5 Ways To Not Destroy Your [Future] Marriage

I recently read an article, shared on Facebook, called ‘5 ways you are unknowingly destroying your husband and killing your marriage’.  It received a lot of views and gained popularity by leaps and bounds.  Author Katelynn Carmen had great points in her article.  I was inspired to write a post, on the same topic, but relatable for singles instead of specifically to married women.  

Because, believe it or not, we are impacting our future marriage even now.

1)    Respect.
Ladies, learn to respect men.
Men, learn to respect women.
This is something that is so lacking in today's culture.  And I'm sure you would all agree with me.  The fact is, some women feel that 'respecting a man' is like 'submitting to him'.  But I don't think this is exactly the same.  I may respect a lot of the guys in my life, but that doesn't mean I'll submit to them, do what they tell/ask me to, and trust them to make decisions for me.  No.  I respect them because they have proven themselves as gentlemen, as someone worthy of respect.  I am so blessed to say I know a few men like that.  I will, however, respect the man I submit under.  But in the marriage context, whether I find my husband 'worthy' of my respect or not, I am commanded to honor and obey him (as long as what he wants me to do does not go against Scripture).  Your father and brother(s) are good guys to practice with, by the way.
And guys, you need to learn to respect women - whether they are ladies or not.  You need to learn to respect and treat women well now before you even think about dating one.  
Respecting your spouse will be one of the greatest keys to a good marriage.  I have seen this truth time and time again in the many couples I know, including my parents.  You cannot truly love without respecting that person as well.  And of course you'll have your up and down days with the spouse.  But learning to respect them, no matter what, is essential.  Even now.

2)    Submission.
This one is more for the ladies.  And one that tends to get overlooked very often, especially by single women.  I get the whole hulaballoo about how 'submission' means to 'submit under one's authority; the act of being under a superior force; having a submissive conduct or attitude'.  That doesn't sit very well with many women.  And it's because some of us, as humans, don't want to be 'under' anyone's authority.  Especially a man's.  We aren't weaklings.  We can do things on our own.  We can make our own decisions.  But being 'submissive' isn't about owning up to any of those.  Let's look at what a wife called to be?  A helpmate.  An encouragement to her husband.  The strength behind him.  Right?  And what greater strength must a woman have than to trust and submit to her husband's decisions and support him no matter what?  To submit isn't about being weak.  It's about having the strength it takes to be the solid rock of foundation and assurance, the encouragement and help to push forward.  Practice being this encouragement with the men in authority over you - namely, your father.
And guys, learn now that your wife isn't submitting to you because she's the weaker sex.  But because she trusts you and is giving her all to you to care for, and to lead.  I don't know what more of a manly responsibility you want than that.  It's a pretty scary thought, honestly.  By marrying a woman, you are accepting full responsibility to care, cherish, and honor her - body, soul and spirit.  Think you can do that?  Learn to.  Even now.

3)    Budget.
This is sooo important, people.  Learn to budget and save money BEFORE you are married so you won't go into horrible debt the first year you're married, and you won't have problems saving and budgeting once you have double expenses...or start a family.  That's about all I have to say for this.  But for reals.  Learn to budget.  Even now.

4)   Household skills.
'When I have my own house, I'll do my own laundry.'
'Organizing is such a waste of time.'
'I don't need to make my bed.  I'm just gonna sleep in it again tonight.'
Oh just you wait until you're married and your while-single-habits get on your spouses' nerves.  Better nip those in the bud now, peeps.  Oh and cooking!!  Guys AND girls should both learn this skill.  Ladies, because you'll need to know how to feed your husband a hearty meal, and maybe someday children too.  And gents, one of the biggest turn-ons to women is seeing a man in the kitchen, cooking up a fancy meal.  (Especially like in those Kraft commercials...hint hint.)  It's attractive, okay?  Learn to be skilled and handy around the house.  Even now.

5)    Patience.
No matter how 'in love' you think you'll be, or how many kisses and flowers your marriage is going to be filled with, patience is a virtue that will never got out of style and will always be needed.  Patience is useful in all stages of life.  And as a single person, you can focus on cultivating it with your parents, your siblings, your coworkers, your boss, your church family, etc.  I have talked to many couples about the best foundations to a healthy marriage, and 'patience' was always on their list.  Practice patience.  Even now.

What are some other qualities you would suggest that singles hone before being in a relationship?

This post was originally published by Raquel on Brave.


6 Steps To Finding The Man of Your Dreams

It's possible, girlies.  Not necessarily 'easy', but maybe you could give it a try. 
Here are six simple steps...

Step 1:  Realize.
Realize that there is no such thing as 'the perfect man' (TPM from here on out), but there is such a thing as the man of your dreams.  So many girls have bought into this idea that TPM exists, and that they should be on the lookout for him.
Well, he doesn't exist.  And the sooner you realize this, the better off you'll be.

Step 2:  Admit.
The only kind of man you should be praying for is the perfect man for you.  If it is in God's design that you marry, God has made the perfect match for you.  Learn to admit that this man may not meet up to all of your expectations or what you consider to be 'perfect', but if he is the one for you, he will be the perfect man for you to marry.

Step 3:  Have.
Have high standards, not impossible standards.  I think that much of the time, there can be an insane amount of pressure on men to live up to a godly girl's standards.  Girls should have high standards, no doubt about it.  So should guys.  But not all Christian individuals are going to be so 'good' that every requirement will be checked off of said lists.  That's unrealistic and, frankly, hypocritical.  How would you like to know that a guy is comparing your character and personality traits to what he considers 'the perfect girl'?  
You'd think it's unfair.  People are flawed.  We fail at things.  Including you, and including him.  But if you both are matching each other's characters to Biblical standards, then neither one of you can justifiably complain.

As a friend of mine said, "If there is one thing that life has taught me, it's that human standards lead to human plans, and human plans lead to problems."

Step 4:  Know.
Morals are good.  Standards are good.  But until a girl genuinely knows what makes a true Christian man, she will keep looking in all the wrong places.  To search for a man of God isn't about looking for a guy who has an attractive face, a nice body, and oh!  He loves Jesus.  What makes a man godly, husband-material is not 'he needs to be perfect like Him' (because this is impossible for any human being), but 'he is striving towards that godliness' - regardless of if he can reach it or not.  Is he choosing to be holy as He is holy? Or is he simply comfortable with where he's at and deciding not to even try to be a superhero because duh, no one can possibly achieve that status?
Guys are afraid of showing weakness.  Many have admitted this to me.  They want to be known as strong, protective, and manly men.  But what they need to realize is that brokenness isn't always identified as giving up.  And what you, as a woman, need to know to search for in a man is that he understands the beauty and essence of being broken that actually shows and proves his faith.

Step 5:  Desire.
You should desire a man who must reach a point where he admits that he can't do life on his own, and by giving himself up, he is willing to let Christ take over.
You should desire a man who will challenge you, not one who will let you get away with everything.
You should desire a man who may not always tell you that you're beautiful, but who will make you feel like a million bucks just by the way he looks at you.
You should desire a man who tries to follow God with all his heart instead of trying to hold stuff together on his own strength.
You should desire a man who admits to failure, works at improving, and actually does change.
You should desire a man who you know will raise your children to the glory of God, and who you will always be able to point to as an example to your sons and daughters as a man of God.
You should desire a man who will come home from work smelling like hard labor and want to take you into his arms and kiss the heck out of you even if he's filthy dirty and even if you haven't showered all day, not one who will only love you when you are 'presentable'.  (I guess that's a perfect man status but whatever.)

Step 6:  Strive.
Girls complain about there not being 'enough godly men out there', but where are all the godly women?  Why not start looking at improving your own character and qualities, instead of complaining about no perfect men being available?  I'm sure TPM doesn't like whiners.  Are you striving to be the kind of woman TPM you want is looking for?

The man of your dreams shouldn't be a perfect man.  He should be human, imperfect, characteristically flawed.  Why?  Because that is a good and godly man.  A man who isn't easy, who will challenge you, admonish you, and will relate in the struggle of life.  This kind of man is one who does not do things to be nice, but because he lives by a godly moral code.  He will not do the easy or convenient thing.  He will do the right thing.

That is the man you should dream of marrying one day.

And what a blessing of a man he will be.


"Can I say something to the young ladies?  I'm trying to pick my words carefully here.  Your husband, whoever he is, single ladies, will have an unbelievable amount of influence over your sons and daughters in regards to spiritual things.  If you want your children to love Jesus deeply, hold out for a man who is godly.  And let me tell you this: I am well aware that godly men are rare.  Lots of neat Christian boys, not a lot of godly men.  And we're working our tails off for you to try to develop some into that.  But don't settle, because it's better that you're lonely now than for you to be married and lonely later.  Are you tracking with me?  It is better that you be lonely now than for you to get married to a man who will teach your kids everything but the way of Jesus."
- Matt Chandler

This post was originally published by Raquel on Brave.


You Are A Warrior

Have you ever been in that place where you don't feel like you're getting anywhere in life?

Have you ever felt like God has given you a test and you're failing it?

Have you ever wanted to take things into your own hands and make them work out your way but you know that God's plan is greater?

Have you ever felt that God is taking too long to tell you what to do and where to go so you think you could probably figure stuff out way faster?

Sound relatable?  And not to mention stressful, confusing and just plain hard.

I think there are two ways you can handle such a situation.  You can either fight against it (and end up making yourself more miserable) or accept that this is where God has you right now (and strive to praise Him even during the difficulties).

Something a lot of Christians worry about is that by struggling, it means they're 'failing the test'.  This is so far from the truth.

Hallelujiah, we are free to struggle.  We're not struggling to be free.
- Tenth Avenue North, 'The Struggle'

In fact, the more pain you feel, the more struggle you have and the more you are winning.  It's a fight against our human nature's want and desire to take things into our own hands.

I was talking to a friend recently about what a blessing some hardships in life can be.  Struggling with wanting to do more for the LORD but not having an open door [yet].  That's good.  Because it shows that we aren't comfortable with where we're at.  It means we have goals and dreams and we're trying to reach them.  What we need to learn and accept, though, is that God is the one shaping and molding us.  Things will happen in His perfect timing.  And it's only by His strength that we can get through the hard times.

You are a warrior.  And someone once said, 'God only gives the toughest battles to His strongest warriors'.  He's teaching you something through this.  Cooperate with His gentle touch.  His potter's hands.  He has great plans for you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future.

God's got this.


Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go.'
- Isaiah 48:17


Out Of My League

“Out of my league...”

I have heard one too many guys say this.  And it annoys me every time.  I’m not sure if some people think it’s sweet - that a guy thinks a girl is ‘too good for him’ - or what, but honestly, I think it’s just an excuse.  An easy way out.

Maybe you don’t realize this, guys, but by using that line, you’re basically saying that the girl you DO end up with is ‘in your league’.  Now how do you think she’ll feel about that?  And by saying that a girl is out of your league you’re implying that...what?  You don’t rise to challenges?  You don’t accept that she IS too good for you and that you DON’T deserve her, so you’re just gonna give up?  Excuses are stupid.  And unattractive.  And immature.  Oh and it makes you look like a wimp.

Nothing comes easy in this life.  Including a woman’s heart.  Every married man who I’ve talked to has told me that he doesn’t deserve his wife.  He never did and never will.  A friendship with a woman is a gift.  A girlfriend is a gift.  A spouse is a gift.  And you’re not going to earn her trust or heart easily.  Pursuing a woman SHOULD be a challenge.  If it isn’t, it basically means that said woman doesn’t have high standards.  And in that case, you should move on.  Because a woman who doesn’t have high standards, doesn’t respect herself.  And a woman who doesn’t respect herself shouldn’t be on your radar for possible wife material.  Why?  Because if she lets you get to her so easily, what makes you think she won’t let other guys do the same?  But I digress.  That is a whole different topic.

Yesterday, I was thinking about what I wanted to say in this post.  Basically, I just wanted to express my annoyance with this term that so many guys I know have used.  And what better place to write about it than on my blog?  Hopefully this is something my readers will actually not mind reading.  And I am completely open to your thoughts and comments, so feel free to let me know what you think.  Maybe this is just a personal pet peeve.  Or maybe there are other girls out there who find this phrase dumb too.  I would like to know.

But to the guys...

Please stop saying that a girl is out of your league.  If she means anything to you, then pursuing her shouldn’t be something you cower from.  Sure, expressing feelings to a girl is a bit intimidating.  Okay, maybe a whole lot intimidating.  I totally get that.  Emotions and love and all those things are pretty intense and scary.  But don’t try to be all tough and cute and sweet by saying that “Oh yeah, she’s gorgeous and awesome but so out of my league”.  (Key word: try)  Honestly, I’ve never thought it was attractive that a guy said that.  He’s only using it as an excuse because he’s scared of trying.  But where are you going to get anywhere in this life if you’re scared?  Risk some things, okay?  Risk being rejected.  Risk not knowing her answer.  Risk pursuing her.  It may not work out.  She may say no.  But hey...what if she doesn’t?


5 Facts About Honesty

Even from a very young age, something my Dad always told me was, 'No one is going to know what you're feeling unless you tell them'.  

Growing up, this reality has rang true in countless circumstances.  And it's a fact that I take to heart.

Below are five things about honesty that I have realized and learned to appreciate...

1) Honesty is a beautiful thing.
I don't know about you but I don't like getting lied to.  Or when someone doesn't want to tell me the truth because they're 'afraid it might hurt me'.  If I know you're confronting me about something out of love, I will always accept your admonitions.  I may not like what you have to say, but if I get upset, that's on me.  Proverbs 27:6 says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend..."  Christ Himself spoke truth regardless of if it was easy on the ears or not.  In fact, the truth should make us uncomfortable because it shows us how in need we are of Him.  The other day, a good friend of mine told me that I should pray that God would help me show more grace to others.  It fascinated me that my friend told me this because a) I know I can be harsh and judgmental sometimes but no one has ever confronted me about it, and b) my friend was telling me out of love.  I didn't feel any sort of animosity against them.  I was appreciative.

2) Honesty has become very rare in today's society.
Nobody wants to be judged.  We're all about 'trying to make everyone feel good about themselves'.  But the only times I've seen people confronting other individuals is when they're putting them down, instead of confronting them out of love and for concern on the person's lifestyle.

3) Honesty will never grow old.
Seriously, good things don't go out of style.

4) Honesty is helpful.
People are all about ‘dropping hints’ and being ‘discreet’.  There are times for that, I guess.  But not about important things, okay?  There’s a difference between dropping hints for someone to guess a surprise, or dropping hints because you’re trying to ‘tell’ someone you’re interested in them.
I’ve seen a few things on Facebook, or heard them in person, where people suggest to ‘drop hints’.  Especially girls.  Many girls I know encourage each other in this.  “If you like a guy, you should drop him a hint.”  Uh, no.  For two reasons.  First of all, if you’re old enough to even understand what it means to be attracted and interested in a guy, then you’re old enough to speak your mind and use your mouth to be honest and say what you want to say. (cue the song by Sara Bareilles)  Secondly, guys don’t always get the hints.  Actually, 99% of the time they don’t.  Why?  Because they are very honest, straight-to-the-point creatures.  (Or at least most of them are.)  They’re honest.  They expect others to be honest with them. 
But it shouldn’t just be limited to genders.  We all need to learn to be honest.  Dropping hints isn’t going to help anything.  How is giving a hint any easier than just coming straight out and saying what needs to be said?  What does giving a hint do that face to face honesty can’t or doesn’t?  

5) Honesty is brave.
Being honest is taking a stand for what you believe, think or feel and not being afraid of how people may perceive or criticize you.  You should be sensitive to others' opinions, yes.  Just as they should be to yours.  But boldness is part of honesty.  And both are commands from God.  He calls us to be bold (Ephesians 3:11-12), and He calls us to tell the truth (Ephesians 4:25).  He also gives us the power to do both.

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind."
 2 Timothy 1:7

If people were honest, life would be simpler.  And I’m not talking about the honest sort that say blunt, sometimes hurtful things.  But just plain honesty in any and every little thing.  Friendships.  Romance.  Work.  Talking about life.  Yourself.

What are your thoughts on this?  What are some other facts about honesty that you have seen proven in your life?


Are you a fire, or just another flame?

Apathy is a sickening trait.

I don't know about you, but I am tired of seeing so many people (peers especially), not doing anything.

Individuals would rather spend time playing video and computer games, than doing something life-impacting.
They would rather spend money on makeup, clothes and food, than contributing to a ministry or organization to help others.
They would rather spend hours online, than enjoying the outdoors or reading a good book or doing more educational activities.

I hate seeing status updates on Facebook or tweets on Twitter saying 'I'm bored' or 'I don't know what to do'.  That only tells me that people aren't taking advantage of all the useful things they can do in their lives.  So much of our lives revolve around technology.  Computers, video games, movies, texting.  If you stripped all that away from the average teenager, you’d have a pretty sad kid.  Not to mention bored to death, socially awkward, and completely ‘cut off from the world’.

What does that tell you about our priorities?

Internet really is a blessing, but we can abuse our usage of it.  The same with phones/texting, video games, TV/movies.  Examine your motives for using these conveniences.  See if maybe you could cut out a chunk of your time and spend it doing something permanently life-changing.  

This culture has contaminated the minds of young adults to think that they are incapable of achieving big goals, and reaching high expectations.  And what do my peers do about this?  They blindly follow after the 'easy stuff', not wanting to work themselves into doing something that (the world has taught them) isn't really something 'important at their age'.  Or something that 'they just can't do'.

Let's face it, folks, some young adults can't even carry a decent conversation with another human being.  Instead, they're in their own little world thumbing away on their cell phone, oblivious to the goings-on around them.  

When will my generation realize what they are truly capable of?  And that life isn't about texting, social medias and movies.  Although there is nothing 'wrong' with those activities.  They need to be used with extreme discernment.

Or how about partying, drinking, sex and drugs?  Sure, those things can all make you feel good, help you pass the time.  But do you know how blessed you are to live in a country that has so many incredible things at your fingertips - that kids in other places could only wish to be near such conveniences - and you're missing the point of impacting this world for a mere passing pleasure?

Life is so much more.

And thank God, little by little, I believe that more of us are realizing this truth.  It may not always seem like it.  It's not like I count one less teenager on their phone every time I go to a public place.  But I feel an undercurrent of young adults who are slowly testing their wings, trying to see if they really can fly.

We need to encourage each other in our dreams and goals.  
Encourage the guy who's too timid to try to become a jet pilot and is instead, hiding in his room, playing a video game where he is flying a plane.
Encourage the girl who wants to become a singer, but is instead, not using her voice and just lip-syncing to a karaoke machine.  

Stop being the world's puppets!  Realize that there are people who believe in you.  And ultimately, you have a greater Person who actually made you and created you for more than this.  Let Him take you down a whole new road, to a whole new world.  He will plant people along the way to provide encouragement, opportunities and help.

What are you doing to stir others into not being apathetic?

Are you a fire, or just another flame?


Music Monday | Top 8 Reasons Why Music is My Passion

1)  It is powerful
Music is one of the most powerful forms of communication known to mankind.  Through it, you can say many things.  Or you can say few words, but communicate myriads of thoughts and feelings that could not otherwise have been spoken.  It is a source for comfort, for pain, for truth, for self-confidence, for love, for worship.

Your love is a symphony.  All around me, running through me.  Oh, your love is a melody.  Underneath me, running to me.  Oh your love is a song.
Your Love is a Song / Switchfoot

2) It is art in one of its most beautiful forms
A lot of people think of paintings and drawings when you say the word ‘art’.  But in reality, art is anything that ‘is beautiful, appealing or more than ordinary significance’.  We each have preferred genres of art (or in this case music), but that’s because each person is unique and individual in their taste and desire.  Everyone’s ears and heart are tuned differently.  And we each appreciate different music on a different level. 

'Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.'
- Martin Luther

3)  There’s a song for every mood
Music makes every occasion better.  It makes happy times happier.  And sad times less painful (or more painful - depends on which ‘better’ you’re going for).  The end.

Reality is a lovely place, but I wouldn't wanna live there.
The Real World / Owl City

4)  It doesn’t hurt when it hits you
Because music is not a physical form of art, when it symbolizes exactly what you’re thinking or feeling, it strikes a chord in you that may be painful, but oh so perfect.

Because that's the thing with music.  When it hits, you feel no pain.
Sanctuary / Paradise Fears

5)  Music can do what no words can
With it, you can express your thoughts, your feelings, it can bring back memories, or create new ones.  And the best music is the kind that you can listen to while standing completely still, but feel like you’re flying.

Here we are on top of the stars.  Never thought we'd ever get this far.  We live for moments like this.  Come alive in moments like this.
Moments Like This / The Afters

6)  Songs can say what you’re feeling
When you can’t describe your feelings, some songs can for you.  This has happened to me multiple times.  Someone will ask me ‘Raquel, how’s it going?’ and I’m like ‘Here, just listen to this song.  It will tell you for me’.

You got something I need.  In this world full of people, there's one killing me.  And if we only die once, I wanna die with you.
Something I Need / OneRepublic

7)  It is relatable
What certain songs are about is applicable to things that have happened in your life.  Some songs are significant to us because they’re basically our life story.  You listen to them, you’re like ‘yeah, that’s me...and that’s me...that is definitely me’, and you connect with the music on a level that’s not only intellectual but emotional.

You're gonna find yourself standing in the hall of fame.  And the world's gonna know your name.  Cuz you burn with the brightest flame.
Hall of Fame / The Script

8)  It is good for your soul
To me, music is another way of breathing.  It’s not just a part of life.  It’s a part of my being, of who I am.  And it’s been scientifically proven that music can have the most incredible effects on your body, brain, and heart function.  You’re welcome.

You are more than the choices that you've made.  You are more than the sum of your past mistakes.  You are more than the problems you created.  You've been remade.
You Are More / Tenth Avenue North


Everyday Blessings // 30

>> brand new MacBook (named her Skeeter)
>> leggings...new leggings... (one pair is pictured above)
>> pay checks
>> baby sunflowers sprouting
>> interviewing a favorite singer (it'll be up on Monday)
>> inspiration
>> surprises
>> the sudden burst of writing ideas that come after a writer's block
>> long drives in late evening
>> less than a month till my birthday (I'm turning 20...twenty...two-when-tee...oh gosh...)
>> rocking out to music in the office with my coworkers
>> guest posting
>> when a friend drives...for a while...just to see me
>> giveaways on Instagram (or just giveaways in general)
>> being included
>> reconnecting with old friends
>> people making an effort to get to know you
>> exploring


Since the purchase of my new MacBook, I have had an idea tugging on my brain: Vlogs.  What do my readers think of me acting upon this idea?  What would you like to see videos of?  Speaking/sharing, answering questions, tutorials (on who knows what...), Everyday Blessings posts (but verbally!)??  Let me know your thoughts and ideas!  I'll have a poll up soon.  And I'll be asking this on Facebook too.


Faithful Even In A Little

I'm pretty sure we're all familiar with the parable in Matthew 25:14-30.  Jesus gives an illustration of a master who leaves to go on a long journey, and gives three of his servants five bags, two bags, and one bag of silver.  While he's gone, the one with five bags goes and earns double what he originally had.  Same with the one who had two.  But the third one did something different.  When the master returned, this is what happened...

"Then the one who had received the one bag of silver came forward and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man...so I was afraid I would lose your money, and I went and hid your silver in the ground.  Here you have what is yours'." (verse 24-25)

This stopped me in my tracks.  And the question that popped up was:

What am I doing with what God has given me?

No, He hasn't given me a bag of silver.  But He has given me gifts, talents, and His love and forgiveness.  How am I using these?

What did the master tell the servants who doubled what he had given them?

"His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.  Enter into the joy of your master'."

I want to hear God tell me that someday.  I want to be faithful in what He has given and gifted me in and set me over.  Am I holding back in fear of what others will think of me?

Am I afraid that what He has given me 'isn't enough' compared to what I see others having?

Living the Christian life isn't about what you can get from others, but what you can give them.  God put us on this earth with the ultimate purpose of glorifying and enjoying Him forever.  And one of the ways do serve Him is to serve others.  How are we serving others?  How are we glorifying Him through our lives?  He has given us all we need for life.  Even if it seems like we don't have all that much.  What are we giving Him in return?

Are we being faithful even in a little?