Because He Wasn't The One...

My husband, as much as I love him, wasn't "The One" when I married him.

This week, my dad pointed me to Matt Walsh's blog titled "My Marriage Wasn't Meant to Be" (it is a great read if you have a few minutes!) I have heard similar discussions about soul mates or lack thereof and it got me thinking...

I agree with Matt, if we believe in soul mates or The One, we give up our belief in choice. If I believe that Josh is my soul mate, the only man who could ever make me happy, the missing piece to my love puzzle, then I also accept that I had to marry him - there was no other option!

For the record, I do not believe this. I am also not diminishing my marriage or how much I admire, respect and love my husband - instead, by choosing Josh I think it adds value to our relationship. Each of us could have easily chosen another to marry, to commit our lives to, but instead, we chose each other! I do not take for granted that Josh willingly came into our marriage, knowing full well that it would be hard. Marriage is no joke, folks! And I am not always good at it, but I am thankful for a husband who still sees past my mistakes and mess, who still wants to choose me!

I love what Matt Walsh says in that blog -
 "I didn’t marry my wife because she’s The One, she’s The One because I married her... I didn’t marry her because I was “meant to be with her,” I married her because that was my choice, and it was her choice, and the Sacrament of marriage is that choice. I married her because I love her — I chose to love her — and I chose to live the rest of my life in service to her."
My husband wasn't The One but he is now - every day we make the choice to love each other, to remain married, and this choice has several consequences. Consequences that I did not fully understand when I took a new last name, but that I now cherish and want to be reminded of often.

Because he wasn't The One...

Falling out of love isn't an excuse.

When you don't fall into love, you can't fall out of love. However, this doesn't mean that every day I still feel all those butterflies or the mushy gushy love I felt holding his hands at the altar. There are days when the dirty socks sprinkled around the house drive me nuts, days when I can't stand how easy it is for him to get out of bed happy in the mornings while I am not a functioning human being until mid-morning or a cup of coffee. There are arguments, misunderstandings and sometimes even tears, but that does not give me an excuse to give up on our marriage - I made a choice!

I don't have to worry about "The One."

Since I am not The One for Josh, I don't have to worry about him finding his One! I by no means expect him to be the perfect husband, but if I have faith in him, our marriage and his commitment (and I do!), then other women are not a threat to our marriage. He chose me, meaning he will also not choose others - his One will not come around and push me out of the picture. This also means that there is no room to regret my decision to marry Josh. Sure there were probably days he examined his choice and moments where I doubted if he was the perfect man for me, but I would make that same choice over and over again, every single day. My mind is made up, my spouse chosen, and I do not have a sense of dread hanging over my head wondering if I chose right, if someone else would have been better. I am with the best and after August 1, there have been doubts!

My marriage is a reflection of how Christ loves us.
"This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:32-33
If Paul is telling us that we must love and respect our spouses, then that also must mean that there will be times when you won't want to - why would he write something that was a given, that was automatic? By telling us to love and respect, he is acknowledging our choice. Most importantly, it is because of this choice that Paul can talk about Christ and the church while discussing marriage. Christ had a choice, which is why his death on the cross is so powerful! It was not an obligation or duty that held him on the cross, that kept the stone in place for 3 days - it was love. By choosing to love one another, to submit, respect and serve your spouse, you are also choosing to show a small piece of Christ's love for us. What a powerful testimony, one that I would definitely not give up for my "soul mate."

So, Joshua Stephen, thank you for choosing me. As I said on August 1, I promise to love and to honor you today, tomorrow and every day that follows. 

January 15, 2015

A Year in Pictures

You could say that 2014 was a big year, a great year! Words alone cannot do this year justice...

I got to spend the first week of 2014 with my best friend in MALIBU,

finished my 4-year Sing Song career as an owl,

went to my last Siggie formal,

graduated from ACU,

and moved away from my very best friends and roommates.

I was immensely blessed by showers of love and encouragement,

started my new job for Teen Lifeline,

changed my last name...

by marrying my best friend!

We got to honeymoon in beautiful Hawaii,

moved into a new home,

got a precious puppy (named Bennett),

froze at friday night football games,

visited Mickey and Minnie in Disney World,

and rode the Hogwarts Express at Universal Studios!

Finally, we spent our first holiday season together!

Like I said, 2014 was a big year and I cannot wait to see what the Lord brings in 2015 - though I am secretly hoping that this next year will be a little less exciting...

January 12, 2015

Life Lived Better

Graduation. A wedding. Marriage. An AWESOME new job.

Life is full of exciting twists and turns, and during this time of transition, I am honored to partner with Teen Lifeline, Inc. in a Communications role. This opportunity is definitely a God-thing as it allows me to continue my passion for working with teenagers, especially those who are often overlooked, and it also lets me use my education background and skill-set in planning, organizing, writing, editing and interacting with people. 

For those of you who do not know what Teen Lifeline is, let me enlighten you! Teen Lifeline is a non-profit organization who seeks out teens in crisis where they are, in the schools. Through support groups and monthly meetings for teen parents, Teen Lifeline is doing things that many churches are not able to do because of their unique relationship with the area schools. 

I cannot say enough good things about this non-profit that has had a huge impact on my life since I was in High School. I am thankful for the opportunity to reach teenagers who are struggling and have no where else to turn. I am excited to see where the Lord takes Teen Lifeline and who he is able to reach through the work that they are doing. 

I firmly believe that every interaction, every conversation that we have with others is a link in their chain. We don't know what links have already been in place or what links will be added in the future, but kingdom work asks us to do our part during that specific time and let the Lord take care of the rest. Teen Lifeline may not be the link that completely changes a teenager's life; they will probably not be the link that completely stops bad decisions, self-doubt and questioning; however, in my eyes, that shouldn't be the goal in the first place. Teen Lifeline does an excellent job of meeting teens where they are, bringing up questions and introducing resources that can help a teen see a different path. It is an avenue for conversation without judgement, help without a catch and biblical truth without a sermon. We get to help teenagers see the characteristics, relationships and resources they may already have that can change their path. We offer new perspectives, a better attitude or a light bulb moment to help these teenagers feel more equipped to face what is going on in their lives. My prayer is that these links, this foundation, might one day make a life change easier, achieving goals seem more realistic and help these teenagers see that there is a way to live life better. 

Are you a teenager who needs a safe place to talk? Are you unsure of where to turn next?
Teen Lifeline is for you.

Are you passionate about helping teens but can't find the opportunity to get into their schools? 
Teen Lifeline is for you.

Are you looking for a cause to partner with through prayer or giving?
Teen Lifeline is for you.

Teen Lifeline encourages, equips and empowers teenagers to LIVE LIFE BETTER.

October 7, 2014

Being a Bigger Picture Bride

One of the things I have learned while planning a wedding is that it is easy to get so caught up in myself, my plans and the wedding that other things take a backseat, and people expect that!

Everyone's first question is, "How is wedding planning going? Are you ready for the big day?" I know that people mean well and I truly appreciate their questions and support; however, I am reaching the point where, in order to keep my sanity, I have to believe that there is a bigger purpose behind all of this (besides just throwing a great wedding).

I am by no means a perfect bride-to-be, I get stressed and I am sometimes overly dramatic. I am picky about some things and on others I have no opinion. I have been selfish and demanding at times, but through this whole season, I have tried my very best to keep the big picture in mind. For those who are curious, this is how I have chosen to view my upcoming wedding:

        1.  We should be spending more time preparing for our marriage than the wedding. 

Weddings are fun, they are a time to celebrate love with friends and family. As much time as we put into the big day, it is just that - one day. A special day that should not be overlooked, but what is the point of that day if you are not prepared for the days that follow?

Please do not misunderstand and hear me say that I am completely prepared for marriage, I am nowhere close! However, I have tried my best to not let wedding details overshadow my relationship with Josh. I have daily committed to praying for our marriage and we have done our best to still make time for dates and quality time amidst all the craziness.

        2.  We are richly blessed by friends, family and the encouragement we have received.

I am under no impression that Josh and I's families could have planned and carried out this wedding without prayers and gifts of time, resources and help. We have received help on almost every aspect of this wedding including: invitations, programs, food, flowers, decorations and bridesmaid gifts. I have been blown away by the generosity of others!

Other than help with the wedding, we have also been blessed by showers, gifts and sweet messages of love and support. I have said several times to myself or Josh, "All of these people are here just for us, because they love us!" How often can you look around a full room and say that? When I focus on the blessings we are receiving from others who are equally as busy, it is incredibly humbling and makes planning a wedding seem less lonely and overwhelming!

        3.  We are a representation of Christ to all who come in contact with us or our wedding.

Mitch Wilburn gave an excellent message on finding our specific commission on Sunday, and I have been thinking about how we can use our wedding for that purpose ever since. How can we use the few hours with our guests to further the kingdom of God, the biggest picture of all?

My prayer for August 1 is that the Lord will speak in mighty ways to our friends and family who need a reminder of His great love for them. I pray that as they see the way Josh looks at me as I walk down the aisle, they will have a small glimpse of the way Christ looks at His bride- the church. I pray that those who are married will be reminded of their commitment and love for each other as they think back on their own wedding day. I pray that non-believers or those who are pulling away from God will see Him shining through us and wonder what is different about our love and commitment.

This is not something that Josh and I can accomplish on our own or because we are the perfect couple (we definitely are not)! But I am boldly asking the Lord to show up at our wedding and use the time and effort we have put into that day to work for HIS will and HIS kingdom, not my own. I pray that I will be able to look past the things that may go wrong on that day and trust that He has a greater purpose for August 1, 2014.

July 23, 2014

I said YES!

Besides just the hustle and bustle of Christmas, this month has been filled with lots of joy and even more planning. On December 4, 2013, my best friend asked me to be his wife and of course the answer was, "YES!" I absolutely cannot wait to become a Duke this upcoming August!

If I am being completely honest, I had been hoping for a proposal most of this semester, and Josh was incredibly patient, putting up with my constant questioning and occasional bad moods when it did not happen on the day I had predicted. I am not always patient and this semester definitely tested that, but I can now admit that it was well worth the wait and I would not have had it any other way. 

On Wednesday, December 4, we had planned to go on an early date before I had to teach my 8th grade class at church. I had already decided not to get my hopes up because I did not want to ruin the date and stayed quite naive throughout the afternoon. When Josh texted that we had to stop by the Diamondback Golf Course on our way to dinner to get a club he had left the previous day, I believed the story without question. I even offered to stay in the car when we got to the course, but he convinced me to come along by pointing out that I had never been on the course before. When we pulled up, he said that he had called the manager earlier and there would be a golf cart waiting for us to drive out to the 5th hole. At this point, I got a little suspicious, but he was so calm and told myself I was being paranoid. The ride out to that hole was filled with laughter and I am still amazed by the peace he exuded during that time. 

As we got close, I saw a purple figure dart onto the fairway in front of us and Josh's calm facade quickly disappeared. At that point, I finally realized what was happening, and he actually gave me permission to start asking all the questions he had refused to answer in the past. (Up until this point, he had even kept when we were getting married a secret from me!) He admitted that we would be having a summer wedding and that he had spoken to my dad in October, without me knowing. When we pulled up to the tee box, he got out of the cart and came back with a Bible that had "Karlie Nikole Duke" engraved on the front. He then read Ephesians 5:25-28,  "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself."  And he said that he promised to live these verses out throughout our marriage. 

FINALLY, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. There are no words to describe my joy in that moment. After over two and a half years of dating, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man. Despite my impatience, Josh knew exactly what he was doing and had the evening planned out perfectly, even having my brother, Colby, and best friend and Maid of Honor, Riley, there to take pictures of the sweet moment.

I was giddy, but he made me get in the car to go celebrate with our friends who were waiting at my house. The only regret I had about this day was that our families were not in Abilene to be with us, but as we pulled up to the house, Josh surprised me again by having both of our families come into town for the night. Getting to love on my friends and family made the day absolutely perfect and I would not have traded the squeals of joy or time of prayer for anything. That night, was a very strong reminder that I was not only blessed by Josh, who loved me unconditionally, but we were both blessed by loved ones who have been amazing sources of support and encouragement. 

After saying goodbye to our families, I got to share my joy with my Siggie sisters at my "Pass the Key." The countless PTKs I had witnessed over the past three years did nothing prepare me for the fun that came when I got to yell out, "It's me!!" in front of my closest friends. It finally felt official when Josh put my ring back on my hand and I could tell everyone that I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend.

While the last few weeks have been filled with picking out a dress and looking at flowers and invitations, I am constantly reminded that these next months are not all about a dress or even a wedding (though that part will be super fun!), but it is about preparing for a marriage. Since I was little, I have dreamed about my wedding and prayed for the man that would be standing next to me. What is incredible is that Joshua Stephen Duke is so much more that I could have asked for or imagined. He makes me laugh every single day and is my rock. Because of him, the thing I am most looking forward to is not our wedding on August 1. Instead, I am anxious to begin a life with the man who is my constant support and encouragement, my spiritual leader and best friend. I cannot wait to be his bride, but most importantly, I cannot wait to begin a marriage where Christ is at the center.

I shamelessly ask for prayers as I begin this new journey and am asking the Lord to help me put Josh's needs above my own, to be a godly and encouraging wife, and never take this blessing for granted. With the times of joy and moments of sorrow to come, I am blessed to have such a strong and godly man standing by my side. 

December 24, 2013

One Flight at a Time

I often say (and firmly believe) that there is a reason for everything. The Lord has a plan and even when we cannot see the reasoning yet, he is at work. That is all fine and dandy...until it messes with my trip to Malibu. Needless to say, instead of spending the weekend in the arms of my best friend at Pepperdine, I was surrounded by a tissue graveyard. Not what I was expecting, but instead of beach pictures, I walked away with an incredible lesson in God's faithfulness. 

Meet my beautiful friend, Maclaine. 
Best friends since we were teeny, but separated for the last 4 years since she decided to move to Pepperdine and I chose...Abilene. This weekend, I was finally going to get the chance to visit this sweet friend in Malibu and I could not have been more excited! After my dad took several pictures of me in the airport and I made it safely through security, I settled down at my gate, all ready to make my way to the Golden State. Unfortunately, God had different plans and 5 minutes before I was supposed to board the plane, we got the news that the flight had been canceled due to the shooting at LAX earlier that day. My weekend quickly turned from excitement and sun to slowly walking back through the airport to head home.

The phone calls that followed were not fun. Realizing that my dream of visiting my bestie was going to have to wait was not the way I thought I would be spending my Friday afternoon. However, the Lord is faithful and I was surprised by how quickly I could see his hand on this weekend. Not only am I incredibly thankful that I was not in LAX during the shooting, but as I waited in line to get a refund, I was struck by the fact that I was blessed to be able to go home, unlike the family in front of me with a sobbing toddler who just wanted to be home. Was it inconvenient? Absolutely! But was it the end of the world? Not even close. 

After I left the airport with this newfound peace, I was once again hit over the head with God's grace as I spent most of the weekend miserable, laying on the couch in a sinus nightmare. Instead of a weekend in Malibu, I am left with the hope that there is an even better weekend coming in the Spring! A weekend where there will be no shooting and no sinus infection. Where it will be warm and I will get to spend time catching up with my best friend and meeting her favorite people. I am incredibly grateful for that weekend and I know the Lord was watching out for me this weekend, even when it meant ruining my California fun. 

"In our hearts we plan our course, but the Lord determines our steps."
Proverbs 16:9

November 3, 2013

They say busyness is a choice...

If this is the case, it is a choice I have been making often the past few weeks. Not that this is a bad thing, but looking back, I wish I had chosen to be busy with other things. Have I loved rushing and pledging? Obviously. Do I have to do school work? Unfortunately. But there are plenty of other ways to fill my time when I tell myself I'm "just too busy."

I am beginning to realize that in the craziness of beginning school, starting a new job, rushing and pledging, I failed to focus on the most important things. Looking back, I would have placed more emphasis on reflection time with the Lord and enhancing my relationships. 

What's funny is that I have a feeling that if these things had been my priority, 
I would have felt less stress and more joy. 
I chose busyness and stress. 
I chose to let other things rule my thoughts and time.
But now, I chose life and joy.

it is in Christ we find out who we are and what we are living for.
ephesians 1:11

October 8, 2013