3 Things I’m Learning From 3 Years of Marriage

Just like life, marriage is a never-ending growing process. It is a humbling journey, making me a better person every day. In order to become a better person, though, it’s necessary to have the difficult conversations and hand over our flaws to God.

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In honor of Duncan and I celebrating our third wedding anniversary last week, I wanted to share 3 things I’ve been learning throughout our marriage the past 3 years (and I’m sure I’ll continue to learn and have to grow in).

  1. Expectations are so dangerous. I can’t tell you how often I’ve built up expectations in my mind and failed to communicate them to Duncan. Every single time it has led to frustration and disappointment, both of which were totally avoidable had I simply communicated. I can’t reiterate the importance of communication enough in any relationship, especially marriage.
  2. It is critical to humble ourselves and admit when we are wrong. I have a super hard time with this, because I hate being told I’m wrong… in school I never once missed turning in an assignment and never turned in an assignment or test with a blank space, because I did not want to leave any room for a teacher to get onto me. I got the best grades I possibly could, because I didn’t want to get a single question wrong. Yes, it is important to work our hardest on everything we do, but it becomes a problem when our motives aren’t right. And this has played into my marriage, in the form of me having trouble simply admitting when I am wrong and not wanting to apologize. God has been using Duncan, though, to open my eyes to the value of correction. We’re never going to grow without being stretched, corrected, and humbled.
  3. Live in the now, but never stop dreaming together. Happiness is something you have to choose NOW (not, “Things will be so much better in 3 years when my husband is finished with school,” or “We’ll be so much happier when we live in our dream location”). This is something I fall prey to, but life is so, so much better when we choose happiness now. With that being said, it’s crucial to never stop dreaming, either. Some of my favorite conversations with Duncan are about our top 3 destinations we’d want to live, where our current dream vacation would be, how many children we want to have, etc. It is the best being married to someone who challenges you to be happy (truly joyful) now, but who is also willing to dream big with you.

Thank you, Dunc, for 3 wonderful year of companionship, teamwork, and growing together!

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Always and forever,

Alex

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Dating When Time & Money are Sparse

We can probably all agree, whether you’re married or not, dating is fun and exciting. Once you get married, I believe continuing to date your spouse is super important and honestly still just as fun (if not more fun), because you know the person so well and are becoming closer every day.

Since Duncan started medical school, our lives have changed and he’s definitely busier than he used to be. We also have our baby girl, who takes a lot of my time and attention (not that I don’t love it, because I totally do!); these drastic changes combined have made a big difference in how much time and money we have… BUT despite all of that, dating each other is more important than ever and honestly more cherished. Our marriage is super high priority, no matter what season of life we are in, and we want to treat it that way/nurture it by spending intentional quality time together.

Most of our dates are simple and really affordable (and include our favorite little third wheel)! We love going to the parks near our house; there are a couple within 5 minutes, and Lively loves them, too! We just got an attachment for our bikes, so Lively will be able to ride with us… it’s a win/win… exercise and quality time all at the same time! We also love icees, snow cones/shaved ice, and Sonic drinks, so runs to go get one of those are high up on our list of favorite things to do. Another one of our favorites is watching TV series together on Netflix… we always have a show we are watching together; if you ever need a list of shows you should watch on Netflix, I’m pretty sure we’ve got you covered, haha. We love to go to the store and get steaks, too, for Duncan to grill at home (probably even more than we love going out to eat!).

We live close to Memphis, so when we have a little more time, we like to go into the city and find different things to do there, whether it’s trying new restaurants, walking around outdoor shopping areas, visiting the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid, etc.

Really, whatever we’re doing, it’s nice to have time to talk with no distractions. We both enjoy talking about our hopes and dreams, places we’d want to live someday, destinations we want to visit… just continuing to get to know each other better, despite the chaos of daily life.

I’d love to hear some of your favorite date ideas!

Here are some pictures from some of my favorite dates from over the years:

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Dinner date on our honeymoon in Naples, FL

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Dinner date at Nakato’s for our 6 month anniversary of being married (it’s the restaurant we ate at the night we got engaged)

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Weekend getaway Duncan planned (to literally the middle of nowhere, haha)

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Chick fil A run for frosted lemonades

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Weekend getaway at Big Cedar Lodge

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Icee run after we found out Lively’s gender (we sent this to our friends and family asking if they thought we were having a boy or girl- blue or pink)

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Best snow cones in Memphis!

 

Always and forever,

Alex

 

Date Night

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*Picture from our date night at the fair!*

New seasons can be intimidating and change can be scary. Before Duncan began medical school, countless people told us how much our marriage would change and how difficult it would be. It was really discouraging to hear and made me terrified Duncan would never have time for me.

Instead of allowing the fear to cripple us and the change to create distance between us, it has actually brought us closer. One of my favorite things about Duncan is how intentional he is with communication. He sets aside time every day when he gets home to talk distraction-free about both of our days. We also have made sure we set aside time for a date night each week, no matter how stressful or busy the week is, because our marriage is high priority and time together is our favorite!

Last week the NEA Fair was in town, so we spent our date night at the fair! Even though we couldn’t ride any of the rides (they’re not really made for women who are 38 weeks pregnant), it was so much fun spending time together laughing and walking around… we walked probably 7 laps around the fair for a grand total of 3 miles (apparently Lively didn’t want to be “walked out”). We also enjoyed sharing a refreshing frozen lemonade, playing fair games, visiting the petting zoo, and watching other people ride the assortment of rides.

It’s the absolute best being married to your best friend. Of course, no one will ever be perfect, and we cannot fulfill each other, because only God can; however, it is so encouraging doing life with with my best friend and walking through new seasons side by side.

Side note: our precious daughter will be here a week from today at the latest! We cannot wait to meet her and become parents!

 

Always and forever,

Alex

A Month of Memories

This week marks one month of living in Jonesboro. Time is a funny thing… it feels like we just left Branson and like we’ve been here for months, all at the same time. It’s been tough being away from our friends, family, and the town we grew up in, but it’s been a month of growth, new experiences, and big changes.

It has been so humbling to watch Duncan begin his journey through medical school. Duncan and I have been praying for this opportunity for years, and it’s so cool watching God open doors and helping us overcome obstacles.

I’m adjusting to Duncan’s busy school schedule and all of the studying required, spending lots of quality time with Cannon, and cherishing Duncan’s and my weekly date nights. Honestly, Duncan’s been amazing about keeping me informed on what he is learning and not letting me feel alone. I cannot say thank you enough for the way he intentionally tells me about his day and asks me about mine. There’s no one else I’d rather go through all these crazy changes with.

It would be easy to be negative and discouraged amidst these new challenges and this drastic change of pace; however, I’m choosing to seek the Lord and what He is going to teach me in this season. I’m choosing to treasure the good memories we are making and learn from the obstacles. Below are some of my favorite memories from this first month:

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I love making new friends. It’s such a blessing spending time with wives of some of the medical school students Duncan goes to school with, who are walking through the same new season as we are.

IMG_0134Our date day to Memphis was one of my favorites!

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We loved having Duncan’s family come visit us for his White Coat Ceremony!

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We went to Memphis for an evening with the Porters, exploring the city and even going on a horse-drawn carriage ride!

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I love my quality time with Cannon! We go on walks every morning and basically spend all day every day together. He’s such a good buddy.

Not every day is easy, but I will continue to focus on the good. We’re taking things one day at a time and are not taking a single day for granted. Our Father has never failed us, and I know He won’t start now. There is always something to be thankful for, and perspective is everything. This month we’ve laughed more and harder than ever before. I’m grateful for this unforgettable first month of memories!

 

Always & forever,

Alex

Little Life Updates

Since I last posted several months ago, Duncan’s and my lives have changed pretty drastically. We graduated from College of the Ozarks, found out we are having a daughter this fall, bought a house, and moved to Arkansas for Duncan to begin medical school.

In the midst of finding out about all the transition to come, I couldn’t bring myself to blog. I could hardly process through all the upcoming changes and needed time to start working through all of it before I could even think about blogging.

Up until the middle of December, we were planning on moving to the Caribbean for Duncan to start medical school there; we’d sold my car and packed up our entire house. Then, two weeks before we were supposed to move, Duncan was accepted into a school here in the States. After seeking the wisdom of various friends, family members, and physicians, we made the decision to stay in the States for Duncan’s schooling. Even though I understood it was probably the smarter decision for us, I struggled with the last-minute switch. I’d prepared myself for the island life and had a difficult time getting past the “glamorous” and “adventurous” life I thought I’d be missing out on. The Caribbean sounded exciting and new, while Arkansas was a place I’d told myself I never wanted to live… it’s shallow, I know, but I didn’t want my first “big move” to be to Arkansas.

My attitude was something I had to give up to God and wrestle through with His help. I can’t follow God wholeheartedly and allow Him to grow/mold me when I’m constantly getting caught up in my selfish “dream” desires and comparing my life to the lives of others. I’m realizing it’s not living in a breathtaking place that’ll make me happy, nor anything else circumstantial; rather, joy and contentment are based on seeking the Lord, allowing Him to shape me, and embracing where He has me.

A few months ago we bought a house in Arkansas. We came down one day, and by the end of the day we knew which house we wanted to put an offer on. By God’s grace, the house was ours just about a month later!

Despite the fact we’re only four hours away from Branson, the process of moving has been more challenging than I expected. We’re constantly learning new things every day, and I’m working on taking it one day at a time. We’re discovering what is involved in buying a home, moving to a new state, figuring out insurance, delving into the world of school loans… and a myriad of other things. In the midst all the big unknowns, I’m trying to see everything as a learning experience and not stress out.

We officially moved down here three days ago and are enjoying getting settled in.. making our house a home! I love hanging up our decorations on the walls and making our home cozy, getting to know the town better, and spending as much time as possible with Duncan before his classes begin. It’s hard not seeing our families on a daily basis, but we’re beyond thankful for their endless support. It’s hard to believe that (God-willing) our daughter will be here in a short couple of months, adding to our little family!

With all of this being said, I’m ready to embark on my blogging journey again! I want to keep everyone posted on our new adventure, share what we’re learning, and hopefully encourage some of you along the way! I’m learning to boast about my weaknesses and give them over to my Savior, so His power can be made perfect and my strength truly comes from Him (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

I’ll be posting about our house, pregnancy, motherhood, life being married to my medical school student, and more :).

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Coffee at Shadrach’s (the BEST local coffee shop) before our moving crew headed back to Branson!

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With my sister on the front porch of our new house!

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In front of our new home!

 

Always and forever,

Alex

The Ultimate Friendship

“There is no more lovely, friendly or charming relationship, communion or company, than a good marriage.” 

―Martin Luther

I have been overjoyed the past seventeen months of marriage and cannot help but overflow with thankfulness. Marriage honestly gets better each day, as Duncan and I grow closer to the Lord and each other.  Yes, some days are better than others and we have disagreements, but it is the most amazing experience being fully known and loved by another person.

Duncan and I often tell people that the best part of marriage is having the ultimate best friend. There truly is nothing else like the companionship of your spouse.  Duncan is the first person I see when I wake up, the person I spend the most time with, the person I end the day with, and the one I want to tell everything.  I love having no secrets, being totally myself, being goofy together, and laughing together.  My absolute favorite thing is laughing uncontrollably together.  I love knowing Duncan so fully and getting to experience his joy and the enjoyment he brings to every part of life.

A Christ-centered marriage is such a beautiful and comforting place: a place of no judgment, with an abundance of honesty, humility, companionship, and challenging/bettering one another.  No matter where we are or what we are doing, together is always the best place to be!  I couldn’t agree with Martin Luther more.

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Exploring Chicago together!

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There’s no one I’d rather share everything with (even though I’m not always the best at sharing).

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The Missouri State Fair

Always & Forever,

Alex

The Gift of Marriage

I have spoken many times of my sincere gratitude for God’s gift of marriage.  I cannot get over how cool it is that God created marriage as a picture of His love for us.

Over and over again in the Word, God refers to the church as the bride of Christ.  He gives us examples based on that relationship as to how we are to live out our marriages. Ephesians 5:21-33 speaks to how godly marriages should function and the relationship the husband and wife should live out.  Wives are told to “submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church.”  Husbands are told to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.  He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.”  The chapter ends by saying, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.  This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.  So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

This is just one segment of the Bible that talks about God’s plans for marriage.  It is so evident that marriage is created by God as a gift, to be a picture of his pure and all-consuming love for us.  In Genesis chapter 2, it talks about how God made woman from one of Adam’s ribs.  Verse 24 reads, “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”

Marriage is God’s beautiful creation!  We are human, though, and, therefore, are born sinners.  Marriage is not always easy; we know God’s commands by reading His Word, but we do not always listen.  Proverbs 31 describes a godly wife: “Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”  Later on in chapter 31, verse 26 states, “When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.  She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.”

I am not perfect, and I am definitely not a flawless wife. I will be the first to admit that I do not always enrich Duncan’s life.  I can be demanding, I can nag, I do not always speak kind words, and I can be very lazy (the list could keep going on).  But as a follower of Jesus Christ, I am called to turn from this sin.  James 4:17 reminds us that “it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”  When God tells us how we are to live (which He does through His Word) and we do not live that way, it is sin.

God created the gift of marriage.  Duncan and I have been married for a little over a year, and I can testify to the greatness of God’s gift.  Marriage is a lovely symbol of God’s love for us, when we follow Him and let His Truth transform our lives.  We choose daily to read the Word as our guidance and source of truth, because He is the creator of all good things, including marriage.

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Always & Forever,

Alex

{Cruise}ing into Our 2nd Year of Marriage

It has been way too long since I have made an update!  It was a crazy semester, but we are now finally on our last summer break as students!

We recently celebrated our 1-year anniversary (on May 18), and to celebrate, we went on a Caribbean cruise!  I thought I would share some of the highlights from our trip:

First Cruise DayBoarding the ship in Galveston!

Ship (Carnival Freedom)

Jamaica 1First stop: Jamaica! Neither of us had ever been to Jamaica before, and it was so much fun being able to experience together.

Jamaica 2The water in Jamaica was perfectly clear.  Duncan loved the snorkeling!

Cayman Islands 1Second stop: Grand Cayman. Another fun, new destination!

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CozumelFinal stop: Cozumel!  We had a wonderful day at Paradise Beach, snorkeling, paddle boarding, and enjoying the sunshine.

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Cards and viewWe loved relaxing, playing cards, & admiring the view.

Cruise DinnersYes…. we took nightly mirror pictures before dinner.  We loved our dinner waiter and the friends we made!

Dive in movieAnd probably our favorite part of each day: the dive-in movies every night!  We laughed, we cried, and enjoyed the ocean breeze.

What an incredible first year of marriage it was, and the perfect culmination. God is so good, and marriage is the sweetest gift!

Always & Forever,

Alex

The Little Things in Life

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2015 is bound to be a year of lots of life-changing firsts! Duncan and I celebrated our first New Year’s as a married couple, we will celebrate our first full year of marriage, we will graduate from college, and do/see whatever else God has in store for us this year. Even more than these large events, though, I value and look forward to simply living daily life with the man I love. Each day together is an adventure, in which we are able to grow closer to one another and our God. I want to focus on the positives in life instead of complaints, so here are some of the little things that I appreciate and treasure:

  • Being able to cook and care for my husband. I love planning out healthy meals, trying new recipes, and organizing my very own kitchen. Duncan has been so supportive of the different meals I have made and has adjusted well to the whole grains, cauliflower macaroni and cheese, and the wide assortment of other health substitutions I have tried.
  • I’m thankful for a husband who actively seeks the Lord. One of the highlights of each day is toward the end when Duncan and I do our nightly devotional together. It is such a sweet reminder of our purpose in life and how to keep our marriage healthy and prioritized. I’m also grateful that he cares enough about me to challenge me and point me toward our Lord. Just the other day I was trying to make a decision, and I was completely humbled when Duncan had asked me if I’d prayed about it. I hadn’t, and although I like to plan things out and be right, I would way rather be talking through each decision with the Lord and following His guidance. It takes a true man of God to lead by example and care enough about his wife to encourage her in her walk with God.
  • Finally, I am thankful for the friends and family who so generously bless our marriage and endlessly pour into us. The Lord has used those around us to make marriage possible for this stage in our lives, through infinite support, encouragement, and love. We would not be where we are today without our loved ones, and we never want to take that for granted. Whether it is watching our favorite Netflix series together, going to our siblings’ sporting events, spending time with our puppy, serving as Character Camp parents, or any other activity, we are immeasurably blessed and humbled by the people in our lives.

As we continue in this year, I look forward to all of the major life events that are quickly nearing. But I never want to take for granted the little things in our everyday life that our Father has so generously lavished upon us. May we cherish every moment and every person we cross paths with.

Always & Forever,

Alex

Celebrating 6 Months of Marriage!

“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” 

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I can hardly believe that it has been 6 months since we became husband and wife! On the one hand, it has flown by, but then again, it feels like we have been enjoying marriage for years and years. It has been the most wonderful beginning of our lives together, full of growth, laughter, and joy. God is constantly molding and transforming both of us, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! To celebrate these 6 months together and in honor of Thanksgiving coming up, I want to elaborate on 6 things I LOVE about my husband:

            1) Duncan so genuinely loves the Lord. He is fully dependent on our Savior, and walks so in tune with Him. He realizes the areas the Lord has given Him as strengths, as well as his weaknesses in which the power of Christ can work through him. He has taught me so much over the years about being fully open and honest before the Lord, and the beauty of constantly being in communication with Him. When I start to become anxious and can’t seem to wait any longer to see what the Lord has in store for our future, Duncan points me to our Heavenly Father, who already knows what all of our days hold and who has the most perfect plan.

            2) Duncan is dedicated and passionate. I have never seen someone who stays so on track with what he is doing. If there is something he is working on, he does not leave it unfinished. He is all there in whatever he is does, and you can trust that he will learn everything fully and thoroughly. These are the qualities of a successful, reliable person.

            3) Duncan is kind and patient. He is constantly covering me with kindness that I do not deserve. He loves me so well, and second to Christ’s love, it is the deepest and most sincere, selfless love. He does not speak angrily or get frustrated with me, rather approaches everything calmly and is quick to forgive. He is kind to everyone, which makes him stand out and radiate with the love of Jesus.

            4) Duncan is incredibly fun to be around. He has changed my life so greatly, and makes every day new and fun. He enjoys the little things, and always knows how to make people laugh. He has made me appreciate life so much more, and has filled my life with endless laughter. Whether it is watching TV series together, working together, or spending every day of summer together at the lake fishing, life is simply more fun together.

            5) Duncan dreams big. I love that he does not settle or give up easily. He has big goals, along with the determination, boldness, and perseverance to make them happen. All of his goals involve helping others, which reveals even more his true love for Christ and for others. I am so thankful to be a part of his life and know that whatever the Lord has in store for him will be beyond our wildest dreams.

            6) Duncan is servant hearted and bold. Duncan is constantly thinking of others and actively serving them. He is so in tune with the needs of others and never misses an opportunity to serve someone. He does so much for me, and I am so undeserving. Every morning he makes sure my backpack, lunch, and breakfast are together and easy for me to grab as I run out the door. He always makes sure that Kya (our puppy) is completely taken care of and given the love and attention she needs, even in the midst of his busy schedule.

Duncan is my best friend and has helped to make our marriage so fun and beautiful. The Lord created this man, and deserves all of the praise. I am enjoying where we are at and look forward to the future together. I’m humbled and overflowing with thankfulness.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.”             -Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Always & Forever,

Alex