liberty baptist church

Where We Are Today | Our Story

Where We Are Today | Our Story

It's always a little bittersweet to write the last blog in a series, and I can't believe this one is coming to an end! It's been amazing to share our story, from the highest joys to the hardest struggles, and have so many come along for the journey. It's also incredibly hard to believe that we have been dating for over six years and will celebrate our five year wedding anniversary this January. Time flies!

So the past six years brings us to where we are now…

Wrestling Nights & Common Interests // Beyond the Big Day

As I began to think about what I could write for a blog about marriage, something I had gleaned from the challenges, struggles, and successes of my own marriage of over 17 years, my thoughts kept coming back to one seemingly small piece of advice…cultivate common interests with your spouse.  In my estimation, this one action can safeguard your relationship with your spouse in a multitude of ways and build the foundation for a long and happy marriage. 

            At the beginning of our marriage, our first home was on the campus of the University of Alabama, in the corner apartment of a freshman men’s residence hall.  For the first four years of our married life, John, then an Area Coordinator for Residence Life, and I made our home with 450 loud, and sometimes very unruly, young men. We quickly became friends with the hall directors in our building and would have them down to our apartment for get-togethers.  One thing these young men loved was WCW wrestling, something I knew absolutely nothing about!   But as we worked toward building relationships with these young men, our weekly wrestling nights quickly became one of my favorite nights of the week.  To this day, we have lots of great memories from those evenings.  And to my surprise, by taking an interest in this crazy “sport”, I found that my friendship with my husband grew stronger as well.  I didn’t just tolerate this weekly routine - I found a way to be a part of it and to join in.  One year, the whole building hosted a wrestling party in the dining hall and we were to come dressed as wrestlers!  Of course, I don’t think anyone expected me to participate but I wanted to be a part of it.  Believe me ladies, it makes a lasting impression on your husband when you desire so much to share in his interests that you dress up as a masked Lucha Libre wrestler to go to a party with him!!  That is true love :)

            What in the world is my point in telling you this story about some crazy male television soap opera experience?  Only this:  John and I still talk and laugh and reminisce today, all these years later, about that time in our lives.  It made a lasting impact on him because it was a tangible expression of my love for him. It impressed him that I would take the time learn about something that I previously had no interest in, just because I wanted to share it with him.  For my part, it gave me valuable insights into the fun, best friend side of my husband that I continually want to know better.  It gave us that all-important “side-by-side” time that men need from a relationship.  Whereas we women mostly value the “face-to-face” time of a relationship, talking and sharing, men tend to place more importance on time just spent in the company of their spouse, doing things they like to do together.  Of course, healthy marriages need a balance of both of these kinds of time, but I find that if you are craving more “face-to-face” time from your husband, the easiest way to get that is to selflessly invest yourself in some “side-by-side” time with him.  A husband whose “love tank” is full is much more likely to be willing to listen to your needs and to meet them.  In our relationship today, it is no longer wrestling that we enjoy watching together, but sports. I have learned a lot about baseball, basketball and football that I did not know before I got married. And I don’t just tolerate it anymore, I actually enjoy watching games with John. I have even been known to enjoy watching a ballgame on my own, even when John isn’t home!  God was preparing me in advance as the mother of four boys who are all heavily active in sports :) And for his part, John has taken interest in lots of things I enjoy doing.  He helps me in our yard and gardens and has learned the names of many of the plants that I love and how to help me take care of them.  He is learning to cook with me little by little and just enjoy that time working together.  He goes on long walks and hikes with me, spends hours in libraries, antique stores, garden centers, historic landmarks, takes spontaneous day trips with me and doesn’t complain. He watches movies and television shows that he probably wouldn’t choose on his own, but he does it because he knows it shows love to me.  A few of those things we have even combined and have turned into shared goals and dreams as a couple.  For example, one of our goals is to visit every Major League baseball park and while we are at it, we will eat at every little interesting diner, drive-in or dive we come across and make impromptu stops at roadside attractions and landmarks that I just can’t pass up.  We both have a share in this dream, something that we enjoy personally, but we both also have sacrifice in this dream, something we do just because we love the other person so much that we want to make them happy any way that we can. 

            This is my encouragement to you as a newlywed couple.  Don’t just look for the things that you already have in common and enjoy doing together, purposefully look for things in your spouse’s life to learn about and begin to enjoy doing those things with them just because you want to show love to the other person.  Satan wants to destroy godly marriages, and one of his favorite tools is that of distraction.  One day, your lives and marriage will begin to be overtaken by the monotony of everyday life and the clamor for attention and your time together as a couple that the blessing of having children brings along with it…that is, IF you let it happen.  Purpose right now that to the best of your ability, you will set safeguards in place to keep your marriage from growing stagnant and boring and time-starved.  Set aside a date night as often as you are able and determine to let nothing keep you from keeping that all-important appointment together.  As time goes by and your family grows and changes, so will the type and frequency of these date times. But decide now that your marriage is too important to carelessly let it slip away because of neglect to the point that one day down the road you suddenly look up at that stranger across from you and wonder “What did we ever enjoy doing together?” 

            Finally, I would leave you with this.  Above all else, as you build in time together as a couple, make sure that you build in time daily to read God’s Word, the Holy Bible, and to spend time in prayer with God.  He is ultimately the only One who can hold your lives and marriage together no matter what this world may throw at it. King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 4:12 says this, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  Of course, we can easily see that the two who stand together can be seen in the husband/wife relationship, but what of the “cord of three strands”?  This is the marriage built on the solid foundation of both husband and wife having their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  He IS the third strand that strengthens your bond into one that is “not quickly broken”.    He is the “tie that binds” your marriage together and gives it purpose and direction.  Do not make the mistake of looking to your spouse to fulfill all your needs because he cannot. No human being is able to do this.  When we look to our spouse to be our everything, we put an impossible task and burden upon them.  Only Jesus Christ is capable of being your everything; you are designed to know Him in this way. The spouse He has blessed you with is to be your companion and your perfect compliment in a life of service to God together.  My favorite verse in all the Bible is Proverbs 3:5-6, and I believe it can be lived out in the marriage relationship as well as individually: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

            God bless you as you begin this lifelong journey together as husband and wife.   I pray that you determine to put as much thought and time and planning into the rest of your lives together as you did for your wedding day…I guarantee you will reap a multitude of blessings for years to come if you will.  

Click here to see more marriage advice from Beyond the Big Day. 

Sharing common interests | Marriage advice | Beyond the Big Day

Joy has been married to John Dickerson, the Education Pastor at Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, Virginia, for 17 years.  She is a stay-at-home mom to their four boys- Caleb(14), Isaiah(12), Eli(10), and Jonah(7). Joy is a native of  Kentucky and has also lived in Tuscaloosa, AL, and Murfreesboro, TN, and has resided in Poquoson, VA, for the last 3 years.  She became a Christian as a freshman in college at the age of 18 and has been blessed to have been mentored by many godly women.  Joy is active in the Kidville ministry at Liberty Baptist Church as a teacher and is also a Children’s Leader in Bible Study Fellowship.  She loves playing the piano and guitar, singing, gardening, and cooking. Joy is happiest when she is just hanging out with her husband and boys watching ballgames.  

Zac & Tori // Hampton Wedding Photographer

To say this is one of the sweetest weddings I've witnessed would be an understatement! The day kicked off at the Hampton location of Liberty Baptist Church where the entire congregation was invited to come. Needless to say, it was a huge ceremony! After a reception with cake, punch, and tons of friends, Zac and Tori headed over with their family to the Suffolk campus to celebrate in a more intimate environment.

From the time I got there until I left, it was so obvious that Zac and Tori care so much about their family and friends. From the way Tori paid special attention to each flower girl and junior bridesmaid to how easygoing Zac was about ALL the pictures we had to take, they were both truly a pleasure to spend time with.

This was a day full of people - friends, family, the church, 18 in the bridal party plus 8 kids involved in the wedding - but despite the hundreds surrounding them, Zac and Tori had an intimate, sweet, ceremony that will be remembered for a long time. Each moment was truly thought out and special, which is so hard to do with a big wedding! It was a blessing to witness their love becoming one.

Zac & Tori, thank you so much for letting me be with you on your wedding day. As I look back at the pictures, I see so clearly the love you two have for each other, and I know it is built on a firm foundation! Stay tenderhearted towards each other, as I know you will, and I am so excited to see your love grow over time. Enjoy every moment of it :)

Wedding dress hanging from a chandelier in a church
Blue garter around sweet white ballet wedding flats
White rose bridal bouquet and blue hydrangea bridesmaids bouquet
Black and white bride getting ready at a church
Getting ready wedding pictures at Liberty Baptist Church
Getting ready wedding pictures at Liberty Baptist Church
Baby feet from a stroller
Groom with his future father-in-law on the wedding day
Groomsman getting ready for a wedding at Liberty Baptist Church

A sweet shot of Zac and his brother/best man, Daniel, praying together before the ceremony

Groomsmen praying together before a wedding at Liberty Baptist Church
Black and white bride putting on veil at Liberty Baptist Church
Detail shot of bride getting ready with her mother
Bridesmaids helping bride get ready in bright coral dresses at Liberty Baptist Church
Groomsmen in gray suits and pink bow ties at Liberty Baptist Church
Bridesmaids in bright coral dresses at Liberty Baptist Church
Bridesmaids in bright coral dresses at Liberty Baptist Church

A beautiful shot of the three ladies - Tori, her mother (left) and her new mother-in-law (right)!

A bride with her mother and new mother-in-law before a wedding
Bride with her father before the wedding ceremony
Bridesmaid getting her son ready at a wedding at Liberty Baptist Church
Bridal party praying moments before a wedding ceremony at Liberty Baptist Church
Flower girl and ring bearer dancing
Bridesmaid walking down the aisle at a wedding in a bright coral dress
Father giving a charge to his son at his wedding
Ring bearers holding Here Comes Your Bride sign
Bride walking down the aisle with her father at Liberty Baptist Church
Father giving his daughter away at a wedding, black and white
Coral and navy wedding ceremony at Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, Virginia
First wedding kiss in black and white at Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, Virginia
Bride and groom walking out of wedding during recessional in coral pink and navy
Navy and coral pink wedding cake with monogram on top
Bridesmaid and groomsman walking into wedding reception

All of Zac and Tori's wedding party (with only 3 exceptions) was family, and they gave the sweetest speeches/toasts at the reception. It was so special to see how much the bride's family loves the groom, and vise versa!

Groom and bridesmaid hugging after wedding toasts
Bride and groom cut coral pink and navy wedding cake at reception
Groom and his father embrace at the wedding reception, black and white

Like I said, there were hundreds of people!

Wedding reception in the dining hall of Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, Virginia
Groom catapults blue garter on top of a staircase
Groomsman catches garter at wedding reception

This is Zac and Tori with her sister/maid of honor and his brother/best man...they also happened to be the bouquet and garter catchers! If you guys need a wedding photographer down the line, you know who to call ;)

Bride and groom with garter and bouquet catcher at wedding reception
Bride and groom exit in coral pink flower petals
Bride and groom portrait on a pier by the water in Suffolk, Virginia
Bride and groom portrait on a pier by the water in Suffolk, Virginia, black and white
Bride and groom portrait on a pier by the water in Suffolk, Virginia
Bride and groom portrait on a pier by the water in Suffolk, Virginia
Bride and groom portrait on a pier by the water in Suffolk, Virginia
Bride and groom portrait under the veil by the water in Suffolk, Virginia
Bride and groom portrait on a pier by the water in Suffolk, Virginia

Like I said...HUGE bridal party! We have so many picture combinations, but I think this one sums it up nicely for the blog :) They were all so great to work with, and we actually finished early! Crazy.

Huge bridal party in gray suits and coral pink bowties and dresses by the water in Suffolk, Virginia
Bridesmaids on a dock in coral pink dresses

...and since we finished early, we snuck in just a few more bride & groom portraits...

Bride and groom portrait on steps by the water in Suffolk, Virginia
Bride and groom portrait under a pagoda by the water in Suffolk, Virginia
Bride and groom walking from a pagoda by the water in Suffolk, Virginia
Bride and groom portrait on a bench by the water in Suffolk, Virginia
Twig and rose coral pink centerpiece at wedding reception
Guest book tree at wedding reception
Ring shot in coral pink and white roses at a wedding
Ring shot in coral pink and white rose petals at a wedding reception
Black and white reception at Liberty Baptist Church in Suffolk, Virginia

The worship pastor at Liberty's Suffolk campus sang a special song just for Zac and Tori, and then the father of the bride introduced a surprise video that had 'marriage advice' from all of the kids. It was hilarious!

Jed Bayes singing at a wedding reception in Suffolk, Virginia
Bridesmaid and groomsman husband and wife at wedding reception
Father of the bride at a wedding reception
Bride and groom in black and white at wedding reception at Liberty Baptist Church in Suffolk, Virginia

Tori's dad had to walk her to the car one last time...such a special moment.

Bride and groom exiting wedding reception in going away dress
and they lived happily ever after car decal