[Guest post by Alicia Gill: I’m usually one to be pretty direct and honest; I have trouble holding in sour emotions. In this post, Alicia’s Sunday school student gives a great example of being transparent, letting it out, and “getting naked.”] “Two are better than …
Why I chose to marry young
I chose to marry young — at 19, to be exact.
As some of you may know, I am still pretty young – 22, to be exact.
There’s that Taylor Swift song “22,” but I don’t relate to it at all because I’m married and have been for 2 and a half years. I don’t know if you’ve heard that song, but here are a couple quick quotes:Everything will be alright If we just keep dancing like we’re 22
It feels like one of those nights We won’t be sleeping
Nope, does not describe my life at 22 at all.
I do not dance anywhere, except I did dance at my wedding.
And YES, I will be sleeping because I have things to do tomorrow! Every day I have things to do!
I’m not complaing in any way. I love my life! I just think it’s comical how different my life is from this Taylor Swift song and actually, most of my peers’ lives.
When I wrote about How God Changed the Course of My life Completely, I told you about how supportive my now-husband Brandon was (and still is) and how we met.
But what I didn’t tell you then was how big of a role following my heart played.
Brandon and I have a fairy tale love story – with some major kinks thrown in.
We had a lot of opposition going up against us the whole time we were dating.
For one, I was in a horrible place mentally and physically in the beginning. I talked about this in that post I mentioned, but it really was a struggle. My mom knew that Brandon was the one for me because of how he stuck by me through it all.
I mean, I was in the mental health unit at the hospital (more than once) and he stayed with me. He supported me. He showed me love. I know that I was not able to show him the same kind of love at that time, just because I was going through so much.
And it was a shock to everyone around us when we started dating because Brandon is 7 and a half years older than me.
But we got through all that stuff. I got better. Things were going great, and we were happy.
Then Brandon decided to join the Navy.
At first, we didn’t even consider getting married before his boot camp. But as we went through his recruitment process, marriage actually seemed like a pretty good idea.
I knew I loved Brandon and wanted to be with him forever. He said he always knew that I was “the one.”
It soon became clear that we did want to get married before Brandon would leave for basic training.
But I was so nervous about what my parents would say.
I felt like they would disapprove, because I was only 19 after all. Now-a-days, that is young.
It wasn’t like getting married so young was in their (or my) plans for my future.
I worked up the courage to talk to my mom about it first, and she eased my dad into the idea. They were accepting, more than I thought they would be. They supported us.
Brandon formally asked my dad for my hand in marriage in June, and a few days later he proposed to me. In November, we said our vows at my childhood church.
My mom said she felt the presence of Jesus so strongly during the ceremony.
We’ve been married 2 and a half years now, and things are working out for us. We’re happy. I see how God had these plans for me, and there’s no doubt in my mind that I was always supposed to be with Brandon.
I followed my heart and ended up with a great man. But getting married at a young age is not for everyone. Honestly, everyone’s situation will be different. When you find your mate is up to God.
I still get surprised reactions when people find out I’m 22 and married, let alone that I have been married for almost 3 years now. That’s okay, but I wish there wasn’t so much judgment.
It’s not just people who marry young – I know those who wait until their later 20’s or 30’s are judged too.
Bottom line is that everyone has a different path; Let’s get over expectations.
[Guest Post by Ashleigh Slater – I always appreciate returning the favor when a fellow author lets me share about my book on her blog. This is Ashleigh’s first book entitled Team Us. I appreciate her sharing wisdom on 4 steps to practice patience with …
[Guest Post by Kay Warren – When I attended the Mental Health and the Church Conference at Saddleback Church, I was inspired by Kay’s story. She has learned to choose joy through sorrowful circumstances. If, like Kay, you find yourself in mourning or grief — I hope you are encouraged today because of Jesus!]
Sisters, Jesus was a man of joy. He was a man of joy!
He showed it in his attitude; he drew crowds who couldn’t get enough of him. He showed it in his words; he was a master communicator who impacted those who listened to him in person two thousand years ago, and he impacts us today.
He showed joy in his actions; he treated people with good humor and patient understanding of their human foibles, and he was skillful in bringing them to the spiritual realizations they needed.
His joyful essence was evidenced particularly in the way he interacted with his disciples. He spent three years with them, day in and day out. He did not spend those three with them as a lecturer on the speaking circuit who used them to organize his comings and goings: “Okay, let’s go over the agenda. Who will be taking care of the donkey this afternoon? Oh, and make sure the people know that I’m coming.”
He didn’t relate as a distant professor who made them sit still while he instilled: “Now, I have three points I want to make today, and I’ll be testing you later. Is everybody writing down what I’m saying?”
No, Jesus lived his life with them.
They saw him when he was sweaty and stinky from a long walk from village to village. They knew when his stomach growled from hunger pains. They probably heard him pass gas and burp a few dozen times. I’m not saying that to be sensational; I really believe it.
Jesus spent nearly every waking—and sleeping hour—with these twelve men for three years. How could they not really know each other? I’m sure Jesus and his friends shared many private jokes, funny stories, and poignant memories, which happens only when people spend intentional time together.
I am convinced they laughed till their sides hurt at every opportunity. He loved them and invested in their lives as individuals. I think he probably knew the names of their family members for a couple of generations back; he knew the beauty and dysfunction that created each one of them. He believed in them, ultimately entrusting them with his gospel message of a joyous relationship with God. As his time on earth drew to a close, they were the ones he wanted near him—these friends who had become brothers.
Why does it matter that Jesus was a man of joy?
It matters so much more than you might have ever realized! Some of you may need permission to seek a life of joy for yourself. The burden of grief that you carry, the health issues, the relational pain, the financial questions, the internal struggles and temptations no one else knows about—sometimes all of that weighs you down so much that you give up on the idea of joy.
At times I have felt I could identify with the title given to Jesus in Isaiah; I could call myself “Kay Warren, woman of sorrows.” Perhaps that title fits you today as well, and you could ﬁll in your name too.
Many of us need permission to recognize sorrow but go beyond it and still choose a life of joy.
Yes, Jesus suffered, but we can’t stop there. We can’t let that truth dominate how we act and how we speak about him. There was a reason why Jesus chose to endure all that he did. There was a reason why he allowed himself to be bloodied and beaten and tortured.
Hebrews 12:2 gives us an insider, behind-the-scenes look at why Jesus allowed all of that to happen: “who for the joy set before him endured the cross.”
But what was the joy that was set before him?
What joy was so rich, so satisfying, so deep that he was willing to suffer such terrible abuse? You were the joy set before him! I was the joy set before him!
He suffered so he could be reconciled with you.
When people spat at him, his disciples left him, and everyone mocked him, he was thinking of the joy. When he was flogged, when that cruel crown of thorns was jammed on his head, and when he hung on the cross, he got through it because he was holding on to the joy of presenting us to God.
Here she is, Father; I brought her back to you.
The joy of restoring the broken relationship, of living with me and you forever . . . that was the joy set before him, that was the joy that kept him nailed to the cross.
Jesus knew that for him to fulfill his God-given role here on earth, he would have to experience abandonment, betrayal, torture, and death. Yet knowing full well what was ahead of him, he chose to laugh, to tell jokes, to roll around on the ground with children, to build rich relationships, to have meaningful work, to experience joy.
Jesus’s life is an illustration of the two train tracks converging into one. He shows us how to see joy, a joy that sometimes comes in darkness. And for that joy he endured the greatest suffering anyone has known.
This is what Jesus’s life tells me: It is possible to experience enormous burdens, pain, and struggles—the weight of the world on our frail shoulders—and still experience joy.
Jesus’s life reminds me that joy is possible no matter what.
His life gives me permission to seek a life of joy for myself even in a world of sorrow.
Kay Warren cofounded Saddleback Church with her husband Rick Warren in Lake Forest, California. She is a passionate Bible teacher and respected advocate for those infected with and affected by HIV and AIDS, as well as orphaned and vulnerable children. She founded Saddleback’s HIV/AIDS Initiative. Kay is the author of Say Yes to God and coauthor ofFoundations, the popular systematic theology course used by churches worldwide. She has three children and five grandchildren. Learn more at www.kaywarren.com and follow her on Facebook (Kay Warren) and Twitter (@KayWarren1).
[Excerpt taken from Choose Joy by Kay Warren, published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2012. Used by permission. All rights to this material are reserved. Material is not to be reproduced, scanned, copied, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.]
[Guest Post by Nicole Unice – We go way back to before the days we were published authors. We met at Story Conference in Chicago, IL — and it’s my pleasure to spread the word about her newest book entitled Start Here: Beginning a Relationship With Jesus. May you be encouraged wherever you are on the journey, that it’s never too late to start, and restart!]
It was late on a Saturday night and we were sitting at a bar.
There were six of us crowded around, and conversation drifted, the men talking among themselves while the women turned to the normal topics, of marriage and mothering and work. And then she turned to me pointedly and told me about a recent conversation with her kids, about monkeys and people and evolution, and she confessed that she didn’t get it. And maybe it was because of the wine or the time of night, but she spit it out.
“If the museum display says we come from monkeys, then who the (bleep) are Adam and Eve?”
That conversation is just one of many I’ve had in my ministry life, over French fries with middle school girls, over coffee with college students, and even over the crowded noise of a bar. As human beings, we’ve all been wired to pursue purpose, to satisfy the inner ache in us that wants to find real, true, full life.
And I’ve become convinced that everyone has questions, no matter how far they may seem from finding God.
Even if you’ve been following Jesus for years, we can find ourselves asking some of the same questions—who are we?
How did we get here?
What gives life meaning?
It’s in these questions that we can find a common language with our friends who don’t yet know Jesus. It’s in the yearning of our own hearts that we find passion to help others find their way.
I have a friend who once taught that faith is like a treadmill. We all get on the treadmill and can be moving at different speeds and distances—but no matter where we are on the treadmill, at one point, we all have to hit the “start” button.
As believers in Christ, we’ve all hit the start button—crossed over from death to life.
Some of our friends might be standing on the treadmill but need to be encouraged to start. Hitting the start means going from nothing to something—even if we doubt, even if we have questions, even if we aren’t 100% sure—we can still hit “start”.
After Jesus had a conversation with a Samaritan woman about the water—and life—she was thirsty for, she immediately went back to her town to tell everyone she knew about meeting Jesus.
Did she have it all figured out?
Would she have called herself a “Christian”?
I have no idea—but I do know what the Bible says—“many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39). Before she even knew what was happening, she had hit the start button, because she started talking to Jesus and started talking about Jesus.
We can encourage our friends that they don’t have to have it all figured out before they join our bible study, come to church, or start praying. They can just hit start and we can trust that Christ will meet them there.
My friend who wanted to talk evolution on that Saturday night is still seeking. And I hope I’ll be one who can help her press start, trusting that God is the author of our hearts and our faith, and He is always working to draw us to Himself.
Nicole Unice is on the ministry staff at Hope Church and co-author of Start Here: Beginning a Relationship with Jesus. Find out more at http://nicoleunice.com or http://StartHereBook.com.