February 21, 2004:
I cannot believe I am even writing this, but it has been FIFTEEN years since I became a married woman and Frank’s wife. 15 years! It’s true that time speeds up the older you get. There have been some really low lows and some really high highs during this time span. It’s only just begun! Compared to many inspirational couples out there, 15 years is just a drop in the bucket. But it’s our drop, our bucket and it’s our start!
I recently headed over to my mom and dad’s house. My beautiful winter-wonderland A-line dress has been stored in their attic since 2004. Who else stores stuff at their parent’s house? Haha! (Thanks, Mops and Pops!)
Since that unseasonally gorgeous day in February 2004, I have had 3 kids and many ups and downs with my weight. If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know this. You’ve seen me extra-fluffy, mid-range fluffy and anything in between. In saying this, I wasn’t sure my size 6 dress that my 20-year-old self wore would fit this 35-year-old postpartum x3 body with an extra 15 years on it!
But it did fit. It was special because our oldest daughter (who’s 10 years old) was zipping it up for me and she said, “Mommy, you think it will zip? I don’t know…” I said to her, “Oh YES!! You do what you have to and zip this bad boy up!” She didn’t have to try too hard. It was so encouraging to be able to get back in that $600 dress. David’s Bridal got me good with it. It’s totally 2004! Fashion has evolved for sure, but for the time and for me as I became Frank’s wife and walked down that aisle to the Highland Cathedral–it was pure perfection. Bagpipes, anyone? Yes, please!
While most recently wearing it, I actually took a selfie with myself in my bridal portrait. It hangs on my parent’s wall along with my two beautiful sister’s bridal portraits. My sisters and I were so very privileged to have our dad marry all three of us on our special days. So very special! When you walk into their house, all three of us girls are right there on the left in our portraits and dresses. As I was taking it and looking at my 20-year-old face, I had such an overwhelming sense of thanksgiving for what God has given in His precious gift of marriage and the man He selected for me. I also looked in my eyes that looked back at me and thought, “Wow. You young bride, you. You really have no idea what you’re about to get into…”
My 35-year-old self is right. I didn’t. I just want to share some of my heart with you all on our anniversary. Everyone’s story is so uniquely them. This is our’s. I’m going to be very open and truthful with you all and quite vulnerable here, but that’s how I roll. It’s not worth reading if it’s a bunch of fluff and untruths to “look” like I have it all together. That would be a misconception. You’ve come to the right place if you want raw truth. Definitely keeping real, so consider this your fair warning! Haha.
A letter to myself. From my perspective 15 years down the married road. A letter to that eager 20-year-old:
Hey girl. Looking snazzy in your 2004 wedding dress. You’re beautiful. Everything is as you envisioned. From the Austrian crystals in your tiara to your shoes. As you took your long bath this morning, shaving all the things and such and pampering, you’re pondering the events that are about to unfold…and the love you have for this man. You’re just hours away from committing yourself to him. He’s so incredibly meaty because of his values and his dreams and his relationship with the Lord. He’s not the cheap-o stuff you sometimes see floating around the dating pool. He’s a handsome one, huh? Well, speaking from this far down the road–he gets sexier every year and he only gets more and more handsome. Holy smokes! You’ve got a lot to look forward to. Just sayin’. He loves God, and he lives out his love for you. He’s a man’s man. He loves you enough to commit his life and loyalty to you…that’s something. You are a treasured daughter of God, and He gives GOOD gifts. Frank is a gift. He’s wrapped up a nice package of a tuxedo, and he’s waiting for you at the end of the aisle. He’s going to sing to you also–although you don’t know that yet.
He’s going to have a near impossible time keeping his eyes (and his hands) off of you at the reception, too. So werk werk werk it, girl. The BATTLE of not having sex before this day has now ended. THANK YOU, JESUS. Praise the LORD. I know your mind was in bed almost the entire day. It was a sprint to the finish line! You made it though. I’m proud of you. You both were obedient to what God says in His Word. That’s no small thing. But…I want to talk about the other stuff with you. All the love-making and amazing highs that will still happen through the years are just a portion of what you’re about to get into, you know. It’s a big thing–that’s what she said–but not the only thing. There are other fish to fry when it comes to marriage besides sex and making love. I know you’re having a hard time believing that right now. So, listen up.
How about having to be the first one to say “I’m sorry” for starters. This is something you have no clue how hard it will be. It’ll be on the tip of your tongue a million times after a heated argument is simmering down, but Frank will be the one to usually say it first. Sometimes you do, but he’s a lot more mature than you are. You will push him to his physical limits in the anger department. I wish you’d learn to shut your mouth sometimes–especially in the next couple of years when you’re still really learning each other. You are both aware even now that you’re both very strong willed and strong in your personalities. There will be many huge fights that will happen. Many of them caused by your lack of biting your tongue. You won’t remember what many of the arguments are even about. You will always meet each other again, at square one. You’ll find each other again. And again. And again…after bent steering wheels and holes in the wall from a fist punch. If this were any other man, you may have driven him to actually punch you. Frank would never, even now, but your quick and careless tongue…was a lot like the fool in Proverbs. Yeesh. Your older version hasn’t perfected holding her tongue at 100% capacity just yet, but she’s lightyears ahead of where you’re standing now, sweet girl.
It will be years before you really learn what “submit” means. I am still learning this, but again, am so much further than you are now. I’ve got a hint for you though, you hotheaded bride. Submit. It’s not a “dirty” word. It means accepting and bringing yourself under authority for your own good. You’re about to vow this to God, Frank and everyone else. You’re going to forget it quite often–or throw it to the wind. Either way, a wife submitting to her husband is a freeing thing to do. It’s for your own good because it’s living in obedience to God. He’s the Master marriage designer. Can’t pick and choose which parts of marriage you want to live by, honey. Going into a marriage isn’t like going to the grocery store and leaving the stuff you don’t want to buy on the shelf. It’s all or nothing. Just like when you accepted Christ as your Savior: All of you for all of Him. The laying down of your pride (and yourself) will be one of the hardest things you’re going to face though. Just a heads up, your older self hasn’t mastered this one yet, either. There are still those times (albeit fewer and further between from where you are now) when I am still straight up obstinant and disobedient and just ugly.
Here’s a breath of fresh air though! It’s not a letter of doom and gloom, I promise. You’re going to do a lot of things right! You will build a strong home and a strong foundation with this man. You both will build your common interests, things you enjoy together. You’re going to love his cooking, too. He’s good now, but you wait a little further down the road. He’ll watch your shows with you and you with him. You’ll be each other’s anchor when various health stuff comes up. You both will be strong for each other. Life isn’t solely constructed of the “big” events. It’s made up of all those tiny little things that happen in our every day. You guys are going to be able to become one unit in pretty much every area. That takes time. I think it’s a lifetime pursuit of love for another that drives us to create a more intricate web around our commonalities.
One of the biggest things I can say to you is that you’re loyal in your love. You’re loyal to him with your mind, soul, body. You haven’t strayed from your bed. You haven’t strayed with emotional affairs, either. Starts in the head before it gets in the bed. You’ve remembered this and tucked it away for reference. And your loyalty isn’t because of the lack of “opportunity”, either, but because of your love for him and your commitment to him as your husband and your vow before the Lord. You’ve had your eyes set on one man, and one man only. You love him fiercely. Your love for him is more firey than the fights of your early years. And that’s saying something. He will also be loyal to you. You’ve never doubted his undying love. You’ve never once had suspicions. You’re continuously thankful for this state of trust between you both, and you haven’t taken it for granted. You’ve learned to be vulnerable with him. To open your heart and let him see in. Even when you’ve wanted to “appear” strong, you’ve been able to learn how to be completely vulnerable with him when you feel anything but. You’ve done that right.
You will keep your sense of humor alive! Frank doesn’t always strike one as “funny”, but he really is. In your dating life, you got to see it here and there. You both will do a pretty bang-up job of laughing together. He’s hilarious. Mostly because of his Frank-isms, but he’s also funny in many other regards as well. Especially at about 8-10 years in, laughter will lighten many a heavy weight in your lives together. It’s just getting better from where I stand now, so…yeah. It’s exciting!
In the “kid” arena, you’re going to have three stunning daughters as far as I know. They’re all so different in their appearances and personalities. They are absolutely gorgeous. God has given you and Frank your ultimate Neopolitan ice cream! You have vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. A blonde, brunette and a redhead. You and Frank, so far, have taught them deep things about God and why they were created. You’ve instilled much in them thus far, and I pray that this later version of yourself along with their daddy continues to do this day by day, week by week, and year by year. They bring pure joy (on most occasions) and your hearts will be filled with much thankfulness and gratitude for the gift and blessing that they are in your lives. (You had fun “making” them, too.) Your first daughter was a “surprise”, but…come on. How “surprised” can you really be with all the “practicing” you’re gonna do? Let’s get real here.
I want to end this letter to you, my 20-year-old version, in saying the most important thing to you: God will be so faithful to you and your family. So faithful. I can look back at things you don’t know are going to happen yet, and see God’s hand move miraculously countless times in your lives together. Things like God providing wisdom and finances for you both as you dig and scrape your way out of financial bondage. You guys will ask for wisdom on buying your first home. God provides it. You ask for opportunities for ways of making extra income. God provides. He’s faithful in your extended family and in those relationships. He provides peace. He provides joy! He will provide some incredible friends. He will provide some of the most extraordinary people to walk with you on your journey. How mightily blessed you are even now in the family and friend department! You’re going to ask for wisdom on how to love Frank well, and He provides. You’re going to learn how to respect him as your husband–something you find out that every husband (and man) on Earth craves. To be respected. You’re going to learn all kinds of things, and God is there every step of the way. You’re going to screw up more times than I care to admit even now, but you will learn from your mistakes and you and Frank will grow in your adoration and love toward one another like you can’t even imagine from where you are now, you young thang, you. And speaking from where I am now, I know God has been faithful before as I’m telling you and He will be faithful again and again even in my future and our next 15 years of marriage. He is SO good and never ending in His love, joy, peace, faithfulness and the list goes on…
Now, go have the most amazingly BLESSED 15 years ever. You go do it, girl!!
With Much Appreciation for Your Choice in Marriage to Frank,
Your Future Self