What Is Love

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I think we would all being lying if we said we hated the idea of love, of falling in love, of being in love, of love stories. In reality, I think it’s hard to hate an idea that centers around us being cared for, cherished, adored and frankly loved. We all long for that. Our culture is filled with romantic sitcoms and movies, it seems it’s on every billboard and it’s around every corner. The wedding industry is booming and Valentine’s day is celebrated by millions. However, what if I told you love doesn’t just happen once a year on a special day. What If I told you it’s an all year, every minute kind of thing. And even more, what if I told you love is not a feeling but it’s a choice…

I would be lying if I said that somewhere deep down inside I don’t long to be a princess. In fact, I used to think love was this fairy tale princess story that ended with a Happily Ever After and a ride off into the sunset with my Prince Charming. If you had asked me what love was two years ago that is exactly what I would have told you. It was Happily Ever After, tied with a beautiful bow around it. Now I know better. My friends, that is not love, because love is a choice, love is an action.

In fact, nearly four months ago I did marry the man of my dreams and I did have a fairy tale day but my marriage to sweet Brett has even more confirmed that love is a choice we make everyday. Because for any of you that have been married, had kids, had close friends, you know, laundry piles up, work days are grueling, you don’t always agree and life is hard. Feelings get hurt and we say things we didn’t mean, and it is in those moments that we have a decision to make, to keep loving. Brett and I stood up on that altar four months ago and we made a decision to love each other even when days are hard and we don’t feel like it and for that I am forever grateful.

However, I am not just talking about love with your significant other, I am talking about love with your friends, with your community, with your parents, with your extended family, with your kids, with yourself. I no longer hold the belief that love is this mushy, gushy feeling. If that were true then love would last very briefly. In the last few years (and even more in the last four months) I feel like I have gotten a crash course in love and what it means to love others and have them love you back.
I once had a conversation with a friend who told me that loving someone should be easy, it shouldn’t take work, it shouldn’t be messy and we should just have that love feeling. I tried to explain that was the opposite of what I believed love to be, because, love was all of those things, messy, hard, complicated, work, and it was anything but a walk in the park. We are human, we mess up and we are in no way perfect so why should love with other people be anything but imperfect. I believe there is only one true perfect love, filled with grace and that is from a Savior much bigger than any of us. So when it comes to imperfect people love is difficult. We often give up easily because love requires grace. It requires looking at someone and seeing their imperfections and loving them all the same.
Every day we wake up and we have a choice to dig deep with people. We have a chance to roll up our sleeves and walk through the messiness of life hand in hand. We have a chance to forgive and keep forgiving. We have a chance to live out grace. We have a chance to not treat others in ways they have treated us. Sometimes it gets really messy, sometimes it requires us to do things we don’t want to do, awkward things. It may require kindness to a stranger, it may be asking to help with a task you absolutely cannot stand, it may be physically cleaning up a mess, it may be time consuming. Each time we dive in and show that kind of love we are giving people a chance to see that beautiful face of grace and love.

Earlier this month, I got to spend time with one of my favorite friends who is beautiful inside out. She has mentored and loved me unconditionally. She has held me when I cried. She has talked me through the toughest times, shared her family and seen past my flaws. Most of the time I had nothing to offer her back but my mess and she still chose to roll up her sleeves, pick me up and help me out of my mess. She made a choice to love me when I was unlovable. That my friends is love, when we have nothing to offer and someone comes in sacrifices for us and scoops us up in their arms and makes a choice to love us.

Sometimes we forget to extend this same courtesy to ourselves. It is easiest for us to love others and not ourselves. My friends I want to remind you to extend that same grace and love to yourself, even when you are a mess and feel at your worst. You too need love, even from yourself. Real love is hard even for ourselves because it requires sacrifice. It may mean that we don’t get to watch a marathon of our favorite TV shows, maybe it means putting part of your paycheck into something less fun than a rainy day fund, sometimes it means telling the honest truth in grace and risking a relationship. That is where we often get caught up in a predicament, we are all about love, until it affects our bank accounts, our home, our time. I want to challenge you friend, true love requires this sacrifice. It means loving when the person isn’t deserving. It means loving when you want to quit. It means loving despite the fact that the other person can do nothing for you. It means loving the mess of a person laying in bed, who hasn’t showered, has bad breath and greasy hair. That is love.

This week I hope you think about the ways you can love others…truly love others, ways you can sacrifice and love people when it isn’t fun. It might seem hard and weird but just remember it is not a feeling you’re going off, it is a choice, it is an action. And as you begin to love others this week I have a feeling you will really begin to live and I pray you get that love and grace you are dishing out, served right back to you.
And may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED!

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23 Reasons I am Getting Married at 23

 

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The last few weeks have felt like a whirlwind. Actually more like a dream come true and a fairy tale wrapped into one. In fact, I still feel like I am processing all that has happened since December 19th, the day Brett asked me to spend forever with him. I have wanted to write about my favorite guy and fiance for so long and especially since the engagement. I am beyond excited to start this new journey with my best friend and love of my life. There are many things I could write about him, in fact I could fill up multiple posts. However, today when I read an article about things one should try before or instead of getting married at twenty three, I thought it was time to write. This in no way is a slap in the face to that author. She has her own experience and I have mine. I am not naive and neither is Brett. We are not getting married because we decided to on a whim. This is a decision we have talked about, thought about, prayed about, and sought wise counsel about.I know that different people make decisons for different reasons based on what is best for them. However, when I started this blog I promised to be honest and share my story. So here we go. Maybe you are thinking about marriage, maybe you have been married for thirty years, maybe marriage is not even in your sights. Whatever your life, whatever your choice, this is not a recipe or an instruction manual on why you should or shouldn’t get married. It is simply one imperfect girl’s reasons for marrying at 23. In no particular order…here are the reasons I am marrying Brett Eric Stainsby on July 4th:

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1. Age doesn’t matter. Sure we would not have been mature years ago but  now we are both adults. I am 22 and Brett is 26. We will be 23 and 27 when we get married and we made this adult mature decison together.

2. He treats me with respect. More than just opening doors and pulling out chairs. Brett genuinely respects me as a person and as his future wife.

3. He is my best friend. He is who I never hold back anything from and in turn he never holds back from me.

4. He accepts my mess, flaws and all. He is willing to walk through the trenches with me, even if it is messy, tear ridden sometimes ugly journey.

5. He shares his mess with me and is not afraid to let me into his deepest darkest days.

6. He makes a choice everyday to love me and show me love, even when I am annoying, even when I am bratty, even when I am mean, even when I haven’t showered.

7. He shows me grace, grace for my mistakes, grace for my flaws, grace for my imperfections.

8. He constantly reminds me to show myself grace and models it for me.

9. He sacrifices for me. Whether it be big or small. The other day he quit on hold twelve of a great game of golf on a beautiful day to go to an event where he knew no one, just to be there for him.

10. He calls me out lovingly when I am wrong. He doesn’t let me get away with things I do wrong. However, he shows me grace for my mistakes and loves me despite them.

11. He loves Jesus big time. He loves Him way more than he loves me. He actively pursues his faith and leads me.

12. He makes me laugh. Whether it is dancing silly, using accents, or teasing me. When I am around him I cannot help but smile.

13. He makes life better. He makes my good days more amazing and my bad days sweeter.

14. He encourages me to tell my story, to share my life with others and he supports me in the process.

15. He is an amazing listener. I may give him a hard time for not remembering every little detail but he truly does listen, especially when it counts.

16. He tells me I am beautiful no matter what and he means it. The first time he told me he loved me, he told me no matter what I looked like, I was beautiful and he loved me.

17. He makes me feel like I am the only girl in the world. Ten supermodels could walk by him while we are having lunch and the man would not even glance up at them.

18. He loves my family and shows them more kindness, love and grace than anyone ever has.

19. He takes time for my friends and considers them his own. I have never seen anyone so loved and respected by my friends.

20. He is willing to do silly things with me. Last night he watched High School Musical 2 with me while I sang along to every song and he said it was the best night.

21. He has the kindest spirit. He would give the shirt off his back to anyone and he is always willing to help anyone in need.

22. He is genuine and down to earth. He couldn’t care less about the money someone makes or where they live. He loves people for their hearts and spirits not for their material worth.

23. He wants to do life with me and I want to do life with him…FOREVER! We are not taking this marriage lightly. We know that the commitment we are making is a life long one and we couldn’t be more excited.

So there you go. Those are the reasons that I am marrying my Brett. Some of you make look at them and scoff, others may relate. Whether I decide to one day travel to the Effiel Tower, Sky Dive, get a PhD or decide to some, all, or none of those things and many more I want to be there with him through it all. He is not perfect or a saint and neither am I. We are two hopelessly imperfect people, in need of grace who want to do life together. We don’t have life completely figured out and we never will but we want to do the “figuring out” of life with each other. He is who I want by my side. He is who I want to do life with. He is my one person.

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I hope that each of you are filled with as much joy as we are, whether you are married or not or whether you are 23 or not (Brett is not 🙂 ). I also hope you know that you can have the adventure of your life even if you are married or not!

And may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!

❤ MK