This will RUIN your wedding…if you let it

So much planning, so many details, all go into that one special day. The first day of the rest of your life. Oh, so much can go wrong. But will you let it?

The truth is, anything can ruin your wedding. We live in a fallen world, and we interact with imperfect people. Think about all the people in your family (and in your future spouse’s family). Do you really think that, just for one day, they could be perfect? From experience, let me tell you: the answer is no. They are all still the same people, just wearing fancy clothes and welled up with emotion. So, there’s even more margin for error than usual, because everyone’s emotions are up in the air.

The key is not to let anything ruin your special day.

So, the photographer shows up late, the decorative flowers show up as the bride is walking in, Uncle So-and-So had too much to drink and is now making a fool of himself, and somebody will say something that will make you wonder why you married into this family. Or why you were born into it. Or why you hang out with the people you do.

My husband and I…well, we got married relatively quickly, so we didn’t really have expectations. Until other people did and we realized our expectations were not their expectations. Then chaos ensued. But instead of focusing on what went wrong, we focused on the beautiful day that God gave us.

First and foremost, Lenny and I were dedicating our marriage to God. The church ceremony was beautiful, and (from what I could see) there wasn’t a dry eye in the room as emotion welled up throughout the sanctuary. I was marrying the man of my dreams. My husband was marrying the woman better than his dreams (his words, not mine!). It was an abnormally warm day, at sixty-five degrees in the beginning of November. Our venue was right on the water, so the pictures were beautiful and our guests enjoyed walking around outside. The food was delicious (whatever I was able to eat in my dress!), and I was able to see friends and family that I hadn’t seen in years. And, of course, I felt incredibly beautiful in my dress, and everyone who met me on the receiving line was quick to remind me of how beautiful I looked.

When I focused on what went right instead of what went wrong, whatever petty drama happened in the background stayed there. In the background.

I don’t tell you this to rain on your parade. I tell you this to prepare yourself for what is to come. If you’re imagining a day where nothing goes wrong, you’re imagining a day that doesn’t exist on this side of Heaven. There is a perfect wedding coming, but it won’t be in this lifetime, and it will be between the perfect Bridegroom (Jesus Christ), and His sanctified Bride (the Church). Until then, embrace the day that God has given you and enjoy it. All of your planning was not in vain. Now that it’s all done, take this one day to rest, breathe, and celebrate your union with the man (or woman) of your dreams!

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash


Where is Hope Found?

In modern English, hope has become an empty word. For example, when one says, “I hope everything works out,” there is no substance behind those words. The hope is not based on facts, circumstances, or even prayers! Therefore, when Paul says Love always hopes, what does he mean?

I love learning other languages, so I’m thankful for the resources out there that can make Greek and Hebrew (the languages the Bible was originally written in) easy to understand! In Greek, the word hope is elpizó, which means “actively waiting for God’s fulfillment about the faith He has inbirted through the power of His love.” In this meaning, the hope has substance. Love always active waits for God to fulfill his promises.

We live in a culture that is generally negative. People always have a reason to complain, and they take every chance they can to voice their critical opinions to us. Hope is a rare commodity.

However, Biblical hope has even more substance than the positivity that we crave in our world. In Romans 8, Paul talks about Biblical hope. The same word elpizó is used in this text to describe our expectation of God fulfilling His promise to redeem the world:

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:22-24).

This entire chapter of Scripture has been viewed as a champion chapter for believers. We know through Romans 8 that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (v. 1). We know that God has adopted us as His children, removing our fear of man (v. 15). We know that God’s Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are children of God (v. 16). We know that we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us (v. 37). We know that nothing can separate us from God’s love (v. 38-39).

If this doesn’t instill hope in believers, I don’t know what does!

Although this was a fun Bible lesson, this post is on marriage. How can we hope in marriage? In my opinion, when we have a heavenly perspective, nothing else matters. When we know that we already have the best future waiting for us in the next life, when we know that we can live fulfilled lives by walking with God’s Spirit and obeying His Word, when we know that we will all be united as one body at the resurrection, suddenly my problems don’t seem so big anymore. Suddenly, I don’t care about how much money  we have in the bank or in our retirement. Suddenly, I don’t care that my husband leaves his dirty dishes in the sink. Suddenly, I don’t care that I’ve been having trouble losing weight. Because in the end, everything will work out, in the most beautiful and glorious way that any of us could ever hope.

I know a few of my readers have experiences way worse than the ones I’ve mentioned, like trying to conceive or facing bankruptcy or dealing with affairs. I don’t want you to think that I’m downplaying your trials. However, I do believe more than anything else that God is bigger than any trial you may be facing. At the end of the day, when you place your life in His tender loving care, He will see you through your storm. Right now, I know, the pain is unbearable and the storms make everything so unclear. Yet, when you look back on your life, those difficult trials that you face together (Paul describes them as momentary afflictions in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18) will be like a bad hair day.

The hope that Christ offers us is an anchor for our souls (Hebrews 6:19). Anchor your marriage in the hope of Jesus Christ, and He will see you through every storm.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash


What are You Fighting For?

Being married has been a source of healing from my past. Divorce, promiscuity, and affairs run rampant in our culture, but because of Jesus, we don’t have to live like that anymore. However, one of the silent killers of marriage, which we always have to guard against, is a little thing called gossip.

Call it what you may. Putting down your husband. Choosing sides and asking your relatives to do the same. Harboring bitterness. Venting. Seeking advice from people who delight in evil. Justifying your actions by bouncing your ideas off of someone else.

Or, my personal favorite, just joking around.

I’m convinced that while gossip does not cause divorce, it definitely doesn’t help a marriage stay together. One piece of advice I’ve heard from a lot of people is not to share your problems with your parents. Your parents will always be on your side, not your marriage’s side, so you will always win when you ask them to nurse your wound. But the point of marriage is not to win; the point of marriage is to stay married until death do us part.

Right before I got married, my mom told it to me straight: “If you ever get so mad at your husband that you don’t want to go home, don’t come here. We’ll just send you back home to your husband so you can be reconciled.” Her advice not only showed her support of my marriage, but it also put the responsibility on me and not on her to fix my marriage.

Of course, during the honeymoon stage I didn’t think I could ever be so mad at my husband that I would want to spend time apart from him. However, through the stresses of life and the arguments that make my blood boil, it has been tempting to pick up the phone and call my mom. Just to vent. Just to justify if I’m right. Just to bounce my ideas off of someone who cares. But I can’t sugarcoat it. Gossip is gossip, and I should never put down my husband when I’m talking about him to others.

This message is for two people. First, to spouses: do not develop the habit of going to your parents or other family members to bail you out of your marital problems. If they want to offer you advice, that’s wonderful! Definitely take it, especially if they have a healthy marriage that you want to exemplify in your own marriage. However, don’t go out of your way to put down your husband so that you could prove you’re right, because when you do that, you both lose

Second, family members, parents, or close friends: Do not stick your nose in your loved ones’ marriage. If you want to give advice, it is the responsibility of the receiver to put that advice into practice. Don’t force them to conform to your way. If they come to you for advice and end up putting their spouse down, try to say things to encourage your family member to love his or her spouse again. I don’t care if it’s your son or daughter, your sister or brother, your niece or nephew, your cousin, or a close friend; if you attended their wedding, you made a promise to help them when they are struggling.

I know from experience that it hurts to see a family member fighting with his or her spouse or significant other. I personally want to stick up for my own flesh and blood. However, if the couple is married, that means they made a promise to God to honor one another and to maintain their union to one another in Christ. Help them keep their commitment, instead of telling them to give up on their marriage.

Photo by John Pearson on Unsplash


Women Need Women

Before I got married, I lived in a house full of women. The only man in the house was our male cat, Tyler. Given the fact that my mom, my sister, and I lived in close quarters together, we would talk about everything. My mom was a nurse and had a lot of unique experiences, so I felt comfortable asking her for advice about pretty much everything. My sister knows a lot about fashion, and she loves to encourage people, so I always send her pictures when I’m shopping to see what she thinks of my outfit. I’m a great listener, and I like going deep with people emotionally, so both my mom and my sister have had great chats with me about their feelings, their faith, and how to resolve conflict. We were a great team, and we worked together really well.

My mom was the first one to get a man and cause a shift in this woman-only house. Not even six months later is when I met my husband, and a few months after my sister started dating her now fiance. While in the honeymoon stage, we all focused very seriously on our partners like we were supposed to do. Although we were close before, and still were close while we were focusing on our relationships, we made boundaries of not sharing our personal problems with each other.

My mom started dating her boyfriend in August 2014. I started dating my boyfriend in June 2015. My sister met her boyfriend in August 2015.

My mom got engaged in April 2015. We got engaged in December 2016. My sister got engaged in December 2017.

My mom got married in September 2017. We got married in November 2016. My sister is planning her wedding now but is getting married soon.

After being married for about a year and a half, I’ve learned one thing: I still need my mom and my sister. I still need to ask my mom advice or even just vent to her. I still send my sisters pictures of my outfits that I’m trying on at in the fitting room. I still call them all the time and catch up with them.

As much as I love my husband, he wasn’t meant to be my everything. God gave him to me to be my life partner and journey sharer. But God also gave me such lovely friends and family members that have made my journey easier as well.

My husband craves time with his guy friends, so I know this is not just a woman thing. He enjoys going over his friend’s house and spending time with them. As a woman, I expect to have the same type of relationship with my female friends. I love calling one of my friends from college who lives out of state but knows just what to say to make me feel better. I love talking to my friends who are walking through life with me; I’m able to go on adventures with them and laugh about our struggles, knowing that we are not alone in our battles.

Every relationship has a place. Without stepping on your husband’s toes and on your marriage, invest in the other relationships in your life. I warn you: do not gossip to your friends/family members about your husband, but talk about how you’re feeling. Whether the world wants to believe it or not, women and men are different and have different needs. While men want to help, they’re not always able to meet our every need. Even if the women in your life can’t fix the problem, they can walk through it with you while you figure it out in time.

It’s important to build that relationship with your husband, but don’t forget about the other people in your lives. If you have friends that are married, do not gather around and bash your husbands together. Instead, share your struggles with each other so that you can all discover that you are not alone. And enjoy the bond that God has given all of you as women!

Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash


Marrying into the Family

Growing up, I was always proud to say that I am one of seven children.  Now, I can proudly say that I have one husband, one sister-in-law, three brothers-in-law, two significant others of siblings that are like family to me, three brothers, three sisters, two grandmas, three moms, three dads, nine aunts, six uncles, twenty-two first cousins (that includes one that will be joining the family soon!), at least four second cousins, three nephews, and two nieces.

We have marriage to thank for that.

They say that when you get married, you don’t marry one person; you marry the whole family!  I had never anticipated having in-laws.  To be honest, I thought that either my husband was going to simply get absorbed into my family, or we were going to live in our own bubble in a different state or country.  Little did I know that I wouldn’t only be inheriting another set of parents, but a boat load of family members!

Remember when I told you that I’m one of seven?  Well, my mother-in-law is also one of seven.  So, mathematically speaking, my family doubled the minute my husband and I exchanged vows.  My siblings also married, so I have in-laws within my own “blood” family as well.  It is such a blessing that I consider all of my family members family, despite the fact that we’re not all blood related.

This family dynamic might sound like a sit-com to you, but it actually is a miracle. God used our family to show my husband and I that we were meant for each other.  When I first told my mom that “I met someone,” she instantly burst into tears.  “I have been praying for your husband for years,” she sobbed, “and now he is finally here!”  At the time, it seemed a little dramatic, but her acceptance of my then-boyfriend made it easier for me to date him.  In addition to that, I met my mother-in-law before I even met my husband!  She tells me to this day that the moment she met me, she knew there was something special about me.  My dad met my husband before I did too!  He helps usher at church, and he remembers walking my husband and his family to their seats.  The fact that our parents accepted us individually, positively affected our relationship.

Our extended family also eased the atmosphere.  We may do things totally differently, but when we’re together, it’s like we’re, well, family.  I first met my husband’s extended family on his twenty-first birthday, before it was even announced that he was interested in me (or maybe everyone knew besides me, I don’t know), his family was already showing me love and acceptance.  My husband also passed the test of my side of the family.  My siblings liked him right away, and my nieces and nephews joked around with himm which is their way of saying, he’s on the team!  My husband and I are thankful that, although we don’t see eye-to-eye on everything with our family members, they are all close to us.

When there are moments we don’t get along, however, my husband and I do what we can to maintain our unity.  While family can be a bridge that helps you grow closer to your spouse, some family members can also try to disturb your relationship with your husband.  As Romans 12 says, do whatever you can to live at peace with everyone; however, make sure that your marriage is united.  You might have to set some boundaries to preserve your marriage, but do whatever you do in love.

Families don’t come in neat packages.  They come in all different shapes and sizes, with a plethora of personalities that cannot be contained.  Some family members might offend you, while some might become some of your best friends.  No matter what your relationship is like with your in-laws, my prayer is that you would see that in-laws are just more people with whom you have the opportunity to give love and receive love.

Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash


5 Gifts You Can Give the Newlyweds You Love

Marriage is two people with two different pasts, likes, dislikes, hurts, family traditions, work habits, personality types, cravings, and desires, trying to live together in harmony.  I don’t even have harmony with myself sometimes; how can I have harmony with another person who isn’t even like me?  Glory to God, for only He can take a cube block and a rectangle block and make them both fit inside a cylinder block.

Having gone to several weddings over the years, and having seen many a couple get engaged and get married, I realize how much a marriage is affected by the environment in which it grows.  Friends and family can literally make or break a marriage, especially if the husband and wife do not adopt a team mentality.  I’ve seen friends bet on how long the couple would last together, during the pair’s first dance!  I’ve heard family members tell wives that their husbands are dirty lowlifes who do not deserve to be married to them, and those wives have gone on to divorce their husbands.  Do you want to help your newlywed friends/family have a miraculously successful marriage, or do you want to watch them crumble and fall right before your eyes?

If you want to be the one to encourage a godly relationship instead of try to tear it apart, here are the best gifts that you can give newlyweds during their first few years of marriage:

  • Prayer: Even though I’ve only been married for a little less than eight months, I already know that the hand of God is on my relationship with my husband.  God has literally stopped us from fighting just after we prayed.  True wisdom comes from knowing and obeying God.  To help us out, send us an encouraging Bible verse, and pray for us.  I’m sure that we can speak for a lot of couples when we say that we have prayer requests!  If you want to help us out, close your eyes and bow your head in prayer to God.  And be around to watch what God does because of your prayers!
  • Support: Divorce and separation seem to be the norm these days.  Although we can’t fix every marriage, I know for certain that trashing a marriage with our words definitely does not help it last!  Talk nicely about the newlyweds you know.  They’re trying to figure it out, and the last thing they need is for you to tell them that they are doing it all wrong.  What they need instead is for you to tell them that life is a process, and that eventually, they will figure it out (and while they figure it out, go back to point #1 and pray for them!).  And if either of them–which could be your son/daughter, sibling, or best friend–come to you to tell you something bad the other one did, do not take it personally!  Although you want to protect your loved one, you need to protect the commitment that he/she made to the love of his/her life.  Support for the marriage can be the best gift you can give the ones you love.
  • Patience: The most difficult part of marriage for us has been keeping up with all of our families.  We both have big families, and all of our family members are scattered across the tri-state area and beyond.  Every holiday, the question stands: Where are we going?  Of course, all of our family members want to see us, but it is literally impossible to have all of our family members together under one roof…and I don’t want to spend every holiday running around so that everyone else is happy while I’m a tired nervous wreck.  One of these days, I even want to spend a holiday with just the two of us!  So we have to compromise, and that usually means telling one side of the family that we can’t see them.  And we hate that, so so much. We are trying to make time for everyone, but there are only so many hours in the day.  Have patience with us.  We will reach out to you when we can.
  • Example: I am a firm believer in practicing what you preach.  Do not try to give me marriage advice without showing me how that works in your marriage.  But on a more positive note, if your marriage is working out, tell me why it’s working out. In a society that promotes divorce and separation, we want to see proof that marriage can end in a happily ever after.
  • Space: When newlyweds are in that honeymoon stage, all they want to do is spend time with each other.   This is not only important physically, but also emotionally.  When I’m at work, I sit at my desk and think about how I can’t wait to go home and talk to my husband about my day.  We usually play a game or watch a TV show or eat dinner together after a stressful day at work.  Although it’s hard to be “replaced” by your son/daughter/best friend/sibling/cousin’s spouse, this phase (I’ve heard) does not last forever.  It’s not that we don’t care about you; it’s that we need time for our relationship to grow.  So please, encourage us to spend time together, and watch our love flourish.  We will come to you (I say that from my own experience; on this point, I cannot speak for all couples).

Thank you for taking the first step in supporting the newlyweds that you love! Newlyweds, let us know if there are any other gifts you would like to add to this list.