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…

My Husband Thinks I’m…

It seems like there are two extremes as far as modesty goes.  On the one hand are those that go overboard and cover up every area of their body with a paper sack.  On the other hand are the women who go around flaunting their bodies and getting attention through skimpy clothing.

Now, modesty is important.  I believe how we dress and act should be a reflection of Him who lives within us.  But I don’t think wearing paper bags or revealing your body in public is an accurate reflection of Him.
So where do you stand?  Where do you draw the line on modesty?

As women, I believe that we don’t often set our standards where we should.  When I was graduating from high school, I had it in my head that the nice guys like I wanted to marry would like me better if I wore mostly skirts, did my hair like Pride and Prejudice, and wore very light makeup.  Why I thought this, I have no idea.  I guess it was from looking around at different families and what the wives and daughters in them wore. 
The funny thing is, my husband really likes when I wear jeans.  He likes dresses and skirts, but only when they’re cute…and don’t look like a prairie dress.  Actually, since we’ve gotten married, my “modesty line” has gotten a tad more lenient.  Not because I’m married and don’t have to worry about it anymore, but because Andy has communicated to me that he thought many things were fine.  In the past year and a half I’ve started wearing skirts that are just a little bit shorter, shorts that aren’t guy’s basketball shirts, and tank tops without a shrug.  I know, shocking right?  I’m not dressing skanky or overtly worldly…I’m just not dressing like Laura Ingall’s Wilder anymore.  Why?

I believe that when I think about what to wear, how to do my hair, and what make up to put on, I should always be thinking about my husband.  When I take the time to dress to please him and look cute, then I’m showing him how much I value him. 

Some days I still feel uncomfortable.  I’m always afraid of what people will think, and I definitely dress differently in certain settings.  But mostly I’m learning to just think about what my husband likes.  To me, it’s more important to look nice for my husband than to worry about what judgmental people will say. 

And before you get to thinking that my husband only likes “superficial” things, then let me clear that up.  It’s not true!  My husband thinks I’m beautiful without any makeup on and a messy bed-head.  And he doesn’t forget to tell me so.   Like I said, it’s more about showing him how much I value him, and my wanting him to be proud of me.  If you knew a certain meal was your hubby’s favorite, wouldn’t you want to cook it for him?  And isn’t he proud to show off that meal at the church potluck?  It’s not superficial, it’s being a good wife. 

So stop setting rules that have no grounds and start asking your hubby how he would like you to dress.  I can promise you, he doesn’t want a potato sack for a wife, and neither does he want a wife who shows off her body.  He wants a wife that takes the time to dress nice for him.  It’s like the wrapper on a box of chocolates. 
Just make sure there’s some chocolate under that wrapper. 😉

10 Things I Love About You

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I grew up observing marriages.  Some couples seemed incredibly happy and other seemed very unhappy.  Almost always, their happiness was not related to the challenges in their life, but how they faced them.  Without fail, the couples that were unhappy did not seem happy when they were together.  These same couples were critical of their spouses and, quite frankly, not very nice to them.

At a very young age, I decided that when I got married, I wouldn’t be like that.  I was determined to prove that marriages don’t have to be unhappy struggles.  Yes, there are hard times, but they should be something to work through together…not something to fight each other about. 

With that in mind, I’m delighted to get to participate in Newlywed’s Bliss’ 10 Things I Love About You link-up.  How often do we get to brag on our spouses about the wonderful things they do, and the amazing people they are?  After all, it’s all about focusing on the good instead of the bad!

So go over, check it out, and link up.  It’s gonna be great!

For my Andy:

1.) I love how you work incredibly hard outside of the home to provide for us, so I don’t have to.  I know that, no matter what, you will always provide for the needs of our family!

2.) I love that you’re so dedicated to getting your degree.  I’m so proud of all the hard work you put in!

3.) I love that you’re such an amazing handy-man.  You can build and fix anything, and if you don’t know how to do it, you learn how.  It’s so fun to get to show off all the amazing things you do in our home.

4.) I love the fact that you are an artist.  It makes you see the world differently than most, and you’re not afraid to be creative. 

5.) I love that you have such a heart for serving in the church.  Whether it be in the college Sunday school class, the media booth, or the nursery, you always put your whole heart into it.

6.) I love that you’re so giving with your money.  You certainly balance me out!

7.) I love that you’re so mature, and that you know when to be serious.  People trust you with things that they would normally on entrust to older men.  What an incredible honor!

8.) In the same token, I love that you’re also so fun loving and spontaneous.  I remember not too long after we were married, I was standing at the door being grouchy while you got ready to leave.  It happened to be pouring, and you just grabbed me and pulled me out under the gutter and kissed me.  At first I was so mad.  Quickly, however, my anger turned to laughter and a smile…all thanks to you!

9.) Your grandmother once told me that “still water runs deep” with you.  I love that about you.  You have such a depth of soul.  Although you may seem quiet and reserved on the outside, I know that you are really pondering something deep and long.  That’s just the way you are!

10.) I love that you are so devoted to God, and that you trust His plan no matter what.  Thank you for being such a great spiritual leader through your commitment to Christ!

Stay tuned for more next week!

Exciting New Places

I wanted to share something really special that is happening in my life right now.  As you know, I’m happily married to a wonderful guy.  And, as you also know, I love sharing tidbits and stories from our life and marriage in order to encourage others. 

For the last while a blogging friend, Emily from Scribbles from Emily, has been working on a new blog specifically geared for newlyweds, Newlyweds Bliss.  It’s going to be a great place for newlyweds to share about life, marriage, finances, home, intimacy, and so much more. 

And guess what?  It launches today!  This week there are going to be some great giveaways and introductions to celebrate the launch of this brand new blog.  I encourage you to check it out and share it with as many people as possible.  Do you know any newlyweds or soon-to-be-marrieds?  Then share this site with them!  And go over and check it out yourself…you just might win something!

I’m also excited to announce that I’m going to be one of the main contributors to the blog, along with Emily and Kelsey.  I’ll be posting there every Friday, so don’t forget to go over and check it out.
I’m incredibly excited to be a part of this team.  Sometimes it’s hard to balance the things that I am experiencing and have a heart for, and what you as my readers and “bloggersphere” friends will relate to.  Not everyone is a newlywed, after all!  That’s where Newlyweds Bliss comes in.  This site will be devoted specifically to newlyweds (and those that still feel like newlyweds).  Check it out today!

One Thousand Gifts: A Simple Cup of Tea

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Yesterday afternoon I enjoyed a quiet moment in the midst of a busy life.  A fresh pot of loose-leaf Chai tea served in my blue china teacups, an open Bible, and a blank journal—these things do wonders to my soul.  Everything was still and quiet, and I was able to just talk to my Lord and let Him speak to me.  The day was chilly and sunny, and brown leaves covered the ground outside, but I had my seat at our big kitchen window.  And with a hot cup of tea and my Jesus, that was all I needed.

81. Precious nieces still safe in their mommy’s tummy.
82. Making a dinner my husband really enjoys (Chicken Fried Steak).  And I mean really.
83. Sweet hugs from kindergarteners two days in a row.
84. Slipping into a breezy summer dress after a long, hot day.
85. Wearing said dress on a spontaneous week-night date with my man.
86. Making dinner in my new kitchen for the first time.
87. More cabinet space that I need.
88. Brownies and biscuits perfectly baked in my newish oven.
89. A dishwasher that actually cleans dishes.
90. Enjoying tea and quiet time on a Sunday afternoon next to my sunny kitchen window.

One Thousand Gifts: A New Week

It’s early Monday morning, and I’ve just sent my husband off to work, got the animals all situated for the day, and am now preparing for a new week.  It’s a cold morning…one of those mornings where you just want to stay under the covers for a little bit longer.  But the sun is out for the first time in a few days, the trees on the hillside behind us are starting to turn to autumn hues, and the day holds so much promise.  And so, instead of staying under the covers, I am drawn out by a hot cup of tea and quiet time with my Savior before a full day starts.

Oh, what a gift this life I live is!  I love living in the beautiful and history-filled Ozarks.  I love not actually living in a neighborhood.  I love looking out my back window and seeing horses, cows, and donkeys in the field behind us.  I love having a big yard to plan out and beautify.  I love having a home to call our own. 
And so begins another week.  Another week to learn and grow in.  Another week to enjoy and find joy and beauty in.  Another life to live to the fullest for my Lord.   

71. Pinterest.  Yes, this is my new fun thing to play with. 
72. A fridge that’s finally in my kitchen (even if it’s not in the fridge spot).  Thank you old house with crooked walls that make my fridge just barely not fit!
73. Plenty of drawers and cabinets to organize and fill.
74. Finding my sewing machine presser foot after it being missing since we moved.
75. Working in the nursery with Andy, and watching him read a book to a little girl and a little boy.
76. A day off and visiting a friend in Conway.
77. Buying two dresses and a new blouse for $24.  Yes, that makes me happy!
78. Ice cream on the square with friends on a beautiful day.
79. Hearing of engagements and new babies on the way.
80. Learning to be confident in the life God has given me.

The Identity Question

As I’ve said before, my background has defined a lot of my beliefs and opinions.  But, I also have some very wise women pouring into my life, not the least of which is my mom.  After reading my blog post last week, she brought up the very important point that women today find their identity in what they do instead of who they are

Think about it.  When people ask you to tell them about yourself, what’s typically the first thing you say?  “Hi, I’m _______, and I’m a 1st grader teacher.”  So, our job defines us to the utmost.  But is that really the most important part about us?  Yes, it’s what we do to put food on the table, and it may even be something we love to do, but at the end of the day, it’s still a job. 

Many jobs have eternal significance.  An obvious one is pastors.  But other workers, such as teachers or musicians also have a huge influence on the eternal.  But shouldn’t we all, in some way, no matter what we do?  Should our job merely be a job to us, or should it be the means by which we meet people, spread the gospel, and minister to others?  Isn’t the gospel of Christ far more important than anything we could ever do in our jobs?

So, why do we let our jobs define us?  Have you ever met someone who said, “Hi, I’m ______, and I’m a follower of Jesus Christ”?  Probably not.  But shouldn’t that be what defines us the most?

Interestingly, we find our worth in our identity.  Because we hold a job, and perhaps work hard, we feel that we are worth something—that we matter.  I think that a lot of homemakers and stay-at-home moms are afraid to tell others what they do (the hardest, most important job of all!) because they feel that, because they have no job outside of the home, then they have no identity, and, therefore, no worth. 

Furthermore, I think there are a lot of women that feel they could never quit work and stay home with the kids because, somehow, they would lose their identity.  How does changing or quitting jobs in any way change who we are as a person and who we are in Christ?

I feel the pull often.  Right now I kind of float between a million different odd jobs, but no one career.  I get the looks and the pity, because I have no teaching job.  I even feel myself sometimes that my life must be meaningless because I have no full-time, important job.  I can’t tell people, “Hi, I’m Caitlin, and I’m a teacher” because I’m not!

But why should I be ashamed of that?  Truth be told, if I defined myself by what I do I would say, “Hi, I’m Caitlin, and I’m a homemaker, administrative assistant, substitute teacher, blogger, writer, and mystery shopper.”  I work hard everyday.  I don’t bring in a lot of money, but I don’t really need to.  My husband makes a good salary, we own a home, and we are fairly frugal.  I have enough flexibility in my schedule to take my dog for a walk in the afternoon, eat lunch with my husband, work on the house during the week, and have free time to help if someone needs me.  I love what I do each and every day. 

But still, I feel the pull.

Don’t we all feel the pull?  Don’t our days center around our “job”, our “identity”? 

Slowly, steadfastly, He is teaching me that my identity isn’t found in what I do in the big picture.  Instead, it’s found in who I am in Him, and what He calls me to do each day. 

Who am I really?  I’m Caitlin.  I’m passionately in love with my Savior.  I’m a helpmeet to my very best friend.  I’m a daughter of the Most High King.  He created me with a quiet soul and a passionate heart.  He loves me and made me beautiful.  He sent His only son to die for me.  He calls me His child.  He has a huge plan and purpose for my life, and He will lead me through it step-by-step. 

Who am I?  I am His.  My identity is not found in what I do, but who I am in Him. 

This life is not my own, but His.