Leif began singing a song over me soon after we were married.

This was no ordinary song.

The refrain lacked melody, harmony, rhyme.

Perhaps it wasn’t a song at all, except to me.

We were newlyweds in our late twenties. We felt late to the marriage game back then.

That seems silly now, but the social stigma felt real.

Leif was the oldest of three brothers but the last to get married.

We both experienced always a bridesmaid and groomsman but never a ….

Grandmother told me every Valentine’s Day that I’d become an old maid. I think she meant well.

The first year of marriage abounded with joy and tears.

We were broke.

And I was proud of it.

When I’d first met Leif, he had $19479 in student loans. I told him that I wouldn’t marry him unless he was out of debt.

If the wedding day arrived and he wasn’t at zero, I’d say no.

He found a better paying job, moved back in with his parents, rode a bike, and worked overtime. He scrimped and saved.

Nine months later we were married.

We didn’t have anything—including debt—and together we discovered what my Jewish daddy had taught me years before.

Zero is a powerful number.

Long before there was Dave Ramsey(berg), there was Bill Feinberg. He taught me well.

To save up for a down payment on a house we bounced around Sitka, Alaska, housesitting for an entire year.

One job lasted four months. The remaining lasted a few weeks or a handful of days.

Fancy and moderate homes, trailers, dorm rooms, and shacks became our residence for an entire year.

We never knew where we would sleep next. We prayed and waited.

At the last possible moment, we’d overhear someone talking at the gas station or grocery story about needing someone to watch their dog or cat or iguana.

Leif repacked the car and we’d settle into our next location in awe of God’s provision.

All the jostling and tumbling accentuated our differences.

We discovered our communications skills were a lot like our bank account. Zilch.

Navigating the newlywed expectations took hard work. From the kitchen to the bathroom counter (which I took over) to the bedroom, every room in our life required discussion, negotiation, renegotiation.

Moving didn’t help.

All those rooms were constantly changing. We were changing too.

Those growing pains took tears. Sometimes those tears flowed so hot and heavy I wondered if we’d make it through. The fact I burnt the pancakes meant the end, end, end.

Oh, the joys of living with a creative.

Leif mastered the fine art of pulling me out of my despair. He wrapped his arms around me in a bear hug and whispered in my ear…

I’m never letting go. I love you. I picked you and I’m so grateful you picked me. You saying, “yes” is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Thank you for saying “yes.” I’m the luckiest man in the whole world.

Without melody, this became the song Leif sang over me.

He’s been singing it ever since.

I soon learned the chorus.

I love my life with you. Thank you so much for picking me. There’s no one I’d rather live this life with.

As we close in on 14 years of marriage, we don’t wait for the hard or sad or mad or bad to whisper these words.

We sing them in the morning with crispies in the corners of our eyes and in evening after a brutal day’s work.

Thank you for choosing me. There’s no one I’d rather do this (life) with. Thank you for saying “yes.” I’m the luckiest in the whole world.

Somewhere along the way I suspect this song has become a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude and joy and delight with each other, for each other.

My hope and prayer for you today is that you will sing a song of thanksgiving and blessing over those you love most.

But before I go, may I sing one over you?

You are a gift. You bring me such joy. You challenge me. You encourage me. You nurture me. You make my life better by simply being you. Thank you, sweet friend, thank you for entering my life and staying with me. I love living life with you.

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