I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
Note: Our story is our story; marriages can be quite different and face unique challenges. We just hope to encourage those with what we’ve learned in our life.
Best Decision of My Life
On Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I will celebrate more than ten years of marriage. We were very nearly babies when we wed–I was twenty years old and he was twenty-one. We were very grown up, or so we thought.
Honestly though, despite being young, it was the best decision we ever made. I remember hearing people who had been married for twenty years say they were more in love than ever with their spouse. At the time, that concept made no sense to me. I couldn’t imagine being more in love with this guy.
We dated for three years, half of which was our engagement. Despite my “plan” to have a career before I entered into a serious relationship, we fell in love pretty early on in our relationship. We attended a Christian liberal arts university and I was bound and determined not to be there for my “MRS.” However, God had other plans for my life. We married before our senior year of college. After we graduated, we moved out of state so my husband could attend law school in his hometown.
We Fell In Love, Yet I Was Miserable
Year one was a breeze. I thought marriage was not hard.
Year two was the most stretching year of our relationship.
He was in law school, I was in a new town, surrounded by everyone who knew my husband and his family but not me, and I was working but incredibly lonely. What happened to college where all our friends had time to hang out every day and come over any time? How fair was it that I was being a “grown up” starting my career while he was still in school? Why was this town so small and why is there no decent retail? These were all things my twenty-two-year-old self was struggling with daily. I was married to the love of my life. I worked in my degree field in a job that was a great fit. And yet, I was miserable.
I did not understand why the second year was so much harder. For goodness’ sake, we were in love! We had even gone through two premarital counseling sessions for “extra-good premarital preparedness training.” Because I thought that both of us being believers, doing extra premarital counselling, plus having successfully married parents, made us experts. Oh, and don’t you know, we knew each other incredibly well and had discussed everything under the sun. (Cue eyeroll…remember, I was twenty-two).
Or did we?
Our new church family became the reason we have the marriage we do today. They challenged us in our own relationships with Christ in new and profound ways. We realized we both had a lot of spiritual growth to do. I realized that as amazing as my new husband seemed (and is), he is a human and will let me down somehow. He doesn’t mean to, but it happens. And I let him down, even though he has never told me as much, but I’m sure I have at some point. We learned a lot of things about each other, but most importantly we learned how to live for Christ, to die to ourselves, and to grow in our faith more deeply than we had before.
It came down to this: the closer each of us grew in Christ independently, the better and deeper our relationship grew together.
Ten years and four kids later, I can now say thatI’ve never been more in love with my husband. I understand him in a deeper way. He challenges me to be in the Word, and works tirelessly to “fill my love tank” daily (see The Five Love Languages). He leads our family devotions each night and parents better than I do, and none of it has anything to do with me. Yes, we both are very different people than we were ten years ago. Little by little, we’re becoming new people in Christ. If we were the same people we were ten years ago, I don’t know if our marriage would have lasted. (I hate to think that, but the selfishness in both of us was unsustainable.)
There are still occasional tough days, and we each still have a lot of work to do. But there are a lot of wonderful days. I can’t wait to see where we are in another ten years.
I can still remember the “I do” moment. Wedding dress soft and full, friends and family surrounding and, him. He was the one I had chosen. On that warm October afternoon, I gazed into those soft brown eyes and promised to love and cherish, for better or for worse, until death drove us apart.
I sit here today and my mind recollects the past seven years of our lives as one. Our marriage has seen so many good and beautiful moments. Just the same, it has seen some hard and ugly moments. It seems that for as many times as we have been on cloud nine together, we also have been galaxies apart. And this is where it just gets messy and confusing. It is often portrayed that your spouse (i.e. “The One” or your “soulmate”) is supposed to fill that empty space inside and that once you have found him/her, then your happiness is fulfilled. After all, isn’t that where the happy ending is found at the end of the sappy, romantic movie?
Unfortunately, this is where my husband and I had at one time found ourselves. We had this unfortunate expectation that our own happiness should be fulfilled by the other. The harder we tried, the more frustrating it became. We longed for the “happily ever after” relationship. Our marriage became the idol we zealously pursued. The more we pursued, the farther away from happiness we became. But He can be found in the broken and in the messy.In the deepest, darkest corners of our sin His Spirit came to us and pursued. Where we saw a broken marriage, despair, and ruin, He saw rescue, hope, and restoration.
He sought us out. He stretched out His hand of grace, inviting us to choose Him–to choose life for ourselves and for our marriage. When our hearts yielded to His, we found our deepest desires to be wrapped up in Him. Only then was our marriage able to heal, grow, and begin to flourish. Everything was not instantly better. In His time, He continued to draw us individually closer to Him. As we began to love Him wholly, we slowly learned how to love each other truer and deeper than we could have ever imagined. We learned how His ways are so much better than our own.
From Brokenness Comes Redemption
This path was sometimes difficult. It often seemed as though journeying through desert terrain, but it was during this time that I was brought into the sacred closeness I now experience with my God. From the ashes of my brokenness grew a beautiful relationship with my Redeemer. Even after moments where I least deserved, He pursued me and offered me His love. Finally, I had found what I had yearned for most: the only thing that could fill the empty chasm of my soul. I finally found what had been there all along…I found Him.
“…When I found him whom my soul loves, I held him, and would not let him go…”
The words of this verse course through me. I not only know them, but I feel them. Now, He is the one I pursue first. I strive to know Him the most. He is my all in all, the lover of my soul. Because of Him, I now know how to truly and unselfishly love my husband.
To Be Loved by Him is Enough
What a beautiful thing it is to be loved and treasured by the King of Kings. To know that there is nothing which can tear you apart from Him. If to know nothing else in this life but His far-stretching and grace-filled redemptive love, it is enough.
“No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Maybe this month you look at things differently. Instead of searching for that perfect and fulfilling love in a person, find the greatest love you’ll ever know in Christ Jesus. No matter what your circumstances–happily married, on the edge of divorce, or single–don’t let the pursuit of romance and the “perfect marriage” become your idol. It will never be enough. There is a God who loves you and only He can satisfy your soul and your deepest longing; He will always be enough.
Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
25 YEARS! That’s how long I’ve been married! Today is our anniversary. We’ve been through so much in the last twenty-five years and it has not always been easy.
Our wedding vows were:
…To have and to hold from this day forward,
for better for worse,
for richer for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
till death do us part.
To have and to hold from this day forward… Well that about sums it up! He’s stuck with me. It has not always been easy and I know that there have been days that we both have wanted to just throw in the towel and give up. It’s just been “too hard”. But, we have worked through our problems and stayed together. I know I am not the easiest person to live with but he has stuck by me all these years. We dated for three years before we got married so he knew what he was getting into… mostly.
For better for worse… We have had lots of both of these times. The better was the birth of our three children. The worse was years of infertility and the loss of our first pregnancy. The better was new jobs, God’s Provisions for us, new opportunities, friends, more things than I can remember…Thankfully, there are so many more better than worse. We stayed together through all of these worse times and these times brought us closer together and closer to God.
For richer for poorer… We were poor when we got married. My husband was unemployed but had the promise of a job within a month. That job did not pan out but another did the following month. It was a better job, financially. We focused on our careers in the early years of our marriage and were financially sound. We have had our financial ups and downs over the years but have always found that God will provide for our needs. My husband always had faith that God would provide the job he needed when he needed it and this has happened on numerous occasions.
In sickness and in health… That has been our biggest struggle. Sickness means sickness in this marriage. I battled infertility for three years. I also had a terrible accident in which it took ten stitches to sew up the side of my face. My husband had a medical condition that went undiagnosed/misdiagnosed for a year. He ended up losing his job because of this illness. After numerous doctors and specialists, he was finally correctly diagnosed and treated very easily. He has also had kidney stones and he developed food allergies. And now more recently, he had a heart attack last year just a week after our anniversary. He should not have survived this heart attack. I then had my own heart scare that turned out to be false positives (I believe this was due to the power of prayer. I had too many tests that showed problems for the angiogram to come back with nothing wrong.) His heart attack affected us the most. That made me realize just how much I love and need him and I could see how much he loved me because of how he fought to stay alive. I also could see his love for me when I had my wreck and when I had my “heart problems”.
To love and to cherish… We love each other, although there are probably times that we do not like each other. He buys me the most heart touching cards that declare his love for me. He knows that I think that cards are a waste of money but he still buys them to tell me how he feels. (I think part of it is to see how much he can make me cry now, oh, in a good way, not bad.) Even though I tell him to quit wasting money on cards, I do look forward to them. I, hopefully, have shown my love for him through all that we have been through. At least, I haven’t purposely fed him something that he is allergic to. (It’s a joke in our house that I will feed him something and then collect the life insurance.)
We have been though a lifetime in the past twenty-five years. God has been with us through it all, even when we were not walking with Him the way that we should. I pray that God will give us at least twenty-five more. Till death do us part.
Happy Anniversary, Honey!
I Love You!
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