Equally Yoked: A 2015 Challenge: Speak Highly of your Spouse

Today is a bittersweet day. It's the last day of Equally Yoked! Although I am sad that the series is coming to an end, I am so full of joy looking back on the past few months of the series. Each post has done work in my heart, and I hope that you can say the same. THANK YOU to everyone who has supported this series from the beginning. It means so much to me. Joining us today is the lovely Lauren. Lauren's heart for the Lord is such an inspiration and it reflects clearly into her marriage. It's such a privilege to have her with us for the last installment of the series!

Don't forget to nominate your favorite post via e-mail or in the comments. On January 7th I will post the survey for you to choose your favorite post and the blogger with the best post will receive a little gift from me!

Happy New Year's Eve!! I'm Lauren and I blog over at 34 Magnolia Street about faith, fashion, DIYs and how much I like to rearrange my furniture. The latter is a problem, but more on that another time. I am really stoked to be joining you and all the other ladies who have taken part in this Equally Yoked series so far. Cassie is a gem and this series has really warmed my heart.

I've been married for two and a half years to Jacob, who is now my most cherished friend and life partner. Marriage has been a huge opportunity for growth in both of us - there have been many thrilling, fabulous and love-filled moments, and there have also been self-centered, hurtful moments. That's what happens when you pair two people to adventure through a lifetime together. And all of it is good.

Back to New Year's Eve, though. Do you have plans? Many of you, I'm sure, will be gathering with friends or family to ring in this new year, full of clean slates, resolutions and excitement.

With all of those hopes for new slates and growth, I want to give you a challenge for 2015: speak highly of your spouse.

Does that sound easy to you? I think the timing of this post is so perfect because you're gathering with other people tonight. You're going to eat great food, maybe play some games, tell some jokes, and even laugh together! But what do you joke about?

My least favorite thing to see in the marriages around me is spouses who make their spouse the butt of their jokes. There's something to be said for teasing someone lovingly, but I stand very firmly on the side of speaking highly of my spouse. Ladies, it is so important to build your husband up in public. You know we have a way to put someone down while only "joking," but what good does that do for your relationship?

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. - Hebrews 10: 24-25

While the author in Hebrews isn't specifically speaking of marriage here, those words certainly apply. In all things consider how to stir your husband up to love and good works. Does airing his dirty laundry with your friends do that? Does pointing out his flaws while "only joking" at a party do that? I don't think it does.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. - Philippians 4:8

Ladies, I know marriage is hard sometimes. And if you have serious issues you need to work out, I implore you to seek counsel together or separately from a wise, Christ-seeking couple in your lives. But regardless of where you are in your marriage, I challenge you to seek to uplift your spouse and encourage him to love and good works in all you do. And that starts with how you speak about him in public.

Happy New Year, friends! I would love to hear from you! You can catch up with me via the social media links below, or you can email me at laurenbalbrecht@gmail.com. Good luck with your 2015 Challenge! ;)

Connect with Lauren

See more from the series HERE.   


Blogger Men Tell All Part IV

It's that time of month again! Time for another "Blogger Men Tell All" hosted by Becca, Melissa and Samantha! We have somehow managed to participate all four times. My husband is a champ (and I enjoy adding my own commentary). 

1. What is one thing you really want for Christmas/the holidays this year?
I would love a safe trip to Wisconsin. There is supposed to be a storm coming in and I would just love for us to get there safe. However, a Kelty Oriole HipPack would be stellar! Funny that I'm just now posting this because he filled it out on December 23rd. Since then we have had a successful trip without snow AND I had already bought him that HipPack! Ha!

2. Does your family generally do Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (or other sorts of) celebrations?
Since Cassie and I are still figuring out our traditions, I can't really say what we do with our family. Growing up, however, it was Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve, presents and breakfast and church in the morning of Christmas and usually a day to the movie theatre for the afternoon. I'm working on traditions. Suggestions are welcomed. 

3. What is your favorite part about the Holidays?
Family is easily my favorite part of the holidays. Seeing family, being around family, worshipping with family, it all counts. "Being with my wife..." was supposed to be in there, it might be invisible though. 

4. What's your New Year's Resolution?
I probably won't make any just because I know I am not good at keeping them, however, I would like to push myself more on my bike and commute more next year and ride farther, both in one ride and in total over the year. I've never seen anyone live for goals like this guy does. 

5. Where will you be at the start of 2015?
Probably in my bed, fast aspleep. I think he was already "aspleep" when he was writing this.... and no he's not kidding about being asleep before the new year. We are thrilling.

Becoming Adorrable

AND we are back for another month of In the Word in One Year. Please be sure to grab January's calendar so you will be all caught up! If you're still participating, how is the study going for you so far? I'm admittedly quite a bit behind, but I am determined to finish out the study!

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Stitch Fix Number Two

Stitch Fix
Last week I received my second Stitch Fix! For those of you that are unfamiliar with Stitch Fix, you can read more about it here. I love Stitch Fix because I HATE shopping in stores, but I love clothes. Stitch Fix allows me to try on clothing, hand picked for me, in the comfort of my own home. This way, I don't have any of those moments where the clothes look great in the store, but then I get home and have nothing to pair them with!

M and I have been doing monthly "allowances" which allows me to save for my fix (sounds like a bad drug habit). I also sell back clothing to ThredUp to get cash back. Stitch Fix's clothing isn't cheap- but it is high quality. Something I am striving for with my closet is quality over quantity. I only want clothing that I look and feel good in, and that will last. I especially like it because I feel like my old clothing doesn't fit my new lifestyle of graduate student and wife. Stitch Fix gives me the opportunity to get some new pieces into my closet!

I also love their referral program. Each time someone uses your referral link (here is mine) to order their first Stitch, you get a $25 credit. How awesome is that?! I would love for you to use my referral link, but do not feel obligated.

When signing up for my first fix, I made sure to link to my pinterest board and leave specific comments about what I was looking for. I continue to update this periodically, especially around the time I plan to order another stitch. This time I asked for dressy casual clothing and left the rest up to my stylist. This time around, I had Angie, and she TOTALLY killed it. I loved every single piece. Here is what I received:

Stitch Fix Amadai Scallop Hem Blouse and Dlphine Houndstooth Corduroy Pant
1. Amadi Scallop Hem Blouse (Papermoon)
2. Delphine Houndstooth Corduroy Pant (Kut From The Kloth)

Stitch Fix Amadai Scallop Hem Blouse and Dlphine Houndstooth Corduroy Pant

3. Dano Lace Trimmed Cardigan
Sorry for the awful quality of this photo. 

Stitch Fix Dano Lace Trimmed Cardigan

4. Hobbes Striped Crew Neck Sweater (41Hawthorn)

Stitch Fix Hobbes Striped Crew Neck Sweater

5. Kendal Geometric Print Shift Dress (Papermoon)

Stitch Fix Kendal Geometric Print Shift Dress

My thoughts on each piece:

1. Scallop Blouse: I mean, how perfect is this top? It can be worn to the office or out for drinks on the weekend. KEPT.
2. Corduroy Pant: How someone that has never met or seen me in person can find pants that fit me perfectly is beyond me. These fit SO perfectly and I love the fun print. KEPT.
3. Cardigan: This cardigan was just alright. It was a little loose on me, which I don't typically like with cardigans like this. However, I would have spent more if I sent this back because I wouldn't have gotten the 25% discount for keeping all items.  KEPT.
4. Crew Neck Sweater: I can always use a good sweater. I would have never chosen this for myself, but I think that's what makes it fun. KEPT.
5. Geometric Print Dress:  Again, I would not have picked this out for myself but I loved how it fit and I do not own a single thing like it. KEPT.

The breakdown:

The merchandise total was $230.00. After applying the $20 styling credit and the 25% discount for purchasing all five items, my total was down to $157.50. Luckily, I also had $55 in referral credit, bringing my total to $102.50. That is about $20.50 per item! That's a serious deal.

Order your first Stitch Fix today!
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Christmas Home Tour & Giveaway

I know I am a little late with this, but it seems like I have barely been home this Christmas season and when I have been things have been crazy. We opted out of a large tree this year since we would be traveling, and we are still working on acquiring Christmas decor. However, it feels like home and that's all that really matters.

Last Christmas I bought the Naptime Diaries Advent Calendar and I LOVE it. I love that I can reuse it each year. It's fun to get creative with it in different ways!

Naptime Diaries Advent Calendar
Naptime Diaries Advent Calendar

Our tree topper makes our little Christmas tree so wonky. But that's ok, I love it just the way it is.

Each year, my family gives each other ornaments. I have quite a few funny ones, but this engagement ornament is one of my favorites. I love that our tree is full of meaningful ornaments. I don't think I will ever be one of those people that has a color coordinated tree. I just love the eclectic look far too much.

I hope you had a beautiful Christmas!
I'm very excited to be teaming up with these awesome ladies for a giveaway. As the New Year approaches we realized what a blessing it would be to help others on their faith walk/journey with Jesus! What better way way to start out the new year than to be focused on Him?! We have all teamed up and have some fabulous prizes, including a new journaling bible, devotionals, gift cards, and more. Instead of having one winner, we thought it would be more fun to have three! The fabulous prizes will be:

1st Winner - $75 Value
  • Journaling Bible
  • Blessings for a Woman's Heart Devotional
  • Max Lucado Calendar
  • Jesus Today Book
  • Scripture Cards
2nd Winner - $45 Value
  • 2 CD's
  • Starbucks Gift Card
  • Notepad
  • Women's Devotional
3rd Winner - $25 Value
  • Itunes Gift Card
  • Journal
  • Scarf
It's A New Year Giveaway

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Equally Yoked: A Christ-Centered Marriage

This is our second to last Equally Yoked! Don't forget to nominate your favorite post via e-mail or in the comments. The blogger with the best post will receive a little gift from me!  With us today is Nicole. I have been following Nicole's blog for around 3 years now and she was one of the bloggers that inspired me to start blogging. Her heart for Jesus was such an encouragement to me when I was trying to figure out my own faith and she continues to inspire me. I'm so excited that she's here with us today. 

Hi, I'm Nicole! I'm the blogger at bloom, a newlywed, a fur-mama, a part time librarian, and a full time photographer and videographer for 314 Productions. God is good to us.

Marriage is a sweet thing.  I’ve been married for 649 days (as I’m writing) and I’m so incredibly grateful for each and every day we’ve spent together as husband and wife.  Marriage is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and I was shocked when it really was such a life change for me.  I didn’t really know what all I would experience as I entered into marriage aside from finally living together and enjoying married life things (enter wink face).  I didn’t know that the first few weeks of marriage would be so sanctifying.  I didn’t know that my relationship with Jesus would grow exponentially.  I saw my sin more.  I saw my selfishness more.  I saw my need, my daily need for grace more.  Marriage is such a picture of the gospel.  Of Jesus loving His bride, the church, and the church being submissive to Christ.  I love that God gives us so many real and tangible examples of the gospel.

It has been truly incredible to see my husband really become MY HUSBAND.  Not just someone I share a house with but someone who leads our home.  Someone who I can trust and look to for spiritual guidance.

Our marriage has grown so much and specifically this year.  Friends, can I tell you that year two is even better than year one?  I hope that I can say that every year. :)

Marriage is such a spiritual thing.  As we have spent more time in the word together and praying together and talking about the gospel together I see the true purpose in marriage.  The marriage relationship helps us to be better disciples of Christ.  It gives us someone to encourage us and challenge us.  Marriage gives us someone to stand beside and serve with.  My strengths with his strengths.  I really just want to encourage you today to pray over your marriage and evaluate where you are spiritually.  Are you reading the word together?  Are you serving together?  Are you letting your husband lead your home?  These are all great questions to think about and think about often.

These past few months I’ve seen our marriage grow.  And it’s because our relationship is becoming more Christ centered.  I absolutely see the fruit of a Christ-centered marriage.  I see how God uses marriage in our lives to refine us and make us more like Jesus.

I would encourage you to sit down with your husband and talk about the ways that you can be more intentional to keep Christ the center of your relationship.  Because it’s so easy to allow other things to creep in.  Decide a time to pray together or a day of the week to read together.  Think about having another couple over for dinner and maybe studying something with them.  Marriage is sweet.  I’m so thankful that Jesus blessed me with this relationship and it is my desire to use it to glorify Jesus and spread the gospel through it!

Connect with Nicole

See more from the series HERE.   


Favorite Holiday Movie

Today I am linking up with Ashley from The Grits Blog and Tay from Tay Meets World for Blog-MAS! The prompt for today is "Favorite Holiday Movie," which makes this one of the most challenging prompts. How am I supposed to just choose one?! But it must be done. So, the BEST holiday movie? LOVE ACTUALLY.

This movie just has so much greatness. Take this, for example:

and THIS:

And when I took the BuzzFeed quiz to figure out which character I was, THIS was the answer:

Natalie? I'm sure that's based on SOLID science. For a minute I was like WHAT?! Then, I realized that this is apparently because I have a "foul mouth and a big heart." Well... I hate to admit to this, but that's pretty true. One question though, how come everyone in the movie seems to keep inferring that Natalie is fat? SHE IS NOT FAT.

So there you have it, my favorite holiday movie. What is yours?


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2014 in Review

Can you believe we are less than a week away from Christmas? That just seems obscene to me, where did this year go?! Although I'm not necessarily ready to begin 2015 yet, I did want to take a moment to reflect back on the past year. It was arguably one of the best years of my life.

JANUARY. It's honestly hard for me to remember back this far. This was a month of rest for me; full of days working from home and sitting by the fire relaxing before the craziness of classes started. The weather was mostly miserable, but it did get up in to the 50s some days which allowed for some muddy bike rides with M!

FEBRUARY. Classes were back in full swing by this time of the year, and that's probably why I am choosing to block it out of my memory completely. Oops. This is why I love blogging, because without it, I can't even remember what I did yesterday!

MARCH. March was a great month! We had my "Taste of Home" bridal shower in Phoenix, I slaved over DIY wedding projects, and sent out our wedding invitations! I remember how excited I was to get RSVPs back.

APRIL. The month I returned to the blogging world after a hiatus. I immediately shared our engagement photos. We also spent some time in Kansas City working on wedding details and celebrating our first True False Film Festival experience. In April, we saw the first signs of life in our garden, watched the anticipated American Blogger documentary, and celebrated Easter with friends. This is also the month I started creating meal plans and I am happy to say I have continued it every month since. Not to forget this was also the month when I told you how our church plant changed my life.

MAY. This was a BIG month. FIRST OF ALL, WE HAD WINE TOGETHER and then I shared the beginning of my love story with you. After that came information overload about my personal wedding planning hacks, my experience with purity and waiting, and ten things NOT to say to a bride. And for those who could care less about my wedding, I shared 10 things I CANNOT deal with, some snippets from my childhood, blogging etiquette 101, and 10 things I would tell my younger self. May was a month of saving money for us, so it was only natural that I shared our money saving tricks. At the end of the month, I had a Vegas Bachelorette party.

JUNE. WEDDING MONTH!!! On June 9, we celebrated a year of engagement. After that, I poured my heart out about finding my identity in Christ and hating the idea of food restriction. Then, I officially became a wife on June 21. At the end of the month, I rambled about why I took my husband's last name.

JULY. The beginning of ALL of our wedding photos! We had a really great Fourth of July in Louisville and then followed it up with the travel experience FROM HELL. I also vowed to stop trying so hard which ended up in me sharing all of my weird quirks. I also told you how to be a cyclist and challenged you to get real about your marriage with others. We also went on a tour of our backyard makeover.

AUGUST. We spent the first 10 days of August in COSTA RICA for our honeymoon. It was magical. I drank a lot of coffee and learned some things about those magical little beans that I didn't know before. While we were gone, I shared my FAVORITE photos from our wedding: the details. I spilled the beans about my Grand Canyon love affair, cleaned out my iPhone, and shared my FIRST Stitch Fix!

SEPTEMBER. I got my bible study on and shared some tips, chatted about how to coordinate mismatched bridesmaid dresses, and my husband made an appearance to offer advice about choosing the perfect wedding photographer. I got serious about providing tangible support for friends in need, told a story about one of my favorite tattoos, and jumped the gun on my holiday wish list. The month ended with me sharing our Shutterfly wedding album and our vows.

OCTOBER. THE MONTH OF EQUALLY YOKED. This series has been amazing for me, and I hope you can say the same. A short reintroduction and a look behind the scenes were necessary thanks to the growth I had seen in my followers (SO AWESOME). October was the month we celebrate M's brother's wedding and traveled back home to Arizona. I also shared our WEDDING VIDEO and announced that I would start offering sponsorship options!!!

NOVEMBER. The beginning of graduate school hell and the holiday season. This required discussions about what I am thankful for in general and what I am thankful for about our town. It also obviously required a holiday gift guide. In November I was the co-host of a STELLAR tattoo linkup and I was FORCED to vlog. I also talked about my personal wedding registry dos and don'ts - a MUST read if I do say so myself.

DECEMBER. December marked the month we became members at our church, celebrated my birthday as well as six awesome months of marriage, AND I successfully survived another semester of school. YAY. I also talked about how to balance family during the holiday season, my 5 favorite affordable wines, and my skincare routine. We traveled (or will travel) to Arizona, Wisconsin, and Chicago this month. The saddest part about the end of December will be the conclusion of Equally Yoked. Look out for a little poll on December 31st where you can vote on your favorite post from the series! If you have nominations PLEASE send them my way in an e-mail or in the comments below!

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Holiday Survival Kit

The holidays can be brutal. Although they are full of family, good food, Jesus, and gifts, they often come with quite a bit of stress. Juggling families can be hard and traveling between them even harder. That's why when the holidays roll around I be sure to have my holiday survival kit ready.

Holiday Survival Kit

1. Trashy magazines. Because if you have family drama during the holidays (who doesn't?), this is guaranteed to make you feel better about your life.

2. BOOZE. Because, well... booze.

3. ESV study bible. It's only natural that this follows the champagne, right? This bible is so perfect for the advent season and spending time in the word is one of the best ways to find rest during the holiday season.

4. Portable iPhone charger. Between all the back and forth between houses, hours spent in the car, and crazy holiday coordination, you are bound to need to recharge your phone at some point. OR you could ditch the phone all together during the holiday season.

5. Uggs. I literally live in Uggs during the holidays. They are like walking on clouds; what could be more comforting?

6. An audible membership. Nothing passes long hours in the car better then audiobooks. With Audible you will never be bored again. Plus there's something for everyone!

7. A Yankee candle. Does this one even need an explanation?

These all sound great for us women, but what about the man in your life? That's where Man Crates comes in. Man Crates is a new company that ships awesome gifts for men in custom wooden crates that he has to open with a crowbar! At Man Crates, it is their mission to end the difficulties that have long been associated with buying gifts for men. I'm personally a huge fan of their Snack Pack Man Crate. It's the perfect holiday survival kit for that man in your life (because who doesn't love snacks?!).

Man Crates Snack Pack

I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are honest and my own. 

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Equally Yoked: What Your Husband Needs to Hear from You

Equally Yoked is nearing the end but that surely doesn't mean the posts are becoming any less important. Sharing wisdom with us today is Faith. Faith has been married for 12 years! Up until this point we have mostly heard from newlyweds, and I think you will love hearing from someone with more "experience" (for lack of a better word)! It's so important that those of us with more recent marriages hear from women that have been married for longer periods of time. I think Faith does such a great job of being a mentor with this post. Happy reading!
Equally Yoked
Hello friends, My name is Faith and I blog over at Life with Mrs G & the Artist where I write about our lives, my faith, marriage and family. Sometimes I will have a few crafts, recipes, and vlogs thrown in here or there. We live in Indianapolis and have for about 6 years. We attend Moriah Apostolic Church and we love the church family there..they are so welcoming and friendly. My husband and I work on the Youth Committee and I teach a group of about 15 ladies sign language every week. I also play music and am in the worship team. We love it. It's home for us and I couldn't imagine being anywhere else. 

I thought I would share with you a couple thoughts that I have on marriage and how we can respect and honor our husbands. LG, my husband, & I have been married 12 years now. In those 12 years, there have been some things that I've had to learn and things that I've really had to work on. Marriage is a wonderful thing. However, I think sometimes in the midst of all the excitement, love,  and happiness that happens on the wonderful day that we become husband and wife, we forget something: We forget that we are now bound to that person physically, spiritually, and emotionally. We are the other half to someone's whole and it makes what we think, and what we say to them and about them, extremely important. I wrote a post a couple of months ago about 5 ways to earn your husbands trust and a lot of the things I said in that post ring true for this post too. 

There are a lot of things that women just don't understand that a man needs. They think of their husbands as strong, independent men who are in need of very little; but that's simply not the case. They need you more than you realize. In Proverbs 31, it talks about the virtuous woman and how her husband and her children rise up and call her blessed:

10 A capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman—who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies or pearls. 
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain or need of [dishonest] spoil.

I think sometimes we forget that verse 11 didn't just happen. There were things that the woman did for her family that caused them to have that reaction. In verse 12 it says this:

She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her.

So, you see, the Lord has called all of us to be a help to our husbands. They need us to be their support system. They need us to comfort and encourage them. They need to know that we are going to be there and let them know that we are behind them; that we support their endeavors and their dreams. So I started thinking... what are somethings that I could tell my husband that would let him know that I'm behind him 100%? And here is what I came up with. 

Eight things your husbands need to hear from you:

1. "I'm glad I married YOU." It doesn't matter how confident and independent your husband is. He needs to know that you are still glad that you married him. He needs to know that you still think that it was the absolute best decision for the both of you and that you are still 100% in this marriage. 

2. "Thank you for providing for our family." He needs to know that you appreciate what he does for you and your family every day. He may like his job or he may hate it, but he needs to know that you appreciate what he does to provide for you and your loved ones. 

3. "I LOVE YOU." This one doesn't need an explanation! Tell the man you love him!! 

4. "Thank you for being the Godly example & leader in our house."  This one, to me, is the most important. The husband is the spiritual leader of your home. He is the one, or should be the one, that prays for your family and for guidance in the decisions for your family. He talks to God every day about his family and I'm sure he prays a hedge of protection around you when he isn't there to protect you himself. So thank him for being that prayer partner, that praying husband, father, and friend. Thank him for leading you and being that Godly example to your children (if you have them)

5. "I support you & your ministry." Is your husband a minister? Is he a musician? Is he a Pastor? Is he a youth pastor? Whatever the Lord has called him to do, whatever ministry the Lord has for him, he needs your support and love. He needs to know that you have his back in this life. If God calls him to place far away, are you his help-meet? Are you going to support him in that? He needs that support. Support and love the ministry the Lord has given him. 

6. "You are my BEST friend." He needs to hear this! I know us girls are all about our friends and when we think about our husbands we don't think they worry about any of that, but guess what? They think of you as their best friend and they want to be your best friend too! My husband and I just went through a tough situation this last year where we really had to hold tight to each other and be there for each other when nobody else was, or at least when we felt like nobody else was. One thing we learned is that yes, we have friends outside of each other but when the tough times come, and trust me they will, it's nice to know you have that ONE person that will be there no matter what. Which brings me to my next one...

7. "I'm always on your side." ALWAYS make sure that he knows you are ON his side. You have his back NO matter what or who comes against him. He needs to know that you will be there to protect him. Yes, they protect us a lot of time, but there are certain times and certain situations where they need to know you have THEIR back first! When you took those vows at that wedding you looked forward to the fact that your marriage was "for better or for worse," forsaking ALL others. Sometimes "all" means people that mean a lot to you; but after you say "I do" your main thought and focus should be your marriage and your spouse above everyone else. He needs to know you understand that and that you are "on his side." 

8. "Never give up on your dreams." Lastly, encourage him to go for his dreams! If he wants to build his own house, tell him to go for it. If he wants to Get his masters degree,encourage him to go for it. If he wants to be a missionary, (I would probably cry being away from my family but again: "forsake all others") be behind him. It's you and him, not you, him and everyone else. Encourage him to follow his heart. The Lord may have work for you as missionaries. If he wants to start his own business, say yes and do what you can to help. He needs to know that you love him enough to be with him 100%! 

I know some of these were hard to hear, but I promise you if you do them you will see that your husband will love you for it because you are giving him the courage to live his dreams, you are making him feel like a hundred bucks and he will love you all the more for it. We have to stop being so selfish and start thinking of others. Especially the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with. He needs you to need him; he needs you to love him! Show him love!!! Tell him what he needs and wants to hear, that you love him just for who he is! 

It has taken me a lot of years to write some of these down pat. And I will admit that I still struggle at times. I often have to go to my little prayer closet and say "God, I'm at the end of my rope. I don't know how else to help. I need your guidance. Please show me how I can love and honor my husband like you would have me do." And you know, he answers that prayer every time. Just remember... appreciate your husband! God gave him to you for a reason; don't take him for granted. 

Connect with Faith

See more from the series HERE.    

ALSO, on the Friday following the last installment of the series (Jan. 2), there will be a small poll where you can vote on your favorite post from the series! If you would like to nominate a post, please leave a comment or e-mail me. The winner will receive a little gift from me!


Tell Me About Your Town: Favorite Shops & Boutiques

It's time for another Tell Me About Your Town! This month's prompt is "Favorite Shops and Boutiques." Columbia is full of great little places, and these are some of my favorites!

Fretboard Coffee. Call me hipster, but this place is awesome. Fretboard is a family-owned coffee roasting business, first established in Brooklyn, New York in 2009. They are known for their pour-over coffee and on certain days of the week they sell donuts from one of the best places in town.

Poppy Arts. Poppy is a sweet little shop right on the main street in our town. Poppy is a handmade gift destination for locals and visitors alike.  The large collection of carefully hand selected merchandise features jewelry, home decor, paper goods and even something for babies and children. It's one of the best little shops to browse on a stroll downtown.

Poppy Arts Columbia, MO
Poppy Arts Columbia, MO

Boone Olive Oil. Boone Olive Oil carries oils from around the world. This place is HUGE and it has something for everyone. This makes the perfect gift for people who like to cook!

Boone Olive Oil Columbia, MO
Boone Olive Oil Columbia, MO
Boone Olive Oil Columbia, MO

Which of these would I find you at most often?

The Rambling Llama

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December Vlog

So I am a few days behind on my vlogging game, but better late then never, right? I didn't think I would vlog again, but it was actually quite fun last time, so I am back at it! I got really cute for you all for this vlog, so prepare to be jealous of my fashion game.

It was a nightmare trying to get this thing uploaded, so I really hope this works!

Here is the post I refer to in the video. Happy Monday!

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Balancing Family During the Holidays as a Married Couple

Balancing family during the holiday season as a married couple

Around the holidays I always seem to hear other married couples talking about how hard it can be to share time between both families. There always seems to be this desire to be "fair" when it comes to how time is spent during the last few months of the year. Some couples drive 5 hours to be with one side of the family Christmas Eve, then drive 7 hours in the opposite direction to make it to the other side of the family's Christmas dinner. In the end, more time and money is spent traveling than WITH family. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the holiday season? Maybe; for me at least.

M and I decided very early on that it was important for us to have Christmas at home once we have children. We don't want to be dragging them to and fro in order to please everyone else. I think I might also have a slight aversion to this since I come from a divorced home where the holidays were always split. Since that isn't exactly where our life is at right now, we had to decide how the holidays would be split between our families in the meantime. From the VERY beginning of our engagement, this was something we discussed. We didn't want this to become an issue AFTER we were married, because the first year is hard enough in itself.

In the end, we decided that M's family would get Thanksgiving that year, and mine would get Christmas. This is what is realistic for us considering our families are now spread across the country. The following year, my family would get Thanksgiving, and his Christmas. Although it has been somewhat challenging to stick to this arrangement (especially because my family is going to Hawaii this year for Christmas and it's not our year to spend with them), it has been a HUGE help to us. There's no waiting until the last minute to tell one family we won't be seeing them. There's no hurt feelings because it has been established from the outset that this is how things would be. There's no competition over what set of parents is having the "best" holiday celebration and therefore gets our attendance. There's no crazy travel agenda in hopes of "fitting everyone in" so feelings don't get hurt. It relieves SO MUCH of the pressure.

I know some couples struggle with setting boundaries with their families after they get married. But it really only comes down to one thing: your marriage. When you get married you need to understand that you now have two families. However, what matters in the end, above all, is your marriage. As a couple, you need to work to protect your relationship above all things, even if that means not seeing your parents for Christmas or your grandparents for Thanksgiving. Your family is now your husband (or wife), and so as long as they are there, you ARE with family during the holidays. I would encourage you to do what is best for your marriage, even if that means you have to sacrifice time with one side of the family. This might look differently for you, but this is what works for us.

How do you "share" the holiday season between your family and your in-laws?

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Equally Yoked: What Being a Help Meet Really Means

I'm pretty excited for Equally Yoked today. But let's be real, I'm excited for it EVERY week. Joining us today is Maggie. I met Maggie via twitter when I was involved with Overcome the Lie. This woman is REAL. She has a heart of gold but isn't scared to share what is on her mind and I absolutely adore her for this. Her writing is completely unique and always challenges me to think about certain topics from a new perspective. I know today will be no exception to that. 

Hi there, friends. My name is Maggie, and I blog over at Sparks from the Soul where I write about faith, feminism, and family. I’m a transplanted Georgian living in Indianapolis with my rustic, bearded husband of 2 and a half years. We attend a little church plant where Will works as the Worship Director and I serve as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator. When people ask me how I knew that I’d marry Will, I always tell them it’s because we made a good team. He’s the perfect sweet to my sour.

I’ve never been one of those people who accepts something as truth just because another person said it was so. I have the rambunctious and stubborn heart that needs to wrestle with the mud of life all on my own. And when I first heard the term help meet, I knew I needed to do some digging. I felt that this concept of helper needed to be wrestled with – especially if it was going to directly affect how I interacted with my husband.

The way I see it, our interpretation of Scripture impacts our application of it. This means we must take great care in how we read the Bible.

The term help meet has been pulled from Genesis 2:18 where God looks at Adam and says, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him,” (NLT). God makes this decision after looking around and realizing that everything had a pair – birds, lions, fish, even the sun and moon had each other. But Adam was without a pair. So God decided to make a helper for the man.

The King James Version is the oldest English translation and the first to interpret the woman’s role as help meet. It’s somewhat appropriate that the KJV splits these in two since the original Hebrew is a combination of the two words ezer and kenegdo. But the more important of the two words is ezer, which is literally translated as “helper.” When trying to understand the full meaning of a word, scholars often look at other passages where the same word is used. This strategy is particularly helpful in understanding ezer because it’s used several other times in Scripture. Every other time ezer is used in the Old Testament, it’s in reference to God being a help or military aid to Israel.

“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the [ezer] of the fatherless,” (Psalm 10:14).

“Blessed are you, Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and [ezer] and your glorious sword,” (Deuteronomy 33:29).

“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our [ezer] and our shield,” (Psalm 33:20).

Aside from the numerous references to God as helper, the only other time ezer is used is in reference to woman in Genesis 2. This new understanding of my role as helper wrecked my heart in the best of ways.

To be a helper does not mean to be weak.

Quite the opposite, I’d say. If God is ezer, then it must take a whole lot of strength and resolve. Assuming the posture of helper does not mean I am subordinate to my husband, just as God was not subordinate to Israel. It actually means that my job is important – that my husband is lacking without my corresponding work.

I used to shrivel up at the word helper but now I bask in it. We have made the word small in our minds, reducing it to menial tasks and docile demeanors. I’m starting to think that we’ve had it all wrong. God’s call for woman to be a helper is a role that demands great strength and courage. It means we fight the darkness for our men, we take up their cause when their arms get weary, we speak hard truth, and we always always cultivate love where we are with what we have.

This job of ours – it’s the real deal. It’s hard and messy and sometimes it hurts. But our grace is that God himself modeled it for us. Our calling is steep but our Shepherd is mighty. Around dark corners and through rocky terrain, he will lead us.

See more from the series HERE.