Seven years

Well hello there…what do you know another anniversary. 🙂 This one is my 7th wedding anniversary and if my Facebook feed is any indication there are many people in my life that share a similar anniversary. I see a smiling photo or a throw back from the wedding day with a caption stating something along the lines of:

___ years ago I married the love of my life, I am so thankful for the many wonderful years. You are my best friend, my confidant, my rock. You are humble, incredible, amazing and I look forward to the rest of our life together.

They are obviously not all the same but you get the idea of the sentiment.

I am glad there are marriages out there that can make this claim. I can’t in good conscious write those words because it would not be true. We haven’t lived 7 blissful years. In fact at times it’s been a down right struggle. If I’m brutally honest with myself I know part of me got married because I was afraid of being alone (I find this incredibly ironic now). I was afraid I would never be loved. Jonathan had similar fears around being fully known and rejected. We were both operating from a very wounded place and these fears orchestrated a dance between us of control and escapism. We had good moments and a many fun adventures but for a long time our marriage didn’t bring life to either one of us. In fact it brought more loneliness, frustration and pain.

I was ashamed of the reality of our marriage. I wanted it to be better and I felt like I was failing. It was a very hard place to accept because, generally, I work extremely hard to not fail. I went into our marriage knowing it was work…I was able and willing to work hard…but was it supposed to be this much work?? Was it supposed to be this hard?

3.5 years ago I found myself stuck in the Netherlands in a dead marriage with no good practical options to change my situation…but I was done. I didn’t necessarily want a divorce but I didn’t see any other options. I was apathetic, disengaged and ready to throw in the towel…it just wasn’t working and I felt like we both deserved better.

God was consistently working on my heart and renewed my HOPE that He was the other option. He was my only option. He could really could break into this “hopeless” situation and establish a NEW marriage. It wasn’t a lost cause but I couldn’t do it…He needed to. This is the HOPE I claimed to believe and it was now time to step out in faith. I tried really hard for a really long time and got nowhere.

So, I let go and trusted that God would show up. That He would move this mountain. And boy did He ever but it took cancer…and separation…and 3.5 years of extremely painful cleansing and healing. Facing demons and allowing grace to rebuild and restore. (Side note: it’s not in my theology that God GAVE me cancer…but boy did He use it as a tremendous refining season in my life)

And even though I have been married to the same man for 7 years, I have the beginnings of a new marriage. It feels strange to write that because there were many moments I didn’t think it was possible. I wasn’t sure if people and circumstances could really change. These are lies that keep us stuck. And God doesn’t want us stuck…he wants us free.

And, honestly, my heart is the most free it has ever been. And I am extremely thankful.

So here is my version of the anniversary Facebook post:

Jonathan, 7 years ago we had no idea what we were in for. We have hung on and fought through heart wrenching years where most people would have given up…clinging to fingernails of hope and faith that God can move mountains. I can honestly say I am more free and happy for it but it was (and still is at times) an extremely difficult season. While I don’t like where we started, I truly love the trajectory we are on now and hope it continues for the rest of our lives. Our marriage has the beginning of a new foundation built on faith, honesty and intimacy. I have complete respect for the man you are and are becoming. Your kindness and generosity towards others. Your humility in the healing process. And your perseverance in allowing God to bring greater levels of freedom in your heart and in our marriage. Your playfulness and silliness helps keep my heart young. I am extremely thankful we are still together and that God really does work miracles.  I am also thankful I can write these words from an honest heart place. Happy Anniversary, I love you, but sure would appreciate it if the next 7 years are a bit more peaceful. 😉

Blessings,

Lynnea

Enjoying an afternoon in the park during this beautiful Seattle summer

Enjoying an afternoon in the park during this beautiful Seattle summer

Embracing the change

Well hello there…I didn’t realize how long it had been since my last blog post until I looked at the history. Yikes 4 months sure seemed to fly by. This has been a season where I have been doing more internal processing and didn’t have much I wanted to post to the blog. In the past several months I have been in a season of transition…of letting go…of accepting my new reality and (attempting to) embrace the changes that have forced their way into my life for the last 2 years. It is not easy. Today is the 2 year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. I have a difficult time even remembering what life was like before that. Everything feels different.

The other day someone I just met said to me “Don’t you just love your pixie cut?”. Outwardly I smile and say “Yes, it’s fun and SUPER easy to style”. Inwardly I cringe “If you only knew I didn’t choose this…this is a recovery hairstyle…when I could choose I picked something completely different…How can I love this? It was forced upon me…it is the consequence of the hazmat chemicals which were pumped through my body in the name of treatment.” Self pity. I’m not necessarily proud of that reaction but it’s honest. Why is it so easy for me to go there? To have a little pity party because I am reminded of something I lost due to cancer? I didn’t choose it. It just happened. Why am I reluctant to let go and admit that honestly…

Photo3I DO LOVE MY PIXIE CUT.

It’s fun and flattering and truthfully very easy to style. But somehow admitting that I like it is difficult. It is hard to acknowledge the things I have gained through this traumatic experience because it feels like I am saying cancer was a good thing. It wasn’t. Not even a little bit. BUT the experience has brought some good things into my life and I am realizing how much courage it takes to embrace the changes and make them a part of me. It means taking responsibility and moving forward. To not be stuck wallowing in everything I have lost but attempt to focus on the the things I have gained…and having peace in the present moment. To not judge my scars (physical and emotional) but see them as part of my story.

I am not the same person I was at the beginning of 2012. I like to think I am a better version of myself. I like my life…I am curious what it will look like in the next 2 years. But for now I’m going to rock my pixie cut.

Blessings,

Lynnea

 

Happy Blogging Anniversary!

I was reminded by WordPress today that on March 1, 2012 I reluctantly started this little blog. It began as a central place to share information but has turned into so much more and opened up a community I didn’t realize existed. Thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged me. People have accessed my blog from 90 different countries which is crazy…and cool! The connectedness of this world blows my mind.

Cheers to being a blogger! And bring on another year. 🙂

Blessings,

Lynnea

With this ring

This was a very happy day

This Thursday July 12th 2012 happens to be the date of my 5th chemo infusion…it also happens to be Jonathan and my 4th wedding anniversary. It’s crazy to sit where we are now and look back on our wedding day. We had no idea what was in store for us…but nobody does. 🙂 Most of our close friends seemed to be buying houses and building families (and we also wanted those things) so it seemed likely that we would follow the trend. I never anticipated that the next 4 years would consist of: Losing jobs, quitting jobs, moving 3 countries and 2 continents, new jobs, keeping in contact with family and dear friends over thousands of miles, amazing new international friends, and now cancer. We’ve crammed a lot into 4 years and it has most definitely had its highs and lows…but that is the journey we like to call marriage.

I have received some funny reactions when I’ve told people here that I’m married: “But you’re so young!” “Interesting, marriage is so old fashioned.” “Good for you, personally I don’t see the need for marriage.” This is a sweeping generalization but from conversations I’ve had here a theme tends to be that marriage is an institution created by the church and is no longer relevant in relationships. Folks here (generally) believe that choosing to be together is enough they don’t need an outside contract to maintain the relationship…plus a wedding can be freaking expensive. In an era of skyrocketing divorce rates I can see the points they are making. A wedding itself does not equal a lasting commitment.

I can’t judge that perspective but I can say the reasons why we chose to. When we got married, it was important for us to celebrate our commitment to each other in front of God, our family and friends. These are the people who will help us to hold on to our

Our White Sapphire rings…diamonds are not this girl’s best friend 🙂

marriage when things get difficult…it wasn’t a commitment taken lightly (to wear a white dress and throw a party) and it has been tested significantly. We had the principles we wanted to build our marriage on engraved into the rings we exchanged. One of Jonathan’s good friends, Rick, created his own symbolic language called water tongue (Click the hyperlink to be taken to the website) Side note: I know at this point you want your own friend who has created a language, it’s OK you can borrow mine. He’s crazy talented 🙂…and in this symbolic language we have the following words etched into our rings:

  • Jonathan-commitment-Lynnea
  • Faith-Hope-Love
  • Grace-Heal-Laughter
  • Freedom-Friend-Trust

They have all played a substantial role in our marriage and I wanted to include a sentence about how we are currently experiencing each one:

  • Commitment: choosing the relationship even when life is difficult and unexpected
  • Faith: believing that God is who he says he is and can work miracles
  • Hope: Knowing in our hearts that life wont always be like this…hoping for a better tomorrow
  • Love: As an action where we both make choices to show and extend love to each other and the people around us. Things fall apart when we rely on love as a feeling.
  • Grace: Struggling to fully internalize the grace God has given us and to offer the same grace to each other in ways that we have failed
  • Heal: A very practical one right now…in fully healing my body
  • Laughter: To claim every opportunity we can to laugh and enjoy the blessings in life and not be bogged down by everything heavy right now
  • Freedom: Attempting every day to live in the freedom God has given us and not be consumed with anxiety or fear
  • Friend: Surrounding ourselves with good friends and family…and being a friend to each other
  • Trust: Right now trust and faith are interlinked…we trust also that God is who he says he is and is at work in this situation

Happy Anniversary Amor…4 years down and many more to go.

Lynnea

P.S. but since this is also about a chemo infusion…please continue to pray that the IV goes in on the first time. 🙂 This has been one of the biggest blessings during this process.

P.P.S. This has been a fun day to look back on and remember.

Right after Mike said…you may now kiss the bride…and Jonathan’s comment was AMEN!

Smile 🙂

Dancing the night away…