Our first year is over

One year ago today I posted in anticipation of our wedding, and in part I wrote this to my soon-to-be-wife:

Lindsey, you have changed my life in so many ways. There was a time not too long ago when I thought I would never meet a woman that I could marry, much less a woman like you. You are a living, breathing demonstration of God’s love and grace to me. We love so many of the same things, yet are so different. I am constantly learning new things about you, and my love for you is ever-deepening.

A day like today is one of possibilities, hopes, dreams, and plans. We do not know what life holds in store for us. We could have our world changed forever by a phone call. We could experience joy and happiness for the rest of our lives, or could struggle with things we cannot imagine now. No matter what Providence brings my vows today mean the world to me. I will be with you and beside you for the rest of my days. As we have to each other many times over the last few months, there is no way out but the grave– and nothing could excite me more.

Today we now know what the first year held for us, and I echo what I said then. We do not know what God has in store for the rest of our lives, and the last year firmly confirmed that. From Lindsey’s first ever visit to the hospital, an almost fight on the high seas, and many date nights we saw what married life was really like– and we love it.

Lindsey has truly been the mark of God’s grace that I called her on that day. In fact I told my mom just the other day that Lindsey was really helping me become a better man. Honestly, I don’t mean that in the way that sit-coms joke about wives manipulating and beating their husbands into submission, I mean that she is actively helping me with the tough work of growing and maturing. That work is not done in large cuts as if by a chainsaw, but with the subtle efforts of the chisel, blade and sandpaper. She has been there every step of the way– shaping, girding and polishing.

We have turned out to be a pretty good pair. Just last night we had a conversation with friends about how well we balance each other out in different ways, and how good it has been to learn from each other. Don’t mistake me, we still have a long, LONG way to go. We have not figured this out by any stretch yet, and I don’t mean to sound like we have, but we have also come a very long way from that first day of our marriage.

I’ve also learned how hard it is to do what I vowed to do everyday. I admire men like my father and grandfathers whose marriages stood the test of time, because I now see how tough it can be. When I look at the words I wrote in anticipation of this commitment I can see now that I had a good view of what was ahead, even if it wasn’t fully understood:

I have a tough standard to live up to as a husband, I am called to love you as Christ loves His church. I will not be perfect, I will fail. I pray that our marriage will be one filled with grace and love. I pray that our relationship will strengthen even as we are weak. I pray that we overflow will love and grace for all of those around us.

I was right. It is a tough standard, and the call to love Lindsey to this degree is a tall order without the help of my God. He has shown up in many ways, both big and small. He has certainly blessed us this year, even in times of struggle and suffering. I am confident that he will continue to do so, just as he has promised.

Which brings me back to a verse in Proverbs that gives me great comfort as we look to the rest of our years together:

“The heart of man plans his way, but the  Lord establishes his steps.” -Proverbs 16:9

No matter what I seek and no matter what I want in my heart (which like all of our hearts does not always want what is good for me), I know that my Lord is is watching over me, loves, and that he will accomplish his will. That is a great, great comfort.

Happy anniversary Lindsey, I love you!!

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To smile and remember

One year! Woohoo!!! Brian put up with me for an entire year!!!

Yup. It’s our anniversary. One year ago today, amidst a monsoon, we entered into a covenant with God. We became man and wife.

What a year it’s been, and –thanks to the blog– I can look back at every day of it. So can everyone else. This blog has been part of the journey.

I just looked back and read my post from our wedding day. I cried. It was a beautiful day, in spite of the storm. It was a picture of the year to come– beauty, in spite of the rain.

Marriage is hard. We idealize it as single women, thinking that once we’re married, everything will be perfect. But instead of perfection, it shows you everything ugly and twisted about yourself. I’ve realized my need for God over and over and over this year. I shoot up prayers constantly: “help me love him better,” “help me forgive,” “help me get over my selfishness,” “help me to serve him even though I don’t like him right now,” “help me to love him like you love me.” I truly do not know how people stayed married without Jesus in the middle of their marriage.

And while I am seeing all of the ugly stuff inside of me bubble up to the surface, Brian is in front of me telling me how beautiful I am, how loving I am, how strong I am. I have never been more confident or comfortable in my own skin. He builds me up every day with his words and actions. For the first few weeks of marriage, the first thing I did in the morning was check to make sure he was still there– that he hadn’t left me. But a year later, I know Brian will be there, every morning, snoring away. He sees the ugly, but tells me I’m beautiful. He sees the tears and fear, and tells me I am strong. He sees me struggle, and he leads me in prayer.

I look back at year one and see so much beauty and joy that I can face the future confidently. No, I don’t know what lies ahead, but I do know that Brian and I have learned (and are learning) to communicate well, to serve one another, and to keep God at the center of our marriage.

One year down, many more to go. Several struggles overcome, countless more on their way. But even as I type this, I have an image in my head of me grabbing Brian’s hand and running forward. And that’s what I think marriage is– you say yes to God and to one man, and then you run forward… together. I’m so glad to have Brian as my partner in this life– to love him and serve him and put up with him and point him back to God. And that’s what he does for me.

So today we smile and remember for this day one year ago. And then we turn and move forward towards more laughter and love, more trials and struggles, and to more days like today… to smile and remember.

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365

“Hey babe, how are you doing?”

“Tired. Just want to go to bed.”

“Well,” I said to Lindsey, “I can do the blog then.”

She just looked at me. It’s late, she’s tired from a drive and then a flight, and we’re finally standing in the elevator heading up to our hotel room. She doesn’t want to think about it, and I’m pretty tired myself.

I looked at her and smiled, “It’s the last time we’ll have this conversation.” She looked at me, then broke into a huge smile and her adorable laugh.

This is post number 365. Counting our wedding day, this is the 365th straight post chronicling our first year of marriage. It’s been wonderful, fun, and yes, even tough.

But I’m not going to get ahead of myself. We have two posts planned for tomorrow, our actual anniversary, so I just want to take care of one thing. I want to say thank you.

I don’t remember exactly what I thought a year of blogging would be like, or what I thought we’d experience. But we have loved it. It has been a wear at times, especially late nights when we we’re both wiped out, but we wouldn’t change a thing. It kept us connected to family, it helped us communicate with each other, and it opened our first year up to others. We hope it did some good for our readers, but we’re not kidding ourselves, we’re not experts. In the end, I think this was great for us, and for that I want to thank our readers.

We’re no internet sensation, but we’ve had steady readership month after month. We’ve seen hundreds of people visit every day from all around the US and the world read about our silly little dates and our not so silly fights. We thank you all for the platform and the chance to share in our story. You’ve made it a special year.

THANK YOU!!

#365. Out.

Breaking the fast

We’re at dinner with our community. Brian’s men’s group has been fasting for three days and tonight, they broke their fast together… with steak and potatoes.

I’m sitting in the living room with the wives, talking about TV shows and husbands and kids. I’m listening more than talking– beat from my week. It was quite a week at school, and there was very little else I had time for… including sleep.

Thusly, I wasn’t really around during Brian’s fast. When I was, I was grading, and not really present. So, I know we have a lot to talk about tomorrow when we get to look at each other’s faces and say more than a few words. Even so, I do have a few observations on Brian’s fast.

His group was fasting and intentionally praying through several things. Brian spent a lot if time in the Word over the last couple days. I saw it. And he was very calm and much more quiet than normal. He was also so sweet to me– even though I was tired and cranky and not very nice to him. He’s loved me well this week.

I expected Brian to be grumpy and complain a lot. I also thought he’d just try to sleep through much of it. I confessed this to him and he forgave me. I hate that I thought this of my husband. Instead of a curmudgeon, I got a sweet servant.

The men just came in from smoking cigars and the volume went up– I should probably get off my phone and go join my community.

Oh yeah– and my spring break started today. Bless the Lord! Couldn’t have come at a better time! More on that soon…

One year ago…

IMG_0136One year ago tonight Lindsey and I went to see Radiohead at the Frank Erwin Center. It was a great show for me, and a band I had wanted to see since I was 16.

It was just a few days before our wedding, and we had much more important things to be doing, yet my soon-to-be-wife loved me enough to go to a show that she had, literally, less than zero interest in attending. It was a good sign.

To see just how much she loved, check out a video from that night below:

My story

I’m surrounded by stories.

Brian and I, as part of the Story Team, spent much of the Verge conference this past weekend at the Story Team van as we collected the stories of what God is doing all over the world. The best part was sitting in the van, just listening. Story after story, God was faithful and got all the glory.

Then on Sunday, we met up with a lady who would like to be on Story Team. We told her all about the team, how everything works, and what our experiences have been like. More stories.

And for the past month, my kiddos have been writing stories and making books for a contest. The big reveal is at an event in a half hour (thank the Lord!). It’s been all about stories in class for weeks. We brainstormed, we planned, we drafted. Then we revised and edited and published. We illustrated and them bound these books– and in all this I say “we” because I have literally been involved the entire way with all 43 student books. Last night, I stayed up until LATE to get them all graded. So. Many. Stories.

And then there’s this blog– our daily recounting of the story of year one for me and Brian. It’s so close to the end of this part of the blog, but of course, nowhere near the end of our story.

I’m surrounded by stories, I talk about stories, I teach stories, I help with stories, I tell stories… and I’m living a story.

One of my favorite authors says this about story:

“And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”
Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life
 
I am blessed to help my students create stories, and to live even better ones. I am blessed to hear and write and edit stories of God’s grace and faithfulness. I am blessed to be living a good story. I am blessed to share my story here.
 
It’s not normal– this life of mine. But, according to Miller, it just means I found some meaning in life. And I have.
 
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.
–from “Blessed Assurance”

The four ways my wife has improved my life

We’ve been married 360 days, and I have a better life, and I am a better man, than on our wedding day. Here’s a look at the four ways my wife has helped that come to pass.

She helps me grow in faith: I know this is a bit cliche, but it really is at the top of the list. By encouraging me in my efforts to grow, walking alongside me in our programs at church, and supporting me all the time. We share the same goals, and she picks me up and encourages me when I fall short. She’s really been more than I could ask for in this regard.

Our home is awesome: I know she feels like it has a long way to go, but in terms of how I lived as a bachelor… well, let’s just say I feel spoiled all the time. The best part is I know she’ll keep on making it better and better, far more than I ever could.

I have more confidence because she loves me: This may be a bit more esoteric, but let me give it a shot. I no longer fear many of the things that I did before. I know that I have Lindsey’s support and love no matter what happens, so I feel more free to stretch myself, take risks, and try new things. Her love is a motivator and a liberator.

I’m more joyful:  It’s simple and straightforward, but it’s true. I love my life and my wife. I am truly blessed and I know it.