Book Review - The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller

Timothy Keller is such a stellar author. He cuts through the fluff many modern authors feel the need to include and draws from the ultimate Author and His Word. I really love reading books on marriage, not only because I'm in one but because it is a topic widely discussed and often distorted in our culture. This book is phenomenal -- my favorite marriage book yet. There are other books I love and are certainly complementary to this one, but The Meaning of Marriage does a great job of looking at the entirety of marriage, why God created it and how it points to the Gospel. Topics like social norms, gender roles, singleness and sex all have their own chapters. There are lots of gems in this book, some of which I will share here.
This book would be great for everyone to read, but I think is particularly insightful for those who have been married more than a couple of years. He speaks often of the difference between engagement/new marriages and those more seasoned -- if you've been married for a little longer these examples are easier to relate to, but are certainly helpful for all readers. 

The book starts by diving into cultural norms -- how marriage views and customs have changed over decades and why God's plans for marriage call us to much greater things than what our society expects. Our culture has over romanticized marriage and love, resulting in unmet expectations in a marriage relationship. He argues that the common belief to seek compatibility as the main characteristic of a spouse can be detrimental. This quote from Stanley Hauerwas, a Duke ethic professor explains: 

Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become "whole" and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person. We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary problem is...learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.

Keller addresses the problem of self centeredness by saying "To have a marriage that sings requires a Spirit-created ability to serve, to take yourself out of the center, to put the needs of others ahead of your own."

One of my favorite illustrations is the explanation of the difference between a consumer relationship and a covenant relationship. In a consumer relationship, you only stay involved as long as your personal needs are being met. If you no longer like the price you have to pay for a particular brand of detergent, you switch brands. Part of our culture has turned marriage into a consumer relationship -- if your spouse is not longer meetings your XYZ need, you leave that relationship. We see, though, God's design for marriage is a covenant relationship. In traditional wedding vows, the first set of vows is made with the Lord (the I Dos) and the secondary set with your husband/wife (the I take you to be my lawful...). There is a vertical orientation before a horizontal one.

In this book he notes that our purpose as a spouse is to help our beloved become the person God desires them to be.

"If you don't see your mate's deep flaws and weaknesses and dependencies, you're not even in the game. But if you don't get excited about the person your spouse has already grown into and will become, you aren't tapping into the power of marriage as a spiritual friendship. The goal is to see something absolutely ravishing that God is making of the beloved. You see even now flashes of glory."

I could go on, but you would probably like to read it yourself. :) The book was so good, when I finished I found myself wanting more of his wisdom. It's really amazing how God uses people to make His principles known and understood by many. My hat's off to you, Mr. Keller, and I look forward to reading more of your books.

Here is another [better written] review if you're interested. 


Kaitlyn's Lingerie Shower

Sean's cousin Kaitlyn is a couple of years younger than us and lives in Fayetteville -- Sean and I have both loved living in the same city as her and have enjoyed seeing her relationship with Jacob grow over the past year. She is set to be wed next month, so I threw her a little lingerie shower last weekend. It was really fun to have her girlfriends and family together to kick off her wedding celebrations!
I put her new monogram on a robe for her and this could be one of my favorite craft projects ever! I used my silhouette machine with flocked heat transfer and it worked like a charm! I was worried about all the tiny lines, but it turned out so cute! -- if you're having a baby girl soon, you can expect to get something with a monogram like this from me. :)
L to R: Erin (brides sister), Kaitlyn, Britta (brides BFF), me -- 3/4 of her bridesmaids. I made the "Bride to be" sash by using extra wide ribbon and heat transfer material with my Silhouette.

mmm. strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese icing. I use my silhouette to make the cupcake flags, too.

Individual veggie cups. I think the presentation of these is easy and cuter than a tray.

Mason jars with striped straws for cups.

Also used my silhouette to make this banner.

The beautiful bride to be!
Can't wait for the wedding! She and Jacob have a really special relationship and are going to be awesome as husband and wife. We are thankful for their friendship in Fayetteville!


a little update

Fact: Sean and I have not had dinner at home in two weeks. We have had lots of good fellowship with both friends and family, but we are ready for some down at home time this week. We were apparently having such a great time with friends that I didn't take a single picture from any of our get-togethers. 

I'm hosting a lingerie shower this weekend for Sean's cousin and I'm more than excited about some of the decorations I made yesterday. I'll share pics this weekend! Hint: corals/pinks and navy blue, pennant flags.

I haven't had much practice using my new camera, but last night some friends of our let me take some family photos for them. I took a basic photography class in high school, but seemed to have forgotten even the most basic of principles. I'm going to read up on a couple of photography blogs and maybe even take a class with a local photographer to refresh my memory.




Yesterday was my 26th birthday. It's pretty cool that everyone else celebrates my birthday with fireworks every year! ;) I really needed a pick-me-up yesterday and a birthday is a great way to get lots of fun messages, phone calls and cards. I felt very loved and really am looking forward to this next year. We celebrated with my family this past weekend and Sean took me to a nice dinner/TCBY yesterday. Here are some of the goodies I received for my birthday:
Sean got me a tripod for the camera he gave me on my anniversary. I feel legit now.
He also got me these cute wedges. I wore them out to my birthday dinner last night (followed by an entire tour of the TJ Maxx store) and they were really comfortable.
I love to vacuum. Like really love it. Last year my parents bought me this vacuum for my birthday and Sean could get the replacement bags at Best Buy at a good price. So...before he left BB he purchased 5 boxes, lol. We should be set for the next couple of years.....
My mom bought me this super cute beverage dispenser. We found a good deal on it at TJ Maxx.
My parents also bought me a pandora bracelet. I'm new to the Pandora world, but am excited to add various charms to it and love that they picked Mizzou ones first!
With my birthday money I think I'm going to purchase an embroidery/sewing machine combo. My love for monograms is motivation enough to make the purchase. I'm still doing a little research on models, but if you have one you like please let me know!


Life Lately

Sean and I have been on the go a lot recently, traveling to Branson for the past three weeks with another trip planned this weekend. We are lucky to have gracious parents who host us each week and take good care of us.
A couple of weeks ago we drove up to the Lake of the Ozarks for a wedding. Brandy (the bride) was a sorority sister of mine and president of Phi Mu the year after me. The reception was right on the lake and beautiful!
Last day at Best Buy -- no more blue polo and khakis.
Well...except for this blue polo and these khakis. This is a 6am photo from today -- Sean started his new job as the athletic trainer at Shiloh Christian High School. They really are lucky to have him -- he's a wonderful athletic trainer and will be an excellent example of a Godly man for the kids.
Wyatt loved having his face in the wind while out on the boat this weekend.
I look rough here w/o any makeup but my boys look cute.

Our church does a big fireworks display each year and last night we attended with a group of friends. If it weren't for God leading us to Cross Church Fayetteville and our small group we probably wouldn't be here anymore, but so thankful He did and we are!