This is past weekend, I attended the Amazing Life Together Webinar put on by Liz & Ryan Photography. I had first heard about it through Lara Casey, who was one of six couples guest speaking and sharing their love story and journey through marriage. While I didn’t know much of what to expect, I did know Lara would be sharing her whole marriage story- from it’s rocky beginnings, through the rough patches, to the place where God had brought them now.
If you’ve read this post, you’ll know my husband and I are huge advocates of mentors in both life, our businesses and our marriage. Learning from others that have gone before us and walked both the narrow and wide paths, is one of the greatest blessings we can give ourselves. This webinar was exactly that, plus the perfect date night in, rolled together! [Dave ended up having to work late and I watched day 1 solo in bed, cuddled with my pooch]
I was eager to tune in and fully expecting to shed tears, but what I didn’t expect, was how incredibly moved I would be by nearly every couple’s story and how beautifully God would speak through their very different journeys. I took away so much more than I fathomed and am grateful to Liz & Ryan for starting such a valuable and life fulfilling project.
While every couple’s story touched me and offered great take aways for building a strong, healthy and lasting marriage, I want to highlight a few that struck me deeply… The ones that stirred me on the inside and grabbed hold of my heart strings and tugged, hard!
Lara is a women I thank God for every single day. No joke. No matter the season of life, the years that go by or the chapter I’m experiencing in my own life, Lara encourages me daily to be a better version of me, to refine my focus to only the things that truly matter and consistently offer up my life to God as a living testament to his goodness, power and mercy. I can see so much of myself in her and I truly believe God puts individuals in our lives that reflect back to us the things he wants both, for us AND the things he wants us to face/embrace/change/work on.
Boiled down, Lara and Ari’s story was one of redemption, mercy and boundless love. God had brought them from a divided place, where two people co-existed like ships in the nights simply passing by, barely registering or even knowing the other, to a place of deep humility and forgiveness- a life that surrenders to each others needs, puts God and family first and lives with intention and on purpose, every single day! They embrace lifes simple moments, scratch that, celebrate them and make it their mission to love as Jesus did, both in their marriage, with their friends, family and community, as well as in their work lives! Absolutely powerful. Their story was nothing less than a beautiful testimony to God! A light to all that God has in store for us, if we’ll simply let him into our hearts to lead.
I’m immensely thankful to Lara and Ari for sharing so vulnerably and with such confidence in what God has brought them through. [They shared parts of their story that would make some of us squirm] Incredibly, Dave and I can relate to so much of your beginnings in marriage and who they both were before giving their lives to God and in all honestly, I find some days, shame creeps in. It leaves me wanting to hide my past and fearful that people will see me and my marriage as a fake. But just hearing God speak through them, smashed those lies. I can say confidently that’s not the case! God uses our experiences for such great good and through every trial, we will develop perseverance, character and hope.
Katelyn and Michael had me listening intently and “re-winding” to let things sink in and register. I found their story refreshing and I’m grateful for how tactful and thorough they were in giving advice and how-to’s for reaching your dreams. The OCD, A type in me rejoiced!
Admittedly, their life at one point seemed perfect on the outside, wrapped up pretty with a bow and like they had their stuff together. While on the inside, there was uncertainty, restlessness and anxiety over their future. They had made changes, ones they felt God had called them too, yet were discouraged . They felt directionless and without answers; like God had forgotten them and his promises for their life.
What I loved most about this, was that so many times as Christians, we feel that because we’re living our life for God, being obedient and believe we’re truly in his will, that we expect things to come quickly and answers to fall from the sky. We’re some how still in shock and frustrated when God doesn’t answer us, forgetting that his silence usually means one of two things… “No” or “Grow.” Not that he’s turned his cheek. I fall prey to this in my own life and felt encouraged by their honestly. I valued most their reminder to seek out individuals in those times to share your heart with, bounce ideas off of and seek counsel and comfort in.
They apply this philosophy to their business also, surrounding themselves with individuals and couples who are like-minded, have similar values, will offer honest advice and will spur them on in their dreams and mission.
I left their session excited to continue building my network of industry friends, regardless of where they live [thank goodness for technology] and hopeful that even in seasons of waiting on God, there is purpose and intent. They too shall pass!
Karen & Issac shattered every misconception of marriage, sharing openly about their one-sided, rocky beginnings. The confessed that they didn’t know what marriage really entailed or have great examples to follow or aspire to in their husband and wife roles.
Being a wedding planner, I see far too many couples commit their lives to each other, having little clue of the reality they’ve entered into. There’s slim understanding of the integrity in which God designed marriage to be nor acknowledgement that two are now becoming one.. meaning head butting, compromise and a whole new “normal.” They shared their experiences in discovering this truth and ways each of them laid down their own life, to put the other and their marriage first. It made me want to be a better wife and rid more of my selfish desires, ambitions and “needs,” in favour of “us.”
After the live Q&A session ended, I found myself on Karen’s blog reading post after post in awe. I so deeply, almost desperately, related to where she’s at in life right now. Specifically, this, this and this post had me in tears. Why? Because I’ve been sensing a similar shift in myself over the last while… the stirring of my heart to get rid of the distractions and focus solely on God’s call for my life, however that looks, regardless of what I think my future should hold. The honest reality is that I’m fearful of succeeding at what doesn’t matter and I’m working hard to strip my life of the “fluff” and fight for what does matter! But as I refine my focus, my flesh fights back and I battle old selfish desires, false emotions and ways of my former life. And at times, I feel paralyzed by this internal battle, which ultimately allows fear to creep in.
I found encouragement and hope in Karen’s sharing to simply embrace it regardless, knowing that in the end, God’s will will win if I just keep trecking forward one step at a time, making the decision to choose what I know is right over and over. And eventually my feelings will catch up with my mind. Because Love wins, every time!
So friend, if any of this hits home, I would encourage you to purchase the recordings here. Or if you’re married or preparing to be, I would also spur you on to do the same. There was incredible encouragement, honesty and invaluable advice from these couples lessons and life trials! Because as much as it’s “all about the party and the details,” the fun begins after you say I do…
Photos courtesy of Liz & Ryan, Jill Powers and Karen Stott