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Showing posts with label love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label love. Show all posts

Aug 26, 2020

He Said, She Said // On Marriage and Love

Ok, I am SO excited about today's guest post!  It's totally fitting with our wedding just two days away (eek!).  Rebecca's interview with there husband about marriage and love is adorable and wise and filled with advice that I'll be taking to heart!  Thanks so much, Rebecca, for taking over the blog in my absence today!

Hi everyone - I'm Rebecca and I'm delighted to be guest posting today for the lovely Betsy! I am so excited for her and AJ getting married this month - I've loved following along with their long distance relationship, seeing their sweet engagement story, and I cannot wait to see the wedding photos. It is truly 'wedding' month - the 17th is my anniversary - so in honor of that I thought it might be fun to talk all things wedding and marriage - with both me and my husband, whom I call M.

M and I met in London, where we were both living at the time, back in 2010. We started dating a few months later and within 2.5 years we were married...it was without a doubt a whirlwind romance!

How long did you date before you got engaged?
  • Him:1 year and 5 months, is it?
  • Her: (counting on fingers…) Yeah that’s right!
  • Him: Boom! Husband’s on fire.
When did you realize that you wanted to marry the other person?
  • Him: The first date. I was in total shock, that someone that perfect for me was out there.
  • Her: Yep. By the end of the first date! I went home and told my flatmate that I thought I would marry him. She (naturally) thought I was a little bonkers.
  • Him: Game, set, match!
How did you realize?
  • Him: I couldn’t stop smiling. She just kept surprising me all day. And I knew every day since then - I just couldn’t wait to see her, find out more about her, and every day she was more interesting than the day before. And that’s still happening. 
  • Her: I was just amazed at how comfortable I felt with him. I had never felt so at ease being 100% ME, and certainly not on a first date! It's true what they say - we just 'clicked'. I felt it from the very beginning. After that it just became more and more clear; he was the most fun person I'd ever spent time with. We have had some hilarious moments together!

What do you remember of first trips together?
  • Him: The New Forest - still one of the best trips ever. Getting lost in The Deverills which we’ve still never even found on a map. Mountain biking together, staying in weird places, not booking anywhere. Blagging our way into a place to stay because I claimed to know a famous footballer (soccer player). The wild horses in the countryside, the windy roads. Arriving at a fancy place with no reservation and being turned away but not caring. And despite all the things going wrong she was still laughing and having fun and I never felt any pressure to impress her. It was that trip that made me realize she just wanted to be with *me* and that was the happiest moment of my life then. Plus we were having so much fun - I never laughed so much in my life.
  • Her: Well the New Forest was our first weekend away together and it was a brilliant trip. But Torquay was our first trip out of London together, so that always comes to mind, even if it was only a day trip. That trip showed me just how much I liked him already. It was only our 2nd or 3rd week dating and he texted me in the middle of a weekday saying he had to go out to Torquay - known as 'the English Riviera' - the following day, and did I fancy joining him. I got the all clear from my boss to take a last minute day off and when we caught the train I had all these flutters in my stomach from nerves and excitement. I couldn't remember the last time I'd done something so spontaneous, simply because I wanted to. It POURED the whole time we were there - but we still had fun.
How did it go meeting the other person’s family for the 1st time?

  • Him: I met her family first. Rebecca's parents arrived in Canary Wharf, I popped out while I was working. They were so happy to see her because they hadn’t seen her in a while. Oh yea, I remember that I wanted to impress them and didn’t own a car so I rang up EuRopcar rentals and told them I wanted the biggest car they had so we could take them up to Windsor Castle and they gave me a tiny car and they could barely see out the windows in the backseat. And I got lost! And her parents didn’t care, they were just so happy to see their daughter. I’d never met parents like them. They were really welcoming. And I thought you don’t marry a person, you also marry their family, so that sealed the deal really, a big bonus that her family are awesome.
  • Her: I think the story of me meeting M's family requires its own blog post...I met them before we planned a trip back. It was at Christmastime, and I got caught in that horrible snowstorm in London and all the flights had been canceled for days, thousands of people were stranded in the London airports because hotels were all booked for the holidays. Your dad managed to get us both on one of the only planes flying out to Ireland and we planned on me trying to get home from Ireland since they hadn't had the snow London had. That visit was FILLED with mishaps galore - funny things out of all of our control - but I think it was better that way. I didn't have the chance to get nervous because it was so impromptu. His parents were so warm and inviting, and they made me feel completely at home. They knew how badly I wanted to see my family for Christmas and did everything they could to make it happen; and yet they made sure I knew that if I couldn't get out to the US, I would be wholly welcomed at their house too. I really felt that, too. I love his family!
What was your favorite part about your wedding?

  • Him:  Two things: one was turning and seeing Rebecca at the end of the church. I was completely gobsmacked and overcome with emotion, and had to tell myself to pull it together. And that moment just before she put the ring on my finger because she looked at me nervously with this grin, biting her bottom lip. Like she didn’t believe it was going to happen until that moment.
  • Her:  Absolutely everything. I loved our day so, so much. We both had so much fun celebrating with everyone - we danced all. night. long. The music was wonderful, the food was delicious, the Cathedral looked beautiful, and I LOVED the cake. Seriously - the only thing that could have made the day any better was if my brother and sister could have been there.  

What 3 words describe marriage (so far) for you:

  • Him:  United team forever. That’s the thing for me - it’s forever. Knowing that Rebecca is my wife makes me feel solid as a man. This is what I’m supposed to be in life- her husband. And that gives me the confidence to be good in whatever I do.
  • Her:  Commitment. Partnership. And Joy. We are fully committed to each other. This is forever, no matter what. And we have to work as partners to support each other in everything - parenting, the household, etc. We work really well together and we will have to do that in everything that comes up in life! And being this team together makes me so happy - I can't imagine how I'd ever have more joy in my life!
What's your favorite thing about being married?

  • Him:  Trust. I can rely on her no matter what happens.
  • Her:  Nightly foot rubs! Kidding ;)  Knowing that together we can do anything, handle anything that comes our way.
What was the hardest thing to get used to about marriage?

  • Him:  It’s only been positive. The things that people say they miss about being single, I don’t miss.
  • Her:  I'd say the need for everything to be communicated clearly. It's not new to marriage exactly, it carries through from dating, but living together and especially parenting now means that we really need to communicate constantly, even about little things that I wouldn't have thought about previously.
How do you resolve disagreements?

  • Him:  “Happy wife, happy life!” In the times we have had disagreements I can see that I looked to win an argument rather than solve a problem. And that’s the biggest learning - if there’s a problem, it needs solving. It’s not a battle that needs to be won. A successful marriage means me leaving the debating team.
  • Her:  We don't disagree often, and when we do it's usually about something small or even silly in hindsight. Sometimes it probably wouldn't even become a disagreement except that we both decide to dig in our heels and try and 'win' for whatever reason. Resolving it means that one of us has realized what we're doing and stopped playing tug of war on the topic. A simple "I'm sorry" goes a long way.

What's been the biggest surprise about marriage?

  • Him:  Parenthood. It’s been the most amazing gift. I never knew I wanted to be a dad until I met Rebecca, and then I knew immediately that I wanted to have kids with her.
  • Her:  How we can be so cohesive as a unit! I know we joke and call ourselves the team, but truly it surprises me how much we have gotten on the same page about nearly everything, and how I know his mind on topics and how he will react to situations. It's wonderfully unexpected to know someone that well.  
What are your marriage goals?

  • Him:  Keep it fresh. Not let it go stale. It happens, people say it’s life, but I’m very conscious of that and want to keep the romance alive. I see my parents, they’re so romantic, and I’d like to aim for that. Go as if to never give up on each other, to always support each other, to always find a way to talk it through. To know when to just shut up - I hope I always know that! And I hope that her writing takes off - I really want to support her in that, no matter what it means, because I can see it makes her happy. I know I joked "happy wife, happy life", but truly "Happy Rebecca; Happy Mike". And I would like to think that I’ll be closer to God at the end of everything. I was close to Him, then I wasn’t, and then we both grew closer to Him together. And I'd like that to be more of a focus in our marriage and our life. The family that prays together stays together.
  • Her:  To learn how to be the best wife that I can be. I know that parenting has taken the forefront at the moment, but I want to be a great wife too. I want him to be happy with our life and where it takes us. I want to continue to grow as a couple, not just as parents or a family - I want us to continue to learn about each other, continue to show each other how much we love the other. And yes, I want us to grow together in God's love too, to pray together, to teach our children how to pray as a family. And I want more date nights!! :)  
What advice do you have to anyone just getting married?

  • Him:  My advice to a newlywed: remember your vows. It is a promise - in front of friends, and in front of God. To me I’m married forever - until death do us part - and that is my intention. Remember that this is new to the other person too. Talk about things, about your feelings, about any doubts or insecurities. If there’s ever mistrust, talk about it before it becomes something big. If you’re unhappy about anything, talk about it. It sounds so simple but communication is the key! Always remember why you married this person - even in times of upset or frustration. Life is short. Make every day count! Surprise each other. Blog together. ;) Love each other.
  • Her:  Remember that you're always on the same side! To M's point on the disagreements, you're a team. No matter what happens, you've got to solve the problem together. Always have that in mind. If you haven't done premarital counseling, talk about all the big stuff ahead of time - i.e. joint or separate bank accounts, how you will discipline any potential children, who will handle what chores, even where you will spend Christmas. It sounds pretty simple but you can assume you know the other's answer on little things like that and then be surprised- figure it all out now together! Figure out what makes the other person laugh and do it often. I find that nothing breaks the ice more than laughing together.
Thank you so much Betsy for having me today - wishing you and AJ all the best for a beautiful wedding day and a lifetime of happiness, love, and laughter!!  

You can find more of Rebecca over at The Adventures of Bug and Boo  and on Instagram       Twitter  Pinterest  

Aug 19, 2020

What Marriage Has Taught Me

I'm so happy to welcome Amy to the blog today!  Amy is the first of a few marriage-related guest posts that I have lined up for the next few weeks, and I just love what she has to say so much!  These 11 pieces of advice for a wife are so important...I know that I'll be referencing this list over and over! Amy also has one of the sweetest, most genuine hearts that I can think of.  I've been so blessed to meet her and get to know her in the blogging world, and am excited to have her taking over Heavens to Betsy today!

Hi!  I'm Amy...wife, mom of two littles, elementary teacher, natural health minded, San Diego dweller.   I love to read, go to the beach, drink coffee, and spend time with my sweet family.  My hubs, Steve, and I celebrated our eleventh wedding anniversary in May.  And looking back, there are so many times I know I wanted to give up, to quit, throw in the towel on our marriage.  Because it's hard.  But as hard as marriage is, it is also fulfilling, rewarding, fun, and worth every bit of hard work put into it. I still have a long way to go as far as learning what it means to serve, honor, and love my husband, but  I wanted to share eleven things I've learned [mostly the hard way] these last eleven years....

+ Never go to bed angry.  I know I heard this so many times before I was married, but it wasn't until I was married that I realized how true these words are.  It seems so simple, and yet, when pride gets in the way, it's a very difficult thing to do.  If you go to bed angry, you don't sleep well, and the next day will probably be another angry day.  Awful, right?  Seriously, once I learned to swallow my pride and admit when I'm wrong, I started sleeping so much better and makes my days so much more peaceful.

+ This is something I learned from experiencing others doing it, and I realized I never want to be the girl who does this... never disrespect your man in public or to the public.  When I hear girls talking poorly of their husbands, boyfriends, significant others to other people, it crushes me.  And you know if they're saying such terrible things to other people, what are they possibly saying to their face?!? Just don't do it.  Because if you can't think of anything nice to say about your husband, you're not thinking hard enough.

+ One of the things that I love most about Steve is that he understands my desire [and sometimes need] for time away with my friends.  No kids, no hubs, just me and my girls.  Sometimes for dinner and drinks, sometimes for a weekend away.  And it always refreshes me.  Makes me miss him so much and appreciate him all the more, so when I return home I'm recharged and ready for my wife duties.  I know he enjoys his time away with his friends as well, so when he asks to take a day or a few days away with them, I always say yes.

+ This next thing.  It's huge.  Especially for someone who's stubborn, like me.  Learn to compromise. Like seriously.  I don't always need to take myself, my ideas, my wants, and my desires so seriously. Sometimes it doesn't need to be about me.  Sometimes [most of the time] I need to give in a little.  Or a lot.  Because it shouldn't matter that he wants to keep his toothbrush on the sink instead of in the drawer. And maybe he doesn't put the dishes in the dishwasher like I think they should be, but he saved me some time and put them in anyway.  And when he folds my t-shirts different than I like to fold them, he gets a high five for folding the laundry so I don't have to.

+ One thing Steve & I have always been good at is date night.  For awhile, we consistently went out on Tuesday nights, because that's when we consistently had a babysitter [yes, we're some of the lucky ones who have 2 grandmas in town who'll watch our kiddos anytime].  And because it was Taco Tuesday.  Cheap tacos and margs?!? Yes please!! It's not longer solely on Tuesdays, but we still get in at least 2 dates nights each month.  Be intentional about it.  Be creative with it.  We've done date nights that haven't cost any money. And if you have kids, but don't have grandmas other family members in town to help, I'm sure you have friends who have kids who would love to trade free babysitting for date nights.

+ Once you forgive your spouse for something, never bring it up again.  I used to always say things like, "I forgive you, BUT...".  Now I try not to do that.  Steve truly feels like I'm forgiving him once and for all if I never bring it up again.

+ Be encouraging.  Give compliments, write notes, say "I love you," for no particular reason.  But encourage your man.  To him, in front of him: to your friends, family, and kids.  Encouragement is HUGE for men.  It strengthens their pride in all the right ways.  

+ Give grace.  This one is hard for me, for some reason.  Even when giving grace to myself.  I'm not sure why, but it's something I'm really working on.  We all make mistakes.  And if I'm asking for grace from Steve, I need to be willing to freely give it to him as well. 

+ Pray.  With your man.  For your man.  Ask him to pray for you.  Steve has always been so good about this one.  Several years ago I started to keep a journal of the things we specifically prayed for together.  It's so encouraging to go back and read through that journal and see all the ways God has shown up in our marriage.

+ Travel together.  Whether it's a day trip close to home, a weekend away, or an adventure half way around the world.  Do it. Save for it and go.  The time spent together and the memories you'll make will be priceless.  

+ Have fun together.  Sometimes this is hard because life gets busy and can get in the way of fun. But take time to slow down and have fun together.  Make each other laugh.  Especially if you have kids. It's so great for kids to see their parents having fun together.

As a wife, I still have so much to learn.  For many of you, you're probably reading this list and thinking, "How could she not know that?!?"  But I'm hoping you take away one thing from this today. That as you go through your wife things today, you will try to or try not to do one of these.  I love meeting new people and would love to hear from you, so feel free to stop by and say hello sometime:

Connect with Amy here:
IG: @amycaudill // Facebook: Amy Caudill // Twitter: @setfreeblog // Blog: www.amycaudill.com 

Jul 10, 2020

Love, The Bachelorette, and Other Musings

Let me start off this post by saying that I don't think I've ever written a post about The Bachelor or The Bachelorette before, and frankly, I doubt I ever will again.  It's one of those shows that I catch from time to time (like, every other season), and I love watching it with my mom and giggling about how dramatic they make it all look.  I don't "trust the process" that this show proclaims is the way the star will find the love of their life.  Mostly, I find it to be just fun, entertaining, albeit occasionally trashy, TV.

But there's something about this season that just isn't sitting well with me and frankly, it makes my heart hurt a little bit.

If you've been watching this season of The Bachelorette, you probably know that it's been one of the most controversial and rule-breaking seasons to date (and yes, I know they say that about every season).  Besides breaking away from the typical recap-dates-rose ceremony-preview formula and putting most of the rose ceremonies smack dab in the middle of the episode so that you don't know which way is up (guys, I'm seriously annoyed by this!), this season of The Bachelorette has featured a bachelorette who's fun-loving, carefree, and very sexual attitude has had her going to bed with suitors early on in the season and being pretty forthcoming on all of the juicy details.

But that's not what has me sad about this season.  Frankly, I'm not naive.  I know that waiting until marriage to have sex is not the cultural norm and I'm not going to pretend like I don't realize that sex happens behind the scenes on this series.  While it's not the lifestyle choice that I've made, I also don't think that it's my place to judge someone else who has different beliefs than me.

What does have me reeling a little bit is how many times Kaitlyn has sat in the interview room and cried over "jeopardizing her relationship" with other guys because of how she's acted in the moment. She's cried over the damage she may have done by sleeping with one of the guys; she's sobbed about letting things go too far when she told a guy that he was "the one."  And then, the real thing that is killing me is how many times she's said that she feels good when she's with a particular guy.

And there it is, friends....she "feels."  She feels good or feels like a woman or feels desired.  And if I was her, I'd probably feel the same way.  Drop any girl into a fantasy world of extravagant dates and attractive guys who are all focused on her, and who wouldn't feel all of those things?

But the problem is this:  love is about so much more than how you feel.

I'm no expert in love, and I'm certainly not going to pretend to know much about marriage, but I do know this:  love, real love, withstands the waves of how you feel.  Love is a choice.  When you're committed to someone to the point of wanting to spend the rest of your life with them, you wake up each morning and make the decision to love that person whether you feel like it or not.

Because the truth is that there will be days when you don't feel like it.  There will be days when you don't feel desired or good.  There will be days when love hurts.  And there may even be days when the world presents something to you that holds the promise of making you feel better than the way love is making you feel.

And if all you have is how you feel, if your love is built on feeling, then that's not going to sustain you.  Obviously, the process of The Bachelor franchise isn't the most healthy way to date and meet a future spouse.  So while The Bachelorette is all fun and games for those of us viewing from the comfort of our homes, the reality is that it's real people involved, which means real hearts and real hurt.  Sure, it pretends to take love seriously, but never before have I seen a star talk all of the "finding the one" talk while simultaneously seeming to have little grasp on what it truly means to love someone.

The glitz and the glamour of The Bachelorette is attractive and romantic and it's easy to see how a girl could get wrapped up in all of it.  And I can't deny that watching those extravagant helicopter rides to Irish cliffs and candlelit dinners in centuries-old monasteries often make my heart swoon!  But no matter how movie-esque your life is, at the end of the day, love is still about so much more than how you feel.

I wish there was more honestly in the media today...more couples who fight for their love; whose love is forged through a foundation of friendship and built on mutual faith in Jesus.  More couples who stand together and decide to stay and fight when things get hard instead of taking out that pre-nup and filing the divorce papers.  I wish that young girls who were sitting at home on Monday nights watching "real life" fairy-tales a la The Bachelor would see a couple fight through the hard moments and see how real love doesn't just send someone home when they feel like they're "not connecting this week" or that the "relationship isn't progressing fast enough."

I wish we saw more examples of how love is patient; how love is kind.  How it does not envy or boast or dishonor others.  How it's not proud or self-seeking.  How it's not easily angered or keep record of wrongs and how love seeks the truth and delights in it.

I wish we saw more examples of how love always protects, trust, hopes, and perseveres.

Wouldn't the world be a different place if we really took 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 to heart?

Feb 24, 2020

Love, A Cup of Coffee, & a Giveaway!

thanks to the peachtree coffee group and five star coffee for sponsoring today's post!  i received this product free of charge for review purposes, but all opinions are mine.

it was over a cup of coffee that aj told me he maybe sort of had a huge crush on me.  he's not a big coffee drinker, but i love it.  (for real, go look at my instagram feed).  however, we've started nearly every road trip we've taken with a warm drink in our hands and i've been known to call him on my way to his house to see if he wanted me to pick something up for him (aka so i wouldn't look rude when i showed up with a latte for me and nothing for him).

when we started our premarital counseling a few weeks ago, we were given the homework of praying together and reading certain scripture passages together before our next session.  for me, reading that scripture looks something like an open bible and notebook...and of course, a cup of coffee.

when i got the opportunity to try out five star coffee's romantic moments collection sampler box, i couldn't say no!  i'm a "light and sweet" kind of girl....which means i love flavored coffees and i love flavored creamers in them, and each romantic moments box features four flavored 12-cup sampler bags of coffee (perfect for those moments where you're just brewing for two!).

my box featured georgia pecan, hazelnut creme, english toffee, and cinnamon stick coffee, and honestly, i can't choose a favorite!  each flavor was smooth, rich, and met all of my expectations for a good cup of coffee.

what i love even more about each bag is that the label is tagged with a bible verse about love, and the back of each pack has a little devotional thought to do together.  i love the question that is posed on the back of the georgia pecan bag:  "...consider how your love might be different if you did not know god..."  that is certainly a question that aj and i are pondering as we approach marriage.

i think it's great that five star coffee has taken the simple act of drinking coffee together (something that so many couples do) and made it easy to turn it into intentional time with one another and with jesus.  i love imagining what the morning routine that i share with aj some day will look like, and i hope that it includes some mornings of having breakfast and coffee together and sharing some time spent in the word.

and five star coffee has offered to give one heavens to betsy reader the opportunity to try out their own romantic moments sampler box!  check out the rafflecopter for ways to enter.  you must complete both mandatory entries to be eligible to win!

all entries will be verified, so please play fair.  good luck!

Feb 3, 2020

Choosing to Be Content in All Seasons

contentedness is something i've never been good at.  when i was in high school, i dreamed of college, of having boyfriend, of what my life would look like someday.  i'm a planner, and i always thought i knew exactly what my future would hold.  attend college as a pre-med major, start seriously dating someone, get married soon after graduation, and then on to medical school or grad school and eventually have a career and a family.  but oh, if only the twenty-five-year-old me could have coffee with seventeen-year-old betsy.

i headed off to college north of boston with the intent of not dating my first year so that i could "figure out who i was."  a noble thought, in my mind, and surely god would honor that commitment and reward it by bringing the perfect guy along at the perfect time....in my sophomore year!  i worked on being content throughout that first year, and honestly, i'd say i did a pretty good job of it.  i focused on school and my friends, and just enjoyed my freshman year.  but then, when i hit my second year of school, the expectations and pressure of what i hoped for weighed on me.

discontentment began to seep into my relationships with others and with my school, and i ended up questioning nearly every decision i had made that got me to where i was.  that year was the hardest of my college career, but also probably one of the years that made me grow the most.  i didn't understand at the time (or even at my graduation, when my life looked so differently than i had imagined as a freshman), why god wasn't giving me the desires of my heart.  and of course, i didn't have the foresight that he has.

on the other side of those college years, and now being engaged to my best friend, i'm so glad that i trusted god's timing.  but that doesn't mean that the waiting period was easy.  in fact, there were times during those years where my heart physically hurt within my chest and i questioned if god ever would fulfill my desire to become a wife and mom someday, or if that season of loneliness would ever end.  and i know it sounds cliche, but it really wasn't until i had found a place of true contentment in my season of singleness that aj walked into my life.

after i graduated, i had gone through a pretty hurtful few months with a guy that i liked, and i decided that no man that god would give me would ever make me feel that way.  and in that time, one of my friends suggested that i listen to andy stanley's sermon series, the new rules for love, sex, and dating.  in those messages, he talks about becoming the person that the person you're looking for is looking for.  (confusing, i know)  and i realized something:  i wanted to be a girl who was so in love with jesus, that it was evident in everything i did, and that no guy could get to me without going through him first.  and along with that desire can a true sense of contentment.

eventually, i learned that contentment doesn't mean giving up the things that we dream about or want most, it means learning to balance the tension of wanting those things with the peace that god's timing is best.  ultimately, it's believing with everything you have that christ is enough for yesterday, for today, and for tomorrow.  and it's looking at whatever season you're in as an opportunity to fall even more in love with jesus.

i'm convinced that discontentment is one of satan's favorite weapons.  he whispers lies to us and plants seeds of discontentment in the slyest ways, and we live in a culture that promotes discontentment.  we're wired to always want the next best thing; to desire to look or act a certain way;  to have accomplished all of the things before our neighbor.  and that life of comparison and want leaves us robbed of joy.  but god wants so much more for us.  he asks us to be content with him and to lose ourselves in him.

see, discontentment doesn't end when you get the dream job or find yourself in a relationship with the perfect guy.  it's always there, and it always tries to snatch away your joy.  contentment is a choice that we must make every day.  it's a battle that we face every time we turn on the tv or flip through a magazine or step outside.  contentment isn't a switch you can flip; it's a learned attitude, and it's won through intentionality and hard work and a whole lot of prayer.

no matter where you are in life, being content is a choice.  how are you choosing to be content right now?

Jan 27, 2020

Our Story // The Bridge (The Proposal)

if you missed the beginning of our story, stop reading now and go back and catch up! (oh ok, you can read the proposal story, but then go back and catch up!)

to really tell the proposal story, we need to go back to the saturday before christmas.  aj and i had attended my aunt and uncle's annual ugly sweater party, and somehow we had gotten into the conversation that we had already beaten to death:  when were we finally going to be able to get engaged?  it was a conversation that we had been having seriously for at least a year, but this time was particularly bad.  aj had mentioned having a conversation with his parents, who expressed wishes that he not propose until after he finished college (which, because of transferring, could be as late as december 2015).  

we were driving back to his house to spend time with his cousins, when things just erupted.  i started crying about how long we still had to wait, and aj suggested we go park at our church and continue talking.  sitting in that parking lot, tears streaming down my face, aj tried and tried to end the conversation, but everything he said opened another can of worms.  finally, he convinced me that we should just stop talking about all of it, at least until after christmas, and then they could revisit the whole thing.  i agreed, and we spent the next few days leading up to christmas avoiding the conversation and getting ready for the holiday, including our church's 6 christmas eve services.

my responsibilities at our christmas eve services included cleaning up the building after the last one, so aj's aunt debbie (who is also my boss), assigned me to clean up an area of the church on the other side of the building from the main worship center.  as soon as the last service ended, aj's sister, amanda grabbed me and we headed to our assigned clean up area, where we began taking down lights and extinguishing candles.  meanwhile, our families were back in the worship center creating the perfect proposal spot.  eventually, debbie texted amanda saying that she needed our help with something in the worship center.  we paused what we were doing and headed down to see what she needed, and when we got there, debbie asked me to go into the room and blow out the candles that we had lining the stage.

as soon as i walked into the room, i burst into tears.  our 1,500 seat worship center was dark, except for some soft stage lighting, the candles on the stage, and luminaries lining every aisle.  a song by jeremy larson was playing (an artist that aj and i fell in love with the night we started dating), and rose petals were lining my path to the stage, where aj was standing just in front of a sleigh, waiting for me.  i started walking down the aisle and couldn't help but ask him, "is this really happening?"

aj guided me onto the stage and made me sit in the sleigh, where he began to talk about how much he loved me and how important both of our families were in our lives, because they had played a huge role in making that moment happen.  then, he took a little black box containing the most gorgeous ring ever out of his pocket and asked me to marry him!  there were even more tears (because i'm basically a faucet), and of course i said yes.  we spent a few moments just talking and then emerged from the worship center to a crowd made up of our families, who were all holding sparklers.  it was so special to have everyone that we love there with us on our big night, and we even got to have a mini engagement party at aj's house right afterward.

we've been engaged for just over a month and it still feels a little surreal!  our story is a little unique in the fact that we'll be long distance up until two weeks before the wedding, but so far, being engaged is pretty great....and i'm guessing being married will be even better!

thanks for reading our story!  so sorry you had to wait so long for the proposal...i just wanted to do it all justice by telling the whole thing from the beginning.  if you stuck with me all the way to part 4, then you're a rockstar!

Jan 21, 2020

Our Story // Chorus

if you missed part one or part two of our story, you can check them out here:

when we ended part two, aj and i were in the "we like each other, but aren't dating yet" phase, and valentine's day was looming.  going out to dinner on valentine's day wasn't really an option because of aj's school schedule, so i offered to make him dinner.  i got out of work in the early afternoon and texted his mom to ask what his favorite dish was, and then i hit the store to pick up the ingredients for shrimp pesto pasta.  aj came over when he got done with classes for the day (he was commuting to york college of pennsylvania at the time) and brought some chocolate-covered strawberries with him, which was adorable.  (i later learned that he couldn't decide whether or not to bring flowers and he decided against it because he wasn't sure where we stood.)

we ate dinner and chatted about everything but where we were in terms of our relationship.  when one of us finally broke the ice, it was like a sigh of relief.  we ended up having a very practical conversation where we decided to stop dancing around it and that "we should probably just be dating."  and just like that, our single lives ended forever.

the next day was a wednesday, and our youth group had their midweek services that night.  we were both on staff, so we both had responsibilities that night, but we both were in that "we just started dating" bubble.  i remember getting a text from aj that day that said something like "you know when you have a dream that you don't want to wake up from but then you do and it's not real?  well, this is nothing like that"  and of course, i swooned.  (that boy is good with his words, friends.)

it was evident pretty quickly how well we worked together.  we shared a lot of interests and just clicked.  we took day trips to baltimore (where i desperately wanted him to kiss me in the rain but he didn't), and we spent a lot of time with one another's families.  when aj's family went on vacation at disneyworld in may, i flew down and surprised him for a few days.  by june, we were dancing around saying the l-word.  one night, after aj's sister's graduation party, we went for a walk.  i was leaving on a missions trip to the dominican republic the next morning, and we had been saying that we adored each other for well over a month.  after two laps around the course of our walk, aj finally said the words we were both holding back for so long:  i love you.  to say that it was hard to get on a plane and leave him for two weeks after that would be an understatement, especially when we didn't know if we'd be able to communicate at all when i was gone (we didn't really, except for a few brief moments of texting when i had spotty wifi).  but it was the sweetest homecoming, and we spent that summer pretty much inseparable!

sometime in the next year, aj's sister, his mom, and i started encouraging him to consider applying and transferring to berklee college of music in boston.  he hadn't really applied to any reach schools when he graduated from high school, and my cousin, zac (also amanda's boyfriend) was a freshman there.  after months of auditioning and trips north, aj headed to berklee in the fall of 2013.

we adjusted to our new circumstances in a long distance relationship, and we enjoyed spending time traveling back and forth and discovering our favorite date spots in boston!  but the distance also made us grow more impatient.  in the time that we were dating, we attended about a dozen weddings, which, for a couple who knew by four or five months that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, gets tough.  we constantly dreamed about being married and living in the same place, but it still seemed so far away.

and this is where part three ends (and is also the part where you all hate me)....you'll have to come back next week to hear part four...the proposal!

Jan 7, 2020

Our Story // The Intro

i've always sort of imagined doing these posts, but i wanted to wait until we were at least engaged so that the proposal could be a part of them.  since aj and i are nearing our 3rd anniversary, it seems like the best time to do it!  we originally wrote the whole thing down for our wedding website, and since he's in the music biz, we split it up into a few different parts of a song.  (because we're cute and nerdy like that.)  i know some of you have been asking about the story of our proposal, but, well, you're just going to have to wait for that.  

if you ask us when we first met, you'll probably get different answers.  i remember hearing about aj when i was in college (he's actually three years younger than me).  he was in my brother's band and one of mark's close friends.  but i don't think i officially met aj until i was out of college and took a job at our church.  even then, we didn't necessarily hang out.  i was adjusting to life post-grad and figuring out how to live at home again, while at the same time shopping for grad schools.

it wasn't until the summer of 2011 that we hung out.  i was house-sitting with a friend for a family from church who had a pool.  we decided to invite aj and his sister, amanda, over one night to hang out and swim, and ended up playing a late-night game of ninja in the pool.  aj would tell you that he remembers that evening, but wouldn't say that that night made us friends.

we went on a few trips with gt's youth group together that summer, and while we were in phoenix, az for the ag's national fine arts festival, we spent time in groups of mutual friends.  he was always just my brother's friend, and while i found him fun to be around, i didn't think much more about it.  it wasn't until september, when we were both on a youth retreat as leaders (me as staff and him helping with media) that he started to develop a crush on me.  but i was kinda-sorta talking to this other guy at the time and aj never made a move.

the kinda-sort thing with the other guy fizzled out, i spent the fall being angry and a little heartbroken, and eventually, healing came.  and as my heart started to mend, aj and i started seeing one another more regularly.  eventually, i began to help with managing the band that he and my brother were both in.  they were in the process of recording their first album and i worked with aj's mom to get them organized and to help them with their merch and marketing as they booked gigs and prepared for their cd launch.

we quickly became friends over meetings at his kitchen table and "donut wednesdays" with friends after our mid-week church programs.  he was funny and witty and snarky and we just kind of clicked.

stay tuned for the next part of our little story coming soon!

Oct 24, 2020

5 Tips for Dealing with Distance

I never dreamed that I'd be in a long-distance relationship.  I guess no one really ever does, but I definitely did not.  Let me preface this post by saying that I'm absolutely, positively no expert.  Heck, AJ and I have only been in this stage of our relationship for a few months.  But as someone who spent time on a daily basis (we worked together!) with her boyfriend, I'll tell you that being long distance has been an adjustment.

When AJ finally made the decision to transfer to Berklee and move to Boston, all of the excitement and support I had been feeling for him vanished for a minute.  I remember looking at him with tears in my eyes and asking "what's my role in this?".  I felt so lonely so immediately, and for me, it was hard to imagine where I fit into his life from a distance.  My mom once said that this was going to be payback for what she did to her mom (my parents met when my dad was living in Ohio for work, fell in love, and decided to get married; their relationship was mostly long-distance, and they missed one another so much that they moved their wedding up to December, just six months after they had met; people said she looked like the most miserable bride when she was planning the wedding, but it was only because she missed my dad so much!).

I was never really worried or afraid of putting some space between AJ & I...we've got a really solid relationship, communicate well, and rarely argue, but of course, I also wasn't excited about it.  It definitely helps that I'm sure that Berklee is where God wants AJ to be.  But it has taken some effort on both of our parts to make this transition an easy one.  So I'd like to share 5 tips that have really helped me move into a long distance relationship.

1.  Be intentional, be there & make time for one another.  Your life fills up, and the time you used to spend with your significant other will get claimed by some other part of life.  There have been times when AJ and I have been on the phone and can tell that the other one is distracted and those conversations are never as fulfilling or as great as the ones when we're both fully "there"!

2.  Make things special!  One of my favorite things to do is to send AJ mail.  He loves finding a card in his mailbox and I love knowing that he's getting to open a hand-written card from me!  I never tell him that I'm sending something so that it's a complete surprise.

3.  Stay busy!  For me, the times when I feel most lonely are when I have nothing to do, so I like staying busy and having something to tell AJ when he asks me about my day!  Specifically, my advice would be to invest time into things that you've either been wanting to do for a while or that fell to the wayside when you started dating.  Have you always wanted to learn a new skill or hobby?  Do it!  (P.S. being in a relationship should never be an excuse for not pursing things that you love, but let's be honest, sometimes knitting takes a back seat to watching a movie with your boyfriend)

4.  Be understanding.  Sometimes it's hard, but understanding that each of you have separate schedules and lives is essential.  There are times when AJ calls me because he's walking home from class and I just can't talk.  We've learned to be good about asking the question "is this a good time?" and not just assuming the other person is available.  And sometimes, there are just days when talking on the phone or video chatting just doesn't happen.  That's life.

5.  Plan visits!  One of the most fun things about being in a long distance relationship is the potential for traveling!  AJ's been home once since he moved, and it was great.  But what was even more fun was the trip that I took to Boston.  Since he lives with my cousin and another roommate, I was able to just stay in their apartment and we got to spend time exploring Boston and spending time just the two of us.  Traveling can be expensive, but be on the lookout for deals on bus and plane fares.  Sign up for email alerts from airlines.  I get emails from JetBlue boasting $59 flights all the time.  Planning your travel well can mean a relatively cheap, (and definitely memorable) trip!

Are you in a long-distance relationship?  What are your tips for dealing with the distance?

Aug 4, 2020

Girl Talk // Finding My Prince Charming

Warning:  This is the girl talk where I get mushy and stuff.  But then I'm going to try to wisdom-juke you at the end (like a Jesus Juke...Jon Acuff...Stuff Christians Like....no?) which will be hard to do since I'm neither wise nor experienced at life.  Here we go.

I've never shared the story of "us" (i.e. me & AJ) on my blog.  Honestly, there's not much of a story to it.  (I'm pretty sure he'd agree, so I'm not worried about offending him when I say that).

Truth be told, we ended up together as the result of being the "friends" that were drug along on outings and hang outs of two of our friends who were interested in one another.  We had known the other existed for quite some time, and only began becoming friends in the fall of 2011.

I started managing the band that he and my brother were both in, and so that led to texting about booking emails and account information, which led to texting about common interests like How I Met Your Mother, which led to easier conversation during those third and fourth wheel meet ups.

I wasn't expecting it to go anywhere...I had been hurt pretty badly by a guy just a few months before, and so our friendship began as just that...a friendship.  AJ would probably say it was more than just a friendship for him, and really, it wasn't long before he did mean more to me than just a casual guy friend typically would.  Like any giddy girl, I looked forward to his texts or to seeing him at church and at concerts.  One night, he asked me to hold onto his phone for him.  I ended up dropping it.  It was brand new.  Consequently, that was also the night his grandmother told his aunt that she could tell he liked me.

Sometime in early February, he invited me to a Super Bowl party at his aunt & uncle's house.  I accepted, went, and then spent most of the party upstairs hanging out with a friend who was not AJ.  He left without saying goodbye.

Soon after, he asked if he could take me to lunch.  That turned into making me lunch, and a short trip to Starbucks after which he declared that he had "a major crush" on me.  Then, we walked into a meeting together and didn't talk about it for another week.  Yes, awkward, but brilliant on his part.  He figured if I didn't share his feelings, then we couldn't talk about it for long.  And if I did, well that was great and we'd figure it out eventually.

"Eventually" turned out to be Valentine's Day, which is the most awkward holiday when you like a boy and he likes you back but you're not dating yet.  I cooked us dinner and he made chocolate covered strawberries that we never ate.  Over that dinner, we had a conversation that went something like "I don't want to act like we're dating but not actually be dating."  "Ok, then I guess we should just be dating then." "Sounds good."  Yep.  Romantic.  We spent the rest of the evening watching youtube videos of Jeremy Larson recordings and talking about music.

A year and a half later, I'm more in love with this man than I thought possible.  He's absolutely my Prince Charming.

But he didn't show up like I imagined.  Or like TV taught me to expect.  

It wasn't a drama-filled, one day I'm on cloud nine, the next I'm at the bottom of a pit emotional roller coaster that liking a guy can so often be.  We didn't lock eyes across a room and know at first sight that we belonged together.  If we went on a game show and were asked how we met or what our first date was, our answers might not even be the same.

I wouldn't say that our relationship is glamorous or even necessarily extraordinary. Most of our time spent together is spent at one of our houses, with family, cooking dinner, going for runs, watching Friends and doing work.  While we do go on little day trips and fun dates, it's not necessarily our norm.  AJ is my best friend, and I love life when we're together, no matter what we're doing.

Sometimes, I watch shows like the Bachelorette or movies about girls finding the guy and falling in love, and I get sad that my life, my relationship, isn't full of those extravagant dates or even the little bit of drama that I see on TV.  And then I have to slap myself because I realize just how dumb that sounds.

It's so easy to let your idea of a relationship get tainted and influenced by what movies tell us is the way it should be.  The truth is, Prince Charming rarely shows up on a white horse and rescues the girl from the evil witch or searches for her with just a glass slipper as a clue.

Real life relationship aren't like TV.  They're full of normal, sometimes awkward, real life.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Jul 21, 2020

Girl Talk // I Thought I'd Be Married By Now

Before you get excited, thinking this is going to be boy talk, I'm sorry.  It's not.  But I promise it'll still be good. :)

Let me set the scene:  I didn't date through high school, I went to a Christian college, and if no one has ever let you in on this little secret....well, good Christian girls are supposed to meet their good, Christian husbands at their good, Christian college and then get married the summer after graduation and live happily ever.

It's a really great deal...you get an education AND a husband!

But guess what?  I'm out of college.  And grad school.  And I'm not married.  So that little plan of mine didn't really work out.  God is kind of funny that way.

I entered college ready to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a pediatrician.  About halfway through, I realized I didn't like biology, or chemistry, or physics all that much.  So I prayed.  And cried.  And switched my major.

I'm a planner, and my plan was to go to school, do well (which, by my standards, I didn't do that first semester), and graduate a few years later with an offer for med school and a marriage proposal.  Instead, I graduated with a degree in Psychology, a rejection from a teaching fellowship program I thought for sure was my next step, and not even a boyfriend.

Beyond just that degree, I also graduated with amazing life-long friendships, support from an alma mater that I'll always cherish, a ton of awesome memories, and the realization that even though I usually have no idea where it's taking me, God's plan is always so much better.

Trusting God is hard work.  And unfortunately for us humans, we're doomed to struggle with it.  Thanks Adam & Eve.  Ultimately, whether we want to admit it or not, we don't trust God because we're stubborn and we don't really believe that His way is better.  Just like Eve didn't really trust that God wasn't holding out on her and ate the apple anyway, we don't fully trust that we won't miss something great by letting God lead.

It's a lesson I'm still learning.  It's one I learn over and over, day in and day out.  It's one I'm currently learning as I'm waiting to hear from any of the dozen school districts I applied to teach in come fall.  Learning to lean in and fully trust God comes with heartbreak, pain, a fight against human nature, and eventually, release and rest.

I'm going to be totally cliche and just tell you...following the plan that God sets out for your life is so much more rewarding than anything you could ever dream up on your own.  You've heard it before, I know.  But it's so true.  And the closer you are to Him, the closer you are to His heart, the easier it is to follow.

Sometimes, I get the opportunity in youth ministry to sit down with a student who is starting to look at or about to head to college.  They're at this pivotal time in their lives when it feels like the weight of the world is bearing down and they have to have everything figured out.  And my favorite thing to say is "Stop!  Stop trying to have it all figured out and just be.  Let God lead and enjoy the moment.  Invest in relationships, learn about things that interest you, and don't be afraid of change.  Especially if that change comes in the form of transferring or switching your major!"

I thought that when I graduated from college, the constant state of transition would stop.  I was wrong.  But I've learned to see the beauty in the transitional.  It's made me more flexible.  It's made me appreciate the little things more.  And it's made me lean into God more.

So no matter where you are in life, whether you're on the precipice of a big change or you're pretty settled into a life you like, hold it all loosely and listen for God's voice in it.  Because you never know what He's going to ask you to do next.

As always, you know where to find me if you need me.

Jun 12, 2020

Guest Post // Caroline on Marriage

Ok, so I'm really excited about this.  I have an awesome gal to introduce you to today!  Caroline runs a little blog called jcaro and I've been so blessed by it over the past few months.  I feel like we're friends.  Is that creepy?  Did I just become that sketchy blog girl who called a fellow blogger I've never actually met a friend?  Sorry Caroline.  Eeeek.

She just has such a wonderful heart for God and has a gift for writing!  She's the kind of blogger I read posts by and then decide I need to become a more intentional writer, you know?  Anyway, she's here!  today!  writing for you all on the best moments in marriage.  So grab a cup of tea and enjoy!


Hello Heavens to Betsy Readers! My name is Caroline and I blog over at jcaro.com. I'm pretty stoked to be over here with y'all!
My husband and I just moved into our first real place (before we were living in a dorm for my job!). We now live in a condo in Houston, and we’ve spent the past two weeks *trying* to recreate Ikea showrooms in our place (um coolest, cheapest rooms ever, right?) We just celebrated our 1 year anniversary, and while our first year of marriage rocked, year two is starting to top it.
Yet, I feel this constant tension. Even though I am genuinely content with our life, our life isn’t as it appears online. If you read my blog or follow me on Instagram (@janecaro), you see just a glimpse into our life. You see the moments when I whipped out my camera and we posed for a photo. Or, in the case of our bed above, it took 10 minutes to get that bed photo-ready, and it was still looked wrinkled! The moments you and I capture are happy moments, but I’m becoming to realize is the best moments aren’t captured. They can’t be. There's so much more to life.
Some of the best moments in marriage are the messiest. It’s reconciliation after a disagreement or trusting Clayton when I doubt myself. 

It’s telling Clayton to be quiet as he continues to talk when I’m trying to go to sleep.  I’m half annoyed, but even though I wouldn’t admit to him, it’s secretly fun.

It’s being completely vulnerable - sharing insecurities and doubts that I’ve never entrusted to anyone.

It's realizing how selfish I am and yet being loved just the same. It’s accepting grace from him, which gives me a glimpse of our Father’s grace.

It’s being so angry when a little part of my heart goes off saying “this doesn’t matter, Caroline” and mid-sentence giving Clayton a hug. Love spurs humility that crushes pride to ground.
In a world that documents and showcases so much of our lives, may we also remember that the best moments don't have to be documented to be the best. May we remember that in the same way that our lives couldn't possibly be captured in a blog or an instagram feed, others can't possibly share the full story either.  

Embrace the messy, the tears, and the challenges, because in relationships, these bring about the best moments - they bring us closer, cause us to trust one another more, and love more deeply.

Thanks so much for reading! I'd love for you to stop by and say hi over at jcaro.com. I'll do my very best to share the full story! 
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