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


Love is…

The internet has fallen in love with those cute comics that describe what love is. Too often I find one on social media and instantly share it with my husband with the message, “This is SO us!” What these comics have taught me is that love can be defined by various actions, feelings, and circumstances.

Love may look different in my marriage from the way it looks in yours. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it means that we cannot compare our levels of love with our displays of love. Your husband may show love to you by surprising you with flowers, but I shouldn’t say my husband doesn’t love me because he doesn’t buy me flowers. My husband shows love to me by crafting the perfect date night for us.

Lately, I’ve discovered that love is defined differently not only in each couple, but also in each season of marriage. Here is a tribute to my 22 months of marriage using the “love is…” phrases that have described each season we’ve spent together:

When we started dating
Love is telling me that I make everything better
Love is buying me a smoothie when I have my wisdom teeth pulled
Love is walking around Burns Park
Love is unintentionally matching when we both decide to wear orange
Love is sitting and talking in Starbucks until the manager kicks us out at closing
Love is surprising each other with the perfect date night
Love is saying everything through our kisses
Love is being comfortable enough to completely and totally be myself with you

When we got engaged
Love is in the simple things
Love is juggling our time with each side of the family
Love is racing to my side when I tell you I feel like I’m going to throw up
Love is sitting with me and holding me through a panic attack
Love is counting down the hours until I see you again
Love is getting over my ginormous fear of flying when you needed me the most
Love is letting you cry on my shoulder when you hear the news that Papa died
Love is working on our future marriage together

Our first year of marriage
Love is holding your hand and praying on our wedding day
Love is seeing you at the other end of the aisle waiting for me
Love is being surrounded by people but only having eyes for you
Love is forgetting every guy who has ever hurt me, because only you matter now
Love is making room for discomfort
Love is becoming one
Love is cooking dinner together
Love is holding nothing back
Love is listening to me complain
Love is showing me off to your friends
Love is counting down the hours until we can go home from work and be together again

Our second year of marriage
Love is providing for me
Love is making my priorities your priorities
Love is letting me vent and express myself
Love is working overtime so we can take a vacation next year
Love is respecting me and listening to me, even if it doesn’t make sense to you
Love is encouraging me to pursue my dreams
Love is building the foundation for our future together
Love is working toward goals that we have established as a couple

In conclusion, it would be unwise to compare how Lenny shows me love now to how he showed it to me when we first started dating. Ultimately, his feelings for me haven’t changed, and our love is truly based on providing for one another’s needs and helping each other be more of who God wants us to be. We have both grown tremendously, and we’ve learned how to love in different ways.

How do you show love in this season? Is it different from how you were when you were dating or in another season of your relationship?

Photo by Elena Taranenko on Unsplash


Love Always Endures

Today, I tried out the cycle class at the gym with my mom. The gym we go to offers the cycle class at least once every two hours, so I figured it was important enough to give it a try. It seemed like I was the only newbie, as everyone knew how to work the bike (read: get on the bike) besides me!

Once the music started and they turned the lights off, we started to pedal. The bikes lit up different colors based on how fast we were going and how much resistance we were using. Throughout the class, the instructor helped us to build endurance. It wasn’t necessarily about pedaling the fastest or using more resistance. Rather, it was about doing our best, keeping our eyes focused on our own progress, and pushing through to the end. Endurance in cycle class means not getting off the bike.

It was difficult not to accept defeat and go sit in a freezer somewhere. I knew it would be a 45-minute class, so my stomach churned each time I looked at the clock at only saw two minutes pass. With each panting breath, with each wave of nausea, with each bead of sweat protruding out of my pores, I wanted to stop. However, I knew it was my first time, so discomfort would be part of the process. Instead of killing it in the red zone like my neighbors, I coasted comfortably in the yellow zone, knowing one day I could make it to the red if I don’t give up.

The Greek word for endures is similar to this concept in 1 Corinthians 13:7. It means to remain under the load, to bear up. The Biblical definition of endurance is fighting through the pain until it’s finished. For those of us that work out, we know that fighting through the pain only makes us stronger.

The endurance I maintained on the stationary bike today was a reminder of the personal endurance I’m trying to maintain on a daily basis. I’m trying to eat healthier and grow my muscles. I’ve made a practice of writing down what I eat and what exercises I do each day to track my progress. But the endurance doesn’t come when it’s easy; no, endurance comes when the cravings kick in, when I don’t feel like going to the gym, when I’m too tired, when I’m out with my friends and they all want to get ice cream. With pain comes endurance. Endurance is built in the hard times.

My husband and I both have personal goals. In addition to getting into shape, I am working on my novel and starting up a writing and editing career. My husband has been working extra hours and driving an hour and a half commute each morning! Life is not a walk in the park right now; it’s work! But we trust that these personal struggles are making us stronger.

We also have goals as a married couple. We’re saving money for a house, working on our communication, and growing closer as a couple. It’s a strain to hold off on things we want because we want to stick to our budget. It’s not easy to go against our habits that we formed as singles to make our marriage work. However, the pain that we endure from these experiences only make us stronger.

In the Bible, we are called to bear one another’s burdens. Life is hard, but it is easier together. Work together with your spouse to help you accomplish your goals. Ultimately, God is the one who will give you strength to endure all of the hardships that we will face in this life.

Photo by Andhika Soreng on Unsplash


Love is a Safe Place

Love always protects.

Growing up, I always wanted someone to protect me. Sexual abuse is scattered around our family tree, and although it thankfully has never happened to me, it was something I feared was always right around the corner. I used to have nightmares that someone would climb in through my window and sneak into my room in the middle of the night. I dreamed of the day when I would have a husband to protect me, when I could snuggle him close in the middle of the night, knowing that no bad guy could break through those strong arms.

When I hugged my husband for the first time, listening to his heart beat out of his chest and into my cheek, I knew that I was safe in those arms. His heart was set on protecting me even before we dated. He wanted me for himself, and he wanted me to pursue my greatest dreams. Those dreams began with feeling connected, and feeling protected.

The word used in 1 Corinthians 13:7 paints a beautiful picture of a roof protecting the house from rain. Honestly, tears come to my eyes as I think of how the love in our marriage has protected us from all of life’s storms. Although we’ve only been married for 19 months, we have been through a lot together. From the death of family members to medical issues, from financial strain to work drama, we have covered each other and have built each other up through love. Whatever storms we’ve faced together, the love that we share has kept our faith from wavering, our hearts from breaking, and our souls from wandering.

Love is what covers us when the storms of life threaten to ruin us.

He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.”
-Psalm 91:4-6 (NIV)

My favorite word picture of God is of an eagle, protecting us with His feathers. He loves us so much that He wants us to be secure. That’s doesn’t mean that we will have a problem-free life, but it means that when the storms come, we have an anchor that will keep us steady through those difficult times. Those who know Christ are completely and totally hidden with Him (see Colossians 3:3). We are protected by His care.

Since we live in an apartment complex, we hear noises all the time at night. The noise from our neighbors is so loud that we sometimes think that they are in the next room. Every night before bed, we pray, and then we sleep soundly. I know that my husband protects me with his love that does not want me to get hurt, and I know that God protects us with his infinite love that knows what is best for us.

Love always protects.

Photo by Christiana Rivers on Unsplash


Do You Delight in Evil?

Some may think that delighting in evil is simply taking pleasure when they see their enemies get what they deserve. That would be justice. However, when we walk in the way of love, we are called to take up God’s definition of justice. Did God treat us the way that we deserved? As Romans 5:8 demonstrates, Christ died for us when we did not deserve to be rescued. God’s justice, although it doesn’t make sense to us, is what has saved us. That justice should guide us through our lives as we deal with other people, especially our spouses.

Paul warns us against “delighting in evil.” He uses the Greek word adikia, which properly means “the opposite of justice.” Although injustice runs rampant in our culture, and it’s important to fight against that injustice, Christians should be concerned about the justice of God, doing things His way. Delighting in evil is the opposite of rejoicing with the truth (see Romans 1:18). If unrighteousness (adikia) and righteousness (dikaios) were to have a soccer tournament live on television, we should be rooting for dikaios.

I love words, but what do those words mean in plain English? What does this idea of rooting for righteousness look like in marriage?

My dear friend encouraged me in this season to pick one verse that would bring me through this difficult season of stepping out in faith and trusting God. During this time, my husband and I have treasured Jesus’ promise from the Sermon on the Mount: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Righteousness should be our priority, not just in our marriage, but in every aspect of our lives. The context of this passage is that Jesus encourages His disciples not to worry about any necessity. God will supply everything that we need, if we put our focus on Him first. We rejoice knowing that God is in control, because there is no way we could do what we are doing without His strength and guidance in our lives.

It is easy to delight in evil on a daily basis, from YouTube videos that are insulting but funny (so you have to share it on Facebook), to spending quality time gossiping with your best friend about that co-worker you can’t stand. We have been deceived into believing that connecting with people is more important than godliness. Nobody’s perfect, but if God isn’t first in our lives, we can create a community in the name of godliness that looks nothing like how God intended community to be.

“Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me” (Matthew 12:30, NLT). Jesus uses these words to justify why he is not of Satan, because he drives out demons. He makes a clear divide between God and Satan, between good and evil, between righteousness and unrighteousness.

Whose side are you on? Would your answer be reflected in what gives you pleasure?

As Christians, we should rejoice with the truth, the righteousness of God. We know this truth by allowing ourselves to be sanctified by God’s word (John 17:17). We know this truth by walking with Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). When we make a daily habit of reading God’s word and allowing Jesus to guide our steps, we can trust the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth (John 16:13).

In your marriage, take time to pray with each other, read Scripture together, and invite the Holy Spirit to lead you as a couple. As you interact with each other, God will lead you to make wise choices and to stay away from things that are unrighteous.

“Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.”-Micah 7:18

God delights in showing mercy to His people. That is what His justice looks like. In what is your delight?

Photo by Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash


1 Corinthians 13: Living Up to the Vows

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NIV

Last week, my pastor shared a sermon on love. He referred to the chapter I shared above, the chapter that is recited at weddings but that people don’t think about on a daily basis in their marriage. When I realized that, it broke my heart, especially because my friend recited this passage at our wedding. During that sermon, I did a serious heart check. Do love my husband in the way that Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 13? Does our marriage reflect the love that God wants us to display in marriage?

Although it is a cute poetic passage to read at weddings, what does it actually mean to live out the words that are written within 1 Corinthians 13?

The first three verses give us a clue into where our hearts should be. We can do all the right things, but if they are not done in love, we have wasted our time. In marriage, this looks to me like sacrifice of self. I’m giving my spouse everything I own because I want him to have it, not because I want to look good. I’m encouraging my spouse because I want him to succeed, not because I want to show off my word skills. I’m praying for my spouse and putting God first in our marriage because God is worthy, not because I think God is a genie that will grant all my wishes if I just say a few prayers.

Paul was writing this letter to a church that had glorified lust and greed instead of love and sacrifice. This letter was more than just about marriage and lovey-dovey feelings; it was about creating a new culture that elevated God more than the fleshy nature of human beings. In our marriages, we should seek to elevate God above our selfishness, our pride, and our stubbornness. We do that by putting our spouses first (before ourselves), doing a daily heart check, and surrendering those icky parts of us that cause us to put love on the back burner.

During the next few weeks, I will be sharing how the different adjectives given in 1 Corinthians 13 can be practically displayed in marriage. If you would like to contribute to the conversation, comment below (or on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagram) about how you, your spouse, or someone else you know has exemplified 1 Corinthians 13 in your/his/her marriage. Then pray this week about how you can best show love to your spouse and to those in your sphere of influence.

Photo by Marcus Lewis on Unsplash

*Update: I’ve been working on my book hardcore lately. They say that once you write your first book, the others just flow out of you. I’m waiting for that! Until then, I’ve been chiseling away at the free writing that I had done a few months ago, in order to create a masterpiece that will glorify God and inspire young adult women to find peace in the midst of their anxiety. So, I will be posting every other Monday and Wednesday, instead of every Monday and Wednesday, in order to make more time for my novel writing. This week I will post on Monday, and next week I will post on Wednesday. If you have an Instagram, feel free to follow me @elisabethmwarner, as I have been sharing how pursuing wellness has helped me control my anxiety.


What You Say When You Attend a Wedding

This past Saturday, someone very special got married: my mom!  I had the privilege of walking my mom down the aisle with my sister, as well as helping her get ready, praying with her before the ceremony, and answering the wedding coordinator’s questions.  I also had the chance to meet my new step siblings and nephew and make a connection with them.  It was so exciting to be a part of my mom’s special day, and I’m so happy for the future that God has for her and my new stepdad.

Let me be clear with you: I didn’t do these things to help my mom simply because I was her daughter.  It wasn’t simply my responsibility to help her because she helped me on my wedding day.  No one forced me to be there for her and pray for her.  Rather, I helped her because I wanted to make it known that I support her in her marriage and that I will continue to remind her of her commitment to her husband.

As a culture, we seem to have forgotten the importance of a wedding.  The wedding is not about the free food.  The wedding is not about busting out your favorite dance moves or making a conga line.  The wedding is not about having your way and criticizing everything you don’t like.  The wedding is not about getting black-out drunk and doing stupid things that you’ll probably regret in the morning.  Even if the wedding does have free food, fun dancing, and alcohol (and possibly things you don’t like), those things aren’t the point of the wedding.

On the contrary, the wedding is actually about a man and a woman making a decision before God and before those they love to honor one another and be faithful to one another.  As an attendee of the wedding, your job is to stand as witness of their testimony and to hold them accountable in their decision.

What does that actually look like when the honeymoon is over and everyone has eaten their cookie favor?

As all couples know who have been married for longer than a day, conflict and fights are going to happen in your marriage.  Unfortunately, the common thing for loved ones to do is to take your side in the argument.  If you attended my wedding, for example, and I came to you and told you that my husband made me cry because of some trivial argument, you should not tell me, “Wow, what a jerk!  I knew you shouldn’t have married him.”  Instead, your job is to encourage reconciliation between me and my husband; take our side in the argument.  You should gently remind me of the covenant I made with God and my husband to be faithful to him and to always work for our marriage.  Pray for us.  Ask God to give us wisdom.  And send me on my merry way back to my husband.

Next week, I’ll be going to my fourth wedding of the year, my husband’s cousin.  Although I’m looking forward to seeing my family and to having a great time at the party, I will be listening to their vows during the ceremony and will be praying for their success in marriage.  My husband and I will write a prayer in the card so that they can remember that we are asking God to intervene in their union, in the good times and the bad.  We also did that at the three weddings we already attended this year, and we will do so at the weddings we will be attending in the near future.

Let me encourage you: if you cannot do this for a couple who invited you to their wedding, do not attend the wedding.  It is better for you not to go than for you to show up with negativity, criticism, and/or an unwillingness to want to see them succeed in their marriage.  If you are a Christian and do not believe that God is in favor of their marriage, refusing to attend the wedding may encourage the couple to examine their hearts and invite God into their union.

When you go to a wedding, stand with the couple making their vows, and pray that God would be faithful to help them keep their vows from this day forward.

Photo by Tom The Photographer on Unsplash

Throwback Thursday

Like a Wife (#tbt to Preparing for Marriage)

Last year, I shared what I learned while preparing for my wedding.  Well, my husband and I have enjoyed nine months of wedded bliss since I posted this.  Honestly, we’re still waiting for it to become true that “it goes by fast.”  We feel like we’ve been married for our entire lives, even though it’s only been a few months.  I’m not sure what that means, but we’re loving it!

The post I wrote last year showed up on my Facebook memories about a week ago.  Right around that time, my husband and I had started a Bible plan on YouVersion called “Your Home Matters.”  Up until the very end of the plan (where they used the wrong verse to make a point), my husband and I appreciated the encouragement that this plan offers to have a more intentional view of marriage.  God has a bigger plan for us as a couple, and that plan is much bigger than ourselves.

On our wedding day, we made a vow to love each other and be faithful to each other until death separates us.  Just as Christ is faithful to us, we are called to be faithful to one another.  Just as Christ sacrificed His life for us, we are to consider each other more important than ourselves.  Just as the Holy Spirit helps us live as God wants us to live, we are called to help each other and guide each other to the Truth.

And although I say “just as,” God is way more faithful than we can ever be; when we fall short, God does not.  We can praise God when our spouses show us faithfulness, and we can praise God when our spouses miss the mark.

I challenged you to put just as much effort into preparing for the second coming of Christ as you do into planning for a wedding (obviously, you should put more effort into preparing for the second coming of Christ, but we have to start somewhere!).  My new challenge is to put just as much effort, if not more, into your relationship with Christ as you do in investing in your marriage.  In addition to this, we should aim to emulate our love for Christ in our marriage.

Here’s how my husband and I invest in our marriage:

  • Dedicated date time: We make time together an absolute priority.  No matter what we do together, we make sure our phones are off, our minds are focused, and our conversations are centered around improving our relationship.
  • Praying together: Every night before bed, we turn to each other and say a prayer for our marriage, our jobs, and our walks with Christ.  Hearing my husband’s heart for me and his desire for my well-being grows me closer to him.
  • Open communication: Whenever we have a problem, we talk about it right away.  We constantly work to make communication more open and understandable between the two of us.

Unfortunately, when my husband and I die, our marriage will be over.  However, my relationship with Jesus will always be.  Jesus is forever faithful to me, and He has granted me eternal life with Him.  So, considering I’m going to be spending the rest of forever with Jesus, I should be constantly trying to learn more about Him.

Here are some ways that we can grow closer to Christ in our daily lives:

  • Dedicated devotional time: I have to admit, marriage makes it more difficult to find a set time to spend with the Lord.  I usually listen to worship music on my drive to work, or I’ll read the Bible for a few minutes in the morning before I leave. Whatever amount of time you can give to God will be fruitful.
  • Prayer: Prayer is open communication to God.  Be honest with Him.  Even if you’re struggling to get out of bed, wishing you didn’t have work…share your heart with God.  Then, listen to what He says.  Read the Bible (which records what God has said and continues to speak to us today).  Be still and wait patiently for His peace.
  • Community: We were never meant to do life alone.  God created us for community.  When we spend time with people who have surrendered their lives to Christ and seek to encourage us, we can appreciate how God works in and through them as well.  This allows us to give glory to God for His power to redeem.

The Bible says that in the last days, the Church will be presented to Christ as a bride in fine linen (Revelation 19:7-8).  Are you ready for the ultimate marriage ceremony?

Photo by Thomas Curryer on Unsplash