Wow, it’s been a good past couple of weeks.
-Celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary (this was more like 2 months ago!).
– A 10-day trip back home (I still think of Pennsylvania as “home,” even though Georgia is “home” to me too. But Pennsylvania is “back home.”). Just so great. I came back feeling so blessed and overwhelmed by the family and friendships God has given me. It’s not a matter of if I have family and friends to see when I go back, but rather how much time I have to see people – which is never enough, and there are always people I wish I could have seen that I wasn’t able to, and the people I did see I wished to have seen more of.
– Celebrating my husband’s 30th birthday! This is what really made my weeks fly by, because I felt like I was planning his birthday for months! Maybe more on this at a later date.
– Olivia is walking! It took her a while to discover she really could do this, but now she is toddling all over the house. I love the word “toddle.” It sums up wobbly baby legs, balance challenges, and baby grins all in one. And lots of bumps and bruises. Don’t forget those.
It’s been a busy but happy time. This morning I thought to myself, “I am just so happy to be alive today.”
Part of that had to do with the fact that my girls slept in until 9:30 (!!!!), and I was able to have a few HOURS (hours, not minutes) alone before they awoke. That definitely is a reason to be happy. :) [And I wish I knew what I did right, so that they could sleep in again like that!]
And then, because I had some time alone with my God, I felt ready to greet them. Happily greet them, as I heard little feet pattering on the hardwood floor. Ready to greet them with long hugs and snuggles, and say, “I’m so happy to see you!” and really mean it, rather than thinking, “Oh, why did you get up so early today??!” :)
And now, at 2pm, they are just recently gone to bed because of sleeping in so late. And I have a bit of quiet once again… I love quiet.
But now, here’s to celebrating 5 years of being married!
This post is looking back over the past 8 years. Remembering when the love first began between Ben and me. This is going to be a nutshell version of a very veeeeery long story. :)
I was 19 when I first met him. He was hardly 22.
I was independent, loved being single, and wanted to be single until I was 30 because I loved where I was at so much. Marriage was NO WHERE in my near future.
However, I was fascinated by his crystal-blue eyes, easy-going personality, and slow southern drawl. He first noticed my curly hair and long eyelashes. :)
We had never met before, but were thrown together in a group of about 60 Bible School students for 7 weeks. We interacted, became friends, but he was seeing another girl at the time and I thought that was that.
Meanwhile, I was mapping out my next five years,which included mission trips to Africa, Colorado, Asia, as well as furthering my education. And was I ever excited. However, God started speaking to my heart and softly telling me not to view marriage so adamently. Asking me to surrender my dreams for the future, and to trust His plans, even if they were different from my own. This was such a difficult thing for me, because I really did not want to get married soon at all. But my answer to God, through much wrestling and struggle, was, “Yes, Jesus, I will do what you want me to do, whatever that is.”
Several months later, Ben asked my dad if he could date me, and after a few months of dad com municating with Ben, Ben and I had som contact through phone calls and emails. This is a really reeeeeaaaallly long story, one that I’m not going to go into detail now, but after some months my answer to Ben was “no.” Interestingly though, my heart was opening to the idea of romance , and even of marriage sometime in the future! Even though I did not think this would include Ben.
We parted ways, heartbreaking to both of us because of our friendship, but my heart was not ready for him. Over the next year, I dated another man, thinking Ben was a person of the past, and excited about where God was taking me.
But for unknown reasons, God did not give me rest with staying in that relationship. It was mysterious to me, and had nothing to do with the man himself but only the way God was leading me.
Heartbreak again. I wanted to make a vow of celebacy for the next two years just so I wouldn’t have to even think about love again! My parents refrained me, much to my (then) chagrin. They did allow me to make a 6-month commitment. Looking back, I think they really wanted me to get married! Ha!
Shortly after that, I spent two months in Central America with my sister, Jana, and two friends. Antigua, Guatemala, was where we studied Spanish, and central point from which traveled all over the country! Great times!
During those months in Central America, my heart was strangely drawn to Ben again. Wondering why, wondering how, but my heart was restful that if God had something for us in the future He would bring it to pass.
Ben asked again, brave man. And this time, almost two years after we first met, we began dating. This time my heart was ready for him, and delighted to be entering a journey alongside him!
I was 21, he was 23.
We dated long-distance of 800 miles, seeing each other about once a month for a weekend. He shocked me when proposing after only 8 months of dating, but my answer was “Yes!” Our engagement was 5 months long, two months of which I was away from home living with my widowed grandmother in Florida and then on a mission trip to Africa.
[In Africa on a mission trip, 3 months before our wedding. So neat that we were both able to go!]
Funny FUNNY looking back at these pictures! Makes me laugh, like, did we really both change so much?!
[He joined my extended family campout while we were dating.]
I was 22 when we wedded, he was 24. Such a happy happy day…
[working on our first house, tearing wallpaper off…]
And now, it’s five years later. A lot has happened in those five years. We lived in Pennsylvania, we moved to Georgia, Ben and I taught school, we had a baby girl, Ben taught another year of school, I had another baby girl…
And before we were married, people would talk about the work that it takes to have a good marriage. I would listen and politely nod, but think to myself, “They must not have the kind of relationship that WE have!” Five years later, I can honestly say that a good marriage DOES take work – hard work, and lots of it.
It’s been a wonderful, crazy, mysterious, fun, scary, beautiful, frustrating, amazing journey together! There are challenges we’ve faced that I never would have imagined, yet glad that I didn’t know about beforehand. This journey together is one that I wouldn’t trade for the world, and yet one that makes me need God more than anything in the world. This is a sacred journey, one of commiting my life to one man, until death do us part.
Because it’s in that covenant that God is revealed. We don’t bail out when it’s tough. We’re in it together, thick or thin. Easy days, fun days, hard days. We’re in this for life, and we’re going to give it our best shot. We’re going to love each other, forever…
Really cool/funny thing about this photo shoot a few weeks ago: It was taken very impromptu after a day at the beach, and my sister Claudia Barkman took the pictures. She overheard an older couple talking as they walked by. “Wedding?” asked the man [did he not see the BROWN dress?]. “No, engagement,” said the woman. We had a laugh about that later. And thought, “Awwww, we still look like we’re engaged!” while wondering what the couple thought about the two babies playing in the foreground…! :)
I’m the lucky woman who gets to be with this man!
And, somehow, two people make more people… :)
It’s a forever kind of love…
… even with the sometimes long days of childen who are[n’t] getting along well…