He had hair, and I had poodle-permed hair, and it can turn out the what we thought was good hair days — was simply just a good day.

How can it already be twenty four years ago that a vow was spoken into space — and space evaporated and two became one, and how do you tell another human being with all of the moments of your life:

My home is your heart.

How we receive each other’s reach — eventually determines if we ever get to hold each other’s heart.

There have been years that rose like tsunamis, threatening to destroy us and all hopes of being a roof.

I have wanted to run. Outrun my ugly selfishness, my elusive expectations, my own bloated feelings.

I hadn’t known: Working hard can be a kind of running hard.

I’ve stood over pots at the stove, and kneaded soft dough into bread by the window, and read long and late into the night — and it’s true: working away can be a kind of running away.

Turns out: You can distance yourself in very small rooms.

And I have thought it often — after a chain of nights staring at the ceiling, our bed feeling like a growing gulf of impossible impasse —

What has made a way — is that promise that we made.

A promise made can make a way — through the wilderness to the Promised Land.

Sometimes a promise holds you together when don’t know how to hold on to each other.

And one day — (or was it over a long string of weeks, months?) — I looked in the mirror and wondered if we had made it through, if we had made to the other side.

Because it had happened:

I stopped wishing he would become someone better — when I realized how deeply I wished I was someone better— and yet he still took me.

The act of being truly chosen, is what makes us act more the way we always truly hoped.

He’d pull up the bed covers every morning, and cover over my shortcomings with a long patience, and when he could have destroyed me with a handful of words, he’d reach for my hand, and only use words that made souls stronger.

No one had said that this happens with vows:

For all my worse — he still takes me — and that makes everything better.

He still takes even me. I had finally stared long into the mirror, looked into my cracked depths, and saw the ugly truth of the brokenness that lies there, and honestly — how could I not be utterly taken with the one who still takes me?

Both my man and the Son of Man.

Maybe it should have been part of our vows:

Humility is the key to intimacy.

It’s only taken me more than two decades to wake to that blaze of two-fold epiphany of humility, like the sun for the day, and the moon for the night:

Go lower
and you’ll grow closer.


Share brokenness — 
and you’ll share closeness.

I reached for his bare arm in the dark, laid my scars next to his.

And that has been our healing, the remaking, the rising: realizing that every word, every comment, every act — all the small talk, all the big discussions, all the movements of the day — is a reach.

Everything we do or say — is a connection cue, a reach. 

A thousand times a day, in a thousand different ways, he is reaching — and does he meet me?

Meet my seeking eyes, meet my lingering gaze, meet my attentive ear — my waiting hand, my ready smile, my open mind — meet my embracing heart.

Mentioning the weather — is a reach to see whether you care enough to listen.

Pointing out something, anything — is a reach to point out if you have some time, any time.

I listen to farm reports and play-by- plays of tractor engine overhauls and he listens to synopsis of books, chapter by chapter and leadership is listening and love is listening and really living is listening.

“How we receive each other’s reach — eventually determines if we ever get to hold each other’s heart.”

I make him coffee and we make time, (and it has to be made), to simply listen and linger. Find a seat on the porch. Watch the zinnias, the tomatoes, the sunflowers grow. He sits more. I ask more questions. We find each other’s eyes. Steam rises from the coffee. Sunflowers reach for the sun.

The together life is messy and it is hard and it is broken and we are all that — and there is no perfect and there is no easy, and when I think that, it can be hard to breathe.

But — when I think this? When I rest in the essence of marriage being only and simply this — there’s the unhurried rhythm of hope:

Marriage is a long reach in the right direction.

Turning in the right direction — can start to turn things right around.

The whole of marriage turns on the turn.

Will we make it a priority to turn toward each  other, turn to  hear each other, turn to listen to each other, turn to respond to each other, turn to make each other our actual priority? 


The sunflowers keep reaching for the light.

And I keep think: Keep reaching for each other’s hand — because marriage is a long reach in the right direction.

Because for us what matters, is not that we chose someone perfect — but that we chose and we are chosen.

Because the truth that’s changed us is this:

The act of being truly chosen, is what makes us act more the way we always truly hoped.

Chosen simply for being— makes us become more how we want to be.

And he reaches over and tucks a strand of hair behind my ear.

And I smile, we smile — and how do you tell another human being with all of the moments of your life:

When the world is a storm, you are my safe.
When the world is a desert, you are my drink.
And when I don’t know where in the world I belong, you open your arms and whisper: Here.


All the free apps, tools, books and resources

that have been a lifeline for our marriage:

Catching The Rhythm Of Love: Experience Your Way To A Spectacular Marriage

Start here. This was a game changer for us. “A clinical psychologist long experienced in working with couples and specializing in mate selection offers a joy-filled manual for finding the bliss within a marriage, stressing the special laughter and dreams of a relaxed relationship.”

Fighting for Your Marriage: A Deluxe Revised Edition of the Classic Best-seller for Enhancing Marriage and Preventing Divorce

This became a dog-eared manual for us. “The third edition of the best-selling classic on marriage enhancement and divorce prevention, features the latest research and changes of heart in our culture and society.”

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love

I keep returning to this one. Transformative. “Dr. Sue Johnson presents Emotionally Focused Therapy to the general public for the first time. Johnson teaches that the way to save and enrich a relationship is to reestablish safe emotional connection and preserve the attachment bond.”

The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships

Our older kids have all read this one. My copy is all underlined, and I read parts of this one out loud again and again. “Gottman provides the tools you need to make your relationships thrive. Packed with fascinating questionnaires and exercises developed in his therapy, this book offers a simple but profound program that will fundamentally transform the quality of all of the relationships in your life.”

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s ForemostRelationship Expert

I give this as wedding presents and have read this several times — absolute lifeline. Foundational. “John Gottman’s unprecedented study of couples over a period of years has allowed him to observe the habits that can make—and break—a marriage. Here is the culmination of that work: the seven principles that guide couples on a path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship. Straightforward yet profound, these principles teach partners new approaches for resolving conflicts, creating new common ground, and achieving greater levels of intimacy.”

Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love

The Farmer and I keep working through this one. Worth it.  “Strengthen and deepen your love with a fun, ingenious program of eight life-changing conversations—on essential topics such as money, sex, and trust—from two of the world’s leading marriage researchers and clinicians.”

Intimate Issues: Twenty-One Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex

This was tender and powerful for me — and healing. “Written from the perspective of two mature Christian wives and Bible teachers–women who you’ll come to know as teachers and friends–this book is biblical and informative: sometimes humorous, other times practical, but always honest. Through its solid teaching warm testimonials, scriptural insights, and experts’ advise, you’ll find resolution for your questions and fears, surprising insights about God’s perspective on sex, and a variety of practical and creative ideas for enhancing your physical relationship with the husband you love.”

Free app that we use on dates — we don’t work through all the questions, but we use this app every single week. : The Research Based Approach to Relationships

And these two links — we return to again and again:

Free 36 Questions to Scientifically Fall in Love Again

36 Questions to Fall in Love as an App