Grace Upon Grace: How God Redeemed It All

by Alyssa

Here’s the ugly truth:

I hated myself.

And I wish I could tell you that hatred only lasted a few days, weeks, or even months. But you see, that hatred consumed years of my life. And it was ugly and exhausting.

And here’s what’s even worse: I knew better.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139: 13-14

“You knit me together.” And I knew that. You see, I knew I had been fearfully and wonderfully created by God. And I knew that by hating myself I was essentially telling him that I hated his Creation (and believe me, that made me feel even worse).

So then, why did I hate myself?

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Bloom Where You Are Planted: Why I Admire Joanna Gaines

by Alyssa Kuiken

To say I’m a huge fan of HGTV’s Fixer Upper is probably a bit of an understatement.

If you’re ever looking for me on a Tuesday night at 9pm, you will find me sitting in front of a TV watching the latest episode.

I can’t quite pinpoint one thing in specific that drew me to the show.  Instead, I think it was a combination of things:

  1. Joanna’s eye for design
  2. Chip’s antics and Joanna’s patience
  3. How this husband and wife team truly seems to bring out the best in each other
  4. The love Chip and Jo express, not only for their work and for each other, but also for their four kids

As a result, I’ve been a Joanna Gaines fan since the pilot episode aired. I love watching the transformation that takes place with each renovation Chip and Jo tackle together. I love watching how Joanna thoughtfully decorates/stages each home. And, I love watching for new ideas or tips on how to decorate or fix up my own home.

Here’s the thing, I’m kind of a decorating nerd (for lack of a better word). I love hunting through antique stores for hidden treasures to bring home. I think moving furniture around is fun. And I enjoy the challenge of making a space “pretty.” Basically, I love making a house feel like a home.

So, naturally, when Joanna Gaines wrote a book (along with Chip), I wanted to read it. And I did- twice.

And both times I cried.

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What I’ve learned about LOVE in my first 4 months of marriage

by Alyssa Kuiken

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Okay, here’s my confession: I’ve only been married for FOUR months. So I’m thinking I’m not quite an expert on the subject.

In fact, I know I am absolutely a work in progress when it comes to the role of being a wife. But I also know this, I LOVE being my husband’s wife.

Before I started writing, I sat here listening to the audio CD from our wedding ceremony. In other words, I sat at home in our quaint little apartment sobbing. Don’t ask me why I didn’t sob like that on our wedding day. I think I was too nervous and excited to fully grasp all that was being said. On that beautiful fall day in October, we made a covenant with God and with each other to honor, cherish, and LOVE one another “till death do us part.”

That is not a small commitment. That is a lifelong, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse commitment. A commitment to walk alongside one another “till death do us part.”

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Four months is a short amount of time. But to say I haven’t learned anything about marriage in four months would be a lie.

In fact, when it comes to loving someone, I think I’ve learned more in these four months than I have in the last 27 years of my life.

So I thought I would share just a few (four to be exact- one for each month of marriage) of the lessons I’ve been learning about LOVE through marriage to my sweet husband, Rick.

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