Their 40-Year Love

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset Last Sunday my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. I had the privilege of helping my mom put together a photo video collage thing for my dad as a gift, to reminisce over all that the past 40 years has blessed them with. As I scanned and scanned and scanned, I felt a stirring in my heart--the last 40 years of their marriage has been made up of a lot of the same kind of days, conversations and feelings that my 5 year marriage has been made up of.

I was brought to last weeks argument with T, or the seasons we've spent apart due to the military.

I was reminded of the adventures we captured on camera in our courtship days and the way he makes me laugh like no one else.

All of this is how it is with my parents, too. They have days where nothing seems to fall into place. Where one says something hurtful to the other. Where life and all it's demands seems to take a major toll on the romance in their marriage. They have days where they laugh till it hurts. Where they feel full and happy. Where they can't wait for the other to come home just so they can simply give them a kiss. There are two consistent factors in a marriage like theirs, regardless of what kind of "day" (or season) it is, and I believe they are the following:

they always show up for one another.

and

they would never choose anyone else.

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When you're young and in love you just expect those feelings to always be there. When someone bursts your bubble and tells you that it won't always be easy, you tell yourself, "yeah, but that's not us. We're solid." Unfortunately, and I can say this because I had that exact sentence run through my head a number of times in the past, the truth is that it is impossible to avoid pain and hurt when putting two broken and sinful people together in the most intimate of relationships. Real depth of love is not found in the early days where little work has been done, but after years and years of digging deep into commitment. Remember when you stand on the surf at the beach, and with each wave that crashes your feet sink a little deeper into the sand? To me it seems sort of like that. You stay put, let the waves hit, and feel yourself growing more and more solid in your footing. And before you know it, you are immovable by the waves because you're far deeper than you were at the start.

My parents were the ones "destined to fail." And on March 22nd they rang in year 40.

Their story, along with so many others, is the kind of story that newly married (or not-so-newly married) should lean into and take note. To remember that you don't just say "i do" on day one, but every single day that you have breath.

He's being a little too selfish for your taste... "I do."

She's being controlling and a bit overbearing... "I do."

We get to live our lives one time, which means we get to live our love one time. So we must choose to love with abandon. And by that I mean choosing to show up for your spouse, day in and day out. Work through the hard stuff together. Celebrate the blessings together. And always, always remember that its choosing your love, one day at a time, that builds a beautiful and lasting legacy.

I can't think of a better way to live.

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Thanks, mom and dad, for leaving us such a beautiful legacy. I'm so thankful for you.

laura b

Lonely So Long- A Rainy Day Post

Husband and wife. Meant to be together. Sometimes when I daydream about our new not-approaching-quickly-enough chapter, or book rather, of life I imagine him by my side always. I think this is due to so many days running solo and so many nights hugging lifeless pillows. But immediately after that thought comes the reality that, well, that's unrealistic.

Here's why:

1. We can't spoon on the couch all day. We'd get fat and our kid would be left to fend for himself. Not a good plan.

2. He needs to work. I need to teach. We need to move and live life separately while still being completely wrapped up in one another.

3. Nature calls. And sometimes it's smelly.

and

4. He'd drive me crazy. I'd drive him crazy. In the absolute best sort of way. The way that says I love EVERY. SINGLE. THING. ABOUT. YOU. Which is why I'm ok with telling you that you're being annoying. And also why in the next breath I will lay a big fat kiss on you and go and read by myself, with my heart warm knowing you are just in the other room.

For me, that's the "togetherness" of marriage. That entanglement of heart, mind, body and soul. It's both of our hearts beating in the same rhythm, whether their miles or inches apart. I'm so ready for that.

Today it's rainy. Like really rainy. Like, hydroplaning across the interstate rainy. This doesn't help my mood. We are nearing the end of this season of physical separation and while I could write a book of all the ways God has blessed it and shown His faithfulness, I'd much rather bad-itude my way to the end of July when he's in my arms for good and the big bad military can't take him away anymore. One of the countless gifts I've been given in my marriage to T is the solid belief in the blessedness of marriage. There is nothing more sacred, more intimate, and more humbling than marriage. While raising a kid is a close second, their is nothing harder than marriage. And without a doubt there is nothing worth fighting for more than marriage. It is the picture of our faith. Of our Savior and the love He has for us, His church.

So on this rainy day I'm thinking about togetherness, both in marriage and in faith. Sometimes there are seasons of separation-- reasons why you must go it alone. A woman I very much look up to once taught on Jesus in the garden and how he left the disciples behind because He had to go further into the garden alone. He and His Father had work to do that needed to be between them only. There are reasons, above my realm of understanding, why we needed this season of going alone. Walking separately with our God. I may not know until He can tell me face to face but I choose to accept this time of separation in obedience.

But it is not meant to go on for ever.

This photo was taken by my insanely blessed friend, Jade.

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Do you see what it captures?

Zero distance between he and I. After months of separation, we could finally experience with our lips the closeness that was ever-growing in our hearts.

M. He is a gift we do not deserve. One we'll never deserve. But he is not the focus or the worship of our marriage. We will always love him well by loving each other first. He will be protected and nurtured by the strength and steadfast faith of his parents in their God, and the devotion and care to their union.

Separation. While this photo was taken in a joyful reunion, his uniform serves to represent the uncertainty of the future. The picture that only God can see and understand and know. For some, it may not be a uniform that separates you, but rather a distance of hearts. In the adventure of marriage one thing is certain, there will be times of inseparable closeness, and times of monumental distance. In those seasons of distance, as a partner in that great and blessed adventure, we must choose to fight for togetherness.

We must go to sleep, alone again, choosing to cling to the hope that there will be an evening coming where their eyes will be the last thing we see before we drift off to sleep in a world where everything is right again.

We must open our mouths to have the conversation that will reveal the fragility of our hearts, knowing that our God is the One who heals those wounds, and our partner is the one who needs to see them. That another day of silence is another mile between two hearts that were made to beat as one.

God created a life partner for man because he saw that it was not good for him to be alone. But He didn't just create her out of the dust like man, but from man, from his very being. I didn't come from T's rib. That would've been weird. But I was created for him. I was created because God knew that it would not be good for T to go without me. And because I was created for him, it goes against my purpose to be without him. Guys, this is so much more than lovey feelings in courtship, or hot bods and bedroom fun in your youth. This goes to the deepest parts of ourselves. We are made to be together. To go forward in our work, our parenting, our ministries, with tightly tangled hearts, sometimes physically separated but always close in love.

So fight for it. As I fight to not bad-itude my way to his arms in a month, I encourage you to fight in whatever way you need to for togetherness in your union. It's worth fighting for, because in it we see how we need to fight for closeness with our God. So many things get in the way of our intimacy with our Creator. Where have you stopped fighting? Where have you settled for second best, in both your marriage and your faith? Ask yourself these hard questions because this actually is a really big deal. These are the things life is meant for. Not pretend lives showcased on the internet, but real lives, with warmth in your hearts and laughter on your lips and fingers intertwined at every possible opportunity.

Choose togetherness. Fight for togetherness. Even if that means you have to fight your own self.

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** T and I are huge advocates for marriage, especially in the beginning years. It's awesome and hard and definitely not something you can go at alone. If you are finding you feel alone in your union and don't know what else to do, we encourage you to reach out. Pray with expectation for someone who can help guide you both to a place of reconciliation. God has been faithful to bless us through a few different seasons of support and we've grown in love and intimacy because of it. Find a pastor, a mentor, a friend, to pray with you and help you lift your hands in obedience to God when you feel you can no longer. We can't do this life alone, and we can't be victorious in our marriages on our own. Ask God to bless you and provide aid through your community. He will definitely do so.

It's Happening!

It's Happening!

This is happening. Soon. Age us each by nine months and you'll have the same image in your head that I have in mine.

Praise you, Lord! You are so incredibly good!

"My hand will sustain him; surely my arm will strengthen him. The enemy will not get the better of him; the wicked will not oppress him. I will crush his foes before him and strike down his adversaries. My faithful love will be with him, and through My Name his horn will be exalted... He will call out to me, 'You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior'"!!! (Ps. 89)

He has sustained us. He has held us up above the things that wanted to drag us down. He has done the unthinkable and grown our love for one another and for HIM more than we could have imagine.

HE is our Father. Our God. Our Rock. Our Savior!

29 - A Birthday Blog

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I realize 29 is still young; I'm not going to be that woman, but for the baby of the family (by 8 years) it's hard to imagine myself so close to 30. Especially when I'm married to a man who is 4 years younger than me. (Yes, it's true. He's the luckiest of 'em for snagging an older chick.)

I woke up quite early today (4am) and as I laid there my mind began to dutifully travel down the path of birthday drudgery- "Man, you're almost THIRTY!", "You're only going to get fatter and frumpier from here on out.", "You've only got a year or so left before your joints start to ache and you lose your spunk."

Obviously these statements are all absurd, and it took me all of 2 seconds to snap out of it and change course. The truth of my heart is this: the older I get the better I get. Maybe not everyone is like this. I know there are many women who try to hold onto their twenties with all they have, but that's just not me. Thankfully, my husband doesn't mind a woman with little makeup on her face, dirty feet from never wearing shoes and hours spent in the kitchen or craft room home-making like the best of them instead of hours spent pampering herself. The older I get the less I care about myself... but in the absolute best way possible.

Recently I've been contemplating just how much our "self-worth" can't actually be about self at all. I plan on writing about this one day (soon) but today I'd like to put pen to paper some of the things that make me glad about being that much closer to 30. (And no, this is not going to be a "30 is the new 20" thing... honestly, I'm not interested in living my 20's any longer than God intended me to.)

What's So Great About Heading Out Of My 20's:

1. The older I get the more life I've lived. Duh. But in that obvious statement is a very beautiful truth: God has been faithful to me. Part of parenting that terrifies me is the reality that I am NOT guaranteed any number of days with my sweet boy. He belongs to God and each day with him is quite literally a gift. Even the bad days. Similarly, my life and each day of it I've lived has not been guaranteed. It has been a product of His faithful love to me and to those that love me. Above that, I believe He has chosen these days in order that He may complete His work in me, that He decided before the earth was formed. He still has more to do with me... I can't even conceive how awesome that Truth is. So, I'm heading into my 30th year of God choosing to keep me around, choosing to show me who He is, and choosing to bless me and use me and love me immensely. Guys, each one of us should be jaw-droppingly grateful right now for all the days we've lived. How faithful is the God of the universe? Inconceivably faithful.

2. In these 29 years I, like everyone else, have experienced challenge. I've made bad choices. I've chosen myself or the world or idols over my God. And I have an enemy who tries with all his might to wash me in guilt and shame over these experiences. This, again, is something I plan on writing about in the (soonish) future. Again, the Truth here, is that in each of those instances I've been showered with grace, mercy, love and restoration. And in turn God has grown me in wisdom. When I think of this I can't help but look ahead at the next 29 years with anxious anticipation. If each hardship or bad decision has already been washed by His saving grace and will in turn grow me in wisdom and closeness with God, then how could I not be excited for each year He blesses me with?

3. That husband of mine. While he still has some time to camp out in his 20's, I can't help but love "growing older" with him. Knowing that as each year passes I get to fall more in love with him makes my eyes widen in wonder. How is it possible? Knowing that God will use us for His glory makes me never want to leave his side. There is adventure and love and joy and heartache that we can't begin to imagine awaiting us in this future of ours. I absolutely can't wait.

4. Sweet little M. How is it possible for God to love me so much? This child (and I'm sure our future children as well) is a constant reminder of my Lord. In each smile my heart swells at the love lavished on me, and in each tantrum I'm left with nothing but to cry out for the strength to parent from His spirit, not my flesh. If you desire to grow in your faith and love of the Lord, have a child and open yourself up to allow God to use that child. You will be taught things no pastor could ever teach.

5. Something I've struggled with for most of my adolescent and adult life has been friendships--specifically one-sided friendships. In those relationships was a deep-rooted need for affirmation. "If she would just want to be my friend as much as I want to be her friend then that would mean I matter." Sometime this last year I spent a good amount of time thinking about this part of my past and I found myself feeling sad. How many great relationships were overlooked because I was focused on someone else, thinking they were the ones to give me value? As God has graciously opened my heart to see the dark spaces, He has shown me how no human being is able to give me value. Only He can give me value, so even if I were best friends with each of those women I would still be left wanting more. In the not-so-pretty revealing moments of this part of my heart God has been faithful (yet again). He has brought some wonderful women into my life. Our lifestyle has forced us to be away "physically" from many that we love, but I've been blessed to establish some deep and meaningful friendships despite the distance. While I may not get to shop or have coffee and study God's word with my best friends, I always know that they deeply love the Lord and me, and that no matter where life takes us, they are a blessing and never the source of my value. What an awful burden for anyone to have to carry. (I'm glad you ladies don't know who you are otherwise you'd probably feel an immense pressure knowing how much I had riding on our friendship in this anxious heart of mine.)

Those are just some of many reasons why I'm happy to be making my way out of my 20s. I'm grateful beyond words for each and every way He has directed my life thus far, and in that gratitude I can't help but be so joyful as I look to the future.

These days that we celebrate our birth... they are really absolutely not about us. They are 100% about our Maker. It is because of His faithful love that He has chosen this many days for us. Days of love, heartache, loneliness, joy, growth, change, and above all, blessings.

Guys, 29 is so good. Just wait until Taylor Swift is 29; she'll know exactly what I mean and write a catchy song about it. #justyouwait

Day 33:To Delight In His Wife

Image-1 (11) "May your fountain be blessed and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer-- may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love." -Proverbs 5:18-19

This topic has been on my heart for awhile now. Life happens, and consequently both man and wife will grow and change from the person they were on that wedding day. In our marriage, I praise God that we have grown and changed. While I adored him then, I love him, respect him, and cherish him more today.

Sometimes life is not so kind, and it will bring with it distractions. My prayer today is that his eyes would be delighted and his heart enriched by the wife sitting before him. That he would be reminded of my charms that won him over in the beginning and be able to see that I am still that young woman who swoons at his love. I would like to simply share a bit of a commentary on this passage and leave you to explore this prayer more on your own with your specific marriage in mind.

Blessings to you, beauties.

-Laura

"Let him that is married take delight in his wife, and let him be very fond of her, not only because she is the wife that he himself has chosen and he ought to be pleased with his own choice, but because she is the wife that God in His providence appointed for him and he ought much more to be pleased with the divine appointment, pleased with her because she is his own. "Let thy fountain be blessed"; think thyself very happy in her, look upon her as a blessed wife, let her have thy blessing, pray daily for her, and then rejoice with her... Mutual delight is the bond of mutual fidelity." - Matthew Henry Commentary On Proverbs 5 (emphasis mine)

Gracious God,

Thank you for choosing the two of us to be together. I love us together. Sometimes it's hard, and requires more effort; other times it is simply divine. Thank you for being in both of those moments, and every one in between. You have a great purpose for this union and I truly believe one of those is to be able to truly delight in one another each and every day that we are together... Even on the not-so-good days. As I lift him up to you and strive to be the wife you ask me to be, I pray that he would see nothing but you in me. I pray, Lord, that his eyes would look upon me with the same love they did the day we promised our love to you and each other. Draw us to one another, more and more, that no distraction of this world would be worth severing the love that we share. Thank you for completing our love , and for always working to show me more of who you are through the man you've partnered me with. He's a blessing to my heart and I promise to be committed to him forever. I vow to love and serve you always by loving and serving him. Create a desire in his heart to do the same.

Jesus, in your Name,

Amen.

Day 16: He is Jealous for Us

20140301-182538.jpg "Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love." - 1 John 4:8

Friends--I don't know about you but hearing that our God is so in love with us that He is jealous for us makes my heart full. He desperately wants all of us, every minute of our day. But that jealousy calls us and our husbands to drop everything to love Him. I refer to my husband as a jack of all trades because he seems to dabble in so much. His hobbies are endless, and his passion for life abounds. There are moments when I cannot wait for the day until we have children because I know his love for them will run deep.

But I also know that if does not love--truly love--Christ deeply above all else in his life, even me, he will never truly understand how to love those around him.

Oh wives! Christ is so jealous for our husbands' love! He knows that if his heart so greatly desires Him, then our marriage and our life together will be rich in love! May we pray tonight that we will not fight for that spot of honor and in turn pray for our husbands to earnestly seek His love. For if they do, our marriages will be reworded with such a beautiful Christ-like love.

-Caitlin

Lover of my soul, I come before You tonight with a short but honest prayer. I want nothing more than for this family to know Your love, but I know the only way we will is if we place You first. For that reason, I pray for strength and conviction to give up such a spot of honor in my husband's heart so that He may seek Your love first. I ask that You would cover him with love, and pursue him so that he will be found by You. Take my jealousy, Lord, and turn it into love for You. I pray the same for my husband. May he quit vying for the top spot in my heart, and instead understand how I must seek You first. You are so jealous for our love, Lord, that I want You to have it. Teach us together Lord, and love us through this journey. Amen