Marriage: Lessons Learned

Today is our twelfth anniversary. I would be a total liar if I told you that we have lived in marital bliss everyday for 12 years. We have had lots of good days and lots of hard days. We have made really great choices and some really bad ones. We have gone through it and learned a lot! We are both pretty strong-willed and we learn things the hard way. I am looking back over our time together (so far) and reflecting on the lessons that God has taught us along the way. Maybe you can learn from our mistakes!?


We got married on August 17th, 2007. We were the first people in our friend group to get married and had NO IDEA what we were doing. I stressed over every single detail. Our photographer told us the day before the wedding that he got a job that was going to make more money so he wasn’t coming. It rained. My mom put decorations that I didn’t like up in the gym where our reception was going to be. All of those things felt like the end of the world!

Lesson from day one: spend more time developing as a couple then stressing about ONE DAY! The wedding is important but it only lasts one day. Your marriage is designed to last your life time and deserves a strong foundation. “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle,” (Romans 12:10 MSG).


2008 – 1st Anniversary

We spent most of our first year of marriage in Springfield, MO. I was going to school and working at our church. JM left school and went to work so that we could pay bills. Because we were the first ones in our friend group to get married, we had lots and lots of late nights with them at our apartment. Our friends would eat all of our food and then leave really late. There was a night that I locked JM out because he went to play video games with the boys after midnight. I taped a note on the door that said, “If you still want to be in college, then maybe you should sleep there.” The joys of two becoming one! We moved eight hours away from all of our friends and became kid’s pastors in Texas at the end of that year.

Lesson from year one: Two becoming one isn’t always an easy process. We had separate lives and desires that were needing to merge and submit. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh,” (Genesis 2:24 NASB).


2009 – 2nd Anniversary

We were so broke! The cost of living is way higher in Dallas than in Missouri. We made a salary but it was gone before we even bought groceries. This was a humbling year for us. Our church was in a building campaign and asked everyone to stretch and give all that they could. We were tithing but had nothing extra to give. We didn’t eat out that whole year and babysat our pastor’s kids for free anytime they needed us. That was a way that we felt like we could give to the church.

For our anniversary, we had no money to buy anything for each other or eat out. We set a timer (I think for like 5 minutes) and made each other something from stuff we had in our apartment. I made him a card in our bedroom and came out into the living room to this… it is still one of my favorite memories of him. He took things from all around our tiny little home and spelled out the words, “Happy Anniversary. I love you.”

Lesson from year two: sometimes the hardest seasons have the sweetest memories. “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way,” (James 1:2-4 MSG).


2010- 3rd Anniversary

For our third anniversary, we went to San Antonio for a couple of days. I took a pregnancy test on our way out of town and found out that I was pregnant with Hadlee. We had such a precious time dreaming about our baby.

We were going through a lot of struggles at our church and in our marriage as a result. God gave us best friends who protected us. They are about 15 years ahead of us in their marriage and were able to speak truth to us and pray over us. Their goal was for the two of us to stand together even if all of hell was trying to divide us.

Lesson from year three: even spiritual authority can have bad intentions and act sinfully. Church leaders will fail and cause harm but that doesn’t mean that God isn’t good. Pastors are people. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard,” (Romans 3:23 NLT).


2011- 4th Anniversary

This picture makes me laugh because everything looks so great and precious. We were suffering and you might never know by looking at the picture. The church hurt was still intense. Hadlee was sick all the time. She had violent acid reflux and projectile threw up every time she ate. Which meant that she couldn’t gain weight. She had a very serious dairy allergy that cause her to aspirate and stop breathing while she was in her car seat. We had to rush her to the emergency room when she was 17 days old and they did three failed spinal taps and all kinds of tests to see what was wrong with her. It was like being thrown into the deep end of the pool. I was a kid’s pastor and had NO idea what to do with my own kid!

Lesson from year four: no matter how perfectly I plan my life, God’s ways are always better then my plan (even if they are hard). “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts,” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT).


2012 – 5th Anniversary

My man has a thing for lions! For this anniversary, I made JM a lion and filled it with things that I love about him.

We left our church and were on staff at Gateway. They made a position for us and were intentional about seeing our marriage healed. We moved an hour away and knew no one. We had a lot to talk through and process.

Lesson from year five: talking to your spouse about your feelings (even the ones that are ugly) is not a waste of time. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working,” (James 5:15 ESV). 


2013 – 6th Anniversary

We were beginning to dig out of the dark hole that we had been in for years. Both of us were walking through healing, counseling, and freedom ministry. Joy was returning to us and we were becoming best friends again. We were starting to discover new things about ourselves and walk in authority.

Lesson from year six: hang in there. The sun does come up, even if it has been dark for a long time. You’ve captured my heart, dear friend. You looked at me, and I fell in love. One look my way and I was hopelessly in love!” (Song of Solomon 4:9 MSG).


2014 – 7th Anniversary

We met my mom and sister in OK to go camping. They stayed in a cabin with Hadlee and JM and I had a tent. We kept hearing weird scratching noises outside of our tent in the middle of the night. We decided that a bobcat was trying to eat us (it definitely wasn’t a bobcat – we’re just dramatic like that!). We worked up the courage to run to our car, drive to the nearest town, and hide from the bobcat inside of Denny’s until the sun came up. These dorky pictures are how we killed time!

This was a year of intentional hiddenness for us. We got off all social media and really went after the Lord. Jon-Michael and I were both promoted that year.

Lesson from year seven: we don’t need approval from anyone but God. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” (Matt 6:33 NIV).


2015 – 8th Anniversary

JM’s promotion came with incredible health insurance which meant we could try for baby #2! I was about ready to pop here, pregnant with Landree. This was an extremely sweet year. Hadlee was doing homeschool and was obsessed with her new baby sister, I got to work part-time to be with my girls, and JM loved his job. We were starting to feel like grown ups and had been through enough that we felt like we had wisdom to offer other people.

Lesson from year eight: God gives good gifts. “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11 NIV).


2016 – 9th Anniversary

This year was absolutely the WORST! But look how cute we are! We sold our home to move closer to JM’s work and wanted Hadlee in a better school district. Our new home flooded 3 weeks after we moved in. The entire first floor was exploding with water. We totaled 2 paid off cars. We dealt with major sickness. We fixed our floors and they flooded again. A family moved in with us. It was one thing after another. Literally. We felt like God told us that we were going to be leaving Gateway and planting a church. We started that process and right at the last minute God said “no” and shut all the doors. We had no jobs, were completely humiliated, and exhausted.

Lesson learned from year nine: bad circumstances don’t get to determine God’s goodness. “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need,” (Philippians 4:12 ESV).


2017 – 10th Anniversary

On the day of our tenth anniversary, we got a call that we were picked to be the Springdale campus pastors at Keypoint Church in Arkansas. It was something we felt like God had spoken to us and told us to be quiet about. He came through in a huge way. We moved in two weeks and sold our house in TX after we were moved. That year was spent building relationships and learning how to lead adults who were older than us (after years and years of children’s ministry). We were in awe of how all the missing puzzle pieces in our life seemed to come together and make sense.

Lesson from year ten: God has way more in store for us than we can even ask for and uses all of our brokenness for His glory. “So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose” (Romans 8:28 TPT).


2018 – 11th Anniversary

For this anniversary, we went to dinner in OKC and talked about all the really hard and really great times up to that point in our marriage. That year was really about us finding our voices. We had to learn how to speak and articulate God’s heart to His people but also for ourselves. JM and I have always been extremely honest with each other. We have never had any issues sharing our struggles with each other, but we have struggled knowing what we need and being able to communicate that.

We had to learn to set up firm boundaries around our time. Because we were giving so much to everyone else, we were empty and didn’t have much left to give to each other. We established a weekly date day and protected our Sabbath fiercely.

Lessons from year eleven: we are responsible to steward our relationship and decide where our time goes. It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, But if there’s no one to help, tough! (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 MSG).


2019 – 12th Anniversary

We are going to celebrate on Monday while our kiddos are in school. This year has been very, very busy. It has been a fight to keep our relationship first and our priorities in order. Between raising young kids and leading at church, demands are high. We have started putting the girls to bed and then going on walk “dates” in the front yard just to make sure that we are connecting.

Lesson from year twelve: a healthy marriage shows God off to the world who desperately needs to see Him. It is worth the energy to fight for healthy priorities. Marriage is the beautiful design of the Almighty, a great and sacred mystery—meant to be a vivid example of Christ and his church. 33 So every married man should be gracious to his wife just as he is gracious to himself. And every wife should be tenderly devoted to her husband,” Ephesians 5:32-33 TPT).

Jon-Michael knows everything about me. He is patient with me but calls me to a high standard. He lovingly calls me out and doesn’t let me get away with sin. He makes me grow. He sits and cries with me. He listens to me. He tells me everything going on in his world. He cleans, cooks us breakfast, and does the school drop off. He pursues all THREE of his ladies with intention and care. He is fun, loud, and makes our home what it is.

But. There is One that he loves even more than he loves me. He is committed and submitted to God above anything else. He worships, studies his Bible (for more than just preaching), he cries out to God, he lets God speak to and challenge him, he hears God and obeys God. And I am a blessed, favored wife because of it.

If your marriage is in a hard season right now, hopefully seeing that ours has been too, gives you some hope and peace. We have come a really long way with lots of help from Jesus (and counseling, ha!). Dig in deep and choose to trust God with your future.

I love you, Dude Buddy! Happy 12th Anniversary! Here’s to a WHOLE bunch more!





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