It’s 5:24 am on Thursday, August 7, 2014.
I can’t sleep.
I woke to the realization that it’s our fifteenth wedding anniversary. And I can hardly believe it.
Time is flying.
A realization that seems to be a theme for me these days.
But here’s the kicker.
If we turn the hands of time back another five years from our wedding day to May 1994, this year also marks the twentieth anniversary of the day we met. And the day you began to change my life forever. The significance of that hit me about a week ago when I realized that you’ve known me for half my life.
It took my breath away upon discovery.
I feel so fortunate for the fact that we met when we were young. No doubt we were given the gift of time.
For the five years we dated and lived life together as an engaged couple in ministry (and law school) before we got married. And for the five years thereafter that we got to be married in ministry (and law practice) without children. I’m so thankful for those ten years.
Many couples tell me that they can’t remember life B.K. (Before Kids).
But I remember it clearly.
And it was “very good.”
In fact, I remember laying on the sofa with you after church on Sunday right before our daughter was born. We were probably watching a NASCAR race or old episodes of Alias. (God bless us.) Daphne, one of our dogs, was laying at our feet. Cupid was surely hiding behind the toilet. (God bless him.)
And I remember being sad.
Not because I wasn’t over the moon about becoming a parent.
Because I was.
And our journey with children has been wonderfully profound.
But I was sad because I was so perfectly content with the life we had, and I knew that it was about to change forever.
And it has changed forever. In some really good ways.
But thanks to some strong older couples that God has placed into our lives over the years, I know that there is much for us to experience together as a married couple even in the midst of the empty nest we will eventually face. And the thought of having you all to myself again someday makes me giddy! (Sorry kids. I love you. I love you. I love you.)
So what words of thanks is a girl to say to her beau on their fifteenth wedding anniversary? I’m not really sure. Which is so ironic because I’m never short on words. Especially when writing a blog post!
Yet it seems there are insufficient words to describe how I feel or how thankful I am.
Nothing I could write will do my feelings justice. And I’ll surely leave something really important out. (Which is why I’m writing you a blog post instead of buying you a card. If I can’t figure it out, how can the folks down at Hallmark get it right? And I know you’d rather have the cash anyway!)
But I’ll give it my best shot.
Thank you for choosing me. You didn’t have to, and I know there were others who would have gladly said “yes.” I am humbled that you would want to share your life with me.
Thank you for allowing me to be part of your ministry from the get-go.
The years we shared in youth, college, and singles ministry were important. For our relationship and for the future of our ministry together. I believe that the way we “do ministry” now results from the way we “did ministry” then. And I’m so thankful that we approach it like a partnership.
Thank you for tolerating law school. And the bar exam. And the first five years of practice which were so hard. And the rest of the things that go along with having a wife that is also a professional.
For all the nights you stopped by my apartment to cook me dinner while I studied. And for all the after-dinner dishes you washed while I studied. And for all the football and basketball games you watched on my television to keep me company while I studied.
Thank you for supporting me while I endeavored to make it to graduation. And when I did? Thank you for being my shameless cheerleader. I remember you standing up like a crazy man and yelling,
“That’s my wife!”
as I made it across the commencement stage. (That was, by the way, almost as bad as the “Honey, do good” speech you gave me out the car window when you dropped me off on the first day of law school. Felt like a flashback from my childhood. But I digress.)
Thank you for appreciating the significance of our move to the little country church twelve years ago. That was a really big deal for me. You acknowledged that. And you supported and affirmed me as an individual, a professional, and your wife along the way. (And I got some pretty nice earrings out of the deal!)
You approached our move back to the city last year in the same way. And that’s probably why I agreed to come! (Oh and that little detail we refer to as “God’s call,” which left me feeling so very drawn to this new place even in the midst of heartache.)
In this new season, you’ve allowed me to move at my own pace, grieve my own losses, and find my own way in my own time. And you haven’t apologized for it.
This has been a real faith-builder for me, and I’m grateful for the experience.
I’ve never felt pressured to be anything in ministry other than myself, and I owe so much of that to you. I’ve also never felt that I’ve had to compete with ministry for your time and attention. Because you’ve always put our marriage and family first. (Ask any person at our church which night of the week is Date Night, and they’ll be able to tell you! Ask me how it made me feel when you made a trip home from a speaking engagement to be by my side during an unexpected emergency, and I’ll tell you.)
I believe that’s why I love ministry so much.
I believe that’s part of why ministry’s been so fruitful.
And I believe that’s why I can’t imagine us doing anything else in this life together.
For the dad you are to our kids? I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. I couldn’t ask for a more “all-hands-on-deck” father for our children.
You take parenting seriously.
And I appreciate it so much.
Thank you for your willingness to be a “student” of parenting and to endure the countless hours of retreats and conferences and Bible studies I’ve asked you to attend with me over the years. And for your participation in so many late night conversations as we’ve contemplated what we’re doing with the kids, how we’re doing it, and why we’re doing it. You’re pouring into them (and me) with all that you’ve got, and you’re leading them to be the kind of people we want them to become.
Thank you for teaching them about God.
Thank you for teaching them about the grace of Jesus Christ.
Thank you for teaching them about life. And people. And baseball. And the mysteries of God’s creation (about which I rarely know the answers). And Ticket To Ride. And how to make eggs. And how to fly a kite. And how to pick out a good walking stick on a hike. And so many other countless things you take the time to help them discover along the way.
You give them the gift of your time.
And that is an indescribable gift to them and to me!
Life would not be very fun around here without you, and I appreciate your playful heart and spirit more than you’ll ever know.
You bring out my lighter side.
You bring out their laughter.
Thank goodness! I’m so grateful for that.
And thank you for all of your efforts to realize God’s call upon your life.
You love others well.
Pretty much every day.
And it inspires me to strive for something more in my own life. To grow in my love and service to others and to find ways daily to demonstrate that others are precious.
And the way you love me? Well, that pretty much blows my mind.
Because it’s with everything you have.
When we team-taught Andy Stanley’s iMarriage Bible study this winter (which was a real treat for me), we talked about how we were bowled over by the significance of his teaching. He presented some old concepts in strikingly new and really powerful ways. And it was so profound when he said that as a husband or wife, we are better positioned than anyone else in the world to be the face of God for one other. He challenged us to seize that opportunity and strive to be a tangible expression of who God is for one another every day.
I want you to know that you’re knocking it out of the park as far as I’m concerned. You’ve taken your position, and you’re running with it.
Not for a single moment have I ever doubted your love for the Lord first or your love for me second. Not during the highs or lows. The mountains or the valleys. The ups or downs. Not during the good, the bad, or the ugliest of days. And not during all of the daily grind sandwiched in between them.
Every day you demonstrate the humility of Christ by looking for ways to serve our family. To put our needs and wants ahead of your own. And to lead our family in a way that strives to glorify God and serves as a powerful example for others.
I love you with all that I am and with all that I have. And I’m praying for many more years of marital bliss together. Know that I’m with you. “Win or tie.” (Wink.)