23 years and still learning..

I overslept this morning. Chris and Ben headed out early for a baseball tournament and I rolled back over in my sweet bed. You see, I stayed up late watching Stranger Things, and my morning was spent dreaming of demigorgans and mind slayers and waking up at 10 am. Shoot, I was scheduled to serve at church today! Really? I missed church because I was watching a demon show? Great. As I head down the stairs, there’s a man at the front door to pick up a cake. A cake my teenager made, who should be up greeting his customer, but he is still asleep.

I’m in my pajamas, Sam’s on the youtube, dirty dishes are everywhere (because of the cakes!), and there is a man at the front door wanting his order. Real great. I run upstairs to put on some clothes to make it look like I’m not a total failure. Shoot, I can’t open the front door because I am painting the office and Chris’ desk is barricading the entrance to my house. I rush to the side door with my bed head, unbrushed teeth and coffee-less brain to give this man a cake. Actually, it was 2 cakes and 100 macaroons. So freakin great. I tell my kids not to say “freakin” because it is just a replacement for the “F” word but….

The man leaves, I brew some coffee, sit down and begin to shame myself. I decide to read by Bible and have my own church since I missed this morning due to demon dreams. Then I remember, today is my wedding anniversary. My 23rd wedding anniversary. Sigh, more shame. I open the Bible and Romans 8 is where I decide to land.  Paul so graciously reminds me “For I am convinced, that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither height nor depth, not anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God…” vs 38. Thank goodness. God still loves me. Even though I’m a mess, he still loves me. Go away shame. 

Since that verse felt so good, I decide to head over to verse 1 and hang out in Romans 8 this morning. It is helping and so is the coffee. I’m reading from a Bible I gave Chris at least 20 years ago, but I stole it back. I notice verse 16 is sloppily underlined by me with wiggly lines in blue ink (who cares if it’s messy)- “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” and verse 18 is perfectly ruler-straightly underlined with pencil by Chris (so it can be corrected if messy) – “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

I sat for a moment and smiled. This page, in this 20 year old Bible, is a beautiful picture of our 23 years of marriage. My messy self and his orderly way, both clinging to scripture…reading different verses at different times, underlined in very different ways, but both needing the same thing.

I keep reading…vs 26 “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” 

I stop here. I have read this passage before, but it feels new this time. It has been quite a year for us. I headed back to work full-time, we survived the last year of middle school. There were ups and downs in our family…there were lots of tears and stress and fears. But it was also one of my most favorite years. I saw God hold us and answer so many prayers. This verse brings so much comfort and conviction.

I realize I have missed the power of the Spirit in my life. I seemed to think that my prayers and my efforts moved God, but Romans 8 is telling me that 1) God loves me no matter what and I can’t mess that up, 2) My Father is the King of the universe, 3) my suffering can’t compare to His glory and 4) the Spirit is praying for me and knows exactly what I need. Holy cow….

What an incredible anniversary gift. This is pure joy and freedom! This is why Chris and I landed together so long ago. This is the goodness of marriage and parenting and living. He is for us and has got us. And even when it’s hard and you’re a mess, nothing separates you from him, you are his child, your sufferings don’t define you and the Spirit’s covering you in prayer. And these truths hold true 20 years later. Man, my day has turned around.

 God knows what we need. When my mom and dad were praying for my spouse, God knew Chris was it. When we pray for our kids, God knows exactly what and how and who…He knows all the things, the very best things.

23 years of marriage…23 beautiful years…all this time God has bound us in his goodness and his word and his love. Chris and I were so young, so different, so clueless. But we loved each other and we loved Jesus more. The two of us, both underlining different verses in different ways and at different times, but it is the same Jesus and that is all that matters. 

He holds us and knows us and fights for us…and he is holding you and knows you and is fighting for you. So, happy anniversary to my favorite human. Thank you for loving me like Jesus, despite my mess, for always fighting and serving and loving us. I can’t wait to see the next 23…