I Almost Died

I almost died.I’m going out on a limb here.  I don’t know how to confirm this, but I’m willing to bet that most of us haven’t had a near-death experience.  I’m not talking “that almost-car-wreck could have ended my life,” or “that nearly scared the livin’ daylights out of me” moments. I’m talking about those times when you can legitimately say, “I almost died.” Like, medically speaking, you almost died.

But I have.

For the sake of my own privacy, I’m going to spare you the details of my near-death experience.  I almost died.  But suffice it to say this: 1) I have legitimate, undeniable proof that I do not cuss.  2) It’s good to know that I turn to Jesus when my actual life is in danger. 3) That was the most pain I could ever imagine experiencing in my life.

Sorry if that’s not enough information for ya.  But really, #sorrynotsorry.

But there aren’t words that quite explain how a person’s life changes after this happens.  It’s true.  Sometimes people make immediate drastic changes to their own lives.  I’ve heard of this happening after someone survives a massive heart attack. They change their diet, their jobs, their stress management techniques.

Here’s my thing, though: I want to spend my life instead of letting life spend me.  Spend my life watching my kiddo grow up.  Spend my life getting old with The Hunk.  Spend my time working to be spiritually healthy.  Spend my energy making healthy physical choices.  Spend some time creating pretty things. Spend dinner time eating foods I won’t regret. Spending time making memories and capturing them.

And that means I don’t want to pour my life out wastefully.  I don’t want to waste my energy on things that aren’t building up something: like working with people who are selfish or abusive, or arguing about something with a stranger, or allowing someone to speak into my life if they are toxic.

My mom always said we’re not promised tomorrow.  It’s a scary thought, but it’s a terrifying reality.

So, now I’m on a mission: Honor the Lord, love my little family, practice gratitude, and be kind to myself.

Will you join me? How are you living a life on a mission?

Book Recommendation: Love and Respect

Love and Respect

When I think back to when The Hunk and I were dating, I know that, without a doubt, the best decision we made as a couple was reading Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. Neither of us had previously experienced successful romantic relationships but we hadn’t failed miserably at being decent human beings.  We had friends and served Jesus.  But I’m telling you, for real, this book changed us. It changed how we related to one another, how we treated one another, and how we interpreted the way we were being treated. I highly recommend this book with the following single disclaimer.


Skim the first third of the book.

Seriously.  Have you ever read a book about improving your life before? It seems like all of them start out convincing you to buy the book.  The very book you have in your hands. I’m sure they have their reasons for writing it this way, but I was sold before I started reading it.  If you’re not, maybe read a bit and then start skimming as you become convinced.

Otherwise, this book is based on two things: scientific research and the Bible.  In fact, scientific research has been done to support the Bible.  Ephesians 5.33 says, “To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.” To some, this is a polarizing verse.  But the book definitely flushes it out.  Eggerichs explains how his research proves that the majority of men would rather be respected than loved and the majority of women would choose being loved over respected.  What he is clear to say is that this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love our husbands or that we shouldn’t respect our wives.  He also flushes out what “respect” means and how it should be as unconditional as love is.

The second third and the last portion of the book reviews some practical ways to implement love and respect in a relationship.  This is, perhaps, the section of the book that a couple could read together and discuss.  I wish we’d start doing this earlier in the book, but we still benefited greatly from having an unstructured discussion on these two sections of the book.

After you read the book and realize its impact on your view of healthy relationships, go ahead and check out the Love and Respect Ministries.  If you’re single, check out Love and Respect NOW, a sister ministry which, as you might have guessed, is great for people who are not in a romantic relationship but would still like to learn about these principles–I mean, I wish I’d known about Love and Respect much earlier in my life.

Interested in purchasing the book? Consider using this affiliate link to make your purchase: Love and Respect

Bedtime Habits | Marriage Hack

One of my favorite things about being married is bedtime.  I mean, I don’t think there’s anything better than snuggling up in my man’s arms and falling asleep.  And, well, sometimes, not falling asleep for a little while.  Wink, wink!  Bedtime habits are some of the best habits to cultivate in any marriage whenever possible.

Bedtime Habits for Married Folk

Bedtime Habits: Set a bedtime

Life can get pretty hectic.  Am I right?  Some seasons are more hectic than others.  One way to combat a hectic life messing with your marriage is to work to set a common bedtime–or at least aim to go to bed at the same time.

At the beginning of our marriage, The Hunk was in graduate school, full-time ministry, and interning as a counselor.  Sometimes, he had to stay up late to write papers–even pulling all-nighters.  Some nights, we couldn’t go to bed at the same time.  When it couldn’t happen, we still touched base before I went to sleep.

In general, having a shared ritual in a marriage improve a marriage relationship.  Going to bed at the same time can be a simple way to incorporate a shared ritual which creates a sense of unity in a marriage.  According to Dr. John Gottman, marriage research expert, shared rituals increase marriage satisfaction overall.

Bedtime Habits: Three Compliments

If we do a quick search engine search, we’ll see a myriad of answers to the question, “How many compliments does it take to undo an insult?”  In my quick search, I saw anything from 60 to a million.  I’m no expert, but I’m not sure insults can ever be undone.  I like to compare this to trying to put all the toothpaste back into the tube.  It’s difficult if not impossible!

So, whether your day was spent together all day or you were apart all day working, volunteering, having social engagements, and general busyness, aim to go to bed at the same time.  And as part of your bedtime ritual, give each other three compliments.  If it has to be forced at first, that’s fine.  After practice, it should become second nature.

Focus on complimenting one another’s accomplishments, appearance, and intellect.  Maybe he rocked at hanging up that canvas for you.  Tell him.  Maybe she came up with an epic solution to the kitchen organization debacle of 2013.  Tell her that you admire her skill.

Seal these compliments with a kiss. Or even more fun stuff.

Bedtime Habits: Debrief

If your life isn’t already crazy together, it will be.  Before going to bed, go through a quick debrief.  This debrief is clothing optional.

Take turns sharing a high and a low of the day, being sure to end with a high.  “So, dear, what was your favorite part of today?” “My favorite part was when you came home so glad to see me! What was yours?”  Complete the interchange.  Then, discuss a low: “What was the low point of your day?” “I was really sad to learn that my friend’s husband died in an unexpected car accident.  She’s my age with two kids!” “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that…” And this gives a good opportunity to bond and share with one another, offering comfort or a listening ear.  Then, complete the cycle and finish up with another high.  “Okay, what was another part of the day you enjoyed?” “I enjoyed my dinner with Tami.  She is a great friend and mentor.”

What’s great about the nightly debrief, according to Drs. Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs, is that it gives a chance for the two of you to learn more about one another–the things our beloved likes to do or experience and what makes life difficult or a challenge.

Bedtime is the best time.  Make it count with your spouse!

Kyle and Justina | Married in Columbus, Ohio

Kyle and Justina,

I just know that your lives together will be a fabulous reflection of the joy of Christ.  Continue leaning into Christ, reading books by wise Christ-followers, and seeking wisdom from those around you who emulate Christ in their own marriages.

Because I believe in them, I want to throw my three big pieces of advice to you:

  1. Love one another, even when you don’t feel like it.  Because we all get tired, irritated, and busy.  But even during those moments, love one another.
  2. Fight for “we” instead of “me.” Because conflict is part of a healthy marriage, make sure that in every disagreement, the end goal is to grow closer together, stronger together.
  3. Outdo one another in love.  Because you can never love one another too much in a marriage.  You can never do too much to make your marriage the best, most Christ-loving pair in the history of love.


Kyle and Justina Kyle and Justina Kyle and Justina Kyle and Justina Kyle and Justina Kyle and Justina Kyle and Justina

Kyle and Justina’s Vendors

Florist: The Flowerman
Caterer: Bosc + Brie

Bob and Lara | Married in Columbus

“Forever is not long enough.”  Bob is such a romantic, right?  I was fortunate enough to attend the rehearsal for Bob and Lara.  I said to him, “Tomorrow, you get to start forever with Lara!”  And “Forever isn’t long enough” was his response.  How sweet!  Bob and Lara are so totally in love and I am honored to have had a front seat to their big day.

Bob and Lara

Bob and Lara: Love Never Fails

Bob hails from the west coast and Lara is a native of Illinois. Both of them landed, professionally, here in Columbus.  Bob’s first words to Lara were “I hope I don’t stink!”  And, as they say, everything from then on out is history!

Bob and Lara were married on Lara’s parents’ anniversary and in the same church as them, Clinton Heights Lutheran Church!

I love the sentimental and beautiful details of the day.  See the purse in Lara’s hands? Her family sent off both her mom’s wedding dress and his mom’s wedding dress to someone one Etsy; they took some fabric from each and made it into this lovely purse!  I love it!

Bob and Lara

Lara had so many capable hands to help her get ready.  And, seriously, her bridesmaids were the best at doting over her.  I loved ever second of this!

Bob and Lara

And these two groups were fun, despite the heat!

Bob and Lara

I loved the cufflinks these groomsmen wore.  On one arm, they had maps of where they are from and on the other, where they were when Bob asked them to be in his wedding!  Love!

Bob and Lara

I melt over the processional at weddings.  Don’t you?  We knew Bob would cry.  Good job to Scott, best man, who had tissues at the ready for Bob!

Bob and Lara

I love how Christ-centric their ceremony was.  I am falling in love with the second kiss–maybe even more than the first kiss.

Bob and Lara

There’s something about bubbles that brings out our happiest faces, am I right?  Seriously, Bob and Lara are thrilled during their bubble exit!

Bob and Lara

Bob and Lara: Celebrate the Love

Then, we made our way to the Franklin Park Conservatory for the rest of the evening.  Lara grabbed a quick and gorgeous shot with her fave ladies!  I love these girls!

Bob and Lara

And we spent some time with just Bob and Lara, grabbing some pictures of these lovey-dovey newlyweds before we went in for the ultra-fun reception.

Bob and Lara

Bob and Lara

I love dinner time at the reception because it gives me a chance to sit down, eat, run through my checklist, and grab more detail shots.  Between the ceremony and the reception, details were classy–not overstated.  What a classy day, Bob and Lara!  I think flowers are the most foundational element of the decor of the day.  These white roses, provided by Madison House Designs, are the perfect foundation for Bob and Lara’s vows.

Bob and Lara

Okay, so, no fair: Bob and Lara have a logo!  I want a logo!  I’m so looking into a couple logo… :)  Also, the treats at the reception were delicious!  These cupcakes were scrumptious!  Carrie’s Sugar Buzz, yes, you rock!

Bob and Lara

Now, Kari, you totally got Bob in your speech.  What a great toast!

Bob and Lara

Oh, Lara, you are gorgeous!  I love the after-speech smooches!

Bob and Lara

Um, Bob!?  You are a dancing machine!  Did you get it from your dad? What a fun dance moment!

Bob and Lara

After all of the fun dancing, we took a quick five minutes to grab this picture, which I love!

Bob and Lara

Bob and Lara,
Your commitment to one another is unbelievably obvious.  I pray God blesses you as you begin your marriage and continues to draw the two of you closer to Him as you practice loving one another and others even more than you already do!


PS: Here’s a cute kid being entertained during the ceremony:
Bob and Lara

PSS: Here’s a hunk taking a breather from helping me capture reception moments:

Bob and Lara

PSSS: Here’s a nerd who took far too many tries to snap a nerdy picture of herself in a mirror: Bob and Lara

Bob and Lara: Vendors

Florist: Madison House Designs
Cake Artist: Carrie’s Sugar Buzz
Makeup Artist: Ashley of Avola Lanza
Caterer: Milo’s Catering
Reception Venue: Franklin Park Conservatory
Bridesmaids Dresses: Wendy’s Bridal
Tux Rentals: Romanoff’s
DJ: Encore Entertainment