…a picture of Shaun and I singing at a college group while we were dating…

also known as the day shaun invited me to be his girlfriend. actually it was yesterday, but we were too busy celebrating [and living life with two kids]– instead I’m writing today.

In some ways I feel like these years have flown by, “really, five years?!” I’ve repeatedly thought to myself. I still see the vivid images in my mind of that day. I remember nervously accepting a date to meet him at Starbucks. Yet, in other ways I feel like he knows me inside and out, better than anyone else–which certaintly takes an investment of time and energy worth meriting a five year mark.

it all started with a caramel macchiato and a pumpkin spice latte. my lovely pack rat companion still has the receipt [read: incredibly sweet] I had an inkling it was coming. Shaun respectfully guarded my heart and body and did not lead me into a different direction other than a friendship until that exciting day, December 28th, 2006.

Shaun was not one to beat around the bush. Soon after we sat down, he testified of watching my character and interactions with others. Praying and seeking godly counsel, he expressed he wanted to begin pursuing me with the intention of marriage. He set out wise physical boundaries for us, and met my parents. I was on a different planet- “Somebody wake me up!”, I could not believe God had provided such a honorable man to pursue me.

But, it was reality, and that day blossomed into a steady relationship culminating in marriage. We spent many of our dates inquiring about each other. We asked about fears, goals, cares, desires, dreams, doctrine, children, sorrows, sins, talents, and numerous other topics. I’m so so glad we did. Within our few short years of marriage, I was prepared to follow Shaun to Scotland as well as readily expectant of having children early on… because we talked about these possibilities on our date nights. We used our time together as a dating couple to see if we would be compatible for working well together in the future. Since marriage is a commitment- ultimately, any two believers can be married and choose to live joyfully together. Yet how much sweeter is it to engage in a relationship of someone you enjoy following and loving?!

We’ve had a lot of life changes in these few years. death, birth, country change, school additions, job transition, new adventures, financial strain, joy and sorrow. Early on, we vowed to never utter the word ‘divorce’. This marriage was our decision before the Lord until death do us part. We were not allowing either of us to think of the what if question wherein one of us would leave; this wasn’t an option. We are stuck together. Our choice is whether to enjoy or hate it. We’ve had to work for the former. A good marriage doesn’t happen, it is intentional effort and planning. We’ve learned to resolve conflict.  Deny ourselves to serve each other. Show each other affection in meaningful ways. Hold our tongue. Be patient. We’ve read marriage books, listened to sermons on marriage, and attended a marriage course. and… we are still learning to love each other better.

Every marriage can always improve because it is the union of two sinners. A good marriage involves two consistent forgivers. Shaun and I have discovered that our marriage is most fruitful when we are satisfied and fulfilled in our Savior rather than idolizing each other. Our job is not to make each other happy, otherwise we would never succeed. Instead we must focus on changing our own imperfections and thriving in our relationship with Jesus Christ (the ultimate example of biblical love and sacrifice). Eternally, we remember that death is impending, and our marriage will end– our eternity will be spend in the arms of our God, not each other.

These past five years have been remarkable, I’d invite you to cherish your spouse in the same way.

so… today I challenge my single friends. pray, seek godly counsel, and try to avoid the fantasy that the person you like will never hurt you– they will. Ask a million question, and then one more (consider taking this book of questions on your date nights (not a bad book for married couples either!). Make sure you truly know the spouse (good and bad aspects) you are entering with into marriage. Married couples– how can your marriage improve? (Check out this post) Where are you slacking off? How can YOU change to glorify the Lord better in your journey of biblical love? Perhaps you need to apologize for your selfishness, lack of intentional love, or neglect. Consider praying for your spouse on a regular basis (try this calendar). Most importantly, take some time today to get on your knees and cultivate a love for Jesus Christ- He is the source who will offer you fulfilment as well as bond and grow any couple.

I’ll be taking a moment now to pray for those reading this post that God will work mightily in you as you turn to Him for help, and guidance. I am so thankful that He created the institution of marriage in order to better understand our triune God as well as for our personal pleasure. What a gift it is!

Proverbs 12:4

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones