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3 Lessons in Celebration of 3 Years with J

malia Lynn 3 year anniversary

first look malia Lynn

first look before ceremony

first look malia Lynn

first look malia lynn

3 year anniversary malia Lynn

Coming up this month, on June 13, is our third wedding anniversary. Last year, I celebrated on the blog by sharing a very personal post (linked here) of our dating history, talking about why it’s worth it to wait. For this year’s anniversary, I wanted to get personal again by sharing 3 lessons of communication that have made our relationship stronger (what better time than when people expect you to be extra sappy, and actually tolerate it? It’s all about that strategy my friends. Ha!).

Granted, at 3 years, we are hardly experts – but honestly, I don’t think anyone ever is, regardless of the amount of time they’ve been together. Either way, the formula is the same: The daily (and sometimes hourly) choice to love the other person and to not only extend grace but to seek grace from them when you aren’t necessarily being your most lovable self. 

Throughout the last three years, J and I have been through much more than either of us expected on this bright and wonderful day. Most of these experiences have been more than great, like bringing home Toby, trips together, and seeing growth in the Lord within one another. Others have unfortunately been a bit more difficult – the strain caused by law school was a very heavy burden on our household in a number of ways; interference from toxic relationships (everyone has at least one of these people in life, right?! I will happily trade ours for your crazy uncle 😉 ); and a few deaths of loved ones have all weighed pretty heavily on our little family, sometimes all at once. I’m not sharing these parts of the less than joyful side of our marriage in the hopes of getting sympathy, as it isn’t needed. As hard as these moments – sometimes over the span of many months – have been, they’ve also solidified us as a couple much more than any “happy” season ever could.

I thought I trusted Justin with my life on the day we got married, but looking back, I know I was still holding onto the idea of controlling what my life would ideally be like with him in it. Whereas today, I wholeheartedly trust him with my entire person; past, present, future, ugly, pretty, smart, dumb, whole, and broken. He is such a gift that I still wonder why God chose me to be his wife. That doesn’t mean that we always communicate perfectly with one another or that we have a “perfect” marriage. We still and will have days when we both want to bite each other’s heads off. There’s just no such thing as a perfect marriage when there’s a pairing of two imperfect people. But y’all, grace abounds from this man. Throughout these last three years, he has and continues to teach me so much about forgiveness, kindness, and joy.  

As we celebrate three years married and embark on our fourth year, I am definitely going to be focusing on these 3 lessons of communication that we have learned and worked on together. I love these, because they can be used in literally any relationship, at any stage:

1. Be Intentional

Spending time together sometimes needs to planned, and when it is, be present. Put the phones away and focus on the other person. Being intentional also applies to the words you speak. You have the ability to choose what you say to someone, so choose wisely. The freedom to be vulnerable in relationships is so important, and it’s much more difficult to repair trust than it is to destroy it through thoughtless words or actions.

2. Be Honest

You know what happens when you bottle things up for too long? You explode. Not only that, but you aren’t giving the other person a chance to fix it or even know what is bothering you. (Tim Keller discusses this very concept much more eloquently in The Meaning of Marriage – which I highly recommend!) You may think you’re being the bigger person by not saying anything, but usually you’re just setting yourself up for an unnecessary meltdown. When you choose to share what’s going on, be intentional with what you say and how you say it. You’re on the same team. This also means being honest with your own heart and mind. Did you just catch yourself using a not-so-nice tone? Don’t wait for the other person to say something about it for you to own it and apologize. Be accountable and honest with you. 

3. Be Quiet

I know this is an ironic one to follow the “Be Honest” tip, but just roll with it. Sometimes when venting, the other person doesn’t want advice. It can be hard to resist the urge to jump in and start explaining all the ways they can fix the issue. But, as much as we want to help our spouses and loved ones, sometimes what they need more in that moment is just for someone to listen. If you really think you know the answer to what is causing their angst, then when they are finished, ask if they want you to speak into it. Most of the time, that answer will probably be yes, but if it isn’t, be willing and ready to respect their wishes.


Thank you for celebrating with us by taking the time to read this post. We love and appreciate all of you more than you know! If you are interested in reading more about what I’ve learned from Lesson #2, I’ve included the links to the original book as well as its study guide companion below:



xoxo, M










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Blog, Faith, Marriage, Relationships

Why You’re Worth the Wait

NORDSTROM - Vacation Style Destination

In a little over a month, J and I will be celebrating two years of marriage. (Yes, yes, still babies to those who have been married for 10+ years with/without children – disclaimer duly noted) Yet, this upcoming anniversary has had me reflecting more and more on the ever-prevalent question of whether the wait for something “serious” is really worth it.

In a world where DM’s on social media, bad tinder dates, and even worse blind dates seem to run rampant – it’s increasingly difficult to hear things like “Don’t settle” or “Real love is worth the wait.” Well, while I will gladly be the first to admit that I am no relationship or love expert by any means, I hope you’ll allow me to add my voice into the chaotic choir with some personal background on my own marriage that will hopefully provide encouragement to you – no matter what stage of life and/or relationship you are presently experiencing.

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Y’all. This man. Every single day I am more humbled by how he continues to choose me and love me no matter what the season has brought us. The longer we are married, the more clearly I can see how God works through him to strengthen my faith and improve my character. Our journey has not been without its challenges, and we will surely have many more in the future, but facing those unknowns with him put my otherwise anxious-self totally and completely at peace.

Ironically, from the very beginning, of knowing him, I was so ridiculously scared of developing a relationship with J because I knew very early on that he was different. That something was different. This man didn’t play games. He didn’t manipulate my feelings or back out of a “coffee” date not date thing (what even are those, honestly?!). He didn’t pretend to be someone he was not just because “church-culture” said he should show up wearing chaco’s while drinking counterculture coffee with  a moleskin notebook in hand.

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No, instead, Justin was so respectfully direct, honest, and consistent. I could be unbelievably open and real with him, fully sharing everything about myself for the first time in a romantic relationship ever. Completely vulnerable yet completely loved. Sounds wonderful to the point it’s almost magical, right? It was.

So it may surprise you that while all of this was happening, I was simultaneously thinking “Oh no, God. No. No. No. I’m not ready for this. I know I’ve been praying for ‘the one’ and I’ve also been asking to meet and know who ‘the one’ is HA but I was really thinking more along the lines of around 28 maybe even 32 years old, not 21. I can’t. I’m not ready.” Y’all, I panicked. Really and truly panicked. So much so that in spite of this honest heart-knowledge I had of who Justin was and who he was going to be in my life – I gave into fear.

In September of 2014 I broke up with him. Never in my life would I have expected the way my heart responded to this – instead of the wave of relief I was hoping to have from removing the “stress” of such a serious relationship on my plate, relentless waves of THIS WAS NOT THE RIGHT DECISION crashed into and over me – to the point where I thought I would drown from them, barely an hour after having “the final talk” with him.

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As someone who is rarely “emotional” – this strong reaction furthered my fear. Like WOAH NOW hold on a second here, all the stress from senior year at Carolina must have really done me in! I’m supposed to be this steady, ultra-reasonable person. Why am I feeling like the entire world is crashing down? That’s so melodramatic and not even close to what is the norm for me. I remember calling my mom bawling from pure confusion combined with the mess of it – trying to understand – trying to grasp why the logical explanation was no where to be found. I was the one who broke it off so why am I suddenly feeling so broken? UGH MORE IRONIC DRAMA THAT I TOTALLY HATE.

I can’t even express how incredibly well she handled this phone call. She listened with patience limiting her own opinions, instead allowing Truth to enter the conversation. There was neither judgment nor selfishness when she spoke to me. Through my mom’s loving support, I was provided with such peace, comfort, and clarity. I sincerely hope that one day, I will be as wise and unselfish as she has been, is, and continues to be for our family.

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After listening to my gurgled jarb of what happened, all my mom said was, “Do you feel any peace with what you did? Any at all? It’s natural for these things to be painful, but I need you to search yourself. Do you feel any bit of peace?” I paused. I searched my heart for anything other than the twisted storm inside me. “No. Mom, I feel like I’m drowning.” And all she responded with was, “Well, you need to call him now. Hopefully it isn’t too late, and hopefully he’s still in Chapel Hill.”

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So I did, hoping he hadn’t already left town and praying he would even answer my call. Little did I know that during this something, or rather, someOne, had made it clear to him that I too was worth the wait. I was worth the heartbreaking confusion, and I was worth the unimaginable patience that it took to sit in Chapel Hill and resist hopping in the car to begin the 2 1/2 hour drive back to Boone. SomeOne told him to be still.

Justin answered my call on the third ring. (Here’s yet another fault of mine I’ll publicly air on the internet, but let’s be real for a hot minute: Had the roles been reversed, that phone call would have been ignored faster than you could’ve blinked. See, here’s the thing: J doesn’t struggle with pride when it comes to grudges from being hurt like I have and still do at times. So the outcome was thankfully very different here.)

And y’all, until the day I die I will never forget how J responded, it was one of the most ultimate displays of grace he could have possibly given me in that moment. The first thing he did when he walked through the door was hug me. What had already been broken inside of me shattered in that moment. I couldn’t even get the words out to apologize, all I could think was, “God, not only am I not ready for this, but I am so not deserving of this kind of love. Holy cow I am so not deserving of this unfailing and steadfast love.”

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… fast forward to now, over 3 years later and I am still not deserving of this kind of forgiving, grace-filled love J chooses to give to me day in and day out. But man oh man, am I ever so immeasurably grateful for the heart and character of this man that God chose for me.

It’s a double-edged sword though, because, at the same time, I completely understand the apathy and cynicism related to the current state of dating. I seriously get it. The repeated, pacifying sayings, I know sound cliche, and I know y’all are so sick of hearing the same “Sunday School” answers – I thought the same thing for years. However, I hope you grant me this moment to share with you that a man who reflects how Jesus loves you in the way he himself chooses to love you… Well. He is absolutely worth the wait. No matter how painful, complicated, or confusing that wait or journey may be. He is so worth it.

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MOST IMPORTANTLY though, you need to know that you are too. God has an incredible plan for you and your life – no matter who you may or may not see running the race beside you right now.

You have not been forgotten. You are loved. You are known. You are valued beyond measure. You are worth being pursued & you are worth the wait. 

Whether you are currently seeing these truths through the actions of another person, or having to trust them on your own for now, their significance holds strong and true.

Christ chose you, and continues to choose you time and time again. You are worthy and you are beautiful. I pray that you come to see and be reminded of these truths in all circumstances and stages of this life. I pray that you come to know – if you don’t already – that you have already been chosen, and you, my friend, are absolutely worth the wait.



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7 Essential Wedding Planning Tips

wedding planning

You’re engaged! Congratulations! It’s supposed to be the happiest time of your life, right? Oh I know what you’re thinking… If by happiest do I mean the most stressful? Hmm, maybe 🙂  But I hope not! Remember these seven easy tips and kick all that extra stress to the curb!

1. Let’s begin! First and foremost, this is not your day.

Eek, yes, you did just read that, but hear me out…Although you have been told your entire life by the media, scary reality shows zoomed in on insane brides, and every wedding advertiser on the planet that this is your day and only yours, it simply isn’t. Weddings are about much more than the bride’s favorite flowers – they’re a celebration of a major covenant made between two people which is supported AND shared by their friends and family. Honor those other people too and don’t use this time in your life as an excuse to steamroll over every other family member or friend simply because it’s “your day.” Now, if there is a random or small detail that is actually very important to you, be honest and go for it. Just don’t hurt your relationships in the process.

2. The wedding day is exactly that, just a day. 

I was told time and time again in the days leading up to our wedding to expect at least one thing to go wrong on that day. It seems like a negative-nancy perspective to have, but ironically it brought so much freedom to how I felt waking up that morning. I chipped my french manicure on my ring finger (the only one that matters for photographs) about ten minutes after waking up, and I died laughing. If that was the worst thing that was going to happen to me that day, I was totally cool with it. The thing is, the wedding day is just a day. An awesome day, but it’s the marriage itself that matters the most.

3. Practice your hair. Practice your makeup. AND have a backup.

Whether you’re doing your own makeup/hair, or someone else is, practice! Take pictures, see what it looks like with the dress and the veil. If you are trying out different looks with a makeup artist or hair stylist, be honest about what you are comfortable with and what you aren’t. Also, if you are not doing your own hair and makeup, have a backup plan should your stylist/artist be unavailable the day of. Life happens, and people unfortunately get sick at the worst times, so avoid the potential breakdown and have a backup on call should the need arise! (Click here to find out why I chose to do my own.)

4. Give everyone in the bridal party the SPECIFIC times/places you want them to be, multiple times and in multiple formats.

Our bridal party was awesome when it came to listening and knowing where to be, but many of my friends have unfortunately not had the same level of luck. Send out the times over text, on Facebook, in an email, in person, through other people, whatever! As long as the times have been clearly laid out in multiple ways, there’s no reason why they won’t be able to be where they need to when they need to. However, if they aren’t, go back to Tip # 2!

5. Don’t wait to write the thank you notes.

For real. These notes add up quick, which is a major blessing, BUT if you wait, you will not be a happy camper. After each shower, event, special package arrives at your home, write those notes! After the wedding you will be so grateful to have 100 instead of 500 to write.

6. Utilize the Amazon wishlist for your registry 

This is something I wish we had done in addition to the standard ones. Amazon allows you to combine multiple items from multiple sites into one wish list. Convenient, easy, and fun. Plus, you can make the purchased items hidden if you don’t want to ruin the surprise for yourself.

7. Keep all the main people coordinated: Videographer, photographer, cook, planner, director, etc.

Last but certainly not least, if you are hiring multiple people, make sure they are aware! Especially when it comes to your videographer and photographer, as they are both creative services that will to a certain extent be capturing the exact same moments. Communication is key to allow both of them to do their things without overstepping one another.

You’re going to have a beautiful day, just breathe and enjoy every moment!




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Top 5 Reasons to Do Your Own Hair and Makeup for Your Wedding

Hey y’all, welcome back! Today I decided to share why I chose to do my own hair and makeup for my wedding, because I think in the wedding bliss (and frenzy) brides can often feel pressured into overspending and making quick decisions for the sake of the day and sometimes end up with a look that is totally different than what they had imagined for themselves. Before we get started, this list is with the assumption that: A. You are confident in your abilities to create the look you want, and B. This is something would provide stress-relief, not additional anxiety.

  1. Time for Yourself & Your Bridesmaids | No matter what your big day’s itinerary is like, time to yourself to decompress, breathe it all in, or simply just take a minute to calm the nerves, is very limited. In growing and learning more about my personality, I have found that I am an outgoing-introvert; which for me means that although I love getting to know people and going to events, extended social interactions can be very draining. Some people thrive off of others’ energy. Although I totally wish I could be, I am simply not one of those people. In knowing that, and preparing to be one of the main focuses of over three-hundred peoples’ attentions, I had to stay super chill the morning of our 3 p.m. wedding. I did my makeup alone at my house before joining my bridesmaids at our church to finish my hair. It was such a fun way to kick off a day full of celebrations with the people I love the most. Reflecting back on how relaxing it was to go through this routine and truly soak in the start of the day, I am so glad I chose to do my own hair and makeup. 
  2. One Less Person to Coordinate | As I mentioned in this postunforeseen things do come up, and unfortunately people seem to always get sick or lost at the worst times. Between coordinating the wedding party, your own family, your spouse’s family, and all of the other event dealers (caterers, musicians, dj, photographer, etc.) there are already quite a lot of variables at play. Hair and makeup is such an easy one to take out of the mix.
  3. No One Else Knows You Better | Before I decided to do my own, I was adamant about having someone else do it and take what I thought would be a stressful factor off of me. My mom and I went to four different hair salons (a lot, I know..), and tested out two makeup artists. Even with sharing pictures beforehand, the look I had pictured wasn’t happening, and the style would become limp and fall within the following hour. No one knows your hair or your vision of what you want it to look like better than you do.  If, after testing it out a few times, you still aren’t seeing what you’re trying to describe, take an hour or so out of your afternoon one day and see what you can do. You very well might surprise yourself.
  4. Big Budget Saver | Aside from the costs of the day-of services, trial runs can be pretty pricey too. For the majority of the salons I tried out, the bridal trial run fee was between $55 and $75. If the outcome isn’t what you’re picturing and you keep attempting it with other stylists, those initial fees can add up surprisingly fast, and you haven’t even gotten to the big day yet.
  5. Flexibility | Since the trial run fees can get pretty steep, most brides end up only having that one session with their artists before the wedding. But what if you change your mind a few weeks before, or even that morning? Of course, stylists and artists can adjust, but the possibility of a last minute change of mind that they haven’t had the chance to do with you reopens the potential issue in Reason #3. Whereas if you’re doing your own, the complications from changes are minimized.  Not feeling the shimmery eye you’ve been doing, and want to go for a light smokey instead? Do it girl. Want to wear your hair down instead of up? No biggie, you’ve practiced other options, and you know what works for you.

No matter what you choose to do, be confident in your decision and know you are beautiful inside and out!







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