The Look in My Eye

Dear Child of Mine,

Over the past decade together, your mommy and daddy have done a lot of growing up. Life experiences force growth and pruning and newness we didn’t know possible, and yet the results sometimes go unnoticed. It’s like watching a flower grow. You plant the seed, you watch the green seedling push its way through the soil. You notice its increasing height, the leaves forming. And soon, somehow, as if you hadn’t been watching, it’s tall and hearty and blossoming beautifully.

That’s what has happened to Kevin and I in the years since we just 17 and 18, high school graduates, college freshmen, new love birds. The look in our eyes speaks of smitten admiration, purest joy, sincere commitment. We were children, really. Mature, yes. But still children. We hadn’t yet bought our own toilet paper, chosen a life insurance policy, settled into a home, decided which side of the bed to sleep on. Yes, we’d stay up late talking about our dreams for the future, contemplating marriage, watching moves like Hitch and Tommy Boy and The Sandlot. Yes, we even discussed (and sometimes argued) theology and the age of the earth and the reasons to go to church. We learned how to let one another be an individual, doing things separately, not having to be a “couple” all the time.

More than anything those 4 years of college dating left us deeply in love and certainly a little (or a lot) smitten.

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And now, six and a half years into marriage, I look at him like this. My eyes tell of an unspeakable depth, fervent commitment, and unabashed respect. There’s a decade worth of experiences, of church ministry together, of arguments and debates, of lingering kisses and long walks, of dreams faltered, and God’s faithfulness acknowledged. The look of contentment shines, a steadfast covenant of marriage. We can share an entire conversation with just a look; flowery words of “love you forever” now superseded by the day-in-and-day-out faithfulness of a husband and a wife.

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I liked us then, the joyful looks we exchanged after 11 months of dating.

But I’m so thankful for now, the time-tested foundation formed after 10 years.

Whatever you do, Child, don’t forget that your Daddy and Mommy are always going to be working on their marriage, to be more unified, more respectful, more loving – more like Christ – than we were yesterday.

always,
Mama

PS – I want to thank our good friend, Amanda, for selecting these photos (largely due to those glances exchanged) as poster-sized portraits we now hang in our bedroom. Thanks, Amanda, for noticing the difference a decade can make.

PPS – Another thank you to Brittney for taking our photo (this and many others) in college, and to Dad Eccles for capturing this moment at ordination service in May 2014.

Becoming

Dear Child of Mine,

In all this waiting for you, I have begun to learn more and more about myself. I used to define myself by the motherhood I would one day experience. Always living, planning, hoping in the future.

My desire for you has not diminished and I’m certain it won’t disappear. Your participation in my life will remain a welcome 2014-08-16 12.07.59thought, a hopeful expectation. But I’m finally beginning to discover the woman God created me to be. I’ve seen glimpses of myself fully alive, living out every inch of the purposes for which I was ordained. My courage is building as I imagine myself painting with bold colors rather than keeping my gifts subdued with pastel strokes. I’ve lived in fear of failure, fear of rejection, allowing my steps to be governed by my assumptions of others’ opinions and expectations.

And all these years I’ve been searching for my calling. Waiting for God’s direction to be clear, to hear him say,

YES! This is you – at My best. Stay here!

I could have achieved many goals and settled into a life I created for myself. The list of careers, degrees, finances, and even adoptions that could have been accomplished over the last decade is far too long to list. Perhaps onlookers wonder why I haven’t done this or that, believing I’m wasting precious time. And I’ll be honest, my negative inner voice likes to chime in and agree. But the truth is I haven’t felt peace deep down in any one path for my life. I’ve seen times of passion in my work, gifts being used well. But it’s felt like something was missing.

And so, after these months and years of waiting for you, and wondering at my purpose, I am able to thank the Lord for his sovereignty - in keeping me in a place of wandering and childlessness all these years. Because if I had felt content with mediocrity I never would have kept seeking the brilliance God has created for me. I’m beginning to experience a stirring in my core. God is unwrapping His gift for me, and He is faithfully accomplishing a more bold and beautiful version of me than I could have asked or imagined.

While I wait for you, I’m going to become me, fully alive. 

 

 

Houseguests Galore

Dear Child of Mine,

You’re seriously missing out on the all the fun! For the past week our house has looked a bit more like a Bed and Breakfast (and Lunch and Dinner). We are so thankful that our New York friends took us seriously when we invited them to visit us in Michigan. It feels like the proof of true friendship to have hosted so many families in just the first two months since moving. We love having this home with plenty of space to accommodate visitors. I adore my large kitchen and those barstools where people always congregate. We’ve had bonfires and taken numerous field trips to Independent Dairy and played in the park and shopped at Goodwill. And it’s felt just right.

Bible Quizzers July 3-4: Thoms (Tara/Catherine/Jacob/Sarah), Allens (Pam/Trinity), Bannisters (Emily/Jayne), plus Calandra and Zach.

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Symons August 15-17: Tod and Anna and their three kids – Charlotte, Henry, and Amelia

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LeBarons August 19-21: Sheryl and the kids – Ashlyn, Brendan, Madison, and Jillian

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Rivers August 23-24: Tom and Marsha (they arrive this evening!)

Here’s some more sweet memories of our time together -

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MORE GUESTS!
My parents visited over Fourth of July weekend and Kevin’s brother spent a few nights with him while I was at camp. Our dear Ohio friends, the Lacys (Matt/Elizabeth/Owen), are coming in September! We plan to have the Eccles over soon, and hopefully host a family holiday in the near future. We love being loved with this time together and we hope YOU join the fun soon, Dear Child.

Settling In

Dear Child of Mine,

As previously mentioned, we’ve moved homes 5 times in 6 years of marriage. For this “home body” type, that is far too many times. Even though, by some stroke of God, we’ve ended up back in the same house we lived in before, we’re different and it feels different. Our mentality has changed. “This is our home. Let’s settle in and make it our own and care for it with hard work and dedication.”

Your dad has been working on removing the overgrown plants and weeds from around the house  and he’s making great progress on clearing the cement pad we’ve claimed for our patio/fire pit. I’ve cleaned crevices I only ever wanted to ignore and mopped the kitchen floor more times than I can count. (In two months of living here, the mopping must number at least 8 or 10 times…a record for me, given that mopping used to be lowest on my chore priority list.) Having a wonderful washer and dryer on the first floor, connected to our bedroom, is housekeeping heaven. No more laborious trips to the laundromat – I am so thankful.

And last week we finally began the daunting task of repainting. We’ve only completed one room, but given the continual stream of overnight guests, I think that’s forgivable. Painting makes a BIG statement of our intention: we plan to be here a while. I’ve never painted any other home we lived in because I always had this gut feeling of, “What’s the point? We won’t be here long enough to enjoy it.” So yeah, painting is pretty symbolic.

Originally, I wanted everysingleroom in the house repainted in the first week we moved in. I quickly realized that was completely unrealistic. But I refused to allow the faded wall colors and the wallpaper borders become routine and ignored – like that pile of papers on the desk that’s been there for five weeks. When I learned that a local hardware store was liquidating its products at 60-80% off, I headed over right away. I purchased 4 gallons of Dutch Boy paint-primer-in-one, each for around $11 (compared to the $35 retail price). Score! Color selections were limited because of the store closing, but after about an hour of deliberating, I finally made up my mind. (God bless the patience of the paint department employee.)

That very night I started edging and fell in the love with the color for the living room. I was so thankful for Kevin’s participation in the process. He diligently scraped the wallpaper border as I followed him with the paint. I hate wallpaper, he hates painting and neither of us was stoked about the project. But each afternoon Tuesday through Thursday we can home and worked for about 2 hours. Being together and listening to episodes of The West Wing on Netflix made the process much more enjoyable. Thanks, husband! Now we must move on to the dining room and kitchen…yay?) Looking forward to just being done. I surely love the finished product.

BEFORE (cream/neutral walls, window treatments, floors):
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AFTER (Mossy Log on right/unseen wall, Loggia on front/left wall):
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