Sunday, March 20, 2016

Anticipated King, Unexpected Kingdom

A Palm Sunday sermon I delivered on March 20, 2016 based on Matthew 21:1-9. 


It was almost Passover and Jews were gathering in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover - the festival that commemorated their ancestors’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt. God had freed His people from the bonds of oppression and injustice once before with the help of a leader named Moses and now they were anticipating deliverance again.

The people were anticipating a king. Someone who would rescue them from the rule of the Romans. Someone who would prove their might by overthrowing corruption. Someone who would make life better, easier, restore the way of life to Israel’s former glory. Like when David and Solomon sat on the throne. The Israelites had asked for a king once before, centuries ago, and they were asking for a king once again. 

And so, on a Sunday before Passover, the people lined the street ready to receive a deliverer. They were anticipating a king and so they welcomed Jesus that day. And Jesus was a king, but His kingdom was not of this world and it was not what the people expected.

According to numerous sources that it was customary for a high-ranking Roman leader to enter Jerusalem at Passover each year. It was recorded as Herod Antipas in some records. Herod Antipas was assigned by Rome to be a regional ruler to govern Galilee and surrounding areas, and he was the one who was responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist. Another source suggests on this particular Palm Sunday - somewhere around 30 A.D. - it might have been Pontius Pilate - who rode into town. Pilate, the Roman prefect who, in a matter of days, would defer to the crowd and sentence Jesus to death.

Try to imagine for a moment the spectacle of that Roman entry into Jerusalem. From the western side of the city, the opposite side from which Jesus enters, the honored Roman ruler would sit astride a tall, strong, muscular warhorse. And this leader would be surrounded by some of Rome’s finest soldiers - some of whom would have been on horseback and others on foot. Each soldier would be dressed in leather armor polished to a high gloss.  On each centurion’s head, helmets that would gleam in the bright sunlight.  At their sides, sheathed swords crafted from the hardest steel. In their hands, each centurion carried a spear; and archers would have a bow with a sling of arrows across his back.Drummers would beat out the cadence of the march for this was no ordinary entry into Jerusalem. 

The Romans would have known that this Passover festival celebrated the liberation of the Jews from another empire, the empire of Egypt. And the Romans would want to make sure the Jews didn’t get any fresh ideas of liberty, so this entry into the city needed to send a message. It was filled with pageantry that declared Rome’s glory and at center stage would be the weapons and symbols of power in order to demonstrate Rome’s might. I am sure it was a sight to behold, this entry of the Romans. It was meant to intimidate as to suppress any inclination to uprising or insurgence. The Romans had made it clear they held no tolerance for rebellion.  And so on this occasion, be it was Pilate or Herod Antipas or some high-ranking Roman leader, would enter the capital of the Jews in order to maintain order and control. At Passover, when the Jews would have remembered their deliverance from another oppressive government, Rome wanted to make sure that the Jews knew they were king. Pomp. Circumstance. Power. Might.

And around that same time, just before Passover would begin; on the first day the week that would become known as Palm Sunday, there was another procession that took place. This one from the east side of the city, from the Mount of Olives. This entry too would be one to proclaim kingship, but this king was Jesus.

If Rome’s entry was meant as a show of military might and strength, Jesus’ procession was meant to show the opposite.  Both the gospel of Matthew and the gospel of Mark record Jesus’s own words, as he instructs his disciples to go in to the city and find a donkey tied up and then Jesus quotes from Zechariah, the 9th chapter —

“Say to the Daughter of Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’

The prophet Zechariah is speaking to the nation of Judah in chapter 9, and the prophet is reassuring the people  that God has not forgotten them. When Jesus quotes the prophet’s words, His hearers (fellow Jews who knew the prophets words by heart) would have been reminded on the entire passage surrounding what Jesus quoted:

8 But I will defend my house
against marauding forces.
Never again will an oppressor overrun my people,
for now I am keeping watch.
9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you, 
righteous and having salvation, 
gentle and riding on a donkey, 
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the war-horses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

The message they surely heard when Jesus quoted Zechariah was, “God will deliver. God will deliver you from the oppressor.” And for those living in Roman-occupied Israel in the first century, the oppressor was Rome. The people were anticipating a king. God had promised it through His prophet. But this king would come to them humbly, not on a steed of war but on a plodding donkey, the symbol of a king who comes in peace.

The two processions could not be more different in the messages they convey.  A Roman leader surrounded Roman centurions asserting the power and might of an empire which crushes all who would oppose it. Jesus, riding on a young donkey, embodies the peace and tranquility that is the shalom of God which He gives to His people.

But how a king enters reflects the kind of kingdom they are building. And while the Jews anticipated a king, their expectation was their king would operate in the same ways as Rome. They expected a king whose kingdom would dominate, whose power and might would be known throughout the world. They were looking for a kingdom that would end their suffering by securing their liberty and I figure they imagined that would happen through the very same methods Rome used. Pomp. Circumstance. Might. Power.

The Jews wanted to be liberated and free. They wanted a better life and they thought it had to be secured through the ways of the world’s empires. The world says military might reigns. The world says power and authority are determined by the sword. The world says the strong win and winners take all and think of no one else. The Jews thought that their freedom would come only by those means and they would have enlisted in that army, but that wasn’t the kingdom Jesus was establishing. 

The kingdom of God is a very different kind of kingdom then the empires of this world. It always has been and always will be. The kingdom Jesus brought was rooted in God and God’s ways. This kingdom is a kingdom of peace. A kingdom that requires humility, that demands love for all. It’s a kingdom that refuses to use power to oppress others or position to persecute opposition. It was and is counter-cultural. It is different than any other known kingdom. It was and it still is unexpected.

On that Sunday, amid waving palms and scattered cloaks, the people anticipated a king and they were putting their hopes in Jesus. Naming Him as the hoped for messiah. But even though they anticipated the king, they didn’t expect His kind of kingdom.

On that Sunday, across the city from the pomp and circumstance of military might, oppressed Jews waved palm branches - symbols of victory - and laid them in the street for Jesus, but it would only take them 5 days for realize that their anticipated king was promoting a kingdom they didn’t expect. And ultimately, a kingdom they doubted could really save them.


And you know what? I can’t help but think we are a lot like the crowd that welcomed Jesus that day. As christians, we proclaim Jesus is our king. We say He is the leader of our lives. We want Him to rescue us, to give us freedom, to redeem and restore. We want a better life, fuller existence, so we wave our palm branches and lay down our cloaks, but we really want the kingdom on our terms. We have an idea of what that kingdom should be and look like. And all the while, Jesus is riding in on a donkey, not a war-horse. We want to determine how the kingdom works and runs - what’s acceptable and not. And yet, that defies the very nature of kingship, doesn’t it? The citizens telling the king what to do?

I’ve heard God’s kingdom defined this way: God’s kingdom is anywhere Jesus is king. And if Jesus is king that means you and I aren’t. God’s kingdom is where He gets to design the plays, makes the rules, call the shots. And the minute we get that mixed up we’re like the crowd waving the palms who were anticipating the king but not expecting the kingdom.

See, it’s one thing to say Jesus is king, but it is an entirely different scenario to allow His kingdom to reign. God’s kingdom defies culture, confounds the power-hungry, rejects the proud. God’s kingdom doesn’t bow to muscle and it doesn’t surrendered to military might. God’s kingdom doesn’t shout and scream it’s way to the top. God’s kingdom doesn’t use people as stepping stones or doormats. It doesn’t promote injustice and it isn’t for sale. God’s kingdom comes in on a colt, not a war horse.

And this Palm Sunday narrative demands we make a choice. It’s all well and good to ask Jesus to come and be ruler of my heart until I am asked to forgive the one who has wounded my pride. It’s all well and good to ask Jesus to come and be ruler of my heart until I must deny my preferences for the sake of another. It’s all well and good to ask Jesus to come and be ruler of my heart until I am required to humble myself and do the necessary thing that no one else wants to do. 

Jesus can be king, but what about when that kingdom comes by way of building relationship with a homeless man, making room for an unwanted guest, or granting grace to an overwhelmed mother whose child has disrupted my dinner, or my worship service. 

We anticipate the kingship of Jesus, but we don’t expect His kingdom to mean that we have to die to ourselves over and over and over again. Did we realize God’s kingdom would really demand everything? Did we expect His kingdom to mean that we really serve one another - period. That we extend love before judgment to one another - period.  That we consider others better than ourselves - period. When we wave the palm branches to proclaim Jesus as king do we do so truly expecting a kingdom that asks us to love God first and most - more than our comfort, than our family, than our safety and security, more than our own dreams?

And I think back over my life and I wonder at the times when I anticipated Jesus as king, but life in His kingdom wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t expect that the kingdom life would lead me into ministry and require that I wrestle with disappointing my Southern Baptist family who believed women weren’t to preach or lead. I never expected that this kingdom life would ask me to make good on Jesus' command to forgive...because when those words were said, they cut straight to my heart. When that lie was told, it robbed me of my reputation in some circles. When that rejection was doled out, it killed a piece of my self-confidence. 

I knew Jesus was king, but I wasn’t expecting His kingdom to demand loving my neighbor always; even when it might be a neighbor who shots a BB gun into the glass of our back patio door. Too many times,  in my heart my attitude has been this: “Jesus you can be king, but surely your kingdom doesn’t mean living in a city that overcharges for water that is unusable. Surely your kingdom doesn't mean living in a city whose police department is so depleted that there’s nothing they can do but take a report when my wedding ring is stolen after a break-in."

Jesus is the anticipated king, but His kingdom?  Well, it’s unexpected. The ways of His kingdom? Well it’s not like the world. It’s not what we’re used to. It’s not how we are conditioned to operate. But Jesus shows up on a colt - declaring a peace that comes neither from physical might nor from prestige or power, but a peace that reigns from the inside out.

You see, on that Palm Sunday so long ago Jesus was praised as the anticipated king but He came with an unexpected kingdom. And that’s still true today isn’t it? 

Who would have ever guessed that the greatest victory is achieved without force or weapons? Who knew that our truest liberation would come when we gave up the right to call the shots? Who would have imagined that our greatest freedom would be found in laying down our lives for the sake of the One who knows us best and loves us most?

It’s the kingdom of God ruled by Jesus the king. It’s different than this world. It flies in the face of what seems logical. But it’s the only kingdom whose King can really save us. It’s the only kingdom whose ways truly bring peace. Not because it conquers the outer conflict or subdues the enemy by force, but because it heals the heart.

When we wave our palms in worship, we are like the crowd so long ago who said, “Hosanna.” Hosanna is a word that means save now and it’s a word that is both a prayer and proclamation. "Hosanna. Jesus. save us, because we know you can. You are the king who is strong to save and we need to be rescued."

And when we wave the palms in worship we are also saying “Hosanna. Jesus, you have saved us, you are our king and we will live in Your kingdom. We will live as citizens of Your kingdom  - even when it demands more than expected. Even if it requires more than we thought possible. Hosanna. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."

Jesus, King of Heaven, You have saved us. Now reign in us so your kingdom can come here in us.




Special thanks to chuckwarnock.com, which provided important information
and some helpful wording for this sermon.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

7 Lists for Moriah's 7th Birthday

Today, our youngest child turns 7. 
How in the world did that happen? Time really does fly. 
And our family would not be complete without our beautiful, sweet girl. 


So, in honor of Moriah's 7th birthday, here are 7 lists of 7 things
that I will be glad I wrote down one day.
It's like a snippet of her in the here and now.



7 Words to Describe Moriah
realist
observant
kind
slow (in pace)
tender-hearted
imaginative (which sometimes translates to messy)
fashionista



7 Foods Moriah Likes
cheese pizza
peanut butter and jelly
pasta with meat sauce
chicken nuggets
strawberries
hot fudge sundaes
milk



7 Things Moriah Adores 
jewelry
Legos
glitter glue
Wii U
back scratches
high heeled shoes
being with her sister and brother




7 Things Moriah Has Done
Walked to the top of Little Sable Lighthouse (Mears, MI)
Watched a cannon fire from Anne’s Tablet (Mackinac Island, MI)
Visited Winter the dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (Clearwater, FL)
Walked the Big Four Bridge (Louisville, KY)
Flew to Texas
Held a ball python
Stood beside the Liberty Bell (Philadelphia, PA)



7 Prayers for Moriah
Passion for God (Psalm 63:8)
Kindness (1Thessalonians 5:15)
Compassion (Colossians 3:12)
Gratitude (Ephesians 5:20)
Perseverance (Hebrews 12:1)
Self - Esteem (Ephesians 2:10)
Love for God’s Word (Psalm 19:10



7 Important Days in Moriah’s Life
Took first steps (February 2010)
Went to first dance class - All By Herself (September 2013)
Became a Christian (October 2014)
Baptized (January 2015)
Lost first tooth - in an apple (June 2015)
Distinguished 13 from 31…the struggle was real (Fall 2015)
(Feb 2010)



7 of Moriah’s Favorite Netflix Shows 
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Dragons: Race to the Edge
Jake and the Neverland Pirates
Wild Kratts
Curious George
Sofia the First
Zoboomafoo





Happy Birthday, Moriah!
We love you so very much!



Friday, October 30, 2015

To Paul, On His 40th Birthday

My husband enters a new decade today.
It's rather strange to say he's 40.
There was a time 40 seemed old.
And very far away.
But here we are, celebrating him (kicking and screaming) into middle age.

In honor of this special day, I will share
40 Ways Paul has Blessed My Life:

1. He makes me laugh (but don't tell him I said this, it will just encourage him).

2. He sends our kids into giggle fits with a single word.

3. He holds me when I am afraid.

4. He is patient.

5. He's level-headed.

6. He makes family a priority.

7. He masters the art of being fully present.












8. He keeps teaching me the value of unhurriedness.

9. He sacrificed sleep to save my sanity (and by extension his own) when our children were infants.

10. He's loyal...fiercely, steadfastly loyal. (Just ask him about Flint or the Colts.)














11. He will work hard to see another be successful.

12. He is not threatened by another's success.

13. He is passionate about racial reconciliation.














14. He's a music theory stud.

15. He knows how to laugh at himself.










16. He loves me anyway.

17. He saw God's call on my life before I could.

18. He is my biggest fan.

19. He likes to answer my ignorant sports questions.

20. He helps others feel special and important.

21. He's the best ministry partner I've ever had. (There's no one with which I'd rather work. Although if Amy Grant came a-calling...)

22. He is personable and friendly.

23. He forces me out of my comfort zones.

24. He's a devoted and faithful father.












25. He shares his life with others (and helps this introvert to be sociable).



26. He enjoys math and science (which makes this right-brained, home-educating momma happy).

27. He loves reading maps (and therefore, I don't have to.)

28. He chose me.












29. He keeps choosing me.

30. He taught me to like ribs...and how to stay clean eating them.

31. He has beautiful blue eyes that see the best in others.

32. His heart is dressed in humility.

33. He is kind (even when we are in the heat of an argument).

34. He listens and hears (a rare trait to be sure).

35. He cheers for the underdog. (Just ask him about Flint or the Colts).


36. He's never seen parenting as anything less than full partnership with me.




















37. He lets me cry.

38. He proves the scale doesn't decide my attractiveness.

39. He challenges my assumptions.

40. He's my best friend.





















So many of the things I've listed about Paul are a contrast to who I am.
What a gift that God has blessed me with in a husband who complements me so well.
Who makes up for my lack.
Who can stand where I have faltered.
Who is strength to my weakness.

What a gift that God has given to our children with a father who embraces that role everyday.
Shows up for them, everyday .
Instructs them, everyday.
Is a safe place for them to land, everyday.

What a gift that God has given to our corner of the world
with a man who lives his faith authentically,
gives grace abundantly,
pursues peace practically,
sees the stranger graciously.

Today our family will be giving presents to Paul,
but it's really a day when we receive the gift...
the gift of doing life with this amazing husband, father, son, brother, pastor, and friend.


Paul, I love you, always.
Happy 40th Birthday!

Niki

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

To Levi (on his 8th Birthday)

My dear Levi, 

Last night I kissed your 7-year old head for the last time.
This morning you are eight.
8 years old.
I am not really sure how that happened.

Wasn’t it yesterday that you entered the world wailing at the top of your 7 lb 4 oz lungs?
Wasn’t it yesterday that we welcomed you home to a Colts football nursery of khaki and blue?
Wasn’t it yesterday you snuggled your baby sister with cuddles and followed your big sister around with wide-eyed abandon?
Wasn’t it yesterday we were on the lookout for mail trucks and backhoes during every drive around town?
Wasn’t it yesterday that potty training required Hot Wheels and Duplos as an incentive?
Wasn’t it yesterday that our dialogue revolved around Diego and anything related to the animal world?

No, it wasn't yesterday. It just seems like it.

In reality, yesterday was the day you were 7 for one last time.

It was the day your imaginative self told me the pile of plush felines were participating in the Stuffed Animal Olympics and the “Cat Delegation” had to take a train to Illinois and then walk the rest of the way to Iowa.

It was the day I watched you run across the yard with a God-given speed that amazes me.

It was the day you asked me to play Mario Kart with you.

It was the day I listened in wonder as your usually shy self audibly answered a question asked from someone at church.

It was the day I watched you join in Mega Sports Camp without clinging to my side. 

It was the day I saw your smile fill up with two permanent teeth in the top of your mouth.

It was the day your sensitive soul hugged my waist when you realized the twinge of sadness I was carrying knowing you would only be 7 for a little bit longer.

It was the day you asked to sit on my bed so I could read you a story.

It was the day you wanted to make sure you didn’t get to close to my pillows and get my “germ juice” from recently having had a cold. 

It was the day, I swept your bangs to the right, hugged your precious neck, and tucked you in for the last time as my 7-year-old son.

And it was all a privilege.

Yesterday, I went to bed a little sad at the quick pace of time that leaves you ready to blow out more candles.



But this morning, the sadness is gone.
Today you have the opportunity to be 8 years old for the very first time.
You have the chance to wake up and be a brand new age.
A whole different year of your life is starting.
Another 365 days to discover, explore, uncover, and embrace your beautiful self.
And your dad and I are blessed to have this coming year to share, instruct, and celebrate with you.

Yesterday, I was missing 7.
But today?
8 is awesome.
Just like you, buddy!

I love you, Levi.
Always and forever.


Mommy

Friday, June 19, 2015

Three Little Words

By the time the summer solstice is upon us, there are three little words every home educating parent longs to hear...

School is out.

Yesterday, I was able to say these words.

School is out. (f.i.n.a.l.l.y.)

I never approved of the idea of falling across the finish line.
I never imagined a face plant to end a race indicated greater strength then at the starting block...

...until yesterday.

It was a significant day for me as it marked the end of an amazingly exhausting yet rewarding school year.

Our family has encountered unique challenges this year, but we have borne each other's stresses and we have survived. Everyone is still breathing and still ever-so-slightly sane. And oddly enough, I feel stronger than when we started.



We faced three large hurdles this year:

1. This is the first school year I have had all three children in school at once. I am not sure I ever fully grasped how to teach two different grade levels effectively and then the youngest had to go and turn 5. So, Kindergarten here we came. Along with a 2nd and 4th grader too.

2. This is the first school year I have taught while working significant hours outside the home. Between us, my husband and I spend a joint 60 hours (give or take 10...actually just give 20) serving as interim pastors of a congregation making some significant transitions. My responsibilities include, but are not limited to, preaching 3 times a month, coordinating guest speakers for my off weeks, leading bible studies, developing ministry leaders, offering guidance to leadership, writing notes and making phone calls to congregants, and trying to figure out the copy machine.

3. This is the first school year we have encountered sickness multiple times. Not major stuff. I am talking the flu and slobbery colds, but enough to sidetrack school on several days. December's mini vacation was cut short by a vomiting child in a hotel room. Yes, it's every bit as gross as it sounds. That got passed around to everyone save for my husband who was the only one to get his flu shot last fall. Guess who's getting their flu shots this year? Everyone, so help me God. Insert a runny nose here and a sore throat there and that brings us to April when the tables turned and all three kids and Daddy went down for the count. I came through unscathed with this bout although I am still unclear as to how that happened. In other news, my children think Lysol smells like spit-up because that is the only blasted time I ever spray it. I am, however, truly thankful to report despite these setbacks, we had no major medical issues and so my grumbling comes to an end here.

I tend to be my own worst critic, easily focusing on the ways I have failed to live up to my (ahem, impossible) expectations. In spite of our unparalleled year and my unrealistic ideals, I am glad to say that these accomplishments were made in spite of it all:

- My "let's-enjoy-the-journey-no-matter-how-long-it-takes" Kindergartener knows all her letters and their phonetic sounds, can write them correctly on lined paper, and is finally grasping the concept of decoding strings of letters (aka reading words). She can write her numbers, do basic addition, count to 100, and skip count by 2s, 5s and 10s. It's been difficult as her needs has been vastly different then her siblings, but she has accomplished so much and I am so proud to promote her to 1st Grade.




- My "conscientious-let's-stay-focused-and-get-the-work-done" 2nd grader has mastered addition and subtraction, can tell time on an analog clock, and count money. He's a quick study with numbers which has made math enjoyable for him. After a slow start and disheartening lack of interest in phonics last year, he has blossomed into quite the reader which thrills my heart to no end. Armed with his Lego Star Wars Character Encyclopedia, we gladly replace the batteries in his LED flashlight so he can read to his heart's content at bedtime. He is now a 3rd grader.






- My "highly-distractable-yet-wonderfully-creative" 4th grader can now write every letter in cursive, has begun keyboarding (which she loves), has taken 30 spelling tests (which she despises), and has learned long division. I have heard horror stories from parents sitting with their children who are learning long division. While we have had difficult moments in the process we have come through with very few tears or battle scars. God bless Steve Demme and Math-U-See. She is so excited to say she is now a 5th grader. (Notice her creative self decorated her board.)





- All three started the year studying world history. We moved from the nomads to Ancient Egypt and then they discovered the game "Stack the States." Since we homeschool in Michigan and have the blessed liberty to do so, we switched our social studies focus mid-year to match their interest. This began our journey in learning about the 50 states. 

- Our science studies led us into the world of Botany, be still my heart. Believe it or not, the kids chose that subject...silly rabbits. Yet, in the end, I have to admit even I was taken in by the fascinating facts we learned about the world of plants and the kids were too.

- Of all the accomplishments this year, I am most pleased with the children maintaining a prayer journal. Our bible time ranged from discussions about Psalm 119, the armor of God (Ephesians 6), wisdom in Proverbs, reading various children's bible, and following a Lenten Prayer Guide. Throughout the year, regardless of the bible topic, the kids have practiced the art of recording their prayers. I can't wait to give these precious notebooks to them once they are grown.





They were days I didn't think I would make it. Days of feeling inadequate and questioning my capabilities. They were days I wanted to scream, pull out my hair, crawl into bed and escape into Austen's world of Pride and Prejudice. But we made it thanks to a faithful God, a sense of purpose, a decent ability to laugh at ourselves, some awesomely faithful friends, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate. And diet coke. 

It feels a little like we've fallen across the finish line, yet I still feel strong. It was a hard race - life this last 9 months - but we've broken the ribbon at the completion of this course.

So without further ado, I say again...

School is out.

Time for a nap.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Choosing Day (on our 17th anniversary)

Paul - 

I remember our scandalous beginning. Strangers pretending to be high school sweethearts until everyone in the piano lab believed it. I had never even said hello to you before that day.

I remember speaking briefly on the sidewalk outside the Olt Student Center on picture day. You had caught my attention and I was wearing black jeans that apparently had caught yours. 

I remember your face in a sea of sophomore guys while you held up a kiwi. And I thought I would die of embarrassment with a one word declaration about a fruit. 

But I didn't know it was the beginning of a love story.

I remember late night phone calls, shy smiles, and first kisses that took my breath away.

I remember the tiger t-shirt, the worn-thin one you still wear to bed, and your question about submission that really was just an awkward prelude to speaking your love for me.

I remember our days as a couple in chorale, as Park Place youth workers, as ministry majors (finally), and then those painful days we weren't a "we" anymore.

But I didn't know it was still the beginning of a love story.

The love story that was sown on the campus of Anderson University began to sprout as we commited our lives to one another. We stood, hand in hand, while Shirley Coolidge worked her magic on the organ. Before a room full of people and all of heaven, we chose each other. 

June 6, 1998 became our day of choosing.
But I didn't know that was still the beginning of our love story.


Funny how the wedding is still the beginning. Hollywood would beg to differ. Don't get me wrong, I love me a romantic movie. You wouldn't have to suffer through all those Hallmark movies if I didn't. There's something special about the early butterflies of courtship and the breathless excitement of getting to know someone, but most romantic films are set up to end the moment the couple chooses each other.

The older I get and the longer we are at this crazy little thing called love, the more I realize that movies end before the love story takes hold. The unfolding of love is not in the candlelight of newness or the infatuation of dating. Love unfolds itself every day after the choosing. 


That's the love story.

Our wedding day is the day I chose you and you chose me.

For life. 
In the good and the bad.
When we have love bursts and when we discover habits that drive us crazy.
For the days we have patient smiles and the days steam comes from our ears. 
When we could run the Crim and when we are hospitalized from pneumonia or childbirth.
In the moments of triumph and defeat.
When we are confident of our tasks and struggling to face the day.
When we are caught up on housework or we've run out of underwear.
For the predictable and the unexpected.
When we speak words of healing or words that wound.
I chose you and you chose me.


We chose each other that sunny June afternoon. 
In the seventeen years that have spanned since then, we have still chosen each other. 
Every single day.



And that is the story of love.
Every day of our marriage has been a choosing day.
Love unfolds itself every day we still choose each other.


That's our love story.


I still choose you and you still choose me.
I am still chosen and so are you.
A love that unfolds and blooms each time we choose one another.
And with each sunrise, we have a new opportunity to choose each other again.


I am pretty sure there is nothing more romantic than the choosing.
Nothing more powerful or life-giving than the choosing.
Choosing love. Choosing you. Choosing me.
Every day.
No matter what.

I am so glad we chose each other 17 years ago, 
but I am ever more grateful for our choosing each other every day since.


Happy Anniversary, Stud Muffin!

I love you and I choose you. 
Always. Everyday.

Niki