7 years.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

One year ago, just days before Lanie's birth, I felt depleted. Faced with end-of-the-year business decisions, a mile-long list of sewing orders to ship out, and the discomforts of my final weeks of pregnancy, I was weary. I looked at the stack of bills sitting on one side of the desk and the to-do list on the other and felt consumed.

While staring blankly at the computer screen, a familiar song came through Pandora: I Believe in You and Me by Whitney Houston. If you've read our engagement story, you might remember that this was the song Shawn chose to play when we got engaged on the ice at Rockefeller Center.

Seven years ago, as soon as I'd heard the first piano line of that song on the ice, I had known that very soon, Shawn would drop to one knee and ask me to be his wife. It was the moment I'd been dreaming about for months, and when it happened, tears had filled my eyes. In that moment, I had felt so cherished, so desired, so confidently loved. Even though I was normally very shaky on ice skates, I hadn't faltered once as we skated to the song because I felt so exquisitely free.

Years later, I heard that song come through the computer speakers and tears had again filled my eyes. This time, though, I felt so distant from that girl. Had that really been me? This time, I carried an enormous belly, dark circles under my eyes, and so many questions about what the next few months would hold. Two kids? Hospital bills? Taking maternity leave from the business?

As the song played, Shawn happened to be nearby and reached out to hug me as my tears began to fall. Mascara ran down my face as he held me, reading between the lines of what I was feeling. This time, though, I wanted to feel invisible. I didn't want him to see the baggage I carried - as if he hadn't already known - or the temptation toward hopelessness in my eyes. I wanted him to see the girl he fell in love with.

When I felt brave enough to look into his eyes, though, I knew exactly who he saw: the girl he loved 7 years ago and loved even deeper today, baggage and all. I felt raw, unmasked, but somehow more accepted than ever. I felt a deep sense that in being loved by him, my burdens had somehow been lifted.

Tim Keller, a pastor we really respect, often says that if your marriage is strong, you move out into the world in strength, no matter what else is going on in your life. If your marriage is weak, you move out into the world in weakness, no matter what else is going right in your life. From one side of that experience, I can say that is so true.

Ultimately, though, this isn't a post about how wonderful my husband is. He's amazing, no doubt, but he's still flawed. He sees my weaknesses and doesn't always love me perfectly in spite of them. And trust me: I am no perfect wife. Ultimately, we believe marriage is an earthly reflection of Jesus' great love relationship with us, His bride, and that we will one day be united to Him. We believe that one day, Shawn and I will stand together in heaven in complete wholeness and perfection before God and will look at each other and say, "I always knew you could be this wonderful." We will only have glimpses of that wholeness here on earth. But there, we will stand in awe before our Savior and be made complete: no jealousy, no anger, no lust, no sadness, no pride. Only healed relationships and worship.

Now, though. How does this change our lives now? Far too often, I carry the stress of being a wife and mother and nurse and so on all on my own. I think I can bear the weight of it. I even believe I can hide my flaws from my husband, the world, and the Lord. What I fail to believe in those moments is that God accepts me completely because, when He looks at me, He sees the perfect righteousness of His Son.

We talk about the "gospel" in our house quite a bit. It's probably our favorite word. But what is it? My favorite way to define the gospel is this:
We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. - Tim Keller

These days, it's easier for me to believe that first part. I have a pretty good grasp on my flaws, and I have an easy time hanging onto them, rehearsing them to myself, beating myself down. But that second part changes everything. As much as I ever hoped or dared to be loved, Christ loves me more. He loves me perfectly.

It's our 7th anniversary today, and I am grateful for a husband who would love nothing more than to point me - and everyone who crosses his path - to Christ. I pray that our marriage today and in 7 years and 57 years from now is a reflection of His lavish love.

So to my Shawn William, who loves me deeply and loves Jesus even more, Happy Anniversary. I will never get over the gift of being yours.

Liam's room.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A disclaimer first: No, this is not always how Liam's room looks. It's usually strewn with cars and random puzzle pieces and maybe even a diaper under the bed.

Now that we have that out of the way, his room is one of my favorite rooms in the entire house and I simply wanted to remember it. It's always changing just a little, just like he is. So much of it has been made by me or by him (the teepee by me, the banner and painting on the wall by him). Oh, and the dresser was mine as a baby. It even has the original shelf liner in the bottom drawer.

The day we walked into our house for the first time, I walked into the sunlit middle bedroom and said, "This has to be his." I knew the giant windows would make it a place we wanted to spend time, and I liked that it was right next door to our room if he needed anything. He has one of the two carpets in our entire house, so we do spend lots of time in his room: reading "three Bibles" every night before bed (Jesus Storybook Bible, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, and the Rhyme Bible), putting together dinosaur puzzles, getting both kids' diapers and clothes changed.

Mostly, it's just feels like him: a lot of light with a little wild thrown in.

Christmas cards this year.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

For every Christmas card we've ever sent out, I've designed our own cards in Photoshop. Just the thought of that... even typing that sentence!... stresses me out this year. (Did I really ever have that much time?!) It's something I've loved to do in the past, partly because I enjoy the process, but also because it's been hard to find a pre-made design I love. Here are two of our most recent cards: 
This year, I'm going a different route. With full-time hours at work and a crazy December ahead of us, I'm letting Minted.com do the work. I mean, look at their Christmas cards! I'm not exaggerating when I say I think all of their choices are just exquisite. I love the simplicity and elegance of their designs. Also, one of their features is that they'll address your envelopes to your recipients for free. Yes, please. 

Today, until 12:00pm PST, get 20% off holiday cards and 25% off everything else with code: CM2015. If you haven't decided on a photo yet, you can still purchase them at this price now and fill in the details later.

Here are a few of my (many) favorites: 
Color field foil-pressed holiday cards
Joy and Then Some Christmas photo cards 
Wonders Christmas photo cards
Hallelujah Christmas photo cards

I can't wait to show you which one we choose! After the photo is taken, the cards are chosen, and they're all sent out, of course. Happy card shopping!

This post is in collaboration with Minted.com, whose products and customer service I genuinely love, and the opinions expressed are all my own.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Because I don't want to forget... 

From the day she arrived, Liam has adored Lanie. He hasn't always been gentle (actually, he's rarely gentle), but at the first hint of someone else or something else hurting Lanie, his world comes crashing down. If she's in pain, so is he. We hear, "My poor Lou!" when she's fussing in her bed. When she wakes up in the morning, he bounds up the stairs to her room, swings open the door, and says, "HI LOU! ARE YOU AWAKE?" at full volume. He gets offended if we call her, "My Lanie." "No, Mommy, she 'longs to me."

From the day she arrived, Lanie has adored Liam right back. She hears him zooming by and cranes her neck to watch his every step. She tolerates his wrestling. (She does not tolerate having toys taken from her, which is hilarious to watch.)

Having siblings in the house is far more magical and fun and difficult and precious than I imagined it would be.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

With the help of both grandmas in town (one from Tennessee, the other from Germany), we had the sweetest party celebrating our newly 3-year-old boy. The theme was, quite clearly, dinosaurs. Dinosaurs that Liam is absolutely passionate about.

And we are absolutely passionate about Liam. He is so full of life: joy just exudes from him. He is opinionated, articulate (he has been correctly using the word "versatile" in a sentence recently), compassionate, and loving. His intelligence scares me a little and he's certainly a challenge, but he's ours, and we are up for that challenge. 

On the morning of his birthday, I told Liam the (edited) story of his birth. How Daddy and I weren't sure if he was coming, but we hopped in the car in the late hours of the night and headed to the hospital just in case. How we hit a speed bump just as we entered the hospital parking lot and my water broke all over the seat. How I walked into the hospital and everyone knew our baby was on his way and we wouldn't be leaving without him. How the moment I held him, I felt like I had known him all my life. 

Liam, I didn't think it possible to love you any wider or deeper than I did three years ago. But you've dug an even deeper hole in my heart and I know my love for you will continue to grow roots and shoots. I pray that this year, you understand Jesus' love for you and how it far surpasses how much Mommy or Daddy could ever love you. You are our treasure.

I'm crazy about you, my little man,
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