Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Word to the Unmarried Ladies

When I first wrote Being a Godly Wife back in 2012, I received TONS of emails. Many of them were from young ladies asking for a post with advice about dating, being engaged, and even from single ladies about what to look for in a spouse. I loved hearing testimonies from so many sweet gals, so many walks of life, & I truly appreciated all of the encouragement. (Got my fair share of hate mail too, but that’s going to happen when you’re teaching the Word in a fallen world.)

Anyway, here we are, four years after that little post went viral, nearly six years into marriage, and I feel like I am finally ready to offer some insight. I’m still not the expert by any means, but after studying LOTS of relationships, making my own mistakes and learning from my experiences, thinking about what I want to teach my own children as they grow up, and “counseling” multiple women (not officially, but basically), here’s what I’ve got for ya.

  • First and foremost, I want to encourage you to NOT date someone unless you can see yourself marrying them.  We live in a society that teaches “Have fun! Get lots of experience under your belt. Sow your wild oats while you’re young.” Y’all, that is garbage advice and there is NOTHING Biblical about that. Can I tell you what that “advice” breaks down to in real life? Baggage. So hear me on this…If there is something that is a deal breaker (as in you couldn’t see yourself spending the rest of your life with someone for some reason or another), end it ASAP. Even if it’s hard. Otherwise, here are the two possible outcomes: Someone in the relationship is going to get hurt, or you’ll end up falling for him and excuse what was once a non-negotiable for you (which will probably lead to problems later on).
  • Most people get this backwards, but we should really go through our dating relationships with a magnifying glass and our marriage letting the little things slide. Most of us put our blinders on during the dating season because we are so “in loooooove” and just excuse the faults, but when we get married, we make mountains out of those molehills where we once turned a blind eye.
  • Pray for a  man that loves Jesus the most. Even more than you. Pretty much every (Christian) gal that I know claims to want this, but in reality, her actions/attitudes sometimes show that she actually wants her man to put her first. She’ll never admit it, but I’ve seen it over and over. Here’s the thing…when the lovey dovey honeymoon feelings go away (because they do, and I am saying that as someone who is madly in love with my husband, just in a different, deeper way), you will WANT a man who is sold out to Jesus. Who will lead your family & follow Christ above all. Only then will he truly be able to love you the way you want to be loved anyway. So don’t come between his relationship with the Lord. Encourage it!
  • Don’t give too much of yourself to a person until you’ve said “I Do.”  I mean physically, emotionally, or mentally. When you do that, in the case it ends (I know, you think it’ll never happen #untilitdoes) and then you end up bringing baggage into your marriage. I can assure you, you will never regret being able to give you FULL self to your husband! However, you most likely WILL regret having given too much of yourself to someone else. Every little piece you give away to someone you’re dating is a little less of yourself you have to give to your husband. And baggage? Not cool.
  • You can’t expect God to bless your relationship if you’re living in sin. There are consequences. You reap what you sow. Just gonna leave that right there.
  • Try to make sure you’re on the same page and have the same big picture life goals. When it comes to things like where you want to live, church, mission work, how many kids you want, if you want to stay home with them, how you spend money, etc., you want to have the same general big picture goals. Obviously you can’t plan your whole life and you never know what God has in store, but some of those biggies can be deal breakers.
  • He needs to pursue you. Ladies, do not chase after a man or pursue him. I’m not saying play “hard to get” or any games, but he should be calling you, setting dates, etc. Jonathan always tells everyone the story of the first time we met (in the parking lot after his sister’s softball game…he parked next to my car) and I told him he’d have to call me if he wanted to hang out because I was a very traditional girl. Haha! Well, he did.

  • Make a list of the things you’re looking for in a spouse, and then ask yourself “Who do i have to become in order to attract that kind of man?” I don’t mean put on a phony front pretending to be someone you’re not. Most men will see right through that, and even if they don’t. your marriage will be miserable if you become a different person after the “I do’s.” I’m talking about true growth. Surround yourself with wise women. Read. Study the Word. Grow up. Focus more on becoming beautiful inside than out. (But don’t neglect the outside.) Learn what it means to be “in Christ” & your role as a help meet in the future. The good news? The Bible gives us some clear instructions as women (Titus 2:3-5) and goals to strive for as a virtuous woman (Proverbs 31).
  • Speaking of lists, these are some of the things that popped up on my list before I got married: someone who has a relationship with the Lord and will lead our family spiritually, someone who is athletic (I am an athlete, and if I can throw a ball harder than you…just no), someone who is FUNNY (I love to laugh!), someone who likes to be active and take care of himself (so he’ll eat my healthy cooking & we can make a healthy lifestyle a priority together), someone who is big on FAMILY, a manly man (I just can’t do super sensitive/soft…& ability to grow some good facial hair is a plus), someone my family likes (my whole family ADORES Jonathan, by the way! they may even like him better than me! Ha!), tall, someone who would be a hands-on, involved daddy, someone I could TRUST, and someone who makes me feel good about myself (just being honest- that was definitely important to me back then- although I’ve grown out of that.) I didn’t care much about looks …Jon just happens to be handsome. I also didn’t care about how much money he made, as long as he was a hard worker and I was confident he would do what it takes to provide. (I have ZERO tolerance for a lazy man. ZERO!).
  • Now that I’ve been with Jonathan for almost TEN years (what?!?!), he definitely encompasses all of those, but here are a few of the qualities I appreciate the very most about him. Qualities I didn’t even know were important to me, I wasn’t necessarily looking for, but thankfully the Lord gave me in Jonathan. I would highly encourage you to pray some of these in your future spouse.

                 * Discernment. I don’t even know that i knew what that word meant when I was younger, but I am SO thankful for Jonathan’s discernment. He has one of the best discerning spirits I’ve ever been around. It is truly a gift from the Lord. He is a great judge of character and can see right through people. His discernment helps him make wise, cautious decisions for our family- especially regarding who we allow to influence our lives and be around the boys.

                 * A learner. This is one of my favorites! He is such a hard worker, which I love, but when you pair that with a man who is a learner, you have an AWESOME combo! He tells me that when he was about twenty or so, he remembers clear as day thinkin “Son, you don’t know how to do anything. If you want to make something of yourself, you’re gonna have to learn some skills.” And so it began. He is a self-taught master mind in SO many areas….it’s ridiculous. (Awesome.) He researches, reads, watches videos, and learns how to do everything the best, most efficient, most solid way possible. He can build/fix anything and knows a LOT about a LOT. People call him all the time for advice and help because they know he knows. He is super, super humble about it and is even cautious sharing all he knows with others because he never wants to seem like a know-it-all. I can’t imagine the tens of thousands of dollars he has saved us by being a willing, lifelong learner.

                 * Integrity. He is the definition of “character”…doing the right thing even when no one is looking. He goes above and beyond in everything he does. He does work for others the way he would want it done for us, and he is PICKY, so that’s saying a lot. He does what he says he’s going to do. He’s a man of his word. If you are solid enough to earn a place in his inner circle, he would do just about anything for you and doesn’t expect anything in return other than genuine appreciation.

                * And he plays guitar, so there’s that.

{Our FIRST picture together….back in 2006. WHOA!}

In praying for your future spouse, I would pray for for wisdom, strength, direction, a man after God’s own heart, and protection from the enemy and any evil. I would pray for many of the characteristics you wrote out on your “list.” Pray for his heart, mind, experiences, decisions, and friends. Pray he has self-control and seeks the Lord.

And while you are waiting to meet him, act, dress, talk, behave around other men like you want other young ladies acting, dressing, talking, and behaving around your future husband. (Does that make sense?) Respect the guys you are around as someone else’s future husband. Classy & modest!

Marriage is more than a commitment and a ceremony. It is a COVENANT. A vow before the Lord. Our society teaches that we have an easy way out now with divorce, but God HATES divorce. That is abundantly clear in the Word. It is not a decision to take lightly or rush into. Definitely take some time to pray over some of these things, and start praying over your future husband NOW. You’re going to be ONE with that man…forever…so he deserves nothing short of your best prayers.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Chattanooga: Family Getaway Weekend

We were invited to a surprise 30th birthday party for a sweet friend of ours who lives in Nashville last weekend. Jonathan has been wanting to take a family trip somewhere for awhile, so we decided this was the perfect opportunity to make a weekend of it. It was very last minute (the Chattanooga part) and not very planned, but we had the B-E-S-T time!!

Nashville is about a 4.5 hour trip, so Chattanooga was kind of a halfway point. It only took us a couple of hours to get there. The boys don’t typically sleep in their car seats, so we wanted to break it up. They were great for not having a nap.

The weather was BEAUTIFUL! We walked around downtown for a while and checked out the aquarium and the riverfront. The boys loved it! We ate an early dinner at a local restaurant (Big River Grill I think?) and headed back to the hotel because we wanted to take the boys swimming  before it got too late.

Kade obviously enjoyed his black beans.

We stayed at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. It’s older, but I was seriously nostalgic staying there and it brought back so many memories from my childhood. It was was an actual train station back in the day and is over 200 years old. My mom always took us the coolest places and gave us the best experiences growing up and I have some really fun memories from my childhood. I know the boys are little, but Jon and I want to do that for them.

Jase thought it was AWESOME sleeping on a train just like we read about in our train book.

Being their mama is the BEST.

This was Kade’s first time in the water and he L-O-V-E-D it. Total water baby!!

It takes Jase a little bit longer to warm up to it. Even though he loves to play with water, he is still a little hesitant about the pool- maybe flashbacks from ISR? (We did not have a great experience our first go round, but plan to give it another shot with a different instructor.)

Kade was splashing everywhere and kept nosediving/faceplanting in the water. And then he would laugh. He had the best time!

Jase felt much safer when Daddy was holding him. I just adore this sweet picture of my fellas!

Hahah! This one cracks me up.

Swimming wore them slap out! I gave the boys a bath when we got back and we put them down for the night. There was a little cot where Jase slept and a perfect little nook for Kade’s pack n play. We brought Jase’s little whale music player.

The train was really cool, but not very sound proof. We could hear neighbors and people outside walking by super late. Kade thankfully slept like a rock all night, but Jase woke up a few different times when he heard people talking and once to get a drink of water. Jon & I didn’t sleep worth a poo. Helllllo, Spark! Being an adult with kids makes me feel sorry for everyone who stayed around us back in our travel ball days. #sorryboutthat

The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant, and it was not so great. Actually, it was pretty nasty. No healthy options at all, and pretty much everything on the buffet reminded me of school lunch. We both agreed we wished we would have just had the meal replacement shakes I packed. They didn’t charge us for the boys, but heads up if you stay there…go somewhere local instead. It wasn’t worth the $9.

We did have fun walking around after breakfast though. They had lots of neat little games and things set out around the grounds. There is probably a picture of me in front of this very same train somewhere in my parents’ house.

The highlight of our trip was the Children’s Discovery Museum. We could have stayed there all day! It was worth every penny and there was so much cool stuff. It would make a great field trip. I HIGHLY recommend it if you have kiddos, and it’s worth the trip to Chattanooga just to visit the museum. The boys (and when I say boys, I am totally including Jonathan in that too) had a BLAST! I’m not sure who had more fun.

Anyone who knows me knows that I was obviously the singing talent in the family band. #not

Dr. Butler was checkin out daddy’s heart.

They even had a place specifically geared to Kade’s age. He rode in the stroller most of the time, but he went wild & free in this area and loved it.

We walked a couple of blocks over and had Taziki’s for lunch. We love Mediterranean food & everything there is so fresh. MUCH better than breakfast!

That double stroller is finally coming in handy.

We packed the boys up after lunch and headed to the Reynolds’ house for Beth’s surprise party. We hoped the boys would sleep in the car on the way there, but we only got about 30 minutes out of Kade and nothing out of Jase.

Beth was genuinely surprised and it was fun getting to celebrate her big 3-0!! We also loved seeing their beautiful home!! Jase had a blast running around with all the kiddos and the food, cake, and company were all great. The boys were pretty good for day 2 of no naps. Always a toss up how that’s going to go, but they were troopers.

We headed home and decided to play it by ear whether we would stop to stay the night or not. Both boys ended up cashing out about an hour into the drive home, so we decided to finish it out and head straight home. They slept the whole way home.

I guess all of the running around and playing wore him out cuz this dude fights sleeping in his carseat tooth and nail.

We ended up getting home around 11:30ish (we always forget about that time change) and tag teamed putting the boys down. It was a pretty decent transition from car to bed..only about a 10 minute meltdown for each. Ha!

It was really such a great little weekend getaway! We love making memories with our little family.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Jase’s 3rd Birthday Party

Our biggest boy turned 3 on May 8th!!


I wanted to do a small, low-key party since it was on Mother’s Day and since we’ll do a big 1st birthday bash for Kade next month. We invited our families (which is still 20+ people!) and met at a park by our house after church on Sunday. It was a great location and the kids had a blast! We brought popsicles, ice cream, cake, and a few snacks. The kids mostly ran around and played and Jase loved spending time with everyone.

It was a hot one!



Papa & Granddaddy are two peas in a pod! So thankful for these men.


Jase was pumped about his cake.



He may or may not have taste tested the icing…


He sang “Happy Birthday” with us (to himself) and blew out his candles like a boss.








Kade LOVES balloons!!! Seriously, happiest little guy ever.


Love this sweet picture of Will & Jade with the boys.


We also celebrated Trey’s 19th birthday~ HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Trey!


Thank you to everyone who came and celebrated our sweet boy with us. We are so blessed to have all of you!


Jase- Turns out everyone is right. Time FLIES! I catch myself torn between the wanting to keep you little and being so excited to watch you grow. I can’t wait to see the man you become some day, but for now, I am loving your precious little voice, your sweet heart, your smile that lights up the room, and the pure JOY you bring to those around you. You are such a light in our family and I am forever thankful for YOU, my first baby. You’re a sweetheart and we love you beyond words. Happy birthday, buddy. Can’t wait to see what this year holds for us!