Valentines Day passed almost two weeks ago. And while we were not particularly romantic in our celebrations (we ate pasta, and then I tucked the children into bed while Erik headed to the garage to wax three pairs of skis for the next morning's race), I was still so reminded of how blessed I am to be married to my wonderful husband. I am so thankful for him. And I am so proud to be his wife!
Erik has been on the leadership team for our church's men's ministry for several years, and each week, as I've mentioned, he spends Wednesday mornings with a group of 30 or so men, watching Robert Lewis videos, eating sausage, and praying. As he has been involved in this group, he has had several opportunities to offer counsel and encouragement to men in hurting marriages. Often, at 8:00 on Wednesday mornings, my phone beeps with a text, and my hubby is telling me how deeply he loves me and how thankful he is for how I love him in return. He is reminded - both by the instructional video and by the discussion around the table - that our love is strong. And good. And he - and I - never want to take one another or our marriage for granted. We want to be always striving to love each other better.... to give more and bend more and serve more. To - more and more - display the beauty of the Gospel through how we love and honor one another.
Most of you know our story. A courtship by snail mail (and email, too) for nine months. Then, long-distance phone calls and bi-monthly weekend visits. By the time we married, the longest consecutive time we had spent (as a dating or engaged couple) in the same state was 9 days. Many friends warned me that it would be hard adjustment. People cautioned us to try living in the same town for a while before we got married. We were told "the first year will so tough, but don't give up." We stubbornly ignored any words of caution we received. Instead we plotted our own course with purposeful hearts - and our first year was blissful. I honestly do not remember any arguments or moments when we wondered whether we had done the "right thing" by marrying one another. I am sure we disagreed at times, but, even with an unplanned (but much delighted in) pregnancy four months into our marriage, our memories of that year are filled with joy and discovery as day-to-day life gave flesh and form to the souls we had fallen in love with through letters and words.
My Valentine's card this year was a simple Excel graph. A bit tongue in cheek from my engi-"nerd" husband. It showed the years of our marriage along the bottom of the graph, while numerical "love values" scaled vertically. At one year, our love was a value of 5 to the 10th or something like that. And, then, he had created a line of exponential growth, showing that by 50 years of marriage, he would love me 500 to the 10th (or whatever the actual number was). It was funny, and heartfelt, and it made me smile to think that the love we share now is nothing compared to how much we will love each other when we are 80. Erik's parents laughed when they saw the card, and then teased us by telling us how much more they must love each other than we do. I know that my parents lived their marriage that way, too, and it makes me teary to realize that the love-graph of their life together was cut-off too early by my dad's death.
So why am so sappy about loving my man this morning? Well, my plan had been to share some of the ways we intentionally keep our marriage strong. Not because we have it all figured out, but because we are two flawed individuals, two sinners, who by God's grace truly are better together than we are apart. I also wanted to share some "love your husband" challenges adapted from the book Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph. She had a list of ten simple ways to honor your husband, and several of the them really challenged me to reevaluate my daily priorities. I ran out of time, so this morning, you just get the sap. Maybe next week.....