marriage letters: the fear of becoming bored

Dear Eric,

I went to bed early last night with a regular headache, and I woke up a little before 1 a.m. with the worst sharp headache that I have ever had. I stumbled into the kitchen to take a couple of Tylenol, and by the time I came back to bed, my head was throbbing.

You woke up and asked if everything was okay, and for the next 30-45 minutes you sat straight up in bed, stroked my hairline, and prayed over me as I tried to fall back asleep. Thankfully, the pain began to come and go, then eventually subsided to a normal headache as I fell back asleep. I don’t remember you laying back down, so I know you were awake longer than I was, praying over me and, I’m sure, trying to not worry.

It was one of the most tender moments in our almost six years of marriage, the way you cared for me and prayed for me. Did you know that, in the midst of miserable middle of the night pain, I fell in love with you a little more?

I used to worry that, if infertility lasted too long, we might get bored. Stagnant.

Not that I wouldn’t still love you, or that we wouldn’t be best friends, but that our marriage would not move forward to the next stage. That we would feel stale together. Every other marriage I observed and many of the couples we talked to described how their relationship changed when they had kids. It pushed them to learn so much more about God and themselves, and I guess I began to see that as the only way to learn those things.

In the past 6-8 months, though, I have started to experience the Lord pushing us to grow and changing us, even without the added factor of kids. Not just because we have had a lot going on in our lives, still adjusting to our move last summer and changes in seasons of work, but because I see that God is changing both of us.

If sanctification is a life-long process, I am realizing that means that we will always be changing, if we are individually walking with the Lord and allowing his Spirit to work in our lives. As we both wrestle with sin in our lives, as we continually allow our minds to be renewed and our lives to be transformed, as we take steps of faith and find ourselves in new circumstances–we will each grow. And we are growing even now as we trust God with where he has us today as well as where he will take us tomorrow.

Keeping our marriage healthy takes so much intentionality. It always has–even in the beginning, it required work on our part. But I think the reason it can almost feel harder now is it’s easier to co-exist without thinking about it, since we know each other so well. We aren’t still learning some of those everyday things that we learned our first few years married: what will unconsciously hurt the other person’s feelings, how to handle conflict, the best way to discuss finances, the need to communicate expectations. Not that we perfectly follow those now, but I typically know why what I said upset you or when to wait on bringing up a to-do list.

Yet I know that I don’t know everything about you–or, at least, I know I should never think that I do. I want to be a student of Eric Barnes. I want to see you as someone who is ever-changing and maturing, and it’s my privilege to walk alongside you and affirm you and call out the growth you may not see in yourself.


The other night, we sat together in front of our fire pit in the backyard watching flames flicker and dance. In the quiet of the night, I prayed that God would help me to know you more deeply, to take the time to ask those intentional questions and to make space for us to engage each others’ hearts.

I’m excited for this season of our marriage as we continue to grow individually and together, no matter what changes (or lack of changes) are prompting that growth.

You’re my favorite.

Love, me.


I started writing marriage letters a couple of years ago to participate with a monthly blog series Amber Haines prompted others to join in with her. Writing these letters spoke affirmation into my marriage, and my prayer is that by still writing them and sharing them every so often, I will also encourage others to pursue intentionality and affirmation in their own marriages.


what love looks like for us these days

The first time I said, “I love you,” the words felt foreign on my lips.

Eric had just asked me to marry him while we were standing on the overlook of Yellow Rock Trail at sunset. Candles flickered in Mason jars and my shirt clung to my skin in the sticky July air as I clung to the man putting a ring on my finger.

Even as I said those words, the moment felt surreal. While I had known for several months that I loved Eric, we had decided to wait to say that phrase until we were engaged. Of course, he had come up with other sneaky ways of expressing his affection for me. We must have watched the Princess Bride together (I don’t quite remember), but at some point he started responding to me with the phrase As you wish.

As we started planning a wedding and saying those words more often, it almost felt like some sort of made-up language. I knew that love was more than a strong attraction or a sexual desire. I was pretty sure part of love was the promise to stick by each other no matter what, but for as often as I said it, I didn’t fully grasp what it meant.

After five years of marriage–which has included job losses, single income seasons, support raising, two house purchases, rotten jobs, moving to a new city, and infertility–I now more confidently know what love is.

I might venture to say that even after just the past year, my understanding of love has deepened. We know that love is patient, kind, and unselfish. It is not proud or rude or a competitive scorekeeper. But what does that look like played out in everyday life?

As I looked across the table at Eric last night over dinner, my heart melted. It’s been seven years since we first met, and I still find him so handsome and attractive. However, the sensation under my skin was prompted by more than just his appearance. I had this rare instant of a flooding back of all that we have been through together over the past year. The test results, the interviews, the decision to move, the house selling and house hunting and house buying, the new friends, the doctor appointments, the financial uncertainty, the adjusting to newness–it all combined into this deep exhale in recognition of the life we have made together.

And, in that moment, I knew that our love for each other is stronger than it has ever been, because we now know how to love not just in a mental and emotional state, but as a way of life.

Love is choosing to listen and encourage, even when the complaining words coming out of someone’s mouth are the exact same words they have been saying for the past three weeks–or months.

Love is allowing yourself to be a mess in front of someone else, finding that they, too, are a mess; there’s no pressure to get it together and get over it.

Love is the ability to simply know what someone is thinking in a moment, because you have walked through pain together often enough to know each others’ triggers and hurts and needs.

Love is choosing to ask the questions that you know will be answered with what you don’t want to hear, but asking them anyway because the other person needs to feel known.

Love is holding hands and not phones, making the conscious decision to take a break from the influence of the world and focus on the person in front of you.

Love is being willing to walk away from something you treasure because you treasure that person more than your own personal gain.

Love is recognizing that despite the uncertainty of the future, you are certain about who you want by your side.

I’m not going to lie, the past year has been difficult for Eric and I individually. It has been exhausting for our marriage. But it has also been sweet as we have continued to grow together; trials and challenges have been the glue that cements us together. And as much as my understanding of love has grown in these early years of marriage, I am confident I will know it even more deeply in another five years.

marriage letters: on pulling for each other

Dear Eric,

One of my favorite times of the year is upon us. It’s when you slip on the red spandex, air up your tires, and hop on your bike to start training for race season.

There are many reasons I love this time of year.IMG_2879

First of all, the spandex.

Enough said?

Secondly, I love watching you do something you love. It relieves your stress, recharges your mind, renews your heart. You hop off the bike a better man each and every time you go out for a ride.

Thirdly, race culture is fun! Rid and I love coming to watch you race and mingling with the other bike wives and soaking up the sun while you work your tail end off.

Fourthly, thanks to burning 1500+ calories per ride, you look dang good. (Apparently not enough was said after my first point.)

I enjoy getting to ride bicycles together, too – and I appreciate that your speedy legs slow themselves down to a leisurely pace as I huff and puff up the Reed Valley hill. I’m pickier about my riding weather and more focused on the fun of it as opposed to the challenge (one of the only areas I oddly enough don’t always feel competitive), but I do enjoy going out on long rides together. The conversation, the scenery, the silence, the sound of our gears shifting in unison ties my heart to yours, reminds me of the journey we are on together.

One of the things about marriage is that, even when we are walking through different things, we are always walking together. Work is stressful for you, and while your tasks at work don’t affect me, the way they affect you then affects me. Sometimes this is a beautiful thing – it allows me to enter into your life and encourage you and spur you on.

Sometimes, though, it’s a frustrating thing. It causes tension because I don’t understand what you are walking through so I don’t want to engage you in that place, or I don’t want to give you sympathy. I want you to be able to leave it all at work, not bring it home to me. I get annoyed and I forget the beauty that I just described above of my role as a wife to enter into your struggle.

I am sure you often feel the same way with the junk I bring to the table. And the tears – goodness, the roller coaster of emotions that you have had to deal with over the past several months has been enough to make anyone crack.

We are two broken people trying to make a marriage work, and often one of us doesn’t have the strength to press on like normal.

So we pull for each other.

You are so good about “pulling” for me on the bike. When it’s windy and I am complaining, or if we are climbing a hill and I am struggling, you slow down and allow me to draft behind you, getting my front wheel as close as possible to your rear wheel. This takes some of the burden off me – and it puts us closer together. It forces teamwork.

And that’s how I want our marriage to be. Let’s be real, I will probably never have to pull for you on the bike, but when you are struggling in life (whether it be an off day or an off week or an off month), I want to get as close to you as possible and help pull you until your legs are strong enough to confidently pedal on their own. I want to work together in understanding that we take turns pulling – sometimes, it’s your turn, and sometimes it’s mine – and that we don’t keep count of how many pulls each of us has taken. We’re not about fairness in our marriage; we’re about working together on this journey and arriving to our destination at the same time and with the same pace.

So let’s get out our bikes and ride into new adventures together, both literally and metaphorically. I’ll be by your side in case you need someone to pull for awhile.

And so I can check you out in your fancy spandex race wear.


a list for those still looking for mr. right

As Eric and I approach our fourth wedding anniversary (November 6!), I have been reflecting on what I’ve learned over the past four years as a wife. “Healthy marriage” has become a passion for both Eric and I, as we could spend all day talking about what we’ve learned (typically the hard way) and how we have seen the Lord use our relationship to refine us individually and refine us together. We love having the opportunity to pour into younger couples and to pray for our friends in their marriage relationships and to spend time learning together how we can continue to grow in this relationship that is ultimately meant to reflect God and His relationship with His people.

When you realize the ultimate purpose of marriage, you should recognize a certain weight from what you have entered into with your spouse. It’s more than just a piece of paper signed by the two of you and an officiant – marriage is a holy covenant and a ginormous responsibility and a wonderful privilege.

As a wistful, wishing teenager, I remember reading books that talked about making lists of the qualities I wanted in a future husband. I confess that I loved daydreaming about being married to Prince Charming one day, so I would fill journals with my hopes and dreams for what he would be like and what fun things we would do together and what I expected marriage to be like.

But looking back, I see a certain danger in this practice. Yes, it was good to think through my standards and prevent against falling for the wrong guy, but I think it can also prevent falling for the right guy if you set unrealistic expectations. I should have spent time talking to married women in my life who could tell me what was actually important in a marriage as opposed to my looking to romantic comedies and classic novels and trying to pull out all of the characteristics I liked about the heroes of my favorite stories.

When Eric and I first got to know each other, I didn’t think he was right for me. I had always pictured myself with someone loud and outgoing to match my own personality. I thought it would be a man who was strong-willed enough to prevent me from running over him, which I had been told by many people was a must due to my own strong tendencies. I was extremely active in high school and college playing sports, and I pictured playing ultimate frisbee or softball with my husband, maybe coaching a kids’ soccer team together one day. And as wonderful as I knew Eric was, I didn’t see these qualities in him. He didn’t meet the expectations I had set for myself as a fifteen-year old, so I felt like we didn’t “click” and I needed to keep waiting.

Six months later, when the man didn’t stop pursuing me, I began to realize I was wrong. His introverted nature and calm demeanor have since softened my rough edges, and he keeps me from running myself ragged always trying to be busy. I have learned the beauty of reflection and of quiet moments in my day. He might not be the strong-willed man who can overpower me, but instead he has the desire to lead me in love, which in turn challenges me to give him space to lead and to teach myself to not be in control. He’s a cyclist, a sport I never really thought about but now appreciate (not only because it’s less impact on my knees and feet, but also because it keeps him in pretty great shape ;) ). I still get to be active with him on bike rides and walks and the occasional run with the dog, which are activities that will last far longer in life than my ability to catch a frisbee or shoot a layup.

Bigger than these things, though, I have learned more about the character traits that are important in a husband and in a marriage. Most of these have become clear as we have walked through life together and had to process unexpected or unchartered experiences.

So for you, dear reader who might be single or dating, let me share with you some of what four years of marriage has taught me when it comes to looking for Mr. Right. 

  • A growing relationship with the Lord on his own. He can’t be going to church or attending a Bible study just to please you; the authenticity of his walk with God will impact every single area of your marriage, from how he makes decisions to how he handles finances to how he forgives to how he serves to how he responds to his mistakes and your mistakes. It’s okay if he’s not there yet — none of us ever “arrive” when it comes to spiritual maturity — but you should be able to tell whether or not he is growing. And as he grows in the Lord, it should push you to also grow spiritually, to dig more into intimacy with God. Through Eric’s relationship with the Lord, I began to understand a new perspective  on how to walk with Him and relate to Him, and he pushed me to go deeper.
  • Involvement in community with other believers. There’s the cliche about no man being an island – and it’s true. As women, we know we have a strong need for relationships and for deep conversations, while it can be a harder need to recognize in men. Eric is typically pretty content to come home and just be with me. However, I can tell that Eric is at his healthiest when he is getting regular time with other men, both in his season of life and those ahead of him or behind him. This community keeps him accountable, as well as reminds him that he is not “the only one” who is struggling with work or with something in marriage or in his spiritual life. Especially after college, friend time doesn’t come as naturally, and it requires much more initiative than it did when he was in class or eating in the cafeteria with other dudes.
  • Good reputation and respect among peers. This was one of the first things that stood out to me about Eric Barnes. When he introduced himself to me, I knew who he was because I had heard other men mention his name. After he asked me to formal, I had several people come up to me and say, “I heard Eric Barnes asked you to formal! He’s such a great guy.” You want someone who is respected among people, not someone that people make fun of or don’t take seriously at the appropriate times. You don’t want to have to convince people of his character or defend his intentions; when you get married, you and your husband are “one,” and whatever is his reputation will typically be attached to the both of you.
  • An attitude of learning. Don’t look for Mr. Perfect. Look for Mr. Willing-to-Learn. The elusive “they” tell you that the first year of marriage is the hardest, and I believe this is true in the sense that it’s exhausting to constantly encounter new situation after new situation: What do we do for a phone plan? Who will pay the bills? How do we handle holidays? What do you need when you come home from a bad day? What annoying habits do I have that you now have to put up with? Are we going to move or stay put? I can only anticipate what new things we will need to learn one day when we have kids and have to learn how to parent. I am so grateful that I married a man who constantly wants to learn not just how to do life with me, but also how he can improve (especially as our situations change).
  • Humility. This relates to an attitude of learning, but it also relates to how he handles the authority in his own life. Is he willing to obey God even if it’s a hard decision? Does he even go to God to ask for wisdom? Does he have a mentor whom he respects, or does he criticize anyone who tries to counsel him? Humility also affects how quick he is to forgive and forget. A humble man doesn’t hold grudges or feel that he should be righted for whatever wrong was done to him, whether by you or anyone else.
  • Aware of his weaknesses. Eric has learned what things he is good at, and consequently which areas he is most likely to struggle. It’s such a joy for me to come alongside him in his weaknesses, as he does in mine, and we find our rhythm best when we are honest with ourselves in the areas we will probably need help. A man should know in which areas he struggles with self-control, and he should have accountability present (typically not you) when it comes to not allowing himself to be dominated by work or by a hobby or by food/alcohol.
  • Speaks well of you in public (whether or not you are present) and saves criticism or questioning for private. I am so blessed by a man who does this well. I have never felt shamed by him or made fun of (beyond appropriate teasing) in front of people I know or even don’t know. When we get together for his work Christmas party each year, one of the first things new people I meet tell me is that they have heard so many good things about me. Now, I am far from perfect, and I often speak without thinking, but Eric is always careful to be gracious in how he handles those situations. He doesn’t go into work in the morning complaining about the argument we had or the plans we disagreed on over the weekend. This is so valuable, and a habit that I pray I cultivate as well.
  • Affirming of you. Eric praises me in public, but he also praises me when no one is around. Even if we need to have a discussion on a way I could change or be more considerate, he is careful to also affirm me in other areas of our relationship. He affirms my passions, my dreams, my appearance, my cooking, my work to run our household, my ministry, etc. etc. I feel confident that he supports me in any endeavor I attempt.

I could go on, so please don’t take this as an exhaustive list. However, these are character traits that should be evident in a man’s life before you get married. Putting a ring on a man’s finger won’t change him, as much as you might hope it would. Marriage is less about changing a person into a good husband and more about the two of you growing together in maturity, in life experience, and in the Lord. 

You won’t marry a perfect man. You probably won’t even marry a man who hits every single ideal on your list. But, if you marry a man who is godly and teachable (and you yourself are godly and teachable), it will make all the difference for the rest of your life.

marriage letters: on unmet expectations

Dear Eric,

Early on in our relationship, our primary disagreements were on unmet expectations. I expected, when you were coming to pick me up from church, that you would arrive 15 minutes before it started so we could get there right on time, maybe a few minutes early to mingle and find a seat. You expected that picking me up at 5 till 9 and walking in 8 minutes late was the best approach. Needless to say, we had a lot of silent, tension-filled car rides on Sunday mornings.

After getting married, we found that we had different ideas on how to spend a Saturday.You enjoy sleeping in a little, taking the morning slow, savoring the pleasure of not having anything to do. My internal alarm clock won’t let me sleep past 7 am, so I am always out the door at 7:15 to go grocery shopping, then coming home and clean and organize. No such thing as “slow” in my vocabulary.

Then there were the date nights. You would so lovingly plan out every detail of our evening, but a disconnect in my expectation of eating first versus your expectation that dinner could happen later would stir up tension and frustration (until you caught on that I don’t function well when I’m hungry).

So – out of necessity – we started communicating expectations. I think this has been one of the best practices in our marriage, one of the areas I have seen the most growth for us. Very rarely do we miscommunicate because we take precautions to talk about everything.

Each Friday night, we ask, “What do you expect for tomorrow?”
Every Sunday while driving home from church, we talk about how we want the day to look.
Throughout the week, we talk about which evenings are free and if there is anything the other wants to prioritize.

Plus we know each other well enough to know how the other usually wants to spend free time.

Recently, though, I have recognized more significant unmet expectations that we are still working through, ones that additional communication won’t repair.

It’s you with your job – working in a corporate office is not where you expected to be four+ years after graduating. You question what you are doing and why you are there and if there is any hope for something else. We dream together about grad school and ministry and what it will take to help you thrive, but it all seems just out of our reach. I sense you fighting bitterness against the life you wanted but don’t have, the disillusionment of being a twenty-something. You want to have it all figured out before we have kids, before we enter a new season, but it doesn’t seem to be happening the way you expected it would.

But unmet expectations are also held by that idea of entering the next season. The work and the waiting in starting a family was not what we expected. I am still processing what it means to not have control over this timing while finding myself each month wondering if it is time. We haven’t been in this new journey for very long, and I know it’s not time for me to be frustrated yet, but it’s been long enough for me to realize that I still struggle with not getting what I want when I want it. With unmet desire and with plans I don’t get to plan. And unlike in our marriage, God doesn’t sit down with me and discuss His expectations or His ideas. He simply sits with me, lets me talk, and asks me to trust Him.

To be honest, I think we fear asking God for specific things because of past unmet expectations. We fear setting deadlines and praying big prayers – not because we don’t believe God is capable, but because we deep down don’t believe He will answer.

We can’t fix these unmet expectations on our own, and we have to learn how to handle them just how we had to learn how to do with the little things in marriage. We are processing with words and with tears and with presence. Instead of a disconnect, our unmet expectations are pulling us together. And that might make all the difference with whatever we will encounter in the future – that we are a team. We are doing this as one.

Starting today, let’s both work to believe God for big things and to grow together as we ask for more faith. Life may not meet the expectations we have set, but I’m grateful we get to work at it with each other, rerouting our plans and rearranging our desires to match what the Lord has for us in the present.

You are the best teammate, and the Lord exceeded my expectations when He gave me you.


the beauty in submission

Nature hums and chirps around me this morning. The days are hot here, and the humidity weighs on you like a wool blanket, but morning shade reminds me of why I love summer. Our little town in the Ozarks sleeps in during these months, enjoying the quiet opportunity before the rush and bang of late August, the start of school and football and college students returning. I loved this quirky town as a student, but I know I love her even more as an adult.

Last week, Eric and I walked past a man wearing a tie-dye duster sweater who was walking a goat on a leash. We then accidentally attended a (rather upbeat) wake at a local combination coffee shop and craft brew bar. This morning, families ride past me on the trail on their bicycles, and a group of retired men laugh over morning coffee together. Soon, the whole town will be decked out in red and white, and random calls of “Woo Pig” will echo in the streets downtown. Sweet Fayetteville surrenders to seasons like a lazy canoe on the river floats along where it is taken.

“Surrender” and”submission” don’t always have to carry a negative connotation. There’s a coming beauty in the release of the now-green leaves to the death awaiting them, to the orange and gold turning and falling.

Often, though, when it comes to relationships, we cringe at these words. With them we hear whispers of “defeat” and “loser” and “weak,” and in a culture obsessed with equality and fairness, the concept of submission seems irrelevant or – at best – a necessary evil. Yet the world around us works best when there is submission. There is freedom for a sailboat at sea when it follows the rules of the wind and the mast and the rudder.

In my marriage, I have seen the beauty of submission at work. I have experienced the freedom we have found as a result of yielding and preferencing the other – and, ultimately, in surrendering to Christ. I have several friends whose marriages are struggling right now, and I think that is totally normal. Marriage is hard; you are trying to get two broken and selfish people to work together in the day to day of life. But one of the things that has made the difference in our marriage recently is a greater understanding of submission, both for me to Eric but also for me to Christ and for Eric to Christ.

Submission is not me losing every battle – the relationship within marriage is not a battle in any sense. Eric and I are on the same team, and he is the “team captain” with God as our “Coach.” I can follow Eric’s leadership for our team because I know he is following the leadership of our Coach. Elisabeth Elliot wrote, “The world doesn’t run without authority. Somebody has to tell us what to do. The question is not who he thinks he is but whom does he represent.” When Eric is leading out of his relationship with God, I am not looking to my husband as my ultimate authority but to God. When Eric is not walking closely with Christ, or is in a “dry” season in this walk, my response is not to usurp his role, but instead to pray for him and encourage him and affirm him. Life change happens more often through positive words than negative and critical comments. When Eric knows I believe in him and trust him, he feels a deeper pull to step up and make changes.* When I criticize and demean his leadership or communicate doubt in his character, he gets paralyzed by discouragement, and our unity is broken.

Submission is not me losing my personality or my strengths and giftings. I have always had a natural bent towards leadership, and was often told growing up that I needed to tame that side of my personality because it would come across too “strong” for a man to want to pursue me. However, my Eric tells me that my strong personality was an attraction to him, and he still praises me for how the Lord uses me in leadership capacities. I, of course, can tend towards an unhealthy practice of this, and I recognized that even more when I got married and found myself nagging and criticizing and correcting in desire of still having some sort of control over our relationship. I think the Lord has developed in me a healthier view of leadership through my growth in submission. While I am still constantly fighting my fleshly desires, I lead differently in situations where my role is to lead, and I am able to trust in situations where I am not the leader. In fact, my growth in submission works in conjunction with Eric’s growth in leading and rejecting passivity, and it’s been a beautiful picture of the work of the Spirit to sanctify us both in our sin tendencies.

Ultimately, though, submission is not about me. It’s about God. I am submitting to God through Eric. I am trusting God when I trust Eric to make decisions for our family. Self-centeredness is what makes submission so difficult. “In humility count others more significant than yourself. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3). When we live by this in our relationships, submission becomes less about absolute authority and more about loving another well – in marriage, loving your spouse well. As believers, we are all called to live this way, whether husband or wife, so when we are walking in the Spirit, this will be how we treat our spouse. We aren’t grasping at strings we can pull or accomplishments to hang over the other person’s head. We aren’t worried about getting the better end of the deal or having things our way. And there’s a sort of joy in letting go of those things.

In fact, we should discover joy in the grace found in inequality – “home is a place where we ought to be allowed to be unequal, where everyone knows everyone else’s inequalities and knows, furthermore, that it is the inequalities that make the home work” (Elisabeth Elliot). In love, you desire the best for someone, and in love you naturally serve them. You don’t make it about whose turn it is or complain about how much they did versus you. I know Eric’s weaknesses, and I love that I complement those, so I want to serve him in those ways, and I rejoice in the ways he serves me in my lack.

Submission is a constant area of growth for me, and I promise we don’t have it all together in our marriage, but I am learning more and more what it looks like to trust Eric’s leadership and love him well. In return, he is freed to flourish in his role as a husband and leader, and when he is flourishing I find that he in turn loves me well. It has the potential to be an endless cycle of loving and serving each other, and this keeps us unified so that the battle of marriage is fighting together against the trials of this broken world.


*caveat : this can become manipulation if your heart isn’t right or if you use it as a way to control your husband

marriage letters: on home

Dear Eric,

We once thought we would get to work together – back when we thought we were joining a ministry, the both of us. We had worked together once before, a brief period at the same company. Driving to work together daily was fun, but also convenient since we only had one car. And the time we had to take that one car to the shop to be repaired, we rode our bikes to work. There was something so sweet about taking a break during the day to grab something to drink and meander up to your desk just to say hi and kiss you on the cheek. If I had a bad day, I could send you an instant message and ask you to meet me in the break room, and you could just hug me for a minute, reminding me that everything was going to be okay.

We dreamed about working together not just for convenience and kisses, though. We loved the idea of working for the same purpose, of being united together in our daily goals and plans and spent energy.

Yet that’s not what happened. We work on opposite sides of town and spend our energies differently, me for college students and you for pet treats. Once again, we only have one car, so thank goodness for your motorcycle to allow for our separate schedules and transportation needs.

Despite our different locations and goals and tasks, though, I find that we do still work together. Our place of unity, of working together, of shared vision, is our home. Home is where we are a team.

We’re still in the “newlywed” stage of home ownership, where people are frequently asking us how we like our new house. We usually smile and talk about how fun it has been and what current projects we are working on to make it our own. You have been building that screened in porch, and even though it is taking longer than you hoped (definitely not a weekend project), I am super excited about how it is turning out. I’ve been trying to brainstorm new ideas for our bedroom and the office, and there are still some boxes nagging at me from the upstairs closet. It’s been so fun to work together to tangibly create “our space” and decide what we want to change or keep.

But our new house isn’t just special to me because of the porches or the walk in closet or the spacious kitchen. The working together I am thinking of is not only in the physical and tangible. The significance of our house is the space of home, the space for us to create together, to work together, to live together. It’s where we engage in ministry and community. It’s where we battle for our marriage and for our friends’ marriages and for our families in prayer. Home is where we will one day work together (and learn together) in raising our own family. As Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote, “The web of marriage is made by propinquity, in the day to day living side by side, looking outward and working outward in the same direction.” The side by side work is my favorite, because you are the one by my side.

Let’s keep spinning this web together.



Each month, I write a letter to participate with Amber Haines in the “Marriage Letters” series on her blog. I love getting 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.

marriage letters: on new seasons

Dear Eric,

Our life seems to be all about new seasons lately. We moved out of our rent house – the first place we lived together after we got married – and have moved into our first purchased house. I’m no gardener, but I feel like we have transplanted ourselves from a patio container to the deep, wide earth. This new house is full of new possibilities and projects and places to grow together.


As the old house slowly emptied (thanks to working hands of dear friends), the reality of our move was numbed by my desire to start unpacking boxes and finding a new sense of home. It felt less bittersweet than I expected – rather, it felt right.

Our final week in our sweet Sycamore home was fitting – boxes filling every nook and corner, just as they did when we first moved in. Red tulips, planted as bulbs for my birthday last fall, bloomed that last week. The scissors were packed away, so I grabbed stems straight out of the ground and carried them to our new home in my fist, ragged edges revealing my haste in making sure we didn’t move without taking those blossoms we rightfully deserved to enjoy.

As spring settles in to her unpredictable routine, we, too, now settle in to this new season of home ownership. While you have always been a do-it-yourself kind of guy, I see you in a whole ‘nother element here, planning for and daydreaming about projects you want to start and ways to make this place our own.  You have already worked hard to help make this house home, and I am grateful for everything you have accomplished.

As we move forward on this “new house high,” though, I want you to know that I don’t expect it to always feel this exciting. I am anticipating days when the idea of another house project doesn’t seem as fun, or moments when we wish we could just call a landlord to deal with the latest problem. While you get excited now to cross things off the honey-do list, I am cautiously awaiting the day that list becomes a burden on you. As with each weather-related season, the newness will turn to normal, and we once again won’t be able to wait for a change in temperature.

Spring’s moody weather patterns wear on me even now, and I am wishing for consistent sunshine and heat.

The point of this letter, though, is where I want you to find confidence. Whether we are in an exciting seasonal transition or the doldrums of repetition, I am grateful to be growing by your side. I will never tire of crawling into bed, clicking off lamps, and weaving my feet in between yours. I will never long for a seasonal change in our morning routine of prayers and cheek kisses before we go our separate ways. I love the anticipation of new seasons, but that anticipation would not be the same if it was not with you.

In the words of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, “home is wherever I’m with you.”

And even when new seasons turn into monotonous days, I am grateful to God to find myself at your side.



marriage letters logoOn the first Monday of every month (or when I get around to it), I’ll be writing a letter to participate with Amber Haines in the “Marriage Letters” series on her blog. I love getting 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.

marriage letters: what you call holy

Dear Eric,

There’s this recurring look you get in the spring and summer – out of breath, gleam in your eye, salt on your cheeks and creases of eyes. The words from your mouth tell of tired legs and hard hills and exhaustion… but that gleam tells of more.

Helmet, wheels, back roads become your own burning bush, the instruments God uses to turn you aside from tasks and meet Him on holy ground. Alone on your bike, you listen for His voice and hold fast to your desire for His Presence. You are the thinker between us, I the rash one, and I am ever thankful for the space you make to process with your Father.

37190_1657608283722_7806036_nThat look of having encountered the holy is similar to the look that caused me to fall in love with you in the first place. That summer before we started dating (when we were both in Alaska and I called you and told you that I had no interest in being anything beyond friends so you should forget it), I secretly checked your Facebook page regularly to find new photos of what you were doing in Anchorage while I was 600 miles away in Juneau, separated by land and water and uncertainty. I felt like we didn’t connect in the way I expected to connect with someone I wanted to date, but I couldn’t stop myself from admitting that you were one hunk of a man. There are a couple of pictures of you with a sort of smirk on your face, I assume towards the photographer, yet the life behind your eyes drew me in. I knew there was something special about that boy with the wind-blown hair and hiking boots, I just didn’t think that something special was for me. You wanted it still. I didn’t. But I wished I wanted it.

What you call holy is wrapped up in wind and air and breath and lack of breath. Your space to meet with God, take off your sandals, and strip bare before Him happens as you ride your bike or hike a mountain or wake up among the trees. It is there that you are honest, available, alive.

And it is there that we now meet God together. I can’t believe He provided a man for me who wants to create holy spaces with me, to linger in the coolness of the morning or to pedal away from the fading sun in hopes of being united together in that which you call holy.


P.S. Ever thought about growing your hair out again?


marriage letters logoOn 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. I love getting 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.

marriage letters: on healing and wholeness

Dear Eric,

I have a feeling you will remember this week, though maybe not for happy reasons. Your work was hard – not in the way where I listen and want to tell you to stick it out, but in the way that my heart aches with the stress and the burden you are under. I wish I was in a more lucrative position to give you the chance to up and quit, because I know you thought about it multiple times on Monday and Tuesday.

And your job is not the only sinker pulling you down — after two weekends and somewhere around 20 hours of labor, your 4Runner still won’t start. To avoid sharing a car yesterday, you rode your motorcycle to work in chilly weather, only to have the battery die on you at a gas station up the street. It’s not a fantastic ratio to have two out of three motorized vehicles out of commission.

On top of all of this, you have been sick for the past 36 hours (ironic, since this letter is about health). You got home from work last night and immediately curled up on our loveseat (one day, we will have a normal sized couch, I promise) under our favorite green blanket. I got home to a kitchen full of dirty dishes from having dinner guests the night before, frantically sighed, and surrendered to Little Caesar’s offer of a $5 pizza. Those dishes are still sitting there this morning, lounging in the residue of pot roast and cheese grits. This real life stuff is romantic, let me tell ya.


Yet the sun is rising this morning just the same. I can catch glances of wispy clouds between the silhouettes of naked trees out our living room window. Traffic is picking up on our little street, the one people in the east part of town use as a cut-through to College. The neighbors are scraping frost off their windshields, and I am grateful for a janky-yet-functional carport courtesy of our landlords. A verse about mercies being new each morning repeats in my head as I hear you stretch and groan in your barely-conscious state.

Even a year or two ago, this week would have had me in tears. Sharing a car and working in different towns would have provoked daily tensions in our relationship and in our home. The emotional burden you carry back from work would have once pushed us apart, a distance I couldn’t quite grasp. Lies of loneliness used to drag me down when we didn’t get quality time in the evenings, like last night when you fell asleep so early. We may not have fully figured out adulthood yet (does anyone ever?), but I see progress on our journey. That trailhead from three years ago is in the distance, and even when it feels like we are climbing up rocks by hands and feet, the view keeps getting better.

And that’s how I feel about healing and wholeness. We aren’t there yet, and I still see wounds in you, in us, from the parts of the journey that still don’t make sense – but we are healthier than we were a year ago, and I think that means we are walking in the right direction.

Feel better, babe. I love you.




marriage letters logoAmber at The Runamuck is starting up a marriage letters series again! This month wasn’t an official link-up, but you should check out her recent marriage letter. Starting in February, I will be linking up with others at the start of the month who are also practicing the habit of blessing their husbands and their marriages.