Marriage Mondays: Strong Foundation

Every other day it seems like someone is getting engaged, married, or having a baby. Of course I know that it is not an epidemic and that it truly is just the season of life that many of us are in right now. In all the excitement of starting something new, moving to new levels, and adding to families I cannot help but think about the importance of a strong foundation.

Psalm 127:1 reads, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” I personally, never want anything that I do to be in vain especially when it comes to my marriage and family so the foundation piece has always been super important for Joe and I.

We have definitely been through some things in these past few years and I know that the reason we are still happily married is because of that foundation in Christ. It is our goal to continuously work to ensure that Jesus is the center of all that we do. When we first got married we quickly learned that our love was not going to get us through the difficult times. But isn’t that such a cute thought? Our love will see us through! Hmmmph… yea right!

When I am upset with Joe, when I am offended, or hurt my love for him does not always overpower my emotions. Many times my emotions temporarily win that battle and things get worse before they get better. Then I remember that my marriage is a covenant between God, Joe, and myself and my perspective almost always shifts immediately. I am blessed to be married to a man that understands that same concept and it has made things a bit easier to handle. When we found out that we lost Nia the first thing that we did was grab hands and pray together. It was in those moments that I realized how crucial having Christ at the center of our marriage was. Things for sure are not always perfect, but I know that our foundation is set firmly in Christ and that makes everything better.

Being About It

Photo Credit: Fixed Focal Photography

A little while ago, I wrote a post about praying friends. In that post, I talked about the importance of it and how wonderful it is to be surrounded by people who love you enough to include you in their prayers to God. Lately, my family and I have been going through so many things. Throughout it all, I have had two friends who not only said, “I will be praying for you guys!”, but they actually stopped what they were doing and did it.

Far too often, we say that we will pray for someone and it never happens. We act as though we have done a great deed when we utter those words and the person on the other end smiles kindly and says, “Thank you.” What is it that stops us from dropping whatever we are doing, placing a hand on their shoulder, and praying? What is it that is so important that we cannot place the needs of our friends in front of our own temporarily?

For awhile, I personally had a fear of praying in front of others. I did not want people to hear my intimate and private thoughts. I was afraid that I would sound silly or not churchy enough. Would I recite the correct phrases? Would I remember to place emphasis on the right words? Would I remember to input some scripture so they would know that I read my Bible? What if I got tongue-tied or stuttered?

What I have finally realized is that none of that matters. When my friend placed her hands on my shoulder and prayed for me in the midst of what I was feeling and thinking, I instantly felt a sense of peace. My other friend actually texted a prayer to me and I was instantly comforted. There is power in prayer and peace that comes from knowing that others are standing with you through prayer. Joe and I always joke around about “talking about it” vs “being about it.” I want to encourage you to “be about it” today and to also hold me accountable for doing the same. It is time to step out of our comfort zones and into a place where God can truly use us to be a blessing to others.

Stop Signs and Red Lights

A few months ago, Nehemiah went through this phase where he did not like to sit still in his carseat… at all. It seemed as though he felt like carseat = movement/driving/etc and if he was not doing any of those things he should not have been in it. One evening as we were riding home we came to a stop light and he began to get upset. I started to speak to him about being patient. As I was talking, I realized that there was a message in those words for me. I told him how sometimes God places red lights and stop signs in certain places to protect us, comfort us, save us, etc. Those pauses in life may come at the most inopportune times from our point of view, but they are essential. It is during those times that we grow and learn. We have the opportunity to take a look back at where we have been and to focus on where we are headed.
I am starting to learn to appreciate those brief pauses in the road. I am learning to see those red lights and stop signs as blessings instead of obstacles that I must hop over immediately. I am beginning to view them as God’s way of saying “hold on one second… its almost ready for you”, or “you are almost ready” or even “watch out!” I am thankful that Nehemiah has learned to be patient at those stop signs and red lights. My prayer is that I would be able to apply the same principles to my everyday life.

Never Again

Joe and I were listening to a sermon recently by a pastor named, Samuel Rodriguez. The sermon was entitled, “Never Again” and really spoke to us both on so many levels. He talked about the story of Noah in Genesis 5:32-10:1. One point he really touched on was the promise God made to Noah in the end, where he says,
“Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.”
The phrase “never again” resonated with me so strongly. For days, I would hear it over and over in my head, wondering what God was trying to say to me through it. In the scripture, Noah and his family had just come out of a storm. Though it was rough at many points, and even leading up to it they had to deal with issues, they made it out unscarred and then God gives them this great promise, “never again.” I could not help but to see the parallels in my own life and see what God was saying to me through this story and phrase.

We have talked so much about having more children and to be honest, I go in and out of fear when it comes to it. Clearly, this journey has not been easy for us so far. I am always tempted to worry about something horrible happening to us again. Lately, when those thoughts arise I hear the voice of God so clearly saying “Never Again!”.

I learned a few things from the scripture and that sermon about Noah that we can all apply to our lives and the storms we endure:
Noah was obedient… Despite the naysayers, despite the doubt he must have felt at some point, and despite any limitations and obstacles, Noah was obedient and as a result his family and future generations were blessed.
Noah was prepared for the storm… He worked hard for many years building the ark, despite the obstacles. He prepared his family for the storm. Likewise, we must be spiritually and physically prepared to endure whatever comes our way. The week leading up to Nia’s delivery Joe and I were both studying Job. Throughout the entire process, those scriptures kept coming up in my mind. Because of that preparation, my heart was different, my prayers were different, and I never doubted God’s plan in that moment.
Noah praised and worshipped God when the storm was over… Many times we like to shout that “we made it!” when we get out of a storm and forget who the glory is supposed to go to. The full verse quoted above actually reads, “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.” (Genesis 8:20-21). Noah’s praise was pleasing to God and led him to make that wonderful promise.
The ark landed on a mountain… As a result of the storm and the height of the waters, the ark was raised high above the earth. Sometimes your storm will leave you on higher ground in life spiritually, physically, and mentally.

I am looking with excitement towards the future, not just in terms of growing our family and having more children but in everything. When that fear does creep back up I will just pray those very words that have been floating around in my head and heart for the past few days… Never Again! And I will watch as God fulfills His promises!

Marriage Mondays: Service Charge!

Joe and I always joke around about taking a service charge when we do something for each other. Typically the charge involves food. For example, if I ask Joe to pass me a bowl of popcorn he would take a few off the top and yell, “service charge!” In response, I would make a little face at him and we laugh. The same happens when he asks me to do stuff that involves a snack. As I was reflecting on the little playful phrase between the two of us and even thinking of how we borrowed the term from banks I started to think about God and how it would be if He service charged us. Can you imagine how that would be? Every time we took a breath God would yell, “service charge!” and take our breath away for a short time. Or every time we sat down to eat He would yell, “service charge!” and scoop half the food off of our plates.

Thankfully, He is not that kind of God and we do not have to worry about those things with Him. Likewise, we should not have to worry about them with our spouse. So often, I hear individuals saying that their significant other owes them this or that because of what they did for them. I even catch myself having that same mentality from time to time and I immediately feel convicted. In a marriage conference we attended a little while back the presenters talked about the importance of serving one another in marriage. Not just serving, but constantly working to out serve the other. I was reminded of John 13:1-17, where Jesus washed the disciples feet. He was showing them the importance of serving one another, in love. Verse 17 reads,

“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

I just want to encourage you to apply the same principles to your marriage today. Joe and I have definitely not mastered this concept, but we are both striving to out serve each other daily. We have witnessed firsthand the difference this has made in our relationship as we take the focus off of ourselves and place it where it belongs, on God first and then each other. As the word says, “you will be blessed if you do them.”

How can you work to out serve your spouse today?

Family Date Night: Suwannee Town Center

We recently went on a little family dinner date to Suwannee Town Center. Joe knows that I have been somewhat obsessed with food trucks lately. So when he came across an advertisement for the food trucks nearby he jumped at the opportunity to take us. I was super excited to go, although I had no idea what trucks would be there and if I would even like any of them.

After sitting in some pretty heavy traffic due to a horrific accident, we arrived and ventured out to see what all was available.

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I must admit that I was a tad bit disappointed by the selection and number of trucks. I fully expected the parking lot to be full of trucks, loaded with so many options that I would have a difficult time choosing. What we found was a decent number of trucks but not the variety and quality that I was looking for. It was still super cute and a great date night idea for the whole family. They even had live music and tons of people eating on the lawn.
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The food was decent but I do wish I would have gotten something different. I had fried catfish and jambalya and Joe had fish tacos.
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All in all, it was fun and just nice to be out and about with the family. I would go again and consider eating from a different food truck or even just getting something from one of the local restaurants there.

What have you been up to lately? Any special dates with your family?

Do You Know What Today Is?

It’s our anniversary!
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Three years ago today, I married my boo! I could not help but reminisce about that wonderful day and all that these past three years have brought us. When you get married you are so full of hope and have so many dreams for what the future with your spouse will look like, feel like, and be like. Rarely ever do you consider the difficult times that undoubtedly arise in life. I am thankful because I have a true partner that has been there through the difficult and the good. When I did not have the words, he spoke. When I did not have the strength to even lift my head, he held it up for me. When I did not want to go another day, he encouraged me. When I believed I was unloveable, he loved me. I am so thankful to God for allowing me to experience this type of love.
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My prayer today is that God would continue to strengthen our relationship, that our love would continue to grow deeper, and that our relationship be a reflection of His love, grace, and mercy. I pray that Joe would continue to grow and develop as the strong man of our home and that I would be a better wife to him. Thank you Lord for these past three years the good and the bad… I would not trade them at all nor could I have asked for a better partner in life. I love you boo!

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Check out our wedding trailer!

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/25837861″>Joseph & Stacie’s Cinematic Trailer</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/3ringmedia”>3Ring Weddings</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Summer Adventures: Explore GA

I absolutely refuse to sit in the house all summer doing nothing! That is precisely what I did last summer (I was a little down), but this is a new year, new summer, and new day and for that I am extremely grateful! Joe and I have decided that we will explore our state a little more this summer and visit some of the places that we keep seeing and talking about. There are so many places to visit in our state and I am excited to experience some of the places that make Georgia unique.

Here is a list of our top 10 places to visit in Georgia this summer. Keep in mind that some places that are unique to Georgia and Atlanta are not included because we have most likely visited there several times.

Top 10 List Summer 2014

We are so excited to start our little summer adventures! First stop: Savannah and Tybee Island!!!

Do you have any plans for the summer? Any places you would add to our list?

Marriage Mondays: How I See Me vs How He Sees Me

A friend and I were talking the other day about how our bodies have not bounced right back after having our babies. It is so easy to look at celebrities and even other women that we know and love in our own lives and wonder why it seems so easy for them and so difficult for us. I often look down at my little pooch belly with pride and thankfulness because I know that God has blessed my womb to carry two babies so far and that more are to come. However, I do not always feel confident when it comes to what my shape now looks like.

I did not really realize that this was a problem until my husband’s compliments to my body begin to feel like insults. When he would look over at me and tell me that I am beautiful or sexy I would cringe on the inside because I disagreed. I would instantly take a quick inventory of the parts of my body that need some work. I thought about the stretch marks, extra folds of skin, and the incision from my c-section (though barely visible it is HUGE to me!). Yet and still he would have this look in his eyes that let me know that he really did believe what he was saying. This dude really does think I am sexy!

It took a while for me to come to terms with that and to even see the parallel between this and how God views us. I am thankful that Joe loves me… stretch marks and all (as he should of course!). I am even more thankful that God loves me through all of my mess.

Did you ever have body image issues after having kids? How did you deal with it? How did/does your spouse make you feel?

My “Personal” Personal Trainer!

So apparently I was pregnant for almost two years consecutively. I have learned over time that it definitely caused some wear and tear on my body (I know… I know…). Recently, Joe and I had a little workout date where we climbed Stone Mountain. It was on that short, yet somewhat steep walk up the mountain that I truly realized how out of shape I am. I think I allowed myself to be fooled by what the scale said. According, to the scale I am doing good! But I knew as I climbed that mountain that I have a lot of work to do.

As we were walking I started hearing these loud breaths coming out of my mouth. I was almost in shock! Was that me panting like a 600 lb man? I saw 70 year old women walking past me and people carrying more weight than me flying past to go back up for a second time! I looked over at Joe and he must have seen the look in my eyes because he began to encourage me.

There are so many scriptures that speak directly to caring for our body and how that relates to our overall health not just physically but spiritually as well.

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
2 Corinthians 7:1

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

So I have officially enlisted the help and support of my wonderful husband. Joe is so into fitness and health and of course I support him, but I do not always join him. Well, after that climb up the mountain I am ready to join him and work on improving our family as a team. I really want Nehemiah to grow up learning to honor God through his body physically and spiritually and I realize that Joe and I will be his primary examples of what that looks like. If you know my husband then you know that this will not be easy! Joe can be just like a drill sergeant when it comes to working out! Fortunately for me, when I look at that chocolate bald head I fall in love all over again! So I can easily forgive him for pushing me hard during workouts! I hope that I will soon be running up Stone Mountain!

Do you have any personal goals for your health or your family’s health? What are you doing to work towards those goals?