Tag Archives: marriage

That Old Familiar Fear

Last night, I was afraid.

Head hurting and almost too exhausted to sleep, I tapped open my email before turning off the light.  My collaborator wanted me in Peru, my devices ready to go, in a few short weeks, and they weren’t even built yet.  I felt that lurch in my stomach – the lurch where you’re at the top of a roller coaster that’s about to drop.

That lurch has become “that old familiar fear.”  It comes often on the heels of a migraine, or as this introvert is about to step into something completely new.  And it’s always at night. It’s the fear that the world is caving in around me, that I won’t live up to whatever expectations people have of me, that my friends’ lives will fall apart, that everything will go horribly wrong.  It was especially vivid in the first years of my illness; I remember my parents holding and rocking their baby girl, who was crying about almost nothing, but a nothing that loomed large in my weary mind.

Last night, I recognized it, I named it, and it receded.  Why?

– I’m healthier.  Perhaps West Nile is slowly releasing its grip on my brain.

– I’m married.  Last night I came into the living room where Greg was still working and curled up beside him on the couch.  The weight of his arm quietly wrapped around me in that moment and the knowledge that I no longer adventure alone are powerful.

– I have a trustworthy God.  Greg’s presence, though powerful and a gift from God, isn’t enough.  I called out to God and He calmed me.  He reminded me that this fear was old and familiar, and that He had brought me safely through every other thing I have feared, big and little.  Each time He brings me through, He reminds me of His perfect trustworthiness.  He uses every time I fear to build up my trust in Him.  And, He granted me the gift of blessed sleep.

I’m still concerned and working hard to get everything ready for Peru.  God asks us to participate in what He’s doing, and it often requires a lot of hard work.  Tonight, I am mostly at peace.  Fragments of “Be Still, My Soul” have been playing all day in my head, and my soul has stilled.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.

Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake…

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“We Do” – Thoughts on Our First Anniversary

One year of marriage!  My grandpa says, “If you can make it a year, you can make it forever.”  We celebrated with a fancy dinner, traditional gifts (paper!), and watching our wedding ceremony.

Last night was our first time to watch the videoed ceremony.  On a day typically reserved for a private celebration between husband and wife, I was struck again by this line addressed to the congregation:

Do all of you witnessing these promises pledge to do all in your power to uphold Greg and Meaghan in their marriage? 

Our friends and family responded with a hearty, “We do.”

I was reminded afresh of how much support Greg and I have around our marriage.  Parents who have been married 34 and 31 years.  Bridesmaids who wrap me in prayer.  Groomsmen who serve wholeheartedly.  A pastor who teaches us good and true lessons.  Family friends who have known me from infancy.  Family friends who have known Greg from infancy.  New friends and mentors who will travel across the state for a wedding.  Dear friends who weren’t able to make it to the wedding, but build up our marriage so much.   A church small group that loves us and is faithful to be present.  Fellow Christian graduate students who help us learn more and more.  Family friends who send anniversary cards!

I’ve mused before how it takes a village, and this understanding is only getting stronger with time.  The Lord has given us people to look up to, to mentor, and to share life with.  I am so grateful for our village.

Thank you, all my dear loved ones.

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Valentine’s Day Fudge: It Takes a Village

This post is part kitchen adventure, part musings on the community that surrounds us.

Since my husband has started announcing the quantity of sugar in all of his meals, I naturally decided to make him red velvet fudge for Valentine’s Day (following Six in the Suburb’s recipe, which has an obscene amount of sugar).

First, sugar and chocolate. (Pot from my hometown hostesses!  I’m not sure where the spoon came from, but we used it to fold our wedding invitations.)

Then, red gel food coloring to turn this velvet red.  It got brighter the longer it sat!  (Food coloring inherited when Rachel moved to Hungary, and never returned.) (Oh!  Don’t panic – mind the comma.  Rachel returned, but I never gave the food coloring back.)

Look at those convection cells in this boiling, viscous, chocolaty mass!

Checking the temperature with a meat thermometer (should have gotten a candy thermometer, but too late) from Lisa and Eduardo.

Waiting for the chocolate to cool to the requisite 110* was the most time-consuming part of this process.  Chocolate apparently has a very high specific heat!  On the plus side, I took a lot of pictures and cleaned the house.

Valentine's Day roses from my hubby decorate the kitchen.

Once the chocolate finally cooled, the recipe told me to blend in butter and vanilla.  Unfortunately, it cooled into such a hard mass that I couldn’t do it!  Enter manly man to whip up his own Valentine’s Day treat.

Between the time Greg stopped blending and I was prepared to pour, the chocolate had hardened into this.  I finally resorted to re-melting the fudge on the stove so I could pour it!  If I make fudge again, I’ll not let it cool down so much before adding in the other ingredients.

Making the cream cheese layer. Mixing bowl from Caroline!

White baking chocolate preparing to go in the cream cheese layer. Bowl from Natalie!

Pretty patterns! Mixer from Aunt Beth.

Okay, now that everything was made, it was time to put it together.  The recipe called for four layers, and thus for two identical pans to put the red velvet layers in to cool.  I didn’t have matching 8×8 pans, but I did have two identical 9″ pie plates, and I calculated that the areas were fairly close.  (“Pi” plates from my math friend Ben.)

The red velvet layer was too viscous to spread out in the pan on its own.  I ended up covering it with wax paper (to keep it from sticking) and a dish cloth (to protect my hands from the still-hot chocolate) and mashing it into place.  (Dish cloth from Julie & Rick.)

Making layers. Back plate shows the layer already mashed out; front plate shows chocolate ready for mashing.

Because it was so hard already, I didn’t wait very long for the red velvet layer to cool before spooning on the cream cheese/white chocolate layer.  Flipping the second red velvet layer on top was no problem – it didn’t stick to the wax paper at all, and its high viscosity meant that it kept its shape easily!

Finished product.

It turned out really sweet, and on the first night I thought it was pretty much a complete failure.  However, this fudge, like a fine wine, seems to improve with age.  The next day at lunch I could taste fudgy-ness underneath all the sweet!  After a day or so, it also got softer and easier to cut.  We’ve given away a lot of it (a 9″ pie plate is a lot to eat!), but my Valentine has quite enjoyed it.

While I was waiting for the chocolate to cool, I realized how many people had physically contributed to Greg’s Valentine’s gift this year.  Mentioned in this post for just physical wedding gifts are eight people!  Even the simplest thing like cooking in the kitchen can remind me of what a community surrounds and supports Greg and me in this wonderful adventure.  We’re not alone!

God said that it was not good for man to be alone before He created Eve.  I think the Bible’s teachings on marriage would say, too, that a man and woman aren’t meant to be on their own in marriage.  God has given us the Church to surround us, challenge us, and uphold us as Greg and I journey through this life together.

I might switch up the old proverb to say: “It takes a village to support a marriage.”

Thank you, our dear friends.  Happy Valentine’s day!


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Thoughts on Marriage Near my 1/3 Anniversary

I signed in to my WordPress account tonight so I could comment on someone else’s blog. The check box under the password – Remember Me? – sounded more like a plea from my lonely blog than it probably intended. So, here follows random thoughts from these last few months of being a new bride!

– Marriage has been such a natural transition for Greg and me. And that’s odd. For many couples today, marriage is just a change in legal status – where they are living and what they are doing doesn’t change dramatically. So, I can understand such couples feeling like marriage is no big change and completely “natural.”
For us, on the other hand, marriage meant radical changes! I mean, I’m living with a boy for the first time.
Our laundry gets all mixed up in the washer. We share a toothbrush holder and a mailbox. We fall asleep together for the first time.
Marrying each other was a major, life-altering event, but the transition to living and working and praying and sleeping with another human being has felt like the most natural thing in the world. (Except doing the dishes with one another, but I think I mentioned that earlier in my post discussing pre-marital counseling and submission. We’re getting better.)
I’m very thankful to God for that naturalness. We’re learning a lot about each other and how to live as a God-honoring husband and wife, but the newness doesn’t feel weird. It feels like I’m learning about a home I’ve never known until now.

– Greg does feel like home. Two months after our wedding, I took a week-long trip to the northwest for a conference. While I had a wonderful time learning and hanging out with a dear friend, the city felt dark and sad to me – like it desperately needed God’s light to pierce through. Hearing Greg’s voice when I called home was a light and warmth and peace. Thanks be to God for those who point us toward His light!

– On a lighter note, I’ve learned that Greg’s contact case looks a lot like mine when I sleepily reach for a case in the morning. It’s very confusing to put contacts in your eyes and still not be able to see.
(And it’s embarrassing to do this multiple times.)

From goldleafrestorationgilding.com

– I’ve been reminded how good and faithful God is to answer prayers that make us more like Him. One particular evening, Greg was praying out loud in his usual honest, rambling manner.

And it drove me nuts.

I started praying, Lord, help me love him. Lord, help me love him. Lord, help me love him. (I am rarely one for eloquent prayer!)
God did, by doing two things:

1. He showed me that I was getting to witness the intimate conversations between my dear husband and my even dearer Lord. Yes, it was a rambling and perhaps unclear conversation to me, but that’s because it was real. What a privilege to listen to the tender heart of my husband pouring out his inmost thoughts to the One he loves the most!!

2. He showed me how to pray with Greg.  I’ve always been one to pray in images: I picture people where they are, and I see God come close and touch them. I see visions of portions of heaven and feel God’s love. I (try to) envision just how big God is, and how His arms wrap around the whole universe.

So, when Greg was praying, God gave me an image of my prayers dancing around the text of Greg’s prayers like a sprite. A dainty, graceful sprite that leaves gold-leaf filigree in her wake around the letters of Greg’s prayer.  It illuminates them. It was beautiful to see how my image-prayers complemented his heartfelt-words.

And now my dear husband has finished his homework (comments on marriage during grad school another time), and I’m off to make sure our contacts go in the proper cases.


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Role Playing

I pick out a pretty, sparkly dress. I strap on (low) heeled shoes. I borrow some old, beautiful jewelry. And I top it off with a flowing headpiece – my veil.

My veil.

In the months leading up to our wedding, Greg and I discussed how unreal it felt. How all the preparations seemed like we were getting ready to play roles, and the outfits felt like costumes or dress-up clothes. It couldn’t really be us getting married, could it?

We spent a lot of time letting the reality of our upcoming marriage try to sink in. It really was us getting married! There were a lot of moments of things “getting real”: asking for addresses, sending out Save the Dates, picking out my dress, Greg moving down, taking bridal portraits, getting gifts, etc., etc.

In some measure, the reality sank in (and is still sinking in as we learn what living with another person is like!). We did get married. We stood before God, our pastor, our family, and our friends and made a covenant with one another. It’s his last name I sign every day. Greg and I will be living the effects of that one promise for the rest of our lives.

But, in another sense, getting married is playing a role. Playing a grand, cosmic role!

God has seen fit to call the church His Bride. The Bride of Christ! The one for whom He has laid down His very life, the one whom He purified and made radiant and spotless.
And on the day Greg and I married, we were playing roles – that of Christ and His Church. We play-acted for everyone there the great, crazy, impossible story of God’s love for us. And in learning to love one another better throughout our marriage, we’re learning and displaying God’s love more and more.

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“When are you getting married?” “Saturday.”


Not, “Saturday, the 30th.” Not, “Saturday, x weeks from now. ” Saturday.

It’s here.

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“And it shall be in that day,” saith the Lord, “that she shall call me, ‘My husband,’ and she shall call me Baal no more.

“And in that day I will make a covenant with them, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of the air, and with the creeping things of the earth; and I will destroy the bow, and the sword, and war out of the land; and I will make them sleep secure.

“And I will espouse thee to Me for ever; and I will espouse thee to Me in justice, and judgement, and in mercy, and in commiserations.

“And I will espouse thee to Me in faith; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord.

“And I will say to that which was not my people: ‘Thou art my people’; and they shall say: ‘Thou art my God.'”

– Hosea 2:16, 18-20, 24

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