Fifteen years ago Andrew was pursuing me. I was a college coed scared to say yes, scared of messing up, scared to let anyone know me. I did not want to end up divorced or in a dead marriage. That I knew. The easiest way for that not to happen was not to get married until I was sure God was all over it.
One of the ways Andrew pursued me was by spending his huge wad of graduation money on an amazing date. Amazing. I still can't believe I agreed to go. But I did and here we are.
Celebrating not only fifteen years of being together but fifteen years since the best date ever. Celebrating that date by recreating it as married people. I think being married will put the first date to shame and this one will become the best date ever.
On that day fifteen years ago, he picked me up at my apartment with doughnuts, took me to San Antonio by way of the Guadalupe River, wined and dined me on the River walk and took me to the Elton John & Billy Joel concert. Tomorrow we leave for all of that plus two nights in an awesome hotel sans kids. (Thanks, Mom!)
There has been much bloggy talk about marriages lately. My friend Melanie, received a word "to love him like no other this year." That word God gave her spoke volumes to my heart. (By the way, Melanie is my friend whose life was radically altered by hearing her parents labor over her in prayer. Visit her.) My new friend Missy is in "The Year of Our Marriage" and Lysa recently reminded me that the grass that is greener is always the grass we water and fertilize.
I have been wanting to chronicle our love story for our kids. I desperately want us to have a fairy tale all our own. The truth is our love story hasn't been much of a fairy tale. Andrew pursued me for years. I ran as far away as I could. When I finally came around and married him I wasn't prepared for the reality of marriage. Our life together was marked with sadness, much disappointment and many dark storms. We doubted how we'd ever survive it on a daily basis. Then one day God stepped in and opened our eyes to the beauty of marriage. Since then it's been so good. It's still been hard but it's been hard together. And, that has made all the difference.
The best part of that date fifteen years ago was that as we were walking on the river I made a comment to Andrew about how I loved sunflowers. When I walked in the door from our trip, there was the biggest most beautiful bouquet of sunflowers waiting for me. That was the day I knew that he would listen to me and cared enough to get to know who I was under my skin. That was the day I saw his heart.
After those sunflowers dried up and died, I took their seeds and planted them in the backyard. They did not grow and bloom. I thought they had died until one spring almost three years later. The spring that I felt God release me to date him, to commit to him, to become engaged to him those sunflowers were in full bloom!
Our love story reminds me of a song we used to sing at camp when I was in elementary school. "Rainy days and sunshine that's what beautiful flowers are made of. It takes rainy days and sunshine to make us grow and bloom. Rainy days and sunshine that's what beautiful girls are made of...For when your patience is finally in full bloom then you will be ready for anything. Strong in character full and complete."
Our love story is a fairy tale because One did come to our rescue bringing rainy days and sunshine to give us deep roots and full blooms. Just as those sunflowers took years to take root and fully grow into full bloom so has our love. We now know we have the strength to weather any storm together and that's a love worth celebrating.
"We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us...Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy." Romans 5:3-5 & James 5:10-11