Post-Valentine’s Date Night

My husband and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day. We know that it is a made up holiday created by card and candy companies to make money. Typically we do something small, have a nice dinner at home but we don’t do gifts. I usually get him a card and he usually gets me some flowers but that’s about it. This year, we spent Valentine’s day at home, like usual, enjoying a nice home-cooked meal and each other’s company. Thursday, however, we had the pleasure of seeing our favorite band play live at one of the coolest venues we have been to thus far.

Now, it has been almost 4 years (probably like three and a half) since we first saw them play a live show. My husband introduced me to The Ballroom Thieves, and we were able to celebrate our first dating anniversary in 2014 seeing them live. It was a great show at Cain Park in Cleveland, Ohio (similar setup to Blossom Music Venue), and we got to meet them at intermission and share how one of their songs was our song and that it was our anniversary. So they were not originally planning on playing our song “Save Me”, but after hearing our story they decided to play it and we were thrilled. Fast forward to this year and we finally got to see them live again.

The ended up playing at this really cool venue in Cleveland called the Music Box Supper Club. The venue is right on the water, and you can order drinks and dinner while you’re watching the concert. They also have a wonderful patio that looks like it would be great during the summer time. This particular night, however, it happened to be very foggy and raining and so it made the perfect backdrop to watch the band play. Everything from the valet, to the servers, to the food was excellent. We had an amazing time and once again got to say hello and meet our favorite band in person. That’s one of our favorite things about this band, is how much they appreciate their fans and that they take the time to say hello to you after a show and they are very talented! If you ever get a chance to check them out live, you definitely should, and as for the music venue, we will DEFINITELY be heading back there, whether it be for a concert or even just a date night dinner out. Thanks Calin (Cali), Devin and Martin for once again putting on an amazing show! We can’t wait to see you all again in concert soon!


Out With The Old, In With The New… Goodbye 2017 & Hello 2018!

Good Morning! Happy Sunday! Can you believe that today is the last day of the year?! A whole year gone by! Where did this whole entire year go in the blink of an eye? If your year was anything similar to ours, it may have seemed that the year simply blew by way too quickly. This year was a wonderful yet difficult one, full of many different events and emotions, both good and bad.

With the way last year ended and the beginning of this year started, we weren’t sure what the year was going to bring us, or how we were going to make it through the year.

Our family suffered horrible losses starting in early January, all of them within one week of one another. That also bringing about memorial services and funerals. Even though the loss of family was hard, things started to look up after January. We celebrated new job opportunities, weddings, Easter, birthdays, packing meals with Feed My Starving Children to provide meals all over the world, I rescued 3 baby racoons from a sewer hole at our apartments on my birthday, my husband and I celebrated our first anniversary as husband and wife, I got to experience Alive Fest for the first time and sit ON STAGE for Needtobreathe, my husband celebrated another birthday and we had an amazing vacation in Hocking Hills. This year the holidays were pretty low key, and we enjoyed that instead of rushing around to 10 different places and only getting to stay a short amount of time.

In addition to losing family this year, we also had friendships that shifted. Some friendships were lost in our lives, but we also gained new friendships and grew closer to friends that we weren’t as close with last year. As my husband and I reflect back on all this past year has brought us, we are extremely grateful for the people God has placed in our lives and for the relationships that he has helped grow and strengthen this last year.

As we prepare to head into another year, my husband and I think it is extremely important to review your last year and see where you made progress, where you can look back and have gratitude for the things you had this last year and see areas where you drifted this last year. Then you can head into the new year with goals to have health in different areas of your life, you can begin to take initiative for making progress throughout the next year in the different areas of your life, and you can make correction for the places that you have drifted in the last year of life. So below, my husband and I are going to share a resource with you, that if you want to copy it and use it to help reflect on the last year, you can do that. There are also some questions and a reminder to set goals for next year for each area of health. Some of them may not apply to you (singleness doesn’t apply to my husband and I, nor does parenting, at the moment, but parenting will apply one day)

(S/O to Pastor Ryan Rodeman for creating this easy to use template for everyone to use)

A Guide To Refocus for the Year

Take Time To Refocus

Keep these three points in mind as you look back on the past year:

1) Start with prayer. Prayer is key. Ask God to show you what he wants you to see as you look back

2) Reflection: What has happened over the past year? Take time to get above your life. Start by writing down major events in the categories below

3) Set goals for each area. Based on your reflection, you may find some areas need more attention than others.

As you go through this process, two things should happen:

  1. When you begin to see the areas you have made progress, stop to thank God for his work in your life. It is good to celebrate the victories he has given us.
  2. Inevitably areas will emerge where you have drifted. Don’t let this get you down. Ask the Lord to help you pursue health in the coming year.


–          Am I interacting with God’s word more or less than the year before?

–          When was the last time I read through the whole bible?

–          Have I been praying more or less than last year?

–          Am I praying daily?

–          Do I have a closer relationship with Christ than a year ago?

–          Are there areas of my life that I have not given Jesus control over?

–          What did God teach me over the last year?

–          Am I more motivated to become like Jesus today than I was a year ago?

–          How is my faithfulness in attending church services?

Set Goals for Spiritual Health


–          What’s our culture like as a family?

–          What are our strengths?

–          What are our weaknesses?

–          Are we a thankful family?

–          Is service part of our family?

–          Are we an active family?

–          Have we worked on our family this year?

–          Has entertainment or something else taken too high a priority in our lives?

Set Goals for Family Leadership


–          How is our marriage?

–          Did we make any intentional investments in our marriage this year?

–          Do we still date each other?

–          Are we protecting our marriage?

–          Is God at the center of our relationship?

–          How is our sex life?

Set Goals for Marriage


–          Who are the key friends that I have?

–          Are they good friends?

–          Do they encourage me in my relationship with Christ?

–          Have I been a good friend?

–          Do I encourage them in their relationship with Christ?

Set Goals for Friendships


–          How has my health changed over the last year?

–          Was there major change in my health?

–          Did I gain weight?

–          Am I more or less fit?

–          Have I had a physical?

–          Did I consistently exercise?

–          Have I been avoiding getting something checked out by a doctor?

Set Goals for Physical Health


–          How has my financial landscape changed?

–          Did I incur any more debt this year?

–          How was my giving this year?

–          How was my saving this year?

–          Has my income changed?

–          Have I been faithful to God in this area of my life?

Set Goals for Financial Health


–          How am I doing in my singleness?

–          Am I viewing it as a gift?

–          Am I fully giving myself to building God’s Kindgom?

–          Am I being faithful to God in this area of my life?

Set Goals for Singleness 


–          How is my relationship with each child?

–          How is our connection?

–          Did I make intentional investments into their lives?

–          What are the passions that I see in their lives?

–          What are their gifts and abilities?

–          What might God have in mind for their lives?

–          Are there areas of their lives that I might need to come alongside them and help them

Set Goals for Parenting

A New Thanksgiving

Happy Post Thanksgiving! Sitting here reminiscing thinking about all that I’m thankful for. I’m also thinking about how this year, thanksgiving was different than it has been any other year.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. We get to eat amazing home-cooked food and share special time with friends and family. If you’re family is like mine, you can also realize how quickly it can become a very stressful time of year. When I think back to Thanksgiving, I quickly remember how I typically have to spend my day shuffling from one house to another and trying (unsuccessfully) not to stuff my face at the first house so I would be able to eat a plate of food at any other house I had to make an appearance at. My parents are divorced (have been for years) and therefore, there would typically be an appearance at both places and then also at my in-laws. Typically for Thanksgiving, we would start early in the afternoon around probably 12 or so and not get home until sometimes 8 or 10 at night after traveling around all day. This year things were different however.

This year, we spent thanksgiving at one house, eating one meal that was around 5:00. We didn’t have to get up early and make food. We didn’t have to spend hours in the car traveling from house to house. Instead, wonderful friends of ours opened up their home to my husband and I, and my mother-in-law, and we got to enjoy spending time together without cooking a huge meal and without having to worry about leaving at a certain time to make it to the next house. This year, we were able to celebrate with not only family but friends also. This year was also the first year we were without certain closer family members.
Typically the holidays are a time for celebration and thanks and making memories; but for many people, it is also a reminder of the people that are no longer with them. This year, we also had to experience the holidays without certain family members around to celebrate with us. The holidays can be a tough time of grief for those who have lost loved ones, especially if the loss occurred more recently. This year we lost not only one but two members of our family and the beloved family dog. Dealing with those losses was hard enough on their own, but then having to look forward to a holiday without those family members there, is another hill to climb. We weren’t sure how, or if we would even be able to make it through the holidays. Although we had our moments of sadness and remembering, this year, we were able to laugh, cry and remember the moments with our loved ones that meant the most to each one of us.

The few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, my husband and I took a grief class, that not only helped us process through the grief we were experiencing, but also taught me that I was experiencing grief of certain people who were still living but no longer part of my life. Grieving doesn’t always insinuate that a person is passed away; it can also mean people who are still living but no longer a part of our lives, in a way they once were. This can be a family member, or even a friend. Regardless of who it is, it still hurts that they are no longer around. Through our grief class, my husband and I were able to work through our grief in different ways and to enjoy the holidays even with the losses we experienced. This is by no means an end to our grief, it simply means we were able to make it through and as time goes on we will continue to lean on one another for support and to ensure that we are grieving properly and not dealing with complicated grief.

If you or anyone you know is dealing with grief, know that you are not alone. Although each situation is different, the relationships we have with people are different, the losses we experience are different, the facts are still the same. We all deal with grief and we all experience loss. The way in which we experience those things might vary but we can all learn from those experiences. Even though the holidays were hard without our family members here, we are grateful and blessed for the time we got to spend with our family and friends this year and for being able to have such a great support system.

If there is anything we can pray for you about or if we can help you in any way through this holiday season, please reach out to my husband and I at and we would love to talk with you! Happy Post-Thanksgiving!

Change of plans

Well Good Morning everyone! Hope you’re having a fantastic week so far! It’s been about a month since our last post, and we have been crazy busy between vacation, work and I recently moved to a new salon, so I have been adjusting to the new work schedule and to traveling for work a little further from home. Back in the beginning of the month my husband and I took our once yearly vacation. Last year we had the pleasure and privilege of visiting Hilton Head Island as our vacation/ honeymoon; a gift that was given to us by a friend for our wedding. (Thanks Mike!)
So last year, my husband and I saved our spending money, rented a car and we headed down to Hilton Head. We had an amazing 3/4 days before we unfortunately had to come home due to Hurricane Matthew moving in. We made the smart decision to come home the day before the mandatory evacuation and we are glad we did because traffic was crazy down there and many of the gas stations ended up running out of gas before we even got out of town! So our plan this year was to revisit Hilton Head since we had a credit towards our condo stay for the remainder of the time we missed last year. We had everything set up and ready to go and we were so excited about all the things we had planned that we didn’t get to do last year and then revisiting the things we really enjoyed this year. Around Labor Day, my husband and I were visiting some friends down in Southern Ohio, and a friend of ours who lives in Beaufort, South Carolina was posting updates about the impending hurricane(s) and bad weather that was to be heading towards the coast right about the time of our vacation.
So I advised my husband to call our rental and ask if we could pay the amount we owed for the additional days we would be staying this year, a little closer to our trip date so we could see what the weather was going to do. If we needed to make vacation arrangements elsewhere we wanted to be able to do so, so that way we would still be able to take our vacation. We found out unfortunately that somehow our arrangements got double-booked, by no one’s fault, it just happened. So we started to talk to friends who were to be visiting with us during our vacation, so that we could potentially make other arrangements. After all was said and done with the continuous surge of bad weather making its way towards the coast, we decided that it was in our best interest to go ahead and make other plans. We were fortunately able to get the deposit from our initial rental back and use that towards our vacation elsewhere. So with our Hilton Head vacation cancelled, and the deadline of our time off work getting closer, what are we to do? My husband and I sat down and we discussed the various options and we decided that it was best to stay somewhere a little closer to home but still be able to get away for a week and just spend time relaxing and with one another.
So in just a couple days, we went from heading down to Hilton Head Island, to heading down to Hocking Hills, Ohio. We managed to find an inexpensive cabin down there and in such a short amount of time. Most cabins this time of year book up rather quickly. So with our new vacation plans in place we were set. We only had the cabin rental from Sunday through Friday, so we had some extra time off work to spend doing other things. The first day of our vacation, Friday, we had a relaxing and pampering day. I got my hair done, we got manis and pedis, and we had a fun evening having dinner with my family and then we went out and played pool. Saturday we were able to spend the day down in Mohican for my husband’s family’s annual camping trip, in which one of our cousins got engaged to her wonderful boyriend! (Congratulations guys!) So Sunday came and we finally headed down to our cabin!
The drive was a little long, because as you can imagine we had to travel through Columbus traffic and that being such a large city, there was plenty of traffic to be had. We finally got to our cabin and when we pulled up, it was seriously so cute! It was perfect for the two of us to just get away from the hustle and bustle of life for a few days and just focus on reconnecting with one another, which we feel is so important to do on a continual basis. Our cabin had a fire pit outside and a jacuzzi! Probably one of the best perks of our stay was just relaxing in the evening and listening to the quiteness of nature out in the country. Our whole week was so much fun. We hiked about 6 different trails, all ranging from extremely easy to challenging, with varying elevations and over the course of 3 days we probably hiked about 15 miles! The scenery was AMAZING to say the least. Some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. All in all, the best part of our trip was that it was inexpensive (as the hiking was free), and that it simply allowed us to just spend time together. We didn’t have to follow a schedule, be anywhere at a certain time and we didn’t have to spend money to have fun. We were able to have fun by just going out and hiking and seeing all the wonder there was hidden in such a short drive from where we live.
When we first learned that we wouldn’t be able to go to Hilton Head this year, we were extremely bummed. But the more we sat back and thought about it, we realized we wouldn’t have to spend 12-13 hours driving, we didn’t have to spend the money renting a car and we especially didn’t have to worry about missing out on our stay because of bad weather and hurricanes again this year. After we thought about it more and more, we realized that this was a blessing in disguise. Will we eventually go back to Hilton Head? I would say that’s a definite possibility; just not during hurricane season! All in all we had the most amazing time just investing in our marriage and spending time together.
If anyone would like info on the cabin we stayed at or some of the other things we did during our stay in Hocking Hills (restaurants/ attractions, etc) please feel free to contact us at
Have a wonderful week and keep checking back for future blog posts!

Fall is in the air

Hey everyone! Hope you have all had an amazing summer. I have the day off today, and what a beautiful day to have off! The sun is shining, birds are chirping, there is a nice breeze blowing and I have nowhere to be. So I’m just catching up on laundry and enjoying a nice cup of coffee. Summer has been so crazy and hectic and we took a little bit of a break from writing just to spend time with family and friends. Now that September is here, we can embrace the PSL (pumpkin spice latte) season. Since my husband and I haven’t written in a while and I had the day off work, I decided that I would take some time to write. So today I thought I would write a simple blog post regarding my favorite season: FALL!
I LOVE FALL! Everything about Fall; the leaves changing, pumpkin spice lattes, fall scented candles, pumpkin picking, apple picking, corn mazes, bonfires and s’mores, caramel apples, apple cider, the crisp fall air and hiking. The only thing I don’t like is the transition from warm days to cool days, but at least in fall I can leave my windows open during the day and I don’t need the A/C. Saves me some money on electric! My husband and I took our honeymoon last year to Hilton Head during the fall and it was nice, and unfortunately due to overbooking and the terrible weather we are experiencing down south, we have decided to cancel our HHI trip and head down to a cabin for the week. We are seriously excited about that, although I wasn’t prepared to spend $130 on hiking gear as I have none currently. That aside, we are still able to go do a lot of the same things, we just won’t be at the beach and swimming. Which is fine with us because we really didn’t spend all that much time at the beach last year, and we had to evacuate due to another hurricane (hurricane Matthew) last year also. We are so excited just to go spend a week in a cabin, relaxing, bonfire and s’mores and going hiking. We have a few fall traditions and we are always looking for more. So what kinds of things are there to do in this amazing Fall weather? I am going to share some of the places that we have gone and liked and also some of the places that we would like to try.

Szalay’s Farmer’s Market – Akron, Ohio
This place is a nice little farmer’s market, that during the fall season, they take one of the fields of corn that they have been growing and they carve out a maze inside. It is only $5 I believe and it’s a lot of fun. Not to mention I got some mini pumpkins from there last year during September and all the way through Thanksgiving they were STILL good! No mushiness and no rotting! Best part is that they were only $1 each for the mini ones!

54th annual Fall Hiking Spree
The annual Fall Hiking Spree is the largest and longest-running event of its kind in the nation. Trails range from easy to challenging. Choose the trails best for you.
We love to hike and we have hiked a few of these trails but would love to hike a few more

Hale Farm
My husband and I have been here a few times. We usually try to go during events but many times our schedules don’t line up with what they have going on so we have missed a few events the last couple years but we are planning on going to them next year. The scenery is really pretty in the fall.

Mapleside Farms – Brunswick, Ohio
We visited Mapleside Farms last year during their Pumpkin Village event and it was a lot of fun. Tickets are $12-$14 depending on the weekend, and each weekend has a different theme. We went during the Johnny Appleseed Festival and it was really busy, so I suggest going early in the day to get good parking and to avoid too much crowding. Check out their website for details

Bonfires are always a great get together idea. Make some s’mores, hang out and just relax by a warm, fire with great friends

Apple Picking
I used to do this every year growing up and it has been a while, but I think my husband and i would like to do it this year. There are several places still allowing people to pick their own.

Wolf Creek Winery
One of our favorite relaxing spots. Bottles of wine aren’t that expensive and you can bring your own food/ snacks and the scenery is AMAZING!

Share your ideas on things to do this fall and check out some of the places we recommended! Let us know what you think!

NFP – 100% All Natural – Good for the Body, Great for the Soul

Like we talked about in our initial blog post, there were many things my husband and I talked about prior to getting married, but two things that were most important. Last week we talked about the first of the two; Finances and gaining financial peace. This week we are going to cover the topic of intimacy in marriage, the use of birth control and what we decided to use in regards to our own marriage relationship.

First let’s start by talking about how we got to this place of searching for better options. Like we mentioned previously, when my husband and I met, I did not know the Lord and he had fallen away from the Lord. When we met, I was an avid user of hormonal artificial contraceptive prescribed by my doctor and my husband and I were intimate. As our relationship grew and we developed a relationship with God, our hearts changed and we decided we no longer needed to take any sort of birth control because we wanted to abstain from intimacy until we were married. Therefore, I quit taking the birth control and we remained abstinent until our wedding. During our engagement, we thought it was important to discuss birth control options and what we would do once we were married. A married couple who are close friends of ours who were mentoring us discussed with us some things that we should think about regarding marriage, one of which being intimacy in marriage and birth control. They were open and honest with us and shared that they had learned about NFP prior to getting married themselves and had used it, successfully, all 11 (now 12) years of their marriage and three children later. They began using it when they got married and they haven’t looked back since.

What is NFP exactly?
Natural family planning (NFP) is fertility awareness, which is simply knowledge of a couple’s fertility. It is a means of reading the body’s signs of fertility and infertility; applying this knowledge through the Sympto-Thermal Method (STM) is over 99% effective in postponing pregnancy. A married couple’s virtuous application of this knowledge either to try to achieve a pregnancy or to postpone a pregnancy is called responsible parenthood.

Practicing NFP is 100% natural — there are no drugs, chemicals or devices involved, which is one reason many today find it to be a positive and refreshing alternative to contraceptive methods. NFP honors our dignity as persons by respecting the natural rhythms and functions of the body. It is very common to hear couples who use NFP speak of an increased awe and respect for femininity and their mutual fertility, and a greater sense of empowerment through self-knowledge (

We use what is called the “Sympto-Thermal” Method of fertility tracking; not to be confused with the rythym method, as every woman’s cycle is not the same and every woman’s cycle varies even month to month.

“The Sympto-Thermal Method (STM) taught by CCL is based on three key signs of fertility: cervical mucus, basal body temperature and changes in the cervix. By observing and recording these signs you and your spouse will be able to identify Phase I, II and III and therefore know if you’re in a time of fertility or infertility.

These signs are easily noticed by any woman who has learned to watch for them. It takes only a minute or two each day to record them in CCL’s mobile app, CycleProGo, or on a paper chart. The chart provides a daily record that can be used to identify the days of fertility and infertility. Once the fertile and infertile days have been identified, couples apply “rules” that they learn in class (and that are explained in CCL’s Student Guide) to frame the boundaries between the phases of the cycle.” (

What are the three phases of a woman’s cycle?
“The female fertility cycle can be divided into three phases.

Phase I begins on the first day of menstrual bleeding, and normally includes a few infertile days after menstruation.

Phase II begins as soon as a woman’s daily observations detect the onset of signs of fertility. This fertile time lasts up to and a few days after the time of ovulation (when an egg is released from the ovary). In a normal, healthy woman, Phase II will typically last up to 12 days.

Phase III is the post-ovulation time and is a time of infertility. Phase III typically accounts for the last one-third of a healthy woman’s cycle.
The three phases of the female cycle are the result of the interplay of four key hormones – estrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone. These hormones are also responsible for the fertility signs that a woman can learn to observe.”

So why did we decide to used NFP instead of alternative methods to birth control?
My husband and I decided that we didn’t want the responsibility of responsible birth control to fall just on one person or the other. We also realized that the effects of using birth control long term can have lasting effects that can cause issues with conception when a couple is ready to start having a family. In regards to the health issues alone, we decided that an all natural option was our best bet. So we signed up and took the class, which our friends are certified to teach and they helped us understand it better and how to use it effectively.

Upon beginning the classes and trying to track the necessary information, it was definitely overwhelming and confusing, and it usually is until you get into the swing of things and actually know what you’re doing. Now that we have been charting for a year and a half and actually implementing the use of NFP for the last year of our marriage, we have found it to be easier to track and understand as time goes on. I’m sure there are people out there who doubt if it works, or are skeptical or scared to try it out but I assure you it does work. I am also sure that there are some people who would ask if there are any drawbacks to using NFP over other alternatives, and there definitely pros and cons to every decision you make. One reason we ultimately chose to use NFP was because we wanted to honor God with our marriage relationship and with our family. We feel that using NFP promotes trust in God and using our bodies how He intended them to be.

NFP, although all-natural and 100% cost effective (aka free), it can definitely be taxing, as you have to take certain periods of time and abstain from sexual intimacy if you don’t want to get pregnant. However, that has never caused us to choose anything differently. Is it frustrating, at times, that I cannot be with my spouse whenever I want? Absolutely! Are my health and well-being along with the communication that is built between my husband and I worth it? Yes.

My husband and I have had to learn over the last year of marriage, how to communicate regarding our charting and how to take time to spend together when we aren’t able to be physically intimate. We have found that during times of fertility we simply take care to enhance our marriage through reading marriage books to strengthen our marriage. We love the times of spending intimate time together that doesn’t involve physical intimacy just as much as we enjoy spending time together when we are able to be physically intimate. The biggest challenge that we have faced using NFP is making physically intimacy a priority during times of infertility. We love the freedom that NFP has given us and the way it has strengthened our marriage and we highly encourage married couples and engaged couples to look into this option for themselves.

You can find more information by visiting CCLI.ORG. Feel free to shoot us an email with any questions you may have, and we will do our best to answer them for you. Have a great day and God Bless!

Keep an eye out next week for a special blog post!

Getting to Know the Harts

This is the post excerpt.

Hello! My name is Melinda; I am 29 years old and a Cosmetologist. My husband’s name is Ryan; he is 30 and a Strength Coach and Personal Trainer. We are the Harts. We are a Christian couple who lives in Ohio, and have been married for 1 year as of yesterday! Happy Anniversary! I had been contemplating writing a blog for a while, and after a suggestion from a friend of mine, I thought ‘what better timing than our anniversary to get started!’. I love the idea of being able to relate to people in all the joys and struggles that this life brings. My husband and I are real, everyday people just like you. We want to be able to share our lives with you so that you can know you are not alone. We believe that our story is not our own, that God has given each of us a particular story and testimony and we want to share ours with others in the hopes that they can relate and find hope in what they are going through, but also to find peace and joy in the mundane of the everyday. Our history makes us into who we are today and shape the testimonies that we share with others. With that being said, my husband and I would like to share our story with you.
Ryan and I met July of 2013. Four years ago today to be exact. Ryan had a roommate that was a karaoke dj that I was mutual friends with. On this particular Tuesday night, it happened to be karaoke night, so I got ready for karaoke as I usually did. Prior to karaoke, my friend/ Ryan’s roommate had invited me over to go swimming at their apartment complex.
Ryan at the time was working 2 jobs, participating in 2 internships and going to school for his Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science. So needless to say Ryan was never home. There was a staff meeting for the physical therapists at the hospital that Ryan was interning at and he wasn’t required to attend, so they gave him the rest of the day off. And so…
Ryan was already at the apartment, preparing to take a nap that afternoon, when his roommate and I returned to go swimming. This is when I first caught Ryan’s eye. We spent all afternoon hanging out, which led to me asking Ryan out on a date before I headed off to karaoke for the evening. Ryan, of course said “YES!”.
From here, we spent the next few weeks hanging out and getting to know one another a little more. Our first official date was at Otani’s; a little hibachi restaurant in the city where we live that is no longer open. Soon after that Ryan invited me to an afternoon cookout and hike at Mohican State Park. The hike consisted of a 2 hr. long trek in the WRONG direction! Ryan’s plan was to take me to Lyon’s Falls and ask me to be his official girlfriend. Once Ryan realized we were on the wrong trail we decided to head back and eat lunch because at this point we were pretty hungry. So we headed back and parked at a spot to grill out. During lunch, Ryan realized there was a different place he could take me to and ask me out officially. So after lunch we headed over to the Gorge Overlook in Mohican State Park, which is up on a large hill and overlooks a beautiful valley. It was here he officially asked me to be his girlfriend. So on August 18, 2013 we started our journey towards what we didn’t know would actually be forever.
From here we pursued an average life for a dating couple in our modern culture. I moved in with Ryan December of 2013, where we kind of “played house”. Although we were committed to one another, this was not God’s plan for us. Over the Spring/ Summer of 2014, I started working as a Mary Kay Consultant. I was invited to church by my MK director. The following week, I decided to give the church near our apartment a try, as I was seeking new faces for my MK business. (I am no longer in the MK business) I am not sure what lead me to go to church on my own, as I was not a believer at the time, however I feel that God was meeting me where I was, and using my circumstances to draw me closer to Him. He was probably looking down thinking to himself “whatever gets her in the door will work, because I have an important message for her to hear”. (This is something I love to share with people now, to show them that God meets us where we are and can use even the most selfish of circumstances to draw us closer to a relationship with Him). It was on August 10, 2014 that I discovered who God is, and I also began pursuing reconciliation with my mother. At this point, my husband was still absent from a present walk with Christ; even though he had been going to church all through childhood, he fell away due to family circumstances in his early adult years.
Even though I became passionate about the Lord and living a life that would honor God, I was still ignorant (or unlearned) to his word, and there were basic things that I didn’t understand that would go against what God would want for my husband and I prior to us being married. From August 2014 to November 2014, we continued our normal dating relationship just as we had been prior to going to church. All the while, God was continuing to work in my heart and beginning to work in my husband’s heart. In early November 2014, Ryan began to attend church with me because he had seen what a positive difference it was making in my life. On November 22, 2014, I got baptized, making a public declaration of my love for my Heavenly Father. It was on this night that God would change our lives and the path of our relationship forever.


Following my baptism, we were headed to a friend’s house to celebrate that same evening. On the car ride from the church to their house I mentioned to Ryan that I wanted to talk to him about something. Now mind you, when men hear this, all sorts of crazy things go through their head. Ryan’s first thought was “what did she just say?”. During that conversation, I told Ryan that God had been working in my heart and convicting me that we should end intimacy with one another until we were married. At this point, we were not even engaged yet, and in our current culture, this can be something that tears down and breaks relationships. However, I knew that God was ordaining everything, and I trusted in Him that Ryan was someone I wanted to spend my life with, and I could tell that Ryan was nervous but felt the same way. We both agreed to wait until we were married and even though there were times of struggle, we did everything we could to eliminate any temptation between us.
We got engaged on April, 26, 2015. Ryan was baptized on May 2, 2015 devoting his heart to the Lord as well. At this point, we were still living together and playing house, but we remained abstinent. On the day of Ryan’s baptism, Ryan and I both felt it in our hearts to separate our sleeping arrangements. We continued to live together, but I began sleeping on the couch, giving Ryan the bed, until we were blessed with a family member donating a second bed to us, where I could then start sleeping in our second bedroom. In late October 2015, a little over 8 months until our wedding, we met with our officiating pastor for the wedding, and we were informed that we must live separately or our church would not be able to marry us. This was very important to us that we be married by our church, and so I moved home with my dad until the day we would become husband and wife. It was probably one of the best times I have had in my life being able to spend some last times hanging out with my dad and really learning what God says about marriage and giving us a chance to grow in our faith as we learned to trust God and pursue a Christ-centered relationship.
On July, 9, 2016, three years exactly from the day we met, my husband and I exchanged vows and wedding rings, participated in foot washing, communion and celebrated our marriage with our closest family and friends. There were a lot of things that happened in our families and in our lives between April 26, 2015 and July 9, 2016. Our faith was tested, many times, but we always trusted that whatever life had in store for us, God would be our rock and help us make it through.
Fast forward to today, one year of marriage in. They tell you that the first year is the hardest, and while we believe that is partly true, we also believe that marriage is what you make of it. During our first year of marriage, my mother and step-father moved into a new house, my mother-in-law moved into an apartment, and my father moved down south to a new place, all within the week prior to and including the week of our wedding. My father was finishing up his divorce from my step-mother, a relationship that not only broke down between them, but I suffered the loss of her in my life as well. (A year later from our wedding and things just recently got finalized) In the fall of 2016, my husband’s father began to face a declining health situation, and would eventually lose his battle with alcoholism in January 2017. I had a falling out with a dear friend prior to my wedding, which caused her to miss my wedding, and we worked on forgiveness and started rebuilding our friendship shortly after our wedding. Things couldn’t be better than they are right now for her and I. Through that short time apart from one another, our friendship was strengthened and fortified.
There wasn’t just family things that we had to experience and learn how to deal with. We also had to learn what it meant to be married, how to handle different things, and how to make our marriage the best that it could be. Great marriages don’t just happen; they take work. We had to learn how to share the bathroom, how to communicate effectively and how to share the responsibility around our home as we are both working full time jobs. There were two very important things that we were told are really the breaking points for many marriages… Take a guess as to what those two things are… You probably guessed it; sex and money. While these two things don’t seem like that big of a deal, just look at the causes of many broken marriages and divorces; the end result of a broken marriage or why someone gets divorced is usually caused by those two things. This is not to say everyone who suffers a broken marriage or divorce that these are the reasons, but they usually tend to play a role in there somewhere. So how did my husband and I communicate about these two things and what did we do to alleviate the problems that they can cause?

My husband and I had long conversations about what things we could do to eliminate the stress that these two areas can bring to a marriage. We began looking into birth control options prior to marriage so that we would be prepared when our wedding came, and we found that NFP or Natural Family Planning was our best option. When it comes to finances, neither my husband nor I had great counsel on finances growing up. Both of our families had their own financial difficulties, between lack of budgeting, credit cards and frivolous spending. We discovered something, (that I had actually heard before but never really put to good use) called FPU or Financial Peace University. This taught us how to budget, pay off debt and prepare for our future, children’s future, home-buying, saving, etc. These two things have become strong pillars in our marriage and have worked to increase and strengthen our communication and our relationship.
This is just the beginning of our blog. We are thankful that you took the time to read about our story leading up to our marriage. We will continue to talk about what we think about marriage so far, how we’ve managed, where we have made mistakes, where we have had success and how we lean on God and our support systems through it all. In our next couple of posts we will dive into more detail on how we have built our foundation for success in intimacy and finances through using NFP and FPU.

Stay tuned for our next blog post!