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You're getting married!
Wait ... pause ... let it sink in ... YOU. ARE. GETTING. MARRIED!
As I write this, I am preparing for my wedding. In 352 days, I will say "I do!" to my fiancé, Parker — the man I love with all my heart; the man of my dreams; the one I have prayed for since I was a little girl; the man God created to be my husband. I have imagined what this would be like, and God has far exceeded my hopes and expectations. Every day I get more excited for the love and life that He has prepared for us. It's hard to believe that by the time you read this book, I'll be married — a Mrs.! It happens all the time, but when it happens to you, it's amazing and incredible and once-in-a-lifetime crazy. Hold on, the tears are flowing again — that's been happening a lot lately.
If you're anything like me, you probably have a serious case of "bride brain" right now. Wedding planning and all things bride-to-be are pretty much what you think about — period. The first few weeks after Parker proposed, I was overwhelmed with excitement. Immediately, I started searching the Internet and social media for wedding ideas and tips. I also went to our local bookstore and purchased the best wedding planning guidebook I could find. Please tell me you did the same.
As I write this, I'm finishing my last semester of college, and I often catch myself in class, daydreaming about wedding dresses, the ceremony, our first dance as a married couple, venue decorations, and everything else wedding related. It was hard to even sleep those first few weeks. In fact, I'm two months into our engagement and wedding preparations, and I'm finally starting to sleep at night, but the daydreaming continues.
Your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime gift from God. It is by far one of the most important and exciting (and sometimes a bit stressful) times in your life! So go ahead and rock that bride brain because, before you know it, the big day will be here.
We still have months to go and tons of planning left to do, but here's where we are so far:
We picked our wedding date: January 13, 2018.
Over the last three decades, my mom and dad have developed a lot of important relationships and friendships; therefore, we have a substantial guest list. Finding a wedding/reception venue has been a huge challenge. I'd had my hopes set on a rustic country wedding, but most barns cannot hold the number of people we have on our invite list. You learn early on that compromise is vital when it comes to wedding planning. We've decided where the ceremony will be, but we're still searching for the reception venue.
We've ordered our Save the Date cards.
My maid of honor is none other than my incredible younger sister, Camryn! She's not only my sister and maid of honor, but my best friend. (Love you, Cam!)
And by the way ... you're getting married!
Has it sunk in yet? Do you keep replaying those words in your mind?
While you plan and prepare for your wedding, God is preparing you to be a wife to the man of your dreams, the man He created just for you. God is giving you the desires of your heart; your prayers are being answered — He is always faithful and good!
Of course, I'm getting reminders from my mom too. "Oh my, it just hit me again ... you are getting married!" She's not only the mother of the bride but she's the most important woman in my life. I pray that one day I'm a wife and mother like she is. We're constantly talking about wedding ideas, sending each other pictures of wedding shoes and dresses, coming up with ideas for bridesmaids' gifts, crying together, and laughing at how crazy it is that we're actually planning my wedding. But mostly, we pray. In fact, prayer is the reason you're holding this book in your hands. Prayer has been my lifeline — and it can be yours too!
Yes, you have to plan and do all the amazing things that go along with preparing for a wedding — pick a date, book a venue, create your guest list, send out invitations, choose your bridesmaids, taste test your wedding cake, find a dress, and so much more.
But all of this is secondary to prayer.
Prayer will not only prepare you for your wedding day, it should be the foundation upon which you build a lifetime with your husband. I've been praying for my future husband since I was ten years old. And as I pray for him, I find myself asking God to not only prepare Parker, but to prepare me as well. I know that oftentimes we focus on praying for everything and everyone else. But now is the time to seek the Lord on your own behalf — praying that He will prepare you for your husband.
This book is a lot of things, but mainly and most importantly, it's your personal, bride-to-be prayer guide. We've followed each prayer topic with relevant passages of Scripture that my mom and I have found to be essential and meaningful. After you read the verses, take time to meditate on what God's Word says and how you can apply these amazing truths to your life and marriage.
You'll also find some fun wedding tips that my wedding family (aka the incredible people who are walking alongside me through all of this) and I have learned along the way. I hope these tips not only encourage you and give you ideas, but make you laugh and enjoy every moment of being the bride-to-be.
Bride brain and all, God's got this — and He has immeasurably more than you could ever ask for or imagine planned for you. Are you with me? Let's pray ...
* * *
LOVE THE LORD AND EACH OTHER
* * *
Thank You for the gift of love. We cannot know what love is without You. You are the very definition of love; perfect, holy, unconditional love. The depth and breadth of Your amazing love is limitless. Everything that You are and do is wrapped up in love. Thank You for sending Your one and only Son, Jesus, to display Your love among us. Because of Him, we can love You and love others.
Jesus, You laid down Your life for us so that we can experience Your love and do the same. As husband and wife, please help us to lay down our lives for each other. Help our love, affection, and intimacy grow and strengthen one day at a time, for as long as we live. Please teach ________ to love me the way You love the church — completely, expectantly, unconditionally. It's hard to fathom this kind of love, but in Christ and through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, I know it's possible. Father, help us never forget that marriage involves great sacrifice. Remind us that, just as Your sacrifice was worth it, the sacrifices You call us to make are always worth the price.
Thank You for loving me so perfectly that I can know, experience, and extend real, agape love. Let my love for ________ be a reflection of how much You love him. Please teach me to express my love, not only through words but also through actions and daily decisions. I want my fiancé to know more of Your infinite, unfailing love because, through Christ, I love him the way You love us.
Lord, I pray that when he needs it most, You would remind him how much You love him — and that some of these reminders would come through the way I love him. I believe that the more we grow in our relationship with You, the greater our love for You and each other will be. Father, please help ________ to know You more, and as a result, love You more. Jesus, because of Your love, I pray that he would love me unconditionally and wholeheartedly. Help him to love the way You do, especially when it's hard. Lord, I pray that he would learn more each day how to express his love for me.
Heavenly Father, help us never lose sight of the depth and breadth of Your love. We need only look to the cross and the sacrifice Jesus made to remember the extent of Your love for all humankind. May our love for You and for each other grow daily as You continue to shape us into the image of Christ. You are and must always be our first love. Lord, help us to love You more than we love each other.
As 1 Corinthians 13:4–8 describes, I pray that our love for each other would be patient and kind, not self-seeking, boastful, envious, or easily angered. "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth" (1 Corinthians 13:6). Yes, Lord, keep us from evil and help us to speak the truth in love. God, just as You have forgiven us, please help us to extend forgiveness through love, never keeping record of the wrongs we have done. I pray that, like Your love, our love will always protect, trust, hope, persevere, and never fail.
Ultimately, I pray that our relationship will be an expression and reflection of Your love.
And through our love, let others experience Your love.
In Jesus's name, amen.
* * *
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
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FINDING PURPOSE IN LIFE AND MARRIAGE
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By the breath of Your mouth, You created us and filled our existence with great purpose. Apart from You, our lives have no meaning or purpose — we're just a heartbeat wrapped in flesh, waiting to draw the next breath. Without You we have nothing ... We are nothing. Thank You for giving us everything we need for life and godliness through Your Son, Jesus. He fills our lives with earthly purpose and eternal significance.
Lord, thank You for creating ________ in Your image. Thank You for saving him and grooming him into everything You long for him to be. Father, please help him to never forget that he was made for more; that he was made for You. Earthly success and achievements are different from eternal treasures and rewards, and the pursuit of them produces very different men. ________ Help to seek the eternal over the temporary. Lord, if my fiancé's understanding of Your purpose for his life is unclear, please reveal that to him. Because ultimately, his purpose, my purpose, and our purpose as a married couple is to love You, to love others, and to share the truth of the gospel with the world. What a privilege!
Heavenly Father, I pray that ________ would see the greater purpose for his life unfold through what You've created him to do and be. May he never doubt Your grand design and the specific gifts You have given him to serve You and others. Please give him the confidence and courage to fulfill Your will for his life. Whatever he does, help him to do it for You and Your glory! Protect him from wasting the gifts and talents You have blessed him with. If there are gifts he is unaware of, please reveal them to him that he might bring You glory through them. Help me to encourage my future husband and see him the way You see him, Lord. Reveal to me the gifts You have given him and help me to champion him in those areas of his life.
Lord, I pray that wherever You lead us, we would hear Your voice and follow. Whenever we get discouraged, remind us that Your plans for our life together cannot be thwarted. Help us to know that we are never alone. You walk with us, one step and one breath at a time as we accomplish Your will. Lord, help me to respect, support, and trust my future spouse; help me believe that You have a perfect plan for our lives. Where You lead us, we will follow.
Not only is there divine purpose in our individual lives, but in our marriage as well. Please teach us the greater purpose for our marriage. It's not about us; it's about You. Marriage is about glorifying You and making You and Your great love known. Lord, I pray that when people see us, they get a glimpse of Jesus and the way He loves the church. Marriage is one of the greatest displays of Your love, so help us to honor and respect that in every way. Let us not waver from Your plan for our lives together.
Lord, guard our marriage as You daily motivate us to pursue righteousness and holiness. Please keep our hearts and minds fixed on You, so that we can live out our purpose both as individuals and as one.
In Jesus's name, amen.
* * *
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
* * *
A PRAYERFUL LIFE
* * *
Prayer is amazing! The ability to come and talk to You with my heart wide open, just as I am — it's a treasure beyond measure. Thank You for hearing me and always knowing exactly what I need. Thank You for listening to me and for working everything in my life together for good.
Prayer is a vital part of my life. Preparing my heart through prayer to become a wife gives me confidence that You will walk alongside me through this incredible season. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed because there is so much to pray about. When I feel this way, please remind me that You are sovereign and good. That every day, You are at work preparing me to become one with my husband through the covenant of marriage. Lord, help me to not be anxious; instead, help me to pray about everything and trust You completely.
Lord, our marriage will not survive without prayer. Teach us how to pray and seek You together. Help us passionately pursue Your presence. God, during hard times, please help us not to just pray for our circumstances to change, but to seek to be changed by You in the midst of our circumstances. Lord, shape our prayer life so that we don't just come to You in times of need, but also to thank You, to spend time with You, and to enjoy Your presence.
Father, I am so thankful that You're always listening. Please help us pray according to Your will and believe that an answer is coming in Your perfect timing. When we don't receive the answer we were hoping and praying for, help us to praise You anyway. Lord, Your ways are not our ways; Your thoughts are not our thoughts. Please teach us to trust You, even when we don't understand Your decisions.
Heavenly Father, please help me and ________ to pray consistently together as a married couple. I don't want a single day to go by that we aren't seeking You as one. Lord, give us wisdom and teach us how to pray for each other. Convict our hearts; make us aware of anything in our lives that might hinder our prayers. My heart's desire, Lord, is that my prayers are even more fervent when it comes to praying for my husband. Show me how to come boldly to the throne of grace on his behalf. Give me supernatural insight, so I can pray for him according to Your will about matters that he might not even be aware of. Remind us when we pray that nothing is too hard for You!
Thank You for the gift of prayer. Help me never to lose sight of the tremendous blessing and responsibility it is to pray for my husband.
In Jesus's name, amen.
* * 8
When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. When you come looking for me, you'll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed.
JEREMIAH 29:12–14 MSG
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
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TRUTH AND THE WORD OF GOD
* * *
Thank You for Your Word, the truth that sets us free (John 8:31–32). If we know You and hold fast to Your truth, we can walk in freedom. Thank You, Lord, that in a world filled with lies, You are the truth and have provided a manual for life and godliness, Your Word, the Bible. Your Word is alive; it is living and at work in the lives of all who follow You.
God, I pray that You would renew ________'s mind with the truth of who You are and who he is in You. I pray that he would know the truth and that the truth would set him free to live for You wholeheartedly. Please continue to reveal Yourself to him as he seeks You daily through Your Word. Father, please hide Scripture in his heart so he can know You more, and so that he knows who he is in Christ. Your Word declares that this man, whom I love, is chosen and set apart, a child of the King of kings and Lord of lords. When he forgets, please remind ________ who You created him to be.
Lord, I pray that Your Word alone would be the anchor and foundation for our individual lives and our marriage. May we always use the sword of the Spirit to guard against the fiery arrows of the enemy.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Prayer and Planning for the Big Day"
Copyright © 2018 Jill Kelly and Erin Kelly.
Excerpted by permission of Worthy Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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