Friday, April 19, 2013

This Guy

It was just the two of us, on a four day get away, in an unbelievable city. We were there to attend the beautiful wedding of life long friends. The wedding was outside, flowers adorned a condo rooftop, with close friends gathered to support their union. The ocean was near and I could smell the fresh scent in the light breeze. The warmth of the sun was shining bright wrapping around us like a blanket from above. It was an amazing day filled with love and laughter. We couldn't help but think of our own wedding day almost 8 years ago. As we are gently swaying to the couples dance this night, I am taken back to our own first dance. We couldn't have predicted a better life together that first night. But this night, today, his strong, yet tender hands remind me of the strength of our marriage. His right hand placed delicately on my low back, the other hand clasped around my hand, he leans over and whispers, "I love you more today than the day we said our vows. Each day only gets better. I love going through life with you."I lean into a soft, gentle kiss on my cheek, feel the 5 o'clock shadow brush against my forehead, as I look up and smile. He pulls me close and I melt into his embrace.

I still remember that first night so clearly. The beginning started with a boy who smiled and a girl who couldn't resist asking him to dance. The dance club was dark and yet his smiled lit up in slow motion as he walked by. The music was loud but he made my soul quiet. The background of his face was filled with flashing lights, though in his presence I felt still. He asked for my phone number after he swept me away on the dance floor. He called that night to make sure that I arrived safely home. He spent time wanting to learn my heart. He was (is) patient and kind. His heart big and compassionate. After just six months, he asked my dad that hard question - to spend eternity with his daughter. Shortly after, M arranged a beautiful thought-out night that we would never forget. He took me to a delicious dinner at a quaint restaurant in an old market. After a yummy dinner and a glass of wine, we walked to one of our favorite spots in a nearby park downtown. Kneeling down on one knee in a grassy area with the sound of a rushing water fountain nearby, my hand in his, he looks up and asks for forever. Through overwhelming joy, I smiled in agreement. "Yes" I exclaimed. "Yes" to life with you. "Yes" to God's direction. "Yes" to forever.  The night was cool and the twinkling of the stars were beginning to glitter though out the night sky. As we walked up a small hill, a horse drawn carriage was awaiting to escort us around memory lane. We talked about the joys of our relationship and all that we looked forward to in married life. A little over a year from the night we met, we were standing in front of each other with our self written vows committing to love each other through sickness and health, richer or poorer, good times and bad. Dressed in black and white with pink accents our closest 50 friends and family gathered to support our marriage. It was a beautiful day - perfect to us. Through faith in God, our marriage continues to be beautiful, an incredible blessing that we cherish each day.

I've spent a lot of time writing about my appreciation and thanks for our family. But I haven't written much specifically about this guy, this man God has given me. He is my home, my retreat, a dream come true. Our journey together has been intertwined with more difficult and more rewarding experiences than I ever anticipated. The valleys have been deep and the summits have been grand. Our souls have been stretched and our faith has been expanded. Our hearts are braided in faith, love, and thanksgiving. Faith that God will guide our hearts and bring glory to Him. Love abundantly in all circumstances - the highs, the lows, and all that occurs in between. And thanksgiving that every day our Father will continue to mold and bless our unity together. Our marriage was arranged by God. We were made to be together.

There are several verses in the bible that illustrate God's intent for marriage, but one of my favorites is found below. When we break down Gen. 2, I am humbly grateful for what God says about the creation of marriage.

In Gen. 2:18, 21-24, The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him"...and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man.' For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. 

God not only designed marriage, but he desires for us to be in relationship with one another. He gives us clues throughout the bible, in his word, of what the foundation should look like in our own marriage. I love that God made a "helper" suitable for him. She helps to supply in areas that he lacks . She is a compliment to him, a completion of man, a formed union. I appreciate what Matthew Henry says of God’s choice of taking a rib from Adam to create Eve: "Not made out of his head to top him, not out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved." Genesis goes on to say that a man shall leave his parents and unite (bond together in heart) to his wife and they will become one. We are no longer two separate people working independently of one another (although I still sometimes want to think that I am), but we are one flesh. There is so much freedom in a healthy marriage when we understand this verse and apply it to our lives. 

God formed marriage and calls it good. He opens the door to abundant blessings and showers love through all of the lonely places that need filled.  No marriage is without tribulation, but through those difficult moments, God brings strength. He uses even this to form us into a union that He has created our souls to be. He grows us together and puts another stitch in the formation of two hearts becoming one. Each joining includes a great investment of time and commitment. We have made conscious efforts to be wiling to pour our attention and love into each other. Our marriage has had to be prepared over and over again for new seeds to be allowed to take root. Boundaries have been placed to protect its growth and enhance its safety. We have passionately nourished our relationship in order for us to be prosperous. The vows have reaped the benefits that are sown, not of material blessings, but of a love so deep that we desire it more. We long to be with each other and we look forward to all that marriage offers. God promises in 1 John 4:12, ..."if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us." It's often perfected through practice. Giving thanks for all that he is, reminding myself through mental lists of why I married him or fell in love - and then telling him, listening to and respecting his thoughts, appreciating even his idiosyncrasies (like when he hangs his clothes the wrong way...right is wrong...geessshhh :) ), going out of my way to show him love, being grateful for continued growth together, and learning new ways to practice together. Keeping it real and fresh. Understanding it is strong, but easily delicate. Loving even the parts that require us to dig deep. It's worth it. Practice, practice, practice. In love, in God, marriage is a treasure worth protecting each day. With each new gem that you discover about each other, it opens a world to new possibilities.

As I write, I'm reminded of several beautiful words that have changed the way that I view marriage,  "The best gift that you can give your children is to have a healthy marriage". When I heard this message, I realized that marriage was not just about us. It's about our kids too. From the depths of my heart, I want our children to see our marriage and be excited. I want them to know that marriage is a team effort and that it takes equal partnership. I want them to see that we kiss each other always before we depart. That we are each others biggest fan. Its important for them to see how we love each other, that it's not out of obligation. That we take time for just the two of us through vacations and date nights. We desire to be together and want to be part of each other - flesh of my flesh. That sometimes we sacrifice our own desires to be with our family. I want them to know that we are in constant communication and how important it is that we stay open to just listening. That throughout each day we send "I love you's"with texts and e-mails. That we call just to say hello. We are on the same page, even though at times I may be more vocal, most all of our decisions are made together. I want them to know that in difficult times, that we are here for each other. That we can lean on each other and offer encouragement. I want them to know that disagreements do not have to lead to fights or become hurtful. I want them to learn to appreciate even the small moments as they add up over a life time. That God has asked us to pray together and then listen to his guidance. I want them to experience all of the joy that marriage can be if we choose each other every day, if they choose to follow God's original outline for marriage.

In the above picture, M biked 12 miles on a beach cruiser with a basket full of items that I needed to train for my half marathon in just a couple of weeks. He encouraged me through the entire run saying, "You've got this babe." When my legs felt too week to go on, he said, "You can do this. Dig deep sweet heart. I'm here for you." When I finished the farthest that I have yet to run, he smiled and proclaimed, "I'm so proud of you! You inspire me each day." When I think of his heart for me, my heart fills with delight. I think of Proverbs 31:11, "The heart of her husband has confidence in her...". I'm honored by the way that he loves me and is confident in my abilities to be all that he desires through God. This race, this journey of married life has its twists and turns, but I'm convinced that together we can do anything. It takes teamwork and dedication. Hard work and commitment. Passion and love. This road traveled, with God as our navigator, will bring blessings that will forever bless each other and our children.

God, thank you for the gift of marriage. Thank you for designing this life to shared together in fellowship and communion. That you didn't ask us to be alone, but to be one in relationship together. I feel incredibly blessed to share this life with M and our family. I'm forever grateful that you, Father, have placed such a genuine, kind soul to share my days. To lift me up when I am down. To provide safety and protection when I'm scared or doubtful. To carry me when I have little strength. To experience similar interests and joys in all that we do. To travel this big world, that you made, together. To love passionately ourselves and others. To be parents to our sweet children. Thank you that we get to experience all that life has to offer together. Thank you that you are the perfect example of unconditional love. We celebrate in our walk with you Lord. We are believing big for your presence in our marriage. We humbly pray for your continued guidance and grace as we work to perfect our love through you. Today, Lord, I just want to say thank you for blessing me with my husband. In your precious name, Jesus. Amen.