Today we celebrate only four years of marriage. I say only four because when Josh and I discussed this the other day, we both gasped in disbelief that it's only been four years... not because it's been a long, unbearable four years, but because not only has it been incredibly happy and full of abundant blessings, but it has also been so non-stop! In four years of marriage we have lived in three states, given birth to two babies, and planted two churches! We have seen our church plant thrive and grow, we have experienced the loss of my job, and have met more incredible people that we call friends than I could ever ask for. We've lost a few loved ones, traveled to see family all over the place, and spoken into the lives of many future church planters through teaching opportunities with the ARC. If this is what we can accomplish in four years together, there is no telling what more there is to come. We are definitely better together, and I think these past four years shows us that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
When looking back on all of this, I think about that woman who stood at the altar four years ago and I'm amazed at how much she has changed. Granted, Josh married me for many reasons, so I am obviously the same woman he chose in hundreds of ways, but in so many BIG ways I am so much different. There are things that I never thought I'd do (marry a pastor for one, and move back to Kentucky for another!), challenges I would have never thought I'd tackle, and risks that I would never imagine taking. The biggest rewards in my life has been through these big, unexpected risks, and I thank God for bringing this man into my life, knowing that he was the man I needed to take me on this adventure. With him at my side I have come to understand who I am in Christ more than ever before, feel the overwhelming awesomeness of God's love for me, but most importantly, my eyes have been opened to the fact that I was created on purpose and for a purpose, and my purpose in life is unique to only me. I am useful not because I have a college degree and a career I could pursue, but I am useful to God to grow His kingdom, show kindness, love people, and serve others. I'm not saying that I would've never learned those things if I hadn't met Josh, but I certainly was not on a path in that was taking me that direction before our paths collided. There are so many wonderful things that this marriage has given me, so four years in, here are just a few things that make me smile about it.
On our fourth anniversary, our marriage is:
- One that doesn't take much work, but it does take scheduling. Our lives are busy and full with two small children and a growing church, so carving out "us-time" is something we've committed to and become really good about. I know it makes a difference.
- Full of laughter... whether it's at each other or at the kids (and it's usually the kid), there are giggles and squeals all the time. There is nobody on the planet that knows how to make me laugh like Josh can, even when I'm trying to be mad about something and don't want to! It drives me nuts!
- Strong. Before we said "I Do," we promised each other that we would never allow ourselves to be in conversations that dishonor one another or publicly cut down each other. Even harmless, sarcastic jokes can sometimes hurt, and so we try to keep that at a minimum. At times it is appropriate to rib on each other in certain circles, but we can now both gauge when those times are appropriate and when they are not. We are a team and present ourselves as a united front and it's always nice to know that we've got each other's backs.
- Based on being best friends. I seriously love waking up to this man every day and cannot imagine my life without him. We often find ourselves bored with no plans, but it's honestly because just hanging out at home with each other is enough for us.
- Full of challenge- not in an "our marriage is challenging" kind of way, but in a "you could do more" kind of way. If I say, "I should write a book," Josh's response is, "well what are you waiting for?" If he says, "I could probably finish and IronMan," I tell him, "then go do it!" You have to be careful what you suggest around here because big dreams that need to be followed are strongly encouraged. That's why I said "yes" to his dream of planting our church (which was huge for me!) and why we continue to come up with new dreams to see the world become a better place. I hope that is something that carries down into our parenting, too.
- Not without our differences. Especially in parenting, we disagree on things just as everyone does. Finding the right discipline for our children is tough, and sometimes we disagree on their future schooling or activities, even though we're not making those decisions quite yet. People disagree- that's a fact, so no marriage is immune to that. We have house rules for how we handle conflict and I think we do great at solving things without fighting, raising our voices, cutting each other down, or making a small conflict into a bigger fight about something different. Conflict is actually healthy and for us it produces a lot of great conversations where we consider different things that we may not have considered before. And whatever we agree on, we stick to that, again being a united front and keeping our "team" strong.
- Fun! Our family still has impromptu dance parties, pizza and movie night on the living room carpet, and will randomly pack up and go on some sort of local adventure to keep things interesting. We're about to leave for the beach, and I know that will be filled with fun!
- More than I ever thought it would be. Sure, I played "house" growing up and always wanted to be a wife and a mom, but marriage is more than just having dinner on the table at night (which is good since I'm horrible at that!) and making sure his clothes are washed and put away. In my husband I have a friend, a fan, an encourager, a tear-wiper, a really good hugger, a comic relief, an incredible advice-giver, a great father for our children, a handyman, a cheerleader, a risk taker, a teacher, a listener, a dream-sharer, and the list goes on and on. I am not the woman I am today without that man beside me, and I am really proud of the things that we have already accomplished together. When I made my "wish list" of what my husband and my marriage should be, God laughed at it and responded with I have something better. So if you're out there wondering where your Mr. Right is, just know that he's not "the one" if he doesn't blow your expectations out of the water! I had to wait 27 years to meet him, but it wasn't a moment too soon. And I look forward to spending the next 27 plus years with him by my side. Together I think we really can do anything we set our minds to!