A few weeks back we were driving up 83 and chatting about his old girlfriend... Why? I'm not really sure. But somehow we got on the topic and he happened to mention that at one point in their relationship she had made a list of all the things she DIDN'T like about him... and she gave it to him.
Clearly the list hasn't bothered him all this time... it's only taken him 13 years to even mention it to me. But all the same, as we turned onto County Line Road only a few miles shy of our little farmhouse, I determined in my mind that I was going to make a new list. One that made it clear to his heart that she missed out and I got BLESSED!
It's fifty things... that through the years of our life together, have made me the luckiest girl in the world. AS I wrote them I realized that it's pretty much "our story." It's the details of the past 13 years that I want to remember forever. It's the things that I want to think upon when life is happening and I don't always remember to look at the blessings that the giver of the greatest gifts has so lavishly bestowed on me.
So here it goes...
Grab a cup of coffee,
Get comfy, and discover all the wonderful things about the man that I get to call "mine".
Otherwise you can just wait until the next post, which I'm sure will be a million times shorter! :)
Here's where it all began...
1. 13 years ago this February, he climbed up the ladder outside my teenage bedroom window, knocked softly, smiled goofy-happy, whipped out a dozen long stem red roses, and told me he'd be honored if I would be his girl friend.
2. His patience and perseverance with this inexperienced timid girl is the reason that I'm such a good kisser.
3. He somehow got a hold of my list of classes for my second semester of college and showed up on the first day of my guitar class... He's the reason I made it through that class. He's now an amazing guitar player and I truly can't remember how to play even a single cord.
4. His selflessness brought him up to LA to be with me while I finished school.
5. His persistence kept us together. WE once broke up for a week. He slipped love letters under my dorm room door each day until we got back together.
6. He knows how to restore a relationship... After the breakup, he drove us up to the mountains by the university, he gathered up two rocks, and with a permanent marker he wrote on each one, "Committed For Life." To this day those rocks sit on either side of our bed.
The rock by my bed (he has one too)... :)
7. He said, "I Love you" first.
I said, "No you don't."
He said, "Yes you do, but I'll wait until you know it to be true." :) He's gentle but wise.
8. He waited confidently as I left on a backpacking trip, sought God, desperate to know the answer to one of the biggest decisions of my life, "Should I marry this man Lord?" His answer a series of questions, "Are you willing to give up everything of yourself for this man? Are you willing to persevere through the pain that is inevitable? Are you willing to give, more than receive? Are you willing to go on the greatest adventure of your life, accepting the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful? If yes, then my answer is yes!"
9. While I was gone, he built bookshelves that I had so badly wanted in my room at school. He took me out to dinner and we chatted about all that the Lord had challenged me with on the trip.... At the end of the night, he kissed my forehead and whispered, "See, I told you loved me." :)
10. Always, the good date-er... Me, "Miss goodie, goodie"... Him, "pure trouble"... He took me to places I would never had had the courage to go. Laguna Beach, cigars, tatoo parlors, hours of making out in his apartment. I would always say, "This is getting out of control." He would always respond, "I love your innocence." I didn't know until after we were married that he was the one who was right. :) For two and half years, all we ever did was kiss... passionately... yes! But he was patient, full of respect, full of kindness for this innocent girl who really, simply put, had no clue!
On one of our first dates...
11. The day he asked me to be his wife... Hernandez Hideaway, A lake, a guitar, worship music, a verbal list of things he loved about me, down on one knee, and two forever "yes-es" whispered in the cool night air.
12. For me, he finds a little house, gets a "real"job, works hard to get our little abode all ready.... for me.
13. On August 26, 2000... We meet at the alter. WE commit our everything to one another. We say words, make vows, gives symbols of our forever commitment.
The first day of forever... :)
14. The ceremony is over, we walk back down the ille together through the back doors, he wraps his arms around my 21 year old waist, and swings me around... He whispers in my ear, "I can hardly wait to live a lifetime with you."
15. And then that night... oh that night... there has never been a more patient, tender man.
I cry, afraid of the vulnerability, afraid of the unknown. He starts at the top of my head, an hour later, ends at the tip of my toes, whispering prayers of thanks for the gift of each part of my body. I calm, he offers more and more grace.
16. We arrive home from our honeymoon. Open the mailbox, $3000 worth of bills slip through my fingers onto the sidewalk below. I sit on the curb and weep. He gently rubs his hand back and forth from shoulder to shoulder and reminds me that the Lord is the provider of all things. He prays. Encourages me to increase my faith. THree days later a check arrives that will cover every last bill! He is a constant example of faith for this leery girl.
17. We struggle through that first year to make ends meet. But he makes it feel like we are kings and queens. He kisses me often in the loft in our garage, he brings home $5 pizzas and we watch Jackie Chan movies on the couch after long weeks at work and school.
18. I study and want to quit. He says "No, you really can do all things through Christ who gives you strength." 26 units is to much for this girl. I cry, He holds me. He brings home liters of soda to help keep me awake.
19. WE make it half way though that first year. WE pack up our house and prepare to go to Switzerland for missions work. I love his sense of adventure.
20. Every thing's packed and we're ready to say goodbye to family and friends... and my mom gets sick. He's finishing up his last week at work and I show up at his office and I don't even ask, I just tell... "We can't go anymore. we need to move in with my mom and help take care of things until she gets better." He DOESN"T EVEN QUESTION me. He pulls me in close and says, "Ok, we'll move in tonight when I get off work." Utter selflessness!
#21 And when we got the call that she had gone home to be with the Lord, he held my hand in the backseat of my Father in law's rental car, and wept with me over my greatest fear coming true.
#23 Then he walked with me... through the many months that followed... the nightmares, the seemingly endless tears from eyes. He never once got frustrated at the process I had to go through. It wasn't always easy or fun. But that's the thing about my Joey... he makes even the saddest, most difficult in things in life, doable.
#24 He bought us a little travel trailer and rented a space on the beach. She was gone, and I needed to work through it. Each evening for nearly six months straight we would walk to Robertos, he would order a carne asada burrito, me three rolled tacos with guacamole and cheese, and every single night, he would ask, "How's are you today." Then he would listen... sometimes for an hour... sometimes for a few short minutes. But he gave me his time...
That's what I love about him... He gives me his time. One of the things I cherish most in this crazy life! :)
#25 He helps me to live the adventure... the next two years, we live in Panama & Costa Rica. We buy a train pass and travel as far through Europe as our passes will allow. We spend weeks in South Africa teaching AIDS awareness in the public schools there. Always the adventure! I am confident that my life will never be boring.
#26 In South Africa we sneak off from the rest of the team and in a make-shift convenience store we buy a pregnancy test that comes in a brown paper sack. Joey stashes it in his pocket and when we get back to our room that night, two blue lines appear in the bathroom and we both kind of giggle, and he kisses me crazy and we can't stop laughing and dreaming that there really is life in me... life that came form the two of us. A man that can't wait to be a Papa.
#27 Little did we know what lied ahead. Letting go... he does it so gracefully. He dealt with doctors and family and friends. He was my voice for me when I couldn't find my words.
#28 More nights of nightmares and my head full of fears and doubts, and he wakes in the wee hours of the morning and prays FERVENTLY over me. He puts me in the car before the sun rises and he drives for miles, up and down the coast and just listens... prays... reminds me, once again of God's great and gloriously love for us. He stands in front of our church body and says with confidence and deep, true belief, "God gives and takes away, BLESSED be the name of the Lord."
#29 We try again, and the day comes when we actually get to meet our first living, breathing son. I push for hours and when all is said and done, I'm swollen and weak, and dreadfully ugly, and he comes in close to me, kisses my lips oh so gently and says, "You have never looked more beautiful than you do right now." Are you kidding me? You don't say something to a woman who looks like that unless you really mean it. And everything about the way he looked at me in that moment assured me that he meant it with his whole heart.
#30 I could barely walk for weeks after the arrival of our first treasure. I would get so discouraged, but he would crack all these jokes and make what seemed miserable, absolutely hilareous. He is the master of bringing joy back into my heart when things seem bleak.
#31 We have had four more treasures since that time... Another one that we had to give back. And you know what he said? Check out this post. He saw God's hands at work. I love that about him. He has eyes that see. Even when things are dark and gloomy.
#32 After Reesie was born, our adventurous life was getting way to comfortable. So leave it to my Joey to come up with some crazy plan to get us relying on the Lord again and less on our selves. He's always asking the Lord, "What do you have for us? And Lord, whatever it is, give us the strength to be obedient... And give me the words to convince my wife that this is what you are calling us to do. " I love that about him. :)
#33 So We moved into a giant house on a hill with another family. He convinced me oh so gently... like he always does... check out this post... It's his kindness that makes me brave.
#34 In the big house on the hill I turned 30. He took me on this amazing getaway just the two of us. And just as he had done ten years prior on the shore of the lake, he reminded me of all the things that he loved about me. And he kissed me in a way that you don't talk to your mother about... And this time around, I didn't cry out of insecurity and fear, but rather there were tears over experiencing this insane intimacy with a man who has been so tenderly patient with me as I learned to let down my guard and allow him to truly see and know that innermost, undisclosed part of me.
On our getaway...
#35 One night, at the long table where we ate out meals with our roommates, the dreaded question fell out onto the table... "Would you guys ever consider moving to CO with us?" And before I could put any bridle over my mouth, a firm, defiant, "HELL no!" came flying out. Everyone at the table looked at me, and I looked at my Joey. He just smiled... He knows it takes me a very long while to process things... to come to terms with things. He knows me, and he goes with it. He's never tried to turn me into someone I'm not. And not only that, he makes me feel like he's stoked on exactly who I am, with his actions and his words.
#36 So here we are in crazy CO. And it's been a time of learning to trust in the Lord and not in ourselves. And I've seen my Joey rise up and carry burdens that my sensitive little heart would never have been able to carry on it's own. He's steadfast. He's solid. He's not tossed to and fro by the wind. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that about him.
#37 He's determined and I have never once, in our 13 years together seen him quit. If we're short on money for the bills, he seeks God, obeys his leading, and figures out how to get things paid for. If he's in need of work, he'll apply to more than 180 jobs before he actually finds one. But in the process he rarely despairs, he perseveres, he makes things happen.
#38 Here we are 13 years later from that day when he asked me to be his girlfriend... Two teenage kids, trying to figure out love and life, God and His desires for their lives together. Thirteen years later and I'm not sure that we're all that much wiser. But the journey with my Joey has been the WILDEST grace, given to me.
#39 He's the kind of guy who comes home after a long day at work and jumps right into the fun of family.
#40 He's the kind of guy who sells old stuff from the garage on craigslist so that he and this tired Mama can get a little refreshment, have an adult conversation over a dinner that someone else made, over a dinner that someone else will clean up... the best gift a man can give a Mama of many small children.
#41 He's the kind of guy that solves most of my silly emotional issues with a joke... in a very non-spiritual way he turns my mourning into laughter. :)
#42 He's got this incredible gift of discernment, paired with an amazingly humble heart.
#43 He's the kind of dad that all kids wish they had. After dinner he plays legos, an reads books. He teaches the oldest treasures how to shoot guns on our property and tickles the littlest ones until they have no more giggles left in them. He asks them about their days and listens to their every word.
#44 He's the best meat-cooker for miles around. And he eats everything I make with a joyful heart even if it's not his favorite thing.
#45 He's started to pray with me each day about life, our love, the kids, and finding daily joy.
#46 He's the hardest worker I know. Even when there is no work, he finds work. And every day when we sit down to a meal together, he gives God the glory, knowing that He is the ultimate provider of all things.
#47 This morning when Siah woke up, he had a loose tooth. When he told his Papa about it, Joey laughed and was so excited for Siah. When Siah came to tell me he said, He said, "Papa laughed and was so exicted for me!" I love that! I love that he takes true delight in his kids.
#48 After all these years, with my now squishy mommy-body, covered in stretch marks and scars, he makes it very known to my heart that he still LOVES kissing me in the dark.
See... I told you so. :)
#49 He's my helpmate. I never feel like I'm living this life alone. He helps me with the dishes, with the kids, with his encouraging words. He helps me by living this life with me.
#50 And what I love the absolute most about Joey is that he is mine for this one life that I've been given.
And there it is, just some of the things that I absolutely LOVE about being married to my Joey. It's not to say that our life isn't messy, or sprinkled with moments of pain or disappointment. We're real people with a very raw and real marriage. We have lots left to learn... But that's what makes it all so great.
Us now... 13 years and counting. :)
This is the list that I'm kind of glad "old girlfriend" didn't write... if she had known what I know, then my Joey just might not be mine. :)