1,000 Gifts & Gratitude to God

In honor of my book club and One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I will be going through and updating this post until I reach 1,000 gifts appreciated in the here and now. 1,000 sure signs of the blessing and presence of God.

  1. Cool night breezes through parted windows.
  2. Bright, crisp vegetables made into Pico.
  3. A father’s face alight with joy at his daughter’s many faces.
  4. The tireless panting of man’s best friend.
  5. Coconut lotion arousing tropical thoughts passed through hugs.
  6. Baby smiles reaching bright blue eyes.
  7. The volley of toads’ calls setting the night’s rhythm.
  8. Muscles sore from use.
  9. Love notes left on counter tops.
  10. Resting child with half slit eyes.
  11. Ice cream shared in tiny bowls.
  12. Breathing deeply husband’s scent while drifting off to sleep.
  13. Birdsong trumpeted through open windows.
  14. Strong head lifted floor to face.
  15. Patio permission for playful dogs.
  16. Aimless meandering with family in tow.
  17. A father’s tears at gifts unveiled.
  18. Understanding shared over unexpected hs.
  19. Beach sand underfoot.
  20. Grandma’s arms wrapped tightly around grandchild.
  21. Sunshine staining milky bodies golden.
  22. Familiarity in another’s kitchen.
  23. Nephew jumping higher than sky in fit of giggles and pomp.
  24. Cousins’ joy over newborn babe.
  25. Flower petals unfurling in summer heat.
  26. Tires whole after pothole greetings.
  27. Road worker’s hands confidently replacing the air intake cover near steaming radiator and directing to nearest auto repair.
  28. Driver of a classic car stopping on his way out of work to lend a hand.
  29. Steady hands for roads wet and winds racing.
  30. Husband’s safe return.
  31. Community with sweating moms.
  32. Coffee laced with cream.
  33. Discount bag with Bible words.
  34. Baby laughs unleashed in sleep.
  35. 6 month clothes freshly washed.
  36. Advice from mothers uplifting.
  37. Two parents on a date alone.
  38. Friends to watch the little one.
  39. Wardrobe expands as waistline returns.
  40. Car games shorten trips.
  41. Baby hands intent on toys.
  42. Small hands grasp at feet.
  43. Grandparents give a bottle.
  44. Wedding vows exchanged.
  45. Friends from outside state returned.
  46. Summer Shandy cool on lips.
  47. Air conditioning recharged.
  48. Naps permitted in the day.
  49. Family members gathered close.
  50. Hot summer rain sounds on tin roof.
  51. Inside jokes passed back and forth.
  52. Great grandpa filled with pride.
  53. Sister bonding at street cafe.
  54. Face from the past in present.
  55. Curious cats to greet new babe.
  56. Car rides shared with dad.
  57. Flag pole restored.

Wedding Season and Marriage Advice

Anyone who has been through it before will tell you that there is a season in life when the majority of your friends get married. And while I can’t definitively say that this is it for Freddy and me, I’m thinking this it! So far this year, Freddy and I have been honored to receive 8+ wedding invitations. We aren’t able to attend every single one, unfortunately, but the commitments being made among our friends are awesome! Freddy and I are huge advocates of marriage and will be the first ones to tell anyone that marriage can be an incredible blessing when you put the work into it!

The number of upcoming nuptials has really gotten me thinking about marriage; the wedding process; choosing a life partner; and the power of centering that marriage on a strong, shared faith. There are so many opinions regarding marriage out there and what make up the keys to success but I’m going to ignore all that research and tell you about my experience – albeit young experience.

Our preparation for the big day started with a 6 week marriage prep course at our church. We met with other couples preparing for the plunge and talked about all of the hot topics: money, family, expectations, roles, sex, children, etc. We covered it all in a faith-filled environment and I highly encourage anyone considering marriage to do the same! Of course some of the assignments seemed tedious or better geared for some other couple at times, but in the end, those courses are what you make them. Freddy and I decided up front that we would take the course seriously instead of view it as a check box on the wedding list and it led us into some deep discussions as well as a ton of lighthearted laughter.

We shared our wedding day with the friends and family that could attend and vowed to God, each other, and our guests that we would have a God-centered marriage until one of us is called home. Begin our year+ of chaos. Despite our discussions about expectations early on, those expectations still managed to overshadow reality and create conflict. We butted heads over a lot over topics that ranged from clothes on the floor, to organization vs. cleaning, and how to love each other in a way that filled the recipient. We stormed out and came back, yelled and got quiet but we continued to go to church on Sundays to keep us in line. This is important because although God is with you in the week, it can be difficult to see that connected triangle between God, you, and your spouse when you’re fighting with him. When Sunday morning rolls around and you share the same ride home from the church, however, you cannot help but be humbled and connected. (That’s the amazing thing about a God-filled marriage – God is more powerful than our pettiness or hurt or sin and He will work to grow your relationship with your spouse).

Along with the difficulties of year one, Freddy and I also had more laughs than you could count, more learning and growing, and a new look into love. Falling in love is awesome but it can be clumsy and haphazard and full of fleeting emotion. Developing love takes more time and effort but it has become one of my favorite activities. Another way to look at it is this: Falling in love is all about the rapid movement; admittedly, developing love can feel like you’re in the same spot until suddenly you wake up and look at your spouse and think, “Lord, you have blessed me through my partner in a way that I could never imagine. I love him more deeply than I have ever loved him yet and I love the person that I am becoming while sharing this life with him.”

And it always goes back to God. It has to. I don’t know how people can commit to a relationship that requires you to be as selfless and giving as marriage should without the example that Jesus set before us. It doesn’t make sense! I had someone tell me recently that he thinks (Christian) religion is for the weak but I tell you that it’s for the strong! It challenges us to seek a counter culture – one that puts aside our selfishness for a partnership – with God and with our spouse (if we are called to marriage).

But please don’t think that you have time to develop that counter cultural relationship later on after you’ve lived the life you want to live. The God foundation of your relationship is so important; you need to dig in and seek to understand starting now because there will come a time when you are so shaken by something that you need that solid foundation in God, those hours of deep conversation with your partner, of learning and growing, of taking pride in your commitment, of love and of faith to get you through. We aren’t promised an earthly forever. We aren’t promised the health of our parents or our partners. But I can promise you that if you build your foundation of God, you will find blessing. And I can promise you that if you build your foundation on God, you will begin to live the life that is full of cherished memories instead of hidden regrets. I can promise you that because it’s been promised to me and I am living the proof right now.

Freddy and I are honored to celebrate the marriages of our friends in this coming year and we are praying for each and every couple as they commit to this rewarding life in marriage!

I love him.

Some days, you feel annoyed and stressed about things or tired and ready to take out your frustration on your spouse.
Some days, you have the clarity to see that those things are separate from your beautiful life with your blessing of a husband.
I am so in love.