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 ❤

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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!