We celebrate 6 whole years of marriage today. And what a gift to say it, to have experienced it, to have lived these years with each other. We kept our wedding decor simple relying on the desert to speak for itself.
I’m not sure everyone agreed with me on not adding any flowers or billowing drapes on our rustic arbor, but Ben and I wanted the arbor to remain as it was. Our wedding arbor was made from Athel tree branches and put together by my Dad, brother, and husband-to-be. I love how it turned out.
It still stands to this day in my family’s backyard right where we stood in May 2015, saying our vows, and laughing at the wind blowing our ribbons everywhere.
Almost every time, we trekked back home for a wedding, graduation, or Christmas, I’d drag Ben out to get a picuture under our wedding arbor. As long as it’s still standing, that’s probably in our travel itinerary when home.
To celebrate 6 whole years married to my best friend, I’m sharing those pictures and little snippets of life from our life together.
This was May 2016.
We are a year into our marriage, still growing together, learning how to really share ourselves and be vulnerable, living a quiet life, and establishing where we wanted to be as a family. It was a simple year in many ways and one we desperately needed. It’s also one we look back on fondly. Except for the terrible septic problems we faced in that cute little trailer we painted and redid together. Ha!!
This was May 2017.
We were now two years into marriage, and 2017 marked one of our hardest years to date.
I remember sitting in the passenger seat in our truck and finally admitting to Ben,
This has been a hard year.
And it was.
I was coming to terms with infertility, still desperately wanting a baby, in the extraordinary pain of silence, not knowing much at all, and facing the painful reality head-on. On top of all that were other life circumstances and friendships that were strained.
This was the December right before 2018 when things slowly and surely began to change for the better.
Healing was happening in my soul. I was learning how to grieve with God. Infertility was still terrible and isolating, but it wasn’t as daunting. Our marriage was coming out of the fog, and we were learning how to live with grief.
We were uncovering how good it was to have this time together. We were laughing more. I was growing a garden. Baby goats would come the following spring. We were settling into our life as it was. We made up Birthday Observation Day, hosted our first Thanksgiving (which has since become one of our favorite things ever). I was writing about infertility via email and discovering how similar so many women were feeling even without infertility being the cause.
I have no picture under the wedding arbor for 2019, although we did travel down for an August wedding.
I was definitely not pregnant which was no suprise by now. I felt sad, but I was also feeling more settled into our life. But I still had that deep ache of longing.
In November of 2019, we had all but closed the door on children except for the possibility of fostering/adopting older kids when we were older ourselves. In the meantime, we decided to open our home more and just really love and serve the people around us. It was the first time in years I was excited about our future. I felt like I could dream again.
Then a week and a half later, I took a pregnancy test, expecting nothing, but ended up laughing.
Because there was Shasta. In two little lines.
Our old future and our old dreams turned into a yes. I’ve written it the best way I know how through poetry in my book, Hope Gives a Eulogy.
But I’m careful when I tell this story, because I hadn’t arrived or met some “contentment/spiritual quoata” that unlocked pregnancy. Yikes, no!
My prayers were up and down. I’d still feel the hollow gut feeling late at night as I thought of her getting pregnant before me. Literally fearing the grief, pain, and struggle that would undoubtedly come sooner than later. I still wanted to have a child with Ben. I knew sadness was still a part of my reality. I still felt it. And I KNOW if I hadn’t gotten pregnant when I did, I’d fall deep into sorrow again. (Maybe still will? I’m not promissed a second baby!)
I’m not sure how everything works together in God’s sovereignty, but I trust Him. And I’ve felt His love and kindness in pregnancy + motherhood and in infertility. I’ve also been immeasurably blessed in all of these seasons. Like I cannot explain the deep gifts I received from God as I grieved in those long years of infertility. Cannot explain it.
His precense is everything.
But once pregnant, I didn’t face the constant grief cycle, and eventually had the mental energy to be creative and write poetry again. It is not lost on me that while a child grew in me, I returned to my childhood love for writing poetry. I think God does the most beautiful things. We finished 2019 with a baby growing in me and you can read that story in Hope Gives a Eulogy.
So, this was Christmas 2020.
Our son has brought with him such a golden era. His life ushered a light-heartedness in mine I had not truly felt in years. Joy, yes. Hope, yes. Love for life, yes. But real and true light-heartedness that fills you up only to spill out because you can’t help it? No. The grieiving process every month is exhasuting, depleting, and doesn’t allow lightheartedness easily.
But there he was with a passel of lightheartedness. Can’t you tell?! 🙂
So, in our 6th year of marriage, I wrote poetry about infertility and our love story. We finally held our son in our arms and embraced parenthood together. We’ve had hard conversations and we’ve woken up smiling listening to the chatter of our boy. We’ve laughed and made our son laugh. We have loved and grown in love.
When I sit in the passenger seat now, I’ll turn to Ben and say,
This has been a golden year.
And it has been.
So, we rejoice and give thanks.
Here is 6 years.
Here is gold.
I walked into this year without any big dreams. My plan was to simply embrace and steward everything I had been given in 2018. Everything I am enjoying today is a choice I made last year. God gave opportunities to me in 2018 and then gave me the courage to say yes.
When I look back, I can’t believe how much I learned and experienced in a year. It was big and unlikely. I could not have imagined it for myself, but all of those big things started very small.
Potted flowers from the grocery store.
A hose (or two. . .thanks a lot, Frankie Tom!).
Two unexpected does in June.
A surprise billy goat in August.
Research on self-publishing.
A hundred other small decisions.
So. . . here we are in the springtime of 2019 and I’m stewarding the gifts I’d been given last year–goats, a porch garden, a published book, new and old relationships. It’s quiet and calm. It’s breathtaking and mundane.
And I’ll be honest, there have been some incredibly low moments this year. March swept in with spiritual warfare and the loss of our much loved (and quite hilarious!) billy goat. Stewarding what I had seemed a small thing to hold. Somewhat discouraging. Definitely beautiful.
My porch garden slowly came back to life in exuberance. Some plants died completely while others died back to come to life again. I am learning what it means and what it takes to garden. . .even in the smallest of places.
We planted from seed packets this year and are watching little green sprouts brave the journey. My daisies started their own idea of spring in February and have vibrantly met April with gusto!
The day after Easter, our Miss Margie decided it was the perfect afternoon to have her two little babies. It almost seemed like she waited for us to be there. Within 10 minutes of being home, her water broke.
I still can’t believe the perfect timing. We got to witness the entire beautiful process! Margie’s little buckling came first soon followed by an adorable black doeling.
The doeling is a spitting image of our buck, Nigel. I miss Nigel, but holding this little bundle of stubborn, zesty doeling is like having Nigel back in its own small way.
The pretty buckling is named Chester and the cutest black doeling I’ve ever seen is named Roxanne. The names just came to us as we watched the two babies in their first hours of life.
And I think the magic of stewarding what you’ve been given is that the gifts double. Maybe the gifts double in the form of two baby goats, or maybe the gifts double in the form of the beauty you get to experience because the gifts exist. Either way, my resolve to steward doubled in responsibility and magic all at once.
I’m not sure I’ve ever loved spring more, but it’s been a process to walk into 2019 with arms open wide. I’m keeping Psalm 112:7 close to me, “He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.”
As I tend to all I’ve bee given, I’m learning to enjoy life without fear of what may come or what may never come at all. It’s a year for standing still and seeing, for seeing and tending, for tending and giving thanks.
The magic has doubled in the quiet. The beauty has deepened in the middle. The rejoicing has strengthened after the storm. This is life with God. And history tells me I’m safe to open my arms even wider than this.
The December skies leading up to Christmas Day were beautiful. My husband would text me to go look at the sky. Vibrant colors melting into each other. Breathtaking.
Christmas Day was, perhaps, one of my most favorite Christmases I have ever experienced. I’ve been reading in John recently, and I found myself in John 10 for Christmas. It was perfect. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” What beautiful words! How true! I have tasted this truth and known it.
Ben and I had such fun exchanging gifts. There’s just something special about your fourth married Christmas and feeling more at home and loving these quiet family celebrations. Ben made eggs and bacon and we discovered that apple-wood bacon has the scent of Christmas. Continue reading “A New & Glorious Morn”