Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Love is a Verb

My husband Michael and I are celebrating our 11th anniversary this Friday.  "11" doesn't seem like it can be the right number.  I mean, I feel as if we have been together for so much longer.  We met in high school, lived our lives separately for twenty years, and then found each other again. I love him so much; more than I will adequately be able to express here. 

I love to tell the story of how, after briefly seeing me at friend's house where he was working one day, Michael pursued me endlessly for over 18 months until I relented to have a date with him.  I gave him excuse after excuse, and he wouldn't give up. We should all be so lucky to have someone love us like that.

"You know how a crush can crush you, how real love is never logical, how real love is always crazy love, and love is the most horrible and the most wonderful because it will make you strong and it will make you weak and it will make you vulnerable, which is the perfection of strong and weak together. 
How Love will open you right up, then pull open your heart to let someone get into you and get to you and undo you and remake you and it’s everything terrifying and everything you ever wanted." ~Ann Voskamp

And boy, is it ever "terrifying and everything I wanted"! Michael is so gregarious, so funny, so hospitable. He quotes Jerry Clower and Ray Stevens and Ron White and sings country ballads to me, and gives the best football linebacker hugs.  When he wraps his arms around me, I feel absolutely safe and I feel at HOME. When he tells me he loves me more than he has ever loved anyone in his life, I completely believe him.

And while I consider him my soulmate and that I am exactly where God wants me to be, it has not been a fairy tale.

We are a blended family, with my bringing two children into the marriage and his bringing one, and we have a daughter together as well.  Crazy family dynamics to say the least.  I didn't think we would make it through those teenage years with the His, Hers and Ours situation going on! By the grace of God, we survived, and we love our adult children and are so blessed to have a grandson to love on each day.  

And there have been other challenges, HUGE, heart-wrenching challenges that I can't even write about without crying and getting a knot in my stomach.  It has only been in the last year that we have been able to talk about that horrible time in our marriage without it escalating into an emotional conversation. I only bring it up to say this: God's grace has seen us through, and we are FULLY aware of His goodness to us.

One of the things that drew us together as a couple was that we both desperately wanted more children.  It was with overwhelming joy that we welcomed Abbey Grace into the world on July 14, 2003, and she gave us such a focus and such a reason for fighting through the tough stuff.  As older parents, we are able to fully enjoy her and are so proud of the beautiful person she is becoming, both inside and out.

Wanting more children was one of the driving forces behind seeking the Lord about becoming a foster family.  We couldn't have any more children naturally, but still felt we had love to give to babies, so we became the transition home for babies, receiving them from the birth mom and loving on them until they are adopted weeks or months later.  We have been so, so blessed by this calling from God, and have welcomed six babies into our home to date. It is not without sacrifice, and long nights, and anguishing good-byes, but we know it is worth it, and we know we are making a difference.

I love my husband.. He makes me laugh on a daily basis, and he "gets" me. I know he loves me with the love of the Lord, and I know he is trying daily to become the spiritual leader of our home by listening to God in his life.  It makes my heart swell to know my husband is seeking the Lord's face on a daily basis.  I used to spend many, many hours trying to manipulate him with my words and force Michael to be who I thought he should be.  Amazingly--but surprising only to me--when I stopped talking and let God do that work, the Holy Spirit changed my husband.  And God has also done an amazing thing in my heart to allow me to give Michael completely to him and not try to control every situation that comes along.

My husband and I  have been through jobless weeks and months together, worrying about repossession of vehicles and foreclosure on our house. We have rejoiced together over answered prayers and amazing provision and allowing us to do what we love for our careers. 

Sadly, we are currently living through the rejection of Michael's daughter, our 19 year old, who has never been able to accept his new family and his having someone in his life besides her. She equates love to the amount of money in our bank account and we have never been able to do enough to make her feel loved, despite our efforts to do so.  About a year ago, she decided to block us completely out of her life, uninviting us from her graduation, her phones, her life.  It has been so painful for both of us.  We will never stop praying for her. Never. And we both trust God to restore that relationship in His time.

We have lived through Hannah's rebellion and her less-than-wise boyfriend choices, to see her become a beautiful bride to a gentle man and a wonderful mama to our precious Cooper. 

We have lived through getting Connor and his less-than-teachable spirit through school (finally) and his horrible wrist injury and five subsequent surgeries and eventual permanent damage/disability. His sweet spirit and charming soul continue to make us smile and his precious girlfriend is exactly who God knew Conster needed.

We have lived through Abbey's eight hospitalizations for pneumonia and severe asthma. We have lived through her near-death experience when her appendix ruptured last year. Homeschooling her is something we have never regretted, and we are so, so proud of her and her shy soul and deep mind. She makes us smile on a daily basis.  

Listen, y'all--marriage is hard. You have to work at it constantly. You have to pray about it. You have to pray for your husband on a daily basis. You have to pray together. You have to flirt with him, treat him better than you treat your friends (gasp!), and you need to build him up and remind him often how great of a provider he is. Go on dates together, send him text love messages, write him love notes, pay attention when he needs your affection, and pray, pray, pray.  (And yes, when you don't like each other, you have to sometimes go through the motions until the emotions follow.)

The effort is SO completely worth it.  I am blessed beyond measure; of this I am fully aware. 

I can't wait to see how God uses us and teaches us in the next season of our lives! 

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).

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  1. I'm so touched by your honest heart. Thanks for sharing your story to bring joy..and sorrow, true Godly sorrow, to us all with your story. You're rock-solid, April. I'm proud to "know" you. Be blessed.

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey. I needed it today :) You have blessed me beyond measure


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