I was asked to guest post for Sweet Tea, Sunshine and Serendipity's blog.  They are doing a series this month called Love in Words.  Head over there and check them out.  It is really neat to read all the different love stories.  They are doing a giveaway, so you definitely want to see what that's all about.

I was humbled and honored to participate. I spent yesterday, when "A Greater Love Story" premiered, blubbering as I got responses from women in all walks of life that identified and were grateful for our love story.

Oh! Who doesn't love a good love story?

When I think about my love story I can't help but compare it to some romantic comedy's out there and think: no way would anyone think it's worthy of their time.  lol

No one would watch a movie about an underage teen mother, in a bar, who falls in love with a bartender and they live unhappily, happily ever after. Makes me laugh.

The truth is, my story is worthy.  It's a story of redeeming love. A story of a couple of lost and wayward souls who find each other, create a family and fall in love with God and fall in love over and over and over again.  Our God gets bigger and closer with each tragedy faced. He triumphantly blesses us when we should be flat on our face!

It's difficult to know where to start and how much to share. I have been married almost 20 years. Together 22. Most people want to know the looooove part. The love parts, are different depending on perspective.  Yes, I could tell you about the first time Trent told me he loved me and I told him he was just drunk.  The next morning he assured me, he wasn't too drunk to know he loved me. I could tell you about the proposal.  While on a dinner date I announced I was pregnant and he said "Well, I guess we will get married." yeah, not so warm and fuzzy. We look back on those times and laugh now.

I absolutely can say that I didn't know what true love was when I got married. I thought I knew; I was 21 and knew everything. We married and played house and it was fun at first. Then it wasn't fun at all.  It was hard. We had kid issues, money issues, issue issues and divorce was likely and threatened regularly.   It was not pretty.  We tried church hoping it would fix us. It didn't. It actually made us feel worse.  So much happened in that few years that nearly ruined us.  The amazing thing was, looking back, I can see a Savior. I can see how events were orchestrated to SAVE us.  Save our marriage, and give hope, not only to us, but to the many who would hear our story.  You can read our VOWS here and see how God used His people and His church.  Church went from being where we'd go to being who we were. 

I got a text this week with a friend asking for prayer because she was getting ready to go on a date to work on their marriage because their love had grown distant. I immediately had to call her.  I had been there done that (many times).  It wasn't pretty and I wanted to warn her.  "Listen, when you go on this date-it may not be romantic-it may be hard-and you may fight more than you ever have-fight...-then DO IT AGAIN because your marriage is worth fighting for!"  You see, I know that marriage is hard work.  I wanted her to know that it is not unusual to fight, especially when you've both been silent for a long time. I wanted her to know she isn't alone. Often we think everyone's marriage's are fine and ours is the only screwed up one. This is not TRUE! They are all a little screwed up-at least the ones of people I love.

I was grateful for that text and that time of conversation and even more grateful for my love story.  You know the saying "It takes a village to raise a child"...well  it takes a village to survive in marriage.  You have to know and be known. You have to bring the hurt out into the light.  I tell you the truth I would not be married today were it not for the people who loved, and hurt, right along side of us.  Helping us weather the storm.  

I want to say don't judge a love story by how pretty it looks from the outside. When I look back on who I was 20 years ago I can't believe my-then-to-be-mother-in-law didn't run me off with a gun. She likely wanted to.  Though she's never been anything but gracious to me.  You don't know what the future holds. I will tell you this though, if you are not prepared to extend a TON OF GRACE and mercy to yourself and your spouse then you have a tough road ahead.

Our love story has infatuation. Laughter. Silliness.  Death, life and renewal. Our love story has tales of heartbreak, hard times, and heroics. There are times of family picnics in the square.  Times where we couldn't stand the sight of one another.  There are times of silence. Separateness.  A marriage of mission.  Sweet looks where I know he loves me. There are times that I would like to just go back and say to myself "it's going to be alright" and warn myself "it's about to get worse."  You know what though, I wouldn't trade a moment. Okay, maybe the moment where my husband puked on people and blamed it on me.  Nah! Even that moment!  I'll take it. It has made for a beautiful love story. 

This looks like a whole lot of love:

When I think about our love story, I could have NEVER imagined it would turn out like this.  Dancing in a bar, with shorts that showed my cheeks, wearing boots and a cowboy hat I wanted someone to sweep me off my feet.  I use to say "I am not that girl anymore" but the truth is I am.  I may have the sense now to cover myself, but I still want to be swept off my feet.  Now, I have learned that I must look for those things that my husband does that only he can do because he KNOWS me: THAT'S LOVE!  

You see my perspective on looooooove has changed. When you are skinny, get fat, get skinny, get fat again and all you ever hear is how beautiful you are-that's love. When you awake nearly every morning to a warm cup of coffee prepared just how you like it-that's love. You see, when your beloved sees you at your worst and you confess to him how you've wronged him and he takes that sin upon himself-that's love

My love story turned into GREATER LOVE story.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
John 15:13 in context

Photography by J. Halstead Photography