A Marriage Letter: To The King of the Exclamation Point

The luckiest girl in the world...

The luckiest girl in the world…

To the King of the Exclamation Point,

My friend Michelle asked me what my Myers Briggs personality type was last week. I told her and then out of curiosity read a description (it had been a long time ago at work that I learned I am a Dreamer/Idealist. Who knew?). I couldn’t stop reading it aloud to you and being appalled by the fact that I am a raging cliché (which INFPs hate…read about that in paragraph 3). We did your typing next and then held the pair up side by side and marvelled at a marriage that has stood nearly 15 years…we could not be more different. You the king of the exclamation point, me…the queen of the ellipsis.

You’ve noticed that haven’t you? The way I have no capacity to finish a thought, how it keeps spinning and spinning around my head. We will have a conversation and then an hour later I will pipe up with no lead in about what I was trying to say. You have no idea what I am talking about…that conversation for you ended an hour ago with an exclamation point. It is midpoint of our ministry summer, and summer is the time of year when we forget how to communicate. We actually have to repeat things several times for the other to understand. You say we get out of rhythm. That is the truth, for it takes a fine balance to match your exclamation points with all of my ellipses…

You are a preacher. I am a storyteller. Preachers say it is finished. Story tellers keep tracking the back story…but then what happens? You can see it in your sermons, your emails, your invitations to people. You can see it in my text messages, my tweets (even when I am desperate to save characters)…I even tried to slip an ellipsis into an academic piece once. Turns out ellipsis are not part of APA format (learn to use a comma for Petes sake Melissa).

It says a lot about how we process the world. The black and white you see. The gray I get lost in.

I’ve been having those dreams again this summer. You know the ones? Cold sweats, full run, beating heart.  My anxiety has raised its ugly head for the first time in a few years, and though I can manage the beast just fine during the day when the night falls it is a different story. You will find me searching the house for someone or something.  It crossed my mind as I watched you swim with the littles today that maybe it is you I am always looking for, worried about. Or maybe it runs away further when I don’t see you here, always so calm, so dependable, so reliable.

We both know the truth of this thing don’t we? How you are the stabilizing force. How I am desperate for you to put an end to certain thoughts. To finish an idea. To start a new conversation. To have hope in our outcome when, if left to my own devices I would never, ever stop with the “WHAT IFS?”. We both know the truth of it…me without you? I would be under the train for sure…caught in the wreckage of too many thoughts. You are the one that tends to keep me on the tracks, pointing due North.

The first Valentines Day we spent together, I was sixteen and you picked me up in your Ford Escort, the hatch was filled with red roses and blankets and supplies to start a fire by the river. You were just getting started with your setting things on fire, punctuating most moments of our lives with the exclamation points, exuberance, excitement, finality, trust. 

I never told you this before. Three weeks before our wedding, one of my dramatic friends asked me how, someone like me, occasionally lost in my own mind with too many thoughts, and too much internal drama, how could I marry someone with a heart so light, one who carried the world in a completely different sort of basket? Could I deal with that much joy or would it drive me over some metaphoric cliff?

The truth of the matter is that she made my already cool feet turn to ice.

But she didn’t get it and I was just starting to see it. The way we were melding to bring out the best in each other. How being with you made me want to be better, stronger, faithful, honest. How your choosing me gave you some shades, freed you to pursue your call like other relationships might not. How I needed someone to make me laugh like that. How I just plain like to be with you.

It makes me laugh sometimes, all the people we know getting divorced. They say it is because they are too different. We’ve taught each other there is no such thing.

Anyways…We will fall back into rhythm soon. The fine balance of passion and stability that we teeter on.

Till then know that we are missing you something fierce this summer. We are lonely and the balance of this whole place is off… there is just something important missing.

With all my love,

The Queen of the Ellipsis

(Linking with Amber  and friends…so happy you are doing this again! I am linking this letter I wrote this summer to the man…I kept going!)

And if you are looking for more of the marriage letters you can find them here)

Dear E: On the Occasion you complete preschool and I celebrate your ‘muchness’


Dearest E (on the occasion you complete preschool and I celebrate your ‘muchness’),

Just now, we were out in the rain. Our hair, blowing wild as daddy drove us up into the woods. You tipped your face into the rain, let the drops fall into your magnificent eye-lashes, onto your porcelain skinned face. We hit a bump going a bit too fast and I gasped and clung to you, I nearly let you launch out the back. But you? You laughed so hard you couldn’t breathe and asked daddy to go back over it. He of course obliged you. You broke into song. And I marvelled at your ‘muchness’.

You who is the first in the water, the last one out.

You who laughs the loudest and the longest.

You who shouts with passion and bosses your brother with extravagant ferocity (ok…this isn’t my favourite part of your muchness).

You who knows exactly what you want.

You with the dynamic mind that learns things before we teach you. You with the imagination of a magnificient story teller.

You do everything in extreme and excess. And I hope you never try to shrink yourself to fit into someone elses mold of feminine. You are so much more.

This week I went to a conference and a Nigerian woman took the stage and then she took my breath. She spoke with so much grace and authority. And I must tell you, there is something intoxicating about a woman who wears every inch of her flesh, isn’t trying to perpetually shrink. Someone who knows she is more then sex or magazine cliches. 

There was a time not so long ago that I watched a mother parent a little girl that was more like a paper doll than a child. She was wholly pliable; bending to her mothers every whim. There was a split second of envy until you barrelled in with mud on your face and a crooked tiara on your messed up hair. You shouted “Want to  play with me?”. The little girl shook her head, curled into her moms thigh. “Ok. But if you want to we can play princess fairy kitty soft paws”.  I was enthralled by your muchness.

Miss E…I will stand beside you when the world tries to crush you down, tells you your entirely too much and not nearly enough. I love your muchness and I will fight for it. I will point you in the direction you should go and I will watch you run there with reckless courage.  When you are tempted to bend to someone elses version of you, I will make you read this letter again. Remind you, who you are at your core, in your God designed heart.


Dear Me: A Letter to my Teenage Self

A letter to myself…I’m imagining she is 17. Mercy. You might know too much about me after you read this.



Yup. I sure am wearing brown corduroy shorter-alls…

Dear Melissa,

Oh honey. The world thinks you are winning these days, but the truth of the matter is, you’ve lost yourself completely. This is the year several boys confess love for you; that you are valedictorian; captain of the basketball team, the year that you stop eating. This is the year you pass out from the acid of your body eating itself and vomit on the floor of your first job while helping a customer. This is the year you sacrifice all your passions on a church altar that has nothing to do with Jesus. You learn the gospel of SHOULD NOT; soon you will learn you’ve never heard the true Gospel of Jesus. That he came to doctor the sick. To restore justice. To bind the broken with love. Somehow you missed that part of the story…all you heard was TRY HARDER. BE GOOD.

I want to tell you (and the girls who will follow you) not to take yourself so seriously. Relax. Laugh more. Go on some dates. Tell some people about the broken-up-to-bits inside…people think you got your crap together and it is really sending them for a loop. They think you are a Christian because you are too good for them. You know the truth that Jesus is the only glue that holds heart and head together in one place and sometimes the only safe place is hold up together with Him…alone.

You need to know NOW that you are an introvert. You forget that for most of your twenties and you wake up one day, with a gaping hole where once dwelt passion. Some babies die in your tummy. You blame yourself. You treat everyone badly. Mostly yourself. You stop writing. Really you do…Imagine? I know…it is how lost you get in your pursuit of that which you are not.

And then.

There will be a time, you birth a near ten pound baby. You will grow him inside that body you hate, with his big brown eyes, his strong heart, his stubborn nature (showing even then the way he just flat-out refused to be born…sorry to scare you but it really is awful). Then the way you will wake with him, fed him, clothe him. The way you will keep going no matter how tired you get. Then a baby girl will come along. She will scare you to death (mostly because you are the type of person who writes letters of regret to your 17-year-old self and know that she will too). And yet, you know she was meant for you, and you for her. And this little girl of ours? She has no time for a mother who hates her body…that kind of thinking is a fierce contagion. So get over that will you? I’m telling you…you are strong (TEN POUND BABY !*$#!#@).

You found Jesus there too…the other side of the end of yourself. He lives there still and I try to not leave that place very often.  Tonight, I ate fresh-baked cookies on the deck with the kids while the sun set. They told me they loved me “MORE THAN THE PLANET JUPITER” “MORE THAN CARS 2” “MORE THAN THE SUNSETS”. You are married to a man who chases Jesus with a fire in his belly and he makes you want to. You live in a cabin in the woods. Life is good.



I would like to tell you to do things differently; To not waste so much time trying to be someone, prove something, get somewhere. But the truth is I think that God used those times to make you who you are and you might even like her when you grow up.



With love, regret, and a whole lot of hope,

Yourself, Melissa, age 34

This post is dedicated to the release of a book (I’ve ordered but not yet read) by another ‘youth pastors wife’ down south.                          I read her blog and it is rich in Jesus, grace, compassion. Pick one up for a ‘young woman’ in your life that suffers from the           ‘try harder’ complex I suffered from…

Marriage Letters: I trust you because..

Participating in a letter writing challenge at “the Run A Muck”…”because we believe that when we bless our own marriages, we bless the marriages of others. When you go hard after your marriage, I’m encouraged to go after mine”. Hope this letter serves to inspire you to fight for yours.

This week the challenge is on the concept of ‘trust’. 

Dear Joel,

The truth of the matter is, that I have done most everything in my life for only one year. It started when I was five. Highland dance, ballet, figure skating, softball, jogging, rowing, flute (ok, that was three years), choir, musicals, volleyball…I could go on. Basically, I am a quitter.

So naturally the thing I admire most about you is your steadfastness. The way you stand solid in your love and have always made me feel so dreadfully secure. Though I must confess sometimes I don’t believe it. Because seriously, how do you do that thing where you just never quit stuff? I don’t get it. If I was in charge around here we would have quit everything…And I mean everything. We would’ve started things too I am sure. Exciting things, lots of them. It would be fantastic. And yet.

You keep showing me the fruit of the long haul. Of commitment. Of perseverance. You say that you cannot grow anything good without time. That longevity matters. Thirteen years at one church. Nearly fourteen years of marriage. I am starting to believe you.

I used to think that your steadfastness marked a lack of passion, a lack of the truest love. Now I know better. Fidelity takes a heck of a lot more passion than the alternative.

I trust you because the fact that my heart beats new and fresh, yours has always beat a single beat. A rhythm of faithful.

And somehow? When we became one? My heart started keeping your rhythm.

I hope you can hear it….it beats for only you.