I love you.

I woke up in the middle of the night, and all of a sudden, the space between us was much too far…

The practical side of my brain was telling me to just shut my eyes and go back to sleep. We were running on just a few hours a night, and I had homeschool in the morning and a newborn beside me who would undoubtedly be waking me up in an hour anyway. We needed sleep.

But I needed him more.

I sat up, moved the co-sleeper that was safely cradling our infant boy to the side of the bed, and crawled beside him, curling up into the arms that have been faithfully holding me for seven beautiful years.

The months of pregnancy that had built a huge belly between us melted into a distant memory…

I was home.

Tears gathered in my eyes, and my heart sang a silent love song to my husband as I reveled in the security and comfort of his embrace.

I love you…

because I know I don’t deserve you.

because you make me think of God, just by looking at you. His grace is evident to me when you walk into the room.

because you have given me enough beautiful memories to last a lifetime.

because I know without a doubt that you love me back.

because you are mine.

because you are good and kind and gentle, and only grow more so with each passing day.

because when you smile at me and delight in who I am, I feel like I am safe. Cherished. Your dream come true.

because you know all my secrets and scars and you forgive me freely. You love me like I’m flawless, even though we both know that I am not.

because your heart is so tender and your eyes are so watchful. You treat me like I am a priceless treasure…

and being married to you has been the single greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

I never, ever get tired of you, and when you walk out the door, I already want you to come back. There will never be enough days, enough minutes, enough time to spend in your company.

The world lied to me. They told me that marriage would be stifling. That it would be boring. That the honeymoon would be over…

bunch of dummies. They were so wrong.

Life with you is an adventure that never stops, and the more I grow in my love for you, the closer I grow to the God who created that love. You lead me to Him, and so I rejoice in our marriage with every fiber of my being.

And I never, ever want it to stop. If God would be so good, I’d love to spend eternity with your hand in mine…

or at least a lifetime.

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I love you, Mr. Gore. Forever and ever.

My Confession(s).

Not so very long ago, I sinned.

And it wasn’t the kind that was just between me and God, that I could quickly work out through private prayer and repentance; rather, from the get-go, it was glaringly obvious to my redeemed heart that I must confess my sin to the one I had sinned against and ask forgiveness…

in this case, my wonderful, sweet, kind, pure-hearted husband who, though he knows the very worst about me and loves me anyway, would be rightfully disappointed and saddened by my actions.

Kill me now.

And to make things worse, when I met him outside that very day to carry out my intentions, I chickened out and sort-of confessed before softening my sin with a blatant lie.

Heavy sigh. Now I had two sins to confess.

I carried them around for two entire weeks.

They sat like weighty bricks on my conscience, and I prayed for an opportunity to release these burdens…

but everytime the opportunity arose, the words stuck in my throat. I just couldn’t allow him to see me for who I really was.

“Tomorrow…” I thought, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Obviously, God was using the entire episode to teach me a great truth, because He pursued me like a hound, convicting me through sermons, hymns, Bible verses, and even other people’s facebook statuses; I could not escape the fact that I was meant to confess my sin to Mr. Gore, and I knew my soul would not rest until I obeyed.

Dang it.

Finally, in the most yellow-bellied act of all time, I sent my husband a facebook message with three confessions and three pleas for forgiveness…

1. My initial sin.

2. My lie about that sin.

3. For pathetically confessing all of the above via the internet.

When he later checked his messages and responded in the most gracious manner possible, I began to weep right there at my computer. And as tears ran down my face, great understanding about the art of confession flooded into my heart, things I had never seen or understood before that moment…

when it comes to sins against other people, verbal confession is vital to repentance. Even though I had talked to God plenty about what I had done wrong, until I obeyed His Word and made known my secret sin, I hadn’t truly dealt with it. And it wasn’t until I received that response from Mr. Gore that I was able to freely mourn over my initial disobedience in an honest and healthy way; it was so painful and so freeing at the same time and one of the most defining moments of my Christian life to date.

verbal confession is one of the greatest forms of accountability. The guilt I suffered those two long weeks, coupled with the awareness that my husband now knows new and grisly details about the state of my heart, is enough to keep me from committing that same sin possibly forever. It is easy to continue sinning when you hide (and thus, cherish) that sin in your heart. Making sin known, on the other hand, illuminates its true ugliness and helps you to hate it in the way you are intended to.

confession is good for everyone. It benefits no one for us to put on a façade of perfection, but when we confess our failings, it allows us to share love and forgiveness with our brothers and sisters, to grow in our relationships, to help one another along in the faith, and to build a firm foundation of obedience on the rock that is Jesus Christ. It is amazing what happens when Christians start being real with one another – we find that we are FAR from alone in our depravity, and we can then truly spur one another on to love and good works. This is exactly what my husband did for me, and it was life-changing.

and finally, confession is an exercise. Why was it so hard for me to confess that sin to my husband? Mainly, this: I have had very little practice. Confessing this type of sin out loud (er…on facebook) rather than just dealing with it inwardly, was a new thing for me, and I was as rusty at performing it as I would be doing curls at the gym. I have a feeling, however, that no matter how much I will probably always dread this exercise, it will grow easier and easier the more I employ it in my life…and maybe someday, I’ll be able to do it face-to-face rather than through a silly computer screen! Disciplining ourselves to do hard things is never fun, really, but my, it brings about the most glorious changes…

Obviously it was a big moment for me.

Fast forward a couple of months to yesterday morning…

I was having a really crummy day.

I was grouchy. Self-absorbed. Entitled. Unloving.

I was just being a real jerk.

Really.

And I knew it.

But the saddest thing was, I couldn’t scrape up enough care to even want to combat this sinfulness. I just wanted to wallow in it.

Lay in it like a pot-bellied pig.

I was being mean and sour on the outside, lazy on the inside, taking out whoever happened to cross my path, and even failing to smile at the people I passed at Wal-Mart. Usually I can at least be nice to strangers…

But I was especially hateful to my family.

And I hated every second of it.

Finally, by the sweet grace of God that never fails me, I was drawn out of this attitude, at least enough to start trying to beat it, even though the inward battle was still raging, and by late afternoon, I was privately talking to God about my failings and my desperate need for patience with the little children He has entrusted to me.

Phooey on it!” I thought, as I washed white paint off of Gideon and Rebekah in my bathtub (deja vu, anyone?), “just be honest with them. Confess your sins, woman!”

“You guys…” I blurted out, “I am really, really grouchy today, and I am so sorry about that. Will you forgive me?”

“Yes,” Gideon matter-of-factly replied, “how could we not forgive our Mom?”

“Yeah…” said Rebekah, as I lifted her out of the tub and wrapped her in a bathtowel, “how could we not forgive our Mom? We love you!!”

And with those words, she threw her soft, damp arms around my neck and covered my face with kisses.

Heart bubbling over with love and gratitude, I returned her embrace and we rocked back and forth on the wet bathroom tile, my sin forgiven and forgotten, my weary soul drinking deeply of the healing power of confession as the open wounds of my struggling heart were closed up by the exuberant love and forgiveness of my family.

That’s some heartbreakingly beautiful stuff right there.

Of course, my prayer is to continually sin less and less, but as we make this pilgrimage together, I also pray that our home will continue to grow into a place of honesty and transparency, where we can lay our souls bare, knowing that forgiveness and reconciliation are just a confession away.

Mr. and Mrs. Gore: The Blushing Years (Part 2)

continued from Part 1:

“I was painfully aware of him, each moment spent near him adding to my interest and my desire to know him better. Which, praise be to God, eventually came just a few months later…”

~

Mr. Gore came to our small town that May to take on a summer internship at our church.

A high school graduate now, I was nearly on an equal playing field with this young college boy, even though I still had the summer left before I would officially graduate from the youth group.

Thankfully, in the confines of our tiny town, he was forced to finally take notice of me, and before too long, he even knew my name.

And oh, how he could set my heart to beating!

It was difficult, being under his authority and tutelage, unable to even think about pursuing a relationship, yet wanting so badly to be noticed by him. Our youth group was full of attractive and wholesome young ladies, and at the time, though they would laugh at the idea now, many of my friends were also interested in this new boy; his presence that summer definitely sent a jolt of energy through the fairer members of our small town’s youth group. In fact, I would say the matchmaking mothers were even more atwitter than I was…

But it wasn’t too long before I noticed that, although a summer romance was strictly forbidden, there was an electricity between the two of us that surely I wasn’t the only one feeling. He was admittedly a bit of a flirt…what young, single man would not have enjoyed all that attention?…but when our eyes would meet, we would both begin that tell-tale fidgeting, and although he had to leave me guessing that entire summer what he really thought of me, I could sometimes read in his eyes that he admired what he saw. (And well he should have, the little toot!)

Thankfully, I had a little help in my pursuit of this romance. My bosom friend, Misty, and I concocted a game that summer to gauge Mr. Gore’s interest in me; both of us were back-up singers in our youth group’s praise band, and when we were on the stage during church services and he was in the congregation, I would yawn while Misty kept her eyes peeled to see if he yawned, too. Because, you know, yawns are contagious. Neither of us were very good at math, but that game was genius, if you ask me!…

and I’m sure it didn’t interfere with our worship. Not at all. We were super gifted at multi-tasking.

Anyhow, by summer’s end, after a week-long mission trip to Seattle that pushed us closer and closer together, I would say that I had very much fallen in love with…my gosh, there is a lump growing in my throat!…this most amazing man. I don’t think I could ever make a universal statement on the subject of soulmates and being “made for each other,” but I do know this…my heart, before we ever even went on our first date, was his. Forever.

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And so I was absolutely bereft when he returned to college that Fall without ever declaring any kind of love, or even interest in me. We were now very good friends, to be sure, but nothing else. We had even gone to dinner and a movie with a dating couple in our church…not that we actually sat by each other in the theater (and believe me, the awkwardness was palpable when we chose seats on either side of the couple rather than next to one another…how were we supposed to brush hands in the popcorn bag when we were 3 seats away from each other?!).

And for the first time in my life, I truly pined for a man. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I became a bit listless, and even lost weight in his absence. Church became dim, no longer the place where I knew I would see him, but the place where he had been…

And so I can’t tell you how touching and sweet is the memory of the day when I sat at the kitchen table, feeling so forlorn and lonesome, not even aware of my sad countenance or that anyone was watching me, when my Daddy spoke up from his place at the table’s head. “Don’t worry, Lester…he’ll be callin’.”

My head snapped up, his words pulling me out of a fog. I had no idea my Daddy even knew of my secret love; I had hardly discussed it with anyone. “You think so?” I asked, kind of breathless and embarrassed at the same time. “You betcha.” he said, bolstering my spirit considerably, for my Daddy is the best judge of character that I know; if he thought Mr. Gore would call, well then, he would call.

Turns out, Daddy was wrong. He didn’t call.

But he did e-mail me…

And I e-mailed him back.

And he e-mailed me again.

And I e-mailed him back.

And on October 28th, 2000, we met up with my now sister-in-law Amy and one of her friends at a Coach’s restaurant in Norman to watch the OU vs. Nebraska football game. It was one of those “non-date” kind of outings that we actually claim as our anniversary now, because somewhere between our appetizer at the restaurant, the football game, the 30-minute drive to a youth rally where I was singing and our youth minister was preaching, and the 2-hour drive back to my home, we became an item. Love still had not been declared, nor had he even asked me to be his, but believe me, the feelin’ was mutual, and we both somehow knew it…

and “the blushing” had just begun!

~

Part 3, coming up soon…

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Love is in the air…

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Our house is ready…

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Papa is ready…

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Gideon is ready…

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Miss Sunday is ready…

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and Baby Betsie is ready!

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and although this week has been nothing like I planned, I am so ready to spend some time with my family and enjoy one of my favorite days of the year.

And I’d be so happy if you’d consider this your first Valentine of the day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear friends, from Mrs. Gore and family. No matter where you are in life (or how you feel about Valentine’s Day!) I hope your day is filled with the sweet contentment of being partakers of life and life abundant.

~

Today, our life abundant will include lots of sprinkles, chocolate, and sweet nothings, which is exactly why I love Valentine’s Day so very, very much.