Failing Goals, Unapologetically

In December I started writing my goals for the new year, 2018:

  1. Workout at least three times a week (huge since I wasn’t working out more than once a week near the end of last year)
  2. Save a specific amount of money for a house (YAY!- we’ve been doing great with this)
  3. Become a more prayerful woman (prayer board in the kitchen- check, a list of prayers on my phone for the people I love- check)
  4. Write two blog posts a month (maybe I have eight unfinished blog posts, but really just one finished in all of 2018)
  5. Read twenty-five books this year (I’ve read two halves that I had started in 2017 and finally finished my first full book of the new year)

Yikes- you can see, goals and I just haven’t been getting along this year. And here’s the kicker, I’m a good goal-getter. Give me a task and I’ll crush it in whatever way I can. I go through life semi- head-on, eager to leave an imprint of my heart on those around me. But y’all, the past few weeks- just yikes.

I wanted to write more because I truly believe God has given me words to use and to glorify who He is and what He’s doing through a messy, try hard woman. I’ve always loved writing and use it most to share and display my most inner parts to my friends and family. I’ve always LOVED reading and still do. I believe that God teaches me a TON through the words of the Bible and other wise authors who’ve written lessons that I believe are from the heart of the Lord. So I love writing and reading, yet I’m failing at my goals. Why? Because this..

In January, I peeled open a book I won at the end of last summer called, Still Waiting by Ann Swindell. The back cover asks, “What if God wants you to wait?” Eww. Yay. Yuck. Thank goodness. All of my emotions were flooded. I wanted to read this book because I heard so much good, but the weary part of my heart wanted nothing more than to just say I read it only if I knew it would have a happy ending. On a snowy night with coffee in hand and sitting next to the fireplace, I started reading it. I cried through it and muddled my way through Ann’s words for the last three months and it has been anything but easy.

I have a toxic friend in my life. She follows me everywhere. Some days she gives me more space and some days she’s suffocating. Sometimes she allows me to do my own thing, and sometimes she controls me from every angle. She shows up in the weirdest places- stores, church, school. If you’re the luckiest, you don’t have a friend like her- but if you’re not, you may. My friend’s name is Anxiety and we’ve been in a toxic, uphill battle since November of 2016. Try as I may, wish as I might, she won’t leave me..and I’m still waiting.

In Ann’s book Still Waiting she shares vividly her journey with trichotillomania.  She shares how months turned to years and years turned to decades of her fighting the urge to pull out her eyelashes and eyebrows- an effect of the viciousness of trich. Her words, oh Lord, they hit me at my core. Like the chapter where she describes waiting feeling like suffering and she says:

He knows. And he cares. He is a present and loving Savior. He sees you, and he understands your suffering. He knows the pain you’ve walked through and the days when it all seems impossible and you can barely put one foot in front of the other. God understands. Not one tear has been lost on him. Not a single one. Your suffering is as real to him as it has been to you. He knows what it has cost you, and he wants to comfort you in your pain. 

Friends, I feel it. I’ve waited some days patiently, but most days impatiently, for God to take it away. There have been nights I’ve curled up in Ryan’s lap and arms like an infant child and said, “God could take my anxiety away tomorrow, but He doesn’t. He doesn’t take it away. And that makes me feel like He isn’t really all that good.” But each morning I wake up knowing His mercies are new with each sunrise.

This year has been better. Anxiety hasn’t been such a scary friend in 2018. I’m to the point in my journey where I no longer believe my numbed arms and my dizziness are signs of death. I’ve come to a point where I forcefully put myself in hard situations just to make it through. I’ve shared intimate things with my counselor that I’m afraid to tell any human soul. And I have healed some, but not fully.

As I slowly continued reading Ann’s book, my heart broke. I wanted God to fix Ann, too. I wanted Him to make her whole again. I wanted her to taste full healing. But when I read to the end- she didn’t. Ann still suffers with an urge to pull out her eyelashes and eyebrows and she is still journeying through it- years later. Oh, how I wish that wasn’t the truth.

I think the reason I’ve failed at my goals this year is because I’ve been so busy working so hard in other areas of my life. My anxiety is a lot better- although, not gone completely. I’m able to tolerate it. I’m able to lend ears, hands, arms, and words to those who are suffering alongside me and I’m not afraid anymore (except on airplanes and in elevators and in Target..). I’ve had to soak in the suffering this year. I’ve had to ask God to heal me every single day, knowing full well He may or He may not. So although I haven’t written a total of eight blog posts and I haven’t even made it 10% of my goal for reading twenty-five books this year, I’ve gained so much more.

Ann says something sweet when she says:

I am still learning that my weakness is a pathway to Jesus. That the ways I fail and the ways I don’t measure up actually act as a vehicle to meeting Jesus in my daily life.

… I am still waiting for healing, still waiting for wholeness in many areas of my life. I imagine that you are too. Whether it’s a broken body, a broken relationship, a broken heart, or a broken mind- we are all waiting in our weakness for someone bigger than we are to step in and help us. 

So friends, as we wait together. Whatever you may be crushing- whether it be goals or not, or whatever you may be failing at- may we fail unapologetically together as we open our eyes and hearts to the bigger purpose. What if our brokenness, the healing that hasn’t come is really just a door God hasn’t opened because we aren’t ready for what’s on the other side? What if our brokenness is just a direct pathway to His heart?

Praying for you weak, and weary, and suffering friends.

You are LOVED.

But I can tell you truthfully, with all my heart, that the Bleeding Woman and I are both recipients of grace. It was grace for her to be healed, grace abundant and merciful. And for today, it is grace for me not to be healed. 

Look for more blog posts coming soon! ❤ img_1825.jpg

I won this book from an Instagram friend, Mindy. It was a blessing and joy to sink deep into it.

Happy Anniversary to Us!

It’s true. My husband and I have been married a whole year (a little less when I started writing this), but still. 365 days together as Mr. + Mrs. At the very least 365 laughable moments together, but so much more than that. I’m delighted to be able to document and share with you all what our first year of marriage has taught us.

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Your spouse doesn’t want to hurt you.
It’s true. I remember the night we got married, driving back to our first night together, and I legitimately snapped at Ryan for something so small. Sitting next to him writing this I actually leaned over and said, “Do you remember why we were upset with each other?” Neither of us can remember the story in full, but something about me misjudging a situation and immediately making him a bad guy. You see, friends, I think that we can unexpectedly react out of a place of hurt sometimes, but we don’t intentionally mean to hurt our spouse. There hasn’t been a day, yet, where I’ve woken up with the intentions of being mean to my husband. No, my intentions are always good, but my feelings aren’t always. We all know what they say about feelings dictating actions- it just isn’t always positive. I don’t long to make my husbands days harder, and he doesn’t intend to do that to me, but coupled with circumstances and hardships, sometimes our worst selves are spewed onto our spouses in a rapid fire of hurt. We’ve come so far from this which brings me into our next thing we’ve learned this year..

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Marriage is a daily rhythm of “I’m sorry”, “I love you”, and “I forgive you”.
So I said that we’ve come a long way from car rides home in an argument over something small, and maybe we have, but perhaps a greater part of us has just gotten better with our loving versus fighting words. I cannot count the amount of times either my husband or I have apologized and asked for forgiveness, and I hope I can never count the hefty amount of times we’ve reminded each other of our love for one another. Maybe marriage isn’t about fighting less, but maybe it’s about learning to apologize more. I used to over- apologize for small things, like burning a piece of toast, and I’ve come a way since then, but it is still a rhythm I have to push into often to make sure that I’m apologizing and asking for forgiveness when I hurt my husband unexpectedly. And “I love you”- well that should be said almost as often as you breathe. When you wake up in the morning, when you hit the snooze for the fifth time (here’s to looking at you, babe!), when you leave and get back home, when you’re saddened by something or joyful over something else. I love you. Three words that never lose their weightiness in a committed marriage.

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Saying yes to marriage is like saying yes to allowing your sin to be exposed (just be prepared). 
I used to think I was a pretty nice girl…until February 4th, 2017. In this last year of marriage, I have been made fully aware of my sinfulness by my husband and convicted of my behaviors by the Spirit, as well. You think you’re doing okay, but then all of the sudden, you get mad about something small or you do the same thing you said you wouldn’t do again. There are days when I’m made so aware of just how ugly of a character I can have- where I’m consistently nagging, complaining, and plain, down right annoying. Now I don’t want you to assume that my husband is an angry man who just picks out all of my bad things- absolutely not- but being married to him and living in such close proximity with another human has brought so many of my shortcomings to awareness. Yes, I’m probably always going to take too long of showers, not be prompt with cleaning the skillet (it’s hard), be obsessive over the budget, give my husband one too many six-year-old-like reminders. These are things I’m just going to do because I have faults- and big ones, but marriage will make you so much more aware than you ever dare to dream.

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 You will fall more in love with your spouse than you knew possible.
It’s true- I sit here 11 months and some odd days away from a year of marriage and I can’t believe how many times I still look at Ryan and think “I married the most amazing man!” or “I don’t know if I can love you more”. I once read about how your wedding day is kind of like touching your toes in an ocean and with every passing year, the waves of love just continue to build. I can’t imagine how I’ll feel next year.

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Laundry and grocery shopping and chores won’t get done themselves.
If you can even believe it- they don’t. Marriage is a team effort. Nobody in the marriage should be greater or more in control. Ryan and I have had to seek the Lord’s help with this so much. Both of us are natural leaders in certain areas of our lives and although it can be so sweet, it also has brought out some of the most challenging of times in our marriage. I have cried over all three of the above bolded things. Now, a year later, we’re down to a sort-of rhythm and are more restful with our time. We choose things that are live-giving and restful, so when it comes to chores and household duties, we have specific time set apart for that. We want to cultivate our hours together well which means prioritizing what needs to come first, next, and last.  What laundry, grocery shopping, and chores have really taught me is how to prioritize my time well.

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Make time for the real, life-giving things.
This has been huge for us. We like to sit down on Sunday nights and outline our weeks ahead- being mindful of times when we’ll need to rest and times when we’ll need to snuggle in and spend time together. Life is busy, and I truly believe life will continue to be busy and that busy will take all different shapes and sizes as the years continue. What I don’t want to happen is to forget the really good, really truly lovely things in life. One rhythm we have in our relationship is to make plenty of room for friends. I’m involved in a womens group, I spend most Monday nights with one of my closest friends, my husband always says “yes” to a sleepover with one of my gal pals, and I still pursue the things that bring me joy.  For Ryan, this looks like basketball practice, mens group, coffee trips, and day trips by himself (something he really enjoys) or video games (I’m still learning how to be gracious and understanding on this one). When you make time for the life-giving things, when you make time for rest, and when you make time for each other, it feels like everything else just falls into place.

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God created marriage to make us holy, not happy. [Essentially an idea taken from Sacred Marriage book by Gary Thomas].
So here’s the things. God didn’t create marriage for your happiness or for mine, but only for us to gain a greater understanding of Him and His love. At one point in the book, Gary says this, “The key question is this: Will we approach marriage from a God-centered view or a man-centered view? In a man-centered view, we will maintain our marriage as long as our earthly comforts, desires, and expectations are met. In a God-centered view, we preserve our marriage because it brings glory to God and points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator.” Ryan and I are committed to bringing Glory to the Lord through our marriage however possible. We long to paint a better image of His love to the people around us by praying for them, encouraging them, and inviting us into His love. This is so sweet, and I’m so grateful that we decided to be committed to others when we got married. If we were striving just for our own desires, we’d come up short each and every time. And this is why we strive alone for God’s best for us.

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Thanks for reading along as I unpacked our first year of marriage! I pray this brings encouragement to whoever may read my words- silly and small as they may be. We are blessed by y’all. You give me passion to share my words.

 

To + From Teachers Everywhere

This end of summer season is breathtaking and breathless all in the same. We are all exhausted from a summer full of adventure and life-giving activities. We’re intoxicated with sunshine and pool days (or maybe not- and you’re intoxicated with exhaustion). As the summer winds down, we all know- children or no children- that it’s back-to-school season. Back-to-school brings about many emotions and although for someone like me who has always loved school and even more now as a teacher, I think that this season can be difficult. Schedules are changing faster than we can update our iPhone calendars and we’ve officially lost track of the last day we’ve slept in, but school is starting and this is going to be our new normal. I wanted to take a few minutes to address a few different groups of people from the perspective of a teacher- because well, my family and friends could use “teacher help” from time-to-time, and I believe everyone could.

Dear Everyone-

So first up, to the students: As a teacher, I need you to know- we’re absolutely obsessed with you! You have made our days so much bigger and brighter. You are the reason we wake up. We don’t arrive an hour before you come so that we can gladly go through data and have meetings and plan things. We get there early because we want everything to be perfect for you. We want you to walk into our classroom and shine your biggest and brightest light. Our longing and desire is for you to be grateful that a space has been created for you that is so evidently created with you in mind. It is my deepest apology if you haven’t met a teacher that you connected with or didn’t feel loved by. Those teachers are far and few between. Our hearts are for YOU + already- with a week away, we can’t sleep at night because we’re so excited to meet you.

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A sweet student of mine from my first year teaching who I still stay in contact with!
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And this little sweetie- she always brought a smile to my face in a year where I desperately needed it.

 

To the parents: Let’s just lay this out right away- your child’s teacher is never in it to make your year awful- at least not the teachers I know. You may not agree with us and that’s okay. It isn’t our job to make you agree with everything, but it is our job to do what we know to be best for your child. Your child is our main priority when they’re at school. Our aim is not to make you feel like they mean anything less to us (and trust me, we care about your children on the weekends, over winter and spring break, and most of all, over the summer). If you have a genuine concern for your child, please voice it and let us know how we can help. But I am sorry, we cannot be held responsible for your child “not having any homework on Tuesday because of dance, and not eating carrots, but really liking most vegetables, but only raw and please don’t forget that they like to rest their eyes from 2:05-2:16 every day because they are tired and of course please don’t forget that your husband travels every third week in every odd numbered month and of course we won’t call your cell phone from 10:00 am- 12:00 pm and even if it’s an emergency still don’t call, but if it’s a more serious one then do”. And on and on and on. If you’ve been a teacher for any amount of time, you’ve gotten this request from a parent. And parents, we LOVE you, but these standards are unmeetable. We are at school to teach your child the best that we can by teaching to the whole brain and body, by doing our best to meet their social, emotional, physical, and overall needs. We are for you. As we head into the school year, don’t forget that. If you feel as though loving your child’s teacher isn’t first nature to you, let me just give you a few standard ways to encourage your child’s teacher through the Love Languages framework.

  • Start the year by asking your child’s teacher how you can best support them. They may tell you “I really could use help in the classroom” or they may say “Sometimes the days are long and I could really use an after school coffee”. You may be thinking already “but I don’t have a schedule where I can just help”- so let me break this down for you.
  • If your child’s teacher is open to it- ask them what their love language is. Below I’ve outlined the five types, and if your child’s teacher doesn’t know, feel free to send them the online quiz or make your best call on which of the following fit the teacher.
  • Acts of Service: This teacher just wants your help in the classroom. Offer to cut laminate or to come in to read with children. If you can’t make it during the day, ask the teacher if there is anything she needs cut in the evenings. Offer to do it for one hour a week or whatever capacity you may have.
  • Gifts: Your child’s teacher may feel celebrated by a simple gift. It doesn’t have to be much. One parent I had in my classroom a few years ago would do simple gifts that meant so much! A coffee on a random Tuesday afternoon or a lip balm in the winter with a cute saying. Search Pinterest- they have you!
  • Physical Touch: This isn’t really your job, but if your child is a hugger or if you are, when appropriate, feel free to express this.
  • Words of Affirmation: Write your child’s teacher a card. Just a simple thank you for what they’re doing. Teachers like to know that they are seen and cared for. Send an email or a text (depending on your relationship). Even just a simple “thank you” at drop- off can mean so much.
  • Quality Time: Spend time in your child’s classroom if you can. Maybe you can’t be there during the day, but ask if there is a way you can come visit once a month during your lunch break. Spend quality time with your child and their classmates- get to know their families and grow that community.

For my fellow teachers: The school year is coming and it can no longer be stopped. We will desperately miss summer- cooking meals at home for lunch, taking 10:00 am walks with friends, drinking our coffee while it’s hot, and feeling like we can finally be the wife, mom, sister, aunt, and friend that we’ve always longed to be through the school year. Another year will bring it’s own challenges, but can we all promise to be gracious to each other? To offer thanks to each other for being there in the hard times and to offer praises to each other when the school year is going well and exciting. Can we promise not to shame each other for the lack of meals we’ve cooked at home and the lack of commitment we can make throughout the school year? Can we randomly pick up a coffee for each other just to make it through the day with no specials? I need this and so you may need this, too, but we are in this together. I’ve been praying throughout the summer for all the teachers in my life- that they would rest well and that they would feel refreshed through the school year. I pray this is you.  Let’s do this. Let’s love our students hard and let’s brag on each other like nobody’s business. We’re in this together and we can do it- if you’re me, you need the help of the Lord, but nonetheless, we CAN and we WILL do this. We will love students better than ever and we will attend all the professional days, do all the school book studies, make sure we meet our goals, and still love students while we do it. Praying for you and with you- we’ve got this.

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My teaching partner last year! So grateful for her!

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Some more sweet, teacher friends. These are the people we do life with. We need each other.

To Teacher’s Friends and Family: We are apologizing in advance. I know that every single summer I tell myself I’ll be better the next year. I’ll make sure that I save space for my family and friends and that I won’t become overcommitted, but this is extremely difficult. We want to make plans with you, but sometimes we’re exhausted. Would you just vow to be gracious to us and to give us encouragement continuously? We need it. We love you and are grateful for your support- in our busiest seasons and our slowest seasons. Schedule time with us, but don’t be discouraged if it isn’t for a few weeks or months. Let us fall asleep at 8:00 pm for a few weeks as we re-adjust (that’s for my husband 😉 ). Genuinely ask us how to pray for and care for our students. If you’re the husband or the dad, offer to make dinner just once or twice a week (we don’t care if it’s Dominos pizza- REALLY). Help keep us accountable to do the things we love- like maybe meeting with a friend once a week via phone call to make sure that they are still reading books for fun and still trying to crush goals that they started in the summer. We need you and are grateful for you.

And last, to anyone who works with youth- not JUST teachers: You are the best. We need more people willing to step up. My husband is a youth pastor and I can’t help but be amazed at the amount of care and compassion he has for students, too. Substitute teachers, school nurses, school staff, social workers, and everyone else- we see you and are so appreciative. 18813394_10158933217975093_2497571507086112826_n.jpg

My own sweet youth group girls ❤

Friends, thank you for helping me unpack this. Helping me to process through how we can all support each other. I pray this is helpful for you in some small way and can’t wait to see what this year brings. We are in this together.

With Love,
Teachers Here, There, + Everywhere.

Six Months Down, Forever to Go

Hey y’all. Happy “one month since my last blog post”! I’ve missed this little blog, and although I’ve been writing, I haven’t felt led to share anything publicly until this week.

On August 4th, Ryan and I celebrated six months of marriage- which really could be described as six months of growing through highs and lows while managing to understand each other better. Sometimes I still feel like we were just married yesterday, but then I’m reminded that we were married in the middle of a snowy, chilly winter day and we’re currently celebrating all things warm and sunny in Wisconsin.

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Here we are just last weekend celebrating six months with some sweet friends of ours who are just a month longer than us in their marriage journey.

Y’all, there are so many things I’ve learned in being married for six months and I feel like some of this could apply to all of the following:

  • Newlyweds- A good reminder that you aren’t that different from any other newlywed couple.
  • Veteran Couples- A reminder of the butterflies you may have felt those first few months of marriage, as well.
  • Singles- We’re here for you and want to provide you with an example, as well as a safe place to just share a bit of our story.
  • Anyone else- may this just find you able to enjoy learning from us as we learn together to seek Christ so that we can live a marriage full in Him.

 

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The morning of my wedding I remember reading these words in a Shauna Niequist devotional (I’ll link her up in the end):

“Your wedding day will, of course, be an extraordinary day. But on that day, you cannot imagine the beautiful, life-altering, soul-shaping things ahead of you. This is just the beginning. I know you believe that you could not possibly love him more than you do right now. I understand that. I felt that. I was wrong. I’m not an expert on anything, and certainly not on marriage, but I’m here to tell you that what you feel on your wedding day is like dipping your toe in an ocean, and with every passing year, you swim farther and farther from the shore, unable, at a certain point, to see anything but water. This is just the beginning, and you can’t imagine the love that will bloom between you over time. You will cry together, laugh together, pray and dance and move furniture together. You will learn and unlearn things, make a home together, hurt each other’s feelings without meaning to, and sometimes very much on purpose. You will learn over time that the heart of marriage is forgiveness. You will learn in the first six months how much forgiveness he requires, and then you will realize, in the six months after that, just how much forgiveness you yourself need.”

These words have stained my heart as I’ve been on this marriage adventure. Our wedding day was extraordinary, but it was the iceberg of what God is going to do in our lives as a couple.

The first month was joy-filled. To live with your best friend after months of waiting in expectancy is a joy- and when we got to realize we didn’t have to say good-bye unless we were going to work or heading off to spend time with friends, we realized that we were truly home. This is EXACTLY where we had longed to be. The second and third months were hard emotionally for me. I realized my own sin in such deep ways- I could hurt my husband with a quick “why didn’t you close the cupboard again?”. And although I wish I could say I’ve never hurt him since, I know that isn’t even a fraction of truth. In month four, we prayed for things to change in some of our circumstances and they did. This prompted us to be aware of how God was working through every detail of our lives, but especially in our marriage. Months five and six were full of some more sweetness as the seasons changed and we felt hopeful about all that was to come in the next few months.

SOOOO, without anymore wait- I decided to break these six months into lessons I’ve learned just as easily as I could (which is totally hard as I’ve found I’m learning even more in month six than I’ve learned in the whole journey).

You are different people- and that’s okay. I used to hear friends say, “I could never date (insert name)- we are TOO different”. Different, we are. Ryan and I knew that when we got married we would differ on certain things. One example is that Ryan unwinds by playing video games and I unwind by reading books. It’s okay to be different- and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that when we celebrate those differences, we’re celebrating each other and exactly who God has created each of us to be. So how do you get through this? Schedule times to do similar, shared interest activities. Allow yourselves each time to do the things that are important to you. For me in this season, I’ve given myself grace to go to book club on a Tuesday night and Ryan has given himself permission to play basketball on Monday nights.

You’re going to hurt each other sometimes. I remember thinking that embarking on a Christ-centered marriage was going to be all sunshine- but honestly, we’ve experienced plenty of rain and storms with also a huge supply of sunshine. Remember how I said “you are different people- and that’s okay”. You’re going to realize how much this is true when it comes to caring for a home, using your time, and routines. I can’t even count the amount of times both of us have had to apologize for something we said or did that we didn’t realize was “that big of a deal” at the time. Thank you God for teaching us grace and forgiveness- even Christians are a little spicy with their words at times.

Make traditions- and stick to them. I promise you all, I’m like a five-year-old when Ryan gets home from work! I want him to immediately hug and kiss me and tell me how much he’s missed me, which he usually responds to as “I’ve only been gone six hours”(we’re different, remember?). But me greeting Ryan when he comes home is a tradition that I have that I totally love! Ryan also greets me when I get home, but for him, he truly acts his age with greetings. 😉 We have “living room dinner” often and it’s a tradition I love. There is going to come a day where, Lord-willing, we have a few other faces to feed and our living room dinners won’t be as nearly convenient. In this season, we take a lot of walks and we celebrate long, hard days with frozen Freshii kefir and Parenthood on Netflix. We haven’t had many opportunities for holiday traditions, yet, but I think our daily traditions of trying to celebrate the littlest things, the big things, and the mundane things, have been just as sweet, if not sweeter, than just finding holiday traditions.

Time is valuable- and how you spend it is IMPORTANT. Be intentional. Ryan and I spend our time together and apart with importance. Our time apart is spent doing the things we cherish: spending time with people, partaking in our hobbies, working at our jobs, and spending individual time with the Lord. Our time together is SO much more meaningful when we’ve spent our time apart well. When we sit down on a Sunday and look at the week ahead, the first thing that we do is make sure that we are being intentional with our time together. During the school year this is even more tricky as we navigate after school meetings, who will cook dinner, and what other commitments we have during the week.  But what I can’t emphasize enough is, make time to be intentional. Set a timer for a space on Sunday where you can discuss the week ahead and how you will spend that time.

Make your home a sacred space. I LOVE hosting people- and it has turned out to be one of the most beautiful things of our marriage. I love hosting one friend, but get me a few of them and my heart is overflowing. My friend, Jenna, has shared so many times how much she loves our home and how at home she feels here. I grew up with divorced parents and always YEARNED for a space that was my own. Now as an adult, I’m able to reflect and realize what a joy it is to have this space as sacred. God has blessed us with jobs, which have blessed us with income, which has blessed us with a place to live. It is an imperfect apartment with perfectly stark white walls, but we are home here for this season. Every move we make in our apartment when it comes to hanging things on the wall or moving furniture is well thought about and thought of with YOU (our guests) in mind. When people are coming over, I’m praying for their visit and praying that they feel a little more loved as they leave. Make your home sacred space- where people will gather for tacos and coffee, movies and books, laughter and tears.

Marriage really isn’t about YOU at all. And this is the biggest lesson we’ve learned. On our own, we are two extremely flawed humans who can’t help ourselves worth a darn, but with Jesus, we’re made beautiful. All of the things I’ve mentioned above help us to know God more when we are walking through them well. When we spend our time with Jesus and when we give our time to the church, we are more full. When we are intentional with our spaces and with our relationships, we are more full in Him. When we value one another and seek to love each other as Christ has loved us, we are more alive. As Ryan and I have been reading The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller together, this quote has stuck out the most (and if you’ve read the book- you’d probably say the same): “Within this Christian vision of marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of what God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!”  Ryan, I can’t wait to love Jesus with you forever + know that these first six months are just the beginning of what God has for us in our journey. Carstens+Mill+Brillion+Wisconsin+Wedding_1736.jpg

Thank you for coming along and reading this blog as I navigate marriage, love, and relationships all in Christ.

All of the photos except for the first have been taken by Emily Megan Photography and are edited by Ali Leigh Photography. Click here to read more from Shauna Niequist who I quote earlier in this post.

 

XOXO- Kendra ❤

Twenty-Four: Year of Being Steadfast.

I don’t really know how long I’ve been a person who is sentimental. I’m not sure if it started when I was young or if it grew as I grew. I don’t quite fully know the past, but I do know that I intend to live as somebody who treasures sentimental moments. To be sentimental is to live with a sense of tenderness, sadness, and nostalgia. Although I don’t fully intend to live in sadness and nostalgia, I think it’s healthy + appropriate for me to want to live in tenderness. I cry at movies, in crowded restaurants, at dinner with friends, when I talk about my husband, when I share what God is doing, and on the most mundane days, I cry.  So it’s only normal for me to cry as I reflect on the past year of my life.

Typically, at the end of a year of life, I like to stop and reflect big reflections, and since reflection is what is driving me to share what God is doing in my life via a blog, I feel it’s only fair for my first post to be about sharing what God did in my last year of life.

For those of you who have grown up reading the Bible, you are probably familiar with many stories of suffering, but especially in the life of Job. Job loses everything- job + family, and a bounty of other terrible things happen to him, yet he continues on steadfast in the Lord. Although my year was not as terrible as Job’s, the Lord has taught me to be steadfast.

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The Five Ways in Which the Lord has Taught Me to be STEADFAST

  1. In November, I remember telling my mom “something just doesn’t feel right”. I felt exhausted, worried constantly, and continually tired. I went to my doctor like most people would do and in a longer story that I’ll make short for you, through some different advice and many visits, we assessed together that I was struggling with something common among adults- anxiety. So in year twenty-four, I fought a long battle with anxiety and continue to fight it even nine months later. The Lord continues to be my strength even on my most weary of days.
  2. Y’all, in February I got married! Are you married? Y’all, it’s crazy beautiful and hard. You learn more about yourself and your own sinfulness. The Lord has shown me steadfastness in giving forgiveness more freely, loving more boldly, and becoming more selfless. This is still a journey and I’m still growing, but I can certainly whisper a quiet “thank you” to God for the pruning and weeding He is doing in this. (Love you, Ry!)
  3. In February, I felt like I was being pulled out of my current job into a new position in a different school. I’d experienced some hard things that I can’t quite write all about and I knew the Lord had something new for me. What I didn’t know is that it would take nearly twelve interviews, a couple of rejections, and some job offers that I turned down, to find my perfect fit and the school that I’ll be working in this next year. I didn’t know it’d require me to quit my one job before finding a second job. I just knew the Lord was calling me to be steadfast in Him.
  4. Friendships can be intensely overwhelming and community can be really hard. This year, I felt the Lord working as I grew in steadfastness in my friendships. There were some friendships that I had to end this past year, yet there were others that flourished. I learned to say good-bye to people that I loved knowing that the relationship was toxic. I had to remain firm in the fact that God would provide friendships for me that would be more meaningful and more safe. Even as I’m turning a page to year twenty-five, I find I’m still doing this- learning to be firm as I sort out what relationships are safe.
  5. My relationship with the Lord has really changed this year. I stopped looking to the Lord to help me “sometimes” and instead started leaning on Him to be my sufficient, all-in-all. I remember sharing with friends a few months ago, that I was scared when my season was over that I wouldn’t be as close to the Lord and that I couldn’t imagine not being as close as I was. The Lord taught me to be steadfast in Him- in His promises, in His joy, and in His strength.

Friends, in all of this, I have grown SO much. Aside from the many hours enduring anxiousness, crying heavy tears, and growing this year, I also did some amazing things. I married the most supportive man who believes that we can get through all things together and with the Lord. I was surrounded by bold friendships- people who loved me large. If you’d like to re-live my last year with me, find me on Instagram!

Through this steadfastness learned, I’ve decided to start blogging- just starting with two blog posts a month, but a way for me to share my heart with you. I didn’t think I could and I am so scared of being laughed at on the internet, but I have some sweet messages to share with you and I hope you’ll come along. Happy day after turning twenty-five-years-old, to me, and happy reading to you!