Anniversary Thoughts

Hello there.

We’ve been married 13 years tomorrow, and we are celebrating tonight with a date. Let’s see what the numbers say about our lives.

36. Thirty-six year’s alive on this Earth. Glad for it.

17. Seventeen years since my father passed through Heaven’s gates. Miss him.

13. Thirteen years married, and more in love than when we began.

20. Twenty years with Ian… a boyfriend turned into a partner in the purest and most whole sense of the word.

4. Four years away from Atlanta. Still miss it dearly.

3. Three beautiful children to love. My heart is full.

2. There are at least 2 more children waiting to be born into our lives in some way or another, whether by our own genes or adoption.

2. Twice we have moved since marriage.

Endless. The number of times we’ve said sorry and forgiven each other.

The recipe for marital bliss is simple. Serve the other person. Say sorry and mean it. Say I love you through your actions. In a book I’ve read, the authors suggested it takes 11 years to BEGIN being LESS selfish – I’ve quoted them before – “Real Marriage”, by Mark Driscoll and his wife, is the book. I think the authors are right. It’s easy to do things that make you happy. It’s harder to do things out of bringing joy ONLY to the other person in your life, and making their joy enough to elicit your own joy.

My hair dresser, whom I adore, was saying she gets bored after 3 years of dating someone. She says she gets restless. She was asking me questions about marriage. I assured her that, at least in my case, I’m more enamored than when we started. But  it’s the product of work. And it’s the product of the Holy Spirit working in my husband’s life to make him more like Jesus, and therefore, even better than better (in my eyes).

Ladies, what I think we are missing in our culture is a desire to serve our spouses. We are told we should be waited on hand and foot. I’m sorry to say this, but we don’t live in a fairy tale. There’s no Cinderella servant who is going to come into your life and sweep your floors in most people’s homes (at least in my circle of friends). So, guess who does the sweeping? You do. There’s no Dr. Phil who is going to talk sense into your spouse when you’re angry, and who is going to talk you off a ledge. Guess who’s going to soften his reply with a kinder response, an understanding reply, and a gentle consideration of his dreams and thoughts and feelings? You are. Guess who’s going to have to learn to bite her tongue? You are. And when you can remember to brighten your smile and put a little effort into your appearance (not superficially, but come on, act like you’re dating sometimes), you will remind him of why he works so hard for your family. When you can demonstrate graciousness, and gratitude, guess who wants to come home from work as soon as possible? While you can’t be perfect, and no one can… and while you can’t shelter him from the stress of his work or life in general… you can be his wife… the one he desires to come home to after a hard day. And there’s much to be said for that. There’s much to be said for the couple who still choose each other.

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The most beautiful time as a woman 

I’m convinced the most feminine time for a woman is when she feels the least attractive. Allow me to explain.

Many woman I know feel like I do when they are pregnant. Heavy. Swollen. Changing. Dealing with uncomfortable comments from some other people – most people, especially women, are full of grace for this time, because they’ve gone through it – but well-intentioned people can say strange things.

Exhibit A.

*I tell someone I’m expecting our third prize in January and pat my belly* 

A wonderfully kind man says “congratulations, and thank you for saving us the embarrassment of asking or wondering if you’re just fat.”

I laugh and say “yes, that’s how I feel.” 

My husband shakes his head for the man, embarrassed on behalf of the male gender species. He can’t help it.

I’m not angry, not one bit. I understand some people just don’t know what to say. And it’s ironic albeit a little more painful to hear, because it’s exactly how I’m feeling: fat!

I was talking with another gal this weekend who told me her pregnancies were a series of planning driving trips around her tendency to throw up. How difficult!! I get it! There is no way to feel good if that’s how your body responds!

And another who told me about her 19 hour labor which ended in emergency c-section and the aftermath of recovery.

Another who recalled her inability to shed the last 20 pounds gained after children.

And my own experience of needing to heal after delivering babies. I remember having my first child, and a male friend who came to visit right after couldn’t hide his surprise when he saw my belly was still looking as if I were six months pregnant. This is not, afterall, how the magazines and moves show us life happens! In the world of mommy makeovers and c-section tummy tucks, women should look more attractive after childbirth, right?

When the reality is, we are red-eyed from sleepless nights, weepy and puffy from crying alongside our new infants and the wave of unpredictable hormones, smelly from spit-up and blow-out diapers, and sore in all the areas one might otherwise take for granted that make the most basic of human functions a challenge. 

But this is when a woman really truly shines. Her body was broken in the moments and months she was giving life. Eve’s sin made pregnancy and childbirth painful. It is a sacrifice in so many ways. And in the aftermath of the birth, her broken body pushes on to nurture that tiny human, robbing Mom of nutrients her own body otherwise would appreciate using to restore all that child-growing stole. 

She nurses the baby. She changes diapers. She sacrifices sleep to provide comfort and more nutrition. And it’s her privilege to do it. 

And then child-rearing is an experience of learning to let go. As the physical grip loosens, a mother’s spiritual grip and dependence on God must tighten. So she focuses more and more on the transforming power of God, out of her own benefit, but much to benefit her own children. She is desperately focused on trying to exemplify and point those tiny souls towards Christ, so they know on whom they can rely. Because moms know we don’t live forever. Our days are numbered, and one days these souls who broke our bodies will have to fend for themselves.

A woman is most beautiful and feminine in her brokenness.