engagement

Engagement Journal

Happy Weekend to you all! I do not normally post on the weekends however, Jana over at Life Could Be A Dream allowed to to take over her blog today! I have LOVED following Jana's blog. She is bold, and has the best advice for new-ish bloggers like me! So all that to say, I am honored and so excited to be guest posting over at Jana's blog today. 

Ever heard of an Engagement Journal? Go check out my thoughts on keeping one, and read a few excerpts from our own journal! 




Much Love,

Rachel



5 Books for Engagement & Marriage

Marriage is a big deal. I think we would all agree with this statement but when you find yourself with a pretty diamond ring on your finger, months away from pledging your life to one man forever and ever amen, it becomes a lot more serious. When Ben and I got engaged we wanted to maximize on the time we had before our wedding to prepare as best we could for the marriage we were entering into. The wedding needs to be planned for as well of course, but we wanted to make sure we were giving equal attention to our marriage. That is what the whole wedding is about anyways right? So to start learning and preparing we bought several books.


I love to read, it has always been an enjoyable hobby for me. However, my husband does not love to read like I do. He enjoys it but does not LOVE it like I do. With that being said I do think he would recommend all of these books, or at least the ones he has read. These books have been so influential in our marriage and helped us TREMENDOUSLY during engagement. 



Each of these books can be found for very reasonable prices on Amazon, and are so worth getting and reading over and over. I wanted to include a few of my favorite quotes from each book below.
"God gives you Christ as the foundation of your marriage. 'Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.' (Romans 15:7)...Don't insist on your rights, don't blame each other, don't judge and condemn each other, don't find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Meaning of Marriage)

"The key question is this: Will we approach marriage from a God-centered view or a men-centered view? In a man-centered view, we will maintain our marriage as long as our earthly comforts, desires and expectations are met. In a God-centered view, we preserve our marriage because it brings glory to God and points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator." -Gary Thomas (Sacred Marriage)


"Do you know God as a God of mercy? Do you see your spouse as God sees him or her--through eyes of mercy? If the answer to either question is no, it is unlikely that your marriage is sweet. Mercy sweetens marriage. Where it is absent, two people flog one other over everything from failure to fix the faucet to phone bills. But where is is present, marriage grows sweeter and more delightful, even in the face of challenges, setbacks, and persistent effects of our remaining sin." -Dave Harvey (When Sinners say I Do)
"Whether we are husband or wife, we are not to live for ourselves but for the other. And that is the hardest yet single most important function of being a husband or wife in marriage." Timothy Keller (The Meaning of Marriage)

These are powerful books that will equip you for marriage. Will you be ready for everything? Will you suddenly become perfect and no longer a selfish sinner? Absolutely not. However, you will understand what the Bible says about marriage and how to love and serve your spouse well. You will learn how to strive to be a better picture to a sinful world of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Marriage shows the world relentless love. 

So while weddings are so much fun. Remember to take time to invest in your future or current marriage. 

Did you know that even everything that goes into a wedding is about Jesus also? Think about it. The excitement of the bride for her special day...this is a picture to the whole world of our anticipation for our Bridegrooms return. We are to eagerly await the coming back of Christ, just as a bride is eager to walk down the aisle on her wedding day. 

The entire wedding day celebration is to picture the marriage feast with the lamb once Christ returns...our weddings are just a little taste of the joyous occasion of that day that is coming. Pretty cool? Revelation 19 talks about how exciting that day will be when the bride has made herself ready for her bridegroom. So while the world tells us our weddings, engagements, and marriage are all about us, and our decision and happiness, remember that is not entirely true. Engagement, the wedding, and most importantly marriage point beyond itself to something far greater. It points to Jesus, the Gospel and his return. 

May we not forget these things and strive to be lights of Jesus in this world through our marriages! 

P.S. Speaking of great reads, my precious friend Amy over at Lovely Does It is having a book giveaway! Hop over and enter for your chance to win a free book!! 

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