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.


  1. I love the picture--think it reflects what you are saying and I love the reminder that one day we will be complete and completely caught up in Jesus. All because the Word became flesh....

  2. I love you guys so much. It was so good to read your words Whit. So proud to be your friend. To have watched your journey & love story unfold. God is so good. Happy Anniversary you two! ❤️

  3. This is beautiful! It feels so rare to see a Gospel-centered marriage in our culture today.

  4. I found this translation of Pope Francis greetings for 2016. I'd like you to read it. Hope the translation is good enough. I have the privilege to understand Him in Italian! It's a very good reflection on imperfection in life. I think I'll print it and hang it in my house, to remember that life is joy, even when I do not recognize it.
    Greetings from Italy.

    You may have defects, be anxious and sometimes live irritated, but do not forget that your life is the greatest enterprise in the world. Only you can prevent it from going into decadence. There are many that need you, admire you and love you.
    I would like to remind you that being happy is not having a sky without storms, or roads without accidents, or work without fatigue, or relationships without disappointments.
    Being happy is finding strength in forgiveness, hope in one’s battles, security at the stage of fear, love in disagreements.
    Being happy is not only to treasure the smile, but that you also reflect on the sadness. It is not just commemorating the event, but also learning lessons in failures. It is not just having joy with the applause, but also having joy in anonymity.
    Being happy is to recognize that it is worthwhile to live, despite all the challenges, misunderstandings and times of crises.
    Being happy is not inevitable fate, but a victory for those who can travel towards it with your own being.
    Being happy is to stop being a victim of problems but become an actor in history itself. It is not only to cross the deserts outside of ourselves, but still more, to be able to find an oasis in the recesses of our soul. It is to thank God every morning for the miracle of life.
    Being happy is not being afraid of one's feelings. It is to know how to talk about ourselves. It is to bear with courage when hearing a "no". It is to have the security to receive criticism, even if is unfair. It is to kiss the children, pamper the parents, have poetic moments with friends, even if they have hurt us.
    Being happy means allowing the free, happy and simple child inside each of us to live; having the maturity to say, "I was wrong"; having the audacity to say, "forgive me". It is to have sensitivity in expressing, "I need you"; to have the ability of saying, "I love you." So that your life becomes a garden full of opportunities for being happy...
    In your spring-time, may you become a lover of joy. In your winter, may you become a friend of wisdom. And when you go wrong along the way, you start all over again. Thus you will be more passionate about life. And you will find that happiness is not about having a perfect life but about using tears to water tolerance, losses to refine patience, failures to carve serenity, pain to lapidate pleasure, obstacles to open the windows of intelligence.
    Never give up .... Never give up on the people you love. Never give up from being happy because life is an incredible show. And you are a special human being!

  5. I've loved following your story, Whitney! You're doing a great job as a mom and as a wife and as a nurse, too. Wishing you and you're beautiful family a wonderful year!


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