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the journey of a lifetime.

these beautiful girls were both in the student ministry in georgia where we served for nearly six years.
i spent a whole lotta time with them…doing life together.
i absolutely love them dearly.
my husband was honored to be able to perform both of their beautiful weddings.

these pictures perfectly capture what they are each feeling.
love oozing from every pore.
young love.
it’s just beautiful.
so much has yet to be experienced together.
it seems that the whole world is in your hands or at least in your sight to take hold of…
there are dream homes to buy and dream vacations to take together…
lots of saturdays and sundays to spend sleeping late, eating brunch, and taking long walks.
there’s something surely magical about young love…
so much to still learn about one another
and especially about that sacred covenant that you entered into
 on that blissful wedding day.

 I look at these pictures and can’t help but think back to my own wedding day.
we looked so similar to these couples…
eager to be married and excited about our honeymoon in bermuda.
thrilled to be starting our lives together. 

today is our sixteenth wedding anniversary…
and after all these years,  i’m so grateful for the love that we now share.
there is a deep intimacy that has come through years of experiences and life together.
the kind of intimacy that comes through-
strife and heartaches, moves and job changes, great joys and hard times, pains, triumphs, births and deaths.

struggling financially while finishing a masters degree in kentucky….
you learn a lot about your marriage when you’re sharing
 a salad and free bread. 
paying for a home that took three years to sell while living in another state…
you learn how to weather the stresses of a tight budget
 for richer or poorer 

a first baby and a move to alabama for a first job…
twenty weeks of pure, nasty sickness….
joy stolen from those days and weeks and months 
spent throwing up and severely nauseated….
i think it’s safe to say i was the “mayor of struggleville” in that pregnancy.

a new body that teaches you so much about who you really are and what’s important to you.
you have to dig deep to figure out how to love the new stretch marked, extra-skinned self,
and you dig even deeper to let your spouse love the new you after they’ve seen your..
well… your inner most parts laid out in a birthing room.  
 for better and for worse 

time flies and your second baby is on the way.
bed bound with leg catheters feeding you medicine to keep the throw ups at bay.
friends keeping your toddler…
throwing up and debilitating nausea don’t mix with two year old children.
you learn so much about yourself when you need others,
and you learn so much about your spouse 
when they love you well during sickness.
…in sickness and in health.

a move to georgia
a toddler and a nine week old baby.
 a two year old that growls at strangers
baby blues
all of it makes you wonder if the “you” that you used to know is still alive in there somewhere.
the good definitely outweighs the bad.
adding children is indescribable.
to say it’s the biggest blessing of your life would be an understatement.
you can’t remember what you did before these little people started clinging to your ankles.
but, it’s all an adjustment and sometimes adjustments are hard.
 to love and to cherish. 

a miscarriage, a home destroyed, a sick parent, an international adoption, a move to florida
and another move back home to Georgia with another new job.
you’ve changed….he’s changed.
those two twenty somethings don’t exist anymore.
you both have more gray hair than you’d care to admit.
those laugh lines are more distinct now.
the abs are there..somewhere underneath the late night snacks.
the kids are growing and changing and keeping you busy.
your saturdays and sundays are spoken for.
there is no sleeping in, eating brunch, and taking long walks in this current season of life.
and if there are moments with those things, 
it’s not because it happens spontaneously.  it happens because you make it happen.
when those moments are scheduled, you hardly know what to do with yourselves.

till death do us part.
My dear husband and I have been around the world a couple of times together 
and experienced the greatness of God’s creation.
I can’t believe we’re on the final countdown to forty!!!
we’ve got three kids.
we’ve moved in and out of five states.
had four jobs.
three apartments.
one parsonage.
one rental.
and five owned homes.

I am so grateful for my marriage and that sacred covenant that we entered into together
sixteen short years ago.
It’s fun to remember back to those first days of falling in love and recount the details.
Every single memory got us to where we are today!

We’ve come so far and learned so much!!
We work hard for a strong marriage, even if it means humbling ourselves to ask for help.
We surround ourselves with couples who journey beside us in the good and the bad.
We die daily to our selfishness…we fight for quality time together…
We choose to talk through disconnectedness.
We make time together and date one another as often as possible.
We ask God for help often in loving one another the way each of us needs to be loved.
But, hands down…the most important thing we’ve learned to do
is rely on God as our source of hope, strength, comfort, security and peace.
Thank God we’ve finally learned to let each other off the hook because
God is the only one who can truly meet our deepest needs.

Happy Anniversary, Andy…
I wouldn’t want to do this journey with another soul on earth.
Thank you for loving me and studying me and committing yourself to us.
On our wedding day, I didn’t think it was possible to love you more, but I absolutely do!!

for richer or poorer,
for better or worse,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish…
’til death do us part.

{thankful for}
504.  Jesus, who is the most perfect husband.
505.  my marriage to Andy…one of God’s sweetest gifts to me.
506.  our mentors, who have stood by us and prayed us all the way to this 16th anniversary!
507.  our friends, who allow us to be who we are and love us dearly.
508.  our kids, who give us 3 more reasons to make our marriage as amazing as it can be.

rjvanegmond - Tara- what a beautifully written, REAL, heart-felt post! Congrats to you and Andy :) I love keeping up with you here! Reading your blog is truly a bright spot in the day! love to your family! – Rachel

Sarah - What a gorgeous post. Happy anniversary!

Michele - Happy anniversary to you both, so grateful for your example of marriage and what it means to be a Godly wife. Wishing you sixteen more beautiful years, and hoping I get to walk every one with you.

Jackie at Roots and Wings - Tara, your words are just lovely-what a beautiful reflection on your marriage journey. Happy anniversary to you and Andy!

thistlewoodfarm - Tara,

I am sitting here….in awe of you.

This post expressed my heart.

You are incredible….my wonderful, introspective, heart-speaking friend.

Thanks for blessing me today.

Tiffini - This was so real and sweet..
It is a journey for sure..with lots of twists and turns
It challenges you to the core
your beliefs
happy anniversary you two..keep working hard at it.
With God’s heart at the center all things are possible.
love you….
and this blog really does look amazing and I am not just saying

Lemonade Makin' Mama - Oh how precious and Happy Anniversary sweet girl. I love how you love your man the way I love mine too. They are such GIFTS. We celebrate 17 in November. And we went to a wedding this past weekend and I was thinking about our wedding the whole time b/c they had some similar songs… I just felt goosebumps. (in a good way.LOL)

LLH Designs - Aww. I love your heart, Tara. And I love to see a woman who loves her husband with all she’s got…through thick and thin. Happy anniversary to you both! xoxo!

Lauren Giesler - Tara! This is so sweet. Happy happy anniversary! We love you both to the core. Grateful for your journey thus far and how it has shaped ours. LOVE!

Julie - Just beautiful… Happy 16!

Lil Light O Mine - i want your cow painting – but what i want more – is to be a better wife. thank you for putting it so beautifully and reminding me of the journey and the many layers of intimacy.

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