15 years of marriage, a toaster, and a blanket

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15 years? how can this be?

it seems like yesterday, he proposed to me.

but fill the years with children's births and moves from there to here,

and throw in this busy season and that busier season,

and attempt to count the every day miracles and longings of the heart,

the months of waiting and the springs of joy.

the high ups and the down lows.

the memories etched in our senses, scrapbooks, and souls.

and 15 years knocks on the door of our marriage.

"come on in," i say...

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i scan the umpteenth house we've called home

and i spot this well-worn hunter green throw that has our initials "b P s" monogrammed on it. without much effort, i nod to myself that monogramming is my roots culture and that hunter green signifies our marriage era. and this throw has a story for as we opened it in the corner room of ben's childhood home 15 years ago, there was no card or name attached to it. it stands alone as the only thank you we never gave. but it has covered each body in our family on cold days and sick days. it has draped a number of sofas and has served as a play mat when the kids were learning to sit up.

it's lasted like our marriage.

now this morning, it's waded up in a basket under the table holding the manger scene, but it's there when we need it.

this monogrammed hunter green unthanked throw -

 - it speaks home. it wraps comfort. it holds consistency.

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but i can't write the same sentiments about the toaster.

maybe we're on our third one. maybe fourth. i can't remember.

but we need a toaster. our offspring need a toaster, to be exact.

life flows better when eggos pop up!

i'm not attached. this toaster accomplishes its purpose and when it stops doing so, we toss it and get a new one.

i'm neither comparing ben to the well-worn throw or the toaster that gets tossed!

for ben lets me put my poorly circulated freezing feet on his perfectly warmed legs at night though it causes a sting.

he seldom tells me no and holds the door wide open to my dreams and passions.

every day he cheers me on and prays over me and leads me and provides for me.

but rather this beautifully hard covenant called marriage.

beautifully hard.

what's of great worth is beautifully hard.

i'm at the place in our marriage where i'd rather resemble the well-worn blanket that has been through the cold and sick days, the long parenting days and the hard moves from friends and family. i'm at the point of wanting our marriage to possess the qualities that are long lasting rather than 'out with the old and on with the new.'

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marriage, from my vantage point, doesn't get harder nor easier. it gets better. 

the fighting through issues, when done with a unified goal, gets us on the same page.

the intense listening when we have something better to say, opens our minds to learn from the other that has something valuable to give.

the seasons that never seem to end, grow us towards each other when we say, "we're in this together."

those looks we give each other in an awkward parenting moment or across the table or beside each other in the front seats of the minivan.

my looks that clearly say, "i'm scared or confused or angry."

his looks that clearly say, "let's have fun with this. no worries!"

yes, those looks, they scream 15 years and counting!

i look back and am in awe of what we've come through, the abundance of blessings, the hand of God,

and quickly look ahead with hope that the best is yet to come.

who knows...

maybe we've got 5 more toasters in our future. those things that we need for a season, that fulfill their purpose, but don't make or break us.

those mistakes we're still going to make and those words that we'll utter that need to be tossed like the toaster.

those things that we value too much that can't really deliver a lifetime of guarantees.

yet, in this beautifully hard covenant called marriage,

 i'm hoping that well-worn blanket is covering us up on those cold and sick days when we celebrate 45 years.  those things that bind us, strengthen us, create memories, bring comfort and make us one.

because this husband of mine,

this dreamer of mine,

this gentle leader of mine

reminds me with his life that our marriage speaks home, it wraps comfort and it holds consistently.

not because of everything we have done {though it takes two},

but because we know this marriage is better because of what Christ is doing in us.

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so if you ever take a peek into this beautifully hard marriage of ours, know that we're fighting for a good one so you will fight for a good one.

and we're loving each other to show our children how to love each other.

and we're not giving up because our marriage is of great worth.

and this man i started to love over 15 years ago just keeps getting more lovable.

2014

happy new year, friends!

i'm so grateful for the stories we've shared in 2013 and am excited for what God has in store this year.

as i ask God, 'what would You have me write?', i am listing some of my favorite posts from the past year.

posts that i vividly recall writing in the late evenings with the lamp on and the kids in bed and those 'ah-ha' moments when i my hands could not type as fast as I wanted of them.

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saddam's story

why we love a child who lives far from us and at the same believing God has special plans for his life.

finding your sweet spot

you were created for something beautiful and sweet! are you living it? discover your sweet spot!

dear newlywed…a long overdue note

a letter to myself some thirteen years ago. a letter about marriage and life with my husband.

learning of our daughter

a post that documents our first learning of our daughter in india. we're believing this is the year we will become her forever family.

i think of you as i write each post. i'm glad you meet me here. i'm asking God to speak creativity and His Words as this year begins...

i'd love for you to subscribe as i write you each wednesday and saturday. you can subscribe by entering your email address to the right and i'll send you an email those two days. see you back here on saturday.

let's enjoy the beginning of the new year today...

dear newlywed {a long overdue note}

dear newlywed,

it's that day you dreamed of as a little girl buried in the closet of your mother's heels, purses, and beads.

your day to dress in elegant white and envision your "happily ever after" beginning the second the back church doors open wide.

oh to get to this day that has required such plans and details and coordination. to think it's heavenly bliss from here.

{not quite sure which fairy tale cloud you were in! oh yes. the one painted so whimsically in the storybooks.}

you told him on that day, thirteen years ago, and counting

that you would hold his hand from that moment on.

oh it seemed so simple to utter

such a promise, standing love-struck,

staring lost into the bluest of eyes,

feeling secure holding both his hands.

to hold his hand. to walk with him. to journey together with your faith in Christ central.

and in thirteen years of holding hands and doing life together and sharing the sweetest intimacy,

you wouldn't believe me if i were to tell you where it's taken you. but i'm going to try.

it's not at all like the movies or the storybooks. you need to know that it's one a kind. no need to compare yours with any others. there's no two the same. and let me be the first to tell you that it's best lived embracing each other and pursuing only what God deems worthy for your life.

for the One who brought you together desires to keep you together and use you together for His glorious purposes. you're going to grow frustrated waiting on His plan and get ahead of Him because you're going to think He's slow and not doing it your way. but being on this side of things,

i caution you to use the waiting to rest.

to look towards the uncertain future with faith.

to pray daily together. for each other. your favorite times will find you in your 'blahness' in bed and your sweet man crying out to God to refresh you. to touch you. to cause peace to overwhelm you.

and that elegant white will be replaced with hospital gowns ready for labor and delivery and he'll think you more beautiful with hair in a thrown together bun, make-up-less, and panting.

and those hands that secured yours upon the altar will hold your hair back when you're sickly gripping the toilet. when you pitch your first book proposal. when you send your first, second, and third to school. when you stand before a group of people and say good-bye.

with each passing day, you'll scrunch up your nose to how selfish you can be. for marriage reveals this. in all it's purity, marriage causes selfishness to rise to the top. you'll have two choices when this happens, and not sure about all the other newlyweds out there, but for you, my dear, it will happen daily. you can let it take the stand, grab the mic, argue the loudest, express the last word. or you can deliberately and intentionally listen, serve, wait your turn, set your agenda down.

this note that i should have written you years ago, has gotten stuffed under adoption paperwork {yes, you'll adopt a little girl one day}. it's gotten lost on the zip drive, the cd, the pc, the jump drive, and in the cloud. it's had over 10 return addresses. {i don't think you could handle knowing all those specifics right now!}

but i had to write you and tell you that eventually he will wake up early like you do and drink regular coffee, instead of the frou-frou kind. you'll learn to appreciate his spontaniety and surprise yourself a time or two with something off the cuff. he'll learn to deal with your obsessive-compulsive disorder and you'll learn to loosen up and chill out.

newlywed, you're honeymoon is just getting started. he'll sweep you away to the rooftop peering at the eiffel tower and send you down a boat on the nile. he'll pack the books and force himself to relax on a hammock in mexico and you'll compliment each other when he drives the hawaiian isles in the jeep - you getting the sun and he getting the i'm-not-going-to-sit-still-adventure.

and don't fool yourself, newlywed. this won't all be learned or had by the end of year one. or even year five. and whoever said the itch happens at year seven, must have had some good moisturizer, because with each passing year, it's cause for mountaintop celebration when you can look at each other and remember the vows made on this your wedding day. if marriage were easy, then why divorce? if staying faithful were such a breeze, then why hidden affairs? it's not going to be easy and it will require you to be bold to fight for him and with him. everything imaginable will pull for your attention and pull you out of love for him. you just remember to communicate your love for him in ways that speak to his heart - to his needs. don't think you can do this alone. okay. well you can, but it will wear you out quickly and you'll get all the more mad at him and believe me, it gets you nowhere. {who am i kidding? you know me all too well.} you're going to daily need to ask God to make you into the woman HE wants you to be. He knows what that amazing man of yours needs long before you do. so instead of trying to figure him out, go to the God who made him, and let God do a beautiful thing to your heart, mind and soul that will serve him well on earth and for eternity.

what the two of you have is a gift. a gift that should be shared with the world. to display what Christ can do with two hearts that love another and love Him first. to stand by others and say marriage is sacred and selfless and sacrificial.

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"she laughs at the time to come…"{proverbs 31.25}

i've learned to dream. bigger than i thought possible. i'm still as nostalgic as the little girl in mom's closet and can be in that place is a mental second, but the Dream-Giver has awakened me to what is to come. just like you then, I know not now what that is! but in my thirteen years of marriage, i'm holding one arm outstretched to the grace that blows around me and still holding the secure hand i reached for on that altar on december 16th 2000.

and about that man. his kisses wrap me up and take me in. his laughter and spontaneity lift me off my feet. his vision for God's Kingdom is biblical and practical that draws others to come alongside us in this city we call home. his fathering is full of grace and fun. his passion contagious. his morning moments with Jesus a picture on the wall in my heart. he will captivate your heart all over again. you'll see...

family playbook

i know we usually meet here two days a week, but today feels different.

like i'm about to bare my soul with you.

not that i ever try to hold anything back.

i've written it elsewhere and hope it's clear that i'm writing in the thick of it.

it's just that today, with permission from my sweet man, i want to let you inside the threads of our family.

inside how we do life together.

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 it's called our family playbook.

now before we could even arrive at words put down on paper,

we had to first start living family intentionally and the way God intends.

to the best of our ability.

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ben and i have put in place over the course of a few parenting seasons our family purpose statement.

i used tsh oxenreider's book, organized simplicity, as a guide.

we spent days mulling over the language we use collectively as a family to describe the values we have together.

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we have rhythms in the fall that are quite different from our spring rhythms.

we revamp the playbook every semester to reflect the season we are in.

the playbook is an ongoing work in progress. we know come december/august that we can change things.

yet it hangs on the refrigerator with the kid's artwork and weekly menu and pictures of our sponsored kids.

it's a reminder that what matters most after God is our family.

it puts our intentions before us.

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the playbook is written accountability.

ben states how he will maintain his values.

i declare, as well, how i will maintain mine.

together, we boldly write what our family will be known for.

what we will seek after.

how we will live together daily.

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i've held tightly and dearly to this playbook for a year now.

it's 'that thing' you have and i have that tends to be tucked away inside.

but if seeing the guts of our family...

...causes communication about seeing your family succeed

...encourages you and your spouse to more time together

...brings you both to the calendar to schedule a vacation

...centers or re-centers your family around Christ

then i'm glad it's not tucked away anymore.

here it is  Pilgreen playbook .

know that it will be tucked away in the printables just at the top of your screen.

not too far away.

i'd love to hear how the family playbook sparks conversation and thoughts
 for you and your spouse. or how you are going to write one up for your family.
leave me and ben a comment or a question. we'll be around. but not on mondays!