Matthew + Kristin {married four years} :: Centreville, Ala.

Tell us how you two met and when you got married.

Kristin: "We met January 2010 in a history class at The University of Alabama. We dated throughout college, but broke up spring 2012 for two years. We reconnected in May of 2014 right before Matthew was moving to Japan! He flew me out in September, came back and proposed. We got married a week after on January 31, 2015 in a courthouse with just our parents! It was the sweetest, stripped down, most intimate ceremony and so special! He deployed to Afghanistan a few weeks later, and we had a big (second) wedding September 26, 2015 before I moved and joined him in Japan. We lived there for three years and have currently been back in the states living in Chattanooga, TN for a year."

Matthew: "Freshman year Western Civ. She used me for notes and homework help. The arrangement worked so well she decided to marry me."

Four years into marriage with two kids-- is life what you thought it would look like? How is it what you expected or different?

Matthew: "Life has never been what I thought it would be. So far, the good Lord has thwarted every plan I had made up in my mind, and I couldn't be happier with that. My plans have come and gone (lifelong bachelor/grizzled mercenary was my plan right before Kristin and I got married), and I am so glad that none of them came to fruition. I could have never anticipated the gifts I have been given in my wife and children, and I thank God every day for them."

Kristin: "Yes and no. I always knew I wanted to be a wife and mother. There were times when I thought Matthew would be my husband and a season where I thought that was impossible. Matthew has and will always be the best earthly gift I’ve received from God. Our children come VERY close after. He is the perfect picture of grace and Christ’s redeeming love. We also said we wanted to wait to have children for five years after marriage, but one day Matthew looked at me and said he wanted a baby-- so that changed! We lost our first baby, and it broke our heart, but it solidified our desire to have lots of babies. I never thought I’d be driving a minivan, staying home with two kids 13 months apart right now, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way. (OBSESSED WITH MY MINIVAN YALL!) We’ve been across the world and back again, gone through a combat deployment, many mini deployments and time apart, lost a child, birthed two, career changes, back to school— and we have felt God’s hand through it all. I’m just really grateful that I am not the author of my story because even though there is hurt, grief, and ugliness in our story— the beauty we have experienced is far better than anything I could have imagined up for myself."

Is there any lesson you feel you are learning in this season of life? 

Matthew: "All the lessons. The most trying one is definitely patience. I have zen like patience now compared to pre-children me, and I still have a long way to go in anticipation of having a teenage daughter."

Kristin: "The beauty and blessing of authentic, faith driven community. We received really good advice from a couple from our church in Japan who we really looked to as mentors. They raised six incredible boys, lived all over the world, and it was an honor to learn from them in marriage, parenthood and faith. They told us that where ever you are-- immediately join a Bible believing church in your community and pour into it. That is the first thing we did. Knowing we wanted to attend a PCA church, we went to the one in our neighborhood (St. Elmo Presbyterian Church) and never looked back. It has blessed us tremendously through Bible studies, small group, current youth leaders, and being discipled by our pastor. We have felt SO loved on by our church community. 

In that same regard, a community of moms is VITAL. Being a mom of little ones is hard, and can feel lonely and isolating if you let it. Get out of your house. Find your people that you can do life with in PJs, with spit up on your shirt and three-day old make up. Those people that will encourage you through the four-month sleep regression, toddler tantrums/discipline and love your babies like their own. The ones that point you to Jesus when you feel weak. They come to your house and hold your newborn so you can shower and bring Chick-fil-a. They give you hand-me-downs from their kids! They don’t judge your choices in motherhood because we all know we are just doing the best we can. When husbands are out of town, they become your support, and you help each other get to nap times and bedtimes together. It REALLY takes a village, so seek out your village and USE IT!"

What does your family enjoy doing together?

Matthew: "Eating and taking walks. Also listening to Praise Baby (TM) on repeat."

Kristin: "Anything outside! We love going to Matthew’s family land (where these pictures were taken), going on walks/hikes, taking the kids to the playground, playing in our backyard or front porch. Honestly, as cheesy as it sounds, we truly just love intentional time together no matter where it is!"

What's advice you give to someone engaged and planning their wedding?

Matthew: "For the guy (I'll stay in my lane), say 'yes' to everything. Pick a few things you want in the wedding (keep it simple), so that you seem engaged, and don't take it personally when they get denied. Just roll with everything while constantly nodding your head North and South."

Kristin: "As much time you feel like you have to prepare for the 'wedding,' make sure you are also preparing for the marriage. A wedding is a day-- a marriage is a lifetime. Make sure you are establishing a firm foundation. Marriage isn’t and shouldn’t be built on the foundation of a beautiful wedding-- it should be founded on Jesus. It’s not wrong to want a special day to celebrate your love for one another, but try to remember what it is about. Seek Christ first in every season."

What's advice you'd give to newly married couples in their first year of marriage?
Kristin: "Say 'yes.' Don’t be afraid to jump out of your comfort zone. Those are the things that will strengthen you as a couple. Best thing I ever did was say yes to moving to Japan. Was it scary? Yes, absolutely. But it really strengthened our marriage. It helped us not baby step into marriage-- we jumped in full on and it has blessed us. Also, find your community. Nothing has enriched us more than being involved in a Bible teaching church. Seek wisdom from older couples who are actively pursuing each other and Jesus. Trials will come, you need support from people that will push you to each other and Jesus! We are currently going through  discipleship/counseling with our pastor studying Sonship together, and it has been the right kind of 'hurts so good' in a season of craziness with these littles!"

Matthew: "The wedding advice still applies. Only this time, it applies to the new house, dinner plans, basically everything. Happy wife = happy life."