Thursday, February 25, 2016

Happy One Year!

Well baby, it’s February 25th, 2016. It’s been a hell of a ride, ain’t it?!! But we are here---we’re together!
Happy One year my beautiful bride.
It’s funny, at times, how it feels like more than 365 days fill the gap between then and now. And yet, this morning, the emotions and memories flood in and it feels like only yesterday we stood, hand in hand, making a promise of forever. 
Man, you were beautiful that day! Your hair fell perfectly, your eyes sparkled with anticipation, and your smile was as exquisite as it’s ever been. Our feet trekked through the snow sprinkled park, and our fingers fidgeted to stay warm under the tile ceiling of the Bethesda Terrace. As we made promises that from then on forever linked our lives, we were surrounded by a support system, which to this day, seems too good to be true. From our stolen moments in The Village after the ceremony to the laughter and friendship that filled the walls of Philip Marie, our day was truly perfect. 

As perfect as it was, we knew that the road ahead would hold more imperfect days than not. And that's been true. Marriage at times seems to be an odd choice that we love birds make. It's a choice to live a life of selflessness, a life of mutuality.  It's a decision to love, a decision to consistently play second fiddle to one another. It's a life spent laying down of one's own way, and embracing a never ending compromise. It's making a lifelong covenant that joins our lives together without knowing what the future will unfold. It's saying, that even though we aren't guaranteed any particular outcome, I choose you. I choose to make this thing work. It's beautiful, and messy, and complicated, and fun, and frustrating, and rewarding, and crazy ... and yet, it's a choice, with you, I would make over and over and over again. 
This year we have celebrated each other’s joys and we have cheered on each other's successes. We have seen one another's flaws and we have witnessed each other's imperfections---we know each other better for it. This year has held many 'honeymooner' moments, where we couldn't get enough of one another---where our faces hurt from all the smiles, our bellies ached from all the laughter, and our hearts overflowed with gratitude. It's been filled of moments where we have disagreed passionately, where we were stubborn and uncompromising, and where doubt fought to rear its ugly head.  And yet, by God's grace, we clung tight to the promise we vowed and made the choice to love, even when we didn't feel it. 
In the day to day routine of life, it feels as if so little has changed. While all the crucial parts remain intact, looking back over the past 12 months it continues to catch me off guard at how much change has been a part of our story ... how much we have grown, and how much farther we stand from where we began. It's truly an unimaginable gift, this marriage thing, to share life so intertwined with another soul, yet remain equally and uniquely independent, moving forward together, into a land of the unknown.   
As messy or as breathtaking our journey may be, I am honored to do it by your side. May the next 40 years be as adventurous as our first. May the next 480 months push us into those waters that have no borders, where we lean hard on our vows, lean hard into Christ, and find amazement and wonder every step of the way. May the next 14,600 days hold more laughter than we can stand, and more grace than we know how to give. 
Our marriage is far from perfect my love, but it sure has been, and no doubt will continue be an awesome ride!!
One year down .... Forever to go!!



Thursday, February 11, 2016

From Ashes to Ashes

Last night under the dark skies of the country, far from our home in suburba, we entered into a room dimly lit, filled with church family, and home to a small table placed as the focal point, topped with candles and ashes. We were there for an Ash Wednesday service—a service that marks the beginning of Lent. A night designed to help us pause and to come face to face with our humanity. A humanity that encompasses selfish gains, failures, disobedience and brokenness. It’s a night that reminds me to come down from my high horse, to sit with my short comings and to speak humbly the prayer of confession. There is something slightly uncomfortable yet, beautifully sacred about it all. Perhaps the uncomfortable part comes from not being raised in a church where this time for confession was set aside---where this idea to reflect and lean into our weaknesses was given space to breath. At times, attending such a service feels alien, yet, in the depths of my soul, it calls me to partake.  This summer, in my season of "withdrawal" if you will, I drove downtown and walked into the doors of a Episcopal church, alone, not knowing what to expect, and for the first time spoke the words of this prayer:

Most merciful God,
We confess that we have sinned against you
In thought, word, and deed,
By what we have done,
And by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
Have mercy on us and forgive us;
That we may delight in your will,
And walk in your ways,
To the glory of your name. Amen.

It was a pivotal moment in my faith, and continues to be so. Last night we spoke similar words, and the reality of my humanity stumbled out of the dark corners of my being.

Mother Teresa said, “The reality of my sins must come first …”

It’s impossible to encounter the power of the Gospel and the mystery of Christ if we never come to face to face with our humanity. If we never deal with the reality of our sin. If we never acknowledge that we are broken. I won't lie, it is not a warm and fuzzy place to rest, however, it is a reminder, I need more often, to not only show me what I am not, but to show me who He is. 

Ash Wednesday, for me, is a day to face those dark corners. To confess that I fall short ... and to know that it's OK.  It's a time for my soul to lean into the words found in Joel 2:12-13, to tear my heart wide open in the presence of a God who's grace and love will forever far exceed my understanding. It's a time that marks an intentional  40 day journey to throw off all that hinders, to flee from the sins that so easily entangles, (Hebrews 12:1) and to run this path of set before me in order to seek Him more deeply, and to draw close. It's a path that will lead to celebration, and resurrection, and life. A path that will remind me of His love and His grace upon grace upon grace that he continually lavishes over me. 

From ashes to ashes, from dust to dust. 

Let the adventure begin!