Because I don’t want to be two trains …

by Kari on June 28, 2013

photo (22)

This picture was taken 10 years ago today. (Um…. Could Jeff be any happier?!)

Neither of us cared much about a fancy wedding, so the flowers were fake, from Joann’s fabric, and the dress was borrowed from a friend. We married at my parents’ house–on a 95-degree day–and were surprised when we got to the cake-cutting part and discovered a three-tier wedding cake. Apparently someone made one for us because we had just planned on Costco sheet cakes. Surprise!

That’s kind of been the story of our life: Surprise!

We drove off into the distance, hootin’ and hollarin’ and thanking God we got to leave alone! We had waited for our wedding day to even kiss each other (Seriously.) All we really wanted was each other, so once the formalities ended we bolted for the honeymoon–17 days in Hawaii (!) thanks to my generous parents.

photo (26)We had a blast. Everywhere we went people kept telling us to stop kissing. We did everything together, wondering why on earth people wanted to have “Girls’ night out” or “Guys night out.” Why would anyone want to be away from their spouse, ever??? We threw ourselves into the busy ministry life, ate ice cream together way too often and played card-games on the kitchen floor late at night, always dreaming big for our life ahead, together.

We were, in every way, ONE.

Shortly after our wedding, we attended a funeral together. I have no idea who died. A friend of a friend of a friend, perhaps? I don’t even remember why we were there. But the guy who died, whoever he was, was a big deal. Maybe in politics or something? I can’t remember. But he was a big deal, and she was a big deal, and a lot of people were there because they were a big deal.

And when it came time for the wife to speak, she talked about how they each had own life. He had his life and she had his, but that it was good, their marriage like that was good. She said,

“We were two trains running on parallel tracks.”

Everyone nodded and smiled, as if in agreement about the beauty of two trains running on parallel tracks.

After the funeral Jeff and I made our way to the car. Once inside, we looked at each other. Jeff’s spoke my thoughts:

“Babe, I don’t want to be two trains running on parallel tracks.”

Those simple words have haunted me ever since. At that point, it was easy to be one. We did everything together, just us, fun crazy stuff, making memories and laughing all the way:

photo (18)We traveled to Israel, swam in the Dead Sea …

photo (29)…and rode camels together, holding on for dear life.

photo (27)And then we really held on for dear life, because after visiting some friends in Boston we …

photo (30)…(SURPRISE!) had a baby!

And everything changed.

photo (19)I remember this night, when Dutch was six months old. It was our first “night out” together, just us, at a wedding at Steve Ballmer’s house in Washington (Thanks, Jeremy & Mari). We had just moved in with my parents, left our jobs, and were finishing seminary. So many things had been stripped away. And that night we danced on the boat dock, laughed ourselves silly, and finally awoke from the fog of 2am feedings and dirty diapers. We adored our son but this was good … and the time together was that much sweeter, because we’d walked through some struggle, together.

photo (32)And at Mom and Dad’s, I’m smiling here but didn’t smile much in those days. Despite my wonderful parents I was so down, so often. Hard, long days with a baby, and no car or phone and Jeff was gone a lot and we with no money and no job and no idea how on earth the future would work out. I smiled here, but so often I cried. But he held me fast and one day came home and said, “I bought you a little something. For $13, I bought” And my darkness found light, and my thoughts found words, and this little blog began and my soul found space to breathe.

photo (33)And then, “Surprise!” Heidi came. And I had wept because what would happen? And we needed an income and health insurance and where would we live? And one by one God provided everything–the job, a temporary home, and–crazy miracle–the “coincidence” of double-coverage for a 2-week period: Right when she was born. And we laughed ourselves silly at His provision and then five days later I cried myself to sleep as the house that we were renting sold and it meant packing up these babies and moving (again!) and where would we go? And we sat that night at Carl’s Jr. (don’t ask me why) and ate french fries and wrote down on a napkin, “We trust God.” And we wrote the date and carried that napkin everywhere, just to remind us. That no matter what: We trust God.

photo (34)And we walked that rocky shore, both kids in tow, and smiled at the future. He’d be in it.

photo (36)And He did come through, again. Those generous Dombrows opened their home, and then the apartment, and then the “dream home.” And we moved in and life was perfect and we were living the dream. And Kimberly Stone took these family photos and it was the one strangely quiet time of our life–like the calm before the storm.

photo (37)Then I wore the cap and gown, then he wore the cap and gown, and we donned our hoods and finally ended the long trudge through seminary–us both tired but glad we did it.


And then, things got crazy again. The Hole In Our Gospel turned our world upside down nothing looked the same and my dream life wasn’t dreamy anymore. But in that wild ride He changed us and gave us unity and strength, and we met up with World Vision and that trip up there, to Seattle–it was for the best thing for us. Reminding us we were one, together, not two trains but ONE.


And we started pursuing a simpler life. We moved to our dumpy rental on Hazelhurst Lane, picked berries and quit keeping up with the Jones’s, whoever they were.


And then this year we took another flying leap of faith, planting RENEW Church, welcoming our housemate, and moving (our 13th time in 10 years!). And it was hard and good and I was writing e-books and working on the real book, and speaking and traveling and life was just so full. And you planned the special trip, just us, to the Church-Planting conference, and when we arrived at the airport at midnight and we’d missed the hotel shuttle so — surprise! — they sent us a limo instead. We sat in the green light in the back of the limo, reminded again we don’t want to be two trains.


But honestly … it’s hard.

We’ve jam-packed a lot into ten years–13 moves, 8 combined years of seminary, 4 different church ministry jobs, church-planting, two kids, blogging, book-writing, speaking, traveling … we sat down just a few days ago, a bit of painful reflection as we realize:

It’s all too easy to be two trains, running on parallel tracks.

Life is so full and we serve and love and answer the phone and meet the needs and run the errands and fix whatever’s broken this time on the house. And if there is one nugget of truth we’ve gleaned from these ten years it’s this:

It’s a lot easier to just be two trains than it is to truly be one.

It’s easier to just be partners. Have a business relationship. Serve each other and raise the kids and get the job done, but marriage isn’t a picture of a business partnership –

It’s a picture of crazy romance and unparalleled love. The love of the Son for His bride, the church.

And so together, today, we’re committing afresh to that love. To turn again to one another. To pursue one another, not just getting stuff done. To laugh more and do a little bit less.

We’re committing to a shorter list of things to do and a longer list of things we’re grateful for.

So, dear reader, thanks for letting me share this–a short history of our 10-year journey of marriage. I am a most imperfect wife loving a most imperfect husband, and we commit afresh today to this thing called marriage–a picture of Jesus’ extravagant love for us.

Perhaps you may commit afresh today too?

And now, would you bless me? Would you share with us the best Marriage Advice you have received? Either from your own experience or that someone has shared with you? We’d LOVE to read your thoughts as we celebrate our anniversary this weekend. THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading! And Happy Anniversary, my Love!