Lessons from Our First 25 Years

25 years – thank You, Lord!

The Lord has been good to us! What a full year it’s been. We are grateful, amazed by His goodness, and looking forward to 25 more years. 

Here are a few takeaways from our first 25 years 

Where our story begins...

Wow, what  year. This last year has been full of milestones for our family. I mean, big milestones. Like empty nest. Kids getting married. Completing grad school. Becoming grandparents. And, perhaps the best of all – 25 years of marriage! I remember that December day at high noon, with sheep and cows in the parking lot (part of the live nativity scene at church of course….) way back in the early 90s, we said “I do” in front of family and friends – and even some naysayers.

The day was beautiful. And it was the start of something that would prove not only beautiful, but so very rewarding. And fun, oh wow, so, so fun. In ways that no one deserves. To say I’m blessed would fall so very short of what it really is to do life with this guy of mine

The Rock Baptist Church, where we were married in Dec 1993. We have fond memories of this church and some of our friends there remain our closest friends to this day.

We aren't guaranteed tomorrow. Live a little every single day.

Perhaps health issues have driven this point home more than anything in the recent past, but what they say is true! We really aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Live a little, friends! Go get the ice cream. Eat the late-night pizza. Spend the money for a night out or a weekend away. Burn the vacation day for no other reason than to have some time together with nothing to do. Don’t wait for perfect to pursue the good, the “perfect” occasion may never line up. Besides, “perfect” is a lie and a thief. Recognize opportunities to spoil each other, and take them. Often. Even just a ride through the countryside and a dilly bar on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Just do it. Choose relationship over right. Pour yourself without limits into each other above all others, even the children. Do it because it’s God’s plan for marriage. Make memories, the housework will wait. If Chris beats me to Heaven, I will never look back fondly on the dust bunnies I cleaned up for him that he didn’t even notice because it wasn’t his love language. But I will remember with great love and fondness the ice cream and onion ring dates, the bike ride to Pisgah Inn, and all our trips in Windy. Seriously friends, the dishes and dusty furniture must wait, not just because they can, but because I am consciously, deliberately, and on purpose choosing my marriage first. Go.get.the.ice.cream.

Have a "this matters" list and protect it fiercely.

I don’t always get this right. In fact, I miss the mark more often than I’d like to admit. He misses it sometimes too, and truth is, we both are imperfect people striving to live a good, honest, and kind life while loving Jesus, each other, and others. But we miss it. Sometimes, we just do.

One of the funniest “arguments” (okay, “spirited discussions”) we ever had ended in laughter when I exclaimed, “It really upsets me that this doesn’t upset you!!” And I was serious, too! I don’t even remember now what we were discussing, but it became clear that the issue wasn’t even the issue anymore. The issue was that it wasn’t an issue for him. And that was an issue for me!

I over-analyze everything under the sun, oh my word. But he just doesn’t. Unless something makes it to our “this really matters” list, it just doesn’t matter to him. I don’t mean he isn’t caring or kind, but he doesn’t spend his time and brain power on petty. Analyzing something to death isn’t something he struggles with. He doesn’t waste emotional energy on it, either. Oh, how I’ve worked to adopt his skills on this, and hindsight has shown me clearly how much time and energy I wasted over the years on things I’d convinced myself really did “matter.” What deception, what waste. Chris isn’t all ensnared by this, and I’m so glad, because it keeps me in the road with where I spend my emotional energy. Following his example frees up inner energy to love him and the kids more fiercely rather than spend valuable emotional gold on things that stinkin’ don’t matter. 

Taking more of an “it doesn’t really matter after all” approach to things has enabled me to choose relationship over right. I’m not good at this, because “right” is black and white to me. But I’ve learned that right isn’t always black and white for other people, and sometimes it shouldn’t be for me. There are time that the definition of someone’s “right” doesn’t have my name on it. This has been a hard, hard lesson to learn, particularly as the children have grown up. But staying focused on what really matters elevates us above our circumstances to a no-matter-what love that isn’t easily swayed by un-important’s and fragile, temporary circumstantial limits. See, the main problem with circumstances is that if we love out of circumstances, our whole relationship is based on something that will betray us. Something that others can influence with our without our permission. A “right” that someone else gets to define. How liberating it is to step out of this limitation, and how Christ-like to model the example of the no-matter-what love Christ demonstrated. God knew that I’d need a mate with enough don’t-give-a-rip to loan some to me, too. I’m not sure if Chris knew what he was getting in to all those years ago…

RA hiking in wheelchair

Humor matters. Use it for the marriage tool that it is.

If you know my Chris, you’ll know he’s one of the most hilarious people everrrrrr. Many a “spirited discussion” has been de-fused because he dropped a bomb of hilarity right in the middle of things. I mean, the crazy, dis-arm me, make-me-mute kind of hilarity. Times where you really want to be mad or stubborn in the moment, but you just can’t. The moment is blown. Gone. Poof. It’s hard to stay mad at someone when you’re belly laughing to the point of hypoxia!! And the very thought that he even dis-armed me like that, oh my word… how indignant!!

Humor helps not just when disagreeing on things, but when life deals you bad hands. Oh, how humor has helped us in those times. I promise, life will not play out exactly like you’ve lined it up. Sometimes that will be a good thing, but often, life simply isn’t fair. Things can be overwhelming with unexpected job, financial and even health journeys, or maybe hurtful or deceptive sucker-punches from people we thought we could trust. To have some humor infused in to these situations helps me stay focused on Chris and our family and not others, or all these illnesses, and how they may have sabotaged my day. It’s a welcome break from the brain-heavy walk of chronic illness. What a gift God has given us, this marriage tool called humor. I’m so thankful. So, so thankful.

Marriage has taught me so much, there’s not enough time or page space to type it all. To have 25 years with this guy is an overwhelming feeling of how the goodness of the Lord has come to my life. Happy 25 to us, Sweetheart, and here’s to 25 more. And then 25 more after that!!

I love you, and I love being your wife. You make my life rich.

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