Advent, Day 23: a Christmas Marriage Letter

 

Travis,

Have I told you lately that you’re one of the hardest people to buy Christmas presents for?

It’s what I love about you, and what challenges my gift-giving heart to no end.

But the best part about who you are is that you’re constantly you.

We met in a season in which we were both transitioning–

I was learning college and stepping out of the traditional baptist church I’d grown up in,

and you were learning life without your jeep and a head of dreadlocks.

We grew fast and crazy together, and life wasn’t without its occasional bumps.

But you were that man then,

and you’re that man now.

Do you remember that Glen Hansard concert we went to in St. Louis?

Do you remember how it was worship to us, that it opened us up again,

reminded us to dream and feel and live in Spirit realms as well as human ones?

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Marriage is the gift that allows us to watch someone else stretch and mold,

take new shape and try to sustain that deep, raw part of who they are

through each of those seasons.

This Advent, you are working hard at being a writer, political scientist and researcher, a husband to a woman who serves the church in every way she possibly can and a dad to two severely different toddler boys.

And still, you’re you.

Remember this Advent that the Savior Baby, born of Mary, calls out to you and me in all our seasons, in all our needs,

in all our wandering.

His voice beckons us to each other,

to home.

That is our greatest Christmas gift.

I love you.

Happy Advent,

Kait

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If you need a reminder that marriage is just as real life messy as it is sacred and beautiful, head on over to Seth or Amber’s blogs, my dear friends and the creators of the Marriage Letter movement.

 

Marriage Letters: How We Co-Labor

to labor: to strive, as toward a goal

Travis,

Throughout our marriage, we’ve been goal-setters, dreamers, task-setters of the most eclectic kind.

Our goals are goals of adventure, goals of added simplicity or getting grades done, of writing more and reading deeper; they’re goals fixed in finding Spirit in our midst, of finding each other’s eyes despite the chaos whirling around us.

So to labor is to strive toward a goal, and to co-labor is to do it hand in hand, heart with heart. And that’s what I’m so thankful for.

These goals may be tiny: I love editing and reading, re-reading and discussing. Wasn’t it just a month ago that you said, “You know you’re getting this PhD with me, right?”

Because we’re in it together.

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These dreams that seem tiny to me grant the sweetest of affirmations, and you know how to walk the tricky path of  helping me write music and speak what’s deep in me wanting to get out. Remember all those awkward recording sessions that just didn’t work? Co-labor.

 

 

 

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That’s what it was when we stood in the church, our heads together, prayers escaping our lips. Prayers that we’d walk in peace and trust, prayers that we’d do it all together and find joy.

 

 

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And I’ll mention the boys here, but labor with you is a dream, and I don’t know how you did it with me. And every day there it is again, perhaps more of a re-labor, over and over until we come to peace and grace.

 

 

So, here we go, on to more adventures in another city with new churches and new faces and new schooling, new dreams and new struggles, all bringing us side by side and to each other and to our peace.

Stay with me, Love. Let’s continue the strive. 

 

Marriage Letters: once upon a time, in dreams

We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout…

Okay, now, I am not totally sure what a pepper sprout is, but we definitely got married in a fever, Love.

We had our big husky, who you found on a rock in the Arkansas Ozarks. You lured him into the car with an orange, and you brought him home to me– our wedding gift from God.

We dreamt of Ugandan soil, and that was just the beginning. We saw our babies digging their little hands into that red dirt, eating mangoes fresh off the trees. We’d reside in Kampala and live the crazy muzungu life. We’d love passionately.

Because we got married 7 months after we met (remember that fever?), we walked through the rough patch of year one, most definitely feeling the heaviness of young and selfish love. And still, we dreamt of the future. We dreamt and dreamt and you went to India and we spent our one-year anniversary by the Nile River. We’ve always imagined big things.

But this is what I love about us: the big things are certainly the big things, but they are all the small things, as well.

Back then, 5 years back, it was the gift of a husky and it was the gift of money to pay our bills. You ate cinnamon for $100, and our heat stayed on one more month.

Back then, it was the big move to Arkansas, all because of a little meeting at an art gallery.

Back then, 2 years back, it was a BIG newborn boy and a rejection to a PhD program. Big things, little things, everything in between.

Back then, it was the dream of writing music and teaching classes.

Back then and even now, it’s a peaceful home wherever we are, for anyone who enters in.

And we’re still dreamers, my love. Yes, we process these dreams differently, but they are still there, taking deep roots of hope within us. Together, we dream.

It was my favorite thing about us then, and it’s my favorite thing about us now.

For more Marriage Letters, here.

And for your enjoyment…

Marriage Letters: The Names I Call You, The Ways You Call Me

Travis,

When I was young, I always thought it was so cute and perfect, the little nicknames people in love gave to each other:

“Sugarmuffin.”

“Honey.”

“Sweetie.”

“Darling.”

I met you. I searched for the perfect name and found nothing. After maybe a year of being married, I called you “Trav,” but what kind of in-love nickname is that?

So, I waited for one to come naturally. You always called me “Love” or “Babe” –the latter a name you actually call all of the women in your family, which didn’t quite give  it the perfect I’m in love… sort of feel, but the, I love you because we’re family, sort of affection.

But you do call me “Kait.” I’ve always loved that.

It’s been nearly four years, and I call you “Love” back.

I think about the ways in which you call me. Whether we’re fighting or kissing, laughing or sobbing, the way you say “Kait,” the way you speak “Love,” in my direction is the sound of your affection for me.

“Only, I wish you would not call me ‘My Dear.’…’Lizzie’ for every day, ‘My Pearl’ for Sundays, and ‘Goddess Divine,’ but only on special occasions…You may only call me ‘Mrs. Darcy’ when you are completely, perfectly, and incandescently happy.”

Maybe we’ll never have this name thing figured out quite like Jane Austen  imagined, or even as my young, dreamy heart did. Still, I’ll take a “Kait” or “Love” from you any day of the week, especially on Sundays, especially special occasions, and especially when you’re completely, perfectly, and incandescently happy.

I love being married to you.

 

Kait

Remembrance: a man, a mother, and a midwife (Marriage Letter Remix)

This post is about the man.

The man that chose me, took me for his bride, carried me three and a half years. The man who rubbed my back when I got sick daily, who kissed my forehead as I laid in bed all day long.

We walked together around the neighborhood, stopped when I had a contraction. I’d put my hands on his shoulders and breathe through it, apparently almost strangling him as my hands moved toward his throat…oops.

He never complained, never condemned, never shamed. He always encouraged, always believed.

In our Bradley class we talked about the importance of the coach’s role. He would need to be there, totally focused on me, totally ready to do anything to help get that baby out. I knew in the class that this man would be there; I knew that he would find an uncommon strength in those moments to pull me forward into a successful birth.

I knew how exhausted he was, and I watched as he held Eliot and slept for the three nights we stayed in the hospital. There were looks of wonder spread across his daddy-face. There was sheer joy mixed in with the tiredness. When he finally decided to go home and shower, he came back dressed up in his wedding shirt. He gave me a necklace, a token with which I could forever remember the days, the hours, the moments first spent with my love and my firstborn son.

Day after day we waited to go home, and day after day they wanted to keep me, “just one more night.” I was fine. I was ready to go home–I needed to go home.

The man that fought for me fought for his son. Fought for our health. Fought for our home. A new strength appeared that he had no idea dwelled within him, and it was powerful.

If ever I had a man to win my heart, a warrior to fight for my honor…it is the man who walked with me through dark, contraction-laden blocks; it is the man who stood outside the shower while I weathered that storm. It is the man who fed me crushed ice and held, held, held my hand. It is the man who literally never left my side, the man who kissed my forehead, the man who cut the cord, the man who said his son’s name just moments after birth.

The man I absolutely, adoringly love. The man I can never thank enough.

Travis,

You showed me the video to this song last week and it’s been in  my head ever since.

“And we’re dancing in the minefields
We’re sailing in the storm
This is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for.”

I love you.

Marriage Letters: I know you love me when…

Travis,

I know you love me when…

You smile as I pull my coffee out of the microwave for the tenth time, even though you think it’s disgusting and a total insult to the spirit of Java.

I know you love me when we fight, I close up, and not even an hour later you have me wrapped up tight in your arms, even laughing. I never thought I’d sort of enjoy fighting with someone.

I know you love me when you compliment my housekeeping. We’ve made a home here, and I wouldn’t have it with anyone else.

I know you love me when…

You hold me close as I cry.
You thank me for my hard work.
You call me beautiful–and mean it.
You kiss me and always say you want more.
You find me in the kitchen completely overwhelmed, and moments later have me totally surrendered, fear gone, calm in the midst of this life-storm.

I knew you loved me when Jill said that she had never, in her entire life, seen a man so much in love with his bride on their wedding day.

Your eyes give you away, my love…
and I absolutely know you love me.

Kait