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A &  Mom wedding

December 18, 1999

My husband and I marked our thirteenth wedding anniversary on Tuesday. Tonight we go out on a date to celebrate.

What does shalom feel like?

If it involves a generally happy and thankful demeanor that some may dub “a good mood,” then I feel it today. If shalom feels like a stomach that is used to being tight with anxiety relaxed and warm, then it blesses me right now. If it’s possible to feel a heart being full — of what? blood? love? gratitude — then I testify that it happens.

I love my husband. He loves me. What’s more, we respect one another, and we honor God with our lives and marriage.

This is no small thing to ponder. The American divorce rate has hovered around 50% for years. This statistic is for first marriages; it increases for second, third, etc. marriages respectively.

Today I build no argument, make no case, quote no author. I simply share moments of my marriage. If you are married, perhaps God might inspire you through this to do the same.

* Eric and I went to Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico on our honeymoon. Although we enjoyed the Mayan ruins, good food, and a round of golf that we shared with peacocks and iguanas, our favorite day the one spent lying on the beach. We were on our hotel’s property, so anything we desired to eat or drink was brought to us. We got sunburnt that day. We showed off those sunburns to our pasty family at our Christmas gathering.

* Discerning a huge move to Holland, MI was a joint effort. I would attend Western Theological Seminary to follow my call to ministry. Eric would attend Hope College to complete his bachelor’s degree. This was easy to say, but much had to fall into place. Would we get into the schools? Where would we live? How would we pay for our expenses? God, of course, took care of it all. The move was particularly difficult for me, but it was the right thing do to. We solidified as a couple, and we look back on our years on the west side of “the Mitten” with great fondness.

* We announced two pregnancies during the three years we lived in Holland. The first sadly ended in miscarriage. Our family, seminary, and church communities rallied around Eric and me, and upheld us in our time of grief. We held a service of mourning at our church, and were shocked when about 60 people attended. About six months later, God granted us another pregnancy, and this one was viable from the beginning. The same peeps who walked the valley of the shadow of death with us, rejoiced in the news of the pregnancy and birth of Sophia, our oldest daughter.

Disney World, summer 2009

Disney World, summer 2009

* I was called to a church in the Chicagoland area shortly after graduating from seminary. Sophia was six months old. Two years later, Zoe was born. During our time in Chi, Eric stayed at home to care for our daughters. He rocked the stay-at-home parent thing. He led us to a simpler way of living, began our ongoing conversations about our marriage and family values, changed our eating habits (more whole foods, less processed foods, making as much as possible ourselves, buying local and organic), and took great part in our church’s ministry.

* January 2010 kicked off the most difficult journey of our marriage. I suffered burnout, depression, and anxiety; took an emergency sabbatical from church; and upon return resigned without another job in place. I didn’t know much, other than it was time to leave the church, if not congregational ministry altogether. Eric went through the each of the phases of grief. I remember each one well, especially his anger. I carried the weight of guilt for at least a year, beating myself up for upending my family. We resolved to dig in together — into our marriage, into our children,  into our home — and we did. Things got worse before they got better, but perhaps now we can say that we are now through to the other side.

* We struggled financially in 2011, and we had nothing for Christmas, as I wrote about here. Eric won a $25 gift card to Target at work. With that he bought a gift for me, a lap pad for my laptop. “This is so you can write,” he says. I cried. He has been and continues to be immensely supportive of my writing. And when he feels that I’m spending too much energy on platform building, or caring too much about how people respond to my work, Eric responds to me in such a way that he embodies Anne Lamott‘s Bird by Bird. “Just write,” he tells me. “Write what is in your heart and make it sing like only you can do. Your ‘average’ writing kicks the butt of most people’s ‘excellent’ writing. The good news is that your writing is typically far above average.”

St. Patty's Day 2012

St. Patty’s Day 2012

I love that man. Thank you, God, for bringing us together.

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Deeply Loved Advent blog hop series book giveaway winners!

Advent seriesWeek Three book giveaway drawing winners.

Congratulations to each of the following…

Helen Krahn, winner of Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus by Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper

Jill Vande Zande, winner of Letters to My Children: Secrets of Success by Judy Douglass

Christina Dumont, winner of Culture Rebel: Because the World Has Enough Desperate Housewives by Connie Jakab

Lisa Coppinger, winner of Pampering Gifts: Crafting a Ministry of Treating People Well for Less by Lara Krupicka

Each of the authors will contact the winner of her book via email, and will mail the book directly. Thank you, winners, for reading the posts of the authors participating in the Deeply Loved Advent blog hop series. Please keep reading and commenting, and please recommend to your friends to do the same!

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