What I Want My Daughters To Know About My Wedding

Dear Daughters,

A few months ago you were both in a wedding and between that and all the popular TLC bridal shows on Netflix and the breathtaking wedding boards on Pinterest, it’s got you asking questions about my wedding.

So, I want to tell you about it.

First of all, it was ugly.

No, really, it was. It was 1994, so that didn’t help.

Neither did my temporary romantic love for the Victorian era. My accent colors were mauve and forest green. Yeah. They were interesting colors against the burnt orange pews of the church and twinkling Christmas trees on the stage. (It was a December wedding).

The bridesmaids wore handmade mauve tent-like dresses that could accommodate an array of sizes, including a very pregnant bridesmaid. I’m pretty sure they were burned while I was on my honeymoon.

I had always planned on wearing a long-sleeved ivory Victorian gown. But instead I fell in love with a white off-the-shoulder sequined contemporary one. I had multiple themes going on.

Remember when you found my dress in a box in the attic a couple of years ago and asked if you could try it on? That kind of stuff is hard on moms.

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The reception was in the small, dimly-lit fellowship hall. There wasn’t dinner or dancing or enough satin to cover the drabness of the room. There was some sort of Sprite punch, a delicious wedding cake, groom’s cake (with a plastic fisherman on top) and some mixed nuts.

There weren’t party favors or sparklers. The guests threw birdseed as we ran to my blue Isuzu compact car, awash with ridiculous writing and a condom on the muffler (your Uncle’s contribution). I can still remember the look on the pastor’s face as we waved goodbye.

We immediately stopped at a fast food restaurant where I dumped a pint of birdseed from my underwear on the floor of the bathroom. That was wrong. But it was itchy.

I can’t think of a single pin-worthy picture from the day.

It wasn’t trendy or lavish.

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There wasn’t a dance floor or fresh orchids and chandeliers hanging from trees.

But I wouldn’t change a moment of it.

Somehow even with our less than glamorous wedding photo album and honeymoon on an extreme budget to exotic Arkansas, your dad and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage this Christmas.

Because we understood that a marriage isn’t about a wedding.

We discovered that a lifetime of love and commitment trumps an event any day. We learned that starting our new life together debt and doubt-free was a gift to each other.

Yesterday, I read that 70% of girls creating wedding boards on Pinterest, aren’t even engaged yet. With every other marriage ending, do we have time for all this planning and pining for one perfect day?

It makes me sad that the world you’re growing up in concentrates more on the wedding than the marriage. It’s over in a sunset and it’s easy compared to the long marathon of becoming and staying one with your one and only.

I want you to know marriage is more than a venue or a menu. It’s far more than The Perfect Day or saying yes to the dress.

And I know you will probably want all of the above some day. And that’s okay.

I just want you to spend more time praying than planning. I want you to sacrifice more than you spend. I want you to understand your commitment to the man of your dreams is more than a certificate—it’s a covenant to God.

Most of all, I want you to know love. The kind of love your dad and I have that lasts through heartache and headaches. I want you to know that you are loved. You don’t have to earn or achieve it. It’s not dependent on a good hair day or bad. It’s not something you can lose. Whether you’re swept off your feet or remain a confidant single woman, you are enough.

I have seen how fast time flies. I know the days are long and the years are short. I put away the toys and clothes you outgrow regularly. I know while I write this, one of you is practicing eye shadow upstairs and the other is practicing cartwheels in the yard, and I will blink and it will be time to give you away.

You are just beginning to dream. Don’t stop.

And on this regular summer Monday, I want you to know that my wedding wasn’t much.

But my marriage is more.

Love,

Mom


The Real Threat to Marriage

Frustrated. Irritable. Tired.

I blamed it on jet lag and dirty hair. And rightly so.

But still. It’s always’s something. We can always find a reason for an interruption in happiness. Even when we are rested on the best hair day.

We stood at an airport in between time zones on the other side of the globe and in a hot minute, my soulmate was hinging on becoming my arch enemy.

Ah, love.

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There’s no guarantee we’ll be happy in marriage.

As a matter of fact, most days we can find a hundred reasons not to be.

And I’m not really talking about the big things like financial ruin, pornography, adultery and differences we can’t reconcile.

I understand marriages end every day with good reason. I understand the choice isn’t always ours.

But if we’re keeping track and letting the small things add up –those dirty socks on the floor, that burned dinner, the lack of romance, the mood swings– our marriage could be in danger.

Big or small–we can conquer all of these with God’s help.

I’ve seen marriages overcome the worst. And I’ve witnessed them end over insignificant irritations.

Because maybe the biggest threat of all is when we simply stop trying.

When we give up.

Quit.

Stop participating. Stop communicating.

When we refuse to forgive the small stuff, bury our feelings, give our spouse the cold shoulder and punish them with the silent treatment–

We always, always lose.

I read an article about a couple who on their 20 year anniversary dinner reminisced about their lives together and then when they got to dessert, they talked about who got the house and who got the kids.

There wasn’t a big reason for the split. They were growing in different directions, didn’t feel connected or happy anymore.

And while it may sound surprising to give up over so little, I think the threat is all too real. Leaving is often easier than staying.

I’ve been there:

We would falter and fail and taste brokenness like we couldn’t imagine. My solid marriage would be unrecognizable, a lot like the pieces scattered around me.- from Chapter 3, the testimony of my marriage in Rhinestone Jesus.

Here’s the thing–no marriage is perfect. Not your neighbors or your pastors. Not mine or yours. How could it be with all that humanity? Some days we don’t feel happy, or loved, or loving.

But we fight. We love. We keep forgiving.  We keep working on our marriage.

Because struggling means we are both trying.

And that beats quitting any day.


3 Intentional Ways to Celebrate Dad

He cleans up poop and puke without gagging.

He has and would work multiple jobs to provide for our family.

He is intentional with our kids.

He tells the world I rock (bonus points):

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He leads our family by example.

He is a hard worker.

He is a God-sized dreamer.

He wears a cowboy hat to mow the lawn.

He’s sexy (see above).

Yep, I hit the jackpot.

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Not only do I have a great dad, I am married to one.

He loves his kids passionately and gives them great footsteps to follow.

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Here are 3 intentional ways we can celebrate Dad (not just one day, but all year long):

  1. Say thank you personally -it may seem obvious and even overdone, but dads are sentimental, too. And those thank you letters and handmade crafts and pictures mean a lot. Ideas:   write it | make it memorable 
  2. Say thank you again without words- It’s one thing to say thank you with words, it’s entirely different to let our actions speak for our words. Maybe it’s quietly serving him or that one thing he really wants. When in doubt start with bacon
  3. Say thank you publicly- Let the world know how much your family loves Dad. Hang a banner, make a cake, celebrate him in front of friends and families. Your kids can tell the world in these cute shirts.

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Reader Deal: These shirts always turn heads and strike up the best conversations! Use this code to get 15% off a shirt for the father in your life: U28TFK15. And if you order one by June 10th, it will arrive priority mail in time for Father’s Day this weekend!


Why I Share About My Broken Marriage In My Book

She pulled me close and said the words in a hush, “ Your book for me is like the book Radical was for you.”

The words stun.

Because I know what that means. I’m looking in the eyes of a woman who is about to turn her life upside down in her yes to Jesus.

“We are about to start the book as a family,” she motions to her three teens sitting at the picnic table.

“Except for that one chapter. We may skip over that one for now.”

And I knew which chapter she was referring to without even naming it.

It’s not the chapter about being a rich mom or the one about how lonely this road has been or the messy one about family life.

It’s the one about my marriage.

The one that talks about the secret sin of pornography and how it ripped my marriage apart and how God helped me choose forgiveness. It’s the intimate and hard-to-read pages of how my husband wanted freedom more than he wanted anything else. It’s the soul-splitting journal of the long, hard road to healing and the story behind the very special words on our wedding bands we gave each other the day we decided to marry all over again.

God can do anything

Most people think Rhinestone Jesus is about Mercy House. And it is. This unlikely home in the heart of Africa, funded by a bunch of moms–that is our family’s yes, our God-sized dream. It’s as wild and crazy as it sounds.

But Mercy House is today. That’s not the whole story. I know how easy it is to see where someone is today and think, “Huh. Well, my yes is small. I could never do something significant for God.”

And that’s why I start and end the book with brokenness. That’s why I invite you in -because you need to know where we started, the ups and downs, the heartbreak and healing journey to our yes.

Because it’s raw. It’s real. It’s as standing on the edge of destruction as you can get.

Not only does it make where we ended up more powerful: It’s a reminder of what God can do. He can do it for your marriage, too.

I used to hate that pornography was a part of my story. You may hate part of your story, too. I used to think I was alone in my marriage troubles. You may feel that, also. I used to think I was too broken to say yes. I was wrong. You may be, too.

Now? Today, I’m thankful for the brokenness in my marriage. I would have never known its strength if I wasn’t aware of its weakness. I would never have tasted intimacy if I hadn’t experienced void. I would never love my husband like I do today, if I didn’t nearly lose him.

I don’t know the secrets your marriage holds.

But I know who holds your marriage.

I can promise you–whatever brokenness that your story contain–don’t let it define you. Don’t let it imprison you. And please, don’t let it make you feel alone. Something miraculous happens when we release the brokenness: it sets us free.

 


The Two Words That Can Absolutely Change Your Marriage

Sometimes I don’t even know I need to hear the words.

Until he says them.

And then I’m like a sponge and I soak them up like my life depended on hearing them.

The whole family spent the entire Saturday knocking down dead trees, pulling up weeds and pulling down thorny vines tangled in our trees. We turned up the earth and planted tiny okra, pepper and tomato plants, already dreaming of summer. If it sounds exhausting, that’s because it was, but it’s my favorite kind of day. We were all working together and accomplishing something we all wanted: a garden.

We were dead tired and covered head-to-toe in filth, dirt in our hair and under our nails. I walked in the kitchen and that’s when I remembered my forgotten trip to the grocery store. I sighed because I had to go to the store and I couldn’t wait another hour.

I scrubbed my hands and put a clean shirt over my-not-so-clean body and my oldest and I headed out. I left my husband and other kids chopping wood to carry off.

I still had groceries to get and unpack, dinner to start, laundry to turn and a half dozen other tasks that keep our family of five running all week long.

The kids helped me unload food into the pantry and I hurried dinner along. It was nearly dark as we sat down to eat, and I stifled a yawn. And that’s when my husband leaned over and looked at me long and hard and whispered the words: thank you.

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And I patted his arm, his face ringed with the weariness of hard physical work and I said them back. Thank you.

Because sometimes? We just need to hear the words. Deep down we know our family is grateful–our kids appreciate the little things, especially when we don’t do them and our husbands and wives see more than we think they do.

But to hear the audible words–some days it’s the jet fuel we need to keep going.

And the words aren’t really dependent upon what we do–because sometimes dinner is a flop and the laundry spills over and the kids meltdown and husbands run late and life has a way of being perfectly imperfect.

But when you overhear him tell your daughter she looks beautiful on Sunday morning or watch him put his briefcase down, loosen his tie and read Junie B. Jones for the millionth time — stop — and thank him.

When you realize she turned off the alarm so you could sleep a few more minutes or remembered your dry cleaning for that important business meeting and changed the cat litter because she knows it’s the chore you hate the most–stop—and thank her.

Sometimes the very thing you need to hear the most is what you need to say to someone else.

When she’s impatient. When he’s angry. When she’s tired. When he’s busy. When she’s down. When he’s not…

When she’s up all night with the baby and you have to step over baskets of unfolded laundry, when you can see the stress of his job weighing him down–these are the messy moments when we feel invisible, unappreciated, overlooked.

These are the moments in our marriages that need a thank you the most.

Because they aren’t just words. Thank you sends a lifeline. It says:

I see what you do all day long.

It matters.

It’s important.

You matter.

You’re important.

I don’t see the mess.

I see your yes in it.

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Click to read more of our marriage story….

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