It was a simple thing, really.
Something you've said hundreds of times.
But for some reason this time it hit me differently… I guess I let it sink in.
Remember how we were laying there, just about to fade into sleep, and you whispered it in my ear? You said: "I'm going to miss you when I go to work tomorrow. You're my best friend."
I cried for about two hours after you fell asleep.
Because you know… I feel like I do a lot of things wrong. I feel like I leave a lot of things undone. I feel like I spend a lot of days chasing after kids… and by the time you come home I don't have the energy to chase after you much anymore.
And I sometimes wonder if you know that I still miss you when you're gone, that I still love you when you're here, and that you really are my best friend.
So when you said those things, in that naturally sincere way you do, I just broke down. Because I thought "Well… I must be doing something right… if after 5 years, the wonderful man that you are really still misses me, and considers me your best friend… I must be doing something right."
And it was joy that made those tears keep squeezing out. Because I kept thinking of all the ways you do things right… of all the wonderful things you've done.
And I know you well enough to know you're like me--you're much more aware of the "Honey-Do List" that never ends and always gets longer. I know you well enough to know that list of things you really, deeply long to accomplish in this life… and that it's easier to focus on all you still need and want to do… instead of enjoying and celebrating what's been done.
So this is me celebrating you.
This is me enjoying you.
I couldn't keep it to just five, so I've listed a brief seven, though these only scratch the surface of all you've done. This is my small way of giving you a different list that I'd like you to look at for a while… and let it soak in.
The "Honey---DONE!" List:
1) You Want Me to Know that I'm Beautiful--And What that Really Means.
You say it in those rare times when I'm all dressed up, and maybe even wearing jewelry. You say it when I'm sick and haven't showered for days and my hair looks impressively like an umbrellabird's plumage. You say it when I've made a meal a little extra special for you. You say it when I make your coffee in the morning. You say it quiet when we're close and alone. You say it loud when we're around lots of people. You say it when I'm swollen with a hidden little person, and all during those months when my mid-section skin sags wrinkled after they've arrived. You say it when I haven't lost my temper and I've comforted and encouraged a wild child. You say it when I'm struggling to get out of bed and I'm losing to the laundry and more than a bit of my mind:
Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.
I'm more confident now than I ever was as a model.
Because you affirm the truth to me everyday: beauty isn't an image to maintain but my true character to live up to.
It's the real way God made me, and who I am in Him--inseparable from His beautiful Spirit--and all other looks and actions that are anything less than beautiful are not really me.
You call beautiful part of my identity and encourage me to live who I am.
You want me to know that I'm beautiful--and what that really means?
2) You Want to be a Leader in our Prayer Lives.
Every time you pray--every single time-- you lead me in this mystery of talking to, and listening to, God.
It's this humble and respectful way you talk to Him. It's this healthy kind of fear that I never, ever hear in your voice except for when you address Him. It's the completely still way you listen for Him. It's the way you remember to pray for our neighbors, our church family, our country, our extended family.
It's the way you don't rush--even at the end of an exhausting day.
It's how you never have a to-the-air prayer… but always are aware these words you're saying are directly to God Himself. You are aware you are in His presence and being heard.
Always. Every time.
It's humbling to me. You influence the way the girls and I pray.
You want to be a leader in our family in this way?
3) You Want Our Girls to See How a Husband Should Love His Wife.
It's what happens when you are all sitting around the table, and I'm scooping dinner onto the plates, and you ask them all to look at me.
You say it often and they love it: "Girls, look at your mother. You see that woman? I love her. She is my queen…".
And they all giggle and say that you are the king, and they are princesses and you don't even realize you're setting a standard only the best of men can meet.
They know they are living in a home that you built to suit me--they run around the child-proof rounded corner walls, sleep under the ceilings you stamped, watch you walk in from the back gate through that glass door I wanted and dance on the non-toxic stained and scored floor--they know this is a home full of your hand-crafted love.
When you kiss me goodbye every morning, and sweep the floor every night, and change countless diapers--they're watching. They see.
When you support me in discipling them, and you encourage me to have time for myself, and you listen as long as I want to talk--they're watching. They see.
When you pray for me and praise me and apologize to me--they're watching. They see.
When you go to work everyday, and bring me flowers just because, and hold my hand when we all take a walk together--they're watching. They see.
You want our girls to see how a husband should love his wife?
4) You Want to Set a Good Example in Reading the Bible.
It's all new to you. Even the parts that aren't.
You read the Bible like the Living and active Word that it is and you ask the best questions. The basic ones that we rarely have to verbalize answers to and the hard ones that we all need to embrace--and sit longer before the only One with the answers.
You think about and talk about the authors of the books and I read it all differently thinking about who wrote what and why. The context is fascinating and critical to you… and you've helped me to understand more thoroughly the story and the meaning instead of just reading over words I've known all my life.
You want to set a good example in reading the Bible?
5) You Want our Girls to Know They are Loved.
I know you wish you had more time with them.
They grow so fast and change everyday and I see it in your eyes when you squeeze them until they giggle themselves silly and you tease "You have to hug me! You're not eighteen yet! You can't get away!"
It's the reason they tackle you when you walk in the door and sit in your lap when you're trying to eat dinner and want to go with you everywhere--even on the early morning trips in the freezing weather to do something like fishing… just because you love it.
Because they love you. Because they know they are loved.
You do not enjoy dancing and still you dance with them. You dislike reading and still you read to them.
You let them put bows in your hair and ooooh and ahhhh admiration at their "fancy" outfits and you drink endless cups of nothing at their tea parties.
You snuggle with them and play soccer with them and you even share your popcorn with them.
You want our girls to know they are loved?
6) You Want Me to be Satisfied by You.
The is an open letter, so you can ask me for details later... but this simply cannot be left off the list.
You want me to be satisfied by you?
7) You Want to Live Christ's Character in Ways that I Need to Experience Him.
I've heard you pray it for five years now-- that you want to be more like Christ, that you want to live like Him, that you want to speak His words, and be His hands, and live His character towards me in ways that I need it.
Let me tell you something: Every day you live something that He is still trying to get through to me.
Every single day is a new day. Full of new mercies. No matter what has happened the day or night before, you hold no record of wrongs against me.
You have done this from the beginning: You forgive me for any and all offenses. Really. Fully. Completely. Even when I haven't asked yet and I'm not even remorseful--you always keep the door open for relationship with you.
It's a ridiculous kind of love, really. Because it's entirely undeserved and I know it costs you and I know you sacrifice to keep loving and serving me.
You go even further than that-- you let me know you enjoy me, you are happy with me, that you love me-- even while I'm a mess.
There is only one Spirit source capable of such amazing grace.
You want me to experience Christ through your love and life?
These last five years with you have been a gift to me. I hope you know how much I respect you, and that I notice all you have done.
I love you!
Happy 5th Anniversary!
To many, many more!
Photo credits: Brandi Claussen