I really love this song lately. Have you heard it? It’s Andrew Peterson and it’s absolute gold. It’s about marriage. The hard, good, redemptive truth about marriage.

Today is our 2 year wedding anniversary. Yep, my husband and I are just babies in this whole til-death-do-us-part thing. There’s a lot we don’t know. There’s a lot we haven’t experienced. We’ve only been married for 2 years, and only known each other for 3 years and 3 months. It’s not a very long time.  Not even as long as high school (which, retrospectively, feels like it came and went in the blink of an eye, side note).  Regardless, it’s where we are and it’s real.

We went out to dinner yesterday and my husband, Simon, prayed for us before we enjoyed our meal. In his prayer he mentioned our past, present, and future as a couple and asked for God’s continued blessing on our union. It got me thinking about some things. Remembering. Dreaming. Perspective.

PAST: Our first date, tapas at Modesto in The Hill. The blue tie-dyed maxi dress I wore. The adorably awkward voicemail he left me wondering if I’d want to have that dinner with him. This after our mutual friend got the green light from me to give him my number. Yo My Goodness — the Webster ice cream joint where we have enjoyed many, many frozen yogurt creations. Him leaving his watch on my coffee table “accidentally on purpose” so I’d have to call him. Our first kiss — which actually led to the first time I got mad at him. Cardinals games. Him telling me he loved me after 3 weeks and me trying to talk him out of it for an hour and half. My being terrified of his bold pursuit. Him pursuing me anyway. When I told him I loved him too a few weeks later. The first time he got mad at me. My making him watch birth movies on like our 4th date (poor guy). Our trip to San Francisco for his brother’s wedding. The Bible he gave me, inscribed with what was essentially a wedding vow, a couple months into our relationship.  The way he’s always been so sure about wanting to be with me.   Christmas ’10 = dating. Christmas ’11 = married. Christmas ’12 = newborn son. (Yes we move fast). The enormous engagement surprise party he planned for me after proposing that made me feel incredibly cherished. The walk we went on the day before our wedding. The tears rolling down his cheeks when he saw me walking down the aisle. When I attempted to kiss him through my veil during the ceremony because I couldn’t wait for “You may now kiss the bride.”  The kick-ass choreographed first dance we did at our reception. When I took the bobby pins out of my hair on our wedding night and I looked like Medusa.  Honeymoon in Mexico (ceviche, jacuzzi soaks, and watching the Cardinals beat Philly in the NLDS in Spanish). My “taking over” his bachelor pad and making it our beautiful home. The first day of spring when I held up two positive pregnancy tests and told him, “You’re going to be a daddy!” Him tying my shoes for me when my belly got too big for me to bend over. When I slept on the couch because I thought it might help my heartburn and he slept on the living room floor because he didn’t want me to be alone.  The way he offered me his strength and his presence for 28 hours of labor.  Us falling in love with our sweet little baby and each other all over again.  Him changing EVERY diaper for the first month or so.  The two of us watching DVR’d shows at 4AM while I nursed for 45 minutes and made Simon stay up with me.  The cutest Xmas tree ever to match the cutest baby ever.  An outpouring of love from our community as we adjusted to life as a family of 3.

PRESENT:  It’s been hard, man.  2013 has rocked our world.  Budget crisis at our church.  Simon’s job lost as a casuality.  Being so devastated.  Being so mad.  Actually understanding on some days and not being mad just sad.  Selling our condo — a huge financial blessing and a huge personal loss.  Our last nights in our condo, our last Webster this and our last Webster that.  Taking pictures of every room before the packing started (including a picture of the toilet over which Gabe was born).  The packing party.  The moving day.  Moving into my in-laws basement for the foreseeable future — a huge financial blessing and a challenging life adjustment.  Extended Kim family vacation to Lake Tahoe.  Extended Watson family vacation to Door County.  Sleep training.  Gabe sitting up, crawling, pulling up, cruising, standing independently.  INTO EVERYTHING.  Quiet = trouble (generally, chomping on a dead bug or piece of plastic or a ball of lint, which I fish out frantically as he attempts to sever my finger with his razor-sharp teeth).  Sleeping in every morning when Simon’s parents enjoy their daily time with Gabe before they go to work.  Trying to navigate living in West County (literally and emotionally.  Before I met Simon, I had *never* ventured west of 270 on Manchester…ever!  I’m a Webster Groves/Mid-County girl, which has always been “cool” and anything outside of 270 has always been “lame.”  Yes I am a brat.  But for reals…my friends and community are a solid 20-30 minute drive away — that’s been a hard reality. Throw in a baby, and it gets even harder.  At times I’ve felt trapped).  Simon hired as the Children’s Ministry Director at West County Fellowship.  (Again…blessing and hardship.  New church?  That’s awkward.  New community?  Umm, I liked the old one).  Simon’s job being 25 hours/week.  Him waiting tables at Ya-Yas, a restaurant in Chesterfield, to make up the shortfall (Thursday and Friday nights — go there, order wine and dessert with your meal, and tip well.  I’m not kidding).  Me working at the Birth and Wellness Center as a nurse/birth assistant (get pregnant, and have your baby there.  I’m halfway kidding on this one).  Me also working as a substitute school nurse/substitute teacher, fitting it in where we can.  Four jobs between us, none of them full time.  Shuffling Gabe back and forth.  Having a roof over our heads and very generous family, but not having much of our OWN except each other.  Feeling wronged, feeling bitter, feeling depressed, feeling helpless, feeling tired.  A few really hard lonely nights when it all just felt like more than I could bear.  Getting so furious with God, and because there’s not much satisfaction in that, getting furious with my husband instead.  Just because I wanted to get mad at someone and he’s been my convenient target.  Hating our circumstances and feeling the crazy leaking from my elbows (thanks for the catch phrase, Matt Blazer).  A lot of petty fighting and a few fits of rage, because unfortunately hate is a lot easier to fuel than faith.  And in the moment it feels good to make someone hurt as badly as you do, even someone you cherish.  But Simon has taken care of me through it all.  He’s been there even when I’ve hated him and when I’ve told him that.  He’s prayed for me when I haven’t prayed for myself or for him or for anything.  And the other night when I asked him, “Are you sure you made the right choice?”, he knew exactly what I was asking, and he looked into my soul and said, “Of course I made the right choice.  You’re my wife.  I love you.”  Despite all the sh*t that’s hit the fan this summer, despite my punishing him for plenty that’s not his fault, despite us fighting about the same crap over and over again, he’s still sure about me.

FUTURE: The first of November we are moving into a new home.  Brentwood.  Probably a quarter of a mile from where we used to live, funnily enough.  We’ve budgeted, and budgeted, and budgeted, and it will be tight, but it will be good.  It will be ours.  It will be home.  I can hang pictures up.  I can hang diapers to dry in the YARD (there’s a yard!).  It won’t make life automatically rosy, but it’s a scary and fabulous step towards NEXT.  Whatever next is.  Whenever next is.  I like to dream about the possibilities.  A home with more than one bathroom.  A baby who consistently sleeps through the night.  Buying groceries at Whole Paycheck (uhh, Whole Foods).  Full time jobs with benefits.  Maybe someday further down the road a wrap-around front porch and a divine clawfoot bathtub.  And a killer kitchen.   And built-in bookshelves and gorgeous crown molding and multiple fireplaces.  And…a million other big house things that are really little things that I could sit here and drool over.  But when I calm down and stop channeling my hopes towards materialism, I also dream about  being blessed with other children.  About watching Gabe grow into an awesome big brother.  About having a home that is always open to others.  About continuing along this marriage journey, full of chaos though it may be.  Simon as sure as ever, always believing the best about me and making me believe it about myself.

Happy Anniversary, darling.  It’s been a year of diapers and stress and tears and heartache (not to mention very little sleep).  I’m glad we don’t have to repeat it, though I know there will be other hard years, maybe much harder.  We’ve tasted the worse, the poorer, the sick.  I sure prefer the better, the richer, and the health parts of the vows, and of life, but I am grateful the Lord is unchanging even when nothing else is certain.  Like Andrew Peterson’s song says, “It was harder than we dreamed, but I believe that’s what the promise is for.”  Thanks for making me such a ridiculous, amazing, almost insane promise 2 years ago.  Thanks for always being so sure about me, even when I get a little more crazy or a lot more scared.  You are steadfast and faithful and true and good.  Sometimes you drive me nuts.  Other times I drive you nuts.  We couldn’t really be more different from each other.  But you’re strong where I’m weak, and I’m strong where you’re weak.  And together, we’re pretty damn good.  I love you; I love us.  Here’s to many more years of dancing.

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