On Oct. 20th, my sweet Joel Randy and I celebrated four whole years of marriage. We celebrated on a hammock strung between two trees at Chester Frost park and asked each other questions like, “Do you remember what our first dates were like?” Or “What do you think has changed the most about me since those early dating years?” It doesn’t matter though, really. Cause whoever he is now is stuck with whoever I am now. That’s the beauty of marriage. 😉

We didn’t even mention our anniversary until early this week. Life is busy lately. Busy with good things. But so busy that neither of us felt it a priority to plan a dinner or assortment of presents for each other. What I crave from him in this season is not love notes and gifts. Sometimes I do want those things. But these days, with a kid, teaching voice lessons, directing high school choir, teaching Sunday school, leading worship, Joel’s full-time job, and the occasional load of laundry and sink full of dishes, I just want to look at my husband and know what he’s thinking. I’m serious.

So we put some chili in to-go thermoses, loaded up the hammock, a quilt and some books and headed to my parents to drop off Olson. It felt like a bit of a waste to just eat food with Joel at a restaurant. I knew he’d want to be outside in this gorgeous fall weather anyways. We got to the park and wolfed down our chili in five minutes so we could snuggle up in the hammock and read before we lost light.

Which was all of another five minutes ha! It was so dark that we couldn’t see our books we were reading. So, determined to make the most of our time, we went to a nearby coffee shop and split a cinnamon roll and a pumpkin spice latte.

I have never been one to be easily woo’ed by candy and flowers. I think they are a lovely gesture and am thankful for the occasional Ghirardelli square or bouquet of tiger lilies. But I was so completely happy to enjoy chili and hammock reading with my Joel. We’ve never really been about big gestures. And I don’t want to eye roll at those who do love them and want them. Because you should love big. And if one of your love languages is gifts, then do it big. Mine isn’t. Joel loves me big in other ways.

At four years, the things that make me feel Joel’s love the most is when he comes home and sits in the floor with our son while I cook dinner. It’s when he asks about my voice students. Tells me he’s proud of how I taught Sunday school. Demands that our last 30 minutes of the night be technology-free so we can dream together about our future. Gets me a glass of water before we go to bed. When I’m scared or confused over something and he stops everything and prays with me. Sharing cereal in the mornings in silence.

We’re okay being apart from each other. We did it for two years while we dated. So when we’re together, we just try a little harder to make it worthwhile. Joel said last night, “I want to make every single minute count.” I think that’s our challenge right now. Make every minute count when we’re together. Make our lives count- and keep each other in check when one of us loses focus. Cause really, four years in, I don’t need roses and chocolate. I need a man who believes in me and isn’t afraid to challenge me and push me to be my best self. Or make sacrifices to assure that we get time together to appreciate and listen to each other.

(Fun post-post note, Joel surprised me with a trip to North Carolina for our honeymoon to stay at the bed and breakfast we went to on our honeymoon. That post is coming soon.)

Here are some pictures just for fun of us over the past four years. Note the many hairstyles of Joel Land…