Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Missing in Action

working

I cannot believe that it's almost been a month since my last post. Since I started blogging in 2014 I don't think I've ever gone this long without sharing something. So let me give you a quick update on my life.

As many of you know the hubs and I were approached last year to do premarital coaching for a friend of his from college. After getting certified and working with our first couple things sort of took off. In addition to doing private sessions we've been asked to speak at different relationship themed events. While the whole process has been exciting being an introvert it's also been a bit draining for me. In order to carve out some time to rest (and sneak in a few extra spring workouts) I took a break from Whim to Wonder.

The break wasn't intentional at first. It started off more like 'I'll post tomorrow" and turned into 'I'll post next week' and here we are a month later. I was going to come back and act like nothing happened but that didn't seem fair. Things are changing y'all. We haven't finished sorting out all the details but I at least wanted to give my girls a heads up. I'll update the blog as we figure thing out.

Thanks for all your support!


*UPDATE* - I'll be doing a mini IG takeover tomorrow (4/12) and Thursday (4/13) FOR @HeGetsHer. Make sure to check out the story for my posts.


Equally Yoked (part 3)

Yoke 3

What exactly does it mean to be equally yoked?


Mike: It seems like we said many of the same things. I guess that means we’re equally yoked!

Cass: My first thought was 'that's my hubs'! I love when we're on the same page. Only he tends to make things sound much prettier than I do. 

Believing in the same religion is simply the first checkpoint of being equally yoked. The true importance lies in how a person’s beliefs, values and passions impact their lives, because it will inevitably impact yours as well. (Mike)

Mike: Being equally yoked only becomes a serious consideration or concern when you get serious about your relationship with God. It's more important than any relationship you have on earth, so whoever you join your life with should support that. It’s not about finding someone who is perfect, and you don’t want an exact clone of yourself (because that would be “perfect” right?).

Don't think of being equally yoked as a tit-for-tat comparison. Take the focus off the word equal, and replace it with balance.

Sometimes you may get weak, so that person on the other side of the yoke is there to help pull you up. There may be other times when you’re in the position to provide the support your spouse needs. The key is to be heading in the same direction when that happens, because the goal is to honor God as you grow to be more like Christ.

Cass: I'll say it again HAVE FAITH. I know the dating game can get super discouraging and you might be tempted to settle. Just don't. A crappy, or even good, relationship might look better than no relationship at all but you'll be kicking yourself once the shine wears off.

If you ask the tough questions sooner rather than later you won't be as emotionally attached. If you're not as emotionally attached you'll be less likely to make excuses or justify answers that don't mesh well with your own. It's tough at first but once you get the hang of it you'll be asking questions left and right.

In the meantime, make sure you dedicate some serious time to personal growth. It's important to be as good of a catch as who you hope to attract. (That's kind of the point of equally yoked…it goes both ways.)

Also make sure not to put your dreams on hold while you wait. Your life doesn't start once you become one half of a couple it's already in progress and you are the only one responsible for turning it into something you love.


We have a motto in our house #MarriagesNotWeddings .

A wedding only lasts a day but a marriage should last a lifetime. The hubs and I are passionate about helping couples achieve lifelong love.

 Find out what it means to be a Red Chair Couple at HeGetsHer.com today!


Equally Yoked (part 2)

Yoke 2

What exactly does it mean to be equally yoked?


Equally yoked is such a churchy word. It’s one of those sayings that people use so often that they assume they know the meaning through context without really understanding it.

On the surface, people interpret it to mean that two people in a relationship have to belong to the same religion.

In my opinion, it goes far beyond that. In order to understand something like this from the Bible, you have to know the context of the time it was written to understand how it’s used. So let’s start with the yoke (not to be confused with egg yolk). The yoke was a heavy wooden harness that farmers used to hitch two animals (usually oxen) together to plow a field. It was important for them to have a similar size and strength to move together evenly in a straight line. On top of the physical similarities necessary for balance, they also had to be going in the same direction once they were yoked together. One yoked oxen could not move without the other’s support and participation. A disagreement on direction would end in a pulling battle or no movement at all.

So how does this apply to dating? Think of marriage or a committed relationship as a spiritual yoke and ask yourself these questions:

·      Are you spiritually stronger than your partner or vice versa?

·      Do your morals and values mesh well with each other?

·      Are the two of you heading in the same direction?

Whatever your goals and objectives are for your life, make sure you choose a partner who is heading in the same direction so you don’t pull each around other in circles.

So how do you figure this out? Ask questions. Lots of them. What you want to learn is what are their beliefs and values? What matters most to them? They will give you a verbal answer with their words, but also evaluate how they live their lives. How do they spend their money? How do they spend their time? What matters most to them in life? If you disagree with any of these things, they will be a likely source of conflict if you live with them or plan to some day. Whatever you see or hear from them, believe it. Don’t overlook these differences with hopes of them changing in the future. It is extremely unlikely for people to change their core beliefs or values after marriage.

Another important aspect of being equally yoked with a person is truly knowing yourself. Before pursuing a serious relationship with someone else, you should have solid answers to all the questions I recommended for you to ask. Being equally yoked is a two way street, so make sure you’re living up to all of your expectations.

 


Mike D. is passionate about the ability relationships have to change lives. He specializes in public speaking, relationship and premarital coaching. Find out more at HeGetsHer.com today!


Equally Yoked (part 1)

Yoke 1

What exactly does it mean to be equally yoked?


The term “equally yoked” is something I heard a lot while growing up. As a teen I simply thought it meant I was only supposed to date guys from the same faith background as myself (advice I very rarely followed). It wasn’t until after college, when I became intentional about whom I dated, that I realized someone could say they believed the same things I did but we could still be far from equally yoked.

My adult interpretation of equally yoked goes much deeper than my teenage one. The first checkpoint is the same; do we believe the same things spiritually? As a Christian that question means much more than ‘does he believe’ because as James 2:19 says even the demons believe. Rather it’s important to know how theology influences a potential mate’s life. Those beliefs can shape what a person eats, listens to, even when and how they worship. It’s important to consider how those decisions mesh with yours.

After I started paying attention to what a guy believed I realized another important question to ask was ‘what is he passionate about?’ Once we're married we spend countless hours with the person we once dated. So how that person spends their time is extremely important. Your interests don’t have to be identical but they should be complimentary.  A guy could look great on paper but if your passions are conflicting it might be hard to make things work without, at least some, resentment.

Lastly, you'll need to consider if the relationship challenges you and makes you better.  Picture an actual yoke. Its purpose is to connect to two, similar in size and strength, animals in order to plow a field. Now let's imagine one of those animals decides not to move forward. Rather it decides to rest in the warm sunshine and stay glued to one spot. Its partner can try to pull for a while but without equal buy-in the pair will never make progress.

Overall you’re looking for someone who’s a great fit with who you are now as well as who you hope to be in the future. Since equally yoked is a traditionally religious phrase I feel comfortable telling you to have faith. It might seem like you’ll never meet Mr. Right but waiting is much less painful than trying to force things to work with a guy who’s intended to be someone else’s husband.


Make sure to come back Wednesday for a guy's perspective from Mike D. of HeGetsHer.com (aka the hubs)!


I Can't Believe I Said That

regret

A couple of weeks ago a coworker asked what I wanted the hubs to get me for Christmas. I responded with a list that consisted primarily of books and a couple other items priced under $20. Needless to say she was unimpressed.

Then she asked what I planned on getting the hubs. I struggled to answer explaining that he only really wanted one thing and we had already purchased it the previous weekend. The one thing he wanted cost more than my whole Christmas list put together and doubled. So it shouldn't have surprised me when she stared at me with a shocked expression and said:

'Well if he gets that you better pick out something just as expensive.'

I looked back at her in disbelief. Did she seriously think that was how a healthy relationship worked; going tit-for-tat? I was appalled. I was outraged. I was convicted.

When the time came to pay for Mike's gift I too had a selfish thought flash through my mind. I ran through a list of equally priced, yet frivolous, items I decided I was now allowed to purchase since he was getting something big.  My practical nature won over and I quickly batted those thoughts away but still;

I can't believe I said that.

(Internally)

The hubs is so good about buying things I want throughout the year that all I could possibly want were the new release books I'd put on my list. However, for some reason I still felt the need to keep things even. I knew it was wrong but I didn't realize how ugly the thought was until I heard it coming out of someone else's mouth.

How would you feel if you had to sit and listen to someone read your thoughts aloud?

I'll be honest and say I'd feel more than a little squirmy (if that's even a word) because getting jealous of Mike's fancy gift is nothing compared to what I think when I'm in traffic or frustrated at work. So often we feel justified that all we did was think ugly things instead of actually saying them. I mean doesn't Matthew 15:11 say:

It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.

It does…but. (Gotta love those buts) Luke 6:45 also says:

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

So basically our thoughts matter. It is not enough to pat ourselves on the back because we didn't say the nasty thing we were thinking. We need to learn to control our thoughts so that nasty thought never gets a chance to take root in our hearts. We do this by committing to be ruled by the Word of God rather than by our fleeting emotions.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Philippians 4:8

When we focus on the good in our lives we are less bothered by the bad. When we take time to pray for those who are worse off than ourselves we can truly appreciate how blessed we are in spite of our perceived injustices. So as you begin planning out your goals for 2017 why not prioritize the health of your thought life over finally getting a flat tummy. I promise it's worth 1,000 times more in the grand scheme of things.

I need to be a better friend

call me

I just got back from our fall high school retreat. I'm still recovering can you hear my sore throat through the computer?

The theme of this retreat was House Party. We talked about different relationships. Who would we invite to our "house party" and how those people influence us? I was overwhelmed by how transparent my group was about the negative influences in their lives. Seeing students self-identify areas of growth is always my favorite part of a weekend like the one I just had.

At the end of retreat we do this thing called Silence Covenant where we break away from the group to just be still. We spend one-on-one time with God reflecting over what we've learned and how to put it into practice in our "real lives". Contrary to my expectations, when I envisioned where I wanted to be in six months it did not include cutting off toxic relationships. I realized that I needed to carve out more time for my relationships.

If you've been around the blog for any period of time you've probably seen me share how my life is filled with busy. I pack my schedule with so many good things I don't have time to do life with people (other than the hubs). Meaning I knew my lack of close friendships was a problem. However, it still surprised me when my eyes filled with tears as I confessed to my group how disobedient I felt.

There are people in my sphere of influence that I know I should be pouring into more but I'm just not. A big reason is fear of rejection. If I just give people the surface level/"perfected" version of myself then they're much less likely to reject me. But relationships like that don't add much value to anybody's life.

A big part of the Silence Covenant is "counting the cost". Literally mapping out what sacrifices have to be made to accomplish what God has shown you. While thinking on this my mind immediately flashed to something our retreat speaker, Curvine, said during one of our leader meetings:

You can influence people from the platform but you impact people through encounters.

If I take an honest look at my life I notice that I spend much more time on a platform talking at people than in community talking with them. My cost for the next six months will be saying no to the things I've been finding my worth in instead of God. In this season that means stepping down from certain leadership positions and groups where I've been motivated more by status than mission. I need to remind myself that there is nothing I can do to make myself more valuable in God's eyes because my value is determined by Jesus' sacrifice and not my works.

I want to challenge you to carve out some time today to do your own Silence Covenant.

  • Where do you feel God is calling you in the next six months?
  • What is holding you back from reaching that place?
  • What sacrifices or changes will you have to make to get there?

It won't be easy. Like I told my group at retreat ' you WILL get attacked when you take a stand for God". But somehow, I promise, it's always worth it in the end. Will you be brave enough to come on this journey with me?

 

I'm (re)Learning to Walk

alarm

3:14 am

I awoke to a burning pain that shot through my body.

My voice came out a tiny whisper as I called to my husband for help. Nothing. So I decided to make the trek to the kitchen for my pain medication myself.

The moment I tried to put weight on my newly stitched ankle I collapsed. After a few more failed attempts the only thing I could think to do was crawl. I made my way to the island where I pulled myself up onto the stool to grab the bottle that would give me relief.

That was four nights ago.

This morning I drove to work. I had to ignore the pain that came with each push of the brake pedal in rush hour traffic. I had to laugh off the stares caused by my newly acquired limp. I had to push past the discomfort.

I recently heard Christine Caine quote her doctor saying;

The pain of recovery is often greater than the pain of the injury.

That's so true.

I can't begin to describe the pain I felt when the glass sliced through my skin and blood came pouring out. I screamed like someone in a 90's horror film. But each step I take on the road to recovery is even more painful. As I move forward my brain can't help but replay the initial moment of impact.

"This is going to hurt," it cries.

My chest tightens and my muscles tense. The fear that fills me while I brace myself for what's next makes everything harder. Isn't all of life like that?

After we experience a disappointment (a death, a breakup, a failure, anything really) it's easy to live in the memory. We start build walls to protect ourselves from ever experiencing what we went through again. The only problem is those walls also stop us from moving forward and keep us, forever, in that place of hurt.

To move forward we have to experience a bit more hurt before we get to "normal". Sometimes forward movement looks like a desperate crawl in the middle of the night. That's ok. After you successfully crawl you might limp and while you're limping you might find yourself wanting to do more. A desire that you didn't have before the incident will come in and you'll find yourself wanting to run.  

Run, towards what's next.

That's what happens when you experience freedom. You want more of it and you want to share it with others. So don't stay in bed. Get up, because someone is waiting on the other side of your story.

baby steps

Here are a few tools to help you. No need to lace up your shoes you can do these while sitting down.

How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich is an amazing book that I can't recommend enough. If you aren't ready to commit to reading a whole book check out their Journaling Awareness Worksheet. Print it along with a copy of the Soul Words List, grab some tissue, and find a quiet corner.

The first step is usually the worst but you've got this.

Tough Talk (part 3)

Mike: My immediate reaction when reading Cass Eli’s response to the question was “she stole all my answers!” (even though she wrote her’s first).

Cass: Ditto! When I read his post I had to ask "did you peek at my post?" And I didn't completely believe his response of 'of course not'.


We shared many of the same thoughts (which is a symptom of our marriage), but the word choice was eerily similar. I think that confirms both the accuracy of the answer and our honesty in revealing it. Having been in previous relationships that became more serious than they should have, we’ve lived this situation firsthand.  


Mike: Hopefully hearing everything twice helped it to really sink in. Both posts can be summed up by two sentences that jumped off the page in Step 3 of Part 1.

If he thinks it’s about him then he’ll think he can talk you out of it (eventually). Make it clear that your decision is not personal and also not negotiable.


If you follow the steps laid out in Part 1 and take them seriously, you’ll be set up for success. No matter what his response is, you’ll be prepared to move forward in a way that will be honoring to God and yourself. If he loves God and you, he will honor this decision just the same.


Cass: And if he doesn't honor your decision trust that God will. I'm so thankful my ex wasn't ok with my decision to stop having sex (and even more thankful I didn't cave and stay in the relationship). Because that decision is what ultimately led to me marrying Mike. *insert Awww here*

Tough Talk (part 2)

Alright this is a dangerous question, because if there’s one thing that a man can get sensitive about, it’s sex.

Before I share my thoughts about this from the average guy’s perspective, the big brother in me wants to say congratulations! I’m not only proud of you for finding this revelation, but I commend you for committing to being obedient to what you’ve learned.

Okay so this one is hard for a few reasons.

1.     It’s hard to quit! Once you’ve developed an appetite for something, it’s not easy to forget it. This is undoubtedly true for sex. Remember, I’m speaking for the guys here. You may not feel as strongly about the difficulty to quit, but the most important aspect of this life change is consistency. I want to encourage you to be fully committed to your abstinence before mentioning it to your boyfriend. He will have a much harder time accepting your decision if it is not a strong conviction in your heart. Unless God is working on him to feel the same way (which is the best case scenario), he will look for any possible loophole or compromise to try to salvage any physical contact you will allow. Even if he knows it’s right, do not give him a reason to discredit your conviction by attempting to straddle the fence.

2.     The second and main reason I said this is a dangerous question is because it directly attacks the male ego. Warning: He will likely think this decision is a form of rejection or punishment. My advice to you is to affirm your feelings for him and reassure him by letting him know this is a personal decision that indicates a change in your relationship with God rather than your relationship with your boyfriend.

3.     He may not accept it. Please be prepared for whatever his response may be. It is possible for him to disagree with your decision and choose to end the relationship. Aside from a strong devotion to Christ, very few things can inspire a man to suppress his desire for sex, so it is very difficult for him to imagine that you could. He may accuse you of being unfaithful or something else to try to rationalize the situation.

I’m sure there are a million other questions or concerns swirling through your head that I couldn’t even try to imagine answering. These are the best kinds of questions for us to receive, because it’s one I think we will all have the opportunity to learn from. I can’t wait to read what Cass said. Friday’s post should be very interesting!

Tough Talk (part 1)

I recently decided to stop sleeping with my boyfriend. But I haven’t broken the news to him yet. Any suggestions?

While I agree that cutting off the physical aspect of your relationship is absolutely necessary I know this decision couldn’t have been an easy one for you. So let’s just take a minute to celebrate the spiritual maturity you’re showing.

*cue confetti*

Now let’s get real. Regardless of how he takes the news the process is going to be difficult and you need to be prepared for that. Begin with the end in mind. So let’s look at the possible “ends”.

Option A - Your boy toy has been feeling the same conviction and you both jump happily into your new life of celibacy. Things go great for a little while but then you realize you have no idea how to walk this walk and y’all end up back in bed together.

Option B - Your other half begrudgingly says he understands your decision hoping it’s just a phase. When he sees that you’re serious about this whole no sex thing he begins pressuring you. You either cave and are filled with guilt or stand firm and he decides this isn’t what he signed up for and ends the relationship.

Option C - Your boyfriend thinks you and you’re decision are crazy. He doesn’t even waste his time playing nice. You are now single, party of one.

Cheerful isn’t it?

Ok so I know those aren’t all the possible scenarios. I only gave you the worst case ones. I just want you to make this decision with full knowledge of all that could possibly go wrong. (Just don’t forget that there’s a chance things could work out perfectly fine too.)

But what you came here for was practical advice so here goes.

Step One - Talk to him. You can’t just avoid situations that normally lead to your having sex and hope it all works out. You need to sit him down, sooner rather than later, and clearly explain your decision.

Step Two - Listen to what he thinks. You love this guy right? So regardless of if he agrees with you or not out of respect you need to let him be heard.

Step Three - Affirm that this is not an attack or a form of punishment. Make it clear that this decision is about your relationship with God. If he thinks it’s about him then he’ll think he can talk you out of it (eventually). Make it clear that your decision is not personal and also not negotiable.

Step Four - Decide what’s next, together. Does he want to end things? Then you have to respect his decision as well as yourself and let him go. This means cutting off all contact. Delete numbers, social media, and avoid face-to-face interaction. It’s so easy to fall back into sin. Don’t give yourself any room for error. Does he want to take this journey with you? Continue to…

Step Five - Create boundaries. You’ve heard the saying “if you fail to plan you plan to fail”. Decide what changes you are both comfortable with making to protect your purity. This could be not seeing each other after a certain time of night. It could mean you only go on group dates. Come to an agreement before you end up in a compromising situation.

Step Six - Get Accountability. Tell someone about the decision you have made and give them permission to check on how you’re doing.

At the end of the day you have to decide what you love more, the sin pattern you’ve fallen into or Jesus. God will honor whatever you give up for Him. If you decided to stay together but abstain from sex until marriage your relationship will be much stronger than if you got to that point by continuing in sin. If you end up losing the guy you thought was the best thing that ever happened to you God will bring someone along who makes that “best” look like nothing in comparison. Trust Him.

 

WINTER TOES (PT. 3)

This is so exciting – our first week of tag team posts is almost complete! We were asked about having cold feet before our wedding day. We both answered independently on Monday (Cass) and Wednesday (Mike), and this is the conclusion. So if you haven’t read Parts 1 & 2 of this week’s topic, we have so much more for you to enjoy.

In the interest of full transparency and honesty for you, as the reader, we did not see or discuss our answers until both of us metaphorically ‘put our pens down.’

It was interesting knowing what we expected each other’s answer to be, but wanting to peek to avoid an unpleasant surprise. We both started with started with an immediate and definite…

“No.”

…But the rest of the story shows that we were tempted to think otherwise.

We were both challenged with fearful thoughts or questions that we had to pray through. We ultimately had to come to the realization that it doesn’t always happen the way it does in the movies (Cass: although I want to pitch our story to Sherwood Pictures).

The lesson we learned from exploring the ‘cold feet crisis’ is that it is basically a mask for selfishness and insecurity. Selfishness says, “I might want or find something better.” Insecurity says, “What if he/she finds something better?” These are the thoughts behind the consumer mindset of marriage. Although this is a common sentiment in dating, you can’t approach marriage as you would if you were buying a pair of shoes or looking for the perfect teapot. At the point that someone choses to spend the rest of their life with you (and hopefully you do the same) it becomes your life together, and that’s an equal exchange with a strict policy of no returns.

Both lives may be crazy or messed up in unique ways, but the important thing is that they are both whole. The fear comes from expecting someone to complete you, and then realizing that no other human can. It takes a completeness that can only from God for 2 to become 1. When you think about it, it’s actually 3 = 1. Pretty remarkable math isn’t it?

Winter Toes (Pt. 2)

Did you get cold feet before your wedding day?

If anybody asked me if I had cold feet, I would quickly tell them "No, I've been ready!" Something I've learned in doing youth ministry is the first answer is always the polite answer. The first answer is always the shortest answer to avoid an engaging conversation. The truth comes the second time a question is asked. The second time suggests the first response wasn't good enough, so it forces the person to stop and really think about their answer. This is that second time asking, because the short, polite answer doesn't make for a good debut blog post.

Now that I've built up the anticipation, I'll say I did not have cold feet. I did, however, have to evaluate and question things when my ideals were challenged in situations. Any major life decision deserves deep consideration. For a person who doesn't believe in divorce, I take this commitment very serious.

In tough times, that little, annoying voice would sneak into my head and say, "You don't have to go through with this." That little voice was annoying, but it wasn't as evil as it sounds. It reminded me that getting married was a choice I didn't have to make, but it was a choice I was making that I would continue to confidently make for the rest of my life.

The Wikipedia definition of "cold feet" is apprehension or doubt strong enough to prevent a planned course of action. I may have experienced a little apprehension on one of Cass' particularly bratty days, but it was never strong enough to prevent our planned course of action. I never doubted my love for her or the calling God placed on our lives when we decided to be together.

I think most cases of cold feet come from lack of confidence in your self. You either doubt your ability to be a good spouse, question your worthiness to deserve a good partner or don't believe you are capable of honoring the commitment of being faithful. The problem I see through these three broad generalizations is a dependence on people.

"Cold feet" settles in when we realize the other person is as human as we are. 

The moment you have that big fight or you discover a flaw (you thought) didn't exist before, you lose faith in that person. Well I think losing faith in your wife is a good thing. It's even better if she's still just your girlfriend or fiancé. Losing faith eliminates expectations and allows a person to be themselves. I trust Cass, but the only thing I expect is for her to let me down sometimes. I only have faith in God, and his promise about marriage is THERE WILL BE

TROUBLE (see 1 Corinthians 7:28).

So allow me to share my feet warmers with you, she won't be perfect, but neither will you. If you both put your faith in God, instead of each other, you decrease your chances of being disappointed by 100%! If you're experiencing cold feet, my hope is that you're transferring that faith from her to Him.

Winter Toes (Pt. 1)

via Kiyah C. Photography

Did you get cold feet before your wedding day?

Nope.

That was easy. Check back Wednesday for Mike’s response.

 

Ok, ok so that wasn’t a sufficient answer. Let’s start by defining “cold feet”. A quick Google search will tell you that the saying, cold feet, means ‘a loss of nerve or confidence’. The entertainment industry has romanticized this very unromantic notion by depicting countless brides and grooms freaking out before their wedding and calling it quits.

This blows my mind.

I get that it can be scary to say I’m going to spend the rest of my life with this guy. But honestly if that scares you I don’t think you’re ready for marriage. That fear comes from a selfish heart. Seriously, why wouldn’t you want to spend forever with the guy who got down on one knee and declared his undying love for you? I mean most of us spend our lives chasing that sort of commitment and then the second we get it we freak, why? The most frequent answer I’ve heard to that question is “what if there’s someone better?”

Selfish.

I know you’ve got it going on, or whatever, but reality is there will always be someone prettier, smarter, and more spiritual than you (and me) too. Those types of reasons can’t be the end-all be all of whether or not you marry someone. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be attracted to your spouse physically, intellectually, and spiritually. But if you only want to marry your significant other because they’re the hottest, or smartest, or any other –est you’ve ever dated you’ll undoubtedly feel like you settled five years, or even months, down the line when someone even more –est than him walks into your life.

So how did I know Mike was the one?

Our love story is such a God story that we should literally pitch it to Sherwood Pictures or some other Christian movie-maker. I understand that isn’t the norm but I do think there were signs that every girl can be on the lookout for.

Sign 1 – I didn’t run.

So after going on my rant about selfishness I have to confess that for many years I was selfish. My relationship with Mike wasn’t the first in which talks of marriage ever came up. It was, however, the first time I didn’t want to throw a temper tantrum, hide in my room, or run for the hills. While on the outside I smiled and stayed in those relationships for as long as I could on the inside I was a mess. I panicked over the idea of losing my freedom or being stuck with someone forever.

Sign 2 – I had peace.

During the pre-Mike seasons, shared above, God was working overtime on me. I didn’t understand how I could have all the on paper qualities one should look for in a spouse and still not be sure. I came to the conclusion that something must be wrong with me. And there was. I was looking for a man to complete me and in each situation I could see the finish line (marriage) but I still felt incomplete.

Sign 3 – I saw our calling.

That’s because I was incomplete. I needed to take time to let God make me whole before I could ever think of joining my life with someone else. By the end of that season I was confident and secure in who I was and what my life should look like. I came to a point where I didn’t need marriage to give me my worth and then in walks Mike. We had seen each other, in passing, for years but it wasn’t until we shifted our focus to God’s plan for our individual lives that we were able to really see each other.

And that changed everything.

Yes, there were moments when I thought, “do I have what it takes to be a great wife”. And moments when I thought, “what if he wakes up one day and realizes I’m a hot mess”. I had fear because the devil hates marriage and he’s going to attack one that’s destined to do great things for the Kingdom.  At the end of the day my marriage wasn’t just about me. It wasn’t just about Mike. It was about dedicating all of my life and my greatest ministry to the One who gave up everything for me, Jesus.

I’m just lucky enough to be able to do that with my best friend.

Save Me

 
Death to Stock
 
Y'all I hate small talk. If I could I'd stay locked in my apartment, alone, under a blanket, holding my breath to avoid it.
 
Unfortunately, that's not always possible. 
 
We have to do life with people and once we push past the awkward stage of small talk we sometimes find our greatest friends.
 
That being said it's still comforting to know that other people struggle with "dinner party convo" as much as I do. Here are a few outs as shared by the New York Times.

Q: “Hey, how’s it going?”
 
In this instance, the speaker is somewhat interested in knowing how you are, but only the smallest details. Don’t over-share, but don’t under-share, either. Keep your answer succinct and stop doing that thing with your hands. Everyone is watching you do that thing with your hands and the longer you stand there, the more prominent the hand thing becomes.
 
Q: “Where do you work?”
 
Go to the bathroom. Now, now, now. This conversation has shifted dramatically, and you need to get out of there. Say something like, “Be right back,” or “Gotta go pee,” but don’t say it too loud, or too weird. Say it normal, for crying out loud. BE NORMAL.
 
Q: “What time is it?”
 
Look at your watch. It’s 6:47. Do you say “quarter to 7”? Maybe. That’s probably safe. But then what if this person has somewhere to be at 7? Now your whole “quarter to 7” statement makes her think she has an extra two minutes to get there. Cut to 13 minutes from now and that person is late for her extremely important obligation. Say “6:48.” Yes. That’s good. Breathe.
 
| read the full article here |

Spotlight| Cup of Jo

via Glossier

Before starting at Cup of Jo, I worked as a beauty editor for years. Surrounded by experts in the industry, I discovered exactly what beauty obsessives swear by, which drugstore items actually work and how to do your brows once and for all. Here are the top five things I

ve learned

The Best Way To Moisturize

Even before my beauty editor days, I was pretty fanatical about my skincare routine, but I rarely moisturized my body. Now, it

s the first thing I do when I turn off the shower, after lightly toweling off, when

my skin is still damp

(that

s the secret!). Skin tightens when it dries, so it

s best to get right to it. Plus, the water left on your body helps lock the moisture in. I keep a bottle of

almond oil

in the shower (I use it instead of lotion because it leaves my skin so so soft). Now I never have dry patches on my elbows or knees, and I

ve grown to love this little daily ritual.

The New Lipstick

When Emily Weiss of

Into the Gloss

launched

Glossier

, most of the beauty editors I knew were skeptical. Could a beauty blogger really create a legit makeup and skincare line? But very quickly, we were all converted. The products are that good. And the

Generation G lipstick

is the superstar. It

s like no other lipstick out there: it

s sheer AND matte. So it goes on like a tinted lip balm, but without the shiny finish

like you just ate a cherry popsicle. I wear it in

Crush

(the perfect subtle rosy shade) basically every day.

The Spot To Remember

Your face starts at your nipples,

a wise

celebrity facialist

once told me. Our neck and décolletage are one of the first places to show signs of aging, yet it

s an area that doesn

t get much skincare love. Now when applying

my facial moisturizer

, I always make sure to put it on my neck and chest in an upward motion. Lately products made specifically for this area have been popping up, but the ones for your face will do the trick just fine.

The Power of The Brow

The eyebrow is the dark horse of facial features. Sure, red lipstick or curled lashes will demand attention, but it

s the brows that truly define a face. (

Science agrees

.) A poorly

-

shaped pair can age someone, while full, more natural brows look youthful and fresh. Like many of us who lived through the

90s, I

m dealing with the patchy aftermath of years of over

-

plucking (thank goodness for

brow powder

). I

ve since kicked my tweezer

-

happy ways, and now am growing out my brows (with the help of a

serum

)

just plucking rogue hairs along the brow bone and trimming with

scissors

when they get too long.

The Trick For Lazy Nights

The number one rule of wearing makeup (and having great skin) is you must take it off before you go to bed. I heed this pretty seriously, but there are nights where I can

t rally for my multi

-

step regimen. This is when

micellar water

the beauty product French women swear by

comes in. I dab it on cotton rounds and use it to remove all the makeup from my face and then again to cleanse. While cleansing wipes (which I still use on vacation) basically just rub stuff around on your skin, micellar water actually removes the dirt

and

moisturizes in the process.

Thoughts? Any other beauty tips to share?

From house to home

Guys, today I get the keys to my new apartment! My current lease isn't up until the end of the month. So I'm able to slowly move my stuff in and really think about how I want the space to look.

We've been blessed to inherit really cool pieces from friends and coworkers. So there isn't much we need in the furniture department. But one of the things we're searching for now is a unique coffee table. Meaning Justina from The Jungalo was right on time when she shared

this post

:

15 Creative Ways to Make Money

 
Getting a handle on your finances is an important aspect of living a financially free life. Most often, the emphasis is usually on cutting back expenses in order to make ends meet, but what if I told you there was another way? Yes, cutting back on expenses is a great place to start. But, adding more money to your bottom line will not only give you the financial freedom you seek, it will also allow you the freedom to maintain your current lifestyle. The following are 15 creative ways to make extra money:

1. Sell Free Stuff from Craigslist

Craigslist is a great place to exchange goods and services and, for the most part, it is usually done for money. However, a little known fact is that craigslist is also a great place to get freebies. Whether someone is getting rid of something because they no longer have room for it or they have to abruptly leave their home, city, or state; there are some rare gems that you can resell for a decent return. The key is to look for free stuff on Craigslist that is currently selling on Craigslist or elsewhere. Some items will be in great shape but if not, spruce it up and resell either on Craigslist, a flea market, or a garage sale.

2. Sell Your Photos

Do you have a keen eye? Are your photos museum-worthy? Well, if you answered yes or no to any of those questions then you can sell your photos to stock photo agencies like Shutterstock, iStock, Adobe and other similar companies. It really doesn’t matter if you are a professional or novice; you still have the opportunity to make some money. Most work on a per download basis where you get paid a percentage every time someone downloads your picture. 

3. Rent Out Your Room

If you have a spare room in your living space and want to generate some side income, consider renting it out. Use Airbnb to put your home to work for you, whether you wish to rent out your entire home or a single room. Think about this…If you’ll be traveling a lot this year, rent out your home to make some money while you’re away that can help pay for all of those adventures. That sounds like a great way to make some extra cash and travel for near free, if you ask me. And don’t worry, there are security protections in place that help make this option less terrifying than most would think. 

4. Sell Your Skills

Do you have a voice that Simon Cowell would pay a compliment to? Are you a talented graphic designer that can take any concept and bring it to life? Are you an artist who can give Michelangelo a run for his money? If so, sites like Task Rabbit and Thumbtack are great platforms to sell your skills. These aren’t only limited to those with creative skills; you can sell editing services, research services, typesetting, and the list goes on. 

5. Teach Classes Online

Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned professional, there is something that you are good at! I am stating this as fact because even if it’s something you have never gotten credit for, chances are you have a skill that others may find valuable. Using this skill to make some extra income is possible thanks to platforms like SkillShare, Udemy and Teachable.com. Many top experts use this as a lucrative way to earn passive income but you don’t have to be a top expert to take advantage of this option. 

6. Become a Field Agent

You may think I’m talking about the FBI, but I am actually talking about the Field Agent app. You simply sign up for an account and do small tasks around town for different clients. Your task can range from checking prices at the local supermarket to conducting surveys. You get paid based on the assignment and you get to choose which you want to participate in. 

7. Become a Secret Shopper

If you have a great memory, can pay attention to details, and report on what you see and experience, then making money as a secret shopper will be a cinch for you. Becoming a secret shopper is as simple as you registering with a company that provides that service, then going undercover to different stores and reporting your experience as a customer. You are paid for your insight and while you are at it you can enjoy some free meals, traveling and shopping. Not only are you earning money and perks but you are also helping to set the tone for how real clients should be treated. 

8. Offer to Babysit for Busy Professionals

Babysitting may seem like an obvious place to start when wanting to make some extra money and you may be thinking that you are not cut out to babysit, but here’s the twist. Look for moms and dads who are busy professionals who have small children under five. They will most likely tell you that they don’t remember the last time they were able to enjoy a quiet night out. Offering your services to this niche population will not only be a lucrative undertaking, but an easy job to do as well because chances are you will be simply house-sitting as the children sleep. If you have extensive experience in child care, consider signing up for sites like Care.com where you can set your schedule of availability.

9. Give Your Opinion

When you were a child, you might remember your parents telling you to “mind your own business,” but as an adult taking heed to this advice can cost you. This is because you can get paid to mind other people’s business. There are companies that will pay you to participate in focus groups, phone surveys, online surveys, and even product trials.

10. Join a Direct Selling Company

Companies like Avon and Mary Kay have stood the test of time and they allow you to start your own business for very low money. Becoming a sales rep for a direct selling company is one of the easiest ways to earn some money, especially if you’re selling something you use and/or love.  

11. Drive People Around

You can really make a decent living becoming a driver for either Lyft or Uber. If a living isn’t what you are after, driving people around can still give you that needed boost in your finances by only working part-time. 

12. Get Paid to Listen 

If you love music, you’ll love this gig. Simply head over to Slicethepie.com and start reviewing unsigned artists and bands to earn some extra cash. Your payment per review is based on the quality of the reviews you turn out on the site, so it may take a little time to build up your reputation. But according to Slicethepie, “The better your review, the bigger the bonus payment.” The site also offers a referral program where if any of your friends sign up using your referral code and write reviews, then you’ll receive  bonus payments for every review they submit. 

13. Deliver Meals

Join apps like GrubHub or Postmates and deliver to-go food on your free nights or weekends. You also have the opportunity to get tips and the freedom to make your own schedule. 

14. Clean Out Your Closet

We've all stepped up to the conisgnment store counter to find out that the sweater from J Crew we never had the chance to wear is only worth $3. Womp. By selling your excess or used clothing on apps like Poshmark, you have the freedom to set your price and wait. Poshmark even provides the shipping label for you. If it doesn't work out, you can always head back to your local consignment store or put the items on Craigslist.

15. Become a Dog Walker

Sign up with sites like Rover.com or Wag! to walk dogs or care for pets and earn some extra cash. Sign on at your convenience and help out local pooches whose owners are stuck at work or out of town on business. If the apps don't service your area, contact local grooming and boarding to let them know you are available for pet sitting or dog walking. 
 
 

Dr. Bombay's

One of my favorite places in the city is Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party. It’s a cozy, sometimes crowded, hole in the book-lined wall. That’s where we’re meeting today for tea.

via Dr. Bombay's

What’s in my cup: I’m not really sure what I’m drinking. To be honest I came for the scones and clotted cream. They’re amazing!

What’s on my mind: I don't mean to sound all super spiritual but Hebrews...more specifically Hebrews 5:11-6:12

While I was reading last week the following questions danced in my head and I haven’t been able to shake them:

Sure, I lead a small group but how much of the Bible do I really know? (5:11-12)

Yeah, I grew up in a Christian home but how many years of my life did I spend re-crucifying Christ in my rebellion? And is it possible I could do it all again? (6:4-6)

Have I become lazy? Are there really any godly women in my life that I want to imitate? (6:12)

Those are only a few. 

I don’t have a neat bow to tie around all those thoughts. However, the section title sums it up for me as a Warning Against Falling Away (NIV) or A Call to Spiritual Growth (NLT).

Nancy Guthrie once wrote "If your faith is real it should be growing. The growth may not be in dramatic spurts, and you may still have a long way to go, but ongoing growth is a critical sign of a spiritual life".

Who’s on my heart: You, silly! That’s why I scheduled this date. Don’t you think it’s long over due? How’s your spiritual life? How can I pray for you?

spotlight | Peaches to Pearls

Summer is the perfect time to eat light because it's way too hot for heavy foods (at least it is if you live in the South like me). One of my favorite summer menu items is a smoothie bowl. I know it's almost identical to the, drink through a straw, smoothie I usually have but it feels a thousand times fancier. There's something about seeing the fruit slices and other toppings that just makes my heart sing.

I stumbled upon this dragon fruit smoothie bowl on

Peaches to Pearls

and thought "now that's a flavor I've never tried before. Let's add it to the list". Just in case you think it sounds yummy too I decided to share the recipe. Enjoy!