Seven years. And counting.

On our wedding day as I walked down the "aisle," a grassy hill scattered with flower petals, our dear friends Chris and Julie Bennett sang these words,

Oh the wonderful cross
Oh the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find
That I may truly live

Oh the wonderful cross
Oh the wonderful cross
All who gather here by grace
Draw near and bless your name

And those lines have been the story of our marriage thus far.  Dying to live, huddling close, being sheltered by those dear ones in our lives.

Photo by Jeremy Cowart

From my husband, I have been taught patience when all I wanted to do is crawl out of my own skin.  He's taught me joy - that walking with Jesus far surpasses any "freedoms" this world has to offer.  And love. Not just the quick passing kind that's said as you're headed out the door; the kind of love that bolsters you, holds you up, when nothing else makes sense.  The kind of love that fiercely bids the light to come and combat the darkness.

We've had to give up so much, he and I, over the last seven years, gone through trials that should have wrecked us time and time again.  But I can honestly say looking back that we've been given so much more than we ever asked for.  And I know as the years go by, God will restore and rebuild even more than what has been taken.

Years ago, before I met the man I was going to marry, I asked my sister-in-law the secret to a happy marriage.  One of the things she said I've always remembered: "It's about choosing to stay in love, choosing to stay together."  Basically, it takes a lot of work and intention.  That means we've kept working at it, staying positive when arrows were thrown at us, when we lost all our money, when relationships failed, or when our business struggled.  Yes, we've walked through the pain, questioned God and begged for mercy and miracles and peace.  And - often in very unexpected ways - we've always received them.  Then we dust ourselves off and get back up again.

In a card Steven gave me on my last birthday were these priceless words:

"As we search to discover how we can love each other more during this new journey in our life, I'm blessed to look over at you and know that you are a constant in my life.  When family things and friend things and money things countinue to pound like heavy waves you are always within reach.  That comfort and commitment is nothing short of a miracle."

So, happy 7 years to my baby daddy, my BFF, the love of my life.  The "7 year itch" can just keep walkin' on by, because it's not welcome here, in this marriage.  The Baileys are just getting started.