Behind Closed Doors: Worship

001_Blog Collage

We can’t believe this is the final week of this series! We are so glad we were brought together, but so sad it’s over. We hope you have genuinely enjoyed following along and have grown through our discussion topics and posts. The final topic we leave you with is about worship because this series wouldn’t have happened without a divine vision from the Lord above and it is with worship you and I can grow closer and closer to Him! Praise God for that! The gals and I shared how we worship with our husbands, but also how we’d like to grow. Please share how worship looks in your marriage. Let’s all give each other some really great ideas! Much love & once again, thank you so much for following our series!


Jessica’s Story

img_9761

“I remember when I was younger one of my seminary teachers telling me that reading even 1 verse, no matter how long, would have a positive impact on my day.  So I remind myself that even if we aren’t getting as much as we could we are still getting something.” Read more.

Sara’s Story

img_7286-1

“Attending service together gives us the opportunity to then talk about what we have heard and what we would be taking away from the lesson.” Read more.

Chelsea’s Story

headshot_chelsea-mckinney-1

“That last part is definitely what we need to get better at, though. It is so easy to recite the overall things we are both grateful of or need help in, it’s the ever so detailed prayers that we need to focus on more.” Read more.

Brittany’s Story

brit-necta

“My husband and I worship together in a number of ways. While we do a few things together I wish we would do more.” Read more.

Tabitha’s Story

untitled-design

 “We are absolutely piecing it together as we go, and we both joyfully look forward to the day where we can be more intentional, and even attend church service together. But, I know God honors what we can manage right now.” Read more.


Jessica’s Story

I love this topic because I feel like everyone has room for improvement somewhere.  It’s also so broad that I could talk about it for days.  When I first read this question my mind automatically jumped to studying scripture so I will focus on that.

Brett and I use to be really good at studying scriptures every night before bed.  We would have wonderful conversations about what we read and research things we had questions about.  Then we had kids, and Brett started his residency at the hospital.

Because my husband works varying and long hours it is hard for us to dedicate a specific time every day where we can be completely devoted to studying together.  It’s probably the thing we need to work on the most.  Usually we read one chapter with the kids before bed and then have family prayer.  Brett spends most of the time trying to get our 3 year old to sit and listen so it isn’t always productive.  Sometimes I ask myself why we are even trying.  I remember when I was younger one of my seminary teachers telling me that reading even 1 verse, no matter how long, would have a positive impact on my day.  So I remind myself that even if we aren’t getting as much as we could we are still getting something.

It’s strange, but whenever Brett has to work nights my scripture study increases dramatically.  I read longer and deeper.  I tell myself that when he is home we need to spend time together because those moments are fleeting.  And even though that’s true I think its an excuse.  Even if we only read 1 chapter, 1/2 a chapter, 1 verse it would be better than our current alternative which is nothing most nights.

In Deuteronomy is says “But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” (4:29) We need to seek Him and in order to seek we have to set aside the time.  I’m a list maker so the best way for me to keep that study time in my mind is to write it down.  I like to set reminders in my phone, but I think I will start writing it on our bathroom mirror.  It is one of the last things we see before we go to bed so we should have no excuse.

Back to the top.

Sara’s Story

Attending church and getting plugged into a small group together was a must do for us.  Benjamin and I have served in leadership roles within each church we have been a part of, from shepherding small groups to teaching classes and serving on committees.  While we believe that it is important to serve within the church, we make it a priority to always sit beside each other in the worship service.  This enables us to be able to sing together, pray together and give our offerings together.  It is a guaranteed time each week to sit near one another and hold hands!  Attending service together gives us the opportunity to then talk about the about what we have heard and what we would be taking away from the lesson.

One thing that Benjamin and I have a habit of doing is asking how we can pray for each other over the next day.  Sure we know the events that will be going on during that day because we go over our calendars each week.  But this allows us to share any concerns, worries, joys, or thoughts about what is to come.  I feel like this allows me to encourage and support him in the way that he needs.  Praying for your spouse is one of the top things that you can do for them.  We do this after we have tucked both kids in bed, brushed our teeth, taking the dog to pee, and snuggled under the covers!

I would encourage you to find a time in the midst of the chaos of the day to ask your spouse what they need prayer for, be open with how you need to be prayed for and then take a few minutes to pray over each other.  I can guarantee you that it will create a place where honesty is nurtured, God is honored, and your love for your spouse will grow!

Back to the top.

Chelsea’s Story

Worshipping together is an area my husband and I can grow in, but I think it always will be as there will always be a next step in having God as the center of our marriage. It also is an area we have grown tremendously in, however, as we were awkwardly figuring out this Christ centered marriage thing when we first became engaged.

For John and I, worship begins first thing in the morning, at either breakfast or when he leaves for work, whichever comes first. Every morning we pray together, sometimes short as one of us is running late or something, but always before we part ways for the day. We pray for happiness, for God to work in our relationship, thank him for all he does, and then pray specifically for different things that are going on in our lives and the lives of those who are close to us. That last part is definitely what we need to get better at, though. It is so easy to recite the overall things we are both grateful of or need help in, it’s the ever so detailed prayers that we need to focus on more. We need to be praying much more specific prayers to God. This is, however, something we’ve talked about needing to do so at the very least we are on the same page about wanting to do this.

Another way John and I come together before God is through our church. Not only is it a place we go to together to worship, but it is also a place we serve together. We are blessed to go to a church that is active in many different areas and so outside of typical church service we have helped with things that needed attention in our sanctuary, attended a marriage conference, and visited a charity house for parents of hospitalized children. Doing these things, in the flesh, bring us so much closer to God. It is almost as if because we so effortlessly go through the actions that we aren’t forcing the worship time, if you will.

While I love these things we do to worship, I’m looking forward to our relationship continued to deepen with each other and through Christ as the best is yet to come.

Back to the top.

Brittany’s Story

My husband and I worship together in a number of ways. While we do a few things together I wish we would do more.

We attend church every Sunday and pray with our children at dinner.

I do the majority of praying with my children out loud and shepherding their heart. I volunteer in the nursery at church. We read/study the bible separately and do not pray as a couple daily.

This is a huge weight on my heart and I wish we would pray and be in God’s word together more. I pray for my husband daily and have no doubt he speaks to God daily but together… no.

He has been on mission trips, I have not. This is something I pray we get to do together one day. We both attended a Christian College and feel maybe he was burnt out a little by the whole experience.

So I am sorry to say I don’t  have ideas as to what we do to grow together because that is something we are still working on. God is definitely in the midst of our marriage…. I praise God Jerod knows the Lord and has a relationship with him. Back to the top.

Tabitha’s Story

First, in order to be completely transparent, know this: my husband and I are in a season where worshiping together and doing devotionals together seem impossible. But, it it just that- a season. Some nights, after we have collapsed into our bed and before we shut the light off, we will pray through anything and everything on our minds and in our lives. There are even times where we might pray as we are in the car driving. Basically, we will stop and pray at anytime.

When we are at our best, we love to turn worship music on in the mornings and feel the house with fresh air and the Holy Spirit. It’s incredible how that can change the environment and bring us together – wordlessly and without trying.

Another thing that is working is turning our toddler’s bath time into a short devotional time. We will all crowd into the bathroom, our chocolate lab included, and my husband will read a chapter from a book in faith- right now, it’s one from Bill Johnson. My son will splash and play as we soak in some hard-hitting truth.

Lastly, we will often clip, save, and text random quotes, scriptures, Instagram posts that speak to God’s word and share them with one another.

We are absolutely piecing it together as we go, and we both joyfully look forward to the day where we can be more intentional, and even attend church service together. But, I know God honors what we can manage right now. And if you are in the same boat, he sees you and He loves you for right where you are at.

Back to the top.

What’s On Your…Nightstand!

Happy Wednesday Lovelies!  I am so excited to be part of this fun link up! I’ve teamed up with some fantastic ladies that I think you will love getting to know.  What’s On Your… is designed to be a quick and fun link up where you can share a little bit of yourself and make new friends in the process! On the third Wednesday of each month is when we will link up and share the new prompt!

The Other Hostesses

Andrea || For the Love of Honey

Courtney || Love of Mommyhood

Maeve || Everyday Maeve

Patricia || Life of a Minister Mom

Sara || Crazy Cozads

Tabitha || Tabitha Panariso

 

This month’s theme is:

What’s On Your…Nightstand! 

IMG_0319

Here’s a look at my nightstand, honestly one of my favorite things in both our house and our master bedroom. (Hubby has the same one, with matching lamp). I’ve always loved the cherry wood of our bedroom set, but what I really fell in love with was the lamp! Purchased at Target for more than I want to admit I knew I had to have them. With a silver base and stand and clear spheres, I knew a white shade would look great. I thought it would pop against our gray walls and, I think you’ll agree, I was right. I just love the crisp, clean look.

IMG_0322

A closer look will show you a Scentsy warmer (currently turned off), a baby monitor (also off, because whose kid actually naps??), a hair clip (for those late night nursing sessions), and a coaster (that barely ever has a cup on it – I have a hatred of cups sitting around and a fear of spilling it). I also have two framed photos, one of my pregnant belly in a “Mom” frame, and one of all three of us; our first family photo that wasn’t a selfie and/or taken in a hospital.

Last, but not least, you will see a tidy little stack of “stuff.” In that stack, from bottom to top, my notes from church two weeks ago, a baby book I never finished reading (but still want to), my weekly planner, and the book “Two Kisses for Maddy,” a memoir written by fellow blogger about losing his wife and learning the ropes of being a parent to their baby girl.

IMG_0323

 It also wasn’t until I took these photos that I noticed the big empty space. Then I realized that at night that is where my glasses and phone are while I sleep. I only wear my glasses for the few seconds it takes me to get from the bathroom where I took out my contacts, to my bed. I also sleep with my phone next to me since I don’t have an alarm clock.

It’s your turn now. Grab our button and play along!

Follow Along with Us on Instagram!

Andrea || Caroline || Chelsea || Courtney || Maeve || Patricia || Sara || Tabitha

And be sure to use our hashtag so that we can see what you share!

#2016whatsonyour

Now is time for you to set your calendars for June 15th, grab our button and show us What’s On Your…

TV { 

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Behind Closed Doors: Staying True to Your Vows

001_Blog Collage

This week was definitely our hardest yet! The most difficult conversations with our husbands, the most difficult conversations to have between us girls. As Christian women we took our vows very seriously when they were spoken on our wedding days and try with all our might to stay true to them day in and day out. Some days and situations make it very hard to do that, however. Please bare with us as we attempt to explain our hardest topic to date.

{As always, please let us know if there is any way we can pray for you specifically.}


Jessica’s Story

img_9761

“His blatant disregard for the relationship with my husband was disgusting to me.  I couldn’t respond.  All I could do was get up and walk away…” Read more.

Sara’s Story

img_7286-1

“I was reminded in those moments just how important it is to constantly communicate our needs and desires with each other.  It ensures that we are working to maintain and grow our marriage together.” Read more.

Chelsea’s Story

headshot_chelsea-mckinney-1

“It’s not something we talk much on because it’s not something we are going to act on, but we both know life would be easier if we weren’t married.”Read more.

Brittany’s Story

brit-necta

“This was a tough topic for us this week. The word “Divorce” has be said by my husband on more than one occasion. The only times it has come us is when we have been in a heated argument and that was the only word he knew would hit hard with me.” Read more.


Jessica’s Story

Before I had my children I worked at the front desk of a medical office.  I talked with many of the patients that came in for appointments. Some were quiet and to the point while others wouldn’t leave without telling you their entire life story.

One day a very nice and polite older man came in. He said things like “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” when I asked him questions.  Once I had finished gathering all of his information he hung around the front desk talking.  It wasn’t unusual, especially on slower days, for patients to hang around and chat while they waited for their nurse to call them back.  After a few minutes he told me he wanted to set me up with his nephew.  I smiled, said no thank you, and told him I was happily married. He replied “So?”

So? So what?

His blatant disregard for the relationship with my husband was disgusting to me.  I couldn’t respond.  All I could do was get up and walk away, which I did.  It opened my eyes to the scary view that many people have when it comes to matrimony.  Did those promises I made to my husband really hold no weight in that man’s eyes? Apparently not. I wondered what experiences this man had had with marriage to make him so dismissive of mine.

Brett and I work to make our marriage strong.  We have since the day we were married. We have open communication on any topic, we study scripture together, and pray together.  We encourage each other to speak up when we offend one another so we can avoid it in the future.  I shudder to think what would have happened if we didn’t work so diligently.  Would I have walked away? Would I have been flattered by his advance? Would I have stayed in the conversation?

I’ve thought about this experience several times since then. I always thought that when people strayed from their commitments it was because they had gone looking to do so. This situation had shown me otherwise. I am so grateful for my faith based marriage and for the strength and support it gives me.

Back to the top.

Sara’s Story

Vows.  They are the cornerstone of every marriage ceremony and what we aim to hold up and honor in the days and years together.  It takes constant work to love and appreciate a spouse while guarding the heart and mind from temptations.

When I worked full time it ended up that I was employed in offices and teams where I was the only woman.  Because of the roles I had in these offices, more than once I had been referenced as so and so’s work wife.  For me, I believe that the title of husband and wife are special and saved for spouses only.  I would let it be known publicly that I wasn’t okay being called that.  Even though said in jest, having that thought and viewing someone else that way can crack doors open that need to stay closed.

I remember having a convo with the hubs one time about how I needed him to tell me that I looked nice or notice my outfit and accessories more frequently.  I needed those words of affirmation from my husband so that I wasn’t seeking it or enjoying it when co-workers gave me compliments.  In return he told me that he needed me to hold his hand more and snuggle close on the couch a little more often.  I was reminded in those moments just how important it is to constantly communicate our needs and desires with each other.  It ensures that we are working to maintain and grow our marriage together.

Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  These verses are instructions for what I am to focus my heart and mind on.  They leave no room for focusing on anything other than Jesus and what He has laid out for me.  He has given me a fabulous man as my mate and partner in this life.  Marriage is not easy.  But all of the work ensure that my husband is honored and our marriage that is full of love is so worth it!

Back to the top.

Chelsea’s Story

It’s always a tough topic when talking about staying true to your vows. Why? Well I don’t know about you about my wedding vows aren’t something I consciously think of every day. If it’s something I’m consciously thinking of it’s because everything isn’t going just right and I need to remember to keep myself true to the promises I made to my husband before God. THAT is why it’s a tough topic; it’s not always smiles and sunshine and truthfully that stinks.

When discussing this topic this past week with my husband, John, it was our shortest conversation about this series so far. There really wasn’t much to talk about because we have had the same struggle towards one another. It’s not something we talk much on because it’s not something we are going to act on, but we both know life would be easier if we weren’t married. Wow! Did I just say that? Yup!

About a year into our marriage we realized we are extremely different people. We are very different in trivial things like pastimes and interests, but deeper things like goals and dreams. Dating and being engaged these issues never really arose because we were only skimming the surface. We had fun just hanging out, wining and dining, and spending time with our families and friends. A year into marriage though we needed to really be adults and starting working towards how we’d spend the rest of our life. That is when things got tough.

We didn’t argue a ton (and still don’t) but we have to compromise A LOT. Yes, I realize all married couples do, but we’re talking HUGE things we had COMPLETELY different opinions on, our home, money, children. I would be lying if I said that we’ve figured it all out and are happy as clams. I can say honestly though, that we work hard every day, that we have truly learned the meaning of compromise, and that it is only making us stronger, even when some days it doesn’t feel like it.

Back to the top.

Brittany’s Story

This was a tough topic for us this week. The word “Divorce” has be said by my husband on more than one occasion. The only times it has come us is when we have been in a heated argument and that was the only word he knew would hit hard with me.

The only times we have had to really focus on staying true to our vows would be during arguments. Both of has have short tempers.

I have a tendency to be really lazy at home bc I’ve been working all day and I just don’t want to put the dishes or my laundry up. Jerod is a neat freak and hates having to ask more over and over again to do those things. He gets frustrated with me.

His love language is definitely affection and physical touch…. they are not mine. We have got into arguments about this as well.

There has never been a time I have wanted to ever cheat on him. I am such a homebody and not a big drinker so he never has to worry about me going out and checkin out other dudes! Ha!

He is my everything and I would be absolutely love without him.

We both use affirmation and encouragement a lot because we both thrive on that.

It’s so important to really sit and think after you’ve had an argument ” Is this worth it?” “Am I making the best decision if I were to get in my car and leave right now?”

We work really hard at our marriage  and both love each other deeply and madly!

God is the reason we are still together. He brought us together and He will keep us together!

Back to the top.

My Guest Post on Spencer Unlimited

IMG_0334

My blogging/Instagram buddy Spencer from Spencer Unlimited recently gave birth to the cutest little boy. Since she is soaking in as much time as possible with her newest addition she was sweet enough to ask me to take over her blog for the day!

Before her precious boy arrived I shared a piece with her about preparing your dog for bringing home baby. Having a dog herself, she understands how helpful this list truly is! Head over to her blog to read my guest post and leave us some love!

 

 

Behind Closed Doors: Equally Yoked

001_Blog Collage

For many of us this topic was hard to write about. Just plain hard. For others it was a comfortable topic, one to be proud of. Either way, we encouraged and praised one another along the way and it made us all stronger in our faith.

The term “yoked” is used when referring to many different types of relationships – friendships, business partnerships, but most importantly, one would argue, in marriages. In 2 Corinthians 6:14 (King James) it states, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness?”

This speaks on all relationships you walk in; you should walk with others of similar faith, morals, and beliefs. It is believed, however, to be most important in a marriage as it is in marriage that vows are taken before God, it is in a marriage where you put God before your spouse and work to glorify him together.

Whether the topic “easy” or hard” to write about, as I said, it allowed encouragement. It drew us closer to God. It reminded us to take our next steps. Even though our next steps are all very different from one another we each know that we have to keep walking and relying on God in every single footstep.

{How are you enjoying the series so far? Has everything been user friendly for you?}


Jessica’s Story

img_9761

“I wasn’t attending church regularly, and if I did go it was only for a small portion.  I wasn’t studying scripture anymore, and prayer had become very difficult. I still knew it was true, but I felt weak. My spirit was tired.” Read More.

Sara’s Story

img_7286-1

“When the phrase equally yoked comes up, for me it is not so much where a couple is in their individual spiritual walks but rather the understanding of the beliefs and values that come from the decision to follow Jesus.” Read more.

Chelsea’s Story

headshot_chelsea-mckinney-1

“We have now been married three years and I’d be lying if I said things were going perfectly. They are not, but the thing is, they’re not supposed to be.” Read more.

Brittany’s Story

brit-necta

“Jerod and I are really good about communicating and working out conflicts. I truly believe we are equally yoked! He is SO good about knowing when I am down and actually asks how my days are! He is truly invested in our marriage and I love that so much.”Read more.

Tabitha’s Story

untitled-design

“I used to get upset when I saw my husband faltering. Or not attending service. Or not praying. But I quickly (okay, not so quickly) learned that I am not the Holy Spirit. Although I have been placed in His life to edify and sharpen him, the Holy Spirit is the one who should convict, and should compel another to change.”Read more.


Jessica’s Story

My husband and I both grew up in families with the same religious views, but when I met him he was definitely the stronger of the two of us.

I have always believed, I knew it in my bones, but I spent a couple years wandering.  Once you step off the path it is unbelievably easy to keep going.  That is where I found myself when I met Brett.  I wasn’t attending church regularly, and if I did go it was only for a small portion.  I wasn’t studying scripture anymore, and prayer had become very difficult. I still knew it was true, but I felt weak. My spirit was tired.

While we were dating we had long, in depth conversations about God and religion.  We talked about what we wanted for ourselves, our marriage, and future children. Even though I wasn’t at my best I had always known what I wanted when it came to family.  So much so that I had ended serious relationships because we couldn’t find common ground. With my husband it was different. I had never met someone whose wants and desires were so close to my own, and that gave me the courage to be better. We began to strengthen each other.

One memory I hold dear happened right before we got engaged.  I had been actively reading my scriptures again, and Brett asked me if I had prayed to know that it was true.  At first I thought it was silly.  I had never doubted its truth before.  The more I thought about it I began to realize that my testimony was largely composed of the testimonies of others.  I wanted my own.  In James 1:5 it says “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” So I did, and my testimony grew.  It became my own.

When I look at my marriage today I see us as equally yoked, but that doesn’t mean we are both strong all the time.  That’s the great thing about marriage; even during adversity you have someone to sustain you. We lean on each other so much. I am eternally grateful that God has never left us both spiritually exhausted together. It can be one or the other but never both. Sometimes I am stronger, but when I can’t be, my husband is.

Back to the top.

Sara’s Story

All relationships are built on a foundation of something: a love of art, comedy, a favorite type of food, a bond over a similar life experience, attraction, music preferences, the list goes on and on.  When the phrase equally yoked comes up, for me it is not so much where a couple is in their individual spiritual walks but rather the understanding of the beliefs and values that come from the decision to follow Jesus.  For Benjamin and I our foundation starts with the truth that we are both Believers.  For us, being equally yoked means that we both believe the fundamentals of Christianity to be truth.  Those are: Jesus is the Son of God, He was born a virgin birth, lived a perfect life, died on the cross and rose again three days later.  Salvation is a free gift given to all who believe that Jesus is the only Son of God.  He is the way, the truth and the life and no one can make it the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6).  Having this same set of beliefs and values gives us similar attitudes and approaches on finances, raising children and in how we spend our waking hours.

Growth is never stagnant.  It is dynamic with ebbs and flows.  During our lives both of us are going to have highs and lows in our spiritual journey.  As a married couple it is important to lift each other up and encourage one another through the low times.  With all eyes turned toward Jesus and an unwavering hold on our fundamental beliefs, we can make it through anything.

Back to the top.

Chelsea’s Story

John and I struggled with our faith for a long time. When we got engaged though we knew things needed to be different. We found a church to call home and started premarital counseling. The weekly counseling grew us tremendously. We participated in local missions and went to a marriage event at our church. We were proud of the walk we were on, but then slowly the busy day to day started to get in the way.

We have now been married three years and I’d be lying if I said things were going perfectly. They are not, but the thing is, they’re not supposed to be. That is what our perfect Father is for. We struggle daily to be better Christians, but the fact is, we keep it the center of our marriage so I think we’re doing alright. We pray together, even if the other isn’t feeling like it, we encourage one another, even if the other may not be listening to their own advice. When it comes to be equally yoked my husband and I feel that depending on the interpretation there are things are we are equally yoked in and things we are not. When it comes to believing that Christ is our Savior, died for our sins, and rose from the dead we are equally yoked. We know our Lord lives today. These are the things we know to be true. We want Christian values in our household and for our daughter to grow up to be a God fearing woman.

When it comes to acts, however, we both agree that we are not equally yoked. I tend to be the one that is more likely to jump in and sing a praise and worship song, less willing to miss a Sunday of church, and almost always a taker of notes during service. For the longest time this frustrated me. Why couldn’t my husband agree with me in ALL areas of our faith? Why wouldn’t he sing more, pray more, serve more? He wasn’t doing enough! And then it hit me. Not only do our acts not get us to Heaven, because God knows our hearts, but it isn’t my place to make my husband into the Christian I think he should be. As I said, God knows our hearts, he knows where my husband is in his walk, and to be honest, that is a level of intimacy between Christ and my husband that is truly none of my business. I am thankful that my husband doesn’t walk the same walk as me, it gives me more to be prayerful of. It also humbles me because while I may feel that I am doing the best, it is never perfect. Not myself, not my husband, and not any other God fearing man I could have married are perfect in the eyes of the Lord. But that is just it! He died for our sins because he knew we’d be perfectly imperfect for one another.

Back to the top.

Brittany’s Story

Jerod and I are really good about communicating and working out conflicts. I truly believe we are equally yoked! He is SO good about knowing when I am down and actually asks how my days are! He is truly invested in our marriage and I love that so much.

My husband wants to attend church with us and I feel like that is so important to have a partner who mutually wants to grow in their knowledge of God.

Jerod is the type of husband that would rather be with his wife and children than go to a bar with buddies to avoid family time. He watches Ainsley 3 days a week! I am in AWE of the type of husband and father God has truly made him to be. He does the dishes, vacuums, he’s neater than me, and he does his own laundry ( only because I have ruined too man of his shirts) haha

I am so grateful to say that I truly believe Jerod and I are “EQUALLY YOKED”

Back to the top

Tabitha’s Story

My husband and I are equally yoked because we both believe that Christ gave His life for us. As believers, that makes us equal in the eyes of Jesus. I truly believe that this makes all the difference in a relationship, as it creates the filter in which you create your future together. The question that seems to permeate everything we do is whether it will, in the end, glorify God.

With all that said, I think there is a major difference between being equally yoked and watching your spouse in their daily journey towards knowing the Lord better. I have found that this is where conflict, or comparison, or even bitterness can seep in, if not intentional. Yes, we both believe in Jesus – but does that mean our relationship with Him is the same? Absolutely not.

We seek after Him in different ways and He speaks to us differently as well. Sometimes, seasons of life can hinder either of ours diligence in spending time with the Lord. There have been times when my husband is on fire for the Lord, actively pursuing after Him and I’m more lukewarm. And sometimes, it’s the other way around.

I used to get upset when I saw my husband faltering. Or not attending service. Or not praying. But I quickly (okay, not so quickly) learned that I am not the Holy Spirit. Although I have been placed in His life to edify and sharpen him, the Holy Spirit is the one who should convict, and should compel another to change. It was such a relief when I released control of my husband’s salvation to the Lord! It sure does sound heavy typing that, but I think without realizing it – spouses tend to this more often than not. We think it’s our responsibility to change them – when it’s not.

Instead, I have learned to actively pray not just for my relationship with God, but for my husbands. By praying, God gives me the ability to heap grace upon grace on my husband in his times of faltering. And, to learn how God heaps grace on me. Because if that’s one thing I’ve learned – it’s that it is simply not okay to hold my husband to a standard of perfection when I can not achieve that standard either.

Back to the top.

Behind Closed Doors: A Renewed Soul

001_Blog CollageAs God prepared my heart with the discussion questions for this series I put them in an order that I thought would be most comfortable for everyone to approach. What I mean is that of the four questions we’ll be discussing this month I wanted the first one to be the lightest, if you will. My thought was that we could start out of a light, happy topic, dig into the hard stuff, and then finish off the month with another light and easy topic. The first topic was decided! It would be: a time, event, or experience with your husband in which you felt like it renewed your soul! “What an easy and fun topic to write on,” I thought. Well, once again God surprised me with his plans! As the five of us chatted this past week I quickly realized that the renewal of our souls is no topic to be taken lightly. I immediately found that we were talking about struggles, we were talking about things that were just not fun or even very pretty. It was in these times that we felt renewed by God though and our lives were transformed. God used our struggles to refresh us and on the other side of it all we came out not only stronger as individuals and as couples, but also as Christians. Once your soul is renewed by God, your love for Him runs deeper than ever before.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

{Leave a comment to let us know what you think & if you’ve experienced anything similar. Also let us know if we can pray for you specifically! Thanks for reading along!}


Jessica’s Story

IMG_9761.jpg

“We got lost biking in Potawatomi State park.  We had a standoff with a bull on some backroad in the middle of nowhere. Time moved slower and our conversations grew deeper.  We found ourselves again amidst the grassy fields and dirt roads.”

Read more.

Sara’s Story

IMG_7286 (1).jpg

“For us taking time for just the two of us not only fun and exciting, it is necessary.  I have found that the most renewing times in our marriage have been when we take time away from the kids and focus on loving each other well. However it is important for us to have time to calibrate on our goals, our callings, where we feel God is directing, our needs, our parenting philosophies, and our dreams for the future.  In doing this we become better spouses and better parents.”

Read more.

Chelsea’s Story

headshot_Chelsea McKinney (1).jpeg

“I felt so much pressure and knew the baby was coming soon. I tried to remain calm in my breathing but I couldn’t. Everything was so intense.” Read more.

Brittany’s Story

brit necta.jpg

“The day is still so vivid in my mind. After Oakland was born he got sick the next day. His vitals weren’t great and his blood count was not normal. They needed to take him right away and perform a spinal tap. They thought he could have Meningitis or Group B Strep. Both could be life threatening.”

Read more.

Tabitha’s Story

untitled-design

“We used to rent a town home with a community hot tub. Almost every other night we would find ourselves sneaking in after hours to sit, just the two of us, beneath the stars. But for us, true renewal – one that is deep and long lasting, came during a time of grief and not of rest.”

Read more.

Jessica’s Story

During our first year of marriage Brett and I lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was the first time I had ever lived far from family.  Thankfully technology allows us to stay connected.  I had daily phone calls from my mom, texts from sisters, and social media to keep in touch with friends.  There was never anywhere I could go where I couldn’t be found.

That first year was also one of our busiest.  Between the cross country move, Brett’s 2nd year of med school, finding my job, and finishing undergrad there was very little regular downtime to just relax and have a meaningful conversation.

When our 1st anniversary rolled around we planned a weekend getaway with the sole purpose of slowing down.  We booked a room up in Door County, a place known for its beauty and charm.  Very few people live there full time.  We were going up right before the tourist season kicked off and were excited for the change of pace.  One thing they didn’t advertise was the lack of cell coverage.  There was none.

At first it was alarming.  I couldn’t remember the last time I was that cut off.  No cell phone, no internet, just me and Brett and a sleepy town on the bank of Lake Michigan.  We got lost biking in Potawatomi State park.  We had a standoff with a bull on some backroad in the middle of nowhere. Time moved slower and our conversations grew deeper.  We found ourselves again amidst the grassy fields and dirt roads.

I thought of Psalm 23:3 “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” And He did.  I never realized how much we, as a couple, needed to be reset.  We needed that time to learn to lean on each other before anyone else.  To remember that He is at the front of our relationship and that together we have all we need.

When we finally reemerged on “the grid” our phones started buzzing.  We reluctantly rejoined the world.  But having that weekend that was only ours was a breath of fresh air.

Back to the top.

Sara’s Story

For five years it was just the two of us.  We had settled into a good routine of following the Lord’s call for us and having fun loving each other in the process!  We spent time in the evenings recanting tales from our day and watching shows together.  We hosted parties for our friends, shared meals with our families, traveled, and worshipped together.  When we got married I knew that Benjamin had been called to be an orthodontist.  God has given him incredible skill and patience needed to treat patients.  In order to support his dream, I knew I would be working to support our family.  God had faithfully provided jobs in the cities we lived in and we were thankful.  We had made it through four years of dental school and were halfway through residency when our first little was born.

Then life changed as it does when a new human enters the world.  No longer were we dreaming up our next project, talking about our next outing or really even sharing specific things we needed prayer for.  No, instead our conversations all revolved around how long Winston had slept, when and how much he had pooped and how in the world was it possible that we needed more diapers?!  We took turns doing the late night and early morning feedings.  We would sit together in the evenings both a little worn for the weather and really not talking much at all.

During my pregnancy my mom had wisely encouraged us to book at trip for just the two of us when Winston was about 8 weeks young.  While I was a sad to leave him, I knew Winston would be in good hands.  And more than anything I was excited about spending time with just Benjamin!  To have time where it was just the two of us.  To actually look him in the eyes when we spoke and to talk about things other than the baby’s schedule.

Our trip gave us time to talk about all of the changes that had taken place in the previous weeks.  We shared how we felt about becoming parents.  We shared our hopes, desires and fears.  We were able to encourage one another and love one another in a fresh way.  With graduation around the corner and me preparing to head back to work full time there were big things we needed to discuss and this trip allowed us to dream, talk, and pray over the months ahead.  We had fun together, laughed together and ate good food together!  We came home refreshed {from great nights of sleep!} and ready to continue our adventures in parenting!

A dear friend imparted these words of wisdom to us: “When you have a child, they come into your life.  And when they are old enough they will leave to have a life of their own.”  While it is important for me to love and spend time with my kiddos, it is more important for me to love my husband and make time with him a priority because one day it will just be the two of us again.  It is important for me to be able to know what he needs, physically and spiritually.  It is important for us to be to be on the same page with God’s call on our lives.  For us taking time for just the two of us was not only fun and exciting, it is necessary.  I have found that the most renewing times in our marriage have been when we take time away from the kids and focus on loving each other well.  It’s not always a weekend away.  Dinners out just the two of us, where we can finish a sentence or a thought, are just as refreshing for our relationship!  Look, we love and adore our kids to bits and pieces.  We would not trade them for the world! However it is important for us to have time to calibrate on our goals, our callings, where we feel God is directing, our needs, our parenting philosophies, and our dreams for the future.  In doing this we become better spouses and better parents.

Back to the top.

Chelsea’s Story

Early on in my pregnancy I decided I wanted to experience natural childbirth. I wanted to do it for the typical reasons you hear (no unnecessary meds, faster recovery, movement during labor), but more than anything I honestly feel that women truly are capable of birthing their babies without medical intervention. I felt strongest about that, but having never experienced pregnancy before or even researched natural childbirth I didn’t know why it was such a resounding feeling – I just couldn’t shake knowing that I was fully capable of this. A few months in, a natural childbirth book was recommended to me. When the book arrived I dove right in. I was immediately hooked! It was written in such a positive way and really had me feeling confident about going through with a natural childbirth. I also hadn’t known at the time of ordering if by it has been written by a Christian mother who had been through natural childbirth six times! How inspiring! I read and read and read, I couldn’t put the book down. She spoke in scripture, she gave tips, and overall she reminded women that they could do it because God would provide in those trying times through the contractions, anxiety, and intense pain.

The time finally came and less than 24 hours before my due date I felt the first contractions. They were slow to begin and I actually wasn’t sure if that’s what they were until about four hours later. I got in our jetted tub to help through the contractions but after about an hour I got out because I didn’t feel like it was helping. I then began to get physically sick and as the contractions got closer and stronger I questioned why I ever thought I could do this. That thought was immediately by “YES I CAN!” I began reciting “I will not be shaken” (Psalm 62:2). As labor pains swirled around me, I kept my focus on God. I knew he was going to get me through this and I felt at ease. More and more contractions. My husband reciting, “I will not be shaken,” reminding me to repeat it to get me through. Hours passed and we began our 25 minute trek to the birthing center. The contractions grew stronger and closer together. I thought I may birth my baby right there in the passenger seat. I grew nervous, but again put my focus on God and remained calm. We arrived at the birthing center, I was wheeled up to a room, and I almost immediately got in the shower with a birthing ball. The contractions were very intense at this point and I started questioning my strength again. My husband was right at my face, coaching me on, kissing me, and reciting “I will not be shaken,” to help keep me calm and focused. It worked wonders. My water broke while I was in the shower and that’s when things got even more intense. I felt so much pressure and knew the baby was coming soon. I tried to remain calm in my breathing but I couldn’t. Everything was so intense. “God will get me through this.” “I can do this.” “I will not be shaken.” Intense, intense, intense, time to push! God will get me through this….

After thirty minutes of pushing, our sweet daughter arrived at 7:34 in the morning. She was perfect in every way. I couldn’t believe all the intensity was over! God had gotten me through natural childbirth and I felt His satisfaction for trusting in Him as I lay there staring at our beautiful babe. My relationship with God had truly grown in the past 12 hours. As my husband kissed me, with tears in his eyes, and told me how proud he was, I told him I couldn’t have done it without him either. He had been so strong for me, believed in me so, and had reassured me with scripture throughout. I knew at that point that our relationship in God had grown as well.

Back to the top.

Brittany’s Story

There will be times in a marriage when you face trials and hardships. During those times God is present and finds ways to renew your soul and relationship.

The day is still so vivid in my mind. After Oakland was born he got sick the next day. His vitals weren’t great and his blood count was not normal. They needed to take him right away and perform a spinal tap. They thought he could have Meningitis or Group B Strep. Both could be life threatening.

This was the HARDEST news to hear for us. We wouldn’t get to take him home and he had to be on antibiotics for a week. That meant we had to leave this hospital without our precious newborn. I would have to pump at home and then come to breastfeed him when we were able to in the NICU. We were up there every day whenever we were allowed to!

It was hard at night and being home knowing the beautiful new life we created was still at the hospital. We spent countless hours crying together, praying, and wondering why?

Jerod began to google the outcome of these things and nothing looked good. Thankfully Oakland was only going to be on his medicine for 7 days and then we were going to bring him home!

PRAISE THE LORD. This time definitely caused us to take a step back, have faith, and trust in God’s plan for our son’s life.

This trial renewed our relationship, made us stronger in our marriage because we leaned on each other, and it also brought us closer to God!

Back to the top.

Tabitha’s Story

There are plenty of seasons where my husband and I felt renewed physically. We used to rent a town home with a community hot tub. Almost every other night we would find ourselves sneaking in after hours to sit, just the two of us, beneath the stars. But for us, true renewal – one that is deep and long lasting, came during a time of grief and not of rest.
We had been married for four years when we decided to start trying for a baby. It took some time, but when I saw those two lines appear I was shocked. We were both thrilled and nervous – we weren’t quite sure how our lives would change. Little did we know how much it would change. At ten weeks, I found myself calling the nurse hotline panicked. And then in the span of two weeks, I miscarried our first baby and found myself having to receive an emergency D&C.

It was afterwards that I believe our marriage found the best, the most edifying, kind of renewal. My husband and I became closer than before – there was nothing that could separate us. It was almost as if we were having a second wedding ceremony – our vows made tangible in what we had just journeyed through. We felt invincible even though we had been made vulnerable. For me, I saw just what kind of man my husband was- tender, loving, and full of the Holy Spirit. While we grieved, we shared moments that mean more to me than anything else in our history – intimate moments that, upon looking back, even to this day renew my love for him and for our relationship.

I’ve learned then that sometimes renewal is giving something away in order to be made better. And though we grieved, we also were able to celebrate the long-lasting changes made in our relationship.

Back to the top.

Liebster Award

And Then Life is so honored to be nominated for the Liebster Award by Balancing Pieces! Thank you so much Kristen! (I apologize it’s taken me a couple of weeks to respond, but I so appreciate this recognition).

Kristen & I have been following one another on Instagram for a little over a month now. She has a fabulous blog & she was sweet enough to let me guest blog a couple weeks ago. Check out her blog & leave some love. You won’t be disappointed!

Liebster Award

In the blogging world, the Liebster Award is online recognition given by bloggers to other new bloggers for enjoying or valuing their work. It is meant to highlight and credit favorite new up and coming blogs within our writing community.

The rules are as follows:

  • Thank the blog that nominated you and link back to them
  • Answer 11 questions from the blogger that nominated you
  • Tell readers 11 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate up to 11 bloggers to receive the award next
  • Give your new nominees questions to answer about themselves when they post their nomination

Here the questions Kristen wanted answers to:

I loved these questions Kristen! They really made me think hard about my blog & my intentions with it! Thanks pretty lady!!!

  • Why did you start blogging? I started blogging because I enjoy writing and wanted to share it with others.
  • What advice would you give another new blogger? Be yourself!
  • How would you describe your blog? My blog is a lifestyle blog about focusing on the important things in life instead of getting caught up in the rat race. I am willing to write about pretty much anything, but tend to end up with lots of posts on marriage and parenting.
  • Is blogging your profession or hobby? I do it as a hobby, but it honestly feels like a profession sometimes, as it is much more time consuming than I thought it would be.
  • What topic do you enjoy writing about most? I have a lot of fun with my random, rambly posts to be completely honest, but I think writing about motherhood tends to come most naturally.
  • What do you envision for your blog one year from now? I thought I knew, but recently God has shown me that He has other plans for me, so honestly at this point I’m just taking it one step at a time.
  •  What is one fact your bloggers don’t know about you? I have a book called “2,001 Things to do Before You Die” and I have been checking off things since 2011. I am considering making my journey to check them all off a series on my blog site. I’m still playing with the idea as honestly there’d be so much to write about it might need it’s own website! Haha
  • Are there any topics you refuse to write about? Not that I can think of
  • What do you believe is the most important part of a successful blog? I think making genuine connections is so, so important. I also think, aside from those connections though, you are blogging for YOU. Don’t write articles to try to impress or gain followers. Write articles because it’s something important to you, something you’re passionate about!
  •  How do you balance your family,work/blogging and social life? I am still working hard on this one and will take and all suggestions! As for family, currently, my husband and I have a weekly date night (we have for years!) and it is something that does not get cancelled! Maybe rescheduled to an earlier or later night in the week, but never cancelled. We have one daughter and I stay home with her so we get lots of quality time together!. As for blogging, I am striving to have a set blogging schedule but as of now it is done at night when my husband is working/busy or when my daughter is napping. As for social life, we rarely say no to invite. Luckily we aren’t overly busy or overly bored with the number of things we are invited to so it works out perfectly. If it is an adult event, we find a sitter. If we can’t find a sitter, one of us still goes.
  • How often do you write and post new content? I try to write daily, even if it is for only a few minutes. I post new content at least once a week.

11 Random Facts About Myself:

I seriously love pointless facts – whether it’s a wacky science book or someone’s Instagram post – I just find it so interesting! Maybe that should have been my first fact…

  1. I do not watch TV. Not that I have anything against it, it is just not something I enjoy.
  2. I am not a very good cook, but really enjoy making dinners for my hubby. I must have a recipe though!
  3. I have my Masters degree in Reading.
  4. I moved annually for six years straight. First place I left because I graduated college, second place didn’t feel like home, third place the landlord sold, fourth place was an apartment chosen via the Internet (badddd idea), fifth place was a temporary home while we shopped around, sixth place is our current home.
  5. I met my husband my freshman year of college, but didn’t date him until a year after I graduated.
  6. My daughter “took” my middle name, since I dropped it when I got married.
  7. All three of our pets are rescue animals and it is something I am very, very passionate about! #adoptdontshop
  8. My birthday is on the 13th. The year I turned 13, it fell on a Friday.
  9. I naturally went into labor the day before my due date and my daughter was born a couple hours after the sun rose on her actual due date.
  10. My favorite food is macaroni and cheese.
  11. I do not keep any sweets in our house because I don’t have self control when it comes to food.

11 Bloggers I’ve Chosen to Nominate:

I genuinely love the blogs of these beautiful ladies! You should definitely take some time and check them out, unless, you already know how fabulous they are. In that case, keep showing them love!

  1. Jordan of Wished for This
  2. Kierra of Beautiful Effort
  3. Maeve of Everyday Maeve
  4. Samantha of Upon a Lovely Little Life
  5. Andrea of For the Love of Honey
  6. Lauren of Imperfect Adventures
  7. Jessica of Everything Adored
  8. Keala of Recipe for a Sweet Life
  9. Spencer of Spencer Unlimited
  10. Rachel of Simply Stoked
  11. Carly of Carly and Sloan

Here are the questions I would like you to answer:

I had to ask a few silly ones! If I’m serious for too long it makes me anxious.

  1. How did you choose the name of your blog?
  2. What the most stalkerish thing you’ve ever dealt with via social media? (yes, I just went there)
  3. If you could choose ONE person to happen across your blog who would it be?
  4. Have you ever questioned something you wrote after posting it?
  5. What do you do when you’re not blogging?
  6. If you are going to advertise something from your blog which form of social media do you tend to lean towards most?
  7. Is there something you’d like to add to your site that you either don’t have the means to right now or just haven’t found the time to work on?
  8. Has your blog name ever changed?
  9. What is the title of your favorite piece you’ve ever written (and posted)?
  10. Do you have any series going on on your blog? When does it/do they run?
  11. What’s your favorite thing about your blog?

Congratulations to all of you for being nominated for the Liebster Award. As I said, I genuinely love all of your blogs! Keep up the good work!

And as always, share the love, encourage one another, and continue making your mark!