Young Love // Building Our Life Together

“Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a NKJV

The park in these photos is the same one we had our engagement photos taken at. It struck me during this photo shoot, about a year and a half since our engagement shoot, how much life has changed; how much closer we’ve become, & particularly how getting married at a young age has strengthened our foundation for the future.

There’s a lot we don’t know about how the world works because we’re so young, but we’re learning to navigate the challenges it throws our way while supporting (and thankfully being supported by) another soul. 

A personal example for us is buying a home.  Neither of us have done this before and we’re in the process of researching where to even begin.  We’re learning together what it looks like to qualify for a mortgage, budget for household utilities & insurance, and how to be prepared for things like the kitchen pipes bursting or a/c leaking.  Our ideas of a “dream home” are different too. Michael’s two story super-house and my sky lit open-floor-plan-kitchen farmhouse don’t mesh well. So if you opened Zillow on both of our phones, you’d see lots of different results and favorited homes.  But if you look on the laptop where we search ‘together’ you’d get a pretty literal picture of what compromise looks like. Because more than any picturesque dream home, we both want to share a home that’s ours.

Every decision, every word, every day affects another soul rather than just our own.  Sometimes this responsibility is like navigating rapids, but it’s made us better as two than we ever were as one. Rather than adding another piece to our previous lives, we’re building a new life together.  We’re creating our own traditions, experiencing things for the first time together, and facing challenges together.

I recently heard Jeremy Roloff say, (though he might have been quoting someone else) 

“Marriage wasn’t designed to make you happy, it was designed to make you holy.”

Happiness is a beautiful by-product of marriage, but the intent is actually to make us more like our Lord.  We cannot intentionally change or “fix” each other to fit our expectations or routines. Our relationship & pursuit of the Lord together makes us more humble,honest,& holy from the inside out every day. It makes us US, & it makes us more like Jesus.

My role as a wife is to labor alongside my husband, to know what his dreams are, to encourage Him to look to the Lord, and to pray for him.  It’s my privilege to lift him up when he falls to reach for his hand when I fall, and to build our life, not just my own. Getting married young means building habits together that a couple who gets married later on may have already formed and have to re-build as one.  We are discovering how the world works together, and figuring out what “us” looks like along the way.

We aren’t the youngest couple to ever get married, and we definitely aren’t experts. We do have first-hand experience with the challenges and joys of getting married young and love to share with others and answer questions! So that’s the format I’m taking with the rest of this post; answering your questions!

Q: How do you communicate when you’re both mad/upset at each other?

Our initial response to this question was a giggly “we don’t.” Or at least, we didn’t at first. We are both the type to shut down and bottle feelings into a sassy silent treatment. But after a few vice versa instances where we got a taste of our medicine, I think we got too desperate to know what the other was thinking and started to break this mold by asking questions and building the habit of listening until the other was completely finished sharing. (still working on that).

We both still need a little time to let off steam, but we’re learning that it’s not worth the time we lose enjoying each other to hold onto our anger. Breaking the silence usually starts with one of us coming to sit in the same room as the other and asking, “What are you feeling right now?” and working out what the root of the problem is that needs to be apologized for and addressed going forward.

We recently added a tool to our marriage arsenal called The Marriage Journal(not an affiliate link <— I simply love & want to share this resource) it has a set of questions we ask each other weekly. Knowing this time is set aside to build our communication skills and our understanding of the other person’s feelings & desires has helped us not to sweat the small stuff and have uninterrupted time to discuss the big stuff. Now this doesn’t mean we hold onto all our hurts & issues for the week, but it has helped us create a space to work through them.

Q: What to do in a time of waiting for the person you’ll marry?

I think it’s been said many times, but be content in the Lord.  He is going to provide the person, the job, the clarity and whatever else you feel like you’re waiting for, but He’s already provided Himself. If you’re not content with Him while you’re single, you won’t be content with Him in marriage.  Ultimately, you’ll never find contentment apart from Him. Take advantage of this time to build your relationship with Him! Get to know Him, learn to recognize His voice, and let Him teach you who He designed you to be. Also, let Him build your character; become the person you’re looking for, is looking for.

Study scripture, practice forgiveness, & build friendships that will support & challenge you. Pray for the person you’ll marry, before you know them, and not just for what you want them to be, but for whatever they’re learning or experiencing. Pray that they feel God’s love, that they’re content in Him, that they have strength for whatever trials they could be facing, etc. Pray for them as a person, not just to be your person.

Q: How to decide that you’re in the appropriate season of life to get married?

I love how this question was phrased because there really is no ‘right’ or ‘perfect’ time to get married!  God has a unique relationship designed for each couple so the appropriate season can look different for everyone

First off, prayer. If you know your Heavenly Father’s voice, you’ll know if He’s asking you to be still or move forward.  

Secondly, assuming you’re dating and deciding to get engaged, conversation.  A relationship headed toward marriage requires transparency. If you’re sharing honestly your past, dreams, and praying together you’ll know what conversations still need to be had or growth still needs to happen.  I don’t think there are any particular prerequisites for marriage like finishing college or traveling to x amount of countries, or having x amount of savings in the bank. Many of those things are ways to build your life together, but they can also be a measurement of your maturity. If you have some goals, set them, pursue them, and knock those out first!

I pray this testimony encourages you & brings you clarity.  Feel free to comment or e-mail your questions for future posts you’d like to read!

7.31.2019

If you love the photography work in this post check out my friends at https://www.littlepicsphoto.com/ to book your own session!

PASSION 2017 // Photo Journal

“Adventure is out there”

This week was one of the most challenging and fruitful adventures I think I’ve ever ventured on.  21 people, traveling and living together, encountering God together, & battling spiritual warfare together.

Day 1: Three packed cars caravanned from Davie, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia.  We ran late due to traffic, arrived nearly freezing rain, and finally joined 55,000 other college students to worship in the Georgia Dome.  Later, we had our own devotional as a community group in the house we were renting.

Day 2: Four PASSION sessions in one day is like drinking from a fire hose.  Add in navigating an unfamiliar city and temperatures in the forties, and it’s exhausting.  But God’s Word never returns to Him void, and it overwhelmed my soul like a wildfire.

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Day 3:  We sat closer for the last session and looking up from the floor at the vast amount of people all singing to one Lord and Savior blew my mind!  Having another devotional time at the house refreshed me immensely.  Exploring downtown from a horse drawn carriage and breaking bread together (okay it was pizza) definitely revived my energy.

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Day 4: With a final devotional and meal in the house, we re-packed our caravan and headed home.  A long car ride provided a sweet time for me to rest my body & mind, and process all that God did and taught me this week.

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We faced massive spiritual warfare throughout these four days.  There were disagreements, delays, and unintentional emotional daggers.  But God, oh that is truly my favorite phrase.  But God, crushed us intentionally.  He allowed us to struggle in order to bear greater fruit and the fruit still blooming now that we are home is oh so sweet.

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He taught me to breathe.  He taught me to love at all times.  (Proverbs 17:17)  He taught me to forgive.  He brought me to know the grace and love He pours out on me and broke down the dam in my heart to let that continue flowing through me and into the hearts of others & to instead build a dam of humility, patience, and love blockading the rivers of strife that flow in every human heart.

“If anyone returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.  The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.”  Proverbs 17:13-14

Despite the challenges we faced I’m so glad we made this trip.  I’m glad we got to know each other more intimately.  Our pain will not be wasted.  I’m grateful we were seen worthy enough to embrace a challenge.  I learned so much about keeping my eyes on other people and caring for them more carefully and vocalizing how I love them.  I also learned to keep myself accountable to my own advice and practice everything I preach.

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“When you know Jesus, nothing in this world can satisfy.” – Beth Moore

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.  And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Philippians 4:12-14

“Train for the trial you are not yet in.” – Levi Lusko

2017-01-05-05.22.44-1.jpg.jpg21 strangers did not embark on this trip, 21 family members united in Christ did.  We survived this trial because we have trained for it before we knew what it was and we have a common hope in Christ.  Nothing can shake that hope and like natural elements are crushed to produce the sweet fragrance of essential oils, we were crushed to produce a sweet fragrance to our Father.

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This week I learned to be passionate for others through my passion for Christ, to prefer God above all else, and choose to actively love His people every day as He loves me.  If you haven’t faced spiritual warfare yet, you will.  Please train for that trial!  Dig into the Word and be sure you are perceiving life through the lens of the gospel and your hope will endure.  I will not waste my pain because Christ did not waste His and I will love because He loves me.

My dear koinonia family, I love you all so deeply!  Thank you for suffering with me and loving me even during trials.

1.6.2017

An Artist’s Fear

I fear touching a wet brush to white canvas.
I fear making an impression in smooth clay.
I fear penning a word to be spoken.

I fear revealing an idea before it is a reality.
I fear defining a piece as finished, with hopes of improving it.
I fear showing a complete work to new eyes because it may be more valuable in mine.

I love to create, whether to write or to paint.
but I fear.
I fear the imperfections and crooked lines.
I fear judgment & lack of awe.
I fear the onlooker who criticizes.

An artist’s fears surmount to rejection.
I fear rejection.

Fear weighs an artist down, holds the brush back, and keeps one from creating.
Fear hides creations away.

But faith finds victory over fear.

Faith finds beauty in every stroke of the brush.
Faith sees purpose in every indent of the clay.
Faith feels meaning in every penned word.

Faith sees potential in ideas,
and has peace in calling a work finished.

Faith finds comfort in the fact that every eye interprets differently,
and every heart feels a unique sense of awe.

Faith knows that every onlooker will judge and many will reject,
but faith also knows rejection is temporary,
and making a permanent impact on a single soul is worth a million rejections.

Faith enlightens the artist, fuels the brush, and inspires one to create.
Faith brings art to life.

Faith is the art that overcomes rejection.