Changes and Challenges

My husband and I celebrated our first year anniversary in the air. We spent the majority of our day traveling from Southern California, where we used to live, to Northern Idaho, where we now live. Halfway through our 4o minute drive home from the airport, I asked Tim what had surprised him the most about our first year of marriage. I had a feeling we would have similar answers, and my hunch was confirmed when he paused for a moment then said, “that we live here!” His point was punctuated by the large Welcome To Idaho sign we passed a couple minutes later as we crossed the state line.

A year ago, neither of us would have guessed what our first year of marriage would entail. When the year started we were squatting in my grandparents’ vacant house while Tim looked for a full-time ministry job. God certainly surprised us when He opened the doors for a youth pastor position in Coeur d’Alene, sending two California natives to the Inland Northwest mere months after saying, “I do.”

With that move came changes in seemingly every area of our lives. As we adjusted to married life, we were also adjusting to new jobs, a new location, new church, and a new pace of life. Adapting was not always a smooth process. Despite the fact that those changes came with a fair amount of challenges, I’m realizing that both change and challenges are necessary to thrive – both in marriage and in life.

Changes and Challenges

Change keeps us from becoming too comfortable in our routine. Challenges force us to depend on others, and more importantly, rely on God to overcome our struggles. Tim and I had an established community and jobs we had been doing for years in California. Moving was the catalyst for us to reevaluate our priorities and check our motivation for the we we spend our time. We had the opportunity to start our new season in life with a blank slate that only change could provide.

Our blank slate wasn’t easy. Winter was difficult for this sunny SoCal native, as was building friendships from scratch and getting used to a new job. Had we not been faced with those hardships, we would not have witnessed God’s faithfulness in those situations. Tim and I learned the importance of good communication and the necessity of establishing ourselves as a couple in this new environment. We acknowledged God’s sovereignty as He supplied our most basic physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Our changes and challenges generally weren’t fun, but they were instrumental to the intimacy and growth we experienced during our first year of marriage. Now that we are a month into our second year, I am praying that the unavoidable changes and challenges to come will be equally productive as they were in our first year of marriage.

About Emily Gardner

Emily is a Southern California native starting a new adventure in Northern Idaho with her youth pastor husband, Tim. They are expecting their first child in February. She loves partnering with Tim in ministry and spends her free time baking, reading, or crafting. You can find her blogging about marriage, motherhood, and ministry at


  1. Em Gardner says:

    Thanks Ashley 🙂

  2. Yes, God wants us uncomfortable so we can’t rely on ourselves. Thanks for the reminder…I feel like our first year was SO long ago but we’re really only coming up on our 5th anniversary! I’ll be praying for your continued great attitude toward changes and challenges. 🙂

  3. Denise Taylor-Dennis says:

    I have to admit I don’t do change very well. I do realize it is necessary for growing as a person though.


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