Lessons from 2 Years of Marriage

6 lessonsHas it really been 2 years since we said ‘I do’ in front of our friends and family? August 24, 2012 feels like a lifetime ago and like yesterday all at the same time. The emotions and the memories from that day are still so fresh. Yet in 2 short years we have made more memories than I could have ever dreamed.

I am by no means a marriage expert. In fact, I am a broken sinner who managed to snatch up the best man on earth- seriously… how did I get so blessed? We are absolutely still newlyweds and soaking up every moment of marital bliss. Despite our newlywed status, the Lord has been gracious enough to teach us so many valuable lessons about life and marriage in 2 short years.

71. Marriage is fun.

Marriage truly is fun.  Yes, we have a boring routine- just like 99% of the world. But each day is an adventure spent by my best friends side. Caleb knows how to add magic to each day. Whether it is a spur of the moment dance party in our home, long walks in the park, or Caleb simply reminding me to laugh rather than cry when rain begins to dump down on us as we drive our motor bike home from the outdoor night market. Each day should be filled with laughter and extravagant love.

22. I am selfish.

I am far more selfish than I would ever care to admit. In fact, I don’t think I realized just how selfish I am until we moved to Asia. I’ve been rereading the book “The Meaning of Marriage” by Timothy Keller. I would recommend everyone read this book twice. Yes, twice. I read it when we first got married and am reading it again now. While I enjoyed it the first go around, I have learned so much more about who I am as a wife and as a person this year. The book points out that our selfishness and our partners selfishness becomes much more apparent after about 2 years of marriage and this is often what leads to marital issues. Immediately my heart sank. I think I can literally count on 2 hands how many times I have been truly frustrated with Caleb for being selfish. I, on the other hand, don’t know that I can use 2 hands to count my selfishness in a week. I married a saint- seriously. This is something I need to work on… daily.

43. Marriage makes you more holy.

I almost feel awkward making the statement above because my life is often far from holy. But it is true. Marriage is supposed to make you holy. As believers we are called to give up our personal, fleshly desires and strive to imitate Christ. As a wife we must realize that we are a single unit in a set. Decisions cannot be based on our needs or wants. We need to put others before ourselves. And sometimes it is rough. Sometimes I want to be stubborn and selfish. But then I have Caleb to hold me accountable and to call me to a higher standard.  Proverbs 27:17 says that we need to be like “iron sharpen[ing] iron.” And therefore heat, friction, and sparks are sometimes necessary. Luckily we know that it is all out of love.

14. Conversation is crucial.

One of my favorite weekly dates is the time we spend going over our Weekly Questions. They take all of 20 minutes but they bring such joy to my heart. I always feel like a burden has been lifted on my chest because our struggles, our goals, and our prayer requests have been not only verbalized, but they have also recognized by our spouse. This year I have learned the importance of confessing my sins to Caleb. Yes, we have learned to share the dirtiest, ugliest part of ourselves with each other. It is often shameful and embarrassing. But I know that Caleb loves me unconditionally and the point of our marriage is to become more like Christ. When sins are confessed, accountability and prayer are provided.

65. Say I am sorry often.

I will say it again, I am a sinner and I sin often. Many times I don’t even realize I have done something to hurt Caleb. I’ve learned it is imperative that we not only apologize for our mistakes, but that we also ask for forgiveness. And when your spouse apologizes to you- forgive, forgive, forgive. Life is too short to hold a grudge.

86. Spend time digging into the Word together.

This has easily become one of my favorite lessons from our second year of marriage. Our first year of marriage was spent at a school literally studying the Word of God at least 5 hours a day. But when we entered the ‘real world’ our quiet times suffered. This year we have found a routine and we adore it. We wouldn’t trade our morning coffee/breakfast and quiet time for the world. Each morning we dig into the Word on our own. Afterwards we share what the Lord spoke to us in our readings and share some of our favorite verses from the morning. Then we read our ‘Jesus Calling’ devotional together and end in prayer- as a couple. There is nothing more attractive than watching your husband pursue the Lord and few things warm my heart more than hearing him lead us in prayer. I still get goosebumps when he prays about our future family {key word- future}.

{see our 1st year of marriage post here}
{see our engagement story here}

What have you learned from marriage?
Any other tips or advice?

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Am I Belittling God’s Gifts?

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When Caleb and I first arrived in Nakhon Si Thammarat, everything seemed magical. Everything was beautiful and new. The warm sun shined brightly everyday and we soaked up every sight, sound, and smell- the good and the bad. Every experience was new and felt worth documenting. Now, after 4 months of living here, the once magical experiences have become routine- they are our normal. While I am still humbled that the Lord invited us on this adventure of His, I am no longer overwhelmed with the little beauties of each day. I no longer feel compelled to photograph and share little moments. I still cherish the conversations and talks about Jesus more than words can explain. But what about my surroundings?

And you know what? That is sad. Honestly? It kind of breaks my heart. I didn’t even realized this had happened until someone asked for updates on our lives in NST. How did I let the things that once filled my heart with such joy become so expected? In a way, I feel as though I am belittling God’s gifts by doing this. So I am going to begin being intentional about noticing and sharing these daily blessings again.  Because each moment spent with the local kiddos, with our Thai friends or acquaintances, and our students are magical little blessings.

It is time to be wowed by the rustic “charms” of our city again. We may lose electricity and water, but each day is filled with infinite little blessings- little treasures. I no longer want to just be wowed by the new sights, sounds, and places we experience on vacation. It is time to be wowed by our normal. Because in reality, each day is filled with magical moments. We just have to choose to recognize them.

While it is too rainy to bring my camera out in our city (rainy season is in its early stages. last nights thunder storm could have rivaled those in Texas, Florida, and Oklahoma), I can try to bring out our new GoPro (thanks mom & dad!! best anniversary gift EVER!!). I am thankful for the little reality check and reminder to see the beauty in our city. Right here, right now. Because there is always beauty around us. But it is our choice to recognize the beauty and blessings. Starting today, I am choosing not to belittle God’s gifts. I am choosing to recognize and cherish each little blessing- each piece of magic.

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Try to be Alive

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“Try to learn to breathe deeply,
really to taste food when you eat,
& when you sleep, really to sleep.
Try as much as possible
to be wholly alive with all your might,
& when you laugh, laugh like crazy…
Try to be alive.
You will be dead soon enough.”
Ernest Hemingway

Life has been absolutely hectic lately. Most of it is a good hectic- but some of it is simply annoying Thai third world problems… Either way, we are busy. Caleb and I have so many things to do before September 20th. Big things, small things, fun things, research things, school things. Having all of these things on our plate has put me in a bit of a stand-still. I have been frozen and I don’t know where to start. On Friday I realized  this overload has caused me to complacently coast through the days rather than to live intentionally in each moment. And you know what? Life is far too short to not embrace each moment.

So this week I am making it my goal to live intentionally. I am crossing items of my to-do list that are not time sensitive. This is the week to soak up every moment. I want to breathe deeply, savor every flavor, laugh till my stomach hurts, and love extravagantly. It is going to be a good week- I am deciding that now. Let’s (you & me) decide to make this week a week to remember!

Praying your week is filled with blessings as well!

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We are All Sinking

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Grace. Where would we be if it weren’t for grace?

This past week I have been overwhelmed by the beautiful gift of God’s grace. You see, until about 5 years ago I was openly living a life filled with sin. I claimed to be a Christian and I knew all the “right” Bible answers, but my life had not really been transformed by the blood of Christ. I was living for me, my fleshly desires, and I yearned to be successful in the eyes of the world.

Words cannot convey my thankfulness for grace. 5 years ago the Lord completely humbled me and captivated my heart. I learned the beauty of grace. Thinking back to my prior life brings a flood of mixed emotions- praise for His redeeming, sorrow for my lack of desire to seek Him first, overwhelming thankfulness for grace, and overall peace.

While I wish I had a clean testimony of loving and pursuing Him my whole life, the Lord has blessed me by using my broken testimony to come alongside others as they struggle. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”  I don’t believe I will ever be confident enough in my walk to say follow my example as Paul stated. But because of grace, I do feel I can now say stumble with me as I stumble after Christ.

I have opened my heart to the saving grace of Jesus. I have allowed His grace to consume me. He has filled my heart with an all consuming joy. And now I cannot imagine ever turning back.

Praise the Lord, His grace is new every morning. I can boldly sing, “great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23).

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
-David Crowder Band

 

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Our 3rd Honeymoon in Koh Samui

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A lot can happen in two years of marriage. In two years we have lived in 3 homes, 2 different states, and 2 different countries. In 2 years we have traveled to 6 countries, 8 states (technically more if you count simply driving through them on road trips), and countless beaches. But of all our travels, our recent “3rd honeymoon” trip is among my top favorites.

If you ever have a chance to visit Koh Samui, Thailand- go! Honestly, it wasn’t even on my list of places to visit while living in Thailand. I figured it was overly touristy and there were far better beach options. While Thailand does have a plethora of incredible secret beaches, I now understand why Samui is so popular. The water is perfect, the weather is incredible, and the views are breathtaking. We did not want to leave! Oh, and did I mention you can get coconut oil massages in serene beachfront bungalows for $12/hour? Yes, we did get more than one.

We stayed at the Marina Beach Resort on Lamai beach for about $26/night- score! Our resort was located near the end of the beach strip which meant we were close enough to walk to all the shops and restaurants but not deep enough in the strip to be overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle- and our part of the beach was quieter! Lamai is considered the second prettiest beach on the island but we love it for the incredible night markets! The street vendors here have THE best food, fruity drinks are available everywhere, and you can buy all types of gifts and goodies. And the local artists are phenomenal. If we had an actual home, I would have bought far too much art! When we return to Samui, we will definitely have to keep Lamai as a home base option- it will all depend on prices :)

If you ever visit Samui, we highly recommend visiting Chaweng for the beach- best at sunrise, it is empty and the sunrises are INCREDIBLE {which you may have seen on my instagram}. We got our first massages on this beach. Chaweng also has endless shopping and dining options. Although, I would avoid this area like the plague at night… It gets quite rowdy. When visiting Chaweng you MUST drive to the viewpoint between Chaweng beach and Lamai beach. It may be one of the prettiest views I have ever seen. Caleb and I brought a bottle of champagne and some goodies there and just soaked in God’s glorious creation during sunset. And a local Thai woman sells homemade coconut ice cream up there for less than $1- need I say more?

One of our other favorite beaches was Mae Nam. This was easily the quietest beach with the prettiest resorts. It is much more family oriented and much more our style. We even became friends with an Italian couple on this beach. While the water is not quite as breathtakingly blue, it is still spectacular. And you can see a plethora of the surrounding islands while you lounge in your hammock or beach chair. Caleb and I spent the day walking the beach, playing paddle board in the water and basking in the sun- oh, and of course getting a couple more massages.

Our time in Samui was filled with infinite ‘I love you’s, too many breathtaking views to count, moments of pure bliss, and endless praises to our Heavenly Father for creating such a gorgeous little island. If you visit Samui rent a motorbike- I promise it is THE best way to get around the island. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

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A Time to Celebrate

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“Then she began to breathe, and love
and every moment took her to a place where goodbyes were hard to come by,
she was in love, but not with someone or something.
she was in love with her life,
and for the first time, in a long time,
everything was inspiring.”

R.M. Drake

One thing you may have noticed about me is that I am a celebrateholic. I love to celebrate anything and everything. And lately, we have been doing a lot of celebrating. Because let’s be honest- life is too short not to.

Today we are off to Koh Samui and the beautiful surrounding islands here in Thailand. We will be leaving behind computers and cell phones. We will be completely disconnected from the world and soaking up every beautiful moment focusing on what matters most. It is time to celebrate. We are celebrating the big and the small- from wedding anniversaries to glorious sunrises. Life is sweet and God is good. Praying you all have a fabulous week! I will return to blogging regularly soon- I promise! xox

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Moments that Make My Heart Sing

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Have I mentioned recently that I LOVE my little students? Teaching would not be my first career choice, but I absolutely adore the opportunities it presents. Caleb and I are very blessed that we teach at a Christian English Programme so most of our students speak pretty decent english. And although it is a Christian school, most of our students still proudly wear their Buddhist necklaces. While these necklaces break my heart, they create the PERFECT opportunity to ask them questions and talk about Jesus.

Every teacher here is required to teach a club. My club is swimming (praise the Lord for swim club in this crazy heat). Every week I have at least one student ask me to hold his or her Buddhist necklace- which means each week I have the opportunity to ask them questions about it. Today I had the opportunity to speak with two grade 5 students. I learned the boy, Nine, is a Buddhist and the girl, Ivy, is a Christian. What I love about this young age is how willing they are to listen. Nine could not tell me much about his Buddhist beliefs, but he could answer my questions about the Christian faith. However, he believes that the Bible is fiction. When I asked him why he believed the Bible was fiction he simply stated that his parents told him it is. Sweet little Nine agreed to talk with me next week after club about what he believes and why I believe the Bible is true.

Please be praying for the Lord to plant seeds, to provide wisdom, and to speak through me. Little conversations like these fill my heart with so much joy. It is moments like this that remind me of why I love Thailand.

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A Good Story

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I love a good story. Stories of adventure, stories of history, stories of love, stories of life. Recently the Lord has opened my eyes to another part of my students stories. Yet another heartbreaking part of their lives that I yearn to fix. The past couple of weeks I have spent countless hours pondering different stories. Because let’s be honest, we all yearn to play a role in a great story.

As I thought about these stories, I began to think about my own story. What is my story? My quiet times have been so sweet recently and each day I am humbled by the incredible stories in the Bible. I look at men like Paul- a man full of passion, full of adventure, full of stories. If we were to sum up Paul’s story in a sentence I bet it would probably sound something like this: ‘an ordinary tentmaker whose mission was to pursue & share Christ.’ Paul’s day job was simply to make tents, yet his story left a legacy. Or we could look at men like Noah- a man full of so much faith that he was willing to sacrifice all to listen to the Lord. Or we could look at men like Daniel, David, or Peter. All of their stories are inspiring. There is no doubt  Jesus is the center of their lives- the center of their stories.  But can others tell that Jesus is the center of my story? Can they see Him day by day in my life?

I was listening to a podcast recently that posed the question, “early on in conversations with people, what is something you want them to know about you? What is something you want people to know about you right upfront?” What is so important in my life that I can’t help but bring up? Or what am I so excited about or passionate about that I want to talk about it all the time? Is it Jesus? Or does something else come to mind?

Our stories matter. Our story will be our legacy. And I want my story to sing praises to our Heavenly Father.

So over the next few weeks I will continue to pray diligently for the Lord to help reveal more of my story. I want to make sure that my typical everyday reflects that Jesus is the Lord of my story.

What do you do everyday that shows that Jesus is the Lord of your story?

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New Dreams & New Ideas

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The Lord has been stirring up some really exciting ideas & dreams into Caleb & my heart the past few weeks. Caleb and I still find ourselves pinching each other to make sure we aren’t dreaming. The Lord really brought us to Thailand and He really is shaping and molding us. One of our prayers prior to moving was that the Lord would open our eyes. We want to see as He sees. We want to love as He loves.

Over the past few months we have seen a reoccurring theme here in Thailand. This theme is sad because it really seems like such an easy fix. {We will share what the theme is soon, we are in the process of praying for direction in how we can help}. We would appreciate it if you would come alongside us as we pray for direction in how to help our students, their families, and our new country. We know they need Jesus and we know that He supplies every need. But if we can share Jesus by tangibly helping them, well then glory to God!

Words cannot begin to explain my thankfulness for each of you- my friends, my family, my prayer warriors. Excited to see where the Lord leads us {yes, as a prayer warrior- you are included} in this journey!

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Celebrating the Islamic Ramadan

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After a month of Ramadan, the holiday is about to come to a close. When we moved to Thailand I knew that we would be surrounded by Buddhists and that we would have a few Muslims. What I did not know is just how many Muslims would be in our city. It really is a beautiful culture- at least here in Nakhon it is. The women are extremely modest and from my experience, very kind. I have found nothing but love and affection from each of them. Some of our students are Muslim and they truly are little balls of joy- even though they are currently fasting for Ramadan. And the families are so close and do everything together. Who would have thought that I would come to enjoy the sound of their chanting multiple times a day? {Each time I hear it I am reminded of why I am here & my calling in this city.}

One of our streets has been closed most of the month due to the holiday so a plethora of Islamic carts could sell their foods, clothes, and other goodies all in the same place. {Pork is a HUGE thing here in Thailand, so I love Islamic food carts because I know I won’t get any pork in my meal- hip hip hooray!}

Over the past 3 months I’ve learned just how much I enjoy soaking up other cultures. {still can’t believe we have been here for 3 months! It still feels so new & yet so comfortable at the same time.} It is so humbling being the minority and being forced to embrace a new lifestyle. The world is so vast and we play such a small role in it. Living here has been such a beautiful reminder that the world doesn’t need me. The world needs more Jesus.

Have you ever experienced another culture that you absolutely loved? Or that you learned from?

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