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)

Marriage: Knotted

We weren’t finished yet, you or I, when we said those vows. You stood there, green before the crowd and I beside you quivering like a leaf in the breeze. We thought we knew what love was, but we didn’t.

And in this unfinished state, we grow up into love. We grow into each other and around each other and we are two tree trunks wrapping our bark right into the flesh. Sometimes we fight the pressure to bend or be shaped and yet most of the time, we do, ever so slightly, shift to the right or to the left. You grow up into me and I into you, grafted together producing a new varietal. I wonder…is it the sort of tree that will feed you? The children? This church? Our own souls? Can you (can they) gain sustenance by the way we mold into one another?

And still, even now, ever more, it is my job to put my own roots down deeper to find my joy in the Living Water beneath this ground. Both of us, unfurling branches towards the Sun, feeding ourselves on Pure Light. Suddenly, we are moving in the same direction as we grow out from the shadows. Somehow easier, when we are growing the same direction. We almost soften…though we both know, only the God of the trees could bend either of our hearts.

And you. How you grow each year, a ring around the sun, and where I thought I knew each notch, each scar, you prove me wrong and you somehow produce a fruit I’ve never seen. After all this time, I still don’t know you. It is the joy and the curse…this tree bears both.

And in the growing sap will bleed. And in the pruning whole branches will fall, rot. We trust the one who tosses them into the fire. 

And still.

For you, I will seek to provide shade to rest in. Food to sustain you. And perhaps? I might even bend some days. But only for you. And only by His Grace.

Aching for marriage these days…Yours & mine. You can read some of my other posts about marriage below…I hope they encourage you to keep on keepin’ on. Or to start right. Either way…

The sexiest thing on earth…

The best love stories..


Opposites Attract


Serving Together

Your Job, My job

Being Parents

How to keep going the same direction

one thing tuesday (on wednesday): summer reading

Every summer I splurge. The best day of the year, might be, when the summer amazon parcel arrives. WAHOOOO. 

The fiction: Because summer TV is the worst…

The poetry: Because when the children are around and the husband is away is prime time for little bursts of beauty…

The dream chasing: Because it is time…

The Jesus chasing: Because it is all…

The family loving: Because I do…


Looking at this list I realize it might take me clear through to Christmas…oh well.

What are you reading this summer? Have you read anything on this list (should I remove any before I even start?!)

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.

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