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Dear Mushka,

Q&A on Adoption, Christian Marriage & Walking Through Grief

Every month or so we answer some of your questions! I don’t feel wise or deserving enough to share with you, but we’re honored to have you share these insights into our lives. And always remembering, we’re imperfect and completely in need of Jesus. 

This weekend, my Dad got remarried, 10 years after my mother’s death (you can watch the highlight called “My Mamma” here). The wedding was a little weird due to Covid, but the Lord truly brought beauty from ashes and we’re so grateful. The boys did great too.

Have we experienced any adoption hardships or unexpected difficulties?

The short answer is absolutely. You just can’t know until you’re in it. 

In fact, one moment happened at the wedding this weekend. As we were getting our boys ready, an older couple I grew up knowing saw us in the parking lot. This couple loudly asked “Are your boys real brothers?” (If you haven’t adopted, I know how easy these questions are to ask. It’s another example of not knowing until you know.) 

Family friends who heard answered “no” (meaning not biological brothers) and then corrected to “yes” (understanding that adoption makes them 100% “real” brothers).

Then the couple continued, asking where we “got them” and how long we’ve “had them” - a lot of questions that aren’t appropriate in a non-intimate conversation. This isn’t small talk - this is heavy and personal.

Please don’t ask these kinds of questions in front of children. It can be really harmful and shows a lack of understanding of the gospel of adoption! We are 100% God’s children through adoption. Praise God! 

Our kids have heard these questions often and it sparks good and necessary conversation, but it’s still hard!

I wish I’d said, “They are as much brothers as we are children of God.” I always have a great answer after the fact, but the Holy Spirit leads and we can rest in that. It’s never graceful or easy. We’re learning as we go.

The point is, this is something that was unexpectedly hard. It’s harder outside the home (for us) than inside. Inside our walls, conversations are beautiful and hearts are receptive. Outside our home, we have a lot to explain (especially as we adopted trans-racially). We get a lot of stares. It’s lonely, but God is always present.

Do We Do Bible Studies Together?

I get this question all the time. We don’t. 

I wonder where this pressure comes from. Why do we as women feel we should be sitting together with our husband every morning opening the same Bible passage together, reading the same devotion? There is nothing wrong with studying God’s Word together in a formal setting, but it isn’t mandated in Scripture. It also isn’t more holy than studying God’s Word apart from your spouse.

We study and read separately and freely share with one another. I don’t think we’ve ever done the same study. We learn and process differently. And truthfully I think we’re also too competitive for this - I think I’d turn it into a debate about who made the best point.

I’d encourage you to take the pressure off! If you want to do Bible studies together, bring the idea to your spouse and go for it, but it’s not a necessity.

Thoughts on Matthew 22 and No Marriage In Heaven?

Robert used to feel really sad at this concept. He says he had an underdeveloped theology of union with Christ. He felt like he’d be alone in Heaven. 

It’s really hard to understand what we’ll have in Christ when we’re face to face with Him! Everything you love about your spouse (being loved and seen and cared for) will be the ever present reality in Heaven. Marriage will find its fulfilment in Christ. We gain what an earthly marriage was created to point us towards. 

When Robert’s in his “abandonment issues” headspace, it feels scary and sad. He doesn’t want to do anything without me (other than Bible studies)!

But that’s when he’s thinking about Heaven as a loss to earthly things rather than a gain of Godly things. My encouragement would be looking toward that union with Christ and what oneness with Christ will mean in Heaven, and in that you’ll have such joy.

I think the concept goes into parenthood, too. The idea of not being a family unit with my children is weird. It will be SO MUCH better, whatever happens, but it’s hard to imagine. Our greatest longing will be satisfied in Christ, the righteous and pure versions of those longings. 

How to trust God in the waiting (for a spouse, children, job, health, etc.)?

Trusting God always comes back to knowing his attributes well enough, meditating on God’s character as the foundation and Him being bigger than our circumstances.

We have a product coming soon for this because it’s so important. I want God to become greater and greater in my own heart and mind. I want the things of Earth to grow dim in the light of His glory and grace. We study who He is in the Bible and see how He has shown His faithfulness time and time again. 

The Old Testament is full of examples of the Israelites marking God’s faithfulness (via an alter, feast, etc) with the purpose of even their children knowing and remembering who He is. We can claim His character in our own life. We’re grafted into Israel and all God’s promises find their yes and amen in Jesus. 

We have an all knowing and all powerful God. Tim Keller says that if we knew what God knew, we’d ask for exactly what He’s given us. 

Romans 8:28 reminds us that He’s going to work it all together for good. He can’t do anything else. The waiting is less about “having the wrong thing” and more about wondering “why it’s the right thing for this moment”.

What are we most excited about for the future of our family?

We’re praying about the idea of a fourth child. We’re often asked how we’ll know when our family is done growing. I think we just pray and ask for guidance. 

I feel like I’m at max capacity right now, and also that someone is missing. I’m not sure what will happen, but I know God will provide exactly what we need. 

I’m trying to just enjoy these moments. I”ve been thinking about what Phylicia Masonheimer says: “Don’t plan for seasons you aren’t in.”

How do we handle holiday decisions with our family (Like Santa and Halloween)?

We looked at examples around us, grateful for older and wiser friends! Santa felt like a “no” for both of us right away. We didn’t think he would draw our children’s (or our own) hearts to Jesus. We both remember feeling disappointed on Christmas morning because it was about gifts. Satan/sin is sneaky!

We aren’t "anti-Santa” - our boys know the story and not to ruin it for others, but we want the holiday to stay about Jesus without competition.

We’ve been on the same page about most holidays, which I’m grateful for. The Holy Spirit has led us similarly.

For Halloween, we celebrate the celebratable parts of it. We talk about the history of Halloween. We enjoy being with friends and candy and the fall weather. 

Not everyone agrees with us here and that’s okay! I think the Spirit leads us differently. We  talk about lightness and darkness and what the world may believe versus what Christians believe. We have a hands open approach. Every year I bring it to God and ask for guidance as I grow and mature.

We trust that He will redeem all the zillion ways we fail as parents. And we watch the reactions of our kids - they’re built differently and may need different responses to holidays. 

What was the most helpful to me from Robert as he helped me walk through the death of my mom?

I didn’t grieve, really, until this year. I shoved a lot down. I celebrated her Heavenly healing instead of also experiencing sadness. I’m working on it. What he did really well was help me grieve when I was ready - even 10 years later - to cry, talk it out, go to counselling, whatever I needed.

How do you walk through grief together?

Everyone grieves so differently. Communicate as best you can. Be compassionate, love each other, be attentive and listen. Don’t treat emotional wounds like they’re radically different to physical wounds. 

Robert would feed and bathe me if necessary for a physical wound or illness. For emotional wounds, be washed and fed by the Word - help one another experience God’s words if they can’t on their own due to sorrow. Pray scripture over them, read scripture to them, and play worshipful music. 

Thoughts on loving opposite-sex friends?

View the person as someone made in the image of God instead of means to an end. The more immature and younger you are, the more difficult this can be. With wisdom, this view can definitely be achieved.

Opposite-sex friends can also be brothers and sisters in Christ. Seeing people in that light really helps us love one another appropriately. Handle with Care by Lori Ferguson handles this issue really well.

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September Q&A with Robert and Katie

Welcome to our September Q&A where we try to answer some of your questions about marriage, family and walking with the Lord.  We clearly aren’t experts on any of these topics, mostly we’re just real people who love relating to you! You can watch the Instagram highlight here!

How did you prepare your relationship for children?

We did a marriage counselling tune up specifically about children. We wanted to address a few things in our marriage and we just did about three sessions. Other than that, we read some books and said, “I love you - we’re in this together!”

What are your favorite practices for setting the tone in your home?

Robert has decided to be the “chief repenter” in our home. He sets the example for everyone. When we make mistakes, we apologize and we try to make it right. 

Also, we have some sayings or phrases that we frequently say. Robert likes to ask in teachable moments, “What is everyone worthy of?” and the boys have been taught that it’s “dignity, honor and respect.” We also use the catechism answers along with scripture to guide and teach. We frequently remind our boy of how and why we love them.

I like to use the phrase “Telling the truth makes it better, telling a lie makes it worse” for dealing with little moments where one of the kids may not be telling the truth. 

Every family settles into phrases that naturally come out. We’ve never had a “what is our family about” meeting; we’ve just tried things out and course-corrected along the way. We’ll add to this as our kids get older. Certain principles and ideas that matter to you will set the tone for what matters to your family.

What is something about marriage you’ve changed your mind on after getting hitched?

I theoretically knew marriage wasn’t about me, but 10 years in, I feel that in my bones. Marriage is a chief way I’m being sanctified. It’s a regular opportunity to serve someone else and display the beauty of Christ and the church.

Robert’s view of male headship has changed a little during our marriage. If we can’t agree on something, it’s an indicator that we shouldn't do anything yet. This approach has really helped us! He values my opinion and wants to arrive at a decision we both agree on, being led by the Holy Spirit. 

If you were going to have a different business (not jewelry), what would it be?

Robert would like to be a landscape architect! (I didn’t know this about him!) I’d have a cut flower business. Looks like we’re a match in a dream world too! 

For real, he’d have a business assistant company, helping new business owners get their business off the ground. He’s such a champion of other people’s ideas.

I think I’d be a life coach or an author. 

How did you take time to talk and learn about each during the busy time of engagement and working?

You just have to do it! Life doesn’t slow down. You have to prioritize.

I recently heard this analogy about juggling glass and plastic balls. Balls will always have to fall, but you have to keep the glass ones in the air. A marriage is a glass ball. You might have to drop a plastic work ball to hold the glass. 

The Bible story of Martha and Mary is a helpful story. Entering into a covenant relationship with someone else is more important than your job. We can all only pour out what has been poured into us. We’ll experience burnout if we don’t have other people pouring into us. In a marriage relationship, your spouse should be one of those people.

Advice for when your life gets hard and your faith is shaken?

The Puritans had a phrase that said, “Pray until you pray.”

We would advise the same: worship until you worship, believe until you believe. You just make a decision to stick to your faith and ride out the valley of shadow.

Try this illustration: Someone was setting off on a plane. They went through a storm full of clouds and rain and then got above it all to the glorious sun. Of course, the sun was always there, but they needed to get through the storm to see it.

You need community for this. Make sure you’re a part of a local church or body of believers. I re-read books of the Bible until the message sinks in. We just trust that God is not going to leave us, that He uses suffering and sorrow in a beautiful way. 

There are also times when we’re working for future fruit. Right now at home, we’re working in my literal flower garden. There’s nothing in my garden beds, but we’re working the soil for the fruit that will be coming in a few months time. We still do the work now! Even when you don’t feel like the Lord is near, stay in the Word, memorize the verses - the fruit will come.

What would be your advice for someone struggling with assurance of salvation?

Robert lived this for many years. He re-dedicated his life so many times as a child. Assurance comes from the Holy Spirit as you feel the kindness of the Lord calling you to repentance. 

There are times when you don’t feel it! In those seasons, call the Lord up on His promises - to never leave you or forsake you - to honor His promise that whoever has been placed in His hand, no one will take them out. Rely and count on these promises. Ask the Holy Spirit to make Himself known to you. 

We have to trust the Lord to do the work He said He did. 

I think that using the word ‘feel’ can be misleading. Salvation isn’t always an experience and we can put too much weight on needing to ‘feel’ it. 

I wish I could sit down with you to hear your why. Do you feel like you’re not good enough to earn salvation? Are you falling back into a sin pattern?  My encouragement for you is to meet with someone you trust to walk this out together. 

Tips for baby proofing your home?

Put locks on all the dangerous cupboards! We try to keep our home kid-friendly. We don’t have a ton of breakable items. We also set boundaries on what’s okay to touch and not touch. We let our kids touch the shiny new thing and then their interest wanes. Sometimes we say “no touch” and enforce that. Our kids don’t need allowance for all areas. There’s no need for them to play in the fireplace, the litter box, the stove or Robert’s office. The children need boundaries, but don’t make your house unlivable. It’s made to be lived in.

How do you show respect to your spouse?

We had an example today: I could have handled a situation myself in a way that Robert wouldn’t love OR I could ask for prayer to help respect him here even if his way was different to what I’d do. 

Robert is aware of how he treats me in front of our boys. We don’t mind having an argument in front of our kids, but we try to demonstrate patience, respect, kindness and repentance.  Our body language also demonstrates respect. We treat others the way we want to be treated and we love one another. Respect is a natural outcome of seeing someone else made in God’s image. 

Thoughts on date night!

Robert thinks people put too much pressure on date nights - like it’s the thing that makes or breaks your marriage. If you’re living your week in such a way that date night is the only time to connect, your week is the problem, not your date night. Admittedly, he works from home and we connect daily - we’re privileged! Ultimately, we’d recommend you to figure out a way to make your week more enjoyable. 

Also, Robert doesn’t need a lot as far as needing to try out the newest restaurant or the latest adventure. He isn’t longing for that on a date night. We get takeout every Tuesday and eat it after our kids go to bed. We’re intentional with our few hours in the evening together. We try to schedule a date night out once a month alone and once a month with another couple (this is my date night of choice). We do dinner, errands, and then home before it’s too late so we can enjoy some relaxation time at home. 

Maybe this just sets the bar a little lower. The point is to love one another. Find time for one another at home on a daily basis. And we try to teach our kids to respect the times when mommy and daddy need to talk.

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Q&A on Christian Relationships and Marriage

We haven’t done one of these for a while, but we’re looking forward to catching up with some of your questions today! These are frequently asked questions by our followers on Instagram wanting to know more about our views on family, parenting and Christian marriage. Watch the Instagram highlight here.

How do you pray when you feel irritable towards your kids or spouse?

I pray honestly and ask the Holy Spirit for help. Another way is to change the prayer to focus on the issue at hand. It’s helpful to jot specific issues down on a post-it note to clear some brain space.

Remember that God doesn’t respond to us with irritation! Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with His fruits (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) towards your kids and spouse.

Book recommendations for someone living out their last days of terminal cancer:

Tim Keller’s book on suffering: Walking with God through Pain and SufferingI’d also recommend to immerse yourself in the Scripture; the Psalms especially.

What are your Enneagram Numbers?

I am a 9WI and Robert is a 6W7. We’ve found the enneagram to be a very helpful tool in our marriage and lives.

What is the best thing you did to prepare for marriage?

We didn’t prepare a lot! We were 21 and 22, right out of college. It’s proof of the Holy Spirit’s guidance that we made it. We did minimal premarital counselling; my mom died right after we married and we had that sudden trauma to deal with too. I don’t have a ton of answers, but I have hope! God doesn't leave you alone. 

“...He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” - Phil 1:6

Together we’re growing in Him. We believe that people don’t fall out of love, they fall out of repentance. I was really bad at apologizing in our first years of marriage, something I’m working on! 

Books and counselling are great, but seeking first the Kingdom of God is most important. Walking faithfully with the Lord is the best way to prepare for marriage. Also, find someone who is passionate about knowing the Lord and serving Him. The rest will come.

How do you deal with a dry or hard season in marriage?

I’d say to remember that hard seasons are part of a long term marriage.  Dry and hard seasons come especially if you’re basing them on your feelings; you might have newborns and you’re exhausted or you’re just working through a really tough time. Just hang on!

Unmet expectations can cause a hard season. Take the opportunity to press into that hard season and ask if you’re being selfish or if there’s an unmet need you haven’t communicated to your spouse without inviting them in and asking for help. 

Remember that it’s the kindness of the Lord that leads to repentance and the kindness of a spouse that leads there too. Don't shame your spouse into it!

Our favorite verse or passage of Scripture:

The beauty of Scripture is that it’s one whole story that is interconnected. I love passages of Scripture that deal with placing your hope in God alone. I tend to go awry in that area - I put my hope in our marriage, how my home looks, how my children behave. I always need the reminder that peace and joy and hope will always come from God alone.

Robert is drawn to the prophets and Leviticus at the moment, to see God’s heart for justice and peace. Life ought not be the way it is now! We look toward the time when these things won’t exist, butGod does not like them now. 

What denomination of church do we belong to?

I grew up in the Church of Christ, Robert grew up Southern Baptist. Our current church is non-denomination. We love churches that love Jesus and one another and preach the Bible. 

How do you connect as a couple when the only time you have is after kid’s bedtime?

We’re home together most of the time so we connect all day long, but we are intentional about it after bedtime. We frequently just sit and talk together. If we watch a show, we watch ones that allow us to dialogue during it. 

Choose not to zone out in front of the TV together. Put your phones away. Ask each other questions. 

Book recommendations for people new to the Bible:

The Gospel of John

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin - it’s an excellent read for men and women both.

Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung

New believers who didn’t grow up in the church - grab a children’s Bible! 

What’s one ‘shoot for the stars’ goal for Dear Mushka?

I love to shoot for the stars, but I’m so content in Dear Mushka where it is. It doesn’t feel overwhelming and that’s a great goal for right now. We could always do more, but right now we’re serving the Lord faithfully and not destroying our family or other things in life. 

We want to continue serving you and pointing you to the Lord in different ways. There are so many options to deepen and broaden this community. The next thing I want to work on is more video content to share gospel encouragement and truth through each jewelry piece. Wearing jewelry is nice but talking about Jesus and sharing our stories that combine with His goodness is where it’s at! I want us to practice sharing the hope we have.

Do you think God punishes sin or just allows the natural consequences of it?

We’re keeping the answer focused on believers!

Our debts were paid on the cross, but He does discipline us which is meant to lead us towards repentance and sanctification. He disciplines with love, not wrath. There are also natural consequences of sin, but God uses those to bring us closer to Him.

How do you mindfully combat hurry in lives and marriage?

Robert and I have different levels of desired productivity and uncomfortable “hurry”. It’s good to acknowledge this in your marriage! Being hurried out the door is hard for me. We say no to a lot and prioritize time for what matters most.

Find a few passages of Scripture to help battle this if needed. Keep a Sabbath day in your home! Remember that God gives rest to His beloved. Our hustle is never going to accomplish it all.

How did you come to know the Lord and how did that lead you to marry each other?

We both grew up in Christian homes and met in a college ministry. Robert was actually saved in college after realizing that he knew all the right answers, but didn’t have a changed and repentant heart.

Tips on how to fight well:

Touching each other while fighting makes me uncomfortable, but some people love it! Remember the goal isn’t to win, it’s to reconcile. Robert can win any debate. He knows this and has to stay aware of our common goal. Be calm, patient, give one another time to process.

I take a while to process and speak with clarity and kindness. 

Fighting well is fighting on each other’s terms. Your call is to serve the Lord and love your spouse. We’re on each other’s team! The goal is to love one another as we love ourselves and glorify the Lord. I pray for this weekly and for a tongue that only speaks uplifting, encouraging words.

We’re both passionate, but God has grown us so much. 

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Q&A with Katie on Motherhood

Join me for a virtual coffee date as we chat about motherhood, finding balance and glorifying God! Watch the live chat here on the Dear Mushka Instagram stories.

Q: How do you balance time reading with the craziness of life?

A: My goal is to read an hour a day outside of Bible reading. Fulfilling this goal sometimes means missing out on a TV show in the evening, but it’s worth it!

Q: What is the importance of following Jesus as a mother and wife?

A: To be honest, I don’t know how women are wives and mothers without Jesus. Every day I find myself praying for strength and wisdom, praising God that my sins of anger and impatience are forgiven. Keeping my eyes on Jesus is a constant reminder to offer my children lasting hope instead of worldly hope. 

Q: Share tips on balancing and maintaining energy for marriage, motherhood and work

A: I think that sometimes we try to get more done in our day than God wants us to have done. It’s important to fuel and care for our bodies - getting enough sleep and eating properly. If God has called us to do something, let’s make sure we’re fueling ourselves. Also, are we taking the time to pray? Don’t rely on your own strength!

Q: What’s your favorite podcast?

A: I have almost zero time right now to listen to podcasts. There are so many awesome ones, but Young House Love’s podcast is my favorite at the moment. I’ve followed their family for years and I really enjoy listening to it. In other less busy seasons of my life, I’ve preferred more serious podcasts.

Q: Talk to us about self care as Christians.

A: The topic of self care comes up a lot. Ultimately my answer is that we need to remember that we were ‘bought with a price’, 1 Corinthians 6:20. Our bodies are not our own; our goal is to glorify God with our bodies, to honor Him and serve His kingdom. 

If you’re coming out of a trauma situation, then the goal needs to be to get healthy, to heal, to go to counselling, to put in the work to recover in that area.

Self care in day to day life circles back to the question on maintaining energy as we go about our lives. We need to fuel and care for our bodies so that we have the energy and strength to do His work and to glorify Him in all that we do.

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Q&A: A Few of Katie's Favorite Things

I’m answering some of your frequently asked questions from where I got my nose ring to a list of my favorite books! I’ve added plenty of links for you to find everything you’re looking for

Which Bible do you use? 

I use the ESV Reformation Study Bible, Condensed Edition. Find it here! I’ve used it for over 10 years. There is another great version here called the ESV Study Bible.

Where did you get your nose ring? 

I first ordered a sample pack from here and once I knew my size, asked her to make me a 7mm one!

Where did you get your white chair cover?

My quiet time chair is covered with a king-sized Swiss Dot coverlet. You could find one at https://www.countrydoor.com/ or just google ‘swiss dot coverlet’ for other options.

Where did you get the art on the wall behind your chair? 

It’s from an artist named Elizabeth Mayville. I purchased the art from Etsy here although you may be able to find it in other places. I chose four of her bun prints. I loved that the girls are all kind of different and arranged them to be looking at each other as though they’re having a conversation. They’ve been really inspirational to me. 

Where is your Apple Watch band from? 

It’s currently unavailable, but this one here is pretty close. Less than $15!

How do I change my order, billing or address when shopping at Dear Mushka? 

I don’t handle any customer service, but you’re welcome to email hello@dearmushka.com and somebody will get back to you soon!

Can I leave a note for someone on my order? 

Yes! Write it in the box on the View Cart screen and we’ll add it to a cute card. A more proper note box is on our to-do list!

For more about my garden, watch this highlight or follow my personal Instagram @dearmushkaroots.

For anyone interested in our home decor, watch these home tour highlights here and here.

For our adoption story, watch this highlight. We’ve adopted three times domestically.

For those interested in what I’m reading, head on over to my Amazon page. You’ll find my favorite books on motherhood, racial reconciliation and lots more. Continue reading
Answering Your Questions on Business, Marriage and Discipleship

Our kids are watching a show in the kitchen while we do another round of Q&A! I’m Katie, the founder of Dear Mushka and my husband Robert helps me run the company. This month we're discussing all things business, marriage and discipleship. 

Q: What were your jobs pre-Dear Mushka and what was it like to make the jump to being full time in your business?

A: I was a psychology major. I knew I wanted to be married and home with my kids, so I never went beyond my bachelor's degree. I worked at various doctor’s offices until one day I just decided to stop and start Dear Mushka. At the time, Robert was working at Home Depot, so it wasn’t the best financial timing, but God provided! 

Robert was an IT project manager. It took him nearly a year to feel ready to go full time. He wanted it to feel as much like a guarantee as possible. Adjusting to being his own boss was a challenge initially, but now he’s into it! He loves being home, working with me and supporting Dear Mushka. 

Q: Katie, how do you balance work, free time and motherhood?

A: It’s helpful to have a list of priorities. For me to be the best mom, wife and business owner, I need two things: I need time with the Lord in the morning and I need to exercise. I try to make those things happen and then the rest falls in line. 

I work on Mondays and while my boys are napping. Reading and gardening are my favorite hobbies. I do those with the boys around or in the evenings. 

Some days or even seasons are better than others. When my boys were newborns, I didn’t wake up early to be with the Lord or exercise. We survived!

Q: One tip for a newlywed?

A: I was so lonely the first year of our marriage. I gave Robert so much of my time and energy, I didn’t leave room for female friendships. I’d recommend still prioritizing time for yourself and the things you did before you got married.

We both agree that it’s wise to establish new routines and boundaries as a married couple. I swung too far and neglected what made me a healthy wife and person. Communicate and be willing to reevaluate.

Q: How do you like your spouse when they’re unlikeable?

A: Don’t make the foundation of a marriage whether your spouse is likeable or not. The foundation of your marriage is based on deep and abiding love. We can both be pills to live with, but we said vows. Remember that you weren’t likeable when Christ saved you. Use the same eyes to see your spouse. You love them with the eyes of our Lord rather than whether or not they’re meeting your particular needs in that moment.

Q: How did you meet and what were you originally attracted to in each other?

A: We met in college at MTSU. I ‘entrapped’ him to make an ex-boyfriend jealous! Oh, to be 19 again! 

Originally, and still today, I was attracted to Robert because he’s fiery! He was flirty which I didn’t like, but I knew underneath that he was passionate and willing to fight for what he wanted and believed in. I rarely know exactly what I want or think, but Robert always knows. I need that! He’s so intelligent and funny. 

Robert was attracted to my independence and confidence. I didn’t play any of the flirty mind games he was used to with girls. This initially frustrated him, but ultimately encouraged his interest in me. 

I’m so grateful the Lord went before us in the marriage. We were so young and immature.

Q: What are your love languages?

A: We’re so opposite! Robert loves words of affirmation. He can’t get enough of them. I’ve had to learn a lot about this as I don’t need this at all. I pray weekly that God would give me words to heap on Robert! Remember that God is for our marriages. Pray to Him to cover your weaknesses.

I’m a mixture of quality time, acts of service and gifts. Robert likes to spend a zillion dollars on me, but I prefer small, meaningful gifts. Really, I just want to feel known and seen. He’s been making the bed for me, and I feel so loved! 

Q: How do you think and process?

A: Robert never stops thinking. He thinks about everything all the time. 

I’m the opposite! I’m a verbal processor. Something I said at the beginning of a conversation isn’t necessarily what I’ll mean at the end. I don’t process for long and make decisions quickly. 

Q: How do you serve the local church?

A: We’re both on the prayer team. Robert prays at church with people in person and I pray at home over any requests that come in. He’s also a group coach guiding group leaders. Unofficially we’ve started having our church’s residents over on Thursdays to eat dinner and talk. We love it! 

And of course we tithe. That’s part of serving your local church!

Q: What are your favorite date night activities?

A: Robert loves Bonefish Grill or J. Alexander’s! He doesn’t like surprises or unexpected results. He wants to know the food will be great and we can relax and enjoy the evening. 

I love doing something new and fun! We’re really different y’all! We probably do one proper date night a month. It’s usually dinner and walking around a store. Just being somewhere calm is so refreshing. 

We try to do two date weekends away a year. We stay in a hotel locally and that’s when we usually eat at a new restaurant or have an adventure. I’ve learned to try out new experiences with friends and then invite Robert along once I know what to expect. 

Q: Is it normal to feel scared about getting married?

A: Yes! It would be naive not to be afraid to some extent. Marriage is a major life change! It’s hard and it takes a lot of effort. Recognizing the weight of marriage before you enter into it is wise. Feeling extreme anxiety or discomfort though could be the prompting of the Holy Spirit to re-examine your decision. 

Q: Do you have divisions of family labor between husband and wife?

A: Robert is the spider killer and trash remover! 

We came into our marriage assuming our spouse would do what we saw our parents do. This is another conversation you should have before you get married! My dad did so many of the household chores, I expected Robert to do more than he did. We’ve learned to communicate and adapt for what we need in different seasons. Mostly I handle the daily chores and errands and Robert does big or long term tasks like insurance and taxes. I gladly choose sweeping over taxes. 

Q: How do you manage when one person needs more (like in sickness)?

A: Robert has had a few knee surgeries that required me to do more and I’ve had kidney stones. If your spouse needs more, you try to give more. Marriage is not primarily about you and what you get, it’s about reflecting the way that Christ loves and serves the Church. It’s for our companionship and sanctification and for our joy. The more you serve, the more joy you’ll have. 

Currently, the last few weeks have been hard for me. Robert has been good at giving me support. He’ll do bedtime with the boys so I can grab coffee with a friend or walk around a bookstore alone. This has been so life-giving for me! 

The Holy Spirit can give us strength and power to love our people beyond what we feel capable of.

Q: Do you play with your kids or let them play independently?

A: Both! Robert wrestles and kicks around the soccer ball with them. 

A dear friend once told me, “It’s your job to be your child’s mother, not playmate.” I found this freeing. I don’t frequently play around on the ground with our little ones. I read or do puzzles with them. I also encourage them to play together independently.

Q: What should male leadership in the home look like?

A: The apostle Paul tells husbands that they are the head of the family as Christ is the head of the Church. The model is based on sacrificial love, not overbearing patriarchy. Christ died for the Church. He laid aside his rights, powers and privileges. Follow His example in the leadership of your family. Be the first to repent, apologize and seek reconciliation. Biblical male leadership isn’t a dictatorship. Demanding certain actions isn’t Biblical leadership. Robert is great at this (all glory to God). I’m able to thrive because he creates an atmosphere for us to flourish in. 

Robert describes male leadership as being like a snow plough. You’re clearing the way for your family’s journey, making it easier, safer and guided. This doesn’t mean Robert is always the first to pray or initiate conversations about God. But he’s created a place where it’s safe for me to do so.

We love answering these questions each month and getting to know you all better! Follow us on Instagram to watch our daily stories for more. 

For adoption questions, see my adoption highlight here! It has tons of info!

For parenting with natural consequences, see my discipline highlight. You can also read my blog on my Go-To Parenting Books

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Q & A with Robert and Katie 1/16/20

Welcome to another monthly Q&A with my husband, Robert. He’s worked with Dear Mushka for a number of years now. You’ll also find him on @yourennegramcoach. To watch the Instagram highlight for this month's Q&A, click here

Q:  How can singles prepare for marriage?

A:  If you feel that the Lord has called you for marriage, first get your spiritual house in order. Marriage isn’t going to fix your sins. In fact, it acts like a magnifying glass! Use your singlehood to work with the Lord on any issues, childhood trauma or sin. 

God needs to be your priority, even in marriage. If you’ve made marriage an idol, you’ll put an unfair burden on your spouse. 

Also, read a book or two about marriage. This helps us rehearse God’s plan for marriage. It’s not to find your soul mate or happiness. To really understand the purpose and plan behind marriage, I suggest books like The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller, You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan, and Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel by Ray Ortlund.

Q:  Any advice for an engagement period? 

A:  The purpose of the engagement time should be to plan for a marriage, not a wedding day. Go to counselling and spend this time preparing yourself to hold to your vows. 

Q:  Any advice for the first year of marriage?

A:  Set good boundaries regarding work, family, hobbies, and friends. The Word is clear: you need to leave and cleave to your spouse. Your relationship with them should have priority. 

I’d also say it’s never too early to go to counselling. Even maintenance counselling is excellent just to talk through issues with a mediator present. 

Start early keeping your husband or wife’s name “safe” on your tongue. Speak only positively about your spouse. Respect your partner and let others see that. Remember, we shouldn’t be an expert in our partner’s sins, but rather an expert in their strengths, their God-given glory and their most honourable traits. 

Q:  Do we spend time together in prayer and Bible study?

A:  We pray together daily, but it isn’t scheduled or structured. We’re quick to grab one another's hands to pray spontaneously in different situations. But we study the Bible in different ways, and we’re interested by different readings. 

I used to really want to study the Bible together. I probably nagged Robert to join me in a scheduled devotion/prayer time, but it was too forced. Ultimately I learned that we don’t necessarily have to do these things together. What’s important is that Christ is exalted in our marriage and our home. Our goal is to “Glorify the Lord with me, let’s exalt his name together.” 

We don’t have to be opening our Bible together at the same time. We’d still like to work towards a family devotion time, but not necessarily a scheduled one between the two of us. 

Q:  Are we always on the same page about big life decisions like parenting, business and home?

A:  Almost never! Robert is very black and white while I’m very grey! We do a lot of talking. I remind him that there are other perspectives to consider. He reminds me that we should be definite about certain things. 

There are two main views on Christian marriage. Egalitarianism is the belief that men and women maintain interchangeable roles in the family and the church. 

Complementarianism is more traditional. It says that men and women are equal in value but there are distinct roles. Men follow Christ as the head of the Church. 

We’d call ourself soft complementarians. It’s okay for me to disagree, talk issues out and we work together. But ultimately, Robert is the “head” of our family. I trust him!

So as a summary, we often absolutely disagree on how to parent, spend money, or run our business. We’ve found it helpful to have areas that one of us is generally in charge of. For example, parenting is largely my area of expertise. 

We can and do talk about issues. If we can’t agree, the final decision lands on Robert. And honestly, it’s a lot of weight to carry. I’m glad he carries it and not me!

Q:  Theology book recommendations?

A:  Practical Theology for Women by Wendy Horger Alsup. It’s a really short basic book that makes big elaborate concepts easy to understand. 

Robert suggests Jen Wilkin’s books. His favorite is None Like Him. I’ve read and love all her books. She’s so sharp and clear! She also has great Bible studies. 

Robert also recommends John Stott, J. I. Packer and A. W. Tozer. Mere Christianity by CS Lewis is an excellent but challenging read. 

Q:  What does discipling men look like for you, Robert?

A:  For some reason, men aren’t as comfortable as women signing up for discipling groups. Our pride becomes involved and it’s hard for us to admit we don’t know how to do things. 

Discipling tends to be relational for men. For me, that’s meant meeting with a group of guys for coffee or breakfast on a weekly basis to build trust and relationships. In that environment,  men feel comfortable to ask questions. 

I’m also a groups leader coach and I try to help men get to know each other on a deeper level. We need to be ready to ask deeper or better questions. Don’t focus on work all the time. I like to ask questions like, “How’s your wife?” or “Are you being a better father or worker or husband?”

Also setting aside a time and place and inviting men to come has worked well, too. Sometimes that’s one on one time, group discussions, or a quiet Bible reading.

Q:  How do you stay intimate with little ones in the family?

A:  I recommend the Coffee + Crumbs podcast series. They interviewed a Christian sex expert. It was really helpful. 

Robert says that scheduling it can help! If you leave it up to feeling good or feeling in the mood, it’s probably not going to happen. What’s important is to create an environment of openness and safety where you can talk about intimacy without shame, guilt or fear. 

This circles back to what you do during singleness and engagement will follow you into your marriage. 

Q:  How does a woman encourage her husband to go deeper in his relationship with God?

A:  Deep and fervent prayer is the most important thing. The Holy Spirit is the One who draws us into relationship in the beginning and all the way through. Nagging and brow beating just won’t work. 

You, your church, and your environment can set a good positive example. Continue to be an example of the fruit of righteousness to him. 

It’s okay for you to be the one who initiates ideas like, “Are you interested in reading through this Bible plan with me this year?” The man doesn’t have to be the one who comes up with all the ideas. It just might not be his skill! So bring it up if you feel led, but be genuine! 

The Lord showed me that prayer is the only way to change hearts. He wants us to relinquish control and trust Him.

Marriage Books: 

The Meaning of Marriage

You and Me Forever

Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel 

Theology Books: 

Practical Theology for Women

None Like Him

Podcasts:

Coffee & Crumbs on Sex Part 1 and Part 2

Risen Motherhood on "How Can Mom Support Dad Spiritually

For more on Christian marriage and parenting, follow our daily Instagram stories here.  

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