Posts filed under Marriage

Last One Standing

The boxes were packed, most of the house was clean, and it was the last photo hanging on the wall. 

It has always been a favorite of mine. It was taken right before our wedding, right after our first look. 

I remember it like it was yesterday. 

I stood outside those big sanctuary doors, knowing that Ben was waiting inside made me so nervous that I had to run into the bathroom to collect myself. I looked at myself in the mirror, grabbed some paper towels and dabbed my forehead & armpits all super star style (keepin’ it real folks). After giving myself a pep talk, I gathered myself and walked back towards the sanctuary. The doors were opened for my entrance and when I saw him, my stomach dropped. His back was facing me as I walked down the aisle, hands shakily gripping a huge bouquet of flowers. I tapped him on the shoulder, and he turned around and embraced me. I cried. This candid kiss was captured a few moments after he first laid eyes on me, his new bride. 

We LOVED so many of our wedding photos (shout out to our favs Braun Photography), but this one strikes a different chord. You see, we know what it feels like for us both to break different aspects of our vows, forgive each other, and still stay true to the promise of “til death do us part.”

Those young 25 year olds didn’t have a clue what was in store for their love story, but God knew. And I love that. It wasn’t easy and life wasn’t always fair, but regardless of the bumps and bruises we obtained along the way, we have learned to trust that He is good and all things are for our good and His glory.

This photo is such a good reminder of that.

It was always the first one I’d hang up whenever we moved into a new home. It was also the first one I took down during a hard season in our marriage. I couldn’t look at it; it felt like a cruel joke. So it went up in the attic for a few months. But eventually, by God's grace it found its way back to its rightful place on the wall. 

And a few years later, it was the last one standing. 

I love that.

I love that it wasn’t intentional. 

I love that when I walked into our bedroom to finish cleaning, that photo took my breath away. 

Last. One. Standing. 

Because when I walked down that aisle to Ben the first time, before all the pews were filled and the vows were said, my heart was already there. I was his bride. He was my groom. And together, we were promising to never leave nor forsake the other. Only death would determine who would be the last one standing

Years later, now that we fully understand what those vows mean our photo means so much more.

That photo is a picture of a covenant made between two sinners determined to keep their vows despite the sin that plagues this world and our hearts. It’s a picture of a promise that life is going to be hard, wounds will accrue, and hard seasons will come, but that young bride and groom are going to grow old doing their damnedest to forgive, hand out grace like it’s going out of style, and walk with each other through so many seasons of life. It’s a portrait of an imperfect love that is an earthly, broken picture of a PERFECT, eternal love that will never wound or fail. It is evidence that God loves to redeem broken stories for our good and His glory.

And so I snapped a picture of that photo on the wall and I wept, because God has sustained so much and at the end of it all, we know that He is the one who is truly the last one standing. 

I don’t know your story. I don’t know where God has moved big things for you and what all He has restored. I don’t know what areas of your life He’s said “No” in and left some prayers unanswered. I don’t know the hard parts of your story, but if you’re a believer, I do know your God. 

I know that...

...He is sustainer and provider.

..He is close to the brokenhearted and that His specialty is redeeming broken things.

...He is the perfect groom, and not in some creepy hyper-Christian romantic lingo, but in the most legitimate sense of the word. He has made a covenant with His people that can never be broken.

...His promises will never fail and His mercies are new every morning. 

...He is both the first and the last. He will forever be our Last. One. Standing. 

And when I saw that photo, the last one hanging on our wall, I was reminded of all that the Lord has done in our lives and I’m sharing because I know He can do it in yours too. Nothing is beyond His care or repair. May our story point you to that greater story, and our prayer is that through every season, you'll look to the Last One Standing to guide you through it all. 

Much love to you all,

Letters to My Girls: On Dating, Marriage, & Men

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Girls, 

I know it's crazy, but there will come a day when you will like boys. Right now, there are only 3 men in your life that you adore: Your daddy, G-daddy, and Papaw. And I'd like to keep it that way for a while, but I know that this is only for a season. So I'm offering you some sweet words of advice now, because when you actually get to the season when you like boys, I'm guessing my advice will be less than welcome. So I'm hoping that by starting early... some of it will stick. 

Girls, let me tell you a hint. The type of guy you're looking for is rare, but you are fortunate enough to live with one of them. Your daddy is one of the best; don't ever take this for granted. The reality that you have been loved unconditionally by your father is a gift and it is rare. And although it happens so naturally that it's just like breathing air, there are girls all around us who have not been given this. Baby girls, don't let this precious gift go to waste. Don't let Satan harden your heart to the safe place you've been given. Let this gift point you to the giver of good gifts & allow it to help you when looking for a guy to date/marry.

I'm not going to give you a super long list of characteristics like "Tall, Good-looking, Athletic, Adventurous, good listener, etc." because honestly, although those things might actually attract you to someone... they aren't the things that make a marriage work. Trust me on that one. I can tell you stories about how I sought out other things on my "list" and how it always led to emptiness & heartache. So instead, let me give you a few guidelines... the non-negotiables in a partner for life, and I think if you look right under your nose... you'll see what I'm talking about.

  • He has got to love Jesus more than life itself. Let me clarify. This doesn't mean he's some weirdo running around with 12 WWJD bracelets on each arm and a HORRIBLE t-shirt that has a picture of empty smoking shoes and some corny slogan about being left behind (Lord willing you'll have to google that to figure out what that means... Heaven help us if either of those items make a comeback). You want a guy who doesn't just claim to be a Christian. Wait for the guy who understands that his life is in the hands of God and every thing he does is for God's glory. You might wonder why this is SO important. But if you choose to live a life in pursuit of loving God, it is crucial to find a mate who does so as well. You can both have different expressions of this endeavor, but when the storms come (and come they will at some point), you both have to have the same anchor or your ship will sink. In the hard moments of our marriage, our common bond in loving Jesus and understanding that our life is not ALL about us is what really helped us get through the valleys.

 

  • Grab the humble servant. You see that good-looking guy who loves the spotlight and thinks the world revolves around him? Run. Run as fast and as far as you can. And if he's using Christ as a means to make his own name known, run even faster. Sweet girls, these guys are EVERYWHERE. And don't get me wrong, they're fun for a season, but it always ends in heartache. We all struggle with thinking the world revolves around us! But when you marry a person who isn't struggling and instead they're just completely giving into selfish thoughts and actions, well you end up as arm candy... just a side character in a show that revolves around him. You'll inevitably have a crush on him... because he's bound to be good looking and charming, but please just leave it at that. BUT... You see that guy who stays late after church to help clean up? The guy who actually asks about how YOU are doing and then listens, and then the next week he follows up and asks another GOOD question (again, because he LISTENED to you)? The guy who is serving in your local church faithfully without recognition? The guy who all the married women are saying is a gem but all the single girls think he's just not quite hip enough for them? SNAG HIM. Trust me, you can change the shoes he wears later... I'm not even kidding. Or better yet, you'll grow and learn to NOT CARE what shoes he wears! Don't get me wrong, attraction is important. But so many times we women don't even allow ourselves to be open to being attracted to certain guys because they don't fit a "cool" stereotype. Look beyond the flash and attraction and go for quality. Your dad is a hottie. Make no mistake about that... I'm 110% attracted to him (are you cringing yet?)... but the things that attracted me to him most were things like... He babysat for his married friends (FOR FREE) and actually LIKED doing so (more than me!). He was and still is ALWAYS the last person out of the building because he genuinely cared about talking to EVERYONE. It brings him joy to serve and encourage others. He's by no means perfect... and if you do get married and have false illusions about your dad & expect your new husband to live up to what will hopefully be decades of marriage, I'll gladly burst your bubble. But for real, date the guy who loves others more than himself. Give your heart a chance to become attracted to him, because years down the road you'll still be madly in love with the guy who is serving his church, family, & marriage faithfully.

 

  • Pick a guy who isn't afraid to say "I'm Sorry." If you're in a relationship, and your boyfriend never genuinely repents and says "I'm sorry." Get out. Like yesterday. And note the wording, "genuinely repents." I'm not talking about a flippant "I said I'm sorry, you're going to have to get over it now." If it doesn't grieve him that he's hurt you now... It's not going to grieve him that he's hurt you when you're married. And let me tell you something, there is no greater picture of the Gospel that we can give each other by confessing our sin when we've wronged each other and offering genuine unconditional forgiveness. This will change your relationship and point you both to love Jesus more. (And side note... you need to say you're sorry too. Practice now with your sister and future siblings... and practice with me and your dad. It'll serve your future relationships well). 

 

  • The guy you want to date/marry looks at, talks to, and treats women with dignity and respect. My babies, I could write a novel on this one. But I won't. Listen to me though, you are beautiful. And you have no need to find your worth, your beauty, in anything other than Christ. But let's be honest, we're women, and often we look to men to affirm things that they have no business defining. Yes, you want a man who tells you that you're beautiful, but there is a fine line between a male respectfully recognizing your beauty and a man who treats your beauty like a commodity, his for the taking. Your beauty was not given to you for some selfish, undisciplined boy's enjoyment. If a guy looks at you (or other women) like you're a piece of meat. RUN.  If he treats you like you're a piece of meat. Run. If he talks to you poorly or talks to his mom or sisters poorly... RUN far, far away. The man you want treats all women with respect. He looks your parents in the eye and engages us in conversation, not to impress us, but because he respects us. He treats his mother and sisters well. His eyes don't linger uncomfortably in places they shouldn't. And let me tell you something, our men need grace upon grace in this area... but my daughters, in choosing a life partner you will do wisely to choose a man who honors women and honors you. There is grace for failure, but if at the core you sense that he does not honor you or other women, this is not a man you want to do "forever" with.  

Baby girls, one final piece of advice. Every relationship you have needs to be sprinkled with grace. No man is perfect. Your dad is not perfect. I am not perfect... (stop snickering). And I believe that the ingredient that really makes a the Christian life flavorful is grace. I'm hesitant to say that now for fear of the boy you bring home at 16 and you throw the "grace" card at me. But I think when it's time, you'll understand what I mean. I believe it was Elisabeth Elliot who said something to the affect of  "that preparing for marriage is not so much a matter of finding the right person as it is becoming the right person." Be gracious women of God, baby girls. So although this post isn't one about you per say, I pray that the good things mentioned above will also be said of you as well. More than grandbabies or a great son-in-law... it is my desire to see you live lives that honor your heavenly Father.

I know that whether singleness or marriage lies at the end of your journey, at some point you will be distracted by boys. Live wisely baby girls. Choose wisely. Because in these moments, one flippant bad decision can change your life forever. It can make the road you walk much more difficult. And although I know that no matter WHAT we do to "choose wisely," difficult moments will still come and God is still sovereign. But as your mom, I want nothing more than the men that you allow into your life to be men who honor God, by honoring you and for you to honor God and them as well.

We'll have more of these chats over the next few decades. This is just the first of many. But I hope that when you do read this, you'll know that even now, as you can't speak a full sentence... I'm praying for you. I'm praying for the decisions you'll make. I'm praying for God's protection on your life and relationships, and I'm praying that the men God allows to cross your path will be men who point you to Him. 

You are loved baby girls... 

Your mama. 


HACKED! A Daddy Ditty

Well party people, It’s time.  It’s time for The Mister to guest blog.  And to answer your immediate question in brief - my wife has NO IDEA I am doing this...yet.  She's out of town with the little salmon paddies visiting my in-laws and left her blog signed in on my computer.  So, Carpe Diem, right?!   Plus, I figured  there's enough sass in the Salmon household to cover the Triangle. Why not continue to share the love in the social media kingdom?

So without further adieu, hello bloggy moms and friends!  Hello to the many people who know more about my life than I do.  Hello to those who see me studying in Starbucks (like all good city pastors do) and give me the look of  “I know you don’t know me, but I read your wife’s blog because she’s amazing and I don’t really know her either, but I die laughing every post due to her excellent writing ability and the hilarity of the events surrounding your family.”   Yes that’s a look.  And yes I see you giving that look to me.  And I’m ok with it.  I really am.  In fact, I enjoy it.  And here’s why.

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My wife really is amazing.  Truly, Madly, Deeply amazing .  And it’s not just because she keeps both our gingersnaps alive on a daily basis (an incredible feat all by itself).  It’s not because she manages to cook hot meals for our family.  It’s not because she completes shopping errands with the rugrats tagging along in shopping carts  leaving puddles of drool in various locations across Raleigh/Durham.  It’s not even because she has a great blog or makes me laugh more than anyone else on the planet.  It’s all these things, yes, but mostly it’s just because she’s my BEST FRIEND. I have always believed that he who finds a wife finds a good thing.  But I’m here to tell you it’s true.  It really is true.

So, here’s the thing.  Sometimes I forget that. I forget my stunning wife is the best thing that has ever happened to me.  Crazy I know, and it’s sad, but it’s true. I don’t know if it is sleep deprivation, the conundrum of the ever-increasing estrogen levels in my household, or simply my inability to remember important things.  Either way, here are three things I’m learning as a new daddy and still relatively new husband that I don’t want to forget.  And what better way not to forget them than to write them down and post them publicly for the free "Sassy Salmon" world to hold me accountable.  So, here goes nothing:

My wife does work.  Real Work.  Hard Work.  Mommy Work.

Dozens of poopy diapers are changed every day.  Piping hot meals are often on the table when I get home.  Baby food stained laundry is cleaned and folded.  All this and more without a paycheck. But even if all those things weren’t done, my baby girls are loved on, cared for, and protected by their mommy.  You can’t put a price on that. My wife dotes on our little girls.  She cherishes them with her whole being.  She is molding their little brains and hearts into becoming women who know and love Jesus.  That, dear friends, is work.

Serve & Surprise.  Rinse & Repeat.

I owe this jewel of an idea to Pastor CJ Mahaney, who has helped me to see the importance of loving my wife by serving and surprising her as much and often as I can.   So, whether it’s bringing home flowers, washing dishes, placing a post-it note in a discreet area of our house before I leave for work, or scrubbing the toilets, I have seen the marital benefit and am learning the art of serving and surprising my bride.   For more on CJ’s thoughts on this, go here. (It’s worth the read)

My children are princesses, but my wife is the queen.

Wife trumps children.  Always and forever.  I love my children with all my heart and would take a bullet for them.  But I want them to know and see that when Daddy comes home, Mommy gets the first kiss.

So there you have it folks.  This list is in no way exhaustive and I am nowhere near fulfilling these things in a way my wife deserves.  But while I try my best to be a good husband and dad, my wife makes me better in every way imaginable and I never want to forget this.  Sure, there are stinky times (literally and metaphorically) and times when I think to myself, “What the heck have we gotten ourselves into?”  But all in all, I wouldn’t want to do life with anyone else in the world.  Ever.

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Over and out,

The Mister.

 

PS - Depending on the response to this post, you may hear from me again.  If ratings plummet and we start receiving hate mail, it was nice while it lasted!

Posted on July 26, 2013 and filed under Family, Marriage.