We fell madly in love and then continued to fall. We were the bad afterschool special our parents always warned us about that we pray our kids never end up. We were both incapable of saving each other, as we struggled to make ends meet; as we stumbled our way right on down to rock bottom. Or as I refer to it, the stumble lonesome I once called home.

You know the classic love story: boy meets girl, they fall in love, and fail to live happily ever after because you know—life and people and ugly little habits. Things broke: dishes, furniture, hopes and dream. Cigarettes came before milk. Hungover was a typical Sunday. Happiness silently slipped away, as addiction settled in. I would lay awake and worry, how we’d make the mortgage, what we’d do come winter. But mostly I’d worry about you; we were drowning and I knew we weren’t going to make it.

And then God played his hand. 

It was the hardest thing we’d ever faced. It forced us to love harder than we ever had. It forced us to surrender over all our power (though we never really had control) to Him. It was prayer being answered though we had no idea at the time. And speaking of time, it all came crashing to a standstill . . . a heartbeat.

My husband called them “little steps” while my son was in the NICU. It was all the “little steps” that would bring our son home. I held on tightly to that. Looking back on seven years, I see the progress of our “little steps.” We made it out of the NICU in 28 days, but we never stopped making those “little steps” and those “little steps” are what brought us through the storm.

Absolutely nothing about life is smooth sailing. Of course we couldn’t save each other, who were we kidding? We are two broken people holding each other to impossible standards. There was just no way! And then we learned to give each other a little bit of grace.

And now, as we adjust our sail, I must admit—I am so glad that we failed miserably at our happily ever after because it would have never been this good.

I love that we’re no longer keeping up because that means we are content in the here and now.

I love that date night is smarting off to each other while playing a game of Scattergories because it’s simply about enjoying each other’s company without the need of a romantic candlelight dinner.

I love that parenting is this mess of good and bad moments, this mess of emotions, this mess of action figures, this lovely mess of a complete life that we are flourishing in.

A mess, I’ve completely let go of.

Let the toys lay out on the floor because this is where we play. Let the dishes sit in the sink until tomorrow because we’d rather go to the park. Let it be simple and content within the home because life outside the front door is complicated.

I love that our broken love story has a different feel to it now that it’s headed for heaven. That it was you standing at the end of the aisle and you in the water with me when we were baptized. That we’ve come to the conclusion that life isn’t about finding ourselves, but the man and woman God planned for us to be, intertwined together as one.

We focused on the “small steps” and somewhere along the way, the pace changed. It slowed way down, as we watch the little ones grow, as you and I grow. We shifted our focus from pleasing the world to pleasing God and life has become less demanding. Direction comes from passages in the Bible and not places on the map. Hope doesn’t come down to flipping a penny in a fountain or gambling on a falling star, but in prayer.

And I love that God’s answer to prayer is nothing we ever expected and I certainly appreciate His sense of humor. I am in awe of His greatness; the miracle He makes from mess.

I love that our “small steps” are caked in mud and that the little one went running right for the puddle singing at the top of his lungs and that this is all on a good day because it’s all evidence that we survived the storm.

We survived the storm!

Let that sink in! Feel it with your whole heart! Throw your arms up in the air and praise Him!

We don’t know when the next storm will hit, but now we know what God is capable of. So let’s let our sail out and let faith take us.

Jen Miller

My name is Jennifer Miller, but I prefer simply Jen. I live in Hawley, MN. It is a small town built along the railroad tracks and surrounded by fields. I married my high school sweetheart in 2005 and we have two little boys, Jack (5) and Grey (3). Motherhood took me by surprise just before my 30th birthday and since then I have been stay at home mom and have loved every minute of the craziness. I am a staff writer for the Hawley Herald and do most the work from home. Being an introvert it took me out of my comfort zone, but so worth it because I love writing. It is something I do every day and it allows me to be home with my boys.