becoming a wife

Lessons from a Wife of a PhD Student


I have a confession to make. A few mornings back I was so grumpy towards my husband. I was selfish, and the opposite of supportive and gracious towards him. Why? Well the short answer is that I was frustrated that he has been working on the same paper for quite awhile. I did not understand why he could not just buckle down and finish the paper, so that we could have more time together, he could get better sleep, and not feel defeated when he was home.

A little background... I got a degree in communication, an entire department committed to setting short and long term goals. Set goals. Meet goals. Set more goals. Meet more goals. And so on and so on. However, studying to obtain a PhD in Civil Engineering could not be more different. It is tedious, ongoing, and slow. That is just part of the package deal...and I have had the hardest time in supporting my husband in this calling. I do not do slow, I struggle with methodical and tedious, and anything ongoing causes me stress. 

My selfishness however, goes much deeper than just frustration towards a paper that happens to be taking a few weeks to complete. There is a deeper heart issue taking place; a sin that I have since begun to see needs to be brought to light. As I have pondered that morning, my attitude, and heart these verses have come to mind.

"An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones." Proverbs 12:4

"A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike..." Proverbs 27:15

"When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent." Proverbs 10:19

"A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back." Proverbs 29:11

"She does him good and not harm, all the days of her life." Proverbs 31:12

"...and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Ephesians 5:33

Wow. Each of these verses seem like a cold bucket of water being dumped over my head. I had become self consumed in my relationship with my husband. It was all about me, my irritation, my need for more time with him, my lack of understanding of the time commitment his degree requires. Rather than uplifting and supporting him, whether I understood the demands of his job or not, I chose to do the opposite. I found myself tuning him out as he laid his burdens and feelings of defeat before me. I would complain about how consumed he has been with this paper. I was that continual dripping, that rottenness to his bones. I was giving full vent to my spirit, using many words to express my own frustrations without thinking for a second how my word would impact my husband's heart as he absorbed the full blow of my irritation. 

So why am I sharing this? Because I know I am not the only selfish wife in the world. I know some of you can relate to this realization that you are expecting your husband to serve you at all times, and find yourself not truly considering his needs. I am sharing my struggle with you because I know I am not alone, and because there is freedom in honesty. There is freedom in transparency and vulnerability. 

Satan desires nothing more than to get us entirely focused on ourselves. When we become self absorbed, he is overjoyed! He has us exactly where he wants us, and when we are in this place we will begin to spiral down into a deep self consumed pit at an alarmingly fast pace before we even know what has happened. 

So as I am fighting to pull myself out of this pit, and bring this struggle fully into the light here are things I know are true. 

I am called to respect my husband, to be his helper,and  to support him. I am called to speak life into his heart and not bring rottenness to his bones. I am called to lay my frustrations aside and carry his. I am called to silence my own irritations and pick up his. Does this mean I am a doormat? NO! This means I am a partner in a covenant relationship, in which we bear one another's burdens and love each other wholeheartedly with SELFLESSNESS. I desire to bring good to my husband and to lighten his load, so I am choosing to rely on the Holy Spirit to give me the ability to hold back my words quietly and to give me the strength to lovingly support my husband in his pursuit of a PhD. 

I have recently found deep pleasure in reading some of the Puritan Prayers found in The Valley of Vision book...I think that they are a beautiful literary depiction of my sinful heart. They remind my of the poetic yet emotional writing style of David in the Psalms. Read this prayer in light of this post, and be filled with hope found in the grace of our Heavenly Father. 

"O God, may Your Spirit speak in me that I may speak to You. I have no merit, let the merit of Jesus stand for me. I am undeserving, but I look to Your tender mercy. I am full of infirmities, wants, sin; You are full of grace.
I confess my sin, my frequent sin, my wilful sin; all my powers of body and soul are defiled: a fountain of pollution is deep within my nature. There are chambers of foul images within my being; I have gone from one odious room to another, walked in a no-man's-land of dangerous imaginations, pried into the secrets of my fallen nature.
I am utterly ashamed that I am what I am in myself; I have no green shoot in me nor fruit, but thorns and thistles; I am a fading leaf that the wind drives away; I live bare and barren as a winter tree, unprofitable, fit to be hewn down and burnt. Lord, do You have mercy on me?
You have struck a heavy blow at my pride, at the false god of self, and I lie in pieces before You. But You have given me another master and lord, Your Son, Jesus, and now my heart is turned towards holiness, my life speeds as an arrow from a bow towards complete obedience to You. Help me in all my doings to put down sin and to humble pride. Save me from the love of the world and the pride of life, from everything that is natural to fallen man, and let Christ's nature be seen in me day by day. Grant me grace to bear Your will without repining, and delight to be not only chiselled, squared, or fashioned, but separated from the old rock where I have been embedded so long, and lifted from the quarry to the upper air, where I may be built in Christ for ever." 

Also, in other unrelated news...WE ARE GETTING A PUPPY! Ben and I could not be more excited to add a little fur baby to our family of two. We were notified from the breeders we had chosen to go with a few days ago that a litter had been born...5 little girls and two boys. We will be able to pick up our little girl, who we will be naming Piper, on June 2nd. She is a cockapoo pup, a mix between a cocker spaniel and a poodle, and a whole lot of adorable. Cannot wait to share more with you and introduce our little Piper girl to you all very soon!



Happy Happy Monday!

BLOGLOVIN' // INSTAGRAM // TWITTER // PINTEREST // FACEBOOK 


A Harvest of Blessing

Submission in Marriage

I have said this a lot lately but I am going to say it again, I want to make sure that the way I am handling this blog never leads a reader to think, "Man, this girl has got it all together." I want this to be a place of honesty, because to be honest is to be vulnerable. So while this blog is not my journal by any means, I do want to be careful that I do not turn this space into a place for me create a false reality for myself.

So today, let's talk about submission in marriage. 

Most of us have all heard this verse, "Wives submit to your husbands, as to the Lord." Ephesians 5:22 I think that women often find themselves subconsciously resenting this verse. Many wives interpret this as the Lord saying we are lesser than the man. He is the king and we are the servant, submitting to his every command and wish. Can I tell you though, this is not what we are called to as wives. 

The Lord has placed the man in the role as the head. He is the leader, and the stronger one, but that is not why we submit to him. We submit to our husbands because they serve as an earthly picture of our Heavenly Father. We love, serve, submit, and care for our husbands because we have been redeemed by a gracious Savior and are called a child of God despite our own sinfulness. So we submit to our husbands as we would if our husband was Jesus Christ himself. That changes things doesn't it? We can no longer base our submission on our husband's performance, because we are sinners who have fallen short of the Lord's grace yet we still receive that grace...so we find ourselves longing to lovingly submit to the one who represents undeserved grace.

Since I am being honest here, this is so hard! I love being married to Ben. Marriage has been the greatest gift and blessing I have ever been given. Yet it has been the most sanctifying experience of my life! Submission was something I began to resent in the early months of our marriage. Who was my husband to tell me if I was gossiping, or having a bad attitude? Who was he to make me talk out our conflict when all I wanted to do was go to sleep?...well he is my established leader, my head, and he is called in that same passage in Ephesians to mirror Christ as He sanctifies his bride. So he is called to do those things by Jesus Christ. 

WOW. 

So I began to realize I had no right to not submit...If I wanted to walk in obedience with the Lord then I must, no matter what, submit to my husband. Even when I feel he doesn't deserve it. If I look for the Gospel in my marriage through the practice of submission this is what I find... I am a sinner, my husband is also a sinner. We are guaranteed to have conflict because of this fact. However, Jesus Christ loved me despite my constant sinfulness, and He calls me his own even when I don't deserve it. Jesus does not hold my wrongs over my head or silently punish me for my mistakes. Marriage is to be a picture to the world of unconditional love, love that is not based on emotion or who is right. So I am to submit to my husband not because I am lesser, or a servant, but because I want the Gospel to be seen in my marriage. I want our marriage to look more like my relationship with Jesus. 

So while there have been moments I have looked my husband in the eye and told him I did not want to submit to his leadership (true story), I am constantly reminded of the unrelenting love of our Father when Ben so graciously deals with my sin in love and tenderness. 



Marriage means sanctification. Sanctification means difficulty. Think about gold that must go through the fire in order that all impurities can be removed...so that the gold may be sanctified. Then in order for the fine metal to be transformed into precious jewelry, it must be bent, hammered, beaten even into the final product. So it goes with marriage. It is full of joy, and full of sanctification. I am thankful that the Lord is patient with his children and that he does not measure us by what we do right or wrong. His grace abounds.

Check out this other great read on marriage/submission- 5 Admirable Traits of an Early Church Marriage

Much Love,

Rachel

Inspiration for your Walls

Happiest of Mondays to you!! Our weekend was filled with sunshine, walks around town, visits from family, and yummy home-cooked meals! It was a great and restful weekend! We spent a long time cleaning yesterday, and I was reminded of what joy I find in taking care of our little home. I love this journey of creating a home with my husband. As you know, we live in an old Victorian home that has been split into apartments...so while we cannot paint the walls we can hang up anything our hearts desire. So, prints are a great way to bring meaning to any room for little cost and no damage to the apartment, and I just love that. I want our home and the decorations inside to reflect our family. I hope for them to reflect what we believe, what we are passionate about, and what matters most to us. Also, I want our home to be beautiful. This is not so I can brag about it or show it off, but rather so it makes people feel comfortable, at ease, and inspired when they step inside. 

We want people to feel more in love with Jesus when they look around at what is on our walls, and what fills up our home. Ben and I truly hope that even our material possessions reflect the glory of the Lord. Prints are a great way to do this. They are beautiful, inspirational, and most often they are handmade. You all know how I love handmade. So I wanted to round up some of my favorite prints for the home to share with you today. 






Source: Oh My Deer


Source: Lindsay Letters

I love all of these so much and would love to say I have them all in my home right now. Hopefully someday. These are some of my all time favorite artists when it comes to calligraphy, watercolor, and design. They make beautiful things with their talent and share their gifts with other through their artwork, what a beautiful thing. I hope you enjoy these prints, and go and give these artists some love. Some of these prints can even be downloaded for less than $20! What a great deal for a handwritten item! 

Make your walls happy, fill them with pretty papers, artwork, and words. 

Much Love,

Rachel



Inspiration for the kitchen lover

Pretty things make me happy. The kitchen is my favorite room in our house. So kitchens, with pretty things in them, seemed like a wonderful idea for an inspirational post. Here are my recent favorites when it comes to the ideal kitchen. Enjoy! 

classy kitchen
Image Source: Better Home & Garden

Teal + Copper. I may never own copper pots or pans, but there is never a time that I see them that I do not swoon. I love the rustic/cottage vibe they put off, and there are copper pots in Downton Abbey so of course I want them. :) Love the simplicity of this space. It is clean without looking cold, and organized without feeling like you cannot take your shoes off and be a messy cook!

white pitchers
Image Source: The Art of Doing Stuff

I love these pitchers. They are very aesthetically pleasing and just make the whole counter space look clean, which is always a good thing. 


free botanical prints
Image Source: Poppytalk

Botanical prints. I think these are just lovely and guess what? you can print them yourself at home FOR FREE! Follow the image source link and print these little babies, put them in frames above your cabinets or simply tape them to your fridge! 


colorful kitchen china
Image Source: Garimpando Frida

I am a color kind of gal. I love bright, I love bold, I love patterns. So mixing these plates and mugs is right up my alley. Love how illuminating it is to this little white shelf, just makes it all pop. 


cozy kitchen
Image Source: Hooked on Houses

I told Ben when I saw this image the other night, "Honey, this could be our kitchen one day, can't you just see kids running around in a kitchen like this?" I love this kitchen. It is livable. Don't get me wrong, I love all the gorgeous BHG kitchen images out there just like the next girl, but I want my house to be livable, inviting, and comfortable. I want my kids to feel free to mess things up, and guests to feel immediately welcomed and at ease...this kitchen seems to give off that feel. It just seems lived in, which is a great characteristic in my book. 


cottage kitchen
Image Source: Country Living

This one maybe not so much giving off the "lived in, mess me up" vibe, but still gorgeous just the same. I love the chunky woven baskets and the rustic wooden island. 

vintage soup cans
Image Source: Under the Sycamore

How adorable are these? They would be cute year round in any room of the house, but the kitchen just seems like the perfect place for vintage soup cans. 


modern simple kitchen
Image Source: Better Home & Garden

Simplicity is bliss. That is what comes to mind when I see this kitchen. I love the wine crate drawers, and subway tile backsplash. And oh the windows...one day I want a kitchen with gorgeously large windows. (gorgeously large? can I say that...hmm...I am gonna go with yes).

How would you describe your "kitchen style" what makes your heart happy? Check out my previous post "Kitchen Wishlist" for some fun handmade items to add to your kitchen! 

XOXO, 

Rachel

Our Love Story

I am so very excited about this post this morning. Today, Ben and I have been married 9 months. It is so joyous for me to reflect back on our journey and story together so I am eager to share it with you. I want nothing more than for this blog to be a source of encouragement and hope for my readers. I pray that as I share this story you will be encouraged by the way the Lord's good hand is always present in the lives of those He calls his children. 

So our love story...

I was a junior in college here at Mississippi State. I had just gone through a really really rough break up with a guy that I had been convinced was "the one" for me, but then he broke my heart and dumped me. So that happened the beginning of the fall semester, and I was trying to recover the rest of that semester. I was in a state of panic at some points about being single forever (dramatic I know, I was only 21 years old at the time), then I went through a season of searching. Every somewhat attractive, godly guy caught my eye, and I found myself thinking, "Is he the one?"...it was so tiresome, and defeating. I finally got to a point of surrender over Christmas break. I read two verses that really impacted my way of thinking when it came to being single...

"It is not for you to know the times and seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority." Acts 1:7

"The unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit." 1 Corinthians 7:34

These verses completely broke me of my desperation for a relationship. I saw for the first time, that singleness was a season to be embraced, and a season that is unlike marriage or parenthood because my focus could be solely on the Lord and growing. So I laid every desire I had for a relationship and marriage at the foot of the cross one night in my bedroom at home in Georgia over a Christmas break. (All of this is important, and will play into things further in the story.) 

So I came back to school for the spring semester, and felt refreshed. My roommates and I had attended the Passion Conference in Atlanta, GA over the break, and were really motivated to begin taking action for women trapped in sex trafficking as a result of what we learned at that conference. (I promise this is all relevant). We all loved running, and came up with the idea of organizing a campus wide 5k in order to raise money for a trafficking awareness/prevention agency. So we started spreading the word about the race anywhere and everywhere we could on campus. 

In February, there was a Greek worship service one night. All the fraternities and sororities were present. Part of the service was for a representative from every organization to come and share just a passage of scripture or what the Lord is teaching them. So I shared for my sorority, and also had the opportunity to share about the race we were doing. Little did I know, a guy named Ben Cox, who had been in the Christian fraternity, BYX, but had graduated, was sitting in the crowd. In his words, as he heard me share about what the Lord was teaching me he thought, "I knew I had to do whatever I could to get to know this girl". So after the service, we had a table outside for people to come and sign up for our 5k. Ben came to the table, and started talking to me about the race. It was super awkward, we never introduced ourselves, and when he left, I just kept thinking about how he had great/awkward eye contact, but had really pretty green eyes. 

Fast forward a couple days, I wanted to find out who that guy with the pretty eyes and intense eye contact was. I had no idea what his name was, so I started Facebook stalking. (confession...it is true). I somehow found him through mutual BYX friends, and sent him a friend request. (lame right?) He sent me a message a few days later, and after a handful of messages back and forth over the course of a week, we found ourselves in a coffee shop just the two of us, ready to get to know each other. 

A little coffee date, turned into a huge coffee date 3 hours after we got there and the coffee shop began to shut down for the night. So we had to go somewhere else. We landed at The Chapel of Memories on MSU's campus (this place became such a special spot for us, and was where Ben ultimately proposed), and continued talking for another 2 hours. I wish I could tell you all we talked about, but it was a lot and I can't remember it all now. Bottom line, we were on the same page with everything. I mean EVERYTHING. It was incredible to see how the Lord just intersected our life paths to meet and how similar we were. Up to this point I had not talked to Ben about specifics regarding a relationship or how I wanted it to go. But I had decided after my last break up I did not want to date again unless it was very very focused on marriage and intentional in a way that was very different than anything else I had seen in college. 

So after the coffee date, we went separate ways for the weekend, it was Easter break. We took the weekend to pray and ask the Lord for wisdom on our next steps. We didn't communicate with each other all weekend, but came back together Sunday night and talked again in the Chapel of Memories. Ben began to pour out his heart about his desire to pursue me in a relationship but in a way unlike most college students, he wanted it to be very focused on marriage, and intentional. He told me of how he had been in a relationship with a girl for a long time, and that he thought he was going to marry her but then the Lord called them apart about a year earlier. He had been devastated. He described to me the seasons he went through after that break up of being worried he would be single forever, searching out girls, and then finally surrendering to the Lord's plan for his singleness and finding contentment in that season (sound familiar?). He told me that he wanted us to be walking towards marriage unless the Lord interrupted and told us to walk away...I was literally blown away. I had not told him anything about my desires for a relationship and he literally articulated everything I had been praying for word for word. And so we began a relationship.



We didn't call each other boyfriend and girlfriend, we just said we were pursuing the Lord's will for us together. We did not use definite terms about the future, we just constantly were reminding ourselves and each other that ultimately the Lord's will would be accomplished and that his will would be made known to us in his timing. We did not hug, touch, hold hands, or literally anything for the first 2-3 months of our relationship. We wanted clear heads as we discussed things, and wanted to keep emotional and physical struggles at bay as long as possible. (Are you still reading? I know this is getting long...you are so great to be reading all this)



We spent time talking about my dreams to be a wife and mother, and Ben's calling to get his PhD in engineering. We talked about education for children, views on alcohol, music, television, and how we see fit to discipline children. We discussed our pasts, our sin patterns, and our deep struggles with each other. And a lot of times, we talked about less serious thing such as food, music, likes and dislikes, and our families. We spent so much time getting to know each other. We did begin to hold hands eventually and show affection to each other, but we reserved kissing for our wedding day. (that is a whole post in itself coming later this week)



About 3 and half months into our relationship we felt confident in the Lord's will for us as a couple. We moved from saying "If we get married", to "When we get married" and we did begin to use words like I love you. From the outside looking in our relationship was so different from what people are used to, but I can tell you first hand it was one of the most refreshing things I have ever experienced. We were engaged in August (read story here), and married 9 months later (see more pictures here, or here). Our love story is not just the story of how we met, but the story of the Lord's faithfulness in our lives to provide us each other after a periods of contentment and surrender. 








Marriage has been so blissful, and so hard at the same time. It is the most sanctifying experience I have ever had thus far in my life, and for those of you that know me well, you know I have had to walk through some very dark and trying times. I feel like a could write two or three separate posts on what I have learned from just 9 months of being married, and maybe I will, but that is just it...I am learning. And I will always be learning, so our love story is always continuing. I can say without a doubt I had no idea it was possible to love and care for someone that way that I do for Ben. And now that I am married I feel as if I am able to understand a whole new layer of the Gospel. As I sin, Ben still loves me and pursues me (and vice versa) just as Jesus Christ pursues us no matter what we do to sin against him. It is the most beautiful picture and reality. I pray I never get over it.








Thank you so much for reading about our story! I look forward to sharing more about other parts of our journey here in the future! and to Ben, Happy 9 months of marriage Sweetheart, I love you up to the moon and as big as the sky, and I wanna love you forever like that. 

XOXO,

Rachel