One month ago tomorrow marked our 10th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, we renewed our vows in the company of friends and a sea of kids (amazing how many more kids were around at this vow renewal as compared to our 5th anniversary:). For those of you who weighed in on which dress I should wear, I did go with "Option A", thanks for your input;)! To view more photos of our day, click here.
In addition to our vow renewal, we planned a getaway together (for the first time in a very long time). We dropped off Hunter and Ashlyn at Grandma and Grandpa's house and with Quinten sleeping soundly in the backseat, drove to Seattle. Seattle holds a special place in our hearts. It was where we first officially declared our "like" for each other during the summer between our Sophomore and Junior year of college. Previous to this trip we had been communicating via email, many long distance phone calls and letters (complete with mix-tapes and cleverly packaged in home-made envelopes such as paper plates and cereal box covers). During that time we had communicated openly on virtually every topic, except how we felt about each other. At the end of the summer Trent flew out to visit and I picked him up at the Seattle airport. He came off the plane holding a shoe box which creatively contained a bouquet of wild flowers. He had hand picked the flowers for me out of a neighbor's yard (the back story to the flowers is really fun but I will stay focused here). Since it was not only his first time on an airplane, but his first time near the ocean (he was a mid-West boy thru and thru), I decided a walk on the piers along Puget Sound was in order. Trent came up with the idea (which likely was his clever excuse to hold my hand) for me to close my eyes while he led me and described our surroundings. I remember the fun of that simple game. To have an 'excuse' to hold on tightly to his arm, straining to pick up all the auditory clues around me but having one strong voice to focus on right beside me. That "blind walk of trust" was not only unique but a great chance to get a deeper glimpse into his playful personality. Later that evening with the romantic glow of the street light bouncing off the pavement, we stood together and confessed that we liked each other. When I admitted that I had been unsure of his feelings toward me, I remember him raising his eyebrows, clutching his heart and falling backward onto the quiet street to display his disbelif. In retrospect, it seems silly that I questioned it, but I hadn't wanted
to assume that he saw me as more than a friend. Had I assumed and been
wrong, I would have been crushed.
Now after ten years of marriage, we found ourselves once again re-walking that same path by the pier together, still arm in arm, but this time adorned with Quinten and a decade of time shared between us. As our feet strolled along, my mind seemed to skip and fumble back over the years, recalling in a few moments the monumental milestones that we have journeyed through together. And as if my memory were a cul-de-sac, it easily routed itself back to thoughts of Sawyer. Although time has stretched the frequency of my thoughts toward him, he is never far from my heart.
At the end of the weekend, on our return trip home, we stopped to refuel the car and feed Quinten. As I sat in the front seat of the van at the gas station parking lot, I took note of my surroundings. It didn't take me long to decide that this hot, barren town was not a place where I wanted linger long. No sooner had I written this spot-on-the-map town off in my mind, than a sign in the adjacent vacant lot caught my eye. "Future Site of 102 RM Luxury Hotel" it declared boldly. Had I been taking a drink of water, I would have likely caught myself choking as I scoffed in disbelief. "Are you kidding me?" I thought. "A LUXURY hotel right here? Who would plan such a site?" There were other areas, some not too far away, that seemed much more appropriate for such grand plans, why here on this barren, desolate land tucked behind a dirty gas station? Then, as if God himself were speaking to my mind (and I believe that he was) came the answer: Because someone sees value and hope in what I see as void and lifeless.
Suddenly my mind started to see connections that had been invisible before.
Going back to that first late-night walk in Seattle: had any other person in the city of Seattle asked me to walk blindly by their side, I would have quickly fled. However, because Trent wanted to lead me and because I trusted him, I was willing to walk forward–eyes closed–toward an unknown destination in faith.
I believe that we are all being led, by our beliefs, our opinions, our prejudices. The question is, do the things that we hold onto deserve our trust? Trent is indeed trustworthy but more than that and at a much deeper level, God is asking each of us to reach out and grab a hold of Him.
And just as I hadn't been sure of Trent's affection toward me after all the time we had shared together, I think we are often guilty of either misunderstanding God's intentions toward us or clearly missing His attempts to show us how deeply He loves us. He has revealed Himself to us in more ways than we recognize and reached out to us in ways we have not credited Him with.
God, like the builder planning the luxury hotel, sees something valuable in us that we may not even know is there, waiting to be built.
I believe that for myself, God wants me to step out in faith and write a book about my journey of loss and healing. I see myself represented in the photo below after losing Sawyer, a barren, dry plot of land with a sign promising great things to come. I believe that God was faithful to build upon that empty land and construct something within me that could serve to point others to his faithfulness. My hearts' desire is to offer my story of His faithfulness to others who feel barren and full of grief. It is my hope that they will in turn, reach out and grab a hold in faith, allowing God to lead them and discover something new being built within their desolate place.
I humbly ask for your prayers of wisdom, guidance and direction as I begin this process.
(The photo above is the "Future Site of 102 RM Luxury Hotel". I knew I needed to take a picture of it to help me remember the lesson I had just learned.)