Friday, May 15

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

Sorry, folks, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I've decided to postpone the rest of my Month of Love celebration.

When my computer and I recover from our respective viral attacks, we can chat more about it.

Wishing good health to you all!

Monday, May 11

How Do I Love Thee?

Shortly after we started dating, Adam and I began to write regular e-mail messages to one another. Ending each with "love" quickly became repetitive to me, so I started quoting random lines from Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Eventually, Adam commented on the quotes, thinking they were all mine, so I shared the original work with him. It has remained one of our favorite poems.

Sonnet 43
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Thursday, May 7

Our Story: Part Two

Previously in our story ...

That night, I started a new journal. I hadn’t kept a regular diary since high school, but after having been called “beautiful” by the man on whom I had a crush I couldn’t seem to shake, I figured I’d have a lot of thoughts I might want to get out.

The next week, I started reading Max Lucado’s Traveling Light. I don’t usually complete study guides printed at the end of books, but I decided to work through the one included with Traveling Light. The questions for the first chapter included, “What burdens are your loved ones needlessly bearing? What can you do to help them lay down those unnecessary burdens?”

I started my answer by making a list of loved ones. I deliberated whether or not to include Adam on my list, but in the end I decided to do so. As I considered what I might be able to do to help, the only thing that came to mind was prayer. As I prayed through my list, I remembered a specific request Adam had made the week before. He shared with the group that he was struggling with some relationship issues. He had been somewhat vague as to what that actually meant, but as I prayed for his struggle, I got a picture in my mind of a butterfly struggling to get out of his cocoon. I’d remembered reading once that it is this very struggle that strengthens the butterflies wings enough that he can fly. After much internal debate, I determined that Adam may well find this encouraging and I should write him a note. What finally brought me to a decision was that I also wrote a note to another friend for whom I'd prayed that day (but toward whom I did not have any romantic feelings).

The following Sunday, Adam came to talk to me after church. He thanked me for my card and told me he really appreciated it. I tried to keep my simpering to a minimum. We chatted for several minutes and decided to have lunch together with a friend of his. We did the same a week later, only the group at lunch was a bit larger. I tried to arrange a seat beside Adam or across from him, but didn’t manage it. I talked to the people sitting near me, but kept half an ear on Adam’s conversation at the other end of the table. I missed a lot, but they seemed to be talking about going to see The Matrix Reloaded, which had just come out.

As the lunch party was breaking up, my friend Andie*, another of the Sunday school teachers, and I had decided to go for coffee at the little shop across the parking lot from the restaurant where we’d eaten. I had been hoping to garner an invite to the movie with the guys, but that didn’t seem to be happening. Instead, One of the guys was asking Adam if he was coming with. He looked hesitant and glanced toward Andie and me. Andie, knowing my feelings for Adam, told him we were going for coffee. I hadn’t been planning to invite him, since I’d assumed he had other plans, but found myself asking, “Do you want to come?”

I was shocked that he said, “Yes.” I was even more shocked that our little coffee went on for nearly four hours. Adam and I sat across from one another, keeping up most of the conversation. Andie sat to one side and watched with a grin on her face. She didn’t do much talking, but she did manage to arrange a game night for us at Adam’s house the next week.

Game night started with dinner. Adam, his roommate, my friend Kate, and a couple of others gathered at Adam’s house for a spaghetti casserole and Trivial Pursuit. Kate won the game, as I recall, but I came in ahead of Adam. While we were boxing up the game, one of the guys started flipping through a brochure for an outdoor music festival. I mentioned a concert I would like to see the following month. As we said our good-byes, Adam asked if I’d like to make an outing of the concert. I said, “Sure!” and left with Kate.

Once we were safely ensconced in the car, I turned to her and asked, “Did I just get asked on a date?”

She responded, “It sure sounded like it to me.”
* Names have been changed because I forgot to ask anybody if I could use their real names.

Don't forget to check out Adam's side of the story today over at Transforming Word.

Looks Who's Talking

Adam has decided to come out of his blogging hiatus and post his version of our story this month, too!

Check out what he has to say about the way we first became an us at Transforming Word.

Wednesday, May 6

Our Story: Part One

Once upon a time ...

Well, actually, it was in June of 2002. I had just started attending the church where my brother and his family went. Wanting to get involved right away, I signed up as a leader for the annual Vacation Bible School program. My first day of VBS, I met this guy. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to form an impression of him, though because he promptly got sick and missed the rest of the week’s events.

We met again a few times that fall while we were both volunteering with the children’s ministry. I found out his name was Adam and he grew up in the jungle, eating grubs and hunting boars. Actually, I later discovered that was somewhat of an embellishment (apparently little boys don't go out hunting boars with spears), but at the time such information just added to his terribly dashing and exotic mystique.

Sometime around Christmas, he got his shoulder-length locks cut and his parents came to visit from out of state. I wondered if the two were related. After Christmas, my time and energy was pretty well concentrated in preparing for a missions trip to Brazil. Adam mentioned one Sunday as we worked together that he wished he was going. Stressed out by the meetings and details of trying to put together a fundraising auction, I told him that he didn’t. He insisted he did, and I wisely dropped the issue.

My trip to Brazil was truly life-altering. You can read one description of my experience here. One of the things I realized on the boat in the middle of the river was that I’d been looking too hard for the man I was to marry. Every eligible male who caught my fancy, I immediately labeled a potential husband. I spent so much time afraid I might miss the one that I was missing out on what the One had for me.

Our team returned from Brazil the weekend before Ash Wednesday. Not having grown up in the liturgical tradition, I had never participated in Lenten fasting. As I considered what I might give up for the season, it occurred to me that I should give up men. I wasn’t quite prepared to do so publicly, so I made a private little promise to God that I would stop looking at every man I met and imagining a future with him. Publicly, I gave up television and movies.

I found my private vow much harder to keep than my public one. While I did well with the new guys I met that spring, my mind kept returning to Adam and wondering what it would be like to date him, marry him, have children with him. I knew my imagination had totally run away with me, but I didn’t know how to stop it.

Meanwhile, the Sunday school year was just about over. My roommate and I hosted the final prayer meeting for the preschool teachers the week after Easter. I was hoping Adam would come, but I hadn’t seen him for a couple of weeks and really didn’t have any idea. As was our custom, we shared a potluck supper before we started praying in earnest. About halfway through the meal, Adam arrived with a bag of frozen potstickers.

While he was cooking his contribution to our dinner, Adam stepped out into the living room to join the conversation, “Oh, Amy,” he began. “I didn’t get a chance to tell you last week, but you looked really beautiful.” Trying to keep a hold of my plate in my shock, I mumbled a quick, “Thank you.”

Adam wasn’t quite finished, “Your dress was really stunning.”

Internally, Whoa! Externally, “Thank you.”

As Adam stepped back into the kitchen to finish his cooking. I concentrated on not falling off the couch. Our children’s ministry director pulled at the collar of her shirt and asked no one in particular, “Is it hot in here or is it just me?”

Tuesday, May 5

I'm Sorry

Today's premier of the story series about how Adam and I got together must be postponed.

Unfortunately, I woke up this morning with a very nasty virus and have been alternating my time between the bed and the bathroom. Sitting makes me nauseated and standing makes me dizzy. Typing makes my head hurt.

Once I'm feeling better, I'll be back with the beginning of our story.

Monday, May 4

My Biggest Challenge and My Greatest Joy

I wrote these out a couple of years ago to share at the wedding shower of a couple of friends. Originally posted 4/15/07.

My biggest challenge in marriage

I'm basically a selfish person. I want what I want when I want it. That's what I'd looked forward to most in becoming an adult; I could do whatever I wanted. I just didn't count on having to consider someone else's feelings in addition to my own, much less before my own. Somewhere deep inside, in that place we're rarely aware of but we think our deepest thoughts, I always sort of figured that one day when I got married, my husband would want whatever I wanted, simply because he wanted to please me. The concept that maybe I should want to please him ... never really entered the picture. But then Adam entered the picture. And my nice little world that revolved around me came crashing down at my feet. I'm still trying to recover. In fact, I'm still trying to keep things spinning around me the way I'd always thought they should. Only, at such an unconscious level, I hardly realize what I'm doing most of the time. Before I know it, I'm disrespectful and petulant and nagging. All because I want to make sure I'm taken care of before I focus my attention on Adam's welfare. I have trouble trusting that God (and Adam) will care for my needs, so I hoard my own energy and attention rather than giving freely to him (and Him).

As for my greatest joy

I live with a man whose goal it is to love me as Christ loves me, perfectly amidst my imperfection. I have a real live example of someone knowing me very well--inside and out, really--yet choosing still to love me. Which is not to suggest that I never annoy Adam or that he is never angry at me, but even in his anger, he tells me and shows me love. At my most selfish, crabbiest me, he has yet to be scared off. Even in the middle of still another round of Great Fight #6, he is willing to say he's more content in his life married to me (difficult though it may be) than he was as a single man. I don't have to make nice; I don't have to measure up; I don't have to play by the rules for him to love me. I just have to be.

Sunday, May 3

Philippians 2:1-14

For our wedding, Adam and I asked our priest to base the homily on this passage.

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NASB)

Saturday, May 2

Our Story: Preview

As I have mentioned, I'll be sharing the story of how Adam and I met and married this month. As a little preview to my twice-weekly posts, I thought I'd share this little meme I found on Queen of Dirty Laundry oh-so-many months ago.

Husband Tag
  1. Where did you meet?
  2. Church
  3. How long did you date before you got married?
  4. 11 months
  5. What does he do that surprises you?
  6. Periodically, he makes these big gestures that just completely blow me away
  7. What is your favorite feature of his?
  8. I love the way his eyes crinkle when he smiles
  9. What is your favorite quality of his?
  10. His flexibility
  11. Does he have a nickname for you?
  12. Beautiful
  13. What is his favorite color?
  14. Forest green (but I had to ask)
  15. What is his favorite food?
  16. I had to ask about this one, too: Chicken and coconut rice--possibly tied with mumued pig (that's a whole pig roasted undergroung in banana leaves)
  17. What is his favorite sport?
  18. (European) football
  19. When and where was your first kiss?
  20. Standing on the grass, the night we got engaged
  21. What is your favorite thing to do as a couple?
  22. Creating a special meal together
  23. Does he have a hidden talent?
  24. Hidden from whom? He knits, I guess not everybody knows that
  25. Who said I love you first?
  26. He did
  27. What’s his favorite type of music?
  28. Classical (but he has this thing for '80s pop ...)
  29. What do you admire most about him?
  30. Adam has a much better grasp on the whole concept of sacrifice as an expression of love than I do.

Friday, May 1

Five Years Ago Today

Adam and I wrote the following for friends and family who joined us to celebrate our marriage on May 1, 2004.

Amy and Adam were talking one evening. "What do we want to say?" Adam asked. "I want to make a statement about marriage," Amy replied. "And what statement is that?" he further inquired. "I want to talk about how we know marriage isn't just a walk in the part, but a lot of conscious choices to love one another."
•  •  •  •
It is a daunting task to try to say something meaningful about marriage on your wedding day. Our marriage is just beginning and there are many who have a great deal more experience, insight, and wisdom. Yet here we stand, having grown in love for each other, knowing just enough to recognize that marriage is a lifetime commitment because that's how long it takes for the relationship truly to take shape and for love to grow and mature into fullness. Love, not merely in a broad theoretical sense, but in the nitty-gritty details of our life together, is impossible to maintain on our own. It is a gift from God and is sustained by God. Indeed, it is but a small part, a reflection, of His love for us. Nor is it simply a private matter. We as a couple live in a community that encourages us, and helps keep us faithful. Marriage is not easy. We know that even now, filled with the excitement of new love. It takes the wholehearted choice from both of us to love, repent, forgive, encourage, trust, adapt, and pray; it requires the sustaining love of Christ and the support of our community.

The unity candle is a symbolic representation of our marriage, the joining of our lives one with another. To more accurately depict the reality of our lives, we have chosen an arrangement that is somewhat more elaborate than the traditional pillar and two tapers. The highest candle, lit by the priest, is meant to represent God. It is from God that we have life, so each of our individual tapers are lit from this flame. In coming together as one, our lives are interwoven not just with one another, but with God's own Life, as is symbolized by the intermixed colors of the God candle and our individual tapers. Finally, our marriage cannot exist separately from our community. Each of you is represented by the island stones filling the unity candle holder and supporting the pillar. We invite each of you to take one of these stones home as a way of remembering your place in our lives.
•  •  •  •
Thank you for all that we have received from each of you through the years. Your love and support have been invaluable to us and we look forward to where God will take us from here. We are so pleased that you are able to be here today to celebrate our marriage with us. May the peace and blessings of Christ be yours.