Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Position Paper: Yes, Jesus Loves Me

Over the past few days I have seen Christianity labeled as a "hateful religion." I cannot perform religious apologetics, but I can share what I know to be true on a personal level. And that's this: When I was at my weakest, my worst, my lowest, Jesus Christ gathered me in His arms and He loved me. When I felt that my mind was decaying; when I feared that I was literally at my wits' end due to incapacitating anxiety and deep depression; when I couldn't catch a glimpse of a brighter future due to the pain of the present, He showed Himself to me. He overwhelmed me with compassion. He set my feet on the Rock (Psalm 40:1-2). He gave me a look at how He sees me. He reminded me of who I am through His Word and the words of other believers.

I have given Him imperfect love and divided attention. I have tried to earn and to prove my own righteousness; I've put my accomplishments on a pedestal and yearned for the glory that can always and only be His. I have failed and I have fallen short, but never once has He turned me away. My Father loves me. He provides for me. He protects me. He sets me free, directs my path, and despite my complete inadequacy and inability to love Him back in the way that He deserves, He calls me His beloved (Song of Solomon 6:3). This is the God I serve and desire to emulate. These are the characteristics I long to embody. I don't serve my God perfectly, but because His perfect Son took my sin on His shoulders, I get to wear Jesus' perfection (John 3:16). I am covered by it; dressed in it; arrayed in a splendor not my own (Isaiah 61:10). The only response to the love I've been shown is to give love in return, first and foremost to my God and Savior, and second, to everyone else He created. "We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

Debates and rants and questions of "why" and misunderstandings and hurtful accusations fold together into something that feels a lot like chaos, and nothing like "love winning" anything at all. God is Love, and furthermore, He is Light—"in Him there is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5) I pray that His light shines through me, emboldens me, and attracts others to the God I serve rather than turning them away. I cannot speak to the grossly inappropriate presence of hatred in various forms throughout the history of institutionalized Christianity, but I can confidently proclaim that hate has no place in the relationship I've found with Jesus Christ, and will have no place in me as I continue to serve Him through and in and during whatever lies ahead.

. . .
Psalm 40:1-2 "I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure." 

Song of Solomon 6:3 "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine; he browses among the lilies."

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

Isaiah 61:10 "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."

1 John 4:18-19 "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us."

1 John 1:5 "This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all."

Monday, June 1, 2015

Another Ending to the Story

While scrolling through social media yesterday, I came across a story about social media. Not "How to Use Instagram to your Best Advantage" or "Build a Bigger (and bigger, and bigger) Following With These Five Tricks," but "Split Image"—the story of a star athlete who portrayed a perfect life on Instagram, but internally struggled with anxiety and depression so deep that, eventually, she took her own life. A friend had tweeted a link to an associated video interview with the following endorsement: "This is the most important thing you'll see today." I clicked.

He was right. It was important for me to hear and to read Madison's story, mainly because it could have been my own. In the article, Madison is described like this:

"Madison was beautiful, talented, successful—very nearly the epitome of what every young girl is supposed to hope she becomes. But she was also a perfectionist who struggled when she performed poorly. She was a deep thinker, someone who was aware of the image she presented to the world, and someone who often struggled with what that image conveyed about her, with how people superficially read who she was, what her life was like."

Instagram wasn't around during my freshman year of college, but Facebook was. I remember uploading entire albums of photos that showcased the glamour and excitement of my new life in California. Edited pictures on the beaches of Malibu, dinner at Geisha House (Ashton Kutcher's restaurant!) in LA, walking with friends along Hollywood Boulevard. I looked so happy. But I was functioning like a shell, or a robot. Completely numb, going through the motions without emotion. I was achieving and interacting, but doing so was like an out-of-body experience. Because despite the images I was showcasing and the things I was doing, I was shouldering a debilitating load of anxiety and—although I didn't know it until a year later, when I finally opened up and told someone that something wasn't right—depression.

During that time, I remember feeling that it was a victory if I could claim even three seconds of mental peace without a searing thought burying into my mind and forcing me back into a cycle of irrational fear. I was sure that I was broken, that I was losing it, that no one had ever been through what I was going through, that everyone else was happy and healthy but me, and that no one would love me if they really knew what I was going through. I called my mom one day and told her I wanted to die. Not that I wanted to take my own life, but that I just didn't want to live anymore if this was who I really was. I told her I thought I had a brain tumor, and that I hoped I did. It would at least be an explanation for the mental anguish I was living with day after day after day after day.

That summer when I came home from college, I went to the doctor to prove to myself that I actually did have a brain tumor. Instead, I came home with a diagnosis of depression. In the state I was in, that felt even worse. I had no explanation for the torment I was living under other than my own mental weakness—or at least that's what I thought at the time. Like Madison, I said to my parents, "I just want to sleep."

And I did. For 14, 16 hours a day sometimes. For a season, it's like my body shut down to protect me from my own mind. But then, slowly, three seconds of mental peace became three minutes. Three days. Three months. I went to counseling and I didn't stop. I opened up about the depth of my pain and confusion, my sorrow over the fact that my "perfect life" had disintegrated so suddenly. I talked to my parents, to pastors, to my sorority. I told people that everything wasn't okay, that I needed prayer. Even still, I didn't understand the shapes my anxiety took for a long, long time—it took the personal, healing touch of Jesus Christ on my life to show me once and for all who I was again, and that didn't happen until almost three years after the whole thing first began. 

Oh, those three years of waiting for complete healing were hard. They were isolating, and dark, and confusing, and terrible despite the good things that still continued to happen all around me. I wouldn't want to go back to that place, not ever. But praise be to God, I don't dwell there anymore. And praise be to God, I can talk about those years without fear anymore! As I read Madison's story yesterday, I wanted to shout these truths from the first available rooftop! I wanted to hold this precious girl in my arms and tell her, "Listen, take it from someone who has been there. Our identity is in His righteousness, not our perfection. We will get through this. We will feel again, we will love, we will get married, we will go on new adventures. We will wake up without heaviness, without fear of fear. Our battle with anxiety and depression wasn't an internal weakness, but an external battle against the enemy of our souls who wants to steal, kill, and destroy. We have something to keep living for. We have Someone to keep living for."

I wanted to tell her all of these things, but it's too late for me to reach her. So I say it and share it with anyone else who might come across these words—all these dark things that I sometimes want to pretend never existed at all, because I can't feel them anymore. I dig into the old pain and share it because of this:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I have received this comfort! This life-giving, life-sustaining comfort! And so how can I hold it in, keep it to myself? I have to extend it, have to tell all about it, have to let others know that there is hope and healing and fulfillment of promises; that the darkest night masquerading as an ending can truly be the very beginning of the best part of the story.

"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on GOD, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us." 2 Corinthians 1:8-10

There is freedom! There is life lived abundantly! There is constant and continual Love, despite what we've seen, known, experienced, thought, feared!

"Who are you...that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction? For where is the wrath of the oppressor? The cowering prisoners will soon be set free; they will not die in their dungeon, nor will they lack bread." Isaiah 51:12-14 

I share Madison's story in part, but my battle with anxiety and depression has another ending. If you're there today; if any part of you can relate to looking like you have it all together but feeling broken inside, I charge you with this: Don't give up. Don't keep it all in. Don't pretend everything is okay. Don't stop asking for a healing touch, or waiting on the Lord's promise of deliverance. He will come through not because that's what He does, but because that's who He is.

"If I should say, 'My foot has slipped,' Your lovingkindness, O LORD, will hold me up. When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul." Psalm 94:18-19

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Two-Toned Breakfast Smoothie (Because healthy things taste better when they're pretty)

I'm an occasional healthy eater at breakfast time. Occasional meaning that I wake up famished every morning, and if I can't get something nutritious prepared and into my mouth within five minutes I'm going to eat cereal or an English muffin covered with Nutella, which is so NOT part of a balanced breakfast despite the commercials that show it paired with a tall glass of OJ. Anyway, that's my explanation for why I've been Pinterest-searching so many healthy smoothies as of late. 

Two recipes recently caught my eye (both were featured in this article by Glitter Guide), but neither of them were EXACTLY what I was looking (i.e. I didn't have some of the ingredients immediately on hand). So I tweaked and combined, and here's what I came up with.

TWO-TONED BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE (Because healthy things taste better when they're pretty)

Bottom 1:  The Mean Green
  • banana (I use unfrozen bananas because it makes the smoothie creamier)
  • about 1 cup frozen spinach
  • about 3/4 cup frozen mango (this is where the sweetness comes from)
  • almond milk (I always eyeball this—just make sure you use enough to keep your blender from sticking)
  • ice chips 
Directions: Put all ingredients into blender and let the machine do its thing. When everything is smooth and combined, split the mixture between two tall glasses. Be sure to stop when the glasses are half-full!

Note: I suggest storing your half-filled glasses in the freezer until the top layer is finished. Keeps everything from getting melty.

Top 2: Pretty in Pink
  • banana
  • 5-6 whole frozen strawberries
  • 1 heaping tablespoon almond butter
  • almond milk
  • ice chips
Directions: See above and repeat. Y'all know that I KNOW that you know how to use a blender. Pull your glasses out of the freezer and fill to the top. Stick two really cute + patterned paper straws into your smoothies in order to take a picture for Instagram, then remove them because they're kind of hard to drink from and get soggy when they sit in your smoothie for two long. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What if I cared as much about ISIS beheadings as I do about the fact that there are two Bachelorettes?

Last night I watched the finale of The Bachelor, which is hilarious since I didn’t watch a single episode of the regular season. But whatever. My friends are in town, so it was a girls’ night thing.

Let’s just skip all the blah-blah-blah and get to the outrage I felt when Chris Harrison announced that there will be two Bachelorettes next season. Having sat on the bench for the entire season, I watched “After the Final Rose” as a mostly disengaged viewer until THAT MOMENT. The one when Chris said, “We just couldn’t decide which girl to pick, so we thought it would be so much fun to pit two women against each other and allow men to decide which one has the most potential to be a wife,” or something along those lines. 

 I thought it was sexist and demeaning. But don’t just take my word for it. Take my Twitter.

In the middle of this Twitter rampage, my husband asked me why I felt the need to hop on a hashtag and engage with complete strangers about a topic that doesn’t really affect me in any way, shape, or form. What a ridiculous question, right? I have a voice! I need to be heard! But what it really boiled down to is that I felt like the issue mattered. I had visions of rallying a bunch of women together to boycott the show, or convincing the Bachelorette(s) to drop out. I felt almost impassioned. And then I thought, “Why doesn’t the fact that ISIS is beheading my Christian brothers and sisters stir up this same level of emotion in me?”

So I paused. And I stilled. And I thought about writing this blog, and I thought about all the words I would use to demonstrate how deeply this realization had impacted me. But then I got distracted by another thought about that very same post going viral because of the timeliness of the topic, which would lead to an invitation for me to be on a talk show to discuss everything further, of course.

I hate that all of that’s true, but it is. I hate that an announcement about a reality television show moved me to step on my tweet-box and preach, while an article sent to me by my husband titled What ISIS Really Wants had been in my inbox since February 18, and remained unread until last night. I hate that in the middle of the many horrors and moments of crisis that are real and active around the globe, I care about hashtags and the reach of my own voice, even though as a believer in Jesus Christ, I proclaim that to live is Him and to die is gain—that the purpose of my life is to bring Him glory and not myself. I hate that the prospect of having two Bachelorettes made me verbalize the question, “What is this world coming to?” while believers around the world are facing persecution, and famine, and danger, and nakedness, and the sword for the sake of loving and knowing and serving Christ (Romans 8:35).

I want to wake up. Finally reading the aforementioned article was a big step in that direction, but I want to do more. I want to stop caring about things that don’t matter. I want to stop expending my time and energy and thoughts and efforts—all the best of me—to further things that are temporal and bound by this earth. Namely, myself. I can stop comparing and contrasting my Instagram feed and counting my Twitter followers for long enough to care about deeper things, realer things. I know I can.

I’ve been uneducated and uninformed. I haven’t felt like the existence of ISIS affected me personally. It’s felt distant and removed—another horrible series of tragedies in a faraway place that I am helpless to fix. Maybe our generation is immune to understanding the threat of an organization like ISIS because since 9/11, we’ve seen Terror Alerts indicated on our television screens in much the same way as an ozone warning. Orange today. Don’t go outside. Red today. Don’t breathe.

Whatever it is—the root cause of the fact that I was rocked by the “two Bachelorettes” announcement and yet, until recently, unmoved by the growing presence of ISIS—it’s not okay or excusable. I want to be informed about what’s going on in the world not for the sake of being informed, but for the sake of seeing things as they really are. I don’t have to fixate on disaster or fear the end of the world (Proverbs 3:25-26), but I must and I will acknowledge that there are things happening outside my bubble that require that I stay awake. I think I'll have more to say on this one day, and I hope I do. But for now, that's all I've got.

Share this post if you want to. Don’t if you don’t. But do join me in thinking about what matters, and what it really means to be like Jesus in this mixed-up, crazy world—“the very last, and a servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

. . .

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

For further reading, see this blog posted on Happy Sonship.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Best Place to Be

Ill-equipped. Under-prepared. Lacking confidence. Unsure.

This doesn't sound like the best place to be. And yet, so often, I've found that it's exactly where I am and how I feel when God is about to move in ways that surpass everything I could ask for or imagine (Eph. 3:20-21).
I think Joseph could probably relate. He was thrown into a pit and left for dead because his brothers were jealous of the favor their father had shown him. Then he was picked up like garbage and sold into slavery. I don't know about you, but that would shake me up. Cause me to question a few things. Like, everything.

Joseph could have given himself up for dead; he could have doubted his abilities and his dreams and his identity and the truth of the love he'd known while in his father's household. And yet, Joseph proceeded to become one of the highest ranking officials in all of Egypt. Did He face continued challenges? Yes. But was he ever abandoned? No. He stepped into the calling the Lord placed upon his life, and the Lord delivered him and equipped him and blessed him and set his feet upon a rock again and again and again. (Full story here.)

I haven't done a scientific study on this or anything, but based on experience, being the best, knowing it all, having the right connections, and overflowing with confidence are not necessarily prerequisites to or indicators of success. Almost every time the Lord has done something incredible in my life, I've entered into His calling with fear and trembling. And not the holy kind. More like the "I have no idea what I'm doing/What if I made a mistake/Did I hear Him wrong/Is something bad going to happen?" kind of trembling that makes you want to quit the game and wash your hands and throw in the towel and all-those-other-cliches that are basically just temptations to give up on living the life that is truly life.

But here's the truth: the Lord is not limited by our abilities, experience, courage, aptitude, or lack thereof. In fact, I believe that He works best when we're at our weakest—there's more room for His glory to shine because we KNOW we can't take credit for what He has accomplished. Walking in the unknown forces us to rely on His lead. Stepping into a position that's above our experience-level demolishes pride. Not having all the answers requires us to throw our cares and concerns and questions upon His throne.

If I had given in to fear and doubt, I probably wouldn't have moved to France, started my first job, left that job to marry my husband and start a business together, published a book, and so on and so on. I would have missed out on a lot of great experiences. More than that, however, I would have missed out on living life to the fullest. Hearing my Savior's voice. Relying on Him alone. Seeing Him come through in ways that can only be defined as miraculous. Walking on the heights and knowing it's by the power of Jesus Christ alone that I've been placed there. 

beausoleil, france
You and I won't always be the most equipped. We might not have the "right" degree or the necessary connections. We might not be the best one on the team. We might sweat until our skin turns into a salt lick and shake all the way down to our toes as we step up to the plate, but if God is for us, then truly...who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

My husband always says that if one decision requires faith and the other doesn't, we should always move in the direction of faith. I couldn't agree more. I also say that if we're tempted to pass on an opportunity due to fear (of failure, of inadequacy, of not measuring up, or of whatever), we should probably shout "Cannonball!" and make a splash into the unknown.

. . .

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

"For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But You have saved us from our foes...In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to Your name forever." Psalm 44:6-8

Saturday, December 13, 2014

More Than Enough

I struggle with the word “enough” because I don’t feel like I have it. I don’t have enough time to accomplish everything on my to-do list. I don’t have enough energy to make dinner after working all day. I don’t have enough motivation to go on a run. I don’t have enough creativity left in the tank to paint. I don’t have enough care for the concerns of other people. I don’t have enough emotional capacity to meet the needs of my husband. I don’t have enough direction to create a five-year plan. I could go on (and on), but that’s enough “enough” to make my point.

When I read these words back to myself I feel full of lack and emptied of drive, drawn to identify with phrases like “Give up” and “Quit trying.” Am I the only one who’s been there before? Am I the only one that continues to dive into those dangerous waters today, despite the goodness and the grace that my Father has lavished upon me?

We live in an unprecedented time of comparison. The magazine ads and the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows and the “I only wear mascara and Chapstick to look this good” celebrity interviews are still out there, and they can still trigger feelings of inadequacy. But now we’re competing with other “everyday” people whose “everyday” experiences look like a homemade soufflĂ© and a line of paper goods and a c/o designer handbag and a Starbucks cup held up in front of the Eiffel Tower, probably with a fashionable baby somewhere in the mix. Now we’re not just keeping up with Susan Jones—we’re peering into her Pinterest-perfect backyard barbeque that’s decorated with stringer lights and mix-n-match Kate Spade dinnerware. Now we’re longing for another woman’s life as portrayed on her Instagram feed, battling doubt and despair and the pang of a deep heart hunger.

It’s hard to handle the pressures of work and home and life, and it’s even harder when you feel like you have to post an effortlessly-chic photo of yourself while doing so. I want to crawl into a hole sometimes when I look at a photo of a gorgeously uncluttered desk with an open planner and a steaming cup of coffee held by a manicured hand, topped off with a caption that says, “Let’s do this, Monday!” Because meanwhile, I’m sitting at a desk overflowing with papers, no makeup on, probably not even wearing a bra yet, and carrying the load of so much carry-over work from last Friday that I just want to scream, “Where are you, weekend?”

I know that sounds like I’m jealous, and that’s probably because a lot of times I am. I crave that feeling of having it all under control that it looks like so many other women are able to attain…at least on social media. Does anybody feel me on this? When my scrolling thumb gets out of control, I start to drown. When I read my Twitter feed more regularly than the Word of God, I start to lose perspective. I start to feel like I’m just not enough. That I never will be.

In a way, I’m right—my inability to meet the needs of myself and others has proven that I am not enough. But I do have Enough. I have the One who can meet every need, every heart’s cry, and every desire of every person on the planet. The One who whispers in my ear that I am seen and known and fully loved, anyway. The One who has picked me up and carried me when I have fallen, who has given me my identity, who has set my feet on a Rock, who has told me to fix my eyes on Him and not on everyone and everything else that’s swirling around me. The One who says, “…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen and help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Is. 41:10) The One who has “dealt bountifully” with me, who has “delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling” that I may “walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” (Ps. 116:7-9)

Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 8:28) Rest. It’s available. But I won’t find it by staring at a list of things I haven’t accomplished, or counting the number of unanswered emails in my inbox, or dwelling on my performance or appearance or reputation. I find it by coming to Him.

I relate to David when he says, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” (Ps. 63:1) This is what the combination of heart hunger and soul thirst feels like. And here’s what it looks like to be filled; to have Enough:

“I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory. Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise You. On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night. Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings. I cling to You; Your right hand upholds me.” (Ps. 63:2-8)

I have a new name for Jesus; for who I am fighting for Him to be in my life from this day forward. He is More Than Enough for me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: The Overwhelmed Bride

Sometimes I get social media fatigue. It's hard to describe, but I can usually tell it's coming on when the sight of a perfectly aligned gallery wall, spotless kitchen, or beautifully filtered pile of donuts on my Instagram feed makes me want to throw my phone against the wall. Don't get me wrong...I like pretty things and appreciate aesthetics, and I've been known to get just as caught up in a gorgeously curated feed as the next girl. But sometimes I have dirty dishes in my sink, and I'm two loads behind on laundry, and I have nothing clever to tweet, and I just want what's real. 

Which is why I am so beyond excited to report that The Overwhelmed Bride is real. The Instagram feed, the blog, and the book as well. You know why? Because Jenn Hallak, the instagrammer/blogger/author behind The Overwhelmed Bride, says things like this:

"What is the ultimate purpose of a wedding? To throw the most extravagant party for your friends and family? Or to display your commitment of marriage to each other in front of those who are closest to you and then celebrate this huge step in your life together? I'm pretty sure you know the answer to this question, but if not, it's the latter." (15) 


PS: Jenn and I connected and planned a book swap via social media, which is the kind of thing that keeps me logging in to all of these accounts again and again. People + relationships + community + support. Those things matter, whether they happen virtually or in the "real" world!


the overwhelmed bride totally deserves a spot on your nightstand

I think Jenn and I might be soul sisters, and I'm pretty sure I said that out loud like three times while reading her book. When I got to the planning timeline page 30 of her book, it all made sense. 
"My husband and I got married six months after we got engaged, so clearly, our timeline was a bit altered."
She was a Hitched in a Hurry bride. And while her book isn't specifically addressed to those planning in six months or less, her advice is just as relevant for brides planning in two years as it is for gals sprinting toward the aisle in two weeks.

In three words, The Overwhelmed Bride is:

1. Honest—Expect direct talk about venue visits and hidden fees (49), vendor selection (36), guest list organization (45), mama drama (23), and dealing with divorced parents on the day of the wedding (26) just to name a few.

2. Informative—Especially when it comes to establishing and maintaining a budget! Jenn's expertise as a wedding coordinator really shines when she's talking about finances. See page 38 for proof—the "Budget Breakdown" section contains an itemized list of ceremony and reception elements with suggestions about how to best distribute your dollars between each category. SO helpful.

3. Wedding Planning 101—Okay, that's not one word. But I still think it's a great way to describe The Overwhelmed Bride. At 90 pages, Jenn's book is compact and easy to read in just one sitting, ensuring that your head won't be pounding with a TMI headache afterward. It gives you all the essential information you need without any added fluff—because really, you already know the style of gown that looks best on your body, and you don't need to review a history of six different kinds of forks (and when and how they should be used). You DO, however, need to know where each member of your wedding party should stand during your ceremony (81), what items should be a part of your Wedding Day Survival Kit (86), and how to officially change your name after the party's over (88).

While Jenn's advice about budgeting, creating a photographer shot list, deciding on a cash vs. hosted bar, and other planning topics was fantastic, my favorite section of The Overwhelmed Bride came right at the very beginning.
"We live in a society that no longer values one single marriage. We all value weddings, but clearly there is not enough emphasis put on the marriage part. Yes, we all want our beautiful Pinterest weddings, but is this what really matters?" (16)
I'll say it again. PREACH. This is so right on, but the passage doesn't end there. Jenn goes on to challenge her readers to participate in 365 Days of Love, which involves creating a list of 365 things you love about your future spouse—one for each day of the year. Because, "If you can find 365 things you love about your spouse, then there is no reason to ever question if you should be together." (17)

I can't wait to take on this challenge in my own marriage—in fact, I'm planning on beginning my list in November, the month of thankfulness! I loved Jenn's suggestions for "distributing" the list items, too: Gifting my husband with a box full of the reasons why I love him, communicating each item one by one each morning (great if your guy's love language is Words of Affirmation), texting him one reason each day, or typing up the complete list and presenting it to him on a special occasion.

Finally, I'll leave you with this—a passage from The Overwhelmed Bride that completely resonates with the heartbeat of Hitched in a Hurry (and my hope for all of the future brides-to-be that come into contact with either of our books):
Just remember, the odds of something going wrong on your wedding day are actually very high. But don't let this scare you the end, you are marrying the man of your dreams, so who cares what went wrong! All of the little things, and even large things, are absolutely not the end of the world. No matter what happens, just know that you were as prepared as possible and that at the end of the day, your lifelong commitment to each other has been made and you are going to have a celebration you will never forget." (86)
If you're interested in purchasing a copy of The Overwhelmed Bride, click here. To read Jenn's review of Hitched in a Hurry, click here! 


Happy Wedding Wednesday, y'all!
Karley with a K. Todos los derechos reservados. © Maira Gall.