This guy.

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This guy is 34 today. Which means ten birthdays have passed since we first became a couple. I look at him, and the gray that is slowing taking over his beard and I love it.  He has a few more wrinkles around his eyes, but I don’t mind in the least.  God willing, I am going to grow old with this man and it is comforting to see the physical markers begin to document the passing of that time together.

It took a while, but he has finally settled into himself and sometimes, when he is smoking his pipe, or tinkering on his truck or motorcycle, I just sit back and watch him.  This man, who in many ways is sooo different from the 25 year old guy I married, has captured my whole heart.  Not in some “fluttery, over-romanticized” type of way. But in the kind of way where my hands feel perfectly at home in his own rough, calloused hands.

He used to have the hands of a photographer.  Smooth. Hardworking, but a little aristocratic.

But I like this version better.  I like the callouses he has earned since learning to become a welder, and how his hands always seem to be stained a bit black around the edges. They are scarred too, from remodeling our house and rebuilding his truck and motorcycle entirely on his own.

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And that is what I want from our life together.  I want our life to bear the proof and marks of a life actually lived.  There are times when I have chased an overly idealized version of myself, or demanded that of my husband and our marriage.  You know, trying to cultivate a perfect moment-by-moment life worthy of a million Instagram followers?  Or, trading real life moments for the script of “what is supposed to be” and then finding it sometimes just doesn’t seem to add up? Don’t let grace become a stranger, let it be what makes those marks beautiful.  I don’t want a marriage or life that is too busy trying to hide the gray, or smooth away the wrinkles. I want to earn that stuff like a badge of honor and actually celebrate it. With candles. : )

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The truth is, I don’t really like flowers. But I love when you leave me a cup of coffee before you leave for work just because I don’t know how to properly make it.

The truth is, I got up early today to make you breakfast and the pancakes turned out to be heavy bricks of uncooked batter.  So instead, we laughed and ate a breakfast of burnt bacon, coffee and orange juice.

The truth is, sometimes we fight like cats and dogs and I have a really, REALLY hard time admitting when I am wrong (also, I can be waaay too sassy). We know each other’s buttons to push and even worse, sometimes we do it on purpose. But you never let me walk away from you, even when that would be easier. And that commitment is what grounds my own.

The truth is, we’ve both gone through our own individual battles (yours=career change, mine=infertility), but we’ve never left each other’s side. We take turns carrying the other’s burden and that has grown something beautiful in both of us. 

The truth is, some of my favorite moments with you are the most ordinary moments.  And that is okay with me.

image And so, I want to say Happy Birthday and celebrate that you are a great man because you have the desire to love me in the way that I need, even when I don’t know what that means. Because by coming into yourself, you’ve helped me become myself. And I like the “us” version the best.  Happy Birthday, my love.

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