A Reading List for Relationships

I asked and you answered. I’ve only read a handful of these books, so I’m not endorsing them or the authors, simply reporting the answers from friends, family, and followers.

I found that most of the authors suggested are white males, who as you may guess, do not hold a monopoly on healthy relationships or great sex. If you have suggestions, please let me know so I can add them to the list. In the meantime, I would strongly encourage you read outside the box!

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Which Christian dating/marriage books have either helped or misled you?

Here’s what helped.

Other helpful authors or speakers.

And these seemed to be misleading.

If you disagree with any of the characterizations above, I’d love to hear! Obviously, there’s a lot more to say on these subjects that these few authors can cover, but it’s a start. Knowing some of the authors listed, some books most likely disagree in certain ways.

I asked this question with “purity culture” in mind. I’m curious to hear if you experienced this growing up and if there were teachings or books that promoted this in your church or religious context. 

 

In the Midst

Writing about something while you’re waist deep in the waters of transition isn’t always tidy. I don’t have any certain conclusion or deep insight to share, other than we’ve made some significant decisions this month — the outcomes of which we are still discovering.

I resigned from my job and we’re currently switching church communities. We’ve wrestled (hard!) with these decisions but knew we needed to adjust our priorities as we found gaps in our relationship, mental and emotional health, and spiritual growth. These gaps were incredibly discouraging as I felt stuck between everything on my calendar, a tricky commute, and a frequent lag in our communication. Inspired by Rory Gilmore, I made countless pro/con lists which eventually helped us see a clear distinction between our options.

Stepping away from my job has already given me time to build new friendships, read, talk walks around our beautiful neighborhood, and be more involved on campus. Our hope is to also explore a different tradition with our new church and become involved with the community there while Aaron considers ordination.

2018 has been the most challenging year yet for us. It’s required lots of flexibility, strength, and determination from both Aaron and I in all areas. So, we rest while we can. Maybe not for the entire academic year, maybe longer than we anticipate — either way we are thankful for an opportunity to try something different.

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Farewell summer 2018. 

Rebalance, refreshment, refocus — all words I hope to describe this season with in the days and months to come.

Have you made any significant decisions recently? When was the last time you rested?

 

 

Celebrating Us

Our “wedding” day was one of the best days. Of course, the day wasn’t without frustration or confusion, and there were some things that got left out, but those things didn’t matter in the end. I remember going to bed that night with no regrets. Win!

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The process of planning a wedding is simultaneously amazing and awful. Our first ideas for this day were the exact opposite of what it evolved into. There was one point where I wanted to throw the entire idea of a ceremony and reception out the window. But I came to my senses with a fresh perspective. Thankfully, it turned into something more funky and original – a reflection of Aaron and I. In no particular order, here are four of my favorite details about that day.
Something Old
If you know me at all, I love second hand items. I found my dress at a tiny consignment shop in Minnesota and had it altered (aka chopped off) to show my fun shoes! The dress was exactly what I had hoped it would be: simple and fun to dance in! I went out of my comfort zone a tad and chose a dress with a deep back. Turned out to be a smart choice. It was not only extremely pretty, but practical since it kept me cool on a hot day!
I found the vintage sarees on Etsy for roughly ten dollars each. (Sarees are about 15 feet of gorgeous, soft fabric.) We used them for backdrops, table decor, and cushions. It was a beautiful pop of color. On that note, my bridesmaids wore such beautiful kurtas! They looked lovely. I’m so happy to have thought of this since it was the MOST comfortable thing they could have possibly worn that day. Lovely, comfy, and elegant.
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Something New
I kept the flowers very simple for a variety of reasons. First, I wasn’t keen on holding a bouquet just for a few moments as we said our vows. Secondly, they weren’t going to last super long, to even to the next day. I chose 10 foot greenery garlands that had bayleaf and rosemary. I also ordered about 5 dozen garden roses. The roses were beautiful accents on the garlands and smelled amazing together!
I ordered flowers from FiftyFlowers.com. We were really impressed with the delivery (since we only ordered them a week or two beforehand!) and they arrived in such wonderful condition. They have a huge selection and great customer service; I’d order from them again!
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Something Yummy
We celebrated our marriage with the most important meal of the day: breakfast. I searched and searched for a restaurant or business that would adhere to a custom menu – a menu I knew would be a hit with guests. Some gave me ridiculous quotes at 20K when I asked for my Lucky Charms and waffles. I picked my jaw up off the floor and considered my options. Eventually I was victorious with the Red Skiff, a local brunch spot in Rockport. I was so happy when someone told me “I smelled bacon and I knew I was in the right place.”
Guests munched on bacon, sausage, mini quiches, fresh fruit, and cheese. We also had a virgin mimosas, a coffee bar, and a cereal bar! To top it off, we had waffles with all the toppings!
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Something Blue
Aaron and his groomsmen stole the show. Not only are these young men so incredibly patient with a bossy bride, but they are not afraid of the dance floor. I’ve gone to way too many events where the men line the walls. No fun! I loved watching Aaron and his boys dance. And of course, I loved dancing with them to the beat of Bollywood, Latin, and everything inbetween.
I remember a party a few years ago where Aaron and I came with different people, but danced together to a Katy Perry song. In that moment, as friends, I recall having so much fun with him. We laughed and laughed. It was like we were the only two people in the room and no one else mattered. I am so happy that we’re here and we have friends who LOVE to get down and move their hips.
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It was weird and wonderful to see all of our worlds colliding. I wish there were more excuses to gather together than just weddings and funerals. We are so blessed to have people in our lives that pray with us, answer our questions, and cheer us on. It was so incredible to have our Maryland/Alaska, college, and church friends with family on that day. (I hear rumors that some of you may have started some new friendships thanks to that day.)
A very memorable day in the books. Thank you for celebrating with us, near or far!
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Messy hair and big smiles. No other way to end that day.
VenueRockport Community House DJ – Seth McKinney PhotographerSteven Schultz Dress – Consignment ShoesSteve Madden  RentalsBoston Rustic Wedding Rentals FlowersFiftyFlowers.com Catering – Red Skiff ProgramsSLCreative Designs on Etsy GuestbookArtifact Uprising BalloonsHomeStyleDivas on Etsy

Unpacked & Undone

These last two months have held both major milestones and some major meltdowns. In May, Aaron graduated with his bachelors in Biblical Studies from Gordon College and we moved. We’ve unpacked at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Massachusetts. Later this week, as June comes to a close, we’ll be hosting family and friends as we celebrate our marriage, almost a year after the fact.

As wonderful as all of these things are, I’ve really struggled enjoying them to the fullest. In May I started a second job at our local church as the creative and administrative director. In combination with my advocacy job, my days have been long and have very often worn me very thin.

May was extremely hard for me. I just started raising awareness about my preliminary acceptance into the seminary’s Partnership Program. This program teaches participants how to Biblically steward their finances while building their ministries. Participants start learning how to fundraise right away by gathering support from churches, loved ones, and even businesses or other non-profits. Gathered support is collected into the school’s general scholarship fund out of which participants and other students receive a full-tuition scholarships, including me! With everything else on my plate, this program was intimidating and I worried that I would not be able to make the deadlines.

I felt defeated. Maybe I set myself up for failure? I worked long days already, barely made dinner most evenings, and did not sleep well at night. I couldn’t do it, I thought. I prayed and searched for peace and provision. Just like a three-year-old I stamped my foot at God wondering if He heard me. Upset with myself and very stressed, I had to let go. It was taking too much energy to be this worried. I had to stop thinking, number one, that I could do anything on my own, and number two, that God needed a reminder to be faithful.

God’s hearing is never selective, nor does He need us to remind Him of His own identity. Usually, those are OUR issues. While my deadlines still exist, my worries do not. I am still looking for partners, and I trust the Lord will continue to work through the details I cannot see or do myself.

At this moment, Aaron and I are enjoying spending time with family and friends from all around the country as they join us for our wedding celebration. There is still much to do to prepare, but it’s all coming together. This is SUCH an exciting time of life and I am determined to enjoy it.

 

A Wild Story

I’ve read my fair lot of books and short stories and watched enough movies to know that not every part of the story seems fair or relevant at the time it’s read or seen. These portions may consist of ambiguous, “boring” details of a character’s work or family (e.g. “Atlas Shrugged”), or it may include a questionable cliff hanger or injustice (e.g. “Ben Hur”). As a member of the audience, one may silently ask the the author “Why does this have anything to do with the story?” or “Did this really have to happen?” (Cue the “Titantic”…)

In the past year of my life I’ve asked many similar questions amidst a variety of trials and joys. From a heart wrenching break-up last October to the work involved with graduating university and then moving across the country, the Elizabeth I knew last October would have laughed thinking about having accepted Aaron’s proposal for marriage. Personally, I feel I’ve walked down a rabbit trail or two that my life story could have gone without. I’ve asked myself a ton of “what ifs..?” Why did it take three years for Aaron and I to admit that we loved each other from the first moment we set eyes on each other? Why did I feel so ready to go to YWAM to have it not work out?

I won’t speak for you, but you may also have some parts of your story that don’t make sense, maybe some dragons or dungeons. These parts probably have a faint smell of regret or bitterness tied to them, unless you’re able to laugh at them. I’ll share a small example, Aaron and I drove my tightly packed Honda Accord from Denver, Colorado to Boston, Massachusetts without a hitch. (Quite the drive.) Only when we arrived did a certain someone back the car into a parked truck, causing the rear passenger door behind the driver to dent so badly they needed to replace the entire door. In the moment we were stressed, somewhat humiliated and completely bummed. It was a moment where I had no idea what to do or even why this would happen at a time like this. Now, a week or two removed, Aaron and I still cringe, but more so we laugh at our mistake.

I can’t tell you why that happened (among a myriad of other events), other than a momentary lapse in judgement, but I can tell you I felt almost punished. Aaron and I had our plans settled while in Alaska for the summer, but in a matter of 10 days, YWAM, the Air Force, and a job position fell from our grasp. Unexpectedly, we headed out to Boston with little knowledge of what we’d find. We were met with a hopeless welcome, no apartments, no jobs, and now a damaged car. Were we in the wrong place? Did we miss something?

I think most often I’ve looked at God after an upset and pointed, saying “see? I’m not ready to do this?!” I’ve felt entirely ill-equipped to be perhaps the furthest point from home I could be. I’m fairly independent, sure I guess you could say that, but I think what people mean when they say that is, “yes, I like to do my own thing on my own time in my own way. yes, that’s what I like.” Of course I’m all about independence in that way, but I’m also noticing that isn’t God’s desire for me. He enjoys it when we accomplish something together, which means I’ll have to depend solely on Him, even if I do have a “great idea”. His ideas tend to be so much better.

Obedience has looked very different than we had imagined. We have faced seemingly impossible circumstances; we stood together through our present story with peace, but (honestly) some confusion as well, wondering what each day will hold. Each and every time He saves the day with that miraculous timing of His. He is faithful to us in every moment, but how easily we tend to forget. (Memory of a goldfish?)

Although I may be frustrated toward’s the Lord’s timing and mysterious ways, I am confident He seeks to bless and redeem all stories. The first half of this journey felt like His ruler coming down hard on my wrist, but I’m not convinced that’s His character. He wrote this specific chapter for a reason, purposefully including details He saw fit to mention. The sting I thought I first felt on my wrist is not actually punishment; it’s His pen writing His passionate, ever present love and truth on my heart. It’s exciting, uncomfortable, and (often) inconvenient The trials He has written into my story are there because He seeks to open my eyes to an opportunity to live graciously, generously, and grateful to Him for His glory.

 

Obviously, I’m not perfect and once I realized this truth, I still face-planted awfully. Thankfully nothing is as straightforward as it may seem. The rabbit trails, the regrets, the failures, and all the “boring” details of your story can and will be redeemed for His glory. Do you think you’d love Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” just as much if they simply went the easy way? No true adventure was absent a few dragons. Join me in fully trusting that He IS the Creator of all good endings. Your story is not exempt.

You book isn’t over, there’s much to be written and more to be done with our second chances. Follow Him in obedience and we’ll look back together thinking “what a wild story!”

All photos taken by the beautiful and talented Ali Bolsinger. Take a peek at her work and like her page on Facebook.