Ways to enrich relationships this Advent

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Did you want to buy our marriage challenge cards and never got around to it? Are you looking for ways to celebrate Advent? Ways to enrich your relationships with God, your husband, and your kids?

If your answer to those questions is yes, then you will love the Catholic Mom Bundle! (Okay, any men reading? This would make a great surprise gift for your wife…)

I’ve already had a sneak preview, so I’m trying to figure out my favorite part. Is it the…

  • Grace Grows in the Trenches: 5 Minute Meditations for the Weary Catholic Mom (Plus an Advent Bonus Bundle), $24
  • The Question Jar: Cultivating Connections in Catholic Families, $5
  • An At Home Nativity Play, $6 (things like this are REALLY fun with Logan, ha…and our boys will love it)

I don’t know if I can pick a favorite, but I am also really excited about the Mass Journal for Moms that comes as a bonus with Grace Grows in the Trenches. Logan and I have been using a Mass journal together and I need something to replace it once Advent and the new liturgical year starts.

Normally, Grace Grows in the Trenches (plus the Advent bundle) sells for $24, but with the Catholic Mom Bundle (on sale just this week!), you can get a lot more products too….for just $1 more.

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For $25, you can a total of 20 products (valued at $246). Some of the resources include printables, workbooks, eBooks, and email courses. We have products for spiritual growth, marriage, mom’s faith, and family life.

As a contributor, I had early access to the bundle, and I found a bunch of other things I’m excited about too!

Just to name a few:

  • Wall Calendar for Everyday Catholics, $15 (our 6-year old loves this, seriously…it has all the feast days for him to keep track of)
  • 12 Days of Mercy, $48
  • A Month for Your Marriage challenge cards (I mean, our product has to be one of my faves, right?)

Seriously, there are so many great products, all of which can enrich all of the relationships in your life. And although several would be great for Advent, many can be used whenever! Including our marriage challenge cards. (Although they would be perfect to do during the month of December!)

I know our kids are so excited about a couple of the products already! Check out the full list in the Catholic Mom Bundle (our affiliate link!) —–> here!

 But don’t wait too long. It’s only on sale until Friday!

Two marriage lessons from the Wedding at Cana

This post contains an affiliate link.  If a sale is made through an affiliate link, we may be compensated. See our privacy policy for more information.

Logan and I recently had the opportunity to attend a marriage enrichment event hosted by a local church parish (thanks to the generosity of friends!). There was a delicious 5-course meal, a different wine served with each course, and a different speaker at the end of each course. Most of the speakers were married couples, but the parish priest spoke at the end of the main entree. The topic he talked about? The Wedding at Cana. (I did mention this briefly on Instagram).

The Gospel reading at our wedding was the Wedding at Cana, and I pray the Rosary every day, so I’m not stranger to the story. In fact, it’s one of my favorite mysteries. How awesome is it that Jesus (because of Mary) chose to perform his first miracle at a wedding? What does that say about the importance of marriage?

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about what the priest said in his brief talk. He made two points:

1. Do the work so God can do the miracle.

The servers had the difficult task of filling those six stone water jars (each twenty to thirty gallons!) with water. Can you imagine how long that took? How much work that was? But they did the work so Jesus could turn the water into wine. They were able to see the miracle because of the effort they put forth.

The same goes in marriage! I know that Logan and I did not see God working in big ways until we did the work necessary. God wants to do great things…but he also wants us to do our part. Think about how many miracles in the Bible happened because of the effort put forth by that person!

The woman with a hemorrhage knew she just needed to touch Jesus’s cloak, the Syropheoenician woman insisted on Jesus driving the demon out of her daughter, the leper prostrated himself before Jesus because he knew that Jesus could make him clean. The list goes on and on.

2. God saves the best wine for last.

On our wedding day, we think that’s the best it’s going to get. We’re so happy and we love each other more than ever! How could it get any better? But it does. We’re only 9 years in, and we’ve seen the growth in our relationship through all of the highs and lows. Our marriage is definitely better than it was on our wedding day! Can you imagine what it will be like in another thirty years? Just like Jesus saved the best wine for last at the Wedding at Cana, he saves the best wine for last in our marriage.

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All of that to say, those two points go hand-in-hand. Just like we have to do the work so God can do the miracle, we won’t get to taste that best wine by staying stagnant. Anyone who’s been married knows that it’s not easy! It takes constant effort. And just when you think you and your spouse are doing well, something happens to make you realize that there’s still work to be done. We have to constantly fill each other up!

It’s important to remember, though, that we can’t do it without God’s help. We have to seek God first and foremost. He will give us the grace we need to live our married vocation. Just take it from Fulton J. Sheen in his book, Three to Get Married:

“Two glasses that are empty cannot fill up one another. There must be a fountain of water outside the glasses, in order that they may have communion with one another. It takes three to make love.”

So make sure you’re inviting God into your marriage. Pray together, have those difficult conversations together, share everything with each other, and support each other. Keep doing the work by filling each other’s glasses, trusting that in time, God will provide that best wine.

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Waiting Together – An Advent Devotional for Couples

There are so many Advent devotionals out there! And it’s great, really. Advent is the perfect time to spend dedicated time each day praying and meditating on Scripture.

But a couple of blogging friends and I realized there’s not much out there specifically for Catholic married couples. So we decided to write a devotional together!

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Do you want a simple way for your and your spouse to prepare for Christmas together? Waiting Together is an Advent devotional specifically for Catholic couples! Each day in Advent, we give you the Gospel reading for the day, a reflection, questions to discuss together, and a prayer. That’s it! It will take you less than 10 minutes each day. (Most days will probably only take 5 minutes. Easy peasy, right?)

There are a few challenges scattered throughout, and all are simple things that you and your spouse can do together to help keep the Advent season sacred.

We centered the devotional around marriage (obviously) and each week has a different theme. For example, I wrote the first week of the devotional, which is all about hope. I share experiences and insights from my own marriage and tie them into Advent.

A brief overview:

  • Week 1, Hope – written by myself, Jen, of Surprised By Marriage
  • Week 2, Faith – written by Kristi Denoy of Hail Marry
  • Week 3, Joy – written by Hilary Thompson of Messy Buns and Latin Chant
  • Week 4, Peace – written by Rachel Washington of Hail Marry

You can print it out yourself or read it on any device. (I’m a big fan of emailing PDFs to my Kindle – here are instructions on how to do that.)

We are so passionate about encouraging couples to pray together and foster a spiritual life together, so we’re very excited about this project! We hope it blesses you and your marriage this Advent. Click below to purchase. (Note: it’s a digital download!)

 

 

Want to see the layout? Here’s an example of one day:

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Gratitude in marriage

When we had a toddler and a baby, we went through a major rough patch – it was hard to see how many blessings God had given us because we were both so focused on the negative things in life. I was overwhelmed staying at home with two littles all day, Logan was frustrated with his job, we were both frustrated with our financial situation, and well, let’s face it…our marriage was struggling big time. All I could focus on was how Logan wouldn’t help me when I was clearly overwhelmed (and tired…oh so tired) and all Logan could focus on was my lack of encouragement and my crazy talk. We were both really disillusioned.

Honestly, not much has changed since then – we’ve added another kid to the mix, but I’m still overwhelmed (most days), Logan is still frustrated with his job (most days), and we’re both frustrated with our financial situation (most days).

But our marriage? It’s so much better. And I think a big part of that is because we’ve started “counting our blessings” together on a regular basis, so to speak. (I know that sounds totally cliche, but it really, really helps.)

The crazy thing is that in many ways, life is harder now than it was back then. But thankfully God has given us the grace and tools to work through it. If there was one thing I could tell myself a few years ago when I was so focused on all the negative things in my marriage, it would be this: write down (or think about) at least one thing you’re grateful for every single day.

We may not have the ideal situation regarding Logan’s job and our finances, but we are able to pay the bills and we own a house we love.

We may not be going on fancy vacations every year, but we are still able to save a little for fun things and simple trips.

We may be completely overwhelmed with our kids sometimes, but we know the pain of infertility and loss is a hard and lonely cross.

We may still have our disagreements and communication problems, but we have come a long way in appreciating each other’s differences and growing in understanding one another.

We may not have the perfect marriage, but we know our marriage is sanctifying us…and that’s the whole point – for us to grow closer to God.

Earlier this summer, we dealt with a number of health issues, house repairs, and other ridiculous occurrences in a span of one month – all of which are not unusual in themselves, but the frequency and quantity in which they occurred was very unusual. It was overwhelming and stressful, to say the least.

But even amidst all of the craziness, we had a number of good things happen as well. June was probably the most stressful month we had in a long time – but it also produced the most fun month we had in awhile. (I know that sounds impossible. But it’s true!)

It never ceases to amaze us how God can make his presence known even in the most stressful times. For each stressor, there’s usually a consolation, from a generous friend to a special family moment. Often times one of us has to remind the other of all the good things happening among all the bad things, but thinking about our blessings together has been a great source of comfort.

I know there are times where it’s really hard to think about your blessings, especially when you’re not feeling especially fond about your marriage. When everything seems to be going wrong and you don’t know what the heck God is doing through all of it. When you see everyone’s “good moments” on social media and none of their bad ones. When you think everyone else’s marriage is perfect and yours is not. When you feel like life just hasn’t turned out the way you expected.

But we’ve seen how coming together to thank God for all He has given us, especially in our marriage, has brought us closer together. Every day we thank God together for all of his blessings, and we make sure to remind each other – especially when we’re going through a rough time – that there is always something to be thankful for, even when it doesn’t always feel that way.

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“A Month for Your Marriage” Challenge

One thing I’ve realized over the years we’ve been married is that we constantly need to put effort into our marriage. It’s way too easy to let our relationship with our spouse slide to the back-burner without even realizing it!

That’s partly why we’ve been posting weekly marriage challenges on Instagram and Facebook over the last several months (#marriagemondaychallenge). It’s a reminder every single week that we need to be intentional about our marriage.

Now you can be intentional for an entire month with our challenge cards! Dedicate a month to your marriage by completing a challenge every day for 31 days. Some are simple, some require a little more effort, but every single one is meant to bring you and your spouse closer together.

It really is the little things that foster growth in a relationship, and that’s never more true than in a marriage.

Are you ready to take “A Month for Your Marriage” challenge? Click below to buy your challenge cards! Just print, cut, and put in a basket or box to pick one every day for a month. Use the hashtag #marriagechallengecards to share on Instagram and Facebook. We’d love to see them in action!

 

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10 reasons you should go on a marriage retreat

When most people hear about a marriage retreat, they think that it’s just for couples who are struggling. While there certainly are retreats for strained marriages (Retrouvaille, anyone?), there are also some retreats for married couples who want to grow closer together by spending a weekend away, focusing on God and their marriage. It doesn’t matter if you’re a newlywed or have been married for 40 years – any couple can benefit from a marriage retreat!

We’ve been on 3 marriage retreats in 9 years of marriage…and we didn’t go on the first one until almost 5 years in. Needless to say, it was amazing and just what we needed, so we’ve made it a priority to make it a regular occurence. We HIGHLY recommend every married couple to go on a marriage retreat and to make it happen every single year, if possible (hard when you keep having babies, I know…which is why we’ve done it every 2 years).

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On our second retreat in 2016, with our youngest baby in utero

Here are 10 reasons why I think you should go on a marriage retreat (but honestly, there are even more!):

  1. God first, marriage second, then everything else. A marriage retreat helps you do exactly that!
  2. No cooking or cleaning for a weekend. (Enough said.)
  3. A retreat helps you to move forward in your marriage, especially if your marriage is in a rut. Consider it a jump-start!
  4. To know you’re not alone. Every marriage has their struggles and crosses, so hearing the stories of other couples is reassuring and comforting.
  5. It’s the perfect opportunity to talk about important topics with your spouse uninterrupted.
  6. To find encouragement and community from other couples. As a young couple, it’s so inspiring to see couples 40 years ahead of us! And the older couples are encouraged by seeing young couples putting effort into their marriage.
  7. To learn more about your spouse. There’s no better time to learn about your spouse! A couple’s vacation is fun (and also necessary at times), but the focus is still on vacation….not your marriage.
  8. To embrace the Sacraments together as a married couple.
  9. To be reminded that the Sacrament of Matrimony is a gift, and one we should make a priority.
  10. Great food! (Logan had to add that one, ha)

God wants to be an integral part in your marriage. And he should be! A marriage retreat fosters that in more ways that I can explain here.

Have you ever been on a marriage retreat? If so, what reasons would you add to the list?

In case you missed it, we vlogged during our last retreat! Check out the video:

Vulnerability in marriage

Over the last few months, I’ve been privileged to hear people’s stories, questions, and struggles in their marriage. And I’ve noticed something – there’s a common denominator in all of the hard stuff of marriage.

Communication.

I know it sounds so simple – learn to communicate! I’m certainly not suggesting that learning to communicate better will make your marriage perfect. Our marriage certainly isn’t and we’ve actually come a loooong way in terms of communication.

What am I saying is that it is definitely worth the effort to improve communication with your spouse, and that it’s going to take a lot more than just reading books and/or seeking counseling (but both are good things that I definitely recommend!).

It’s going to take being vulnerable with each other.

You can read allll the of the marriage books in the world and meet with a counselor together every single week, but if you’re not being vulnerable with each other? Sharing everything with each other? You’re going to have a hard time.

I’m the biggest introvert of all introverts…which means I don’t like to talk. I live in my head a lot. I’d rather journal about my feelings than talk about them. My natural instinct is to just keep everything to myself and not share them with my spouse.

Our marriage really struggled for years because of that.

How was my husband supposed to know I was struggling with everything on my plate – kids, housework, volunteer responsibilities, etc – if I didn’t share that with him? How was my husband supposed to know I felt disrespected in certain relationships if I didn’t tell him? Why did I expect my husband to read my mind and know what I was thinking at every moment?

He didn’t know. He had no way to know. Because I didn’t tell him. I kept it to myself, or thought that it was silly to share some of those things with him. The mind of an introvert can be crazy, after all. But it goes both ways…

How was I supposed to know my husband felt like he wasn’t providing enough for our family? How was I supposed to know my husband felt stuck when it came to his job situation if he didn’t tell me?

I didn’t know. I had no way to know. Because he didn’t tell me. He thought I was disappointed in him or that I’d assume he was unhappy with our current situation.

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Keeping things to yourself tends to lead to bitterness and resentment and a heck of a lot of misunderstanding. Which leads to your spouse withdrawing. With leads to two very unhappy people.

But if you’re sharing everything with each other? Your good moments, your struggles, and everything in between? That’s the kind of marriage we wanted. That’s the kind of marriage we’ve started to have.

If you’re starting to feel resentful about the fact that your spouse doesn’t pull his/her weight around the house, tell them that! (Gently, please.)

If you need encouragement from your spouse to apply for a new job, start a business, or [insert scenario here], tell them that!

If your needs aren’t being met in the bedroom, tell your spouse that! (Oh, but please, please first tell your spouse how wonderful they are and how much you love being intimate with him/her. Build up your spouse first, then say: “I would like to work on XYZ though. Can we talk about that?”)

You can’t complain about not getting something if you haven’t asked for it. And you can’t expect your spouse to read your mind.

On the flip side, if one spouse is being vulnerable and opening up about something, the other spouse needs to listen. No belittling, no mocking, none of that. The listening spouse needs to be vulnerable too by offering unconditional love and support! It can be hard, especially if a big issue is brought up, and especially if it might be painful to hear. But you can’t grow in your marriage without addressing the hard stuff. (Marriage requires a heck of a lot of humility, too.)

Sometimes I wonder now if we share too much. Did he really need to know during the World Cup that I thought Russia’s goalie was extremely handsome? Did he really need to share his, um, trip to the bathroom in extreme detail?

Perhaps that’s going to be different in everyone’s marriage. But for us, sharing absolutely everything has been a game-changer. We know what each other is thinking now because we actually say it. We know how to support each other. We know that being vulnerable with each other is exactly why we’ve grown in intimacy and in love for each other.

We know that vulnerability in our marriage is how we will get each other to Heaven.

 

I hate to say this but feel it is necessary: if you suspect your spouse is emotionally abusive, this post is not for you. Please seek the help of a counselor or spiritual director!

The biggest misconception of Natural Family Planning

A friend sent me an Instagram story the other day where someone was answering the question: “What is your opinion on NFP?”

The person’s answer was basically saying: NFP is often used as Catholic contraception and that you shouldn’t have sex if you don’t want kids.

I have thoughts.

Let me just first admit that I used to be that person who thought there was very, very rarely a reason to avoid pregnancy. When we first got married, we were very open to pregnancy, despite Logan making barely any money and me being temporarily unemployed. So I just figured that everyone else didn’t have any serious reasons to avoid either! (I know, I know.)

Thankfully, I’ve gotten way more perspective in the last 9 years and am truly grateful that the Catholic Church, in all Her wisdom and glory, gave us the gift of Natural Family Planning (NFP). Check out the Catechism, paragraphs 2368-2370. (It’s online here if you don’t have a copy, but I highly recommend getting one!) The main line, to assure that the Church does indeed say we can use NFP is from paragraph 2370: “Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.”

Sometimes the best thing for you, your spouse, and your children (and/or future children) is to wait a bit before you have a baby. And I won’t even go into the possible reasons, because the Church does not give a list of them for a reason. NFP is designed to make us discern for ourselves.

I’m so thankful we have an option other than birth control during those times, because when my husband and I give ourselves to each other, we want to give ourselves fully, fertility and all – as terrifying as it can be sometimes! Withholding the gift of fertility from each other – using birth control – is not conducive to a holy marriage. You cannot have a self-sacrificial love for your spouse when you are giving them everything except your fertility.

Please know I am in no way judging anyone who uses birth control. I’m simply telling you that there is a better way! God intended for every marital act to be open to life. NFP enables us to do just that! (I could go on about the effects that using birth control has on a marriage but that could be another post in itself and much more qualified people have written extensively on the subject.)

Now for my thoughts regarding NFP being a “Catholic contraceptive.”

NFP is not contraception. It’s not even close. Google’s definition of contraceptive is: “a device or drug serving to prevent pregnancy.” With contraception, you are having sex and withholding your fertility, using a device or drug (or the withdrawal method, which is not effective by the way).

With NFP, you are not using a device or drug. You don’t need those because you are not having sex. You are abstaining on fertile days because you have prayerfully discerned with your spouse that this particular month is not a good month to conceive a baby.

Some couples decide to not use NFP at all. God bless them. I truly wish we were one of them, but we are not. I think God knew I needed a bigger perspective and more humility. I just cringe thinking of my former judgmental self, because now I know the reasons for postponing a pregnancy are numerous, and nobody will completely understand those reasons except for the couple themselves.

What people who have never used NFP don’t realize is that NFP is hard. Sometimes you just really want to renew your wedding vows and be close to your spouse but life circumstances tell you that you need to wait. And the thing about NFP is that you’re having to abstain during the time that your body is telling you it wants to make a baby.

In a world that tells us we should have all the sex we want, whenever we want? ABSTAINING IS HARD. But it is still so much better than the alternative.

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Could a couple be selfish in their reasons for postponing a pregnancy? Perhaps. We are human, after all.

But the thing about NFP is that it makes you communicate and pray with your spouse about whether or not we have good reasons for abstaining. You’re not going to want to abstain unless you have serious reasons to do so!

In our experience, our “plan” ends up changing because our hearts change. Each month, we become more and more open to another pregnancy. Like I said, abstaining is hard, and NFP makes sure we’re doing it for the right reasons. We eventually find ourselves in a place where we are not sure whether our reasons for postponing a pregnancy are still valid. So we give it to God, as cliche as it sounds.

NFP is actually a gift, and one we should use wisely. Like the Catechism says, “For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood” (CCC 2368). Nobody can discern that other than you and your spouse. It does require a lot of prayer and communication, and if you’re not doing that on a regular basis, you’re missing the point.

And perhaps that’s what the person on Instagram was referring to, but I still have to say…NFP is not a contraceptive. Each marital act is still open to life, which is what God intends.

Do read those paragraphs in the Catechism (2386-2370) to know why God and His Church has given us this gift. God has such a beautiful plan for and every one of our marriages, and NFP plays a big part in that for many of us.

A tale of 4 vacuums

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We’ve had a rough go of it with vacuum cleaners lately. A shop vac and two indoor vacuums. They’ve all been around for years, though, so when I opened our newest indoor vacuum, I was optimistic. There was no way this thing would die on me! I put it together and it worked really well. Whew.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Before I knew it, though, the vacuum had caught the loose strand from the corner of the living room rug. In a matter of 3 seconds, the vacuum sucked up over 30 feet of thread from the rug and shut off.

Say what?

I was really tempted to just throw out the darn thing and give up on vacuuming altogether (melodramatic much, I know). But I took a deep breath, found a screwdriver, took apart the new vacuum, and cut out all of the rug pieces. It took longer than I would have liked, and I was really tempted to just wait until Logan was home so he could do it. But I kept with it and finally was able to turn on the vacuum. Much to my relief, it started working beautifully again.

How often does the same thing happen in our marriage? We think things are working well, then suddenly we hit a snag – a disagreement about an issue, a betrayal – and we don’t know what to do. Why fix yet another vacuum cleaner when this is already the 4th one in less than a month that has crapped out on us? (Yes, people, four. Talk about ridiculousness.)

But there is bound to be conflict in a marriage. We’re humans! And the only way to get past it is to resolve it, no matter how difficult it may be. We need to resist the temptation to just throw away the vacuum cleaner or sweep an issue under the rug. (Pun intended.)

Our marriage is thriving now because we’ve both taken honest looks at ourselves, realized what we each need to work on, and how we can support each other in doing so. And it’s still very much a work in progress.

Sometimes we’ve had to cut loose strings that were keeping us from connecting fully – just like I had to do to the vacuum to get it to work again. Sometimes the process has been painstakingly slow and brutal. We’ve had to be patient with ourselves and each other.

But it pays off. Fix the vacuum – er, address the problem in your marriage. Do the work you need to do to make your marriage thrive. It won’t always be easy, you’ll probably hit snags along the way (remember, the enemy wants your marriage to fail!), but God gives us the grace we need to grow closer to Him and to our spouse.

I know this is a lot easier said than done. If you’re needing a little help or guidance in how to communicate better with your spouse, I recommend taking a look at these resources:

  • The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse by Art and Laraine Bennett – our temperaments play a huge part in how we react or handle certain situations, and this book provides helpful communication techniques for each temperament
  • Praying for (and With) Your Spouse: The Way to Deeper Love by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak – prayer is a vital component of marriage and resolving conflict, and the Popcaks provide so much encouragement, inspiration, and helpful tips when it comes to praying both for and with your spouse
  • How to handle everyday conflict in your marriage at Aleteia – this short blog post provides some good tips/thoughts
  • The Bible – I’m always amazed at how many times I’m reading Scripture and come across the perfect verse that is an answer to prayer. There is so much wisdom in the Bible – don’t forget to read it often!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 (NRSV)

 

9 years of marriage

We’re celebrating 9 years of marriage today! It’s been a crazy but beautiful ride.

The longer we’re married, the more I realize that there is no way to adequately prepare for marriage. You just have to learn as you live it!

I read a lot. So before we were married, I read all kinds of books on marriage and sex and love. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. Honestly, I did. I knew marriage would have its ups and downs but I really thought we would be fine! (And we are fine, but whew, it took awhile!)

We even did plenty of marriage prep stuff – met with our priest a few times, took the FOCCUS inventory, and met with a mentor couple several times. Our priest had zero concerns, our inventory results showed zero concerns, and our lovely mentor couple actually told us that we would be teaching marriage prep one day.

It’s all so funny now, really. Looking back, it really did seem like we knew what we were getting into. But man, life really hit us – communication problems, pregnancy loss, infertility, sex problems, high-risk pregnancy, finances, difficult family relationships, you name it. How the heck were we supposed to be prepared for all of THAT?

I was recently thinking about the vows we said at our wedding and couldn’t help but laugh, because we could have added a few things to it.

I, Jen, take you, Logan, to be my husband. I promise to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you all the days of my life.

I promise to be faithful to you even though a vocation to the religious life looks pretty appealing sometimes.

To love you and honor you when our bank account is pitifully low because everything in our house is breaking.

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I, Logan, take you, Jen, to be my wife. I promise to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you all the days of my life.

I promise to be faithful to you even when we can’t have sex during your 9-month pregnancy because of your stupid cervix.

To love you and to honor you even when one of our kids is puking at midnight.

The ironic thing, though, is that I think Logan and I love each other more because of everything we’ve gone through.

Those years of desperately wanting a baby made me appreciate how great of a dad Logan is now.

Those long pregnancies of abstinence showed me that Logan loves me enough to wait for me. (And yes, guys, totally possible to abstain! Hard, definitely, but possible.)

Those nights of cleaning up puke together really cemented in my mind the fact that Logan and I make a pretty awesome team.

So yeah, marriage hasn’t been what we expected it to be. It’s been a heck of a lot harder, but now we know that anything worth doing is going to be hard. And we’ve been able to look back on our 9 years of marriage thus far and see the fruit from all of those trials.

God can use anything, redeem anything, and He wants to do incredible things in your marriage.

“There is not a moment in which God does not present Himself under the cover of some pain to be endured, of some consolation to be enjoyed, or of some duty to be performed. All that takes place within us, around us, or through us, contains and conceals His divine action.” -Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade