thoughts on my marriage (dangerous topic)

My husband and I are approaching our 4th year of marriage; Colin will also be turning 26 next month. Being out of class and having ample time to contemplate life, my thoughts have turned to the ever-evolving entity that is Colin Smith.

I know that most women probably think that their husband is a one-of-a-kind guy (I mean, I know each individual is unique), but I really do believe that if they were to look into a window of my life with Colin for a week they might reconsider the complexities they deem that their husband possesses.

I always thought I would end up with the heavy-set, Monday-night-football watching kind of man, but instead I ended up loving a longhaired, school-bus-renovating, emotional rollercoaster of a guy. What happened?!

Colin and I grew up as “friends” (but not really because I would have considered myself to be much “cooler” than him) in the high school youth group at Rolling Hills Community Church. He was popular, in that “I’m a funny and yet deep, soulful, musician” kind of way. I was so self obsessed and living a double life and had no room to be interested in such a skinny, strange, farting guy. In college everything kind of shifted. I had definitely been humbled to a degree that left me believing that NO guy would ever really look at me, and Colin was a little *cough, cough* more mature. We saw each other in a new way, fell in love with what we saw, and then BAM we were married 12 months later.

The first year we spent living across the world (literally) in Sydney, Australia. We were “living the dream” spending about 14 hours a day at Hillsong Church attending class, doing our ministries, and then, when everyone else was going home at 9 or 10pm, we would stay and work, cleaning the ENORMOUS building. I was mostly on toilet duty. Yes, so glamorous. I think that year was so incredibly character building for me though because I was never in the spotlight, I didn’t have my parents to run to whenever things were tough, and mostly I discovered God in a new way, right alongside my new husband.

The second year of marriage was spent pouring our lives into the students in our old youth group at Rolling Hills Community Church. Colin was hired on an interim basis and worked together with our old youth pastor Joel Dombrow and the amazing Elisa McClurken. We loved the kids there, spent many tireless hours working to improve the ministry and it all peaked when the entire group of 300+ students and leaders went on a “summer camp” to Mississippi to rebuild homes and schools after hurricane Katrina. Colin and I learned so much during our time there. I also discovered that Colin is probably one of the most creative people I’ve ever come across personally. The ideas that he came up with and actually implemented were phenomenal. I gained a new respect for him.

Year three was hell. The staff in the youth group had some major changes and in the end Colin wasn’t “the right fit” for where they were headed. The rejection was so personal to Colin. When your work is your ministry and you’re not given clear reasons for being let go it can leave you mystified, aimless and bitter. It tore me up to watch my once dedicated, fearless husband become introverted, I couldn’t get him to express his feelings to me, and I was embarrassed by what I supposed other people were saying about us. I took up a defensive, mother-hen type of role in Colin’s life. In many ways I was less like a wife and more like a body guard, fending off people’s judgments and comments and allowing Colin to grieve alone. Eventually one tires of this kind of lifestyle…

This past year has been one of revival for us. I realized my fault in becoming a defender rather then a comforter and I guess a challenger to push Colin out the door and into what God has next for him. I’ve discovered that Colin doesn’t need me to do anything other then to put God first, be obedient to God’s calling on my life, and to love him the way that God loves him. A kind of love that doesn’t enable but stretches, bringing out the best in him. I must be patient as I wait on the Holy Spirit to do the work rather then me.

I love Colin more now then I ever have. He works so hard to put me in school and to make me happy. He doesn’t always do everything I ask (ie Cutting the hair!) and he is not easily manipulated, but at least I’ve figured that out early on and won’t waste my energy! We’re poor, we’re not looking to purchase a home right now as may of our married friends are and we are years away from ever having children, but I am learning to be content with where we’re at. We are on a different course then the masses and that is ok. Colin continues to surprise me in the way that he loves and believes in me, he really does adore my family, and although he might not be the same man I married almost four years ago, I am deeply committed to him and chose to love him each day regardless of which mood he’s in (trust me there are many sides of Colin…) or how he’s treating me. If you lined up all the men in the world, tall/short, fat/skinny, longhaired/shorthaired, cliché/unique, I would choose him every time.


this is me.

this is me.

Over this past month I’ve had the unpleasant but necessary experience of being challenged. The challenge wasn’t about school or work, how I look or the way I talk, it was more about who I am at the core. What makes me tick. I was questioned as to whether or not I am authentic. It is difficult for me to really put my finger on how this questioning made me feel. I can say that I felt misunderstood, defensive, hurt, and embarrassed. Mostly though I just felt very convicted that if I’m am not fully sharing what is going on inside of me with people through my actions or words then they are probably receiving a false sense of who I am and what I am about. This did not rest well in me.
This self-doubt and examination lead me back to a paper that I wrote my first year at Multnomah Bible College. I was a fresh eighteen years old, so please forgive me if my writing was terrible… I’ve left out some of the most intimate details of the piece but I wanted to post this story about myself. In reading this I am often reconnected with some of my deepest pains and at the same time, what I would consider to be, one of my most glorious moments. Here it is, hopefully I am better understood through this blog (and the two people that read it… )

I am a Mother
One’s identity can be found amidst overwhelming chaos and seemingly unbeatable obstacles. At a very young age, I gleaned this information from first hand experience. The confusion began the summer of 2002. I was about to enter into my junior year of high school with academic, leadership, family, and spiritual responsibilities weighing heavy on my young shoulders. Anticipations of prom, spirit week, college scholarships, and visions of high school glory were shattered when the little stick showed two pink lines. I was pregnant.

In a matter of seconds I had become another statistic for the masses to devour. Little did anyone realize the intense drama that was playing out in my naïve, immature, 16-year-old mind. Can I raise a child on my own? Is this unborn child meant to be with another family? How will I tell my parents? What will people think of me… Amidst all of the tremendous stress and devastating questions was a little voice telling me what I need to do. God was speaking to my heart.. He was whispering to me as I felt the first movements of life deep inside.

I began my pregnancy with the end in mind. By the time I broke the news to my parents I had specific goals laid out and a detailed plan of action already playing in my head. Naturally, they were both shocked as they sat there, staring at their ashamed young daughter opposite them in a chair, weeping. Although they were distraught and mortified at my behavior, when I told them my strategy they were pleased at the obviously well thought-out presentation of the options before me and, eventually, the decision that I had come to on my own accord.

The first option that I had considered was to keep my baby. In the past my judgmental heart and prideful spirit had poured out condemnation on any girl who chose to keep her baby. What did any of those girls have to offer a child? However, this time I was in their shoes. I was the young mother. This time I was the one who wanted to keep the most precious possession that God had ever entrusted to me. Yet I would only be seventeen and not even done with high school. There was no way in the world that I could ever provide for a child without immense amounts of financial, emotional, and physical assistance from my parents. I wasn’t willing to put my parents through that. Keeping my child was not the best choice.

The only other morally sensible option for me was adoption. Adoption can be a tricky thing. Some feel pity for adopted children and some feel deep sympathy for the parent giving away their child. Either way you look at it, someone is going to hurt intensely. I feel that until individuals experience adoption first-hand in their lives, they can never fully understand the incredible amount of love involved. My younger sister is adopted, so I understood.
I chose adoption. My decision was to relinquish my child to someone else’s love and nurturing. In my eyes, I was making the intentional decision to renounce my motherhood responsibilities. Eventually I knew I would deliver a child but would not be that child’s mother. I would provide a warm, healthy, incubator for this kid to grow in but that would be the extent of the relationship. I had become a human oven, preparing a glorious meal for someone else to enjoy.

The pregnancy wore on and on. The days were long and uncomfortable as I prepared my body for the upcoming labor and my heart for the rapidly approaching heartache. Externally, my body was rounding out to a perfect little ball directly in front. Internally my son was playing soccer with my ribs and boxing with my bladder. I was beginning to fall in love with this little burst of energy inside my womb, someone I had never seen or touched. I knew that he could hear my voice, so I began to sing to him. I would play the piano and sing for hours on end, and in response he would roll around inside of me in what I like to consider his own little dance. These moments were precious; my meager attempt at passing a part of me into him.

Finally the day came. A woman can never really prepare herself for the oncoming of labor. Sharp pains roll up from below the enlarged belly and cramping overtakes all sense of reason and, eventually, manners! My labor lasted for thirty hours. Thirty hours is a long time to labor for something that I wasn’t going to reap any benefits from. The nurses were wonderful. My mom read scripture to me as I gritted my teeth and clinched my eyes tighter then ever before. Sweat poured from my face as I cried out in pain. Then suddenly it all went away. I received my very first epidural! I lifted a prayer of thanks for modern technology and continued to push.

He emerged at 12:08 in the morning, all seven pounds, eleven ounces. He screamed and yelped and I did not touch him. I demanded that he be taken away with his mother, but when they did I was overcome with the most intense feeling of loss that my body physically ached from the pain of it. I sobbed. I was a mother and my child had been taken from me. This defied nature. There are no words to describe the extreme loneliness.
Finally his parents left for the night and he was brought in to me. I sat there in my hospital gown and stared down at this little thing I had played a part in creating. He was so perfect, so soft. His tiny nose, cheeks, hands, and feet were all faultless. Beautiful dark eyes occasionally squinted up at me, and I was astounded at just how much they seemed to resemble my own.

I was with him for twenty-four hours. The time was spent simply embracing the one thing in the world that I could ever claim as a purely wonderful and flawless creation. The bond that we developed will last me a lifetime. If I never see him again I will be content. The time spent together meant more to me than anything. During that time I fell in love with my son. A forever kind of love.

Love moved the pen the following morning as I signed the adoption paperwork that detached me of all responsibility for my child. My mom clutched my shoulders and wept. My lawyer explained everything to me for the hundredth time, assuring himself that I was fully aware of the ramifications of signing these papers. I knew full well what I was doing. I was giving away my own flesh. I was offering my song as a gift to another woman. I was walking away from motherhood. In love I signed.


The paper did have more to it. Not really feeling the need to share it all. I think that my point in all of this is just to remind myself that there is depth to me regardless of people who may interpret me as shallow or “harsh.” I do also know that people’s interpretation is important. After going through a situation like this my automatic response to people who judge me is to say I don't really care what you think, you don't even know me. So I suppose finding myself humbled by this all over again and also remembering where I’ve come from will help guide me where I’m headed; always on a journey, hoping that I learn my lessons the first time. Remembering to be low because Christ made himself low enough to die on a cross. Nothing I have ever done or given up in my life is more sacrificial than that kind of love…


My Own Community

Returning to school has been, shall we say, interesting. When I went to college for the first time it was in the safe confines of the Multnomah Bible University bubble. We had chapel every day, most people were like-minded in their beliefs (the “coexisting” aspect of campus living wasn’t any trouble at all) and we all just loved one another…

Portland Community College is quite a contrast to my life at Multnomah. Granted, I am older now, married, I’ve lived overseas, been through some crappy situations and don’t necessarily see the world through those rose-colored glasses I once did, but my goodness, the mass of humanity at community college is mild boggling! “Coexisting” has taken on a whole new meaning. No longer do I receive a kind smile when I grin as some passer-by, instead I receive a quizzical, confused expression in response. Everyone is so busy and no one is really sitting around being college students. They’ve all got a purpose.

Algebra- This class is funny. My teacher is a 60+ year old, single, well “rounded” woman who insists we call her by her first name, Lily. The class starts at 7:30am three days a week. I think most of my classmates signed up too late and got stuck in this class; not so for me. I chose it, welcoming the opportunity to get to class early and start learning. No seriously, early mornings are good for me. Little did I realize that I would be the only one fully awake and talking (I will acknowledge that there are about three other students engaged in what is going on, but not to the level that I am). The rest of the classroom is quite literally sleeping! Lily has those of us who are awake poke the sleepers throughout the class period! Needless to say, I am a bright shining star in this class, although Lily doesn’t seem all that impressed with me. I can’t seem to make her love me. We’ll work on that.

Western Civilization- I enjoy this class, mostly because my favorite new study-buddy, Katie, sits next to me and we smirk about the comical things our monotone professor says under his breathe as we feverishly attempt to keep pace with his lecturing. He talks SO fast. I swear I’m going to develop carpel-tunnel syndrome not from typing but from writing in his class. There isn’t much homework here, but I have a sickening feeling that his tests are going to be killer. Best to keep up with the reading… I’ve already completed the first two major assignments and turned them in early. Katie and I are also already working on our mid-term study guide together, splitting up the questions, answering them, and then sharing the info for studying purposes. Excellent arrangement.

Psychology- This class is funny because most people are in it to receive a required credit, but they also look at it as their opportunity to get a free “session” with our professor. Our prof is fantastic, but she is certainly not there to evaluate students and give them free therapy. So many people just want to share their problems with everyone and fit them into the class discussions so they can get all kinds of attention and sympathy. This unattractive behavior has taught me not to do this in class, despite the fact that the crap in my life might actually be worth evaluating to some degree (how narcissistic of me, huh?).

Biology- This is a two for one, lab and lecture combo. I stink at biology. I do not enjoy studying biology. I will force myself to pass this class and will be done with it forever. The end. PS- I do have another great study-buddy/lab partner in this class, Jonathan, he should get a blog shout-out. Thanks for keeping me awake Jonathan, buddy.
Portland Communtiy College. We are coexisting. I have much to learn and if PCC is going to provide me with the most bang for my buck I will continue to attend (I haven’t missed a day of class yet, and I’m NEVER tardy). Looking forward to my three-week break for Christmas, until then, I’ve got to hit the books!


here she goes.

Blogging. This is my very first attempt at blogging. I can't imagine why anyone would want to read my ramblings and I suppose my motives should be in check before posting; am I simply posting to vent my emotions when I should actually be dealing with them, am I passive-aggressively trying to communicate with a person who I suspect might read my blog when I should really just pick up the phone and call them, am I being prideful and wanting to brag about my life *cough, cough, yeah right* to make others jealous (hahahahaha)? I believe that my heart is in the right place. I've just got a lot on my mind, and somehow facebook doesn't cut it with their simple minded "status updates." I can't fit enough text in there...

Colin, my "genius" husband, recently started a blog depicting the tales of his newly acquired school bus and it's "rebirth" into our mean, green, camping machine. We'll see how that goes. So on his blog I posted an entry with my thoughts and affirmation for all those people who thought I couldn't possibly be aware of the bus and be allowing these antics! Yes I know about the bus. Yes we discussed it before the trade of our cancerous Honda Accord for the 1985 Bluebird School Bus. You may think we're both crazy now, but I love my guy and if this simple project will keep the peace in our marriage and allow him an outlet to use his "genius" and creativity, then by all means, bring it on!

So after blogging on his blog I just felt so good! I felt like someone, somewhere in cyberspace would read my thoughts and be pleased as punch about my devotion to Colin and his project, my ability to subject myself to his insanity, and my gifted writing prowess. I've since then had many, many more thoughts and stories that I see now should also be thrown out into the vast universe of the internet and absorbed by a fat, cheeto-eating, couch potato somewhere in Wyoming. I know that others of you can relate. The belief that someone wants to hear me is awesome.

My first blog. An explanation really. A justification for the time spent in front of my computer sharing rather then with my nose in my textbooks studying. My I never break loose from my motive of a light-hearted avenue of fun and intrigue. 

More to come....