Thirteen.

Thirteen years. Sounds like a lot and a little all at the same time.

When we spent our very first anniversary moving, renovating, and hugely pregnant, we should have guessed that the majority of the ones to follow would be commemorated while doing one or more of those same three things.
I guess when you love making homes and you love each other, you end up with a plethora of broken houses and babies.

We sometimes joke with couples who are young and freshly in love that they probably shouldn’t do what we did. We say all sorts of foreign-sounding things to them like “wait” and “travel,” and “date nights,” and “family planning,” and “maintenance-free apartments.”

Some evenings we talk and dream about what our life would be like if we had just done a tiny bit more “normal.”

But the more we’ve talked and lived, the more we’ve realized the limitations of “one-size-fits-all” types of advice. We’ve made some naive and crazy decisions, and have a bad habit of biting off way more than we can comfortably chew, but I just can’t imagine we’d have the same marriage if we’d lived such a different life.

There’s something about saying “I do” and immediately jumping blind-folded into the deep end, young and barely knowing how to swim that can do crazy things to two people.

You either sink or you ungracefully cling to each other with everything you’ve got. And sometimes the whole becoming one flesh thing happens seamlessly almost by accident. Not because we were good at it, or read the right books, or knew what we were doing, but because it’s the only way we could keep from drowning, and God is good and full of grace.
And while I don’t necessarily recommend that approach, I don’t regret it either.

Because I wonder if we’d have figured out how to love each other so deeply, and fiercely, and necessarily, if we had cautiously eased in. I’m a pretty independent, self-reliant, never-ask-for-help type when I’m not drowning.
But God is big enough and loving enough to use these tsunamis we probably keep bringing on ourselves, to show me we’re so much stronger in our clinging and togetherness than we’d probably ever have pulled off on our own or if we’d cautiously eased our way in.

And here I am four babies, seven renovations, ten houses, twelve bathroom remodels, and thirteen anniversaries into this whole marriage thing and to be completely honest, I am still drowning. We’ve been living out of suitcases for over a year and are more unsettled than we’ve ever been. But while life and marriage can be hard, being in love with this guy can be just so easy. He has a kind heart and really strong shoulders. He loves me so patiently and practically and thoroughly.

The great thing about learning how to be in love when you’re gasping for air, is it’s just that much sweeter and appreciated to be able to do it when you finally catch your breath (even if just for a moment).

And man, I can’t wait to do just a little more normal and slower and settled together.

“If it’s half as good as the half we’ve known, here’s Hail! to the rest of the road.” ~Sheldon Vanauken

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A 4-year-old’s List for Her Future Husband

4-year-old and I hanging out in the kitchen:

Nora: “So Mommy, what should we talk about? I know, let’s talk about husbands!”

Me: “Sure, what about them?”

N: “I wanna talk about how I’m going to get one. You know, in some more years.”

Me: “What do you think he’ll be like?”

N: “WELL. He’s going to be kind, funny…grateful. Tall like Daddy but more hairs. Not sprinkles like Daddy’s hairs. He’ll build things, like houses. And sometimes he’ll give me rings when I DON’T even ASK for them! And I’m going to get HIM presents on Amazon. As long as he doesn’t look at them first. He’ll hug me ALL the time and he’ll be strong, and caring, and…delicate. [Pause]…Hm, is delicate the right word?”

Me: “Delicate means kind of, fragile.”

N: “No. That’s not right. My husband will be sturdy. …Are you writing all of these down?”

Me: “Um, no. Would you like me to?”

N: “Yes. Write them on a list, please. Then when I find the man who will be my husband, I’ll send him over to your house and you can give him my list.”

I can’t handle this.

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My Brazil-Bound Baby

My husband, Kevin, went to Brazil for the first time 9 years ago when my oldest, Caleb, was one. I was pregnant with my second and could barely get out of bed or keep anything down. To top it off, Caleb came down with a stomach bug while Kevin was gone (with the rest of my family)…and it was rough. My heart was ugly and I remember laying on the floor watching my baby toddling around needing things from me I couldn’t provide.

I never imagined that almost a decade later, this same needy baby boy would be confidently boarding a plane with his Daddy, passport in hand, to finally meet these people he’s grown up hearing about and seeing and watching and praying for. His Brazilian family. People we’ve known longer than him and have watched grow up and have kids of their own. People parts of my own family now live amongst. A remote little corner of the globe that by the grace of God, looks so very different than it did over a decade ago.

I pray that my worries will be overshadowed by my joy. The kind of joy that comes from sending my child off to a place where so many people already know his name and have likewise seen pictures of him growing up. Where God has done big things that I’m praying he’ll see and understand. Where he can meet and squeeze his new little baby cousin who one day will probably help him learn a language he wasn’t born speaking.
And though I’ll miss him and his Daddy like crazy, I pray these people will teach him and change him and become HIS people too by the time he makes it back to me…

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Sweatpants Anniversaries

What anniversaries look like when you accidentally have too many kids, and leaving the house just feels hard…

Plan B= Putting your myriad of children to bed at 6pm, and dining on Thai food takeout while we reminisce about the last 11 years and pretend we’re not wearing sweatpants. And loving it.

Because this guy has my heart. Whether we’re honeymooning in Costa Rica, unpacking moving boxes for the 7th time, listening to our babies’ first heartbeats, remodeling our 12th bathroom, watching the sun rise over the Chesapeake, scrubbing little boy pee off the side of infinity toilets, sharing a bottle of wine over The Office re-runs, navigating IKEA, or daydreaming about traveling the world together… He’s just it.

The graciously strong and kind guy, God graciously and kindly gave me because he knew I’d need pushed forward, pulled back, and held up. And he knew I’d need someone as hilarious as Kevin who could somehow make all that incredibly fun.

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