Questions from the Bride, Part 1

As a soon-to-be bride, I asked my friend and mentor Tami Myer of MannaForMarriage.com several questions to help prepare me for my wedding this month. Although the wedding event is beautiful, we both believe that preparing for a lifelong marriage is more important than preparing for a single day. Having been on her own marriage journey for over thirty years, she graciously agreed to share some of the lessons she’s learned along the way. Please join me in welcoming Tami! I hope her answers to my questions will encourage and bless you as much as they have me.

Bride: Opposites do attract, and my fiancé and I are no exception! What advice can you give to help us celebrate these differences instead of resenting them?

Yes, celebrate your differences! You will have to be deliberate about doing that, though. Otherwise, you will drift into frustration and resentment.

You could start by making a list of those differences. (And then make another list after you have been married for a few months because you will discover more, believe me.) As you review your “reasons for celebration,” make the conscious choice to look for ways to make these differences work for you, not against you. Where can they provide balance? Where can they add strength? How might they simply provide richness and color? How do they give insight into your different needs and unique perspectives?

Remind yourself—and your husband–that your differences are for accepting, appreciating, and enjoying. Be deliberate about complementing and complimenting, rather than competing and condemning.

As you yield to the Spirit, your spouse’s differences will either delight you or polish you. Either way, they are blessings!

Bride: So often, I hear, “The first year is extremely hard.” Do you agree or disagree, and why?

I am glad that you heard that the first year is difficult because, for many couples, it is! Simply knowing that can be very helpful. It is like putting your seat belt on when the pilot announces that the plane may encounter turbulence: you will be better prepared to handle the situation well.

During your first year of marriage, you might feel as though you are in junior high because everything is intense. It can be an emotional roller coaster. It certainly helps to know that this is normal!

Here are some examples of common first-year turbulence:

  • You think that you made a terrible mistake.
  • You are alarmed that your husband is not the man you married.
  • You panic.
  • You are disappointed.
  • Your feelings get hurt.

When you experience some (or all) of these things, you can come back to this article and check them off your first-year to-do list. Then you can also check off these items:

  • You have many wonderful joys!
  • You experience new adventures.
  • You learn more about the amazing, complex, fascinating person that your husband really is.
  • You learn surprising things about yourself.
  • You learn awesome things about your God.

You will find that you made it through junior high again!  And through each successive year, you will learn how to make it the best one yet.

Bride: Perhaps because I’m getting married in my thirties, I don’t have the “rose-colored-glasses” view that a teen or twenty-something might have. Instead, I’ve seen enough life and marriage struggles to know marriage isn’t always easy. What encouragement can you offer the new bride?

This is a common concern, even for younger brides (and grooms). Many people are a bit hesitant to marry because they have not observed healthy marriages up close and in action. However, they have seen countless shipwrecked marriages, and they wonder if they will be able to steer the ship of marriage any better themselves.

But take courage! It is quite possible to sail that ship triumphantly, and many have done so. It will take work, of course, but sailing is not a mysterious skill. You can learn! You must choose your teachers carefully, but there are many who are trustworthy and who are eager to help you and support you.

Building a marriage is a lot like building a house. Although many have never seen the blueprints, and many others refuse to follow them, there is a reliable blueprint for marriage. Take courage! There is a Master Builder, and He is eager to help with every part of the construction.

Marriage is not easy, but the best things in life never are. In this fallen world, good things are always opposed, and great things are greatly opposed. You must simply remember that you are holding something very valuable in your hands—something sacred. Don’t let go! Refuse to believe that marriage is not worth the effort.

Your marriage is not a hobby; it is a commitment to serve another person, someone made in the image of God. As you minister to your spouse, your submission to God becomes a platform for His Spirit. He will work powerfully and redemptively in both your life and your husband’s.

Marriage is not only like sailing a ship and like building a house, but it is also like growing a garden. You will have to dig up stubborn roots and lug away heavy rocks. You will wonder if the weeds will ever stop coming. But take courage! You will also be planting and pruning, watering and weeding.

And beautiful things will grow.

For more marriage encouragement, check back next week for more questions from the bride, and visit Tami’s website MannaForMarriage.com.

Tweetables

Questions from the Bride, Part 1 – @kjhogrefe & @Manna4Marriage (Click to Tweet)

Marriage is not easy, but the best things in life never are. – @kjhogrefe & @Manna4Marriage (Click to Tweet)

My Top Ten Engagement Superlatives

Hey, friends! This is a big transition month for me, because my wedding is less than a month away. Today, I want to share a lighthearted post about my engagement experience. Enjoy my top ten superlative moments.

#1: Favorite moment of engagement: The North Carolina temperatures were dropping, and I was getting cold, so I suggested we leave the mountain vista we had been enjoying. James said he wanted “just one more picture over there,” and I complied. When we reached the outlook,  he started saying all sorts of sweet things and got down on one knee. You can read the full story here.

#2: Most hilarious moment of engagement: Our friend Amanda didn’t arrive until late that night, and we were all too tired to tell her the story. We pretended nothing had happened and turned in for the night. The next morning, my friend Devon asked her to watch a “funny video” on her phone. When Amanda realized she was watching our engagement video, she threw the phone in excitement! (Good news: The phone is fine.)

#3: Highlight of my bachelorette weekend: We solved an American Escape Room with 8+ minutes to spare. Definitely bragging on my amazing friends for this one! I’m also going to brag on our escape master nicknamed “Snickerdoodles” who was absolutely fantastic. Five stars for this venue!

#4: Funniest moment of my bachelorette weekend: My friends conned the Irish entertainer into serenading me with a love song in front of the entire restaurant.

#5: Biggest surprise about engagement: I believe in transparency, so I’m not going to sugarcoat the reality that once you get engaged, you may have conflict about something you never anticipated. Don’t try to avoid the conflict. It’s a great opportunity to talk through differences, learn how to problem solve as a couple, and grow stronger together.

#6: Most ridiculous question I’ve been asked since getting engaged: Who’s going with you on your honeymoon? 

#7: Most anticipated wedding day moment: I am so excited to see the look on James’s face when I walk down the aisle!

#8: Most anticipated wedding day food: I’m grateful that our friend Ashley, an amazing baker, is making our cupcakes, and some will be Reese’s flavored chocolate. Yum!

#9: Most important part of engagement: The wedding planning is special and fun, but the most important part is the time we’ve spent preparing for a strong marriage. This includes our personal discussions as well as time with our marriage mentors. I’m convinced the more we talk through potential challenges and differences ahead of time, the better we both will be.

#10: My best piece of advice about engagement: It is meant to be a short season. Although every couple is different, I’m really thankful our engagement is only five months long, because the challenges of living two separate lives but preparing to merge them into one can be emotionally exhausting, though certainly worthwhile.

Next week, I’m going to share my parting thank-you to singleness, which I hope will be an encouragement to you! Afterward, I have a wonderful line-up of friends who will be guest posting this month and next. They are such a blessing to me, and I know they will be to you as well.

~ Kristen

Tweetable

My Top Ten Engagement Superlatives – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

God Cares for You

The other night, I woke up at 4 am, wide away and overcome with a sense of anxiety.  It wasn’t a panic attack, but my heart wasn’t buying my head’s coaxing that everything was fine and to go back to sleep.

Finally, I tossed off the covers and retreated to my quiet place. Opening the Psalms, I started reading in the last place I had left off and just prayed that the words would soak into my insecure soul. The enemy was feeding me lies: You’ll never be enough. You’re not doing a good job. 

A personal story

Transparency moment: I’m an easy-going person who finds pleasure in life’s simple joys. I never realized how much my personality would clash with all the expectations people place on weddings. Truth be told, I don’t care if there are pew flowers or if my dress would be picked on a runway. I’m surprised and not sure how to respond when I hear that people are talking about who’s getting invited to my wedding and who’s not. (Seriously, we’re just trying to keep this simple!) However, the result is that I’m left feeling “less than” or if something is wrong with me, and then I worry I’m disappointing someone.

Of course, I want my special day to be beautiful just like any other bride would want. Yes, I hope those who celebrate with us feel special and appreciated. But what I desire far more is a Christ-centered marriage. At the end of the day, I don’t care about impressing people.  I care about loving my future husband well and honoring God through our commitment to each other.

Yet in a culture that obsesses with the external, I often feel out of place and inadequate. Maybe that’s a good thing.

When you feel anxious

Perhaps you’re not stressing over a wedding, but there may be something else keeping you up at night. May I share some of the verses that brought me comfort?

  • “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” (Psalm 34:4-5 ESV)
  • “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” (Psalm 42:5 NKJV)
  • “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear …” (Psalm 46:1-2a NKJV)
  • “For the Lord will be your confidence, And will keep your foot from being caught.” (Proverbs 3:26 NKJV)

A better solution than sheep

I finally crawled back into bed around five in the morning, closed my eyes, and started whispering over and over, “God cares for you.” That promise was my takeaway from God’s Word. God cares for me. He cares for me so much that He promises to direct my paths and never lead me astray. He cares for me even when other people misunderstand me. He is my good Shepherd, my good Father. He cares for me.

Friend, He cares for you too. If you can’t sleep, find refuge in His Word. Don’t try to count sheep. Latch onto His promises and remember He cares for you.

~ Kristen

Tweetable

God Cares for You – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)