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What I Learned My First Year of Marriage

Anastasis Faith
-By Brittanie Leake
When Anna asked to interview me about my first year or marriage, I was so thrilled! I’ve been married for a bit over a year, and marriage is just about my favorite thing ever—I get so excited when my friends get married, and I just want everyone to get married and experience how great it is! 
 However, if you are a human then you have seen many marriages fail, many marriages that are not very great. The sad truth is that even among Christians, divorce is a very real problem. I have confidence in my marriage, that it will last, and that my husband and I will truly love one another for all of our days. Yet this confidence does not come from myself or anything that I can do, or that my husband can do. This confidence is solely based in Christ, as we live out the Gospel truth that we are sinners in need of a loving and gracious Savior.
This is exactly how—and the only way—that a marriage will work, and will be full of love and joy: by God’s grace, by drawing from the deep love of Christ, and by asking for forgiveness over and over and over again.
At our wedding, my close friend read 1 John 4:7-21, which I think is the theme of not only a godly marriage, but of the whole Christian life: the power to love God and love others comes from God first loving us. This has been such a great and humbling truth in my marriage, and I have been drawn back to God’s love over and over repeatedly as I sought (and still seek) to love my husband well. I hope this interview will serve as encouragement for every woman, whether you are married or plan to never get married or fall somewhere in between.

16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:16-19)

What were two things that you learned in your first year of marriage?
The first would be how much my sin and pride affects my marriage; I wanted to do things “my way,” when it really didn’t matter. The desire to be right is engrained in all of us, and marriage exposed that, especially in petty little things.
James 4:1 says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” I learned early on that it doesn’t matter if my husband loads the dishwasher the “wrong way,” or if we do laundry differently. Rather than correct him or get upset about it, I could choose to be thankful that he was helping me! I could have saved many unnecessary little conflicts by learning this and addressing my sin sooner.
Another thing that I learned/am still learning is how to communicate; everyone always says that communication is so important, and everyone else is so quick to agree. Honestly, I didn’t really understand what that meant until I was married, and I didn’t realize how bad I could be at it. This year has been a great learning experience for me in a couple of ways.
1. Because I am more introverted by nature, I didn’t consider how much of marriage consists of talking—about EVERYTHING! At first, I thought it would be so hard to live with the same person and know what to say to him all. the. time. But the fun thing is, I love talking to my husband more than anyone else, and I feel like we never run out of things to say!
2. Before marriage, I was never really good at conflict management or confrontation—my go-to response was to shut down and mull over things internally. This doesn’t work as well when you literally share a room with the person that you have conflict with, because there is no escape! Having time apart to think does help, but eventually we would have to address the conflict at hand—sometimes this even meant “going to bed angry” and re-approaching the subject after we were both well rested and removed from the emotional aspect of the conflict. 
The first few months were the hardest, as I was figuring out how to communicate my thoughts and feelings more effectively with my husband, but his kindness and patience toward me made it so much easier, along with the fact that no matter how bad things could get, I could trust in his faithful love towards me.

What is something that you wish you had known/prepared for beforehand?
Because we had great premarital counseling and attend a church with many examples of couples and families who desire to please God, I feel like we learned a lot before we were actually married, which is a great blessing!
The one thing that I have found myself wishing I had prepped better beforehand, though, is learning time management when it comes to daily tasks. Taking care of a home is a lot more work than I would have thought! To go from living at home with my parents, to having a few roommates in my college house, to owning a home and being responsible to keep it in order is a big jump! I feel like I wasted a lot of time during the days by not being more structured or intentional with my time. 
Thankfully, I have somehow still been able to accomplish the things I need to, and I am getting better at being more organized with my time! (Surprisingly, now that we have a new baby, it actually makes scheduling my daily tasks and chores a lot easier—I am basically forced to do all that I need to during nap times 😊).
Brittanie is a college graduate, new wife, and new mother! She enjoys spending time with family, serving her church, and encouraging her friends.

Come back next week for Part 2! 
For those of you who are single, what has been most helpful to you in framing your perspective on marriage? For those of you who are married, what did you learn your first year?

Love Me Like Jesus

Anastasis Faith
By Kortney Amy

“’A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.’”  ~John 13:34 (ESV)
Before my now-husband and I got married, we went to pre-marital counseling with the pastor of our church. We had many sessions with him that all helped us greatly in our relationship with each other and with God. One session in particular however stands out in my mind. The pastor gave us homework. He challenged us to each separately write down our top five needs from each other in marriage and then to work on fulfilling those needs. We came back a week later, and I will never forget what my then-fiancé wrote as his greatest need.
Love me like Jesus.
Morning Glory Love Me Like Jesus Kortney Amy
Wow. Talk about humbling. Here I thought I was loving him and showing my love for him the best I could. Still he asks me to love him not as I, Kortney, loves, but as Jesus, God Almighty loves. Thus began my journey towards greater understanding of what it means to love like Jesus.
Loving like Jesus means I must sacrifice my own comfort.
When Christ was born as a babe He left behind the glory of heaven to live among humans as a human. When was the last time you stopped to think about what that means? He left streets of gold for streets of dirt. He left the place of no pain or tears or death for a place where we cannot go a single day without coming face to face with pain and tears and death. He left the praise of heaven for the scorn of earth. He chose this life, this world. More than that, He chose to be the ultimate servant in this world. In the world He created, and in which He deserved all praise and glory, He knelt before man and preformed the lowliest duty of them all. He washed man’s feet.
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.” ~John 13:14 (ESV)
If the LORD of lords and King of kings can humble Himself in such a way, then what gives me any right to do less? Instead of looking for ways I can increase myself, I need to be pursuing ways to increase my husband, my parents, my brother, my friends, my coworkers, anyone I may come into contact with. They don’t even have to be big things. My husband has this habit of asking me to grab him a glass of water just as soon as I have gotten comfortable on the couch and have curled up in a blanket. We are on the same couch, the same distance from the kitchen. He just as easily could get up, go into the kitchen, and pour himself a glass of water. Besides, the water is for him, not me, so why should I be the one to get up? Well, why not? What does it hurt me to get up and get my husband a glass of water? Do I seriously value the comfort of my blanket over the comfort I could bring to another living, breathing human being? So get that glass of water, clear the plates from the dinner table, make those cookies, run that errand with your mom. Be more concerned with the comfort of others than the comfort of yourself.
Loving like Jesus means I must surrender my need to play the martyr.
As Christians we are called to forgive others and extend grace to those who do not deserve it. This is the foundation of our faith. So often though, we do not grasp what forgiveness means, what forgiveness looks like. I always thought I was the best at forgiving. I would never hold grudges. I never brought things up from the past. In fact, there were few hurts that I legitimately remembered. Until a time when my heart was hurt by someone I loved, and suddenly I found myself unable to let it go. I struggled for months, and I had no idea what to do. I loved this person, and yet, I couldn’t forget what had happened.
God brought to my mind the story of Jesus with the Samaritan woman (John 4:4-42) and the story of Jesus with the adulteress woman (John 8:1-11). In both stories Jesus is faced with a woman who has not left a past of sin but is continually sinning. Yet, look at how He talks to them. He does not cry out or accuse or succumb to hysterics. He speaks calmly. He also doesn’t accept the sin. He tells the Samaritan woman straight out that she is living a life of sin and that it is wrong. He doesn’t mince words. When the Pharisees are condemning the adulteress woman, Jesus does not deny that she has sinned. Instead He brings everyone down to the same level.
‘“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”’ ~John 8:7 (ESV)
We all have sinned. How then can we condemn anyone else? I have been hurt, but I have also hurt others. Haven’t we all been there? Haven’t we felt the guilt? Felt the desperation to be forgiven? Felt the shame? We have all fallen. What gives us any right to condemn someone God Himself chooses to forgive?
Jesus died because of our sin, yet He never held it over our heads. We get hurt, and we play the martyr. Jesus got hurt in every way even unto death. If you are reading this, then the world has not killed you. Stop acting as if it has. You are one hurting person in this world of hurting people. Forgiveness is the only way out of the hurt on this earth.
Love me like Jesus.
We have officially entered the Christmas season. It’s amazing how fast time flies! Many people will be hurting this Christmas. Whether it is missing loved ones gone before or being alone or losing out on moments because of unforgiveness. Thus is the broken world in which we live. Let us, however, do our part in loving as our Savior does. Let this be the Christmas that we share God’s love through serving all those around us and forgiving those who have wounded us. Let us love like Jesus.

Kortney Amy is an x-ray tech and a newlywed who likes to write basically anything on the side. She has dabbled in poetry, devotionals, and short stories, and has dreams of eventually writing a book in the very distant future. In her free time she loves to curl up on the couch with tea and a good book next to her husband. She prays that God will be glorified in everything she writes and that maybe He will use her work to touch one more person.

What is one way that you can strive to love others like Jesus this Christmas season? Share in the comments!

Ellie's Tips to Conquer Envy

Anastasis Faith
I remember going to a camp where literally every girl was stunningly gorgeous. Not only were they beautiful, but they had done their makeup and hair just right, brought their cutest clothes and shoes, and they all had great personalities. Every year this was the week where I was very envious of the girls around me. I felt like I wasn't cute enough, didn't have the right shoes, and in comparison, I felt like I had a bad hair day--everyday.
Envy is a struggle for many--if not most--of us. It's hard to catch, sometimes, because it can be so subtle. Even if it is just a longing glance at a model's great lashes on a magazine cover or just a twinge when your friend beats you on a test, envy is dangerous and we must learn to guard against it.
Today we are so blessed to have another 30 Days of Surrender author, Ellie Youngblood, with us today! One of her articles is Surrender Envy. Today we're going to dive into the topic of envy--one that is very relevant and applicable for us as girls.
Surrender Your Envy
What did you learn while writing for 30 Days of Surrender?

I learned to not be afraid of writing about my personal struggles. I realized there were other girls that desperately needed to hear the truth. It hit me that my fears could keep others from being free. Ultimately, I learned how seriously many people are chained with struggles and how the Holy Spirit can set them free.

You wrote about surrendering envy. What made you pick that topic?

I choose this topic because of a past struggle. I am so grateful to God that He opened my eyes to see how selfish and jealous I had been of a friendship. I was so close to my friend, and then a new girl entered the circle.  I did not want to lose my close bond. Next thing I knew, I was reacting sinfully. Thankfully, the Lord opened my eyes, and I slowly began to surrender the envy I held.

In Surrender Envy, you talked about dealing what seemed like a friend's betrayal. What advice do you have for girls in similar situations?

Yes, I had wanted to be deep and connect the story with what truly seemed like a friend's betrayal. It is maybe one of the deepest wounds I have felt. I wrote in my devotional that, What can feel like desertion and abandonment from a friend can pierce the soul like arrows.” An arrow in a body must be pulled out. Skin must be stitched and then the body must heal. Surrendering yourself—your emotions, thoughts, everything concerning the friend—to Him is the exact same process. In time, He will mend your heart. Love as He loves no matter what.

Aside from the examples in the devotional, what are some other ways that either you personally have struggled with envy or seen others struggle?

Comparison is another area I have struggled with envy. When I see other girls that are achieving more than I am, I have felt the temptation to despise them for their achievements. But I must stop and remember the verse in Psalm 139 that says I am “fearfully and wonderfully made”. Each person is uniquely created by Him! We each have a gift given to us, to glorify Him. He deserves all the glory.

What daily habits would you recommend for avoiding a lifestyle of being controlled by envy?

I would encourage constantly reading the Bible, filling your mind with its truth, and memorizing it. When our eyes are fixed on truth—on Christ—it will be that much harder to be distracted by the flesh. Direct your focus to the Maker when you feel the sting of envy. The root of envy is discontentment in your soul. Your ultimate satisfaction needs to be firmly in Him. He alone can fully satisfy. Delight yourself in Him as Psalms says.

If you could break down overcoming envy into three steps, what would they be?

1. Surrender.

Surrendering involves being truthful about everything to Jesus.  Though He knows everything, the simple action is life changing. Admitting you are wrong is a huge part of the freeing process. Verbally say you want to change. Surrender.

2. Find your satisfaction in Him alone.

Only He can fulfill your every desires and dreams. No human is perfect, and as a result, your joy needs to come from Him, who is Perfect. Read about His character and memorize His Truth.

3. Pray.

No matter what. This is another one of those simple actions that can be absolutely life-changing. Pray for the relationship. Pray, pray, pray. Pray daily, no matter what emotion rises within you.

Ellie Youngblood is a Texas girl who loves the Lord, her Savior. When she is not pursing her degree in chemistry, her adventures lead her to faraway lands in fictional books, jamming out with music, or living out her dream as an archer. She also has a deep passion for writing, whether it be devotionals filled with God’s truth or creative writing. She currently resides in east Texas. Find out more at her blog, Broken and Beloved.
If you liked this interview with Ellie, you will love our new ebook, 30 Days of Surrender. You can purchase it here.

Can you think of a time recently when you struggled with envy? Any tips for those who struggle? Share in the comments!

When Your Rights Are Violated

Anastasis Faith

This past summer, my family’s house was up for sale. It was a big house and took hours to clean. I remember having my days lined out: I would wake up at 5, work on 30 Days of Surrender, go for a run, get ready for the day, and then go to work. But then we would get a text saying that we were showing the house the next morning. All plans were cancelled and everyone dropped everything to frantically clean the house.
 Needless to say, these were definitely times where God taught me about surrendering my perceived “rights” to my time. Schylie La Belle was a wonderful edition to the team of Surrender authors and her devotional was Surrender Your Rights. Today she is here to talk about surrendering your rights. She goes more in depth in our new ebook 30 Days of Surrender that is now available for purchase!
When Your Rights are ViolatedWhat did you learn while writing for 30 Days of Surrender?
Writing a devotional in 30 Days of Surrender took a lot of work. I learned a few things as I wrote. I learned to persevere in spite of roadblocks and frustrations. Writing wasn’t the hardest part; editing was. Rarely do you right something and publish the first draft. It took perseverance to keep reading, writing, and editing my devotional.
I also learned to work diligently. I had to submit my first draft by a certain deadline. The revised editions also had to be sent in on certain days. This helped me to work methodically and make sure I wasn’t late. Procrastination is so easy to fall into and I certainly did not want to put my obligations off until it was too late to complete them accordingly.
You wrote about surrendering rights. What made you pick that topic?
Surrendering personal rights really hit home for me. The examples in my devotional describe how difficult this is for me. Perhaps it is because I am a naturally quiet and reserved that I sometimes get overlooked and brushed aside. It is at times like this that I feel ready to stamp my feet and demand to be noticed and heard.
When Your Rights Are ViolatedThis is why I chose to write about this topic. It is hard for me to surrender my perceived rights to my time, possessions, and other things, and use these things for the Lord instead of for my own desires and promotion.
In Surrender Your Rights, you talk about how it can be frustrated when someone takes up your time. What advice to have for girls who struggle with surrendering their rights to their time?
Remember that God gave you everything: your family, your talents, your possessions, and even your time. Ask the Lord to show you how He wants you to use your time. There is a heart change needed in order to truly give up your rights for your time. It’s not until we see that the Lord is God of our time, and our hearts truly and completely desire to please Him, that we can surrender our time and seek the Lord in how we use it.
What daily habits would you recommend to help us crucify our need to fight for our “rights?”
In order to see everything through the eyes of God, we need to learn what He loves, what He hates, and what He requires of us. The best way to do this is to immerse ourselves in His Word. Read the Bible daily and thoughtfully. Pray through the passages. Mediate on the verses.
Another important habit is to commune with the Lord in prayer. God speaks to us through His Word, but we also need to communicate back to the Lord through prayer. Talk to Him; tell Him of your failures, your successes, your hopes, your trials, and your sorrows. As we draw near to the Lord, we will become more like His Son, Jesus Christ. In this way, the Lord will help us to turn from serving ourselves and claiming our “rights,” to seeking Him and His will and serving others.

Practically, how do we as Christian girls fight our flesh and, for the sake of the Gospel, surrender our rights?
Even after we are saved, we still have sinful hearts which want to serve and please ourselves. To fight against the flesh, we have to go against the grain of our evil hearts. Practically, this can look like a few different things. When you are doing something and are asked by a family member to help with something else, choose to promptly assist them instead of demand your “right” to your time.
Think of ways to use your time to bless others. Babysitting for a single mom at church, raking leaves for an elderly neighbor, or volunteering at a soup kitchen are all ways you can use your time to bless others.
Regarding your possessions, look for ways to bless others with what you own. Maybe you can give money to a needy friend, or make a meal for an ill neighbor. Because our sinful hearts are always looking for ways to please and pamper ourselves, we have to actively look for ways to work against those desires. You’d be surprised how many opportunities there are in our lives to serve and bless others.

Schylie La Belle is the second oldest of 7 children, living with her parents on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Cape Cod Community College, with her AA in Liberal Arts, class of 2017. This September, she will be leaving for Uganda for a year-long mission trip. She enjoys writing Christian fiction stories, taking long walks, eating delicious healthy foods, and spending quality time with her siblings.
If you liked this interview with Schylie, you will love our new ebook, 30 Days of Surrender. You can purchase it here. In it, Schylie goes into greater depth about what we think our rights ought to be, how to surrender those, and what it means that God has given us the right to be children of God. Purchase it here!

What areas in your life do you feel you have rights to? Are those Biblical? What are some common unbiblical places that we think we have rights to? Share in the comments!

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