Marriage After God

MAG 10: What's In Your Marriage Tool Belt? - Interview w/ Channing & Jessica Gillespie

Episode Summary

Order Your Copy Of Marriage After God Today! https://Shop.marriageaftergod.com Quote From Marriage After God Book “You and your marriage are no accident! He created both you and your spouse intentionally, with a specific purpose in mind!” Prayer Dear Lord, Thank you for the gift of marriage. Thank you for pouring your thoughtfulness into the way you designed marriage. Thank you for giving us a toolbelt that is unique, so that we can pursue and do all of the things you have for us to do. Please help us to understand everything that is in our toolbelt and show us how we can use it for your glory. We pray we would keep nothing back from you. We pray we would walk humbly with you and with each other. Use us to encourage one another in marriage and affirm the gifts we see in each other. We pray that we would see all of the little and big ways you are inviting us to join you to spread your gospel of love, salvation, and amazing grace. May the testimony of Jesus be the motivation in our hearts to do what we do, all for your glory! In Jesus’ name, amen! READ TRANSCRIPT [Aaron] Hey, we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. [Aaron] And today we're on part 10 of the Marriage After God series, and we're gonna be talking with Channing and Jessica Gillespie about the tool belt God has given us. [Aaron] Welcome to the Marriage After God podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after. [Jennifer] I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] And I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution. [Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade. [Aaron] And so far, we have four young children. [Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media. [Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day. [Jennifer] We believe the Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life. [Aaron] Love. [Jennifer] And power. [Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God. [Jennifer] Together. [Aaron] Thank you for joining us on this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together. [Jennifer] This is Marriage After God. Thank you guys so much for joining us today. We just wanted to take a moment to ask everyone listening to leave a review. This is just a great way to get the message of this podcast out into the world. So, if you could support us in that way, that would be so awesome. It's so easy. All you have to do is scroll down to the bottom and leave a star rating review or comment review. Both really encourage Aaron and I, so thank you to everyone who's already done that. [Aaron] Also, we'd like to invite everyone to pick up a copy of the Marriage After God book. It's our new book Jennifer and I wrote together, and it's the reason we're doing this series. It's the reason this podcast exists, so we'd love for you to get a copy of our new book, Marriage After God. Go to shop.marriageaftergod.com and grab a copy. Thank you everyone for listening. Today we have some Instagram friends of ours, Channing and Jessica Gillespie. Hey, welcome to the show, guys. [Channing] Hey, Aaron, Jen. How you guys doing? [Aaron] We're doing well. [Jennifer] So good. Thank you for being here with us today. We're so excited to have you guys, and we just want you to take a moment and let the listeners know who you are. So maybe how long you guys have been married, how many children you have, and what you do for work. [Channing] Awesome, yeah. Well, my name is Channing Gillespie. This is my wife Jessica. [Jessica] Hi. [Channing] We've been married two years, got married in 2016, October, and we're loving marriage. [Aaron] That's good, right? [Channing] We are high school sweethearts. [Jennifer] Aw. [Channing] So we've been together a long time. We just had four first baby. [Jennifer] Woohoo! [Jessica] She's so cute, she's the best. [Aaron] What's her name? [Channing] Her name is Hadley Kate. We had her in August of this year, so she is five months, and she is the only grandbaby right now and the only niece, and so she is spoiled rotten. But we've enjoyed these past five months as mom and dad. It's a new. [Jessica] It's interesting. [Channing] It's interesting, that's a good word. [Aaron] Yeah, learning to be married and learning to be parents at the same time. [Jessica] Yeah, for real. [Channing] Yes. But yeah, we love it. I am actually on staff at the Church at Grace Park in White House, Tennessee. It's a little bit north of Nashville. I serve as the college pastor there. That's relatively new. We started that ministry back in June of last year, and been going strong with that, and I serve on the worship team at the church also, and I'm a songwriter and am seeking to write songs that point to hope amidst sorrow. That's really where I feel like the Lord's leading me to write songs right now. And so, just kind of seeking after the Lord and looking for new opportunities to do those things, both in ministry and in songwriting ministry and in worship. So that's a little bit about me. Jessica, you wanna go? [Jessica] Yeah, I am a wife and a mom. I got to come home full-time and be with Haddie Kate when she was born in August. [Aaron] Awesome. [Jessica] So I'm really blessed to be able to do that and excited that the Lord provided that, a way for that to happen for me. But I also, I like to create and I love to write. So I started a blog that's called The Good Cottage Wife in 2016, the year we got married. Started that, and so I have that going, and also, I am a consultant with Rodan + Fields. So I help people change their skin and change their lives, and I love it. I wear a few different hats throughout the week, but I love each one, and I love getting to use those in creative ways. [Aaron] Awesome. [Jennifer] That's beautiful. [Aaron] Yeah, I love the diversity in you guys' career paths and also how God's using you. And that's what we wanna talk about today, getting into this idea, but before we get to our main questions, we always start off question an icebreaker question. Are you guys ready for that? [Channing and Jessica] Yes. [Aaron] Okay, all right, here it goes, all right? This is gonna let people know a lot about you guys. What is the most awkward thing you've experienced as parents so far? [Channing] I don't know. We were talking about that this morning a little bit too, of what's some crazy things. I don't know if there's been anything awkward per se yet, but I think you get initiated into parenthood when you get peed on a couple times, so. [Aaron] There you go, yeah. [Channing] I've had that happen too many times. [Aaron] Yeah, I think it's a requirement. [Jessica] I did have, we were at church one Sunday and I was holding her. She wasn't very old, not that she's very old now, but I was holding her, and my hand started getting wet, and I'm like, aw, man, she's peeing on me, and I go to lift her up, and she had pooped on me. [Aaron] Oh, no, right in the middle of church. [Jessica] And it was on my shirt a little bit. I'm trying to wash it off and stuff, and I had brought a change of clothes, but it was in the car instead of her diaper bag. [Aaron] Oh, no. [Jessica] And so, everybody was like, yeah, that'll be the last time you do that. [Aaron] Yeah, poop's infinitely worse than pee. [Jennifer] I was thinking of this question for you guys, and I was thinking about our own experiences, 'cause we have a couple kids. [Aaron] We have four. [Jennifer] Yeah, we have four. [Aaron] We have two couple kids. [Jennifer] But the first thing that comes to my mind was my kind of initiation to motherhood, and that was Elliott was born in November, and I remember it was Christmas Day, and we had stopped at a gas station, and I took him out to nurse him, and somehow, he managed to move beyond all of his clothes and only poop all over me. And I'm like, oh, no, Aaron, we have to stop at Target or something, 'cause we're on our way to my grandparents house. [Aaron] Oh, we had no clothes. [Jennifer] Nobody said you're supposed to have an extra change of clothes. And so everything was closed. I mean, everything was closed, 'cause it's Christmas Day. I ended up having to stop at a relative's house, a cousin that I had that was my same size and I asked her if I could borrow a pair of pants. [Aaron] Oh, I remember this. [Jennifer] Luckily it worked just fine. [Aaron] So pro parent tip, bring a change of clothes for yourselves. [Jennifer] For everyone. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] If someone is in the car with you, if you're traveling, just bring an extra change for everyone. [Channing] Love it. [Aaron] Yeah, a baby go bag, extra pants, shirts, underwear, socks. [Jennifer] Okay, all right, we're gonna move on. [Aaron] All right. [Jennifer] Okay, so we're gonna jump in with a quote. Okay, we're gonna jump in with a quote from Marriage After God, from chapter 10, and it says, "You and your marriage are no accident. "He created both you and your spouse intentionally "with a specific purpose in mind," which, I love this quote, "and it's for every marriage and for everyone." [Aaron] Yeah, the reason we wrote this book is because God's got a mission for all of his people, that we're all a part of his body, that his body's doing something in this world. So our encouragement is just to marriages to recognize that their marriage wasn't an accident, that God's got a plan for it, and he desires us to say yes to him and to offer up our tools and gifts and talents. And so today, we're gonna talk about tools and what that looks like in your life, but also, that everyone listening can ask themselves the same questions, that they can use this conversation we're having today with you guys as a launching pad or as a conversation starter for themselves to be like, oh, what has God given us, and how can we use what God's given us to serve him, to say yes to him? So I hope you're excited about that. [Jessica] Yes. [Aaron] Cool, so the first question we got for you guys is do you believe God brought you two together with a specific purpose in mind? [Channing] Yeah, absolutely. For me specifically, I know even in my pursuit of Jessica, if that doesn't sound creepy. That's not supposed to sound that way. But in seeking the Lord with her, I had always prayed for one girl. Jessica's the only girl that I ever dated, and knowing that just in the back of my mind, I can hear my great-grandmother always saying to me, don't you ever bring a girl into my house that you don't intend on marrying. [Aaron] That's awesome. [Channing] And I really was drawn to that. I really asked the Lord, would you just send me one? And he sent me the best one. [Aaron] Found a good man, Jessica. [Channing] And with that, you know, even when we started dating in high school, I didn't really see the extent of the things that the Lord was gonna do with us. I'm reminded of Psalm 139, that he knew us individually before we were ever thought of, and that while he was knitting us together in the womb, that he had a plan and a purpose, individually, but also together. And we're just seeing even the beginning steps of that in the first two years of marriage. But we know that his plans and his purposes, though, we don't always see them in full, yet we know that they're good and that they're for our good. And so, just being able to walk in the truth that the Lord did bring me a good thing in my wife and knowing that together, whatever that is, whether that's just being a mom and dad to Hadley or if that's college pastors, in this season, we know that he has a purpose for us. [Aaron] Love that. [Channing] You have anything that you can think of? [Jessica] Yeah, I think it's cool that a lot of times, you don't see things for yourself or you don't see things in yourself, and then all of the sudden, God has you in the middle of something, and you're like, never ever did I ever think that this is what it would look like, but it's much better than what you could have conjured up on your own. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jessica] Just an example of that is when we were dating, which, he'll probably go into this deeper a little later, but when we were dating, and we had been dating a while, but he came to me and he was like, I really feel like I'm called to the ministry vocationally, at least right now. I don't know what that looks like. But he said I don't know, I just wanna let you know. I don't know if that changes anything for you. [Aaron] Warning. [Jessica] And not that it was a bad thing or anything, but I was not expecting that. Never did I think, oh, yes, I'm gonna be a minister's wife, and my husband's gonna be on church staff and all that. I just had never thought that. And so when he said that, I was like, oh, my. I'm gonna have to think about this, not that I wouldn't want him to pursue what God wanted for him. But quickly God shut my mouth and cut off my mind of thoughts and fears that came up, just worries of what financially and all the things like that. But he said, don't stifle what I'm trying to do and what I can do through him and through you with him even though it's not something that you ever thought would be a part of your testimony and part of your life. So I think it's cool that, and I know that he did bring us together for such a time as this, for college ministry, for his music, for me to get to be a stay-at-home mom. All of that is part of his plan, and even though it wasn't something and we didn't get to this point that we're at right now the way that I in my feeble mind thought we would, it's been much more filled with joy and fulfilling than I ever thought it could be, and it's because it was God's plan and not ours. [Jennifer] Man, I love the hopefulness that you guys are both sharing. Both of your perspectives are so full of hope, and I just hope that the people listening are encouraged by this, because what I'm hearing is it doesn't matter how long you've been married. It doesn't matter whether you've envisioned your life the way that it is or the way that it will be. We can all have hope in that and trust in what God is doing in our marriages, and I love that. [Aaron] And I also love that you essentially said, you're like, I had a different idea or I didn't know what my idea would be, but I yielded to God's idea instead, and I think that's the key in this pursuit of okay, Lord, what do you want for our marriage, what do you have for it, what have you given these things to us for, is a yielding, is saying yes. Okay, Lord, yes. It doesn't look like how I think, it's not going how I would have manufactured this to go, but we want what you want, and that's what I hear from you guys, and that's awesome. [Jennifer] So in Marriage After God, we talk about this idea of the marriage tool belt, and without giving away too much, because we want everyone to go read it, what do you guys think a marriage tool belt is, and what do you think of when you hear that term and what do you think is in your tool belt? And you guys haven't read the book yet, so this'll be interesting. [Channing] Not yet, not yet. [Jessica] As far as what I think is in our tool belt, definitely some things that are in there are advice that we can draw on from people that have been married much longer than us. I know that I received a ton of advice just from my mom, my grandmother, from women at church who have been married when we were engaged, and it's kind of funny, because sometimes, when you receive advice, it's like, yeah, okay. Well, that might not really apply to us, or I don't see that happening with us. And then you're quickly silenced when you enter that situation. It's kind of like, you don't know what you're getting into until you're in it, not that it's a bad thing or anything. It's just one of those things that, when you get there, you do have to draw on that advice. You're like, oh, they were right. Yeah, that would really help in this situation. So I would say advice, and then also, one thing that I've had to really try to hone in on and remember to do is to learn from our own experiences. Don't make the same mistake twice if you can go back and say, okay, this happened before. What did I do? Okay, that was probably not the right thing to say. That was the wrong moment. How can I make this not happen again, or how can we work through this better, if that makes sense. [Aaron] Yeah, no, I love that. [Jessica] And I would say advice, drawing from your own experiences and learning from them, and then humility and communication, and I know people say communication, yeah, I know that. But willingness to communicate, willingness to converse when there is an issue and just personally, I've had to work on that I know, because I'm the one that, when there's an issue or someone gets upset about something, I don't wanna talk about it right then. Like, leave me alone. Let me process this in my own mind. I don't wanna talk. And that's not the best approach. And so, I have had to learn, like, put down your pride, say you're sorry, and be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. So that, as far as what's in my tool belt, those are some very specific things. [Channing] Yeah, and I would add too of just growing up, thinking about the times that I saw my dad put his tool belt on, which, I don't own a tool belt. I need to probably get one. [Aaron] You're a dad now and a husband. You're supposed to have a tool belt. [Channing] I am. I have tools; I don't have a belt for them. [Aaron] Yeah, I don't have one either, yeah. [Channing] But I thought back to the times that I saw my dad put his tool belt on. It was when he was building something or he was repairing something. And I see that so much in marriage also of what I think the tool belt can be is whether it's building something together in your marriage, whether that's a ministry or just building a family, or there are gonna be times that you have to put the tool belt on because you're gonna have to repair some things in your marriage, and you're gonna have to address things. I think about it much like a house. If you don't attend to certain things in the house, after a while, those things are gonna need attention. And so, there might be times in marriage that Jess and I would have to address an area that would be an issue, or that has caused there to be some problem, but with that tool belt, I agree with Jess on a lot of that being from advice, and we've both been blessed to have parents that have stuck together through thick and thin and have really given us a good model of what marriage should look like and to persevere and endure. There's a lot of endurance in marriage. But with that in our tool belt too, to look at past experience, maybe even things that we've gleaned from our parents' marriages, things that we've learned from them over the years that help shape us in how we relate to one another, how we raise Hadley. I think there's a lot of things that can go into that belt. But those main things, I'm just really reminded of the building and the repairing idea. [Aaron] Yeah, it's almost like you guys have read that book already, and you haven't. The rebuilding and the repairing, those analogies are some of the reasons we bring up this idea of a tool belt, is because the tools are meant for something. They're meant for building and repairing. And the tools that God has given us, and you guys actually mentioned some of them. You mentioned relationships; you said advice. Relationships are part of that tool belt. You talked about your past and your experiences and all of these things that God has given us, and sometimes, we don't recognize them as tools to be used or things that God's given us as gifts in our life, the things that have happened to us in the past, education that we've received and our relationships. These are all things that God's given us that he wants us to use and steward and call on and employ in our life for not only our family's sake, but also for the family of God. So I love that you use those analogies. We were just looking at each other shaking our heads like yeah, this is good. [Jessica] That's awesome. [Aaron] Yeah, and that's our encouragement to those listening, is then recognizing that they may not be able to relate to everything in your story, but what is relatable is that everyone has a tool belt. All the things that you guys just mentioned, the people listening may not have a family like yours that raised you with certain things, but they do have a family, and they were raised a certain way. And whether positive or negative, those are still tools that can be drawn upon, and that leads us into this next question. One of the tools in the tool belt that we discuss in our book is our testimony. And so, that's why I go to this idea of, whether it's negative or positive, all of that plays into the testimony that God's given us of what Jesus has done in our life. And so I wanna ask you guys, you know, what is your testimony? What has Jesus done in your life? How has God drawn you to himself? Let's just talk about that tool for a moment. [Channing] Yeah well, I'll start. I grew up, my dad has been a pastor for pretty much my entire life, so I grew up in a ministry-style home. And so, I have the typical church Sunday school answer in the sense that we were always in church, and mom and dad always had us. When the doors were open, we were there. But for me, I got saved at an early age. My dad actually led me to Christ, just began asking questions when I was young. From that point, I had a good understanding of Jesus died for me and he wants me to come live with him in heaven. That was the extent of my faith as a child. But as I grew up, you begin to understand the depth of the gospel in that as you get older, you start to recognize you've really screwed some things up, and your sin just gets wider and wider, and the gap gets wider and wider. But then you begin to really appreciate and come to know the depth of the love that God has for his people and that he sent Jesus. And so, for me, it really became real to me when I got into high school and where I really began to get serious about my faith that it was more of a relationship when I got into high school with him, and for me, part of my testimony involves a call to the ministry and a running away from that call for a long time. Didn't wanna do ministry, didn't want that life. I grew up in it. Didn't want to be a pastor, but thought I had my own idea of what my life was gonna look, and pursued things that I thought were gonna bring me joy and happiness, and I can remember that Jessica shared a little bit about that conversation with me and her, but before that, I can remember my mom just point blank looking at me and saying, when are you gonna stop running? And a couple days after that, I was at a mens conference at a church in our community, and I can remember just sitting among thousands of other men, and it was like the Lord, it was just me and him in that room. And he said, I want you to stop running. I wanna use you in the ministry. And I accepted that call that night, not begrudgingly, but it was finally a moment in my heart and my life that I saw the picture of what the Lord wanted for my life. Now, he didn't say here's how this is gonna look. It was just a call to his ministry. [Aaron] Yeah, he was looking for a yes. [Channing] So yeah, it was just, okay. And so for me, that's been a big, big part of even my relationship with the Lord in the sense of learning to trust him and learning to depend on him and to submit to him and surrender to him. And so that call came when I was in my early years of college, and as soon as I made that call, all the anxieties of what I was gonna do with my life just started to fade away because I knew that he had already orchestrated and ordained me for that moment and that call. So for me, it's still growing. I count it as a relationship. I'm seeking to know him through his word and through his church and through just study of him. So I've seen my relationship with Jesus grow, even in the past two years of marriage, too, with the rigors and the good times and the bad times through marriage too, of learning how to trust him through it all. So that's what I would say, what about you? [Jessica] Yeah, so I was saved at six years old at a VBS, and just something that everyone knew about me. I was very shy. I'm not an extrovert at all. I really have to make myself come out of my comfort zone, which I know we all have to, but there's probably not an ounce of extrovert in me, naturally. But so I was saved there, and actually, part of it was I had to, I didn't wanna go down by myself. There were plenty of kids going down, 'cause they asked if anybody wanted to come down and receive Jesus into their heart, and I wanted to, but I was too scared to go down by myself. And so I asked somebody to walk down with me. And that, I didn't realize it until later how symbolic that was gonna be in my testimony of who I was and who God created me to be and who he made me to be after I received him. But as far as an intimate relationship with him, I really didn't know what that looked like or what that meant. In sixth or seventh grade, I was at a retreat with our school, and I don't remember who spoke. I don't remember what they said. But I vividly remember being at the altar and thinking, okay, I don't want a hello God, goodbye God relationship with him. I want a deep relationship with him. I want my life to matter. And so that was the moment where I really became intentional about growing that relationship with him and nurturing it, but a big part of my testimony, like I said, was I was shy. I was not willing really to get out of my comfort zone, and then the Lord said to me, it's not about what you have to say or what you can do, but it's about what I'm gonna say through you and what I'm gonna do through you. And he kind of just said, and there's nothing else that I need to say to you. Like what you guys said, you just need to say yes. Just say yes to me, and just do what I ask you to do. It's scary, and sometimes, it's inconvenient. Actually, probably most of the time it's gonna be inconvenient, but you're not who you once were, so you don't need to look like that anymore, and you don't need to be scared. And like a lot of girls do, as I got older, I started struggling with self-esteem issues. I really started to try to hide the fact that I struggled with that, and in a sense, I didn't have an eating disorder, but I started to really abuse exercise in my life and then just didn't eat enough to compensate for that. So I guess you could say I had an eating disorder, but that really became a god in my life. I was riding my bike around the house one day trying to get all that exercise in and make myself feel worthy and feel beautiful, and I remember, it was almost like the Lord stopped me, like I couldn't pedal anymore. And he said, oh, girl, just give it up. Like, you don't need this. All you need is me. I'm more than enough for you. My grace is sufficient for you, and stop going after all these things that you think are gonna make you comfortable, all these things that you think are gonna make you feel satisfied, because they're not going to. So that's really what he's done in my life and a big part of my testimony is when we're saved, we're not who we once were, but I, at least looking back at myself, I know that I am nothing as far as what my life looked like, the things I said, the things I did and wouldn't do because I was too scared. I don't look the same, and I thank God for that. [Aaron] Amen, wow. [Jennifer] Yeah, that's so cool, guys. We really appreciate hearing your testimony of what he's done in your lives, and I mean, I can pull out things just from hearing you talk of how God's already using those testimonies in what you're doing today. But I wanna hear from you. So how would you say that God's using these testimonies for what he has you doing today? [Channing] Well, for me, I know for this season, we've referenced it a couple times, of just working in college ministry. The Lord laid a deep desire in our hearts for 18to 25-year olds, because it's a very, very pivotal point in the lives of students, and I've been able to have some really good conversations with students who have come to crossroads in their lives of, do I pursue this, or do I pursue this? Do I listen to what friends say, or do I listen to what the Lord says? Do I listen to the desires that my mom and dad have for my life, or do I listen to the desire that I know God has for my life? For me, I can remember in that same age gap standing at that crossroad and multiple times coming to crossroads and running from what the Lord had desired and desired for my life. I wish I could go back and change some of those things. It would have saved a lot of heartbreak and a lot of striving in my life, but I know that it was all working for my good. So for me, to be able to share out of that on the ministry side with students to say, hey, you don't have to feel alone when you come to these decisions in your life that you just don't know what you're doing. I've seen the Lord be able to really cultivate some deeper relationships, some deeper trust in some of those relationships with some of the students that we work with. But then there's always still, I mean, Jesus has absolutely changed my life. So regardless of any of that, I desire for my life to be poured out for the gospel. And so, whatever that looks like, whether that's a conversation about where do I go to college next year or I'm really struggling through the pit of despair, Jesus is the answer. He's enough. And so, for me, that's always the bedrock of my testimony, is that Jesus is the answer. And so, where we may not always see him working right off the bat, we know that he is and that the story's not finished. And so, for me, I've seen the Lord open some really wide open doors for me to talk with college students, and even some in our church. [Aaron] Yeah. [Channing] That are not students, but the Lord just has opened doors for us to share. What about you? [Jennifer] Well, real quick, I just wanna say, I think what's so powerful of what I heard in your testimony is that when you said yes to God, all those anxieties that you had about what you were supposed to be doing went away. And so now you get to share that testimony, that part of your story, with all of these college-aged kids who are asking these really big questions, and that stands out to me as such a powerful way to communicate that when you say yes to God, he's the one that takes care of the details, and we don't have to worry about 'em. [Aaron] Yeah, and it doesn't mean things are gonna be easy. Like you said, you didn't get all of the answers right away, but he totally gave you peace, and you knew that you could trust him. So that's awesome, seeing that. Right there, you have a direct connection that you get to draw from that tool that God's given you, that testimony, that experience that you had with the Father to you pass onto these college students. And so, and I know you were about to ask Jessica, but Jessica, I have each question for you. This part of your testimony with self-image and just chasing after something to fulfill you and God getting ahold of your heart and saying, you don't need that. Has he given you opportunities to share with women who are struggling with the same things? [Jessica] Yes, and that's what I was gonna talk about, is you know, it's not about us, and that's what I usually tell people who start confiding in me about issues in their life or struggles with their image, who they are, and being scared to come out and be who God's made them to be, is none of this is about us. And if it is about you, and that's all you can focus on is what you have to offer, well, we don't have anything to offer. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jessica] There's no good thing apart from Christ. And I do love, and I am so thankful, that he walked me through that and he helped me through it so that I can share with others, because it's really cool when you see God take someone who has no self-image in a positive way, they don't look at their self at all through the lens of Christ, which is really easy to fall into, but it's so cool to see someone like that get up on a stage and sing or get up and even just share their testimony, or do the thing that they're so scared to do, but they can do it with Christ and with God's help. So that has been so cool, and I do think a lot about the fact that if I wouldn't have said yes, and I don't say that to boast about myself, because on my own, I would not have said yes. I would still be sitting in the corner of my bedroom. I probably wouldn't be married to Channing. If I wouldn't have said yes to anything that I'm scared to say yes to, I wouldn't have been able to see other people do the same thing. [Aaron] Yeah, that's just a beautiful example of God using the broken pieces of this world, us. We're in this flesh that is not yet redeemed, and he redeems our spirit fully and then walks us through the sanctification process and loves us as we're here in this world and then uses us when we say yes to him. I have a question though, one more for you, Jessica. Did you have opportunities to talk to women and share with women who were going through self-image things before God redeemed you from that, or did it start happening afterward? [Jessica] It started happening afterward. I don't doubt that he probably gave me opportunities, even as a middle schooler, just to pour into people that are younger than me, because I really have always had a passion for that, especially after saying yes, I will say anything you want me to say. I will get up and sing on that stage, or I will sing my baby to sleep at night in the room when no one else sees me, and I'll do it with a joyful heart. But before I said yes, I was focused on myself. I was focused on my fears and what I thought I could do and what I thought I knew I couldn't do. And so, I didn't really know. I might have had the opportunity before, but I didn't take it, and I didn't reap the joy that could have come from them. [Aaron] This is so great. Don't know Jennifer if you're being. [Jennifer] I'm to encouraged. [Aaron] Encouraged by this, but yeah, this is exactly what our hope for this conversation was, to show the reality of, it doesn't matter who you are. When you say yes to God, when you accept and follow Jesus as Lord, and you say, okay, Lord, here I am, like you said, we have nothing apart from Christ, and then he gives us the things he wants us to use. The master gives the servants the talents, you know? And you guys have said yes in your life, and I love that. [Jennifer] Yeah, what I think is so beautiful about you guys sharing your testimony and this story today is that, well, two things. The first thing is that how beautiful it is that all of our marriages are unique. So you guys are on our episode today and you're sharing your unique marriage story, your unique testimonies and how God is using those testimonies today to further his kingdom and build his kingdom, and I just want everyone listening to know that it is beautiful that every marriage is unique. And I know we shared about that in the last episode, but I just wanna reiterate that all of us have been given a tool belt, and it's an exciting process to be able to sift through it and see what God has given us and then encourage our spouse in using exactly what he's given us. And it sounds like that's what you guys are doing. You have these very specific testimonies, and they're powerful, and God's using them in specifically college ministry and other ways. But oh, I just love that. And then the other thing is that we know we can trust God. And so, when we're standing there wondering what it is we're supposed to be doing or asking those big questions, we know we can trust him. When we hear stories like this, it reaffirms that in our hearts. And so I just really appreciate you guys' vulnerability in just sharing this with us today. [Aaron] So, you know, we're gonna be coming to a close soon, and we were gonna ask you a question about have you had opportunities to use your testimony, and what's awesome is you just now shared your testimony with everything listening. So yes, yes, God randomly gives you opportunities to do that, and you guys probably pursue those, and we just love that. And you already answered that question in talking about who you're sharing it with. But we wanna end off with one question we've been asking everyone on this series, and it's in your own words, what is a marriage after God? [Channing] I immediately thought of David, of David was a man after God's own heart, and so of applying that same idea, a marriage after God is one that in all things puts God first, that desires to grow close to him, to look like him. I mean, I see marriage as a picture of Christ and his church, 'cause that's what it is. We are his bride, and the way that he has laid down his life for the church and the way that he is also coming back for, oh, yes, that's so good, I love it, he's coming back for his bride one day, that he hasn't left us in our sin and in the brokenness, but that he's coming victoriously back for us. I see a marriage after God as one that's a vertical and a horizontal component of that, where vertically, we're trying to become more like Jesus day after day and the sanctification of becoming him, but then horizontally, loving each other like the way that Christ loves his church. And so, for me, there's a little bit of that too for me. I was an athlete in high school and thinking about marriage after God makes me think of, we're running after him. [Aaron] Yeah, I love that. [Channing] There's this, I won't stop until I get you kind of idea. [Jennifer] That's great imagery. [Aaron] Yes, yeah. [Channing] Not creepy. [Aaron] No creepy references here, yeah. [Channing] Right, but seriously, for Jessica and for myself, what I desire is for a world to look at our marriage and say, man, they belong to somebody, you know? [Aaron] Yes. [Channing] That there's something different about them, and the only answer to that is Jesus. What about you? [Jessica] I would say a marriage after God, I saw this online the other day, so it's not original to me, but if you think about a triangle, I wish it was, but if you think about a triangle and you have the husband and wife on the bottom two corners and God's at the top corner, and it said if the husband and wife are constantly trying to get closer to God and moving up, you think about it as in moving up in the triangle, they are getting closer to each other. So the key to growing your marriage is growing are relationship with God. The closer you get to him, the closer you get to each other, and I don't remember who said it. It was Channing that said it, but I don't remember how it was a quote by: "Marriage is not to make us happy. "Marriage is to grow us closer to Christ "and to make us holy." I think a marriage after God is making every area in your life, especially your marriage, not about yourself, and make it point to Jesus. [Aaron] Amen, agreed. [Jennifer] So awesome, thank you guys so much. Yeah, agreed, agreed, agreed, and that quote you referenced was from Gary Thomas's Sacred Marriage book, and he's just such an excellent resource for marriages. So I appreciate you sharing that. Thank you guys so much for being on the show with us today. We really appreciate, again, your vulnerability and in sharing your testimony and encouraging people who are listening to consider the uniqueness of their marriage, the uniqueness of their testimonies, and how they can be using them today, 'cause of course the Lord's inviting us to use what he's given us for his glory. So, I just wanna thank you guys for being with us today. [Aaron] Yeah, and you guys are a marriage after God, and we appreciate that. [Channing] Thank y'all so much. [Jessica] Thank you, thank you so much. [Aaron] Yeah, you're welcome. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna close in prayer. So would you join us, and Jennifer, would you? [Jennifer] Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of marriage. Thank you for pouring your thoughtfulness into the way you designed marriage. Thank you for giving us a tool belt that is unique so that we can pursue and do all of the things you have for us to do. Please help us to understand everything that is in our tool belt and show us how we can use it for your glory. We pray we would keep nothing back from you. We pray we would walk humbly with you and with each other. Use us to encourage one another in marriage and affirm the gifts we see in each other. May we also have the courage to confront and repent of any sin in our lives. We pray that we would see all of the little and big ways you are inviting us to join you to spread your gospel of love, salvation, and amazing grace. May the testimony of Jesus be the motivation in our hearts to do what we do, all for your glory. In Jesus's name, amen. [Aaron] Amen. [Chandler and Jessica] Amen. [Aaron] All right, so we just wanna thank everyone for listening to the 10th episode in the series For A Marriage After God. We wanna encourage you to go get a copy of our book please. We wrote it for you. All these interviews we've compiled to encourage you and your marriage just to know that God has a plan for you and has call for your life, and we just wanna invite you to keep tuned in, because we have six more episodes in this series. So we'll see you next week. Did you enjoy today's show? If you did, it would mean the world to us if you could leave us a review on iTunes. Also, if you're interested, you can find many more encouraging stories and resources at marriageaftergod.com and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

Episode Notes

Order Your Copy Of Marriage After God Today!

https://Shop.marriageaftergod.com

Quote From Marriage After God Book

“You and your marriage are no accident! He created both you and your spouse intentionally, with a specific purpose in mind!”

Prayer

*Dear Lord,

Thank you for the gift of marriage. Thank you for pouring your thoughtfulness into the way you designed marriage. Thank you for giving us a toolbelt that is unique, so that we can pursue and do all of the things you have for us to do. Please help us to understand everything that is in our toolbelt and show us how we can use it for your glory. We pray we would keep nothing back from you. We pray we would walk humbly with you and with each other. Use us to encourage one another in marriage and affirm the gifts we see in each other. We pray that we would see all of the little and big ways you are inviting us to join you to spread your gospel of love, salvation, and amazing grace. May the testimony of Jesus be the motivation in our hearts to do what we do, all for your glory!

In Jesus’ name, amen!*

READ TRANSCRIPT

[Aaron] Hey, we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God.

[Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

[Aaron] And today we're on part 10 of the Marriage After God series, and we're gonna be talking with Channing and Jessica Gillespie about the tool belt God has given us.

[Aaron] Welcome to the Marriage After God podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after.

[Jennifer] I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife.

[Aaron] And I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution.

[Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade.

[Aaron] And so far, we have four young children.

[Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media.

[Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day.

[Jennifer] We believe the Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life.

[Aaron] Love.

[Jennifer] And power.

[Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God.

[Jennifer] Together.

[Aaron] Thank you for joining us on this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together.

[Jennifer] This is Marriage After God. Thank you guys so much for joining us today. We just wanted to take a moment to ask everyone listening to leave a review. This is just a great way to get the message of this podcast out into the world. So, if you could support us in that way, that would be so awesome. It's so easy. All you have to do is scroll down to the bottom and leave a star rating review or comment review. Both really encourage Aaron and I, so thank you to everyone who's already done that.

[Aaron] Also, we'd like to invite everyone to pick up a copy of the Marriage After God book. It's our new book Jennifer and I wrote together, and it's the reason we're doing this series. It's the reason this podcast exists, so we'd love for you to get a copy of our new book, Marriage After God. Go to shop.marriageaftergod.com and grab a copy. Thank you everyone for listening. Today we have some Instagram friends of ours, Channing and Jessica Gillespie. Hey, welcome to the show, guys.

[Channing] Hey, Aaron, Jen. How you guys doing?

[Aaron] We're doing well.

[Jennifer] So good. Thank you for being here with us today. We're so excited to have you guys, and we just want you to take a moment and let the listeners know who you are. So maybe how long you guys have been married, how many children you have, and what you do for work.

[Channing] Awesome, yeah. Well, my name is Channing Gillespie. This is my wife Jessica.

[Jessica] Hi.

[Channing] We've been married two years, got married in 2016, October, and we're loving marriage.

[Aaron] That's good, right?

[Channing] We are high school sweethearts.

[Jennifer] Aw.

[Channing] So we've been together a long time. We just had four first baby.

[Jennifer] Woohoo!

[Jessica] She's so cute, she's the best.

[Aaron] What's her name?

[Channing] Her name is Hadley Kate. We had her in August of this year, so she is five months, and she is the only grandbaby right now and the only niece, and so she is spoiled rotten. But we've enjoyed these past five months as mom and dad. It's a new.

[Jessica] It's interesting.

[Channing] It's interesting, that's a good word.

[Aaron] Yeah, learning to be married and learning to be parents at the same time.

[Jessica] Yeah, for real.

[Channing] Yes. But yeah, we love it. I am actually on staff at the Church at Grace Park in White House, Tennessee. It's a little bit north of Nashville. I serve as the college pastor there. That's relatively new. We started that ministry back in June of last year, and been going strong with that, and I serve on the worship team at the church also, and I'm a songwriter and am seeking to write songs that point to hope amidst sorrow. That's really where I feel like the Lord's leading me to write songs right now. And so, just kind of seeking after the Lord and looking for new opportunities to do those things, both in ministry and in songwriting ministry and in worship. So that's a little bit about me. Jessica, you wanna go?

[Jessica] Yeah, I am a wife and a mom. I got to come home full-time and be with Haddie Kate when she was born in August.

[Aaron] Awesome.

[Jessica] So I'm really blessed to be able to do that and excited that the Lord provided that, a way for that to happen for me. But I also, I like to create and I love to write. So I started a blog that's called The Good Cottage Wife in 2016, the year we got married. Started that, and so I have that going, and also, I am a consultant with Rodan + Fields. So I help people change their skin and change their lives, and I love it. I wear a few different hats throughout the week, but I love each one, and I love getting to use those in creative ways.

[Aaron] Awesome.

[Jennifer] That's beautiful.

[Aaron] Yeah, I love the diversity in you guys' career paths and also how God's using you. And that's what we wanna talk about today, getting into this idea, but before we get to our main questions, we always start off question an icebreaker question. Are you guys ready for that?

[Channing and Jessica] Yes.

[Aaron] Okay, all right, here it goes, all right? This is gonna let people know a lot about you guys. What is the most awkward thing you've experienced as parents so far?

[Channing] I don't know. We were talking about that this morning a little bit too, of what's some crazy things. I don't know if there's been anything awkward per se yet, but I think you get initiated into parenthood when you get peed on a couple times, so.

[Aaron] There you go, yeah.

[Channing] I've had that happen too many times.

[Aaron] Yeah, I think it's a requirement.

[Jessica] I did have, we were at church one Sunday and I was holding her. She wasn't very old, not that she's very old now, but I was holding her, and my hand started getting wet, and I'm like, aw, man, she's peeing on me, and I go to lift her up, and she had pooped on me.

[Aaron] Oh, no, right in the middle of church.

[Jessica] And it was on my shirt a little bit. I'm trying to wash it off and stuff, and I had brought a change of clothes, but it was in the car instead of her diaper bag.

[Aaron] Oh, no.

[Jessica] And so, everybody was like, yeah, that'll be the last time you do that.

[Aaron] Yeah, poop's infinitely worse than pee.

[Jennifer] I was thinking of this question for you guys, and I was thinking about our own experiences, 'cause we have a couple kids.

[Aaron] We have four.

[Jennifer] Yeah, we have four.

[Aaron] We have two couple kids.

[Jennifer] But the first thing that comes to my mind was my kind of initiation to motherhood, and that was Elliott was born in November, and I remember it was Christmas Day, and we had stopped at a gas station, and I took him out to nurse him, and somehow, he managed to move beyond all of his clothes and only poop all over me. And I'm like, oh, no, Aaron, we have to stop at Target or something, 'cause we're on our way to my grandparents house.

[Aaron] Oh, we had no clothes.

[Jennifer] Nobody said you're supposed to have an extra change of clothes. And so everything was closed. I mean, everything was closed, 'cause it's Christmas Day. I ended up having to stop at a relative's house, a cousin that I had that was my same size and I asked her if I could borrow a pair of pants.

[Aaron] Oh, I remember this.

[Jennifer] Luckily it worked just fine.

[Aaron] So pro parent tip, bring a change of clothes for yourselves.

[Jennifer] For everyone.

[Aaron] Yeah.

[Jennifer] If someone is in the car with you, if you're traveling, just bring an extra change for everyone.

[Channing] Love it.

[Aaron] Yeah, a baby go bag, extra pants, shirts, underwear, socks.

[Jennifer] Okay, all right, we're gonna move on.

[Aaron] All right.

[Jennifer] Okay, so we're gonna jump in with a quote. Okay, we're gonna jump in with a quote from Marriage After God, from chapter 10, and it says, "You and your marriage are no accident. "He created both you and your spouse intentionally "with a specific purpose in mind," which, I love this quote, "and it's for every marriage and for everyone."

[Aaron] Yeah, the reason we wrote this book is because God's got a mission for all of his people, that we're all a part of his body, that his body's doing something in this world. So our encouragement is just to marriages to recognize that their marriage wasn't an accident, that God's got a plan for it, and he desires us to say yes to him and to offer up our tools and gifts and talents. And so today, we're gonna talk about tools and what that looks like in your life, but also, that everyone listening can ask themselves the same questions, that they can use this conversation we're having today with you guys as a launching pad or as a conversation starter for themselves to be like, oh, what has God given us, and how can we use what God's given us to serve him, to say yes to him? So I hope you're excited about that.

[Jessica] Yes.

[Aaron] Cool, so the first question we got for you guys is do you believe God brought you two together with a specific purpose in mind?

[Channing] Yeah, absolutely. For me specifically, I know even in my pursuit of Jessica, if that doesn't sound creepy. That's not supposed to sound that way. But in seeking the Lord with her, I had always prayed for one girl. Jessica's the only girl that I ever dated, and knowing that just in the back of my mind, I can hear my great-grandmother always saying to me, don't you ever bring a girl into my house that you don't intend on marrying.

[Aaron] That's awesome.

[Channing] And I really was drawn to that. I really asked the Lord, would you just send me one? And he sent me the best one.

[Aaron] Found a good man, Jessica.

[Channing] And with that, you know, even when we started dating in high school, I didn't really see the extent of the things that the Lord was gonna do with us. I'm reminded of Psalm 139, that he knew us individually before we were ever thought of, and that while he was knitting us together in the womb, that he had a plan and a purpose, individually, but also together. And we're just seeing even the beginning steps of that in the first two years of marriage. But we know that his plans and his purposes, though, we don't always see them in full, yet we know that they're good and that they're for our good. And so, just being able to walk in the truth that the Lord did bring me a good thing in my wife and knowing that together, whatever that is, whether that's just being a mom and dad to Hadley or if that's college pastors, in this season, we know that he has a purpose for us.

[Aaron] Love that.

[Channing] You have anything that you can think of?

[Jessica] Yeah, I think it's cool that a lot of times, you don't see things for yourself or you don't see things in yourself, and then all of the sudden, God has you in the middle of something, and you're like, never ever did I ever think that this is what it would look like, but it's much better than what you could have conjured up on your own.

[Aaron] Yeah.

[Jessica] Just an example of that is when we were dating, which, he'll probably go into this deeper a little later, but when we were dating, and we had been dating a while, but he came to me and he was like, I really feel like I'm called to the ministry vocationally, at least right now. I don't know what that looks like. But he said I don't know, I just wanna let you know. I don't know if that changes anything for you.

[Aaron] Warning.

[Jessica] And not that it was a bad thing or anything, but I was not expecting that. Never did I think, oh, yes, I'm gonna be a minister's wife, and my husband's gonna be on church staff and all that. I just had never thought that. And so when he said that, I was like, oh, my. I'm gonna have to think about this, not that I wouldn't want him to pursue what God wanted for him. But quickly God shut my mouth and cut off my mind of thoughts and fears that came up, just worries of what financially and all the things like that. But he said, don't stifle what I'm trying to do and what I can do through him and through you with him even though it's not something that you ever thought would be a part of your testimony and part of your life. So I think it's cool that, and I know that he did bring us together for such a time as this, for college ministry, for his music, for me to get to be a stay-at-home mom. All of that is part of his plan, and even though it wasn't something and we didn't get to this point that we're at right now the way that I in my feeble mind thought we would, it's been much more filled with joy and fulfilling than I ever thought it could be, and it's because it was God's plan and not ours.

[Jennifer] Man, I love the hopefulness that you guys are both sharing. Both of your perspectives are so full of hope, and I just hope that the people listening are encouraged by this, because what I'm hearing is it doesn't matter how long you've been married. It doesn't matter whether you've envisioned your life the way that it is or the way that it will be. We can all have hope in that and trust in what God is doing in our marriages, and I love that.

[Aaron] And I also love that you essentially said, you're like, I had a different idea or I didn't know what my idea would be, but I yielded to God's idea instead, and I think that's the key in this pursuit of okay, Lord, what do you want for our marriage, what do you have for it, what have you given these things to us for, is a yielding, is saying yes. Okay, Lord, yes. It doesn't look like how I think, it's not going how I would have manufactured this to go, but we want what you want, and that's what I hear from you guys, and that's awesome.

[Jennifer] So in Marriage After God, we talk about this idea of the marriage tool belt, and without giving away too much, because we want everyone to go read it, what do you guys think a marriage tool belt is, and what do you think of when you hear that term and what do you think is in your tool belt? And you guys haven't read the book yet, so this'll be interesting.

[Channing] Not yet, not yet.

[Jessica] As far as what I think is in our tool belt, definitely some things that are in there are advice that we can draw on from people that have been married much longer than us. I know that I received a ton of advice just from my mom, my grandmother, from women at church who have been married when we were engaged, and it's kind of funny, because sometimes, when you receive advice, it's like, yeah, okay. Well, that might not really apply to us, or I don't see that happening with us. And then you're quickly silenced when you enter that situation. It's kind of like, you don't know what you're getting into until you're in it, not that it's a bad thing or anything. It's just one of those things that, when you get there, you do have to draw on that advice. You're like, oh, they were right. Yeah, that would really help in this situation. So I would say advice, and then also, one thing that I've had to really try to hone in on and remember to do is to learn from our own experiences. Don't make the same mistake twice if you can go back and say, okay, this happened before. What did I do? Okay, that was probably not the right thing to say. That was the wrong moment. How can I make this not happen again, or how can we work through this better, if that makes sense.

[Aaron] Yeah, no, I love that.

[Jessica] And I would say advice, drawing from your own experiences and learning from them, and then humility and communication, and I know people say communication, yeah, I know that. But willingness to communicate, willingness to converse when there is an issue and just personally, I've had to work on that I know, because I'm the one that, when there's an issue or someone gets upset about something, I don't wanna talk about it right then. Like, leave me alone. Let me process this in my own mind. I don't wanna talk. And that's not the best approach. And so, I have had to learn, like, put down your pride, say you're sorry, and be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. So that, as far as what's in my tool belt, those are some very specific things.

[Channing] Yeah, and I would add too of just growing up, thinking about the times that I saw my dad put his tool belt on, which, I don't own a tool belt. I need to probably get one.

[Aaron] You're a dad now and a husband. You're supposed to have a tool belt.

[Channing] I am. I have tools; I don't have a belt for them.

[Aaron] Yeah, I don't have one either, yeah.

[Channing] But I thought back to the times that I saw my dad put his tool belt on. It was when he was building something or he was repairing something. And I see that so much in marriage also of what I think the tool belt can be is whether it's building something together in your marriage, whether that's a ministry or just building a family, or there are gonna be times that you have to put the tool belt on because you're gonna have to repair some things in your marriage, and you're gonna have to address things. I think about it much like a house. If you don't attend to certain things in the house, after a while, those things are gonna need attention. And so, there might be times in marriage that Jess and I would have to address an area that would be an issue, or that has caused there to be some problem, but with that tool belt, I agree with Jess on a lot of that being from advice, and we've both been blessed to have parents that have stuck together through thick and thin and have really given us a good model of what marriage should look like and to persevere and endure. There's a lot of endurance in marriage. But with that in our tool belt too, to look at past experience, maybe even things that we've gleaned from our parents' marriages, things that we've learned from them over the years that help shape us in how we relate to one another, how we raise Hadley. I think there's a lot of things that can go into that belt. But those main things, I'm just really reminded of the building and the repairing idea.

[Aaron] Yeah, it's almost like you guys have read that book already, and you haven't. The rebuilding and the repairing, those analogies are some of the reasons we bring up this idea of a tool belt, is because the tools are meant for something. They're meant for building and repairing. And the tools that God has given us, and you guys actually mentioned some of them. You mentioned relationships; you said advice. Relationships are part of that tool belt. You talked about your past and your experiences and all of these things that God has given us, and sometimes, we don't recognize them as tools to be used or things that God's given us as gifts in our life, the things that have happened to us in the past, education that we've received and our relationships. These are all things that God's given us that he wants us to use and steward and call on and employ in our life for not only our family's sake, but also for the family of God. So I love that you use those analogies. We were just looking at each other shaking our heads like yeah, this is good.

[Jessica] That's awesome.

[Aaron] Yeah, and that's our encouragement to those listening, is then recognizing that they may not be able to relate to everything in your story, but what is relatable is that everyone has a tool belt. All the things that you guys just mentioned, the people listening may not have a family like yours that raised you with certain things, but they do have a family, and they were raised a certain way. And whether positive or negative, those are still tools that can be drawn upon, and that leads us into this next question. One of the tools in the tool belt that we discuss in our book is our testimony. And so, that's why I go to this idea of, whether it's negative or positive, all of that plays into the testimony that God's given us of what Jesus has done in our life. And so I wanna ask you guys, you know, what is your testimony? What has Jesus done in your life? How has God drawn you to himself? Let's just talk about that tool for a moment.

[Channing] Yeah well, I'll start. I grew up, my dad has been a pastor for pretty much my entire life, so I grew up in a ministry-style home. And so, I have the typical church Sunday school answer in the sense that we were always in church, and mom and dad always had us. When the doors were open, we were there. But for me, I got saved at an early age. My dad actually led me to Christ, just began asking questions when I was young. From that point, I had a good understanding of Jesus died for me and he wants me to come live with him in heaven. That was the extent of my faith as a child. But as I grew up, you begin to understand the depth of the gospel in that as you get older, you start to recognize you've really screwed some things up, and your sin just gets wider and wider, and the gap gets wider and wider. But then you begin to really appreciate and come to know the depth of the love that God has for his people and that he sent Jesus. And so, for me, it really became real to me when I got into high school and where I really began to get serious about my faith that it was more of a relationship when I got into high school with him, and for me, part of my testimony involves a call to the ministry and a running away from that call for a long time. Didn't wanna do ministry, didn't want that life. I grew up in it. Didn't want to be a pastor, but thought I had my own idea of what my life was gonna look, and pursued things that I thought were gonna bring me joy and happiness, and I can remember that Jessica shared a little bit about that conversation with me and her, but before that, I can remember my mom just point blank looking at me and saying, when are you gonna stop running? And a couple days after that, I was at a mens conference at a church in our community, and I can remember just sitting among thousands of other men, and it was like the Lord, it was just me and him in that room. And he said, I want you to stop running. I wanna use you in the ministry. And I accepted that call that night, not begrudgingly, but it was finally a moment in my heart and my life that I saw the picture of what the Lord wanted for my life. Now, he didn't say here's how this is gonna look. It was just a call to his ministry.

[Aaron] Yeah, he was looking for a yes.

[Channing] So yeah, it was just, okay. And so for me, that's been a big, big part of even my relationship with the Lord in the sense of learning to trust him and learning to depend on him and to submit to him and surrender to him. And so that call came when I was in my early years of college, and as soon as I made that call, all the anxieties of what I was gonna do with my life just started to fade away because I knew that he had already orchestrated and ordained me for that moment and that call. So for me, it's still growing. I count it as a relationship. I'm seeking to know him through his word and through his church and through just study of him. So I've seen my relationship with Jesus grow, even in the past two years of marriage, too, with the rigors and the good times and the bad times through marriage too, of learning how to trust him through it all. So that's what I would say, what about you?

[Jessica] Yeah, so I was saved at six years old at a VBS, and just something that everyone knew about me. I was very shy. I'm not an extrovert at all. I really have to make myself come out of my comfort zone, which I know we all have to, but there's probably not an ounce of extrovert in me, naturally. But so I was saved there, and actually, part of it was I had to, I didn't wanna go down by myself. There were plenty of kids going down, 'cause they asked if anybody wanted to come down and receive Jesus into their heart, and I wanted to, but I was too scared to go down by myself. And so I asked somebody to walk down with me. And that, I didn't realize it until later how symbolic that was gonna be in my testimony of who I was and who God created me to be and who he made me to be after I received him. But as far as an intimate relationship with him, I really didn't know what that looked like or what that meant. In sixth or seventh grade, I was at a retreat with our school, and I don't remember who spoke. I don't remember what they said. But I vividly remember being at the altar and thinking, okay, I don't want a hello God, goodbye God relationship with him. I want a deep relationship with him. I want my life to matter. And so that was the moment where I really became intentional about growing that relationship with him and nurturing it, but a big part of my testimony, like I said, was I was shy. I was not willing really to get out of my comfort zone, and then the Lord said to me, it's not about what you have to say or what you can do, but it's about what I'm gonna say through you and what I'm gonna do through you. And he kind of just said, and there's nothing else that I need to say to you. Like what you guys said, you just need to say yes. Just say yes to me, and just do what I ask you to do. It's scary, and sometimes, it's inconvenient. Actually, probably most of the time it's gonna be inconvenient, but you're not who you once were, so you don't need to look like that anymore, and you don't need to be scared. And like a lot of girls do, as I got older, I started struggling with self-esteem issues. I really started to try to hide the fact that I struggled with that, and in a sense, I didn't have an eating disorder, but I started to really abuse exercise in my life and then just didn't eat enough to compensate for that. So I guess you could say I had an eating disorder, but that really became a god in my life. I was riding my bike around the house one day trying to get all that exercise in and make myself feel worthy and feel beautiful, and I remember, it was almost like the Lord stopped me, like I couldn't pedal anymore. And he said, oh, girl, just give it up. Like, you don't need this. All you need is me. I'm more than enough for you. My grace is sufficient for you, and stop going after all these things that you think are gonna make you comfortable, all these things that you think are gonna make you feel satisfied, because they're not going to. So that's really what he's done in my life and a big part of my testimony is when we're saved, we're not who we once were, but I, at least looking back at myself, I know that I am nothing as far as what my life looked like, the things I said, the things I did and wouldn't do because I was too scared. I don't look the same, and I thank God for that.

[Aaron] Amen, wow.

[Jennifer] Yeah, that's so cool, guys. We really appreciate hearing your testimony of what he's done in your lives, and I mean, I can pull out things just from hearing you talk of how God's already using those testimonies in what you're doing today. But I wanna hear from you. So how would you say that God's using these testimonies for what he has you doing today?

[Channing] Well, for me, I know for this season, we've referenced it a couple times, of just working in college ministry. The Lord laid a deep desire in our hearts for 18to 25-year olds, because it's a very, very pivotal point in the lives of students, and I've been able to have some really good conversations with students who have come to crossroads in their lives of, do I pursue this, or do I pursue this? Do I listen to what friends say, or do I listen to what the Lord says? Do I listen to the desires that my mom and dad have for my life, or do I listen to the desire that I know God has for my life? For me, I can remember in that same age gap standing at that crossroad and multiple times coming to crossroads and running from what the Lord had desired and desired for my life. I wish I could go back and change some of those things. It would have saved a lot of heartbreak and a lot of striving in my life, but I know that it was all working for my good. So for me, to be able to share out of that on the ministry side with students to say, hey, you don't have to feel alone when you come to these decisions in your life that you just don't know what you're doing. I've seen the Lord be able to really cultivate some deeper relationships, some deeper trust in some of those relationships with some of the students that we work with. But then there's always still, I mean, Jesus has absolutely changed my life. So regardless of any of that, I desire for my life to be poured out for the gospel. And so, whatever that looks like, whether that's a conversation about where do I go to college next year or I'm really struggling through the pit of despair, Jesus is the answer. He's enough. And so, for me, that's always the bedrock of my testimony, is that Jesus is the answer. And so, where we may not always see him working right off the bat, we know that he is and that the story's not finished. And so, for me, I've seen the Lord open some really wide open doors for me to talk with college students, and even some in our church.

[Aaron] Yeah.

[Channing] That are not students, but the Lord just has opened doors for us to share. What about you?

[Jennifer] Well, real quick, I just wanna say, I think what's so powerful of what I heard in your testimony is that when you said yes to God, all those anxieties that you had about what you were supposed to be doing went away. And so now you get to share that testimony, that part of your story, with all of these college-aged kids who are asking these really big questions, and that stands out to me as such a powerful way to communicate that when you say yes to God, he's the one that takes care of the details, and we don't have to worry about 'em.

[Aaron] Yeah, and it doesn't mean things are gonna be easy. Like you said, you didn't get all of the answers right away, but he totally gave you peace, and you knew that you could trust him. So that's awesome, seeing that. Right there, you have a direct connection that you get to draw from that tool that God's given you, that testimony, that experience that you had with the Father to you pass onto these college students. And so, and I know you were about to ask Jessica, but Jessica, I have each question for you. This part of your testimony with self-image and just chasing after something to fulfill you and God getting ahold of your heart and saying, you don't need that. Has he given you opportunities to share with women who are struggling with the same things?

[Jessica] Yes, and that's what I was gonna talk about, is you know, it's not about us, and that's what I usually tell people who start confiding in me about issues in their life or struggles with their image, who they are, and being scared to come out and be who God's made them to be, is none of this is about us. And if it is about you, and that's all you can focus on is what you have to offer, well, we don't have anything to offer.

[Aaron] Yeah.

[Jessica] There's no good thing apart from Christ. And I do love, and I am so thankful, that he walked me through that and he helped me through it so that I can share with others, because it's really cool when you see God take someone who has no self-image in a positive way, they don't look at their self at all through the lens of Christ, which is really easy to fall into, but it's so cool to see someone like that get up on a stage and sing or get up and even just share their testimony, or do the thing that they're so scared to do, but they can do it with Christ and with God's help. So that has been so cool, and I do think a lot about the fact that if I wouldn't have said yes, and I don't say that to boast about myself, because on my own, I would not have said yes. I would still be sitting in the corner of my bedroom. I probably wouldn't be married to Channing. If I wouldn't have said yes to anything that I'm scared to say yes to, I wouldn't have been able to see other people do the same thing.

[Aaron] Yeah, that's just a beautiful example of God using the broken pieces of this world, us. We're in this flesh that is not yet redeemed, and he redeems our spirit fully and then walks us through the sanctification process and loves us as we're here in this world and then uses us when we say yes to him. I have a question though, one more for you, Jessica. Did you have opportunities to talk to women and share with women who were going through self-image things before God redeemed you from that, or did it start happening afterward?

[Jessica] It started happening afterward. I don't doubt that he probably gave me opportunities, even as a middle schooler, just to pour into people that are younger than me, because I really have always had a passion for that, especially after saying yes, I will say anything you want me to say. I will get up and sing on that stage, or I will sing my baby to sleep at night in the room when no one else sees me, and I'll do it with a joyful heart. But before I said yes, I was focused on myself. I was focused on my fears and what I thought I could do and what I thought I knew I couldn't do. And so, I didn't really know. I might have had the opportunity before, but I didn't take it, and I didn't reap the joy that could have come from them.

[Aaron] This is so great. Don't know Jennifer if you're being.

[Jennifer] I'm to encouraged.

[Aaron] Encouraged by this, but yeah, this is exactly what our hope for this conversation was, to show the reality of, it doesn't matter who you are. When you say yes to God, when you accept and follow Jesus as Lord, and you say, okay, Lord, here I am, like you said, we have nothing apart from Christ, and then he gives us the things he wants us to use. The master gives the servants the talents, you know? And you guys have said yes in your life, and I love that.

[Jennifer] Yeah, what I think is so beautiful about you guys sharing your testimony and this story today is that, well, two things. The first thing is that how beautiful it is that all of our marriages are unique. So you guys are on our episode today and you're sharing your unique marriage story, your unique testimonies and how God is using those testimonies today to further his kingdom and build his kingdom, and I just want everyone listening to know that it is beautiful that every marriage is unique. And I know we shared about that in the last episode, but I just wanna reiterate that all of us have been given a tool belt, and it's an exciting process to be able to sift through it and see what God has given us and then encourage our spouse in using exactly what he's given us. And it sounds like that's what you guys are doing. You have these very specific testimonies, and they're powerful, and God's using them in specifically college ministry and other ways. But oh, I just love that. And then the other thing is that we know we can trust God. And so, when we're standing there wondering what it is we're supposed to be doing or asking those big questions, we know we can trust him. When we hear stories like this, it reaffirms that in our hearts. And so I just really appreciate you guys' vulnerability in just sharing this with us today.

[Aaron] So, you know, we're gonna be coming to a close soon, and we were gonna ask you a question about have you had opportunities to use your testimony, and what's awesome is you just now shared your testimony with everything listening. So yes, yes, God randomly gives you opportunities to do that, and you guys probably pursue those, and we just love that. And you already answered that question in talking about who you're sharing it with. But we wanna end off with one question we've been asking everyone on this series, and it's in your own words, what is a marriage after God?

[Channing] I immediately thought of David, of David was a man after God's own heart, and so of applying that same idea, a marriage after God is one that in all things puts God first, that desires to grow close to him, to look like him. I mean, I see marriage as a picture of Christ and his church, 'cause that's what it is. We are his bride, and the way that he has laid down his life for the church and the way that he is also coming back for, oh, yes, that's so good, I love it, he's coming back for his bride one day, that he hasn't left us in our sin and in the brokenness, but that he's coming victoriously back for us. I see a marriage after God as one that's a vertical and a horizontal component of that, where vertically, we're trying to become more like Jesus day after day and the sanctification of becoming him, but then horizontally, loving each other like the way that Christ loves his church. And so, for me, there's a little bit of that too for me. I was an athlete in high school and thinking about marriage after God makes me think of, we're running after him.

[Aaron] Yeah, I love that.

[Channing] There's this, I won't stop until I get you kind of idea.

[Jennifer] That's great imagery.

[Aaron] Yes, yeah.

[Channing] Not creepy.

[Aaron] No creepy references here, yeah.

[Channing] Right, but seriously, for Jessica and for myself, what I desire is for a world to look at our marriage and say, man, they belong to somebody, you know?

[Aaron] Yes.

[Channing] That there's something different about them, and the only answer to that is Jesus. What about you?

[Jessica] I would say a marriage after God, I saw this online the other day, so it's not original to me, but if you think about a triangle, I wish it was, but if you think about a triangle and you have the husband and wife on the bottom two corners and God's at the top corner, and it said if the husband and wife are constantly trying to get closer to God and moving up, you think about it as in moving up in the triangle, they are getting closer to each other. So the key to growing your marriage is growing are relationship with God. The closer you get to him, the closer you get to each other, and I don't remember who said it. It was Channing that said it, but I don't remember how it was a quote by: "Marriage is not to make us happy. "Marriage is to grow us closer to Christ "and to make us holy." I think a marriage after God is making every area in your life, especially your marriage, not about yourself, and make it point to Jesus.

[Aaron] Amen, agreed.

[Jennifer] So awesome, thank you guys so much. Yeah, agreed, agreed, agreed, and that quote you referenced was from Gary Thomas's Sacred Marriage book, and he's just such an excellent resource for marriages. So I appreciate you sharing that. Thank you guys so much for being on the show with us today. We really appreciate, again, your vulnerability and in sharing your testimony and encouraging people who are listening to consider the uniqueness of their marriage, the uniqueness of their testimonies, and how they can be using them today, 'cause of course the Lord's inviting us to use what he's given us for his glory. So, I just wanna thank you guys for being with us today.

[Aaron] Yeah, and you guys are a marriage after God, and we appreciate that.

[Channing] Thank y'all so much.

[Jessica] Thank you, thank you so much.

[Aaron] Yeah, you're welcome. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna close in prayer. So would you join us, and Jennifer, would you?

[Jennifer] Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of marriage. Thank you for pouring your thoughtfulness into the way you designed marriage. Thank you for giving us a tool belt that is unique so that we can pursue and do all of the things you have for us to do. Please help us to understand everything that is in our tool belt and show us how we can use it for your glory. We pray we would keep nothing back from you. We pray we would walk humbly with you and with each other. Use us to encourage one another in marriage and affirm the gifts we see in each other. May we also have the courage to confront and repent of any sin in our lives. We pray that we would see all of the little and big ways you are inviting us to join you to spread your gospel of love, salvation, and amazing grace. May the testimony of Jesus be the motivation in our hearts to do what we do, all for your glory. In Jesus's name, amen.

[Aaron] Amen.

[Chandler and Jessica] Amen.

[Aaron] All right, so we just wanna thank everyone for listening to the 10th episode in the series For A Marriage After God. We wanna encourage you to go get a copy of our book please. We wrote it for you. All these interviews we've compiled to encourage you and your marriage just to know that God has a plan for you and has call for your life, and we just wanna invite you to keep tuned in, because we have six more episodes in this series. So we'll see you next week. Did you enjoy today's show? If you did, it would mean the world to us if you could leave us a review on iTunes. Also, if you're interested, you can find many more encouraging stories and resources at https://marriageaftergod.com and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.