Monthly Archives: December 2014

misconceptions of marriage: part 3 – devotion to the Lord alone

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Welp, here it is – the last post of Whit’s series, the last post of 2014, and the post that marks the 1 year anniversary of the blog. As I’ve mentioned in weeks past, I’m so glad we’ve been able to learn from my dear friend these few weeks, and I pray that the Spirit would speak to us all and draw us into Christ as the year comes to a close. In starting this blog a year ago my desire was to learn who I am in Jesus for the sake of Jesus – to go to God just to get God. I’m glad Whit gets to close out the year sharing her heart in marriage, and that it’s all the same: whether we are single, married, divorced, whatever…the goal is Jesus, always. Enjoy the blog and we’ll see you in 2015!

With New Years Eve here, it seems like so many people are getting engaged. It is an exciting time for them as their whole world changes with the future of marriage on the horizon. With pictures of engagement rings, beaming faces, and happy couples it can be a trying time for those looking in from the outside. Engagement is wonderful….but there are many misconceptions with engagement and marriage.

So let’s us continue to go through the top 5 Misconceptions about marriage. Here are the 2 misconceptions we addressed last week:

#1 Finances Misconception

#2 Misconceptions of Loneliness
You can read about those misconceptions in the blog from last week by clicking here.

Are there more than these 5 misconceptions within marriage? Certainly. But I think you will catch onto the essence of truth in the 5 misconceptions: marriage is great, but it should point you to a greater relationship: Jesus.


#3 Misconceptions of Sex: “Once you are married you and your spouse will not struggle with temptation or lust; sex will complete you and make you happy.”

I wish this was true. But it’s not. Lust creeps into marriage, and satan is constantly trying to tempt and drive a wedge between husband and wife. Pornography is an ever present danger, that can entice and lure even the most noble of spouses. Look at this proverb, lust seduces and can deceive quickly—whether single or married we must be careful to protect ourselves from the temptations of lust.

Proverbs 7: 21-23 “With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.”

Sex does not complete you. Sex is an amazing part of marriage, but it doesn’t complete you. Jesus Christ as your personal savior completes you. Sex is designed by God and is meant to join husband and wife and help them to become one, like Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32).

Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

#4 Misconceptions of Insecurities: “What I’ve done, the sins I have committed, make me not good enough for marriage; that I won’t be accepted; that God is holding out on me.”

Beloved, if this is your misconception of marriage know that I am praying for you. This misconception breaks my heart. This is a straight up LIE. This is a lie from satan that you won’t be acceptable before God or from a potential spouse. There is nothing we have done to earn the love of Christ, yet He still loves us —–grace upon grace (John 1:16). And that is a picture of the kind of spouse you want, the kind of spouse that is centered on Christ, will not hold past sins against you, but forgive you. That is the kind of potential spouse you should date, someone who shows you the grace of Christ.

My hubby loves me, and forgives me for my past mistakes. He does not hold those over my head and make me feel unacceptable. He shows me the grace of Christ daily, grace upon grace.

God is not holding out on you. God loves you and has a plan for your life. You are not acceptable because of what you do; you are acceptable to God because of Christ alone.

 Romans 14:18 “Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.”

#5 Misconceptions of Completion or feeling “Good Enough”: “If I’m married to a man that has made a covenant to love me always in front of God and man, then I will always feel good enough around him.”

Again I wish this misconception was true. Wouldn’t it be nice to always feel good enough from your spouse? But as much as my wonderful hubs loves me, he does not complete me. Christ alone completes me. I need to be fully devoted to my savior, and sometimes in marriage it can be challenging to not put your spouse before Christ because your interests can be divided:  

1 Corinthians 7:32-35I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”

I struggle with not feeling good enough, but my husband cannot solve this problem for me. Sure he can tell me he loves me, or I am pretty, or good at my job, or that I make a good dinner…but no matter the amount of flattery I am still insecure at times, especially when I burn dinner or have a bad hair day. Insecurity is me believing the lie that I am not good enough…having anxiety about myself. God’s word is clear. I am not to be anxious about anything, neither are you, God commands us not to be anxious/worried/insecure:

Matthew 6:31-34 “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

We can rest assured that we are secure in Christ, and not our own efforts, looks, jobs, or cooking abilities. And that is where you can find your security, not in a marriage but in Jesus Christ.

I don’t know where you are in your thoughts of marriage…maybe you think marriage is the ultimate, and that those that are married have it all. Maybe you are married and confused why it seems like everyone else’s marriages “look” perfect, and yours is in disarray. Maybe you think marriage sounds like a prison cell, and you are with your “ball and chain” for life. Or maybe you honestly don’t see the point in marriage, and consider it old-fashioned. Wherever you are coming into reading this, my prayer is that you would begin to see marriage for what God intended it to be: a relationship to point you towards Him.

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misconceptions of marriage: part 2

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When I first asked Whitney to guest post (back in June or July but we are BUSY PEOPLE), we both probably thought it would be a one and done topic. Whit would write a post for one week and then you’d get my sassy self back right after that. But as she and I began to talk through what the Lord had laid on her heart to write, it became quickly clear that it was at least a 2 week stint. And this morning we decided at to go for 3. So, here’s week 2. Again, I’m so glad you all are getting to learn from my dear friend. Let these words and the truth of Scripture soak in this evening. And enjoy Christmas – celebrating God coming to dwell with His people and make us whole. – Kayla (ps, I’m going to continue posting some of their engagement photos as long as Whitney writes, so, get used to it. I loved taking them and I love sharing them.)

What do singles think are the benefits of marriage? What are you treasuring?

What are the benefits of marriage? As Kayla and I sat in my kitchen listening to Christmas music we began to discuss the preconceived notions she had. As she talked a slight smirk started to grow on my face. She would suggest an idolized expectation about marriage, and I tried to hide my facial expression by sipping my tea but I knew I couldn’t, especially not with her. As they say in the south I wanted to tell her, “Bless your heart.” (Imagine I said that in a southern accent…because if you don’t it will lose the effect.)

Every single misconception of marriage she mentioned I could give countless examples to refute her claims. This view of marriage as perfect, prim, and pressed is unrealistic and unfair to singles. Marriage is wonderful, and hard because it’s a relationship of two sinners together in a covenant relationship for life.

I would like to help unveil the image of “perfection” that masks true struggles within marriages. Let’s get real, because that is where true growth happens…

#1 Finances Misconception: “Things are easier because of having 2 incomes; can have more things and do more stuff because you have more money; don’t have to monitor finances as closely.”

Money is not one of my favorite topics. But ask my hubs. He will give you spreadsheets for your spreadsheets. He loves to budget, work on his checkbook, and calculate our finances…it relaxes him. How is that even possible? I don’t get it. Praise God he enjoys that. I like to budget and save, but he is on a whole other level, thus sometimes we disagree on how to spend or save money.

Marriage does not solve our money problems. I wish it were that simple. For me, marriage magnified my finance issues and forced me to pray and seek God on what to do with finances. Why? Because when I was single my spending choices only affected me, now my decisions on spending/saving affect my spouse.

It’s God’s money that we steward together prayerfully. This has been crucial for us to realize it’s the Lord’s. Now we have monthly budget meetings to make sure we are unified in our stance on handling money (that are actually really helpful – I used to dread these).

And regarding the misconception about finances in marriage allowing for “more things/do more stuff” and “not have to monitor finances as closely,” that is a heart issue about money, rather than a marriage v. single issue, because anyone could say that whether married or not. I could covet another married person’s income or compare my income to single persons. This is simply a sin issue of coveting and comparing with money.

Money can quickly become an idol with loans, debt, wanting new shoes, or even hoarding money and saving it can be an idol. Jesus spent roughly a fourth of His time talking about money while on earth, clearly it was important since He knows our hearts and how fallen we are to turn to money for our comfort or security:

Matthew 6:24 Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Our lust for money can divide our hearts from worshipping God to worshipping dollars, and because it is a tempting idol it is essential we learn what God’s word says about it, no matter our marital status.

Good Finance Questions To Ask Yourself:

  • Do you love money over your love for God? Do you trust in money or God?

1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

 

  • Whose money is it anyways? Question you need to ask yourself often. Maybe like me, before you go to the mall? Seriously I’m not kidding. Every time I go into the mall I have to pray about my purchases. Know yourself, and know your limits and pray that you would use your money to glorify God.

Matthew 6:21 “…for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also.”

3.)    What is the purpose of your money?

Read the Widow’s Offering, Mark 12:41-44. I want to highlight verse 44, “For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

If you believe it is your money, then you spend/save it as you see fit. If you see it as money God has entrusted you with to steward, then you spend/save as you feel the Lord is leading you.

#2 Misconceptions of Loneliness: “You always have someone that loves having you around; you don’t feel alone as you would if you always came home to an empty apartment—there’s always someone around.”

If this is a misconception you have about marriage, I can see your rationalization. I thought the same thing too; that once I was married I would never feel lonely. I believe this problem of loneliness is growing partially due to social media, we think we are connected to our “friends,” when it is not a real face-to-face relationship instead of the computer screen.

Our pastor’s wife recently shared how marriage has been a lonely time for her. I thought, surely she is not alone, she is married to a great guy and has so many connections, but it was true- she felt lonely. I greatly appreciated her sharing this, because it showed me that I wasn’t alone in feeling lonely…which was oddly comforting. Authentic vulnerability in relationships is rare, but it’s possible. Look at Acts 2: the body of Christ loved people well, whether single or married and they were in true fellowship with each other.

At times I have felt alone in marriage. My husband has felt alone in marriage. Sure marriage is great because you are living with your best friend, but there are times when I struggle to express what I am feeling or maybe I want to talk with someone else who is a female and can relate differently to me than my spouse. Maybe I am putting unfair expectations on my husband / friends to meet my neediness, which can result in feeling alone. But I have to go to Jesus when I feel alone or insecure first, because my hubby or friends can’t fulfill me.

I asked Pat what he thinks is the opposite of loneliness? He said, “Feeling loved.” I love that answer so much. Because we are loved, by the most perfect one: Christ. A relationship with Christ allows us to have communion with the God of the universe, who loves you and cares for you. We are never alone. Ever.

            Psalm 73:23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.”

Good questions about loneliness to ask yourself:

  • When I feel alone, how has my time been with the Lord? This should be the relationship I hold above all other relationships…it is with our Maker.

Isaiah 54:5 For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. “

  • Am I in good Christian community? If not, how can I get more connected?

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”

  • Am I comparing my life with others lives? Especially on social media?

I struggle with the temptations of comparisons, this verse helps me I pray it helps you too:

2 Corinthians 10:12  Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.”

When have you seen someone post a picture of themselves online in a fight with their spouse over money, or a picture of bills to pay, or they are by themselves?? People post what looks “good” and we then filter our views through what we see online. Which isn’t a clear picture of someone’s life, we are without understanding.

We will continue to try to pull back the claims that once you get marriage you are healed or that life is easy. If marriage was a special medicine that would eliminate all insecurities, hurts, and fears then I must be too sick to be healed by my spouse. Because after 2 years into marriage I still have insecurities, hurts, fears and so many more sinful thought patterns. Luckily I know the one who can heal my heart and continue to sanctify me to be more like His son, and Beloved He is available to heal your heart as well.   Trust Him.

Until next time…

Misconceptions of marriage to discuss next time:      -Sex      -Insecurities        -Feeling good enough

*If you missed last week’s post, catch up here!

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misconceptions of marriage: “and they lived happily ever after”

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Whitney (@whitneyarthur24 on Twitter) has lived a lot of life with me. She’s spoken words of encouragement and love into my life on a regular basis and I’m so excited to share a glimpse of that with you over the next 2 weeks!! She also taught me how to walk in heels…she’s pretty great. She’s also married to Pat who makes really tasty chocolate chip cookies and can cut a pretty good rug on the dance floor. I’m so honored that one of my best friends has opened her heart to us on this blog, and I pray that her experience and the truth of Scripture would encourage your heart! (ps, that’s one of Whitney & Pat’s engagement pictures posted above that I got to photograph!) Enjoy!!

There she was. The bride. Dressed in pure white, with a long veil, and beautiful white flowers. I was enamored. As she kissed her groom and they walked down the magical aisle into wedded bliss, I was hooked. After that my love affair with romance started as a little girl. I would draw brides in my coloring books, get “married” to my friends at preschool, and wear a towel on my head as a veil and prance around the house-singing “Someday my prince will come.”

To say I am a hopeless romantic is an understatement. I LOVE love (and weddings and fairy tales). A lot. Probably too much—I will let Kayla comment on that later to confirm.

I wanted to be a bride someday: a woman who is the essence of beauty and perfection. She glows, as if all her worries are gone, and life is easy. Her groom always looks at her the way all women want to be looked at. A bride must be the ideal of womanhood, I thought. Peering over my pages in my fairly tales I memorized every outfit and every line…until the fantasy turned into what I thought was a reality.

I would beg my dad to read me Cinderella, and eagerly await the phrase “and they lived happily ever after,” for that is what all little girls wish for. This is what little girls are conditioned to believe, what marketers and Disney mold into this fairy tale world that captivates the souls of little ones…and carries over into adult lives of women everywhere…hence our obsession with movies like “The Notebook,” or shows likes “The Bachelor.”

As I grew from a little girl into a young woman the idea of love fascinated me still. And I dove head first into relationships, for I wanted to be loved. Every relationship was another opportunity to finally feel wanted, desired, and cared for. So I had to be in a relationship to fulfill the void I felt. I put my heart in the hands of boys who made me feel as though they could complete me, and quickly I realized that I still felt alone, not good enough, and incomplete.

Yet, I was still hopeful that love would complete me as my inner-child cried from within, “This isn’t fair, you DESERVE a happily ever after.” And with a broken heart I would move to the next boy…and maybe he would be the one to complete me.

Praise God, I met Jesus during that sweet time of adolescence. That I was in the care of the ONLY one who could make complete: Christ.

Col. 2:10 NASB “…and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.”

Thank goodness Jesus is the author of the most intriguing, beautiful, and radical love story of all time. He has had my heart since I was 15 and I began to fall in love with Him.

 Romans 5:8 “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Sanctification is a process and I have continually tipped toed around the idea that LOVE with a man would satisfy more than my LOVE of Jesus.

When I met my husband I knew he was the one, because he told me that he would always love Jesus more than he loved me. I knew Jesus had to be at the center of our relationship, but I quickly put this man above Jesus for he seemed more tangible. God taught me a lot during our dating, and then 5 years later we got engaged…and the world of weddings and pure bliss was opened. My forever man had put a ring on my finger, and told me I would be his forever. Finally I thought I would feel secure, and good enough.

Sure, sure I had heard marriage would be hard. But I truthfully believed it would be different for us.

Our wedding day was magical – it was amazing to make the covenant of marriage with my hubby and the Lord before our friends and family. But a wedding-high doesn’t last. Again I put my hope into a relationship with a person, now my husband, rather than my relationship with my Savior.

Matthew 22: 37-38 “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”

This simple truth in the greatest commandment is so evident to not idolize anything or anyone but God. Yet I idolize my husband at times.

I put him above God, yet he doesn’t make me happy 24/7, we get in fights, he chews gum with his mouth open, he is different than me: he likes the show COPS….he isn’t perfect. As much as I love him he isn’t. He is a sinner. As am I. And so marriage is not a perfect relationship: a sinner marrying a sinner doesn’t equal complete bliss, it equals 2 sinners in a covenant relationship for life.

Marriage doesn’t complete me and it never will. I love my hubby, but I love Jesus more. And I don’t complete my hubs: and I can’t, it hinders his relationship with Christ if I try to get in the way.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

I pray that you would realize what or who you are idolizing before God. What are you seeking after? Is it a wedding? Is it an engagement ring? Is it marriage? Anything other than JESUS doesn’t suffice and you will be left feeling empty and striving for more. Beloved, I promise no one, no man, no husband will complete you…as hard as you may try, Jesus is better and truly is the “happily ever after,” we long for. Seek hard after Him and the desires of God’s heart will become the desires of your heart, Psalm 37:4. Eternity with the perfect Bridegroom: Jesus. He is the only one who I will idolize.

Next week we will discuss the 5 Top Misconceptions about marriage…get ready as we unpack: “What do singles think are the benefits of marriage?”

  • Finances
  • Sex
  • Loneliness
  • Insecurities
  • Feel Complete or “Good Enough”

Until next week….

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singles holiday guide: part 2 (for the unsingles)

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First of all, I used the term “unsingles” in the title because I’m referred to as unmarried. And also, that’s incorrect. If anything I’m non-married or just single. I wasn’t married and then it became “un.” Non. Or just single. Not un.

Glad we cleared that up.

Now, this holiday guide is for all of you that are unsingle – married, dating, etc. It’s highly likely that you will interact with a single person during this holiday season, and I want to help you get through it.

  • If you ask us about how our life is going and we don’t mention a boyfriend, don’t press us on it.
    If we just tell you that work is great, our friends are awesome, we managed to vacuum our apartment twice in the past 4 months, and that’s it, then let it be. Don’t continue to ask vague questions, trying to manipulate us into saying, “Nope. Still single. No prospects. Kthanksbye.”
  • When I’m holding a small child/baby, don’t ask me if I have the fever.
    I’m acutely aware that I don’t have a child right now, and won’t have one for at least the next 10-11 months [take a minute to let that joke land…]
    The only fever I probably have in that moment is probably from the meat sweats and the delicious Christmas feast I just consumed. Wanting a baby isn’t going to get me married any quicker.
  • Please don’t ask me if I have anyone to spend Christmas with.
    Sometimes, when us singles go to Christmas parties, the easy small-talk question is, “So, do you have anyone to spend Christmas with?” or “Well if you’re not married or dating anyone, then what do you do for Christmas?!”
    I have a family – an awesome family, for that matter – that gathers every year to celebrate God dwelling with man, tell wonderful stories of Christmases long, long ago, and eat until we have to crawl to our bedrooms to put sweatpants on. I have a life beyond my marital status. WHAT DO YOU DO FOR CHRISTMAS?!
  • Know that if you do come at me with all of the above, it’ll be okay.
    I realize the last 2 weeks have shown off some of my sassy side, but know that God is bigger than my sassiness. He’s also bigger than the words we use with one another. And He’s bigger than well meaning intentions that really hurt some people deep down in their hearts. I know when you ask about my dating life, you’re not meaning to push on a soft spot in my heart. I know that relationships are an easy talking point. So please know that I’ll give you grace – I may roll my eyes, or snap back with some sarcastic comment initially – but I’ll get over myself and extend grace, hoping you’ll do the same (see: eye roll & sarcastic comment).

Most importantly, when we run in to each other during this Christmas season, let’s just celebrate Jesus. Let’s remind each other that the Creator of all things saw value in us, so much so that He sent His Son to die on our behalf and save us from our sins.

Now go watch this really funny black & white sketch.

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singles holiday guide: part 1

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With the holidays upon us and singles everywhere (somewhat) dreading going home to the same ole set of questions about their love lives, I thought it would be appropriate to address some questions that might pop up over the next few weeks. If you want to shut down any conversational advance from a pesky rando at family dinner, use the following responses:

Family Member: “So I guess your New Years resolution of getting a boyfriend didn’t work out.”
Response: “No, it did, but I broke up with him about 15 minutes in because all he could talk about was legos.”

Family Member: “Well, at least you don’t have to spend money on an extra person this year.”
Response: “You’re right…I didn’t buy you anything.”

Family Member: “You can totally go to Grandma’s early to help start cooking since you don’t have a family to get ready, right?”
Response: “Nah, but I WILL go to Grandma’s early to suck up and get all the good pieces of bacon before you suckers show up.”

Family Member: “Any prospects in your life yet?”
Response: “If by prospects you mean good movies to go see? Then, yes.”

Family Member: “Do you think you’ll ever get married?”
Response: “If it means I have to start asking for toasters, quilts, and light bulbs for Christmas, then NO THANK YOU.”

Okay, so those aren’t the most gracious responses, and I wouldn’t recommend saying them unless you have a pretty sarcastic family. However, I do feel for those of you that are inundated with questions about your single life from those closest to you.

It’s hard to be around people who only see your identity as single or married. Or divorced. Or childless. Or [fill in the blank].

Your relationship status is not who you are. Your value and worth come from Jesus alone! This season is to be lived in celebration of the God Man coming to earth to save us.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)

Remember that this holiday season as friends get engaged, weddings are attended, and well-meaning family members say some hurtful things. Remember that a Savior was born for you and me. And nothing outside of that truth really matters.

*at least Amy, Kristen, & Maya have a boyfriend this holiday season…

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