Joe & Sarah // Covenant Marriage


Today I have the privileged of introducing you to one of my dear friends & mentors Sarah Sweetman. Its an  honor to get to have her on the blog here today! She has been an encouragement through several stages of my life and all those that know this beauty would probably give me an "amen" when I say how genuine her heart is and how well she  encourages others! She also writes a special blog that you can check out (and follow!) called  A Sweet Life.  Hop on over and check it out.

One of the first things that attracted me to pursuing a friendship with Sarah was how she and Joe related to one another. As I was approaching marriage (when my relationship with Sarah deepened) she played a big role in encouraging, and challenging my heart. Throughout my engagement, marriage and most recently new-mom hood, she's added a lot of perspective, encouragement and the truth. This past year especially, as I got the opportunity to spend more one-on-one time with her, I got a lot of peace about becoming a mom, being a helper to my husband and enjoying this stage of life. Just getting to watch Sarah, her husband and their baby girl is a blessing. Its a privilege to get to feature her today.

Meet Sarah:

Hello! My name is Sarah. I am a wife {of five newlywed years} and a mommy {of one soon-to-be two girls}. But most importantly I am a child of God, redeemed by His son Jesus, in whom I ultimately live life for.

 My husband and I work with The Navigators at The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities; loving, serving, mentoring, and equipping students to grow as followers of Jesus Christ. I spend most of my time in our home, loving and carrying for my little {growing} family. I love the home and anything that goes in it…people, fun thrifty finds, photography, cooking & baking, artsy projects, even cleaning and organization. I blog {when time allows} as an artsy expression in capturing the little glimpses and memories being made in our home, family and life. I’d love for you to visit me –

What first attracted you to your spouse?

Neither Joe nor I know of the first time we met. I like to say “he just showed up on my doorstep”. He really didn't,  but we did meet somewhere in the context of the house I was living in during college. Joe was not on my radar when he came into my life, but apparently I was on his. So in hindsight I would say the first thing that attracted me to Joe was his intentional and respectful pursuit of me. On our first date {which I didn't fully see coming} he was stating his intentions/desires. He stated he wanted to date me, not just to date me but with the intention of asking the Lord if marriage would be his desire for us. This was a prayer answered {that a man would initiate, be serious about dating and be upfront and honest in his intentions of pursuing me} and the first of many ways my heart was captivated toward this “tall, dark and handsome” man!

What have been some of the best parts of being married?

Simply put - just living life together, hand-in-hand.

I remember driving away from our wedding reception asking the question “what now?” I mean we had just spent the last 8 months planning for this one day and now it was over. Don’t get me wrong, our wedding planning was a lot more than just planning for the wedding day; we spent a lot of time discussing and praying over our marriage but in that moment I simply saw Cinderella and her Prince riding off into the sunset to “live happily ever after” and wondering “what does that look like?"

It was my new hubby’s response that I love most because it lead us on our first adventure of living life as husband and wife… stopping at Starbucks for a little “cup of Joe” {in full wedding attire} and then off to find a spot to enjoy our first meal together {a picnic of reception leftovers in a tucked away park with a cute white gazebo}.

Now by far the best parts of just living life together haven’t always been the picture perfect moments of picnics in gazebos. We have had many similar beautiful moments fill our marriage but we also have had many of those painful trial-moments that don’t seem beautiful. But in God’s eyes they are the beautiful tools he uses to grow and shape us more into his image.

To many marriage vows often are just hoops to jump through but to us, looking straight in each other’s eyes and saying “for richer or poor, in sickness or in health, so long as we both shall live” are the life and breath of our marriage {it’s why we chose Hab 3:17-18 as one of our wedding verses} and to me that is what living life together means and what brings me the most joy in being married to my Joe. I wouldn’t trade those hard moments for anything; they are the tools that have deepened our love in God, each other and have grown our marriage the most as we have lived life together.

In the struggling times of your marriage, what were a few key things that kept you going?

Gospel truth found in God’s word {thank you hubby for keeping us centered on Christ}. In the harder moments it has been clinging to verses like Habakkuk 3:17-18, James 1:2-4, Romans 5:2b-5, Ecclesiastes 3:1,11,12,14, John 15:2,5,11, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, and Psalm 16:5-6 that has gotten us through. Key behind all these verses is that God is more concerned about conforming us into the image of his son than just giving us comfort and ease. In the moment this is painful but its good and beautiful when put into the perspective of God’s bigger picture!

What were some surprises you didn't anticipate in marriage?

I had gotten really good at “guarding my heart” in my singleness that when it came to allowing my husband into my heart I was caught off guard. As a single women I strived to keep my heart for God only and now being married and being allowed to bring my husband into this private part of my life was a new thing I wasn't anticipating being so hard. What did it look like to keep God my first love while letting love for Joe in there too? It was so much easier before to keep these two loves separate. No one had warned me of this adjustment and it took a good year to make sense of it and find some beginning answers.

Have you received any advice that has helped shape your marriage significantly?

The best advice that I don’t even remember where we heard it from but is something that has become a frequent phrase we use with each other often is: “believe the best”.

 In the moment {especially those hard moments that you don’t understand why he or she is saying or doing that} you need to remind yourself to simply believe the best. Often the number one reason we have had conflict or differences is because we were interpreting the other through the way we normally think or act; and being that one of us is a man and the other is a woman, well that way of thinking or communicating is not always the same and not always interpreted the same way. So “believing the best” allows us to stop and think “what is he/she trying to say or mean by __”, before we jump to conclusions. When we do this well we avoid a lot of unnecessary conflict, the kind that especially in the first year meant late night conversations that neither of us wished to be in but know must happen before we went to bed.

What little things do you do as a couple that keep your marriage enjoyable?

We prioritize intentional time for each other. It is easy to think you are spending lots of time together but the real question is “Is it quality time?” This has been even more important for us as we are engaged in vocational ministry and now have little kidios in the picture. It is easy to say “yes” to every opportunity that comes our way and it is easy to think because we do a lot of ministry things together that we are spending lots of time together. So we make boundaries to guard both us and family time. 

When we have a healthy work life balance we enjoy a more rich marriage {and family} relationship.
Practically speaking this means we schedule regular date nights and family days into our weekly schedule. This doesn't mean these are the only times we are together but these are times that we intentionally guard from other things creeping in {work tasks, emails, calls…}. We find these little additions in our schedule refreshing!

What advice would you give to a just-married couple?

Ephesians 5 is the real deal! We learned early on in our marriage that if we were experiencing conflict or difficulties in our marriage, it quickly came down to us not expressing our roles of marriage to each other well – husbands loving their wives and wives respecting their husbands. So strive to be experts in living out your role in your marriage.

Delight in the small beginnings. Our first home together as husband and wife was a 560 square foot one bedroom apartment, and lots of our furnishings where given to us or found in thrifty ways {on the side of the road, by dumpsters, on craigslist}. It wasn't like some of the homes our newlywed friends where buying at the time but we loved that home-sweet-home and have loved every other home we have lived in since. Five years later we are still renting but each new home God has brought to us has been the exact blessing we have needed for our little family {without and with kidios}. Starting off small and seeing God’s hand of provision come in time has been beautiful. We have learned a lot about the true values in life and how to find joy/thankfulness in any circumstance because of these small beginnings.

What advice would you give to a couple with young kids?

Seek God and embrace the joy He desires for you in your children. We {mostly me} found the learning curve of a newborn challenging when every resource and everyone seemed to contradict each other in instructing and giving advice in taking care of your new little one. 

It is good to research and ask for help as you embrace figuring out {loving and caring for} this little life but remember that each child is different and ultimately God needs to be your wisdom sounding board. Also God gave you your little one not so-n-so’s little one for a reason and unless you embrace that you will not be able to fully embrace the joy God intends for you in your children.

Remember “this too shall pass”. This is a frequent phrase I speak to myself when I am experiencing a challenging moment or season with my little one. {I am speaking it to myself right now for today has been one of those very off days and hard!} It is easy for me to get caught in the moment and forget the bigger picture of things, aka thinking rationally. I have heard it said “the days are long but the years are short”, and though I haven’t lived many years with kidios I find it to be true. So in the hard moments remember that it will pass and soon you will be looking back. My prayer is that when I look back on these years with little ones I see memories of me maximizing the season {despite how hard}, and I can only do this by looking to God and relying on his strength.

Give Mom a regular time out. I speak from the experience of being a stay-at-home mom here. I have found the need for a little break from the cutie a healthy addition for me and my family routine. Finding alone time is difficult with little ones constantly needing and wanting your attention, not to mention exhausting. But by scheduling in a few hours every week for me to have all to myself I find I am able to embrace my role as a mother {and wife} with more joy. I keep this “mommy time out” intentional, so I don’t fill it with errands but for some good alone time with God. It is amazing how refreshed and joyful I come back to my little one with. 

Husbands, help mommy out on this one. It might mean a sacrifice in your schedule but believe me you too will be benefiting from this act of love toward your wife.

What do you enjoy most about this stage of your marriage?

The adventures of parenting little ones together; I am so thankful to have Joe by my side, and I delight in his leadership in guiding us and keeping us seeking God in raising our children. And it melts my heart seeing the way he loves his little girls and desires to be their Daddy that displays real biblical love to them.

Thank you Sarah for sharing your heart. To keep reading more written by Sarah, like her fun updates on their coming-soon baby girl, fun craft projects and more click here. 

No comments:

Post a Comment