And then you thought, "Wait. Where did he go?!"
Well, I can't tell you his destination but I can tell you that my husband has been in another country for THREE AND A HALF WEEKS!! If you were to compile every single day that we had been apart since dating, prior to this trip... it would still not add up to three and a half weeks - 25 days - that we were away from each other at this one time.
If you're new to our blog, I'll fill you in on a few key details...
- JD travels for business pretty frequently.
- Thanks to his gracious company, I am allowed to travel with him unless security/safety issues arise.
- We choose not to post any real-time information when traveling.
And my sweet husband tried.
And we'll be celebrating it by sharing...
Disclaimer: You may be thinking, "Two years is
! Give me 50 years of experience, then I'll listen." Well, we hear you. Thus, this is not only 22 things JD and I have figured out throughout the past two years; rather, most of it consists of what wiser, more experienced couples have shared with us.
1. Put God first.
And when you do, glorious and unfathomable things will come to fruition. You will have a desperate desire to serve one another, (for the wife) to submit to the husband, and (for the husband) to love his wife and give himself up for her (Ephesians 5:22-33). Women often despise this verse, claiming that it is degrading to women and their independence. Timothy Keller confronts this view and states, "Immediately, however, [Paul] tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and 'gave himself up for her' (25), which is, if anything, a stronger appeal to abandon self-interest than was given to the woman" (The Meaning of Marriage, 53). Once again, our self-centeredness is challenged. When we allow God to overflow our hearts, self-sacrifice becomes just a bit easier.
2. Reflect Jesus.
"According to the Bible, God devised marriage to reflect his saving love for us in Christ, to refine our character, to create stable human community for the birth and nurture of children, and to accomplish all this by bringing the complementary sexes into an enduring whole-life union. (The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller, 16)" All things we do in life or in marriage should reflect Him.
3. Lay grace as your foundation.
Since pre-marital classes, we've heard that many things should be the foundation of our marriage. We've come to the conclusion that grace takes the cake. Trust is crucial, but when one of us breaks the other's trust, what would cover it? Grace, and grace alone. Grace says that when I give 0%, my husband will still give 100%. And when he gives 0%, I must give 100%. It is by the grace of God that we have been redeemed, and it is the grace that we have received which will sustain our marriage.
4. Respect each other.
Nothing breaks our hearts more than to hear a husband and wife knowingly put down one another. Sarcasm is simply not respectful. With each joke, there is always a tinge of honesty. Those hints of honesty can quickly damage a marriage.
5. Communicate clearly but don’t
your spouse to understand.
I graduated with a degree in Public Relations and I have quickly learned that I am one of the worst communicators on the planet. Especially in marriage. JD can say the most blunt and thorough sentence, and I still won't completely grasp at what he's getting at. Granted, it goes both ways. That's just the contrast in gender and humanity. Learn to work with it and be gracious towards one another in the process. :)
6. You can never say “I love you” enough.
Some may think it's cheesy but saying / hearing "I love you" pierces our hearts in such a beautiful way every time. Be creative. JD has written "I love you sooo much" on our chalkboards and constantly leaves sweet little notes for me. The first and last words we say / hear every day are "I love you". It can really change your attitude and perspective.
7. Serve one another.
An easy way to do this is to pack lunch for each other. It will help your budget a
nd it's fun. Write Post-It notes and place them in each other's lunchbox for an afternoon pick-me-up. Surprise your spouse with breakfast in bed. Husbands, open the doors for your wives. Be consistently spontaneous. It is a simple commitment that can transform a marriage.
8. Hold hands in public.
Most of us love seeing a couple that's been married for 50 years holding hands in the park... so why not start that sweet habit now?
9. Make Date Night Mandatory.
Strive to pursue each other even after the wedding ring hits the finger. JD and I have date night once a week (normally at Outback Steakhouse because we can't get enough of their Aussie Fries). It is an intentional time where we sit down and share what's going on in our lives together. The week is full and busy. Take time to relax and enjoy being married. On a strict budget? Visit the ladies at
for creative, budget-friendly date night ideas!
10. Wait a couple of years to have kids.
This may not be applicable to everyone... Babies are precious and we highly anticipate the day that we start a little Filipino family of our own. However, this has been advice from both couples who had babies five years after the wedding day, and couples who had babies nine months after the honeymoon. Marriage is tough enough to figure out without adding another element to the game plan. More importantly, marriage and the newlywed life is just fun. Enjoy it. Savor it. This is your one time to be selfish with one another. Take advantage of that.
11. Keep technology out of the bedroom.
We were advised not to have a TV in our bedroom. Thus, you will not find a TV in our bedroom. However, we've learned the hard way that computers, iPads and iPhones can be an even worse distraction. Simply put, keep technology out of the bedroom.
12. Go to bed at the same time together.
It's an intentional act that will carry your marriage a long way.
13. Argue peacefully, understand, forgive and laugh.
Don't raise your voice at each other. When you get into a heated argument, walk to separate rooms and develop a peaceful argument. Speak the truth in love to each other. Keep your disagreements between the Mr. and Mrs. Discuss your problems with the pastor if needed, but nobody else really needs to get involved. When the extended family gets involved, problems become escalated and very seldom do problems get better. In addition, your families will take sides and will most likely develop a bitterness toward your spouse because of the dispute.
14. Speak kindly.
ords sting and can leave scars that may not heal for quite a while. Kind words add a gentle spirit (and infinite brownie points) to the marriage.
15. Always greet your spouse at the door with a thousand kisses!
Do this and when your spouse comes home from work, it will start the evening off in quite a delightful and lighthearted way. It will also encourage your spouse to leave work at work.
16. Be active together and experience new things as one.
Go hiking. Join a gym and exercise together - or even better, run or bike together in the great outdoors. Go bowling. Take dance lessons. Cook together. Compromise on what you like to do. JD cuts fabric out for my store while I sew, and I play video games with him because that's one of his favorite things to do (I beat my first video game because of him - that's right - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).
Read the same books and start your own Mr. & Mrs. book club. Travel together (even if it's to a campground a few miles down the road). Learn photography or a new sport together (we're fans of racquetball). Serve at the downtown rescue mission together.
17. Take pride in your newlywed-ness.
We are one of those couples that would shout our love from the rooftops given the opportunity. We love each other, and we love marriage... and we take joy in making that known to everyone around us. In the process, we have received lots of awesome free stuff (pastries from Starbucks, dessert, concierge seating and free candy at the movie theater, you name it!). Even if we didn't receive any of these sweet gifts, we would still take major pride in being married - but it does add a few wonderful layers of icing to the cake. ;)
18. Plan your budget, stick to the budget and don’t forget to SAVE and GIVE.
is a great resource for a budgeting tools - especially if you like color and graphs!! Dave Ramsey's tools for budgeting is also a beneficial resource to help you both decide how to allocate your monthly budget. We use
19. Distance yourself from temptation.
Be aware. Never be alone in a room with someone of the opposite sex. You may think you're strong enough, but be smart and don't test it. My parents always had this rule and Billy Graham did too. So many pastors have fallen over the past couple of years because of adultery - don't buy in to thinking you're above the temptation. This goes along with anything intimate / private. Facebook messaging has become an issue in our society. We've known two people who began communicating with their ex-boyfriends via facebook message. They divorced their husbands and married the guys they were messaging with. Bottom line: don't be naive and run quickly from temptation.
20. Encourage each other.
In every aspect of life.
21. Surround yourselves with a community of like-minded married couples,
of all ages
Soak in wisdom from older couples, fellowship with couples your age, and mentor younger married couples.
22. Never stop being Newlyweds.
Because being newlyweds is fun and filled with adventure. Plus, there is nothing sweeter than to hear a couple at their 50th anniversary say that they are still newlyweds.
The last thing JD heard before walking down the aisle on our wedding day was from our friend Dr. Archie Hooper: "Treat her like a princess every day." The words are so
simple but they run deep. It is a terribly tough task but somehow JD
adheres to it in a perfect way. We recommend this piece of advice for all husbands.
We would love to hear from you and your love! What advice have you been given prior to or within marriage? What advice do you share with couples embarking on that adventure?
We traveled over to Jerusalem. This was the first and only "guided tour" we went on.
Our tour guide was Jewish and stated bluntly and frequently that "these are the Christian beliefs but [he] just doesn't understand how people can think that way."
To put it in a more direct light for you... we would be standing at the Via Dolorosa and he would say, "This plaque on the wall is where Jesus put His hand when carrying the cross to His crucifixion, but I personally don't believe He was the Messiah."
To be transparent with you, it was tough hearing the guide use a disclaimer like that for everything JD and I believe in. It was interesting and challenging to hear his beliefs, but still tough to follow a guide who was telling us about Jesus but didn't know Jesus himself.
Praise Jesus that through His crucifixion and resurrection, He has removed the veil from the high place; that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom; and that we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image of Christ from degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:16-18).
In our next post, we will take you on a tour through the Old City (it may last longer than one post).
Below is Palestine, right behind us. You may not know the level of callousness between the Palestinians and Israelites, so let us put it into perspective for you... Israelis have yellow on their car tags and the Palestinians have blue on their car tags. If an Israeli car is seen crossing over the Palestinian line, well, they'll be bombed. From what we gathered, it seems like the Israelites have a less harmful form of punishment for the Palestinians but they won't be allowed over the line regardless.
Can you believe how close the two territories are? We are standing in Israeli territory but the Palestine territory is directly below us.
My sweet husband...
Can you see the Temple Mount? It's the gray building with the golden dome. That marks the location of the Old City, specifically the Muslim Quarter.
We are now on the other side of the road from our previous photo. Can you believe the contrast between the Israeli and Palestine territories? The Palestinian territory looks desolate and dry but Israel looks like it's thriving. Besides this trip, we didn't venture near Palestine. :)
This shop has been a long-time coming but we opened it on April 9. It has been fairly successful so far. We're excited about the challenges of keeping everything stocked and making sure our ideas and creations are fresh!
Here is our newest addition to the shop: Shabby Chic Burlap Placemat with Ivory Lace Running through Middle
We told you a couple of weeks ago that we would share our "special find" from the Cotton Depot.
This is it!
This is our home. I've been looking everywhere for that "staple piece" to build our house around when the time comes, and this is it. It went up for sale six days before we bought it.
As soon as I laid my eyes on it, I started frantically calling JD. "We have to get this table, JD. It is so perfect and it is everything I've dreamed of for our home."
Please note here that we are trying really hard to become less materialistic. As in, if God calls us to leave everything behind and serve in a third-world country, then we would quickly and willingly drop everything to respond to that calling.
I'm really thinking this table would fit on a plane along with our one suitcase of absolute necessities...? Haha
The lady hung a "SOLD" sign on it until JD came to Monroe. We picked it up Saturday and she said at least four people had come in since we bought it, asking if they could buy it from her if they paid her more money. Thankfully she was the sweetest lady and kept to her word until we picked it up.
Isn't it just the sweetest table you've ever seen? It is handmade from old barnwood and the legs are white-washed. We will probably put a bench along one side when we move into a house.
Do you have a staple piece that you've built your home around?
Date: Thursday, April 19
Time: approx. 7 p.m.
Place: Publix Grocery Store
As we're strolling through the produce aisle, JD looks over and says, "Whit, I know you love having fresh flowers sitting out when we have house guests. Pick out a few bouquets. Theresa and Brandon will love it."
And there it was. My heart melted. Affirmation that, yes, my husband gets me. For the most part, he understands me and he is intentional about satisfying my wants when the opportunity knocks. We both realize that we will always have more to learn about one another and that we will never fully know one another.
But that's the journey of marriage.
The sweet journey can be heart-wrenching, in both a great and a terrible way. It's a journey of patience, understanding and surprises. We're constantly learning to love and to be intentional with one another.
Intentionality says, "Hey. I get you when nobody else does. I brought you these bouquets of assorted flowers - but not roses because I know you think they are too cliche."
Intentionality says, "I'll put these dishes up for her while she's not looking. It's my way of serving her and loving her even if she doesn't notice." (I always notice though... haha)
There are so many ways to simply love each other - date nights, chasing each other around the kitchen, leaving notes for each other in special places.
How do you leave a mark of unpredictability in your relationship?
**We are super excited about Brandon and Theresa coming to visit this weekend!!! This will be their first time to see our home. Theresa is JD's sister and one of my best friends. Brandon is her husband, one of JD's college roommates and one of his best friends as well. Great families... that is a blessing. ;)
This place was much more beautiful than we thought it would be.
Bountiful gardens surround the church. We stood where Jesus preached about the Beatitudes, also known as the Sermon on the Mount. (See Matthew 5:1-12)
How cool is that? There is also a Roman Catholic Franciscan church that we got to enter. I felt a little weird because I was wearing my hiking shorts and there were signs that said guests could not enter the church if they have no sleeves, exercise attire or short shorts. I hadn't brought a change of clothes after our strenuous walking and hiking around the Bet She'an.
Note to Self: Pack a knee-length cotton skirt just in case you go to another site like this.
The guys said it would be fine, so I trusted them and went in anyways. I'm pretty sure God cleared out the nuns for a few minutes so that nobody would deny my entrance.
It was quite peaceful in the church. JD and I sat on a pew and prayed together. We love praying as husband and wife. This church is a true place of reverence.
Aren't these gardens just stunning? Oh - what's that body of water peeking from below the surface?
Why that's the Sea of Galilee!
More on that next Tuesday.
My sweet husband approached me the other day with a simple thought: Why do we consider a nice house or a hefty sum of money in the bank a blessing? What about people in Africa who have no shelter to sleep under but still praise Jesus for their blessings?
We ran to Matthew 5 - the documentation of Jesus teaching the multitudes about the Beatitudes.
Side Note: I always pronounced "Beatitudes" as "Beautitudes" until I was about 20 years old. It made sense that these teachings made one beautiful, right? Please tell me you've made that mistake too...
Basically, Jesus is saying that those who give of themselves for His glory, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who are merciful, who are persecuted for His sake, who are pure in heart - those people are blessed. And what are they blessed with? The kingdom of heaven, comfort, satisfaction, mercy, the honor of being called the sons of God... a great reward in heaven. We don't see God promising a massive house, a super nice car, or even clothes (unless it's clothing of righteousness).
You are probably thinking: Well, what would you call my house? Or clean water? Or an overflowing bank account?
We're not sure. In fact, that's where we're at a standstill.
I personally think they are merely things that God has entrusted us with so that we may use those gifts in order to bring Him glory and declare His name. For example: If you have a house with lots of rooms, host a DNow weekend, adopt children to fill the rooms or serve as foster parents.
JD feels a little differently about it but our disagreements lead to some incredibly healthy arguments, so we're OK with that.
However, I was sharing our hearts with my friend and mentor Barbara here in Huntsville. She pondered on it for a couple of days and this is where God led her. It's a question / answer session with Billy Graham and we all agree that he hits the nail on the head with the ideas of "blessings"...
Question: My neighbor claims that God wants to bless us, and therefore if we just have enough faith He'll make us wealthy. Is this what the Bible teaches? If so, I must not have much faith. -- Mrs. H.G.
Answer: God certainly does want to bless us -- but the blessings He promises us aren't material, but spiritual. Nowhere in the Bible does He promise to make us wealthy if we'll just have enough faith. Remember: Jesus Himself was poor, and so were His first disciples.
What are the blessings He promises us? The first is the blessing of forgiveness. Because of our sins we are separated from God and deserve only His judgment. We also live under a burden of guilt, because down inside we know we haven't lived the way we should. But when we come to Christ and trust Him as our Savior and Lord, God blesses us by taking away our sins and our guilt. The Bible says, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12).
But God also promises us the blessing of new life -- new life right now, and eternal life in heaven. When we come to Christ, God Himself comes to live within us by His Holy Spirit, and He promises to begin changing us from within as we submit our lives to Him. Even when hard times come, we know He is with us and wants to help us. That is good news!
Have you asked Christ to come into your life? If not, do so today. Then thank Him that He is with you every day, and that no matter what problems come your way, you can turn to Him for the wisdom and strength you'll need to meet them.
What are your thoughts on blessings?