4 years

Dearest David,
It’s been 4 years now. I think I’m meant to say that it’s all flown by so fast and I’ve loved every second. But you know that’s not the truth. In many ways these last 4 years have felt so long. I look back at our wedding pictures and it amuses me to see two very young people. I know that we are still young – at 25 and 26 years old we’re hardly ancients. But things are different now. We are older. I’m a lot more tired! We’ve read books and learned together. We’ve changed our minds on various topics and sometimes changed them back again. We’ve lived through better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health and we love and cherish so much more because of the journey.
I love learning with you. But I don’t have any easy answers. In fact, often times I have no answers at all. You know that. You’ve asked the questions and heard my silence. For me, learning that there aren’t very many easy answers was one of the hardest things about the last 4 years. It’s taken me years (and I’m still not too good at it) to start understanding that the silence and the ‘I don’t know’s are themselves valuable. We’ve sat in hospital rooms together in silence not knowing what to say or why this is happening again and yet some of those moments are among the most precious memories. In the silence and in the emptiness we have been filled. We’ve been poured out but God has never left us empty.
In my experience, the rain never quite stops. Sometimes it comes in tumultuous downpours and the sting upon sting of hundreds of raindrops hurling themselves at you feels like insult upon insult and just as you think that you can’t stand it any longer, the raindrops become tiny and the pitter patter of the shrunken droplets on your skin feels refreshing and almost comical. In that moment, don’t forget to look up because it’s then that you see the rainbow. That’s something you’ve taught me. You dear, oft-unrealistic optimist. ‘Hey Ruth, look at the rainbow! There’s always a rainbow.’ And you’re right. There is always a rainbow. There is always a promise of God. Creator God, Sustainer God, Redeemer God, Eternal God. Always a plan. Always a promise. Always a rainbow.
In these ways and in many others, you have been a beautiful picture of Christ’s love for his church. Your love for your broken bride is astonishing and wonderful. You are kind, gentle, giving, loving, godly, strong and your jokes are hilariously awful.
I never thought we’d be celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary. And yet, here we are. Praise God!
I love you, David.

2 years

For most of my life I didn’t think I’d see a day of marriage let alone two years of it. It’s funny how wrong a person can be.

I was never into the idea of being in love but that goes to show how little I know about real love. Love is not about the moments that will move an audience to tears on a big screen. It’s not about the pre-packaged hearts and flowers. After all, the greatest act of love was a poor man dying on a cross.

This year, more than any before, I’ve seen the beauty of love that persists even in difficult and dark places.
The port, the PEG and having oxygen have been different challenges than we had before and yet David’s love for me has seen past those.
I can do less and less and simple things tire me faster but David has adapted to that. Instead of the active things he would like to do, he chooses a film or something that I can easily do. As he put it, ‘It’s ok because though I’d like to do something more active, I want to do what you can do.’

I’ve been blessed with a man who not only loves me but wakes up every day and chooses me. Jesus said that to find your life, you need to lose it. David’s choosing to love me is a giving up and a losing of his earthly life. My health affects so many things for us both. I was given CF but David chose it. And as we lose our lives, as we go through life with so few of the things by which people measure success, we find life in places we never knew it existed.

This year we’ve been able to count CF among our blessings. This year we’ve learned that God really does work through people who are weak. This year we’ve fitted our God-given roles that little bit better. This year we’ve grown-up in ways we didn’t even realise we could.

Our third year starts today and we trust and pray that, over the next 365 days, our marriage and our lives will yell ‘Jesus is King!’ louder than ever.

I love you, David.

A whole lot can happen in a year

One year ago today, I was putting on my beautiful ivory wedding dress, picking up my bouquet and speaking words of wisdom and comfort to my Dad (who was a lot more nervous than I was!) If you’d told me at that moment what this year would bring I would either have not believed you or, if I had, I’d have sat down and cried. Because this has been the most difficult year of my life.

Some would think of the whole thing as a sad coincidence. We get married and then I embark on the worst health journey I’ve had. So far in our marriage there have been 4 weeks when I’ve been pretty well. Not what we planned. One day we’re hoping to enjoy our honeymoon. It just keeps getting postponed. It’s been hard. Sometimes almost unbearably so. I won’t lie, there have been times when I’ve wished God would just take me home. It’s got to be better than a future of this. Even as I get better this time round, there’s a sadness because it’s only a matter of time until it all happens again.

But in the midst of the health rubbish, there’s a constant figure. And he’s my husband. This time last year, I was hearing him promise ‘in sickness and in health.’ We always knew that that would be our hard bit. Some people have money troubles but health, or rather the lack of it, is our thing. If I’m honest, I didn’t always believe David could do this. Oh, I never doubted his willing but I knew how little he knew about real life with me. But I underestimated him. And I’m so glad I did. All the time, I’m seeing more of his love and as I go deeper, I’m more amazed. David’s love for me is beautiful. When he brings me flowers and tells me he loves me. Or when he goes and gets the car so I don’t have to walk so far. Or when he hugs me when I cry. Or helps me shower in hospital. Or looks into my tired, ill eyes and tells me that I’m beautiful. And there’s more.

If you’d told me a year ago what this year would bring I would either have not believed you or, if I had, I’d have sat down and cried. But then I’d have picked up my bouquet and run as fast as I could to the church. Because if I knew then what I know now, I’d know that I needed to be married to David. I could never have done this on my own. God knew that. And so, in His kindness He gave me a sacrificial, loving man.

One year has gone and I love him more than ever. I can’t say I’m looking forward to all the next year will hold but in one thing I’m certain. There’s no one I’d rather share it with.

I love you, David.

6 months.

New world, new people, new purposes. A lot changed six months ago as we said ‘I will.’ 2 little words changed us, changed our lives, changed our identities. And it’s a lot to get to grips with. Six months in, I still haven’t got it. Maybe it’s because I’m a slow learner, I’ll be the first to admit that. Maybe it’s because these changes are hard. Or maybe it’s because these changes never really stop still, never give you a minute to get used to them.

There have been hard changes. I always knew that would happen. I sat in a hospital room with a wall between me and my husband. A wall of physical pain and emotional pain with the question Why? written all over it in capital letters. I watched relationships change and knew that I’d never be able to get the old ones back. I had my daily schedule interrupted, my habits questioned and my property shared. Petty, perhaps, but still harder than you might think.

But I’ve tasted goodness in new ways. God pronounced his creation to be very good. And so do I. This thing works. We’re still babies. We can’t colour in the lines. We can’t look after ourselves. We can’t even walk without falling over. But we’re growing. We’ll never get there, whatever ‘there’ might be, but we’re noticing the growing and that counts. I believe in God’s grace now more than ever. I understand Jesus’s death now more than ever. I feel the Spirit working now more than ever. In just six months.

It’s funny how you think you know what’s coming and yet what actually comes is so different and so much more glorious than you thought. It’s funny how small our minds are. I’ve been given a glimpse of something more and something greater. I’m living this bride thing in a more tangible way than I was. And the beauty of it scares me. How can I do this? This bright, beautiful, wonderful, pure thing? And yet the very one who asks me to be his bride helps me to become his bride. I see love lived out in front of me and it helps me become lovely. I see purity lived out in front of me and it helps me become pure. I see strength and kindness and laughter and weeping and prayer and in those things I am changed.

It is a new world. I have a new calling. I’m to be a new person. I have a new person to die for and a new one to live for. I’m to breath a new breath of life and live it out. Here I am.

Thank you, David.
I love you.

On parenting. Or not.

I know, I know. I’m a young girl who’s been married for all of 5 months and I have zero children and therefore know nothing about parenting. If that’s what you’re thinking, you’ve almost got it. I certainly don’t claim to know much about being a parent. But I know an awful lot about not being one. I’ve had 22 years experience. 6 of those have been in the knowledge that in all likelihood I’ll never know about being a parent from first hand experience. And, to be honest, that stinks. I’m not talking about a little bad smell here. I’m talking gut-twisting stink. Since I was 16 I’ve had to face up to the fact that I’ll probably never hold my own child, never hear anyone call me Mummy, never be able to make my husband a Dad, never get to use the list of favourite baby names I’ve had stored up for years and all the rest. 

Since getting married it’s got both harder and easier. Easier because I never thought I would be married and so being given this gift is good enough for me – I certainly don’t expect any more. Easier because I’ve been a lot more ill and so the reality of how I simply couldn’t care for a baby hits home more. Harder because I have a real, great person to add into the sentence ‘never be able to make my husband a Dad’. Harder because having babies is what married people do. Harder because people make comments about it now. 
There’s not many situations I like less than the one in which I’m having a conversation with a parent and they’re trying to make me feel better by telling me how much money or time or energy or effort their children cost them. It’s not fun for me and it’s not fun for the child standing beside them. 
I suppose one of the biggest things about being a mother is the giving love. I suppose that in every woman/person there’s a desire to give giving love. There are ways to live giving love to other people but in no way are those comparable to the way in which you live giving love to your child. Maybe that’s why there’s an emptiness in childlessness. They say that you have to love to feel pain. Maybe giving love hurts as much when you can’t express it. 
I don’t know. I don’t have solutions. I don’t have answers. I know there’s hard things about being a parent and hard things about not being a parent. I can’t sort those out. Stuff hurts sometimes. But I guess the important thing to remember is that it’s ok for stuff to hurt. We can be sad. We can cry. As long as we do it with Jesus in sight. But the best thing is that he doesn’t let us be sad and cry on our own. He’s there with us. And he knows what it’s really like for stuff to hurt. 

On illness, marriage and traffic jams

As of yesterday David and I have been married 11 weeks. It feels like a very long time although I do realise we’re still very much novices! One of the reasons it feels so long is that we seem to have gone through a fair amount in those 11 weeks. People call the first year of marriage the honeymoon period and often expect that nothing bad will happen in that time if not a lot longer. And for lots of people this is true. But I’m one of those people who feel old at things fairly quickly. I’ve had certain struggles that not many people have to face this young and those have carried on into marriage and have got harder for both of us in a short space of time. I’m always ill at some level but I’ve been pretty ill for 8 of our 11 weeks and continue to be so. Nobody really knows why this is happening and this brings the uncertainty about our earthly future that we’ve always felt quite strongly even more close to home.

It’s an amazing thing when you believe in something so wonderful that you totally trust for the future. I walked down the stairs today and heard my two favourite Davids discussing how envious they were of the way I’ll realise a bit more than them just how fabulous the New Creation will be. ‘Just imagine how it will feel for her to run and breathe deeply without coughing.’ Haha, boys. There are perks of CF after all.

It never ceases to amaze me how when things are hard our Father’s care shows more deeply and shines more brightly. The small things are often the most amazing. Today we were coming back from visiting my parents and I wasn’t feeling great at all and was very keen to get back. We saw a sign on the M25 that warned us of an accident and therefore delays. I groaned inwardly and prepared myself for a very long trip. Soon we got to a point where the road splits and one lane separates from the other two. They were all pretty busy so David picked the one that separates and we settled ourselves down for a wait. But then our lane picked up speed and we travelled fast while the other two lanes were totally stationary. Eventually we passed the accident that had totally blocked the other two lanes and it was obvious that they weren’t going to be moving for a good long while. I looked at David and told him he’d picked a good choice of lane. David turned to me and said, ‘No, your Heavenly Father just knew that it wasn’t good for you to be in a car longer than you needed to today.’ 
The past 11 weeks have given me more proof (as if I really needed it) of how much God loves me. I never expected to be married. I never had a great view of myself anyway but add CF to the mix and I thought I was the last person that any man would ever choose. But then, with God’s prompting and in His plan, David came along. I never thought I would hear any man promise ‘in sickness and in health.’ But then, in God’s mercy, I did. And even in 11 weeks that’s already been tested. When they say marriage is hard, they’re not joking. Even after 11 weeks I can testify to that. But when they say that marriage is worth it, you’d better believe it. Because it’s so true. 
God is good and there’s no denying it.