In May, Luke and I will celebrate our 15th anniversary. I love milestones because they provide the perfect opportunity to look back and see what God has taught me over a long period of time. So here is a list of just a few of the things I’ve learned through my 15 years of marriage to Luke:
- Marriage Isn’t Easy.
Our marriage has been healthy and filled with love for most of our 15 years together. We’ve had some rough patches of pain and hurt, but the Lord brought us through them quickly. It is by the Lord’s grace and mercy that we have enjoyed such a life together. We both took time in our early 20s to heal emotionally from the wounds of our past through Renew Ministry at Stonebrook. It was a lot of work, and Dave and Dawn Bovenmyer were integral parts of our healing. We used those principles to guide us through every painful situation in our marriage. We had to choose to love each other despite our insufficiencies. We fought to believe the best about our spouse, to not take our pain and anger out on each other, and to forgive each other as Christ forgave us. When we hurt each other, we took our pain to the Lord. We turned back to loving each other, even after we hurt each other. We apologized to each other when we messed up, and we prayed for each other. I have had to humble myself, cry out to the Lord, ask for forgiveness, wade through my pain, and get healing for my trauma from childhood. Our marriage hasn’t been perfect, since we are both broken people, but the Lord has made it good and filled us with love for each other. It has NEVER been easy. Loving my spouse has been a daily decision, but the hard work was worth it.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”
John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
- God is abundantly merciful.
Over the past 15 years, Luke has constantly displayed God’s mercy toward me. He uses a gentle voice, speaks edifying words, and displays patience and grace. If he’s felt frustrated or angry, he’s never taken it out on me! We don’t argue or fight. If I make a mistake and apologize, I am met with forgiveness and my mistakes are not held over me. When I see this level of grace and love from my husband, I am reminded that God is abundantly more gracious and loving. No one is more merciful than our Maker. He is slow to get angry with us, and when we come to Him in repentance, He is tender and forgiving.
Exodus 34:6 says, “The Lord passed before him [Moses] and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful God and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,”
- God is incredibly patient.
I am always the last one out of our house, as I tend to get the kids ready first and then myself. I am usually behind on housework, and sometimes I am late getting meals ready. Through all of these things, Luke has never shown a hint of impatience. I am constantly apologizing, and he just responds, “You don’t need to be sorry. I know it is hard to raise kids and keep on top of everything else. You work really hard. I appreciate all you do.” Our Lord is that way. He is patient with us, beyond what we deserve. The Old and New Testaments are filled with stories displaying His patience with His people. It is incredible how patient our Creator has been with His creation.
Galatians 5:22 says“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”
- God is Good, All of the Time.
The past 9 years have been excruciatingly painful for our family. When our oldest, Joshua, turned 5 years old, he started having severe abdominal pain. After a few short weeks, he wasn’t able to leave the couch. It got so bad one night that he screamed at the top of his lungs in pain for about an hour before I took him to the ER. They couldn’t find the source of his pain. We started praying for him to get better and for answers. Around this time we got pregnant with our 4th. For months the pain continued, as did the tests, yet no answers. Joshua looked pale, malnourished (even though he was eating healthy foods), and sleep deprived (he couldn’t sleep because of the pain). Medical bills piled up, yet he just kept getting worse. After weeks of research, we discovered he had SIBO, a non-contagious gut disease that requires a medical-grade diet. We got him on that diet and he started to stabilize. Around this time, our 4th child was born, but our 3rd child, Eva, started experiencing severe pain. It took us 6 months to figure out she had SIBO as well. It was heartbreaking. We prayed even harder that they’d both get better and that God would protect our other kids. Around the time we got Eva stabilized, our baby, Emma, started throwing up every day. After 2 weeks and several doctor visits, we discovered she had SIBO, too. My heart was crushed. Why my baby? We prayed even harder. Then, just a few months later at Christmas time, our last healthy child, Liam, started crying in pain every day. He had SIBO as well. We found a specialist in Des Moines who officially diagnosed all of our kids with SIBO. Our children were genetically predisposed to having it. I will tell you that watching all 4 of my little ones suffer from extreme pain over and over broke me. Their care was a sharp learning curve, extremely labor intensive, and incredibly expensive. It was a nightmare. In the midst of the pain, I clung to the truth that I had no place else to go but to God. He reminded me that He is the One who not only holds my life together, but my health, my kids’ health, and our very existence. He showed me that pain allowed by Him is a blessing. Over the past 9 years, I have watched my children grow in their faith and understanding of the Lord THROUGH their suffering. While it may be hard to watch, it was what they needed to come to a real faith in Him. God’s goodness has been shining brightly through the storm. We found out in the past 2 years that Luke also has SIBO, which was difficult and painful but we see it as a blessing from the Lord. When your life is crashing down all around you, and your trials are confusing and heartbreaking, remember these words from
John 6:66-69, “After this [difficult and confusing teaching] many of his [Jesus’] disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”