perfect. Gasp! Seriously though – marriage has brought out the mess in me. My actions and reactions really just point to what was already in me to begin with. Accepting that I am imperfect has really helped me to address those imperfections and allow God to begin changing me.

15. God’s will for your life isn’t unknowable.

I have wasted countless hours agonizing over what God’s will is for my life. Over the past year I had to choose between two different jobs, and I did some major stressing over the decision, wondering what God’s will was for me to do. Many people ask the same thing. God, what do I do with my life?? How will I know?? Send me a sign!! A message in my cereal! Anything! Thankfully, we have something more than messages in our breakfasts. God’s revealed will is given to us in His Word. I know that may not be satisfactory for some people. But really – God has given us His instructions for the moments of each day. It can all pretty much be summed up like this: Love God. Love people. (Mark 12:30,21). Whether you’re a teacher, stay-at-home mom, CEO, salesperson, cashier, college student, or whatever – love God, and love people. That’s God’s will for you and me today. (And just as a side note, the rest of the Bible goes into more detail as to how to do this – so check it out!)

16. God gives us everything we need to live a godly life.

God promises wisdom if we ask for it in faith (James 1:5-8). He also promises to give us, through His divine power, the things we need to live well (2 Peter 1:3). God not only provided a way for us to get to Him through Christ, but He has also given us the tools to be effective and fruitful here on earth. You know what that tells me? We have no legitimate excuses. And all the excuses in the world won’t add up to a hill of beans one day when we have to give an account for everything we did or didn’t do here on earth (2 Corinthians 5:10).


So there it is: the lessons learned during year 2 of marriage. I use the word “learned” loosely, knowing that these are not things I have mastered by any means. They are lessons to learn every day, again and again. I realize I am young and have not been married very long, so I hope this post isn’t misunderstood as me claiming to have all kinds of life experience. I know there are countless people who are smarter, wiser, and have experienced so much more. But I do believe that my experiences have been valid, and I just hope to share some things I’m learning along the way.

Marriage has turned out to be much harder than I thought it would be, but I can honestly say it’s been one of the greatest earthly blessings I’ve ever been allowed to experience.

Here’s to 50 more years of learning.

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