Marriage is Hard: Here are 10 lessons I’ve learned.

I will never forget showing a friend of mine this guy named “Ben” on Facebook back in 2007. I had been looking at his pictures and messaging him every month or so, learning his personality through the internet. He lived 800 miles away from me and we were both in college, but I thought he looked cute and he seemed like he was into deep conversations.

My friend was not into him. While I clicked through some of his pictures he posted, my friend made the final judgement:

“He looks like a player Ro, I’d forget him”.

I couldn’t forget about him. Soon after, Ben got my number and started texting me. Butterflies would flutter every time I’d see his name pop up on my flip phone and the smiley faces showed he was clearly interested in me.

Our first phone conversation lasted 2 hours, and as I hung up, I wondered if he would be good husband material.

He thought I might make a good wife….and so…. he flew all the way to my little college apartment in Philadelphia and we spent a week together. I took him to the Jersey Shore, NYC and side babysitting gigs. We fell in love fast and hard, and he put a ring on my finger 6 months later.

On our wedding day, we were greeting guests and dancing somewhere on cloud 9 when a family friend gave us a devastating blow,

“Marriage is hard. It’s the hardest thing you will ever do. I hope you guys make it. I hope you’re prepared.”

How rude.

After the wedding, I left everything I knew and traveled to the mountains of Tennessee to live in a studio apartment above someones garage. Our sink was so small we did dishes in the shower, and we didn’t have a proper stove so we ate a lot of pumpkin rolls. Neither of us had jobs. It was the perfect setup.

10 years later, and we have survived what feels like a lifetime of hardship. In our early years, we found out we weren’t the same person and after that, we found out life didn’t come by easy. Maybe we’d never shock a marriage therapist with what has happened over the years, but we’ve shocked ourselves…. multiple times and in multiple ways.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned that have kept us together:

1.) God is always a lot nicer and should always come first. He is the saving grace of all graces.

2.) Ben is not me. Which means, I shouldn’t treat him like he’s me.

3.) I can choose Ben everyday regardless of what he chooses.

4.) Honesty is way harder than it sounds, but there is forgiveness and connection waiting on the other side.

5.) “I feel” statements are better than “You suck” ones.

6.) Criticism is poison. Encouragement is food.

7.) Maybe try and speak his love language a lot.

8.) Sometimes marriage is hard just because of stress and not because the other person sucks. God has lots of ways for me to deal with stress and it’s a great opportunity to realize Ben is not your idol.

9.) Pray. Pray when you feel like it, and when you don’t.

10.) Thankfulness is a good habit to get into, praise and worship is probably pretty good too.

There are other lessons like boundaries and stuff, and I could probably expand on the ones I’ve shared-but I’m not a counselor and I don’t want to act like one.

I just wanted to say that life isn’t easy- it’s messy and hard, and that includes marriage. But it’s also beautiful and causes you to grow into the person you’ve always wanted to be-just a little more like Jesus.

Be nice out there, life is hard.

Love Always,


An Open Letter To My Old Fellowship About This Blog.

I have wanted to write an open letter to the people in my old fellowship- the ones I consider my family and heritage. The love I still have for each of you is so big that when I think of you all and how much I miss being with you, my heart feels like it might explode in a mixture of both passion and grief.

I am specifically referring to those I grew up with who live in Columbus, my long time friends in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, and to the people who took me under their wing during college in Jersey. I am also referring to the believers who live in my town. I love you.

I am aware that my audience is both wide and diverse, and because of that… I ask for grace. For those of you who have no idea who I am and are only interested in other posts I write, that’s okay. You can totally skip out on this letter 🙂 To my current friends, you can skip out too, I won’t hold it against you 🙂

But to the rest of you who (might) read this, you have known me since childhood- we grew up together. We shared crappy bunk beds and fought evil bats at teen camp. We took walks around the lake discussing teachings, played cards during study breaks, cried and committed our lives to God together over the phone and during Friday night fellowships.

We shared similar beliefs for so long and it tied us so close together, that most people don’t understand what kind of friendship we held. I am not sure if I will ever be able to attain that type of community again- and there is something to be said for that.

I’m the girl in the middle with the white sweater, and I remember when this picture was taken. I thought I was famous!

I left our community almost 4 years ago. In those 4 years, I have changed and discovered so much about the world, about mainstream Christianity, and about Jesus, that if we were hanging out over coffee today, you might not recognize me as the same person. I still have that same goofy personality, but I am different. Ben is different, and we are raising our kids different.

Which means, we disagree on a few things.

I wanted to inform you that a lot of what I write about in this blog (and will continue to write about) might include those differences. I hold my own opinions, perceptions, and beliefs about the way we grew up, and you might entirely disagree with me. Some posts might sound like a jab at beliefs you hold, but I am not jabbing at you. I would never, in a million years, want to slander you in any way.

I love your passion for truth to be upheld. I fully trust in your integrity and honest character. I don’t doubt your love or your intentions. If I were to cut you open and examine your heart- I’d find pure gold….one that would stand through fire. I believe that when we get up to the Bema, you will be holding up the line-Jesus will have so many amazing things to say about you to the Father, that it might prove embarrassing for the rest of us.

So when I write things like- “I used to believe” or “I previously behaved this way”, I in no way am trying to undermine you , or any of our old community.

I am not perfect, my memories are not perfect, my personal storyteller is different than yours and therefore my perception and opinions aren’t perfect either. I want to stay in humility and am always under trusted leadership that help point me back to the right path when I am in error.

I just wanted to inform you in love , and give you the space to disagree with me-even publicly. That doesn’t mean I’ll agree, but I’ll respect what you have to say and stand up for your right to hold your beliefs. And know that if you ever need anything, I’m only a phone call away.

I love you,


When Social Distancing Feels Familiar

This whole thing seemed like a big joke at first. Some virus from China that kills less people than the average flu?

Whatever, what’s for dinner?

We joked about it at small group and scoffed at the media for always perpetuating fear and causing panic about the next ‘big thing’. In the middle of all the humor, my husband quietly piped up- “I mean, it sort of is a big deal. I think we should at least be aware of what’s happening”. He had read about what was happening overseas, and saw it as only a matter of time until it hit the states.

Sure enough, the virus eventually turned into more than a social conversation. Toilet paper vanished from the grocery stores and all I could think was, ‘what about the coffee?. I could be caffeinated for days but have nothing to wipe my butt with? People are FREAKING OUT. Calm down, and leave some toiletries for the rest of us.’

Not long after, my husbands grad school cancelled his trip overseas and his classes moved online for the rest of the year. We don’t even know if he’ll have a graduation ceremony. Will two years of vigorous work, sleepless nights and crazy sacrifice have an anticlimactic end?

You might know what happened next. All schools closed down indefinitely. Church gatherings and small groups came to a halt. My ministry school ended and all my classmates doing missionary work had to travel home and self quarantine. Currently, the general rule for all of Tennessee is for no more than 10 people to gather together. This isn’t panic…it’s just….wise. The coronavirus actually is kind of a big deal and we need to protect the vulnerable.

Which brings me to the word- Social Distancing.

I never heard of the term but when it was introduced to me, I immediately understood what it meant. Oh…..I can do this because I’ve done it before. Or at least, I know what it feels like.

A lot of us knows what loneliness feels like.

For a lot of us, social distancing isn’t all that novel. We’ve lived with a lonely feeling for a long time, even while sharing the earth with 7 billion other people. We are the seniors in nursing homes, the moms in isolated hospital rooms because our child is sick, and if we are being honest…we are the average young adult who doesn’t know what it means to connect with others.

For the last 4 or so years, I’ve worked hard to build social skills and I’ve learned what it means to make (and keep) a friend. I left the only community I knew and I started a brand new life. It was fun and exciting, but everybody outside of the group I grew up with acted differently, and I didn’t know how to fit in. It was easier to just stay home and self isolate…. but the feeling was suffocating and devastating- and so, I had to fight against my urge to withdraw and face my fear for true and lasting connection.

I say this because, if this social distancing doesn’t feel all that new to you, I wanted to let you know I see you. I know who you are, and I know a little bit about what you’re struggling with. You’ve never really felt known to begin with and during this period of uncertainty, you’re more worried about if there’s enough milk for you to buy at the store than if a friend will invite you over for coffee. I get it friend. I promise you aren’t weird, unless I am too.

My encouragement to the one who suffers with chronic loneliness is- you are not alone.

Believe it or not, Jesus actually wants to hang out with you. Jesus has felt all of your feelings, knows all of your tendencies and watches your every mannerism. Jesus desires to pour you that extra cup of coffee and help you sort through that endless list of emails. Jesus wants to lavish his affection on you and stir in you a deep desire to reach out and love others the same way he loves you….because the truth is, there is a LOT of lonely people out there, and he’d like to partner with you to be his hands and feet.

 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:9 NIV)

This is a unique time to really sit with the Lord and to grow in quietness with him. The secret place is wide open and God is ready to dig into open heart surgeries with you. Imagine if we sat with him, allowed him to go into those dark places, fill our ‘loneliness’ holes, tear down our idols, and provoke us to good works?

If you’re a friend of mine and you are lonely, reach out. I’d love to be awkward with you on the phone and connect during this isolating time.

Love always,


Whoops! A baby in the bathtub (Jojo’s birth story)

Josephine Clare was born on a Tuesday at 4:20am, January 28th, 2014.

Two days prior, the electricity went out in our little apartment …. and I had a total meltdown. I will not forget the intense passion I was experiencing while sternly reprimanding Ben he needed to get that fixed and he needed to get that fixed ASAP.

Even though my due date was two weeks away, I needed to make sure things were safe. It was the middle of winter AND I have a 15 month old who needs light and warmth and food and all that good stuff that’s sorta dependent on ELECTRICTY.

And oh, you know, would if we had an emergency birth at home and we couldn’t see a darn thing? That would be traumatizing (Little did I know…)

Poor Ben! How tortured he was throughout that day. He was my dumping ground of all of my emotions and fears and exhaustion. Side note….I am SO thankful for a husband who takes the punches tenderly, leads me gently, and buys me Chinese in those less than fine moments. I don’t even remember what he did to get the electricity running again but I think it was something so simple like flipping a break switch… I know, sorta embarrassing when I look back on it.

The next day, a Monday, I remember being a little extra lazy while trying to plan our meals and the weeks activities. I wish I could remember what else I did that day but I just don’t.

But what I DO remember is that Monday night, after Luke (my son) was asleep, Ben and I snuggled up on the couch, watched a show, and ate popcorn. At one point I remember saying with a smile,

” wouldn’t it be so crazy if I went into labor TONIGHT?”

to which Ben replied so nonchalantly,

“yeah. but your due date is two weeks away, Ro. It will probably be at least another three before the new baby is here. Babies often come late.”

And I agreed. And we went to bed.

Now its 2am, and I wake up. And for about forty minutes or so I just laid there while what I thought I was experiencing Braxton hicks (fake labor pains).

But they didn’t go away. And that got me excited.

So much so that I began to wonder, ooooooo…..what if I actually am in labor???? So I got up, grabbed my laptop, and headed towards the living room to sit on the couch.

So at around 3 am, I am googling labor. But its 3 am guys, and I am also wondering if maybe its just a good idea to go back to sleep. I have a toddler to take care of in the morning, you know?

Looking back, I don’t know how it all happened so fast. At one point I went to the bathroom and had one of those major signs (and you veterans know what I’m talking about) that told me YES, I was definitely in labor.

So I woke up Ben.

“Hey Honey, I’m definitely in labor! But you can go back to sleep. Just wanted to let you know”

Than I texted my mother in law who promised to be there for childcare purposes so Ben and I could go to the hospital when it was time.

Than I sat back on the couch and it just came. Those really really REALLY bad LABOR PAINS. Enter curse words.

Ben came out of the bedroom and I was pretty happy because I was ready to tell him, “hey…this actually hurts pretty bad and they are sorta close together so maybe we should go to the hospital right about now

Ben was understanding. He made sure that his mom was on the way and told us we could start packing our things so we could be ready to go to the hospital when she arrived (she lived about 45 minutes away)

But as the minutes (or even seconds) went by, the pain was getting worse. It was the “I DO NOT THINK I CAN HANDLE THIS” type of pain. And I remember my midwife telling me a while back that when that pain is happening you are usually in transition.

But Ben didn’t think so. In his ‘trying to be understanding but a little frustrated’ voice, he said something like,

“Hey Honey, I think you just need to work through the pain and be patient. I think that if you are having a hard time now, you really are just making it harder on yourself for later. Try to relax, let’s pack”

But I couldn’t pack. I really couldn’t. I was laying in bed thinking this pain was totally unbearable. And I became in charge.

“Babe, we need to go NOW. LIKE, WE NEED TO GO NOW

For some reason I didn’t have pants on (I know, odd part of the story).

Ben was frustrated (it is the middle of the night, you guys)

But he pushed through it. There was a little back in forth in our bantering that yes you may be right that I’m in the beginning stages but also maybe the baby is coming right now and we need to get to the HOSPITAL NOW.

So Ben helped me put on pants and right after that I felt like I needed to go to the restroom. And as I sat down to go, my water broke.


I remember reaching down and feeling THE HEAD. And at that moment I just remember getting this overwhelming “let’s get this done” attitude. I hopped in the bath, turned on the water, and literally couldn’t help the urge to push.

Ben called 911.

7 minutes later, Josephine was born as Ben so carefully helped her out. Ben cried. I wanted to make sure she was alive. A few minutes later, a myriad of random firefighters/ems workers/and Ben’s mom! arrived.  It was hectic. It was snowing. We were rushed via ambulance to the hospital. And it was the most beautiful/surreal experience holding sweet Josephine in my arms and wondering, am I dreaming?

My labor lasted a total of 2 hours and 20 minutes. A few days later we received the tape to our 911 call. It’s probably my favorite 7 minutes of recording I’ve ever listened to.


So sweet Josephine, you wanted out. You wanted to make your presence known. You said, “HEY! I’M HERE!” and you’ve been that way ever since. You are passionate, and we are passionate about you.