The Sanctity of Marriage

Oh, the covenant we are living in. It’s more than rings on hands, it’s the yes to the unknown… What was easy to say is now staring us down. Is it ’til death do us part or ’til a change of heart? Feelings go so far, but where are we when they’re gone?

rs-wedding-221When I made a covenant to my husband in marriage almost six years ago, I signed on for a lifetime. I thought, I am heading into a life of love. Of treasured memories. Making a family. Ministering together. A life of substance. All True. But there are mysteries within the space of marriage, between the lines of those vows I made. God breathes life into that space. It’s sacramental; there’s something supernatural happening in this covenant. Something out of my control and out of Robert’s control. Something clothed in divinity and wisdom.

Marriage is hard. Many don’t last “for better or worse” or “til death do us part.” Going into it, I knew a little about sanctification: God does work in my heart. He allows circumstances to test my faith.

But. I couldn’t possibly comprehend–much less feel–what it would be like to go through not only my own sanctification, but also Robert’s. The stretching, the testing, the trying. The refining fire surely burns in marriage. It burns in the way we see ourselves and our own failings reflected in the hurt of our spouse. It burns in the way we are wounded by their choices, too.

God sets us apart. He makes us new in his love, returning us to our proper, created purpose. The sanctity of self and of marriage hinges upon releasing my white-knuckled grip on what I imagined, intended, or even desired for my marriage. In letting-go I find myself consumed by love that does not run out.

img_4476Each night last week we lit our Advent candle and prayed for Hope. This week we pray for Peace. The little flames are like marriage outside of The Mystery, outside of The Story. They burn rather dimly compared to the gaudy twinkle lights on the tree. Seemingly less powerful than those electric bulbs, the candle-flames are affected by each breath and movement.

And yet, we continue to meditate on the deep symbolism of this Advent wreath and anticipation of the coming Christ. The burning flames are pure and elemental. If allowed, they would grow and provide life-sustaining warmth. The could light up a dark room.

rs-wedding-144Hold the flame of my marriage covenant next to romances of this world, some alluring dramas or epic sparkly love stories… It seems dim and powerless. But hold it closer… let it catch. Allow it to burn anew with the love and light of Christ. I’m in it. The wind may gust through like a hurricane sometimes, but this flame is not going to blow out.

It costs something when we enter the covenant of marriage. There will be struggle. There will be sacrifice. This is what we signed up for.

We are holding on to Him as He is holding on to our covenant. We reflect the greatest story of our King and His Bride. We’re not hidden but shine brightly bearing witness in the night. -Bethany Barnard


winter spring


in the wee hours of yesterday [3 am?] i wandered into the laundry room to cover some beans i’d been cooling. [i sometimes use this room as a second refrigerator because it’s freezing] my sleepy eyes were struck by the snow falling steadily, and once again our world is buried. the old snow had nearly melted so this blanket of white is fluffy and fresh.

i really love shoveling. all morning i looked forward to archer’s nap so i could go out on the porch and shovel. there’s something about lifting heavy loads and throwing them far over the banister. breaking a sweat when it’s snowing outside. needing to take that extra layer off.


the entire day was devoted to laundry and bread. in the morning i baked this healthy banana bread. it’s excellent! archer loves it, and even robert asked for another slice. i found 2 lb of dates at the lebanese shop for $7. that’s a steal if you ask me. you can use chopped dates or date paste as natural sweetener.

i also made 3 batches of whole wheat bread dough, pizza dough, and pita bread. i’m building more and more confidence in baking with yeast. when the pitas puffed up it may have been one of my proudest moments! they were so amazing with hummus right out of the oven. i haven’t uploaded those photos yet, but don’t you worry. they’re coming.


the last day of winter deserved that blanket of snow. and my home smelled like fresh baked bread all day. i’d say that’s a successful adieu to the season! come on, spring!

on sunday

a nap like this just did not happen yesterday

Hebrews 4:9-10 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

we went to solemn mass instead of low mass, braving the longer service. the men & boys choir is remarkable, but they don’t sing during low mass. i crave the music. the ancient melodies are so moving, much more so than most contemporary christian ballads. the strong notes of the organ seem to penetrate the deepest parts of me. especially during lent the more contemplative and traditional setting seems so appropriate… my friend offered to take archer down with her girls during the homily and following prayers. during this time i nudged robert and whispered, “this is so nice!” i am glad to say i left inspired and revived.

after the service there were coffee hour handshakes and how do you dos. then it’s the guessing game of “will archer nap today?” and of course he slept for the fifteen minute ride in the car. i think at least two teeth are rearing their heads, so little man is a bit more ornery than usual.

we decided to make greek salads and walked to the local lebanese [greek?] pita shop to buy feta and kalamata olives. mmmmm. i whipped out some dressing, and boy did that hit the spot. not quite a st. patrick’s day meal…  we drank guinness extra stouts on the side to be festive.

it was during our lunch time that archer kept arching his back [true to his name] trying to climb out of his high chair. terrifying to say the least. i said, “sit on your bum!” and tried a strong, “no!” and he cried alligator tears. robert put him in his crib for a little “time out” but does he understand yet? it wasn’t until after robert went to work at 3:30 and about an hour of reading books, playing, lots of holding and whining that i threw in the towel. i let archer lay in the big bed with me for a fitful nap of about 30 minutes.

and then later, after archer’s surrender to bedtime, i bundled up on the back porch and closed my eyes hearing not the rush of traffic but of a river. or maybe a waterfall. could it be the ocean waves? i lifted my gaze to a clear sky above this little village. the moon, the constellations, and the bare branches against the deep blue–they wrapped around me. this is where i found my sabbath rest. the night held me still as fir needles shimmered in the street lamp. my mind relaxed and recalled that life flows from God.