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.

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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.

Love,
me.

——————————————–

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.

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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.

Love,
me.

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.

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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.

Love,
me.

_______________________________

 

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.

the view from the branches

A cold front seemed to come out of nowhere this weekend.

It was like a car in front of me stopping suddenly, causing me to brake and brace for the jolt that comes with sudden change in motion. Yet instead of grasping for potentially airborne coffee mugs and cell phones, I found myself piled with scarves and blankets and flannel, staring out the living room window as if eyeing an opponent before battle.

As one who thrives in fall but despises winter, I need to be slowly coaxed into coats. Easing me into it is the best way to keep me happy, just like I prefer to start submerging toes in the shallow end of a cold pool before I am ready to go all the way under. The weather will be getting warmer again (thank goodness for Arkansas’ southern ways), but this taste of winter was enough to push me into hiding.

And it wasn’t just me who experienced the shock of quick change. Pretty leaves once fanning out and showing off colors shriveled up on branches as if in fetal position, begging to be shielded from the wind. I watched Saturday morning as flurries of leaves fell to the ground, giving up the fight to cling to trees.

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Over the past few years, this dramatic seasonal change from September to December seemed to mirror my life during those months — from starting to date Eric to getting married to job changes for us both, this time of year in the past has involved a lot of transition. The past six or seven months, though, we have been experiencing something new: rest. By no means is life perfect, and by no means are we always content with this rest, but it’s an answer to a prayer that we have been praying for awhile. Our marriage is in a good place. Eric’s job is stressful, but he has figured out how to cope (most of the time). I feel like I am finding my role in ministry with Cru. Even our mischievous border collie has been content with cuddling on the couch or chewing an antler (rawhide is bad, people!) instead of chasing deer in the woods across the street.

However, I enjoy change and trying new things (albeit slowly, like the getting into a swimming pool situation), and I easily get restless if I am in the same place too long. I would be a leaf that fell off a tree not because I lost strength to hold on, but because I wanted to see what it was like on the ground. I have found myself several times over the past couple of months wondering what type of big change we could make to add some excitement to our lives, and from that grows a discontentment with a clear answer to our prayers.

In the midst of busy seasons, or hard seasons, or seasons of change, we desire something consistent, something secure. But when that constancy is present, we – or at least I – grow bored. I am constantly warring with that discontent, and there is always something new that I am longing for.

I am making a decision, though, to embrace the rest. To not let my guard down when it comes to the flirtations of wanting more of this or something other than now. To rejoice in God’s grace during this season, yet to not grow independent and distant from still needing Him.

When it’s time to let go of the branch and experience the fall to the ground – which happens to us all – I will trust the Lord in a new way. That fall means death is near — the kind of death that causes leaves to crunch under feet and crumble to dirt so that new green life can come in time.  But my time now is to rest in the current life and not grow weary of the view from the branches. Because it really is a fantastic view.

marriage letters: seeing you come alive

Dear Eric,

My dad is a man of many hobbies and talents. From restoring an old car to planting a garden to riding dirt bikes to building bunk beds, my child-self was fascinated with the projects he could accomplish.

It’s not surprising that I married a man who is the same way.

Whether it is building a coffee table or installing new shifters on your bicycle or planning out our next camping spot, you’ve always got something new on the radar. Something else you want to accomplish or learn or start.

You come alive when you know you are capable of something. 

photo (2)I watched you last weekend as you competed in your first Cat 5 cycling race. I watched the detail and attention you paid to your bike as you prepared for the event. I watched you talk to other riders, seeking advice and tips to set you up for success. I watched your eyes, hard and determined, after you passed me on that first lap, pushing through after the crash that slowed you down – but didn’t stop you. I watched you finish strong, already thinking about the next race, since you now knew you were capable of competing.

You had proved yourself.

As someone who played competitive sports throughout my life, I remember the thrill of the moments before the whistle blows and the rushing adrenaline and the attention to detail and the pre-game rituals. The thrill of your efforts and training finally about to pay off.

You came alive in experiencing that thrill.

I have always known you to be someone who persevered, someone who refused to give up. That determination still shines through, and I hope you see yourself as capable.

The best part about a husband who dares and tries and does not shy away from challenges is that you want to involve me. You let me help you sand and stain that coffee table, even if you had to go back over my work. You ask for my hand when you replace brake pads on our car. You encourage me as I try to pedal hard up hills, helping me feel capable to keep up with you on the bike.

You come alive when you see that you are needed in this marriage – when I need you as a shoulder to cry on or advice on spiritual issues or someone to open the pickle jar. You spring to action (usually going to prayer first) when things are wrong, ready to prove yourself once again. Ready to prove this marriage.

And that proving gives me a sense of security that I never dreamed of.  Even when things are harder than expected, you have what it takes – for your hobbies and personal goals and, most importantly, for this marriage. 

And I love watching you come alive as you realize at the end of each day what you are capable of. I know God has equipped you with what it takes, and I believe in you.

Love,
me.

_______________________________

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. 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.

it’s more than moldy cheese and janky SUVs

Marriage is hard. I could never deny this fact. There have been too many tears and silent car rides and earnest prayers to do so.

But that’s not the end of the story. And in talking to a dear unmarried friend today, who is looking ahead at the next year and the possibility of it including marriage, it came up that this is the central message given to those who are not married. The reference point of the conversation was, of course, a super spiritual discussion on a point in Mindy Kaling’s book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

“I don’t want to hear about the endless struggles to keep sex exciting, or the work it takes to plan a date night. I want to hear that you guys watch every episode of The Bachelorette together in secret shame, or that one got the other hooked on Breaking Bad and if either watches it without the other, they’re dead meat. I want to see you guys high-five each other like teammates on a recreational softball team you both do for fun.”

I’m never going to stop telling people that marriage is hard. It’s definitely one of the hardest things I have ever done. There are days that the unexplained tension won’t leave and seasons when sex is hard and times when prayer is the only thing left to cling to. Life doesn’t stop being hard when you get married. You not only experience your own storms but also someone else’s.

But at the same time, and to an even greater extent, marriage is the best. In fact, it is so good, that it makes all of the hard things so worth it. I would walk on hot coals to be with this man, and we are best friends. You have to be to get through – and laugh about – gray Februarys and janky SUVs (he just wants to drive it over a cliff most days) and overdrafted checking accounts and moldy cheese in the fridge because someone didn’t close the ziploc all the way.

It’s the daily things that keep that our friendship alive. This might all seem sappy, and it is not intended as bragging, but hopefully as an encouragement to single friends that marriage is fun, even with the frantic, and I would love to see my married friends ponder similar lists to appreciate this aspect of their own relationship with their spouses. Find the glue that holds you together when external things come crashing down.

Eric and I ride our road bikes through back country roads to chase the setting sun, and he is so good to encourage me to keep pedaling the whole way home.

We play Uno after dinner because he had some sort of deprived childhood where he never learned to play it, and I introduced him to it a couple of months ago. Last weekend, we played it with some friends, and he couldn’t believe the difference between a two-player game and a four-player game.

We don’t have cable, or any TV channels for that matter, so we watched through all of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix to catch up with the current season, and now we anticipate Tuesday nights, so that we can eat dinner on the couch and watch the most recent episode online.

We take long drives when we are bored on a Saturday afternoon or evening – or when one of us is upset and can’t figure out why. Some of our most important processing and decision-making has come through drives where the only option is to talk things out. And we bring the dog a lot of times, just to get him out of the house in case he is bored, too.

We find any and every excuse to drive through Shipley’s for donuts on a weekend morning. Woke up 10 minutes later than planned on a Sunday? Or out of cereal on a Saturday morning and too lazy to make eggs or oatmeal? Donuts are obviously the only option. Plus Shipley’s is like 0.2 miles from our house.

He laughs at the drawling way I pronounce oil and tomato and cities ending in -ville (“ohll” and “tomatah” and “-vuhl”), and I make fun of the way he says Colorado (“ra” as in “radish” instead of “ra” as in “rock”).

We play Wikipedia games, making the other person start on one topic and find a way to click through to another topic (i.e. start on Bill Clinton and find your way to fluorescent lamp).

He randomly pins pictures on my Pinterest boards of ideas for our bedroom or our front door color. We daydream a lot about house projects and “one day” ideas.

When I drank coffee one evening a couple of weeks ago and was too wired to go to bed, we built a pallet on the floor in the living room and I watched episodes of Gilmore Girls for three hours while he slept on my shoulder.

Any farts that may or may not be sourced by one of us are blamed on the dog.

We sing Taylor Swift while cleaning up after dinner, and he wears my floral apron to wash dishes.

We dream of new ways to destroy that janky 4Runner – his favorite and most-often suggested is to toss a grenade inside and run for the hills.

He gets frustrated at how often I am able to guess the surprise he has planned, and I tell him it’s just because I know him so well. He is my best friend, after all.

What are the daily glues that hold your relationships together, whether it is a spouse or a roommate or a sibling? 

my guest post for the newlywifed life

my sweet friend jordan co-writes for the newlywifed life blog, and she asked me to write a post on the “10 things i have learned since i have gotten married.” it was such a fun process of thinking through the past two years or so, and i loved getting to share it with her readers.

hop on over to read my post, then take a look around at their photography and recipes and other fun things!

http://thenewlywifedlife.blogspot.com/2014/02/newlywednesday-sam-eric.html