Preparing For a Marriage, Not Just a Wedding

In 28 short days, I will no longer be “Goods for Life.” I will be “Morris for Life.” Til death do us part; for better or for worse!

I would say the fact that Devon and I are really, truly getting married in less than a month has hit home in the last couple days. We won’t just be engaged; we’ll be married! I’ve realized some areas I need to work on in my relationship with him in order to build a strong foundation, and I’ve been really working on those. In the midst of the excitement of engagement, sometimes I get carried away in preparing for the things that aren’t going to last a lifetime: like the candle centerpieces, or the hairstyle I’m going to have, or the reception music.

Don’t get me wrong: Planning a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we definitely want our wedding day to be special. We desire it to be a reflection of the love God has given us for each other and to build His Kingdom. But if we’re not careful, we’ll fall into the trap that so many engaged couples do: prepping for the wedding, not the lifelong marriage.

While having a long-distance engagement has definitely had its down side (missing each other beyond expression every day), one advantage has been that we’ve taken time to go through a few books together via the phone or Skype. I thought I’d share a few of them for any engaged couples out there looking to prepare beyond the wedding.

Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts – We went through this workbook that has about 25 different exercises specialized for men and women. It walks you through everything from talking about your family background, your future desires, sex myths, financial planning, and more. It’s been great to help us start communicating about those issues!

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus – Even though we haven’t quite finished this one yet, we’ve gotten a lot out of it. It gives a lot of great analogies, like how men need to go to their “cave” to think and recover, while women like to talk through their problems.

The Five Love Languages – I know this is one of the most popular relationship books of all time, and rightly so. We read this at the beginning of our relationship, and learned the importance of keeping each other’s “love tank” full by expressing love in the way the other person needs it (not just in the way I need it!)

There are so many great books out there on relationships, and if you have any recommendations on what we should read, let me know! We’re trying to do all we can to build a solid foundation for a God-honoring relationship.

The ME Disease

Our society trains young people to be focused on me, me, me. You can be anything you want to be. Reach for the stars! Want to be a doctor? You can do it! Think you can shake and jive like Shakira? You can be the next pop sensation!

American society has tainted its youth to think that life is all about them. I teach at a public high school, and I see it every day. Even most of the kids from low-income families desire fame and fortune — not to help their families get out of debt or achieve a high standard of living; but just so they can be famous, drive fancy cars, and have nice stuff.

This way of thinking does not prepare young people for the real world. In real life, most of them will not be celebrities or own their own company. And that’s OK. It’s OK to be part of something that is bigger than yourself — to be an engineer who designs safe bridges for people to travel on, to be a kindergarden teacher who helps children how to read and write. Young people need to be taught that real life starts when you give yourself to the higher purpose of serving others.

When our society becomes less egocentric, we will really start to move mountains. It’s the people throughout history who have not been concerned just about their own well-being, but about the interests of others, who make the biggest difference. Think Andrew Carnegie, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln.

Let’s practice living for the bigger purpose. If you haven’t read The Purpose-Driven Life, I highly recommend it. When you are living for something (Someone!) bigger than yourself, then you really start living!

The Biggest Wedding This World Has Ever Seen

My whole life, I’ve known this day would come — the day when my prince and I will be united; when two will become one.

However, as a little girl, I was never the type to daydream about my wedding. I hadn’t even thought about my wedding colors until after we got engaged. I had never touched a bridal magazine until just a couple months ago. Now, if you’re wondering if I’m excited about getting married, you can ask my roommate or my students — the people who see me every day and have to hear me rambling on and on about June 11th, 2010 — and they will testify that I am ecstatic!

With this rising anticipation blossoming inside of me each day, I find myself beginning to understand why Jesus compares himself to a groom in the Bible. Maybe that was partially for us engaged girls who need to be reminded that as exciting as getting married is, our lifelong relationship with Christ and His return are even more exciting!

I was just reading Matthew 25:1-13, the parable of the ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom. Basically, the groom (symbolizing Christ) was coming to take all ten young ladies (symbolizing Christ’s followers) to a banquet, but five of them did not have enough oil in their lamps to stay up waiting for the bridegroom. While they were out buying oil, the bridegroom came, and those five women did not get to go to the banquet.

Essentially, five of these women were distracted by something else when they should have been focused on Christ. In modern day terms, maybe they were too busy watching Entertainment Tonight and reading celebrity magazines that they weren’t thinking about God. Maybe they were caught up in becoming successful businesswomen. Maybe they were swept into the whirlwind of raising kids, keeping their husbands happy, and maintaining a clean household. But something distracted them from Jesus.

As glorious as wedding planning, raising a family, or having a career may be, I never want any of those things to steer any of my focus away from Jesus. I want my lamp to be burning brightly, so that He can see that I am waiting for Him more than I’m waiting on any life circumstance!

Getting married, having kids, finding my life’s calling, are all exciting. But I won’t find any of my fulfillment from those things. My fulfillment comes from my connection with the Bridegroom.

May all of our hope be in You, Bridegroom! May we be found captivated by the wait for the biggest wedding of all time — when we, Your Church, are united with You forever!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Risky Business

Since college, my life has been full of risks. I’m sure some of my friends and family look at the way I live and think I’m extremely random and disorderly. But most of the risks I take are carefully prayed over, and I’ve seen God’s hand move as I’ve been willing to step out on a limb for Him.

The risks I’m talking about aren’t like bungyjumping or climbing Mt. Everest; they are the risks of day-to-day, year-to-year living. Immediately following college, I made a risk by moving to the Philippines to be a missionary. Most people go through missions organizations when they move a few thousand miles, but I just decided to meet up with the missionaries I had met there when I was on a church missions trip at age 16. I ended up staying there for six months, the only American in a sea of precious Filipinos. It was exactly what God had asked me to do, and I am so glad I was willing and obedient.

I moved back to Oklahoma after my Philippines adventure, and a couple years after my return, God opened up a door for me to move to Houston to work for an oil and gas magazine. In the natural, none of it made sense. Why would I leave the comfort of my home state to move to a place where I knew very few people, to take a job for a subject matter that did less than thrill me (oil and gas!?). But I decided to take that leap of faith in December 2007, and over the last two years, the will of God has gradually unfolded in my life. No, oil and gas was not for me. But at the magazine, I made lifelong connections with people who influenced me to draw closer to God, and whom I influenced to come to know Christ.

And about a year ago, God started showing me the next turn of events He had for my life. I started thinking about what it would be like to teach. I had never had a desire to teach during college or at any other point in my life, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. Eventually, I found out what it would take to become a certified teacher in Texas, and told God that if I were to teach, I would want to teach high school English and Journalism. In the spring of 2008, I attended three teacher job fairs, and at the third fair, I was offered a job to teach at Elsik High School. And guess what the subjects are? English and Journalism.

With a teaching job lined up for the fall, I started thinking how everything in my life was falling into place. Career? Check! Spiritual life? Check! Volunteer work? Check! I love my Saturday work, volunteering with the youth drama team at Lakewood. But God saw one area that was not complete…my relationships! He decided it was the perfect time to bring my future husband into my life!

In April of last year, a young man from my past reappeared. Devon Morris and I had been on three missions trips together (including the original Philippines trip) when we were teenagers, and he messaged me on Facebook to inquire if I would be returning to the Philippines anytime soon. (Yes, Facebook can work wonders!)

Not so incidentally, I had already planned a trip back to the Philippines for that summer. Through a series of open doors, Devon was able to clear two and a half weeks in June and July to go back to the Philippines with me.

Even before the trip, the two of us started engaging in some heart-to-heart conversations, catching up on the seven years since we had last talked. After about two months of talking to him regularly, I realized I was really attracted to him. “Wow, this guy has really grown into an amazing man of God!” I thought. Still, I asked God to guard my heart throughout the mission trip, so we could be focused on serving Him and not each other.

When we finally reconnected on June 19, we ended up talking nearly the entire 20-hour trip to the Philippines! Since both of our greatest desire is to serve the Lord on the mission field, we were able to focus on the trip. But to us, the connection we felt with each other was nothing short of God-ordained. Before Devon and I had reconnected, I had written a list of 10 very specific things I wanted in my future husband. And guess who met all 10?

After prayer and lots of talking, Devon and I decided to take a risk by starting a long-distance relationship – he in Tulsa, and I in Houston. For the time being, we have been somewhat stuck, since I’m finishing my one-year intern year as a teacher to earn my certificate, and he is enrolled in school in Tulsa. Every day has been a challenge, but we’re joyfully headed toward the altar now, engaged and exuberant about a God who will call us to take countless risks throughout our lives.

One of my mottos in life is to never be stuck in a comfort zone. When God sees hearts in us that will do absolutely anything for Him absolutely anywhere He calls us, He will use us incredibly! When was the last time you took a risk for God? What risks is He calling you to? He has a life of adventure for you, if you’ll only be willing to come out of your comfortable hideaway.

How Does A Christian Date Righteously?

This past Sunday, I had the joy of hearing my former pastor in Tulsa, Willie George (a.k.a. Gospel Bill). He spoke on a topic that all of us need to hear (yes, even engaged people!)– how to date righteously! It was probably the best message I’ve ever heard about dating, so I felt compelled to post the notes. Please take time to read and process them!

Church on the Move
– 1/17/10
Willie George

“How Does a Christian Date Righteously?”

There are 2 dangers in singeleness:
1. Independence
2. Interdependence – when you can’t function without being in a relationship

Before getting into a relationship, you need to consider:
1. How is your relationship with Christ?
2. Where do your values (yours and his/hers) come from?
3. Are you sensitive to the counsel of Godly friends?

-Marriage is primarily about holiness, not happiness. (Colossians 2:10)

16 Christian dating principles:
1. Maximize your singleness for God.
2. Don’t pursue a serious relationship until you’re ready to get married.
3. Be reasonable in your expectations.
4. Don’t be legalistic about dating. –Don’t quibble about words like “date,” “courtship,” etc.
5. Don’t have a romantic relationship with an unbeliever.
6. Only be in a relationship with 1 person at a time.
7. He should initiate; she should respond.
8. Look at who God puts in front of you!
9. Use technology wisely! (internet dating, etc.)
10. Invest in a romantic relationship only with someone you’re entirely attracted to.
11. Only date someone who agrees with you on the major theological issues.
12. Guard your heart. Don’t commit quickly.
13. Be careful of legalism (not letting people in on a 1-on-1 basis) and libertanism (thinking every relationship will lead to courtship).
14. Marry someone who will be a good fit for every season of life you are in.
15. Pursue only someone you genuinely love.
16. Do not have sexual contact until you’re married.

High Schoolers Say The Darndest Things

Well, it’s finals week, and one of my English students, Felipe, made my day today without even realizing. And it all started with the “f” word, oddly enough.

After my 2nd period finished their finals today, I heard Felipe say, “What the f&*@?” to another student. Now, at least at my school, we are not supposed to give them an official punishment for cursing unless it’s directed toward us. However, my students know that I do not allow that kind of language in my classroom. I always try to verbally reprimand them if I hear “big” curse words, because I don’t believe that kind of language should be accepted in the business world, where I hope they’re headed.

“Felipe, come up here,” I told him. “Do you know why I don’t allow that kind of language in my classroom?”

“Because you’re a Christian?” was his reply.

I paused and a smile filled my soul. Even though I don’t blatantly tell the students I’m a Christian, they know it. And apparently they equate my high standards with my faith in God.

“Well, yes, but I also don’t allow that kind of language because when you get into the workplace, that language is not acceptable.”

That was the end of our conversation, but his comment left my soul happy. Even if my students don’t always appreciate my standards, they know that in Miss Goodier’s class, there are high expectations — not because I’m anything special, but because of the God I serve.

The Treacherous Christmas Eve Adventures of Devon and Lindsay

After an enjoyable time at Church on the Move’s “Celebrate With Family” service, Devon and I started heading toward Claremore at about 5:30 Thursday afternoon. Little did we know the journey would take us two and a half hours!

Our drive was greeted by our first experience with an Oklahoma blizzard! Yes, apparently blizzards do exist in Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain. Driving conditions were so terrible that Devon could barely see a few feet in front of him — “white out” as the meteorologists like to say.

We stopped at the Reasor’s in Catoosa to grab an ice scraper and a few other items, and as we were pulling out, the car got stuck in the middle of the highway! Fortunately, a kind lady wearing a Christmas sweater (but no coat) stopped to help us (…Mrs. Claus?);-) We wound up breaking her bunjee cord, rope, and jumper cables trying to pull the car out. And silly me! Without thinking, I wore leather slides out in the snow, so my heels felt like they were frostbitten from trying to push the car out of the snow. After I finally got back in the car, I started “crying uncontrollably” (according to Devon) because I was so cold.

The crying ended as I regained warmth and feeling in my heels, and we continued the treacherous journey over the Port of Catoosa bridge, past the House of Nuts and the QT. Even though Devon can scarcely see the road, he was doing a fantastic job maneuvering the small car. That is, until his bladder took over. He pulled over on a road that was not very hidden and sought deliverance. Even two days later, I am still praying that he is able to give me babies after the chilling experience. Brrrr! 🙂

When he got back in the car after creating yellow snow, the car was stuck yet again! (Thank you, Devon’s bladder!) Lucky for us, a Good Samaritan stopped to help push the car out onto the main road.

The rest of the way to the Morris home, Devon and I were praying non-stop. We felt a bit like our missionary friends Vincent and Delia Padupad in the Philippines, who daily face life-challenging circumstances, but who won’t ever let the devil pull them down. We sang plenty of worship songs and prayed in the Spirit until we safely arrived in the neighborhood.

Sadly, the Volvo got stuck in the neighbor’s yard as we were trying to pull in the driveway. But we were just thankful to be safe and sound. The Team Devon and Lindsay love has grown even more through this Christmas Eve adventure!