Today we celebrate eight years of marriage. EIGHT! It feels miniscule and significant, all in the same instant. Our dear friends used to joke that they feel like they've 'lived a thousand lifetimes,' and I resonate with that.

I have a tenderness towards our first year, everything so novel and feeling so very significant. It was in that first year I began to discover just how selfish I really was (and am,) realizing why we make a covenant in front of God and man to stay faithful. A steadfast anchor, without which, we'd have more reason to go our separate ways, in the more brutal of seasons.

These past eight years has often felt like one furnace or another. The embers have at times cooled considerably, but there seems to be always a work at hand, a stripping away, a forming and welding.... We've faced grief and mental illness, financial insecurity and financial triumph, disapointment and unfaithfulness, heartbreak and restoration. We've struggled through culture shock and loneliness, misunderstand after misunderstanding, we've watched our childrens hearts beat wildly, and we've watched them lifeless, we've seen our own marriage seem lifeless-begging God to breath it back to life.

"God, if you don't do something..."

The subtitle to our marriage movie.

Many moons ago I felt equipped to offer up wisdom on how to keep a marriage thriving. I dont think it was totally misinformed, but it certainly lacked the depth of a seasoned marriage. I still lack the depth of a seasoned marriage and have since come into a deep understanding of how little I know.

But if I can offer up one bit, just one, it's this:

The gospel of Jesus is the only truth I've found to face all of lifes circumstances.

In our broken down moments, He was there. In bitterness and resentment, it was that Holy Spirit that moved my feet towards my spouse. It was His work in my heart to remind me that the covenant I made isn't just to a man, but to my God. I promised fidelity, even in heartbreak. I promised love, even in ache. I promised tenderness even in tension, I promised God that through his help, I would be this mans helper. Sickness and health, forsaking all others.

And so, year by year, I learn a little bit more where I can lay down my life for my friend.

And year by year, my friend has laid his life down for me. And bit by bit I see it, the sanctified human that will someday be glorified. I cannot wait, as Tim Keller writes, to look at my husband and exclaim:

"I saw glimpses of it then, but LOOK AT YOU NOW!"

If this side of heaven is any indication of it, Ben Sprague, you are going to be GLORIOUS.

I love him, more than I can verbalize. I love who he has become and respect the way he leads and loves and pours into his family. He is a father to more than just his sons and daughter. He is a lighthouse, holding fast to truth even when the waves threathen to overwhelm. He is a storyteller, a creative with mathematical precision. I know I'm his wife, but I swear he borders genius. He is steadfast, clever and wise. and so deeply funny. Also. Goodness, Ben, you're gorgeous.

I am thoroughly convinced, without a shadow of doubt, that God gave me the very best he had in  this century, perhaps ever. I feel deep down in my bones and even when (as we, with mercy, call our failures) 'our humanness shows through,' what a wonderful human man that husband of mine is. I understand with each year how much 'the furnace is for gold.'

You're pure gold, Ben Sprague.

Till the end of the line.