At my wedding just over a month ago, my husband and I were lucky enough to have a fantastic pastor who led us through a beautiful ceremony. He added many nice touches that I’d never heard of before he told us about them, such as a piece called “these hands” where we looked at each other’s hands and reflected on how we would spend all of our good, in-between, and bad moments with them for the rest of our lives. He also added a piece about love that I’ve found to be so important in our marriage already. What he said was that the acronym L.O.V.E. is important to remember as we go through life together. It stands for Laughter, Others-centered, Value, and Encourage.

Laughter may not sound like it’s that important for a healthy marriage. But actually, being able to laugh with your spouse and find joy in each other is extremely important. Marriage isn’t a business contract; it’s a promise to love each other for the rest of your lives, and doing that is so much easier if you actually enjoy each other’s company. Having a relationship with a healthy amount of playfulness and lighthearted laughter is vital to maintaining the friendship that you and your spouse share, or hopefully shared at some point. Essentially, this all boils down to being happy together. Relationships can quickly grow stagnant if you’re always wearing your grumpy pants around your spouse. Yes, it can be very difficult to feel happy when you are overwhelmed with stress. But maybe if you let yourself relax a little and give your worries to God, you can start enjoying laughter more with your husband or wife. And when you do that, your marriage will prosper!

Others-centered. This sounds great, but what does it mean, exactly? In a marriage, it means putting your spouse first. Now, this can be hard to do when your spouse doesn’t return the favor. When you are being selfless all of the time and constantly doing things to make your spouse happy, you’re probably expecting him or her to do the same for you, right? Bad idea! Acting selfless in an effort to receive something back is not really selfless at all. The whole idea of being selfless is that you don’t expect anything in return. As I said before, though, this can be very hard to do. After all, we are sinful beings and we can’t really help being selfish, at least to some degree. But that doesn’t mean we can’t strive for it! And God can help you. The best part about being others-centered in a marriage is that though you shouldn’t expect to receive anything in return, you will probably get something anyway. After all, if both partners in a relationship are focused on the happiness and holiness of the other, both partners will be treated well. Even if your spouse isn’t exactly on the same page as you right yet, you can be the first one to act. Be honest and tell him or her that you are going to strive to put him or her first in the relationship from now on. Then, do it. Soon enough, your spouse will be more than happy to strive to do the same thing f0r you.

Valuing your spouse seems like a given. I mean, the scenario is just so cliché; one spouse doesn’t appreciate the other enough which results in feelings of neglect, and the marriage falls apart. We’ve seen it again and again in movies, books, television, etc. So, if it’s so obvious that we need to value our spouses, then why do we still have trouble with it? I think the problem is that we get so caught up in the struggles of day-to-day life that often, we end up just being cohabitants with our spouses. She does the dishes, he mows the lawn, they both go to work to support the family, and over all they both take care of their responsibilities for a harmonious household. But this kind of marriage is missing one big part of love! They don’t value each other. Each partner does what they are supposed to and expects the other to do their part as well. But while it may seem to work for a while, failing to express appreciation for each other can create feelings of monotony, purposelessness, resentment, and boredom in a marriage. So make it a priority to recognize all of the wonderful things that your spouse is and does for you. Then, make sure that your spouse know how much you value him or her. On top of that, value your spouse with your thoughts by focusing on the positive in the relationship and remembering all of the reasons that you married this person.

Encouragement. We all need it, and many of us give it to others. In a marriage, encouragement is a huge emotional need on both the part of the husband and the wife. Typically, men need encouragement that they are doing  a good job, both at work and as husbands, while women need encouragement related to their relationships and their feelings. Of course, both partners in a relationship desire encouragement in all areas of their lives, and not all men and women follow this exact pattern. Either way, though, both men and women need encouragement from their spouses. I often encourage my husband by telling him that he is doing a great job at work and that I am proud of his success. He often encourages me when I feel sad about a friendship or something difficult that happened to me. We both encourage each other by offering unconditional support  and keeping each other motivated spiritually. This aspect of our marriage cements our relationship as life partners, because we both know that we can always find comfort and encouragement in each other’s arms. I advise anybody who is married or thinking about getting married one day to remember this; genuinely care about your spouse’s individual successes and struggles, and don’t forget to encourage them at all times.

Keeping L.O.V.E. in a marriage is one of the keys to success and happiness. In the end, it all comes down to this; in a marriage, our goal should be to love our spouse the way that Jesus loves us. He finds delight in us, was selfless to the point of dying for us, sees us as precious and priceless treasure, and gave us his Holy Spirit to offer us encouragement anytime we need it. He is the definition of love. As a wife, I know that I will never love my husband as much as Jesus loves me, and my husband will never be able to fulfill me completely the way that God can. But I also know that God gave me a husband and vice versa so that we can grow to become more like Him. I am committed to following Christ’s example of love, and because of that, I know that my marriage can’t fail. Personally, I think that’s pretty awesome.


This week was the first full week back in school for my husband and I. It’s been a really busy week trying to settle in to our new schedules and fitting in all of the other activities we want to do as well. Making it even harder was the fact that we both had to change our class schedules in the middle of the week.

We had decided that it would be fun to take a class together this year, so we’d both registered for a “Critical Reading and Writing” course that seemed interesting to us. Unfortunately, on the first day of class we realized what a mistake that was. The professor was, to put it kindly, a tad bit unorthodox. He spent the majority of the class period ranting unintelligibly about the philosophical process of reading and writing. He also randomly began yelling at us with a generous use of profanity several times, and for no apparent reason. Besides that, the class was clearly going to take a much less practical direction than either of us had expected, and once we discovered that, neither of us were interested in the class anymore. By the time the first day of class rolled around and we figured all of this out though, we had less than 24 hours to find new classes to replace it with.

Eventually I settled on taking “Health and Wellness,” since it was one of the only open classes left that would fit in my schedule and it’s a graduation requirement anyway. Cory chose a high level “Public Economics” class for the same reason; it was one of only a few open classes that would fit in his schedule, and the only one that he was remotely interested in. Luckily for me, “Health and Wellness” has turned out to be my favorite class this semester. Unfortunately for my husband, though, his class choice turned out to be a bad one. On the first day, he was told that the class has an unspoken prerequisite of calculus, which he’s never learned, and that a very thorough and detailed understanding of basic economics is vital as well. On top of that, the professor told him that it will be impossible for him to take another upper level course at the same time as this one, but he was already enrolled in another upper level course that he enjoys. In other words, the class is completely over his head. To compound the problem, the deadline to change class schedules had already passed when he had his first day of the class.  So now he is stuck with a class that he can’t pass, with no way of changing it.

After all of this chaos, my husband and I came to a conclusion. Ever since we first came to our university, we’ve had a lot of trouble with financial aid, bad professors, bad courses, unhelpful faculty, a spiritually hostile environment, a degree program we weren’t interested in, and an inability to affect change in any of these areas. As a result of the new problems we’ve already been dealing with this year, we finally decided that we didn’t belong at this school and we started seriously looking into transferring. The decision was almost made for us to withdraw and move on, when we realized that there were some insurmountable difficulties for us in transferring. To sum it up, our university’s curriculum is essentially incompatible with any other college’s. As a result, very few of our units would transfer anywhere else and we would basically have to start over wherever we went. Clearly, this was not an option for us. And so, all of our hopes for a better college experience were promptly squashed, and the sobering reality sunk in that we are, in fact, stuck at this school.

We were still dealing with that reality when we went to church on Thursday night. Little did we know that God had something very important to say to us!

The message at church was about troubles in life. More specifically, it was about why we have them and how to handle them. During many points during the message, our pastor mentioned ideas that seemed to be directly for us. Oh yes, I have no doubt that God was speaking to us that night. And this is what He told us:

God allows us to go through circumstances in life that aren’t always pleasant in order to teach us things. He lets us go through troubles in order to make our characters more like Jesus. By dealing with trials, we develop endurance and learn to rely on God more. In fact, the Bible tells us to rejoice in the face of trials! Does this mean that we have to be happy about bad things that happen to us? No. It means that we should learn to praise God despite bad things that happen to us. Not only does this bring glory to God, but it’s the way that we experience true joy. If we can praise God even during the bad times in life, that’s really saying something. God wants to bring us comfort and peace during these times, and keeping our hearts open to Him instead of closing them off allows Him to do that. Trusting His wisdom and goodness is the trick to getting through trials without losing your joy.

For Cory and I, being stuck at a university that we really don’t like is a difficult trial. At first, we didn’t understand why this was happening to us, or why there was nothing that we could do about it. But at church God reminded us about His promise to use all bad things for the good. Although we don’t necessarily know what God wants to teach us through this particular trial, we do trust that He knows what He is doing. That doesn’t mean that I like being at this school any more than I did a few days ago, but it does mean that I’m not going to let it make me bitter. I’m determined to praise God for all of the blessings that He has given me, and for being the amazing and beautiful Creator that He is. Thinking about that is enough to put a smile on my face every day, no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

So what about you? Will you praise God through your trials? If you do, I promise that you will find a sense of peace and joy that nothing else can give you.

Falling in love… with Jesus!

Well, it’s official. I am now a married woman! Almost three weeks ago, my husband and I said our vows and celebrated our new lives together in the presence of many great friends and family members. It was a beautiful day that we will always remember, and I’m so glad that it’s over. Sure, it makes me feel a bit reminiscent when I think about how I’ll never have a wedding day again and how my special moment is over and gone forever. But to be completely honest, it’s a huge relief to be done with it. Planning a wedding truly is a stressful and time consuming job! Fortunately for me, the majority of the nine months that I spent planning were not particularly stressful (at least not because of anything wedding-related). The only really hectic time was the week before, but one week of over-the-top busyness is quite enough for me. And truly, I feel more happy to be married now than I could ever have felt about any special day, no matter how significant. Not to mention the awesome two weeks we got to spend afterwards on our honeymoon!

Of course, in the crazy lives of college students there always seem to be new things happening. For us, the next big thing was a weekend trip to Catalina Island for a church retreat, which we just returned from on Monday. That is what I really want to talk about!

For those of you who don’t know what a church retreat is, here’s a quick explanation; a church retreat is like a mini vacation that you go on with other people from your church for the purpose of enjoying one another’s company, and more importantly, enjoying God and getting to know Him better. They can be anywhere and anytime, from a snowy mountain camp in the winter to a beach-side camp in the summer, but they are all typically camp-style. In other words, you stay in a cabin with a bunch of other people of the same gender and eat planned meals in a cafeteria. You sleep in a sleeping bag, don’t have to wear makeup, and sometimes don’t have electricity. Best of all, you get to spend several hours a day if not more just learning about God, praying, worshiping, and otherwise growing closer to Him. It’s absolutely wonderful!

My husband and I just went on one such trip this past weekend, and it was one of the best spiritual experiences either of us have ever had. I learned so many great things about how God works and came to peace with many of the concerns, doubts, and questions I had before. For example, I discovered that God speaking is not some magical experience that you can’t ignore. He speaks in so many different ways and most of the time, it’s not “supernatural” at all. His voice is also very easy to ignore if you aren’t listening. As a woman who always wondered why I never heard God speak to me, this new information was extremely comforting. I found out that God has been speaking to me all along, and that I just need to learn to recognize it and stop looking so hard. It was right there in front of me the whole time!

Cory told me that he also learned a lot about God speaking and that he heard God’s voice in ways that he never had before. I personally saw my husband grow in his relationship with God so much this weekend, and I can’t even begin to explain how proud and happy that makes me.

All of this to say that I am developing a new obsession for Jesus. Fortunately, an obsession for Jesus is always a good thing and falling in love with Him over and over again is life-changing. I am a different person when I’m falling in love with Jesus than I am when I’m putting him on hold; I’m a more loving wife, a more patient and considerate daughter, a more caring friend, a more confident woman, and a ridiculously more joyful person. There is no greater sense of peace than the one that comes from putting God at the front and center of your life.

I’m praying for all of my readers to either discover Jesus for the first time or fall in love with Him more than ever before. I’m praying that all of my readers who are married, especially, remember to keep God in the very center of their marriages. There is no greater way to ensure marital success than to share yourselves spiritually with each other and with the God who created love.

If you want to talk to me about anything in this blog, please feel free to find me on facebook and send me a message! Just search for Heather Westropp. If you don’t use facebook of course (and I don’t blame you), you can always email me at heather@heatherwestropp.com. I’d love to hear your comments, concerns, thoughts, and anything else you’d like to share with me.

Thanks again for reading!