Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Being Spontaneous

This weekend, Ben and I stopped at Walmart on our way home from another activity. On the way out, it was spontaneously suggested that we get a pretzel and frozen lemonade to share. A few minutes later, the groceries were in the trunk, and we were in the back seat, enjoying our spur-of-the-moment date. We both had a great time, and enjoyed doing something creative that wasn’t preplanned. It only cost a few dollars, too.

“Dates” don’t have to be expensive. Sometimes the best ones are the times you do something really unique, or take the time to do something unplanned with no notice. It might be going to a restaurant just for dessert, instead of a meal, or hanging out in the back seat of your vehicle. It could be going for a hike, or taking a picnic to the park. Creativity is a large part of keeping romance kindled, and can be a whole ton of fun.

What have some of your favorite creative dates been?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Unspoken Influence

I have lots of vivid memories from when I was a little girl of 3 or 4 of sitting and “nursing” my many baby dolls. I would sit and rock as I nursed and talked to them- and I loved it! I knew breastfeeding was a great thing…because that’s what Mom did, and she loved nursing.

I remember enjoying pretending to be pregnant- sticking anything I could find under my shirt to make me look like Mom. I couldn’t wait till I was pregnant for real, because I knew it had to be a wonderful thing….I knew because Mom loved being pregnant so much.

Before Mom spoke a word to me on the subject of mothering….before I was nearly old enough to begin to think about my own mothering future and what my philosophies were, my ideas were being shaped and molded. Later as a teenager, I thought through the things I believed and why, tossing around different philosophies, but ultimately, the influence Mom had on me played a large role in shaping my initial perspectives of motherhood, which are still the same today, married and some 15 years later. By the age of 6 or 7, I had clear ideas of the joy-filled paths God intended women to walk. I knew being pregnant was an incredible thing, even though Mom had terrible 1st trimesters….I knew babies were the very best present anyone could ask for….I knew breastfeeding was an amazing way God created for the mother to bond with her babies, and that breastfeeding could be done in any circumstance, while doing any number of other things….I knew that carrying your babies (in your arms or a sling or something that held the baby really close) was what kept baby happiest. I wasn’t really thinking through how I was going to raise my babies- I just instinctively new, partially because of the natural girlishness God gave me, and partially because of observing Mom my whole life, that this was how it was done, and this was what women should love.

As I’ve been walking through my first pregnancy, lots of thought has gone into what my philosophies really are, now that the rubber’s meeting the road. My mothering philosophies effect me and the baby right now, because it starts with my attitude towards pregnancy, my view of the womb, and my view of labor and childbirth. And I realized that, though more developed, studied, and understood now, I still hold to the same views I unconsciously had as a 3 year old, thanks to Mom.

~~~

How are you influencing those around you, even if you don’t say anything? What do your daughters- even your three year olds- view pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood as? What kind of opinions have they already developed, due to your attitudes? Kids catch on fast….without a verbally-instructed course on how they ought to think.

I completely believe that adults should take responsibility for themselves, and it’s up to each young woman to study and decide what mothering method she believes is the best, or to choose to become educated or grow her skills in a certain area. I don’t think any adult can blame their parent for how they turned out. That said, there’s no doubt you have a large impact on your daughters’ lives, and can’t help but influence their take on life, and what they think of Biblical womanhood.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The head of the family

In the beginning, it was not good for man to be alone. He needed a wife to complete him, to help him take dominion over the world. God designed a husband and wife to work together as a team – each with different roles, each complementing and completing each other. As each spouse fulfills the role God created for them, together they become one in the way God designed, a beautiful unity which has a far greater impact on the world than each can alone.
God designed the husband to be the head of the family. This does not mean that the man is more valuable, nor does it mean that he is the dictator – it simply means that the husband was created to be the one responsible for the family, and the wife was created to be his helper.

And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.
(Gen 2:18)

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
(1Co 11:3)

For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body.
(Eph 5:23)

So, the question is – what does it mean for the man to be the head of the family?
Being the head of the family does NOT mean that the husband is a dictator, ruling with an iron rod. Jesus made it very clear that we are not to rule over each other like the dictators of the world.

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Not so shall it be among you: but whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister; and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
(Mat 20:25-28)

How do the dictators of the world lord it over those under their care? First, they exercise authority for the sake of their own selfish desires. Second, they exercise authority in order to gain glory for themselves. And third, they exercise authority simply because since the beginning men (and women) have had a desire to be in control, and to have power over others. Husbands should not exercise authority in these ways.

Instead, this is what it means for the husband to be the leader:
1. The husband should be the first to serve. Jesus displayed that the one in authority should be the servant of all by washing the feet of the disciples (John 13). A husband should use his leadership to find ways to serve his wife, and minister to her. He should live out love in real ways by “washing the feet” of his wife every day.

2. The husband should not exercise authority for the sake of his own selfish desires, but should sacrifice himself for the sake of his wife. He should lead in what is best for his wife, with true love that gives of itself for what is best for her.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church; because we are members of his body.
(Eph 5:25-30)

Christ gave his life for the Church – so we as husbands should give up our desires and lead in the ways that are best for our wife.

3. The husband should not exercise authority in order to gain glory for himself, but should honor and lift up his wife. His should lift up and exalt his wife instead of tearing her down for his own glory. Just as Christ humbled himself for the sake of the Church, so a husband should humble himself to exalt his wife.

Ye husbands, in like manner, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers be not hindered.
(1Pe 3:7)

4. The husband should not exercise authority for the sake of power, but should lovingly make the decisions best for his wife and his family. This is the authority Christ displayed, who embraced even the cross in order to win His bride.

5. The husband is the one who is RESPONSIBLE for the family. In the beginning, God made Adam first, and then gave Eve to be his helpmeet. Adam was the one responsible for taking dominion over the earth. Every decision a husband makes should be made with love and honor, but in the end he is the one who bears the responsibility for the family, and he must lead in what is best for the family.

6. As the one who is responsible for the family, the husband should provide physically for his family. God calls a man to put his family above any other ministry or calling; his family is his first and primary calling.

But if any provideth not for his own, and specially his own household, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.
(1Ti 5:8)

But I would have you to be free from cares. He that is unmarried is careful for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married is careful for the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and is divided.
(1Co 7:32-34)

This is not to say that a man who is out of work is worse than an unbeliever, but one who ignores his family for the sake of some other “calling” is not being a leader in the way God wants him to be.

7. As the one who is responsible for the family, the husband should lead his family spiritually. He should have a real relationship with God, so that he can help his wife and his children in their relationship with God.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Supporting My Mr. Steady

In her book, Created to be His Help Meet, Debi Pearl describes 3 general types of men- Mr. Command, Mr. Visionary, and Mr. Steady. In one chapter, she shares how most men have a little of all three characteristics, but are dominant in one. Each one portrays different aspects of God, and each one requires a different type of wife.
My husband is a very strong Mr. Steady, so he and I were talking recently about what being a submissive, helping wife to a steady man looks like. My Mr. Steady likes to have my input- he doesn’t like to do most things without first consulting me and getting my opinion. And if I don’t like his idea, he’s quite likely to rethink it greatly, and only rarely will he press forward making a decision I disagree with. Mr. Steady’s are pleasers- they love to make their wives happy!
He makes it pretty easy for me to be a manipulative wife and get my way or let my opinions outline our family. I have only to state my opinion firmly, state why I disagree, and he’s all over making me happy. For example, if my husband had a new job opportunity that perfectly suited him and would give him great opportunities, but I didn’t like it because of the potential of moving or giving something else up, or adapting to a new life, he’d be most likely to deny himself the opportunity, in order to please me. It wouldn’t matter how great an opportunity it was- he wouldn’t be likely to take it up if he knew I didn’t think it was the best decision. It could take place on much smaller scales too, over the little things.
On the other hand, it could also be a great opportunity to further his visions far more than he ever could’ve on his own. Now there’s an exciting thought!
Some people have this idea that being submissive means letting your husband make all the decisions, or something along those lines. But each guy is different, and the Command Man’s wife who must let her husband make all the decisions isn’t what the Steady Man needs. The typical steady guy will need lots of in put from his wife- there may even be whole areas of life where he’ll want her to make all the decisions. The best way a wife might help her particular husband could be to handle the whole check book and bill-paying, for another wife it’s making all the health decisions. Some husbands prefer that their wives do all the choosing of homeschool curriculum. Another husband might want to be in control of everything, or at least have a say in everything.
I think the fact that steady guys desire input and require companionship can allow an amazing and beautiful bond of oneness, as the wife seeks to know her husband’s heart. If a steady wife is going to be truly submissive to her husband, she’s going to have to know him- really know him. It won’t maker her any more submissive to be mute and insist her husband make all the decisions- he’ll feel in the dark and alone on the journey of life. It won’t help much for her to use the opportunities to sport her own agenda. No- what he needs is a companion that understands him and seeks to know him better. He needs a wife that can see the benefits in that new job, and jumps on board, telling him what a great opportunity it’ll be for him, and that she’s in all the way.
With a wife like that, he’ll be more confident than he ever was. He’ll be ready to tackle anything with gusto, and he’ll be excited about the opportunities God brings along. All it takes is for you to understand his heart, his visions, his perspectives. When he seeks your input, you can honestly share your opinion, understanding his heart and why he sees things a certain way, encouraging him in the direction you know he wants to fly in. And together, you can fly- as best friends and companions bound in love.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Happy news!

We're going to be parents! Brianna is pregnant, and we are moving into a new phase of life now, with new adventures and joys and challenges to share together.
Brianna has been down with morning sickness quite a bit over the past few weeks, and I have had the joy of serving her in new ways and loving her through this new season of life. Just as so many trials over the past couple years have drawn us closer together, so this time of life is drawing us together and strengething our love.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Other Side of Modesty

I’ve written at least four articles on modesty over the past several years, for various magazines. But since getting married, I’ve gotten to see the “other side” of modesty- the beauty of immodesty in the right setting.
Many of us spend most of our lives dressing modestly- to save ourselves for our husband, to protect our brothers in Christ, because it’s what our families do, or whatever the reason may be for each of us in particular. Whatever the specific case, we’ve saved our bodies- kept them hidden like precious jewels. We’ve hidden the most feminine parts of our bodies- not because it’s something to be ashamed of, and not in the sense of hiding it so well we hardly look like females…but keeping it safe, saving it for the day.
The day we become one with a man, and from that day forward belong, in entirety, to someone else. From that day forward, our bodies aren’t our own- they belong to our husbands. Our body is still a sacred gem, hidden from the rest of the world- we still interact with others clothed as before- femininely, yet modestly. But behind locked doors, with the man we’re one with…it’s different.
This man, your husband, is the one you’ve saved your body for. God designed one man to enjoy one woman’s beauty….and He also designed women to need to look beautiful to someone.
We live in a world with lots of conflicting negative views about sex. Many churches/Christians tell us it’s “bad”….it’s the hushed topic that everyone knows other married couples do, but also know they shouldn’t enjoy- and definitely shouldn’t talk about. It’s the topic the world’s used to trample and hurt people, particularly women. So no matter where you go, you’ll generally meet with a crowd where sex is a taboo subject. Occasionally, though, you’ll meet with another crowd- a crowd who understands God’s design.
God designed sex to be a wonderful thing, inside marriage. He designed for us to enjoy sex….he created sex to be a creative expression of love between a married couple. He wanted us to have fun, be creative, do new things, and enjoy it. Just read Song of Solomon….graphic, sensual, and sexual. God thought different places, a variety of moods, different positions, different lighting, creative ideas, new touches were all great things. You know what else God thinks? He thinks an enticing, seductive wife is a great thing. He doesn’t think of this woman as unchristian. Believe it or not, God didn’t create men to be visual just so they can struggle their whole lives. He created them to be visual so they can have a more fulfilling, more wonderful marriage with their bride.
So many wives are afraid to be creative behind locked doors. They’re afraid to let totally loose, afraid of what their husbands might “really think” of their body if it was on display. Or they have too many negative memories associated with sex. Or they feel it’s too “unreligious” and are afraid of what God might think. Or they just aren’t interested, and feel that since they aren’t interested, it isn’t their job to delight their husbands. Or some wives out there want to delight their husbands….but just don’t feel creative enough.
But the truth is….our husbands love our bodies…there’s healing for those with a negative sexual past…God loves couples who have a good sex life…and it is your job to delight and fulfill your husband.
Sure, there are crooked men out there, but as a general rule, most every husband loves his wife’s body, especially when she flaunts it for him. When she dresses in items that show off her body, and moves seductively, he’s totally delighted. You may feel uncomfortable dressing in a small amount of sheer fabric, or “strip dancing”, but you’ll drive your husband up a wall with your creativity, and willingness to delight him. Ladies, just knowing that you desire to bring your husband pleasure, will delight him. Knowing that you desire him will excite him greatly.
A joyful wife that loves her husband and loves having fun with him, no matter how the world would classify her appearance, is far more attractive and seductive to a man than someone with a perfect Barbie doll body who chooses to withhold her body and decides when the couple will and won’t be intimate.
So…don’t be afraid to embrace God’s views of sex, and get creative. Don’t be afraid to wear something ridiculously scandalous if the bedroom door’s locked. Don’t be afraid to venture out of the bedroom if the kids are gone, and the blinds are shut. My hubby loves “skimpy meals” as he calls them. J

~Brianna

P.S. No stage of life in your marriage should hinder you from being creative and seductive. Different stages require different degrees and types of creativity, but none are a reason for choosing not to be creative. Even pregnant-bellied ladies can delight their husbands. I’m working on developing a line of nightwear patterns, Sweet and Spicy, geared primarily at pregnant and nursing moms, because I don’t think they should miss out on the fun…it’s a combination of my biggest passions.

Tears

Being married does not mean that there will be no more tears, and you will be happy all the time. Hard times will still come, and you will still walk through valleys together. But when you go through the valleys together, the burdens are so much easier to bear as you bear them together, and you can support each other and lift each other up through all the trials. This is one of the great joys to sharing every part of life together.
The true secret to "happily ever after" is not that the trials are gone, but that having someone who loves you through them all makes every trial so much easier, and brings joy in the midst of it all.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ready-or-not...

Our wedding is finally around the corner! We are so excited - we are really looking forward to being married.
A long engagement hasn't always been easy, but there has ve been so many blessings in the end. I thought I would share some of them:
1. A long engagement has really helped me become a part of Brianna's family in so many real ways before getting married. In so many ways, I am a part of the Carmichael family as well as my own family, and we are looking forward to continuing to relate to our families together after we are married.
2. A long engagement has helped us grow into being completely open with each other. I am naturally quiet and reserved, and the many months of growing to trust each other more and more has allowed us to become more and more open with each other.
3. A long engagment has held many sacrifices, which have made our love more real.

I am so grateful for what God has done in our lives. I am so grateful that I have a second family that accepts and loves me. I am so grateful that God has worked everything out to make our love the stronger. Most of all, I am grateful that God has given me a bride who loves me unconditionally, with a depth beyond my wildest dreams.

~Ben

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The fruit of sacrifice

Over a long engagement (21 months and 10 days at this point - it will be almost 22 months total), Brianna and I have had to make a whole lot of sacrifices. We've had to sacrifice the desire to spend more time together, sacrifice the desire to be able to hold each other through the tough times, sacrifice our desires to just get married as soon as possible... :-) The sacrifices haven't been easy, and some have been quite difficult as we wait. But every single one has blessed us in the end. Looking back, we can see that the sacrifices have proved our love for each other, and have made our love for each other more real, grounding it and solidifying it.
On the day we got engaged, we loved each other with all of our hearts. But the sacrifices over the months have made that love "real", applying it in real ways through our lives. And the fruit of the sacrifices is that we have a love far deeper, far more real, far stronger than we ever dreamed possible.

~Ben

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Twice...




Why did I have to stumble through
A valley filled with stones of pain?
The demons laughed as flames engulfed me,
And fear was drilled into my heart;
Why did the foam of sorrow surge
And overwhelm my bleeding heart?
I longed for home, but found no path,
Lost in the realm of darkest nightmares…


But maybe I have gone through this
So greater blooms will blossom now,
To taste the sky with twice the bliss
And leave the tomb with love made strong;
And now I love you, Dearest Love,
And sacrifice now leads my steps…

The stars above are lit by tenderness,
My love is twice as deep,
My joy is twice as high,
My gratitude is twice as wide,
For all that God has done…

Saturday, May 9, 2009

His Crowning Glory

In less than a month, I’m going to marry my man. Over the past 21 months or so, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know him- his personality, character, needs, desires, preferences- better and better. With the growing bits of knowledge, I’ve been able to grow into being a more tailor-made helpmeet. I still have a long ways to go- but it’s been a joy to share life’s journey with him as we’ve grown into being one.

Though I’ve been able to work at applying what I know to being Ben’s helpmeet, there are many aspects to it that won’t get played out until I’m his bride. As the date of our uniting has drawn nearer, I’ve begun reflecting more and more on what I want to be for Ben, and what he needs me to be.

Proverbs 12:4 says "A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness to his bones." What does it mean to be a crown to my husband – what does it look like? I think it has many different aspects, but over all, it’s choosing to make him a king; my king.

An important aspect of this, which I’ve been pondering more lately, is how I choose to portray him to others. What kind of impression do I give others of my man? What do I want them to see?

For example, my guy is a wonderful man, and a people person. He’ll drop anything to spend time with you, help someone out, etc. He loves to serve (especially me!), and will readily jump up to help when he sees a need. He’s not a “social butterfly”; he’s more of a quiet people person, enjoying time at home with family or close friends more than large crowds. Besides meaning that others greatly enjoy him, it also means that he’s always readily available for me, and would rather spend time with me than do anything else. We can’t do everything in life- so being an available people person means there are lots of little things that get ignored or take a long time to get done. I could choose to bring those little things up constantly- I could accuse him of procrastination or any number of things. But I know he isn’t procrastinating, he’s just choosing to set relationships above to-do lists, counter-balancing me perfectly. I was recognizing a few weeks ago that someone who didn’t know him well might not see the “why” behind not getting certain things done- and I want to show them! It’s most important to Ben that I be available for him and willing to spend time with him, and eventually, our children. After that, though, it’s important for me to give others a good impression of him. As Ben’s helpmeet, one of the ways I can do this is to present an orderly, well-managed home to others, so they can be impressed with Ben’s ability to have an orderly home and have time for relationships and others’ needs.

This is how I want others to view Ben: I want them to see a man who loves people and is always willing to take time out for them- but at the same time, is a skilled leader of his home, and has a comfortable, orderly haven for himself, his family, and those he welcomes in.

For you it will look different. You might keep your home orderly because you’re married to a Class A guy. Or you might present your guy as a hard working guy, always with a need to use his hands. You might brag on his accomplishments, or let others see how gifted he is in a certain area. Take the time out to study your man, and how you can portray him to his best advantage. You are his representative to the world- others will see him through you. If you choose to live a wasteful, disorderly lifestyle, others will see him through that filter. They’ll assume he’s doing a thing or two wrong, and isn’t a very good leader. Or, if you plan your days carefully, they’ll see him as the best- they’ll agree with you that you’re blessed to have him.

The picture isn’t about you, but as a side benefit, your husband will rise up and call you blessed. It might be immediately- or it may not be for 10 or 20 years. But you may be sure he’ll notice all you do as his representative, and be grateful. He’ll notice the way he’s treated with more respect by others because of you, and he’ll love you for it. He’ll recognize he has a jewel on his hands, and there’s little in life as beautiful as the way a man cherishes his girl, his precious treasure.

So, who’s your man? How do you want him to be known? How does he want to be known? What does he want to die being remembered for?

~Brianna

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

One Month

Today is one month before our wedding. We wait with eager expectation for the day when we will be fully one, emotionally, spiritually, physically. We look forward to sharing every moment of every day together, and no longer having to say "goodbye". We look forward to the day when we can share every memory together, as a new family.

But for now, we wait. And often, waiting is one of the most beautiful expressions of love, because it is a sacrifice of one's own desires for what is truly best!

~Ben

Monday, May 4, 2009

33 more days...


Being the fix-it man vs. being best friends

Because I love Brianna, I long to fix her problems, and to make everything right for her. But I wasn't given that power. I'm not God - I can't instantly make the sun shine, or make the clouds blow away.
God didn't call me to fix my Beloved's problems. Instead, He has called me to love her through them all. And do you know what? In the beauty of God's plan, loving her through all the struggles we face is much more beautiful and wonderful and a much more powerful expression of true love than just taking all the problems away.
Now that I know that, without a doubt, is is such a joy to simply love Brianna through everything, and be her encourager, supporter, and best friend.

~Ben

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spring has come!


Love is the best argument - part 2

Yesterday I shared some of my thoughts on the emotional reactions that people have because of being hurt in the past. Those insights have helped me to let go of feeling like I have to debate with people, and just love them instead.
I've also come to recognize emotional reactions in my own life. I'm a sensitive guy, and am deeply emotional, even when I'm good at hiding it. Because of my sensitivity, there are many issues that have hurt me, which I react against now.
It is Brianna's love that heals me from hurts in the past. She doesn't have to debate against my emotional reactions - she loves me through them, and it is her love that heals the scars.
Love is the best argument. Love wins the heart over in a way a debate over truth never could. Love heals hurts in the past. Love lifts a person above the ruts they are stuck in better than anything else can.

~Ben

Monday, April 27, 2009

Love is the best argument

From my experience, I have noticed that many, if not most, ideas that people are emotionally passionate are about are actually an emotional reaction against something that happened in their past that hurt either them or someone they dearly love. They emotionally attach an opposing idea to a hurt that was experienced in the past, and react against anyone who broadcasts that idea.
For example, consider a person who is turned off by Christianity because a Christian judged them and made them feel like trash. They are violently opposed to the whole idea of Christianity because of the rejection they have felt.
A person who is emotionally reacting against something will not be convinced of an idea mentally. In fact, if a person is debating with someone who is emotionally reacting against their ideas, often the dogmatic friction of the debate will cause more hurt instead of bringing healing.
What people need is love and grace, not mental debates. Love will reach through the barriers and offer healing to a hurting heart. This is what the world needs, not more judgment from the Church...

~Ben

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Feb. 14, 2009


A love that keeps no record of wrongs

"And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins." - 1 Peter 4:8

The deepest love between a husband and wife keeps no record of wrongs. This love is the love that covers a multitude of sins - not because the sins never happened, but because they are covered, and washed away by love.
Keeping no record of wrongs isn't natural - it is a choice that must be made. Keeping no record of wrongs is choosing to not hold someone's sin against them! A love that keeps no record of wrongs will not harbor any bitterness against you for your mistakes, nor will you be loved less because you are fallible. This is unconditional love, a love that endures forever, even through the mistakes we make.
This is like the love that Christ showed the Church! He loved us in spite of our sins, and through His love we are transformed, and so we should also love each other unconditionally and give each other the grace that we've been given.
Brianna and I have found that as we refuse to hold our mistakes against each other, we become more one - because there is no part of our hearts that we have to hide from each other. Our love becomes deeper and more real, because it is unconditional, and nothing can take it away.

~Ben

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Our "Fountain" Vision

Brianna and I are getting married in 45 days. Over our engagement we have been thinking and talking about and praying about the vision we want to live with as a married couple.

Our desire is to share the love of Christ with others. We want to first start in our marriage - our first priority is to love each other with all of our hearts. I want to fill Brianna's heart with so much love that her heart overflows with so much love.

Our second dream is to love whatever children God chooses to bless us with. We want to pour love into the hearts of our children, until their hearts overflow with love.

Finally, we want to pour love and grace into the lives of everyone else that Father brings into our lives. We want to draw people to Christ by offering them His love, a love that treasures every single person, wherever they are at in life.

We call this vision our "fountain" vision. We want to love each other first, and pour so much love into each other that love overflows into the lives of our children, and love our children so much it overflows into the lives of all other relationships in our lives.

~Ben