So, How’s Married Life?

We all looked like typical bridesmaids as we walked around a carnival cruise ship, unashamedly sporting our bride/bridesmaids clad.

Our friend, Kayla was getting married in 3 weeks and it was time to celebrate her.

To make her the focus of our attention… and everyone elses.

Us, in our blue tank tops reading, “Last sail before the veil” and Kayla in white, “Bride to be”

As we were making our way for probably a third round of all you can eat cruise ship pizza, we heard a voice yell out,

“You getting married?”

Kayla perked up, her eyes searching for the face to match the voice.

She spun around “Yes! I am! 3 weeks away!”

The man who yelled out was older, with gray hair and wrinkled, overly sun kissed skin.

He huffed back “Ha, good luck.”

#partypooper.

But, it’s that question and that answer that seemed to keep coming up throughout the weekend.

The question and response that I, along with many many others, have gotten as well.

The words of people trying to shift your heart from excitement for a life long partnership, to discouragement and disappointment.

“The old ball and chain.”

“Kiss your life goodbye.”

What even is that?

We celebrate for weekends, spend hundreds and thousands, yet a realm of people (even those who have been married decades) want to speak an inheritance of shame over you.

no thanks.

But in Kayla’s most Kayla fashion, she threw back a quick, sassy remark and ignored that man, focusing on the celebration.

I’ve always admired that about Kayla.

She and I roomed together for 2 years in college, years where she taught me how to be brave, how to laugh at life, and where she scolded me for not replacing the toilet paper on the roll. 

It was in college that she met Matt, that handsome guy in the Khaki suit.

The guy that keeps her smiling and really keeps her laughing at everything in life.

Her perfect match. I think that watching Kayla and Matt’s relationship unfold into what it is today is what made me so excited to ask her about married life.

How’s it going?

What led y’all to this day?

What did you learn leading up to wedding day?

What is the Lord teaching you?

What marriages have you learned from?

Kayla shared such matter of fact answers with me.

Answers with mindset, not just fluffy cliches.

“It’s different living full time with another person that isn’t a parent or college roommate.  This person needs your help getting through the day, relying on you as much as you rely on them.”

Remembering the art of thinking of someone else before thinking of yourself.

Kayla nailed it. 

The two had to find a place to live, a last minute search where they wound up in Kayla’s parents camper or as Kayla calls it “my parents 5th wheel.”

Kayla laughs when she talks about it, referring to it as #camperlyfe

Her words: “We get this fun memory to always have and think back on. It’s easy to clean and we can’t run too far away from each other.”

No complaints.

No regrets.

Just her and Matt and a mindset that says “We have been provided for. We live close to one another. *insert a Kayla laugh* And it moves!

In all serious nature, Kayla can pull herself together from the laughter to look a person in the eyes and say “It’s worth it.”

Every hiccup, every moment that didn’t go as planned, every little inch of marriage is worth it because Matt is who partners with her in it.

She shared that growing up with parents who have been married 37 years, a couple she never watched fight made an impact on how she views marriage.

She loves Matt’s grandparents, who he loves and admires, and how their partnership has shaped his mind the gravity of marriage.

Kayla thinks about holidays.

Not worrying or wondering what town they’ll do Christmas in and who’s family they’ll join for Thanksgiving lunch.

She thinks about the fact that her holidays are spent with him.

No more separate Christmas.

No more Matt in one town and Kayla in another.

They get to have it together. Kayla talks about the Lord.

His faithfulness while she waited to marry Matt.

His faithfulness in providing a home for them.

His faithfulness in examples of strong marriages.

His faithfulness in her purity before marriage.

Kayla has seen the power of why the Lord asks us to abstain until marriage.

She openly discusses how the shift of single life and married life happens with “I Do” and a piece of jewelry.

How she’s processed the transition and what she’s learning from it all.

She has perspective, the kind that women need to hear.

The kind that every kid needs to hear about waiting and why it’s worth it.

Kayla even likes learning Matt’s habits and ticks.

She wants to know what he loves and what upsets him.

It’s all a part of the process, one that she sees as a consistent journey of learning.

Kayla never looked at marriage as a destination, but rather a starting point.

Where she can laugh at the fool who tells her “good luck.”In recent conversation we laughed about how people only ask you about married life when you first get married.

They want the scoop on how you’re adjusting, if he’s a nightmare or if there is truly bliss.

For some the question comes because they just don’t know what else to ask.

But together, we wondered what it would be like if we looked at a couple married 25 years and asked that question.

If that question is ever asked anymore.

Three weeks, three years, three decades long… How is married life?

Did you learn from the months that were really hard?

Where life wasn’t ideal?

Where you lived in a camper while you prayed for a new space.

Did you take notes when you learned how to communicate better and practice that?

Do you delight in holidays and the fact that it’s spent with one another or are you stewarding a negative mindset on where you have to go?

Are you loving one another with your words, actions, body, emotions?

Because yeah, that guy on the cruise ship probably dealt or is dealing with a marriage that never took note.

One that was hurtful and unfair.

A lot of people have.

But you get to make the choices that are best for YOUR marriage today.

To look at the home you live in as a place to be close.

To look at holidays as quality time with your spouse.

To thank God for provision of food on your table and a roof over your head.

To see your bodies as belonging to one another and celebrating that.

To look to marriages that have survived the ages and seek out wisdom and guidance.

To learn what your spouse loves and what they hate… and learn the art of giving them a life they love.

Thank you for celebrating tirelessly and giving us all another reason to be brave.

Kayla and Matt, you two have taken 4 weeks of marriage and taught the world around you how marriage is really going. 

 

Photography:Jaclyn Nolin Photography

Makeup: Erin Bryson

Flowers: Haley Scott

The inconvenient life.

There’s something somewhat magical about small towns.

Their slow pace, the quirks they shamelessly own, and the inconvenient lifestyle they so willingly live… and love.

Inconvenience to most seems to ruin a whole day…. inconvenience to the small town is just another opportunity to “visit” and see that friend of yours you haven’t checked on in a while.

It may look like taking care of cows or that old tractor that they thought might make it a few more weeks.

It may look like only a few crops coming in and waiting on the rest to produce something spectacular.

It may look like canning your own vegetables.

The ones that you grew.

That you canned.

That you eat.

I find myself mesmerized by the kindness and simplicity of it all.

I tend to fill up with pride that this lifestyle is a part of my roots, that I get to come and visit and taste it when the air in my hometown seems too thick and I need to sit and visit and enjoy that inconvenient way of living and learning.

It’s a place where I can piddle.

Where I can ask a question and someone takes a minute to answer, because inconvenience is a way of life.

It’s where Mrs. Betty lives just up the road from my grandmother’s house and was more than happy to share her afternoon with me.

Betty Larue.

Kind, smart, the most hard working woman I may have ever encountered, and a canning PRO.

A few months back she gave my Daddy a few jars of her homemade pickles and vegetable soup.

The pickles took less than 24 hours to disappear.

We devoured them.

Just typing about them makes my mouth water.

They were the BEST pickles I’ve ever eaten… and I have eaten a lot of pickles in my life.

My mama heated up that vegetable soup a few nights later.

I put a spoonful of it in my mouth and said “It tastes like Joppa.”

I wasn’t kidding.

My Daddy smiled and said “It’s because its fresh veggies from a garden. It is the real deal.”

and it was.

I just had to know how she did it.

So I gave Mrs. Betty a call to her home phone (a shaded pink phone with a spiraled chord and gray plastic punch numbers, just a step above a dial up), and scheduled a date to come visit, a date to learn. 

I just HAD to know her recipes and tricks, but I NEVER imagined what I would learn.

 My car door slammed and I heard the screen door of Mrs. Betty’s house (one protected by angels) squeak open and the sound of her voice hollering out my name.

She smiled and waved me towards the front gate of her front porch, a porch that seemed to stretch on and on.

We sat, she tutored me in pickle making and took me to her hiding spot filled with packets of her favorite recipe for pickles.

This little venture to her hiding spot took us through her home.

A home covered in pictures, framed and hanging, of posed family photos.

Smiling faces,1980’s hair cuts, and blue jeans.

I stopped and stared at faces that seemed to mirror hers, giving hints that these collages of pictures were of people that were probably her kin and the hanging of them showed her pride in the people that were captured in them.

I pointed and asked, and for an entire hour we traveled, picture by picture through her home as she told me moments, conversations, people, and stories of every single one of them.

Stories of her late husband, who spent his years driving 18 wheeler trucks for Wal Mart.

The man she loved all her years.

I am not sure I have ever someone so proud of their spouse and the work the did. Never ever ever.

It was moving.

She collected red birds in honor of him, as a symbol of the life he lived and the life she has because of him.

There are red birds strategically placed on her mantle and in the flower bed in front of her porch.

She took me out to her garden, the place where she truly comes alive.

A green garden full of tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, squash, zucchini, the list goes on.

She smiled as I stood in awe of what comes so naturally to her and invited me to her shed.

We walked through tall grass, still damp from a week of Alabama showers, and she opened the door to a shed, filled from floor to ceiling with mason jars.

Jars of preserves, vegetables, pickles.

Enough to feed Mrs. Betty …and the community.

Jars that she shared with my family weeks after a tragic loss.

Jars that she shares with my parents when they come up to work every weekend. 

Jars that she sees with pride and utters constantly to me that she always has “job security” with.

She filled up boxes FULL of veggies and preserves for me to take with me… but way to heavy for a “little bitty ole thing like you to carry.”

Heavy boxes that she wouldn’t let me lift a finger to carry.

We went inside for some cold water and sat at her round kitchen table while she gave me all of her canning tips.

She slid a pink legal pad across the table to  me to write down my husband and brothers in laws birthdays… so she could send them cards.

Because every year, Mrs. Betty sends me a birthday card.

Every. Single. Year.

Years and years of birthday cards, stamped with an american flag stamp and “God Bless You” written just like that on the back.

Mrs. Betty doesn’t buy cans from the local walmart to eat.

She doesn’t shoot a quick text to tell you happy birthday.

She doesn’t just share a small snippet about a picture, but rather the stories that make them so special.

It’s inconvenient living.

Birthday cards, growing her own vegetables, canning them all, and sharing with the community.

Maybe it’s the small town that makes them all live in slower pace, but tasting a few hours of inconvenience left me filled up with a lot more than a jar of dill pickles.

The kind of slow paced life that taught me a lot more than just pickle making.

A life I’m sure a slew of us could all glean from.

How to slow down.

How to remember.

How to tell a story.

How to share a moment.

How to share your life…

not to be seen,

but to give someone else the opportunity to feel seen by you. 

 

Wishful Doing: To be continued

I’d love to say that all 31 days of May I blogged about all that was happening.

But I didn’t.

But I think what I loved about the month of May was ALL that I did DO and accomplish.

I loved that I tried new things, left my job for a new one, practiced the art of contentment, learned other peoples stories, practiced patience, closed on new property, painted that property….ALOT, spent time with family, and witnessed friends be the most sacrificial and kind souls.

May, indeed was so good.

I lay in my bed reminiscing on the days of this month, how they slipped through my fingers the way sand slips through every crevice it finds. 

I watched.

I paid attention.

I dedicated my heart to noticing what I was doing. 

I made an effort to do things I have never done before.

I watched the people in my life be the most radically kind and life giving people I have ever known.

I made decisions to focus on the nature of my heart and the things that needed shift and stability. 

I asked the Lord for answers and He spoke truth in ways I have never noticed before. 

30 days of wishful doing.

30 days of trying, messing up, and trying again.

30 days of noticing the little things people have done for me.

30 days of harvesting the best fruit and watching my life move in a way that I love.

In 30 days of wishful doing I hope you experienced life and joy.

I hope you challenged your heart to sync with the heartbeat of Heaven.

I hope you took a risk.

I hope you conquered that fear you never wanted to face.

I hope you met Jesus in a new way.

I hope you made a new friend or reminded an old friend how much you love them.

And on day 31 …. I hope it continues.

For me,

Well, I am still learning from some friends about new businesses they are venturing in, things they are writing and creating.

I am re learning the heart of a newly wed by witnessing one of my closest friends marry her best friend. 

I always wanted to learn how to can vegetables and garden…. and this weekend, I’m learning… i hope it continues. 

Our duplex isn’t finished yet, but my husband is spending this week wrapping up big projects there.

I smiled yesterday when I faced a opportunity to compare my life, and I rejected the thought… I hope that continues.

I hope it all continues.

Because in reality is challenges are short.

They make us feel brave.

They don’t feel like forever when it’s hard.

They help us power through.

But why spend a month wishfully doing all that you hoped and dreamed for

when you can spend your life living out the abundant calling the Lord has for you to do and learn. 

Don’t stop.

Wishfully do, experience good, learn more.

Day 31:

To Be Continued…