Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Love Letter

In our marriage counseling our pastor had asked us to write down the things we like about one another. He said we could do that in any way we wanted. To me, that was an open invitation to write Tim a longggg letter. Our pastor kind of made fun of this during our wedding ceremony because it is often that the guy sums up a list of things, while the woman pours out her heart on many pages, and we were no different.

On our anniversary Tim and I watched our wedding video for the very fist time. Our dear friend Dave has put many hours into getting us our memories on video and it was the most perfect gift for our one year anniversary. Hearing our pastor speak about my letter and sharing it with our family and friends during the ceremony made me want to share my longggg love letter here. As I was hearing it back, I was stunned at how right on I was with my words about Tim. Everything I said about Tim is actually very true today. Of course I have gotten to know Tim better over this past year, but the guy I got to know 21 months ago is a reality!

To my dearest Tim,

I am very honest and I don't take these words lightly when I tell you that I have never met a man as Good as you. And I know having a dad like I had can make that not a big deal.  But besides my dad there were men in my life like neighbors, teachers, friends and pastors and no one was merely as good as you.  And I am honest when I say again that packing up my life in Holland to come here, to come to you, was very easy.  That is a compliment to you.  I know I have God to praise for this, and I have God to praise for you. He has designed for you to be a Good man and you could have chosen to walk a different path many times.  Your childhood in boarding school could have changed you, going through a divorce could have changed you.  But no such thing happened, you choose Good.  

When we met in church and had that first date way into the night, that is not when I got to know your character all that much.  It's through our skype conversations that your character shone through strongly. It's something stable and something I trust. I love your character, and I admire that you are a Good man.
I love that you are honest.
I love that you are such a happy person.
I love that you are humble.
I love that you will sit down with God on a daily basis.
I love that you are always willing to look at yourself first.
I love you are able to say you are sorry.
I love that you always see things from the bright side of life.
I love that you believe the best in a person.
I love that you are a giver and are always willing to help out.
I love that you are open to being confronted.
I love that you ask for help.
I love that you treat people with respect.
I love that you take your roll as son, brother, friend, neighbor, church go-er, my fiancé very seriously and you are a good son, good brother, good friend, good neighbor, good church go-er and an excellent fiancé.
Babe, you are really an excellent person. You are righteous.  You are remarkable.
All this really shows you are an amazing man, a Good man with a capital G because you really do reflect Jesus in your life.

There is much I love about you but for sure your character is your strongest asset. But how can I deny mentioning your hotness? Your appearance is stunning, your eyes are amazing, your facial features are so handsome.  I love your length, I love your muscles and let me mention I love your facial hair, I love your hair in general for that matter, ooooh that chest hair is sexy.

And than you have your ways that I love.  I often just sit there and look at you and take you in because when I am with you there is so much about you I just want to take in.  There are little ways, little things to you that are big to me like making sure you walk on the outer side of the road when we go out for a walk.  We have learned we are not to do that when we bike together because only then is my life not secure ;)   I love that you can get so cheery just because I am around you, and I love even more you let me know that fact.  I love the way you laugh.  I love your enthusiasm in life, over sports for instance, man do you get loud!  I love that you will ALWAYS grab my hand when we walk next to each other, whether that is from the car to the supermarket or during a long anticipated walk.

There are loves:
Can I mention here that you are an awesome athlete.
And I love your low singing voice.
I love you are strong.
I love your hugs and the way you kiss me.
I love how you make new people feel comfortable.
I love that the Gabonese are so important to you.
I love that you desire love over things.
I love you long to excel at work, to not just do your job but be good at it.
I love that you consider me in your decisions.

And than I get into some thank you's:
Thank you for playing my childish games with me, even though they were weird at first maybe, but you still haven't stopped racing me when we get out of the car and I yell: "Who gets there first?"  Thank you for partnering with me in those things that make me ME.  
Thank you that you ask me about my heart on a regular basis, what an honor it is to have you ask "How is your heart today honey?" in such a beautiful and compassionate way.
Thank you for trying to understand my ways of feeling loved.  I acknowledge that you go out of your set and comfortable ways to love me.
Thank you for your willingness to stand up as a man and leader, even if it means going against me. You are a tremendous leader.
Thank you for getting things done for me because you know they are important to me.  I acknowledge your wonderful and faithful efforts like with getting a home on time, getting a few pieces of furniture and getting me internet.
Thank you for taking me in account like when you made sure I had a phone while in the States the first time so I could be in touch not only with you, but also with my friends. Not to forget mentioning signing me up for the gym.  That really blessed my heart.  
Thank you for risking to fail (in your opinion) at loving me in practical ways like getting me Burlap and Bean coffee.
Thank you for keeping healthy by exercising on a daily basis.
Thank you for being my friend, I love hanging out with you whatever we do.
Thank you for laughing with me.
Thank you for laughing at me.
Thank you for reigning me in when I need to be reigned in.
Thank you for trying hard to love me well.

Babe, you deserve a Good woman.  You deserve to be acknowledged and honored.  It will be my important job in this world to be good to you, to honor you as a man and give you all the space you need to move, and to move well.  
You are easy to love.
I love you... tons!

Yours with lots of kisses, hugs and smooches,
MaddyChristine Hope

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Besides celebration and change...

In my previous post I said that there are many updates to write, there is much to share and there are many stories to tell.  When one is quiet for this long, it's a little hard to know where to begin.

Let me start by saying that Tim and I are celebrating life. I can honestly say that life has gotten more beautiful with Tim in it.  When one marries at age 39, you can imagine the long wait there was to endure. But God saw it fit for me to wait this long. And now that 'it' is here... I continue to be grateful and celebrate the gift of marriage. Looking back I'd say it was worth the wait. Looking back I'd say that Tim was worth the wait. God knew what He was doing, His way was right! And for some reason... as soon as I met Tim, the long wait was forgotten. I was recently told by a friend how those words, spoken by me before, are still encouraging her in her wait.

As one can have gathered by now from reading this blog, my life was not on a bed of roses, neither was Tim's.  And in no way did marriage take away my problems, or Tim's. The difference is... we are together in all those 'problems' and that in and of itself is worth a celebration. How life has changed!

For me, getting married later in life took away that fairytale idea of marriage. And that is a good thing. Tim and I entered it pretty realistically. We didn't get married thinking or hoping we'd be fixed by getting married, that problems would no longer be problems or that somehow marriage would make life grand and easy. I find it important to express that marriage didn't do any of that. So, besides celebration and change, this year was full of growth and growing pains, learning and adapting.

I have come a long way in life and being married shows me I still have a long way to go. And Tim continues to remind me that we have a life time for that. He still reminds me to RELAX and have fun. Just this morning I thanked God for the perfect man He gave me. What a perfect match Tim is for me. After another restless night last night, I lay in bed awake this morning... restless.  I kept turning and sighing and groaning. Tim knows how to make a difference. He took me in his arms and said: "If you would only lie still for 5 minutes." I attempted to lie still but kept talking, sighing and groaning. Tim continued: "I mean, lying still AND being quiet." I decided to lean into him and his wisdom. It took everything I had in me to do just that but well and behold... I fell asleep for a little longer and in a peace I had not had all night. It's the way Tim speaks, it's the way he leads that blesses me tremendously. Another something that amazes me about being married is that Tim often knows how I am doing before I know it myself. He knows from a distance when I am having a rough day. How that works is a beautiful mystery to me.

Tim was worth the wait!
He knows me!
And my Heavenly Father knows me even better and loves me enough to work through my husband to make life better. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Through her eyes...

There are many updates to write, there is much to share, many stories to tell... but for now I just want to re-live our Wedding Day, today a year ago!  

I thought to Celebrate our anniversary by sharing bridesmaid Melissa's blog post on her blog about our Wedding Day. 
It it so fun to re-live our Wedding Day through her eyes!

Wedding of the Century

So many dreams came true on October 6, 2012. 
So many details came together.
So many people were blessed.
And all because God is good. Even when life is bad. 
He is in the business of restoring what is broken and making it beautiful. 
And in this case, He didn't just make all things beautiful in His perfect timing...
He made them RADIANT.
These two souls have been through more than most could ever imagine in their individual journeys. Pain, suffering, heartbreak, loss, longing. Beyond belief.
And yet rather than giving up hope, they chose to believe. To dig in. To forgive. To heal. 
To allow God to re-create them from the inside out. 
They chose hope.
They were willing to go through whatever it took to become whole. 
And even when the dark clouds remained over their futures, they chose to trust. To wait. To be faithful. 
And here they are. 
In all their glorious redemption...
(this side of Heaven)
The LOVE of God.

a wedding is the painting of a picture of Christ and His church;
you are truly looking, here, at the most beautiful image of His love.

I didn't get too many pictures of the bride, due to the honor of actually being allowed to stand by her side all day. But what I did get was the eternally beautiful image of her face aglow as she worshipped her Healing, Loving Father, and vowed by His grace to bless this man-gift until her dying day. 
I got the chills down my spine at the sight of her walking down the aisle with pure peace and grace all over her being.  And I got the greatest view of all during the whole ceremony. Their precious, emotion-filled faces, taking in every moment and soaking in the power of what was taking place. 
What a true miracle to behold.

And the very BEST part?
 They are living 11 minutes away now-- we get to be NEIGHBORS!!
God IS good!!!!
here are a few shots from the celebration:

Rehearsal time-- cannot believe this is actually happening!

his first wedding-- he was so excited!

i wish he was my date! sooo handsome!

lucky grams got to be his date instead!
my main squeeze bringing the videography skills

my cute parents, without whom we wouldn't be here!

this girl was on FIRE!

the sweet send-off dance--
we all circled around them and danced them off into their new life together!

could she be more Radiant??
Could not be happier for this sweet couple. 
Can't wait to do life together-- 
to learn from them, laugh with them, and enjoy the goodness of our God together! 
Such a blessing to us all!