Celebrating Four Years, and So Many Seasons

Today Paul and I have been married for four years.

In those four years we have lived a fair amount of life. To be totally honest, I’ve had a blast. Somehow I still can’t get enough of him, like I literally never get tired of him. Sure he may frustrate me, and I may just be burnt out on life, but I still want to hang out with him, all the time. He left on a work trip yesterday, and we’ve talked approximately 10 times over the last 36 hours. I just really like him. So, I suppose we have that going for us.

He is still the first person I want to tell my good news, and the first person who wants to hear my bad news. He points me to God in ways I didn’t know possible, and has modeled sacrifice and selflessness to depths I couldn’t have imagined. I am incredibly blessed to be his wife.

I am a girl who loves an excuse to celebrate. Anniversaries are such milestones of remembrance and celebration. But like many things in life, we don’t like to celebrate and remember the hard parts of the journey. It feels safer to simply praise and provide glowing accolades for the final destination.

If I’ve learned anything from our story, it’s the importance of celebration for celebration’s sake. Our relationship, while fantastically fun and beautiful, has taught me to find joy in all seasons, to choose celebration, and to find thankfulness in trials.

Four years, and so many seasons of growth and deepening love.

AE2C9F61-CE87-442D-8066-F1A59FFEE58E.jpg 1. A season of un(der)employment

Paul graduated in April of 2012 with degrees in Political Science, International Studies and a minor in German. (Michigan had a fancy way of saying it, but that’s what it boiled down to). When he talked to my dad about proposing, in March of 2013, Paul genuinely thought he might say no as he had no way to “provide” for me, working at a coffee shop, living in his little sister’s bedroom. He moved to Nashville and yet again couldn’t find a job. He soon began working at a coffee shop. In July of 2014 Paul was offered a temp position that later turned into a full time position in April 2015. Yes – you read that right, almost three years after graduating he finally became employed full-time.

The idea of a female bread-winner has been a gentle ribbing in our household our entire marriage. The majority of our marriage, thus far, I have “brought home the bacon.” I say this not because I have a massive ego, but to demonstrate the equality we operate in. Paul told me early on: “Your gain is my gain,” and that seemed to be that. When I dealt with the guilt over loving my job, while Paul struggled to find purpose and direction, we returned to that statement. When finances were tight and somehow God always made our ends meet, we returned to that statement. When Paul was frustrated by yet another rejection, we returned to this statement. Paul’s under-employment was hard, most definitely, but I celebrate all that was forged in us through it. Because of this season, our marriage is one of teamwork and sacrifice. 

2. Seasons of anxiety

For a large chunk of our first and second year of marriage, I battled intense anxiety. While I would not say that I am completely devoid of anxiety, as I have my moments and days, I have not returned to the dark place I once found myself in. When I think about that season of our marriage I am humbled. I am humbled by the God that we serve, and the man He chose to walk through it with me. In the midst of one of the worst days, a friend prayed that our marriage would be galvanized through the fire. Those words, drenched in hope and promise, were a respite to my soul. This thing that we’ve got is too good to keep to ourselves. I held onto the promise that God would galvanize us and use our story as an example of His faithfulness.

Love is a choice. It takes guts. It is not for the faint of heart. That season, at my weakest and most vulnerable, I was not an easy person to choose. But each and every day, my husband showed up looking my ugliness in the face and calling me beautiful and chosen. What God fortified in that season in our marriage, our relationships with Him, our story, our future and our purpose is too sweet to put into words. He made something beautiful out of something really ugly.  I am grateful He saw it fit to use something so difficult for His glory and to bless us with so very much. Celebration is easy when you have a hope that is eternal. Because of this season, our marriage is one of eternal hope. 

3. Seasons of spurring on the other’s dreams

I heard a Shauna Niequist say once that there was room enough for two callings in her house. Her entire talk is incredible, but that particular line brought tears to my eyes. It is so encompassing of the types of people I want to be. I wrote the following about a year and half ago when Paul started grad school:

This practice is woven deep into the fabric of our little family. And I say practice because it takes repetition and messy trial and error to form the habit. Like anything worthwhile it is not a discipline that you arrive at quickly, but it was that we are committed to mastering no matter how long it takes. I have found that it gets easier and more second nature as time goes by, but it is a continuous effort and conscious thought. But for us, it’s worth it. It ranks high up on our values, and it plays into almost every decision that we make as a unit.  

Paul and I decided long ago that as two parts making up a whole, each person’s individual calling and purpose was just as valuable as the others. We bought into the notion of individual and collective destiny. We became convinced that not prioritizing two callings was to rob the world of something necessary and of the highest value. We set out on unchartered territory with passion and purpose as our guides.

Having two callings in one marriage is not always easy. It’s messy and sacrificial, and exhausting at times, but it is worth it. Last year Paul took a big step. He said yes to going back to school. I didn’t bat an eye at the impending change and disruption to our rhythm that lie ahead. It involved sacrifice on my part, doing more dishes than I’d like, creating space and grace for studying. It’s been difficult, must mostly it’s been incredible. The reason I had no qualms is that Paul has done the same thing for me time and time again.

He has said yes to making our home a place of passion, purpose, exploration, adventure, and creativity. He has pressed me to get outside my comfort zone and pursue the things that make my heart come alive. He calls out things in me that I can’t see. There’s always room for us both to be pursuing dreams, no matter the logistics. Because of these seasons, our marriage is one of impact, creativity, and purpose. 

4. Seasons of transition

Change has remained the only constant in our marriage. New has marked much of the last four years. With each new transition, I find that we tackle it with more ease and grace. But change is hard, transition is hard. I like to start new things, but I simultaneously have a tendency to become overwhelmed in the midst of transition. Paul once told me that our bodies react to stress in the same way, no matter if it is good stress or bad stress. New jobs are often good stress. Moving out of our first home together was a GOOD stress. Moving across the country, getting engaged, planning a wedding, getting married and starting a life with someone all in 4.5 months is good…but tiring stress. Changing jobs, changing churches, changing dynamics and each time facing new challenges.

I am not my best self in the midst of transition. It seems each time to trip me up, and come as a surprise. I rarely anticipate it well. I get upset and frustrated and feel my least favorite thing – weak. I am reminded YET AGAIN, the beauty of grace. Paul gets laser focused and a bit aloof as he’s walking through something new. Adjusting to transition and walking it out is an area that I long to grow and mature in, but thankfully we have a lifetime ahead of practice. Because of these seasons we are given opportunities upon opportunities to practice grace. 

There is so much to celebrate!

So thankful for the last four years of doing this thing called marriage.

 

A letter to my husband after 1,096 days of marriage

Paul Robert Vought,

Today I woke up as your wife for the 1,095th time. It has yet to get old. I love being yours. It is a name that I wear with honor. Despite that you are a furnace when you sleep, and the fact that you cannot be shaken from said sleep when you are snoring, I love seeing your face in the morning. I love the safety and security your presence has brought to my life since I met you.

The last 1,096 have been my absolute favorite days. Even when they weren’t. In the three years we’ve been married we have faced some treacherous, scary, and trying things. Through it all, it is your hand I’ve wanted in mine. I look back on the first year of our marriage with tears in my eyes. I am so very thankful for the man that you are.

Thanks for choosing me.

So many times I can look at our story and see that when I was not easy to choose – you chose me. You reminded me that I was worth the fight. When I fell asleep crying, scared of what the next day might bring, you held my head on your chest and promised to wake up choosing me. When we were both clueless, tired, and worn out, you chose to lift me up instead of yourself. You daily choose to see the beauty placed inside of me, and look past the ugly parts of me. When I doubted my identity, you spoke up and reminded me who and whose I am.

You have been pointing me back to my Creator since before you asked me to be yours. It is one of the reasons that I pride myself in being called yours, because you fully understand that we are both the others, first by being His.

I could spend the next three years describing the ways you have won my heart a new each day, something you promised to do three years ago in front of all our friends and family, but instead I will just tell you three simple truths.

  1. I have never loved another like I love you.

You have completely and irrevocably stolen my heart. You have shown me time and time again that you are a man of character and valor, and through your actions reminded me that I am worthy of such a mate, even when I doubted that I deserved you. You are an unfathomably mystery, and just when I think I’ve got you figured out, you surprise me, steal my attention, and consume me. It is in my failings that I find how very much I long to love you well, and how very blessed I am to get to love you each day. Few have what we have, Vought. Thank you for loving hard and recklessly with me.

  1. I have never laughed more than when I’m with you.

When you were stealing my heart I read a quote that said, “I will know he is the one when he makes me laugh.” At the time it made more sense than any poem or love song I had ever heard. You were and still are my best friend. There has always been an ease in my relationship with you. You have never asked me to be something I’m not, and I walk into my truest self when I’m around you. You get me at a level that no one else does, you think I’m hilarious, you dance like an idiot with me, and you know exactly what to say to make my heart lighter. Thank you for late nights, belly laughs, and not taking ourselves too seriously.

  1. I have never dreamed bigger dreams than when I have you in my corner.

You propel me to dream bigger. When I desire to sit, gazing over the precipice, enjoying the view, you grab my hand and pull me over the edge. You refuse to let me settle for mediocre or enough. You push me to dream beyond normalcy and become who I am destined to be. Even in the last few months, you’ve challenged me to think bigger, grander, and more impossible and each time speak over me with a conviction that sparks hope and expectations. Thank you for having full confidence in an insane, grand and impactful future with and for me.

Tomorrow will be a normal Thursday, but it will be another day to explore grace, choose love over the easy, and tackle this adventure we’re on. I am honored to be your wife. Honored to call you mine. And honored to serve alongside you. I’d do it all over again.

Happy Anniversary my love.

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and we went dancing in the minefields…

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it’s official, we have been married for one year! (As of August 3rd). We celebrated by spending a night in Chattanooga and then hiking Cloudland Canyon the following day. It was reflective of our last year as we got lost, thought we were closer to the end of the hike than we really were, and then were speechless when we reached the highest point to see all the beauty of the canyon.

Paul and I have had ample time together to think about the last year, trapped in a car for several trips to Michigan and our Anniversary trip. The funny thing is, travelling with Paul is my favorite, the last trip to Michigan we didn’t listen to music once, we just talked. That’s 17 hours worth of talking. During our car rides over the last month, we spent some time reflecting on our first year of marriage. Looking back on it, there were long stretches that were hard, really hard. But the hard parts weren’t because of our marriage, they were circumstantial. We decided that the hard things we took on this year: unemployment, new jobs, transition, finding community, anxiety, loss, heartache, confusion, illness, etc. were all possible because we were married. Paul says God was gracious and didn’t ask us to walk through those things until we had a buddy. That, in a weird way, is comforting. The last year was hard, and amazing, and new, and exhilarating, and challenging, and fun, and crazy and our marriage was in the middle, it aided each part. It made the highs, higher, and lows, less low. It steadied us. Each day, good or bad, I had Paul to come home to. I knew he was in it with me, seeking the Lord’s face, celebrating, and wading in.

While driving to Chattanooga I put on the playlist Paul and I made for our wedding. One of the songs, Dancing in the Minefields, was a song we discovered long before we were engaged. Paul came to me and said, “You have to listen to this.” I obliged and fell in love. As I had just begun dreaming of a future with Paul, it represented all that I desired in a life with him. Listen to the whole song, it’s lovely. But here is one of my favorite portions, and I fell in love with the song even more as I placed it in context of our first year of marriage.

“”I do” are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard
Is a good place to begin

‘Cause the only way to find your life
Is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price
For the life that we have found

And we’re dancing in the minefields
We’re sailing in the storm
This is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for”

 

I don’t think I realized how true this song would be, the day we chose to play it at our wedding. If we’d have fully understood the enormity of marriage, (I’m still not sure we fully understand it) I think we’d have entered in a little more cautiously. I’m grateful we didn’t. I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s been the best year of our lives, hands down. So grateful to take on life together.

Closing thoughts from the Mr:

This has been my greatest adventure by far.  Looking forward to dreaming even bigger for the next year.

 

Love,

The Voughts

 

what we’re doing to celebrate 6 months of marriage

today marks 6 months married. while it feels like just yesterday we were doing distance and planning a wedding 8 hours apart, it also feels as though we have been married forever. in our minds, it just makes sense that Mickenzie and Paul would be married. while we wish we could have spend the day gazing lovingly into one another’s eyes, if the last 6 months have taught us anything, it’s that life gets busy. it’s not possible to spend every waking moment together (we get pretty darn close). one must work in order to pay the bills and feed ourselves in our little electric love shack. in a few weeks we’ll be going skiing with the Voughts in Northern Michigan- we’re calling that our Valentines/anniversary/etc celebration!

so…here’s what our 6 month annivesary looked like:

-I woke up at 5:15am to be to work at 6 am- P

-I woke up at 7:20 am to leave for work at 7:35…oops- M

-We made smoothies last night and put them in our magic bullet this morning for breakfast -P & M

-We worked 8 hours at work. -P & M

-I ate a honey crisp apple – M

-I didn’t eat lunch- P

-I grabbed Paul a card and his favorite frosted cookies from Target on my lunch break -M

-I took a snooze when I got home from work. -P

-We went to Pei Wei for dinner because we had a coupon for Buy One Get One entree Free-P & M

-We snuggled in our bed and caught up on Parks and Rec-P & M

-We read our Bible in One Year entry for February 3rd -P & M

-We turned in early. -P & M

-We thanked God for the great adventure he placed us on 6 months ago. -P & M

so blessed,

The Voughts

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reflections on a month of marriage

Paul:

Well, the hard parts done now, right?  It has been a month since Mickenzie momentarily blacked out and accidentally agreed to spend the rest of her life with me (sucker).

In all seriousness, it has been a crazy month filled with big changes and learning moments.  From learning to share a bed with someone, – some people like spooning all night more than others – to learning how to launder women’s clothes, I’ve done my best to keep up with the learning curve.  Learning to be accountable to someone else with all of your resources (time, emotional, financial, etc.) is a big change, but Kenzie is always very gracious.  :)  We have found a new church down here and are loving getting to know people there and build community together.

On a less trivial note, we have started praying and considering earnestly about what God wants to do with this marriage and how we can best be impactful for the kingdom.  It’s daunting at times, but exciting to dream about how God may use our marriage to grow one another as well as impact people around us.  We are excited to be on mission together and to have “partner in crime” so to speak as we feel God has bigger plans for us than we can even dare to dream up right now.

Overall, this first month with my bride has been spectacular.  It has been filled with challenges, but of course there is no one better suited to take them on with me than my dear wife.

Mickenzie:

One month into marriage and I fall more in love with Paul on a daily basis.  i think that’s a good sign.  I have never once regretted my decision to become his wife.  On one hand it has flown by- I swear we just got home from our honeymoon, and the other hand it feels as if it’s been like this forever.  I am usually overwhelmed by “new.” Changing season make me anxious, nervous and quite overwhelmed.  But reflecting on the last month, the usual emotions haven’t plagued me.  I’m not alone, I have my best friend by my side.

I love both the routine and the spontaneity of our life.  I love coming home to Paul and telling him about my day.  I love making dinner (either together or apart) and sitting down at the table with our milk- gasp I’ve begun drinking milk…EVERYDAY!  Every meal we hold hands and thank the Lord for his provision.  He has been faithful to us, that is undeniable.  I can’t look around our furnished house, full cupboards and full closets and not be sure of that.  We continue to thank God for providing, meeting our needs.  I have the tendency to get frustrated at Paul’s job search and hurl at God insults of His callousness.  But I need only to look about us, at our life, my job. our family and friends, my best friend winking at me, and remember that it is IMPOSSIBLE for him NOT to be faithful. So i trust.  God’s teaching me to love out of first receiving love from Him.  It’s super humbling and stretching, but so worth it…i think.

Sometimes we fly by the seat of our pants, and go on whirlwind adventures.  Sometimes we need McDonald’s ice cream at 9pm, or go dance in the thunderstorm. Sometimes it’s hard and we fight or misunderstand the other person.  Sometimes He puts too much jalepeno peppers in my guac and ruins it, and sometimes I forget to close my drawers (and by sometimes I mean everyday).  All the while Paul points me to God in good and bad.

Before I finish here are a few things I didn’t know about Paul, marriage, boys, etc. before getting married.

– boys fart…ALOT

-Paul buys off brand peanut butter

-We DO NOT buy off brand club crackers

-Paul hates to hang things…but will do it begrudgingly as many times as I ask

-baking is actually really easy

-it’s HARD to sleep with another person…i’m awfully sleep derived

-intimacy can be found in really weird moments

-“I’m so sure” can be uttered more by Paul Vought than Sybille Vought

-Beer is a staple, not a luxury in one’s grocery budget

-sweets WILL not last in our house…if you want it later stash it in the cupboard

-when making cookie dough, place some in the freezer for non cookie consumption

-pants are optional

-boys don’t care if things flow. match, or make sense (“just be done decorating already”)

love,

the voughts