Your eyes saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in Your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
This is the story of us. You and me. Where we began. Where we have been.
I have learned not to project where we are going.
Boy met girl when I was 16. We won't comment on your age, but it was all innocent enough. It was a brief encounter in the skating rink for a sweet friend of mine to set up a tennis game with you. You were wearing a visor with a Jesus fish on it, but you didn't know of Him yet. We were in and out, and she and I were gone.
We both went on living.
Somehow, we'd gone seven years with you working a mile from my house, and I had never noticed you before. I hadn't even heard your name in my little small town where my dad knew everyone. Yet, after that initial meeting your name kept popping up.
As time would continue, you and I became acquaintances. You knew so and so and so did I. Our circles started to overlap, and I got to know you more. I was privileged to consider you a friend when you wrestled with the Lord over your salvation. It is so precious to me, your love for the Lord. The way you loved Jesus in the months and years that followed would radically challenge me in my own walk with Christ. Your desire was that everyone know the love and forgiveness you knew in Him. His love oozed out of you. You were either getting my peers out of football practice to take them to church or offering a homeless man a warm meal. Selfless. Real.
Our friendship grew. Eventually, you would become my boss. I still don't know what you were thinking hiring this person who hadn't stepped in a skating rink for that many years, but you did. Then, you would become my youth pastor. My heart, tattered during much of this time and broken in life and in my walk with Christ, needed the Jesus that oozed from you.
I can remember the first time I uttered the words to a friend. We were on a walk. It was October. I heard myself say it out-loud. "I don't know who I'll marry, but I want it to be someone like him." And it was innocent. I never thought I'd be lucky enough for it to be you.
In the months to follow, I'd found myself in love... in love with your love for the Lord. In love with your love for people. In love with you. My mind flooded with the 'what ifs' and the 'no, it can't bes', and I'd pray at night that God would take any feelings I had for you away. You. My employer. My youth pastor. My friend. This could never be. I pled, and I cried, and the feelings remained.
Finally, one night, I changed my prayer, "Lord, if you aren't going to take these feelings away, show me how this is going to work." And little by little, it all worked out.
We did it all 'right', and waited it out. I didn't think World Changers would ever be over, but we made it. We finally got to start this journey of 'us'.
The next year and a half were filled with Steak n Shake and movies, trips to Sams, Tiger Woods golf on the playstation and Pizza Hut pizza. I looked forward to Monday nights all week long. 7th Heaven and Everwood on the WB, thin crust hamburger pizza and breadsticks. Best. Nights. Ever. Who would have known years later we'd have our own "Bryt" in the house?!
We knew early on we wanted to marry. I kept guessing on when the proposal would come. In the summer of 2004 I left you for seven long weeks to work summer camps. Myself (and a large handful of others) felt for sure I'd be engaged before summer was out. In fact, the Wild Week family all had non-monetary bets that Glorietta was going to be the time. Shoot... even my real family thought that! At one point you told me you were sending me a 'package', and I felt for sure you were going to show up on that mountain somewhere. A couple days later I received some of your sweatshirts in the mail. Thankful for the warmth (and the fact that they smelled like you), I was only a little mad at you ;)
When I got home, we hit the ground running again. I was in school and working and Christmas was rounding the corner. I remember you asking me what I wanted. My list looked something like this:
- a wedding
- a honeymoon
Well... you get the drift. And as I was always trying to deflate my hopes about Christmas, my birthday rolled along. You were fighting one terrible case of kidney stones. You'd just taken hydrocodone for the pain but were insisting that we go to Alongi's to eat. I'm pretty sure I raised my voice and refused to go and told you that you were crazy. Birthday or not, you were pitiful.
But somehow you got me there... and my parents... and your parents... and some time before our food came I looked over and you were on one knee. And the place erupted in clapter. Or something like that. Our story was being written. Hydrocodone and all. (Bet you wish you would have considered that Glorietta thing on the mountain, huh? :) )
Eight months later I had the privilege of watching you watch me walk down the aisle. It's one of those moments that I'm so very thankful that God included in our story. After all, it's what makes it 'our' story. I don't know that I've ever smiled so much in my life. I smile now just thinking about it... our little life in our little house on Park Street. Our newlywed home.
Since then... we've had quite the journey. 10 months after our wedding day we were packing our life away to go on the road. Countless salvations, miles and hotel rooms, lots of learning to be married in a confined space with only your spouse, and many, many, many awesome experiences and adventures later, we were ready to 'settle' back down. Somehow, we still haven't done much of that settling... 15 months on the road then gave way to 8 years, 9 addresses, 2 children, who knows how many car exchanges and a countless number of highs and lows.
It's been eleven years now. 11. Sometimes, when I don't think about the journey between, it feels like only yesterday we were dating. I can still remember the smell of your apartment, the view of your profile from the passenger seat of the Matrix, and I can hear the sound of your voice on the phone before I went to bed at night.
If only I knew then how much I'd love you now...
To see you love our kids...
To see you love your friends...
To see your love for His church...
To see your love for strangers...
All has deepened this love for you that began when I was just a teenager. This love for the Lord that you have maintained all of these years, continues to draw my heart to you all these years later... deeper, more intimately.
We've been through it... some of the most exciting times, some of the most excruciating times, but that's the glory of life lived together... WE live it. Side by side. For the glory of God.
And you know what, after all of these years, all of these experiences... all of the exciting and the excruciating, I choose you more. I choose you more than I chose you 11 years ago. I say "I DO" more affectionately and more absolutely than I did in the white dress on the pink alter on that hot day in August. I am so thankful that when the Lord was orchestrating our pages, long before either of us were born, He was writing our pages together... this story that He is writing is my favorite.
Here's to many, many, many more. I'm excited to see how our story continues...