No Foothold

“for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help”

I’m not sure if you are like me, but when I read this quote from one of the psalmist in the Bible, I can totally relate. In fact, I had a meltdown just this morning because I felt exactly this way. Emotions of weariness, feeling overwhelmed, and guilt. I’ve always been a huge dreamer so at times throughout my life, the dreams I have just seem way too out of reach. They don’t make sense. They can feel like jumping into the middle of the ocean because of how beautiful and mysterious it is, but then at dusk realizing it’s hard to swim when land is so far away and it is dark all around you. The night does not bring clarity, and the next steps are never outlined or given to us, so we must swim…and swim…and swim some more into the unknown and into greater depths. I ask God sometimes “Please take away these desires, because life would be SO much easier if I didn’t have dreams or didn’t live in great expectation. OR at least if I keep chasing these dreams of mine, please give me a foothold a.k.a. a boat so I don’t have to keep treading with my head barely above water!!”

Trusting is hard. It is against our own nature. Just take the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible. They were given EVERYTHING. Life was literally set up perfectly for them…but they still didn’t trust. They thought that “more” would make them happy and that self-reliance was greater than trust in their Creator. Oh how I am still fighting this curse that has been instilled in all of humanity since the beginning of time!

the longing for more…

the overwhelming feeling we get when life’s circumstances make us doubt God…

the curveballs that life throws our way that bring out the worst in us…

Here is what I’m getting at: This morning felt overwhelming to me, but God really just wanted my TRUST. I’ve never gone without, and, based on my past, I know He is faithful to give me my hearts desires as long as they align with His. For me, it is music that has been healing and has brought me so much joy throughout my life. For you, maybe it is another dream or another passion, but I know I’m not alone in feeling discouraged from time to time. So today I am reminding myself of what I do know, and letting go of the things I don’t. I’ll tread if I have to tread, and I’ll float if I have to float. All because in the end, I know if I never jumped into the deep blue waters of the ocean, I would never know the true beauty that comes from letting go.

 

 

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werk it

So it’s a new year and we all probably have said either out loud or to ourselves, “I’m going to get really fit this year!“…and if you are like me you’ve already been tempted to eat a whole bag of chips from Trader Joe’s and veg out on the couch watching Friends.

HOWEVER. 

I am determined to break any bad habits this year and stay motivated. I believe in taking care of our bodies, but also in treating ourselves so that we stay sane. It is also so confusing nowadays to figure out what to do. Do we go vegan or just cut out dairy? Try a new diet? Take a supplement? No carbs? More carbs? The internet can be a confusing place of so many opinions on what is healthy and what is not. That is why I would love to help us all out by at least stating what I DO know, and pointing us all in the direction of taking care of our bodies. Not just for a 2018 resolution, but for an entire better lifestyle overall.

Here are 3 ways we can make our fitness goals a reality this year by things we DO know:

1. Work out. Simple as that. Working out is something that, until the end of time, will be the number one way to build our muscles and keep our hearts, lungs, and skin in the best shape possible. Grab a friend to have as an accountability partner and join a gym! Or if you don’t want to spend the money (I know in Nashville, gym memberships can be insanely pricey), download a free workout app that you can do at least 3-4 times a week so that you are burning calories and being the best YOU as possible.

 

2. Keep consistent eating habits. Something I DO know about keeping our fitness goals a reality is that food DOES matter. What we put in our bodies has an incredible effect on our overall wellbeing and health. One thing to keep in mind is that everybody’s body is different. Know your body. Know what goals you have and then make your diet and the choices you make at restaurants/grocery stores reflect those goals. There are many trends with dieting, so don’t feel pressured by what everyone else is doing. Yes…dairy, meat with every meal, candy, high processed foods, and fast food ARE bad for you if you are eating that all the time. If you can cut all of these things out of your diet, do it! However, don’t shame yourself if you have a big steak and fried pickles or go to the movie theater and buy that Snickers bar and popcorn. Just don’t make these things an every day habit, and do your research to make sure you are treating your insides as good as you are your outsides.

 

3. Rest. Yes, that’s right. Take time to pray, meditate, and rest daily. Research has shown that good sleep and rest has a HUGE impact on your health. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society stated this past year that “sleeping less than seven hours per day is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress.” That is a big deal. In our culture it is popular and makes us feel successful to say that we are “busy”, but we must remember our own bodies are more important than success or careers, so it is vital to make sure we are getting an appropriate amount of rest each day.

 

With all of this being said, go get em! Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from being a better you than last year! Let’s take care of our bodies. Have accountability. Set goals. And most importantly, do it because you only get 1 body in your lifetime to take care of! Live your best life NOW!

 

 

References: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.htmlhttps://www.sleepassociation.org/sleep/sleep-statistics/

 

MORE

What is the “more” that you are searching for?

That is the question I am stuck with after reading a friend’s Instagram post this morning. She posted this statement that really hit me hard:

The “more” my soul longs for will not be satisfied in more “success”, more followers, or more things. The longing for “more” is only satisfied in Jesus.

I don’t know if you are like me, but I’ll admit, most mornings I get up and the first thing I do is check my Instagram or Facebook. I’ll shake it off as I am just keeping up with my fans or keeping in touch with friends and family, but truly I think that it is because I am looking for more. More opportunities for my music, more money, more clothes I need, more facial products that will prevent acne & wrinkles, more….more…more…

Comparison is a killer…

… and it will always leave you wanting more of the wrong things.

Today when I read that post, I immediately stopped what I was doing and just spent time listening to some inspirational music and reading my Bible. I read about the unity that Jesus wanted so badly for the world. I read that God has already gone before me…before my own plans and before my dreams that he placed in my heart. I read that when my “more” is placed at the feet of Jesus, I will never walk in darkness.

If you are a lot like me, I challenge you today to refocus for 2018. All of the things in your life that seem would bring more to your life are just things. What if you never got any of the things you wanted? Would you still feel of the same worth that you are today? The truth is that success or things DO NOT reflect who we are as humans or, better yet, the worth that we carry.

you are priceless. you are worth MORE than you believe.

When we focus more on Jesus and the life that he lived, we begin to understand that more and more.

 

References: John 10Well Watered Women

 

 

What’s It All About?

I got up early this morning. I heard the birds chirping outside (weird sense of comfort for me) and made some coffee. Today is just another day–errands to run, writing session this afternoon, phone calls, emails, clean the house–and then I’ll wake up tomorrow and do it all over again. Sometimes I set goals and I’m like “Ok self, I’m going to get everything done on my to do list and be an extra happy person today!” I can be really hard on myself if I don’t get everything done or if I don’t achieve the things I want to achieve. I set really big goals for myself, can be really passionate, and I can sometimes wear myself thin by wanting to change the world.

I’ll never forget a quote from a guy I knew back in high school. He ended up passing away at just 16 years old from a car crash. He believed in God and was so enthusiastic about the Bible that over 2,000 people attended his funeral and over 40 people decided to follow Jesus that day. Truly inspiring. He was known for always asking people this simple question:

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

That question still stays with me to this day. When I’m running myself thin or trying to live up to people’s expectations, I ask myself “What’s it all about?” You see, sometimes we  all just run around without an end goal in mind. It literally is like we are chickens with our heads cut off  pushing ourselves to the max with no purpose at all. If all of this work and time that we are putting into our daily routines is for ourselves or even for nothing at all then what’s the point? If we could just make it our goal to ultimately please God with everything we do and say, it would take SO much pressure off our shoulders. I would love to have the mindset of Paul in the Bible when he says

“”I have the right to do anything,” you say– but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything,” –but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”

It is interesting to me that when Jesus talked, and also when Paul wrote his letters, they always focused on pleasing God first and focused on others second. Never in the Bible does it say to please yourself and be successful to make yourself happy. No– Luke quotes Jesus in Acts chapter 20 “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. I always find that fascinating. We are literally called to live this life to please God and to love others. That’s it. I am in no way discrediting taking care of ourselves and finding contentment with the way God made us (that’s another blog for another day), but when we ask the question “What’s it all about?” we should refocus our lives for a greater purpose and not just the same routines over and over for the hope that we will find happiness. I love this quote from Hellen Keller– “True happiness…is not obtained from self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” I don’t know if she knew God or not, but she recognized that we MUST have purpose in our lives and I love that.

Today I choose to live my life and make decisions to ultimately show people the love that I have from knowing Jesus. That is what I will tell myself daily when I feel defeated or when I feel encouraged. Torn down or lifted up. In good times and bad. I will live my life from the inside out.

It’s Called Fear

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I think what is interesting about our world we live in right now is that a lot of what we are reading online, seeing on tv, and living out in our every day lives is creating something that I believe is trickling slowly into the hearts of everyone around the world. It is why you may have clicked on this post. It is why we react to things the way we do. It is something so paralyzing, so mind-consuming, so captivating.

It’s called fear.

Fear can be so crippling. It can break us down, make us feel like nothing, and paralyze our minds. It has ruined so many relationships and so many peoples lives. It loves to work on social media, in our careers, in our families’ conversations, and in the news on tv and magazines. It is the very thing that has made way into my own dreams and plans for my life from time to time. Over the past 2 years in particular, I have experienced loss, stress, and anxiety more than I ever have in my life. I’ve  even let the music industry completely engulf me with the fear of failure and living up to expectations. The games I felt I had to play and the stress of not “making it” almost caused me to forget who I was.

What’s really funny about fear is that it likes to hide. Sometimes it isn’t out in the open like you think it would be. Fear likes to creep in slowly and it doesn’t want you to talk about it. It wants to be hidden and be a relationship between just the two of you.

In the season of life I am in, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about overcoming this thing called fear. I don’t even think it is something I will ever completely escape, but I’ve at least scratched the surface. You see, it all started when I read a passage from the Bible in Ephesians 6. The Bible, by the way, is a book that I have fallen in love with and I’ve come to learn is life-changing to read. I used to have my doubts about it, and if you are like me who questions everything, I had to really discover for myself what it was all about (that’s another blog for another day).

Ephesians 6 is at the very end of a letter that Paul wrote to the church of Ephesus. He is telling them to be strong in the Lord and relates it to having an “armor” of God. In verse 16 it says, “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”.

THIS WAS HUGE FOR ME.

I recently wrote a song called “Flaming Arrows” because I was very inspired by this verse. Where I was in life, I felt like so many flaming arrows of fear were being thrown at me, but I wanted to write a song about overcoming those things! I wanted to release it because I figured I wasn’t the only one experiencing fear. You can check out my new video for my song here!!!

I guess what I’d like you to take away from this blog is this: don’t be consumed by fear. It does not have to control your life. You CAN rise above.

Don’t let every little thing you see on social media stir up anger or anxiety within your life. Be above it! Use your social media pages and relationships around you to ignite love and kindness in the world. If you deal with anxiety and fear to extreme levels where you can’t overcome it alone, seek out professional help!

FEAR. WONT. WIN.

And lastly, remember to live from the inside out.

 

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How To Survive Snow in Nashville

This weekend, Nashville has experienced the most snow in 13 years. For some who grew up in the north, this snow thing is nothing new. For those of you like me who were born and raised in Nashville, WE FREAK OUT. That’s right. I’m owning up to my craziness. I don’t like driving in it, and I stock up with groceries days before. I am a summer baby. I’d rather be by the poolside drinking an iced coffee. With this being said, I have come up with ways to survive these “snowpocalypses”.

First off, make sure you have plenty of cleaning supplies. Yes, you will have exactly 1 billion hours to scrub your tub, organize every drawer in your house, and kill every dust bunny. You will even clean some things twice. You will slip around in your socks because the floor sparkles. You will tear up a little because the aroma will be of fresh lemon, lavender and sage. The cleaning will even distract you from how isolated you actually are. This is the first step to surviving.

Secondly, make sure your coffee game is in check. This is a great time to practice your coffee skills. I mean really, what else do you have to do but drink coffee all day (inside obviously)? If you are a cream and sugar kind of guy or gal, maybe venture out and make a good cup of black coffee. This step is imperative to survival.

Third, check social media at least every 5 minutes. You wouldn’t want to miss those snow pics. I mean, truly life might not be as fulfilling if you don’t see your friend sledding in East Nashville.

Next, make a list of things you’ve been putting off doing for months as well as things that really don’t matter one bit. Call your grandparents. Instagram a picture of the snow. Read a book. Get ahead on Valentine’s Day plans. Paint those chipped nails for goodness sake. Make a facial mask . You get the picture…

Now, to really get ahead on your snow day, seriously workout. You have no excuses now. You have a living room floor and YouTube. You are snowed in so you can’t go anywhere. There is no other way to start but to just do it! Sure, your neighbor might think there is an elephant next door, but just do it.

Lastly, to successfully survive the Nashville snow storms, you need to wear a really hipster beanie and tweet about how you really want to go to a coffee shop and get a donut from Five Daughters Bakery. Make sure to take lots of pictures of your cats and dogs on the back porch and hashtag “blessed”. Aaaaaaaaand I guess if you are one of “those”, you should actually go out and play in the snow, sled in the snow, eat the snow, or even go for a walk in the snow.

That’s it. If you take all of these precautions, you will survive the snow in Nashville.

 

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On a more serious note, it’s been great the past few days to spend time reading the Bible and praying about what God might be calling me to do. Rest is actually a good thing. Snow days are actually not that bad;)

 

Live life from the inside out, y’all.

Fear, Monsters, and the Holy Spirit

Fear:

It consumes us. The dark. Spiders. Failure. Being unlovable. Rejection. Confrontation. Death. Natural disasters. War.

We all experience this thing called fear. We make decisions because of it. We DON’T make decisions because of it. It keeps us up at night. It is all consuming. How do we respond to it? This “thing” that everyone has living deep down inside of us…almost like a monster inside of each of our internal, bodily closets.

When Jesus left this earth, He left us with the single greatest weapon in human history that would defeat ALL fear– the Holy Spirit. He said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” He told his disciples this because they couldn’t wrap their minds around the fact that Jesus was about to leave earth. They were fearful, but Jesus explained that He was leaving the Holy Spirit with them as their peace and comfort. He said that they were not orphans, and that this was because God loved them so much. The prophet Isaiah shed light on this topic, too, when he says in chapter 11 verse 2, “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him– the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD.” Notice that the word fear is only used to describe fearing the Lord!! This is an amazing concept y’all. When we realize that the only type of fear to be had is fear of the Lord, EVERYTHING CHANGES.

We are no longer slaves to fear.

Remember how Jesus says peace I leave with you. This–the Holy Spirit and Peace– is our only weapon against the world as believers in God. 2 Corinthians 10:4 says “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” Paul was writing this to the church of Corinth to stress the idea of fighting the right battles. To not fight a battle against the flesh, but against Satan himself! They were so distracted by what was going on in Asia, their pride was getting to them, and were caught up in sexual immortality and greed. Paul is writing this letter to them to remind them of the joy found only in Jesus Christ…

So back to the subject of fear…

Are we similar to the church of Corinth and so distracted that we have forgotten that Jesus left us with the Holy Spirit to overcome our daily “strongholds”? Have we started to rely on earthly weapons to protect us against evil more that relying on the Holy Spirit? Why is it that we have let fear control us to the extreme point that we would consider using hate to overcome hate? To kill to overcome the possibility of being killed. To reject to overcome possibly being rejected. We have become a race of people that trust in two gods–ourselves and Jesus Christ. But the Bible clearly states we can only serve one God. We have let this disastrous thing called fear invade our homes, our political views, and our decisions. We have neglected the strongest weapon of the Holy Spirit in exchange for faith in the world. WHERE IS GOD? Why is he on the back burner? Where is LOVE?

In my personal life, I’ve been really diving into this fear thing. What drives fear? Where does it originate? I feel like the more I search for answers, read the news, check my socials, and talk with people, the more I’m made aware of just how much fear I’ve let into my life. My challenge for anyone reading this is to write down all the things that make you “fearful”. What is God calling you to do, but this monster called fear is holding you back? Are you depending on anything besides God to overcome your fears (people, possessions, weapons, social media, idols)? On that same piece of paper (or iPhone;)) go through your list and pray that God will help you overcome that fear through the Holy Spirit. I hope that my thoughts here will encourage you and empower you to overcome fear and seek freedom in Jesus!

Remember– live from the inside out. Share this with friends and encourage someone today.

 

Other Bible verses:

Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

Romans 8:38-39 “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”

1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

John 14:27 “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”

 

10 Things I Learned in 2015

Hello all! What a year it has been! 2015 has left me with so many memories that I will never forget. This year was filled with love, laughter, tears, frustrations, sadness, confusion, certainty, uncertainty, and every other emotion. Definitely a roller coaster year that has flown by! I thought I’d make a list of things I learned and hopefully you’ll enjoy reading and learning as well;)

  1. I am no longer young enough to eat handfuls of candy, pop tarts, chips, 2 slices of pizza, half a bag of chocolate, a popsicle, and ice cream all in one sitting without feeling the repercussions afterwards.
  2. Lawyers are amazing but I would never want to be one. This year what I thought would be hiring a lawyer to work out a few kinks in a contract turned into an 11 month music business saga. To use the word “exhausting” would be an understatement describing that process. I definitely have so much more respect and gratefulness now for people practicing law.
  3. It isn’t coincidence that Jesus talks about money being the root of evil so much in the Gospels. Think about it– everything in life revolves around money. The lifestyle you live, the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the schooling or job you can have, the area of town you live, and the list goes on and on. We will never have as much money as we’d like so if we aren’t careful, we can let money rule our lives.
  4. I love to cook, but I wish I could hire a maid. Cleaning up after meals is the WORST, can I get an amen?! But something else I’ve learned is Pinterest is an amazing source for great recipes!
  5. Marriage is such an indescribably beautiful, holy covenant that I never knew would be so vital to my walk with God. As amazing as Matthew is, marriage has shown me just how much I will never find complete fulfillment in another human being because only God can do that. I feel so blessed and humbled that despite all my flaws and sinfulness, God gave me someone like Matthew to just be a glimpse of what Heaven will be like. Matthew is someone who shows me the unconditional love of Jesus each and every day and who works harder here on this earth more than anyone I know. Despite what magazines say or what the current divorce rate is in America, true love is possible here on this earth with God’s timing and blessing.
  6. Sometimes what doesn’t kill you doesn’t make you stronger…it just makes you tired…such as running a 5k in freezing weather.
  7. The older I get, the more I appreciate time with family and friends. Holidays just aren’t long enough, hangs with friends aren’t often enough, and there never seems to be enough time in a day.
  8. Satan is real. And the closer I get to God, the closer I get to the front line of battle. One of the best quote I heard this year is “God and Satan both have a plan for your life, but you must be wise to know which one to battle, and which one to embrace.”
  9. Good things in life take time….sometimes so much time that it makes you want to pull your hair out. Usually these are the seasons I learn most about patience and rest. Go figure.
  10. It is 100% of the time a good thing to sit back and remember why you care about what you care about. It is these moments, I’ve learned, that really put life in perspective.

 

Thanks for reading my blogs this year!!! I havent blogged nearly as much as I’d like to but good things coming for 2016! Feel free to share, post, and follow my blog and remember to live from the inside out!

-Carmen

 

photo cred: [SE] Creative, Steph Diggs

 

 

10 Things I Learned From Being Engaged

Marriage. It is truly THE BEST.

I want to share with you 10 (even though there are probably 1,000) things I learned while being engaged. I hope that this will inspire all you single ladies out there and encourage all of my married friends reading this.

I want to preface this by telling you a little bit about my journey to marriage. I got engaged on November 10, 2014. You can go to hadleypartyoftwo.com to read the entire engagement story, but I’ll just tell you– the day was perfect. I had the guy I was in love with, my dream ring, and I had a blast celebrating with friends and family. That day started our journey to planning the rest of our lives together. That is when the fun started… venue shopping, dress shopping, making lists, making invites, buying things, apartment shopping, marriage counseling, engagement photos, buying more things, picking out flowers, registering for gifts, and the list goes on and on. I honestly had A LOT of fun planning our wedding and it wasn’t as stressful as some people make it out to be. It really was an event that helped our two families work together and get to know each other better. Engagement was a season of life that was so exciting, joyful, and full of love.

Here are 10 things I learned from being engaged:

1. A wedding is just one day of your life, but marriage is forever.
Seriously, I’ve heard this saying before I was even dating…but it never sank in until I was engaged. It was the moment I realized we didn’t have to say goodbye after a date to drive 45 minutes across town anymore. It was when we started moving our stuff into our Nashville condo and had to figure out where to put all the things that wouldn’t fit. It was picking out wedding bands and buying a washer and dryer together. It was writing our vows and thinking “Oh my goodness, these are OUR vows!” There were so many moments that made it sink in that this man was going to become my life-long partner I’d do everything with. Thinking about how God orchestrates life to just all of a sudden make sense definitely makes all the little “to-dos” for wedding planning not seem as important. What really matters is the marriage. The Bible maps out how that should look and gives us guidelines and boundaries to live out a holy marriage to bring glory to God….so work just as hard or more towards that kind of marriage as you do on planning a wedding! There is truly no wedding that could ever compete with the joy that comes from knowing that God’s blessing is on your marriage.

2. Design a wedding that reflects your two personalities…not just to match Pinterest!
Matt and I saw a lot of amazing pictures of weddings and I tried on dresses that were almost disgustingly over budget, and we just decided that we wanted this wedding to be within our means and a reflection of our two personalities. There are SO many times in wedding planning to spend money on things that really don’t matter or to get lost in the “dream wedding” world that makes you feel like you need all kinds of stuff because everyone else had it at their wedding. The wedding industry is BOOMING and making millions of dollars by marketing things that are a “must-have” or a “necessity” for a wedding, but here’s the truth: you actually only need a bride, groom, pastor, and possibly some friends and family to make a wedding. Anything on top of that is really just for fun and extra. So, think about what YALL find important and go with it!

3. Be organized and expect that something WILL go wrong.
Simple enough. Plan ahead so that you can try to have everything done before the week of your wedding (the week of our wedding we literally had nothing to do except for to spend time with family and pack everything in the car and it was amazing…so worth planning ahead). My advice is to not rush your engagement, but to enjoy it for what it is. Also, things will go wrong at the wedding so prepare your mind to just shake it off with a laugh when it happens. This saved me tons of stress and I think it made it more enjoyable for everyone around me.

4. Laugh and learn about what you disagree about.
Speaking of laughing, this was something that I’m pretty sure Matt and I will be learning for the rest of our lives. During engagement, EVERTHING and I repeat EVERYTHING comes to the surface that you disagree about. For example, we were registering at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and picked out everything from towels and dishes to spatulas and plungers. We were just getting started and decided to go look at something really simple to knock off our list: trash cans. I wanted to register for the really nice, Simplehuman stainless steel trash can that closed slowly and had an automatic sensor. It was like the Queen Elisabeth of trash cans. Matt, however, wanted to register for a more simple, plastic, $15 trash can that he said could fit right under the kitchen sink and would be way more practical. WE ARGUED OVER TRASH CANS FOR LIKE 25 MINUTES. No lie. We laugh so hard at this story now because it was so silly of us to disagree that bad over something like trash cans. We are continuously learning how to meet in the middle when we disagree about things. We’ve had to learn to be good listeners and hear out what the other person is saying before we jump to why our way best. I believe disagreements are why God gave us two ears and one mouth!!

P.S. Neither of us got the trash can we wanted. #handmedown #newlywedbudget

5. Be in constant prayer…the enemy hates marriage!
It is insane to me that during dating, the enemy likes to try to get us to act like we are married before we are married, but then when we are actually married, the enemy tries to break apart that sacred bond! Satan will try to twist and turn what marriage should really look like and try to place thoughts in our minds to keep marriage as far away from how the Bible describes how a marriage should look. STAY IN CONSTANT PRAYER. Look to God’s Word for direction. Even if you aren’t dating anyone, pray for your future husband and write him notes. Then, watch God blow your expectations.

6. Once you have a ring on your finger, it is so much harder to stay pure!
Seriously though. Talk about boundaries with your fiancé. Then keep those boundaries.  It is sooooooo worth it if you wait until your wedding night for sex. If you aren’t even dating anyone yet, go ahead and pray that you will meet a man who will find purity a priority just as much as you do.

7. Honesty is KEY.
Don’t hold things in. If you want pink flowers at your wedding, but your husband really wants red (let’s be real…most guys don’t care) just talk to him about it! Just like in #4 above, use two ears and one mouth. Hear him out and work towards an agreement. Arguing solves nothing, but love solves everything. Use your love for one another to talk to each other with respect and grace and just be honest! If you are in a serious relationship, be honest with your guy. Talk about your faith, your opinions, your taste in food, and just everything! Most guys LOVE when a woman knows what she wants. Lastly, be honest with yourself. If there are ANY red flags in your dating or engaged relationship, it is much easier to break things off at that point rather than wait until you are married. God hates divorce and wants a marriage to be a reflection of Christ and the church. Honesty is mandatory for any great relationship!

8. A husband doesn’t fix your problems.
There is a false preconception that once you are married, all your problems will either go away or won’t be as bad. NOPE! Doesn’t happen. In fact, you have to learn how to balance your own problems with your husbands problems. However, the amazing thing is that you get to work together with your husband as a team to create peace in your home and have someone to live with through life’s ups and downs. Marriage is amazing, but it doesn’t make preexisting problems go away.

9. Marriage counseling isn’t cheesy…it is vital for the engagement season.
We LOVED marriage counseling. If you are engaged: GO THROUGH MARRIAGE COUNCELING. Seek guidance. If your fiancé doesn’t want to, then maybe that’s a sign he doesn’t want to talk about certain things that make him uncomfortable. My advice: talk about everything under the sun before you get married. There will still be so many new things to learn once you are married, but talk about expectations, fears, past relationships, previous sexual encounters, family dynamics, dreams, finances, and the list goes on and on and on. My advice is to find a Christian counselor who is going to deeply challenge the two of you in becoming one. I would also highly recommend the book “Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married” by Gary Chapman. Matt and I LOVED this book during our engagement season.

10. God is always first.
There isn’t one guy on this planet who can fulfill all our needs like God can! Let that sink in. Whether we are single, engaged, or married, this applies to all of us. We are all human and we will always fail each other. Once we accept this fact and rely on God alone, our marriage and relationships will be filled with immense joy!!

Other tips for a wedding day:
-Don’t leave for the honeymoon the day after your wedding! Trust me. We left two days after and were SO thankful.
-Plan down time on your wedding day so you can chill out.
-Write letters to each other. I used to think this was cheesy, but I’m so happy we have them because I know we’ll cherish them forever.
-Plan out time to eat dinner! We did this right after our ceremony before the reception while the staff was flipping the room. Most brides and grooms forget this!
-Wear comfy, but stylish shoes. Get fancy pair for pictures, but then really comfy ones for the reception!
-You can save a lot of money on a veil on eBay. Mine was $9.
-Borrow decor from friends! I saved a ton of money by borrowing one of my bridesmaid’s decorations from her wedding a year prior and they were beautiful!
-If something seems stressful, just leave it out. You probably won’t remember if you had hand-made tulle flowers or chalk board signs but you’ll remember that you danced with your grandpa on the dance floor!
-Having the ceremony and reception in the same place makes your life a million times easier.

Hope this was a fun read and inspired some of you ladies out there!!! If you liked this post, share it on FaceBook and Twitter and make sure to follow my blog! Love you guys, and remember…let’s live from the inside out!

My Friday Conviction

…”Most of us, at one time or another, focus on the gifts rather than on the Giver. That’s when we regress in our contentment and joy and we quench the Spirit’s transforming work within us, because we are focusing on the wrong things. That may be why the Lord sometimes limits His gift-giving to us—so we do not stumble over the gifts and fall away from Him.”

I mean wow. Definitely convicting and humbling. I’m praying that I can focus more on the Giver than on what I am wanting to receive. Focus on the blessings rather than living in discontentment.

Let’s live from the inside out!

This is from an online passage from Got Questions Ministries, an online ministry (whoever wrote this did an outstanding job).