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Relationship Red Flags: How To Spot An Abusive Dating Relationship

If you’ve ever read or heard me give me my testimony, you know that a large part of it involves journeying through three years of an abusive dating relationship. And you also know that I take full responsibility for recognizing the signs and ignoring them. I spent most of my thought-life during that season trying to justify actions and treatment that cannot be justified. Though it took three years to finally see the harm this relationship was causing, I did eventually walk away.

And it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. So, I know this conversation can be really upsetting if you think you might be in this type of relationship and need to get out. I won’t lie: giving this up is not going to be easy. But, it will be worth the pain.

Maybe you clicked on this post because someone you love is in the middle of a relationship like this. I can’t tell you that by you reading this you will find the strength to convince her to walk away. But, I can assure you that if you spot any of the things I mention in this post, you have every right as a friend to speak up. Even if she doesn’t hear you right away, it will plant a tiny seed that will cause her to evaluate her situation. She may hate you for suggesting that such a large part of her life is unhealthy, but she will thank you someday. I say this because the friend that finally spoke up in my life will forever have my gratitude for helping me see what I could not see on my own: the truth.

If you are doubting your own involvement in this sort of relationship or you feel like you don’t have the right to speak up to a friend in that situation, I first want to explain to you the severe repercussions of remaining in an abusive dating relationship.

What Abusive Relationships Do Long-term

The long-term effects of abusive dating relationships are incredibly difficult to navigate. The emotional scars will carry over into future relationships and the way you view relationships in general is likely to change. Though there is hope and healing to be found on the other side of abuse, we still must acknowledge the very present pain that exists even after the relationship ends.

We often overlook abuse present in dating relationships because we view these sort of relationships as “easy to get out of.” And we think that if marriage isn’t a part of the equation then the people involved in these relationships will find it easier to walk away. But that simply isn’t true.

When I was journeying through my own harmful relationship I didn’t think “a way out” existed for me. Of course, I didn’t realize there was a problem until I was so deep in it that I couldn’t find the strength to climb out on my own. Even when the thought of ending it would cross my mind, I just didn’t believe I could do it. I worried that I’d already sustained too much damage for anyone else to want me. I was sure he would convince me stay. I didn’t believe I deserved better. And I just didn’t think I was a strong enough woman to choose being alone over being with someone who made me feel alone.

Even after I let that relationship go, I still struggled with what it did to me mentally. I feared men for a while. I felt like “damaged goods” and I feared that the opportunity to meet a good guy I could build a life with had already passed me by. I say all of this to help you understand that one poor relationship can cause a lot of harm to the rest of your life. That isn’t said as a way to pull you down or make you lose hope, but as a way to help you understand how very serious this is. So, if you think that you or someone you care about may be in a relationship that could cause these type of long-term effects, please read on and take note of the red flags you should be looking out for.

Red Flags Of Abusive Dating Relationships

  1. Obsessiveness: Infatuation in the early weeks and even months of dating is normal. We all know how easy it is to give all of our time to that new and exciting relationship. But, we also know that there is a line between excitement and obsessiveness. If the person you’re with continues to exhibit infatuation-like behavior after a few weeks or months of being together, do not be fooled into thinking that this is normal. Having someone feel this way about you may feed your ego and make you feel like the most desirable woman in the world. But, I can assure you that it will leave you feeling depleted. It is not something you can maintain — you are not called to spend every free moment with just one person. Not only does it negatively impact your friendships, but it will also strip you of your identity. If the only thing your mind is occupied with is spending time with this one person then you will lose your hobbies, your faith, your dreams, your loyalty to friends and family, and ultimately yourself. It is NOT acceptable for a boyfriend to expect you to give him every moment of your day. You do not need to be in constant contact and if he expects you to do this then he has a distorted view of what dating is supposed to look like.
  2. Asking You to Change: For me, I found that in my own abusive dating relationship the person I was with really wanted me to change major things about myself. The first being my faith. He wanted me to admit that my belief in God and Jesus and Heaven and Salvation weren’t that important to who I am. He also, very slyly, convinced me that I needed to lose x-amount of weight, tone up my arms, grow out my hair, stop wearing certain types of clothing, reject what my parents said about virtually everything, believe that my Christian university was brainwashing me, workout 3+ hours a day, stop spending so much time with my family, and shut out any friends that he didn’t like (which was all of them). If you notice, I said he did this slyly. Meaning he never came out and said I needed to change these things, but rather he implied them with little comments that dug their way deep into my heart. He wanted me to accept him exactly as he was but he refused to do the same for me. I’m not saying we aren’t allowed to help one another grow — but if your partner is asking you to change core things about who you are simply because it will make them like you more…then it’s time to reevaluate that relationship. You, like I did, may be changing yourself without really noticing it. I would invite you to examine yourself now in comparison to before you started dating. See any major changes? Ask a close friend if they have noticed anything different about you. Take their words to heart.

3. Pushing Physical Boundaries: this is a pretty common issue and there is a major difference between moving further into physical acts together and him asking or forcing you to move into physical places you aren’t ready to go to yet. It doesn’t matter if your boundaries are based on your faith or if they are simply based on what you feel is appropriate, whoever you are dating MUST respect those boundaries. The only responsibility you have is to communicate those boundaries. Even if you have crossed certain physical lines before with other people, you do not have to cross them now for this person. Anyone that cannot respect boundaries that you set up around sex, will also find it difficult to respect other boundaries you set up down the road. The love someone has for you should NEVER be based on what you are or are not willing to do with your body. Now, if you are asked one time to step across a certain line that does not mean that your partner is abusive. But, if you have continually expressed where your lines are and why you have drawn them and he continually puts you in situations where he can ask you to cross them, then it might be time to have a serious conversation with yourself. For many of us, we have already crossed our lines and feel that we can’t turn back. This is not true, friend. You can reset a boundary whenever you feel it is needed. And if you are told that by doing so you are being cruel, inconsiderate, or “a tease,” then it’s time to draw one final line between the two of you and consider moving on.

4. Accusations & Jealousy: This is a HUGE issue in dating relationships. Jealousy is a major red flag and accusations without evidence is never acceptable. While in the middle of my own journey, I lived a life of loneliness because my ex could not stomach the idea of anyone else in my life. I refused to be social just to keep him from getting angry about any men that may potentially be at an event or gathering. Friend, a boyfriend is not allowed to tell you who you can be friends with. Including friends of the opposite sex. My very best friend is a male and I explained that to my husband on our first date. It has never been an issue. Not once! Because my husband knows two things: that he can trust me and that this friendship is very important to me. I regularly had to explain why men would show up in my life in my previous relationship. Let me give you a for-instance: during a frozen yogurt run with my college roommate one night we realized that her car battery was dead. Late at night, off campus, and in a dark parking lot we decided to call a close male friend of hers to come help us out. He came, gave us a jump, grabbed his own cup of frozen yogurt and went back to his dorm. Instead of being relieved that someone was able to help us out, my ex questioned why we called a male and not a female to help us. I should not have had to explain that. You should never have to take all-female classes, avoid innocent college events, or intentionally avoid male coworkers and classmates. Trust must be present for a relationship to thrive. Therefore, you do not have to explain every second of your life outside of your dating relationship.

Friend, if even one of the things on this list makes you feel a little uncomfortable in regards to your own relationship, I invite you to take a step back and examine that relationship. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does he demand all of my free time?
  2. Does he ask me to change fundamental & small things about myself?
  3. Does he push my physical boundaries consistently and fail to respect my reasons?
  4. Does he get jealous and accusatory about friends or acquaintances?

Get serious with yourself and seek the wisdom of people that care about you. Your situation is likely different than my own and these red flags may just be a way to open a conversation rather than end a relationship. But, if you can answer “yes” to any of the questions above then you might need to spend some time in prayer and seeking counsel.

And, friend, if you know that this is for sure something you are walking through…I am so sorry. I’m sorry that you have felt the weight of that on your shoulders. And I’m so sorry for the pain it has caused. But, I can promise you that there is healing for you. And love. So much love. Love from a male that not only cares for you deeply and wants to give you abundant joy, but also gave up His own life so that you could have that joy. And, He wants you to be with someone that will try to love you the same way that He does. If you take all the scars and brokenness from this relationship and take them to Him, I promise that He will provide healing that you never thought possible.

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Lies About Love: The Lies I Believed While Dating

Is there anyone who doesn’t have a horrible dating story? A heart break? A mistake?

I count myself lucky that by the time I was 23 I’d put the dating world behind me and was married. But, in the years I was dating… oh boy. Talk about some serious mistakes, horror stories, and a few broken hearts along the way. That said, all of my years of dating weren’t terrible. I have some pretty wonderful memories, actually.

Most of my issues in dating were the result of lies I believed or lies I told myself. Looking back, I wouldn’t really change a lot. But, I would go back and tell myself to beware of these lies and I would try to hold much tighter to the truth. So, if you’re in the dating world and have had some heart break yourself this might be the post written just for you.



Today I’m sharing the lies I believed while I was dating and the truths I should have held to instead.

The Lie: I Must Love Myself Before I Can Love Anyone Else

This is one of the biggest lies I see women believing, in and out of the context of dating relationships.We have convinced ourselves that because we do not always treat ourselves well that we therefore do not love ourselves which, in turn, means we cannot properly love others.

This lie holds so many women back, convincing them that they must feel perfectly secure, content with who and where they are, and be happy with every part of their bodies and mind in order to love someone else.

The Truth: I Must Respect Myself & Love Others As I Love Myself

I have two issues with the lie of self-love:

The first is that we already love ourselves and scripture does not support the idea of self love. We are the most important person to ourselves. This doesn’t mean we don’t have moments of self-loathing or low self-esteem. But, at the end of the day we DO love ourselves. So much that the number one priority of our brains is to keep us alive. Loving ourselves is a given. In fact, many people distort the scripture that speaks about loving our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 12:31). This does not mean that we need to love ourselves in order to love others. But rather it means that we already love ourselves more than anything and we are called to love others with that same love. A love that forgives, does not have conditions, and loves like Jesus.

The second issue with the lie of self-love is that loving someone else has NOTHING to do with us. Love is sacrifice, selflessness, and putting someone else before ourselves. So….how on earth does that mean that we must love ourselves first? I have found more joy in loving my husband than I will ever find in learning to love myself. Take my word for it, friend, this lie will make you feel like a failure every day and cause you to miss out on some seriously beautiful stuff.

With all that said, when it comes to dating, you absolutely MUST respect yourself before asking someone to love you. Love and respect must come as a package deal and you can never find love from someone if they do not respect you, your boundaries, and your beliefs. This was a huge mistake I made early on in dating. I allowed my boundaries and beliefs to be disrespected and disregarding because I didn’t have enough respect for myself to require it from the person I was dating.



The Lie: I Can Change Him

One of the biggest lies I believed in my first serious relationship was that I could change him during the course of our relationship (which I thought would last forever of course). I thought that I could be strong enough for both of us in all of the areas he was weak. I believed the lie that our different beliefs didn’t matter. I believed that I could help him manage his anger issues. I believed that I was strong enough to push him to a healthier lifestyle and to be more ambitious about his career. But, friend…that wasn’t true…

The Truth: I Can Only Change Myself

And sometimes not for the better. During that relationship I saw myself shift in so many ways. I let go of things that mattered to me and developed an unhealthy lifestyle. I began to take on the characteristics of his personality and I became more and more tied to him as part of my identity.

I realized that the only thing that I could actually change was myself and I did not particularly like the person I’d become so I took the first step in changing: I walked away from him for good and refocused my life on what I knew mattered most to me: my relationship with Christ, my family, and the dreams I had for my future.

The Lie: It’s Okay If I Am The One That Loves The Most

This is a lie that I believed while in the first relationship I’d ever been in with someone I truly fell “head-over-heels” for. I was timid and afraid of getting hurt early on in the relationship but once I let myself love….oh boy did I fall hard. And it turned out that as much as he wanted me to stop fearing that relationship and how I felt…it really did end up hurting me because I loved him far more than he loved me. I was four years older and in a very different stage of life so looking back now I understand WHY I was the one that loved more. But, it still caused a lot of pain at the time. And it’s still one of the biggest scars on my heart.



On the flip side of this lie is the reverse situation: dating someone who cares for you way more than you care for him…a.k.a….leading him on. I did this only once and I’ll forever regret it. While I was trying to take time to develop feelings for this guy…I was leading him on and hurt him deeply in the process. Though my intention was never to cause pain, I should have been honest with him about my feelings so he could have guarded his heart from the beginning.

The Truth: Be Honest About Your Feelings

Whether you are feeling all the butterflies or nothing at all. This helps open the conversation to work through what your relationship means to you both. Are you willing to wait for him to develop stronger feelings and possibly never get to that point? Being honest at the beginning allows you to find out what you’re willing to risk. Maybe you are unsure of your own feelings and he seems pretty sure of the future…tell him the truth and give him the opportunity to decide if he’s willing to risk his own heart.

The Lie: We Should Be Each Others’ Everything

I just want to scream a big “NO, NO, NO” to this lie.

When I first started dating my first serious boyfriend — which turned into a long and abusive three-year relationship — I held onto this lie with everything I had. I wanted to believe that because we “loved” each other that we were supposed to be the most important thing in the world to one another. And this lie led me to forsake everything I knew about myself and about what I believed.

I let go of biblical values that I once held dear because I believed that he should come before everything else, including my relationship with Christ. I believed that my relationship with this guy was more important than what I knew God called me to do, who He made me to be, and what He had planned for my future.

Because he was my “everything” I lost friends, hurt family members, gave up on my own dreams, and changed everything about myself to suit what he wanted. By making a PERSON my everything….I was no longer the person that I was made to be.

The Truth: No Person Should Be Our Everything

We were created to love and be loved, sure. But, more than that we were created to love and be loved by the Creator. And no single person, not even our spouse, should be our everything.

They shouldn’t be our life. Our top priority. The single relationship that brings us joy. The source of our identity. No, all of those things belong to God.



And He doesn’t call us to this sort of relationship with Him, where He is our everything, just because He likes the spotlight. He calls us to it because no human could ever fully meet our expectations. Even the person we love enough to spend our life with is doomed to disappoint us at least once in this lifetime. But God will never let us down. He will never leave us with unmet expectations. So, our call to prioritize a relationship with Him is meant to bring us joy because He knows that we will be left with nothing but hurt if we place all of our hopes and expectations in another human being.

Friend, if you are placing everything you are in a person you will find nothing but disappointment and heartbreak on the other side. You were not made for that kind of relationship with another person but rather with Christ. And if you are placing your everything in Him then you will find all of your other relationships will thrive. If He is the center and everything you long for then you will find that the other parts of this life will have a way of working themselves out, I promise.

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Prioritizing Your Marriage: 4 Ways To Date Your Spouse

David and I learned pretty early on in our marriage just how important it is to continue to date after we said “I do.” With unexpected obstacles and typical stresses of life knocking down our door the day we returned from our honeymoon, we knew that we had to prioritize our relationship above everything else if we were going to continue to be passionate about one another.

And we have learned a few things along our journey so far that have helped us prioritize dating and showing up for each other on a regular basis to maintain the sweet, affectionate, fun, and passionate parts of our relationship. So, I’m sharing 4 ways that we regularly incorporate a date into the mundane parts of life so that we never forget to invest in our marriage — even when life gets busy and trials come our way.

These 4 tips are ways that we find to get a date in at least once a week — so, if you applied one of these tips to each week in the month you would have a full month of dating your spouse.

1. Turn Simple Activities Into Dates

This is such a simple way to squeeze in a date night during the busier-than-average weeks. It gives you the chance to cash in on some quality time while also accomplishing things on your to-do list. Here are some things that David and I do regularly during the week to spend some quality time together:



  1. Taking walks – during the spring and fall we love to take afternoon or evening strolls through our neighborhood. We usually clock in around 1-3 miles. So, it takes less than hour and doesn’t requires any money or fancy clothes or travel. We just through on our sweats and head out the door. We love to walk through different neighborhoods and admire the beautiful historical homes in our town and just talk about crazy dreams of owning a Bed & Breakfast or remodeling a 100-year-old house.
  2. Running errands – if we have any errands to take care of during the weekend, we try to make it a fun day. So, we make our post office and Target run and pick up groceries but we make time for grabbing lunch at our favorite little deli or browsing through a favorite store even if we never buy anything.
  3. Working out – we have to do it anyway so we may as well do it together. But we have very different fitness goals. David is a runner and when he is training for his next marathon he needs to be able to run without worrying about staying close to me. So, we go to the nearby school and run the track in opposite directions. This way, we are running toward each other and get to make googly-eyes as we pass but we can focus on getting in the workout that makes sense to our individual goals and bodies. This is where we have a little friendly competition from time-to-time as well.
  4. Church – we actually love making a big deal about Sunday morning. We put a little extra effort into our attire, as if we really are going on a date, and try to catch the early service. We sit at the end of an aisle by ourselves and really try to soak in the service and worship together. Then, on the drive back, we discuss the sermon and what it taught each of us. This creates so many conversations that usually carry over into stopping somewhere for a quick lunch or heading home for some homemade waffles.
  5. Anything else! – spring cleaning, home upgrades & chores, walking the dog, making meals, couples devotionals, work events, church events…etc.

2. Plan Dates For Each Other

A few months ago we realized that we sort of let actual date nights fall through the cracks. Finding the time to plan them just proved to be difficult and spontaneous dates don’t always works out — what movie? which restaurant? which neighboring city to travel to? — so many factors that often need to be decided ahead of time.

We also discovered that because we weren’t planning ahead of time we would just end up having the same date over and over. Dinner & a movie, take-out & a full season of The Office. So, we came up with a new rule.

Each weekend we would take turns planning a date with the other person in mind. We decided what day or time would work best together but from that point on it would be up to one person to plan the details of the date. This has proven to be such a wonderful way to surprise the other person and really show them how much we consider their likes and dislikes.

I’m actually not sure which is more fun — planning a date that I know David will love or looking forward to whatever surprises he has in store for me. Either way, planning dates for each other really takes us back to the early days of dating and getting to know each other. And it keeps us accountable. Neither of us wants to take the easy way out on a date and disappoint our spouse and neither of us would dare miss a date planned by the other.

3. Invest & Commit

One really important way we have found in making sure we show up for dates regularly is by investing in them and making real commitments. This could look different for everyone, but here are some suggestions:

  1. Join a class/club/study you can enjoy together — this gives you accountability
  2. Set aside money every week to use on dates — this gives you a reason to plan
  3. Make a bucket list — and make sure to have a reward at the end to motivate you
  4. Purchase a subscription – like monthly movie tickets, a wine-of-the-month club, a dinner-delivery box, or anything else that motivates you to plan a date when it arrives at your door.

David and I have adopted two methods that keep us accountable and give us a really fun date every single month.



The first is that we set out to see more friends and family this year. And that requires travel for us. So, we get to enjoy the travel time as a couple – sometimes it’s an hour and sometimes it’s seven hours – and then enjoy the company of others once we arrive. We traveled in January to see friends who live about 2 hours away and this month we are headed all the way to Georgia to see family for a couple of days. And you can bet I’m planning all the best stops, food, and games to play along the way!

The second is that we subscribe to a monthly box and have our date delivered straight to our door. We LOVE the Date Night In Box and it seems that every month we have even more fun than the last. The box includes mood-setting materials (like candles or aroma-beads), a complimentary music playlist, a full dinner meal plan & recipe guide (including drinks, appetizer, dinner, and dessert!), a discussion guide (we opt in for the Faith box so our discussion is Christ-centered), and a full night of FUN. We play games, get crafty, complete challenges, and we always have a keepsake to display in memory of the date. The date box actually costs less than a dinner out and it gives us a unique experience every single time. The best part is that we don’t have to plan a single thing! We just get to show up and enjoy the evening that has already been planned for us with everything we need for a fun and purposeful evening.

If you’re interested in getting your own Date Night In Box, learn more HERE.

You can also read a more detailed review of one of our favorites boxes HERE.

4. Gift Experiences

David’s love language is gift giving. And we both love to shop. So, seasons of gifting can get super expensive for us. But, this year we decided to do things a bit differently. For Valentine’s Day we decided not to invest in a single material thing. But rather to take that money and put it towards an experience that we will both cherish forever.



So, instead of chocolates and flowers and giant stuffed teddy bears, we are spending our money on a really exciting experience this year. As part of our trip to see family in Atlanta, we are also seeing a theater production that is sure to be a special memory. We LOVE the theater and seeing shows together. So far we have each seen a few of our favorites — David still swears that no movie will compare to the live production of Beauty & The Beast. He is a tad obsessed with that story.

As luck would have it, one of our favorite movies of all time has been converted into a stage production at a theater near some of our family. So, we get to enjoy a live performance of Ever After — a movie we immediately bonded over when we first met — and I know that this show will be such a special memory for us.

I highly recommend trading in your traditional gifts for unforgettable experiences. Travel to new cities for a food tour, an amusement park, a day of museum visits, or just some time down by the ocean or up in the mountains. Look into things that you both enjoy — like marathons, stage productions, hikes, conferences, or conventions. Those memories will last so much longer than a box of chocolates.

What matters most is that you are prioritizing your relationship — even when life and kids and responsibilities and trials of life get in the way. It still needs to be your most important earthly relationship.

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Failing As A Wife: How to Overcome Feelings of Inadequacy

We had been married for about three months. I was standing there in the kitchen, face swollen and tear-stained. I was overwhelmed by guilt, failure, and an intense feeling of inadequacy. I just knew that I was a failure as a wife.

If you have been married for any length of time then you know this exact feeling — knowing that you have messed up in one of the most important jobs you’ve ever had and let down the person you love the most. It’s not only heartbreaking but it makes you feel completely inadequate. I’ll never forget that moment and how I explained through my sobs exactly why I was a failure as a wife. I began listing things off to David that made me the world’s worst wife.

  • I haven’t had time to do laundry
  • I yelled at you for leaving that towel in the floor
  • I lost my patience when were waiting in line and took it out on you
  • I forgot to pray for you this morning
  • I’ve gained 5 pounds since our wedding
  • I haven’t swept the floors in over a week
  • I speak to you too harshly
  • I’m not as attractive as the day we met
  • I fell asleep before kissing you goodnight
  • I have nothing planned for dinner and the thought of cooking is stressing me out
  • You are a much better husband than I am a wife



I gave all of those reasons to my new husband. I practically yelled them to him. And he stood in complete shock. I’d been bottling those feelings up for weeks and he had no clue that I was feeling like an absolute failure as a wife. He could not believe the crazy list I had just rattled off to him and it took a few moments for him to gather his thoughts and finally speak.

When he did finally speak it was to calm me and reassure me that at no point in our marriage had he ever thought of me as a failure or a bad wife. Though I knew he wasn’t lying to me, I also didn’t believe him. I walked around almost every day with these feelings of failure and inadequacy…how could they not be true?

Friend, if this sounds like you then I want to share with you a few things that I have learned as I’ve navigated these feelings…

1. Failure & Falling Are Not The Same

One of my biggest obstacles to overcome in the early months of our marriage was understanding the difference between failing as a wife and falling as a human.



Failing as a wife would mean that I neglected my marriage – I abandoned the relationship I promised to honor or intentionally hurt this person that I promised to love and obey.

Falling as a human would mean that I had a bad day – I lost my patience, spoke disrespectfully, dropped the ball on a responsibility, or let stress get the best of me.

“I simply had to learn that just because I fell, that didn’t mean I failed”

I simply had to learn that just because I fell that didn’t mean that I failed. It just meant that I was growing as a wife. It meant that I was figuring out how to be the partner that David needed and the person that God was calling me to be. I’m still learning this — every single day. I’m still falling. But, I’m not failing. And neither are you.

2. Marriage is Not About My Success

I think somewhere deep inside, the main reason I felt so disappointed in myself was because I wasn’t living up to my own expectations. There are only two people that I need to be concerned with when it comes to my marriage: my husband and God. But somehow I had moved my own expectations for wife-hood ahead of both of them. I wasn’t feeling like a failure because David was voicing that to me or because God was laying it on my heart — I felt like a failure because I kept convincing myself that I was.



The main reason I was convincing myself I failed? Because I hadn’t lived up to the insanely perfect idea I had in my head of the type of wife I would someday be. I would see other wives have emotional moments, get impatient with their husbands, or get lazy with things like health and housekeeping and I would always say things like “not me! I will be the most loving, patient, and perfect wife.”

Just by saying that in my head a few times, even years before I was married, I set myself up for disaster and disappointment.

“Once I let go of the need to prove myself as the perfect wife…the pressure to be perfect was lifted.”

Finally, I realized that my marriage is not about ME. It isn’t about me being the perfect wife. My marriage is not about my success. But rather the MIRACLE of marriage. It is about David and I being examples to the world of what God can do with two hearts and how He can use two people, bring them together as one, and do something amazing for His Kingdom. Our marriage is about being a picture of Christ and His love for His Church. How could I, the wife — the church, do that if I was more focused on myself than the one that is loving me, my husband — Christ.

Once I let go of the need to prove myself as the perfect wife and focused my attention back on the two other people that were in this relationship — David & Jesus — then the pressure to be perfect was lifted.

Feelings of Inadequacy are Straight from The Devil

There is just no nice way to say it.

Those feelings of perfectionism, failure, and inadequacy were lies whispered from the Enemy. I let this world’s perception, — and often-times the church’s incorrect perception — of what success in marriage looks like, seep deep into my spirit and convince me that I wasn’t good enough to be anyone’s wife. And I bet Satan just sat back and laughed, pleased with how he had convinced me to disregard everything that I know God promises me — which is the following:

  • That He will finish every good work He starts inside of me
  • That I have everything I need to be a good wife when I turn to Him
  • That marriage is meant to be a picture of His love
  • That for everything I lack, He provides grace, mercy, and hope


“THAT is marriage. The messy, tearful, long-night-talk and let’s-figure-this-out-together moments. ”

Fellow wife, you are not a failure. You are not the world’s worst wife. You are an imperfect human trying to love and respect another imperfect human through all of life’s demands. THAT is marriage. The messy, tearful, long-night-talk and let’s-figure-this-out-together moments. It’s about showing up when you feel like you can’t. It’s about looking to Jesus every time the enemy’s lies come sneaking in. It’s about rejecting the enemy’s lies and resting fully on who God says you are and what He says makes you a good wife.



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The Best Date Night Plan EVER

Hi sweet friends,

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year — and it isn’t just because of all the cozy sweaters and excuses to eat tons of soup. Fall is a very special season for me because it’s when I married my best friend. David and I are celebrating 2 years of marriage this fall and we are in such a beautiful place in our relationship.

That said, we do struggle to keep the romance alive when it comes to busy work schedules, giving so much time to this platform, and balancing all of our extra curricular responsibilities. We tried promising we would have a date night once a week and that doesn’t always go quite how we planned. Sure, we grab dinner together from time-to-time, cuddle up for movie nights, and take a couple of small road trips here and there for special events or adventures. But, I still felt like we needed something else. Something more intimate and intentional when it comes to helping us grow in our relationship.

So, we did something different from anything else we have ever tried — we had our date delivered to our door. And it was such a fun time! We are officially in love with Date Night In Boxes.

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Date Night In Boxes are “a custom created, memorable date night subscription experience to be enjoyed from the comfort of home. Each Date Night In box includes interactive activities with ambiance and a tasty treat…” 

This was such a fun experience for David and I — we are so excited to receive our next box. It gives us something really fun to look forward to together and we know that it will involve a whole new experience each time. We can both get stuck in our routines and it’s so nice to break things up with a creative date night.

So, I want to break down the box for you and how this date night played out for us…

  1. The Prep

What makes this type of subscription box different is that it not only creates an experience, but Night In goes the extra mile and makes sure that you have EVERYTHING ready for you romantic night in. What you see in the box is not all that you get — they also offer an appetizer, dinner, dessert, and drink recipe that goes with the theme of the night. Plus….you get a personalized Spotify playlist to help set the mood — and, again, it totally compliments the theme of the box. This month’s theme was “Fall In Love” so all the songs were perfectly picked to make me think of how we fell for each other almost three years ago.

So, while David was at work I started with the prep work for the night. I made the homemade salted caramel dipped apples for dessert and got those chilling in the fridge (and I may have eaten a couple “accidentally”). After that, I set the table and started on dinner.

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…DINNER….oh my goodness….that recipe was spectacular! I think it was half the reason we felt so in love at the end of the night. I tweaked it a bit to our preferences (plus I can just never follow a recipe no matter how hard I try). What we ended up with was comforting, warm, and perfectly creamy chicken pot pies with a biscuit-top crust.

Once dinner was well on its way, I lit the candles, poured the apple cider, (snuck another taste of the apples), and waited for David to get home.

2.  The Conversation

I’m not sure if we followed the night’s agenda exactly in order, but I thought the discussion guide was the best place to start for us. If you select the FAITH Night In Box you receive a special discussion guide that doubles as a couple’s devotional. This was really impressive to David and I! It started a beautiful conversation about our relationship and growing closer to Christ in our daily life and learning how we can encourage each other to read the Word.

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3. The Crafts

So, this may have been the most challenging part for us because neither David or myself are super crafting and literally making a miniature candle was such a challenge for us. But oh so fun! We laughed the entire time! The second craft was a little more intimate and challenged us to think about all of the milestones in our relationship thus far. For this one we marked a piece of wood with our thumbprints and listed out some of the most significant dates in our relationship (first date, engagement, wedding…,). This was a simple yet really sweet craft that ended with us having a special keepsake from the night — our ideal type of experience!

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Can you guess which thumbprint belongs to me?

4. The Snack

Okay, I have to write an entire section about the snack provided for the night. The SuperSeedz Maple Sugar & Sea Salt Gourmet Pumpkin Seeds were DELICIOUS. So much so that David has bugged me about them almost every day since to see if I have ordered any for us to keep on hand. What’s really special about this subscription box is that we get to try these new-to-us snacks that are carefully selected and made well with quality ingredients, PLUS — they offer a special discount on those same snacks to subscribers.

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5. The Game

While we enjoyed what was left of dessert, we played the fun game provided in the box. This was a time full of laughs — mostly from me because I totally won! This was a really sweet way to wrap up the evening with lighthearted fun that brought out the competitive side of each of us. What makes it even better is that we can now break out that game anytime we want to and enjoy some friendly competition — or try to decide who has to do the dishes.

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6. The Bonus

Just like Night In goes the extra mile to get your prepped for the night, they also go the extra mile to make sure the romance doesn’t end when you’ve used everything in the box. On the back page of your agenda you will find suggestions for adventurous activities or movies that support the theme of the month. For example, this month’s suggestions were hayrides and apple orchards or snuggling up for a screening of Practical Magic or When Harry Met Sally. David is a total movie junkie so he especially loved this little touch for wrapping up the evening. Plus, it gives us the opportunity to carry the date over into a full weekend or even a couple of weeks of movies & activities.

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All-in-all, we ADORE the Date Night In Box and cannot wait until the next one arrives at our door. The best part for us? The anticipation! It really rekindles that old familiar can’t-wait-for-our-next-date feeling that we both so sweetly recall from three years ago.

If you’re thinking about spicing up your date nights, then you have to check out this box! There are a few options to choose from — like Faith-based dates or kid-friendly dates for a full night of family fun.

To learn more about Date Night In Boxes, click here to see why David and I are obsessed with this innovative way to get us back to our days of sweet, fun, and intimate dates.

Check in with me next month so see how enjoy the next Date Night In Box.

-S.

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How to Journey Through Heartbreak & Remain Joyful

Sweet friend,

I’m just going to go ahead and say it, even though it is soooooo cliche, but just bear with me here…..

We ALL must journey through heartbreak at some point. I know, I know….that doesn’t change how painful it is when it happens and it certainly isn’t a statement that offers hope. But, you probably know firsthand what I mean by this.

So, because I know we all have either faced heartbreak, are facing it right now, or will face it at some point, I felt it was so important to start this conversation. I think we are so convinced that as women we can never show weakness for fear of being labeled the weaker sex or living up to some stereotype. But, today, I want to get VULNERABLE and talk about this entire topic LIKE A GIRL. Friend, heartbreak stinks. When you’re journeying through it, it feels like the most life-altering and devastating experience you could have.

 

Before we dive in, I want to tell you about the year my heart broke three times.

My senior year of college and the summer that followed was the most altering year of my young adult life. I was not the same person at the end of that year that I was when I first rang in the new year.

By February of that year I had been dating someone for about five months. This wasn’t just any guy. This was my best friend. This was a relationship we had both prayed over and talked about long before deciding to pursue it. And, of course, I totally thought that this relationship was destined to be the ONE because he was my best friend. All the movies told us that this would work out. All of our friends questioned why we hadn’t started dating sooner — we spent every second of the day together anyway.

Well, as it turns out, sometimes dating your best friend is not exactly what the movies lead you to believe it is. By the end of February, we had called it quits. And I don’t mean that we both decided to go back to being friends. I mean that he decided to call it quits.

So, we all know that getting dumped is no fun. But getting dumped by your best friend….that is just about one of the most awful rejections I’ve ever known. Now, I will be honest and say that I was in complete denial about our relationship. The sparks that we thought existed between us simply weren’t there — it just happened that he was willing to admit that sooner than I was.

 

Surprisingly, we were actually able to go right back to the way we were and to this day he is still the one I call when I just need my best friend. Of course, in those days after the breakup, I was pretty sure that I had just lost the best relationship I had ever known. How could we ever be friends after this?

For a month straight I went back to my dorm every day, crawled into bed with some sort of food (usually sushi or pizza) and watched endless episodes of Friends. I just couldn’t seem to get back to who I was before — I felt sad all the time and on the verge of tears most days. You see, I had just experienced my very first broken heart.

Fast forward to May of that year. I had just graduated and was about to start my summer internship. I was dating this dreamy guy who I’d met about a month after that breakup. He was totally infatuated with me and I with him. This was the kind of passion that you read about in books. I was head over heels.

3 days after gradation….HEARTBREAK.

I was beyond devastated.

I had to walk into my internship the next day and pretend like I was okay, but I was a mess on the inside.

Months passed and I still felt the ache. My internship was going great, the summer was full of fun things, and I had a bright future ahead. But still, I was hurting.

The end of the summer came around and I found myself being pursued again. This time, it only took about 3 dates for him to totally stop all communication and I was left with, yet again, another let down. This time was not nearly as painful on it’s own, but after feeling rejected so much in one year, it just added to all the cracks forming in my heart.

Of course, I am now married to the man who really was meant for me. And he makes all of that pain seem far less important. But, during that year of heartbreak I felt myself sinking. I’d grown insecure, untrusting, and unconvinced that any man was worth my time.

But I learned so much in those months. Some things that truly changed me for the better. Those breaks in my heart became small scars that remind of how far I’ve come, how strong I am, and how much I can depend on God to see me through anything.

 

After drawing out this long story about my relationship history, I want to share with you the things I learned through that journey in the simplest way I can….

  1. Dating relationships should never identify you.

Marriage may come with titles like “husband” and “wife” and those titles certainly become a part of who we are — they identify us as committed to one person so the rest of the world knows where we stand. One of the most defining things about me is that I am the wife to David Stephens. It means that I place his needs before my own, I serve him as God leads me, I am submissive to him as the leader of our relationship. It means that I get to enjoy the blessings of marriage with him, fall asleep with him each night, and possibly raise a family with him someday. Those are self-defining things that simply come with being married.

But, a dating relationship should never receive the same privileges that a marriage relationship does. A dating relationship should never define who we are. Part of the reason that I struggled to move past breakups was because I struggled to place my identity in God instead of in the guy I was with at the time. Because I wasn’t relying on what God said about me, I was devastated when rejected came my way.

That summer I grew closer to God than I ever had been before. All of those heartbreaks had left me with no other choice but to turn to Him and learn to find my identity in who He says I am. And though  I was still hurting, I was able to find true JOY because of my relationship with Christ.

So, if heartbreak feels more difficult for you than it should….maybe that’s because it is. Maybe what you’re really facing is an identity crisis. And the only way to move past that is to turn back to who God says you are. Spend time with Him, talk to Him, and really search His word to know what He says about you.

2. Your plan will never compare to God’s plan for you

I still struggle with this every day. I am always fighting and questioning God when things don’t go my way. Even though I know that when things aren’t going my way, that just means that God is working out something even BETTER for me than I had planned.

Of those three broken hearts, those three guys that I thought were so perfect for me….none of them even come close to the man I get to spend every day with. I am beyond grateful that the Lord didn’t let me have my way, no matter how much I begged. He knew that what I thought I wanted was not at all the type of guy that I needed in my life. He knew that David was waiting and praying for me. He knew that even though my heart was breaking, which I know He felt 100% with me, that He had something unbelievably good stored up for my future.

Friend, if your heart is breaking right now I invite you to take joy in this one thought: the relationship that you thought was unbeatable is actually going to fall quite short compared to the one that God has in-store for you. I know it seems impossible that anyone THAT good could ever come into your life again and you truly feel like you can never love anyone else more than you love him…..but you would be greatly surprised at what God can do with a willing heart. Including HEAL it. Trust that He has goodness planned for your life and believe that He will fulfill every promise and you will live each day with a joy that others simply can’t describe.

 

3. A relationship will never bring you true joy.

Not that lasting kind anyway. My husband makes me happy — every day! But my JOY is not found in him. Because if it were….well, I would be a pretty miserable person on the days he annoys me or does something in a different way than I would. If my joy were found in my marriage then I would never know as each day came whether or not I was going to be happy that day. But, because my joy comes from God, I know every morning I wake up is a day destined for joy….NO MATTER WHAT.

If you can learn to find your joy in Christ because you know that no other relationship will ever provide that kind of joy, then you will be free from all the miseries that other people complain about when it comes to relationships. You will know for certain that no matter what happens, you will be a genuinely joyful person.

I have one final thing to share with you, friend….

If you are really struggling through a season of heartbreak right now, then I would like to give you a special gift.

I have created a 7-day devotional that focuses on how you can journey through heartbreak and come out on the other side more joyful and hopeful and learn to see yourself as adored and loved by the Creator.

Just click below to download your FREE copy of this devotional and start the healing process today.

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Click HERE to download your FREE copy.

 

I hope you are choosing to walk the path of healing, friend. I pray that you are seeking God’s will through this confusing season — He will be faithful to heal your heart and provide you with the love story you deserve.

-S.

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3 Reasons Marriage Didn’t Solve My Body Image Issues

Hi friend!

Today I’m diving into the topic that I have a lot to say about…yet it’s the topic I’m the most hesitant to discuss — and you know how I have no problem talking about the hard things here! In fact, I’m usually pretty difficult to shut up about those types of things!

My approach today is making the whole topic of body image even more uncomfortable because I’m talking about it within the context of my marriage. Not because I just long to share every single personal detail of my life with the internet, but because I believe there are other women who are going through this same struggle or there are those of you out there, maybe not married quite yet, who are believing some pretty crazy lies about body image and marriage.

So, today I’m talking about the 3 Reasons Marriage Didn’t Solve My Body Image Issues. And please don’t see this as a negative thing! In fact, I think it has actually strengthened my marriage in a lot of ways. But what I want to shed some light on today is the lie I believed about how having a husband would solve all the body image problems I have fought since childhood.

  1. My Husband Is NOT Responsible For My Body Image

From childhood I have believed that my husband should be the person who makes me feel beautiful. So, on the day I got married I think I mentally shifted my body image issues onto my husband’s shoulders, relieved that I no longer had to work on the way I see myself. He would just take care of that for me!

Fast forward a year and a half and I’m still ugly crying about body image. I’m still questioning why he even married me! I’m actually getting angry and hurt when he can’t read my mind as I’m silently begging for a compliment. I have believed the lie that my husband doesn’t find me attractive simply because he isn’t constantly reassuring me of my beauty. How crazy is that?!

Here’s the harsh truth I finally had to tell myself: It is NOT my husband’s job to overcome all of my body image issues and make me feel like the most gorgeous woman on the planet. Is he to love me and encourage me and lift me up? Absolutely! Should he remind me from time to time that he actually likes my unique shape? Sure! But nowhere does it say that he now has to carry the weight of all of my body image problems simply because we are married.

Now, hear me out. I 100% believe that when David and I married each other we also agreed to marry all of the baggage we both brought into this partnership. But what I had to come to realize is that just because he needs to accept me along with my struggles that doesn’t mean that he needs to rescue me from those struggles. This body image battle is MY BATTLE.  And though I love having this amazing person stand beside me on the battle field, I know that he can’t fight for me. I have to be the one who takes a deep breath and presses on even when the odds seem stacked against me.

2. My Husband Doesn’t Have The POWER To Change My Body Image

Though I like to believe he can do anything and that he is strong in every way that I fall weak…I finally had to realize that no amount of compliments he can give me will ever change how I feel about myself. Because I have to choose to believe them! I have to choose to let go of all of the lies and impossible expectations I have allowed to creep into my mind.

David would probably tell you that he can call me beautiful until he’s blue in the face and I will still ask him an hour later if he thinks my nose is crooked or my hips are too wide. Poor guy…he just can’t win…maybe pray for his sanity!

Seriously though, it all comes down to my decision to push past the lies. My decision to hold my husband’s opinion of me higher than the distorted opinion I have of myself. He can’t pour truth into me if I’m not willing to receive it. He would tell you I’m the most stubborn person EVER….so why did I expect him to have the power to make me change my mind? No one else ever has! Only I can do that. Only I can choose to ignore the lies, listen to the kind words of my husband, and learn to see myself differently.

3. My Husband Is NOT my Savior

This is where it all gets confusing, right? Because if you grew up anything like I did then you spent your days pretending to be Snow White and Cinderella. To this day I still wish I were a Disney Princess. These days it’s more for the perfect hair than it is for the perfect prince…but still! I thought that my happy ending meant my future husband rescuing me from all of life’s problems. Even though I realistically knew that was not going to be the case when we got married…I think on some level I was still that little girl believing that my husband was going to be my savior.

So that brings me to this: if my husband isn’t responsible for fixing my body image and doesn’t have the power to in the first place….and he isn’t my prince come to slay all my dragons…then where does that leave me? Fighting through this all on my own? Going up against my scariest demons alone?

Not at all. It leaves me running straight into the arms of my actual Savior. To the one who really has reached out to take this weight of body image off of my shoulders. It leaves me learning to let go of my thoughts toward myself and learning to see myself the way He does. It leaves me falling into the embrace of the only One who can take everything that hurts and everything that makes me feel less than and turn into healing. Into real beauty. Into something that shows the world just how amazing He is.

So, whether you’re a wife, a bride-to-be, or maybe just a girl praying for a prince….can I just tell you a little secret? Marriage is never going to solve the problem that lies deep within you. It’s never going to undo all the years of putting yourself down and believing lies about what you should look like. In fact, don’t be surprised to find that body image issues magnify when you promise to spend forever with someone.

BUT….

Here’s the really beautiful part of it all. That marriage that doesn’t exist to solve your problems is an amazing picture of the relationship your actually Savior wants with you. Jesus isn’t just the one who did the dying for you. No. He wants to be the One you call on every time those body image lies creep in. He wants to be the One who convinces you of all the beauty that He created you with. He wants to be the One that everyone sees when they look at you. And that…well that makes you more beautiful than you could ever dream of being.

So, the relationship you share, or will share, with your husband is never going to erase your deepest rooted problems. Only Jesus can do that. But it will give you a loving partner who can fight right along side you.

So, if you’re married, and especially if you’re going to be married soon or plan to be some day, I encourage you to do two things. First, go running to your Savior. Let Him know all of these burdens about body image that rest so heavily on you. Secondly, talk to your partner. Tell him your struggle. Tell him all of it that you can. And let him know that you don’t expect him to fix it. But that you do hope he will stand with you, lift you up when you’re weak, and pray for your mindset and your health. Ugly cry if you must — you still won’t beat me on that record! And ask for some help in this battle. A lie I have believed for a large portion of the time I’ve been married is that if my husband isn’t going to do it FOR ME then I have to do it ALONE. And that is so far from the truth! That’s what this whole marriage journey is about — being there and being strong for each other when the struggle becomes too real. Let him in, let him fight with you, and you might just find that this whole struggle with body image can be one of the most strengthening experiences for your marriage.

 

And friend…never ever forget…you are so unbelievable loved by the One who made you. And because of that TRUTH, no lie that this world tells you can ever make you less than beautiful. Because the most comforting truth of all is that even though we face the battle every day, this war has already been won.

 

-S.

 

 

*Gorgeous Image By MAGGIE SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY

 

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How I Prayed for My Love Story

One of my favorite stories of God’s grace in my life is the story of how I met my husband. It was a total God thing and I have told it to many single friends to encourage them. But, I was not always a believer in praying specifically for the husband I wanted or even for the husband God wanted for me. I was actually pretty sure that I could determine who the right guy was on my own and that if it was “meant to be” we would somehow cross paths. Dear friends….I was very, VERY wrong. You absolutely can pray for the husband you want and God will 100% deliver in His time.

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Remember when you were a kid and your mom would tell you things like “if you keep making that face it’s going to freeze that way” and even as a clueless five-year-old you knew that it wasn’t true. That was how I felt every single time I heard someone say that they prayed for their now-husband. I attended a Christian university so I heard things like this on a regular basis. I knew girls who were praying every day for the man that they wanted to meet and marry. And even until the day I graduated I was nothing short of skeptical and quite honestly annoyed with the whole idea. Much to my own surprise, however, was that it wasn’t at all like mom saying my face would freeze. It was actually more like her saying that if I went outside in the cold with wet hair I would catch a cold…yes it could happen…but I would likely have to be outside, in the perfectly cold temperature and stay out there quite some time. Basically, it was possible, but the timing and circumstance had to be just right.
Before I began praying for my husband I had pretty much hit rock bottom in the relationship realm. I was living alone in a new town, just moved into my first apartment on my own, and though I was excited about this new chapter of life and my first post-grad job…I felt so lonely. My family and friends were far away and my heart had been broken about 3 times that year so men were the very last thing on my list of priorities by that November. But one night, alone in my apartment and at the end of my loneliness rope I broke down and….I literally screamed at God!

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Yes…I screamed out loud at the creator of the universe because I blamed Him for my loneliness. Though I was the one refusing to persevere and pray for a future husband, I blamed Him. So I yelled at God for a little while; some audibly, some quietly in my heart. I asked questions and begged and pretty much had a complete and total breakdown.
I remember sitting on my floor, my head in a chair, and realizing how crazy I must look in that moment. And then I felt God nudging my heart and suddenly it was His turn to speak. “Why have you doubted me?” “Why haven’t you asked me for the one you want?”



And then I cried. A lot. Because He was so right. Why was I blaming Him when He promised in His word to give me everything I will ever need (Phil. 4:19) as well as provide me with the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4) if I simply humble myself and ask Him (Matt. 7:7) while also being faithful and obedient (Matt. 6:33). That night began the remarkably short prayer journey to meeting my husband.

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I dried my tears, after uttering my many regrets and apologies to the Lord, and reached for my prayer journal. And there, where I wrote all my longings and ponderings and prayers and frustrations, I made a list. A fun fact about me? I LOVE MAKING LISTS. I have been a crazy organized person from birth and lists are the only way I function. But this list was perhaps the most important I had ever made. I made a list of all the things I wanted in a husband. And I started praying over that list.

That was right after Thanksgiving and by December 13th that year, I met David.
So what was on my list?

Well, I prayed for things I knew I needed in a partner and then I prayed for things I simply wanted….even the petty things! I wrote it all down and promised myself that if the person I met did not have everything on the list that I would know he was not the one God wanted for me. I asked for someone who followed Christ so faithfully that I would be able to see Him shining through. I asked for brown eyes. I prayed for someone who enjoyed fitness because I need accountability in that area. I asked for someone who worked in a similar field as I did and could fully support my career. I listed glasses as an added bonus because I love a man in glasses. I prayed for someone who would love me for everything I am and everything I am not. I asked that He would be able to handle all of my crazy emotions and be able to understand my very difficult struggle with body image and food.

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I think on some level I made the list in hopes that it would keep me from any more broken hearts because no man could possibly meet every requirement on my list. Yet again….I was wrong. (May I just say that as a stubborn and needs-to-be-right-all-the-time kind of person, I am not enjoying how much I need to admit I’m wrong in this post.)
I was sure I was crazy for making that list. So I was blown away when I met David that December night. The first thing I noticed about him? The light that shown out of him. The light of Christ that I prayed for. By the end of the night I had checked almost everything off of my list. He was a runner, worked in home restoration, and had 5 sisters so he was well equipped to handle my emotional break downs and body image issues. The only thing missing was the glasses. But I figured 99% of everything I wanted was pretty good and that there was no way I would ever meet anyone else like him. Of course the night of our first date, exactly one week later, I walked in and there he was…WEARING GLASSES. GOD ANSWERS PRAYER. And sometimes He goes so far beyond anything we ever believed would happen just because HE CAN. Just to show us what He can do. Just to reveal to our doubting hearts what a personal God He is. Ya’ll, where in the Bible does it say that I deserve to have the brown-eyed boy in glasses that I dreamed of? Nowhere! But the same God I screamed at that night for not getting my way is the same one who placed His hand on my life and changed the course of my story with a tall, brown-eyed boy.

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So, I tell you all of that to say that you can have it too! You can pray and get the husband that you want and need. Yes, I believe God intends for certain people to be together and that He can make it happen no matter what. But, I also believe that God greatly blesses those that are fervent in prayer and faithful and that He will write their stories with a little extra magic. Don’t miss out on your magic! Pray. Believe. Obey. Be Faithful. And He will give you everything good that your heart desires. Does He have a plan of His own? Absolutely! But if you truly desire what is good then you will also desire what He has for you. And when your wants align with what God wants for you…amazing things will happen!
And it may take time. Don’t be discouraged if it starts to feel like God is silent. Delay does not equal Refusal. David prayed for me for SIX YEARS. I prayed for THREE WEEKS. So God’s timing is different for everyone because He teaches us different lessons. He taught David patience and how to trust in Him. He taught me about the power of prayer and believing that God can do amazing things.
Maybe you have been doubting or maybe you have given up or maybe you have prayed for what seems like forever. Dear, sweet friend…there is a lesson in that! Our Creator uses every situation He can to teach us more about Himself and to better prepare us for His calling on our life. Stay faithful! He will come through for you in His time.



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Maybe some of you feel like your mom is saying the whole frozen face thing all over again as you read this. If that is the case, may I just invite you and challenge you to seek God and His plan in a new way. Maybe that means you make a list of your own. Maybe you commit to praying for one full hour every day. Maybe it’s even as simple as starting to pray that your plan begins to align with His. Whatever it might be, just try it. You will be amazed by what He can do with even the smallest amount of faith (Matt. 17:20).
One very important part of this story that I beg you not to miss is the final part of my prayer that night and every night that followed. I prayed over that list and did my best to believe that God would make it happen. I prayed that He would make me the person and wife I needed to be for whoever my husband would be. But I also knew that in that moment of breaking down and being lonelier than I ever had before that He knew exactly how I felt. He knew my loneliness on a whole different level and every ache in my heart felt just as real to Him as it did to me. And because of that, the final part of my prayer was “Lord, even if this never happens. Even if it’s just you and me from now until forever, I am okay with that.” I had to get to the point, even in the midst of longing and hoping and list-making, that I would still be joyful if no husband ever came and the only love story I ever had was the one I have with Jesus. Because, after all, isn’t that the greatest love story any of us will ever know?

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So, friend, whatever the longing of your heart is. Whatever your dream is. Whatever it is in your life that you would spend hours and days and weeks praying over…DO IT. Pray. Let God show you what He can do. And while He is working on that part, I ask you to sit contently in the love He has for you and try to come to a place of knowing that if every dream you ever have is shattered that He is still good and still loving and that the story He is writing for you is so carefully and uniquely penned that He wouldn’t let anyone else have it but you. Come to a place of knowing that being in love with Him, that having forever with Him, is all the love story you will ever need. Because it’s in that moment that He starts to write something truly breath taking.

– S.