Not by the paparazzi of course, but by my own hands.
“Babe…you didn’t even smile”-Me
“Haha! What are you doing here? You’re hilarious! I love you!”-Me
What my loving and definitely humorous husband is doing in these moments is more than showing me love.
By taking pictures with me, my husband is making memories with me.
We don’t just take selfies while sitting on the couch at home. We take them when we are doing life and creating memories we want to remember.
The other night we were standing outside the Denver airport awaiting our ride. I had my phone out and decided to snap a picture of us.
I captured the moment because we were both thinking of standing there together almost 5 years ago when I got to meet some of his family for the first time.
While we waited there in 2011 in the same spot, there was this bizarre swarm of flies everywhere. We wondered if we were in Africa or Colorado. Every time we find ourselves in that same spot we laugh about that memory.
The pictures are a way of remembering good times and continuing to build happy memories upon them. I take pictures of us because I want to remember the happy times.
I’m not just seizing a moment, I’m reliving other great memories and forming more for the many times I’ll reflect on that picture in the future.
Romans 12:8-9 “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”
I want to hold tightly to what is good.
I want to make memories worth reflecting on.
My husband is honoring me with great love by taking pictures with me.
They become a living memory to view over and over again.
They will represent endless smiles for when the days are trying.
They’ll be warmth to my heart when we find ourselves in different locations and I miss him.
As I see his handsome face and often his goofy expressions, I’m reminded of why I said yes to marrying him.
I see the heart of an incredible man and the one who I’ll always stand with. I’m humbled by his love for me and I love being reminded of this.
This is why we take “selfies” and why we’ll keep on taking them. Even if the lighting is poor and I only get a goofy expression, they’re beautiful moments lived with the one I love.
By the way, I’ve been taking pictures like this for years before they were called “selfies” haha!
Go take a selfie with your spouse. Tell him or her that it’s a love note that they won’t have to write or a nice dinner they don’t have to plan.
Oh and guys–give her a smile when she asks for one or at the very least put up a goofy expression ☺️
As I recently drove past a church on a main road on a Saturday night, a limo pulled out onto the oncoming lane and left behind lots of nicely dressed people waving goodbye with bubbles celebrating the newlyweds. I smiled and watched the limo disappear over the hill in my rear view mirror. I had flashbacks to the day I married Stephen. The overwhelming joy, my dress, our friends and family, how perfect it all was. I thought about what I’d tell this young couple if I had the chance to talk to them.
Stephen and I have been married now a little over 3 years. This puts us in what I’d call the “not so newlywed” stage. This is the phase where you’re out of the “honeymoon” stage and where you’ve sent out quite a few Christmas and thank you cards as a couple, but where you still find yourself staring at your spouse wondering, “Am I REALLY married to you??” both in good as well as confused ways.
Let me preface this blog by saying I am certainly NOT an expert on marriage. At 29 years of age, I am constantly learning more and more about everything. These are just some thoughts that Stephen and I’ve written over the last year or so of our marriage.
1. Marriage is not easy
(and all of my married readers shouted “AMEN”)
I honestly came into marriage with what I thought were fairly realistic expectations. I didn’t think it would be “happily ever after” or “picture perfect”, but I also didn’t expect it to be SO much work!
It’s not that marriage isn’t amazing, because it is! I’d HATE to scare any single friends out there. But I will say, it is hard work when you’re both TRULY committed to one another and have each other’s best interests at heart. You are two entirely different people who’ve lived two separate lives (even if you’ve been dating since the 8th grade).
Marriage is a collision of worlds, both in glorious ways and in ways that conflict.
It takes a lot of intentional focus and effort to make marriage work and it requires you to die to yourself daily like no other relationship. This is work that you both have to fully commit to in order for it to happen. It’s not something that can be delegated or be disregarded.
If you find yourself frustrated or freaking out because communication isn’t as easy as it was when you were dating or engaged, you can’t seem to agree on anything, or you feel like you’ve married a stranger—relax! You’re not alone! I congratulate you on being on a WONDERFUL journey where you get to grow and learn together.
2. Infatuation will end
Psychologists say that infatuation, or those “oooo” and “ahhhh” feelings last at most for 18 months. They say that after that time you will never ever experience those same feelings ever again.
That sounds like a heart breaking and traumatizing statement! However, those infatuating feelings are what keep some couples together and help them make a commitment to marriage.
Instead of the fickle feelings your relationship started with early on, you get to build upon true love. A self-sacrificing, self-denying, preferring one another kind of L—O—V—E. This love can still give you fun “oooo” and “ahhh” feelings, but it’s built upon a deeper mutual respect and trust.
To say that I was disappointed when I fell extremely ill on our honeymoon or got in a bad car accident shortly after being married is an understatement. We didn’t experience a great honeymoon or a “honeymoon” stage. For the longest time I was very upset and I felt like I had been robbed of what I thought I was entitled to as a newlywed.
I came to realize that Stephen and I get to build a foundation for our marriage that few get to so early on through the hardships we’ve already faced. We get to choose love in the darkest, scariest, and most trying moments. We don’t choose to stay only in the realm of our feelings, which change day-to-day and from moment to moment. We have the opportunity before us daily to choose to love with a greater love than we could ever be capable of on our own.
3. Some days I want to be single again
I don’t mean to sound like I’m ungrateful because I’m truly thankful that I’m married or that I’m saying that my husband isn’t incredible, because he is.
It’s just that some days I want to be selfish and not have to think of someone else. When you’re married, you aren’t the center of your universe anymore and there is someone else to constantly think about and include. Sometimes I just want to check out on reality and only think about me. EEEEK—too honest?? I’m sure I’m not alone in this right? Help a girl out ;)
What I’ve found though, is that on the days I feel like this, as I listen to the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit, I find how marriage is refining my heart to be more like Jesus. I can step back and realize marriage is forcing me out of my independent ways so that I’m more dependent on God in every way.
When I got married, we became one in every aspect. When I desire to have certain things the way that they were before we got married, I’m essentially separating what God has joined together.
4. Your relationships will change
Not all of them, but some relationships will change and not because you’re driving them away. It’s just a different circle or season of life that you’re in. The positive and beautiful side to this is that you two as a couple get to make friends together.
I feel absolutely spoiled by the love I’ve received from Stephen’s friends from all over the world. I’ve been hurt by and sad to lose other relationships, but every season holds its own beauty and its own disappointments. Embrace the new relationships together and work hard to keep the established friendships of those who love and believe in you.
5. You’re going to disappoint your spouse and even yourself.
Hold back your laughter, but I thought that I would be an awesome wife.
I thought I might even vacuum while wearing pearls!
Boy was I WRONG!
After Stephen and I withstood tough battles with his health problems in 2011 and a long-distance engagement, I thought that marriage was going to be fairly smooth sailing.
Little did I realize how insecure, selfish, prideful I was and it came pouring out like hitting the jackpot in a slot machine.
Give you and your spouse a break!
Marriage to one another is new for BOTH of you. Try to learn to be thankful for what they do and who they are and likewise what you contribute to your marriage as well.
A wise person once told me that you might only be 26 years old and 33 years of age like we were when we got married, but at your anniversary, you’re only 1-year-old as a couple, 2-year-old etc.
You wouldn’t expect a toddler to take care of itself, so work together to let your marriage grow and mature into something beautiful. Your spouse is with you in this process of change, so CLING to one another, and be QUICK to forgive and QUICK to ask for forgiveness.
6. Sexual purity is just as important in marriage as it is before marriage.
I look back on our dating and engagement seasons with such joy and thankfulness. There’s not a day that I regret remaining pure with one another not just in action, but also pure emotionally and in our thought lives.
I never once felt uncomfortable around Stephen or regretted any interactions we had. I know this was the grace of God that came from a firm commitment we made before we even met to be pure sexually and emotionally. I have the same feelings of peace and thankfulness when I think about our marriage now.
Sexual purity, like anything else comes with the price of hard work. You must be willing to be honest and transparent with one another and set healthy boundaries in your marriage.
We’ve set strict boundaries in our marriage, not because we’re being tempted or because we don’t trust one another. We have them in place to protect and preserve our marriage and ensure that we remain faithful to what Jesus has for us.
Will you put up safety guards on your Internet to avoid porn sites? Will you include your spouse on a text message to someone of the opposite sex? What about riding in the car with the opposite sex? These examples are just to name a few considerations.
These might sound like legalistic rules, but let me assure you—you can’t have too much communication or openness. Not only will your marriage feel the safety, peace, and integrity that you establish, but it’ll be reflected to the world around you.
7. Counseling is priceless.
I wish couples spent some of the money that they typically spend on a wedding and invested it into their marriage.
Seriously though-sure the wedding day is beautiful and you’ll decorate with those pictures for the rest of your life except for me who doesn’t have any albums made yet.
However, in hindsight I’m glad we didn’t break the bank on our wedding, nor did our parents. We’ve been able to invest money into counseling, books, dates and vacations to help our marriage continue to flourish.
I don’t feel like you can put a price on counseling for marriage. It isn’t just for those who are facing divorce or have some deep issue going on. It can be for maintenance in your marriage and help you understand one another and grow together.
I personally know several friends who’ve gone through counseling with their spouses and have benefited so much from it. I recommend seeing a licensed counselor with a Biblical worldview that can give educated and also godly counsel.
Learn to laugh together and to lean on the Lord! He designed this beautiful covenant and He has all of the wisdom we need to build our marriages well.
My biggest confession of all is that I wish I’d met and married Stephen sooner! Life with him really is the best!
I climbed into a ditch yesterday to get eye level with a woman who had been looking my way. I was the only white female around and with my ultra white skin and this long auburn hair, I’m sure that I stood out more than I realized.
It had been a dream of mine for about 2 years to stand where I was standing. There are factories nearby my house and many Malagasy people work there and eat out on the streets on their very short meal breaks.
There is a harvest in my backyard basically and I wanted to go and love on them.
I had just shared with the people on the love of God and the way that it has changed my life. There were tears as I saw glimpses of God’s heart over each one who listened to me.
I spoke with and prayed for several at the end of my sharing time and I kept my eyes open for anyone else whom God might want me to pray with.
My translator stuck by my side and thankfully he is a bold young man who loves Jesus so he went along with my leading him person to person.
After many smiles and warm prayers had been offered, I knew it was time to go and greet this one who was continually looking my way. I climbed down onto her level and smiled.
I began to ask her name and if there was anything that she needed prayer for.
There was indeed, so I asked her like the others I had prayed for if I could hold her hand.
Her eyes widened as she heard my translation come through in her mother tongue. She looked back at me and covered up her smile.
This white girl wanted to hold her hand.
Then I said what a beautiful smile she had. To which she shook her head like any woman who’s insecure and being complimented would do.
The only difference between her insecurities and maybe a friend back home is that she is missing most of her teeth.
Not only that, but the remaining teeth were rotting.
I meant what I said though—that she had a beautiful smile.
She was beautiful. Far more than the so referred to ideals of beauty that only masks what real beauty is.
Here she was not hiding who she really was. There was no escaping that she’s grown up less fortunate than anyone I know from the USA. There’s no hiding the fact that she’s not had access to proper dental care or hygiene. Her wrinkles on her young face reveal many harsh days in the sunlight working and the physical stress her body has endured.
We prayed for her specific needs and I also encouraged her that she is a daughter of God just like me. That there might be differences in our lives naturally, but we are the same value with Him and we are loved by Him.
We continued to talk and I watched as her countenance changed. How her eyes softened more and received more love like sunlight to her heart.
I repeatedly told her how beautiful her smile was and each time it grew broader and brighter.
Her sister came along, not missing any visible teeth and was equally as beautiful. We talked and prayed and then they thanked me and walked away.
I thought about this dear smile.
This toothless face and the precious sight it is to my Father in Heaven.
I thought of the joy that Jesus has over this one who to the best of her knowledge loves Him and worships Him.
This one who He paid the price for in dying on the cross.
Then I thought about the social media world and it’s view on beauty.
I’ve never seen a popular post of a picture of a woman with no make-up and saying many comments of “Wow you’re so beautiful!”, “GORGEOUS!”, “Ow Ow super-model friend”.
I know I’ve often remarked on my friend’s posts of wearing no make-up, but it’s not the normal and pictures of women without make-up is by large, rare.
I’ve never seen people get all excited over some woman’s outfit that is just “plain Jane” or one that is mismatched, has holes, and is tattered like my toothless friend.
The reality is that we don’t see beauty like God sees it.
We look for the no wrinkles, flawless, put together, something we can all desire type of beauty.
We post about the latest trends, style the latest haircuts and colors, and keep one another in a constant comparison trap. All the while the true beauties of the world get pushed out of sight.
Back to my original question, would you find a toothless woman beautiful?
You might answer yes particularly if you can picture this Malagasy woman I have described and have a sense of compassion. BUT is your “yes” based on sympathy and feeling sorry for her? Is your scale of beauty adjusted to fit someone who’s life is lived in the dust and dirt of Africa? Or can you confidently saw yes because no matter if you are looking at this precious one or the woman next to you at work, you see true beauty. You see it in the ones that others would call “ugly”. You see beauty in the faces of those who would never grace a magazine about beauty and style. You see it because you’ve seen the one whom “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him”. (Isaiah 53:2)
There was nothing in Jesus’ nature that marked beauty or denoted an attractiveness like a King, yet the beauty of His love and life is far greater than any person will ever have.
When we see His beauty and gain His heart, we see the beauty in others, even if there is ugliness in their hearts that makes them unkind.
Beauty isn’t in a perfectly set of straight teeth or in a perfectly arched eyebrow. It certainly isn’t in an expensive dress or in the shade of hair dye.
Beauty is in the heart of God who created everything and said that “It is good”. He created you. He created me. He created the sunsets, the rainbows and the stars. And he calls things beautiful like my toothless friend.
Don’t be afraid to climb down into the ditches of life and to search out beauty where few are brave enough to explore. You’ll find great treasures of beauty there hidden just to reveal themselves to you.
Disclaimer: this is a vulnerable post but I share this in hopes that if you find yourself even remotely in my shoes, that you’ll find humility to repent and ask for forgiveness.
My husband has the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen. They’re so deep and I always tell him that they remind me of horse’s eyes which he doesn’t take as a compliment, but I mean it as one–ha ;)
He picked out his latest pair of glasses last year all by himself and I think they’re handsome on him and frame his eyes well.
The sweet man has struggled with his eyesight since he was a little boy.
Meanwhile Miss 20/20 vision over here has never struggled with my sight…even though I faked my eye exam at school in the 3rd grade. I wanted attention, ahem, I mean glasses…clearly another story for another day.
Sometimes when Stephen and I are in deep conversation and I want to see his eyes, I’ll notice smudges on his glasses.
While he’s talking, I gently remove them, wipe them clean and place them back on his head.
I likewise often find myself pushing his glasses back up on the bridge of his nose ;-) they often slide down.
I am always pleased to do this because it allows me to see him well.
Tonight, we were discussing a passage of scripture and really diving into some depths.
The reflection of a lamp and his smudges were annoying me because I couldn’t make full eye contact.
I grabbed them as usual and it was then that God spoke to me.
“Why don’t you view every act of service to your husband like this one?”
In other words,”why do you gripe, complain, and nag at him instead of joyfully serving him in other areas?”.
I lost what Stephen was saying.
I gulped down the pride I felt coming up in my own heart.
I now saw his soft eyes again.
Eyes full of love.
Full of passion for Jesus.
Full of incredible compassion for me.
I knew I needed forgiveness.
I quickly searched the areas I hate serving him in.
Things like reminding him that toothpaste is on his mouth.
Why he can’t wear a particular shirt because it’s wrinkled.
((Hello I could have it ironed anyways))
The list goes on (my point is not to expose a list of annoyances), but they’re all small simple things like wiping his glasses.
Yet wiping his glasses I do from a place of compassion.
He can’t see the way I can see.
Why is any other area I could serve him in any different?
Maybe because I’m the big sister of two brothers, the reactions I have at times felt justified as I was used to being “helpful” ;-)
Maybe I felt like I was helping him with his appearance or other areas I saw his need for my input.
Instead of quietly serving with a heart of love like he does with me day in and day out, I’ve honestly nagged.
I’ve often viewed serving my husband as a chore.
I’ve not looked at helping him with his wardrobe as a joy.
Sweet man is 6’3 with a 29″ waist on his pants…Being an American who was born in Kenya and having a thin frame, he’s a natural runner and let’s just say this presents challenges with his clothes.
He grew up on the missions field in Africa and spent his single years on the field where he literally gave shirts off of his back (still does). Instead of caring what people think about his outward appearance, he focuses on what truly matters internally and eternally, while I’ve found fault with outward things.
I’ve not looked at the areas that I have the ability to help him with as joys.
I’ve sometimes seen them as obligations and annoyances.
Not all of them, but enough that the conviction was strong.
I looked back through his clear glasses into my favorite pair of eyes and I was overcome with joy and love.
I asked for forgiveness for being so cruel at times and not serving Him in love. I cried.
I read a Facebook post a few days ago of a father of 4 kids sharing updates on his children.
I’m particularly engaged in this family’s posts because of their beautiful story and service in ministry, which is too long to go into.
Their eldest son has had some rather extreme physical challenges. I remember praying when Stephen and I were newly married as this young man’s life hung in the balance.
Today he’s doing much better, but is still fully dependent on his parents.
The father wrote about this particular son, “He’s been fairly happy. My main selfish concern is that I want to go on a vacation with my wife. But, if he is happy, I’m happy. Years ago I had a breakthrough when changing his nasty 12-year-old diaper. I told him “it’s an honor to serve you son,” and broke down crying. I’ve said it ever since when changing a diaper or showering poo off of him. I wonder how the Father thinks about us?”
This post planted a significant seed in my spirit.
One that only 3 days later would blossom to show me how selfish I am.
How very little of a joyful servant I’ve been at times.
I’m so thankful that my Heavenly Father gets down in the dirt in my life. He sent His glorious Son into my mess to serve me joyfully with love.
He sacrificially laid down His life for me.
He’s given me a husband who beyond my wildest imaginations is a wonderful picture of His servant hood and love.
Stephen has stood by me in some of the most crazy scenarios you wouldn’t even believe.
Only 2 and a half years of marriage have presented us with major health challenges and chaos of our often far too adventurous life ;-). Yet through it all, he has faithfully served and faithfully loved.
I am thankful.
I am thankful to have him.
Thankful to love him, to be his wife.
And I’m incredibly thankful that I can serve him with joy realizing God wants to move through me to love on him.
I’m sure I will continue to annoy Stephen and I’m positive some days especially when he famously has toothpaste smeared on his beard that I’ll be frustrated.
But I pray the revelation of knowing there is One who has gone before me in perfect love stays etched in my mind and spirit.
I pray that beyond “in sickness and in health”, that I can serve my husband with joy, seeing him as the gift he really is. Not diminishing it in my own selfish ways.
I pray that you too would love those whom God has placed in your life and serve them like Jesus would.
That you would wash the “poo” off of them and wipe the smudges off of their glasses so that they too can see His Perfect Love.
I had seen the advertisements for the new “Cinderella” movie, but resisted seeing the full trailer because I knew I’d anticipate its debut too much!
Today, once I knew it was released, I watched the trailer.
I teared up watching the preview while in a public place. I made Stephen watch the preview with me and he looked at me and said, “Are you crying already?”. To which I remarked, “Of course! It is just so magical”.
My husband then graciously took me to see the movie later that evening with some of our friends.
The story line of course is the same as it has always been :) Yet it appears to come to life more with actual live characters.
On a side note: I may or may not have a song from the Roger and Hammerstein Cinderella version on my phone… “do I love you because you’re beautiful…”…moving right along…
I was intrigued by the beauty of Cinderella’s relationship with her mother and father and saddened by her loss of both of them (that’s NOT a spoiler ;) c’mon you know that already).
The actress who plays Cinderella, Lily James (or Rose as some know her ;) ) does an incredible job portraying her role.
I was captivated.
She wasn’t just a servant who rolled her eyes and replied with a sigh to her evil step-mother like the cartoon Disney version often portrays.
She served with kindness in every moment as her real mother had told her to live out her days with courage and kindness.
Through all of the wickedness, cruelty, and dashed dreams, Cinderella meets all circumstances with kindness in this movie.
She even offers the fairy god-mother disguised as a beggar some milk even though she herself is in some serious heartache of her own.
Tears of sadness are shed as we walk with our beloved princess as she walks through losing her parents, suffering cruelty, being rejected, and seemingly losing all hope.
If you’re like me, you cry when her dress is brilliantly transformed by the “bippity boppity boo” magic!
Her dress and the carriage are nothing short of stunning!
Nothing could have prepared my heart for the joy of the royal ball scene!
It was quite grand.
Then I had to endure the scheming of the step-mother and Cinderella’s invalidation of being worthy of the love of a Prince/King.
In the end when of course Cinderella is the absolute last woman in the kingdom to try on the shoe and it fits, she is whisked away instantly with the now, King.
Before leaving the farmhouse that she grew up in that holds the precious memories of her parents, we see the step-mother on the staircase.
And that is when Cinderella says IT.
The BIG F word…
The one we don’t hear often.
Cinderella looks at her step-mother, the one who has hurt her so deeply knowing that she now has full power to repay and bring vindication and she says,…
“I FORGIVE YOU”.
I don’t even remember the rest of what was said in the movie. I was already sitting on the edge of my seat and when that line was released, I bawled.
I didn’t bawl at the true love of a common girl and a Prince, although what Jesus has done in my life CERTAINLY reminds me of that and is part of why this movie unlocks my heart.
I didn’t bawl at how pretty her dress was, although I did cry at that.
I didn’t even bawl at the loss of her family and all she loved.
I wept so hard at the end, because I wasn’t expecting her to forgive and release the one who hurt her so much.
I’m accustomed to our culture where we strive to defend ourselves, seek vindication , and wish the worst on our enemies.
Where the world says a different F-word altogether when given the opportunity to slay our enemies.
How easy it would’ve been for Cinderella to have made a cheeky remark.
Instead “I FORGIVE YOU” comes out of her mouth….3 of the most powerful words that one can experience.
The way she reacted in kindness reminded me of the blog I wrote about the avocado tree and what happens to it when it’s beaten.
The movie didn’t end with the step-family characters dressed in rags serving Cinderella all the days of their life.
There was no focus given to evil in the end, because it was defeated by love.
And not even the love between the King and Cinderella,…
but the love in Cinderella’s heart towards the ones who hurt her.
Who do you need to forgive today?
Like Cinderella, the kingdom of Heaven belongs to those whose hearts aren’t bound in offense.
It is released in and through the lives of those who choose kindness. Who choose love.
Those who walk in the words of their King and extend the forgiveness that He has so freely given to them.
Who needs to hear “I FORGIVE YOU” from your lips today?