“Different Styles, Perfect Pair” – Thoughts on a 29th Anniversary


Even though we have different styles, we’re still a perfect pair…

Admittedly, cards for Anniversaries can be cheesy. But somehow I liked the one above. For today is our 29th Anniversary and a celebration over the weekend reminded us once again of what it means to continue on this journey called ‘marriage’.

Each year when July 15 rolls around I wonder: Should I do a blog post? Should I write about us? About our marriage?

And every year I have done so with a lump in my throat and a wonder if I should have.

But in an era where marriage is less and less a sacrament, and more and more about ‘love’ alone – I think it’s worth it. I think it’s worth taking a look at the For better and For worse pieces of this mysterious institution, designed by God and carried out by fragile, broken men and women.

29 years is a lot of life. A lot longer than we lived as single people. Sometimes 29 years feels like a whole lot of ‘young’; a lot of joy and laughter. Other times 29 years feels like a whole lot of ‘old’. a lot of tears and anger.

For there are times when you laugh until your stomach aches and you can’t imagine life without this person. And then there are times when you are so angry you wish evil thoughts on this person – the one to whom you pledged your troth.

For Better or For Worse has different meanings now than it did to a 24 and a 23 year old – and yes, I am older than He.

For better now means joy-filled weekends when we can get away, time with our kids discussing deep topics or laughing until it hurts; dreaming together; me still laughing at his jokes – even after all this time. For better means ocean walks and figuring out what it means to love God and love each other.

For worse now means a lot of pain and heartache; too many moves; not enough Grace.

For richer means a trip to St. Maarten for our 25th anniversary; dinners at the Emerson Inn with Oyster Bay Savignon Blanc in crystal goblets; buying me real gold earrings.

For poorer means learning how to pay off debt and say ‘no’; losing a home and paying for college.

In sickness now means melanoma checks and high cholesterol, colonoscopies and mammograms.

In health means walking for miles and energy to work hard in our fifties.

And through all this somehow Hope has been stronger than Despair; Laughter more powerful than tears; Joy infinitely more determined than sorrow.

I still have the red shoes and in winter He still has the tan boots.

We are opposite in some things and on the same page in others. We are indeed “different styles but a perfect pair” – a pair that could only have been thought up and orchestrated by God Himself.

And those are my thoughts on the 29th Anniversary of a Brave Marriage.

“But Grace Entered the Space Between”

On my walk from the subway to home I pass by some lovely (and some not so lovely) houses. A Victorian mansion with white picket fence on one side, a worn brick apartment building on the other — such is the property in a city. Last week as I walked this well-worn route I stopped in happy wonder to look at roses that were growing around and through a rusty, chain-link fence.

Coral-yellow petals with drops of rain peeked through the chain-links. The roses were like grace entering the space between. And I remembered in a recent article I wrote for another blog I used those same words:

“But Grace entered the space between…”

The phrase is on repeat in my mind.

Because those words have become powerful words in my life. I desperately need grace for the space between.

The space between blood test or biopsy and diagnosis; between engagement and marriage; between car accident and car repair; between angry words and reconciliation; between starting our studies and graduating with a diploma; between interview and job offer (or not); between making a decision and seeing the outcome; between marriage crisis and marriage repair; between pregnancy and delivery; between birth of the baby and graduation from high school; between arrival at a new place and feeling settled.

This Grace between is waiting grace.

Much of life is lived in the space between. When Grace enters that space I don’t have to worry about the outcome of the blood test, or the biopsy, or the car, or the degree, or the marriage. I rest in Grace. I recognize the things that are beyond my control, and the things that I’m being asked to address. Grace between is never static, always moving, always working.

I just don’t always see it, feel it.

Between the blood spattered cross and the empty tomb there lives glorious Grace. When all of life stands still, Grace continues to work.

So let there forever be Grace that enters the space between; Grace that gathers in, builds up, and gives away.


Wearing Our Hearts Outside Our Bodies

I don’t know where the quote originated, but my friend recently reminded me that when we have children we walk with our hearts outside our bodies.

It’s a good quote. 

Think of the heart, the most important organ in our bodies. Our hearts make sure the rest of our cells and other vital organs get oxygen in order to function effectively. They are well protected behind skin, muscle and the strong bone barrier of our rib cage — it takes a bullet to get to our heart.

That’s the physical heart. That other heart, the heart that holds our love and emotion is not so well shielded. And with the coming of children the skin, muscle and rib cage are destroyed and we lose any semblance of protective covering; suddenly our hearts are on the outside of our bodies, vulnerable and exposed for all the world to see and hurt, taunt and discard.

This week my heart has been hurt, worried and a bit broken. While one son copes with a broken jaw, another is far away on his birthday and still another is packing up for college. The temptation to burst into tears at odd times is ever with me; those watery, salty drops at the ready. My heart is outside my body.

And I think that’s what happened with God when he decided that we, above all other animals, would be in relationship with him. He put his heart outside his body. He would hurt for us. He would rage at us. He would have compassion on us. And if that was not enough, when he decided to give us Jesus, his son, his heart was further outside his body.

The heart of God was outside his body. And we broke it.

Gone was any rib cage of protection. Gone was the skin and muscle that could guard. “My God, My God Why Have you forsaken me” echoed to the Heavens. The God of the universe had put his heart outside his body in the form of his beloved Son.

God wore his heart outside his body and all of life changed. It’s an amazing thought. It’s a good quote. 



To the Guy that Made me a Better Woman

Last night we celebrated our 28th Wedding Anniversary. We went to a fancy French restaurant called Bistro du Midi and ordered foods that we can’t pronounce; things like “Coral Infused Tagliatelle” and “Gratin Dauphinois”. And it was wonderful.

We laughed and talked and ate. And then we laughed, talked and ate more. It’s that one night of the year where we are guaranteed freedom from the worry of time, money and stress – we simply enjoy.

The night was not magical  – but it was lovely. While magical brings up images of Disney and Prince Charming, lovely is an image of real and gritty and lasting. Fake pearls are pretty but not lovely. Real pearls born of irritation in the oyster? Those are lovely. And that is our marriage – it’s the grit in the oyster and the belief that something lovely is being created.

Marriage is an astounding venture. That two people can put aside their selfish ego-centered ways and move forward in one direction is a miracle. That it could be anything other than an act of God’s grace is impossible for me to believe.

Marriage strikes me as a balance of comfort and challenge – to marry that person who is as comforting as warm socks on a cold day and as challenging as a fencing rival is not often the advice that people are given – but it’s my advice.

I recently saw an illustration of this while watching the movie “This Means War”, a clever comedy with Kate (Reese Witherspoon) as the love interest being vied over by two best friends.

As Kate is trying to work through this dilemma, her best friend is a wealth of terrible and good advice. At one point while talking about love and her own husband she says this:

“I know he’s fat and ridiculous. But he’s my fat, my ridiculous. I like the way I am with him. Don’t choose the better guy. Choose the guy that will make you a better woman.”

And I’m pretty sure I chose the guy who’s making me a better woman.

Because of him I have laughed more.

Because of him I have learned to fight well.

Because of him I have had more adventures, gone way beyond my comfort zone.

Because of him I have learned more of God and Grace and Grit.

So to the guy behind the blog, the one that makes me a better woman – Happy Anniversary and thank you!




Guest Post from Little Gumnut: “A One-Kiss Culture”

Little Gumnut – a favorite blogger has some great observations about greetings across cultures. To kiss or not to kiss? Read on and join the conversation!

Whenever I’m saying hello or goodbye to old friends or new, that awkward moment constantly pops up.  You know the one don’t you?  The one where you’re never quite sure whether you’re on hugging or kissing terms. If you go in for a kiss on the cheek, will they consider that over-familiar?

There’s this peculiar, awkward little dance where your head tilts to once side,  you don’t quite know what to do with your hands, you bob back and forward, each one hesitating, watching the other one’s body language for clues as to what is the socially accepted norm for this specific situation until one person decides to go for the plunge and either walks away giving a little wave, thrusts out their hand for a handshake, pulls you in for a hug or, the worst situation, you misunderstand the direction their head is going in and clunk heads/noses/glasses.

North Americans are easy.  They’re very affectionate and its hugs or a cheery wave goodbye.Brits could get offended if you get too familiar though.  If you go in for a peck on the cheek and they’re not family and you’ve only met them a few times, they might back off like a horse shying away from a jump it doesn’t want to take.

The French have simplified it the most and everyone, without fail goes in for la bise.  A quick peck on the cheek.  The only thing complicated about it is how many you go for and that is dependent on where you come from in France and what your family custom is.  Generally it’s two, even if you’re just being introduced to the person that minute but it could be anything between one and four kisses.  It sounds more complicated than it is.  Everyone starts off turning their cheek to their left side and taking cues from the other person as to how many they expect.

Perhaps its a little odd the thought of kissing a complete stranger but once you get into the swing of it, it takes all the awkwardness of saying hello and goodbye and the question of physical touch out of it.

Aussie’s and Kiwis I’m most bemused about.  It seems to be a One-Kiss Culture, but only if there’s no-one you’re not on one-kiss terms with.  And exactly are one-kiss terms is a subject of considerable confusion for me.

Is it based on the level of friendship you feel for them?  Is it based on whether anyone you don’t know is present or not? Is it rude to kiss your friend goodbye but wave goodbye or shake hands to the person you don’t know? You don’t want them to feel left out.  What about if you’re married and you bump into your friend’s husband or a single guy in the shopping mall?  Do you still kiss them on the cheek to say hello or goodbye as you would if their wife was there?  Awkward.  What about if your friend just leaves without kissing you goodbye, does that mean they don’t like you as much as they did before?  Do you kiss a business acquaintance on the cheek if you know them really well and consider them a friend of sorts?

See what I mean?  A social minefield. What do you do?  What are your Kissing Terms?  How do you greet or take your leave?

And on the subject of kissing… have you noticed that when you’re dating, you do a lot of it but when you get married, mundanity, familiarity, the need for speedy hellos and farewells, children etc rob you of the desire or opportunity to snog and therefore the electricity that comes with a long passionate, savoured embrace.

Bring back making out for married people is what I say!