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.

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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.

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But now, here’s to celebrating 5 years of being married!

The Man.

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The Lady.

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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.”

 

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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!]

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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.]

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I was 22 when we wedded, he was 24. Such a happy happy day…

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[working on our first house, tearing wallpaper off…]

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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…

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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!

How Lucky I Am

Happy

 

 

Lovin'

And, somehow, two people make more people… :)

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Daddy & Olivia

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It’s a forever kind of love…

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… even with the sometimes long days of childen who are[n’t] getting along well…

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Forever, Baby!

~clarita

 

 

25 thoughts on “Celebrating 5

  1. myall4christ81

    AAW! This post gave me goosebumps all the way through. I think that during those frustrating days, it helps to think back on why we fell in love. You have such a beautiful family and my heart is so blessed that after 5 years of marriage you are still very much in love. Absolutely beautiful!

  2. foreveranoatneygirl_n2Hisown

    this just makes me tear up! love reading a bit of your ‘story’ and it’s truly amazing how God brings people together….maybe i’m getting sappy in my old age ;), but i more and more enjoy hearing those stories of how people come together, and how they actually work at what they have, and how they love that working at it, and each other more and more as the years roll on. maybe one day i shall write our story; the story of ‘us’ that may not mean anything to anyone else, but i have a hunch that there is *something* about writing out a love story…

    so many goRgeoUs pictures! just the stunning little family you guys are!
    happy 5th and many, many more happy years together to you!
    ♥~R

  3. Elizabethmarie_1

    Happy Anniversary to the two of you!!!  I love love stories.  I love marriage, it’s so fun!!!  You are just so, so cute!  What a fun story, thanks for sharing! =)

  4. rachi882

    Aw I love your sweet post and pictures! :) You must be one of those women who gets more beautiful with age. Ok I know I don’t know you in real life, :) but while you look beautiful on the pictures from 5 years ago, I think you look even more beautiful in the current pictures. :) Your little girls are just the darlingest little things. ;)

  5. fruitloops115

    love this post. you guys are just a cute little family. fun pics to treasure.
    and. is that a glimpse of your dining room i see??? cannot wait to see more of that!!

  6. WasabiBek

    wow! how the years have flown by. Jeremy and I are celebrating five years this weekend!:) seems like we were just in each other’s wedding and starting out married life. now a couple of babies and a few years later we are still happily married. we are BLESSED!

  7. appalolly

    really enjoyed this…a lot!  Everyone’s story is different, but beautiful!  I am impressed how God led you through all of this. And you both are quite the good-looking people, who make a beautiful couple!

  8. baileyandme

    wow, so much loveliness. love all the family pics. i`d feel lucky to have one cool family pic!! christmas??
    thanks for sharing a bit of your story…t hat was so interesting…
    i can so see where olivia got her “blueberry” eyes– she looks just like you on that one picture!! and am i the only one that noticed you are thinner now as a mother than when you were dating? lucky lady!
    have a good one!

  9. tigergal01

    Love the story and pictures, too! Of course, would love to hear the long version, too, but until you take time to write that and post it, this will suffice. And I love the ending….convincing people that you’re engaged! Randy & I just commented on this while enjoying his b-day supper Friday night…”People must think we’re on a date!”…and that we were…but only after being married for 8 1/2 yrs! Love it, and so blessed by it! Thanks for sharing once again!

  10. lifeisadance

    @myall4christ81 – You’re so right – there are some days when we need to remember why we fell in love. This was one such day. :)

    @foreveranoatneygirl – I would love to hear your story! I’m such a sucker when it comes to love stories – they just melt me so fast! And I love it because every single person’s story is so different. God is just so creative in how He  brings people together!

    @fruitloops115 – it IS our newly-redone dining room! More to come on that, hopefully!

    @WasabiBek – Isn’t it crazy what all can happen in a few years?! Sometimes I wish I could just go back and relive those days when we were dating and at each other’s weddings. I still have a picture of Ben and me from your wedding that sits in our living room! And YES, we are SO BLESSED!

    @baileyandme – yeah, I’m thinking maybe this will be our Christmas picture, just in case we don’t get another family picture taken before then. :)

    @tigergal01 – Yay for dates after marriage! I’m always so encouraged by couples I see that have been married longer than we have, and that are STILL in love. There are too many that are the opposite, so you keep up your dating life! :) It blesses me!

  11. smilesbymiles

    Aw, this is just the sweetest post! I love to hear everyone’s love story … boy meets girl is just never a rerun because everyone writes their own version. It is fascinating to see God link two people together so clearly in retrospect. But when you’re the girl in the middle of it, it doesn’t always feel very clear or direct at all! And I love to hear someone say that marriage is work b/c then I am convinced they have a good marriage! I don’t think we go big, deep places without working at it. But hey, someone may surprise me yet. :) Beautiful pictures, too! I’m with Rachel. You seem to get prettier all the time! Lucky you!

  12. Hutch5

    oh, i don’t know how i missed this post! reading love stories is a favorite of mine~ so neat hearing how God brought two people together. it always makes me smile b/cause it’s really so similar for us all.. and yet, the details all uniquely our own!

    the pictures are absolutely gorgeous. YOU are absolutely gorgeous. you look like something from a Anthropologie catalog!!! :) love your dresses – the white one and the polka dot one. great great pictures of you two together. you can see the fun and joy and just.. easiness you have with each other. sometimes those impromptu shoots give you the best pictures~

    happy happy anniversary. and wishing you many more to come! <3

    i DID find myself feeling a bit old as we’re about to celebrate 14 soon. 5!!! ya’ll are still such newlyweds!! :) enjoy every phase. it does get better in so many ways as ppl say – and harder too. ;) but as you already said and know.. a good marriage takes work. and when you’re both committed to that and WANT something more, something deeper and closer – the work is a little bit easier. :)

    love to you!

    a.

  13. Hutch5

    in love w/ that table… but even more in love w/ that old door i see way back in the corner w/ a chalkboard on it?? you need to give us a closer look… ;)

  14. lifeisadance

    @Hutch5 – oh my word, anthropologie catalog!! You made me gasp outloud and then start laughing, because you’re too funny. Really, you’re very kind. I think *you’re* the gorgeous one!!

    @smilesbymiles – I need to read your book to see if we have a good marriage. :)) Somehow didn’t get one ordered. Thought I was going to be at the FFE and get one there, but… So I do want one. Can this been an order, or shall I go to the site? :)

  15. cupajava

    you look beautiful! i loved this post! :) i liked how you wrote and what you said and i loved all the beautiful pictures! congrats on 5 years together!

  16. JakeandJanelle

    ooooh, more party pics please!!

    “what a happy and holy fashion it is that those who love one another should rest on the same pillow.” ~i forget who said it~

    so WONDERFUL sitting around my kitchen table with you during your time in PA.  it was too short!  See you next time, same time, same place!!  xoxo

  17. Anonymous

    Hi, I really enjoy your blog,I love the dress that you are wearing in your family picture. I need a brown dress for an event that I will be attending,but have not been able to find one. Would you be so kind as to tell me where you purchased yours ?  Thank you

  18. lifeisadance

    @sarah hurst – Sarah, I hope you can get this reply. I found this one at Ross for 3.99!!!! The side zipper wasn’t working so all I had to do was replace that and it was good to go. Oh, and I added the tulle around the bottom to make it a little more dressy. I’ve found a few dresses in this similar style there for really good prices. Good luck!

    @JakeandJanelle – It WAS so wonderful! That was one of the highlights of my Pennsylvania Summer Trip! Thank you ever so much, and I shall look forward to next time! :)

  19. shellElynn

    Thank-you for sharing your love story! I am such a sucker for them.:) Isn’t it so wonderful to know the meaning of love from one who pursued your heart diligently? I am amazed that our Father does that for us too.

    I love reading your blog–so encouraging and inspiring! Keep on blessing others.

    -Shelley

  20. twofus_1

    When I first saw the picture of your dining room, I wondered, “Is this in her house or a magazine photo?” I sat and deliberated a bit. It did look like your style. It did look completely fabulous. I stared a little longer, and read on to see I had come to the right conclusion. :) I loved seeing the pictures. The one of Ben and Olivia is priceless! You must be so happy with the family pictures. I especially like the full length of you two toward the end of the post. You are gorgeous! I love the sparkle in your eyes. :)

    Sometime…I would love to hear the full-detailed love story from your perspective. The first dating picture brought back memories from long ago when Ben was staying overnight at our place in TX and told us about you…it was just before you started dating. He showed us a picture of you…and yeah, how did you manage to become slimmer after two babies?!

  21. lifeisadance

    @twofus_1 – oh my word, Christy. You’re too sweet. It’s just been so fun to have our own place again. Such a gift from God!

    And sometime I would love to tell you the full version… if you have several hours to spare. :) It’s reeeeeaally long. But I thought it’s so interesting that Ben stayed at your house in TX! I didn’t know that. It must have been just weeks or days before we started dating while he was on tour with SMBI?

    The slimmer part I can’t take any credit for. I’ve just inherited those weight-loss-after-baby genes, and it’s as unfair as someone who inherited weight-gain-after-baby genes. :( Sometimes I feel really bad. Because it’s not that I’m disciplined or diet. No no no. Not at all…

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