{soldier on}

dear son,

you turn 15 tomorrow and like with every birthday i find myself sitting and looking back, wondering where the years have gone.. i close my eyes and see that little blonde headed boy who had only one speed and never seemed to sleep, and the craziness, and loudness, and adventures, and all the mud, and all the memories, and it passes before me in one precious blink and i smile and nod and realize yes, i know exactly where these years have gone – straight into my heart and i savor every single one.

but strange that your years past with me are probably more than your years left with me and i feel my heart swell with all it still longs to communicate to you and share and i know i’m going to miss some stuff and maybe even get some of it wrong, but one thing i hope you’ll catch above all else, and the prayer of my heart daily, is for you to be a man that is different.

we live in a such a selfish, self focused culture. where people live for their own desires and gratification and want a life that’s easy. we’ve lowered the bar of expectation and therefore the bar of character has lowered as well. 

it seems men of integrity and purity are a dying breed.. men willing to be different. who will stand up for what they believe in, without compromise and without hypocrisy and i wonder where the passion and fire is for what is right. those willing to do the hard stuff. to get out and do something that matters – and while our generation mass produces men who get more excited about video games than life… of playing war and getting a high score on a screen, son, BE A REAL SOLDIER!!! ~

one who stands for truth and for those who can’t stand for themselves. that treats women with respect and dignity. who is kind and polite. who holds doors and more importantly hands – of the weak. of the oppressed. of those less fortunate. don’t be so consumed with your own battle that you miss the soldiers around you – they’re fighting too and you’ve no idea what they’ve been through.

be understanding. look for the wounded. it’s been said the christian army is the only one that kicks its soldiers when they’re down. how sad and how wrong. never be one that stands with hand over mouth in holy shock at the fallen. never forget we are all fallen.

don’t be a silent soldier. let others hear you. recognize you. be the one cheering the loudest for those around you. the one proclaiming victory and speaking for those who can’t. make your voice count. be wise. don’t back down from the battle. it’s not going to be easy. it was never meant to be. battles never are. stay strong. when everyone else around is giving up, keep going. when you feel like giving up grab the arm of someone near. it is never a sign of weakness to admit you need help, only courage. because the most courageous are those who are most aware of their weakness.. and yet keep going regardless.

be compassionate. genuine. conduct your life with humility. never think you’re better or more deserving. the battlefield is level ground and we all stand equal.

soldier on, son.
i’m right beside you.

love, mom

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{your love story – poSt#5}

the response from those i asked to share was so good there was no way i could pick only 4.
so we’re letting our love story series spill over into march, and maybe even april.
if more come on board we could just keep this thing going all year!
who says february holds the monopoly on love?

i never tire of hearing how two lives have come to the conclusion they want to spend forever with each other!
every story is precious and unique and yet beautifully familiar causing our hearts to connect over the sameness we share.

today, my dear friend MJ is telling her story.
i’ll never forget one of the things i noticed when i first met this amazing woman
was how her face took on a different light whenever she talked about her husband.
so evident she adores him.
{i remember thinking, i want to be like that!}

i’ve continued to be inspired through the years not only by her love for her man-
but her heart for her kids. and the compassion and kindness with which she conducts her life.

your love story - mj&patmj Collage

How I met a boy & never looked back.

I had gone through 2 hard relationships in my teens. I was tired, worn out, and not sure I could handle relationships.

In 2000, I asked my Dad if he would keep me accountable, just helping me get my feet back under me. We decided on a year. One year for me to clear my head and take inventory of my own heart. Who was I and what did I truly want out of life? I wasn’t sure anymore.

This year of my life was so refreshing. I hadn’t realized how much I was performing. Often being someone I truly wasn’t just to please other people & getting into messy relationships. It was in this year that I met Patrick. I think about it now, how differently things may have been if I had been in my old rut – the pleasing others rut. How would I have been when I met him?

When I met him I was very fascinated. He was confident, masculine, and truly seemed to know what he wanted out of life. But I didn’t let myself go where I normally would have. I didn’t think of him as someone to date. It was September of 2000. Patrick told me later that the day we met, he told his cousin that he had met the girl he felt he would marry. He never let me know that by his actions and I wasn’t going there.

We met again in December. Patrick came from Ohio to Pennsylvania to visit a friend and spend New Years Eve with him. I happened to be at the same party and we talked briefly. I thought he was a bit stand-offish that night and later found out that he thought I was snobby. Probably a bit of self-protection going on on my end, because to be honest, I thought he was an amazing man. And one who I didn’t see myself worthy of.

The beginning of 2001 I was seriously considering moving to Thailand to work with a prostitution mission that was there. Patrick was leaving for Brazil for the 2nd time and while there he was asked to come back and replace the river boat captain. We had started emailing some and it seemed like our lives were going separate directions. Our emails were very platonic and as far as I knew I was on a list of people he was emailing. My plans never materialized for some reason and I ended up staying in Pennsylvania. My year was coming to an end and I felt at peace.

Patrick came home from Brazil and was ready to take the training needed for the position there. He doesn’t know why, but he suddenly felt as if he wanted to ask me out. He had heard from friends that I wasn’t dating anyone, and he didn’t know how long that was lasting but he thought he would take the chance. When he called my dad, it happened to be the weekend before my year was up. My Dad asked him to make the 7 hour trip to Pennsylvania to meet him before he would give his blessing. Patrick was willing to do that, and they met a week later.

We started dating that weekend, and I seriously never looked back.

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On our first date Patrick did something that was so odd for me. He took me to a fantastic restaurant and as we started into conversation, he told me he wanted to make one thing clear. Although he was physically attracted to me, he wanted to honor me and not ask anything from me physically until we were married. This was so shocking for me. My other relationships were very physical and although I am a physical person, they left me feeling empty and used. We both were so tired of the dating scene. And almost instantly talked about marriage.

I was 21 and he was 24.

We saw each other every weekend. Either he would come to Pennsylvania or I would go to Ohio. One weekend I had a friend who was going to another part of Ohio and asked if I would want to ride along. Patrick agreed to pick me up about an hour from where he lived. We met him and I transferred my stuff into his vehicle. On the way to his house, he stopped at a state park. It was early afternoon and he said he had packed a lunch and thought we would just enjoy walking around the lake there. He was a very active, outdoorsy kind of person and so this was not out of character for him at all. We found a place to park and he took out a fun little lunch. I remember being extra chatty this day, and just so happy to be with Patrick again. He stood up and said he would like to go on a walk. Again, I was so busy talking, I never suspected what would happen next…

Patrick got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife.
Again, I never doubted or hesitated. I knew that I knew he was my man!

We had only been dating for 5 weeks before Patrick asked me to marry him. People seemed shocked, but it didn’t seem that quick to me. I didn’t expect it this soon, but I guess I just knew from the first date that we would be married at some point. He was already my very best friend and I couldn’t wait to spend the rest of my life with him. We had a short engagement as well.

12 weeks later we were married.

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That has been 12 1/2 years ago now. He’s still my best friend. Even more so today then back then. We didn’t always have a smooth road. And actually the first 2 years of being married were very hard. We were still getting to know each other. But I have never looked back.

I know not everyone is blessed with a story like mine. And I don’t elevate mine as the only right way or the best way, but I love our story. It’s us. Patrick is my soul mate. A man I admire so very much. And I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be his.

1. How did you know Patrick was the one for you?

I don’t know exactly how I knew, but after our first date, I never questioned it. There was never a doubt in my mind. I knew I wanted to be with him the rest of my life.

2. What was something you never expected in marriage?

How quickly we became ‘one.’ Before I was married I saw myself as fairly capable and independent. I remember it did not take long at all after we were married, that I was terrified of ever having to live life without Patrick. And a surprise that came later on was the way we truly still had to connect or we grew apart. Couples told us that, and I’m sure my head knew it, but when I thought of being with someone for a decade – or more, it just felt like it would get easier. Wouldn’t science prove this? But truly and honestly, if we don’t keep that connection close, it doesn’t take long before he feels like a stranger. (Gosh these questions are hard. There has been quite a few ‘surprises’ for me.)

3. What do you think has been the most valuable thing in helping to strengthen your marriage?

Communication & fighting. I am so very thankful that Patrick is the kind of man who can ‘take me’ when I need to vent. He isn’t afraid of me or my outbursts. And I know that one reason we do fight is because we both know that the other one isn’t going anywhere. If I was worried that depending on what I said he would either shut me down or walk away, I know that I wouldn’t be nearly as free to express my feelings and desires. Of course, I still want to be respectful and not take advantage of his listening ear, but for the most part, we can say what we are feeling.

4. Marriage is _____________ {fill in the blank}

Giving!

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>>>><<<<

thank you MJ!
so many things about this story i love..
from taking a year off dating to patrick wanting to respect you physically to saying fighting strengthens your marriage.
yes! amen! and so get it! ~

girls these days need to know it’s okay to not always be in the dating scene. have a guy on their arm.
and guys.. oh, my word! how we need more guys with self-control and pure motives.
and i’ve often said that a good fight helps to just unclog anything that’s blocking us from experiencing further intimacy and oneness.
thanks for keeping it real!

and for those joining in here today-
i hope you’ll take some time to comment and let us hear from you.
blogs are about so much more than pretty pictures and fun stories..
it’s connecting with others on similar journey’s and building a community that doesn’t just observe from afar but steps in to encourage and uplift and just give a girl a high-five every now and then!

thanks for being here. all of you!

{what i wore & what your daughters don’t need to hear from you}

i gave myself the challenge of not buying anything new for two months and have been shopping my closet instead~
today i’m linking up with the pleated poppy as i share what i’ve worn lately along with a few  favorite products::

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dress:: target
leggings:: h&m
sweater:: plato’s closet
boots:: target
belt:: tj maxx

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shirt:: kohls sale rack
skirt:: target sale rack
belt:: one of the longest items in my closet {no idea where i got it}
tights:: tj maxx
boots:: softmoc {last year}

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dress:: h&m
jeans:: gap
necklace:: target
shoes:: second hand store
purse:: created by my sis in law, bryn, from an old urban outfitters rug!! {she’s pretty fabulous!}

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i have to show the card she sent with the purse…
i want to put a strap on it and carry it as well! so beautiful~

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my fav color nail polish right now for spring – nyc, a minty blue ::
{polish tip – never buy expensive nail polish, only a great top coat that will protect the polish}

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and my “can’t live without these” products of the moment::

garnier miracle skin perfector – which is a fancy way of saying, tinted moisturizer. but it is amazing! under make-up or alone.
garnier under eye roller – the only thing i’ve found to work to cover dark circle. caffeine in the ingredients is the secret!!
{instead of drinking coffee we should be putting it under our eyes! ha.}

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>>>><<<<

when i said i wasn’t going to buy anything new for two months i had no idea how hard that would be.
followed by how hard it actually is to shop your own closet.
but hardest of all in this whole thing was remembering to take pictures of myself when i was actually dressed
before i had gotten home and thrown my yoga pants back on.
sunday i actually went back upstairs and put my church clothes on again.

and then there’s the whole, how to stand when you’re trying to take a picture of your outfit?
if you know me you know i don’t care having my picture taken
but i like certain light and angles and creating something artsy and fun -
standing straight in front of a camera is none of those things.
most of them turned out looking like mug shots.
i was just going to chop my head off in them all but then that looked creepy.
and if i were going to be totally honest i wanted to can this whole experiment..
from not buying new clothes to shopping my closet to posing for pics of the outfits i came up with.

you know why?

because for the past year, and especially six months when i see a picture of myself i just instantly start tearing it apart.
my hips are too wide my legs are too short my mouth is too small my face is too long.
and now.. now i’m adding things like neck jowl to the list?
i’m not even sure what exactly neck jowl is – it sounds like a disease..
but i’m pretty sure i’ve got it!

and this is in no way some set up for compliments.
as i tell shayne, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says, it’s how i feel about myself that matters!
and more than i can ever remember self-image issues have plagued my mind alot this past year.

i’m sure it had something to do with turning 40. i didn’t think getting old ever bothered me.
and it never did…
until i started getting older!

of course, 40 is fab. and it’s still the prime of life.
but reality is, your body does change.
things you used to do don’t come as easily.
weight is harder to take off and things are shifting {most of it, south!}

and apparently i talked about this stuff. and way more than i realized…
as was evident when i started hearing my skinny as a twig sixteen year old talk about being “fat.”
and even my eight year old picking apart things about herself she didn’t like.

at first i was all, “oh, my word, girls!! what in the world?”
then i could hear my own voice inside and i knew they were only repeating what they had been hearing from me!

if you want to know what you talk about – listen to your kids.
if you want to know what’s important to you. what matters most.
what’s consuming your thoughts and troubling your soul..
just stop and pay attention to what your kids are saying!

they are echoes of our lives.

and our kids will grow to be the version of ourselves we truly are -
not the ones we imagine ourselves to be.

that’s why, “i was wrong, will you please forgive me?” frequent these lips a lot around here.
and so often when i’m seeing issues in my kids lives i need to look no further than my own heart!

as i’ve realized, and the hard way-
how i view my appearance and body is how my girls will begin to view their appearance and body.
how they see me dealing with my insecurities is how they will filter their own.
they learn from me, whether i even notice it or not. they are watching. they are listening.
determining their definition of self-worth now in these young, critical years of growth..
a definition that will either carry them into their adult years with either freedom in this area or bondage that can be so hard to break.

it’s certainly not about instilling some false sense of confidence or trying to hide our struggles.
our kids see straight through all that.
but i think it’s about showing them even in our imperfection and struggles there is victory
those things do not have to control our lives and cripple who we were made to be.

it’s about being humble and honest and on our knees as moms. as women!
crying out for God to change our hearts.
because no amount of anything we put on our bodies or on our faces or air of confidence we try to carry can mask a heart of unrest!

i feel this post is celebrating a bit of that change {and still changing} heart in me.
of coming to a place of acceptance. even joy.
of being okay with who i am and what i look like. with the body type i have.
not that i don’t need to still make healthy choices. and changes.
to move more and eat less salsa after 10 p.m. while watching the gilmore girls re-runs.

that’s the thing. i think as women we will always be working on this area of loving ourselves where we’re at – whether a size 4 or 14.

but, just like every other area of life i want my daughters to see i have a God, and they do too, that has all i need.
He not only holds the answers~ He IS the answer!
and i want them to know He is the only security that lasts!

not skinnier hips and lower scale numbers.
not more toned abs and cute outfits.
not even this whole ‘love yourself’ we’re talking about.
but recognizing we are {already} enough!! right where we’re at today. whatever size and shape.
because our self-worth is not found in a certain body image but WHOSE image it was we were made in.~

“You weren’t an accident. You weren’t mass produced. You aren’t an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the earth by the Master Craftsman.”

WE ARE HIS!! children of GOD. daughters of THE KING.
CREATED on purpose. FOR a purpose. crafted WITH CARE. CHERISHED beyond belief. VALUABLE!
He didn’t just look at you and say it was good, He said it was VERY good!
the PINNACLE of all He made. the highest reflection of HIS GLORY.

THAT’S WHO YOU ARE!!

and you are beautiful.

{{another}} snow covered monday.

the sun is shining today. and i think i actually hear birds outside.
seems the whole world is under the winter that will never end and everyone is anxious for spring.~

this has been the longest winter i can ever remember.

reese asked me the other day, “when’s it going to be grass time again, mommy?”

yes. we’re all anxious for grass time!
which might still be some time in coming for us way up north…
canada is typically six weeks behind everyone else in weather.
so. when others are posting pics of budding trees and shirt sleeves, we’re still plowing our way out!

but. the thing is – this is our life. this is where we moved.
and i’ve been working on embracing this place we now call home~
it’s been three years, but it seems these past six months have been the toughest battles of contentment yet.
maybe early on it was still the excitement of a new place.
and the fact it wasn’t supposed to be permanent.
or, that our first year here we were at the beach in march. march!

the weather affects my mood probably way more than it should.
when i wake up first thing i do is look towards the big double window in our room -
if i see the sun peeking through i feel a happy little vibe.
if it’s dark and gray? well, there’s no happy little vibe!
more like a sinking feeling and wanting to throw the covers back over my head!

but every day’s not sunny.
and every day’s not warm.
and every day can’t be what we want.
there are winters to get through and there will be seasons and times they will seem to be endless.
{and yes.. i’m talking about so much more than just the weather now.}

but we can lay there and wallow. or we can get up and find the joy!

i’ve been trying to find the joy!

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one thing i did recently by way of embracing my circumstances was to go snowshoeing with some girlfriends.
it’s something i’ve actually always wanted to try…
ever since watching that episode of little house on the prairie where mr. edwards forges through the blizzard with big wooden snow shoes on his feet, just to bring laura and mary their christmas gifts! finally winning the approval of ma with his kindness! {loved that t.v. series-one of the best ever!}

if you know my aversion for snow you’ll understand the big deal this snowshoeing was though!

i don’t even own snow pants. or a real snow worthy coat.
i showed up at my girlfriends in my black puffy down coat with the ruffles around the bottom.
she just sort of shook her head no, and went to the closet to fetch me a “real canadian coat.”

once bundled under about 20 layers in my borrowed snow pants and coat and gloves.. hat pulled down to my eyebrows and scarf pulled up over my nose, i could barely bend over to strap the snowshoes on and had broken a sweat before i even started. praying the whole time i wouldn’t have to pee cause, Lord knows, you ain’t getting out of that stuff anytime quick!

now i thought with snowshoes, from my vast knowledge of watching mr.edwards, that they kept you up on top of the snow.
i didn’t realize you actually still sink down a bit. so, it’s not as simple as just one foot in front of the other like a normal walk… it’s foot with big awkward plastic snow shoe sinking down an inch or two, then pulling it up and out and trying to strategically place one in front of the other without stepping on. believe me. there’s a whole skill to it!!

by the time we reached the edge of the yard i knew i was no mr.edwards.
laura and mary would have been without gifts that year if they were waiting on me!!
already i was breathing heavy and tired.
“well, that was fun!!” i said turning back towards the house.
but everyone else kept going so i fell in behind and followed.

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just a ways in we were heading up a hill when my snowshoes got tangled together and before i knew it i had landed backwards, head facing down the hill and legs up it!! it’s one of those times when you just lay there for a minute like, “okay. now what?”

i stuck my arm into the snow to boost myself up but my arm just sank near to my shoulder and i never did find the bottom!! my friend, cathy, came back down to offer her hand. but it was a weird position and gravity was winning. she couldn’t pull me. then, i got to laughing, and then it was just a lost cause!

“try not to move alot..” cathy was saying. “snow will get into your coat and you’ll end up freezing!”
end up freezing? what was this other thing i was feeling then?

after a few more attempts i wasn’t getting up. i wanted to say, just leave me. get me on your way back. but as i looked up at all my fit, outdoorsy, nature lovin canadian friends i knew i needed to prove myself better than that.
so i forgot the rule about moving too much and just rolled myself over onto my belly, then hiked up on all fours.

problem is snowshoes are like wearing mini skiis…
now up on all fours, the next issue was how to stand back up with these things on my feet!

i tried a few ways. and still, not exactly sure how but some kind of twist and hop and all the while giving myself that mental cheer that i’ve delivered babies so, “i’ve got this!” suddenly i was up again!

the rest of the way i managed to stay upright. and actually found myself enjoying it.
even though the next day my muscles ached in places i didn’t even know i had muscles!!
but i’m glad i went despite it all and i think i even heard myself saying something about wanting to go again…
though that might have been the frostbite making me delusional.

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but the thing i’ve learned {and am learning. t r y i n g to learn} through this endless winter. this time in my life of wrestling with discontentment at where i’m at or how things are is that i can’t sit around waiting for circumstances to produce the life i want, i have to live the life i’ve already been given.

which might not seem to make any sense to anyone but me.
but there can be so much time focused on the life you wish you had, that you miss the one you DO!

and not merely surviving it and muddling through until something somehow changes.
but living it with joY!

when life is hard it can be difficult to look ahead and realize it won’t always be this way.
whatever is discouraging or weighing on our hearts can often cloud our vision to seeing the blessing of NOW!

we can think things have to get lined up in some right order before we can truly experience that.
like, when we’re no longer up in the night with a newborn.
or have toddlers fussing at our feet.
or teens pushing against the boundaries.
or bills piling up.
or a relationship that causes us pain.
or WARM WEATHER to finally come!

and without even realizing, and before we know it, we look back and see how much time has passed where we’ve forfeited the joy sitting right in front of us, simply because we didn’t choose to take it. to see it. to accept what is now instead of longing for what could be.

there is always a spring. in seasons. in life.
but the winter must be passed through first.
there is beauty in it all.
it is necessary for our growth.

and the heart that chooses joY is the heart that finds rest.

that’s the way we weather whatever it is before us.

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*edit*

when i picked emma up from school this afternoon i was talking to friend from my van window who is heading to the states next week for spring break.

“have a great time!” i was calling to her, “i hope it’s warm!!”

“anything will be better than this,” she said with a huge motion of her arm.

“that’s for sure!” i nodded.

a little boy, probably 6 or 7 was walking by..
i saw him stop and look at me, not realizing at first he had said something, until he just kept standing there.

“pardon?” i asked.

“i said spring IS coming.”

“i know!” i laughed.

he didn’t turn his gaze away..

“and summer after that!”

then he stood for a minute as if waiting for me to get it, then turned and continued on his way.

“you’re so right!” i called after him.

and i smiled the whole way home thinking of that kid.
of this blog post i had just written earlier and how that sometimes..
seeing the joy in our circumstances takes those around us hollering out reminders.

oh, yeah. it IS coming!

{your love story – post#4}

so happy to have stacey from over at toliveloved sharing her story with us here today!

i first met her, oh.. i don’t even know, a long time ago now when i was young and she was younger!
her older sister was a room mate of mine when i lived in chicago.
i love her heart and humor and realness. she’s a girl’s girl!
and i always wish to be sitting across from her sharing a coffee whenever i read what she writes.

not sure what the weather’s like where you are today, but it’s a chilly one here.
so, if you’re free. curl up on the couch. throw on a blanket..
and let’s enjoy another great {{love}} story together. this time, southern style!

>>>><<<<

fall times~ 060love story

The best thing about our story…….is that it’s not over.
It has a beginning, which is fun to tell.
It has a middle, which we are currently in.
It has an end, which I hope will be until we are old and grey.

I’m Stacey and he is Brad.

I was somewhere around the age of 10 and he was a young 9.
Scandalous, I know.
Our families met and became friends.
For several years, we would have occasional dinners together, and every once in a while, starting somewhere around the age of 13, my sister and I would spend the night with his sisters.
I always thought he was cute. He was blond, funny, well mannered, and muscular, even as a teen..he never hit that awkward, lanky stage.

Brad is from a large family. He is one of seven children.
I am one of four and even though most consider a family of six to be large, we were a fairly reserved, quiet bunch.
His family was loud. Very talkative and, well.. just loud!
I was always a little wide-eyed at his house.

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Fast forward six years, I was 19 and away in Dallas, Texas for a year long Bible school.
For me, it was time to be away, alone.
To have a little independence.
To get a little more grounded in my faith.
To have time to think and figure out what I wanted to do in regards to college, etc.
And I can’t lie…..the thought did cross my mind that I might meet THE ONE.

I did meet lots of neat people…..most had hearts for the Lord and wanted to be in some type of ministry.
I loved guys who could sing and met a few that met most of my subconscious criteria.
BUT.
This.
This moment, though insignificant was a decisive one for me.
I lived with an elderly woman in a clean but old house, and we had the occasional cockroach.
And this girl “don’t do bugs”. I just don’t like them. I especially have an aversion to roaches.
They crunch and squish when you kill them and I just can’t deal!!!
My Daddy ALWAYS took care of me well…which meant he killed bugs in my bathroom at home when the need arose.
So here I am in Texas, with my sweet, widowed, confined to a walker, landlady.
I had two guy friends over….can’t remember why….I think we were about to go join other friends for dinner maybe.
I had a disgusting, HUGE, dark, nasty cockroach stuck in my bathtub.
It was sticking out from the little drain thing where water drains out if you’ve over filled the tub.
I asked BOTH of these friends to please get the thing out of my tub.
Long story short, they wouldn’t.
Would NOT get the dead, harmless, but disgusting thing for a girl, out of my tub.
Silly or not, it was a small thing that for me, spoke volumes because I think the little things pile up to make big things.
I’ll never forget it because at that weird little moment in my bathroom, with these cute, sweet, Godly Texans, who were friends…
but had the potential to become more than that, I had an epiphany.
A decision in my heart was made.

I said to myself:

I want a red blooded, southern, guy who will kill bugs for me.
Someone who loves me enough to do anything for me. Get me out of here.

Cue Brad.

I called home one evening to talk with my family and my brother, Paul answered.
We talked a bit then he said something like,
“Brad is here. He took me hunting.”
My ears perked up.

See, I LOVE my brother. I love all my siblings but only have one brother and he holds a special place in my heart.
And this guy, this guy from way back when, had taken an interest in a kid who was five or so years younger.
He spent time with him simply out of kindness.
Maybe this was the moment I first started to fall in love with him.

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Fast forward six months.
I’m at home at my brother’s baseball game during spring break.
Guess who’s there?
Yep.
Brad.
Sweet Brad, again, taking an interest in my brother.
We talked……and maybe flirted a little. maybe.
My family was grilling fish for dinner.
“Hey!”, I said.
“Why don’t you come over and eat with us!”
He didn’t argue…not one little bit.

My time in Dallas ended that May and Brad called me as soon as I got home.
He asked if I wanted to go with he and his family to a banquet.
I said yes, and after that dinner, he asked me on what I consider to be our real “first date”.
We ate and talked. It was easy…..just like being home.

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What a summer that was.
Southern summers in a small town are probably close to what you imagine them to be.
The country songs have it about right.
It was hot.
Our dates were dinners at little restaurants.
We ate a lot of fried catfish and cheese grits.
We rode four-wheelers.
We jumped in water whenever we could.
He raked, sold, delivered, and put out pine straw to make money.
We took long drives in his crimson red pick up truck. Windows down, through the cotton and peanut fields.
We drove about 25 minutes away to his family’s little country church about every Sunday night.
I loved the drives. The sunsets, the hot breeze in my face, the occasional “pull off the road” moments.
I remember the first time he held my hand.
Any Diamond Rio song takes me right back there.
I remember being 19, dating my red blooded, southern guy who never once winced at anything when it came to me.
I can still feel the wind, see the sunsets, and hear the crickets in the darkness.

It didn’t take long to realize that this was it.
This was that thing I had been sure I would find in Texas but wouldn’t you know it, he was right where I had always been.

We hadn’t officially labeled ourselves, nor had we committed to anything serious.
On one of our many long talks, as the summer was in full swing, I told him,
“I know you’re going off to school this fall. I certainly don’t want to hold you back or stand in the way of your being able to have the ‘college experience’. If you want to go with no strings attached, I certainly understand.”

He looked a little horrified and quickly said,
“No. I know what I want. What I want is right here in front of me. I have no desire to ‘play the field’.”

From that moment on, there was no looking back.
He was decisive about me and I couldn’t resist.

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Brad was and still is a good man.
He loves me well.
He has character.
He has integrity.
He loves the Lord.
He’s not afraid of bugs.
He is scrappy.
He’s determined.
He’s such a hard worker.
He’s sometimes impatient.
He loves justice.
Sometimes we say things we shouldn’t.
He wishes I weren’t so stubborn.
He loves to work out.
He’s financially conservative.
He is the most playful Daddy you’ll ever meet.
He will hunt anything that moves.
He thinks I’m cute.
He’ll eat just about anything.
And he loves me.
I love him. The whole package.
We stick to it…good and bad.
We decide to forgive when the other one hurts.
The quicker we forgive, the better off we are.

The beginning was fun,
the middle is secure,
and the end will, I hope, be sweet.

A few people told us we were too young and that we’d never make it.
Though partially blinded by love, we certainly were not naive.
We knew any path would be hard.
Being separate would be hard.
Being together would be hard.
We chose “together hard.”

This June will be 17 years married. We’ve moved a lot, survived more than 10 years of college, medical school, and residency, had four beautiful children and consider ourselves blessed to still like each other.

~stacey

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1. how did you know brad was the one?

As strange as it sounds, he was the only guy when I thought about things getting serious, didn’t make me feel nauseous.
I was also able to picture him being a daddy. He was a natural around kids, which was appealing to me.

2. what was something you never expected in marriage?

I was terrified of the “new” wearing off. I feared things becoming mundane, boring, and gross.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the change that time has brought…
In exchange for the new, unknown excitement of dating or being newlyweds, I have loved the familiar comfort and consistency that comes as a result of commitment.

3. what has been one of the biggest things to help strengthen your marriage?

The thing that strengthens our marriage the most is our individual walk with God.
We are happiest when we are not solely focused on getting our needs met.
Serving is a choice, and not one I always make, but when I do, things in our marriage are at their best!

4. fill in the blank. marriage is ____________.

Marriage is hard, good, aggravating, fulfilling, work, funny, satisfying, comforting, and a tremendous blessing.
Oh, and hard work… did I mention that? :)

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>>>><<<<

such a fun story!
i felt i was right there with you guys in that crimson red pick up truck..
which might have been awkward, but still!
sunshine on my face and diamond rio blaring out on the radio. yee-haw!!
it doesn’t get much better than that!

if you joined us today hope you’ll take some time to let stacey know you enjoyed her story.
and check out her blog toliveloved. great stuff there!

happy friday y’all!!!!

{i’m going to say y’all as much as i can today.. i’m feeling the southern inspiration!!}

 

heart

{it’s already alright}

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there are few things that cause my heart to become overwhelmed with worry like that of financial stress.
it’s been a tough winter for anyone in the construction/ contractor business.
and even though we’re always fine in the end -
and i could fill this blog with stories of God’s goodness.
and of my gratefulness to have a husband that works hard!
that isn’t ashamed to do whatever job he needs to provide for his family..

still.. still i have those moments of strong doubt where i’m pretty sure,
“nope. this is the time it’s just not going to happen!”
this is the time we’ll starve and be turned out and have to move into my friend, jo’s, basement!

worry is a funny thing. it seems to run parallel with fear and they usually show up right at the same time.
the worry of, “what if?” and the fear of, “what if all the what if’s come true?”
and it hits from nowhere.
on a perfectly normal, otherwise happy day..
like when you’re changing the sheets on your bed and thinking of that lumpy mattress that makes your back ache.
and then before you know it you’re convinced you’ll be sleeping on it till you’re 80 and the springs all sticking out -
and suddenly it’s all, we’ll never. and what if? and the worry and fear mount.
and you find yourself ripping at those sheets a little harder than necessary!!

after a while shayne comes in and finds me there. laying on the bed. defeated. crying.
and we wonder why our husbands get confused at us women as i start lamenting the mattress condition
only to end with, “and how are we ever going to pay for the kids to go to college!?!?!”

and he listens patiently.
though i’m pretty sure i saw a slightly amused smile playing at the corners of his mouth.
and then takes me in his arms. “everything’s going to be alright.” he says.

then he lowers his voice and whispers more seriously, “it already IS alright.”

and isn’t that what any of us needs to hear when we’re worried and fearful? and just a blubbering mess?
the encouragement that it will be alright.
and the perspective it already is.

that simple reassurance completely changed my day as his words continued to ring over in my heart,
and even this morning, still…

yes. whatever it is.
it’s already alright.

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that reminded me of a day last week when reese was playing with the valentine balloons that were about ready for the garbage…
i grabbed my camera and sat across the room from her, snapping away!

“wook mom,” she said at one point. “dis is way f-wat (flat). but when i doe wike dis…”
and she wraps her arms around one and squeezes it hard, “now it’s way big.”

and i thought, how like us that is!
in those times of feeling deflated inside. sinking.
to have someone come along and just squeeze the air right back into us!
those, “it already IS alright!” kind of people.

words that repel worry.
quench fear.
and inflate our hearts to soar once again.

that’s the kind of words i want to speak!

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¸.·´¸.·¨) ¸.·¨)
(¸.·´ (¸.·´ (¸.·¨¯`♥ amber

{your love story- post#3}

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one of the reasons i wanted to do this series of love stories again is because i have three daughters~
an absolutely wonderful and terrifying thought all at once!

and especially as i’ve watched kate face some tough choices in regards to boys
and dating and relationships as she entered high school -
which is, the hormonal cesspool of life!

it can be tough as teenager these days not to casually date when it seems everyone else in the world is doing it.
but i think kate has also seen firsthand as so many girls struggle through finding their self worth in a boy
and the hurt and pain that eventually brings.
it’s a tricky thing to wade through, this whole dating arena.
and all three of us, shayne, kate and i are very much playing it by ear..
or more like, a boy by boy basis! :)
not really a set age or plan of attack.
but when the interest comes up on a guy’s part we’re open to that,
willing to explore it with kate and see how God leads.

but i’m a firm believer in accessing the wisdom of the older generation!
those who’ve done this before us.
it’s one thing for me as a mom to tell kate my story. but to hear from others..
somehow with kids they listen with different ears!

and we all fall into the “older generation” category somewhere -
because we all have those younger, coming up behind us that we can turn and speak truth back into their lives.
it’s our responsibility.
the responsibility every older generation has for the younger.

and i think even more important in this day and age where our culture makes us afraid to say anything for fear of offending…
but what is happening is everyone ends up saying nothing at all.
which is just as damaging.

i want my kids to learn from others besides just their dad and i.
even those that might not share our same opinions but have valid points and thoughts nonetheless.
i’ve seen already how in allowing this, not being afraid of it as parents, but welcoming it..
it’s helped kate and ben both to sharpen what they truly believe.
to zero in on what they want. how they want to live out this part of their life -
the teen years. the dating years. are huge, huge! and will and do have lasting repercussions.

i’m not naive enough to think my kids will pass through them unscathed -
but i do believe the bigger their support group. the louder their cheering section.
the more stories and people we have to point them to and draw from…
the more prepared they will be to face whatever these years hold~

nina petty is one of those women i’m glad to have in my parenting cheering section.
i first “met” her probably 5 or 6 years ago now through our blogs.
and she has continued to be a source of wisdom and blessing in my life~

i know you’ll enjoy her story and if anything.. just the way she titled it, will make you smile…

>>>>><<<<<

Our “Petty” Love Story

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When Amber asked me to write our love story as a part of her “Your Love Story” series, I was honored, and blessed. And excited, because I love telling how God brought Bill Petty into my life!!

So, here is our story – at least my half of it! ;-)

I thought I was approaching the “old maid” years – I was 20! (Ask my 29 year old single daughter what she thinks about my silly ideas back then!) In my mind, though, a girl graduated from high school, soon married her high school sweetheart, and began that longed-for family. I did not learn this from my parents, who were almost 28 and just past 36 when they married!

Perhaps I only thought it because I so longed to be married and have a family…

My problem was I never really had a high school sweetheart! I wasn’t taught from home or church that I should be dating only Christian men, and no one I knew had even heard the term “courtship” as it is used among Christians today, so I didn’t necessarily have that as a criterion. I had a very few dates, and then “went steady” (for a minute!) a time or two, but none of them ever STAYED.

I learned early what being “dumped” meant, and my circumstances compared to my ideals made clear to me that I just didn’t have what it took to keep a guy around!

After high school, things didn’t get much better. I seriously dated a boy for 9 months, dreaming of marriage and children… but he didn’t stay, either. As a matter of fact, he hurt me unbearably, and it almost killed me.

Just before my 20th birthday, in the midst of all the broken pieces of my heart, I finally gave it all to the Lord. I committed to going out only with Christian men, if I were asked at all. And if I weren’t, I was going to let that be God’s business! I had always wanted to become a school teacher just in case no one wanted to marry me so I could have lots of children in my life, but if I was to marry, God would simply have to work a miracle. I certainly wasn’t doing a very good job on my own!!

I casually dated a couple of men, but truly began praying for a Godly man, not just the typical suave, good-looking, rich man!! At this time, I actually had a couple of men pursuing me, but I knew they weren’t in love with Jesus, so I couldn’t trust whatever love they might have felt for me. I longed for a man who truly loved Jesus!

Enter Bill Petty!

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Actually, I have always been able to see God’s hand all over our meeting and marriage, so perhaps I should say “Enter God Almighty,” although looking back I could see that He had always been right there!

You see, my family went to a little country church in our little country town (at that time, the population was right at 200 people). One day Bill Petty walked in the doors of that little church. He wasn’t a believer, but had had some pretty big bumps in the road of his life recently, which caused him to long for a better way. He didn’t live in our town, but his brother and sister-in-law did, and although I did not know them, they went to our church. They invited him to come, and he came… to our little Podunk church in our little Podunk town!

I didn’t see Bill the first Sunday he came, but every motherly old matchmaker in our church saw him! They all came up to me after the service, asking me if I’d seen him! I truly dismissed it at the time, but the very next Sunday, this quiet, sweet man showed up in my Sunday School class. I was the unofficial greeter of the class, so I introduced myself, and even shared my Bible with him.

I should insert here that while I didn’t see Bill that first Sunday, he did see me!

He tells me all the time that he saw me up in the choir, and I was the only one smiling! And, unbeknownst to me, that big smile won his heart!

He came back to the evening service, and joy of joys, he became a Believer in Jesus Christ that night!! In our church, at the end of the service we have an “invitation” to come forward to pray, to receive Christ, perhaps to rededicate your life to Him, whatever your need might be. As Bill was walking down the aisle of our church, my Mama leaned over to me and said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God was saving him just for YOU??” At the time, I just responded, “Oh, Mama!!”

But I admit that her words truly stuck in my head. Especially after church, when Bill asked me out for a date!

We were married 9 months later.

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I kind of want to say, “And the rest is history!” But there has been so much wonder and grace in our 32+ years of marriage, I feel that would be cheating you out of our story. Because, you see, God saved more than one person on that night. Bill indeed became a Follower of Christ, but God saved ME that night, too. Yes, I was already a Believer – had been since I was 9 years old, and truly never remember a time when I didn’t love Jesus. But through bringing Bill into my life, God saved me from my SELF.

He showed me what true, long lasting, enduring LOVE is with skin on! You see, Bill STAYED. He never left me, he never thought of leaving me, and I never worried about him leaving me. And believe me, I’ve given him many reasons to storm out through my immaturity, selfishness, schoolgirl romantic ideals; but Bill’s love is deep, and it’s steady. As weird as this may sound, this love gave me the ability to look outside of my hurts, my fears, my SELF, so that I might truly see and minister to others! He truly does complete me.

My love story is not intended to say that every girl must have her “Prince Charming” in order to live a full life. No, I hope my story shows that God, who has such great love towards us that He knows our every need, gives just the right gift to each of us that will move us along to becoming more like Jesus. For me, Bill Petty was that gift. I didn’t seek him, but God knew just what I needed, when I needed it.

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Bill and I have three wonderful children, two amazing children-in-law, and 5 precious grandchildren. Life hasn’t always been easy – we’ve had financial difficulties, lost 2 babies through miscarriage, dealt with the deaths of grandparents, my oldest brother, and my parents; all the things that life can throw at you when you least expect it.

I must say, though, that our marriage is FILLED with JOY! Joy in each other and our children, yes; but mostly joy in a
heavenly Father who brought us together, held us together, and continues to knit us together!!

Nina Petty.

 

1. How did you know Bill was the one for you?

This may sound trite, but the Lord simply spoke to my spirit, almost within the first moment of meeting Bill. I tried hard not to fall in love too quickly, but I knew. It was almost love at first sight for both of us, but not a sensual thing. Both of us just knew God had put us together, and meant for us to stay that way!!

2. What was something you never expected in marriage?

I had always heard “the two shall become one,” but I had no idea how literally true that is. I just never expected how much Bill truly completes me – even in a moment that we’re not getting along great, there is simply something binding us together! It’s just amazing!!

3. What do you think has been the most valuable thing in helping to strengthen your marriage?

To quote A Marriage Prayer – “Give them enough tears to keep them tender, enough hurts to keep them humane, enough of failure to keep their hands clenched tightly in Yours, and enough success to make them sure they belong to You.” God has been faithful to do exactly that!

4. Marriage is _______

JOY! I tell people all the time that I still can’t believe Bill comes home to me every day!! Bill is such a picture of Christ loving his Bride, and I am filled with JOY that he chose ME!

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>>>><<<<

thanks so much, dear nina!
such a sweet and tender story.

i laughed when you mentioned the “motherly old matchmakers”
i’m afraid i’ve turned into one of those myself with all my single friends!!
always on the look out for a good match. ;)

for those of you joining in here today -
be sure to take some time to let nina know what part of her story you most appreciated.
you can learn more about her life and family here.

let’s continue building a community of encouraging, walk beside you kind of women here within these spaces of our blogs.
we need each other in this journey and this is one way we can all show up. through our words!

love you all. truly!

´¸.·¨) ¸.·¨)
(¸.·´ (¸.·´ (¸.·¨¯`♥

{more lessons from a slow learner}

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okay.
can we talk just a minute about that valentines post by my husband!

it still makes my heart glow and cheeks blush.
really.
you’ve no idea. no idea!

it was sweet all by itself. but i kept thinking..
“if they only knew the back story they would realize, just how sweet!”

if you’ve read here long enough you’ll know this wasn’t a first.
he’s done this kind of thing before.
but this time.. this time it was different.

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you see, it was my birthday the day before. 40.
and you would think after 40 years of birthdays i would have learned a thing or two about expectations!
that maybe.. just maybe i might have matured, even a little, to not be childish and selfish.
i thought i had.
but it seemed the longer the day went and the more ordinary it felt all that determination of maturity just went right out the window.

by that night it was one of those classic going to bed scenes where the wife is trying to act normal, but not exactly..
just a little sigh or huff here or there to let her husband know not everything’s okay.

but when he asks, “is everything okay?”
she answers with the standard, “yes.”

“i know you better than that,” he smiles.

“do you?” i shoot back.

but that’s the problem.
he does.
and it’s the freedom and fear of marriage all combined
the knowing what the other truly is.

and we sit up long into the night.
and i say things i wish i hadn’t.
and his silence tells me the wound cut deep.
and i gravitate between anger at myself that i’ll never learn
and anger at him, that he’ll never learn me.
and that sinking feeling i can still feel, even after 17 years of marriage..
that maybe it’s true what i’ve felt all along. my ugly really is too ugly to love.

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and the next day we try to work through it some more.
but it only seems to make it all worse.
and he comes home flowerless on valentines and my heart sinks.
i set the table in tears and think for sure, this time it’s really over.
and i go out later to see a movie with kate.
and while there he text to tell me to read my blog when i get the chance.

“i wrote it days ago. was just waiting for valentines to post it.”

and later. after his words bloom a beauty no long stem rose ever could, i whisper out,
“but how could you do that after how i’ve treated you?”

“because how you treat me doesn’t change how much i love you!”

and i write it even now through tears because it was so much more than just the kind words.
those are a gift in and of themselves.
but the true gift was the loving even though love hadn’t been given back!

he loved out of choice and not out of condition.

when he could have retaliated with selfishness he returned self (less) ness.
when he could have crossed his arms and stood back he stepped forward in forgiveness.
he displayed what genuine liFe giVing LoVe really looks like.

the kind of love that doesn’t give what you deserve but what you need.
the kind of love that gets hurt and still shows up.
that sees all the ugly and doesn’t run.
but stays.

endures.

needless to say, i’ve never felt more humbled. in awe. and so very grateful.

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to be honest, my pride didn’t want to write this post.
i mean, seriously? how embarrassing. it shows my straight up immaturity.
but i had to.

because most of all, it shows a completely great and merciful God
that can take a broken man and woman like we are and never give up on us! but continue to ever soften our hard places.
to show us at 40 years old and after 17 years of marriage and the past 2 hardest years of our marriage that we’re not done learning..
and relearning.
and growing and deepening and working things through..
not in the other person’s heart. in our own!
it’s not about changing the other to love you the way you want them to.
it’s about letting God change you so that you can love in the way He wants you to!

and no matter how overwhelming things may seem at times.
that this man will never get me.
this woman never change.
you may feel your problem is too big. your fight too long. your hurt too powerful. your effort too exhausting.
but i’m hear to tell ya, immature 40 year old that i am…
THERE IS ONE THAT IS BIGGER STILL.
more powerful.
who never stops fighting for us.
whose strength never runs out and faithfulness never lets up.

and because of that. because of that!
there is hope.
there is healing.

and there is wild, crazy, joyous, unadulterated {not mixed or diluted with any different or extra elements; complete and absolute} liFe giVing LoVe.

and it’s ours.
when we’re HIS.

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and you have to know there’s a part 2 to this story that i’ll share at another time..
it involves a surprise party the next night and an even more humbled wife!

oh, and he did get me roses on valentines too by the way.
he had them waiting by my bed when i got back from the movie with kate~

literal flowers.
and flowers of words.

and grace that never stops blooming!

Denim & Lace

This is Amber’s husband writing, sneaking in a blog while she stepped out. Hopefully I can figure out how to do this. – Shayne

“Denim and lace.”  The man was describing a female employee that was of great value to his team. I have thought of this description over the years since hearing that.  And the longer I am married, the more I see it as an apt description for my wife.

Amber is feminine and lady like, delicate and girly. She is a beautiful flower, ornate and lovely.  Her home reflects her “lace” side with an eye for detail and beauty. I tell her often she can decorate with the best of them. I will not mention the clothes that further expose the feminine side of the picture! No matter what she sets her hand to do, she does it with a woman’s touch, not missing any details and always making it amazingly beautiful. Although the boys in the home don’t always appreciate the lacy side, we still love her for it. IMG_0289

On the other hand, the girls in the home are growing to become just like her. And that makes me a proud papa. IMG_2199

Yet she is also strong and durable. The denim side of her qualities. She endures the storms and provides protection to those around her. She is the ferocious mama bear for those she loves, willing to take on anything/anyone who is deemed a threat to those she loves.

There is nothing like the comfort of our favourite blue jeans. Amber has the same affect in making others feel comfortable. No matter what the social status, she will make others feel perfectly at home in her presence. You will often find her in the middle of a group, whether family or friends, laughing, crying, and completely engrossed in the people around her. It is her strength and authenticity that draws people to her. And we find comfort in her friendship. IMG_0108

We are entering our 40′s now with over 17 years of marriage.  Life has been far from predictable, or easy, but it has been good. I still love to come home.  Amber still brings me joy and fulfillment. She is truly my best friend.  We love to be together.

As we celebrate another Valentines Day I find myself more grateful than ever for the wife God blessed me with.  Truly she is from the Lord.  She complements me in so many ways, as I have so many gaps.  I’m sure she gets tired of filling in the voids but she loves me without complaint. I want to publicly praise her for her strength and beauty.  These qualities are especially on display in the rough times. I look forward to many more Valentine celebrations with the bride of my dreams.  Happy Valentines Day, babe.IMG_1647

{your love story- post#2}

here’s our 2nd installment in our friday love story series.~

i first met olivia when we were in a bible study together last fall at our church.
i instantly was drawn to her sincerity. sweet spirit. and gentle nature.
not to mention the fact she’s a fellow american!! {yay!!}

you can check out her blog here.

i’m happy to have her sharing a bit of her journey with us here today.
she and jordan are currently working with the young adult group in our church
and i admire their heart for pursuing God and helping others do the same!

grab that coffee mug.
here we go again…

your love story 2_

I remember the first time I saw Jordan. We were in worship team auditions at Briercrest College when I saw him from across the room. I immediately thought, “Wow. That boy is so handsome.” He was tanned from the summer and wearing a navy blue hoodie and faded jeans (swoon). His sun-bleached blonde hair and blues eyes stole my attention for that moment, but that year we thought of each other as nothing more than a good friend.

At the time, I thought you couldn’t put a more different pair together. I was preparing for the mission field, wearing olive green cords and bright pink hoodies (don’t remind me!), while seriously pursuing studies in Linguistics. Marriage was not on my mind then.Jordan, was an athletic, camp-counseling, guitar-playing, shy yet witty young man. And marriage was not on his mind. We wanted to pursue our education, and our relationship with friends and Christ.

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It was two years before we saw each other as more than friends.

I had returned home from working at a camp located in Muskoka, Ontario. I had changed a lot that summer learning about God’s grace towards me and opening my eyes to a near future in North American rather than Ecuador or Asia. We were both returning to school as worship team leaders, so we would be working closely together. We spent a lot of time together with friends and by the end of that year–just before leaving for the summer again, Jordan called my Dad, we went for a long walk, and he asked if we could date. by then, it was everything I was hoping for!

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We dated through our last year at school and then for two more years while Jordan worked in Ontario and traveled to Asia, and I nannied and taught English, back home in Connecticut. Long distance was a stretching time and it make your times together very sweet, but your times apart very trying.

We leaned on the Lord, and he blessed those two years apart.

On September 29, 2012 (my parent’s anniversary!), Jordan came and surprised me in Connecticut…just one week before I was to fly up and visit him! I certainly didn’t see a proposal coming. My whole family was in on keeping it top secret, which made it feel so special in retrospect. I had made plans to walk with my sister and her dog at a beautiful apple orchard in our neighborhood. But there, instead of Laura, was Jordan. It was a wonderful proposal. The changing colors on the trees were accented by the looming clouds that had made for a misty dim afternoon–my favorite kind of day!

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When Jordan and I first started dating he said two things: 1) I’m planning a trip to India in January 2012 for four months and 2) I will not say “I love you” until we are engaged. He held to both of those commitments and we were better for it. On that day he said it: “I love you, Olivia.” They were sweet, sweet words to hear at last! We then shared our first kiss after my wholehearted, “Yes! I will marry you!”

We were married on June 22, 2013 in Ontario, hosting our reception at the Wilcox family farm. To our knowledge, it was the first family wedding to be hosted on the property in seven generations. We were overflowing with blessing and support from family and friends that day. And after much laughing, eating, kissing, dancing, and celebrating, we got in our car and left for a lovely honeymoon to Italy~

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1. How did you know Jordan was the one for you?

For us, “knowing” came gradually. We entered our dating relationship believing if we didn’t see marriage in our future we would no longer date each other. That being said, as we learned more about one another and trusted God with our relationship our knowing became more and more apparent! I remember thinking how good it was that God gave me someone like Jordan who lead well and always, always, pointed me to Scripture when we were unsure, or worried, or needed guidance. This is one of things I love most about my husband. God knew I needed him, and that made me more sure than ever that Jordan was the one for me!

2. What was something you never expected in marriage?

That it would be so fun! We both wondered if marriage would be all toil after saying, “I do.” Marriage seemed so hard from the outside-looking-in. But we would both say that marriage, while trying at times (two imperfect people coming together!), is a huge blessing and lots of fun. We get to laugh, play, sing, travel, serve, cook, enjoy, AND be best friends!

3. What do you think has been the most valuable thing in helping to strengthen your marriage?

In John Piper’s This Momentary Marriage, one of the first chapters talks about marriage being primarily for our holiness, and not always our happiness. Of course, God delights in a happy marriage, but if we focus only on our happiness, marriage can quickly become a “Make ME happy!” wrestling match rather than a sweet “How can I bless my husband?” act of love. God’s design for marriage is for it to be a humbling, serving, giving, outward expression of His love shown first to us. On June 22, 2013, we made a vow to pursue these beautiful expressions until death do us part.

4. Marriage is covenant (fill in the blank with one word).

In our culture today, it is easy to think that marriage is that same thing as a dating commitment, when really it is a covenant made before God. How beautiful! Through prayer and reading the Bible, we learn more about the example marriage is of Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church. And we desire nothing more than for our marriage to be that example!

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thanks so much for sharing your sweet story, Liv!

i had to smile when you said..
“At the time, I thought you couldn’t put a more different pair together.”
isn’t that always just it!
opposites do seem to attract.
and i think it has something to do with God’s ultimate design, as you said..
that marriage is more about holiness than happiness.
still learning that one daily around here!! :))

and for those of you reading~
i thought it would be fun since it’s valentines to all share what word we would use to fill in the blank on, marriage is __________.
look forward to hearing some of your responses.

happy, haPpy heart day, girlfriends!!!!!
love all you that stop in here.

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