Category Archives: Marriage

It’s been a year 

It’s been a year, love. It’s been quite a year.

This winter was hard and long and we wondered what would be next. The miles on the road flew by out the car window and the days and pain of my pregnancy passed slowly on the calendar while we cried and talked and worked to heal some broken pieces.

Spring broke fresh and clean with new disappointments and we said goodbye to some old dreams and goals.  Elijah Graham arrived and now we are a 3-family.  And then the lay off, and again we wondered what would be next.

Summer burned hot and we made plans to pack up our life and move our dreams abroad. Then Germany and Holland fell apart and we worked hard to keep from falling apart ourselves. And again we wondered what would be next.

Autumn fell and a new season started for both of us, and we started dreaming a bit again. We started new jobs, we keep on with our therapy and work and growth, and we keep on chasing Jesus.  And still, we wonder what is next.

We don’t know. But here’s what I do know.

I love you.  I love how you fit me so well. How you’re strong in ways that I’m not. How you challenge me, how you encourage me, how you seek to understand me, how you love me.

I love watching you be a father. I look at Eggs, at our silly Elijah Graham, and see you and me and wonder how he’ll grow and really, it’s all a wonder.  You are a great dad.

I still choose you.  I still choose us.  In small ways, in big ways, in sometimes not quite enough or the right ways, I choose us.

It’ll be another year, and another, and by the everyday unfailing grace of God who loves us most and chooses us best, it’ll be lots more years of you and me.

Ready or not

holding hands

We lay on the couch, blankets tucked around our feet, fingers intertwined.  Frank and Claire’s strange relationship played out before us, and I couldn’t help but cry for everything changing.  People ask me if you’re ready for life to change, if you’re ready to be a dad, if you’re ready to share me, if you’re ready for the not sleeping and the selflessness and the sacrifices that seem to be an inevitable part of this thing called parenting.  People ask me if you’re ready, like somehow I’ve got a leg up on you. Like somehow I’m supposed to be already ready.

Truth is, you’re already the one holding me when I can’t sleep.  You’re the one making 84 trips up and down the steps hauling things too heavy for me to carry.  It’s you who has infinite patience when I’m on the edge.  It’s you calling me beautiful when all I can see is a swollen belly and swollen feet.  The dancing in the kitchen is more often your idea lately, and it’s your songs and silliness keeping me laughing.

Truth is, I don’t know if I’m ready to share you.

Our two-family is becoming a three-family very soon.  L1 will be on the outside, a squirming, squishy Whole Person. I can’t wait to watch you love our baby.  I know how huge your heart is and how generous you are with your love and strength, and I have to trust that your arms are long enough to hug us both.

I love our two-family.  I love being your wife.  Becoming a three-family, becoming parents, is equal parts exciting and terrifying.  There’s no one I’d rather do this with.  I just love you.

Claiming words

il_570xN.510319143_gulu (image credit)

This little one who has claimed residence inside me has made me want to clean and organize and purge all the things.  A strange new addition to my body, a strange new addition to our family – what old can I get rid of?  How do we make room?  How do we do this?  I lean against you and you lean against me and we are held together.

I was cleaning out my Google Drive because why not, and found these words prayed over us that day as we said our vows.

Gratitude for the love that has brought these two together. Commitment of ourselves to love, support and celebrate their lives. Grace and favor of God on their lives.

Isn’t that perfect, what Tim claimed for us 3 years ago? And today, in these thin places, these tight spaces, in this season that feels so unknown so often, they’re ours still.  I claim these words for the times when my tears and words fall harsh, when my wifing isn’t done well, when things just. feel hard.

I claim gratitude – for you, for your strong and steady hands, for the ways that you love me big and small, for your hard work and big dreams and how you make me laugh.

I claim commitment – to those who love us and hold us up, to those who stood witness to our vows, to those who witness our every day, to our community far and wide, to our own 2-almost-3 family.

I claim grace – I claim redemption, I claim all things new, I claim abundance, I claim beauty, I claim you & me, I claim faith and life and grace.

I love you.  I still do.

Our family – the messy beautiful

Legs touch and sheets tangle under stolen covers.  Socks tumble all mismatched in the dryer and when do you think you’ll have kids?  When will you start a family?il_570xN.426248888_pfj4

I don’t know.  When do you think we’ll have kids?  We’re already a family.  We’re already all a family. 

I’ve been known to roll my eyes at the empty “It’s so great!” responses I hear from newly marrieds.  The smiles and sugar frustrates me to no end, but I get it.  They don’t really want to hear the truth.

The sweet lady that stops you in the hallway at church doesn’t really want to hear that you fought on your honeymoon or you ruined your husband’s favorite shirt in the wash or actually, you cry when the lasagna burns, thank you.  Your well-meaning relatives don’t want to hear that marriage can be lonely, that a sharp word from or about your mother-in-law brings around that thick tension again, that your own precious childhood memories threaten to rain on the holiday parades.

Do they really want to know that the thought of having children is utterly and completely terrifying, that you’re afraid of losing yourself, losing your connection with your spouse, becoming someone you don’t recognize?  That some days you can barely hold your own self together; how can you manage to hold a tiny person?

And then.  Sometimes? You find someone that wants to know.  Grab those people and hold on tight, you guys.  That’s a miracle.

We’re two and a half years into this thing, and I know that in fleeting moments it can feel easier to do it on your own and I also know that it’s ten kinds of impossible to do it on your own.  It’ll probably be 20 kinds of impossible if we have kids.  That’s life.  Married or not married, kids or no kids, that’s life.  We need our family – our siblings and our parents and our single friends and our married friends and our community of truth tellers and grace givers.  Blood relatives or not.  We need you.

We need people who ask us the hard questions, who open their homes, invite us to their tables and extend their hearts.  We need you, who befriend and befamily with laughter and wine and prayer and grace, who want to talk about the mess.  You make the beautiful and the mess even more lovely.


I’m linking up with the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project – to learn more or join us, CLICK HERE.
Learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback.



In 2014, I’m reclaiming (and writing about) the word GRACE with OneWord 365.  Read more here.

Everyday love

I made a list of 33 things I want to do before I turn 33 in June 2014.  See the full list here.

33.  Love my husband everyday.


Our love looks different every day, doesn’t it?  Maybe that’s why Paul gave it so many words.  I can hardly manage patience and kindness and holding my tongue all at the same time, but I hold onto grace in each moment and know love covers it all.  This is supposed to be about me loving you and I just keep falling back to how you love me.  


When the snow blows hard over the road, they say it’s a ground blizzard. Your tail lights keep growing smaller in the distance as I follow you.  You drive faster than I want to but I keep up, trusting.  Tired, scared, I can’t talk to you on the phone or the tears and fear take over.  But you know these roads and you know me and you believe in me better than I do.


The harsh words boil over and pour out and I wonder which grandparent’s stubbornness is showing in me today.  It runs real deep and it’s hard to shake.  But I know you’re right.  I can’t look at you and I don’t want to talk to you and you always manage to make me laugh when I’m mad and do you know how maddening that is?  You look at me and your grace and patience wash over me and the joy I feel for you just can’t help but bubble out.


When I’m feeling a little sorry for myself, wondering if you notice what I do, if you notice me, if you see me for who I am and you walk through that door. Gifts aren’t either of our primary languages, but so much love spills out of that bag of dark chocolate-covered pretzels you have for me you don’t even know.  A little bag full of surprise love and grace.  My favorite.

You’re my favorite.


In 2014, I’m reclaiming (and writing about) the word GRACE with OneWord 365.  Read more here.



302340_10150521312896124_1646751357_nNebraska vs. Northwestern.  Saturday, November 5, 2011.  Just one day married, we headed to Lincoln with a bunch of friends, fans of both teams.  We pregamed at the Roccoco Theater with Northwestern Alumni.  Nebraska lost, but Team Wastell won big time. day 1 a

I was SO excited to be married.  Gotta love Chad’s drunky fraternity 1

Yay, Team Wastell!  Brand new!

Nebraska vs. Northwestern.  Saturday, November 2, 2013.  Nearly two years married, we headed to Lincoln with a few friends to celebrate our anniversary.  We pregamed at Sandy’s with many pitchers of Elk Creek.  Delish.  Nebraska won in an awesome Hail Mary last play, and Team Wastell keeps on loving each other.







It was one of the most FUN days I’ve had in a while.  Great way to celebrate Anniversary #2.  Go Big Red!

Sunday Drive

“Let’s go for a drive,” he said.

Chad needed to check on a research trial in a not-too-far Iowa barn.  The temperature needed to be high for the observation, and the next day was going to be a scorcher.

“But, it’s Sunday.”  I can sure pout when I want to.  (Just ask my mom.)

What else am I going to do on a sunny Sunday afternoon?  Clean?  The bathroom can wait for another day.  Fold the laundry?  Ain’t nobody got time for that, ever.  Lay on the couch and read a book or chat with my husband about nothing at all?  Might as well do that in the car, I guess.  So the next day after church, off we went on a Sunday drive.

It’s always a battle, this flexibility and constant change in our schedule.  We’re on the road a lot.  We’re gone from home for work a lot.  I fight for balance, fight to maintain our own space and some semblance of a schedule and I love our life in Omaha and I refuse to end up at the end of my life, sitting in the office because that’s where I’ve always been and there’s no where else to go.

But I also know that these days are few.  The business strategy will change and our jobs will change and littles may come someday (no I’m not pregnant) and our life will change.  These days of open roads and open skies and the time for a lazy drive in the country will not last forever.

The tassels on the corn are darkening and the leaves will turn and seasons will change.  I’m learning to enjoy every moment of this one before it ends.

We are agriculture

I’m a small-town Kansas girl. Population 1200; wheat fields and milo as far as the eye could see. My high school had a nationally recognized FFA program and the school parking lot filled with farm trucks each morning. But I was a town kid, a drama and music kid, and I never participated in 4-H or joined FFA. I loved the county fair mostly for the snow cones and cute cowboys.

I’m over at today, sharing our agriculture story. Click here to read the rest.

36 years

Mom and I were getting groceries in Junction City one hot summer afternoon when I asked her the question. “Mom, who do you love most? Me, Sarah or Daddy?”

To my little girl mind, there was only one right answer.

“I love God first, then your Dad, then you girls equally.”

Not exactly what I was looking for. But even in my disappointment, I knew it was truth. And that it was good.

My parents have modeled a marriage full of laughter, determination, hugs in the kitchen, faithfulness, hard work, prayer, long walks, contentment, adventure and holding hands.



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I’m so thankful for their example. Here’s to many more years!

New Bathrooms

The day we got back from our honeymoon, the shower in our master bathroom started leaking. Chad & I may have said, “I do,” but his house said, “Noooooooope!” to me living there. Or at least to me using the master bath.

We started some demo in our bathroom plus the upstairs guest bath, and they looked like this for forever too long a while.


We disagreed on how much money to spend on the renovation. Chad wanted high end finishes to go with the rest of the house; I didn’t want to put a bunch of money into a place that’s not our “forever” home. Chad wanted to let things progress slowly, I wanted to get some small fixes done NOW and call it good. We stalled, consulted some trusted advisors (including a pair of architects), stalled some more, received an unexpected financial bonus, and ended up doing things Chad’s way. I was wrong on this one. And really, it’s a good thing I was.

18 months later, we have new custom vanities, new tile floors, a heated floor and new (huge) shower for the master, a new tub surround for upstairs, new fixtures and new art. And I LOVE it all.





Bathroom Bathroom 2 Bathroom 1May I never be too proud to say I was wrong, or to enjoy my new heated floors.