The Milestone That Wasn’t

In Genesis 27, we read about a milestone that should have been, but wasn’t.

Imagine what Esau looked forward to the day his dying father told him to get ready to receive the blessing. Esau, Isaac’s older son, had been expecting to receive this blessing from his father for his whole life. It was an important milestone in an oldest sons’ life.

The blessing would signify his stature, outline his inheritance, and seal his glorious future before the Lord. While Esau was preparing for the big moment, his brother Jacob tricked Isaac and took the blessing, robbing Esau. The oldest son’s long awaited milestone never came to pass. 

The younger son likewise prepared for a milestone that didn’t come as expected. He fell in love with a woman named Rachel. For seven years he worked for her father in order to marry her. On his wedding day, Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah instead. His long-awaited wedding was a time of deceit and disappointment.

Can you imagine the milestones Job was awaiting when suddenly his life was plagued, torn apart, and brought to a place of misery? Or the disappoint of Ruth, as she got married, looking forward to years of love and many children, only to lose her husband and end up in a strange land caring for her mother in law in poverty?

Mary prepared herself for Godly marriage only to discover God’s plans actually involved being pregnant out of worldly wedlock.

Paul is a great example, too. He was a zealous Jew, well-known for his “great” work persecuting Christians. Surely he looked forward to a life of upstanding religious reputation and power. Then, he was struck blind on a road, transformed by Jesus Christ, and joined the ranks of the persecuted.

he-will-not-grow-tired-or-wearyand-his-understanding-no-one-can-fathom-he-gives-strength-to-the-wearyand-increases-the-power-of-the-weak

The Bible holds no shortage of examples of people whose expected and desired “milestone moments” weren’t what they hoped for.

Who among us hasn’t also had grand plans and dreams that haven’t come true or weren’t what we expected? There are plenty of milestones we look forward to that never happen. Or, that occur, but are tainted by sin or are altogether not what we anticipated.

We struggle with dreams as Christians. Often we struggle because we put our hope, oh so humanly, in things, ideas, and plans instead of in the Lord. Surely He knows His plans for us, and His plans are for our good and His glory.

Disappointment comes when what we expected isn’t found or isn’t what we thought. But our strength is renewed when we look to our true hope –our Lord.

“Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength. –Isaiah 40:27-31

Looking back at Biblical examples of expected milestones dashed to bits, we see how God lines the walk of faith with unmet milestones.

God had plans for each of the people mentioned- and His plans turned disappointment into God-appointments.

We have the same privilege of witnessing God working in our disappointments today.

{This post was originally published on My Faith Radio}

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Is Christmas Biblical?

“Celebrate annually the coming of Christ. Make it a time of beauty, family, and tradition. Put up lights and a tree. Watch many movies. Gorge yourself on treats. Be happy every day of the season. In so doing, you will glorify the Lord.”

– 1 Snickerdoodle 3 (AKA not in the Bible!)

The Bible never tells us to celebrate Christmas. In fact, Scripture warns us about traditions like celebrating holidays. “For the sake of your tradition (you have) made void the word of God” (Matthew 15:6). In another verse, the Bible references “hollow traditions.”

How many of those do we have?

Christmas is full of traditions that have very little to do with God. Few of us can connect Christmas trees to Christ. Fewer the concept of decorating gingerbread houses or dressing up in fancy outfits to attend parties blaring music about Rudolph and Santa.

Does that mean celebrating Christmas is unbiblical?

Probably not.

God offers plenty of examples of commanding, embracing, and rejoicing over celebrations.

Whether or not the celebration of Christmas is biblical has a lot to do with how and why we celebrate –and even more to do with what’s in our hearts.

jesus-didnt-have-one-of-these-should-we

Some of the main hallmarks of traditional Christmases are Biblical, but we must be careful.

  1. The Spirit of Giving

God loves a cheerful giver” –2 Corinthians 9:7

Gifts are one of the first things that most people think of when they think of Christmas. In Scripture, we find the ultimate example of giving. Christ, in coming to save us, gave Himself up for us. God, in sending Christ, gave His only son to save us.

All throughout Scripture we find examples of giving. God gives good gifts. Christ gives peace and joy. We are encouraged to give with the understanding that all that we are and all that we have is Christ’s. It’s a joy to give of His plenty and in His love!

The Risk: For many, Christmas gifts are about getting. For many others, gifts are stressful, accompanied by the frustration of selection and people-pleasing. Over-spending also undermines the “cheerful” part of what makes this part of Christmas at all Biblical.

  1. The Celebration of Christ’s Coming

“Celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness” –Psalm 145:7

Christmas, when it comes down to it, is a celebration of Christ’s coming! This whole time of festivity and adornment and gathering is in His name. It is to be a time of praising Him and beholding in wonder all that He has done, is doing, and will do.

Some of us praise Him with lights that shine like He does. Others by baking cookies as sweet as His kindness while enjoying the company of people He’s given them. Make the connection between these joyful traditions and the joy of our Savior.

The Risk: Christ often gets only an “honorable mention” around the massive celebration of His birth. Much of the celebrating- many decorations, traditions, songs, etc., have nothing to do with Him. That’s fine. Not everything we do needs to be deeply impactful. But we must be careful not to miss the point. That means prioritizing accordingly and not focusing on the world’s offerings above our awe of the Lord.

  1. The Gathering of Loved Ones

“Love one another with brotherly affection” Romans 12:10

The true Gospel of Scripture is as personal as it is corporate. We are all loved by Christ, and we are all precious to Christ. There is no division in the body of Christ, but the unity of love. Christmas is a time of gathering with loved ones to praise Him with those in the body and point those who are not to the One eager to welcome them with open arms and make them new.

The Risk: All too many a Christmas gathering is obligatory and exclusive. Many of us take the social aspect of Christmas for granted, settling for fun, comfortable, and casual. We neglect to realize the significance of sharing His love with those who are familiar and unfamiliar. We must not turn from God’s desire for us to make the most of every opportunity and to build one another up.


Of all times of the year to be living for Christ’s glory, Christmas offers a special opportunity to rejoice in and serve the Lord.

Celebrating Christmas Biblically means celebrating it as those sustained, filled, and loved by the One we celebrate. Watch out for the easy pitfalls that turn the celebration into less than it truly is.

Lord- let us mind our hearts while we celebrate yours! 

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

You Brought Me Here Why?

I remember the excitement when the phone call came. “We just have to finalize it, but you can schedule that moving truck,” the Midwestern man’s voice exclaimed. Expectantly, we did.

We waited.

But the paperwork never arrived. Weeks later, the same voice apologized on the phone. Unforeseen circumstances arose. The position was cancelled. We’re weren’t moving to Iowa. We were moving though… we had to.

We waited.

Living out of suitcases at my in-laws’ house, we sought work.

We waited.

My husband showed me a job listing. It wasn’t what was expected. We knew one person in the whole region. But the Lord said yes with perfect clarity and abundant confirmation. One Skype interview and a phone offer later, we were scheduling another moving truck. This one was bound for the unknown of Minnesota.

With just two weeks to prepare and little in the bank, we signed a lease online with high hopes.

We’d waited.

The Lord had made the way. We believed it.

Then we pulled up to the apartment complex….

Read the rest of the wild story over on Abby McDonald’s Anchored Souls Series, where I’m honored to be included. 

abby photo.png

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Waiting Isn’t Passive

Our days and lives are filled with waiting. For good, for bad, for new, for people, for change. Waiting is a God-designed practice.

However, as the worn, torn magazines in waiting rooms around the world can attest, patience in the waiting isn’t a natural virtue.

Waiting makes some of us crazy.

In fact, I’m pretty sure if God wanted to test us before we entered heaven to see how much we learned on earth, my exam would be “Sit right here. He’ll call you when He’s ready.”

I’d be pacing the clouds, trying to get through to the Lord via the prayer line: “Hello God. You brought me here. This is the appointment you set. How is it you are not on time?!”

What maddens me most about waiting is the helpless feeling of having no control over what’s going on. Waiting seems passive, and I am not passive.

Truthfully though, waiting isn’t a passive process.

Much like active listening, active waiting is a participatory activity.

Active waiting looks like this:

  • Preparing
  • Anticipating
  • Hoping
  • Being brave and courageous
  • Watching

These are words God features in His Word. They are spoken by God in reference to His call to wait.

With a brief look at what God says about waiting, I’m finding the idea “godly waiting” means sitting quietly doing nothing while completely at peace is just plain wrong.

We shouldn’t wait on the Lord feigning patience.

We can actively wait, participating as God does with a patience that anticipates.

His example of waiting isn’t glamorous or easy, but it’s clear:

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” –2 Peter 3:9

the-lord-is-not-slow-in-keeping-his-promise-as-some-understand-slowness-instead-he-is-patient-with-you-not-wanting-anyone-to-perish-but-everyone-to-come-to-repentance-2-peter-3

Waiting isn’t about speed or suffering, but being purposeful.

God’s waiting is done with the perfect, purposeful patience of One who knows the wait is worth it.

God believes you and I are worth waiting for- that all people still coming to repentance are worth the wait.

In waiting, He does not sit idly by. He exposes our need for repentance and brings us to it. He offers forgiveness. He enjoys transforming every person up until the last one He is waiting on.

With God, waiting isn’t about the end, but about the beginning.

We wait as those preparing, anticipating, hoping, being brave, and watching carefully because there are new beginnings brought about by the Lord Himself.

It doesn’t matter if you’re waiting on good news or bad. Whether you’re waiting for dreams to be realized or simply for something to change. Maybe you feel all that’s left to wait for is an end of some sort.

Wait assured: God has a beginning ready for you and your “not yet” time is not a wasted time. Instead, your waiting is participation in God’s plan for your life. No sitting on hands required- they have a big job to do praying. No self-muttering needed- you have Someone waiting with you.

He’s demonstrated it for all of time to know: waiting is a purposeful place of peace, joy, and growth for the faithful.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Maybe God Doesn’t Want Your Best

We’re an ambitious bunch.

Reach for the stars. Be all you can be. Unlock your potential.

This fits with Scripture right? Let’s see…

Noah’s greatest aspiration…probably not building an ark against all reason to survive a deadly flood.

Job. Job was successful. He did great things. And He was a Godly man. Then God let Satan mess up His life and take away His earthly possessions, loved ones, and health.

But that’s the Old Testament.

In the New Testament we meet Peter. Expert fishermen. Based on His devotion to Jesus and his faith, we can be pretty sure Peter was seeking to live a good, godly life. He ended up persecuted, jailed, and using his fishing talents on people who largely didn’t want what he was offering.

Paul was kind of a big deal. He even wrote up a whole list of why he had every reason to brag and was all set up for major success in life- as a God-fearing man. Then He met Jesus. All appearances of success and Paul reaching his earthly potential went out the window. God even gave him a thorn in the side, keeping Him weak.

About those aspirations….

Maybe God doesn’t want your best because He wants His best for you.

aspirations

The Lord we serve can use anyone and any circumstance for good. He can be glorified by teachers, celebrities, CEOs, and housewives. He can also be glorified by failures, criminals, the bed-ridden, and the crippled.

Your ability to earn top dollar and desire to use the money for good doesn’t make being CEO God’s goal for you. Your inability to read well doesn’t mean God’s plans for you don’t involve using words to share His Word.

So often we try to reason through God’s plans for us instead of submitting to and following His.

We miss out when be doubt what He prepares for us to do is even better than what we are prepared to do.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” –Ephesians 2:10

What that means for you and I is this: focus less on what you believe you can be successful in and more on who He’s made you to be.

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Direct

Earlier this week, Carly shared about trusting in plans. She realized her “planning was not enough” and that she “needed God to…make it come together.”

The verse she wrote about is a challenging one:

Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ” –Proverbs 3:5-6

To not lean on our own understanding is to not depend on manmade schemes and rationalizations over what the Lord teaches. This involves leaving space for His leading and work when we’d rather do it all on our own.

Likewise, to acknowledge Him in all our ways is to recognize, glorify, and seek Him with all our lives and being.

God directing our paths?

This is where I start to beam and where I recognize that the plans I make for my path make a mess.

In this context, the word direct refers to the work of the Lord as He is….

  • Smoothing out
  • Straightening up
  • Setting aright
  • Making agreeable

…our paths.

There’s One Way folks, and we know Him. The path is narrow and it does not change. He has one plan for each of our lives, and He planned it a long time ago.

When we read that He will direct our paths, God isn’t coaching us through a course still being conceived. He’s going ahead of us. Straightening up the messes we spread ahead for ourselves. He’s smoothing out the bumps we trip over when we’re caught up in plotting our own steps. His work evening out the surface keeps us from slipping.

He makes the road we walk more agreeable.

He does go on ahead of us, just as Deuteronomy 31:8 says.

When we acknowledge God and follow the Lord, we walk in the way He prepared for us. We set aside our plans, messy as they are, to enjoy what He has planned out for us.

His plans, despite our mess, He has straightened up, smoothed out, righted, and made pleasing according to the plans He has also prepared for us. His good, perfect plans.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

In Planning We Trust

{The tenth installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

For open words on life, faith, and the unfailing love of the Lord, visit Carly over at Life In The Spacious Place. So grateful for Carly's honesty and simple, plain truth-telling way. 
carlypro

All my life I have been a planner.  I was always the child who had their homework done on time, who had everything they needed with them, who saw all the detail in a situation and kept others organised.

As a teenager, before a family holiday to Disney World, I even read a guidebook and created a detailed plan of exactly which order to go on the rides and attractions in order to minimize queuing and make the most of the day!

I didn’t like the feeling when things were out of control, and planning became a way to combat that.

As I got older I learned to relax a bit and accept that life doesn’t always go according to plan, but sometimes the desire to find control through planning can still kick in.

Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

I have learned to trust God, but I struggle to trust him with all my heart.  It is easy to divide my trust between God and my own planning.

I realised last year that this was an issue.  Part of my work is organising camps and events for young people and it was becoming increasingly stressful.  The week leading up to an event would be filled with sleepless nights, while the days would be a frantic flurry of photocopying, of thinking up wet weather alternatives and creating back-up plans for every eventuality in case other people didn’t do what they were meant to do.

planningtrust

I’d have said I was trusting God, but really I was relying far too much on my own planning and that was the root of the stress.  The worst thing was that other people were beginning to rely on me for everything too, which only added to the pressure.

Fortunately God had a plan to address this.

Part 1 of the plan was that I forgot something for an event, which I realise is not as earth-shattering as it seemed at the time.  I couldn’t understand how it had happened but I’m convinced that God was behind it.  I had written a list of everything we needed and triple-checked it.  It seemed impossible that I could have forgotten something, especially something obvious and important.

It was embarrassing and it was an inconvenience to sort out, but God definitely worked it for good.  It showed me, and others, that I was not invincible, I learned that others would show me grace, and I realised that we could deal with the situation and it wasn’t the end of the world.

Part 2 of God’s plan was thrusting me into leadership in a situation so completely chaotic that I hadn’t a hope of being in control.  There were too many unknowns, too many factors that depended on other people, too many difficulties that could never have been foreseen.  Every time I felt I was making progress something else would go wrong.  There was no way my planning was going to fix it and I had to accept that from the start.

It made me look to God: to seek him, to truly learn to rely on prayer rather than planning, to let my first response be turning to God instead of finding my own solution.

It forced me to admit that I couldn’t deal with it myself- that my planning was not enough but I needed God to bring order from the chaos and make it come together.

It allowed me to see God’s power and faithfulness as he did just that (at the last possible moment, which really exercised my faith!) and I knew that in the end, the successful result was all down to him and not to me.

Planning is still something that comes naturally to me, but I don’t want it to be an idol, or the place I put my trust.  These verses from Proverbs remind me that my trust has to be firmly in God and that it is his plan I should be seeking and trusting him to lead me.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.  (Proverbs 16:9)

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.(Proverbs 19:21)

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.  (Proverbs 16:3)

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

In Control We Trust

{The fifth installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

If I were in charge everything would be okay. People would do I want them to do, and since I generally care about some people, some people would be better off for it.

I would have everything I think I need, really hard stuff wouldn’t happen, and easier hard stuff I’d keep around to make myself sharp. I’d have no reason to worry and I’d feel fulfilled.

If I were in control.

That’s what I want to believe. More importantly, that’s what trusting in control has me assuming. Too often my life is based on that “if.”  I tell myself: If I were control, I’d have what I need to be okay.

But, control is a lie. It’s an illusion.

None of us are really sure what everything being okay would look like.

We can’t even a little bit grasp how to make everything okay for everyone at the same time. I’m even sure that we are incapable of consistently choosing the best for others, no matter how good our intentions may be.

There’s a reason for this: we’re sinners.

If we were in control, sin would be reigning. Because, let me repeat, we’re sinners in a world skewed by sin.

That we aren’t in control is actually a blessing.

in control we trust

What trusting in our own control really comes down to is trusting in an illusion instead of trusting in God. Illusions aren’t sustainable and can’t function fully. They are, at best, lies.

Proverbs 30:8 says:

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.”

The poverty and riches rejected here are examples of forms of control we are deceived by.

Isn’t it often in gaining riches of information, money, relationships, etc., that we believe we gain control over our lives?

But wisdom here is clear: these forms of control are elusive illusions.

We don’t actually need them. They can’t actually offer us fulfillment or make life okay. It doesn’t matter what we gain control over: it won’t be enough.

We do well to ask only for our daily bread.

To have only our daily bread is to have only what we really need to live well. Notice also that our daily bread is given. Specifically by the one who is in control of everything.

control

Seeking control over more than our portion is seeking to have something more than what God has given. This conveys that in our hearts, we don’t find God to be enough. Through this, we deny the reality of God’s perfect control over everything.

There are consequences for trusting in control, or anything we seek to gain apart from God’s giving. The rest of the verse reinforces this:

“Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you

and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’

Or I may become poor and steal,

and so dishonor the name of my God.”

-Proverbs 30:9

When we live in pursuit of a false power like control, we stop living in pursuit of the Lord. We’re deceived into believing that what we’re going to gain will be enough or will justify our sinful means.

But the “end,”or the “reward” of control, is disappointing.  

Because ultimately, trusting in control means trusting in ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I really disappoint myself when I get what I want. It’s crushing when at the end of all that toil, all I get is more of what I already have: worries, concerns, responsibilities, weaknesses, and sin.

That’s the stuff we’re made out of, folks.

Unless we’re stuffed full of Jesus. Unless He’s reigning on “our” thrones. Unless we recognize that when we fight Him for control we’re trying to take over a ship we don’t know how to steer. And don’t know the course for. Or the goal.

Take a breath and let it go. Thank Him that He knows where we’re going and how to get there. Thank Him that our daily bread is enough.

Praise Him that we don’t have to live by elusive illusion, but can live abundantly by faith.

Praise Him that He has got all of it under control, so we don’t have to. He guarantees it will all be more than good: it will be perfectly completed in Him!

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

WordoftheWeek: Ordained

“Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Psalm 139:16 NIV

Before you write a note, decorate, put the recipe together, or otherwise complete an activity, your mind is at work shaping. Fashioning. Forming. Determining your next steps and how to fit things together.

Even if briefly, thought always comes first. Even thoughtless words or hastily finished projects require a small bit of forethought. That’s the way creating works, regardless of what we are creating.

When God made us, we also started as a thought. Before we were made physically, He knew us. But God is never hasty, hurried, or careless. Our Lord is purposeful.

God has shaped each of our lives carefully. The word “ordained” in the Psalm 139:16 is also translated “formed” and “fashioned.” To have our days ordained is to have them planned out for us with intention. Shaped for a purpose.

Take in that verse, with the word expanded, again:

“All the days you formed for a purpose for me were written in your book before one came to be.”

We know that the Lord is beyond time. We know that He has plans for us. We even know that He knows what lies ahead.

All of that is comforting; but, add this: those plans and that future are intentional.

Our days are not just foreseen by God,

but fashioned by His foresight.

<ClickToTweet>

The Lord works all things together for the good of those who love them- and this process began before any of these “things” for “those” people came to be. He is never surprised, and never unprepared. Though our lives all look so different, and, as Kristine points out in her earlier post, those differences are a part of the uniqueness of His well-thought out and perfectly executed plan.

When life sneaks up on you or catches you off guard and you wonder how He can make it all work out- remember, He already has a way. He is the Way. And that- even that- is purposeful and purposed by the Lord.

Let’s count these lovingly, precisely hand-crafted days as blessings.

This post is being shared on:
#WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

 

I Do! But How Did I Do It?

 

Confessions of a Bride on a Budget

Guest Posted by the lovely Maggie Miller

A newlywed, Maggie has been blessed by the Lord with a wonderful man- and a wedding to fit their story. Though she faced discouragement, she can testify to the Lord's provision for their wedding and the beginning of their marriage. Enjoy!

When I first got engaged I was thrilled – the man of my dreams (hilarious, hard-working, soft-hearted, God fearing, wonderful all-around) wanted to spend his entire life with ME!

We had been dating for 2 years at that point and I was so ready to say, “I Do!” I immediately got into planning mode and began taking my Pinterest wedding board ideas into full swing (yes, I had a wedding board long before I got engaged…) However, I quickly realized two things:

1. Weddings are incredibly expensive

2. I have a very limited budget.

Every venue I found cost as much as my entire wedding budget – or more! Just to use the venue!

maggie1

My parents and fiance’s parents were very generous in helping us out with what they could, but even with their help I knew pulling off my “dream” wedding was going to be tricky.

Now, 8 months later, I can officially say my wedding was everything I could have wanted it to be and moreand I was able to make it happen even with very tight finances. I know so many brides-to-be are in similar positions (we’re at that age where it’s more shocking if we don’t see a “newly engaged” social media post each week), and I want to encourage all those ladies that if you’re a bride on a budget, don’t fret! I did it, and so can you!

The venue was probably the most difficult thing to find – I knew I wanted something that had an outdoor ceremony and indoor reception, and I wanted it all in one location (picky, I know). However, I knew I could make it work. Instead of googling “wedding venues in Phoenix” I decided to research “unique event sites in Phoenix,” simply because tacking on the word “wedding venue” is instantly going to increase the price of the rental place.

Even though they were beautiful, my budget couldn’t afford any traditional venue. I had to think outside the box. We ended up renting out a small nature center that was extremely affordable (less than ¼ of the price of traditional venues) and absolutely beautiful. Parks and churches are also great options that can sometimes be rented free of charge.

After the venue was chosen, there was so much more on the to-do list: flowers, catering, decorations, photographer, a DJ, the dress, invitations, rehearsal dinner…the list (and costs!) never seemed to end! There were so many things I wanted for my dream wedding, but I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to have it all, and that made me feel so discouraged.

With current pop-culture and reality television, it is so easy to get wrapped up in shows like Four Weddings and Say Yes to the Dress, where the brides have unlimited budgets and a wedding coordinator to plan their entire lavish $50,000 day. However, the truth of the matter was that that bride wasn’t me, and I had to realize that that was okay.

You’re not any less of a bride because you can’t afford peonies in your bouquet or floor length tablecloths for your décor.

Some of the best advice I received was to sit down with your fiancé and prioritize the things that are of utmost importance to each of you. Are you dead set on having an incredible professional photographer but couldn’t care less about the “dream dress”? Do you want to cut back on flowers and décor so that you can be inclusive and invite more of those extended family members?

Choose what works for you – every wedding is unique and fit to that specific couple. Make it your own! Even though you will have to compromise in some areas, you will be sure to have the most important things done the way you want them.

After that discussion, I expressed that my priority was the venue, but that I also cared a lot about my dress. Don’t limit yourself to chain bridal retail stores for a gown – I knew I had a tiny budget but still marched right into a Scottsdale high-end bridal boutique convinced I could find something on sale, was honest about my tiny budget (I’m talking $500 people!), and walked out an hour later having found a dress that surpassed my wildest dreams hugely discounted because another bride had purchased it and changed her mind (P.T.L.) Yes, I recognize this doesn’t always happen, but sample sales and last season gowns are fairly easy to find!

maggie5

For everything else, I once again thought out-of-the-box. I signed my mom and her friend up for a free DIY flower arranging class at a local wholesale florist so that they could create handmade bouquets for me, rather than paying a professional to do them. We also enlisted sweet and talented friends as our photographer, videographer, and DJ to cut back on those huge costs. Instead of a wedding coordinator, I had a girlfriend (who has an incredible eye for design) help create centerpieces and put the venue together the morning of the big day.

My mom’s friend is a graphic artist and she handmade (and printed!) our invitations as a gift to us. Multiple of my girlfriends who had recently gotten married let me borrow hundreds of dollars worth of décor for centerpieces and tables. The point is, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Your friends and family want to be a blessing to you during this time, and allowing them to help makes them feel like a part of the big day. 

Piecing everything together wasn’t easy, and I frequently got discouraged. I prayed daily for trust and peace, as our expenses seemed never-ending.

Jesus knew financial insecurity was one of the biggest areas in which I needed growth, and he truly used my engagement season to remind me of his consistent faithfulness and provision. Does this mean he will always provide a hugely discounted wedding gown, or help you get a bonus at work to pay for the day? Absolutely not! But I am convinced that he will provide the resources to help you feel special no matter what – so be on the lookout. 🙂

Lastly, remember, your day is going to be beautiful, and not because you are wearing your dream dress or because you are saying your vows in your ideal location.

Your day is beautiful because you are starting eternity with your best friend in front of all your family, your friends, and most importantly our sweet creator – and nothing is more beautiful than that.

If you would like to connect with Maggie, you can find her on Facebook here.

maggie2

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus and #LifeGivingLinkup.