Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Generation of Not Being in Love

     While listening to one of my Pandora music stations the other day, a Drake song come on that really made me stop and think.  Now let me preface the rest of this post by saying that I'm not a fan of most rappers or their derogative music.  However, this one particular song caught my attention.  After I got over my initial surprise at who this song was being sung by, I stopped and listened to the lyrics.  What I heard was even more surprising and hit so close to home.

     The opening lyrics talk about the unfortunate end of a relationship and how it's not the end of the world.  Normal enough.  Then came the chorus and second verse, which was what blew me away.  In the chorus, Drake talks about how staying in the relationship and pretending that all is fine is the wrong thing to do.  He then goes on to sing, "We live in a generation of not being in love and not being together // But we sure make it feel like we're together // Cause we're scared to see each other with somebody else."  That was the line that hit home for me.  It describes my generation perfectly.  So often I've watched as couples fight and break up, make up and get back together, all because it's comfortable or convenient.  It's so sad and discouraging.

     This is my generation, "a generation of not being in love and not being together."  It looks pretty hopeless at times.  As I mentioned in my previous post, my generation is disillusioned with false expectations of love and relationships, never quite understanding the true meaning behind love, never looking to our Heavenly Father as a divine example.  

     If you're in a dating/courting relationship right now, I have a few questions for you.  Whether you're a member of my generation or not, these questions apply to you.
  1. Why are you with the person you're dating/courting?  
  2. What is it about them that first attracted you to them?
  3. How do you usually feel when you're around them?
  4. If you've ever considering breaking up with this person, why did you decide not to?
     These are only a few of the multitude of questions I could ask you about your relationship.  I believe that everyone, deep down, knows whether or not they should or shouldn't be with a certain person.  Sadly, we don't realize it because we're so focused on finding that love we dreamed about when we were younger.  We push our doubts and apprehension to the back of our minds because we're so focused on making it work with this person.  I've been guilty of it in past relationships, and I know you have too.

     Stop lying to yourself.  You need to be honest not only with yourself, but with your partner.  I often read articles about how you'll know when you've found the ONE.  These articles imply that you'll immediately know and that you'll never need to question your "love" for this person.  I'm here to tell you that it's OKAY to question your relationship.  I don't mean question in a negative way nor do I mean that you should question your relationship with your partner forever.  What I'm trying to say is that in the beginning and even several months or a year into your relationship, you should ask yourself the above questions.  You should question your own motives and expectations for the relationship.

     When I first started dating Josh, I questioned almost everything!  I'm a naturally cynical and apprehensive person.  Though there have certainly been times when I've failed to ask questions, I often continually question things until I'm confident that I've uncovered the truth.  Josh was no exception.  I was immediately attracted to his charisma, adorableness (despite the fact that he's like 10 feet tall), and his contagious, amazingly perfect laugh (you'd have to hear it).  Yet, I questioned him.  I asked him questions about himself and repeatedly asked myself if he was the right person to date or even marry.

     As the months went by in our relationship, I became more and more confident.  I became increasingly sure of the truth.  There were times when I was overly critical and negative, yet I always came back to the same conclusion, the conclusion that I still have today: Josh is the right one, not the one I'm with because I'm desperate for companionship, not the one I'm with because of his looks, not the one I'm with because it's convenient at the moment, and not the one I'm with because he wants to be with me too (although this is partially necessary for a successful relationship).  I'm with Josh because of who he is as an individual, not who he is as my boyfriend.  He is ambitious, unconditionally loving, inspirational, genuine, fun, forgiving, generous, serious when he needs to be, understanding, a real conversationalist, a listener, and a man after God's own heart.  He's not perfect, but I love him even more for it.  He doesn't think he deserves me, but in believing that he doesn't, he does.  I love him because he loves me and because he gives me so much and puts so much into our relationship, but I love him even more because of what I can do for him and how I can bless him.

     Want to know whether or not you're in the right relationship?  Ask yourself if you're getting more than you're giving in the relationship.  Ask yourself if you could honestly see yourself with this person for the rest of your lives.  If not, it's time to reevaluate and to be completely honest.

There are several things you must consider when evaluating your relationship.  They are as follows:

  1. In the right relationship, you shouldn't have to hide parts of yourself from your partner.
  2. You shouldn't feel the need to lie to them about your past.
  3. You shouldn't fear your partner in any way.
  4. You shouldn't feel constant jealousy of them or of their friends nor should they try to make you jealous.
  5. You shouldn't have to change for this person.  They should accept and love you, flaws and all.
  6. You should be able to trust them.
  7. You shouldn't have a backup plan just in case it doesn't work out with them.  You're setting yourself up for failure that way.
  8. You should be able to depend on them, but not be codependent.
  9. You shouldn't dread spending time with them.
  10. You shouldn't have to or want to hide the relationship from others.
  11. You shouldn't be with your partner if they can never admit they're wrong and never take responsibility.
  12. You shouldn't bash each other in public OR in private.
  13. You should be able to go to them with your problems and know that they'll listen, love you, and try to help you.
  14. You should both constantly be inspiring each other to be better and do better.
  15. You shouldn't want to change who they are or what they believe (we often call this missionary dating).
     The list goes on, but these are the top things to evaluate.  If your relationship matches each of these qualifications, great!  If not, your relationship may just need a bit of work and a bit more open communication.  If your partner refuses to work with you, then it may be time to move on.  Thus far, this blog has been about making relationships work and making them better, but I refuse to lie to you and tell you that all relationships can be fixed.  We will all end up in some relationship or another that we're definitely not supposed to be in.  When this happens all we can do is move on and learn from our mistakes, difficult as that may be.

     If you're going through a breakup I encourage you to push forward and believe that God has a plan.  I encourage you to put God first in each of your future relationships and to ask questions.  Even if you're still in a dating/courting relationship, remember to make God your first priority and to ask those difficult questions.  Some of the answers may hurt, but they'll save you from making even bigger mistakes an experiencing even more heartache.  Don't be content to be the "generation of not being in love".  Refuse to conform to that social trend and instead seek true, God-inspired love.

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 Feel free to email Josh and I with your thoughts, suggestions, or if you would like prayer or advice.  We thank you for stopping by our blog and hope you'll be back!  




Friday, July 25, 2014

Breaking the Chains of False Intimacy

Ask yourself the following questions before you begin reading this post:

  • Do you feel like you can share anything with your partner?
  • Do you feel like you completely understand the pain of the past?
  • Do you trust you partner?
  • Are you completely open and intimate with your partner?

If you answered no to any of the above questions, odds are you are pursuing false intimacy. Unlike genuine intimacy, false intimacy gives us the temporary satisfaction of feeling loved, accepted, powerful, or important, but eventually lets us down when reality sets in. Dr. Harry Schaumburg is one of the leading experts on sexual addictions and other behaviors that destroys relationships. Although Dr. Schaumburg's book, False Intimacy, deals primarily with the rooting and causes of sexually addictive behavior, the book also can be used to understand the pitfall and roots of people pursuing false intimacy in place of genuine intimacy. 

Designed primarily to help people overcome addictions to pornography, affairs, and other destructive behavior, Dr. Schaumburg also talks about the causes and roots of why some people resort to this destructive behavior to heal their past wounds and find some sense of intimacy. When people do not understand what intimacy is because of being abused as a child, having a poor parental relationship model, or any other event that would cause intimacy confusion, two responses are common according to Dr. Schaumburg: seeking false intimacy or withdrawing entirely from intimate relationships. 

This book was recommended to me because it can help readers truly understand the roots and perversions of false intimacy and helps readers grow to understand what true intimacy is. Schaumburg argues that most of us at one point or another are the perpetrator of false intimacy. We have all be hurt, disappointed, or confused at one point during our lives and it has led each and every one of us to seek intimacy in satisfaction in a sinful way. Schaumburg states that false intimacy doesn't simply include severe cases of addiction, like viewing pornography or having an affair, but also seemingly minor things, like compulsively fantasizing over romance novels or casually flirting with a coworker. 

To understand what false intimacy is, we need to define what real intimacy is according to God's plan. Real intimacy is what is portrayed in the Garden of Eden between Adam and Eve before the fall of man. The couple lived naked, unashamed, and completely one with one another. 

False intimacy is serpent that comes into our lives and tempts us with false comfort and satisfaction. False intimacy can be rooted in past relationships, pains, and hurts or those of the present. If we have experienced major disappointments or an inability to be intimate with our parents or our early childhood friends, Schaumburg argues that this can be detrimental to our development as an adult with the capacity to be truly intimate. 

I want to briefly share how false intimacy has impacted my life and my side of my relationship with Marisa. I want to put a disclaimer that my sharing of this information is out of humility and I apologize if it offends or saddens you in any way. From around the time my parents got divorced, I have struggled with poor self-esteem and never understood what true intimacy is. I never truly understood what it was because my parents got divorced when I was 12, and much of my early childhood memory of them isn't filled with marital intimacy.  Instead, it's filled with marital disharmony and fighting. I also felt very awkward around my early adolescence because I was a lot taller than my peers and I matured (with a lot of body hair, I might add) significantly faster than any of my peers. This resulted in me being called a 'freak' by a variety of my 'friends' and not being able to make and maintain friendships that I genuinely desired and needed. 

I also had feelings for many of my female classmates around middle school like many guys that age, but I was frequently rejected because of my awkward demeanor and often very gregarious personality. One instance that sticks out in my mind to this very day is when a very attractive classmate of mine whom I had a crush on asked me if I was gay because of my outgoing personality. Ever since this moment, I have had a lot of issues thinking that any woman would genuinely love me, and I've tried to fill the void with destructive attitudes and behavior because of my fear of rejection. 

Without any sort of model for what real intimacy was, I gave into the lies of false intimacy and still struggle to break free. Yet, my past is not an excuse for my continued behavior and sin. My continued negative attitudes and behavior has severely damaged my relationship with Marisa at times. I cannot even begin to imagine how much pain it has caused her. 

IF YOU READ ANYTHING IN THIS POST, READ THIS! The beauty of real intimacy is that although it's hard and it requires a great deal of humility, honesty, and openness, real intimacy embraces you, a sinner, for who you are and loves you even more! This... this has been my relationship with Marisa. We have both shared our struggles with one another and been very hurt at times by things that have occurred. However, we hurt for the other person, not for our own pain, grief, and confusion. Do we have pain from what the other person does? Sure... we are human, after all. Honesty, openness, and total safety are what makes real intimacy work and uplift both people involved! This intimacy was designed by God for parent/child mentoring and eventually husband/wife love. This perfect, real intimacy is modeled after God's desire for an intimate relationship with us! How blessed we are that God loves us and that he shows us how to be truly intimate and truly love!

I must put another disclaimer here: You need to be in a certain place to have real intimacy. You need to be in a place of humility, total love, total acceptance, and you need to completely understand your own problems and past. You need to set aside your own pain, disappointment, and confusion and come to the aid of your partner (or whomever you are intimate with). I have been tremendously blessed, well beyond what I deserve, because of the real intimacy Marisa and I are constantly perfecting. We have had our own issues in our past and we have failed each other. We still have problems embracing real intimacy because setting aside our own pains at times can be hard. However, real intimacy and real love has transformed our lives and makes us certain that we are destined to be together and that we are blessed by our amazing, forgiving, and ever-loving God!

Pray for me, an imperfect sinner, as I journey to break my addiction to false intimacy. I'm praying for you too and encourage you to remove the sources of false intimacy from your life!


We are blessed to hear from so many of our readers! I encourage you to email us at if you have any comments or questions! I also want to open our email to prayer requests for anyone struggling with anything, but especially relationship issues or the pitfalls of false intimacy. We love sharing our experiences with you and hope that you continue with us on our journey. God bless you!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The L-Word

     "One of the great ironies of life is that we treat 'love' like a dirty word and then act surprised when people give themselves to anyone and everyone because they don't know what true 'love' is."  Surprisingly, I came up with this quote myself just the other day.  I don't even remember what I was doing.  It just suddenly came to me, like God had placed it on my heart.  Turn on the news, and you'll see just how true it.
     From celebrity marriages that barely last a month to the fluctuating (but always problematic) rate of teen pregnancy, it's clear that modern society is struggling with the true definition of "love".  Many refuse to even believe in its existence.  Think about some of the most popular songs on the radio today.  What are they about?  More than likely, they're about love, specifically lost love or destroyed love.  These songs most often mesh sex and love together, blurring the lines between the two until they seem almost synonymous.  But they're not, are they?  Yet, modern society has brainwashed us, most notably the Millennial Generation, into believing that they are one in the same.

     Therein lies the problem.  We no longer know what true love is.  We treat "love" like a dirty word, belittling it as if it's a disease, treating it as if it's shameful.  We have become so focused on denouncing love and criticizing those who profess to have found it, that we've forgotten to focus on what love IS.  It's no wonder that my generation, the Millennials, are so disillusioned.  How are we expected to know what love is if we've never been taught?  We're like blind men stumbling around in the dark, not knowing which way to turn.  For example, look at teenage pregnancy.  According to the Office of Adolescent Health, 305,420 babies were born to girls between the ages of 15 and 19, with 89% of these births occurring outside of marriage.  This was in 2013 alone!  And that number doesn't even include the abortions that took place.

     Clearly, my generation still believes in love, but hasn't quite figured out the true meaning behind it.  We have equated sex with love, thinking that the first will bring us the latter.  But that's never the case.  More often than not, my generation pays dearly for this mistake.  Even marriage doesn't solve this issue.  Marriage and love no longer go hand in hand.  While the two are by no means synonymous, love is sometimes not even a factor in marriage, though it is vital.  Today, many marriages are solely built upon such things as loneliness, the need for financial stability, the need for emotional stability, or even convenience. I'm not saying that the aforementioned items aren't important, but apart from love, they cheapen the value and sanctity of marriage.  Just look at the divorce rates!  Though not all divorces are due to a lack of love within the marriage, many surprisingly are.  People enter into marriage thinking they've got love all figured out, only to realize down the road that they never truly loved the person they married.  This may hit close to home for some of you, and I'm deeply saddened if it does.

     Some of you may be going through a breakup or a divorce right now, wondering how you even got to this place.  Some of you may be blaming yourselves for what happened.  If you are, I encourage you to stop.  If you earnestly tried to make your relationship work, gave it your all, but just couldn't find the "love" you once had for that person, stop beating yourself up.  Stop dwelling on the past and punishing yourself because you think what happened is all your fault.  Stop feeling like something's wrong with you because there's nothing wrong with you.  There's something severely wrong with our society.  Like me, you've probably never been taught what true love is.  Like me, you've probably been told, You're too young to understand love.  Never say you're in love.  Just date around.  Your relationships will all end anyway.  Why commit?  You'll just end up breaking up or getting divorced.  You're too naive.  You're too young to know what you want.  If you've given in to these lies, you're not alone.  We've been told by society that love either doesn't exist or been told that it is something that it's not.  So how can you blame yourself?  How can you give something (e.g. love) to someone if you don't even know what it is?  You simply can't.

     So what is true love?  Does it exist or is all hope lost?  I assure you that all hope is not lost.  You may have given in to lies before, but you no longer have to.  You can be set free.  In the pursuit of true love, we often forget about our heavenly Father and His unconditional love.  We forget to mirror our love after His.  1 John 4:7-8 says, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love."  As children of the most high God, we are called to accept one another and love just as He loved us.  As it says in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8,  
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance ... love will last forever!"
     Does your love measure up to this standard?  I know that mine hasn't always.  I'm often guilty of forgetting one or two of these characteristics of love.  As a result, my love has sometimes been very conditional.  When I first started dating Josh, I thought I knew what love was.  I thought I had it all nailed down.  However, I quickly realized how wrong I was.  My love for Josh didn't always measure up to God's standards.  I often demanded my own way or lost faith or came close to giving up.  Fortunately, Josh was God's instrument.  God used him to show me what true love is all about.  He used Josh to show me that love does exist and that it goes beyond any of the lies I've been force-fed by society.  What started out as casual dating, turned into something so much more.  It became meaningful dating, courtship if you will.  And if you haven't found somebody that exemplifies love or if you're still trying to reach God's standard of true love, I encourage you to keep pushing forward.  You are a victor, never a victim.  Will you listen to God's truth or to the lies of society?


As always, I thank you for visiting our blog and taking the time to read our posts.  It is my sincere hope that you are able to take something away.  Feel free to email us at  We look forward to hearing from you!



Monday, July 21, 2014

Believe in Yourself and God: 4 Steps to Overcoming Self-Loathing and Depression

"I will never have a happy life."

"I am stuck where I am."

"Who would love a person like me?"

Do you ever say or think any of these statements about yourself? Odds are at times you do. In the heat of the moment after a tragedy or an argument, it is easy for even the most optimistic and joyful people to become deflated, self-loathe, and become depressed. While moderate depression is healthy due to circumstances that warrant sadness and grief, constant depression, self-loathing, and lack of self-confidence can rock a relationship or marriage to its very core. 

Self-loathing and a lack of self-confidence has been something that has tested and strengthened the bond of Marisa and my relationship several times. Due to our past experiences, mistakes, and regrets, we both have very valid reasons to become depressed, rationalizing our depression by saying statements like "I can never do ____" and "I will never ____." While depression in certain circumstances is healthy, excessive depression, self-loathing, and lack of self-confidence can be poisonous to a relationship. When depression spills over from the circumstances into the relationship and the future of the relationship, that's when couples are in big trouble. 

It is one thing entirely to be distressed or sad because of loss, betrayal, and other forms of pain. However, it is extremely unhealthy to have this depression grow and envelope the relationship. This type of negative self-attitude can choke out the drive and commitment to make a relationship work, as well as the love that's quick to follow. If you suffer from low self-image, low self-confidence, or excessive (clinical) depression, seek out help from professional counselors, self-help groups, your pastor, your family, and your friends to encourage you to help remove these poisonous roots from your life and your relationship. 

I am NOT saying that you need to be arrogant, proud, or be boastful in place of having depression or low self confidence. Humility is admirable in God's eyes, but self-loathing is destructive. If you want to save yourself and your relationship from the ramifications of self-loathing, I urge you to believe in yourself and in God! I know this is a lot easier said than done, but it truly has done miracles for me and Marisa in our relationship, and although we are still recovering from this destructive mentality, I have already seen countless benefits that believing in yourself and in God can have in relationships. 
What are the sources of depression in your life? Source

The following 4 steps can help you learn how to overcome depression. Marisa and I have used and continue to use these steps to help remove the foul roots of depression and self-loathing from our lives and our relationship.
  1. Identify exactly what your type of depression is and what the source of the depression is. Several online resources, like this one, separate depression into various different categories, depending on the type of emotions and the emotions' impact on the person. Common forms of depression are: 
  • Hopelessness, which is defined by people feeling trapped in misery and having no ability to overcome their circumstances. 
  • Self-loathing, which is defined by people thinking they are terrible, evil, not good enough, unworthy of love, and unsuccessful. 
  • Situational depression: which is characterized by brief or continued sadness and grief due to loss, betrayal, or other emotional trauma. 
Being able to identify the type of depression you have will help you seek the best form of treatment should you decide to seek counseling and professional help. Finding the source of your depression is also a major step in understanding why you feel and act the way you do. Some common sources of depression are the following, according to various sources are the following:
  • Abuse: Physical, emotional, and verbal abuse can cause depressive episodes.
  • Conflict: The inability to resolve issues within relationships can prove detrimental to one's emotional health.
  • Death, loss, and major life events: From losing a family member, to losing a job and even getting married, major life-altering events can often cause depression, self-loathing, and feelings of low self-worth. We are creatures of habit and major changes can seem hard to deal with for many people. 
  • Genetics, illness, and drugs: There are genetic, medical, and pathological factors that can cause people to experience major depressive episodes. Odds are if your depression seems completely irrational and unfounded, it may fall into this category. 
While these are just some general causes of depression, it is critical that you carefully examine your past and present experiences and determine exactly what is causing your depression. This can help you and your counselor better understand your depression. 

   2. Readust your focus from negative things and the sources of depression to the many blessings you have in your life instead. Speak life-giving words over yourself and your circumstances. Whenever we feel depressed, it is easy to speak negative words over our life.  God tells us that we have the power and life in death in our words! We need to speak life! If you are feeling overwhelmed by your circumstances, do not speak negative words about yourself or your life. You must not condemn or self-loathe. Instead, practice saying the following statements: 
  • I am an overcomer!
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
  • God has amazing plans for my life and he knows the plans. They will make me prosper and have abundant life!
  • I am blessed by my family/husband/wife/children/friends/coworkers.
  • I am blessed with good health.
  • I am blessed with the grace of God.
  • I am blessed to be alive and able to rejoice in you.
  • I am blessed to know that my circumstances do not define me nor my future.
  • Praise be to God for ___________.
You need to get your mind focused on the good in life and the hope that God gives us! The next step will help you with this.

  3. Praise, Pray, Ponder. Every day make it a goal to praise God for how good He is to you and to all of us. Praise him in the sunshine and praise him in the rain. God is good all the time! Also make it a commitment to pray and develop your relationship with God. Pray to God about your life, your circumstances, your enemies, and your joys. Prayer is not a request, but a conversation. Take this time to develop a deep love for God, the healer of all afflictions, including depression. And finally, ponder. Use the energy that you would normally use being consumed by depression, self-loathing, or low self-image to fill your mind with the good news that is the gospel of Christ! God came to heal, redeem, and renew all of us for good. Grow through reading and becoming powerful in the word of God and take away the power that your circumstances and depression once had in your life.

   4. Seek counsel. I wanted to reemphasize this point as the final step. You may not want to go to professional counseling because of cost, but if you have the ability to do so I highly encourage you to find a Christian counselor in your area who specializes in the treatment of depression. You may also want to bring your pastor, friends, and family into your support group on this journey from depression, self-loathing, and self-hate to the promise land of humility, joy, fulfillment, acceptance, love, and peace!

With God, anything is possible... including
overcoming depression! Source
The benefits of following these steps can clearly benefits your personal life, but from our blog's perspective, the ability to overcome your depression can drastically benefit your relationship too. Like I said earlier, self-loathing and depression has been the source of many problems within Marisa and my relationship. However, by following these steps when our relationship has experienced tension due to depression, we have emerged more whole, happy, fulfilled, and in love. When you are able to overcome your depression with your partner, you experience an immense joy from having the burden of your past and your depression lifted from your shoulders and replaced with the joy of unconditional love, acceptance, and support! Marisa and I have been incredibly blessed to help each other along in this process and constantly help remind each other of our worth, ability, and the amazing love and future God has for us. Like any other conflict, overcoming depression and the pains of the past can help bring a couple closer together, drawing them together in the love and encouragement that God himself gives to us! 

Marisa and I are on this journey with those of you who have had depression impact your relationship. At times we are both very discouraged because of our past, our emotions, and the weight of our depression. We both encourage each other, follow these steps, and continue to grow healthier in our self-image as we free ourselves from the shackles of depression. I encourage you to start a new commitment today to believe in yourself and in God! You and your relationship will be tremendously blessed by overcoming depression with God's help. 


Marisa and I have loved talking with those of you that have emailed us about your testimony, questions, and experiences. We encourage you to write us at with your questions, comments, or concerns. We also welcome prayer requests, especially as we encourage you to join us on this journey to overcoming depression. We love uniting with you and being able to share our experiences and grow as we continue to learn more about dating, courtship, marriage, and life! 

God bless you and I hope you have an amazing week!


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Don't Let the "Aphids" Destroy Your Relationship

As I was scrolling through the blog today, I realized that Josh and I never explained the meaning behind the title nor did we explain the role that it plays in our lives.  For starters, Showing Hearts was completely Josh's idea.  We like to read the Bible together, trade verses, or read relationship books together.  Yet, a blog wasn't something I had truly considered until he brought the idea to me.  And it was one of the best decisions we've made.  Now, as for the title, that was more my idea.  You would think that choosing a title for the blog would be the easiest part.  Not so!  After we threw around several titles, I finally came up with the perfect one.  At the time, I was listening to the song All of Me by John Legend.  Towards the end of the song he sings, "Cards on the table, we're both showing hearts.  Risking it all, though it's hard."  That's when it came to me.  Showing Hearts!  It was perfect, and Josh completely agreed.  As stated in the lyrics, both of our cards are on the table and they're showing hearts.  It's often hard to share the deepest part of yourself with someone else, let alone on a blog!  Yet, that's exactly what we're doing.  We're showing our hearts.  We're allowing ourselves to be open and vulnerable.  And we don't regret it.

As for the role that the blog plays in our lives, it has become an outlet for our innermost thoughts, a place where both Josh and I could share our "uncensored" thoughts on life, love, courtship, and marriage.  We've chosen not to promote the blog via our personal social media accounts because we'd prefer it to remain a relatively personal and private outlet through which we can express ourselves without potential scrutiny and criticism from our more negative, doubting friend group.  If, down the line, some of our friends and loved ones happen to stumble upon it, we hope it will be a blessing to them.

Too often in life, there are people that criticize your every move and try to shove their negativity down your throat.  Maybe these people are your  siblings, your close friends, or even your parents or guardians.  It's like no matter what you do, you're wrong (in their eyes, at least).  You don't know anything.  Who are you to talk?  Why should I even listen to you?  You're too young.  You're just going to fail anyway.  They may not explicitly say these things, but believe me, they are implied.  I like to compare these people to a tiny but lethal bug known as an aphid.  For those of you who don't know, aphids are tiny insects that are the bane of every gardener's existence.  These creatures like to plant themselves (pun intended) on roses, honeysuckles, and any flowering foliage.  They latch onto the plants and don't let go until they have literally sucked the life out of said plant, leaving only deformed leaves and flowers in its wake.

I'm sorry to say that there are people in our lives who can act much like these treacherous aphids.  Whether consciously or subconsciously, these people cut you down, belittle your talents and abilities, and try to set you up for failure.  There are people that especially try to do this to your relationship or marriage.  It's destined to fail.  You'll never make it.  Just give up now.  Like I said, it's most often implied.  They (or you!) may not realize it, but much like the aphids, they're crippling you or your relationship.

If possible, it's best to either completely ignore their negativity or if that's too difficult, you may need to reconsider your relationship with these people.  That being said, I don't think it's always wise to try to cut these people out of your live.  Oftentimes, they don't even realize that what they are doing is hurtful and negative.  Instead of blowing up in their faces or trying to prove them wrong, it's best to trust in God's will and know that He has great things planned for you, regardless of the criticism you may face.  After all, is there anyone that knows more than God?  Is there anyone that can tell you what you can and can't accomplish or what your future will hold?  No one but the Almighty knows and what He places upon your heart is for you only.  

Personally, I know that I am guilty of acting or speaking negatively, quite often in fact!  At times, I inadvertently become the aphid, choosing to focus on harsh criticism and dwell in my discouragement.  When this happens, Josh repeatedly has to remind me to readjust my focus.  The same is true for others.  Sometimes we just have to remind them to readjust their own perspectives.

Though Josh and I have had problems and have faced our fair share of criticism, we've learned not to let it faze us.  We like to let the criticism challenge us and strengthen our resolve and commitment to each other.  While the "aphids" in our lives may threaten to destroy what we've worked for, we always remind ourselves to put God first and rely on Him as our primary source of strength.


We hope that you've been enjoying our posts and will continue following us on our journey.  Thank you for each of the wonderful emails that you've sent us and for allowing us to be vulnerable and show our hearts without restraint.  Feel free to contact us at if you have any suggestions for future posts, if you'd like advice, or if you need prayer.  We look forward to hearing from you!


Friday, July 18, 2014

It's Never Too Late to Apologize!

There's a song by Timbaland titled "Apologize." While I think this song is beautiful in its own way, I don't agree with the lyrics of the refrain that say, "It's too late to apologize." Relationships are built on trust, honesty, and how we respond to mistakes. It's never too late to apologize and apologizing brings about the possibility of not merely forgiveness for wrongdoing, but repair for the relationship.

The truth is if you want to repair a relationship, It is NEVER too late to apologize!

While our blog is focused on dating, courtship, and marriage, apologies are important every single relationship we have with another person. There will be times where we do wrong and we must apologize to bring about restitution for our error. Similarly, there will be times where we are wronged and we want an apology. Humankind has an amazing capacity to forgive, and forgiveness can bring about the restoration of relationships in place of punishment and justice!

Marisa and I have been reading from many books this past week, including The Five Languages of Apology by Dr. Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas. Dr. Chapman's book talks about the differences in how people view and give genuine apologies and breaks the types of apologies into 5 main categories (to be discussed in a later post). Dr. Chapman writes powerfully in his book that "while justice may bring about some sense of satisfaction to the offended person, justice does not typically restore relationships." How right Dr. Chapman is! With your spouse, your significant other, your family member, and even your coworkers, the inclination of most people is to forgive instead of hold a grudge. However, often times people do not apologize which makes forgiveness extremely difficult for the offended person.

Many people think apologizing is a form of weakness. It is the dead opposite! Apologizing is a sign of strength, humility, and maturity. It takes a strong person to admit that they are wrong and give the power of restoring the relationship over to the offended person who chooses whether or not they want to forgive the offender. Forgiveness is also often seen as an act of the weak, but in reality, it takes a lot of strength to muster the courage to forgive someone and work to repair the relationship. 

Now I want to talk for a moment about two major misconceptions people have about apologies and forgiveness:

First, I've noticed is a lot of people think that apologizing or the ability to forgive someone have expiration dates. You may have harmed your spouse ten years ago by forgetting your fifth anniversary, or you may have hurt your child by being demeaning at times instead of encouraging. The pain people bear from being hurt can last a lifetime. I know this from personal experience, as I am still trying to forgive people who have not apologized to me for things they did or said that hurt me over a decade ago. If we hold onto pain for such a long time from the things of the past, there cannot ever be an expiration date on apologies or forgiveness because there is still a valid reason to apologize and forgive.  It's never too late to apologize or forgive. 

Second, many people seem to believe that apologizing or forgiveness are one time things. You say "I am sorry" or "I forgive you" and that's it. This isn't the case at all. An apology and forgiveness aren't the one and only step needed to restore relationship. An apology is the first step for an offender of repentance; the offender sees what they are doing is detrimental to their relationship and themselves and they apologize, making the commitment to strive to become a better person. When you apologize for something, odds are you may fail by doing the same thing. Thus, apologizing is a process because it recognizes the need for a continual commitment towards change. Similarly, forgiveness is the first step for an offended person to begin to restore the relationship. Forgiveness is a commitment to remove the debt owed because of the offense and to begin the journey in trusting, loving, and accepting the offender, no matter how egregious their sin. 

In future posts, I hope to discuss the 5 different languages of apology, how to genuinely apologize, and how apologies and forgiveness can change your life.


Have you ever felt like you cannot forgive your spouse, friend, or family member because they will not apologize? Do you have problems communicating your genuine and sincere apology to your loved one or coworker? We would love to hear your stories and help you along in your journey to attaining the ability to effectively apologize and forgive. You can reach Marisa or me any time with questions, comments, testimonies, or concerns at

I hope you have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"Chunking" your Commitment!

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. --Lao Tzu--
Marriage is a journey that has a definite destination. The goal of marriage is to bring couples fulfillment by learning to love and live together like how Christ loves the church. The ultimate destination of marriage is reaching a place where both spouses are Christ-like servants to first and foremost one another and then to those around them, including their families, friends, and co-workers.

Like any journey, marriages have twists and unforeseen obstacles that make reaching our goal of a "perfect" and Christ-filled marriage difficult. Pains from the past, unforeseen loss, and financial burdens are just some of the circumstances that can cause people to quit this journey because they lose sight on their destination and are too weighed down by hurt and fear. People have preconceived notions that marriage should be easy and always "perfect" and romantic. When negative events shake our lives, we lose footing on this false preconception.

At times, a "perfect" marriage may seem impossible to achieve. That's because it is.

Marriage is a process--a journey--and like any journey, the only way to take it is one step at a time. It can be very overwhelming if you and your spouse make a commitment to have a "perfect" marriage that we know already does not exist in the romanticized way we think it does. We know our ultimate goal is to near perfection, but we may not know how to get there.

I love this quote and image! Source
Marisa's post yesterday on how to overcome addictions and baggage got me thinking about how we approach goals in general in our lives. The way many addicts (and people with other goals) approach their ultimate goal of being freed from their addiction, whatever it may be, is by saying "NO" to temptation one day at a time. To a sex addict, an alcoholic, or a chronic smoker, saying "NO" for a lifetime is extremely overwhelming, and the consequences for failure seem far more steep. Addicts who try to cold-turkey their addiction and don't make each day a step in their recovery but instead try to make their whole life a promise of freedom will binge on their addiction the minute they fail. Instead, if we fail on saying "NO" to an addiction for a day, we only have failed that day, not our entire lives (past or future). Addicts who use each day as a "step" will not binge if they slip.

People are overburdened by the notion that their entire marriage and family life has to be perfect. It never will be perfect, so if you believe your entire marriage ought to be perfect, you need to remove that false idea right now from your mind. Your marriage can (and will) be near perfect if you put in the work that the journey requires and, like addiction recovery, use each day as a step to reach your goal of a marriage that is in the perfect image of God's love. God is perfect and God is love. The reason why God's sacrament, marriage is imperfect is because people are imperfect, not God or marriage!

If the idea of having a near-perfect or perfect marriage seems overwhelming, "chunk" your commitment! 

Use each and every day in your marriage as a step in your journey to complete marital fulfillment. Commit to having the best marriage you can have today! I'm asking for 24 hours (more like 16 if you sleep 8 like me). Use each and every waking hour to tell your partner how much you love them, to show them what it means to love like Christ loves us, and to make sure your partner's every need is met. That's all I want. You'll find that after making the commitment to have the best marriage you can have today, tomorrow you can do the same thing. And the next day, and so on! Your life and marriage will become so amazingly blessed by chunking your ultimate goal into something far more manageable!

Lao Tzu was absolutely right in saying the longest journey starts with one step! Are you willing to take the first step and commit to make your marriage the most Christ-like it can be today?

Marisa and I sincerely hope that our posts and advice blesses you. We are by no means experts on marriage, dating, courtship, or Christian living, but we are trying to learn and grow! We always welcome comments, advice, questions, and testimonies on our blog by commenting below or you can reach us at

God bless you and I look forward to seeing what "chunking" your commitment can do for you and your marriage!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Addictions and Baggage

Let me make something clear.  Josh and I have a beautiful relationship.  I couldn’t be more blessed to have someone like him by my side.  In life, there’s always that one person that comes along and makes you realize why your other relationships never worked out.  There’s that one person who makes you understand that the word “love” is so much more than a four letter word.  For me, that special person is Josh.  Even before we first met, it’s always been him.  What makes our relationship so beautiful is that individually we are strong, loving people, and together, we are even stronger.  We’ve gone through so much during our courtship, but we’ve always come out stronger and more resilient.  We have hurt ourselves and each other multiple times, but we always end up falling deeper in love (cue eye rolls).  Say what you will, but I still believe in love, despite the fact that we live in what appears to be a loveless world.  I’m not saying that I believe a fairytale relationship, where each person is perfect and there are never any disagreements or hurt feelings.  I’m young, yes, but I’m by no means naive. 

I knew going into my relationship with Josh that there would be trials.  Think about it… two imperfect people that start dating/courting aren’t going to come together to make a perfect couple.  Logic states that imperfection can’t breed perfection.  It’s impossible.  Josh and I were two scarred, imperfect people going into an imperfect relationship.  We each brought our own set of baggage to the relationship, and as Josh mentioned in his earlier post, “Everyone comes with baggage.  Find someone who loves you enough to help you unpack.”  And that is exactly what we are doing.  Slowly but surely, we are helping each other to unpack.  We are laying out all our wounds, fears, addictions, and painful memories.  We are bearing it all, knowing that as we unpack we are gradually understanding each other better and as a result, falling more in love.

The baggage we brought may have been heavy, but it’s growing lighter each day.  Of this baggage, the heaviest by far has been our addictions, and I’m not necessarily referring to substance addictions.  According to, the word “addiction” is defined as “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming”.  How many of you can think of something in your lives that fits within this definition?  If you can’t think of anything, you’re either lying to yourself or you’re probably not human.  I know that I can think of several things in my life that can be defined as addictions.  I brought them into my relationship with Josh, just as Josh brought his own.  When you start dating/courting someone or even when you marry someone, your problems and addictions don’t magically disappear.  Instead, we bring each of them into our relationships and if we’re not careful, we give them the power to destroy everything in the relationship that we worked so hard to achieve.

If you’re currently in a relationship, what addictions do you have packed away in your suitcase?  Alcoholism?  Negativity?  Pornography?  A self-deprecating attitude?  An eating disorder?  Each of these addictions is not only burdensome and painful to carry, but can also take a toll on your significant other.  While it might be easier to ignore them at times, we must face them head on if we ever want our relationships to reach their full potential.  Only when we admit our faults to God, ourselves, and our loved ones can we finally find solutions and reach our own maximum potential.

Speaking from personal experience, I can say that Josh has had habits and addictions that have cut me deeply.  At times, I’ve been tempted to turn away, thinking that it will spare me from more hurt.  Yet, it is during these times that I also remember the unconditional love that God showed us when He sent His only son to die for us sinners.  We didn’t deserve His love and grace, yet we received it anyway.  Who are we to withhold this same unconditional love, forgiveness, and acceptance from others?  I’ve brought my fair share of baggage and addictions into my relationship with Josh, and he’s never turned away.  He’s always seen me for who I truly am and not what I do.  Josh deserves the very same from me.  He is not his past nor is he what he does or the mistakes he has made.  Josh is an imperfect individual just like me and worthy of my unyielding, unconditional love.

To close out this post, I’d like to go over a few steps for “unpacking” addictions and breaking them:

  1. Ask yourself why you turn to ______.  Truly contemplate and pinpoint the underlying causes of your addictions and habits. 
  2. Don’t minimize the severity of your addiction or deny it!  Face the fact that it is holding you down and preventing you from reaching your full potential.  If you can’t do this on your own, it’s perfectly okay to ask for help from your significant other or from loved ones. 
  3. Seek alternative (healthy!) ways to cope with whatever is causing your addiction.  Don’t replace it with something equally damaging. 
  4. Recognize your weaknesses.  Is it the Internet?  TV?  Negative friends?  If you want to progress and overcome your struggles, you need to get rid of whatever tempts or negatively influences you. 
  5. Have a support system to help you on your journey!  Ecclesiastes 4:9 – 12 says it best.  “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.  Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”  We all need loved ones and friends that will be real with us and keep us accountable. 
  6. Give yourself some credit!  As you progress and slowly overcome your addiction, reward yourself for your efforts.  Whether this reward is positive words to yourself or treating yourself (and your significant other) to a fancy dinner, you need to stay motivated!

Read and reread these steps.  Memorize them!  Write them on a notecard!  Do what you have to in order to keep them fresh in your mind.  I wish you the very best on your journey!

As always, feel free to email us as  Josh and I hope to hear from you soon!