When You Marry Young

When you’re a young bride like I was, you get a pretty large dose of concerned advice about how you’re too young to be getting married.  You’re told that you don’t know who you are yet, and that you haven’t experienced enough of the world.  As that young bride, you defend your decision fervently.  You believe that you’re just more mature than the rest of the world, and that you already know who you are. 

The truth is, however, that those people were right.  I was very young to be getting married and I didn’t fully know who I was.  In the four years since getting married, I’ve grown and changed in so many ways.  I am certainly not the same innocent bride.    

For many young married couples, this growing and changing spells disaster for their marriage.  As they grow, they grow apart.  They end the marriage or decide to stick it out even though both are miserably unhappy. 

Andy and I have certainly had our fair share of fights, struggles, and times of distance.  Yet, when it comes down to it I still wake up each morning amazed by how right we are for each other.  We have both shifted and changed, and yet our life visions remain unified. 

I’ve come to realize that this is in large part due to Andy.  He has given me the freedom to grow and explore my passions and interests and has daily chosen to embrace who I am and who I am becoming.  He compromises and gives me room to grow, and I am so thankful for that.  With a different man, I would have become stifled and bitter, never feeling like I could be free to develop and blossom into the woman God intended me to be.

You see, when you marry young you will without a doubt change and grow.  Over the years you and your spouse will either grow together or apart.  If you and/or your spouse choose to be autonomous in your growth, never giving or compromising, then you will grow apart.  If you and your spouse choose to give each other room to grow, and give 100% to your marriage, letting compromise reign, you will grow together and your marriage will thrive. 

I’m so thankful for this man of mine who pushes me out of my comfort zone, challenges me to think deeper, encourages me to write, and supports me in my sometimes-out-there interests.  Marrying young could have spelled disaster to my naive young self.  Yet, because I married a man who gives and compromises and gives some more, I have thrived.   The longer we’re married, the more I realize what a treasure that is.

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Finding Yourself in Motherhood

Four days after my son was born, I bawled like a baby as I heard the little cry start again.  It was 3 am, I was utterly exhausted, and this was the fourth time I had tried to lay my new son down and slip into bed.  Thirty minutes later, I fell asleep with him draped across my chest…something I vowed to never do…something the pediatrician who had checked him out in the hospital had told me to never, ever do.  As I slipped into sleep I cried again, feeling like a failure as a mom. 
I’d always wanted to be a mother.  I was pretty sure that, when the time came, I would know exactly what I was doing and that motherhood would come naturally to me.  I was so wrong.
Sure, I had those amazing feelings of love you always hear about.  Changing dirty diapers didn’t make me cringe a bit.  Once the struggle of the first tough month was over, I even enjoyed nursing.  What I wasn’t prepared for were the feelings of inadequacy and uselessness.  My filthy house, dirty dishes stacked high, and inability to get one decent meal on the table made me feel completely incapable as a house wife.  The fact that my son was not a “typical” newborn (as I thought he should be) made me feel out-of-control.  My exhausted frustration at my son when he would scream for hours every night from colic made me feel like a terrible mom.  Most of all, though, I felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything all day.  I struggled with feeling a sense of purpose.
I knew that taking care of my son was my purpose for this season of life, but there was a disconnect between knowing that and feeling it in my heart.  I knew I was doing something very worthwhile and purposeful, but most days I felt like I was just treading water.  The problem was that, deep down, I wasn’t just a milk-producing, diaper changing, baby holding robot…there was a very real and individual person just dying to be let out!  The challenge in any change of seasons is finding the balance between who you are as a person and the tasks God has put before you for today. 
For me, finding this balance meant two things.  The first was that I had to change.  I had to let go of my need for control and desire to do things the “right” way and instead be flexible and learn to be the mom my son needed…not the mom I wanted to be.  Anytime God refines us, the process is far from easy and painless.  There were days that I despised the new mom posting on Facebook asking for ideas of things to do because her baby was so easy and she was bored.  Yet, I have come to realize that God gave me Miles with all of his out-of-the-boxness so that He could mold me and force me to let go of my controlling tendencies.  He gave me a very real little individual so that He could change my individual self.
Finding the balance for me also meant fusing who I was as a person with the role of mother.  Again, this isn’t an easy process.  I have come to believe that, in any season or role we find ourselves in, our personality should still shine and show through.  I don’t parent the same as any other mom because I am not any other mom.  I am a tea-drinking, outdoor-loving, greenthumb-wannabe who loves traveling and good food.  Consequently, my son spends a lot of time outdoors, is well acquainted with garden tools, has traveled more than most people will in a lifetime, and will eat just about anything…including spicy food or strong-flavored ethnic cuisine.  He is his own person, but his daily life is the way it is mostly because of who I am as a person.  God placed Miles in my care because He knew that the mama I am is the mama Miles needed.   
As I approach my two-year anniversary of being a mother, I’ve gotten into a better groove.  I have a system down for at least keeping the house manageably clean.  We do eat a home-cooked meal most nights, even if it was something I stuck in the freezer two weeks ago and just dumped in the crockpot that morning.  I already have long lists of freezer meals to assemble and preparations to make for whenever Baby Baker #2 decides to enter our home, knowing very keenly how needed those will be.  I feel very purposeful as I order our home, chase my toddler around, and reach out to other moms in our community. 
I am not the same person I was before my son was born.  And yet, I am more than just a mother.  I am Caitlin Baker, wife, mom, homemaker, and very real person…something that brings me very great joy.    

Twenty-five

Twenty-five.  Five fives.  A quarter of a century. 
Today my parents celebrate twenty-five years of marriage.  To some that may seem insignificant, but in this day and age it’s a sign of dedication, commitment, steadfastness, and love.  My parents have stuck together through thick and thin, good times and bad times, busy times and quiet times.  Through twenty-five years they’ve come out stronger, happier, and more in love than ever.
I’m so thankful for those years.  I’m thankful for the times I saw them argue, so that I could see what it means to reconcile and make up.  I’m thankful for the times I saw them sneak a kiss, so that I would know that the fire doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) die.  I’m thankful for the times they laughed together, so that I would understand that humor and real life should be intertwined.  I’m thankful for the times that they traveled with us, so that our eyes would be opened to learning and the world around us.  I’m thankful for them taking us to church every Sunday, that we might know what the body of Christ is.  I’m thankful for the times they loved us and showed us mercy and forgiveness, that we might understand the heart of God more fully.  I’m thankful for the times I saw them pray and read the Bible together, so that we might Who must be the center of all relationships. 
I’m thankful for them portraying marriage as a beautiful, messy, hard, wonderful gift from the Lord.  I know that I would not have the fulfilling;oarriage I have today if it wasn’t for their example and their witness. 
Happy 25th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!!!  I am so, SO proud to have you as my parents!

Fight on Aisle Nine!

We were in the tile aisle of Home Depot.  Miles was cheerfully chattering in the shopping cart seat, whilst Andy and I looked at tile for a project.  No arguing.  Just discussion and dreaming.

As Andy made notes of prices, it suddenly hit me that we had been here before.  In this very aisle.  Picking out tile.  It was about a year and a half ago and we were deciding on tile for the backsplash in our kitchen.  Unlike today, we were not in a good mood.  Andy and I had completely different opinions on what tile would look good, and our disagreement turned into a full-blown fight.  We left that day empty-handed, both hurt and angry.  Yet, here we were, almost two years later, picking out tile without anger.  We didn’t always agree, but we were working it out peacefully and, strangely enough, happily.

I thought for a minute about how remodeling a house together is really strengthening for a marriage.  After all, it was through our remodeling projects that we learned to work together and make decisions without everything blowing up into huge fights.  We’ve even learned how to have fun making decisions together. 

Yet, I know that remodeling a house, like any challenge that comes into a marriage, can also bring nothing but grief and heartache.  You see, our marriages will not be free of hard times, trials, and tests.  What I’ve come to realize, however, is that the marriages that last are those that are made stronger not just despite the challenges, but through them.

I took a picture of my husband in that tile aisle.  I didn’t want to remember that big fight, necessarily, but I did want to remember how far we’ve come since then.  It’s hard to see where time and tests will take you, but looking back it all becomes very clear. 

We still have our fights.  Usually about dumb things that get blown way out of proportion.  Pride, hormones, and words that shouldn’t have been said usually play a part.  Thankfully, however, I know that these fights will not be the downfall of our marriage.  I also know that we will never again argue in that tile aisle.

By the grace of God, we’ve learned to compromise.  We’ve learned to listen to each other’s opinions and disagree without hurting or degrading.  We’ve learned that the end result is much more fun when we dream, plan, and work together…when we let God use the hard times to refine us and make our marriage ultimately stronger.

We all have a choice.  Will you let the hard times, the trials, and the challenges divide you as a couple?  Instead, I challenge you to join us on the journey the opposite direction.  I challenge you to lay everything at the feet of He who is more than able, and let Him make something beautiful out of the brokenness.   

Dear Single Girl,

Dear Single Girl,

I was having a discussion with a dear friend the other day.  She just so happens to be single.  We talked about men, standards, commitment, etc.  After talking to her, I sat pondering what had been said for hours.

I’ve been married now a whole two and a half years (I know, forever right? 😉 ).  My husband and I have gone through moves, remodeling, trips, having a baby, and so much more in our marriage.  Yet, I really mean it when I say that I am happier now than I even was as a newlywed.  Marriage is an amazing thing, and, if you work at it, it just gets better-and-better.

In fact, I love marriage so much that I want to see everyone get married!  The problem is, that I see a lot of girls still searching.  Often, they are either suffering from a shortage of godly men, setting their standards too high, setting the wrong standards, afraid of commitment themselves, or simply looking in the wrong places.

I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned really matters in a marriage and in a man.  So, here goes…

Look for a man, not a boy.  There are plenty of boys in this world, but there is a startling lack of real men.  A man acts like one.  He’s not afraid of responsibility.  In fact, he relishes it.

Look for someone who doesn’t just talk about the Bible…he lives it. Very few real men have time to sit and talk about the Bible all day.  Sorry, but it’s true.  They’re too busy being faithful in the daily work God has called them to.

Look for someone who is a hard worker.  That kind of man will never let you or your kids starve.  That kind of man will stick with anything, even when it’s hard or mundane.

Look for someone who values marriage and wants to get married. 

Look for someone who’s mad about you.

Look for someone you can play with.  A lifetime is a long time to spend with someone you don’t enjoy being with.

Look for someone who cherishes children.  That’s the kind of man that will make a good dad someday.

Look for a good man, not a perfect one.  A good man makes a perfect husband.  He doesn’t have to be always kind, thoughtful, or romantic…but he does need to be faithful, true, and just.

Look for someone who doesn’t squander money.  He doesn’t have to be the saver of the century, but he should know where his money his going and not be wasting it on frivolous things!

Look for a man you can follow.  Make sure you would follow him wherever God leads, whether that be to the ends of the earth or a common life down the street.

Look for a man you’re attracted to.  They don’t have to be the hunk of the century (and, lets face it, they won’t be that hunk thirty years from now), but attraction is still important.

Look for someone you admire.  

Most importantly, look for a man you can love…and who’s worth the effort to keep your love from growing cold.  Marriage is full of blessings, but it’s also full of work.  Only marry someone who is worthy of both.

Remember, God is writing you a love story beyond your wildest dreams…don’t get in His way. 😉

Blessings,

Caitlin

The Problem with Marriages

In honor of our second anniversary this week, I thought I’d share with you something that’s been on my heart a lot lately regarding marriage.  I am incredibly thankful to have a wonderful marriage with Andy.  However, it is by no means perfect.  We still struggle at times, fight over the smallest piddly thing, and have to work through things.  Also, what I’m about to say may be offensive to some.  If it is, please know I don’t mean to offend anyone.  These are just my honest thoughts…take it or leave it at that.  So, that’s my disclaimer.

That being said, I think it’s very alarming and disheartening that divorce is on the rise, especially in the church.  I’ve seen couples in conservative churches attend church together, get divorced, and then continue to attend the same church…and nobody says anything.  I don’t know the details or the background or who knows what or what others have said privately.  All I know is that it makes me very uncomfortable that divorce is just accepted.  

Andy and I were both raised with the mindset that divorce is not an option.  Our parents have come from broken homes, and divorce is rampant.  Our parents all started out with somewhat rocky marriages with issues that they had to work through, and yet they stuck it out and stayed together.  Today both marriages are happy, healthy, and incredibly strong.  I’m so thankful to have these influences in our own marriage.  When Andy and I got married, it was with the understanding that it was for a lifetime.  There was no disclaimer, no pre-nup, no “way out”.  We were entering into this together and we were going to stick it out together…no matter what.

So why are so many Christian marriages crumbling and falling apart?  Aren’t these people entering into marriage with the same commitment and resolve?  Anymore, I’m not so sure.

As a woman, I want to speak for the ladies here.  I think that a huge issue in our marriages is that we feel we have the “right” to certain treatment, love, and respect.  Think about it: how many times have you heard women complain about their husband’s in some way?  “My husband is at work all the time”.  “He doesn’t care about my feelings.”  “I never get romanced anymore.”  “My husband never helps at home…he just sits on the couch and watches football.”  Aren’t these all common to hear?

Or, it could be more grievous, such as emotional and verbal abuse, an addiction (to alcohol, pornography, etc.), or adultery.  (Let me step in here right now and say, I am by no means condoning staying with a man who is physically abusive.  If you are in such a relationship, you need to get out and seek help NOW!!!)  The point is, all of these “issues” with our husbands really point back to us and our desires, needs, and “rights”.

In a healthy marriage, the wife is loved, cherished, and respected…highly.  However, if we don’t receive this, does that somehow give us the grounds to leave our husbands and seek a divorce?  How is that in any way Biblical?  Sure, Moses allowed for a divorce on the grounds of adultery.  Yet, Jesus “stirred the pot” up, so-to-speak, in Matthew 19:4-9:

And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”

He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” 


Yes, divorce on the grounds of adultery is allowable…but is it the best way?  (And, notice, adultery was the only grounds…not disrespect, not being treated right, etc.)

As Christians, we are called to lay down our lives, take up the cross, and follow Jesus.  Our “rights” become forfeit for the sake of the gospel.  We are called to bring the good news to everyone, at the risk of persecution, loss of possessions, and even death.  Where are our “rights” then?  


Paul instructed those married to an unbeliever to stay with them, unless their spouse wanted to leave.  Do you think that came with the disclaimer of “unless you are mistreated or don’t receive the respect and love you deserve”?  No way!!!  Peter told wives to submit their their husbands, even if they weren’t following the Word.  Why?  Because, in staying in a marriage, forfeiting her “rights”, and submitting to a perhaps tyrannical husband, a woman is exhibiting what it means to be like Christ.  She is glorifying God and furthering the gospel by letting Christ live in her and through her.


Let me end with a story that has impacted me in this area perhaps more than anything else.  We had some family friends who were struggling in their marriage.  The wife was a God-honoring and following woman and the husband was not.  He finally revealed that he had had multiple affairs on her.  They were separated for awhile, and then something miraculous happened: God got a hold of the husband’s heart.  He went to his wife and asked her forgiveness, saying he wanted to make things right.

Now, by all accounts, the wife had every right to seek a divorce, even biblically.  Furthermore, why should she believe him now when he’d lied so many times before?  Taking him back would be just setting herself up for further heartbreak…needless heartbreak.  I honestly think most Christian women in the church would have counseled her to divorce him and move on.  But here’s the thing: she didn’t do that.  She took him back, they sought counseling, and now their marriage is stronger than it’s ever been.    


Isn’t that an amazing picture of what it means to lay down our own lives for the sake of Christ?  I know it is for me.

I can’t begin to fathom what it would be like to have your husband cheat on you.  I can’t even speak for every marital situation, as to whether the wife should stick it out or move on.  What I can tell you is that we give up to easily.  We focus so much on ourselves and our needs…emphasizing how our spouse is not meeting them.  In reality, our spouse can never be the one to meet all of our needs…only God can.  Until we realize this, our marriages will continue to crash and burn.

It’s time to start rising up and fight for our marriages.  Satan knows that if he can kill our marriages, then he can kill our influence and our work for Christ.  Do you want to continue worrying about your spouse’s actions or treatment of you…or do you want to lay your “rights” aside and fight Satan’s schemes by fighting for your marriage?

I for one, am choosing to fight.  


Love is a shelter in a raging storm,
Love is peace in the middle of a war,
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to bar the door,
No, love is not a fight…but it’s something worth fighting for
~”Love is Not a Fight” by Warren Barfield

2 Years

Some days, it seems like it couldn’t have possibly been two years ago.  On others, it seems like we’ve been his way forever. 

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We’ve had our ups and downs.  We’ve dealt with a drafty rent house, bought a home together, and remodeled that home.  We’ve fought mice problems…and people problems.  We’ve served together, worked together, and grown together.  And now, we become parents together. 

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All I can say is, it’s been the best two years of my life.  Every morning I get to wake up snuggled close to him is a gift.  Every day spent serving God together is bliss.  Every night that I drift off in his arms is pure heaven. 

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He may not be perfect, but he’s my perfect match.  He’s the only man I’d follow to the ends of the earth and back. 
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And he’s the one I want holding my hand 50 years from now.

I love you Andy Baker, and I always will.  I’m so glad it was you…