a love story for your Sunday

…a story that concluded (but mostly began) beautifully twelve years ago today.

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Once upon a time, there was an 8-year-old girl living in Southern California.

For reasons nobody remembers anymore, she was talking to God about the far-distant future.

Dear God, I would really like to be a wife and mom someday. But I don’t want to do the whole date-and-break-up thing. That sounds hard, and I think I’d give up pieces of my heart that I would rather keep whole to people who don’t deserve it.

I don’t know if this is an option, but I’d really like to just, like, be best friends with a guy. And then get married to him. I have no idea if that happens, or how it could. But that’s how I’d really like it to go. If that’s what you want. Amen.

(I know. She was kind of a nerdy kid. But that really is the conversation, as best she remembers.)


Shortly after the above conversation with Jesus, her family moved from California to Alaska.

Now she’s about 13.

As the oldest of five, she needs to find creative and free ways to spend time out of her house, away from her family. (Because THIRTEEN.) 

Score! There’s a program at a local Christian summer camp where teens can come and wash dishes for a week at a time. For free.

A funny thing about camps…

Camp crushes.

The next year, there’s a boy. He’s fairly good-looking. Lots of girls think so. She thinks so, too. But also, she’s hopelessly awkward basically runs away from him at every opportunity and he has no memory of her at this point.

A couple of summers pass like this. She’s now 15.

She sees him and is awkward. As time progresses, they both spend a little more time at camp in the summers and eventually start talking. She attends a church that began as a plant from the church he goes to. Occasionally, the youth groups do joint activities or she’ll just go join his group, because it’s bigger and they do more.

They talk on ICQ. (Kids, ICQ is kind of like facebook messages without the facebook. Say it out loud. I-C-Q. I Seek You. Very clever. All on computers, of course. Smart phones weren’t a thing, and nobody even had cell phones. If you were REALLY cool or, you know, a drug dealer, you might have a pager. This girl was neither cool nor a drug dealer, so she was stuck messaging on the computer. Late at night when nobody would be getting any calls, because the internet was actually the phone line. It was very cutting-edge in the mid-to-late-90s.) They share a little more deeply. She especially prefers this, because she writes far better and more comfortably than she speaks in person. And high school is hard.


Spring of Junior year.

She is in JROTC and in charge of planning a military ball. Because she has an official position at the dining-in, she needs a date. She has never had a boyfriend. She hasn’t had any offers. (Remember, awkward.) But she does know a guy that she’s become reasonably good friends with…

Awkwardness and hilarity ensue.

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And again the next year.

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Also around Senior year, without talking about it, they both decide to go to the same tiny one-year Bible school in Oregon for a year. Weird, right? They’ve also become friends with each other’s immediate and extended families.


They go away to Ecola Bible School after graduation. It’s October ’00.

They naturally hang out a lot. People ask with some frequency if they’re siblings or just good friends. Their stock answer is “yes.” Occasionally, someone will ask if they’re dating. This is awkward because he is actually dating someone else from school. So that would be a definite no. She still has a latent crush on him, but realizes this is never going to happen and ignores it.


Fall of ’01, back in Alaska.

He is single again. They are taking classes together. And they both work with the youth group at the church he grew up in and they lead worship together and his car died back in Oregon, so riding around together just makes sense.

Over the next years, it becoms increasingly (sometimes painfully) obvious that they’re going to end up together. They continue as friends, though… With all the stuff going on in this season, who has time for dates? They’re too busy hanging out and doing life.


December 22, 2003.

He says “I love you”for the first time. (So does she.) This is followed immediately by “Will you marry me?” (she says yes, after a solid minute of All The Thoughts, mostly trying to find a more articulate way to say “yes” since “heck yes” seems inappropriate at this moment) and a first kiss.

Later, they figure out this date is actually one year exactly since she caught the bouquet at his best friend’s wedding. And he caught the garter.


They endured the longest six months ever as they planned and waited for their wedding.

But then it finally happened.

And they lived happily ever after.


The beginning.

The years since that beginning have been amazing. It’s not perfect… One sinner married another sinner and that presents issues on a regular basis. Even after all this time. But it’s good. He is God’s good gift to me.

This is my favorite love story, partly because it’s ours.

But it isn’t only about a love story between him and I.

It’s also a story of a little girl (not so much older than my firstborn girl) who asked God for something ridiculous that she couldn’t possibly understand then. And, for reasons I can’t quite fathom,

He said yes.

He hasn’t, by any means, said yes to every ridiculous thing I’ve ever requested. For instance, I somehow never made the US Olympic gymnastic team. (Shocking.)

I have a friend who talks about these as “bread crumbs” of God’s faithfulness. (She’s on her own divinely romantic adventure now!)  This trail, the abridged version I wrote here and all the pieces I couldn’t include because it’s already far too long, is full of those.

And I know the God who was faithful to answer the prayers of an honest little girl will be faithful to continue the work he started in both of our hearts decades ago.

the simply tuesday of anniversaries

One of my favorite things of late has been the celebration of the ordinary Tuesday. Emily Freeman talks about Tuesdays as the smallest day of the week. And every week, there’s a little party on Instagram where a bunch of people snap pictures of the ordinary beautiful and we all enjoy each other’s small moments. (Here’s #itssimplytuesday. At the moment, the feed isn’t entirely representative of normal, because Emily has a book coming out soon-hooray!- and her launch team got it this week, so there are a lot of shots of that. It’s still lovely and wonderful and good for a smile.)

Today, Andrew and I celebrate eleven years of marriage.


Oh, how I love that man.


Before “selfie” was a word. This a little bit past our first anniversary. I had to scan the thing in, because we’re old and the first several years of our marriage were photographed on film.

And these later, not-divisible-by-five anniversaries feel a little like Tuesday to me. There’s no newness and no big round numbers. Last year, we celebrated ten with a four-day trip out of town. This year, it’s a simple night away in town. (Somewhere. He’s not told me where yet. The magic still lives.)

Please hear me clearly: I’m not complaining. 


Just like Tuesdays have become a favorite because of their ordinariness, I love the smallness of an eleventh anniversary. I love the fact that we’ve had enough years for there to be ordinary anniversaries.

Ordinary is where we live anyhow. 

It’s the little things that make life and the little things that make a marriage.

Quiet not-quite-awake workday mornings.

Not-at-all quiet Saturday mornings, when the kids are up before we want them to be, and asking for Daddyday breakfast. (This man makes hash browns that have ruined me for any other hash browns, period.) Better get them fed before somebody gets hangry.

Holding hands in the dark while we try to stay awake long enough to pray together.

All those times I get thirsty right after I settle in to nurse a baby and he gets up to get me my water bottle. (Usually without snarkiness.)

More than half a lifetime’s worth of inside jokes. (We were friends long, LONG before we got married.)

Talking in code or spelling to sneak stuff past our kids. “I was thinking we could go for I-C-E-C-R-E-A-M tonight after dinner. What do you think?” This is rapidly losing effectiveness. 

Companionable silence. 

Doing dishes. Lots and lots of dishes. Sometimes he, sometimes I, sometimes we. 

Brief back scratches in passing. 

The way he works around my BIG FEELINGS and I work around his sometimes-crazy schedule.

Reading each other’s faces and tones.

Apologizing for misreading each other’s faces and tones. 

Arguments about nothing. Or the same something eleventy billion times.

Lots of grace to cover (and frequently avoid!) arguments about nothing.

Choosing to be on the same side, over and over and over again.

Learning to give the benefit of the doubt.

Diapers. Thousands of them.

Rubbing off each other’s rough edges.

Growing up together.


For better and for worse. Until death do us part.

This marriage thing. It’s a good, good gift. By God’s grace, we’re getting better at it. We’re living the dream, Andrew. I love our very ordinary life.

Mostly mundane.






ten years.


So… ten years ago, my husband and I got married.

Not gonna lie, I feel a little old. Somehow this marker was reserved in my head for a crowd older than I thought I was. Definitely 30’s. (Wait…)

The cousins who were the ring bearers and flower girl? High school and college. College.

My baby brother, then twelve, who wouldn’t usher because, in his words, “I don’t want girls holding my arm!”… He’s apparently gotten over that phobia, we watched him marry a fantastic girl a couple of weeks ago. (Ryan and Amanda- sorry for the repeat here, there’s a lot coming that was in your card.) (Also? I just considered the fact that when they celebrate 10 years, we’ll be ready to celebrate 20. Because math. And I’m good at math. But still, framing it that way freaks me out.)

A lot happens in 10 years. 

There’s a lot of learning and growing. 

I’ve been thinking about this, specifically, for about a month now… we are really, really happily married. It’s good. Really good. Marriage? Well designed by a master Designer for our good and His glory and I couldn’t possibly be more grateful. (Well, actually, I’ve said that before. And I was wrong. And I’m sure I’ll be even more grateful, I don’t know… tomorrow. But today, I’m as grateful as I can imagine for this amazing gift.) Also, as Andrew and I grow together toward holiness, we’ve learned a few things. And I need to write at least a few of them down so I don’t forget and maybe, just maybe, to remind and encourage you.

Really quickly, here’s why I’m not writing this.

I’m not writing it because we’re perfect.


I’m not a perfect wife. Not by a long shot. He’s not a perfect husband (though, in all honesty, I think he’s a lot better at being married than I am… Most of the stuff I’ve learned, I’ve learned largely because he does it pretty well.) 

We still have our stuff. We fight. We have communication differences that have been issues for ten years. (Actually, we probably have some dating back a lot longer than that. Maybe 17 or 18 years? That’s how long ago we met. And when I developed a crush on him. But that’s a whole other story.) Sometimes it comes down to the simple and obvious: I am a woman. He is a man. Language differences make us crazy now and again. 

We don’t have it figured out. (Which is why marriage is supposed to last more than ten years.)

But.


But God is good and his grace is more than plenty for all our stuff. 

So here’s some stuff that I’ve learned in ten years of loving and living with this man.

We have to be friends.


We were friends for a loooong time before we got married. We’re good at it. But it’s not something that happens on its own.  The first couple of years, it was simple enough. We had school and work and stuff, but a lot of time was basically our own. We played. We talked. We worked together at things. We served together. We did all the friend things we’d already been doing for years. It was fun. And we got used to living together while still doing the friend thing, and life got hectic and being friends took a little more intention. Then kids came. Finding the time to connect and play (and prioritizing that over sleep sometimes) takes a little more effort now. 

But it’s so, so worth it. 

(Post-bedtime is currently our favorite- sometimes we talk watch a movie or just sit and read our separate things together or play a game of Dominion or Sequence.) 

I have to work on me.


If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Duh.

A healthy marriage is ideally made of a pair of healthy people.

It’s really easy to go all martyr these days… My job is kind of round-the-clock and based on other people’s needs. But when I just “selflessly” chug through, getting stuff done and people fed and bottoms wiped and laundry and All The Things… I do a pretty crappy job. (Honestly, this is something Andrew’s probably been encouraging forever, but I’m only learning in the last year that he’s right. That EVERYBODY’S right on this point: self care is not optional.) 

It’s easy to scroll facebook during a nap and call it a break. But I’ve learned it’s not actually that restorative. 

It takes a little bit more to discern what is actually a useful rest. For me, “useful” is writing, reading, running, talking with friends. Sometimes (um, last weekend), it’s scrapping all of those things in favor of sleep. Despite everything in me yelling that I needed to go out and be alone or, at the least, check some stuff off of my list. Not sleep through my only window of “me time.”

Anyway, my point… it takes effort and intention to figure out what is restorative and how to make it happen. And if I don’t do that, my kids get dregs and my husband gets nothing. Well, he doesn’t get nothing, he gets yelled at. Poor guy.

And it’s not just me. Andrew needs time to process and be, too. And I’m not as good at encouraging and enabling this as I want to be, not as good as he is, but that’s something I’m working toward.

Respect is a big deal.


We were fortunate to have been a part of a great small group from the start of our marriage, and one of the early studies was Emmerson Eggerichs’s Love and Respect. It’s not a secret that love is essential to marriage and that it must be unconditional. But in my early-20’s head, respect was definitely on a lower tier in some hierarchy of needs. And totally NOT unconditional.

Glad to have learned otherwise, and early. It’s not a small thing. I’m not always good at being respectful (especially when we’re having *ahem* a “discussion”) but I’ve gotten much faster at apologizing for being (or sounding) disrespectful! 

It’s still hard to find things that are specifically respectful. It’s easier to figure out what comes off as disrespectful. But I’m learning. 

We have to be generous.

This covers… kind of everything. I stumbled across a blog a few years ago that’s all about this, and I’ve been kicking it around since.

When I’m generous in 

  • loving and blessing my husband
  • forgiving him
  • giving him the benefit of the doubt (when I could otherwise assign him poor motives for something)

… everything goes much, much better. 


So there we have it.


Looking over the list, it feels like it should be longer and, I don’t know… more earth-shattering. If I’d read this blog post 10 years ago (which I wouldn’t have, because blogging wasn’t really a thing then), Little Me would have nodded along. Yep. That’s true. Check. Sounds good, I agree. But somehow actually implementing that list of things that I am sure I never would have especially disagreed with has taken ten years (and counting.) 

I’m hoping in another 10 years, my list of things that work for us will be a touch longer and I’ll be a little better at the things on it. For now, I’m glad to have gotten it down in words. It’d be a shame to forget. 

Anything you’d add to it? What have you learned?