You and Me Forever

When my husband and I were engaged and Genelle was engaged to her husband, a friend of ours took Genelle and I out to lunch. Before we left she gave us each a copy of You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis and Lisa Chan. The book sat around through my engagement, but I picked it up recently.

The message of the book is simply this: Marriage is amazing, but it is not the most important thing. At first, this was a hard pill for me to swallow. I was taught that marriage is the most important human relationship we can have, and it is – but it’s not everything. I’m going to share things with you both from the book and from my own searching into what marriage is meant to look like. So, here we go!

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Our ultimate mission is to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). That’s what Jesus commanded us to do before He ascended. We are to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and show them what it is like to follow Him. That is our ultimate mission.

So what does that have to do with marriage? Well, a lot actually.

First, if we’re not careful, our marriages can become an idol. They can become our primary focus, distracting us from our ultimate mission – Now, I’m not discounting the importance and wonderfulness of marriage, I promise, just hang with me!

Second, marriage is a vessel. Our marriages on earth are to resemble the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). Our marriages are supposed to look different. The way we love our spouses should be showing what selfless love looks like: the kind of Love that would bear a cross so the world could be in communion with a holy and perfect God. 

Third, our marriages are strengthened when we are focused on the mission together, when we are serving together. It’s crazy how much a common goal can bring you together. The book uses the example of serving on a mission team: You can come into the situation complete strangers, but after working towards a common goal, you leave bonded. I know this is absolutely true in my marriage. When my husband and I are focused on the mission, we grow closer together. Furthermore, when we are focused on Christ in general, when we pray together and discuss the Word together, we grow so much closer to one another.

Fourth, marriage is a part of our testimony. We are not always strong in our marriages, but that just gives Christ plenty of room to show us that His grace is sufficient and He is strong in our weakness.

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Marriage is amazing. It is a beautiful, God-created design. I love being married, but it’s not everything to me. I focus on growing my marriage, on loving my husband selflessly, on growing myself so I can better love my husband, but it is not my everything. In the five short months that we have been married – and the nearly two years we have been together – I have already seen how God is using the testimony of our story to reach others. It is such a beautiful thing. I love that my marriage is about more than just the two of us.

Marriage is the most important human relationship we have while we live on this earth. So many things can come between us and our spouses if we let them. While sometimes God calls us to make sacrifices for His mission – such as leaving home to speak while our spouse stays home or going on a mission trip by ourselves – I don’t think He would ever call us to do something that would put our marriages in danger. If God calls us to do something, we have to trust that He will provide for all of our needs, including emotional ones. Just like I’ve told some of the kids at camp this week when they’ve been missing their parents: “Mommy and Daddy are out there showing teens what it looks like to follow Jesus. They’re out there making disciples, and that’s awesome! So when you miss them, just remember that they are doing awesome things for Jesus.” I then give them a big hug and they snuggle into bed and fall asleep with a little more peace. I’ve had to tell myself that this week, too, because I miss my husband while he’s been out there serving with the kids’ parents.

These things, these sacrifices, can be hard, but we have to keep our eyes on the mission – yet we also need to remember that our spouses aren’t superhuman and they need our love and encouragement during these times, too. We can’t leave them in the dust, saying, “See ya, later!” in the name of Jesus. We have to realize that while on this earth, we are one. Communication needs to stay as open as it can. Prayer and encouragement need to happen as often as they can. Love needs to happen always. Part of love, though, is sacrifice. Saying, “I’ll hold the fort down while you go where God has called you. It’ll be  hard, but I can’t wait to hear about it when you come home. I’ll miss you, call when you can, but go do what God has called you to do.”

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Whether you’re about to get married or have been for awhile, You and Me Forever is a great read. It’s humbling and beautiful. It can be a hard pill to swallow, but my marriage is better for it.

Until next week, lovelies!

 

 

The American Sitcom Marriage

One of my biggest pet peeves has been – and probably always will be – how the media (by which I mainly mean movies and TV) portrays marriage: the couple is head-over-heels in love at the wedding and during the honeymoon, then fast forward five to ten years and you’re left with an image of the the stereotypical ball-and-chain. The nagging wife. The husband who comes home from work and sits on the couch drinking beer and watching TV. Husband and wife rarely speaking to one another except to complain about what the other person is doing wrong. Sex is viewed as an obligation. They are nothing more than glorified roommates – and sometimes I wouldn’t even include the word “glorified.”

This seriously bothers me because this is what people think marriage is supposed to look like, and it’s not! Don’t get me wrong, the “honeymoon phase” ends and I don’t think we should present marriage as being perfect, either, because it’s not.  People shouldn’t go into marriage expecting it to be wonderful all the time. There are tears. There are disagreements. There are rough patches. Love languages change. Marriage is hard, but rewarding. Trying, but humbling. Messy, but beautiful. But marriage is worth fighting for.

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What breaks my heart the most, though, is when real people are making the “ball-and-chain” comments when they learn that I am married. Instead of saying, “What a beautiful journey you’re beginning. It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be so worth it” they say, “Just wait a few years. See how you feel then.” This really upsets me. One, because they are so incorrectly portraying what marriage is supposed to look like, and two, because it means that they aren’t experiencing marriage the way it should be experienced.

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I’m not okay with settling for the American Sitcom Marriage. I want the rich, deep marriage that God intended. I wasn’t okay with it long before I even met my husband. I don’t want young people to watch TV and think that marriage is going to be awful and boring (it certainly isn’t!). I don’t want those who are already married to be okay with less than God’s best. This is why I’m writing a series on marriage, the first post of which you just read!

Next week, I’m going to talk about while marriage is designed to be amazing, marriage is not all that there is.

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As always, get in touch! You can email me at wordssweeterthanhoneyblog@gmail.com, on Twitter (@BrandiVermette), or on Instagram (@brandigrace96)!

We Have Now

Last week I posted about my husband and I battling the laziness in our lives, and this post is a follow up because I felt the need to clarify something.

Battling laziness in our lives is crucial, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of our relationships. Or, really, I guess we should just include “relationships with other people” as an area of life that laziness infects.

A few months a go, a fellow blogger wrote a post about the book Only Love Today by Rachel Macy Stafford. The book is set up in short snippets talking about the importance of being in the moment and taking every chance to love the people in our lives. It is well worth purchasing. It has reminded me of little truths that I had forgotten: The dishes can wait. The vacuuming can wait. Facebook can wait.

I am so bad about trying to multitask (News flash: multitasking doesn’t work. Our brains can only focus on one thing at a time. Instead of doing multiple things at once, our brains are actually having to switch back and forth between tasks repeatedly, using more mental energy). If I’m on my phone, I’m not really paying attention to the person in front of me. If all I can think about are the chores I need to do, I’m not giving someone my full attention. I am bad about it and I know it, yet I still have trouble stopping.

We live in a world that is constantly telling us to go, go, go and we don’t know how to slow down. We’re so concerned with being productive that we don’t know how to be intentional.

I don’t know about you, but I would like to put my focus and energy on things that matter: my relationship with God and with other people. Keeping up with my home is important, but not at the expense of these. Keeping up with my health should not interfere with my relationships.

I’m trying to choose – and it is a choice – to be in the moment with the people around me. I’m trying to make the most of the numerous opportunities to love that I am presented with each day. I’m trying to realize that all we have is right now.
*Note: New posts coming every Friday*

Worthless and Not Good Enough

Student. Wife. Friend. Daughter. Blogger. Follower of Christ. Babysitter. Employee.
These are all titles that I hold. These are also areas of my life where I often times find myself feeling like I’m not enough, and I know I’m not the only one.

How many times do we find ourselves thinking, “If only I had done it differently,” or “Why did I have to say that?” or “They deserve better than me”?

I know for me, it can be rather often. Especially lately as I’m learning to balance school, work, housework, and my relationships. I’ve often felt like I’m failing in one or more – and by more, I mean all – of these areas. I’ve been carrying around this weight of just not feeling good enough.

My thoughts have consisted of such negative statements about myself that I’ve been feeling pretty hopeless, honestly. Anyone else?

So am I sitting here on this beautiful Thursday afternoon saying, “What’s the point of trying when all I’m going to do is mess up?”

No.

I’m telling you that it’s okay to be human and it’s okay to mess up, but its not okay to get stuck. We can’t tell ourselves that we are worthless and good for nothing; that’s poison to the spirit and it’s a lie. I’m going to tell you something that you may find preposterous: you’re allowed to have rough days. You’re allowed to have rough moments. But the key thing is don’t stay there. Learn to let go. Learn to breathe and say, “it’s a bad moment or even a bad day, but it’s not a bad life.”

So what can we don’t feel like we’re good enough? When we are completely overwhelmed with everything going on? Here are a few things to try:

  • Learn to sincerely say, “I’m sorry.” You’d be surprised how freeing it is when you humble yourself and admit that you’re wrong instead of getting defensive.
  • Ask yourself, “Is this really worth arguing over?” If not, say, “I’m sorry, let’s drop it, this isn’t worth it.”
  • Take a walk and think and pray.
  • When negative thoughts are consuming you, combat them with truth.
  • Remember that even little victories are still victories.
  • Implement small changes; remember you aren’t going to change overnight.
  • Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep. Drink plenty of water. Exercise. Eat well. Have time to yourself. You’ll feel better all around.
  • Get up early and spend time with God.
  • Spend your time doing things that matter.
  • Take the focus off of yourself and do something for someone else.
  • Remember the truth. Christ didn’t die because we are wonderful human beings that are oh so lovable. Christ died because of His love for us. Remember you are loved. Remember Christ died for you despite of your shortcomings. Even on your worst day, you are loved.

We all have days where we feel like we aren’t good enough, and that is an awful feeling; However, we don’t have to passively sit by and let these feelings attack and consume us. We have the choice to not only change the way we talk to ourselves, but to actually do something! For example, lately I’ve been having an issue with getting angry with my husband over little things and it makes me feel awful. I don’t want to get angry with him, yet I do, and then I feel like a terrible human being and a terrible wife. So instead of spiraling into an upset mess, I’ve started trying to actually do something about the situation. I remind myself that this doesn’t make me a bad wife and then I choose to change my behavior.

So while I’m telling you to chin up, I’m also telling you that we need to take responsibility for ourselves. Feeling like we aren’t good enough is awful, as I’ve previously said, but we are capable of changing our thoughts and behaviors, and doing things to relieve stress and take care of ourselves. Every small change is a step in the right direction, even if that first small change is saying, “I don’t have to feel this way.” Some days you will be able to successfully combat your hopeless feelings and you’ll say, “Wow, that was awesome!” and other days the battle is longer and harder, and that’s okay. Fight it anyway.

And remember, these things we tell ourselves about being worthless and not good enough simply aren’t true; you can tell a flower it’s hideous, but it doesn’t change it’s beauty.

 

You Don’t Have to Be Superwoman

Before getting married, I already had a finance spreadsheet set up, a housework spreadsheet set up, and specific goals in mind (such as meal prepping). I got married and started implementing my schedule right away. Our apartment was pretty much pristine, breakfast and snacks were prepped the night before, and I was caught up on school work. Then, I think it was the second week, things started taking a downward turn. Schoolwork was piling up, housework was piling up, I didn’t have time to relax let alone meal prep. I also work two days a week. I was getting more and more stressed by the fact that I had a specific goal, a specific image, of what my house – and life – should look like and the fact that my reality did not look like that. One day, I hit breaking point. I was unpacking things I had left at my mom’s and I couldn’t figure out where to put the blender. I just sat on the floor against the cabinet, holding the blender, for I’m not sure how long until my husband found me. He sat down next to me, kissed my head, and didn’t say a word. Finally, after a few moments, I pathetically said, “I don’t know where to put the blender.” He gently took the blender from my hands and set it on the floor. He asked me all that I still had to do and when I told him he said he had no idea I had that much on my plate. He suggested that I go take a bath and read (my go-to relaxation method) and stresslessly do what I was able to do before bed.

I had this idea that I had to be Superwoman: spotless apartment, perfectly cooked meals (trust me, that wasn’t always the case), ahead – or at least caught up – on school work, and still time to relax alone and with my husband. Instead what I had was a clean apartment, a whole lot of homework, and even more stress. By trying to do everything all the time, I was wearing myself out to the point that I didn’t want to do anything (and I am a person that honestly loves doing housework; I am my mother’s daughter), and when I did, I just wanted to cry the whole time because even though I was checking one thing off of my to-do list, I knew that what felt like a hundred more were waiting for me.

After the day that I remember as “The Day I Sat On The Floor Holding a Blender,” I realized that while it is great to have goals and be organized, sometimes, something has to give. I had to let go of my ideals about what my apartment should look like, what my days should look like, and replace it with what I am able to do that given day. Because let’s face it, some days the dishes have to wait. Some days cleaning the kitchen has to wait. Some days I’m too tired to meal prep. And that’s okay. Some days I need extra time with my husband or he with me. Some days, I need extra time to myself. Some days I need to focus on school more. And that’s okay.

We were not meant to zoom from one task to the other 24/7. No wonder we don’t handle it well when we try! We were meant to have rest as a routine part of our lives. God setting aside the seventh day of creation as the Sabbath has a message deeper than not working one day a week. It sends a message that we are to rest.

So, I still have my exact same housework schedule, but it isn’t law. I still try to meal prep, but if I don’t it’s okay. I still like my apartment to look nice, but if it doesn’t always look it’s best, that’s fine (especially now that our family has expanded to include two doggies who leave evidence of themselves everywhere). You don’t have to be Superwoman – or Superman. Sure, certain things in life need attending to, but there is a balance (check out a post from awhile back that I wrote on the topic). I also have an amazing husband who does his fair share of the work and calls me out when I’m overworking myself.

Take a rest from your superhero duties. It’s okay to have dishes in the sink. It’s okay to take an hour or two to yourself. Well, lovelies, it’s time to get back to making dinner. Until next time!

Sawdust and Sugar

Do you remember back in elementary or middle school when you would learn a concept but you didn’t really know why you were learning it? As a concept it made sense, but it didn’t seem to have a place in “real life”? But then you get older and it suddenly makes sense as to why you had to learn it? Division, for example. As a kid I wondered why I really needed to know division – was I really going to need to figure out how many 7 lb. bags of potatoes were in a 34 lb. pot of mashed potatoes? But then, sure enough, there I am one day,  trying to figure out how many standard sized water bottles I drank if I had drank 60 oz of water because I was trying to start drinking more water and the app I was using to track it annoyingly didn’t count by increments of water bottles. It happened. I used the division (I’m sure I’ve used division way more than that in my practical life, but that is the only example I could think of off the top of my head). I understood why I had to learn the putrid skill of “seeing how many times something went into something else.” It now made sense.

I had one of these moments recently, not about math but about sin. As a follower of Christ, I understood that sin was missing God’s mark, disobeying, etc. But this weekend as I was snowed in at a cabin with some friends, we were having a discussion about what God had been doing in one of our friend’s life. She talked about how in deciding to let something go in her life, she was freeing herself for what God had intended for her in that something’s place. Hmm. That got my wheels turning.

Only a few hours later, I was sitting on the couch in our cozy quite chilly cabin reading Everyday Saint: Rejecting Sin, Choosing Love by Jim Hampton. I came across a passage that was talking about the very same thing. Jim says, “sin is a paltry shadow of real truth, beauty, and goodness, and that what God wants to give us is far more glorious and wonderful that the poor substitutes to which we cling.” Hmm.

Suddenly, sin not only meant missing the mark or disobeying God, it meant using our God-given free will to choose to, as Mr. Hampton said, cling to poor substitutes of something much, much better. It’s like wanting a cup of coffee and needing something to sweeten it with. You think to yourself, “Hmm.. I have sugar in the cabinet, but I also have a maple tree in the back yard. I think I’ll go saw off a limb and put the sawdust in my coffee.”

It. Makes. No. Sense.

So why do we settle for maple tree sawdust instead of sugar – an intended sweetener?  Why do we cling to worry when we’re intended to have peace? Why do we cling to any number of things when they’re a pale imitation of what we’re meant to have?

Sin is trading in Eden for a life of pain. It’s trading in gem stones for pebbles. It’s sawdust for sugar.

Grace Wins

I want to talk about something that all of us know about but few of us seem to embrace: Grace.

It is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9).

We are justified by it (Titus 3:7).

It is given freely (Romans 3:24).

It has saved us (Ephesians 2:8).

God is enthroned upon it (Hebrews 4:16).

It frees us from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:14).

Christ is full of it (John 1:14).

 

Nothing is too big or too small to be covered by grace, so why don’t we embrace it more often? With me, at least, I know that sometimes I feel unworthy and unable to change. I forget the truth that God’s grace is sufficient and He is made strong in my weakness. I forget that I am a child of God and grace is given freely to me. I forget that I can approach God when I am in need of His grace. I forget that grace has broken all my chains.

I forget that grace wins. Every time. And I shouldn’t forget this: I got “Grace Wins” tattooed on my arm for a reason!

When we accept Jesus and choose to follow Him and have a relationship with our Creator, grace covers us. It covers our mistakes, our shortcomings, our sin. Freely. Grace is not an excuse to keep on sinning, but a reminder that God loves us and wants us to do better. It’s the sweet whisper that says, “Yes, you fell, but get back up again.” Grace is receiving second, third, fourth, fiftieth chances that we don’t deserve but God gives us anyways because He loves us.

We need to live like grace has broken our chains. We need to live like grace is sufficient for us. We need to not get discouraged when we fail but say, “Thank you, Lord, for Your never-ending grace,” and get back up again and fight the good fight. Because you know what? Grace wins.

The Other Side of Trust

In our walk with God, we are told time and again to trust God. This is a concept that I feel that I’ve gotten a pretty good sense of. I know that God will provide for me, I know that I need not worry (though sometimes I still do) because He holds my future, I know that if I seek Him He will make paths clear for me and I will end up where I need to be.

Recently, though, I encountered a different side of trust that I hadn’t really thought about before. A person in my life was facing a lot of issues in their life and it was clear to me that the problems they were encountering were coming from the fact that they were relying on themselves and not on God. There were issues of anger and doubt and uncertainty in their life, and they were frustrated as any of us would be. But I knew that their relationship with God wasn’t being nurtured, and this is where a lot of the problems were stemming from.  It was as obvious to me as a stop sign is red. But they couldn’t see that the stop sign was red. I was getting so discouraged. I just wanted to scream that the answer was right. In. Front. Of. Them. But you can’t make someone see something. You can’t make a blind person see the red stop sign.

So finally, after weeks, months maybe, I just said, “God, I have got to stop trying to fix this myself. I can’t make them see. But You can, and I know that You will work in their heart.” And I stopped trying to fix the situation. I didn’t stop encouraging them. I didn’t stop praying for them. But I did stop making it my responsibility to get them to understand.

Later that very day, they told me they realized they hadn’t been trusting in God for awhile and that they’d been neglecting their relationship with Him. It was almost like God was saying, “See, Brandi? You weren’t trusting Me either.” I knew that I had to take my hands off the steering wheel in my own life, but that day I realized I need to trust God in regard to the other people in my life. I realized that I do in fact have a part to play: to always act in love. But my part is not to be Fix-It Felix and make the problems go away.

It makes me think of a commentary I heard of Lauren Daigle talking about her song “Come Alive (Dry Bones),”and she says something along the lines of it’s not our job to judge the prodigal son, but to pray and intercede on their behalf.

We have to trust that God is working behind the scenes. We need to be open to Him working through us, but we have to remember that He is the ultimate healer, not us.

With Both Hands

I was lying in bed last night and got to thinking and praying, and I felt my heart breaking a little bit. The past few weeks I’ve made excuse after excuse as to why I’ve only had a few minutes to read Scripture or pray (but plenty of time to do everything else) and I’ve felt the distance between myself and God growing and growing. It’s as if I thought that because I had encountered God in a very intimate way a few weeks ago, that that would keep the intimacy between me and my Father. What I failed to realize is that by failing to spend intimate, quality time with Him, I was doing anything but keeping the intimacy. It was as if I knew that there was distance between God and myself, and I knew the solution, but I just didn’t do anything about it. I had the head knowledge that this isn’t how it works, but I didn’t let it affect me. And like I said, this realization broke my heart.

After a few minutes, however, my laments turned to praise because I knew that God was patiently waiting for me with open arms. Lamentations 3:23 says it best:

Great is His faithfulness;
    His mercies begin afresh each morning.

While I was faithless, He was faithful. And His mercy was waiting for me to grasp onto it. I am not going to feel guilty or shameful for the past few weeks, I am going to hold onto mercy with both hands. As soon as I admitted, to myself really, that I had been neglecting my relationship with God and expecting to get by just fine, it was as if the deepest part of my being just cried out to God. A cry of praise, of homecoming. I turned my head from the distractions of the world and looked at my Father once again.

This post is a bit of rambling, I know. But I had to share my encounter with God and His mercy, because it shook me to my core. He is so good, friends, so good.

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Photo Credit: Jeremy Yap

180 Days and Counting

If you follow me on social media, you already know that today is 180 days until my wedding. Pretty dresses, decorations, dancing, being united with the love of my life, um, yes, please!

But is it what I’m looking forward to most?

No. 

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If I said I wasn’t excited I would be straight up lying to your virtual faces. But what I’m even more excited for than my wedding is my marriage.

I’m excited to serve God with my husband and glorify Him through our marriage.

I’m excited to do life with the love of my life.

I’m excited to grow closer to him and our Heavenly Father together.

Am I preparing for my wedding? Absolutely! But not as much as I’m trying to prepare for my marriage. For being a wife. For someday being a mother.

Yes, I want a beautiful wedding, but more importantly, I want a beautiful marriage. A marriage built on faith and love. A marriage with a foundation of servitude.

180 days and counting. ♥