I love the last week of December. The calendar is clear, the traveling is done and, another holiday approaching, we tip-toe into routine, ready to hop back out again. Yesterday I got to spend a quiet hour, at the advice of Sally Clarkson, planning for the year ahead, prioritizing and analyzing, thinking, among other things, about this space and the writing I want to reach for in 2017. Last year: “beautiful, meaningful and value-adding.” This year: John Berryman’s quote. So while I work on writing what I can’t write, meanwhile, here’s something that’s been sitting in my unpublished archives, a peek inside this past October. xx
Five years ago at this time, Tim and I were new, new newlyweds, driving a convertible jeep around Kauai, eating meals out of our friends’ condo, buying several fistfuls of avocados for $1 from a honor-system stand. Fresh from a wedding dinner in a big, white tent, burrowed containers of wedding cookies and pumpkin cake stuffed (but now completely eaten) in our bags, we were just days into beginning our married life. We were young and in love and fairly awestruck to be looking ahead to an entire week in Hawaii all on our own, but, even so, right there, alone together, we began what we hardly understood would become the day-to-day joyful work of leaping, farther and farther, into an overall oneness of heart and soul. Marriage calls for a dependence not popular in our headstrong world, a willingness to submit to one another for the other’s good, a desire to ask before making plans, a commitment to stay in the room to work something out, a partnership, a collaboration, a weeping-together, rejoicing-together kind of relationship that’s unlike anything else. It has stretched me and changed me and broken me and healed me and I am so thankful to be doing it with a man who fears God and loves me and makes life so much fun.
While on anniversaries past, we have taken trips and gone out to dinner, this year, we tucked our toddler into bed, turned on the backyard string lights and ate a homemade meal nicer than anything we’ve made in a while, all recipes taken from the incomparable Ina Garten. There was a full tray of roasted fingerlings, fennel, asparagus and green beans. I cubed squash to combine with arugula, toasted walnuts and a reduced apple juice vinaigrette. Tim grilled grass-fed steaks that we topped with seasoned butter, and we ate it all by candle- and bulb-light, trees swaying above our heads, the Gray Havens playing in the background on Spotify. It was one of those marvelous, magic moments I’ll not forget, if for no other reason than every bit of it felt too good to be true. It’s another life example of the many life examples showing the beauty of how something you don’t pick—being home on your anniversary—becomes something better than you could’ve picked—a private restaurant on your porch. I feel so thankful for that evening. I feel so thankful for the five years God’s given me with Tim.
There is so much to life you can’t write in a social media update or even a personal blog post that is affecting you deeply, you know? Lore Ferguson Wilbert writes, “My pastor used to say, ‘Suffering is coming for us all. If you haven’t experienced it yet, it’s coming for you. And I used to believe it had come for me and I had gotten through it okay. I was wrong, and there’s probably more ahead.” Nobody wants to hear words like that on their wedding day, envisioning all the ways you’ll hurt together or face shocking experiences together, but even in the sweetest of marriages, you will. I’m so thankful for this current, stretching, active, beautiful, difficult season of life we’re in, this season where I can barely hear a Sunday sermon without crying, where we’re fighting battles together not against each other, where every day or so the Internet sends me another artful article I’m so glad I get to read that day, where we parent together and work together, where even in the busy days there is still time to stop and talk on the sofa for an hour or so.
It feels like such undeserved goodness to partner with someone when the fire’s burning on your wedding, when the embers run cold, in suffering and on every day in between. To Tim and everybody: I love my husband.
on the topic of marriage, a few favorite book recommendations:
the book I read when we were engaged, What Did You Expect?
the book I read right after we married, The Meaning of Marriage
the book we’re reading together now, Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel
a few fun date-night-at-home winter menu ideas:
Hearty Comfort Food: grass-fed pot roast (our Christmas dinner this year!) / winter lettuce salad with roasted peppers and feta / crispy roasted turmeric potatoes / chocolate chip banana cake
also, for a fun book that celebrates the theme of date nights at home, Date Night In by the lovely Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt