Today I would like to say Happy 11 years to the one I love.
As our 11th anniversary approached, memories of our special day flooded my mind. Some of them were wonderful and brought a smile to my face. But others raised questions that left me wondering why. As you find these questions intertwined throughout this letter, please don’t worry about lending me any answers. Because, I went straight to the Lord with my questions. As I directed these simple questions to Him, He taught me so much about me (and you). I am anxious to share exactly what He said. (Sorry this letter is a little lengthy, but it is only a glimpse of how much I love you).
These past few days, I have vividly seen our guests bundled up freezing half to death. The bitter coldness was almost unbearable for many on that October day in 2001. I am sure everyone in attendance still remembers complaining about how blistering cold it was. Do you recall how perfect the weather was the day before our wedding? It was a beautiful 70 degrees. But, probably around 2 a.m., the morning of our ceremony, I remember waking up to the rain beating down. Did you hear the rain that morning? As I heard raindrops this week, I couldn’t help but wonder: Why did it rain on our wedding day?
(See us laughing the night before? This was before the rain!)
Well as we both know the rain finally stopped and the preparations for our outdoor wedding went on! This week I saw all of the girls (including myself) rushing around to get ready as quickly as possible. Then I remembered that it didn’t matter how quickly I had rushed, I still made us late! What were you thinking that day? Did you wonder why I am always late for EVERYTHING. It’s okay because I was actually thinking the same thing! But, I wasn’t all that late. Was I? As I thought about how I really haven’t gotten that much better at timeliness my second question arose. Why am I always late?
This question quickly faded as I recalled the next stumbling block. The stumbling block of trying to convince my dad not to wear his sunglasses replayed in my mind. I could hear myself whining all over again. I remember begging only for a few seconds on borrowed time. He had already jokingly made it known that October 6, 2001 was the opening day of deer season. How could I forget such an important date? And it hadn’t been too long since he handed me my wedding gift. Do you remember being a little nervous as he handed over a 22 magnum? Thankfully, it only took two split seconds on our wedding day to make him realize how handsome he was without his sunglasses on. And, deep down I also knew I was much more important than any whitetail deer! But, this is what sent the third question up to Heaven. Why did it seem that my Dad didn’t want to cooperate on my special day?
(Look, no sunglasses!)
Were you aware of that setback that I faced? But, the sunglasses quickly faded as I heard music appear. Do you remember the name of the first song that was played? Don’t worry! I don’t remember it either, but it still brings back memories when I hear it playing from Jayla’s swing. As the music faded, someone’s whisper entered my thoughts. I heard the whisper of someone slipping that almost turned into a fall. Do you remember one of the bridesmaids slipped as she started down the aisle? This week, I have pondered which one it was, but I honestly can’t remember. Did you see her take her unplanned bow? Eleven years later, it doesn’t really matter which one it was. But as I pondered for a short moment this week, this question lingered: What was the purpose of the bridesmaid’s slip?
(Maybe it was Emily.)
At certain times the past few days, I could see my steps down that silky, white aisle. I relived the comfort as I saw the smile on your face. Can you still see me smiling back at you? At times my smile faded as I remembered walking down the aisle and feeling my dress strap move out of its rightful place. This pesky little strap brought up yet another question. Why did the seamstress not alter the strap perfectly?
However, the memory of the strap was quickly replaced by the image of you grasping my hands. It was the best memory yet! Once again, the calmness that I felt that day was revealed. I recalled how my fears were quieted forever because we were about to become one! Over and over this week, I have felt the tight grip you placed upon my hands. I have seen the shiny sparkle of the silver bracelet upon my arm. But the sparkle faded as quickly as it came because I recalled the bracelet coming to a rest between our feet as we began to say our vows. As the memory of the bracelet raced through my mind, I felt your grip loosen for just a bit. And, the next question quickly made an appearance. Why did the bracelet tumble so quickly?
As the bracelet’s sparkle faded away, I caught myself staring into your eyes. I have became anxious as I recalled the rapidness of our ceremony several times. But, the flame of the unity candle quickly blew this anxiousness away. Do you recall our candle wasn’t lit until after our ceremony? I am sure you remember how hard the wind was blowing. Someone (maybe Molly?) had poured a lot of precious time into making that candle for us to use on our special day. Plus, this step seemed so important to me. So it wasn’t long before the next question became visible. Why wasn’t the wind calm that day?
(Notice the empty chairs?)
As I felt the wind cease, I couldn’t help but turn my focus back on how quickly the day passed. Do you remember how rapidly our ceremony came to an end? As the activities of the reception came to me, a little bit of tension became present in my mind. And, I suddenly felt the tension that you must have felt during the reception. I clearly remembered the tiredness that you showed after ALL of the pictures had been taken and the food had been tossed away. But, the tension quickly faded because I beamed from seeing your smile as we cut the cake. When I looked past your smile, I recalled the puffy heart cake topper that was gently placed behind the figurine that I had chosen. But, thoughts of the cake topper drifted as my strong words of warning became my focus. Do you remember the warning I so harshly handed to you? I warned you not to smear cake upon my face. I recalled my strength and control of that situation! (By the way, thanks for listening to me!) But as I sliced the cake with you once again, the puffy heart stared back again. And the next question abruptly reappeared in my own heart. Why did the decorator add the heart?
This question quickly faded as the view of the cake was traded for my own stubbornness. I wanted the festivities to linger, but I remembered how You. Were. Ready. To. Go. I wasn’t ready just yet. As I replayed our struggle, I still couldn’t figure out why you wanted to leave for our honeymoon so quickly. And a question that has been hidden for so long quickly came back as sharp as ever. But, a smile crept up once again, as I finally remembered that I did in fact submit to your plea. I felt the birdseed pelt onto my skin once more. Do you remember our decorated car? I laughed as I saw us finally leaving. And, I saw our special day ending once more!
(Look, they thought it was funny!)
But, I am sure you remember as well as I have this week that we weren’t off on our honeymoon just yet! Instead, I asked if we could please make one last stop. And I am sure you haven’t forgotten what I found when we arrived at our dear friend’s. There were wedding gifts everywhere! I heard myself insisting that we open just a few. But, then once again, I heard your quick response: NO! I could still see the eagerness on your face! I quickly remembered how You. Were. Ready. To. Go. And the next question quickly arose: Why did you want to leave for our honeymoon so quickly?
I turned back to the vision of the wedding gifts several times this week, and I clearly saw how I had let my stubbornness creep in! I felt the sting of me not submitting yet again. But, the sting subsided as I quickly became distracted by our wedding being replayed on the TV screen! I remembered how someone was watching our wedding that they had just witnessed less than two hours before. So once again, I heard myself pleading. Can we stay and watch it for a just few minutes? And quickly, I heard you say, No, once more! Why? You. Were. Ready. To. Go. Tears almost filled my eyes as the biggest question became so clear. Why did I struggle to submit to the one I love so dearly?
As I embraced the last question, I felt the reminiscing coming to an end. And, I knew it was time for some answers. So, I decided to go to the one who knows. The Lord provided answers, which are much deeper than the obvious ones that anyone else could have given. And by seeking His word, The Lord gave me answers that not only pertained to our special day, but He molded each one into a truth that I can reflect upon each day. He taught me that if I look deep within, He is always willing to show me the real answer to what I might be wondering. Are you ready to see how He turned what I once saw as little negative bits into valuable lessons that we both can live by forever?
Why did it rain on our wedding day?
* The obvious answer is that He is in control of the rain. But, God showed me that He sent rain on October 6, 2001, so we won’t ever forget that He is in control! As I stated earlier, He ceased the rain at the right time that day! So through the rain, He taught me that we have to trust that His timing is always best. We have to find warmth in knowing that we have finally learned how to allow Him to guide us as one! We both know we didn’t start out with Him in first place, but I am thankful for His grace. Thank you for helping me see through the rain! Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Why am I always late?
* This answer may seem evident to many. Some may say that I don’t put in enough effort. Or, that I may not care if I am late. While these may be true at certain times, they don’t fully answer the question at hand. And, I will tell you that being late feels like the black plague. It is a habit that is hard to break. Tardiness has always been a part of my life. Just ask my mother! I can clearly remember flailing myself up the schoolhouse steps in elementary school because the tardy bell was about to ring. And later in high school, I had to serve lunch detention because the train had made me late for early bird one too many times! I am not PROUD of this struggle at all. It is embarrassing to show up late while everyone is waiting for YOU! So, this week the Lord helped me to understand that on our wedding day He was preparing your heart to help me understand the importance of being on time. He was showing you that you had a BIG job ahead of you because I have struggled with this for a long time! Thanks for your consistent reminders. I have gotten a little bit better since that day? Haven’t I? Either way, keep your big boy britches on (your words not mine) and keep those reminders coming. I wish I could say that I am thankful for my tardiness that day, but I can’t. However, I do love you for showing me what’s best! (**Eleven years later, I would like to say thank you to all of our wedding guests for enduring the coldness just a little longer than you had to because your were waiting on ME!) Philippians 2:3: Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Why did it seem that my Dad didn’t want to cooperate on my special day?
* This answer should have been clear to me my whole life. For it is a simple and obvious one. I am sure a lot of people understand this very obvious answer quickly in life. But, unfortunately it wasn’t until a little over a year ago that the Lord showed me the answer while I was being a disciple to our own children. We were learning Ephesians 6:1: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” I am glad that the Lord reminded me this week that this verse not only applies to our children, but it applies to me as well! Should I have tried to convince my father that I knew what was best for him? Probably not! It is simple. He is my father. I should have submitted to what he felt was best. Would it have hurt for me to let him wear his sunglasses? He would have probably felt more comfortable with them on. And, why didn’t I ask him if October 6th was okay with him before I scheduled the wedding? I am sure he was just picking when he laughingly told me that I had scheduled our wedding on the opening day of deer season. But, I should have asked him first. I know now that I was only thinking of MYSELF! This week, the Lord helped me take this answer one step further when He showed me that the same way I didn’t submit to my father’s needs that day, I haven’t always been successful at submitting to yours. You know I haven’t always considered your feelings. It has been all about Me far too many times. And, I am sorry for that! Thank you for your patience. I am slowly learning to take the “I” out of our marriage. Now I am thankful that Daddy was there to wear his sunglasses! I wish I would have known to listen way back then.
What was the purpose of the bridesmaid’s slip?
* The answer may seem simple to most. It was wet outside! She was wearing high heels while trying to walk on a white silk runner that would soon enough become a nice shade of brown from the mud. But, the Lord’s answer did not stop there. He opened my eyes to see that her slip meant much more! Just like she slipped, the Lord made me see that we have slipped so many times throughout the years. There have been times that we have left Him out all together. He made me understand that we even put Him in last place on our special day! We skipped our per-marital counseling. Do you remember? We asked Him to abandon our ship from the beginning. By doing this, we made a huge muddy mess. But, despite the mud, the past 11 years, He has willingly showed us how to put Him first. Did it take awhile for us to submit? Yes, we both know it did. (Too long!) It took many years to even grasp the concept of a Biblical marriage. I am so grateful that the Lord allowed us to walk out of the mud, so we could learn what was best. Matthew 6:33: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Why did the seamstress not alter the straps perfectly?
* Well, as much as I struggle with the simplicity of this answer, the Lord has helped me realize that the strap falling out of place means a lot to us. The simple answer that He provided is no one is perfect. He showed me this week that I should not have expected perfection from the seamstress. She made a mistake! And just as she made a mistake, He helped me to understand that just as we have made mistakes over the last 11 years, we will continue to make them (remember the mud from above). But, our mistakes can be forgiven. When I bring mud back into our marriage, I will strive to ask for His forgiveness before expecting forgiveness from you. Will you promise to do the same? Ephesians 4:32: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Why did the bracelet tumble so quickly?
* The Lord reminded me this week that He has been molding this answer into my mind for a few years now. Before, I get to His answer I have to explain a few things to you. The bracelet was my “something borrowed.” Emily had let me borrow it. As you know, I don’t own much jewelry, and I have never really had a desire for it. The Lord allowed me to see the bracelet toppling to the ground this week to firmly plant the idea that we truly haven’t needed silver and gold in our marriage to be happy. All we need is Him. All we need is to put Him first! He has shaped our hearts to understand that He is the one that blesses our marriage! He has already blessed us with love, children, a home, food, and so much more. He has provided our every need! I am so thankful that you know that I don’t expect riches, silver, and gold. I am thankful that you know that I am more than pleased with the riches sent from above! Matthew 6:19-20: Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal
Why wasn’t the wind calm that day?
* The answer He provided for this question is the simplest of all. Just like the rain, He is in control of the wind. No matter how hard we try, we cannot change its swiftness. No matter how hard we tried, we could not remain calm or have rest in our marriage without Him. I am glad we have learned how to embrace His calmness! Matthew 11:29-30: Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Why did the cake decorator add the puffy heart?
* The noticeable answer is that she liked the heart. She thought the top of the cake looked too empty without it. She knew what was best! And deep down, I know the cake was empty without the puffy heart. And, I also think you will agree that our marriage started off empty because we weren’t willing to let the Lord lead us. Thank goodness the cake decorator took away my control that day (the heart really wasn’t that bad)! And, thank goodness the Lord has taken away our control and is showing you through Him how to take control and lead our marriage! As we both know so well, without Him we had no control!
Ephesians 5:22-24: Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Why did you want to leave for our honeymoon so quickly?
* Only you can answer this question sufficiently. But, I will show you what He taught me this week. Before this week, I have struggled with your plea to leave so quickly that day. But today I see it in a new light. I have allowed the Lord to help me put it to rest. I now understand that you were only eager to get on the road because you wanted to spend quality time alone with me. Why didn’t I understand this simple fact that day? I am grateful that the Lord provided us with a honeymoon. And, I am confident that He did so because He knew soon enough that we would be blessed with four beautiful children. He knew that those quiet moments that we first shared together would fade very quickly! I thank the Lord for our honeymoon, but I also thank Him for our babies. I know that you miss those quiet moments together (I do, too). But I have to say, thank you for our babies, Baby! Aren’t they worth all of the noise? Psalm 127:3: Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
Why did I struggle to submit to the one I love so dearly?
Okay, Okay! Submission! The question is inevitable. Isn’t it? In reality the answer to this question is indeed the hardest of all, and may not be at all obvious to so many. I feel that many married couples struggle with its answer daily! By thinking through the somewhat minor negative mishaps of our special day so many times this past week, I have learned that they all took away my control. I have came to the understanding that on our wedding day and for many years after, I failed miserably at submitting to the Lord, to others, to You! Yes, I loved the Lord, and I have always loved you, but I have always wanted to be in control. But today I am happy to admit that I actually had no control when I wasn’t letting the Lord lead. Even though I did not exactly understand the battle that was taking place on October 6, 2001, I now clearly see that the battle of submission has been a difficult one to fight. Through the Lord’s guidance and love these past 11 years, I went from trying to control the wind and the rain to learning how to submit to Him and now to you! I am so glad the Lord didn’t let me control the wind and rain 11 years ago!! I hope you can see, He has taught me so much from that wind and rain. The battle I fought was such an important one! Thank you for becoming the godly husband that I am so willing to submit to! Thank you for learning how Christ wants our marriage to flow! Thank you for your grace. You have always stood by my side. You have never been ashamed of me. But, most importantly, you have learned how to show me Christ’s love! And for that I am forever grateful. Please continue to direct me to the scriptures, so I will never forget why it is so important to submit to His will! Submitting to Him makes submitting to you so much easier. I know the Lord was with us on our wedding day. He was kindly waiting on us. We made it difficult at first by failing to always put Him first. But, he never gave up on us! Today I am so proud to say that I feel honored to be called your wife. I will love you through the calmness and through the storms. The calmness may seem too quiet at times and the storms may appear too large, but it will all turn out perfectly because the Lord is our guiding light.
In my heart, I will always hide:
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
I love you, Jamie!