How we Celebrated our First Anniversary

Recently, my sweet husband and I celebrated our very first anniversary. I wanted to give you a sneak peak into our celebrations and share some ideas for your anniversary!

Advice I Received

I once received the advice to always (always!) celebrate your anniversary… Even if that means doing something very small or very cheap. To be honest, I had high expectations. We had an amazing honeymoon (thanks to some generous people), which had probably set my expectations a little too high for the next year. Fortunately, though, when my husband and I looked at our upcoming expenses, we opted for “First Anniversary on a Budget.”

How We Celebrated our First Anniversary | Grace Upon Grace Today

How We CelebratedHow We Celebrated Our First Anniversary | Grace Upon Grace Today

As our anniversary was Sunday, we began the festivities on Saturday. We decided to go out for breakfast to our favorite fast-food place (Chick-Fil-A!) and use our 2017 calendar cards (free food!). We picnicked at a local park for lunch and took a nature hike there. Then we ate dinner at the same barbecue restaurant that catered our wedding – what a fun memory! Since we rarely go out to eat, this was a super fun way to celebrate.

On Sunday, we woke up early and headed to a nearby state park in the mountains that offers zip-lining. We completed two parts of the zip-lining course (part three will be released later this summer!) and had a blast! We then ate lunch and walked around the historic town near the park. Our day ended with my husband cooking dinner for us.

Building Intimacy

I am a firm believer in something called “recreational intimacy.” You can read more about it in Josh Squires’s article about intimacy for Desiring God. Basically, recreational intimacy is fostered when couples do fun things together. This fuels mutual enjoyment that leads to connectivity. Also, men typically form relationships “shoulder-to-shoulder” (as opposed to women who typically enjoy more face-to-face interactions), so it makes sense that couples, being one-half male, need to form experiences together.

We were able to experience a first anniversary within our budget and still a celebration. We built our relationship by doing something fun together. This helped us recommit to giving each other grace upon grace and building our marriage over many more years together.

What is a fun and cost-effective way you would recommend to make much of an anniversary celebration?

How to Handle Transitions in Marriage

As newlyweds, we face a lot of transitions. In the early years of marriage, we may move, change jobs, attend college or grad school, and even have our first babies. There are many shifts of various types. How should we handle transitions in marriage?

How to Handle Transitions in Marriage for Newlyweds | Grace Upon Grace Today

Purpose, Value, Needs, and Time

Too often, one spouse will jump on an opportunity or possibility without consulting the other. This happens often with newlyweds, because we easily remember what it was like to be single! Instead of making life-changing decisions without your spouse, sit down together and discuss four things: purpose, value, needs, and time. You can even download my discussion guide for a handy way to talk about upcoming life transitions with your spouse!

Reconnect, Reconnect, Reconnect

Embark on the transition, and reconnect along the way! My in-laws told us that marriage is a series of consistent two degree shifts. We are not automatically aligned to our spouses every day. It takes regular, small times of reconnecting to get back on track. I once heard a pastor say that you should strive to spend an hour a day, a morning/evening a week, a day a month, and a weekend a year with just your spouse and no distractions. His encouragement was to start small and build up.

In transitional periods, we often lose the seemingly “automatic” connection that we had before. For example, during the school year, my husband and I go to sleep and wake up around the same time. We work together, so we ride together in the car. We have certain times that we can reconnect without really working on it. However, now it’s summertime. We have separate part-time jobs. We go to bed at different times. All of a sudden, the transition has made our reconnecting more difficult.

In order to handle the transition well, we must find a time and space to reconnect. Maybe that’s becoming more serious about a structured dinner time every night (no phones allowed!). Or reading our devotional book before I go to bed, and then once I’m asleep, he goes back to a sports game or TV show. It could be cuddling on the couch for ten minutes after your kids are finally in bed. Squeeze that reconnection into your new schedule somewhere, because you will feel far away from each other if you don’t.

The difficult (yet beautiful) thing about reconnecting is that every day might look different. New baby? Your sleep schedule will definitely be thrown off. Changing shifts at work? He might have to leave the house before you’re awake. Occasionally, reconnecting looks like doing something for your spouse when you can’t actually be with your spouse.

When You Can’t Be There

A traveling husband or a new mom may not be able to “be” there physically for their spouse the way they might want to. Instead, reconnect by doing something special for your spouse. My husband is planning to be out of town later this summer visiting his aging grandfather. We can still connect with a FaceTime date, a handwritten note tucked into his suitcase, or a “good morning” text on a busy day. When I am working longer than he is, he might put away the clean dishes from the dishwasher or make the bed if I’ve forgotten it. Those little things really add up, especially if we have less time to reconnect in person.

Communicate the Essentials

Everyone knows that practical communication is important. I’m talking about the “working” side of a marriage here: I’m running errands at this time, can you pick up the kids here, and what are we eating for dinner? When there are transitions in marriage, it is important to discuss them together, and figure out how they work within the schedule and routines you are familiar with.

For this, I love the Cozi App. I have a personal planner that I keep with me (and a chalkboard calendar in kitchen), but I realized that when summer hit and my husband and I started our separate part time jobs that we would need something to keep us organized. Cozi came to the rescue. With one calendar divided by color for each family member, it is easy to see who needs to do what each day and week. There’s also a grocery list and to-do list that is accessible by anyone in the family (just like a calendar), so it’s easy to send your husband to the store for you! I am not an affiliate for Cozi; I just enjoy sharing the app with others.

Obviously, using a neat app has not replaced face to face communication, but it has made it easier for us to stay on top of life transitions. We feel more connected just by knowing what time the other person will be home or where he or she is working today. My brother-in-law and his wife use a giant calendar on their refrigerator. My mom has her calendar printed out and sitting on her desk. Do what works for you and your husband.

Do Not Compare

Finally, do not allow envy to sneak into your heart. Nothing will put a damper on your marriage like comparing your transitional periods to another couple’s transitions. When you start comparing (“Why is my husband not finished with school yet?” or “How do her kids already sleep through the night?” or “How did they already buy a new house?”), you will feel empty and lacking. Instead, focus on what you do have. Focus on the values and the rewards of this stage where you find yourself right now. There is a purpose here in this transition.

 

P.S. Did your get your free Transitions in Marriage discussion guide? It’s not too late!

What transition are you currently facing in your marriage?

To Have Purpose

When I was single, I thought that I would only find purpose if I had a boyfriend. When I was dating, I thought that life would only have meaning if I was married. Now I’m married to an amazing guy, yet I caught myself just the other day wondering if having kids would give me the fulfillment I felt that I was lacking. What does it mean to have purpose?

I felt like I had “arrived” (whatever that means) when my sweet husband and I rented our first home, bought our first couch, and settled into a routine together. But then I wanted to buy a “better” couch, buy a “better” house, and get “better” jobs. I wanted us to get more education and more possessions and more friends and more fun experiences. Where does the cycle end?

What does it mean to have purpose? | www.graceupongracetoday.com

What is My Purpose?

Having grown up attending a Christian school that was affiliated with a Presbyterian church, I learned the Westminster Catechism. I remember reciting lines and lines of it before my fifth grade Bible teacher. Over a decade later, there’s only one line I can still repeat word for word: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” (You can find the Westminster Shorter Catechism at Creeds.net.) Therefore, what is our purpose? That we glorify God and that we enjoy God.

John Piper is oft quoted as proclaiming: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” I see “satisfaction” as being parallel to “enjoyment.” Likewise, Piper argues that God’s demanding of our praise and adoration “is his highest virtue, and your highest joy.” That is our purpose.

What About…?

The human life does not seem to line up with that, unfortunately. Typical American Christianity argues that family and prosperity are the chief ends of man. One of the two Christian radio stations in my area is touted as being “family-friendly” and consistently relays information directed at parents and children. It is as if singles and couples without (or with grown) children are somehow less Christian. I get the message that the radio station is not for me because I do not have kids.

Is a spouse, 2.5 kids, a dog, and a white picket fence what Christianity is supposed to look like? We are all too guilty of turning our “American Dream” into a “Christian” goal. Have we forgotten that the Savior of the world did not own a home or get married or have a savings account? What did he do? He glorified God.

A home and a marriage and a savings account and a family are good. But they are not the best. In summing up Philippians chapter 1, John Piper explains: “Christ is glorified in you when he is more precious to you than all that life can give or death can take.”

“Nothing Can Separate Us”

See, “life” can give a child. “Life” can give a house. “Life” can give a spouse and a job and a retirement plan. “Life” can give those vacations you’ve always wanted and the next item in your collection and the car you have dreamed about. We forget that death can also take those things away. What are we left with at the end of the day? Either Christ or an eternity without Him. The Apostle Paul writes that “nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.” Not even death. Yet, death can separate us from literally everything else.

“To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain”

Why would I not value Christ Jesus higher than everything else? In life, I have the opportunity to love Him, to serve Him by ministering to others, and to enjoy Him and all that He has made. In death, I have the joy of spending eternity worshiping Him and enjoying His literal company. To the Apostle Paul, life was good and death was also good, because both meant that he got to be with Jesus.

Living in the state of constantly wanting more and better and bigger has left me tired and empty. I realize now that getting a boyfriend did not complete me. Neither did getting married. Neither will having kids. I will only find my purpose when I glorify God, when I make much of Him, when I enjoy Him, and when I am satisfied in Him.

What does it mean to have purpose?

It means finding everything I need in Christ. It means going to Him first when I am sad, stressed, overjoyed, or at peace. It means not self-medicating with the things of this world when only God will satisfy. It means I do not compare my life with my Instagram feed – I compare it to Scripture. It means I do not ask Google what it thinks about my life choices – I ask God. It means I choose to cultivate friendships with people who love God and challenge me.

John Piper writes that when we realize our purpose, we see the treasure that Christ Jesus really is. We want to share him with others because we know His intrinsic value. We want to give freely of our money because obeying God by serving others is more important than our retirement plans. We want to deny our immediate desires in order to do what God immediately desires.

Deny Yourself

What does it mean to have purpose?

Jesus said that if anyone is to follow Him, they must deny themselves. I do not want to deny myself. I do not want to give up what I want. But what if the way to purpose, satisfaction, and joy is by obedience to someone other than my desires? Yes, family is good. Children are good. Homes and cars and savings accounts are good. But these are not my ultimate goals. These are not my ultimate priorities.

Counter-intuitively, my goal is to deny myself my desires in order to serve the God who already owns everything in the universe. The beautiful part of this is that God does supply my desires when I put my joy in Him first and foremost.

See, my goal is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. That will give me purpose, joy, and fulfillment even when the outward circumstances of my life do not look picture perfect.

What practical choices can you make in your life today to find your purpose in Christ?

Guest Post: Why God Calls Me To Submit to My Husband – And Why I Gladly Do It

Today I have the joy of featuring a guest post from the lovely Madison of From This Day Forward. You can read more about her at the end of this post, but I want to go ahead and let you in on a little secret: her words about this divisive topic are refreshing and true, and reading this makes me actually want to submit to my husband! She does not shy away from God’s Word in this post or in any of her writing. I am honored to call her an excellent author and a sweet friend.

{This post contains an affiliate link. See my policies page for more information.}

Why God Calls Me To Submit to My Husband Becoming One Devotional for Wives

“Submission? I will never let a man control me! There is no way that I am going to let my future husband rule over me like I’m some kind of slave!”

Sassy, I know. I said phrases like that very often before I started dating and got married. I was a headstrong, independent (or so I liked to think) young woman who really didn’t know the first thing about true biblical submission. To be honest, I think a lot of women nowadays don’t truly know what it means, either. The world tells us that being a submissive wife shows weakness and timidity. It tells us that if we submit to our husbands, they will abuse us and run us down. It tells us that submission is an evil thing that should be avoided at all costs.

If we look at what the Bible tells us, though, it is the exact opposite! God created submission for our benefit. It is not a punishment or burden, but a huge part of what makes marriage more fulfilling and joyful.

There are some things that I had to learn before I could truly submit to my husband the way God called me to. It wasn’t (and still isn’t at times) easy to do, but it is rewarding for my marriage in so many ways.

I had to realize that my husband’s God-given role is to be the leader and head of our home, while MY God-given role is to stand beside him as his helpmeet.

My husband is called to submit to God in order to be the leader he is made to be. I am called to submit to God first and foremost, then to my husband. Our roles should never be switched. If they do, there will be chaos! I believe God created our families to run this way for a reason.

Our husbands are called to love us like Christ loved the church (His Bride) in every aspect of our marriage. Christ loves His church by leading, teaching, and providing for us. We are called to submit to His authority and let him lead our families in the way we should go. Isn’t that a great model of submission in marriage as well? Everything Christ does, He does out of love for us. Your husband should be striving to lead your family in the way Christ leads the church.

I believe another reason why women have a hatred for submission is because they believe, as women, they are required to submit to every man in the world. That is yet another lie!

True biblical submission only requires that a wife submit to her own husband. A woman is not obligated or required to submit to all men in general.

I am so thankful for this! My husband is a Godly, loving and compassionate man who would do anything for me. He is a strong leader and wonderful mentor, and I look up to him a lot. As for the majority of men in this world, I would not even want to be around them; much less be their wife! The good news is I am only called to submit to the man I chose to love forever, my husband.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering, what exactly does biblical submission look like? Do I have a say in anything that goes on in our marriage and life, or is that only my husband’s job?

You DEFINITELY have a say in every single aspect of your marriage and life!

You and your husband should ALWAYS consult each other before making any decisions in your life or marriage. You are a team; your husband is just the team leader!

Before I got married, I thought that submission meant that I would have to let my husband make all of the decisions without consulting me or my opinions. Wow, what a misconception!

Why God Calls Me To Submit to My Husband - Becoming One Devotional for WivesYour husband should most definitely be including you in ALL of the decisions that affect you and your family. If he doesn’t, then he is not being the leader that he is called to be. He should be coming to you for advice and input, as well as your opinion and how you feel about things. His number one priority should always be God’s will, you, and your children (in that order). Being a submissive wife just means that you trust your husband to make the right decisions. It means that you are okay with whatever decision your husband ultimately decides to make regardless of which path you would have chosen yourself. Even when it is hard to let go of the desire to control, we are called to let our husbands lead us.

Jesus provided the perfect example of submission when he went to the cross. He submitted to God and His will, even if it was not the path he would have taken.

When I need a powerful example of biblical submission to go by, I look at Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). He went to the garden to pray because He knew He was about to go to the cross. It was taking a huge toll on Him, and he felt as if he was dying already. Through all of that stress and sadness though, Jesus prayed “Father, if it’s possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. But let your will be done rather than mine.” (Matt. 39) That sends chills down my spine! If Jesus, the King of Kings, can go to the cross and be brutally beaten to death and still say “not my will but Yours,” what is stopping us?

It is God’s will that my husband and I submit to Him and that I submit to my husband. Even when it is hard, we can still practice submission. God can help us! All we have to do is ask Him.

Pray for your husband; that he will be the true leader that God calls Him to be. Remember that your husband will never be perfect and he will make mistakes. Even so, trust him. Help him remember to seek God in all that he does and always follow His will.

Becoming One: A 30-Day Devotional for Wives

If you want to invest in your marriage and learning how to truly become one with your husband, I have the perfect resource for you! I just released my new e-book Becoming One: A 30-Day Devotional for Wives! It is designed to help wives grow closer to their husbands while also growing closer to God. To learn more about Becoming One and purchase it for yourself or a friend, visit this link.

About the Guest Poster:

Madison is a follower of Jesus, wife to Steven, and mommy to her fur baby Bentley. She strives to encourage and equip wives to grow closer to God and their husbands on a daily basis. She loves to spend time in the Word of God, go on dates with her husband, whip up treats in the kitchen and travel the world when she can. In all that she does, she strives to please God most of all.

To read more of Madison’s reflections on marriage, you can read her blog.

If you’re interested in reading more about working together within a submissive marriage, see my thoughts on teamwork in marriage.