Our Secret To A Happy Marriage

This post is part of the Happy Wives Club Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! 


May 21, 2014 will mark our ninth wedding anniversary which by no means makes me an expert on the subject but in these nine years, we have had to overcome more hurdles than some couples may face in a lifetime. Infertility. Losing a daughter with a failed adoption placement. Six surgeries. Weeks of hospital stays. Countless treatments with no success. Disability at 31.

Many marriages do not withstand these challenges unfortunately. The divorce statistics in marriage dealing with chronic illness is 75%.


I am proud to say that while we have our struggles, our marriage is as solid as ever and I even got my husband to say “I do” again in September!

Want to know our secret to a happy marriage?


If God was not the center of our marriage, I’m not sure we would have been able to handle some of the things that have been thrown at us. The verse we used as the theme of our wedding was Ecclesiastes 4:12, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” God is our third strand.

I know what you may be thinking. The divorce rate among Christians is just as high as couple outside the church at a staggering 50%.

But there is a difference in having a belief in God and allowing Him to be the center and foundation of your marriage. Without God, I don’t think its possible to understand how to fully love someone else. Without experiencing the love and grace of our Creator, I would not know how to share that with another.

I don’t believe that love can fully be understood and experienced outside the context of God. God is love.

One of the most popular verses used during wedding ceremonies is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

I think in order to best comprehend the depth and meaning of this verse, we need to replace love with God: “God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. God does not dishonor other, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preservers. God never fails.”

With God as a foundation, we are able to strive to make each one of this facets of love a part of our marriage. I truly believe that it is when we grow closer to God, we are able to grow closer to one another. He is the top of our triangle. He is the third chord in our marriage. He is our foundation upon which we can build our marriage. When we look through this lens, we can see things in a whole new light.

I am not at all saying that I have the perfect marriage as it is made up of two imperfect people but we have a strong foundation and every day we strive to be more like Christ and love like Christ. When you do that, it changes things. It doesn’t make the challenges go away but knowing we are not going through it alone gives us the strength to get through it and the faith to know that God has a plan for our lives even when we don’t know what it is.


May 21, 2005


September 14, 2013

I may not know where the next nine years will take us but I know who will be beside me.


Fawn Weaver, the founder of the Happy Wives Club wrote a book about the best marriage secrets the world has to offer. They say the book is like “Eat, Pray, Love meets The 5 Love Languages.” To say that the book is inspiring would be an understatement. I felt so refreshed and encouraged and I know you will be too! You can grab a copy HERE.

A Cord Of Three Strands

I shared with you last week about my top secret project our surprise vow renewal and this weekend I received the pictures from my amazing photographer Mamie! I was bed bound most of the weekend so I worked on putting together a video slideshow to share our magical memories from the day! It is definitely an experience I will never forget! Having someone by your side to support you and fight for you when necessary is the best treatment for chronic illness on the market! I just cannot imagine doing this alone!

Some quick background on the song – It is “Time of My Life” by Mark Schultz. It has always been a favorite of ours as it seems to tell our story! My husband and I met his first weekend at college when he was 18 (I was 19) and while it wasn’t the front porch swing, it was the Decker swing (my dorm) where we spent hours talking and where our relationship blossomed. I completely felt like a princess on our wedding day and I cannot wait to grow old with John and be able to look back on our lives together! It is not a well known song so I wanted to give some background on why I chose it


Chronic illness cannot stop our love


I have absolutely no idea how I am going to chose favorites to have printed to hang up in the house! We are in the process of redoing our master bedroom and are doing a gallery wall with our wedding photos and these ones!

Which ones should I pick?

Surprise! We’re Married! Again!

Finally time to reveal my secret project!

Surprise! We are married…again!

As I have shared time and time again, I am blessed with the most amazing husband! He attends 98% of my doctors appointments and is my biggest advocate. When I spent three weeks in the hospital last summer, he spent every night next to me in one of those crappy hospital chairs (although by week 3, he brought in an air mattress!). I just cannot put into words how thankful I am for everything that he has done for me and all that he continues to do but I wanted to try.

We had been throwing around the idea of renewing our vows around of 10th anniversary but I didn’t want to wait that long. This past year has been extremely challenging between the emergency surgery and hellish recovery, countless doctors appointments and treatments, and disability and through it all John has been right there beside me. I tell him all the time what he means to me but I wanted to find a way to show him in a tangible way.

The idea popped into my head to arrange a surprise vow renewal and I just ran with it. I secretly started contacting family to find a date. The date we picked just so happened to be almost ten years to the day of when John asked my dad for my hand in marriage which was the night before my first surgery so it was a happy coincidence. Once the date was picked, I worked with the other church staff to help me with my plan and I enlisted the help of the youth girls to help get ideas and spread the word quietly to get other youth there.

I scoured Pinterest for ideas and Poshmark for a dress. While the whole purpose of the day was to show John exactly how much I love and appreciate him, a perk was getting to wear a pretty dress! I worked hard selling on Posh and eBay to try to cover expenses to keep the party as big a surprise as possible! I will admit that I did a pretty good job! Hidden all throughout the guest room where decorations, table wear, and ceremony outfits.

When the day arrived, I was an absolute bundle of nerves! I swung between wanting to cry and wanting to throw up. Thank goodness my mom was here to help! Well, most of the time she helped. We left home to go “shopping” leaving John at home with my dad. At this point, I think he knew something was up but wasn’t sure exactly what was going to take place. It was a beautiful fall day and I could not have asked for more perfect weather for an outdoor ceremony like we have always hoped for.

Abby had a birthday party to attend at the church so while she was having a ball helping capture the villain at her buddy’s superhero birthday bash, my mom and I worked feverishly getting everything organized for the ceremony. Once the birthday party was over, we had  less than 90 minutes to have all of the decorations up, reception prepared, and to get everyone dressed and in place before our music minister showed up with John. My hands have never shook so badly when trying to put on makeup! My practice with the rocker eye makeup tutorial came in handy!

With minutes to spare, we are in our places! When the car pulled up carrying John, Abby was waiting for him at the top of the stairs to escort him down to our church gazebo. Before starting down the stairs, she told him that there was a surprise for him and that he had t o hold her hand and close his eyes! Seeing her walk him down was one of  the most beautiful and amazing moments of my life that I will never, ever forget. It seemed like all of the trials and struggles we had encountered had come full circle and now I am able to see our beautiful daughter that we had prayed for holding the hand of my husband who is my perfect match in every way.

It was a beautiful and intimate ceremony and our pastor knew exactly what needed to be said and while it took me awhile to be able to get through my vows because of the tears, I was so glad to be able to tell John exactly how I felt and how thankful I am that God granted me such an amazing man to be my partner in life.

The ceremony was short and sweet and it was so fun being able to fellowship with our family, friends, and youth. We had the most amazing gluten-free wedding cake ever before John and I headed out of town and enjoyed a night away. It wasn’t anything big or fancy but just our ceremony, it was a very intimate time together. Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m not talking about THAT!

All in all, it was worth all the stress and the resulting flare. I could not have imagined the day going more perfectly! I can’t wait to see the professional pics! Here are a couple my mom was able to snap on her phone:Outdoor gazebo wedding vow renewal

Outdoor wedding vow renewal parasol picture

mom and daughter vow renewal outdoor picture

I will definitely post more pictures when I get them from my photographer! I can’t wait to relive our magical day!

8 Amazing Years!

I cannot believe that it has been eight years since I said “I do!” I am so incredibly lucky to have such an amazing husband, partner, best friend, and advocate!

Eight Wonderful Years of Marriage
When I was in college Donna Douglas (you may know her as Elly Mae Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies) came to speak at our weekly chapel service and she said, “Before you go get kissy-faced with some boy, you need to make a list of qualities that you want in a husband and pray over that list. Add what needs to be added and take away what needs to be taken away. God will bless you with an amazing partner when you follow Him.” I went back to my dorm room and created my list and John fulfills every quality that I was desiring in a husband and more. God is good and He is faithful!

When I walked down the aisle eight years ago, I had absolutely no idea what the future was going to hold but I was excited to be starting the journey with my best friend! It has been a wild ride and I doubt that will change but I look forward to every minute of it!


Creating a Spoonie Savings Plan – Review Your Spending

Developing a Working Budget by Hand
Let me just start off with a disclosure that I am far from a budget guru! I am a newbie and hoping to create a manageable budget as we consider disability. Hopefully as I research and share my journey,  you may be able to learn a thing or two as well!

As we are preparing to create a Spoonie Savings Plan for our family, the first thing I wanted to do was review our spending and see where our money was currently going. We no longer receive paper statements so I went online and printed off the last three months of transactions and grabbed a handful of highlights and went to work. Some banks may have the option to export the transaction data to a spreadsheet like Excel so that may be an option as well. I’m a paper-and-pen gal so I printed everything off.

I color coded all transactions by type – gas, groceries, eating out, etc – and created a simple spreadsheet so that I could tally the numbers by category and by month  and then I passed out.  What an eye-opening experience! After I regained my balance, of course.  It is amazing how quickly small purchases can add up. A soda and snack here. A couple of simple but unnecessary “bargains” there. At the time, it doesn’t seem like a big deal but it can really add up!

A 20 oz Coke at most gas stations is now $1.60 (with tax) and if you purchase one every day (I have a soda habit instead of a coffee habit), it equals $11.20 a week or $44.80 a month or $537.70 A YEAR! Holy smokes! 7 day passes at Disney for the 3 of us will be $846 so to think that giving up a daily Coke will cover over half of the ticket cost is CRAZY!

Then there are extra subscriptions we can consider cutting like Netflix ($7.99) and Spotify ($9.99). Cutting each of those would save an additional $215.76 a year – which would bring the savings total to $753.36 just by cutting out those three! I am floored that taking the time to review our spending could yield such results!

This was a general pass over our spending and the next step will be to dig in and go back through these reports and formulate workable numbers for our savings plan and see where else we can cut spending and still implement ways like couponing! I have totally been stalking the blog Couponing to Disney) to save for our Disney vacation! 326 days to go!


photo credit: kenteegardin via photopin cc