There are some things you just can't know about a person until you marry them. Beyond brands of toothpaste and cooking/cleaning habits, there is a lot that reveals itself bit by bit as you spend your days attached to someone else. There are also traits that continue to grow and develop and hopefully through much prayer they bring the best out of both of you.
Today is a Gratitude Monday (remember how I posted about this like once before? Well, it's still a big part of my life even though I haven't been faithful to blog about it.). All I can think about when I examine my life with a grateful heart these days is my husband. I make no pretense about having a perfect or even easy marriage. I cannot even begin to exaggerate or make something out of nothing. But when you marry a good man, well, you marry well. You marry right. And you set yourself up for a life of joy.
When I met Rory at the ripe ol' age of ten (yes, ten years old...fresh out of fourth grade!), he was many things: funny, fun, friendly, sold-out for Jesus, funny, fun, friendly, really funny, addicted to candy and amazingly caring with his sisters and mom (and soon my sisters and my mom as well). Hard-working wasn't the first phrase that came to mind, though. In fact, my parents did not approve of us getting engaged (we were such rebels!) until Rory could have more time to prove his work ethic and ability to provide for a family (they were smart and probably right, but we all admit that us getting married was one of the greatest things we've ever done).
I've also never really been the damsel in distress kind of girl, either. Back then I couldn't imagine ever needing a man to provide for me.
Fast forward eighteen years, one daughter, one baby on the way and two houses later and my husband is the poster man for studly.
I grew up with a workaholic father and think my heart grew up needing lots more love and attention than I received. Rory definitely filled that void. But as I've been so faithfully loved and cared for, I've found myself needing so much strength and hard work from Rory, too. And I can't tell you how he has delivered. I can't tell you what it does for this wife's heart and soul to so fully rest in the strong hands of the same man who cuddles me.
When we bought our new house (Talk about grateful!!! We are crazy for our new home and could honestly probably retire in it it's so perfect for us.), we also found out we were pregnant. And I'm one of those paranoid mamas who won't go near fresh paint or a construction zone due to the chemicals and toxicity levels. That left two houses to be renovated by one man.
Can I tell you that when renters come to look at our old house every single one has the same things to say, "Wow. This is the nicest house we've seen." That would be the work of studly man right there.
And can I tell you how amazing our new home is looking? It does not even resemble the structure we bought. Again, every single ounce of credit goes to the man who not only wakes up at 5 (or earlier) every morning to run his own business, but also comes home everyday to spend at least an hour or so with his "Blondies" as he likes to call Dia and me and then goes back out to work on our house. He spends his weekends there, his nights, his holidays, you name it. I could never have known when we got engaged at 21 that I would so respect a man with such amazing work ethic.
But he hasn't just worked. He also texts like crazy so I always know what's going on and just what he's thinking about. (I love getting inside his head and feeling close to every little detail!) He has taken a night or two off to take me to the movies or come home early if I'm especially morning sick (aka all-day and night sick). He regularly comes home to poopy diapers that I couldn't stomach to clean (still using cloth!), stops to pray and figure out the next discipline strategy (he listens to an amazing child-rearing CD while he drives around town) and brought me cash every day when I lost my ATM card. He calls us, takes Dia out, and generally stays intimately connected with the two girls who could not live without him. To say he's amazing is not only horribly cliche but ridiculously understated. I can't tell you how many times I've cried just because in the midst of so much stress, so much chaos, he is still so so kind. So good. So fun. So funny. He's still that delightful boy I met almost two decades ago, but now he's all grown up and so...wonderful. Strong. Such a warrior.
In the midst of this he's had some doozies at work. Some situations that could have easily knocked him down. He came home after one especially hard day and said that after a few choice events had taken place, his right-hand man turned to him and said, "Man, you must really love Jesus. I don't think I'd have handled that so well."
You must really love Jesus.
Yes, he does. I know this. I live this. If my husband is any testament to the power of anything, it's Jesus. And I love Jesus and know Him so much better just because of knowing my husband. I believe a lot of men face crowds and auditoriums and preach about godliness. My husband comes home on Wednesday at 10pm after a ten-hour work day and several more hours sanding floors and peeling laminate and hugs me. Talks with me in bed about the stresses of MY day. My simple little existence of trying not to vomit and keeping Dia alive and happy. I want nothing more than to shower him with every ounce of everything I have. He gives me so much that all I have is more to give him. And I know that's exactly what Jesus talks about and is about.
He is my stud and my hero and today I'm grateful that I got to meet him so young and grow up with him so well.
For those that have read this blog for a significant amount of time, you know how we have struggled. How many times I have been broken and hopeless for our marriage. But this, our seventh year, is confirmation and tangible proof that staying and fighting for what's right and holy IS right and holy. And so richly worth it.
Thank You, Jesus for knowing exactly what I needed and putting it in such a great package. I love my husband.
Counting my way to 1,000 gifts....
36. Four letter words: love, work, hard, stud.
37. Texting. Seriously it may be ruining traditional communication, but I love being able to send messages/pictures to my husband.
39. Extended family who make room for us in spare bedrooms, spare couches and even the floor.
40. Helping hands of family who come even just for a day (thank you, Luke and Rachel!) or everyday (that's you, Dad!!!) or most days (Sonja, you're diehard!), and those who help in other ways, too like entertaining D.
41. Being silly and finding joy even in chaos (Dia put on Papa's boxers--I wear them to bed so she wanted to give them a try. P.S. you can somewhat pick out our current living condition from the background in the pic...a family of 3 in one bedroom!)
42. My sweet girl who always has the funnest ideas!
43. Still sleeping in our family bed....D likes to either put her arms around me to fall asleep or put a pillow over her head and no one touch her. Either way, we are tickled with her!
44. A husband who delights in food as much as I do and relishes bringing me crazy meals that sound good.
45. My baby bump. It's here earlier than with D... and we already love you, baby!
46. My big girl who points to the belly bump, grins and says, "Baby!"
47. Stroller Strides instructor Kelly who took me from knee-injured and weak to being able to drop and give her twenty in a few weeks time. Not to mention 3 inches off of my waist and legs...ok, this was pre-pregnancy. Ha ha.
48. Sisters who love my babies like I do.
49. Getting jiggy with the music man at the splash pad.
50. Our beautiful new home. I call it "Grandparents Central" because we are literally 5 minutes from my mom and 7 minutes from my in-laws. You best all better be visiting!
51. A husband who's hunkier today than the day we married