Monday, August 15, 2016

Showing a little love

Some of you may have seen the "Love Your Spouse" challenge going around FaceBook these days. If you haven't seen it, it's a challenge to married couples to post something positive about their spouse (along with a photo) for seven days in a row. And, of course, as you do it you're supposed to tag others to do the same. I personally really enjoy these types of things, although I do recognize that some people find them annoying or even offensive (I read a whole article dedicated to the reasons someone was offended by this particular challenge *hang my head*). For me, this was a great way to think about some of my favorite things about Chris and our relationship, and he found it very encouraging as well. He's not on FaceBook, but I did text him the photo and caption I posted each day. 

Some people just posted a photo each day with an "I love my spouse!" type caption, but because I have a hard time doing anything the simple way, I gave some serious thought to what I wanted to say and how I wanted to share our story. Our story is so beautiful to me, but my prayer is that others are able to see what a testament it is to God's faithfulness and love. Here is our story as I told it on FaceBook each day. 

Love Your Spouse Challenge - Day 1
This photo is circa 1998, and Chris and I were 17 years old. I remember talking to my mom about him when we had been dating for just a few months. He was a bit on the wild side and definitely not what I'd call "husband material". I told my mom that we were "just having fun and not in love or anything". She just smiled at me and said, "Sometimes you fall in love before you know it, without meaning to." And guess what? She was right. I fell for him and he had my heart before I even really realized it. This made for some tough times and a lot of maturing that had to happen before we were ready for a commitment to each other, but there is something incredibly special about growing up with your love by your side. ❤️❤️❤️

Love Your Spouse Challenge - Day 2
October 20, 2001 - our wedding day. It was a gorgeous autumn day just weeks before we each would turn 21. Once we made the decision to marry, we were SO eager to do it. Initially, we planned to marry at the end of that school year after a year long engagement (in May after our junior year of college), then we moved it to December, and finally to October (after only 5 months of being engaged). The wedding was simple with many friends and family by our side, but our true focus was on the marriage. We had several question our timing with our young age, neither of us having a "real" job, and still being in school - but for us - it was perfect. The memories of those newlywed days living in our tiny apartment across from the football stadium in Tahlequah as full time NSU students are some of our sweetest. Of course, we had our struggles. The idea of marriage and real life marriage are often two totally different things, but we learned early on to work through those things, big and small, while also learning what it really means to "love" someone. There are some days where we're certainly still learning. It's a life-long process, but I'm thankful we're in it together.

Love Your Spouse Challenge - Day 3
This is one of my very favorite photos of us. We had this photo shoot done in the fall of 2007 - and while I love the photos - I remember that they made my heart hurt a bit. It was STILL just us in the photos, despite the fact that we had already been trying and praying for a baby for years. While we were striving to live a full, abundant life through service to the Lord, travel, and finding joy in every day things, infertility often felt like a shadow we carried with us always. The pain of it is very real, and it took a toll on our marriage at times. We had to learn how to be content in our current state while also learning to trust the Lord and HIS timing, and we had to learn to do it TOGETHER. These were difficult lessons to be sure (and ones we are still learning in many ways). But now, when I look at this photo, I smile. I smile because despite all we were going through, we were still smiling and loving and living. Gods love and grace carried us through that painful season, just as it always does and always will.

Love Your Spouse Challenge - Day 4
About 24 hours after the twins were born, we were able to be together for the first time as a family of six. This was an unforgettable moment for us. Everything we had been through - testing, surgery, medical treatments, high-risk pregnancies, miscarriages, more testing, more treatments, another high-risk pregnancy - and here we sat with our four beautiful, healthy children. It was a moment where God's goodness and faithfulness could not have been more evident in our lives. We were overwhelmed with love for them and each other (and a few of those "HOW are we going to do this???" thoughts 😊). I'm so thankful that my babies have Chris as their Daddy, and that we have God as our Father giving us strength, wisdom, and joy in this parenting journey.

Love Your Spouse Challenge - Day 5
This is a photo from our first date after the twins were born (March 2015). They were about 6 weeks old, and we were sleep deprived to the max! We actually thought about taking a nap instead of going to eat 😊. It was a simple evening ... No special clothes or meaningful dining location, just us being together talking and laughing. I love that we've always been able to laugh together, and there are times that it has truly been the best medicine. We're not great about making date night a priority (actually, we're kinda terrible at it), but we are purposeful about spending time together in conversation, laughter, and prayer.

Love Your Spouse Challenge Day 6
I'm thankful for a husband who is dedicated to his family and loves being a Daddy. Every day when he comes home from work, the children excitedly run to him as he waits for them with open arms. Then, he immediately plugs in and gets busy. Some days that means playing with the children while I finish dinner, sometimes it's helping me gather everyone to eat, sometimes it's picking up the house, sometimes it's fixing something that broke while hewas at work. Whatever the case, he jumps right in with both hands. He doesn't rest, have a break, or even sit down. He's immediately my partner and second set of hands. This photo was taken last year on his birthday. We had plans that suddenly had to be cancelled when all four children became ill (including a baby who had pneumonia). Four sick kids is no joke, and while we were disappointed (thus the sad faces), he didn't complain about spending his birthday holding crying babies or wiping snotty noses or administering medication. He hung right in there with me, and I couldn't be more grateful for his love and commitment to our family.

Love Your Spouse Challenge - Day 7
This summer has been one of trials and big life changes for us. Chris had some medical issues at the beginning of the summer, one of our vehicles had to have some major (costly) repairs, we had to replace the septic system at our house, Chris's grandpa passed away, we put our current house on the market, and are in the process of having a new house built for our family (where we are standing in the photo). Through all these changes -and as we quickly approach our 15th wedding anniversary - I am reminded of how happy I am to have Chris as my spouse and my partner. We see each other at our very best and our very worst, yet choose to love each other through it all. With God as our rock, I pray that we can share many more years of this sweet life together. ❤️❤️❤️

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