Friday, June 15, 2012

A Lifetime of Laughter

Source: Pinterest
(Note: I found this photo while perusing Pinterest and it didn't link back to the actual source of the photo. My apologies for inadequate source citation.)

This may be one of the most beautiful images I've ever seen.

Maybe it's because I'm an old soul, but I'm always drawn in by images and stories of couples who have  stood the test of time. What's more inspiring than that for a young woman just beginning her love story?

Even before I met Mr. Ford, I always loved these stories, because it gave me hope that the thing I longed for most was possible...attainable. Realistic.


This particular image - her in a hospital bed, him in a wheelchair, laughing and just delighted to be in that moment with one another - perfectly encapsulates what I want most in my old age...any age, really.

Mr. Ford and I love to laugh and we laugh often. We're probably not really all that funny, but to one another we are and we delight in just being together. The joy boils over and comes out in laughter. 

I don't ever want to lose that.

Whatever this couple's story is, I know they've laughed a lot together. And that's probably how they've gotten through many a difficult time together. 

Like the one they were probably experiencing when this moment was immortalized.

That's been true of the Ford's story so far. I hope it's true of our story for a lifetime.

Through the joys and the sorrows.

A lifetime of laughter with my beloved. 

That's really all I want.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Napa Weekend

Wine country is just gorgeous. I love my is so diverse in it's topography and I just adore that about it. Wine country is certainly no let down. My pictures don't do it justice. If you ever have the opportunity, go! Even if you don't drink wine...

We had a wonderful time at the Marriage Retreat in Napa. The whole weekend we kept saying to each other, "We're in Napa...weird". Neither of us had ever been there, so it was such a treat for our first visit be together. There are few things I love more than experiencing new places and things with my husband. 

Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling 100% on Sunday when we were going to stick around and visit some wineries, so we didn't get to enjoy that part of Napa quite as much as we would have liked (I know, totally lame), but I DID enjoy some wine at dinner on Saturday. More on that in a moment.

The retreat itself was a great opportunity for us to get away and just be together, focusing on our marriage and gaining tools to help us as we move forward. We take this thing very seriously and are always hungry for ways to help us protect our marriage against all that this world wants to throw at us to destroy it. We came away with several nuggets of wisdom, but one of my favorites was this idea that conflict in marriage needs a re-framing...rather than thinking of it as me vs. you, think of it as us vs. the problem. You are on the same team in your marriage...don't fall prey to the lies of the enemy that you are fighting one another. Fight the problem TOGETHER. Seems obvious enough, but it's so easy to forget that...stay on guard and be vigilant to protect against the insidious lie that you are alone in whatever issues arise. You are a TEAM. And you have to protect that team at all costs. Good stuff.

A few other wisdom nuggets:
- Often, the thing that irritates you most about your spouse is the thing that you need the most. The example that the speakers gave was that in the early days of their marriage and their work in ministry, he would go full steam ahead and spend a lot of time outside of the home working to advance the Kingdom (not in and of itself a bad thing) and she would be bothered that he wasn't home very often. One day as he was venting to God about how she was slowing him and the Kingdom work down, God smacked him and said, "If it weren't for her 'slowing you down' you'd already be burned out". I thought that was awesome...whenever I get really irritated by something that Mr. Ford does/doesn't do, I'm going to start thinking about it in terms of what God could be telling me it is that I need. Isn't it amazing how the Lord knows just exactly what we need and gives us people (oftentimes our spouse) to provide that thing? He orchestrates every detail...
- Here's a pithy one, but underneath the pithiness, it's just beautiful: The look of her dreams is far more important than the look of her jeans. AND Be less concerned with what he is earning than with what he is learning. In other words, fall in love with their dreams and they will ALWAYS be the most attractive person in the world to you; fall in love with how they are growing and the ebb and flow of life will be a much easier ride. Beautiful, no?

Psyched for our date night.
And the most useful tool we came away with was what they called The Dream Spouse List, meant to help communicate expectations. Basically, you ask your spouse what the 5 things you could do that would make you their absolute perfect dream spouse and then rate them and weight (out of 100%) them in priority order. And then share the lists with one another and begin working on those items. The trick though is to re-evaluate every quarter or anytime there is a major life change, because as you begin intentionally doing the things on the list, other things may come up. You can take some items off, or leave them on, even if your spouse is doing really well with those, just as a reminder that "this is really important to me and you're doing a great job with it, but keep it up". The other thing is grace...if it's not on the list, offer grace to let those things slide. That thing doesn't matter...yet. Add it to the list the next time you re-evaluate, but don't hold them accountable for it if it's not one the list. 

I think ultimately, in all things, grace must abound. That's the gospel after all, and as far as I can tell, marriage is meant to be a mirror of the gospel to your spouse. Cover yourself and your spouse and your marriage in grace and the Lord will bless it. Grace, grace, and more grace.

Aside from the marriage wisdom nuggets, we met some younger couples that we are hopeful can blossom into deeper friendships and we also had the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends which we are hopeful will lead to another mentoring relationship. We also had the opportunity to have a nice date night out which was probably my very favorite part of the weekend. 

Mr. Ford and I have always loved going out to eat and we are huge foodies. Some of our earliest dates were 3 hour long dinners where we took our time, slowly enjoying each course and talking. Oh, the talking. It's been awhile since we've been able to do that, so it was such a joy to intentionally spend literally hours over dinner and drinks and conversation with one another. I never tire of hearing Mr. Ford's thoughts and it means the world to me that he is so intentional in making sure I know he feels the same about me. We learned new things about each other, encouraged one another, and reconnected on our vision for our life together. What a gift to be married to a man who desires to partner with me in my life calling and I with his...that our life callings seem to match up and fit together so perfectly. It's like Someone knew what they were doing when they brought us together.

My plate was a work of art.
And the food was was the wine. Only in Napa can you have wine on tap. Yes, my Riesling was a blend that the sommelier of the restaurant created himself and was stored in the barrel on the premises and poured straight from the barrel. Don't tell me Jesus doesn't love me...holy cow, that was some good stuff and it went so well with my snapper and Chardonnay mussel emulsion. Shut. Up. Amen, thank you Jesus! And Mr. Ford's Zinfindel and pork chops with a whiskey apple mustard sauce was nothing to pooh-pooh either. We left fat and happy. :)

So many gifts in our lives...we are consistently humbled and amazed by the Lord's goodness to us and we were reminded yet again of His faithfulness this weekend. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Our Soft Place to Land

My oh my, it's been a while. 

Well, we moved! It was a long, exhausting weekend but we are so happy in our new home and so glad to be out of what has now become affectionately known as "The Cave". It wasn't until we were sitting in our new living room after we emptied the truck and were taking a breather, that my Dad remarked, "I never realized how much of a cave you guys were living in before". 

This new place is so bright and airy and feels so much bigger than where we were before. We are thrilled at the promises of new memories to be made here.

We signed the lease and got the keys and officially "moved in" on the Saturday before Memorial Day. We brought over the bed my parents had been storing in their garage for our "someday guest room" (Dad was THRILLED that "someday" had finally come) and slept here that night. 

Sunday morning we got up, went to church, then to Lowe's to pick up a few last minute things we needed for painting, as well as some various herbs and other plants for our little garden. Then we came home and got to work taping, cutting in, and rolling. It was Mr. Ford's first time painting and he did a great job! We (I) chose a light grey color with some lavender undertones that really come out in certain lighting, and it looks FANTASTIC with the crown molding. I am so happy with it.

My parent's came by to see the place and I had sworn we would not make them work, but my Mom can't help herself. She VOLUNTARILY rolled an entire a wall. She kept saying, "Oh, I'll just do one little bit and then you can take over again". Nope...she did the whole darn thing. Thanks, Mom! 

That was a long day...we (I) decided at about 10:00 that night that we needed to do a second coat. So we were up until 2:30 that morning finishing that, and we still haven't even finished the second coat in the hallway. :/ We still have some odds and ends to finish up...

Monday was official "Moving Day". I dropped Mr. Ford off at the U-Haul pick up and I went on ahead to the apartment to finish packing up the kitchen. Mr. Ford's wonderful brother, Ben, met me there to help and we are SO grateful for him. We could not have done it without him. Mr. Ford and Ben worked so well together and were terribly efficient and Ben was the puzzle master that made everything fit into the truck. My parents showed up a bit later (they ran/walked a 5K that morning with my Dad's company), and we finished loading up the odds and ends in my car and their car. My parents are wonderful too, always willing to help us out with whatever we need. It is so nice to have them nearby. Then we all caravanned over to the new place to unload. Ben stopped by Grampa Ford's to pick him up so he could help with the planting, which was also an enormous help. That project would probably still be wallowing around if not for Grampa. That man's got a green thumb like nobody's business. 

Mom and I untaped the living room and I directed as the strapping men unloaded the truck. I was amazed at how quickly they accomplished it. I think they just wanted to be done with it. For all my effort to purge and get rid of junk, we still have a lot of stuff. Maybe I wasn't as harsh as I thought I was...

After everything was unloaded, we grilled up some bratwurst and had a nice little late lunch/early dinner, before everyone left and Mr. Ford and I were finally fully and completely IN our new home. We are so beyond blessed to have wonderful family so willing to spend their Memorial Day helping us move. We are grateful and do not take it for granted. And then it was time to start unpacking and settling in. I refused to stop until I had our bedroom and the kitchen more or less completely done. One thing I learned from my mother in all those years moving was always unpack your bedroom and the kitchen first. Those are the rooms you'll need/want to use the most. 

And then Tuesday we went back to the old place to clean and have an initial inspection. We learned in the initial inspection, that regardless of how clean we left the place they were still going to bring in a professional service to clean, as well as shampoo the carpets, and were going to charge us for that no matter what. So even if we had scrubbed our fingers raw to make it as clean as when we moved in, they would still take $70 out of our security deposit for a "light professional cleaning" because it was "policy". I lost any interest in cleaning at all, right quick and in a hurry. What a joke. And a rip off. So, we did the bare minimum to make sure they didn't take more than $70 and boogied. I was over it. 

We have spent the time since then trying to unpack and settle in and take care of all of the "other" moving stuff, like internet, change of address, insurance changes, etc. We found the exact couch I'd been wanting for a long time from IKEA for MUCH cheaper on Craigslist and are now trying to figure out how to get rid of the old one that is taking up an enormous amount of space in the middle of my living room and preventing me from really feeling settled. We also have to get all the stuff up on all the walls and finish the second coat in the hallway. Once those things are done, I'll share pictures. :) The next steps will be painting the bedrooms/kitchen/bathroom. 

We are so pleased and feel so blessed to be able to call this place home and we cannot wait to open it up for all of our friends and families to visit, break bread, and commune together. Ultimately, that was the driving force behind the desire for a larger place. We wanted to have space for people to gather, to get away, to laugh, to rest, and to recharge. 

Our guest room is open to you...yes, you...and our table too. Whatever it is you need or want, let us help you find it here in our home and at our table. If you need a calm from the storm, come. If you need nourishment for your belly and your soul, come. If you need a safe place to work out whatever it is you need to work out, free from judgement, advice, and blame, come. If you need a place to laugh and forget the hard things and remember the good things, come. 

We believe in the very depths of our souls that this is our calling and our purpose in marriage. To create and foster an environment where intimacy can flourish, for all who need it. We strive to make our home a soft place to land for each other, and all who walk through our door. We would be honored to have you here. And children are, of course, welcomed with open arms and open windows! ;) (Extra cookies when you come if you get that reference!)

We are headed to Napa this weekend for a Marriage Retreat with our church and are so thrilled to hear what God has in store for us. Clearly, it's something important...He's called us to Napa after all. ;) Our dear friends and mentors, wisely counseled us before we got married to find an opportunity once a year to intentionally focus on our marriage and that is what this. We are humbled by the generosity of my parents to gift us this opportunity, because it probably would not be happening without them. 

Y'all have a great weekend and start planning that trip to Hôtel Ford! ;)