To my Human, my Knower, my Knowee, my Warm, Happy Place and my "With You."
Happy One Year of Being a Family.
Thank you for all that you have been for and to me.
You are adored and treasured.
1 /// Thank you for being a human with me.
"all the jazz you've heard is true
love is patient and love can burn
and it won't ask to be excused
and it won't ask if it can please return
some will tell ya that it's a myth
try to say it don't exist
well, shake her hand to help her place
it's finally standing in our midst."
Toe sock-fuzz, stubbly armpit hair, crotches that smell like cheese, gunk in teeth, greasy hair, ruffled eyebrows, puking, hang nails, gaining weight, chin hairs, stretch marks, burps&farts, blisters, snores, cracked lips, ear wax, blood stained underwear. You don't get married and stop having (terribly) bad breath mornings (and neither does he.) You still have bad hair days, and everything-is-dirty-gawd-we-need-to-do-laundry days, and bloated days. Sometimes you wake up just feeling off. Sometimes you're tired, or hungry, or overheated. (Don't underestimate the power of a good meal/nap/air-conditioned-building to make things happy again.) Sometimes you have an overwhelming and mind-bending desire to have sex and roll around making-out, and sometimes you'd rather re-watch episodes from Season 1 of The Office or hack away at your inbox or take shower (by the way, unless you have an expensive fancy double-headed shower, someone is left standing in the cold! I never thought about that before I got married. Showering together turns out to be a more practical-conversation thing than a throw-yourself-against-the-wall-thing. Plus, let's be honest, pregnant girls need help shaving - among other things.) It's not actually all that comfortable to fall asleep in each other's arms - elbows and shoulder blades and clavicles and rib cages and necks and the tingly-numb-falling-asleep-thing. I prefer touching toes and holding hands for the actual falling asleep part. Or even facing opposite directions - with the back-bum touch because hot pillow breath exists I love being so human with my Caleb. It's less-edited and less-shallow than "pretty" life - it's beautiful life. There is absolutely no part of my self or my body that I am ashamed to be with you or share with you.
2 /// Thank you for knowing me...
"To know and be known..." "I am scared of me. But I want to be known and loved anyway. Can you do this?...I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again. I will risk myself on you. And together, we will learn to love." Donald Miller
He knows my exact order at Chipotle. That may have been the best part of our anniversary day for me - I opened up the foil top and saw not one ingredient missing, or one extra. It was exactly how I would have ordered it. I would have eaten anything - extra toppings or not. But he knew. I don't think any other man in the world could walk into Chipotle and order my order. Breast-feeding and baby-holding and pregnancy-recovering has been killing my back, so before anniversary dinner he surprised me with a deep tissue back massage at a swanky spa. Usually I would have opted for getting my nails or hair done. But right now? New Mama Me? Back rubs back rubs back rubs. And he knew. At dinner he gave me gift card to get five more "whenever you want!" We ate dinner at a place that isn't fancy, and isn't really even romantic, but I've been wanting to try it for over a year now. No man would pick it for a "special anniversary dinner" in a line-up of MD/DC/VA restaurants. But Caleb picked it because he knew. When we were dating I knew I liked him, but his personality was so different than "what I thought I wanted." He was different. And I was nervous. But one of the things I so vividly remember falling for was his special attention to me. In the sweet, planned things, like anniversaries, yes. But mostly in the daily things.
You know my eyes and what they're saying, you know my laughs and how to make me laugh, you know what I'm saying and then what I mean (at least you work really hard to.) You know that I love to "argue" and debate and hash-things-out and that it's not because I'm mad or divisive or trying to win, but because that's how I figure things out and connect to people. You know that I'm messy and unorganized and don't punish me for that. You know I love to read outloud and then talk about it. You know I love eating and finding "new" good food and cooking - and you let that be a big deal for us, even though you'd be happy with a less diverse menu. You know that I like making money and making creative things and being challenged, so I do photography and coach basketball and out-of-the-blue start an IG baby clothes shop. I love you - I do - and I'm in love with you - I am - but you're so much better at "giving yourself up for me." At considering me. At doing for me and asking and expecting nothing in return. You love me better than I love you. It's been the privilege of my life being loved and known by you.
3 /// ... and thank you for letting me know you.
You've let me in, and given me your trust. And I treasure that with my life. You've cried vulnerable tears for me that I know no one else has ever seen. You laugh your biggest, best laughs when we're tucked under the covers like children at a sleepover. Just with me. You're still quiet, but not because you're stupid or empty or blank. I know you hate when people say "You don't have much to say, huh?" because I know you're letting them talk, and you're listening. I know you're content and don't care to be the center of attention. I know you're much less quiet than you used to be, and I know your mind is a jungle of a place. When we were dating I used to pray that you would really laugh with me - not joking ha-ha silly goose laugh, but let-loose, put your guard down, get tears in your eyes, and lose yourself in the humor. Now I feel like it happens daily. I know how you like your head-scratched, and your meat peppered, and your underwear soft. I feel like I "get" you, and even with all the fascinated learning I've done, you keep me on my toes and surprise me. (Like, yesterday you went into the gas station to get "a treat" and came out with caramel?! I loved it. You've never bought caramel. You always get somesort of chocolate candy bar or maybe a gummy-sour snack. But you were in the mood for caramel. Cool?) Thank you for telling me lots of stories about the first 23 years of your life, the years I wasn't there for. Thank you for being the first person I go to when I have something to say, and thank you for coming to me first when you have something to say. Thank you for making me feel special by being the one-and-only. I love knowing you.
4 /// Thank you for teaching me through your life that the blog posts and books are wrong: marriage is about our happiness.
I forget the first-time we had the conversation, but it's become one of those that keeps cycling around for us. "If marriage is supposed to represent the relationship between Christ and His church, the King and His Bride, then it should be a place of joy, safety, delight, feasting, freedom, and, yes, happiness." Being a Christian doesn't mean that you'll never cry stinging tears of sadness, but it means when you do, you have somewhere to go... you have hope to assure and brighten your soul... you have Christ. As Christ makes His Church holy and molds them into creatures of glory, He's making them happy.
"...the goal of marriage is not happiness. And although happiness is often a very real byproduct of a healthy relationship, marriage has a far more significant purpose in sight." RELEVANT MAGAZINE
It's just not true. There is no more significant purpose that we can have than to be wholly holy and happy in our Groom. The purpose of our union with Him is perfection and satisfaction and real joy forever (because that glorifies Him.) It's wrong to say marriage is about holiness, but not happiness. There is no such thing. If you are being made more holy, you are truly being made more happy. And I don't say this lightly, or forgetting the dangerous, abusive, heart-breaking, disease-stained, divorce-headed, bad, unhappy marriages. I know them personally, and I know the grief is so strong it can make you shake. Marriage isn't about getting your way every time. It's not about owning a servant to do what you want, when you want. It's not about life being easy, and every single day being boatloads of "Fun fun fun!" But the goal of the marriage should be to make each other happy, so far as is in your ability, doing what is best for the other person, and thereby being filled with joy to watch the other filled with joy. It should be about together becoming happier and happier in God, as He makes you happier and happier together. Holiness isn't rigid and cold. It's welcoming, warm and delightful. Commitment and promise are meant to weather the most grievous of storms - faithfulness through unhappiness is extremely respectable. Please don't hear me say that you will always be happy and exhilarated the whole time you are married. But please believe that a purpose God made in earthly marriage, reflecting the heavenly union, is indeed your actual and tangible happiness.
Caleb, thank you for wanting and expecting our marriage to be a place of very real joy. Thank you for being a safe place for me in the darkness and storms. Thank you for wanting to make me happy - in the way you butter my bagels, talk to to me, talk about me to others, rub me, provide for me, get'it'on with me, compliment me, and be *with* me. I so want to make you happy. I love watching you get better at the things you're good at, and also get better at things you're not-as-good at. I love helping you, and hoping with you, and being yours. It does make me happy. I'm happy doing unhappy things with you because I believe in the purpose behind them, even if I don't feel the emotion in the very moment. I'm happy that even when I am unhappy, I know the goal and prize is still hope and happiness. We'll keep fighting for this family to be happy and joy-filled, because we are married to Christ, Joy Everlasting.
5 /// Thank you for making our life together one where we are really together.
"you and i, we're not tied to the ground.
oh, and when the kids are old enough
we're gonna teach them to fly.
you and me together, we could do anything, baby
you and me together yes, yes."
He makes it clear by the way he lives, talks, and acts that he prefers being with me the most. He'll go out of his way to be with me. If that means sitting in a car for a couple hours with our baby so I don't have to drive to photoshoots alone, he's there. If that means sitting (sleeping?) on a friend's couch while I package up baby clothes, he's there. It means making arrangements to drive in the same car when it'd be more convenient to take two. It means that we've seen each other every single day (that we've been in town together) since he moved to Maryland in May 2011, and we've slept together every night of our marriage (even though that sometimes meant he laid at my nauseous, miserable feet on couch cushions so I wouldn't be alone on those long, sick nights.) (This is where I can't help but shout-out to the military and other families who have no choice but to be apart. I'm VERY grateful.) It means guys night is fun, but wife-nights are better. I don't think he's ever even implied that he'd rather be alone than be with me. Of course there are nights where I'm on my phone looking through instagram, and he's on the laptop going through e-mails, and we're not saying much of anything. But those are sweet times, too. I think it's the consistency - looking back over a year and remembering how much of that year was spent side by side. The last year has been painful and scary in some of the most serious ways, but Caleb has been "one with me" through our shared life. (He swore and his eyes filled with tears when I told him my mom's cancer had come back.) Marriage has been anything but lonely and I couldn't possible explain what peace and hope that has given me. Because I know it's just the representation of my God, just the analogy before the real wedding feast. Thank you, my sweet Caleb. For everything.