Lots of Celebrations!

We celebrated quite a few things over the last week and we are EXHAUSTED, but it has been a wonderful time! We celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary on July 4th, celebrated independence day, and had the Oren family reunion.

Jon's Dad has 6 siblings and they grew up on a large farm here in Indiana about 35 minutes from us. The farm is still in production today by his Uncle Greg. It is a great place and I absolutely love that my kids are growing up with frequent visits to the family farm. It's beautiful and has the kind exploring I want my kids to fall in love with.

So here's a little of what we've been up to.

Happy 4th of July

My two babes
I love family gatherings of all kinds. It's always fascinating to me how entire generations and legacies come from two people. Here is Jon's dad (bottom left) and his siblings, minus one who couldn't attend. Their parents, Jack and Nellie, died in a plane crash before all their children's families and grandchildren were created. In the next two pictures is Jon's Great Uncle John and Great Aunt Mary. Uncle John and his wife Aunt Mary basically took over care and oversight of Jon's Dad and his siblings after their parents passed away. They are amazing. They have done a great job keeping the family together. Their lake house is the one we get the opportunity to visit during the summers. 
Evie and her Great-Great Uncle John. She sure loves him. It's because he spoils her so much. 
 Evie waltzin' around with her Great-Great Aunt Mary who was showering her with attention and Evie was lovin' it! 
Uncle Greg, Mekonen, and Owen. He's the oldest sibling and the one running the Oren farm. He is one of my FAVORITE Orens. :) 
All the older cousins and their spouses. So Jack and Nellie's grandchildren. There are 22. Not all were there. 
All the younger cousins, 12 of the 16. 
(All the children of the cousins above).
There were so many childhood memories made this weekend....
catching fireflies...
(with cousin Gillian)
a cousins campout night...
(with cousin Travis)
(with Aunt Joan, who has 3 grandchildren and was running around like crazy!)
(with Owen and Helena)
(with Boppy and Gillian, and Mekonen in his pajamas)
swinging on the tire swing....
(that's been there since Jon was a kid)
non-stop running around....
movie and commercial making....
(i know, I know, it's an Oren gathering thing.haha).
a whole lot of missed naps and late bedtimes...
(Evie saying, "sh, sh, sh" THOSE LIPS!!!)
and just hanging with those we love...
(and for Evie, that's the babies!!!)

The 4 immediate cousins on my kids' Oren side.
Mekonen, Evie, Joy, and Owen

So here's to a fantastic weekend with those we love!
Happy 4th of July!


The Real Anniversary Status

Here we are...it's our 8th wedding anniversary! I chuckle to myself thinking of all the many facebook posts that get posted on one's wedding anniversary. I chuckle for many reasons, one, because not too long ago, I would've been writing one of those sappy facebook posts, and two, because everyone everywhere who is married to someone who breathes laughs to themselves as they read those posts because all they want to do is call the authenticity police and have a shake down.  I'm not saying that there aren't great marriages and that husbands and wives aren't our best friends, etc, etc. So before you accuse me of that, keep reading, because I love my husband dearly and he knows that I'm stuck to his side and committed to being his friend and lover for as long as I walk this earth.
Normally, my "wedding post" would probably consist of only the positives of the past 8 years, or only the lovey feelings I have for my husband. Those things aren't bad. They're good actually. But the majority of our growth in Jesus personally and as a couple has come about through the really hard parts. The parts most people don't speak of for lots of varied reasons. The parts that people don't tell you about when you're young, in love, and walking down the aisle in a haze of romance, with a deep conviction that we will somehow be different and escape the broken world we live in.
So here we are, we've arrived at 8 years of marriage together and we have learned some crazy, hard, raw, and real lessons. Because I'm a recovering perfectionist (a.k.a. prideful sinner who thinks I can muster up enough will power and strength to do anything), I walked down the aisle assuming my marriage wouldn't be one that needs the regular rescue of grace. Sure, maybe from time to very far away time, but regularly? No. Not us, not me. We got this thing. Sure I knew we needed God's help, and I truly was walking with the Lord and seeking Him, but I certainly did not live life in the middle, where life actually is. You see, we live life between the already and the not yet. (The already being the fact that God sent Jesus to rescue sinners and has given us His Holy Spirit, and the not yet being the fact that although we have the Holy Spirit we are not yet perfectly complete like Jesus and the world in which we live is not yet fully restored). "We live in a world that is terribly broken and terribly sad. And unfortunately, our marriages will not escape its brokenness. We live with flawed people and our marriages will not be protected from those flaws" (Paul Tripp). So in that aspect alone, that's where the facebook posts about the cheesy, so not authentic, posts about marriages and anniversaries rub people the wrong way. Because marriages cannot and do not escape the broken world we live in, maybe we would walk through our brokenness a little bit better, and see redemption a little bit quicker, if authenticity became the name of the game and we rallied around marriages and families in real ways. One's fears about "what will people think of me if I and our marriage does not appear perfect?" Well, chances are they will think nothing, because their's isn't perfect either. They will gladly welcome you to join the rest of humanity and receive love, grace, and support from those who walk life with you.

We live in the middle of a world that does not function the way God intended it to be. In our 8 years of marriage, we have been touched deeply by the brokenness of our world. Sometimes it's the hassle of a broken world in general, work is hard, providing is hard, raising a family is hard. Sometimes it's dealing with the destructive things each and every person who breathes brings into their marriages that get in the way of what a marriage is supposed to be and do. Sometimes it's facing major issues that have altered the course of your life and marriage. Sometimes it's just the little daily disappointments of life. Sometimes it's dealing with things we would never have planned for ourselves or our family. Sometimes it's grieving a significant loss.
We all face the same things, in varying degrees at varying times in our lives, and at our 8 year mark, we have only just begun to live rightly in that middle place, and to grasp the daily rescue of grace and the healing balm of the Gospel. You see, we often accept the Gospel on the day of our salvation, and then practically reject it in our daily lives. This is new to us and 8 years marks a turning point for us in really knowing and understanding how the Gospel affects every aspect of DAILY life, including our marriage.

The Gospel teaches us that our identity is in Jesus, not our spouse, not our marriage, not our kids, not our achievements, not our possessions, or anything else we can come up with. Because of the Gospel, we are "in Christ." The blessings that flow from that are innumerable, but the one that has had paramount impact on our marriage in recent times is that in Christ, at every given moment, we are eternally loved and genuinely significant. This turns our marriage into one of ministry…where we have the privilege to love, serve, and profoundly influence our spouse in a way that makes them more like Jesus. I could write pages and pages alone on this very paragraph, and illustrate very practical real life ways this has changed our marriage, but it would make this blog post massive. Maybe a future post!
So all in all, my point being, we love our spouses, our marriages, our families. But we also live in a fallen world, desperately fallen ourselves, and married to fallen people. But we need not fear. We need not fear others' opinions of us and we need not fear the authenticity that would astound people with its freedom. We need not live in a social media world where we craft our world to appear the way we wish it did in a perfect world. Marriage is hard. Marriage is beautiful. Marriage is an all out war for the glory of God. Marriage is the incredible privilege to walk out the broken road of life with one person- in all the twists and turns of "for better or worse." So fear not when you find yourself amid the brokenness of this world and in the brokenness of the sinners who dwell in it. Live openly in community and allow God to use others as an agent of grace in your life, and allow God to use you as that agent in others' lives too. God is with us, and works out these grievous things that will result in good things, as God defines good, in and through us. We are not alone. God is near. "So when you are sinned against or when the fallen world breaks your door down, don't lash out or run away. Stand in your weakness and confusion and say, 'I'm not alone. God is with me, and He is faithful, powerful, and willing" (Paul Tripp). For we have a God, who sent his Son Jesus to rescue us from our lowly state and is on a mission to redeem and restore mankind. This is the Gospel.

By God’s incredible grace in our lives, we are working on leaving a Gospel legacy, not just making it to the end, still married. Leaving a spiritual legacy, especially one laced with the very story of the Gospel- of sin, forgiveness, restoration, and glory to God, is what matters most. It’s our glorious mess. We give praise to the Lord for His mercy and faithfulness…for allowing our story to be a story of God’s grace in our lives. A story that's still being written that our children will one day see as an example of the Gospel of Jesus in real life. One that we pray will give them hope and strength as they walk out their days seeking to truly know, love, and serve Jesus.

So without further ado, my social media anniversary "status" has moved from....
"Happy 8th anniversary to the most incredible, amazing husband who ever walked the face of the earth and our life is always awesome. Every year is better than the last, and WE.ARE.PERFECT."


"It's been 8 years since I vowed to walk with this guy for the rest of my days. It hasn't been easy, and every subsequent year is not necessarily better than the last. Sure we've had many great times, but we've had a lot of really hard times, and not just "us against the world and its badness" but us against each other, my sin and his. I no longer trust in the fluffy Hallmark cards and romance induced posts about life being perfect! Because guess what, it's not. Instead, we are finally coming into a sturdier, more mature love that is finally basking in the glory of the Gospel, and the DAILY rescue of grace, and boy does that feel sooooo good. If you haven't experienced this kind of status, maybe everyone else is awesome and we aren't. And if that's the case, oh well! We are what we are... sinners saved by grace, and fumbling through life together. Sometimes nailing it on the head and cheering joyfully as we experience the incredible privilege of loving another human being. And sometimes, we are so far off base, lost in our own pursuit of idols that we create a chasm between us that ends in pain and a sudden need to yell profanity. But either way, this is the guy I want to do both with."

And might I just add, we stand here at year 8, with an overwhelmingly amazing group of Christian friends who take community seriously, who take marriage and family seriously. A church community that is really coming into what it means to walk life on life with each other. At the start of our wedding anniversary week, close friends gathered around us at our home, to give praise to the Lord for His work in our lives, to lay hands on us and pray for us and our legacy. Now that's pretty cool.
To God be the glory great things He has done.