LCP 9.29.15

Leo’s Birth


It was Monday afternoon September 28th. Chris and I were both feeling anxious and slightly disappointed that Leo hadn’t arrived yet. That sounds a bit silly thinking that because my due date wasn’t until October 5th. But my incredibly discerning husband knew that the Holy Spirit had spoken September 28th or 29th to him. I used to roll my eyes at Chris when he would pull out dates “from God” like that. But after the Lord told Chris our wedding date would be August 30th when we didn’t even have his visa to come to America yet, I’ve started taking his “gut” feelings seriously. (If you didn’t already know, we got married on 8/30 and got his visa in 8 weeks when the process is supposed to take 9 months. Ok anyway…J) So back to Monday the 28th. It was early evening and still no Leo. We are both thinking “welp…didn’t quite hear God this time” ha. But when 8:00pm rolled around, we just about freaked out when my water broke. I was sitting on the couch (on a towel #prepared) watching the Voice. I stood up and gave Chris this stunned look. I was speechless and he was like “What?!” I said “Uhhh, I think my water just broke” and we both just laughed and didn’t know what to do. I wanted to be sure that it broke before calling the hospital so we gave it about ten minutes to see if the sporadic gushing stopped. It didn’t. (Did you know only 8% of women’s water breaks spontaneously?! Never knew that.)

So I call triage. They tell me to come in immediately and that I would be having a baby in 24 hours or less! I felt so unprepared in that moment. If you know me at all you know I’m always prepared, for every thing, every scenario, way ahead in advance. So it was a bit hilarious in that moment I had no idea what to do. I don’t think it became real to me that I was having a baby until then. Sounds crazy – but seriously. That was a real moment. PTL for pre-bought maxi pads.

At this point I still hadn’t had any contractions. We got to the hospital at about 8:30pm and I was told to walk around to try and get them going. Our room was so nice. It was big and had lots of room to move around. We kept it dimly lit since it was nighttime and we wanted to create a peaceful atmosphere. A few hours passed and still no contractions. Let me remind everyone in case you didn’t know, I was 4cm dilated and 80% effaced about two weeks prior to this. So to be that far along and have broken waters, I was pretty stoked that I was almost half way there without any pain or discomfort. But I was also surprised that I was so far along and still no contractions. My mom drove up from Loveland and my Dad and Toni drove up from Greeley as soon as possible. It was nice having them there with us while I was laboring. They walked around with me and we all did what we could to take in every moment that was happening. It was an awesome experience soaking in those moments as a family before Leo came. We really really missed Chris’s family in Australia.

The Docs ended up giving me Pitocin at midnight to move things along. Lets just say things went from incredibly easy and laid back to incredibly painful and uncomfortable within a matter of minutes. Contractions started with a vengeance and I was literally doing full body convulsions with every contraction. This went on for about 3 ½ hours or so until I grabbed Chris and told him very firmly that I needed an epidural as soon as possible. I told him this wasn’t the experience I had been looking forward to. I knew it would be painful but it started becoming unmanageable. At this point I just hated every moment that passed.

The Anesthesiologist arrived within 10 minutes. He came and handed me a consent form as I’m convulsing and I gave him this “Are you kidding me right now?” look of annoyance. That was the messiest signature ever. Ha. The next 4 ½ hours were so restful and peaceful. I was able to get some sleep and spend time with my family. I went into this with the mindset I’d do things naturally. But the epidural gave me the peace I needed before Leo came. I didn’t want him born into a moment of my agony and pain. And I’m so glad that didn’t have to happen. (Random side note: the epidural actually didn’t work well on the right side of my body, and I was still able to move and feel my legs. But it did provide incredible relief from the pain even though I could still feel.) One of my favorite moments of the laboring process was when Chris was cold and wearing my leopard robe. He came and laid on my bed with me and cuddled me. He held me close and whispered encouragements and declarations in my ear. He told me I was strong and that he was proud of me. He knew exactly what to say and when to say it. He was so sweet, comforting, and caring the WHOLE time. He was so amazing. I will never forget those moments together getting ready to welcome our sweet baby boy!

It was surreal when my doc came in and said “Ok are you ready to push?” It was pretty anti climactic and I just looked at Chris like “weird, ok, this is really happening.” The nurses came in, and we were about to have a BABY. They detected some fetal distress and the Doc decided to have me start pushing on my side. I didn’t even know you could do that. It was later discovered that the cord was wrapped around Leo’s neck. My Doc started explaining how I would probably have to spend some time learning how to push since I had gotten an epidural and may not be able to feel myself push. Almost like preparing me for this long pushing experience. I just looked at her and thought, “ Forget that. I’ve got this.” It was all happening so fast. It didn’t just feel that way, it actually was happening SO fast. The next contraction came, and within the first push Leo was crowning. I had a mirror set up to see things happen and it was an out of body experience seeing a baby, MY baby, coming out of me!! The mirror helped my pushing at times and then at other times didn’t help. I was still feeling a lot of pain and so sometimes I had to look away to help my mind manage it. My Doc looked up with a smirk and said, “Ok forget everything I just said about learning how to push. He’s coming quick.” Within 3 more contractions and less than 10 minutes later, Leo was here!! The emotions in the room were thick. Chris shouted “LEO!!” as soon as he came out and me, Chris, and my mom were all crying. Here was this tiny BEAUTIFUL baby boy lying on my chest that I immediately got to call “son”. He was crying and the nurses were wiping him off and I was trying to wrap my mind around what had just happened. He was this incredible little being that I had already felt so close to, yet was just meeting for the first time. It was awesome having Chris and my mom by my side. Things seriously happened so fast. I had a SON!! The docs were doing all their routine checks to Leo – cleaning him off, prints, tests, the whole she-bang and here I was over here bawling and in complete awe of the moment. What a miracle. Words can’t describe it and you never fully understand that statement until you’re in that moment.

I got to feed him for the first time. Hold him and talk to him face to face and look into his beautiful blue eyes. Surreal. (I hope they stay blue!) There were so many emotions. The whole family was in our recovery room. Chris, my Dad, Mom, Toni, Jon, Matt, and Stef. Nana and Grandaddy. It was awesome having those closest to me there to share Leo’s first few hours with. It was really hard not having our Australian family with us. Chris’s parents and three brothers were introduced to Leo via Skype that day. We were all smitten and in awe of him. He had finally arrived. He was HERE in the flesh, real, healthy, BEAUTIFUL, and perfect. Leonardo Christopher Pace. 7lbs 4oz 19 1/2 inches long. 7:54am on 9.29.15.

Here’s a small slideshow of the day 🙂

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One Made It!


One Made it

Ok, so I’m sitting in my living room thinking about the day I’ll get pregnant. I imagine myself being this super active, healthy, cute, fit kind of prego. *Insert largest eye roll ever here*

Fast forward a few months to the current me who can’t eat anything but bread and cereal without getting sick. The one who goes to bed at 6pm every night and hasn’t been to the gym in weeks because I can’t seem to find any energy. (Ok, since writing this, I’ve been to the gym twice. Go me!) The one who can’t stand the smell of all my favorite things and hasn’t eaten chocolate in a month. (This is still true unfortunately. My poor hubby isn’t allowed to wear cologne or use mouthwash. Worst smells EVER lol….) My current reality is way less successful than I thought it was going to be. I feel upset at my current routine, yet can’t do much else than hope that I won’t barf and fall asleep at my desk. I had heard stories about the first trimester. Good stories and horrifying ones. I always thought “oh nine months, piece of cake.” And now I think “I hate you 7 weeks. I hate you even more 8 weeks. When will this end 9 weeks….and so on.” (Luckily, the sea bands I’ve been wearing have eased a lot of my nausea. I highly recommend them…super cheap too.Can purchase them anywhere.)

Until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t seen our sweet baby. I hadn’t seen the heartbeat and gotten photos of a grape sized life that already had limbs and a brain, hands and feet, tiny eye lids, a spine …..the list goes on surprisingly. It’s crazy how everything shifted for me. No longer was I hating this season, but I was so grateful for the healthy, vibrant, life beating at 160 times a minute in my two-times normal sized uterus.

There are plenty of moments I have to remind myself that there is purpose in this. And I want to remain strong. I want to be the kind of woman that fights through the hormonal changes with understanding and ease, knowing that this is just a season.

I don’t want to remember carrying my child as a burden, but as a blessing. 
It’s so easy to complain about all the changes and bad things I feel. 
I know I can’t change what my body decides to do, but I can change what my mind does.

Whether or not I feel sick, tired, ready, not ready…..it’s here. It’s happening. It’s WORTH it. I have to get my head in the game! I’m just one of billions of women who have grown an actual human being inside their bodies. Holy crap!! #perspective

I really want my kids to look up to me, be proud of me, and want to be like me. I want them to grow up knowing they can be even stronger. This purpose has turned into a sense of empowerment that I hope one day my children will also feel when they walk through life transforming experiences like I am now. No fear. Just purpose. Intention. Boldness to face anything. Confident that success is waiting on the other side.

This morning I was praying and the phrase “Always Faithful” kept coming to mind. It was the Lord reminding me that His love never fails. I guess I’ve just thought I’ve been alone in this. I mean, I have Chris (who’s amazing and so helpful!), but he will never truly understand how I feel, physically and emotionally. But the Lord does, and He has such a great plan for this journey. I know through the rest of my first trimester, into the second and finishing the third, that He will guide me, provide for me, and prepare me for the wonderful entrustment of motherhood. He’s always faithful and I trust He will finish what He started in me, without failing me!! *breathing a sigh of relief*

Thank you Lord for breathing life inside of me. I’m just so grateful for this opportunity that came so easily to Chris and me. The countdown continues to parenthood! 9 months is really brilliant when you carry the perspective that it’s almost a year of parental preparation. But yet 9 months is still so cruel to my body and the outside world of those around me. 😉 I’m fortunate that my gracious husband still thinks I’m fantastic. Or at least he says. #GoodMan #Lets DOthis #NoBodyPutsBabyinaCorner #Pacernated #Pacernators

Ultrasound

Aussie Wife. Aussie Life.


I have had the absolute pleasure of being Mrs. Chris Pace for almost three months now. It’s even more amazing than I expected. I’ve only written my maiden name a few times since the wedding and it’s still surreal saying “Ashleigh Pace.” I’ve adopted Aussie life (in the USA) as an Aussie wife and have come face to face with Chris’s short shorts, love for aloe-vera, feta for breakfast, and the more-than-occasional middle-of-the-night prayer sesh. I’m learning to wake up 30 minutes earlier than normal because he likes to talk in bed before we get up. He’s learning not to wake the bear before winter is over because I need my full 8 hours of beauty sleep. I’m learning to remain patient while he learns how to drive like an American, and he’s adjusting to my get-things-done personality. I’m learning that he goes with the flow and takes his time to enjoy every single moment, and he’s learning that I’m the queen of multi-tasking and fast-paced schedules. We are both learning all that we can as we develop and define the marriage that we want to have for the next 60+ years. It’s not easy coming into a marriage after having only spent 8 weeks in person with the guy you’re marrying. (Definitely not minimizing the value in the 9 months we spent living on opposite sides of the world being forced to learn how to communicate. #majorscore) There are some pretty normal day-to-day things that we just never had the luxury of doing together until the past few months. Our story seems different from the ordinary, yet still carries so much normal– combining two different cultures, two different journeys of life, two different hearts and minds that have grown up in very different homes, with very different experiences. We are intentionally choosing to celebrate our differences and it’s been really rewarding stepping outside our normal, comfortable boxes and embracing all the little (and big) things that seem weird/crazy about the other person. Chris and I knew from the very beginning of our relationship that our walk would be a constant choice. We knew without a doubt that it was God orchestrated and we always had the mindset of “this relationship looks crazy, but we know God is calling us to it, sooo let’s do it.” We knew we would HAVE to be ok with the differences and make it a daily choice to bring out the best in one another, even if we weren’t comfortable. We could’ve said no at any point along the way (I actually did at one stage. Thankful for the Lords grace that allowed me to press on.), but by the time we reached the altar we knew we made some pretty incredible and life altering choices. The best one? Marriage. Not just “marriage” in the sense that everyone wants to be married and the type of marriage that people get themselves into just so they have the luxury of saying their married and not being alone anymore. But the choice and opportunity to say I have the privilege of spending forever with you, and you with me, where “As You Wish” is all that’s on the agenda. Oh and it gets to last forever. Forever with Chris Pace? Yes. Please.

In three months I have discovered that I’m a pretty awesome expert in weaknesses. I mean, I’m a very detail-oriented person. Policy, procedure, precision, and accuracy define my career. I work in Finance where there’s not a whole lot of room for mistake when you’re dealing with really important numbers and data. Therefore, I am very critical to make sure all things happen with excellence and without fault. You can probably see where I’m going with this…..that kind of mentality doesn’t work in marriage. So my new mindset and goal for this marriage is this: I want to be an expert in Chris’s strengths. I vowed on our wedding day to always draw near to the Lord so that I never drew back from Chris. I vowed to love growth and emphasize the positive. Chris’s ways are very different from my ways. (GASPPP) Rephrase: An Australian’s way is WAY different than an American’s way. (GASPPPP That’s a real gasp. Not a sarcastic one. I never knew our cultures were so different!) But we do share the same heart for unity and togetherness. As well as our love for Jesus, donuts, sappy movies, crafts, and kiss attacks. Mostly in that order. I’m so honored to be his wife. I’m so lucky because it’s so easy to love him. I’m the one that’s harder to love. (Say what? Yah. He’s the favorite. I’m slowly getting over it). But seriously! He gives me everything I want not because I demand it, but because he offers and loves to serve me. He allows me to be stubborn, celebrates my OCD, and isn’t even fazed by my grumpy, morning body. I found the most perfect and sexy man in the world. He literally crossed oceans for me. (hearts hearts hearts) I snatched him up and call him mine, and we love each other for exactly who we are. Our individuality is what has made this marriage so unique and so awesome.

Genesis 2:18 “The LORD said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable helper for him.”

Here are some photos of our wonderful union day. (Photos by RhemaFaithPhotography)

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4.


We finally made it to wedding week!!! 4 days away. The home stretch.

Its crazy thinking back to last October when this foreign (literally) man came into my life. I would’ve never imagined my life would carry so much blessing from one single influence (other than Jesus of course). Chris changed my world from day one. The first time we spoke, I knew he was different. His spirit carried joy I had never experienced before and his voice carried a strong and energetic tone. He encouraged so quickly and consistently that it took some getting used to because I wasn’t ever used to hearing so much of it in such capacity. His passion was almost unbelievable and his genuine heart was just about too good to be true. I can’t tell you how many times I thought to myself in the beginning (and even asked him many times too) “Is this seriously for real? Are you being serious? Are you really like this ALL the time? Is this authentic? Are you living in like a fake fantasy land of perfection?” It didn’t take too long for me to realize this man was for REAL. Everything about him was real. His heart was real. The way he served was real and genuine. His heart for others wasn’t just an act – it was a call. The way he carried himself was so unlike any other man I had ever met that I still, to this day, wake up every single morning saying, “Wow. How did a girl like me get so lucky to have a guy like HIM?” You always hear people say, “Snap out of it, fairy tales don’t exist and this feeling won’t last forever” and believe me I’ve said this a MILLION times. Before I met Chris I would tell people that tender, deep, loving, mushy, strong willed, disciplined, selfless men just don’t exist. I would dream about having my own Noah or Michael Hosea, but always knew in the back of my head I would never actually find a man that good to be true because why? Well they don’t exist because fairy tales don’t exist….

WELL….

I’m here to tell you they DO. They are alive and well!!!

Before you go all eye-rolly and sarcastic on me telling me I’m living unrealistically, just hear me out.

I KNOW that being in love isn’t all roses and smell goods. I KNOW relationships have their ups and downs (how would we ever grow if they didn’t?). Trust me when I say I KNOW marriage is hard work and you have to have a selfless attitude of sacrifice and servant hood EVERY single morning when you wake up. I’m not saying my marriage with Chris will be easy. (I’m declaring victory, strength, success, and life to it though!) Let me prove to you that fairytales DO have their struggles too…..

Cinderella worked HARD for love. She was a servant before she had to learn how to serve her Prince. She lost a dang good shoe, ran half barefoot all the way home, dealt with opposition and abuse from her own family, lived in a shack of an attic, and only had mice for friends. Rapunzel was so sheltered she hardly knew a thing (hello ignorance). Ally spent SEVEN YEARS waiting for the love of her life. Jamie Sullivan had cancer. I’m trying to get you to see the emotional heaviness all these fairytales carry that we cry over every time we turn our blue ray player on.

I can tell you that Chris and I’s relationship has had some awesome Up’s and some really low Down’s in our relationship. We’ve had to work through and grow through some extremely hard obstacles, but I can still say that my fairy tale has come true. (Insert giddy giggles here) I got my glass slipper back and was blessed with happiness 100 fold what I thought I had lost.

Chris IS the man I was always meant to spend forever with! I didn’t ask God for Chris because I didn’t think God would give him to me. (Why do girls always feel so unworthy?! Seriously I hate how the world has tainted our worth) but I’m seriously so lucky God gave him to me anyway. I have since learned that we must ask for things. Believe for the very best. Tell God the desires of our hearts because He WANTS to give them to us. Chris taught me that and now you wouldn’t believe the kinds of things I dare to ask God for! (And actually receive!)

“Often we miss the amazing adventure God wants to lead us on because we are too afraid to trust Him, so we attempt the journey on our own. This limits us to our own provision. If we aren’t asking and seeking God for what more we need, we have no way of finding it.” — Fight Like A Girl, Lisa Bevere

Don’t deny God the opportunity to give you His absolute best. I promise you it’s the best fairytale you could ever dream! (Ephesians 3:20)

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All photos by Rhema Faith Photography

 

-ash

Happily Showered


I had my bridal shower this week!! It was so great being with so many amazing women I love all in the same place. I never knew how important it was to have Godly women in my life when I was younger, but I’ve truly sought out wise, fun loving, loyal, awesome girls and let me tell you, it’s totally paid off. The reward and growth that comes from gleaning off these incredible ladies has changed me in so many positive ways. I am so blessed and hope that one day I can be the kind of friend that these women have been to me.

Let’s be honest, everyone loves a day that’s all about them. You get attention and encouragement, gifts, you get served. And as someone with a love language of gifts and physical touch, a party where a bunch of women gather to shower you with gifts, hugs, and love is my kind of partay! Ha. But it was so much more than that. I wanted to honor the women in my life that have stood by me through thick and thin. This party wasn’t just about me finding the love of my life and celebrating my union with Chris. It was about recognizing how I got to where I am today.

There’s only One who could perform such a drastic transformation, but He provided the best people for me to do life with. There were women in that room that had prayed with me countless times. Women who had literally wiped tears from my eyes, held me up when I was too weak to stand, showed me how truly valuable my life was, and have loved me in ways I never knew possible. God’s love truly shines through them! I have shared SO many laughs and made so many memories with them. We’ve grown together, expressed encouragement, challenged each other, pushed one another, believed in each other and shown strength in times of weakness. We’ve celebrated new life, new joy, new seasons, and dreams to accomplish. And this shower was such a celebration of God’s beaming and redemptive love!

I won’t forget the tears of joy shed and the amazing time spent together being excited for the love I share with the man of my dreams. I am so excited that God has given me such an amazing gift to steward. I never knew such an amazing man would be entrusted to me, to be my husband! Someone I could love with my whole heart, nurture, care for, cook for, love on, believe in, support, encourage, and run beside. Next to the honor of loving such a good God, I have the greatest honor of loving Chris. He is my true soul mate and I know we were destined for each other!

I’m so honored to have such sweet friends. My sister Stef made an absolutely amazing spread of food, with help from my beautiful mother, stepmom Toni, and Nana. My best friend Sasha spent time planning and putting the whole thing together. Kortney opened her adorable home to us all. And my beautiful friends made the best company. Without you all, it wouldn’t have been a success! I’m so forever grateful. Thank you.

Here’s a few pics!

XOXO Ash

Me and Carly--the woman who teaches me how to be boldly beautiful
Me and Carly–the woman who teaches me how to be boldly beautiful
The woman who has made me who I am today! My sweet Mum.
The woman who has made me who I am today! My sweet Mum.
The lovely Sashy making it truly my personality
The lovely Sashy making it truly my personality
Who doesn't love a car full of fun goodies?! Amazing.
Who doesn’t love a car full of fun goodies?! Amazing.
The amazing food table! #Pacernators
The amazing food table! #Pacernators
Me and my sis Stef
Me and my sis Stef

A Whisper from Heaven


I was looking at all these amazing beach photos recently thinking about all the best Honeymoon spots and Jesus gave me this amazing vision. It was really cool how He weaved Himself into this small, random moment of my Google search. It turned out to be SO not random…

 

 Jesus and I were walking along this never ending dock over the most beautiful turquoise water you’ve ever seen! The dock was skinny and light brown colored and didn’t have railings or sides. It wasn’t something you could see far ahead—it just appeared as we kept walking step by step. All you could see ahead was endless ocean, nothing around us but calm, clear, sparkling water. We were holding hands and He began telling me how my sins have been buried into the deepest depths of the ocean. (Micah 7:19). He explained how each new wave and movement that appeared out of the water was a song—a song that He has written just for me and about my redemption. Just like He names the stars, He gave each wave a unique melody about His perfect love in my personal restoration; songs written of my beauty and testimony.

Then we paused on the dock. Jesus had me look back behind us. He pointed to a shore that looked like a normal beach, but behind it was a city, dark clouds hovering and no sign of light. As I gazed in horror, He squeezed my hand tightly, leaned in really close and softly whispered in my ear, “We never have to turn back, Love.” I looked up at Him, feeling the most incredible butterflies in my stomach knowing we never had to go back! The lingering burden of my sin and past was no longer staring me in the face. It was behind me and freedom was the only remnant. Jesus and I were moving on – together.

The thing that should’ve been scary was the endless water ahead. But Jesus never let go of my hand as we walked towards the unknown. I knew He loved me more deeply than anything and my future with Him was safe. I may not have been able to see the path ahead, but I was reassured that by walking with Him in faith, I could keep moving.

I love the promise that my future is not full of the things I have known—it’s full of HIS unknowns. His perfect, planned, purposeful things that are unknown now, but so clearly designed and known by Him, await me. (Jer. 29:11) What was once a dark and lowly land has been pushed to the depths of the ocean. And what springs forth are waves of mercy, waves of grace, waves of perfect melody singing songs of redemption, hope, life, joy, peace, a FUTURE…..a life spent walking with Jesus as He leans in and whispers His sweet words of how much He loves me…


We never have to turn back, Love.”


The simple yet profound nature of those words has changed me forever. WE are the Beloved’s, and He is ours! Hope this encourages somebody like it has me!!

 

Ash

18 things to improve my Marriage


This last week I spent 7 wonderful days in the beautiful city of Sydney, Australia. The culture was diverse and fast-paced, friendly and raw. My lovely boyfriend (now fiancé!) Chris took me to all the best spots in the area including Manly Beach, Sydney Tower, Sydney Harbor, and Bondi Beach. It was a once in a life time trip I couldn’t have imagined any differently! While in Sydney, Chris popped THE question….in other words, he liked it so he put a ring on it! It has been a magical ride doing life beside him and I’m incredibly blessed to be the future Mrs. Chris Pace.

Now that I’m engaged and diving into wedding planning, marriage prep, and the early stages of pre-family planning, I decided I wanted to share a few things I intend to do differently in my marriage this time around. For those that don’t know, this will be my second marriage and my perspective entering this journey is so much different than before.

I want my story to touch someone else. If I can inspire just one person, that’s totally worth it. I don’t want to live silently about my divorce and act like nothing happened and shove it under the rug. It’s important to me to voice the things that I intend to do differently in my marriage with Chris. And if no one reads this, it’s ok. I’m just happy to have a space where I can get this stuff written down. But I really hope someone reads this and is inspired to live above average in their relationship and strive to see God’s best come forth in their marriage.

So, here are 18 things that I think contribute to an excellent marriage. Am I perfect? Heck no. I’m not saying I’ve mastered these things. These are just some of the most important things that I believe bring success, fruit, and wealth into a relationship. And I fully intend to work towards all of these things on a daily basis in my upcoming marriage. Here goes…..

18 things I will do better in my second marriage…….

1.) God has to be the center. I know this sounds cliché. But it’s the simplest truth in life that always seems to get downsized. We must involve God in every aspect of our lives. No exceptions.

2.) Make joy. Don’t just enjoy moments together as they naturally happen. Seek to know more about each other and create the moments you’ve always dreamed of having. Let life happen and take things as they come, but MAKE magical moments happen. Be intentional in making dreams come true. Never stop learning about one another and be proactive in creating the best life together.

3.) Lose the criticism. There’s a difference between making each other better and being negatively critical about everything. Build one another up! Let go of the things that don’t truly matter. I spent WAY too much time focusing on everything my ex-husband did wrong, and not enough time emphasizing all the things he did right. Focus on the positive! Take time to think about the things bothering you and allow yourself time to evaluate if it’s really worth bringing up. Don’t make mountains out of mole hills!

4.) Take responsibility for your own heart. It should always be a priority for you to protect and steward well the heart of your partner, but your heart must come first. That might sound selfish and contradicting, but if you’re heart and emotions are not in a healthy place, you won’t be able to care for your spouse in the way they deserve to be cared for. Take responsibility for your emotions—don’t blame your spouse for the way YOU feel. Protect your own heart—don’t put yourself in any situation that will be harmful to you or them. You are ultimately responsible for YOU.

5.) Forgive immediately. Your spouse is a human being. ALLOW them to be human and know that you both will continually make mistakes. Love each other’s weaknesses and never seek to change one another. Don’t hold things against each other. That is poison! Choose to see the best and know that your partner never intends to hurt you. Love each other, no matter what, and be the person that your spouse can count on to forgive them. You’ll want their forgiveness too, so both of you should strive to create the safest space for failure.

6.) Know who the real enemy is. The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy and marriage is one of his highest priorities. He will do whatever he can to tear the unity in your relationship. So when things get tough and you’re faced with hardships, know that your spouse isn’t the enemy: the devil is the real enemy. You are not in a war with your spouse. You must choose to fight on the same side.

7.) Don’t stop having sex. When you have a fight or you find yourself in a rough patch, it’s easy to distance yourself and spend less intimate time together. But intimacy is a huge factor in sustaining unity. Don’t stop being close. Distance can create footholds for the enemy to step in and cause you to seek happiness in other places. Persevere and draw closer to your spouse, don’t detach! Sex keeps you vulnerable, open, and tears down walls. One of the best things I learned in marriage counseling regarding sex was keep the lights on, make eye contact, and communicate. That means you’re looking at each other, talking to each other, and engaging fully in the wonderful closeness of sex. Also, be creative in your intimacy—get wild!

8.) Ditch the image. You’re not going to have a perfect marriage so stop acting like everything’s perfect. It’s more about progress, and less about perfection. Don’t hide or stuff your issues—deal with them face to face. The best marriages still require humility, willingness to grow, and effort to keep things fresh and healthy.

9.) Use your words wisely. Men need respect and women need to feel loved. I always felt like I had to be the one to put my ex in his place and that’s not always right. Some situations call for that, but most of all I know that my man just wants my respect and my support (support=don’t gang up on him and chose to take his side). Whether its encouragement or a disrespectful comment in the midst of a fight, words stay with us. Don’t run your mouth just because you’re angry, and don’t hold back those encouraging, loving words and compliments either. Remember, for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

10.) Pray together every day. Prayer builds faith and it’s effective. Where two or more are gathered in His name, He is there with us (Matt 18:20). I always found prayer super helpful in ending fights. You can’t genuinely pray for someone with an angry heart, so when I felt like exploding or chewing out my ex-husband, I would pray out loud for him. My heart softened immediately and I was able to forgive, resolve, and move on quickly. Also, you’d be surprised the power that comes from praying in tongues out loud together. It’s awkward at first, but try it and keep trying it. You won’t regret it.

11.) Go to bed angry. Say what?! Yah I said that. I know the Bible says don’t go down on your anger, and I will always seek to obey God. I don’t think this scripture means “have it all worked out before you go to bed.” I’m a firm believer that after 10pm it’s hard to remain rational. A lot of times it’s better to sleep on something and talk about it after you’re well rested and have had time to think and calm down. So go to sleep in agreement (that’s the key to the scripture!) that you need to work it out in the morning, and go to bed together in peace. You must actually resolve your issue in the morning though. That doesn’t mean stuff it.

12.) Follow through. Make goals and declarations as a couple. Dream big and work hard to see your dreams fulfilled. And if you tell your spouse you’re going to do something, then keep your word and follow through. If you can’t do it, then be honest in saying you either need more time or the original goal wasn’t realistic. Start strong, finish strong.

13.) Embrace independence. Find things that you can do on your own (working out is big alone time for me) or prioritize girls/guys night out. It’s good to spend time with your friends and allow yourself an outlet of independence as well. With that being said, don’t get mad at your partner for wanting time alone. Give them space and allow them to engage in activities with friends.

14.) Make your bedroom a sacred space. Your bedroom should be your getaway! And it’s all about the two of you. Don’t hang a bunch of photos of your family in there and if you need to resolve a fight or serious conflict, do it in the living room. Don’t bring the junk into bed with you.

15.) Have parental boundaries. A girl will always be close to her mom and a guy will always have a special bond with his dad. That’s awesome. But keep boundaries in place for the things you spill to your parents. Have an outlet you can vent to that isn’t mom. You don’t ever want to create a bad image of your spouse in front of your parents. If you need to vent about something, have a girl friend or guy friend on hand that can be a listening ear. Parents carry lots of wisdom so don’t eliminate them completely. Friends can stay neutral to the situation though.

16.) Success is a choice. If you don’t choose to love your spouse on a daily basis, your marriage will fail. Servant hood and selflessness is not something our flesh always craves to do naturally. It takes work and it’s a daily decision. You will always reap what you sow. Sowing when you don’t feel like it and when the other person doesn’t deserve it means reaping positive when you don’t deserve it and receiving the same kindness you so freely and willingly gave.

17.) Get up. When your spouse gets home, drop what you’re doing and give them the biggest hug and kiss you can muster up. Nothing should be more important to you in that moment.

18.) Be goofy. Who cares whose watching or how weird it might be. Have fun together. Put a blanket over your back and pretend to be Batman. Fake laugh as loud as you can in the restaurant. Let out a big, stinky, unladylike fart. It’ll be awesome.

Thanks for reading! Comment or share if you like!

Ash

Ashleigh Nicole

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