19 Years

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19 year ago today, Amanda and I were married.

19 years…I’ll spare you every time cliche’ in the book, but it truly does go by fast.  Incredibly, blurringly fast.

Year #19 has been one of the toughest but wonderful years we’ve experienced.  From a year ago to today, pretty much every aspect of our lives has changed.  There has been the pain of leaving behind the life and friends we had built over the previous 18-plus years as we set out on a new adventure (one that we were not expecting AT ALL).  It has been a year of cutting away, both in the outward and the inward.  But in the midst of the cutting away, there has also been joy, healing and restoration.

Strange how God works sometimes.

I can’t even begin to put down enough words or phrases to explain what Amanda means to me.  I am so very thankful for my wife.  As the years have gone on, she has continued to amaze me.  She is an amazing woman.  She loves Jesus, loves His Word.  She loves my kids and pours into them, even on the tough days.  She becomes more beautiful to me with each passing day, and I love her more than I could ever say.

19 years…we’ve been through a lot of good, some bad (much of which was my fault).  We came through the incredible pain of losing of two babies, but also we’ve experienced the supreme joy of our three amazing kids.  We’ve gotten through the hurt of hidden sin (also me) and felt the healing balm of restoration…not easily gotten, but oh-so-precious.

We have poured sweat equity into 4 houses over the years, seen them become “home” for our growing family, and then cried as we’ve walked out the doors to the next thing.  Never has that been as tough as the last one, leaving the only home all 5 of us have shared for…well, for what only God knows is next.

We’ve made many friends over the years as we’ve moved.  Some relationships stay strong, others fade for a while, only to be rekindled again with time and chance.  We have endured, up to this year, only one church change, quite a few job changes, but when you move 1200 miles away, all of those take on a whole new level of starting over.

Everything has changed.

And yet, through it all, I’ve had this amazing woman by my side.  The only constant in our marriage has been Jesus, and each other.

Thankful doesn’t really begin to say how I feel.  We were united on July 18th, 1998, at 3pm in the afternoon.  While my best-man, my brother Ted, sweated and huffed and puffed at the length of the ceremony and the heat in the church, my father-in-law walked us through our vows and pronounced us man and wife, united as one before God and all those witnesses.

Two made one.

And yet, like the process of sanctification that begins when Jesus saves us and moves toward completion slowly, with each passing day, on that afternoon we were united as one in God’s sight, but the process of becoming truly united was just beginning.  It’s still going, 19 years later.  I think that’s why so many marriages experience such stress and pain in the initial years, because it’s the dying of two selves in their union as one.  Each one must take the lower place to love and serve the other, subduing our own selfish desires in order to help the other.

The way up is down.  The way to unity is through becoming less, thinking more of your bride than you do of yourself.  Paul said it in Ephesians 5:

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for her.” 

That don’t happen overnight.  It takes time, and a daily dying to self.

My wife has taught me so much about that.

It’s a journey…and on our current leg, we’ve experienced a new closeness that only comes from the trial.  The unity continues to be made reality.

19 years.  Blessed.  Thankful.  Joyful.

Humbled.

I love you, Amanda…more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow.

Y.A.M.S.

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