For Better or Worse

We took our vows seriously on our wedding day, and we have every day since.

Our vows were long. I remember looking through the proposed vow options in the packet given to us by our church. I couldn’t decide, Robert liked them all and so we combined them. There was something of the traditional, for better or worse and in sickness and health. There was reference to the book of Ruth and his God being my God, his people being my people. We covered all the high points, not wanting to leave anything out. We took our vows seriously on our wedding day, and we have every day since.

We started our sixth year of marriage expecting our third child and settling into a relatively new town and job. We lived in a nice house, in a nice neighborhood and we had found a home church that we were beginning to get involved in. During the fall of 2015, Robert and I both sensed a restlessness. Not with each other, but with life in general. What were we doing? What were we really doing to serve the Lord? There seemed to be no obvious answer, but we continued to pray, discuss and seek God’s Word.

In October 2015, in the middle of a worship service at church, tears started streaming uncontrollably down my cheeks. I looked at Robert and he shook his head in agreement. We left the sanctuary in the middle of the service to talk privately in an empty Sunday School class room. “We need to sell our house,” I said with tears streaming down my face. Robert said, “I know. I don’t know why we’re supposed to sell it, but I know that’s what we’re supposed to do.” I was almost 8 months pregnant and the next day we put our house on the market.

Selling our home was one of the first impractical decisions Robert and I had ever made in our marriage. There was literally no reason to sell it, except that God told us to and that was reason enough. We prayed, we consulted Scripture and I personally tried to figure out every or any conceivable reason the Lord might be asking us to leave our home and neighborhood. He never gave us a reason and almost five years later, I still couldn’t exactly tell you what the reason might have been. What we learned was obedience. We learned to be obedient to the Lord, even when it didn’t make sense. We learned that when big confusing decisions were made, we had to make them together while following the Lord. We sold our home several months later, rented an old home and started building a house across town.

We learned to be obedient to the Lord, even when it didn’t make sense.

If people told us that the first year, the first five years or even the first baby were going to be challenging, the same people deemed that building a house together seemed to be an impossible feat in comparison. However, true to our expectations during our engagement, we knew that God would build our marriage, our family and now even our literal house. The process was not without disagreements, some impatience and a few unexpected situations. In the end, we worked well together and we cherish the house that the Lord built us.

One of the greatest surprises in the midst of building our new home was the news that we were expecting our fourth child, Jane. Jane was born six weeks before we moved into our brand new house. Four kids under the age of five, a new home, an old dog and seven year marriage. It was beautiful chaos. I would end the day exhausted and in utter disbelief at the goodness of God. As if the gospel was not blessing and grace enough, the Lord had and has lavished us with so many good gifts.

My love for Robert has grown every year that we have been married. After moving into our new home and settling down with baby number four, things seemed to calm down for a while. Life was busy, because life with four children, a job and community involvement usually is busy. But we settled into a consistent rhythm and enjoyed predictability. Robert did and has continued to faithfully lead and serve our family. We have enjoyed living, traveling, teaching, laughing and so many more things together. Robert is genuinely my best friend. Last year when the movie Little Women came out I told Robert I wanted to go see it. He told me to call my best friend and have a night out. I replied with a smile, “but you’re my best friend.” He laughed and said, “Call your next best friend, I’ll keep the kids.” Our love is easy and he constantly tells me when certain social events or opportunities arise that he would rather just spend time with me. He means it and I believe him. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t say, “I love you” multiple times a day. Usually the phrase is followed by, “you’re my favorite.” It’s true, we are each others favorite person.

There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t say, “I love you” multiple times a day. Usually the phrase is followed by, “you’re my favorite.” It’s true, we are each others favorite person.

In the midst of those long vows we made to each other almost ten years ago was the promise to love each other for better or for worse. To be fair, most of our years together have been better. But on a winter evening in February, we experienced the worst. With first responders flooding our home, two children crying on the sofa, I called Robert incoherently sobbing. A trooper had to take the phone and tell him to come home immediately. Robert never left my side. His hand never left mine while hearing the words, “I’m sorry, it isn’t good news.” Robert was the one who helped me change into pajamas when I didn’t feel like I could physically stand anymore. Robert never let go of me throughout the entire night, while we both sobbed over the loss of our daughter. I remember looking at him panicked and saying “Robert, some people don’t make it through things like this. These are the things that ruin marriages and families.” Robert calmly and gently held my face in his hands, looked into my eyes and said, “Casey, we are going to make it. God made our marriage and God will sustain it. We’re in this forever.” He was right and I trusted him in that moment just like I did ten years ago when he made his vows.

I’ve talked to many young girls on the brink of marriage, or perhaps waiting for “the one”. So many talk about their hopes and dreams, they ask to hear about our story. Robert and I don’t have a unique, interesting or witty story. I don’t think we experienced love at first sight and I don’t think we really knew what we were doing when we said we were ready to get married after only a couple of months of dating. I do know that our marriage is important and it is special, because it is ours. God created our love, He sustains it and our aim is not to make much of ourselves, but to glorify the Lord through our life, marriage and family. God has honored that and I believe He will continue to honor our desire to serve Him well. I have no poetic or outlined advice for young girls embarking on married life, except to keep your eyes on Jesus and knit your heart together with a man who is doing the same.

Keep your eyes on Jesus and knit your heart together with a man who is doing the same.

Ten years ago, I could have never imagined the better or worse that the Lord had in store for us. But I chose then to love Robert and I choose that everyday. I don’t know what the future has in store either. But I trust God and I trust Robert. There is no one on this earth that I would rather stand by. Whether joy or sorrow, sickness or health, better or worse, no matter what tomorrow might bring, I’m thankful to face it with Robert. What God has joined together, let no man separate.

Happy Anniversary, Robert. I love you and you will always be my favorite.

The Early Years

This week Robert and I celebrate ten years of marriage. There will be no expensive international trip and we will be fortunate if we get to eat at a restaurant for dinner. This milestone looks different than I probably imagined it would look just a few years ago, but it is actually much sweeter than I could have hoped. There is beauty in the ordinary and the simple. Our marriage is beautiful. Not because of anything we have done or manufactured, but because from the day we said our vows and every day since, our marriage has belonged to the Lord. Please indulge me as I take a trip down memory lane to commemorate this milestone over the course of the next few days.

Our marriage is beautiful. Not because of anything we have done or manufactured, but because from the day we said our vows and every day since, our marriage has belonged to the Lord.

In the early days of our marriage, people told us that the first year of marriage would be the most difficult. However, our first year of marriage was sweet and full of promise. Robert and I met each other through mutual friends late in 2008. We lived in different cities and saw each other very sparingly. By the Spring of 2009 we had struck up a long distance friendship through text messaging. In June of the same year, we were an “instant” item. I met his family and he told them I was his girlfriend, before he told me. We still laugh about this. In August, we went on a mission trip to Honduras together, and I vividly remember talking about marriage. I would be finishing nursing school in December and he would finish medical school the following semester. Since I wasn’t attached to any particular location, I was happy to move wherever he moved for his residency. Why on earth would we pay two separate rents? We should just get married. As a mother, I can’t imagine my own children having a similar conversation one day. But Robert and I loved the Lord first, and we knew He would build the marriage, family and house. We had a growing love for one another and the time we had spent together or not spent together didn’t seem to matter much. We had the rest of our lives. We are also both undeniably practical.

We had a growing love for one another and the time we had spent together or not spent together didn’t seem to matter much. We had the rest of our lives.

In October of 2009, Robert asked me to be his wife and we planned our wedding for the following May. We had yet to live in the same city at this point. Most of our friends that were getting married around the same time had been dating for years, some even since high school. But we were unswayed, young, in love and dreaming of our future. I finished nursing school in December and worked in home health for the next semester. Robert graduated from medical school in May and the next weekend we got married on May 22. We honeymooned for a week in Mexico and moved to South Carolina as soon as we returned to the States. It was the first time we shared an address, or a city for that matter.

After we were told that the first year would be difficult, we were surprised to find that it had in fact been a pleasure. Robert was busy with his intern year of medicine and I had started (and ended) my first job as a nurse in the hospital. We definitely experienced challenges, a few arguments and the typical learning curve that comes with living with someone for the first time. Robert was tired and I was alone many call nights. It was a unique first year of marriage, but I’m so grateful for the way God orchestrated it.

One of the greatest gifts to our first year of marriage was that we moved away. While we both love our families dearly, we were able to establish our own family and our own traditions. Because of Robert’s hectic work schedule, we weren’t able to go “home” often for family events or even holidays. We made our own memories and we consulted with one another about decisions. We committed our marriage and our plans to the Lord, and He greatly blessed us.

Since the first year wasn’t too hard, we then found people telling us that the first five years would be the biggest challenge. We were told that whenever we welcomed our first child, that we would experience a huge change in our relationship and it could be difficult. Well just shy of two years into our marriage, in the thick of residency, we welcomed our first child, Emma. Loving Robert has always been easy, seeing him as a father only made it easier.

Loving Robert has always been easy, seeing him as a father only made it easier.

In our first five years of marriage, we bought our first home, we welcomed two babies, I started and ended jobs in nursing, Robert started and finished residency, Robert also completed a fellowship in sports medicine, we sold our first home and purchased our second home in a different state. Life was busy and constantly full of change. We celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary on an elaborate trip to South Africa. We still talk about that trip and reminisce fondly. Not long after returning home, we found out we would be expecting our third child. George would be the first and only brother, to Emma and Leah. Life was showing no signs of slowing down, but our marriage was ever so sweet.

Though we were promised difficulty, we found our first five years of marriage to be a precious blessing from the Lord. Our marriage is not perfect, but it is good. We know that “every good and perfect gift is from above” and we have never doubted that the goodness bestowed to us has been straight from the Lord. Marriage is a miracle. The merging of two sinners into one family is an impossible task that only God could ordain. God has created, sustained and blessed our marriage. We are grateful, we do not take it for granted. The next five years of marriage looked different. There was more uncertainty, more settling down and more heartache. But Robert and I remained each other’s best friends and biggest fans. I look forward to remembering and writing about more sweet years with Robert later this week. I hope you will be encouraged and maybe even amused.