Five Years of Marriage

Last weekend my husband and I celebrated our fifth anniversary. For the first time, we left both of our boys overnight at my parents house and we took a little trip…. just the two of us. We really enjoyed it!

IMG_0436Although we both really missed our children, it was quite nice to have a little time to ourselves. We didn’t do anything super fancy – like a cruise or trip to the beach.  We simply traveled a couple of hours away to a town that most people wouldn’t consider very special. We went to Cookeville, Tennessee. Cookeville is basically a college town, as it is home to Tennessee Tech.  We picked Cookeville because of its proximity to several waterfalls. My husband has always loved hiking, and it’s something we haven’t done very much of since we got married.

IMG_0365Once we settled on a place we did research to find other things to do in the area. We ended up eating at a restaurant called Mauricio’s.  On our first anniversary we ate at a restaurant that should have been much nicer than this one but Mauricio’s definitely topped it.  It was set up as an old house that they had turned into a restaurant, and they had old music playing – the kind you might hear in an old Audrey Hepburn movie.  It was lovely, and the food was some of the best I have ever tasted. If you’re ever in Cookeville, you HAVE to check it out.

It was great to reconnect and enjoy some time together, and we really did enjoy the hiking as well.  On top of that, it was a good chance to look back over our first five years of marriage – and to realize that the time we have spent together so far might only be around 10% of our married life.  We have learned a lot in the past five years, and there are many things we hope to get better at. It is exciting to realize that we more than likely still have plenty of time to learn and grow together.

On our first anniversary I wrote a post on my previous blog about the lessons I had learned as a newlywed. The top lesson that I had learned in my first year of marriage is that I am a selfish sinner.  Today, I’d say that’s still my biggest struggle. Yes, I have grown in this area and there are plenty of ways that I put others ahead of myself. But still, there lives inside me a deep seed of selfishness that God is still working on daily.

If you were to ask me today, four years later, what’s the biggest lessons were that I have learned in marriage, my answer would be very similar. I have learned that selfishness doesn’t pay. I have learned that I have to daily die to myself and my own desires.  I have learned that it’s worth it to humble myself and dig the gross food out of the sink that my husband or children dumped in there. I have learned that it’s worth it to pick up the dirty clothes that my husband left on the floor. I have learned that even when I’m stressed, a smile directed at someone in my family is worth the effort. I don’t always remember these lessons, but I have deeply experienced their truth.

Marriage really is an excellent mirror. It is easy to see someone else’s flaws, but it’s also easy to look into their eyes and realize your own shortcomings.  I might also say that the biggest lesson I have learned is to focus on myself. I know what you’re thinking…..“Ummm, HELLO!  You were just talking about being selfish!”  I know, I know.   But stick with me!

I cannot change my husband. I cannot miraculously make my children obey. I cannot wave my hand or wrinkle my nose and make perfect the other members of my family.  What I can do is work to develop godly character inside myself. I can develop routines that help me to stay calm in the chaos of life. I can prioritize time in God’s Word and in prayer, so that my mind is stayed on the Lord.  I cannot change my family, or fix their flaws, but if I put my trust in the Lord – He can change me.

This isn’t something I have learned because my children or my husband are so horrible that they need to change.  In fact, I do believe I have the best husband that I can imagine in real life. Only, he is human. He is not perfect. Unrealistically, it can be so easy to expect him to be perfect.  To hold him to a higher standard than I hold myself.  This is not what God wants for me or for my marriage. God designed marriage so that a man could lead his family. My husband does this well. God designed marriage so that a woman would respect and honor her husband.  He does not want me to fix my husband. He wants 2 things from me:

  1. God wants me to honor and obey Him above all else, and to grow in godliness as a follower of Christ.
  2. God wants me to honor and obey my husband, and submit to his leadership.

God wants me to focus on HIM, and on my own faith.  As I do that, #2 becomes easier and easier. And as I honor my husband and follow his leadership, My marriage gets better and better.

Five years of marriage. To me it seems like a long time. It’s a huge milestone for us. In five years we’ve had two babies and one miscarriage. My husband graduated from seminary, became a youth minister, and then he became a senior pastor. We have worked together to now be debt-free (WAHOO!), and we’ve been able to do a lot of ministry and long-range vision planning together.

Through the study of Scripture, we’ve been challenged in our beliefs. We have made choices for our family that are different than we would have ever expected. We have seen the Holy Spirit work in each other, in our family as a whole, and in the ministry. We have been through a lot together, and we are truly blessed to have one another. I cannot wait to see what God does with the next 50-ish years.

<3,   Rachel


Just for fun, Take a look at some pics from our first five years!

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Our Simply Special Valentine’s Day

We had the best day yesterday!  It didn’t start out perfect though.  I woke up to Nathanael crying because he had wet the bed.  😦  I cleaned him up, which he hates, and then I cleaned his bed up too, and then we went to the kitchen to get breakfast ready!  Joshua was still sleeping but woke up then, and had a very dirty diaper.  Yuck.  So I cleaned that up.  Then Lane got home from his Tuesday morning men’s Bible study, and so he made pancakes while I cut up strawberries.  Since it was Valentine’s Day we were supposed to have heart-shaped pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream on top, but I forgot about the heart-shaped part, so they were just regular round pancakes.  They boys didn’t know the difference, and they were super excited for the strawberries!


After breakfast Lane went to visit a church member, and I sat down to do my Bible study, but the boys were being really rowdy and fighting with each other.  I got tired of the distractions and turned on a Bible movie for them.  That worked for about 10 minutes, and then Nathanael had to go potty and Joshua followed him back there.  Most of you moms out there probably understand why I can’t let Joshua go with him to the potty.  At 19 months old, Joshua will play with toilet water, unroll the toilet paper & try to flush it all down the potty, put toys in the potty, etc.  He can NOT go with his brother to the bathroom unsupervised.  Never, ever.  So yeah.  It took me over an hour to read 2 chapters in the Bible and jot down some notes, but I finally finished!

Then it was bath-time for the boys, but I then realized that it was already 11:00 and we hadn’t made cookies yet!  Lane got home and I asked him to watch the boys while I folded the boys’ clothes so they’d have their good clothes ready for tonight after their naps.  Then I started the cookies, planning to let the boys help cut and decorate them, only I forgot that I have to let them chill in the fridge for an hour before rolling them out.  So, we just had lunch and put the boys to bed.  And I did the cookies while they were sleeping.


Lane ended up helping me with dinner!  While we were in the kitchen, he came in and said, “Do you want to listen to Michael Buble’?”   Um, YES please!  We ended up dancing around the kitchen together a little while we cooked.  I have a romantic husband sometimes!  🙂

While Lane worked out, I took the leaf out of our table to make it smaller and more intimate.  Then I put the tablecloth on and trimmed the flowers.  I found the candle holder and grabbed a candle from elsewhere in the house.  I put them on a plate and looked for some little clear glass stones to put on the plate, but apparently I’m out of those.  So I had to get creative.  I found some pink ribbon in my craft box, so I curled up a bunch and covered the bottom of the plate with it.  Not exactly fancy, but it was cute!

I put the heart coasters on the table and even got small glasses out for the boys.  I thought they might break them, but they did really well!  I was so proud!  I put wine glasses out for Lane and I to have some sparkling grape juice in.  When the food was ready, I made each person’s plate and set it on the table with their silverware.

I think the table looked great!  And my guys were READY to eat!


The dinner was tasty, and the boys did great with real plates, and even with eating their personal casserole out of the glass bowls.  I couldn’t even finish my plate because I was so full, and then it was time for cookies!  I passed out everyone’s BIG cookie that was decorated just for them, and snapped a picture of each one:

Yummm.  I couldn’t finish my cookie either, LOL.  I only ate half of it and I felt like I was going to go into a sugar coma.  (Exaggerating, but I did feel crazy weird!)

We did a minimal kitchen clean-up and moved to the living room to relax.  We looked on Amazon Video for a cute romantic movie and ended up settling on Runaway Bride.  We watched the movie, and at the end when all the fun music plays, we all slow-danced in the living room.  It was hilarious because Joshua was grabbing my legs so hard and our dancing was incredibly awkward, but it was sweet, and special, and fun!

I seriously think this is the best Valentine’s Day I’ve ever had, and I’m sure it was because I went into the day wanting to do something special for all 3 of my Valentines, rather than hoping anyone did anything for me.  I could tell that my husband, and our boys, were super blessed by it!  And of course my husband was great too–taking care of the boys, helping prepare the meal, sweeping the kitchen floor, and who could forget the Michael Buble and dancing in the kitchen?  Ahhh, I am blessed!

Rachel  🙂





Letting Go of Expectations on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day that you show the one you love how much you love them.  Often, though, I think we mistake that concept and simply imagine Valentine’s Day as a day for MEN to do something romantic for their wives or girlfriends.

When “dating”, my husband and I didn’t go on very many “dates.”  We did go on a few dates, but more often than not we’d just hang out at the Seminary or at church events.  We even took a class together and were able to spend time studying together!  There were a few special dates–like when he snagged some free tickets to the symphony and we got all dressed up and went.  So sweet!  And then there were LOTS of dates at the Fort Worth Water Gardens and the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens!  (Both are free, and both are beautiful!)


When we got married, I told my husband that I’d like him to just plan 3 “nice” dates per year.  One for our dating anniversary in September, one for our engagement anniversary in January, and one {extra special date} for our Wedding anniversary in May.  Those were the only guidelines I gave him.  A few months into our marriage, it was August (over a month before our anniversary), and I asked him if he’d made plans for our dating anniversary yet.  He said, “Not yet, but I will.”  Okay.  I waited, but I was a little aggravated that he hadn’t even started thinking about it yet.  I worried that he’d procrastinate and then would end up with a really lame date.  So I did what any woman would do in my shoes.  I “reminded” him every couple of days to make sure he planned it!  The week before our anniversary, he started asking me questions.  I answered his questions, but I was fuming inside.  You mean he STILL hasn’t gotten this all set?  But I didn’t say a word.  September 25th shows up, and right before we leave he starts pulling up Mapquest for directions.  You don’t even know how to get there, and I gave you MONTHS to plan!  Ughhhh!  As I stood there with my sarcastic smile on my face, tapping my foot, I mentally applauded myself for my EXTREME patience in not yelling at him.  I guess 5 months notice wasn’t enough time for him to plan one nice date.  He must not even care about making this a special day for me. 

He ended up taking me to this lake for a picnic.  The spot he picked out was where you couldn’t even get close to the lake, so we had to go exploring and find somewhere else to picnic.  When he opens the picnic basket, there’s a sparkling cider with glasses, and 2 sub sandwiches–that were filled with food I don’t like.

I continued to pridefully act as if I wasn’t mad, but I barely talked to him.  I smiled, gave obligatory nods and “hmmm…’s” as he talked.  He would ask if I was okay, and I’d tell him I was just tired, or cold, or that I didn’t like the sandwich.  I never told him that I hated the date.  That it wasn’t even close to living up to my expectations.  I was miserable the entire time, and so was he.  I had asked him to plan this date, and had given him no direction on what I wanted.  He read my loud sighs clearly, and knew that he didn’t measure up.  On the way home, he apologized that it didn’t go well.  And then he said, “I’m not even sure what I could have done to make it better.”

Do you want to guess what followed his apology?  You probably guessed it!  The LIST!  You know which list I’m talking about.  The one where I ravage him with every detail of everything I disapproved of.  “You don’t know what you could have done differently?  Well, let me tell you!!”  And I did.  I told him how he didn’t put any effort into planning.  He should have asked around to find a good picnicking spot rather than googling something for “2 minutes”.  He should have checked the sandwiches to make sure there was something I liked.  Actually, he should have realized that sandwiches are totally unromantic anyways and picked something else.  He should have found directions, and made sure he knew how to get there before today.  I basically told him that he was a failure as a husband–an unromantic guy who obviously didn’t care at all about pleasing me.

Only–looking back, it seems like there was only one person on that date who put any effort into doing something nice for the other one.  And it wasn’t me.  And oh yeah, a picnic by the lake?  What an incredibly romantic date that could have been if I hadn’t been so busy judging everything!  Most women would LOVE that!  5 years later, I’m thinking that if my husband did that again for me right now, I’d absolutely melt!

So what was the problem, then?  It was me.  I was the problem.  I told him to plan a date, and expected him to plan the same exact date I had planned out in my head.  Only that’s not possible.  So he thought about it.  He asked a few guy friends, and he searched the internet.  He found a sandwich shop and ordered our food.  He bought sparkling cider and made sure to pack our two wine glasses.  He thought he had covered everything.  He had covered everything, but one thing:  His selfish wife’s unrealistic expectations.  The day was miserable because of me.  If I had dropped my expectations I could have had a really great time!  I could have enjoyed the view of the beautiful lake!  I could have enjoyed watching the sunset.  I could have enjoyed my husband.  Instead, we were both miserable and the date flopped.

I’m sure this is why so many men HATE Valentine’s Day!  Many men have just stopped trying, because they don’t think it’s possible to please their wives anyway.

So then, what do we women do?  Well, let’s get back to the beginning:

“Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day that you show the one you love how much you love them.”

We women should do exactly this!  Use Valentine’s Day as a time to show the one you love how much you love him!  Quit worrying about what he does or doesn’t do for you.  Just aim to please him.  Aim to love him!  Aim to do something special and romantic for him, or with him.  Aim to bless your husband!

What are YOUR Valentine’s plans?

Notice I said “YOUR plans”, Not “HIS plans.”  What are YOU planning to do to make him feel loved?  Here are my plans:

Wake up and make heart-shaped pancakes.  Top them with strawberries & whipped cream.  Mid-morning, the boys and I will make some heart cookies, and then we’ll decorate them and eat a few!  If I have time, we might make some homemade Valentine’s with simple construction paper and crayons.  During the boys’ naps I will work on dinner.  On the meal plan is individual chicken poppyseed casseroles.  I have a few cute small baking dishes that I’ll use.  We’ll have rolls, and a few other sides, and I even picked up some new wine glasses and sparkling red grape juice for Lane and I.  I’ll decorate the table, and have candles, and I’ll text Lane that morning while he’s out and ask him to bring home fresh flowers.  (And I’ll be pleased with whichever ones he picks out!)  I’ll arrange them the best I can in a small vase, which isn’t my strong suit–but I’ll try!  I picked out a beautiful pink dress to wear from Le Tote!  (So excited to get it in!)  And then after dinner we’ll enjoy eating a few more cookies that the boys and I made.  I’m super excited about it!  The power to have a WONDERFUL Valentine’s Day is in my hands, no matter who is planning the day.  It really doesn’t matter what Lane does for me.  I know it will be a great day, and I know how great it will feel to see his smile as he looks at a beautiful dinner table that evening.

Now, don’t forget to tell me YOUR plans in the comments!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love, Rachel  🙂