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marriage

Faith

A Year of Marriage and This Thing Called Tenacity

September 16, 2013

If there were a banner held above my head declaring the theme of this last month, and most of our first year, it would absolutely be that boldly written word of transition.

In these last 30 days, we transitioned out of Africa’s dust and back into America’s busyness. We moved into a home, started new schools, and are in the unsettling ground of job searching, church hunting, and the figuring out of a new season’s rhythm.

Honestly, these last few weeks have been flat-out hard for us. We’ve wrestled through disappointments, heavy loads of re-entry emotions, and challenging circumstances in trying to get life settled while we’re starting up new ventures. Most people around us, I would guess, think we are taking on too much in this season. And I’m not sure I disagree with them. But I also know that we’re doing what we can to navigate life by prayer and presence and this is where we are today, trying our best to be faithful to what is most important.

And all this last month’s craziness leads us to today, the one year anniversary of marrying the love of my life. I know you hear it with every anniversary Facebook status that gets posted, or tweet that’s thrown up, but it really was the best day of my life.

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I am certain I could play the “never have I” game about our wedding day for hours. It would go something like this: never have I laughed so hard, smiled so long, and danced so free. Never have I felt so surrounded by a massive cloud of people who love us and never have I felt so cheered on as we started our life together. Never have I felt so purely the weighty glory of God and the certainty of holy ground below my feet. And never have I cried tears out of sheer happiness, or floated my way through such a wonderfully perfect day.

It was so easy to get whisked away that night into our car and believe in the fairytale life of marriage that I am convinced both Disney and Pinterest tell so picture perfectly. But the truth is, a (mere) year later, I have this new perspective that offers greater dimension and facets to exactly what my “I do” means. Because under that tree, heard by a crowd of many, I said “I do” to this man and this life and everything God has for us from that day forward. The backdoor closed up and disappeared away.

And from that moment on, whatever this road is we may travel, my yes would be a constant reverberation, charging this infinite, endless echo in each moment ahead – the pretty, the adventurous, the tearful, and the raw.

Saying yes to my husband that day, or the days since, has been natural and easy for me to do. The beautiful thing about our wedding day, though, is that it wasn’t just me committing myself to him, but together us committing our lives to the Lord in the most public, sacred of ceremonies. Saying yes once more to Him for all that’s ahead, when the bumps and bruises come and when the highs and victories break forth.

That day I said once more to God that whatever you have, I do.

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And now, one year ahead in this journey, what I have learned again and again is this thing called tenacity.

It’s an interesting word, isn’t it? It’s what I see as the “it” thing in all those I count heroes in my life, those who pushed the bounds, overcame the obstacles, and still are dreaming their life’s destinies from decades beyond me. Tenacity is that thing that is so dang hard to put into words, but is absolutely essential in any place of our lives where we must say yes and yes again.

Because when we say our I do and give our yes – to a person or a dream, a community or a ministry – it will absolutely require our tenacity.

The tenacious are the ones who overcome, the ones who don’t stop, the ones who carry the dreams down the long-term road to birth. It’s the tenacious who aren’t ruffled by the small problems, but keep their lives centered on the big and important in the midst of the days’ ordinary moments.

Tenacity doesn’t let the “shoulds” of life win. It doesn’t let the pictures of perfection or the wheels of comparison stop us from moving ahead and life from abounding around.

And tenacity is what my words of “I do” have taught me in experience over and over again this first year of marriage.

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What I am learning is that the winds behind our yes come by way of tenacity, allowing us to live in accurate reflection of the echo that resounds our words all around us. It is that grace-filled, supernatural tenacity that allows us to once again get up, say yes, and keep going.

Just a few days ago, I sat on the couch with my husband and cried my disappointment in certain areas of life. It was raw and it was real. And then I did what I know to be the only way to keep going in spite of all my emotions in the moment – I let out one of those guttural, tear-filled, leave-a-snot-stain-all-over-my-husband’s-shirt prayers to Jesus. Because even in the hardest moments of this year – which may very well seem so small in comparison to yours, and yet just as raw to me – I know I must press forward.

Looking back I am sure I wasted some important days this first year because I didn’t always say yes in the moments when circumstances required faith to see beyond what was right in front of me.

But I have a feeling that my “I do” under that tree, which still echoes all around me today, opened this wild ride that will take me decades down the road marked tenacity. And all because on this day, the very best day, one year ago – I said yes – to the love of my life and to the uncharted plan of the One who is scripting a story far beyond my control and eyes’ reach.

Faith

An Altar of Goodness

March 4, 2013

For years and years, I found myself in a place of perpetual waiting – hoping – for God to fulfill in my life what felt like the one desire I longed for more than any other. I longed to be a wife. To live beside my best friend. And to journey on the wild adventure of life together.

Due to his seemingly perpetual absence, I embarked around the world on my own, jumping into a fast-paced ministry of crazy adventure that led me to 40 countries in the last 5 years. I resolved to live life to its fullest and deeply hoped that along the way, I would find him somewhere beside me in the same orbit of adventure.

Some seasons I could easily remind myself of the catch I believed myself to be, that the wait was worth it, and that God’s hand was in it. Other days and weeks were filled with doubts over if it would ever happen given how long it had been without. The tears fell easily and I would weep wildly.

A couple years ago, in one of those downward seasons where my heart ached beyond comprehension for someone I didn’t think I even knew, I scribbled a message with dry-erase marker up on my mirror wall. Every morning and night I would look at it, speak it out, and do all I possibly could do in the midst of my spinning to settle back into its truth.

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I did all I knew to keep believing that despite the prolonged waiting ground I stood on, richly watered by my ever-flowing tears, I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. The word highlighted off my mirror each day was the word still.

Despite all that’s (not) happened,  I would see it. His promise alive and active ahead.

Ten years after first asking God to fulfill this desire, he showed up. I assure you, the whole thing looked nothing as I imagined it to be. It was not sparkly or pretty or glamorous – it was breathing, living and messy. Sure signs God’s hand was in all of it.

Yesterday, one lovely year ago, God fulfilled the long-awaited hope for me as I stood on the shore of St. Simon’s Island in front of the love of my life on his knee. With a ring. Asking me to be his wife.

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After that ring was slipped on my finger and I uttered “yes” a million times, Mark stood to his feet and my arms instantly embraced him. Tucked close into him, my eyes looked out over his shoulder at an endless ocean in the distance, with the waters appearing to fall off the world’s final cliff. The moment was frozen for me – all was still, silent, and paused.

As I stared out at the beautiful vastness, I began to replay in my mind’s eye the last decade of waiting – the moments of being sure I had found “him,” of being curled up on my bedroom floor weeping over a hope still not met, of watching others step into what I so longed for myself, of prophesying on shores, chairs, and the like for who he would be. Every moment and memory carried the same underlying voice, the voice that repeated His soft word of promise year after year, season after season: “Beloved, I am good.”

Standing on that shore, embracing my soon-to-be husband, I wept. I wept because of how true that word stood in every moment of waiting. All I uttered for an hour on the Georgian shore, over and over, was this…

You are so good.

That day the love of my life promised all of himself to me for the future ahead. The ring, as a sign of the the covenant to come, was slipped upon my finger. And something long awaited for became fulfilled.

This day, just one year ago, will forever be marked as an altar of the Lord’s manifest, tangible, breathing goodness in my life as I never knew before.

Building altars in the old was the symbolic proclamation that on this day, in this place, the Living One showed up and moved in their midst. It was an expression of remembrance, to help insure that what happened in the past would not soon be forgotten with the coming wilderness trials.

This story isn’t scripted to necessarily be hope for those who are single, although it could be. And it isn’t a story that assures “all is well in the end,” though it may. This story is one about the goodness of God in the land of the living. The altar built that day in my life is an altar of goodness. It’s one of remembrance, to insure I will not soon forget how He has moved in my life and midst.

I believe with all of me that the absence of it today does not negate the promise of it ahead. The waiting ground is the birthing ground for promises fulfilled in the seasons and years yet lived. And it is by waiting in the “still” of today that we are able to partake in the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living that is to come.

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