Marriage: Taking It On Side By Side

Monday night is date night. Oh, how I love it.  We tune out the rest of the world, and carve out time for the two of us. It begins with an evening walk together, then dinner at home alone, while the kids watch a movie.

We strap on our walking shoes {and awesome bomber helmets!} and hop on our bike and head off to walk together.

As our feet pound on the uneven dirt and pavement, we pound out difficult decisions, future plans, disagreements, frustrations, and hurts. He talks sense into my overreacting mind {and endures all of my tears}, and I listen to the stress of his day.

We walk side by side up the big hills.

 We pass the stinky chicken farm and the smell lingers long.

 We dodge enormous yellow dump trucks as we weave our way through the crater-like pot holes.

We cross to the other side as we come upon a pile of decaying trash.

 Yet, all the struggle is worth it for the moment we get to the top and see the sunset and the beautiful view of the jungle.

In our marriage and life together we have had some big potholes, some really icky garbage, and some nasty smelling junk.  Our marriage isn’t all pretty, and some of it is downright ugly, it always is when you are two selfish sinners, isn’t it? And us, especially so, I am so hard headed and difficult {poor Dave}.

But when we reach the top, all the hard work will be worth it to see the beautiful view of what God has taken, two sinners, and made something beautiful from our efforts to honor Him with our marriage.

Marriage isn’t easy, but it is so worth it. To see God’s fingerprints and sanctifying work and how he has changed us over the last 13 years is amazing and humbling.  I can’t imagine what the next 13 years will hold.  ”Marriage is a major vehicle for the gospel’s remaking of your heart from the inside out and your life from the ground up.”-Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

And in the end of our life together, I want this to be true of us, “Well done, good and faithful servants. Over the years, you have lifted one another up to me.  You sacrificed for one another. You held one another up with prayer and with thanksgiving.  You confronted each other.  You rebuked each other.  You hugged and you loved each other and continually pushed each other toward Me. And now look at you.  You’re radiant.” -Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

 I’m ready to tackle the next big hill, and I’m so glad we are taking it on side by side.

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  • Anonymous

    The Meaning of Marriage is on my list of must-reads. Thanks for this candid view of your ups and downs (literally!) :). I love that you all are intentional about date night–that though it isn’t your typical dinner out and a movie, you make every point to make it “a date” and an opportunity to focus on one another.

    • Joy

      Thank you Ruth. Oh how I wish that we had hours and hours to talk over steaming hot mugs of something. The books is really, really good. I could write an entire post just using quotes from it, but I’m sort of a quote girl. :)
      Thank you friend, for so regularly showing up here and encouraging. :)

  • Noel McNeil

    Ooh, I love date night! Thursday nights are the date nights for my husband and I. I look forward to them every week. I am about to have our third, so we won’t be ‘alone’ for quite a while, but that’s ok. :) I love that we have a night a week where we can relax and talk about life…and the stuff you mentioned too. Quality time between husband and wife is so important. It helps in so many ways. Thanks for this post and for the encouragement. I am thankful that the Lord is using you to glorify Him. Hope you have a great day!

    • Joy

      Thanks for sharing Noel! Congrats on your third, I hope all goes well! :)

  • Christina Y.

    Wow! The last quote from Tim Keller is absolutely amazing! That is exactly what I want for my marriage, as well! I can’t wait to forward this post to my husband! Thanks, Joy!

    • Joy

      Yes, isn’t that quote so encouraging? I am inspired and humbled and convicted by it. The whole book that it came from is really great as well. Thanks for commenting!

  • Terri Bonin

    I love this post! Thank you for writing!

    • Joy

      You are welcome!

  • Anonymous

    Oh Joy I LOVE this! Thank you for sharing the pictures and thank you for the encouragement and reminder!

    • Joy

      You are welcome, sweet friend. :)

  • Alantheda

    What a great example for the rest of us. Thank you, Joy for never giving up.

    • Joy

      Well, it helps when I have you guys as such a great example AND I’m married to such a great guy. :)

  • http://thechuppies.blogspot.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

    Okay lady… :)
    I totally appreciate this and you finally picked one I didn’t read with you (Keller’s)…it’s in my to-read-pile.

    I feel like this was kind of a God-send-post. We’ve been praying about some options for the fall and one of the options would create the possibility of a weekly date night, which we’ve never EVER had (you know how difficult it is to get away when you have a crowd of little guys :)

    Something in this post (maybe even just the reminder that it’s so important to have those times together) feels like direction to go that route….and in some odd way…permission… to go that route (to place value on carving out that time for the two of us), because in choosing the “date-night-possible-option”…we have to say no to a different opportunity of service.

    If that makes any sense…?

    • Joy

      Love it Kara!!I LOVE that we can spur each other on, encourage each other, and remind each other. You do that for me so often!
      Well, it is so hard to choose date night. I’ll be honest, we have had to say no to a whole lot of good things, and sometimes it is really hard to let people down. BUT, it has been such a life-giver for our marriage. No matter what, I know that my hubs guards our Monday nights (unless it’s something big). The walking thing just started about a year ago. Before that, it was just dinner at home together (while the kids watch a movie in their room). I hope you are able to make it work!! :) Love ya, friend.

  • Languageforlifeitaly

    Love this Joy. Your heart is precious! Thank you for always being genuine and transparent!

    • Joy

      Thanks. I appreciate your kind words. :)

  • Shonda

    Joy, you look at life so simply and profoundly. We don’t have regular date night and we need to! We do have a prayer and devotion time every morning, but I miss all the fun things we used to do before we had kids. Still trying to work this out on tight budgets and tight time. My husband often works two jobs so I can stay at home with the kids.

    • Joy

      Shonda, It sounds like you have an amazing husband who is willing to work so hard so that you can stay home. WOW. That is really special. I love that you have prayer and devotion together every morning. We just had our annual family conference not long ago and the pastor said praying together and reading the Word together were two of the major signs of a healthy marriage. Way to go! Let me pray for you right now……
      Lord, can you please show Shonda and her husband where they might find time in their busy schedule to just be together and have fun? I know, Lord, that you care so deeply about their marriage, and their love for each other. Thank you for Shonda’s husband and his willingness to work so hard to serve their family. Give them a few special, stolen moments together in the midst of the busyness. We love you, Lord, and give you the praise and the glory.

  • Melody Hansmeyer

    This post gave me chills today- because it’s true of my marriage as well. We are wretches saved by GRACE, and therefore when I see my husband- I should see Christ and vice versa. I just found you a few days ago and started following you just for the simple fact that you’re a missionary to the country I’d LOVE to be a missionary to as well. I’m a MK (to French Guyana in South America) and have a huge passion for the people who have NEVER heard. I’m just praying the Lord will call my husband! Thanks for the encouragement today :)

    • Joy

      Hi Melody! Thanks for saying hello! I’m so glad that you are here! :) Thanks for all of your kind words. I love that you are an MK, my hubby is one too {and of course, my kids!}.

  • Mmichellew1

    A book to push one another toward Christ: Sacred Marriage, by Gary Thomas.

  • mkirkwood

    Hi Joy,
    So thankful for your heart as a wife and mom – it is very encouraging.
    We too have regular date nights (we’ve had them ever since we were dating, and once we got married we thought…”Just because we’re married now, why stop having a date night?”). Of course it looks differently now than before we had kids. Instead of EVERY week of date night (before kids, we used to take turns each planning a special date for the other – Batting cages, picnic in the park, dinner & movie, etc.), we now have date night every other week because we switch off Tuesday nights with another couple so that we have someone to watch our kiddos. Each time we have moved we have sought out another couple who would be willing to do a date night swap! My husband and I protect and cherish our date nights…we enjoy our time together, and feel it is healthy and good for our kids to see that we love one another, prefer one another, and take time to nurture our marriage.
    Thank you, Joy, for giving us a glimpse into how you and your husband seek to honor Christ by loving, serving, and preferring one another. Happy Anniversary!
    -Megan

  • http://www.bethjcolvin.blogspot.com/ Beth Colvin

    Hey Joy! I just found your blog and I love it!!!!! This post was such an encouragment:) I’m currently doing the Love Dare journey and it has been a blessing! So thankful for your encouragement :-)

  • Apriani Susanti Ke

    I’m not married yet…:) but love to read your posting :)

  • http://ourjourneyoffaith.net/ Mama D’s Dozen

    Great post!

    Our date nights have looked different over the years, but we have always known how very important it is to set aside time for US. :)

    When we had 6 kids under 7 years old, we had very little money, and had to hire 2 babysitters to get away . . . so our date nights were only once a month. But we savored that time together, even if it was just to go our for dessert (because we couldn’t afford dinner and the babysitter).

    The past 2 years . . . we came oh.so.close to calling it quits. Only by the GRACE of God . . . did our marriage survive. Only because we KNEW what FORGIVENESS and GRACE and UNCONDITIONAL LOVE and COMMITMENT meant . . . are we now looking forward to our 30th anniversary next month.

    We have walked past the ugly, stinky garbage . . . and we have a glimpse of the view at the top. It WAS worth the hike . . . through the potholes (and even up the cliff we fell off).

    May your next 13 years be even better than the last. :)

    Laurel
    mama of 12

  • http://oklahoma-olsons.blogspot.com/ Oklahoma Olson’s

    I really enjoy your blog. My husband and I are Bible College students in Missouri. It’s great to meet another blogger in Ministry.

    Great post !

  • Dtoplov

    I’m new to your blog and am playing catchup on your older posts. I love that you admit that marriage is a bit of a roller coaster with two rotten sinners living under the same roof. I have discovered that marriage is one of the main tools the Lord uses to show us (me) what a selfish, prideful person I am. I am so thankful for your blog that encourages all of us wives and moms to keep our eyes on Jesus Christ!!

    P.s.- My parents were missionaries and I was born in Papua New Guinea! :)

  • Toni

    I’m not seeing the post? What am I missing?

    • Joy

      Somehow it got deleted. I fixed it and it’s back now! Thanks for telling me!!