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.



Marriage Letters: Serving Together

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 ‘serving together’. 

Dear Joel,

Mercy and marvel. It is a testament to the grace of God in a marriage, that we survived our first few years. And by survived, I don’t mean that we didn’t get a divorce (though I guess that could be considered miraculous too). No I mean actual survival…neither one of us died. Yeesh. What a ride.  I knew what I was getting into when I married you. While I thought you were going to be a teacher I also knew you had visions. I vowed it, right there on our wedding day, I flat-out said that I would support your visions and dreams and do all I could to make them real. I just couldn’t have known how many you would have, how big they would be, that they would lead to SUCH challenging and interesting adventure. These steps have taken me so far out of my comfort zone, to the end of the rope.

Turns out that is where Jesus lives. The other side of the end of myself.

Serving with you has been the best and worst part of our marriage. We build well together. I am the nitty-gritty, the small and tiny, to your big and beautiful plans. It’s all I see. The small pieces. You meanwhile see the biggest picture, and don’t notice if the small are there or not. At least back in the beginning. Logistics are old hat to you now….nothing gets left out. But when we began, I was chasing after your vision with a one hundred point map. We drove each other wild.

We also fell wildly in love. 

But not in the way the world falls in love. No not that. I saw your integrity lived out plain. You saw my jagged edges raw. You started calling me GI Jane for the way I kept throwing myself in harm’s way. It was an adventure to say the least. In our first six years of marriage, stress had shown every crack we bare. We learned that the truest love is looking out the same direction, not always just staring at each other. We learned that one vision keeps you going the same way, even if you don’t always arrive at the same time. Since then? It has been a struggle to maintain that tension. Some seasons you have stared off into the distance and I felt left behind. Other times I stared too intently at you and dared you to look away, wanting to be the whole of your vision and I found I didn’t like it…I lost interest in you.  Sometimes we’ve struggled to keep one vision between us…neither one catching fire and going out alone. It looks different now, the way I had to pull back my reigns. To nestle quiet with the kids. It has been an extraordinary gift to both of us. The way God filled the gaps for us in ministry. The way serving together looks much more like making a home now. The way I was delighted to find I didn’t miss the other things too much. That serving in our home and when youth come over, living family and Jesus-chasing well before them is plenty for me. More than, some days. The vision though, OUR whole life for ONE single purpose remains just as true now.

I am pretty sure there is no one else on earth who would have a vision big enough to capture my imagination. And for all my bluster and opposition I hope you always know that truth (you just scare me sometimes…and by now you must know that my fear is always dressed for the corner of a roof). I would follow your dream to the dark side of the moon if you asked me too…18 years later I believe more than ever that you are the man who could take us there.

Ever thankful to be serving with you;



Turns Out I am Only Inspired to Write on Marriage: Your Job, my job.

I thought I was done with this for awhile, but the topic of ‘your job, my job’ was too tempting to ignore. Participating in a letter writing challenge at “the Run A Muck”…encouraging others about marriage. 

Photo Credit Ms. Sydney Renning!

Dear Joel,

People don’t make facebook statuses, praising the Lord about what I did this weekend. No. Despite the fact that the dog barfed on newly washed floors, the children fought non-stop because of underlying exhaustion from just-getting-better-and-are-good-enough-to-fight-but-not-good-enough-to-cope-with-anger, I haven’t showered in a solid two. Despite the fact that I caught up with six months of house work. No. I like to think that the children around here will remember it at least, but I don’t think it is true. I let them watch Winnie the Pooh one too many times. It isn’t the thing memories are made of.

We parachuted in for the last session yesterday morning and I watched you in your element. How you pulled it all together, orchestrated it like a magnificent symphony. I am always dumb struck when I see it. And I’ll tell you what. Being removed now from the nitty-gritty of the beast? It is so much easier for me to see the beauty of the thing. You can see the beauty even in the nitty-gritty. It is your greatest gift…your ability to see the best despite all evidence to the contrary. I think it is how you’ve managed to stay in love with me, with ministry.

I’ve gone back to work a little this year. Turns out it refuels me to slip out of here, now and then. But. Its been tricky. The balls are hitting the floor with greater frequency. The house sits in disarray more often than not. You don’t notice that either, though you do notice when any one of the three of us is struggling. You pick up my slack and always tell me to enjoy the children, ignore the mess. I listen. I’m nothing if not submissive (WINK, WINK, NUDGE, NUDGE).

There are days when I want to trade you places, to be in the midst of things again. The thing is I know I wouldn’t survive a week at your break neck pace. And, there are plenty of gross clean ups in youth ministry too. I KNOW this. You may have cleaned up barf this weekend too. I really wouldn’t be surprised. You cleaned up after 1500 kids. I only had two. People don’t make facebook statuses about how many juice boxes you cleaned off the floor, how many complaints you fielded, how many phone calls you accepted. Yes. You couldn’t pay me enough.

You and I? Different. It took it us a long time to be ok with our lives looking different. It took about six years to give myself permission to not keep up with you. The opposite is also true. As much as you love uninterupted time with us, by the end of eight hours when I come in from my one full work day you make an excuse to go work in the yard. I wouldn’t go back to the old days when we tried to be the same. Refueling looks different between the two of us. Allowing permission for that to happen has been the best thing that ever happened to us.

You and I are two very different parts of one whole, pulled together for HIS purpose. We both know that it is the only way we could hold together.

Holding on for dear life,


One More Marriage Letter: On Patience

Participating in a letter writing challenge at “the Run A Muck”…encouraging others about marriage. It ain’t easy. This week for the challenge I wanted you to  know, that we know,  how hard  marriage can be, that there is seasons. If you are in a dry one now? You just might come through the other side. This week? Writing on patience…

Dear Joel,

Patience isn’t my strong suit is it? I am prone to bluster and slam when I get overwhelmed. And you. There are few things you love less that errands. Especially while you wait to go shopping for pirate ships (this really happened…just yesterday) and I insist on car washes and hair cuts. We have never been two of a kind.

These children of ours, push me way beyond and over myself and I fall off the edge of the 1 Corinthian 13 love. It is easy to believe that verse when you don’t have to look at yourself in your spouses eyes after you quote it, reminded that you are not all that you once thought you were cracked up to be. Love is patient? And I know for the 1000 time that I still have so much to learn about love.

I am expectant of perfection in the here and today, and it turns out? Life isn’t. I wasted years of our marriage waiting for us to find it. I expected this thing to be a certain way. It isn’t.

You say ‘it is, what it is’ and you turn broken to beautiful over and over. And turns out?  That is so much better.

Over and over, in all the paths of life, we learn the hard days make the easy ones sweetest. How the best things in life cost the most, and that is true in relationship, in education, in ministry, in parenting, in Jesus chasing and letting the dross get refined. All of it. Escaping to soon means that you didn’t make it to the sun rise comin’.

We learn what is important too, and what romance really is. I remember how that one time, I was 18 years old and had gone to the movies with a bunch of friends. As we are sometimes prone to, I went with the girls to a romantic era film (Emma perhaps?), I returned all weepy eyed and weak in the knees and you picked me up and carried me to my front door kissed me on the forehead and turned and left. As romantic as that was, we both know that it the simplicity of the everyday that sparks more than anything like that. I’ve never loved you more than when you let me make mad messes in the kitchen, which you clean without comment. That is love.

I don’t want our marriage to be complicated. Life is hard its true.

You are my team. Thats it.

I know people who put all sorts of pressure on each other, they tie weight onto each word and onto their spouses foot. It makes them sink. They try to make their marriage a perfect model; make the family present well. Lets never go there ok? Perfect fails. And you won’t find anything like that around here. Lets be perfect only in our pursuit of selfless…others can keep their posed photos and coordinated outfits (though…does blogging marriage mean I am trying to create illusion? I hope not. I catch the irony though).

Patience. It has cost plenty to bring us here hasn’t it? I don’t think we are done learning it yet.


There is no one else on earth I would want to learn it for.



PS….We will miss you this weekend. We are praying for you and waiting patiently…dreadfully proud to be yours.

Also linking with:

When it wasn’t all Valentines and Love Letters: When Opposites Attract

Participating in a letter writing challenge at “the Run A Muck”…encouraging others about marriage. It ain’t easy. This week for the challenge I wanted you to  know, that we know,  how hard  marriage can be, that there is seasons. If you are in a dry one now? You just might come through the other side. And pop culture reference? Paula Abdul “Opposites Attract” single was the first music I ever bought with my own money. It was a bit of foreshadowing…

Dear Joel,

I know you think it is weird. That quirk I have of reading obituaries almost every day. It started when I worked palliative care and I wanted to see if my patients had died or not. Now I can’t stop.

It isn’t the only weird thing you know about me. You know the weird ambitions I have, the cliché’ ones.

I like how you call me out on my fears now. You say “tell me…what do you really think is going to happen here?” I pause, and that feeling in my gut diminishes, usually there isn’t much reason in it.

I love, how we know when the other is going to laugh at something. Those quirky things that drive us nuts. Like how you glance at me sideways when someone says ‘just sayin’ you think I might go for the jugular. I don’t, but often my claws do show. Sometimes, when I am out with others, I look at them, waiting to laugh at our jokes. They don’t get it. I miss you then.

It wasn’t always like this. There were those few years, right around our seven-year mark where I got burnt out. It wasn’t you exactly. It was life in general. I thought about heading for the hills. I wanted to hide from the world in a cabin in the woods. I told you I was running away from home, that you could come with me if you wanted, but make no mistake; I was going. It was all a little much.

It was mostly the babies lost. We grieved those miscarriages differently. You dug in deeper with the kids we had been given already; Those in the youth group. I got angry with them, perhaps I blamed them for the loss. I thought maybe you were right; that God was calling us to have those kids alone. I blamed you too.

But. You were patient with me, all the same. You waited while I turned back into myself. It took forever.

You and me? Next time the ‘big uglies’ of life face us? I think, I know, we will do it better. I will know you need different things and that doesn’t mean you are any less distraught. We are different. One of us is not better.

I’m so happy I waited to head for the hills with you. That together and today is so much better than all our yesterdays. We will forever tell those who follow us down this crazy marriage path: There will be a phase where marriage seems harder than it is worth. It is a lie. You will come out the other side with a complexity and understanding of each other that wasn’t there before. You will laugh again. You will dream again. Fight for it friends it just takes time for the team to come together as one. Time and trial and a whole lotta prayer and understanding.

Thanks for sticking around J-Fed. I wasn’t my favorite person those years either.

But you? You are the only one I would ever want on my team. The only one I would fight to keep.



Being Parents

Participating in a letter writing challenge at “the Run A Muck”…encouraging others about marriage in the stage of young children. It ain’t easy. This week the challenge is on the concept of ‘nightly routine’.

Dear Joel,

There is a whirl and sudden stop each night at our house. The children spin like tops from five until seven…tops with teeth and sharp nails. Tops that swirl right into our temples. You deal with it better. You let me hide in the kitchen and feign the need to make everything from scratch.

Sometimes its better, the children make a giant fort and invite the two of us inside. We make jokes that they can’t understand, steal a kiss, you try to remind me that I am not just someones mommy. I love hearing you tell stories to the boy, while I whisper with the girl. You talk about his day and I always learn something new. There is something about the way you listen that makes us all want to talk.

This night I am folding laundry and your gym socks are still red from the Kenyan soil. Again it reminds me how thankful I am for the life we are building together, for the ordinary and extraordinary moments that pull together to make up a life. It is amazing when you think about it isn’t it? We’ve been together nearly 20 years now, it seems absurd to say it. It can’t be possible. But then. There is this story we’ve got. I’m going to keep telling it till I die.

The nights you are out are different. The rhythm and goodness of this household rests squarely on your shoulders, it is always too much for me, but we get there eventually. Bedtime is my least favorite thing on earth. Ok. Perhaps I hate poverty and hunger more than bedtime…but not much. Still. I sure am thankful that you are my team as we try to capture the tops and turn them into bed. In fact? I’m glad you are on my team in everything we do. I’m so dreadfully thankful that all the ordinaries and extra-ordinaries have not spun us totally out of control, but instead have woven us deeper into One.

You are the best routine I ever fell into, the only one that ever stuck.



How to Keep Going the Same Direction

I’ve been wondering: How do you ensure you keep going the same direction when you feel like two ships passing in the night?

I’m back at work a little and the man and I? Well, we are playing a bit of tag team. So when we brush lips at the door (resist the urge to high five, tag each other into the parenting ring), how do we ensure that our courses don’t drift us miles a part?

We’ve found we need to remind each other where we are headed. Even if our ships tend to sail out in different waters: my boat leaving harbour only for calm waters, his heading out for the craziest, waviest seas. Knowing now what we didn’t twelve years ago, that our family, our ministry, could not function any other way.

OUR family.

OUR ministry.

We are two parts of one whole. Sometimes opposites, needing different paces to thrive, but always, ALWAYS, ONE.

So we toss our selves into Living Water, knowing that the undercurrents and tides will keep us together even when we sail at different times. Making efforts even at the end of long days at sea to lift each other up, to be the quiet whisper of encouragement, trusting one another with a future full of uncertainty and risk. Even more we trust Light of only truest beacon, to keep the hull from rocky bluffs. We remember to choose gratitude for the life you are building together, for the extraordinary we see in each other. We remember things that drew  one to the other, we make space for adventure together, for fun. We fumble over the mythology whispered in tired ears, of greener grass. We hold fast to Thankful, and we remind ourselves to trust that He that bound us into ONE has a plan.

634) Driving home, sky all purple, moon all full, road all drenched. Beauty.

635) Sharing it with the man, while the littles crack all kinds of hilarity in the back seat.

635) Fog. Lights. Beauty.

636) His love.

637) Relaxing with dear ones….so…so dear.

638) New music.

639) Ms. Hass

640) Vacation time. Reflecting on this thing we are building. This man. Most thankful for this Thanksgiving…

He Made Me Believe

“He made me believe in monogamy” she said “I didn’t really think it could be done before him”. Her eyes trailed down to the table, blinking fast. Her hand found its way to her twelve-year-old daughters shoulder, holding on for dear life.

My hands were wrapped only around my diet Pepsi, my mind spinning on what she said. My nineteen years didn’t give that statement all the feet it deserved. I was at the point in life where I thought,

“He is your husband. Of course he did”

Now having watched one too many marriages kiss themselves goodbye. Too many women pack up and run. I realize how profound her statement really was.

She was saying:

He is the only man she wanted to influence her children,

This, a man worth sacrificing for, a life worth fighting for.

The man she had just watched die…he was more than worth what she had given up to bring herself to this place

He had made her more of herself not less.

She was talking about something that was way bigger than sex,

I think now though, it may have been the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard anyone say.

Happy Anniversary husband…thanks for making me believe.  Twelve years and every day you’ve made my life sweeter…

Dull Ache

I’ve got this dull ache in my chest for your marriage. Mine too. I want them to be GOOD. I want your marriage to be your safe harbour. I want you to trust it. I want you both to find freedom in each other, not bondage. I want your face to light up in the presence of the other. I want you to co-create the safest place on earth for your children. I want you to believe in it and in each other. I want you truly believe that your spouse is the best person you know. I want you to believe that there is not, and never was, a better person for you than the one you lay down beside at night. I want you to be happy, I want you to be fulfilled. I want you to be your best self in your marriage and I want you to help bring that out in the other.

I’ve got a dull ache in my chest for marriage in general these days. It is worth fighting for friends…

Your Love Story Is Still Being Written

I saw him at Coopers. This little old man had shrunk three sizes since I saw him last; that day we had sat, fingers entwined,  and watched his wife breathe last. I had fallen in love with her too. I was a brand new nurse and my grandmother was two years dead already and this woman spoke just like her in practical and gentle ways. Each shift I would take my lunch in and eat with her, I just couldn’t stay away.

This day at the grocery store, he crumpled the moment he saw me. Curled into my arms and wept. We found a deli table and sat and he sipped coffee and ate crumbly cookie that stuck to his quivering lips as he tried to tell the whole story. Love story from beginning to end…

“She was the only woman I have ever loved. She was the best person to have ever walked earth”. His eyes were all full of truth and I knew he believed every word. I had only worked in palliative care for four months but I had seen full eyes before; eyes full of pain, full of regret, full of relief. Here though, was the first time I saw eyes full of love with no hint of any other emotion.  He had loved her every day.

My twenty-two year old mind shifted that day. All the romantic ideals and fairy tales died on the deli table. The truth of what love is and how to live the best of stories was clearly evident in this mans eyes. All that Hollywood tells us about being true to yourself, about fleeing when things get tough, about ‘friends with benefits’ none of it could hold a candle to the romance in this mans eyes.

At age 21 their story could’ve ended with ‘they lived happily ever after’. That is what we would all like to believe, the truth though is that the story was just starting. The bravest and truest tales were yet to be penned, the showing up for each other on the hardest days, the honouring each other in all circumstances, the fortitude it takes to stand side by side when so many are giving up, the warfare on monogamy and the games it plays on hearts. Once we know the outcomes of each of these chapters, once we see if the ‘happily ever’ stands, then we know if this is an epic love story. The kind of love future generations can hang their hope on.

Today my friend, your love story is still being written. Maybe you’re like me and you’ve let the story write itself for too long. Maybe your heroine has not invested what she should. Maybe she got lazy and distracted by babies and work and home and one thousand excuses. Maybe, she needs to pick up the pen and start writing deliberately. The best part of the story, may very well be yet to come. The ending I want, is my husband big brown eyes wet with love, teaching a young nurse someday, what ‘happily ever after’ really means, how he loved me every day.