Marriage is worth the wait

The Bible says man and woman were designed to be together so man would not longer be lonely and to help multiply. While there were no white gowns or a large celebration during Adam’s and Eve’s time, marriage was still approved in the eyes of the Lord. Celebrations became a cultural trend later on. Getting married is expensive but worth it in the long run!

Today, statistics show a high percentage of Americans have had premarital sex, even Christians. I personally admire those who choose to commit and wait, no matter what society says. For those who didn’t wait; do not think you are not nothing,trash or anything lesser. Anyone who says otherwise may need a heart check themselves. By the grace of God, we have every opportunity to change our ways. For He knows your heart.

For the first time since we’ve been married, everything feels right. Neither of us had any convictions or guilt weighing on our shoulder. Even if it’s just crossing some minor personal boundaries of our own that we created. Crossing those boundaries honestly never felt right. And honestly, living in a community helped keep us accountable for our actions and thoughts.

One thing we’ve come to the agreement on; marriage was worth the wait. There were moments of passion and excitement in our engagement and if we crossed boundaries we always did our best and to come before God about our convictions. We would discuss them together and ask for forgiveness and repent. Forgivness does not give anyone the rights to push further on those boundaries but to work together to fight temptations. Some of those boundaries still apply while married but the key is communication.

We often prayed and discussed what those personal boundaries were. This is really important in any relationship. We learn to honor and respect one another by respecting their boundaries. Since our bodies are considered temples of God, they should be treated as holy or sacred.

To those who are waiting for the right person out there: keep waiting because it’s worth it. It’s never a pleasant feeling of having to constantly repent or feeling as if we are doing things wrong. While we have an awesome and loving Father in heaven who forgives us and has grace, He also longs for us to change our hearts and our ways. (Read Luke 15: 11-32, story of the Prodigal Son). This is what repentance means. But if we take the time to consider the outcome of waiting and enjoying what God has designed us for, the outcome outweighs everything.

While we are new at this married life, we know that we were designed for it and we love every part of it, even our heated moments!

All comments are welcomed but will monitored, edited or deleted as seen fit. I apologize for anything that may seem offensive to anyone. The intention is share what God is doing in our lives. We pray you feel loved through this and welcome any emails to mrslizasmith86@gmail.com for further comments or discussions in private. Thanks for stopping by!

Final post as a Ms.

2015-05-09 17.51.59

The clock nearby, it’s ticking and never stops. One more day, one more week and one more hour until I look at my fiancee and can finally call him my husband and starting the next chapter of my life. Time flies but the last month has taught me valuable lessons about relationships and boundaries. I thought I would take some time to share a little bit.

There is much freedom when you take the time to analyze what the issues are before actually addressing them. Once you find yourself realizing what it is that needs worked on, there comes the breakthrough both with yourself and the people around you (sometimes).

I wasn’t taught boundaries growing up. I was taught to fight, and fight hard until I got my way. Either that, or bottle everything up. It bought more harm than good in my relationships. It was demanding and often times demeaning. Even though it was never my intention to hurt people, it still happened. Conviction was strongly felt this last couple of months as I grow closer to my fiancee. I began to realize the pain of all my experiences and worked through the lies I was believing. It took a lot of encouragement and will continue to do so as habits are often difficult to work through. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 9 (ESV)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 

What does love look like? It is patient and kind. Meaning I would have to be willing to wait, don’t be quick to jump to conclusions or make assumptions. Love does not want it in their way. It’s not my way or the highway but willing to be flexible and making compromises. Love is not irritated or resentful, but willing to wait and not hold back anger and bitterness. Communication is the key. Love does not rejoice when once does wrong but instead shows truth with love. Love is willing to be understanding, supportive, hopeful and willing to go the extra mile in good and tough times. Love never fades or run out.

As I enter marriage less than week from today, this was a word I needed to hear. I needed breakthrough on what it means to be a great wife. Someone with imperfections of course but does her best to honor her husband. Relationships take work. God’s first commandment is to love others as we love ourselves. It’s a commitment but in the end, it will be worth it.

I ask in this time as I wrap up this blog as Ms. Brandow that you pray for me as an individual. For God to continue to transform my heart. To help me honor my husband and learn to love him in new ways every single day. I ask that you pray for us together, that will grow and learn to do life together. To serve one another and be willing to make sacrifices even when it’s hard. To be thankful always and always praying.

I’m so thankful for all the people who have been reading my blog for the last couple of years, or just recently. I pray you’ve found truth in these words written and the commitment I’ve made to you as my readers are inspired to understand what God speaks to others about. I will continue to write when I return in July with an update of what God is doing. But for now… I’m excited to be a Mrs. Josiah Smith and for an amazing and godly marriage.

With love,

Ms. Brandow

Loving your enemies, the Gentiles and Samaritans

IMG_1462We all know that Jesus said to love your enemies but does that limit you to just the people you really dislike? In this generation, it’s been about racial issues and sexual orientation lifestyle. But read this passage below from Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV):

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect

I wonder, what was Jesus getting at besides giving a reminder of the commandments? Aside from the reward in which only those who seek His Kingdom would truly understand by how we love on others.

There are many stories of how Jesus interacted with people. How he invested in their lives. Going into their homes, sharing a meal and sharing stories. Jesus really took the time to get to the heart of the issue and he was no different in how he saw outsiders. He took the fishermen, he took the tax collector, he took many people on who were sinners and knew their faults. And yet, he still hung out with prositutues, the homeless and the sick. He even released a murderer as he was approaching his crucifixion. People who were in desperate need of Jesus, didn’t deserve it and despite that, Jesus still loved them.

Jesus expects us to do the same. Especially in a culture where comfort is our greatest self-satisfaction, Even as I admit my own guilt of preferring to hang out with people I’m most comfortable with I’m strongly aware of missing out on an opportunity to develop my character into what Jesus has called me to. To seek His Kingdom. A small part of it is bringing others into the picture, no matter what their background is.

My challenge for this week: Don’t just say hi and smile to some random stranger. Actually take the time and engage with them. Share our life stories. You never know what doors might be opened up. For one person, it could be a life changing moment when they experience His love for the very first time. Are you up for it?

How romantic films distort real love

engagement photo3

I’ve watched a few romantic films over the years and found myself that I prefer horror films just because they are funny.

As a woman, I began to question society and their worldview on romance. Do I long to get married in the future and to have children? More than I can imagine. But what I think people don’t really pay attention to is how much relationships really take work. I recently became engaged, and while the excitement is still there in the midst of crazy wedding planning. I’ve found myself wondering… do romantic movies remove original design for love?

Often movies are filled with a desire to fill an empty void. Something missing in our lives. But the more I learn to depend on God, the more I learn that the only way to fill the missing void, is to seek the Lord with all my heart, all my soul and all my mind. God isn’t whimsical and neither is earthly love.

Love is not a feeling or a perception but a way one may express themselves to others. Love is not easily expressed and is often superficial. The greatest love shown to man is when Jesus took himself on the cross.

But today’s films distort what love should look like between a husband and wife. But to be honest, it also shows just how human we are today. We fail, again and again. We cheat, we lie, we lust and kill. Satan’s only job? To destroy and kill. As a woman, I have no desire to watch films or television shows where marriages are ending rather than be worth fighting for. To see men courting women rather than lusting after them. To see woman seek men who truly honor women in their lives and seek the Lord with all their hearts.

As a soon to be Mrs. Smith… what do I seek in my future husband or what do I hope he seeks in me.

1) To love and to honor God
2) Willingness to seek wisdom and guidance from God and not the world in his decision for his family
3) Has a strong community to hold himself accountable
4) To love and honor the people in his/her life
5) Trust the Holy Spirit
6) Never cease praying
7) Have a quick and forgiving heart (marriage will not work out if no one forgives)
8) Be okay with setting boundaries
9) Communication

I don’t know about you, but the things on my list are things not often shown in romantic films. Recently, I went to see Old Fashioned and it is now one of my favorite romantic films. It felt real and true. I felt respected, honored and loved through the film and my expectations for my relationship began to change. I got rid of many of the lies I’ve always believed about myself and held on to the truth that God speaks in our lives. As humans, we are not perfect and we definitely don’t deserve a lot of things. But because of grace, we’ve been given infinite love. Who says we cannot also experience some of that infinite love through earthly relationships?

Divine Forgivness

Forgiveness: Since the majority of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, the Hebrew word for Salach is translated into forgive. Their definition is: to forgive, pardon or spare. The online dictionary’s definition of forgive is to stop being angry or resentful against someone’s offense, flaw or mistake. Another definition is to relieve a debt. From being able to combine the two definitions, it basically means to let go of an offense, flaw or mistake.

There are two different kinds of forgiveness; there is forgiveness for our own sins and forgiveness of the sins done against us. It’s important while studying scripture to understand which of the two it’s talking about. Most of those who are against others are clearly referenced in the New Testament (example: Matthew 18:35).

Alexander Pope once said: “To err is human to forgive is divine.” People often were challenged by Jesus on the idea of how God and man can forgive; considering that Jesus was God and man. In the Old Testament, in order for sin to be forgiven, it was often required to bring animals or even people to be taken to the Temple where people meet with a priest and pardon for by animal sacrifice. But before the New Testament, it was prophesied that someone would one day come along and save the people from their sins. Finally, Jesus was sent, not only did he come to teach us what it means to die (repent) to sin but he took our place from sin. The questions are: what does this mean for us? And how does this make forgiveness divine? Was forgiveness divine in the Old Testament or only in the New Testament before Jesus died on the cross and then rose again?

According to Luke 7:49, “…those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”

In Mark 2:9, it was challenged to compare which was easier; to forgive someone or believe if you told someone to get up and walk.  “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’?”

People began to question forgiveness as they learned from Jesus. First we need to recognize why Jesus may have brought these issues up. Jesus knew that men relied on what they saw more than what they actually believed. It wasn’t man’s faith Jesus questioned, but the heart. He could clearly see we relied on what was in front of us. But forgiving someone meant going deeper.

What does divine mean? Something that devoted to God or considered sacred. When we look Acts 17:28-30. God didn’t just see what we thought of Him but considered our relationship sacred. He desired us to have a pure heart. Many times in the Old Testament, gold and silver was often a symbolism of idolatry or beauty. However, God doesn’t want us to idolize Him in our lives, he wanted us to be intentional about our relationship with Him. Having a relationship with Him is already divine, but when deciding to forgive, it is one of the hardest thing man can do other than to have faith. Jesus saw the hardness of our hearts, it’s easier to hold onto something than to pardon. It’s easier to witness miracles, but harder to know and trust how God cares in the moment. But what’s the reward of forgiving (ourselves or others)? Matthew 6:14 says we will also be forgiven. Any anger, bitterness, feelings or actions of revenge or negative thinking of that person – will also be forgiven.  Forgiveness, alone is divine, because God could have chosen to to write down everything and not let go of our wrongs. But because of Jesus, he became the perfect lamb, all of our sins were broken.

When Jesus was sharing the Lord’s prayer, it was intentional. Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus was saying as we continue to know God and His word, we begin to learn what it means of how Jesus forgave us of our debt, he also wanted us to relieve others of their debt. When Jesus died on the cross, it was something he was willing to bear so we could experience freedom but only if we desired to have that freedom. One story in Romans 12:14-21 about a debt that a servant owed to the slave master. But the slave master could have charged him and with interest! But he decided not to, he forgave him of his debt and let his servant go. The story continues in using manipulation of another servant to get what was owed. When the servant master found out what he had done, he rebuked him and threw him in jail. God wants us to experience forgiveness.

Divine forgiveness has been shown since the beginning of time. God could have killed Adam and Eve when they disobeyed in the Garden. But he didn’t. He showed mercy and grace but it meant doing they had to find a way to restore their relationship with God. The Old Testament shows over and over again of God’s forgiveness or at least mercy. But something needed to change so Jesus was sent so we could be set free.

What does this look like for me personally and how can I apply it. As I think of these stories and read into the scripture and study specific words, I think it helps me to understand what God’s character looks like. What is inhumanly impossible for me is possible for God but because through Jesus, anything is possible (Phil 4:13). He made forgiveness possible. But it means I need to examine my heart when I come before the Lord. When we don’t forgive, it leads to sin. And God hates sin. But he loves when we put out faults and other people’s faults on the altar and give it to him. Matthew 11:30 says, “my yoke is easy and burden is light.” We’re not expected to carry such burdens.

As I think about what debt really means or what it means for someone to owe me, I don’t want that kind of burden. I don’t want to carry unforgiveness around. Satan wants us to drag it around in circles for as long as we can. He laughs when we accept an offense and more so when we seek to throw the dagger back at one another (revenge). My heart thinks about all the bitterness or anger I may hold against someone because of things they’ve done or said and I realize I’m no better than most of the people that Jesus told these stories to. BUT… I can choose to decide carry these things and continue in sin. Or, I can chose to go to God and forgive. Despite knowing that I can’t do it on my own, I need to lay down my pride and let God work. As a result, I can experience the reward of freedom not only freedom for myself but knowing God has forgiven me as well.

Kayla Mueller’s death taught me the value of God’s Kingdom

About a few days ago, I discovered a former classmate, Kayla Mueller, from college had been killed by an airstrike by Syria. But the ISIS was the one who was holding her hostage for ransom money. She was serving the best way she knew how and serving meant being in the front line of the unknown helping people escape war.

If I never felt personally connected or affected by ISIS, although I’ve been affected by the way in the middle east because of my brothers. But this time, it’s hitting close to home. I didn’t really know Kayla, but I remember seeing her around campus and in some classes we had together.

I spent a couple hours weeping in the prayer room, trying to make sense of her death. I found some comfort and peace knowing she was found but I also felt broken. She only wanted to live, and didn’t want to give up. She could have chosen to stay behind in America and just helped women in shelters but she wanted to do more. Things that most people would be terrified of. How could she has been taken and then accidentally killed by an airstrike intended to kill the enemy?

As I prayed about this situation and asking God how to respond, I felt I needed to read Joshua 1:9:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

I can only imagine in the moment of her death when she was fighting for her life and was suddenly taken. But she knew something, she knew God was with her and she had not given up on her faith. These words spoke life over me as I began to feel some sense of peace in my own heart.

God doesn’t want us to live in fear but to know and trust He is with us. Joshua himself was on the front lines fighting but men were afraid to fight and numerous times, Joshua emphasized not to be afraid but to be courageous. Go and fight for what’s rightfully yours. In this case, the ISIS is NOT claiming to take my life, even though they may have taken Kayla’s. But I refuse to live in fear but to be courageous. Why? Because I know my God is with me and I will fight on the front lines if it means bringing His Kingdom here.

Kayla’s death is not in vain. It taught me the value of God’s Kingdom. Let’s fight this battle and not allow Satan to take hold on what is rightfully ours.