There were times when looking up at the stars triggered hard conversations. The pinpricks stabbed at questions about creation, attacks on theories and interpretations, and ideas that whispered destruction of three decades of believing.

see the Big Dipper? iPhones are amazing!

The agony of star-gazing usually happened around a campfire, at a campground, where our small space ebbed and flowed with rest and tension.While we had tried to capture family moments away from the battleground of home, our arguments tiptoed beside us, and grew glaringly bright by the firelight. That’s what happens when a newly born-again atheist kindles his passion through nature’s design. It’s like a baby Christian who feels it necessary to shout Jesus at every encounter (raising my hand as this was totally me). The new follower is powerfully loud, and can be pretty destructive if unbridled. It beat up our marriage those early days of his deconversion. And I am taking half credit for the fight. Another powerful force is a believer irrationally protecting her faith. His impassioned narrative about how Earth really came to be (according to Dawkins, Darwin, Sagan) was a bulldozer to my joy in creation, a wildfire consuming my peace in stories of old. Those were moments that sent me spiraling, caused me to lash out, made me truly consider divorce. I didn’t know God was using all of it.

I can see it now, though.

This picture was taken as we camped this weekend. Together, we look up and marvel at the sky, the stars, the science, the creation. Nothing has changed much about our beliefs or unbeliefs. Mine have broadened a bit more, I guess. And he is settled with me not needing to be his sounding board and persuasion project. We just be. Because of the storm that was, the pruning of our hearts, especially mine, and a mutual appreciation of marriage beyond the valley. 

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Our Nightstands

I dug through our nightstands the other day, looking for a specific letter sent to me during the valley of 2014.

😮 Holy moly.

Our nightstands were time capsules of that heart-breaking, soul-splitting time.💔 He was deconverting from faith, and I was reinforcing mine. He was drenched in anti-religion rhetoric, and I was pouring my heart out in journals. We were sleeping on the very opposite edges of our bed with our backs turned, our hearts reeling by the sudden uprooting of our center that lay squarely upon my shoulders then—now—the Jesus who grounded us for 14 years of marriage.

So, here’s a glimpse at our time capsules’ content.

If you know us, you’ll know that as much as these books are different, they didn’t stop us from inching to the middle ground. As much as he lost his faith and shaped his intellect, my faith transformed and grew intellectually. And as much as we hurt each other in those days and months of 2014, we healed together and found love was so much more than a feeling🙌💞

It’s easy to share this throwback to the past with good friends and strangers. It’s much harder with those who we’ve just met in recent years. Do I want to be known by the past? (Actually, much of the stances are still same, just with new lenses on, especially for me). Lately, I have had this feeling I am not the only person who has struggled with this kind of valley. It’s taken 6 years to wonder about others out there. I know for me, peeking into someone else’s time capsule can bring hope for the person filling up their own today. So here’s me, giving any valley-walkers a glimpse at hope that you’ll survive enough to look back one day.🙏💛

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