Saturday, December 28, 2013

Engaged? Your Encouragement; My Story.

You are engaged! Congratulations.

I have received many messages from those who have gotten engaged recently. The engagement period can be a great time of emotion and pure fun. However, if you're not focused, it can quickly change into a stressful time of wedding planning and frivolous arguments. My wife and I had to take many steps back from planning our wedding to refocus on why we were getting married. We started arguing over petty things that did not serve any major purpose to our eternity. We had to figure out that we could not place all of our attention on the wedding day. That day is great and all, but you still have a life to live after it. Do not get so focused and stressed out about planning a day that you stop focusing on the life you'll spend with your spouse after it. I know many have dreamed of the perfect wedding and reception, but do not place all your hope into that dream. Use that day to be an example to your peers, friends, family, etc. who watched--and ridiculed--your journey.

I remember our engagement period like it was yesterday. I proposed to my wife on Christmas Day in 2009. We went right into wedding planning mode. I was not too excited about it, and I will not bore you with too many of the details. However, I learned many things during that process. If you have not read any of our stories, my wife and I did not kiss until our wedding day. Many people watched, encouraged and ridiculed that decision. Nevertheless, we made it. Through the process, we learned to be content with what we had. We also learned to focus on one another by continuing to communicate with one another. We kept asking questions and honoring one another with the boundaries we established in our relationship. We did not allow the engagement ring to serve as a free pass to dishonor God. A couple at the church we both attended at the time allowed for me to stay at their house while Heather, my now-wife, stayed at mine. We made sure we were still accountable to others when we met up to plan the wedding. There were many times we became frustrated with one another because we both had an idea of how the day should go. My idea was that I did not want to spend much money. My wife’s idea was that she wanted the day to be warm and inviting for the attendees. My wife and I had to ask ourselves if we were trying to impress them or wanting to honor God. We couldn't allow the attendees to be our idols. You can't either.

I refused to be stressed out by the wedding planning; however, I was involved from beginning to end. It wasn't because I wanted to; it was because I didn't want to put all the stress on my wife. We had to work with what we had, and I had to make the proper adjustments based on the situation we found ourselves. I was working a fulltime job, as was Heather. Our families are not extremely wealthy with money, and we knew we needed to pay for the wedding. Each time we got together we would ask God to lead us in our decisions and supply the needs for the wedding so we could honor Him on that day and serve as an example for others. We wanted to take as much of the attention off us as possible. Ultimately, we had a set budget for the wedding, but we both agreed that God would lead us. That was a test for me. I wanted to show Heather that she could trust and follow me as I obeyed the voice of the Lord. Thankfully, we paid the entire wedding off with cash. We came out owing no one. That was big considering that we ended up spending a considerable amount of money. There were times we did not feel like things would be paid. However, we chose to trust God. We had family members and friends to contact us and send us money because they “felt like they should.” We received unexpected income from our places of employment. It was absolutely fun to experience and a true highlight of our journey. It was one of the first times we learned to trust one another and God as a couple.

Our wedding ceremony was extremely quick, but it was not perfect. Our “coordinator” forgot to have the communion ready. The sound system was not the best. Many could not hear us as we said our vows to one another. It was not perfect, but we did not allow for it to stress us out. The reception was much different. For me, the reception was like throwing a big party for many people I wouldn't normally hangout with anyway. We had many people who traveled near and far to be with us on our wedding day. We invited about 150 people. We had more to actually show up (aka “crash”). Ultimately, the entire day flew by fast. We sat down to watch our wedding video, and I was shocked at how much I missed. There were people there I did not even know had showed up. Afterwards, I realized I spent we spent a lot of money to be around people we would not normally choose to just “hang around” or throw a party for.

I know it sounds like my wife and I was perfect, but we were far from it. We argued A LOT. There were times we both felt like we were not making the right decision. There were times we felt like we were not ready. And, honestly, you will never be as ready as you think you should be. We went through premarital counseling sessions, but it did not fully prepare us for what we would experience in marriage. I perform premarital advisement sessions now, and my goal is to give foundational material pertaining to marriage instead of trying to dictate certain rules that are not consistent with Scripture. I would not tell a couple that the man is the head but the woman is the neck twisting the head as she desires. That is flat out foolish; however, that kind of stuff is taught nowadays. During that process I still had lust in my heart. I was still tempted by worldly things and attention. I was definitely not perfect. I was prideful. As you read, my wife and I wanted the day to truly honor God; however, I threw a big wrench in it. I made a decision to do something based on my insecurity. It was foolish. We had many people telling us how we should do things in our wedding. We had so many opinions. I decided to rebel. What was my method of choice? Well, I had the DJ to play “Superman” by Soulja Boy after we were announced as married. It was meant to be a snub at some of the attendees; however, it was disgraceful and dishonorable to my wife and God. I should have had more respect for her and God on that day, but I admit I did not. Was it funny? Oh yes it was!

Lastly, I’d love to share some things that really helped us during the process. My wife and I did not spend a lot of money on our dress and tux. I believe my wife’s dress was $250.00. I did not rent a tux. Renting a tux was about the same as buying one. Instead, there was deal at Jos a Bank, a men’s clothing store, where I could buy one suit/tux and receive two free. Well, I had 7 groomsmen, 1 best man and me. That was perfect. I only had to buy 3 tuxes and I could get 6 free. It worked out. My groomsmen actually paid for their tuxes (well, not all of them. Get the money before making the purchased. FYI). I felt like buying one would be better. Plus, a gentleman should have a tux in his closet just because. My wife and I did not get overly stressed out about the money or who could or could not come to the wedding. We just had to learn to trust God. We also planned a honeymoon, which was paid for by someone else. We went on a 7-day cruise, which I would recommend to anyone. I had 3 phones at the time, and I was always on one of them. I had a personal phone, a business phone and a private phone (yeah, I thought I was batman. Knowing the job I had would help to realize why I had those phones.) I did not have a connection while on the boat. I was forced to put the phones away, focus on my new wife and relax. It was AMAZING, and it was fairly inexpensive. Also, telling people and businesses you are engaged could work in your favor. We received many “free” things and upgrades because some people just liked that we were engaged. Finally, choose to honor God. Do not make the same decision I made by tainting the moment with poisonous worldly music during or after the ceremony. Choose to honor God.

Well, you are engaged! Enjoy the journey. Send me a piece of cake. (I did not get to eat any of my cake except what my wife fed me. I was a little salty about it.) I do not go to many weddings I am invited to nowadays. Why? That answer will be in another blog. If I do go, I try to get a piece of the cake to make up for the cake I did not get. We had TWO cakes. One cake was 4-tiers. It was pretty big. The next cake was my groom’s cake. Both were great when I tasted them, but my “guests” ate them down to the crumbs. Okay, I think I need to go before God with that one. Pray for your brother. J

If you want to hear more about our story to the alter, what happened after the alter, our fears of marriage, our successes, etc., purchase my books at or So, You Want to be Married? is for those who are on the journey to be married or those who have questions about marriage, courting versus dating, etc. I’m Married. Now, What? is for those who are newly married and do not know what to expect, those who are almost married and want to know what to expect, for those who want a good laugh at my mistakes, for those who want to know the toughest things my wife and I experienced in our marriage, etc. My other two books, So, You Want to be a Man? and Not For Sale are also great for those who truly want to commit themselves to the Lord, for those who want to know what it means to be a “man of God,” etc. Check them out today.

God bless. Stay focused.


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  2. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. It reminded me of some of things my husband and I went through when we were planning our wedding. Like you guys we didn't owe anyone at the end of it. We went on our Honeymoon a few months later. .. all expenses paid by our lovely family and friends. Cheers to you and your wife.

  3. I just want to thank you for reminding us to focus on the marriage and not the wedding. My husband and I got engaged on December 23, 2013 and married on July 26th of this year. We chose to have a wedding with just the two of us on the beach. We didn't want to burden ourselves with the cost of the wedding. We didn't have the money and don't come from families with money! Thankfully our family were able to help us financially with our small ceremony that was paid in cash. I remember every second of our wedding day. We weren't whisked around all day. We got massages. Went to the beach. We spent time focusing on us becoming one with God than on others that day. Now, I'm into my marriage and we aren't worried about paying off a wedding or trying to remember our wedding day. We have never been so happy to have made such a responsible decision. People sometimes get so caught up with the wedding, they forget all about the marriage. Keep your priorities in order.