Tag: marriage

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My friend Melissa writes the best love stories. Her tales are enchanting not just because they’re real and true, but because her wonder of Love seeps through every word. For her birthday recently, she asked all the humans of the Internet to send her their love stories. Seriously- she really did that.

My sentimental, nostalgic heart jumped at the chance to write a love story of my own so I took her up on her offer. Husband and I went out that night, and over drinks we sat in a booth for hours recalling and retelling our own version of what happened between us 15 years ago. It was quite possibly the best date we’ve had in years.

I rushed home, typed it out, and sent it off to Melissa. She wrote me back at 5:30 am to say that she was crying on an airplane somewhere, because this story was beautiful and she thought that I should share it. I decided to leave it here for you guys because I think she’s right.

I think all love stories are important and worth sharing.

Here is what I wrote her:

“Dear Melissa,

I suppose if I’m going to tell you my love story, I should start by telling you that I too, have always been a lover of Love. I was a hopeless romantic with big ideas about what my story would look like, but one thing was for sure: I always took Love very seriously. In high school when my friends were trying on different loves like they were outfits, I was always too cautious to let myself go all in. Read More…

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“I’m sorry I’m ruining our sunset cruise” I said as I leaned my greenish face against the ropes of the banister.

“It’s okay, honey” he said, patting my back until he remembered that the last thing I want is to be touched when I’m feeling like I’m about to die of nausea.

It was our 15th anniversary so we decided to splurge on a romantic sunset dinner cruise.
I’d managed to sit up and applaud for the couple who’d just gotten engaged on the bow of the boat (or maybe it was the stern?) but then I crawled right back into the coffin sized bathroom below deck to wretch and sway while everyone else slow danced on the deck as the sun went down.

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He waited outside the door, gently asking if I needed anything at 5 minute intervals.
It was maybe the most romantic thing he’d ever done.

One of the newlywed couples with us on the boat mentioned that we struck them as “a couple who seemed to get along really well”.

img_6256We looked at each other and smiled because it’s true, we do, but it feels hard-earned in a way worthy of acknowledging.

Last year I wrote about how sometimes love is like a battlefield, but that’s okay as long as you’re fighting your way TOWARDS each other.

This year our love feels more like a garden, with beauty springing up out of tender places.
And so it goes.

This is real life.

Some years you get sick and ruin your romantic celebration.

Some years you struggle and you wound, but you refuse to quit fighting for the best version of “us”.

Some years you laugh more and kiss more and you make new inside jokes.

Some years you celebrate your anniversary with little fanfare- at home, over takeout on the back porch. But some years feel special so you run away together to celebrate all the good, the hard, the new, and the old.

Because marriage is all of it together. Forever. Amen.

Photo By Richelle Photography

Today I’m over at The Mudroom, sharing a personal glimpse into the real truth of (our) marriage. I’m only posting part of it here, but I hope you click the link and read the rest of it over at Mudroom, because I think the ending is important. I really bared my heart in this one and I hope that you find it useful.

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This morning I sat down with my coffee and some old photos with no other intention than to reminisce. Today marks 14 years of marriage for my husband and I, and to celebrate, I decided to take a little trip down memory lane. Because if there’s one game in life that I enjoy more than “Name that movie”, it’s “Remember When”.

Everyone close to me has grown accustomed to my random blurting of (completely out of context) sentences that begin with “Remember When…”

“Remember when we all snuck out of bible college to pull an all-nighter at Taryn’s house and Danny and John climbed through the window to scare us at midnight? Remember how we all panicked and thought we were going to die, but Amber B. was the only one smart enough to run out the front door?”

“Remember when you had giardia, and you were high on pain medicine and came into the library where I worked at 11pm in your sweatpants loudly demanding some kind of meat, preferably jerky?”

“Remember when we were dating long distance, and you’d call me every night at the same time, and you’d always be wearing that same noisy jacket that crinkled in the background? I still have that jacket.”

I could go on, but you get the picture. I like to relive the past. There is a whole compartment of my heart dedicated solely to nostalgia. Usually the memories I find myself returning to again and again are the happy moments, the funny moments, or the unbearably tender moments. But today was a little different. I found myself looking through old photos, scanning to find an echo of some of our more difficult moments.

Because, can I be honest? This last year was harder on us than we expected, and today I found myself simply needing to remember another time like this. A time when we overcame. A time when we burrowed down into the foxhole together until the storm passed. A time when we learned to tear down certain walls in order to strengthen our foundation.

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While we’ve always been a couple that generally gets along, we’ve certainly had our share of trying seasons before. (Side eye to you, colicky babies.) But if pressed for a reason, I’m not sure I could even tell you why this year was harder on us than most others.

Maybe it’s the fact that after 14 years, we’ve been married just long enough to actually have baggage. Old wounds that have been healed and forgotten can be pricked right back open again in an instant.

Maybe it’s all the new dreams sprouting in our hearts, and the fact that those dreams require a bravery and vulnerability that have left us both feeling fragile and exposed in our own ways.

Maybe it’s all the outside pressures of work, money, schedules, and ministry that press in and down on us at times, threatening to burst our happy, intimate little bubble.

Or maybe?

Maybe it’s just growing pains.

After all, growth means change, and change can be rather uncomfortable at times.

READ MORE HERE:

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There aren’t many things I’d say I’m an expert at. In fact, if we’re counting, I have precisely two areas of expertise:

1) How To Order Taco Bell. (There is a right and wrong way. There are Taco Bell food groups. There is a system and it works. Ask me how I know.)

2) How To Have Zero Chill.

We’ve already discussed my first and real passion (tacos and burritos) so I think it’s time we dive into the other. I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I’ve been publicly wrecking myself for years so I have a lot of hard-earned knowledge to share with you.

This one’s for you, dear reader. All of you nervous-talking, big-feeling, over-thinking, off-beat, sensitive, hilarious souls. I got you, boo.


10 Ways To Have Zero Chill


  1. Have no mystery. This is the first and most important rule of having no chill. You may not be coy. You mustn’t allow your thoughts and feelings to remain safely beneath the surface of your calm demeanor. They should be written all over your face. And on the rare occasion that they’re not, you should just go ahead and blurt them out at the first hint of an awkward silence. This way everyone will basically know your whole deal at all times. And side bonus: you won’t have to suffer through uncomfortable lulls in conversation, which are obviously a trigger for you, so win/win! You might feel like you’re living life as an exposed nerve, but that’s actually perfect because it brings us to our next rule.
  2. Regularly suffer from cold sweats, a nervous stomach, trouble controlling the volume and pitch of your voice, and an involuntary crimson blush that starts at your neck and doesn’t stop until it reaches your hairline. Your body will betray you at every turn but that’s okay because YOU ARE A PERSON WITH ZERO CHILL, remember?
  3. Be insufferably hopeful/ constantly worried. This is a double-edged sword because you will genuinely want the best for yourself and others but because you care so much about everything and everyone you live in a constant state of anxiety about how everyone is doing. Including yourself. Have very high standards in choosing your close relationships because you need people who get you. Worry that most people don’t get you, and handle it by replaying every conversation from all angles, wondering what people are thinking, and spending a lot of time inside your own head. But remain ever hopeful, always assuming the best things in life are just around the corner and headed your way. This will be equal parts endearing and exhausting for your significant other, so remember to choose wisely there. You’ll need someone with a little extra chill to balance you out and bring you back down to earth occasionally.
  4. Nerd out whenever you encounter someone you admire. Say the first thing that pops in your head and just keep rolling with it until you run out of words. This may take a while because you’re a nervous talker, so you know, really ride that wave. Ignore that fact that your face is getting hot which means you’re blushing that telltale shade of magenta, and just keep talking. Say all the things! That way you can replay it in your mind afterwards and have lots of instant remorse.
  5. Oh wait, we didn’t mention that yet? Accept that Instant Remorse is your Siamese twin. Get used to her. You know your own mind but you also share a body, so let’s just say it’s complicated. Instant Remorse is always there, whether it’s when you order the wrong thing at Taco Bell (hypothetically speaking, because I would never actually do that), or when you buy the wrong color Mossimo top at Target. Sometimes you will be able to arrive at the right decision a half second before Instant Remorse, but other times she’ll beat you to the punch. The good news is that it’s a constant power struggle. Yay!
  6. Think everything is funny. This is actually the best kept secret about having zero chill. You get to have lots of fun. Sure, you feel all the feels and you worry a lot, but you also know how to cut loose. This is probably God’s way of making sure you survive. You will laugh when you’re happy, laugh when you’re nervous, and you’ll laugh at inappropriate times. You can laugh at yourself, at everyone else, and sometimes you even laugh while you cry. You are able to find the humor in any situation. Laughter is how you cope, how you show affection, and how you suck all the marrow out of life. This is part of your charm. It also comes in handy when finding your person. Odds are, they’ll be a person who laughs a lot too. You can bond over it and then one day decide that you want to laugh about the same things together until one of you dies. Then you can start focusing on number 7.
  7. Embarrass your children. Your kids will adoringly mimic every single one of your quirks, which will take you from pride to dismay and back again 100 times in a day. Don’t worry, this is normal. They will think you are pure magic and a hero until around the age of 9, when in the presence of their friends, they will suddenly think your very existence is an embarrassment. This means you’re right on track. It’s all part of the plan, (more or less). At the very least, it’s a chance for you to teach them not to take themselves too seriously.
  8. Lose your mind every time you see, touch, or smell a puppy. Go cross-eyed, make guttural noises, and get weird. This one is self-explanatory.
  9. Discuss everything with your people. You are the kind of person who needs to talk things through. It helps you to process and sort things out for yourself. But remember to really let it all hang out. Don’t hold back. Don’t be chill or casual about it. Have a general sense of urgency about figuring life out. You may even want to go a step further and discuss everything with the whole rest of the world. Start a blog so you have your own place on the worldwide web to share your inner monologue and really make sure you have no mystery. It is rule #1, after all.
  10. Lastly, (and this one is crucial): OWN IT.  Go ahead and be your full, unadulterated self. Don’t try to edit who God made you to be. You do you. It’s okay. It’s kind of cool, actually.

Last week I left Melissa a 5 minute audio text all about how I’d reached out to an author I admire and how she, in all her gracious awesomeness had actually responded to me. So then then I did the obvious next thing, which was to ruin everything by writing her back with A FREAKING NOVEL all about what I thought and how I felt about writing a book. (refer to rule #4).

“Blurg! Why do I always do this? Why do I always wreck myself?” I wailed into my phone.

She responded with all caps, saying, “STOP TRYING TO BE CHILL. You’re not chill. You will never be chill. You weren’t made to be chill. It’s cool. Be you. You’re amazing. It’s what makes you Amber… And I like that you don’t have chill and say what you feel. It’s real. The world needs more real humans.”

Guys, I think Melissa is right.

It’s better to be real than to be cool. So if you, like me, are a person with zero chill, just own it. That way you get to tell the joke, not be the joke. And that, my friends, is where the magic is.

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My life is full of imaginary brick walls. Some thick and looming, some crumbled and deteriorating, and still others that are bright red and sturdy, shielding me from outside winds.

But the walls are everywhere. 

I told you recently about the wall I’d been building between my husband and I. I confessed how I had picked up each brick one by one, felt it’s weight, and then foolishly set it down between us. Never looking up, I worked tirelessly at my wall. It wasn’t until I stopped to see it for what it was- a lie, that I had the sense to stop. The wall was a lie because I always thought it kept me safe, but it turns out that it really only kept me separate. You see, some walls need to be brought down.

Other walls are brought down by accident, by sudden impact, or even by neglect.

There’s a wall that I haven’t told you about. I don’t think I’m ready to name it just yet. Maybe it’s not even mine to name, but it shares my landscape. This wall has begun to crumble. At first I was all action- running in every direction trying to catch the bricks as they fell away, trying desperately to stack them back into place. But now…

Now I’m just paralyzed in the moment.

I feel myself standing there at the bottom, frozen in a dust cloud of smoke and rubble, watching it fall. I want this wall to be strong again, but I am helpless because it is not mine to labor over. Some walls represent shared spaces, and at the end of the day that is all they are. Shared spaces. I can help clean up the wreckage but I cannot build the wall. It doesn’t belong to me.

Which got me thinking…

I’ve spent too much time toiling over the wrong walls. There are other, more important walls, after all. My marriage, for instance, is a load-bearing wall. It shelters me, protects me, and holds me up. It not only deserves, but requires my constant care. I must abandon my habit of building walls between us and instead build the wall of us.

Because if a wall is truly strong, it cannot be easily brought down. Read More…

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“You have to be willing to be hurt by me.” His body language was casual as he said it. He leaned back against the kitchen counter, his hands folded in front of him. But his words were anything but casual. Almost like a plea, they hung in the air between us for a long moment as I froze, absorbing his meaning.

I sat across the room from him at the dining table. The distance between us was short but full of emotional wreckage- the kind that quietly builds up over years and then tumbles out everywhere, touching everything. The tears collecting in my eyelashes finally spilled over onto my cheeks.

My husband is a man of few words. He thinks before he speaks, whereas I tend to throw words around like confetti at a parade. I knew he’d considered his next words because he said them gently and with care.

“I will never intentionally hurt you. But I’m just a man. I’m going to get it wrong sometimes. You have to be willing to GO THERE with me. You can’t close yourself off and leave it all up to me to draw you out. I can’t do that all the time. I can’t be the only one. It’s too much pressure. I want more. I want your vulnerability” Read More…

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Today’s guest post is near and dear to my heart. I met Ashley Hales earlier this year through an online group of bloggers. Event though we’ve never met in person, I feel like Ashley is a kindred spirit- not just because we are both writers, but also because we both know what it’s like to live life behind the scenes of ministry (I grew up a pastor’s kid and Ashley is a pastor’s wife).

I know that for me, growing up in the ministry with a pastor for a dad, I always felt like people had a predisposed opinion of me- and more often than not they were off-base. I asked Ashley to share her story here and shed some light on life as a pastor’s wife, because I think it’s a unique story that a lot of people are curious about. I also think it’s a role that is misunderstood at times.

I love that she is real and open, and that her heart is full of “vulnerable hospitality” as she so eloquently puts it. Here is her story. Read More…

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We said nothing was off the table, right? When we started this writing challenge we said we’d keep it real. We even said we’d talk about sex…

While I wouldn’t exactly qualify myself as a sexpert, I have been having sex with one person for a very long time. Thirteen years to be exact. There are a few things I do know. So let’s talk.

In the spirit of transparency I suppose I should tell you that the first time my husband and I had sex was on our wedding night. We were both virgins until then. Maybe you find that storyline to be antiquated or shocking or unbelievable. Maybe you don’t. Either way, it’s our real story so we may as well start at the beginning.

Of course it wasn’t even remotely easy but we did manage to wait, and there is really only one thing I want to say about that: It can be done, and it can be beautiful. We were able to freely give ourselves to each other without one bit of doubt, guilt, or hesitation. There was only passion and an unflagging joy between us that night. We belonged to each other in every way, and the fact that he is only for me is something I treasure still.

As you can imagine we spent the first portion of our marriage making up for lost time. There was no shortage of seduction on either side. We were finally here, and we were ready to party if you know what I mean. It was simple. It was good.

Cue video montage of life happening in fast forward. Moves. Jobs. Kids. Pets. Different jobs. More moves. If you’re not careful your regular life will take over your sex life and you’ll be less busy gettin’-busy, and more just busy in general. And, well, that just doesn’t sound like very much fun, does it?

Much like any other married couple, over the years we’ve had ups and downs and over time we’ve fallen into patterns. After all, we are creatures of habit, yes? After a certain amount of time, we became a foregone conclusion with each other. We know each other’s signals. We know what to expect from each other. We know each other’s bodies and how they work.

This can be a double edged sword. Read More…

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Husband and I have married for 13 years and for the most part, we tend to get along. We don’t argue a lot over every day issues like where to eat or what movie to rent, or how to parent our children. Of course we don’t agree all the time, but in the big scheme of things we work well together. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that we never really fought at all until our fifth year of marriage when we simultaneously fell on hard times financially and had a colicky baby.

No sleep, no money, and a baby that screams bloody murder for 5+ hours a day is a recipe for conflict. But we got through it. Together. It was one of those seasons in life when you understand that you’re being grown and stretched even while it’s happening. It sucked and it was difficult, but when we did fight, it was an unspoken agreement that we were fighting our way through and towards each other, not away. We were fraying at the edges and had little to give each other, but there was a sense that we were in it together, like we’d burrowed down in a foxhole together until the storm passed.

Regardless of all the storms we’ve survived in our thirteen years as Mr and Mrs, there is one problem I’m not sure we will ever get over. It is the one thing we will never agree on- which one of us is funnier. The underlying and perpetual theme of our entire union is that of Humorous Hubris. We are each fully convinced that we are the “the funny one” in the couple. We joke and tease each other endlessly about it, but deep down in our hearts we each know the truth. (That I’m the funny one.) Read More…

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At the moment, I’m rather smugly enjoying the fact that for 7 solid minutes, Husband thought we were going to have another baby.

You see, for the last week I have been terrified that I am pregnant. I say “terrified” because another baby is not a part of our plan. We are done with that phase.

Like, done.  We were done about 2 minutes after our second child was born.

Regardless of our stance on the subject, seemingly all signs were pointing to our family of four becoming a party of five. My boobs were hurting. All my pants were suddenly tight. (In retrospect, this could be food related but whatever. I choose not to dwell…)

I was exceptionally moody and emotional. My gag reflex kicked into high gear and just brushing my teeth in the mornings had me thisclose to vomiting. Yet possibly (definitely) the scariest sign of all: my period was late.

No. Just no.

What the freaking what were we supposed to do here? Pretend like everything is totally fine when on the inside we are short circuiting? Not possible. I walked around like a zombie for a full week. Every conversation, every trip to the grocery store, every bedtime story with the kids all I could think was “I don’t care! You don’t even know! Nothing else matters right now because I might be pregnant! With a baby!

This may sound harsh, but our babies kind of suck. I mean, we love them. Of course. We love them so much it makes our stomachs hurt and our hearts explode.

But for the first few months, they kind of suck.

There, I said it. Read More…