Lately, I’ve begun to realize just how important it is to have friends besides your significant other. Okay, so it hasn’t really taken me this long to see that. But it has taken me this long to finally discover that finding friends is not only possible, but completely worth the trouble.

My struggle with friendships started after I met Cory. Part of the reason was that we were in high school at the time, and I suppose that none of my friends really understood what it was like to truly be in love. As a result, we were essentially ousted from our group of otherwise single friends. Being intentionally excluded from activities and events with our friends was very hard on me. I did not understand why I should have been punished for finding the love of my life. Now, looking back, it is much easier to at least understand how my friends might have felt, even if I still believe that what they did was wrong.

Either way though, being pushed out of our group of friends only pushed me closer to Cory. He went from being one of my best friends and my boyfriend to my only close friend. Sure, I still kept in touch with my high school friends and hung out with them at school, but none of them really knew me or got any quality time with me. I didn’t think that I needed friends. Plus, nobody really wanted to be friends with me anyway, so what was the use? That was what I thought at the time, at least.

In my senior year, things changed a little. Cory had graduated the year before, as well as most of our friends. It was just me and the only other girl in our group, Sarah, left at school. So naturally we grew closer and tried to repair the damage from the past two years. It was an up and down friendship for me, but at the very least we knew each other well again. I could say I had a female friend, and I knew that was good for me. When the time came for graduation and moving on to college, we were pretty close and I was determined to keep our friendship alive even as I moved to my new dorm and met tons of new people from my university. For a while, all was well. We went to church together every week, and often spent time just sitting and talking for hours afterward. It felt good to have a friend, and I was mostly happy.

A few months ago though, everything changed again. I realized that my friendship with this girl wasn’t healthy for me, and that I couldn’t trust her or even be myself around her. A lot of other drama happened at the same time, and I finally decided that it was time to move on. I ended our friendship after six and a half years, and with it I lost the ease of hanging out with the other people from our high school gang. If I want to hang out with them now, I have to make sure that my ex- best friend won’t be there. We will probably never hang out as a group again like we used to, and seeing my circle of friends crumble so quickly like that was painful. I was left with no real friends, and I had to start over.

That’s when two amazing girls from my old high school small group popped back into my life. For those of you who do not know what a “small group” is, it is a church-organized group of about five to ten people who get together weekly to study the Bible, pray, and support each other through life. My high school small group was not perfect by any means, but I can say that I got two of my best friends out of it. Halston and Taylor randomly came back into my life at the moment I needed friends the most. Not only are they godly women who can help keep me on the right track with my relationship with God, but they’ve also known me for two years now and they are two of the most caring girls I’ve ever met. They also were more than happy to step in as bridesmaids and take over where my old friend left off, which has been a huge blessing. Sharing friendships with these girls has brightened my life tremendously.

That being said, they are only two people. Even with them in my life, I’ve often felt alone at times when Cory was my only companion because they’ve had to work or were otherwise busy. I’ve also sometimes felt like a third wheel when I did hang out with them, because they both know each other so well and are really close. In my loneliness, I started to fear that something was wrong with me. I worried that nobody would want to be my friend, that I would never truly belong, and that I would never have a best friend (or at least not a best girl friend) again. I clung to the support that Cory gave me as my only best friend, and tried to stay strong with the knowledge that God is all I really need anyway, but inside I felt alone and unloved.

Throughout this time, I was fortunately blessed to have my amazing stepmom, Kim, by my side. She is more of a friend to me than a mother (I already have one of those! Love you mom!), and she has been a precious friend to me through all of this. She is a constant source of support, encouragement, and godly wisdom. Despite losing my other best friend, I can gladly say that Kim was always there for me and always will be. Even when I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere, I always had the ease of my friendship with Kim to keep me afloat.

It was in this time of uncertainty that something crazy happened; that crazy thing is also known as April, Flo, Morgan, and Shanna. These are the girls who dove headfirst into my heart when I met them by joining a new college small group. Since I’ve met them, we’ve slowly gotten to know one another and spent some time hanging out. Recently, things have just been clicking and I feel like I have best friends again. Whenever I hang out with these chicas, I have so much fun. We get goofy and have a ton of laughs, but the best part is that behind it all, we are united as a sisterhood of girls who love Jesus with all of our hearts. Being part of this group has made me feel whole in a way that I haven’t felt in a very long time. It is a huge blessing! I finally understand what friendship is supposed to feel like, and why it’s so important.

Having good friends in your life is vital. As a Christian, having a group of close friends who can push you in your relationship with God is mandatory. It helps you grow closer to God and makes you accountable to somebody. Most of all, it fills your heart with the kind of joy that God had in mind for you. Experiencing the love of other Christian girls has made me stronger in my faith and has given me a new dimension of happiness that I can then bring into my relationship with Cory.

As far as Christian marriages go, I think it is utterly important for both the husband and the wife to have close Christian friends of the same sex. For one thing, it gives you some time away from each other so that you appreciate the time you do have together more. Another benefit is that it gives you time to be girly or masculine in a way that you can’t always be with your spouse. It also builds up a support system for when you go through hard times. Even though your spouse should be your second biggest source of support after God, having friends to help you through is important too. That’s because you cannot depend on only one person for everything. Nobody is perfect, and your spouse is no exception. Friends are there to fill in the gaps.

The last reason that I feel that this is so important is that I believe God designed us to be social creatures. I feel that part of His plan for us is to experience community and friendship with other believers. These kinds of friendships make us more well-rounded as individuals, and they make us whole. Since a marriage is made up of two individuals, it only makes sense that a healthy, happy marriage is made up of two healthy, happy individuals. And having good friends is a huge part of being healthy and happy, simply because God designed us that way.

I hope that your friendships are encouraging and godly, and that they bring you joy. If they aren’t, then I strongly encourage you to keep looking. I didn’t think that I would fit in anywhere, but here I am surrounded by seven amazing, God-loving women who love me and understand me like good friends should.


Date Night

It’s that thing that our parents used to do every Thursday at 6:30 PM. It’s the secret ingredient that books entitled “How to Save Your Marriage” tell us to try. It’s that idea that sounds really nice and like a great plan in theory… but then never really happens. Or at least if it does happen it’s never really exciting and always seems to go exactly the same way. You know what I’m talking about— it’s date night.

One of the things that Cory and I have heard a lot about in regards to marriage is that sometimes, things get, well, stagnant. In fact, we’re not even married yet and we have already experienced this to some degree. We both get so caught up in our routines and day-to-day life that before we know it, we’re practically just coexisting. Sure, we still give hello and goodbye kisses and make small talk about how our day was, but in times like these we stop truly connecting. It’s only when we eventually realize what we’re doing that we wake up out of our daily busyness and take a step back, finally seeing each other for the first time in days. So we reconnect briefly, squeezing in some quality time together, and then continue on with our pattern. That is just the way it is; life is busy, and we just don’t have the time or energy to focus on connecting with our significant other every single day. Right?

Wrong! No matter how often I try to use it, the truth is that I do not believe in this excuse. Yes, life is busy. But if life is so busy that we don’t have time to actually connect to people, then what is the point? It is time to get our priorities straight.

Making time to connect to your spouse is a very basic need in a marriage, just like making time to connect with God is vital to your relationship with Him. You cannot expect your love to keep growing and flourishing if your relationship is essentially that of really good roommates. Keeping the flame alive means making your significant other a priority; work, chores, and taking time to wind down are all important, but your spouse is even more so.

So what are some ways to make sure you are connecting with your spouse?

First, I’d suggest spending daily time with God together. Read the Bible side by side when you wake up in the morning, and discuss what you thought and felt about the things that you read. Start the day in prayer together, asking God to be with and guide you both throughout the day. This is not only a great way to connect to each other, but a great way to connect to God and make sure that He stays at the center of your relationship.

Second, remind your significant other how much you love him or her before you separate and jump into the day. Yes, mornings can be busy and rushed, but taking a few minutes to hug your spouse and say “I love you” can make a huge difference in your relationship and in your day.

Third, try doing some small act as a gesture of love during the day. Send a text to remind your husband or wife that you love them and that you cannot wait to see him or her after work. Pick a nice flower and lay it on the table when you get home with a sweet little note. If you get home early, surprise your loved one by doing the dishes and starting to cook dinner. It can be small and spontaneous, but try to do something every day that will show your sweetie that you care.

Fourth, ask each other about the day and actually listen. Take turns running through the struggles and triumphs of the last eight hours or so, and when it’s your turn to listen, pay attention. Don’t interrupt, judge, or make annoying comments—just let your spouse talk and try to understand how he or she feels about what happened during the day. Give your significant other your undivided attention for a few minutes at the end of the work day, and chances are you will instantly feel more connected.

My fifth and last tip is the secret ingredient that I mentioned earlier, and the title of this post; date night!  Taking one night a week to get out of the house with your loved one is a great way to reconnect and spend some fantastic quality time together. A few words of advice about this are necessary, though: do not do the same thing every week, do not spend money you don’t have, and do not do something that will distract you from each other. You want this time to be meaningful, fun, and carefree. If you need some help with ideas, just google it! There are tons of great inexpensive, creative, and romantic ideas out there to try.

Ever since my fiancé and I were first advised to start a weekly date night, we kept saying what a good idea it was. We told ourselves that we would definitely have a date night every week or so… sometime in the future. There was the problem; we never actually did it. So this week, we finally did. We decided to plan a weekly date night and stick to it. To keep it interesting, we are going to take turns planning the date (I plan it one week, he plans it the next, etc.), and keep it a surprise. We had a great time on our date this week and I find that I am really looking forward to finding out what he has planned for next week!

Date night may sound clichéd and boring, but if you put in some effort you can make it fresh and fun. I hope you find that it reconnects you and your significant other and brings some romance and excitement back into your relationship and your life. Who knows? If you never stop dating your spouse, you may never stop falling in love.


Be Not Dismayed

Last night, my fiancé and I attended our last premarital counseling session. We were thoroughly excited to complete this experience and “graduate” from the program as mature, enlightened adults ready to embark on the adventure of marriage. To my great surprise, however, God had different plans.

Though the session started like any other, it ended on a bit of a sour note. After discussing the material from the final chapter, they left the room for a few minutes to “make a copy” of some paper that they wanted to give us. Cory and I were suspicious when our female counselor insisted several times that her husband went with her to make the copy; we both had a feeling that they were discussing us. Sure enough, when they came back into the room they told us that they had some things to say. After a lot of elaborate explanation, they eventually came out and plainly said that they did not think that we are ready to get married at this point.

After that, I held Cory’s hand as we sat there together, stoically and patiently listening as they explained their reasoning. They told us that they felt that we are not spiritually mature enough yet, that we are too young, and that our communication skills are not refined enough at this point. They wanted us to cancel our wedding (which is in two months!) and wait until we are finished with college to reschedule that would be three years from now. They warned us that if we didn’t heed their advice, we’d be taking an extremely difficult path that would probably make our marriage suffer. And as a final stinging blow, they told us that they were not going to recommend that our pastor marry us. Due to the fact that this program was through the same church that our pastor is affiliated with, and the fact that successfully completing premarital counseling is a requirement to be married by a pastor from this church, this essentially means that our pastor may not be able to marry us. It all depends on whether or not he is willing to go against their recommendation.


Of course, despite everything that they said, my fiancé and I are 100% confident that we are ready for marriage. We do realize that we are young, of course, but God has no prejudice against the young. I believe that as long as you have put in the time and the effort to get to know somebody at a deep personal level, and as long as you are committed to this person and fully understand what it means to be married for life, there is no reason that age should be a barrier. As the Bible says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

We also know that we have a lot of growing to do spiritually, both individually and as a couple, but let’s be honest; who doesn’t? Personally, I do not believe in the “perfect Christian.” I firmly believe that as humans, we will always have a lot of growing to do and we will never reach a point at which we can be considered above reproach. I believe that in a personal relationship with Christ, there is always room for improvement. I will never be at a place where I can say that I am perfect in my spirituality. That being said, my fiancé and I are committed mind, body, soul, and heart to Jesus Christ. We are individually pursuing growth in our personal relationships with our God by reading the Bible, praying, and seeking fellowship with other like-minded Christians. As a couple, we are pursuing this growth as well by regularly attending church together, daily discussion of our spiritual thoughts and experiences, regular prayer together (typically at least three times per week), and seeking fellowship with like-minded Christian couples. This change in our relationship to one that is Christ-centered has brought us a deeper connection to each other and to God, and personally I cannot wait to see how our relationship flourishes in the future as we continue to grow spiritually.

As for communication, my fiancé and I are, like any couple, not perfect. That being said, I definitely feel that we do pretty well in this department. Both of us were most surprised by the fact that this was an issue that the counselors brought up; neither of us have ever really felt that this was a problem for us!

But more important than all of that, I feel, is the fact that we are truly committed to get through anything. Divorce is not a possibility for us. I am only so confident in this fact because of one thing though, and that’s God. We didn’t gain our confidence from our own superior abilities or relationship skills; our confidence comes from our God. We cling to our Lord as an anchor for our marriage, and we refuse to let go of our commitment to Him as individuals or as a couple. As a result, our commitment to each other is strengthened and cemented. As the Bible says, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:9).


Moving on from the qualifications of our relationship, though, I’d like to touch on some very important lessons that this experience has taught us.

One thing I’ve learned is that the church is not perfect. It is made up of imperfect people who make mistakes. Never once during this whole experience did I translate this pain inflicted by representatives of the church as pain inflicted by God. This realization was a simple reminder that I worship God, not a church, and that though church can be a wonderful place to be with fellow Christians and experience community, it is not perfect.

On that same note, I also learned patience and understanding because of this situation. I had to ask God to take away my anger and frustration at our counselors because I knew that they weren’t trying to hurt us. I knew that they had the best intentions in everything they said to us. Whether or not the things that they said were right or wrong, I know that they were said with loving and godly intentions. Because of that, I was able to maintain my manners and not snap at them. That is also the reason that I don’t hate them, even now; I know that they were just trying to help.

Another thing that I’ve learned is that we are not responsible for the expectations of others. We are only responsible for God’s expectations, and even in that we are always forgiven for our shortfalls. We are placed on this earth not to please people, but to please God. We want our marriage to bring glory to God above all else. Whether people approve or not is not going to change God’s view of our decision to get married.

One final and fairly huge blessing that this experience has brought to my relationship with Cory is the way that it has drawn us closer to God. In the face of adversity and without the support that we would love to see from our church, we have instead sought God as our main source of support. We’ve looked to Him for comfort for the emotional pain that we felt as a result of this situation. We’ve looked to Him for guidance and conviction in our decision. We’ve looked to Him for the strength to go into this marriage with the intention and purpose of glorifying Him. As a result, we’ve grown more spiritually as a couple in the past 24 hours than we have over the past week. Despite the pain of this experience, I’m very thankful for the results that it brought.

Certainly, we had pictured things going differently. But the way that they went, frustrating as it is, happened for a reason. I can only keep my faith in God and trust that He has a plan for all of this.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

The Five Love Languages

Last week, I read through a really amazing book called “The Five Love Languages,” by Gary Chapman. It’s a pretty quick read, and I got through it in just a few days. After reading it, I encouraged my fiancé to read it as well. When he was nearing the end of the book a couple of days later, he suddenly put it down and turned to me. He told me that he thought this book is one that everybody should read. Truthfully, I could not agree more!

The main argument that Chapman makes in this book is that people express love in several different ways. To some, physical affection is the best way to tell a person that they are loved. To others, acts of kindness speak of love the loudest. In fact, Chapman asserts that there are five different ways that people generally give and receive love—the five love languages. They are words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time, and physical touch.

According to this book, most marital (and really any relationship) problems come from a miscommunication of love. For example, if Jessica’s primary love language is physical touch but her husband Paul’s is words of affirmation, there could be serious problems. Jessica might try to show her love for her husband by giving him backrubs, kissing him, and having sex with him. However, Paul will not necessarily see these things as very loving. That’s because to Paul, love is shown best by speaking it. Paul tells Jessica that he loves her, that she is beautiful, and that she is an amazing wife; that is how he expresses his love. But to Jessica, these things don’t mean that much. She wants to be loved physically. As time goes on, both Jessica and Paul are trying their hardest to be loving spouses, but neither one of them feels truly loved by the other. Thus, a simple love language miscommunication can put great emotional distance between people, and even lead to empty marriages that end in divorce.

The concept is so simple, yet it makes a ton of sense! In the process of reading through it, I found that many of the tips for expressing love in the correct love language would be great ways for my fiancé to show me that he loves me, and vice versa. I also realized that all of the love languages are important. Even though every person has primary and secondary love language, the other three can and should still be used to express our love to our spouses. Just by reading about all of the ways to show my fiancé that I love him, I was inspired to be a more loving future-wife.

At the end of the book, there is a short quiz to help you identify your primary and secondary love languages. I was excited to take the test and find out my own preferred expression of love! As it turns out, I’m bilingual. Both quality time and physical touch were equally matched as my primary love languages. Coming in second place, as my secondary, was words of affirmation. That means that the best ways to love me are through physical affection, spending time with me, and using words. Coincidentally, my fiancé’s primary love language is physical touch and his secondary is words of affirmation. Luckily for us, we share the same primary and secondary languages! Of course, he still has a little bit more work to do by giving me some quality time. Fortunately, we tend to spend almost all of our time together as it is and so far, he isn’t sick of me. After reading this book, I understand why we both feel so loved by each other all of the time as well as how we can improve. We are lucky to be natural speakers of each other’s languages, and now we are both well-educated on how we can love each other even more fully.

Of course, for most couples, the husband and wife do not share the same love languages. In these cases, both spouses must learn to speak the correct language to their partner. Luckily, the book is full of tips on how to do this! Whether you need to learn to use words, gifts, touch, time, or actions to express your love, there are plenty of great, simple ideas available right here.

I highly recommend this book to anybody in a relationship. Though it is based on Christian principles, the ideas can be applied by anybody. It not only works for marriages and romantic relationships, but for relationships with parents, children, other family members, and friends as well. In fact, Gary Chapman has an entire collection of books in the love languages series, including a men’s edition, “The Five Love Languages of Children,” “The Five Love Languages of Teenagers,” and “The Five Love Languages: Singles Edition.” Personally, I’m looking forward to reading the one about children so that I can learn to speak my child’s love language when the time comes.

So what about you? What’s your love language? I encourage you to read this book not only for your own benefit, but for the benefit of anybody whom you share a relationship with.

Good luck and happy loving!





The Jesus Challenge

For the past couple of months, my fiance and I have been attending weekly pre-marital counseling sessions through our church. We only have one session left with our counselor couple, and one separate session with a financial counselor. As our final “homework assignment,” we’ve been given a simple yet extremely challenging task; spend one entire day with the goal of being like Jesus.

In more detail, we must spend a day from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep striving to act like Jesus. Every decision we make, action we take, and word we utter must be a reflection of who Jesus is. Essentially, we are to go about our day constantly asking ourselves, “what would Jesus do?”

Now, when I first read the assignment, I have to admit I was not extremely excited. I mean, it honestly just sounds exhausting. Trying to make every single thing we do a reflection of Jesus? Eesh. That’s impossible!

Later, as I thought about what day I would choose to act like Jesus, a realization came to me. To put it simply, the assignment is to follow Jesus’ footsteps. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that He was perfect. I also believe it is my task in life to follow him and try to be more like him. In fact, the most basic definition of a Christian is a person who follows Christ. So that leaves me with one question; why on earth is it so daunting to try to spend a day actually behaving like a Christian?

As a Christian, it should be my goal and desire day in and day out to be more like Christ. This should be the one thing that defines me most as a person- I am first and foremost a daughter of Christ. However, this challenge brought up a serious red flag for me. If living my life like Jesus sounds so difficult to me, perhaps that’s because my priorities aren’t straight. And as I prepare to enter into marriage, I feel that it is imperative that my priorities get straightened out.  I need to have a firm grasp on my purpose and duty in my own life before I join it with my fiance’s.

So it has become my goal to live like Christ as best as I can every day. I am a Christian, after all! Of course I will make mistakes and fail to live up to God’s perfect standards, but that’s why Jesus came to live on earth in the first place. I know that when I mess up, I am already forgiven. In fact, that awareness of God’s grace will only reciprocate into my ability to have grace for others.

So what does this have to do with marriage? Everything.

Imagine if every husband and wife lived like Jesus. How would it change the way they treat each other? How much more clearly would their unconditional love towards each other be reflected? How much more love, grace, and joy would fill every marriage? If you haven’t already guessed, the answers to these questions are all good. Living like Jesus is not only good for the individual, it is good for the marriage.

Don’t believe me? Try it out! Live your life like Jesus for one day. See how it changes your perspectives and transforms your relationship.