Still Mine at Nine

down the aisle married

“Introducing, for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. John Lavoie!”

Nine years.

I sat our child down on the couch today to watch our wedding DVD. He has stared at the wedding photos hanging on our wall for months now and has gifted me with his own commentary on the matter:

“Look! Mommy and Daddy got married! Where’s the cake? That’s when you smush the cake!”

From his persepctive I am Elsa and you are daddy and we hug and kiss and so we’re married.

I love that perspective. Because while real married life is far from a fairy tale, it is good and right that he associates affection with marriage. We kiss and hug and so we’re married. The end. Or rather, the beginning.

You and I both sat down during your lunch break today, next to him and smiled as he pointed out all the people he knows from our big day, “There’s uncle Tongy! Aunt Boogity! Look it’s Daddy!”

His eyes are wide as “Pampaw” walks down the aisle with mommy. He asks what we’re doing as we bow our heads in prayer and light the unity candle and laugh at pastor Kenji.

And I began to summarize for him what was happening, “Right now daddy is promising mommy he’s going to take care of her forever. Look how happy mommy is!”

I stopped for a bit because it sort of all hit me how simple and hard this stuff is. Marriage and life. Raising kids and making impossible promises. Where would I be without you, John? I don’t know. I don’t want to know. Some days it feels like we don’t have each other – when stuff really goes down hard. When stress fractures our rest and pain bubbles into anger and silence is just so. much. easier. Yet here we are. Nine years into this. My eyes fix back on the screen and I see myself, glowing in all the bride-ness and you, looking like you could pass out any second. We grabbed hands and marched triumphantly from the church as Mr. and Mrs. – walking right into years and happiness and sorrows we could never see coming.

“I’m a better man now than I was then,” you remark as you get up off the couch and head upstairs to complete your work day. And you know what? You’re right. I like who I am now more, too. Not just because we grow up and I think inevitably that means we care less about what other poeple think (ha!) but also because being your wife has made me a better woman –  a more truer example of who God made me to be. You have helped make that happen.

A lot can and has happened in 9 years –  I remember the first night we fell asleep with our backs to each other in quiet, seething anger and hurt. I remember when you crossed the silence and reached for my hand in the dark. I remember you staring at the wall in blank numbness during the dark valley of depression. I remember holding your hand during those valleys even when it didn’t seem like it made a difference. I remember when you gave me a big hug and told me God would take care of us after I lost my job. I remember being wheeled quickly by you, a lone figure in scrubs, scared and yet at peace that God was with us during Samuel’s sideways entrance into the world. I remember those tears wobbling in your eyes, spilling into your face mask when we first heard our son cry outside the womb. I remember loving you even when I was too exhausted to say it out loud. Gosh there are a million moments that have made me a better woman – and one man who has walked with me through all of them.

Here I sit, 2 weeks from go-time with baby #2 entering into the fray that has resulted from our promises to each other – and I love you more. I just love who you are and who you’ve become. I love watching you succeed. I love watching you parent. I love that I have the privilege to help you when your back pain rears it’s ugly head or “dark clouds” invade your mental space. I love that I can still look at you from across the room and I still want to know more about you. I still want to run away with you somewhere and forget about everyone else for a bit. (that time is coming, so help me. 10 year anniversary we drop the kids off with the grandparents and run)

At the beginning of our wedding video there stands 20-year-old, fresh-faced Rachel in all her bridal garb – sunday school posters in the background as I say, “I love you so much and I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for us!”

I couldn’t have imagined that 9 years later, our son nestled next to me on the couch, our daughter poking and pushing my belly to ungodly places, I would still be able to look at you – to look at 9 years of being united with you – and I still can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for us. Because I get to do it with you, and He continues to sustain us by His grace and through His Spirit.

I love you, John. Thank you for still being mine.

 

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Sweet Huit

getting ready wedding.jpg8 years ago I woke up in my childhood bedroom, more nervous and excited than I had ever been. Quite literally. I stared up at the same ceiling I had stared at for YEARS – praying to God about who I might marry and what he might be like. I had ideas and visions and dreams just like any other teenage girl. I asked God to make sure he was hott (two t’s), to make sure he really loved Jesus, and it would be also kind of super great if he had a sense of humor because I had a laugh that could wake the dead and I wanted him to love it.

I got out of bed, looked around my room full of dance ribbons and neon picture frames and marveled at what day it was: my wedding day. 15 months ago I started to date a guy who was hott, loved Jesus, and was kind of scared of my laugh (bless him),  10 months into our dating we got engaged, 5 months flew by and now here it was: THE BIG DAY. I was marrying John Lavoie. I was going to be a Mrs. by the end of this day. My heart leapt into my throat as I heard my mom and sisters bustling around in the kitchen and after about 2 minutes of pondering and marveling I was just so ready. SO. READY. My excitement practically catapulted me down the hall into the welcoming company of my bridesmaids and in a blur the day ushered me to the church, down the aisle, to the reception, to the honeymoon (BOW CHIKKA WOW WOW), and so began our adventure together.

Today I wake up  in the bed we’ve shared for 8 years, I reach my arm across to your side of the bed that’s already empty because you’re already gone for the day. Never in 8 years have I worried about your commitment to provide for me, and now for Samuel too (even during seasons of unemployment and Lord knows we’ve weathered that together more than once). You work harder than any one I know.

I say a prayer for you, thank God for you and eventually peel myself out of bed. You and I are in the middle of an ordinary, supernatural thing. God has given us a remarkable life, built upon the foundation of that one promise, “For better or worse, in good times and bad times, by the grace of God for as long as we both live.”

You have witnessed my better and my worse, you have walked faithfully in good times receiving lineand bad times. You have depended on, been rescued by, and pointed me to the grace of God throughout all of it. I have witnessed you at your worst and your best, I have not forsaken you in the dark waters of depression and I have cheered for you loudest as you have conquered obstacle after obstacle. You do not cease to amaze me.

Sometimes throughout our marriage we’ve missed each other. Not just missed hanging out with each other but missed out on the person we married. We  have been caught up in the whirlwind of life full of work hours to complete, dinners to make, appointments to keep, diapers to change and laundry to wash and we have passed each other like ships in the night. Then we just kind of resign ourselves to being strangers and we hide behind our phone screens or books because it’s just easier, you know? It’s so hard to be intentional when you feel bitter or lonely. Thank God for His new mercies every morning and the Holy Spirit that helps us get over ourselves. We have fought many of the same fights over 8 years together. And we have fought for each other too. We don’t always feel the warm fuzzies, but we understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it has strengthened our commitment like no amount of self-help or self-sufficiency ever would.

beach picI do not want to do this with anybody else. I promised you that 8 years ago and I’m sticking with it.

Let’s promise, by the grace of God, in the midst of the mundane world of dentist appointments and dirty floors that need cleaning we will lift our chins and find each other. Thank you for keeping your covenant to me. You honor me with your love, you assure me with your integrity, and you delight me with your friendship.

I love you, John.

Happy anniversary!

All About Dad.

When we had a son many people told me how he (Samuel) would most likely cling to me and need me and worship the ground I walk on etc etc… until he was about 2-3 years old. Then it would be alllll about dad. Dad. Dad. Dad.
They were almost right.
Since Samuel was born, aside from nourishment, poopy diaper changes, and the occasional affectionate moment with me – he was born ALL ABOUT DAD. I’m not trying to downplay my role or anything – I love Samuel and he loves me and that’s that. But this is Father’s Day so I get to talk about John and he doesn’t get to stop me (HA. HOPE YOU’RE READING THIS, JOHN.)
FD pic
When you become parents, each of you ordinarily operates in the realm of “Reliable, Comforting, Safe Parent” OR “Crazy, Risk-taking, Boo-boo making, Fun Parent.” Knowing our personalties going into marriage I was destined to be the fun parent and I just knew it (PLEASE. I AM SO MUCH FUN OK?). But I didn’t really know who I was parenting with until Samuel came around. I have met my match.*
John is a FUN. MACHINE. When he comes home from work Samuel just can’t even. It’s “DADDY!!! DADDY!!!” at maximum decibels.
From about 12- 18 months, Samuel would get so excited to see John he wouldn’t know what to do so he would sort of run towards him and then run away and ignore John altogether while smiling like his cheeks were in charge of holding up his eyeballs. The cutest.
John will wrestle and throw and play and come up with games (that I don’t even think qualify as games?) that Samuel just LOOOVES doing and they’ll do it together and I just kind of shake my head while I make dinner and thank God for the two goobers running circles in my living room.
Of course part of that is being a boy. John’s been a boy before so he gets little boyhood on a very personal level. But honestly? A big part of it is who John is. It’s the man that he is that makes him so awesome at being a dad. He wants to get to know Samuel. He really really cares about who Samuel is as a person. He disciplines and he sets boundaries and he plays and he cares. He’s an incredible dad.
So here’s to all the dads today. To the ones who are raising ankle-biters, or teenagers (po-tay-to, po-tah-to). To the ones who are done “raising” people and now just get a front row seat to their lives. To all the dads (mine included) who patiently helped with homework, filled up the gas tank, listened and listened and listened (Shout out to dads of girls. You are saints. We have alot of words and feelings.) Keep on keeping on, guys.
Thank you, John for stepping into the role of father with both feet and making Samuel’s life so much richer and better for it.
And thanks to my Dad, too. For all the years in my life where I was quite content to be your valentine and wake up to flowers and balloons at my kitchen chair. You taught me how to find a guy that would really enjoy my company – because for my entire childhood, you always did. Thank you. (I’ve found him, Dad! Thanks for setting the standard. 🙂 )
I love you both.
*to be clear – I’m a fun parent too. Just a different sort. LIke silly faces and tickle fights instead of shooting the cat with a nerf gun. Play to your strengths.