I started following Micha Boyett’s blog after I discovered her series on St. Benedict. Her writing has a gentle, incisive graciousness which I find beautiful. This morning I opened my feed reader and found this post on “Marriage and the Easy  Yoke.” I love this bit toward the end:

I can’t pretend to know much about marriage. Eight years is only 2nd grade in the education of married life. We’re only just now learning cursive and multiplication. We have a long way to go. But what I’m learning is that … Only grace oils the bitter places so the machine can run, so you can smooth each other out.

Her post is in response to this one on Her.meneutics, and in light of these two other responses to it. Reading those after Micha’s post, I’m bothered by how easily the author of the first post assumes that marriage is easy (without any discussion of hardships she’s walked through to back this up) and we should stop worrying about how hard the first year is supposed to be, etc. Like the first response by Kristin Tennant notes, it’s a bad idea to assume that your story or experience in marriage is the true one and read your experiences into other people’s lives. That said, I feel a little more kinship with the author  (Grace) of the second response: who are you to tell me that a good marriage is an easy one?

Kevin and I haven’t had a particularly hard marriage so far, and we’re not very far in yet, so I shouldn’t speak too loudly. We have a lot of time ahead of us before we stop being babies and earn the title of “seasoned.” But that said, in just the last 17 months, we’ve faced unemployment x2, frustrating jobs, evening shift work hours, depression, a move, debt, not having a church home, serious family tensions, a car accident, and more. It’s been intense. Not impossible, but difficult. These external factors have in turn exacerbated various issues in our relationship with each other, and the strain has been really exhausting at times.

We were talking about this yesterday, reflecting on our Saturday bike ride and how, while we had a good time, there were moments of tension based on ongoing issues, and by the end of our ride we were very emotionally worn out. But a little patience with each other’s weariness helped a lot, and we ended up having a quiet evening together, just being together and not asking much of each other.

Kevin commented that, for us, loving each other doesn’t always look like happy feelings and tender romantic moments. We’re both broken people with issues that make us hard to love and be loved. Sometimes, all we have to offer is insecurity, or anxiousness, or frustration. Sometimes we’re just too raw to make much of an effort to do “sweet” and “thoughtful” things. But there’s no one else we’d rather do this marriage thing with. Kevin concluded, “we can worship God with whatever emotion we bring in the door. He accepts us as we are–we don’t need to always put on a mask of happiness in order to be in a relationship with him. And it’s the same way with each other: we should be patient with each other, of course. But we don’t need to only bring the correct and proper emotions to each other. We can bring whatever we are at the moment.”

It’s been true. There is grace to be patient with each other’s broken places, even if I’m not always as tender as I should be when he’s weak (or vice versa). Marriage is the hardest thing either of us has ever attempted, and I want to be careful not to make it sound like it’s been all that awful. It hasn’t–but it hasn’t been hearts and flowers and Disney moments, either. But we’re best friends and I know he is a good-hearted man trying to love me the best he knows how. And I think he knows the same of me.

I doubt that our experience is universal, but I think it’s a pretty common one, too. I am really thankful that I have a good man to work this marriage thing out with and who makes the rough spots worth it all.

If you’re a newlywed, just enjoy your first year. If it’s sweet, don’t borrow trouble by worrying about what-if-it-gets-hard? and just savor the season. If it’s really rough, don’t feel alone. Plunge into community and get counseling, and let yourself enjoy the glowy moments when they come.


Commuting 1.5 hours each way every day for a month has given me new respect for career addicts and long-distance commuters. It’s also given me new respect for working moms–how do they find time to be moms, let alone make dinner and do the laundry and dishes and have 20 minutes of downtime before bed? With that commute, I would get home at 7pm at the very earliest, and if I had any errands to run at all (grocery shopping, pharmacy, Goodwill drop), I would be home at 8pm at the earliest.

By that point, the idea of making dinner becomes a Major Life Trauma and I would be hiding under a blanket eating a piece of cheese to stop the blood sugar crash (have I mentioned that my brain turns off if I don’t eat every few hours?)  and taking mental stock of what we had in the freezer that could be cooked up in less than 20 minutes. Finding nothing easy to fix up and eat (I was raised to Cook From Scratch Because It’s Cheaper and More Healthy! and still shop accordingly), I would eat Cheez-its and stare at the inside of the fridge making depressed sounds.

And that’s about when Kevin suggested that we move into town. But after looking at apartments on Craigslist for a few evenings, we admitted that the cost of living inside the Beltway would be prohibitive, and maybe we’d just get some healthy freezer dinners and try to make this work for the time being.

However, a whim  of a search on Craigslist one morning a week later led me to an ad that was so perfect, it could only be a scam–except there was a phone number posted. I emailed it to Kevin: “Honey, can you call them and see if this is legit?” He called the couple who had placed the ad, and that evening we walked into the tiniest basement studio apartment I have ever seen. It wasn’t a scam at all. It was just less than 300 square feet.

But it had nice tile floors. And a renovated kitchen with brand new cabinets and appliances. And three nice windows above ground! And free laundry, parking space, and internet hookup. Oh, and utilities were bundled into the price of rent, causing the expenses to break even with what we were currently paying for our spacious place so very far away from our new jobs.

The best part? It was in the nicest neighborhood in DC (outside of Georgetown, that is), and was literally across the street from our church.

Kevin was in love instantly. I was not interested.

Objectively, it seemed like a good place, and it made sense financially. It would save us a lot of time to not have to participate in the mass exodus to and from the suburbs and the city every morning and evening. It was near our church. The landlords were okay with our cat.

But I had a visceral reaction to the concept of a basement apartment, and there were a couple irrational things about it that just left me with a bad feeling about it. I might have thrown a hissy fit about how small and dark it felt. Kevin might have backed off on the whole idea altogether.

A few days of talking it over, and one more visit to measure the space (and searching ApartmentTherapy for stories of living in less than 300 sq. ft. and creating a Pinterest board for decoration and organization ideas), we settled with the landlords and gave ourselves 3 weeks to move in. I was rationally pleased with the decision, but still going back and forth about whether or not I liked the place and felt like I could make it a home.

Kevin really salvaged the whole thing by suggesting we repaint it before moving in and negotiating with the landlords to let us in a couple evenings before we were to move in, so we could paint. It was what we now call “vomit beige” and was done in flat paint, in one sloppy coat, and it looked hideous.  (I wish my camera wasn’t still missing! These are from Kevin’s iPod)

Ktichen, pre paint

Main room, from front door

Main room, looking at kitchen/bathroom door

With the very cheery help of his siblings and a few good friends, we utterly transformed the place with a few evenings of work (and lots of pizza). I cannot tell you what a difference it made to have nice fat thick coats of high quality satin paint in nice colors! Simply painting the trim in a bright white made me feel optimistic and excited about living there.

In the end, we did these colors in the main room (the blue on the side with the two windows, and the white on the opposite two walls):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this one in the kitchen:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll take pictures of the finished space later this week to show off. It looks really nice. The cool, bright colors give the room a much more spacious feel, and the contrast of the dark blue with the white trim is really lovely. Kevin’s got plans to do a wall arrangement like this sometime soon:

Image from Pinterest

I think we’re planning on using white picture frames and mirrors. It’s going to look lovely. He has a good sense of space and color.

On an opposing  (light blue/white) wall, I’ve been working on a light decoration out of mirror thread and twinkle lights, but I need to switch out the lights we have with ones with white wire, rather than green. Once that’s complete, I’ll show you all. It looks nice enough for the time being, but it will really pop once I change the lights.

We also got a darling loveseat in eggplant purple from Craigslist. It was brand new and in perfect condition, and we were thrilled to discover that it was the updated version of our previous couch set, which we loved. And it’s PURPLE.

Pair that up with this rug from Urban Outfitters:

…and you have a happy girl who feels like this apartment is becoming a home.

[coming!] Hot and Sticky Part 2: Moving into a Basement Apartment in a Swamp in July


Tomorrow Kevin and I regress into the “need” of having an internet connection at home. There’s a lot of good things that will come with this, but I’m trying to steel myself into Wendell Berry-esque curmudgeonry so I don’t forget the real life things that we value more than connectivity and entertainment or feeding our information addictions.

I’m not going to apologize for going AWOL for a bit. My real life has been rich and full. Writing stagnated while other things thrived.

Since I wrote last, we celebrated our first anniversary and dreamed big while spending a long weekend in the Shenandoah Valley. Kevin stopped temping irregularly and started working regularly as a waiter at a snazzy DC restaurant (everyone loves him–he’s great with customer service). We downsized to one car. He’s planning on starting school for music therapy in the fall. I got a UVA hoodie. I finally got around to reading Quivering Daughters (and highly recommend the first 2/3rds of it to anyone who grew up in a conservative Christian home where “courtship,” “gender roles,” and “homemaking” were buzzwords). Nearly the entire department I work in turned over and I’m adjusting to the new strategies and work styles. My dad called a family meeting and we had a Christmas miracle. Kevin and I flew to Oklahoma for my best friend’s wedding.  My sister came home from college and is taking charge of her life in healthy ways. We found a church we where feel comfortable and welcomed, and are seeking to get confirmed in the ACNA. Kevin wrote new songs. Old friendships were discovered to have life in them yet, and we started attending a monthly couples’ dinner club + Bible study with new friends.

[fullness]

In the meantime, I need to decide which of my blog post drafts from the last few months to finish first.  It’s never too late to post on Advent, right?


i remember learning to use a coffee maker for the first time
in oakland, when the sunrise was molten on the edges of the hills
and turned the kitchen floor into sun-puddles
and bacon was a special breakfast
my grandmother let me stand on tip-toe and pour the water in
it was cold through the glass of the carafe
and she smelled of unscented hand lotion as she reached around me
to program the brew.
i would marvel at the bacon snapping in its own juices
and at the burbling of the coffee maker
while we talked.

i remember learning that if my dad was grinding beans
for a second cup of coffee before he left for work
i could stand in the kitchen and tell him just about anything
and he would listen
until the timer went off and he pressed down the filter.
he would kiss my head when he walked out the door.
if he offered me a sip, i would taste the smell of it all day long.
it was his smell, sharp and warm,

i can’t decide if i drink coffee just to keep
tenderness and pictures like these close at hand
weapons against defeat and adulthood
or if i keep drinking it down, waiting to find
at the bottom of this cup
a friend
someone who smells like coffee too
who will talk in silence
and watch the light with me.


The Good Shepherd

This is now hanging on my kitchen wall, in between the copper-tiled backsplash by the stove and my apron hook. I’ve been hankering, no, craving, an icon in my home for over a year now, since I first saw icons in a home of one of my professors (who happens to be Orthodox). This family has them over the doorway to almost every room (but not the bathroom, which I find an amusing contrast to the Episcopal/Anglican tradition of a house blessing, in which there is a prayer for every room including the bathroom). It really adds a degree of beauty and sobriety to the house that I found very satisfying. Little gestures of eternity in the everyday of a home make me stand a bit smaller [read: more humbly and more thoughtfully] and take me out of the perpetual self-monologue in which I’m wont to live.

Kevin took me to a Catholic bookstore in DC on Saturday as part of our date out on the town. We went to a crêperie for lunch (and while he wouldn’t admit it, I think he liked the chicken and pesto crêpe), and then to the bookstore, where we purchased this icon. (ikon? I think I like the latter form better, to avoid confusion with internet/desktop icons).  Afterward we went to Georgetown, which was just lovely at sunset. Kevin geeked out at the Apple store and I wandered around. The Potomac was nearby. I’d like to spend more time walking along it sometime.

On Sunday Kevin had obligations with the worship team at our old church. I don’t particularly care for that church’s services (the people are nice, though), and so I played hooky. It was refreshing to have a long morning with coffee and a book and I even got to have a nice chat with a dear friend. There’s something sacred about restful recreation without a particular purpose, especially in the morning. Even though I very much missed the prayers of confession and receiving communion at our church, there was a reverence and an understanding that the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath, and that Jesus is honored when his disciples respect themselves and his given order by taking rest and allowing themselves to stop their striving.

We finished our Sunday with the prayers for the close of the day, after getting drinks and dessert with some friends in town and having lots of good talks about everything and nothing, and working on a crossword puzzle together on the metro.

I feel a little sheepish saying this, but I think that such a restful, unstructured weekend was a gift to me from my Shepherd, and that when I savored it for all it was worth, he was smiling on me.


Even though I’m an English major with a passion for editing and good grammar, I still write in all lowercase when I’m on IM. I write poetry in lowercase, too. I think it’s because when I allow myself to be transparent, I’m still afraid [of getting squelched? being too confident in my own opinions?] and want to protect myself by speaking more softly and appearing less definite. Thus: lowercase. I have nothing to fear, but the habit of undermining my own thoughts still holds.

Similarly, when I was about 14, I developed a bad habit/minor speech impediment–I mumbled. My dad would get annoyed at me and lecture me repeatedly for “swallowing my words,” and then I’d get embarrassed and either say “never mind” or repeat myself until he understood me or I got angry and just yelled the words and then ran off and cried. My confidence was shot. I second-guessed the worth of my thoughts, my opinions, my emotions, everything. And so I mumbled things, assuming that if someone was interested in what I had to say, they would listen closely and understand. I also got in the habit of undercutting my own sense of humor, adding “just kidding” to the end of a somewhat witty comment, and eclipsing the wit with my own insecurity. It became excruciatingly awkward, but if I did feel like someone really cared and would listen to me without condemnation, the mumbling would stop and I could speak with confidence.

I’m not writing here to wallow in pain, but sometimes it needs to be processed. Today I read a paragraph that triggered a host of memories for me, memories of the darkness and fear that made me so insecure as a teenager. Blogger Melissa wrote:

My parents told us that if people saw us outside during school hours, we would get taken away and put in foster homes where they would make us go to school. I remember crawling underneath the windows in the front of the house, because I was afraid someone outside would see me and call the police. One time a family friend knocked at the door during school hours, and my sister ran to open it. I heard the commotion from the other end of the house and ran in the kitchen screaming “don’t open the door!!” and when I rounded the corner and realized that the door was already open and there were no policemen waiting to take us away, I shrank away in embarrassment. I remember being outside and hearing the screams of a sister being spanked for what seemed like an eternity, and besides that usual sick feeling in my stomach for what she was going through, my main worry was that since the window was open, someone might hear and call the police. One time when I was babysitting my siblings, a chair got knocked over and broke the dining room window. I cried, and yelled at all the kids that now someone would see the broken window and think that dad was a drunk who beat us, and they would call the police. (From her post “Rights of a Child Part 2“)

This description matches parts of my childhood quite well. We were afraid of strangers asking questions about why were were out of school, we had rules about how to answer the door or phone during school hours, and it was always a bad day when a sibling’s misbehavior and its consequences could be heard outside of the house. “Quiet! The neighbors might hear you and call the police!” we would tell each other. Fear seemed to dominate our homeschooling, and we were always on the defensive about our lifestyle.

This was not always how it was, and the day to day of my childhood was pretty happy. My family is full of creative people and we were almost given total free reign to draw, paint, narrate, imagine, create, build, etc. I have many happy memories of my dad playing guitar and reading to us before bed, of camping trips and learning to appreciate nature from mom. My siblings and I mostly got along, and life was fine. We didn’t have any tangible troubles to point to, and we certainly had many things to be thankful for. Our parents loved us.

I was the outspoken, spunky kid who wanted to do everything, see everything, know everything, be everything. I told my mom once, “When I grow up I want to be a candymaker veterinarian ballerina writer teacher and go hiking all the time.” I was un-self-conscious and would talk to anyone about anything (but mostly about how I thought Jesus was amazing and they should think so, too).

Once, when I felt that my Sunday school teachers were patronizing my fifth grade class by giving out candy for bringing a Bible and candy for acting out the story of Jonah (with no “this teaches us about God because…” follow-up or lesson), I wrote a long letter to our pastor in pencil on binder paper and told him that this was unacceptable and we were old enough to learn real things about God. (He pulled me aside the next week and told me that was inappropriate and did my parents know? I told him they didn’t, and if he wasn’t going to fix the problem, I would stop going to Sunday school and just sit in the sermons. So I did, and they were just as bad. My parents thought this was hilarious.)

In short, I was a confident, slightly stuck-up kid with a passion for knowing and talking about truth. But when my family moved across the country when I was 12 (for a host of reasons…another story for another day), my world fell apart in ways I wouldn’t realize until years afterward.

After our move, I was introduced to the Sovereign Grace Ministries culture. Actually, more like immersed in it. Our first week there, we got moved in and unpacked by SGM families, and my sister and I were invited to a “welcome to the church” party with all the girls our age. Things seemed okay, initially. [Looking back, this was a classic SGM love-bombing, and we didn’t develop deep relationships with many of the families who helped us out and welcomed us. I’m glad they helped—it made the move easier—and I know they meant well. But most of them never noticed us  when, a couple of years later, we had a really rough season and desperately needed help.]

We stuck out, as a family, from the other folks at our church. I called adults by their first names (until I was swiftly rebuked), I liked both feminine and masculine things (ballet, softball, shooting, camping, horses, etc.), I was a fashion disaster, I wanted to go to college, and our family was (compared with the other families in our church) somewhat poor. The other girls—the popular ones—would go out to movies and go to the mall to hang out. I would be restricted from these things by money and morals (“that movie isn’t from a Biblical world view”) and my friend group dwindled as a result.

Most of the other families in this church were homeschoolers, too, but that common ground disappeared quickly—the majority of these homeschoolers participated in co-ops where moms taught and the kids went to classes with their peers for various subjects. These might be once or twice a week, or every day for part of the day. My parents wouldn’t put us in these, though, saying that we couldn’t afford it (both the time and money). My dad also commented on these co-ops, saying that “they don’t really homeschool—it’s ‘faux-schooling.’” His opinion was that these other parents weren’t as committed to raising their kids in a godly manner and were shipping their kids off to be taught by other people (which he thought was lazy and irresponsible).

However, he was simultaneously becoming less and less involved in our family’s educational choices and we had limited resources for text books and curricula. The cognitive dissonance of this manifested itself in my mom’s rising stress levels and I began to shoulder more of the housework and help watch my siblings more.

In the meantime, my friends kept going to co-ops and the mall, and I’d see them at church on Sundays and try to talk about things I was learning, books I was reading, and daily family life—and it grew increasingly evident that no one could relate to my experiences and that almost no one wanted to take the time to get to know me and understand my family and my passion for new ideas. Several girls who had initially been wonderfully welcoming (and whom I had begun to count as dear confidantes) faded out of my life and moved on to be close with other girls who were more “cool.”

Around that same time, my mom was pregnant with twins (siblings #6 and #7) and our family life revolved around doctor’s appointments for her, and then for the babies. Life was full and overwhelming and my siblings got restless and edgy with mom being so absorbed with two newborns. I took on more around the house, and school fell to the wayside completely. For a period of six weeks, we had at least three doctor’s appointments every week and I was babysitting for some reason or another every day. Mom was utterly exhausted and had a hard time recovering from her pregnancy, and it seemed that every day was in crisis mode on cruise control.

These circumstances made a social outlier of me and my family, and I felt like I had been pushed aside by everyone at my church as if I wasn’t either too different or just not worth their time. In the meantime, high school was a struggle for me (finding time and a place to work in peace was hard) and my mom had another baby and fell into post-partum depression, which really didn’t lift for the next four or five years.

I was a hollow person, tired of being so busy at home, and desperate for friends and time to pursue my own interests. And I stopped speaking with confidence, and grew afraid of letting anyone get to know me, for fear of being rejected again.

Miraculously, God provided an online community for me and I eventually made a few very dear friends, but it still never quite filled the void of fellowship, and I was still very insecure.

Going to college was something I had always assumed I would do, and as someone who loved to learn and think about abstract theories, college seemed like it would be a kid-in-a-candyshop experience for me. However, my church taught that women were designed to find their highest satisfaction in homemaking. So, most of my friends assumed that they would not go to college, that they would stay at home and learn domestic skills, that they might work as a secretary at the church office part time, and that eventually they would marry some godly SGM guy (ideally, a pastoral candidate, or at least a potential care group leader) and then they would make a bunch of happy babies and stay at home and homeschool them all.

Since I had just spent the last 6 years of my life playing second mom to my siblings and was already quite competent with household management, I thought that this was utter nonsense. They would be bored to death before the honeymoon was over!

In a word, I didn’t fit. I was worn out by the circumstances surrounding daily life with my family, and I couldn’t live up to academic standards, social norms, or my own hopes for myself.

I don’t think I was ever technically depressed, but all this took a major toll on me, as my confidence withered and I retreated to the recesses of my bedroom to create an alternative imaginary reality where I could decompress. Novels, art projects, and writing stories became my refuge, and I suppressed emotions (loneliness, feeling inadequate, yearning for affection, desires for acceptance and affirmation) through imagination until my own feelings were distant and vague in comparison with the stories I threw myself into.

This was only noticed as it affected my high school grades, and I lost practically an entire year of school. My parents cranked up the academic pressure and accountability, and my academics did improve, but the deeper issues lay untouched. They were themselves too burned out to be able to offer helpful support beyond guilt-trips to finish school well.

A lot of women coming out of CP families have experienced an overwhelming flood of difficult-to-process emotions, bottled up over years of living in denial of normal emotions, or living in repressive environments, or just being too busy to process themselves and their lives as they lived them. Sometimes this aftermath is so strong that they are very rightly diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Sometimes it’s just a matter intense frustration with relearning what the heck a normal person, a normal Christian living in grace, is supposed to do with normal emotions. What does one do with the grief over dreams left to wither for practical or irrationally motivated CP-like reasons under the auspices of honoring God.  With processing friendships that unraveled or turned sour over things that should not have mattered. With years of loneliness. With weariness. With a marriage that didn’t happen at all or didn’t happen the way you thought it would. With lingering insecurities over various aspects of “being normal.” [how does it work?]

Recovery is slow. Grace works thoroughly, not quickly. In the meantime, I still IM in lowercase. But I don’t mumble.


After a couple months of steady discouragement fogging up my thoughts, I’m waking up to discover that it’s melting away. All I can see are new ideas, new options–life rearranged in a myriad of shapes, and they’re all pretty exciting.

This morning was a grumpy morning (Monday showed up and Thursday called in sick): the cat had shredded an entire (new) roll of toilet paper all over the bathroom, my dress pants were missing, my pearls were missing, I didn’t have any leftovers ready to go for lunch, I ran into horrible traffic when I took my husband to the subway so he could get to work, and then again on my own route to the office.

Yeah, it sucked. But it wasn’t really anything bad and none of it really affected anything important, and the day went well and I felt like I was a productive person, and I had Chipotle with my husband for dinner and we got drenched in a downpour. And that was funny, because we had to dry off under blow driers in the restrooms and wipe our faces with paper napkins. We’re just silly kids, and there’s grace to not take ourselves or our plans too seriously.

I think I like this. This uptight firstborn INFJ is learning to enjoy options. To change plans. To savor the freedom of waiting on the next thing and not know yet what’s around the corner. My job is good. It’s stable, and I’m enjoying it. My guy’s got some temp jobs and piano lessons, and we’re making ends meet. I lack nothing.

Being married to a second born is a serious lesson in adventure for me. We’re painting pictures of tomorrow and I’m learning how to laugh. I have to admit, it’s really fun.


Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. 

– 1 John 4:15-19, ESV

I suppose, if I were the tattoo-getting type, I might get this inked on me in some artsy fashion: Perfect love casts out fear.

This passage above was the catalyst for one of those epiphanies which we have when we are at our most broken and some phrase sticks in the mind and beats on the heart until its origin is dredged out of memory and brought to light. This phrase came to me several times when I was discouraged and anxious about my relationship with my then-boyfriend/now-husband (let’s just call him “Jayber” okay fine I’ll use his real name: Kevin) and how the choices we were making were creating a strain in my relationship with my parents. Perfect love casts out fear. The grace I knew I had in Christ came through that perfect love and did not require me to be fearful or anxious about how I was measuring up to ideals, standards, or values I no longer quite identified with.

This phrase became my touchstone. With Kevin, I was not afraid. After living under a spirit of fear for nearly my entire adolescence, this was a new, bright, and relieving experience. I didn’t have to be anxious about measuring up, I didn’t have to apologize for everything, and I didn’t have to tiptoe around the expectations of others, fearful of raising a “I-fear-for-your-soul” lecture dripping with guilt-trips. I could just be and know that Kevin still loved me because Jesus loved me. I was safe. I could spill the thoughts brimming in my heart and ask the questions which were lined with doubt–and I would still be confident that I would be accepted and loved, even if I was confused or weary.

My husband’s example of tenderness and patience demonstrated to me, in the most tangible way I had ever known, that Jesus and His redemptive love were real. Because Christ loved, Kevin loved. And in that love was a miniature reflection of redemption and grace on a heavenly scale.

And it was the sweetest thing I had ever known.