marriage letters: once upon a time

Dear Eric,

Once upon a time, there was a girl confident in how to handle every situation that came her way, except when it came to boys. I don’t know why you chose me as the object of your pursuit (especially when I turned you down for six months), but you did. Your persistence bothered me then, but now I know it is one of your best qualities.

Remember that November Night and the moonlit field? I don’t think we had even held hands yet, but I knew I wanted to be with you, and the feelings grew after that. We daydreamed of a life of ministry together, maybe seminary too, and I remember thinking that this was why we fit so perfectly together. My hopes and dreams for our future were wrapped up in the idea of where we thought our lives were headed.

Once upon a time, we got married in another November under a gray sky and gold leaves. I remember the autumn breeze toying with my hair and the way your eyes overflowed with tears. I remember how right it all felt, how safe.

People told us the first year of marriage would be the hardest, and I prepared myself for arguments and annoyances and slammed doors.

I didn’t expect the difficulty to be from outside forces instead.

I didn’t expect to both have jobs which were not only not “in ministry” as we planned, but jobs we didn’t like. The late nights you worked by lamplight while I curled in our bed missing you were not planned. I despised that your job was taking away your life.

Then you lost that job. We laid on our porch hammock in early spring, and you told me they didn’t need you to go back to work anymore. I could see the fear in your eyes, uncertain of what the future held and uncertain of how your new wife would react — so I kissed you.

And we prayed.

Jobs have since changed, and we have a faithful God who provides, but on this snowy morning we sit together at the kitchen table, and you are participating in a conference call about dog treats. I know that you are “in ministry “even when it comes to discussing chicken jerky, but I know your heart is not engaged in the way it was designed. Yet you are faithful to where you are right now, so you spout off facts about Facebook fans and new packaging shipments.

I bet you never planned to raise support while also working 45-50 hours a week in a corporate job. Even when we started this new journey, I never planned to break down this often, allowing my emotions and my fears to get the best of me. I never thought it would be this hard to get to where we wanted to be, where we thought God was calling us, even.

But you are persistent. You let me cry and you speak truth to my faltering heart. You are in it for the long haul – both with the fundraising and with me.

Just over two years in, I know more trials are ahead. I know we aren’t even done with today. But I have seen how adamantly you refuse to give up. And I won’t, either.



On the first Monday of every month, I’ll be writing a letter to participate with Amber Haines in the “Marriage Letters” series on her blog. Though it’s only been two years for us, I want to develop this practice of blessing my husband and our marriage. You should also check out Amber’s most recent marriage letter and the others that are linked up to her post.


a reflection after two years of marriage

earlier this month, we celebrated our two year anniversary. time just flies.


disclaimer before i begin: this post is not meant to be like one of those blog posts being spread around facebook which tells you the secret behind a happy marriage. or the top ten things to look for in a spouse. or anything like that, which someone will inevitably write a rebuttal to.

those rebuttals are written because every relationship is different, and everyone wants their own word in the conversation. every marriage is different. every story is different. there is no cookie-cutter way to find marital bliss. please don’t take this post that way, but as a reflection on what i have learned after two years into this adventure.

the most important aspect of our marriage, after reflecting on our past year, is a strong relationship with Jesus on the part of both of us.

john and stasi eldredge write the following in love and war:

the greatest gift you can give to your marriage is for you to develop a real relationship with Jesus Christ… We are not simply talking about believing in God. There are many good people who believe in God, but for all practical purposes they still look to their spouse to make them happy… We’re talking about a relationship where you are finding in God the life and love your soul so desperately needs.

and after the past year of marriage, this is more true than ever.

the first year of marriage was easy, as far as my relationship with eric went. we endured our share of hardships and learning curves, but all in all, the difficulties came from outside our oneness.

the second year of marriage has had its share of career changes and  financial woes and stress from sharing a car for half of it. life isn’t going to just stop. but more than that, it seemed to add a new level of weight to my relationship with eric. the things we were going through outside our oneness crept inside our oneness. one example is making a life-decision which affected both of us – joining staff with cru – which not only invited in all sorts of doubts and stress in simply trying to be on the same page with this decision, but also seemed to open up a whole new field of spiritual warfare.

the enemy doesn’t quit. if you are a believer, he is always finding new ways to get his foot in the door in your life, and when you get married, it affects both of you. when eric is wrestling, i am wrestling and fighting alongside him – whether i choose it or not. that’s the thing about getting married and becoming one.

and i am not here to brag. we don’t have this thing down all the time. but i can see growth in our relationship, in how much more quickly we realize that we need to pray, and that things aren’t right with God. we aren’t always consistent with our individual quiet times. but when we are, it makes a difference.

and it is most definitely a we thing. my walk with God is not – and cannot – be enough to sustain eric in the long run. when he is struggling, i can be a strength for him, but it will not be the solution (and visa versa, because, i’ll be honest, i feel that i am weak more often than he).

i don’t know how we would make it through marriage if we weren’t individually walking with God and growing in that walk. i don’t know how anyone would make it.

it is that relationship, with Christ, from which everything else is born and cultivated. 
servant attitude. intimacy. selflessness. truth. healthy community. love. friendship. patience.

and praise the Lord, we each had cultivated our personal walks with Him before we got married. before we met, even. not that it can’t be done after you get married, and not that God isn’t glorified in that, but i think the path might be harder.

so, dear single friends, don’t settle. don’t allow your emotions to justify that a boy will figure out a relationship with God later and that building the foundation of the relationship between the two of you is what matters right now. and don’t tell yourself that you will be satisfied in God after He give you a boy, because that won’t happen (at least it hasn’t for me). don’t put off growing in your walk with the Lord because it doesn’t affect anyone else right now. it will.

and dear married friends, give the best gift to your spouse that you can – make time for Christ above all else. it is more important than laundry and a clean house, more important than a well-stocked bank account, more important than a successful career, more important than passion and romance. He will give you what you need to love your spouse “for better or for worse.” when you walk with Christ, it will affect the success of your marriage in a greater way than anything material can, and it will produce a Christ-centered marriage.

which is not going to be perfect, by the way, but it is worth it. so worth it. 


**thanks to our sweet friend hilary cranford for our two year anniversary/christmas card photos!

do dogs have a “good side”?

our sweet friend hilary took some pictures of us recently so that we can have a good photo for christmas cards. i feel like sending our christmas cards is such an adult thing.

ridley behaved for most of the shots, but this is one of our favorites:


what kind of face is that??

this one is another keeper:


pretty sure i am off in my own world instead of paying attention to eric and ridley… and i look like i have the excitement of a six year old at getting to play with leaves.

it’s the thrill of the {moment before the} fight

there is something exhilarating about the moment you realize you are headed into battle.

like in middle school, when we would play capture the flag – those few seconds right before the whistle blew, when we were each planning our strategies and eyeing the other team and anticipating the yell to “charge!”

like in high school, right before basketball games – we would be standing in a line at the entrance to the gym, and the first notes of “eye of the tiger” would play, signaling us to run out on the court for our warm-up routines. i still can’t hear that song without feeling adrenaline rush through my system.

like in my first year of marriage – i got home from work, found eric on the porch, and heard him say that he had been let go from his job. i still look back and claim that as one of my favorite moments of our first year together.

you know something is about to happen. you are bracing yourself for the worst but hoping for the best. you don’t have clear expectations, but you know there will be both victory and defeat. and – as in the last example – you know that you have no choice but to move forward and trust that God knows what He is doing.

it’s moments like that when i have to surrender to the sovereignty of God. i can clench my fists and grip my planner and say, ‘this isn’t what i had in mind,’ but it won’t change the circumstances. it won’t change the plans God has for my sanctification and for His glory – despite what the enemy says.

because we do have an enemy in the battle.

i never want to give the enemy too much credit, as he is not necessarily the one who has instigated the battle. but i never want to underestimate him, because i know he will use the battle as a catalyst for his plot to destroy the kingdom of God.

satan wants to get in the last word when it comes to who God is and what He is doing. he wants to tell us that ‘God is not loving’ and ‘God is not worth fighting for’ and ‘God is not really on your side.’ he wants to wear us down with lies to exhaust us and remove us from being effective in the fight.

the good news is, our God has already won the battle. we have no need to fear – we are called to press on. to counter the enemy’s attack attempts with truth. to move forward in faith that God is taking care of everything. to hold fast to Him.

i am not afraid of the battles to come. i am not strong on my own, but i serve a victorious God, and i will rejoice in that moment before the battle begins, because it is a new opportunity to see what He can do.

and, especially in marriage, i will rejoice that i am fighting the battle with my husband by my side. there’s something romantic and empowering about being in it together, and it gives me continued confidence that the Lord knew what He was doing when He joined eric and i. not only to fight for each other, but to fight together.

so if you find me dancing around to survivor and practicing punches in the air, don’t be alarmed – i am in that moment before the battle begins, and i am preparing to fight.

love affair

I confess, this is the season of a love affair.

As an October baby, it’s almost destiny that it happen this way. The first few brightly-colored leaves flirtatiously catch my eye, and from there, it’s a domino effect leading to weakened knees. The breeze ruffles its fingers through my hair. Wool socks cuddle close to my feet, hidden beneath boots. Morning fog whispers to come chase it through the dew. Cricket songs join with the symphony of falling foliage, and a certain pleasant chill sweeps through open doors and windows to settle on our wood floors.

My God woos my heart through each piece of this season. He catches my attention, teaches me to slow my steps and smell the scent that is distinctly autumn. His presence meets me as I zip up my fleece and take a walk with Him. There is no time of year where I know His presence so clearly as I do now. He is always faithful to capture my heart.

And it’s only fitting that He also provided this as the season I fell in love with my husband.

With walks through the park and collecting leaves and drinking hot chocolate, God began to weave our romance throughout an October and November setting. Our first date – carving pumpkins underneath strung twinkling lights. The first time I told him, “I like you.”** The first time we held hands. The first time I looked into his eyes and thought about forever. It was this time of year.

Then a full year later, our love story was once again turning a page, and we got married beneath a canopy of red and brown and orange.  That same breeze rustled through our vows, and the symphony of falling leaves celebrated our kiss. We were pronounced man and wife, and a gray sky held off rain to witness our union.

My heart quickens at the thought of each new day and the magic I will find therein. I know I have a God pursuing me, drawing me to Himself and to a celebration of Who He is as Creator. It’s the best kind of party, with crunchy leaves and apple cider, and I am dizzy with His love.


**I actually was too embarrassed to tell him, so one night we were playing Mad Gab, and after he left to go home, I sent him a text in Mad Gab form : “Aisle Haiku,” and let him translate it.

magic purse – a post on intentionality in our marriage

Several months ago, Eric and I found ourselves consistently wondering how to be more intentional in our marriage. Last summer, we read a book together, going on weekly coffee dates to discuss each chapter and how it applied to our marriage. This was so significant for us, but we recognized that the season we were/are in is not as conducive to keeping up with a book together as it was last year.

When we were dating, we went through a book called 101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged. After you get past the cheesy cover, this was so much fun for us to pull out on road trips or over dinner on a date. We would take turns picking random questions to discuss, such as, “How do you want to spend holidays when you have a family?” and “What were finances like for your family while you were growing up?” and “What do you see in your parents’ marriage that you want/don’t want?”  These questions helped to give us a picture of the other’s past, as well as how that might translate into what their marriage and family would be like in the future. I highly recommend it for couples who are seriously dating, as it is a good resource for questions you might not have thought to ask, and it prepares you to deal with these decisions in the future.

So I decided to bring this question-asking tradition back. I put together a list of questions I found from various places on the internet, printed them off, then cut them into strips and stuck them in a pocket of my purse. In the middle of a date, I randomly exclaimed, “Magic purse!” and told a confused Eric to stick his hand in. He pulled out a slip of paper, unraveled it, and read off the question. I don’t know where the phrase “magic purse” came from, but it stuck, and on various dates or road trips or even sitting at home in the evenings, we would take turns pulling out a question or two and discussing them.

This has been a key to keep us talking, and if we have had a rough week and are feeling mentally exhausted, we don’t have to put forth a whole lot of effort to think of good questions. It keeps us daydreaming about the future and having a family, or even just continually being a student and learning about each other. Some of the questions are silly and fun, while others require more thoughtful input.

If you want too start this question-asking tradition, feel free to use this compilation of our questions to start with, and let me know if you come up with any good questions of your own! Click here to download the list.

Another resource for questions is from one of my favorite blogs, Today’s Letters – their weekly questions require vulnerability, but also provide room for specific growth in understanding your spouse and how to connect with him or her.

just about us

Very rarely do I update this blog on our day-to-day life. My purpose in this blog is less of a life story and more of a writing outlet with the significant things God is showing me. But so much has happened in the past couple of months that I thought it would be worth it to tell a little more.

First of all, we are joining staff with Cru! We recently attended an 8-day condensed New Staff Training, which had so much information that it felt a little like drinking from a fire hydrant, but it was so encouraging and affirming for this direction! For more about our ministry vision, you can visit our Cru-specific site at

orlando instagram picture

Second, Eric rode in his first “crit” race. This is a cycling race around a small course for a set amount of time – just getting in as many laps as you can and trying to finish first in your group. Previously, he has primarily been a distance rider, focusing on going further and being “fast” at that, but this is a different type of speed and strategy. He really enjoyed it, and I think he learned a lot. The crit season is actually over for the most part – it is a spring event, so who knows how much more he will be involved next year!


Third, we got a dog! Right now, it’s the best we are going to do to keep up with our friends buying houses and having babies, haha. His name is Ridley and he is a 2-year old border collie. We adopted him from a friend who wasn’t able to give him the attention he needed, and this dog has been such a fun blessing for us during this season! Especially as company for me, since I am working from home right now as we raise support.

Date Night at Arsaga’s on Dickson Street


It’s a rough life, lounging while Sam is working


Family Picture

family of 3

of storms and canoes and the adventures of marriage

The cliche is that your first year of marriage is the hardest.

For Eric and I, our first year was hard, but not in the sense of our relationship. That seemed to be the easy part – and could have been intentional from the Lord since we went through so much with jobs and finances and decisions. We were definitely in the “honeymoon” stage of our relationship for the entire first year.

Then, week one of year two hit, and all of a sudden we were in the middle of a storm. We fought against this odd disconnect between us for several weeks. We were constantly frustrated at each other – usually for little things that never seemed to bother us before. Like my irritation at the crunching sound when he ate un-popped kernels at the bottom of his popcorn bowl, which then caused me to . Silly, right?

Marriage is like paddling a canoe. When you encounter storms, one of you can’t paddle alone to get through it. If a canoe is paddled only on one side, it will start to spin. And spinning in the midst of crashing waves and pelting rain never made anyone feel better.

We fasted and prayed (even though praying together was awkward and never what we wanted to do). It would be better for a day, then come right back. I wanted so badly to make things better, but at the same time my pride convinced me that Eric was the one who needed to apologize. That month and a half – from our one-year anniversary until mid-December – was harder on our relationship than our whole first year combined.

We are not out of the clear. I don’t think any marriage is ever 100% “safe.” The God-ordained goal of marriage is to reflect His relationship with His bride, the Church – and we have an enemy who wants to destroy anything having to do with God’s glory. But the fact that we will have storms to face – together – is part of the adventure of marriage.

Paddling is a canoe is about teamwork. You have to paddle together, on opposite sides, to keep the canoe straight. You have be in unison. Both travelers need to do their part to steer and speed the canoe. Otherwise, it’s easy to become bitter at someone for being lazy, and one will wear himself out before the other.

Ice Skating

Unity is one of the greatest needs when encountering storms. If only one spouse is willing to lay down personal pride and work through it, then they will not succeed together. Eric and I both had to decide to fight this storm, to admit faults and to choose vulnerability. Oftentimes, I have noticed that the problem starts in my flesh – I am choosing to hold on to hurt because he said something I know he didn’t mean. Or I am annoyed that he didn’t do something. I think, though, that the Enemy knows how to use these little ticks and turn them into fuel for the fire – Eric running late in the morning turns into “He is always running late. He knows that being on time is a big deal to me, but he chooses to ignore that. He probably does it on purpose. I can’t believe he doesn’t care about my feelings or about our reputation. People will never rely on us.”

All of a sudden, a missed alarm turns into a husband who is out to destroy our reputation! Yeah right, Satan.

Whether it starts out with your flesh or is direct spiritual attack, you have to expect storms when it comes to relationships – whether you are married or single. It means 1) that you are human (therefore, imperfect) and 2) that you are doing something the enemy hates. Which, in my mind, is affirmation for my marriage.

Not that I want to taunt Satan to “bring it.” But, at the same time, I have a husband who has proven he wants to fight for us, and I have a God who is on my side.

We will just keep on paddling together, choosing to live by faith and not in fear of what might be coming ahead of us.

beauty of transition

It hasn’t hit yet.

But it is getting close. I can taste it in the air.

I can’t help but get this slighty giddy feeling in my stomach, as if I am about to embark on a new adventure. Almost the same feeling I had when I first started dating Eric : anticipation for the next day, hopefulness for the unknown, a longing for time together yet afraid of it passing by too quickly.

Of course, dating my husband was better, because that led to marriage. Which means spending the rest of our lives together. So he is a much better version of fall.

There is something so splendid about fall : the nip in the air, the feeling of an oversized sweater, a mug of hot tea warming my hands, and burrowing in sleep into the blankets on our bed (which have previously been kicked off the bed for the last three months). I want to take long walks and move through my day a little bit more slowly.

It also sends this craving through me for more time with the Lord. I really see God’s nature come alive. It’s like every single one of my five senses are engaged with Him during this time, and I would be perfectly content to simply sit alone with my journal and the Word. Other times of the year, I can’t stand to be by myself for extended periods of time, introvert I am not.

As it is approaching, though, I am already worried about missing it. Worried about the leaves changing too quickly and the weather becoming too cold. Worried about not getting to be outside enough and not savoring this special feeling.

But I don’t want to be so worried about the moment passing that I don’t enjoy the moment, too caught up in my concerns to not catch the beauty of the transition around me.

And I don’t want to be so entangled in what seems to be my personal thorns-in-the-flesh that I miss this season of life.

I am too easily bogged down with the things I am dissatisfied about. My focus turns towards the negative, even if it is something I can’t fix. And I know that this time is passing me by. Eric and I are almost at the one year mark of marriage, and for the past four months, I feel like I have characterized our time as this deep valley – I have been constantly clambering to get out of this pit, and it seems like the only thing I get in return is dirt in my fingernails from trying to climb out.

But this is a significant time in our marriage.

I have heard so many people say that they look back on the early stages of their marriage – when they are dirt poor and have no clue what they want to do with their lives – and they remember them being some of the happiest times of their lives. I don’t want to just look back and remember being happy; I want to recognize it in the present.

I don’t want to regret that the leaves will fall before they even change colors.

Carpe diem, I suppose. Everything is a transition into something new.

Seize the moment. Seize the adventure. Even if it’s not where I think I want to be right now. Each piece of autumn is beautiful, whether the beginning or end. And I know God is writing my story the same way.


After a full day of wearing many hats (problem solver, complaints department, personal shopper, bad news bearer), it feels good to just sit. To zone out a little. To allow Norah Jones’s crooning to loosen the furrows in my forehead. To expectantly listen for the Lord.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” {Revelation 22.17}

Dear Lord, I am thirsty.
I am needy.
I am useless.
Yet You want me?

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. {Zephaniah 3.17}

We aren’t just invited to “come” because God is a people-pleaser who can’t leave anyone out. He is not extending His hand out of guilt. He wants us! Wants me! He desires to just be with me.

The best way I can understand this longing to be in someone’s presence is through my experiences with my husband. Even if we aren’t necessarily talking – reading books together on the couch or driving down back highways with the windows open – I sincerely enjoy his presence.  After a long day at work, all I want to do is to curl up on the couch and lean my head against his shoulder. When he went through a period at work where he was staying up late to finish tasks, I requested that he work by lamp light in our bedroom so that I could just know he was there while I was falling asleep.

But as much as I love being around him, there are times where I need separation. Actually, as I write this, I am home alone – I sent him off to community group without me because I just needed the house to myself. I needed to decompress and work things out in myself.

God’s not like that.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. {Ezekiel 36:25}

This is where the analogy breaks down. God’s love is perfect. He doesn’t tire of us, even when we our emotions are in a funk. Even when we screw up. Even when no one else wants to be around us, God still longs for us. Wants to redeem us. Wants to hold us and change us.

I don’t want to be thankful for this season, honestly. It’s hard to be thankful when you feel lost. And I feel scared that, if I am thankful, God won’t bring change. Then I read this passage in Jesus Calling the other day:

Expect to encounter adversity in your life, remembering that you live in a deeply fallen world. Stop trying to find a way that circumvents difficulties. The main problem with an easy life is that it masks your need for Me.


An easy life is what I want. Honestly speaking. Which is why I don’t want to be thankful during the now. Because nothing happening right now is easy.

But if God is good, this is good. All of it. It will never be satisfyingly good, because that’s what heaven is for. And once I become too attached to earth, I don’t want heaven. And I don’t want God to grow me because I am comfortable and it will hurt.

God, I’m not comfortable. This hurts. But it reminds me that I need You. So I guess it’s what I want in the end. So Lord, I’m coming into Your presence, broken as I am, and trusting that You won’t give up on me.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. {Lamentations 3.22-3}