Sarah Rieke » Living. Loving. Pressing on.

Love Stories: Billy + Holly

Love Stories graphic

This month my husband and I will celebrate our eleventh wedding anniversary. To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to invite some very lovely women and gifted writers to share their love stories here on the blog. Each Friday this month you will get to read a different story of life, love, and ultimately, of Christ. 

I’m trying to think of my favorite part. Or rather the loveliest part. Because my favorite parts are probably the times of laughter when he hikes up his PJ pants to his armpits and moonwalks down the hallway for the fiftieth time just because it’s Tuesday. Or like how we have the same sense of humor and the same Meyers-Briggs results and you’d think we’re too similar to “work” but as it turns out it’s the most fun thing in the world because you found someone you totally get along with who is nicer and funnier than you are, and they think you’re nice and funny, too.

But while the fun times are important building blocks of our marriage, they wouldn’t hold up without a firm foundation, and because Christ is our foundation, we’ve gotten to see how this thing keeps growing taller and stronger, with a depth and dimension that is almost intimidating, but when looked at through the lens of the Gospel, is instead just really, really lovely.

So the loveliest part—the richest, most sanctifying part—a few stand out when I reflect back on our thirteen years together (eight spent married). They all stem from when we decided to start the next phase of building on our foundation by adding children to our family of two (plus a crazy orange cat).

The building process started off with excitement as we decided to start trying for a child. Eight frustrating months later (which I realize isn’t very long in the grand scheme of things, but it may as well have been eight years at the time), our frustration turned to joy and honor with the blessing of twins. And just two months filled with planning and dreaming later, our joy turned to mourning when we heard the dreaded words as I was laid up in the ER: “No heartbeats.”

Dizzy with grief, we drove home and cried on the couch, knitted up together. We felt so deserving when the next positive test came after just 2 more months post-miscarriage.

When we found out our long-awaited son would be born with CHARGE Syndrome and complex congenital heart disease at our twenty-week anatomy scan, we found ourselves off the couch and on our knees. And when he died in our arms after living 10 weeks of probably the hardest life any baby has ever lived, with no food, five surgeries, and countless procedures, our knees gave way, our faces flat on the ground. The loss of three babies—one of whom we got to hold and got to know and to fight for, whom we watched the Lord use to build His kingdom, even as he suffered and died—could have torn us apart. Child loss changes a person, and continued grief is heavy and exhausting. The Enemy would have loved to see us falter in our faith and drive a wedge between us and the Lord, both individually and as a couple.

As I sit here two years later, with our eight-month old twins (yes, I managed to get pregnant with twins a second time) asleep in their beds, exhausted from the chaotic monotony of daily life, I wonder if now isn’t the loveliest time of all.

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The stability of it all—the strength of our foundation amidst the storms of life and the attacks of the Enemy, and the bond that comes with having the same purpose—to follow Christ and grow His kingdom. I read a lot about how hard marriage is, how much work it is. How it’s a fight, a choice. My experience has been different.

In our thirteen years together, when I reflect on my husband and our marriage, I’m overwhelmed by the Lord’s kindness. As a married couple, life has thrown us more challenges than we ever would have imagined back when we were seventeen and dreaming about what married life would look like for us. The challenges, the choices, the battles—they’ve all been there, of course, but they pale in comparison to the kindness I’ve experienced from Jesus via my husband, who is a carrier of the Holy Spirit.

Much like approaching God’s throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16), I find rest, comfort, and safety in the arms of my husband, with whom I can share my every thought and am met with interest, compassion, and kindness. Life this side of heaven can be downright mean, yet we have a kind Father who desires relationship with us. When the cruelness of life starts planting seeds of bitterness in my heart, as it so easily starts to do, and I begin to doubt His goodness, I’m overjoyed to look at the gift of my marriage and be reminded of His kindness in a very tangible way.

written by Holly Colonna

connect with Holly: blog // instagram // podcast episode

If you’d like to share your love story, please send it my way! Email me at sarahjrieke@gmail.com

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