A simple answer

Yes. A thousand times over. I love you with all my heart and I could not imagine my world without you. You are my everything, my Bearbear, my strength and the person I want to spend my life loving better. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone.

I can’t wait to see where our road leads. I am so happy to be on the journey with you.


A simple answer

Yes. A thousand times over. I love you with all my heart and I could not imagine my world without you. You are my everything, my Bearbear, my strength and the person I want to spend my life loving better. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone.

I can’t wait to see where our road leads. I am so happy to be on the journey with you.

Phase 2 : Eight Dates

Work on a relationship never stops. Either you keep building it together or you drift apart, slowly and steadily growing and changing in different directions until you do not know the person you are with. Though our formal “courtship” is complete, we do not want to get complacent and drift. There is so much to learn still about one another and so much deeper in love to fall.

But schedules are busy and life is messy and if you don’t add some intentionality to it you will inevitably end up slowly fizzling out. That is the basic premise of Eight Dates. Eight Dates is a book by the Gottmans (John and Julie, along with their friends Doug and Rachel Abrams) who founded the Gottman institute in Seattle. They are renowned relationship experts who have spent over 40 years studying love, relationships and marriage. The book Eight Dates is a compilation of stories and activities from research they have done in order to help promote deeper stronger relationships. The beauty and magic of this book is not the insight (which is fantastic) but the platform it provides. Divided into “dates” each topic has a story and explanation about a topic that is important to relationships and then a series of exercises and questions  for couples to engage with each other.

We have decided to take this as the template for our next phase of courtship. The idea is that we never stop learning about one another. Our key principles remain the same: respect, vulnerability, humor, and above all love. As we embark on this next phase I am excited to grow and learn. Diving deep and getting real is hard and uncomfortable, but I believe it is worth it and I could not ask for a better partner for the journey.

I love you with all my heart. Thank you so much for being on this journey with me.

Week 7 Reflection: Her

Having children is like living in a frat house – nobody sleeps, everything’s broken, and there’s a lot of throwing up. – Ray Romano

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. – James Baldwin

Perhaps it takes courage to raise children. – John Steinbeck, East of Eden


The talk “this week” was about having kids. I put “this week” in quotes because it has been several weeks now since the actual day. This post took me a long time to write for several reasons (several of which I will explore) but not the least of these has been the timing. This was just…. really bad time. I was busy with work and feeling frazzled but most of all it was January. Now that may not sound like anything, just another month, but for me it is big. January, for what reason I have yet to fully pin down, is always a hard month for me. When I say hard month, what I mean is a depressed month. I feel like I am as stable, from a depression stand point as I have been in my adult life, but still, every year, January rocks me. I don’t know if it is the emotional and energy release after the holidays, the snap of cold without the festivity of Christmas carols, or the looming of the ever scary “future” that the new year inevitably brings, but something flips and by mid January I am struggling to keep my emotional stability. I switch to survival mode and everything that is non-essential gets neglected. Even some things that are essential.


Anyway, I survived and now it is February and I can breath again, at least a little. So the talk. Hmmmm. Well, to begin with I should start by saying that I don’t hate kids or being around them. I actually really like them. But for me they are not energy givers. For some women (nope, lets broaden that out to people) children give a burst of energy. They are life giving hope springs and being around them makes these people feel fulfilled and happy. That isn’t me. Being around kids is a sacrifice of love. I love them, but I sacrifice my energy in order to be present with them. I don’t regret the sacrifice. I love my nieces. But it is a sacrifice none the less. I require recuperation time after. Decompression before I can continue. It is this truth that has always lead me to the feeling that I love being an aunt but I am on the fence about being “Mom.” Mom doesn’t get a day off. She doesn’t have privacy or down time. She is always Mom, always on. I watch my mother and I am amazed at how much she did and still does for us (and all of her children are fully grown, although two of us still are living with her again). I compare myself to her and I seriously wonder if I could even do it. Do I even have what it takes to be a good mom?


And that is where I have always stalled out. And it didn’t matter too much before now. I mean, before I met my love I had no reason to think I would have to consider being a mom. It wasn’t on the table and that didn’t bother me one bit. Now, let me take this moment and clarify that I am not, and have never been, diametrically opposed  to the idea of raising a child/children. When I did spend an odd moment thinking about it it was more of a “mmhe” and since there was no prospect and no regret, that is all the further I would go. I know for certain, I could not do the “stay at home mom” thing. If you can, more power to you. But for me that would rob me of my sanity, what little I had. But I have thought from time to time that I might adopt or foster if God opened the door and pushed me through.


So here we sit, in my worst month, and we are talking about children. Now, we had touched on this before and come up with much the response above- both kind of ambivalent and on the nah side of mmhe but neither firmly planted. So we start talking and thinking and exploring and wouldn’t you know it, God brings out the real issue. Fear. The more we talked the more I saw the fear in both of us. Now I still don’t know if children are in our future. I don’t know if that is what God wants for us or what we really want. What I do know is that a lot of what had put us leaning on the “no thanks” side of the argument had more to do with our fears than anything. Fears of having to parent alone, of not having the time to spend with children, of sickness, of mental health, of pain, of loss. Our fears are many and varied and, to be honest, many rooted in solid truth. Many of my fears revolve around making mistakes or choices that would hurt or psychologically damage my kids. I know just a bit too much about embryology and child development to feel safe about pregnancy or parenting. When you know all the ways it can go wrong my brain has a tendency to fixate on those. But the more we talked and the more I prayed the more the same thing kept coming to mind. Whatever we do, I don’t want our lives to be patterned on fear. My dream for our life together is that we build on faith, hope and love. Fear is not what I want to base my decisions on. I don’t want to have kids out of a fear of being forgotten, I don’t want to not have kids out of a fear of screwing them up. Fear cannot be the driving force if I seek to live by faith.

1 John says that perfect love casts out fear. One of the primary aims of this courtship was to ground our relationship and our life together in the foundation of faith and love that comes from being united with Christ. Over the last month I have been struggling with how to write this blog because I was not sure what I wanted to say. The truth was that what I learned most from our conversation and the subsequent conversations it spawned, was that I wanted to make a commitment to not live by fear. It is so easy for me to spiral into fear circles and come up with a million scenarios that justify why my fear should dictate what I do or do not do. But this is counter to the message of the Bible and my desire for our life. I wanted to explore the idea, to really take the time to look my fears in the eye and tell them that they were not going to get to call the shots. I believe that God has a plan, whether that plan includes us having children or not remains to be seen. But I choose now to not put God in a box because I am afraid of what might happen. Fear is the opposite of faith and I choose faith.


So, to the love of my life, my favorite person, the only man I would consider raising children with, thank you. Thank you for your honesty, for your openness. Thank you for your willingness to explore the terrifying unknown and see an adventure. Thank you for seeing my fears and not shying away, for loving me in all my crazy. Thank you for riding out the storm, for being there for me every step of the way. I love you so much and whatever God sends our way, I am so glad to be on this adventure with you.

End of the year Reflection: Her

I am not starting with a quote this time but a thought of my own. This post is about juxtaposition- the old next to the new, tradition next to exploration, our families of origin next to our families of choice, our past next to our future. I wanted to take a moment at the turn of the year to sit on this threshold and consider all that has been and all that will be. This post spans 3 weeks over which we continued to talk and delve but in a less formal fashion and so I wanted the post to feel a little different too.

We decided after tackling finances and heading into holidays that we needed a break (no not from each other- we are not Rachel and Ross). We have had some very intense (good, but hard hitting) weeks since starting up this official courtship. We decided that with the pressure of the holidays we wanted to take a little lighter approach to us. Basically, we wanted our time together to feel like a haven and oasis in the crazy for a bit. So we decided to skip the hat and pick a “trivial” topic for the week before Christmas and then “break” for the next two weeks. And God laughed.

We chose traditions and holidays as our last topic of the year and in form with what God’s been doing, it was way more than we had anticipated. We both kind of went “oh that should be fun!” And then promptly realized how intimate and vulnerable those areas actually are. Our families are quite different in many ways and, at least for me, evaluating what traditions I hold most dear and why was quite revealing.

As I thought about what I love about each holiday and tradition I thought about the compromise that is partnership. It isn’t fair to think we will simply adopt all of mine and I will go on unchanged. In fact as I looked at my traditions many of them were things my immediate family had started and it became clear that that was part of their charm. What I found was that the traditions and holidays I loved best were the ones that were highly tied to someone I loved or to feeling close to someone we had lost.

This sent my head whirling in every direction. When the dust settled I found myself in a new question entirely- what traditions will we make. Genesis talks about couples leaving their families of origin to start a new family. I found myself wondering what our family traditions would look like. Understanding that tradition is meant to remind us of our unique places in all of our circles past and present helps me envision how old and new traditions might merge. This merging is played out in the season itself. One of the most tradition rich holidays for me (Christmas) jammed right up against a holiday all about letting go of the old to embrace the new (New Year). The mixed emotions and difficult balance of the two, for me, defines the whole month of December. I spend the whole month walking that edge, dealing internally and externally with the unease, excitement, anticipation and apprehension of it. Sometimes I feel crazy because my feelings swing so rapidly and so extremely.

This last week at church the pastor talked about innovation and model vs mission. I am struck by how appropriate and timely it was not only for the church but (selfishly) for my own life and relationship. His key point was that, especially in the church, we can get confused and forget that mission is what God calls us to but the model is constantly changed to fit the changes in the needs around us. My traditions, be they church or family, must be subject to the more important vision of mission. In both my church and my family (they really are the same thing) this means remembering why tradition is important in the first place. Connection and belonging. That means when I want to make room for connection and belonging with someone new (my partner or a new generation of believers) I need to make room in my life for new traditions that we make together.

To do this I have to do several things. First I have to be open and willing to try new things. New traditions can feel awkward or uncomfortable at first and not all attempts at tradition stick so I have to be willing to get my hands dirty and try things. Secondly it requires that I be willing to give up some of my old traditions to make room for the new ones. There are some traditions that occupy the same space and therefore cannot co-exist, one has to give way to the other or the two may blend and make a third distinct tradition. There is only so much time and emotional bandwidth so concessions must sometimes be made. This brings me to the third requirement and that is communicating with honesty, humility and vulnerability what is the most important to me and why. I cannot expect that all of my thoughts and feelings about any given tradition will be known or shared and so communicating the meaning of the tradition is important. That doesn’t mean I will get to keep it unchanged but it will help us to navigate how to make important traditions as we go forward by combining, creating and preserving.

With so much to chew on we really needed the three weeks we took. We started planning finances together and talked about goals and hopes for the new year. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of tears and an astonishing amount of vulnerability, but that is literally the name of the game. I am overwhelmingly grateful for the extended time to mull over these topics and so excited to move forward into the next ones.

So, (to hold onto some traditions while making room for new things) to the love of my life, my partner and my friend, the man I want to join in every part of my life, thank you so much for celebrating with me. Thank you for exploring and creating and excavating with me. I can’t wait to see what this new year holds and the traditions we will build in our life together.

Week 6 Reflection: Her

A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.

-Dave Ramsey

A budget tells us what we can’t afford, but it doesn’t keep us from buying it.

-William Feather

The budget is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of our values and aspirations.

-Jack Lew

The dreaded “money talk.” This weeks talk was all about finances and budgets. I couldn’t have come at a better or worse time. No better time because there is nothing like starting a new year off right and prioritizing, no worse time because Christmas has a tendency to strain the budget to the max. In short it was perfect and, as always, in God’s timing.

I am not so great at budgeting or rather at staying on a budget. I put a high priority on generosity which is difficult to budget. I also just don’t like having to think that much before I buy something (probably a bad habit). My solution in the past has always been to over budget knowing that the cushion will balance my spending. Unfortunately that doesn’t lead to a lot of savings.

As we had our discussion a couple things came to light. First, we agreed on how we would like to see a budget done. We both like the idea of a detailed budget with contingency and buffer funds. Second, neither of us is particularly good at sticking to the budget. But the last was the most enlightening. We do not have the same stories with money. That is to say, the meanings that are attached to money and spending money are very different.

I’ve never really been equated with the money I do or don’t have. Maybe that has to do with my family culture, maybe it is more larger culture or maybe personal experiences. Whatever the cause, this has not been true of my love. His experiences with money and relationships have left more than holes in his wallet, they have left scars on hi heart. Understanding this vulnerability and concern was important and not something I anticipated. I had geared up for this being a practical but not particularly emotional week and found that in fact it was a very vulnerable topic for my man.

I learned so much about how to love him and what he needs to feel secure and valued. I am so grateful that God’s timing is perfect and He knew we needed this topic at this time. We talked about prioritizing tithing, generosity and savings while delving into past experiences and dissecting why they made us feel the ways we did. It was a wonderful talk.

So to my amazing boyfriend, the love of my life and the partner of my choice, thank you for sharing. Thank you for opening up about what money means to you, your hurts and your fears. I love and respect you so much and I am excited about this new chapter .

Week 5: Her

It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This post, as you may have noticed, is a bit late getting up. Part of the reason is that my life was quite hectic the past week, part of it was that I was unsure how I wanted to approach the subject, but a large part was because it makes me homesick.

This weeks topic was about how we choose a faith community. This is near and dear to my heart because I have had such wonderful (and also less than wonderful) experiences in my past with this. As I dwelt on how it is that I have chosen a local body in the past and what I will look for going forward, my heart kept coming back to my faith community in PA.

Life has not been particularly easy the last 7 years and the only way I could have made it through is by the grace of God and the wonderful body of believers he settled me in. These people became my family and prayed over and with me through the darkest and most difficult days of my life. They are precious to me and I am grateful for them every day. Most of the call (or have called at some point) Hope Community Church (King of Prussia) home, although not all. All have been dedicated to growing together, seeking God and serving people.

This is the kind of community I look for. Nothing is going to be the same as my last home (even we’re I to return to the same building, the body is a dynamic, growing organism not a static establishment). But the key elements are ones I have learned to prioritize in choosing a church.

1. Christ centered and biblically based. While this may seem simple, it is very profound. The church is not a social club but a gathering of people to pursue a closer relationship with God and others. As the body of Christ, it is important that we are “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2a-NASB). Worship is not just music (although it is one of the most accessible forms of worship and very important) and it is important that our community is a body of worshipers who worship “in spirit and in truth.” This is the first criteria we use when choosing a church.

2. Welcoming and inclusive community. As we talked we both concluded that inclusion is an important part of church for us. Again, church isn’t a social club, you don’t just get to include people you like or find interesting. Paul is very clear in Corinthians that God’s body should not be a place where only one kind of person is welcome. When looking for a church to call home, we feel strongly that it should be not only a place that makes us feel welcome but all people. Jesus got a ton of flack for it but he modeled perfectly for us- he associated with “tax collectors and sinners” as well as the religious elite, the wealthy, the poor, the sick and the well. Jesus didn’t exclude any group from the conversation and neither should we. You will inevitably have some people who are closer to each other than others but it is the job of the entire church to actively be watching for the person who feels outside, alone, or rejected and make them feel welcomed, a part of the community and loved. A loving church is the kind we want to be a part of.

3. Service and outward focused. Speaking of love, love is active. James points out that while our gospel is not one of works ( you don’t earn heaven by doing more good things), a faith without action is dead. We cannot claim to represent Love himself and yet sit idly by in our bubble and take care of only ourself and good luck to the world and the rest of our body home and abroad. John 3:16 says “God so love the world that he GAVE his one and only son”. Love cannot be separated from giving- time, money, support, energy, food, clothes, acceptance. Giving is at the heart of love. A community that does not make giving to each other and the world at large, is out of touch with the heart of God, which responds to a hurting and distant world by drawing close and giving sacrificially.

At the end of our conversation we concluded that truthfully we will need to walk it out as we take this topic head on. We can’t fully know how we will choose a community of worship until we choose a community of worship. But understanding what is important to us is crucial.

So, to my partner and my friend, my brother in Christ and co-worshiper. Thank you so much for being with me on this journey. Thank you for prioritizing our faith and insisting (with me) that we consider and choose our local church family carefully. Thank you for serving God and others with me. I am so blessed to have you by my side.

Week 4 Reflection: Her

A party without a cake is just a meeting. -Julia Child


We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love. —Robert Fulghum, True Love

“Many couples spend a great deal of time planning their wedding, but little time planning their marriage.”
― DeBorrah K. Ogans, How Do I Love Thee: Food for Thought Before You Say “I DO”

cake fail

“We can’t go through life assuming the people around us understand what’s going on in our minds. We have to have those open and honest discussions. We have to communicate.”
― Abby Rosmarin, In the Event the Flower Girl Explodes

Was that too many quotes? Just a little excessive? Kind of how I have always thought about weddings. This week’s topic was “What does a wedding mean to you?” I wont go in to how I read that wrong and thought we were going to talk about cakes and colors and locations and frills and how much I hate being stared at and how that’s why I hate the thought of a wedding ceremony and jump straight to what happened after I re-read the prompt the day of the conversation and suddenly realized what we were really talking about was why they are important and my revelations from there. Once I was on the correct page, I started trying to think of why weddings are important. Marriage I totally had an answer for- what does it mean, why is it important. But weddings have always seemed like a spectacle of pomp and circumstance that women were supposed to like but always seemed to hate by the end. I have been involved in a lot of weddings for someone who gets terrible anxiety about them. Don’t get me wrong, I have never begrudged any of my friends and family their “big day,” but it always seemed unreasonable that it was just that- a day. One day, one party, one set of traditions and nonsensical hoops to jump through (and pay for!) that becomes the focus of everyone involved. Perhaps that is where my true aversion has come in. Not all of the couples (or even most) that I have been around but far too many, seem all too caught up in the “magic” of the wedding and seem to forget entirely about planning and investing for the marriage. Subsequently, my thoughts on the topic revolved around slipping off quietly with the man I love and plunge into life together with little fan-fare but great preparation and love. I hate having people looking at me, I hate formality (which I see as simply an opportunity to fail to live up to expectations) and I just couldn’t see drawing so much attention to something so personal.

Then I sat down with my beloved. I believe in marriage for many reasons. I was reminded of one of my favorite reasons in our talk. When I think on a topic I draw on as many sources as possible to develop a well rounded view, however, I can only see through my eyes. When you have a partner, you share perspectives. Through our talks I began to see a different, fuller picture of what a wedding means. Specifically what a wedding means to the man I love. As we talked, a new world unfolded and I learned a whole new respect for the art of a day.

Probably the most interesting point for me was his view on why planning the wedding is important. He pointed out that it is the first large scale, complex joint venture that is undertaken. This thought had never occurred to me. Perhaps since there is a cultural expectation that women will be exceptionally concerned with the tiniest of details and that men will simply check out and then show up that I had never really seen wedding planning as a co-endeavor. Planning a massive formal event by myself sounds like a sacrifice at best and at worst my actual personal hell. But something about the idea of really working with my man to get things done and make choices together doesn’t sound so bad. As he talked I was surprised to find myself thinking, “That could be fun.” He pointed out how much compromise and commitment it takes to stay present and make decisions together that reflect both of you. The idea of the wedding being a microcosm of marriage in general- a picture of how you will handle planning your life together from the grand ideas, to the financial compromises, to the inevitable unexpected twists and mishaps that life throws at you- had never occurred to me. I delight in learning new things and finding this gem was no exception. I was enamored for days with it’s newness, so much so that it took me a while to determine how to even approach my reflection. After all, how do you process a 180 degree turn on a subject (or at least a significant pivot?).

We also talked about the wedding being the gateway, a marker denoting the beginning of something new and special. This idea was less ground shaking in that it was something I had thought of before. In fact, of all of the points he made, this one most closely resembled thoughts I had already thought. Every girl (or almost every girl as I dislike making grand all-encompassing statements) will, at some point in her growing up, whether she wants to or not, be forced into the corner of thinking about what she would do with her wedding. Some women take this and run with it, planning great elaborate events down to the smallest detail. Others are like me and the whole idea kind of made them queasy. So instead of planning colors and flowers and food menus, I thought about how I could arrange for the fewest people possible to bother to show up. My conclusion was this: Sunrise on a mountain. Why? Well, I may not like people staring at me and I hate formality, but if I am going to do something ceremonial I want it to be full of symbolism. For me weddings at sunset never really made good symbolic sense. I don’t want my wedding to be the close of something. It should be the beginning, bursting with all the newness of the dawn. Besides, how better to ensure that only the most devoted of friends and family bother to come than to make it at the most inconvenient time imaginable (sorry to all the loved ones that are going to do the unthinkable and come to my wedding even if I make it insanely inconvenient. I don’t hate you, I just don’t want 500 people staring at me and I can’t think of any other way to pare down the list without hurting feelings. And also symbolism.).

The idea of the wedding as a gateway into marriage, the threshold or doorway through which you pass into the next season of your life, a new chapter, seems oddly perfect to me. Transitions and the space in which they occur are very important to my partner (and everyone if they are honest) and this one specifically, is very significant to him. Much more than it has been to me in the past. I began to wonder in myself if, as my love suggested, this gesture would help us transition our thinking more than a simple party. Could cake choices be about more than just what flavor tastes best, could color choices and venues help set the tone for a marriage? Actually, as I sit here thinking about weddings and who would actually be there (arguably the single most stressful concept for me- people who are all looking at me all day) I began to think along another line. In the church we have several ceremonies that are public declarations (specifically I am thinking about baptism and baby dedications) and they are incredibly moving and beautiful for several reasons. In baptisms, as in weddings, the people involved are making public their commitment to join an new family and live in that family with all of its responsibilities and privileges. In being baptized you tell the watching world, I am a Christian, I belong to Christ and He to me and I commit to living with and for Him. By the same token, weddings then are a proclamation to a world that takes love lightly that we are forever joined, we are one unit now, one family. The people invited to these events are part of the family for the most part (either spiritual, emotional or blood) and serve as witness to a commitment. The same is true of the congregation at a baby dedication with one key difference- at the baby dedication in contrast to the baptism, the pastor will not only ask for a commitment from the parent(s) but also from the congregation. Those gathered for the dedication are not simply witnesses or loved ones there to celebrate with you, they are asked to also dedicate themselves. The pastor will turn to the congregation and ask them to come alongside the parents, to support and help them, to contribute to the faith journey of this child and to offer wisdom, prayers and partnership as needed as the child grows. The parent(s) are still the ones ultimately responsible for raising the child, but the congregation commits to being a part, being the village that makes that raising possible. I see a similar opportunity in weddings. We ask the guests, the attendants and the pastor not only to bear witness to our commitment, but also to commit themselves to come alongside us, to support our marriage, to encourage us to pursue God and each other as we enter this dedication of our own lives. It calls those present to protect the sanctity of our marriage as they can by supporting us together rather than pitting us against one another, to be a part of what we are committing to by not only being a part of that day, but our lives going forward. A wedding like a baby dedication is about committing to watch over and pray for that marriage from that day on.

I don’t think I will ever attend another wedding in quite the same way again. I cannot look at it as simply a party nor as an elaborate formality. Even as an attendee, weddings have changed for me. Even as a guest they are a commitment. Interestingly, I think that this revelation has made other peoples’ weddings more scary for me at the same time as making my own less scary.

So, to the love of my life, thank you so much for giving me new perspective. Please never stop challenging what I think I know and feel and want. Thank you for being you, for having the courage to have a culturally unlikely perspective and sharing it with me. Thank you for asking such a simple yet complex question. Thank you for riding out my insecurities and my conflicting feelings. I will probably need to be talked down a million times in the process, but I am so excited for the day we embark on this escapade of taffeta and cake tasting together. No one else could have gotten me excited about this the way you have. I love you with all of my heart.


Week 3 Reflection: Her

Security is not found in the absence of danger, but in the presence of Jesus.

-John and Staci Eldredge- Captivating

Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love.

-Billy Graham

Security means a million things to a million different people. What I wanted to know was what it means in our relationship. What do each of us think of when we think of being safe and secure? What makes us feel that we are? What makes us feel that we are not? And how important is that sense of security. Initially, I will be honest, I had this question in the context of intimacy. In her book “Rising Strong” Berne Brown explains that for both men and women some of the most consistently identified areas of insecurity, vulnerability, and fear were surrounding sex and intimacy. Even the way we talk about it reveals that it is a subject of great delicacy. Because it is so vulnerable to be that physically and emotionally open with another person it is both a source of great connection, emotional honesty and expression and bonding but also pain, disconnection and misunderstanding. This is why I wanted to know how each of us could feel the most secure in that connection when the time comes and also what things we might do inadvertently that might make each other feel less secure. Alseep 3

That was really important to me, and we did go over that, but we also expanded beyond that context to security in life in general. As I was thinking over the question before our conversation I tried my best to contemplate what it looked like for me to feel secure? What is happening in my heart, mind, body, and life at those times? How about when I feel insecure? What do I do as a result of feeling secure or insecure? How important is that feeling to how I live my life? All these questions lead me back to just two things- my spiritual health and my mental health. When these are in order and well tended, regardless of the circumstances around me, I feel secure. As a result I take risks- I love big, I give big, I live big. But when my spiritual health or mental health are out of wack, when I get out of sync with God or when I let my depression or anxiety go untreated and unaddressed, I flip into survival mode. I get as small and compact as possible. My movements are reserved, I don’t risk offering opinions or encouragement, I don’t let the people around me into my life. I am concerned only with mitigating pain at those moments and I lose all sense of adventure, purpose and hope. In other words, I become a self-absorbed control-freak who is no fun at all to be around. Conclusion- as my partner, I need you to check in with me and remind me that I need to be tending these areas for both of our sake.

As we shared these thoughts and feelings with one another we hit some really raw areas. I knew we would, but what surprised me was how raw they were. I think we both anticipated last week’s conversation being hard but for some reason I found this much harder. I don’t know why exactly, but this week was harder for me. Maybe it was that last week was very specifically about marriage itself and while that hit on some of my gremlins, this week was all about them. What makes me feel secure or insecure has to do primarily with what voices I am listening to. That means talking about what undermines my feelings of security means talking very frankly about the malicious gremlins that I fight with on a daily basis. That, for me, involved a great deal more vulnerability and exposure. All my worst insecurities laid out on the table. In truth, we were basically laying out a “if you wanna hurt me bad, here is how.” If either of us chose, we could pick up what we learned and wield it as a weapon to manipulate or wound. The choice to share was one of ultimate trust.

I left the conversation feeling very exposed. But if I am honest, I don’t think I have ever felt closer to anyone. It was a bit like handing him a knife and saying “Here, there is a splinter over my heart. Would you please take it out, but please don’t kill me by plunging the knife between my fourth and fifth rib about midway between my sternum and my axila.” It was both necessary and alarming, both exhilarating and risky. The truth is we will inevitably hurt one another along the way. I believe in us, that those hurts will be spaced as far as we can and that they will not be inflicted intentionally. It is a risk I am willing to take.

So, to my love and my friend, my calm and my passion, my wonderful, amazing, gracious companion, thank you for meeting me in this vulnerable place. Thank you for taking this journey of self discovery with me. Thank you for making me feel like I can fly. Thank you for all you do to ensure that my gremlins don’t eat my lunch.  I vow never to use what you have confided in me as a weapon, but I apologize in advance for the mistakes I will make that will hurt you. I promise to always do my best to fight at your side against the things that want to bring you pain, to protect you in all the ways I can, and to make you feel my love and support as consistently and strongly as I am able. You mean the world to me and I am so utterly grateful for you.

Week 2 Reflection: Her

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so we may fear less. – Marie Curie


“What scares you most about marriage?” Can you believe that was the first thing we pulled out of that ridiculous hat! Nothing like ripping off the band aid and diving right in. I think it was perfect though.

Fear is one of the most misunderstood things in all of life. Some people want desperately to banishes completely while others dare not even look directly at it. It drives a myriad of choices made on a daily basis and yet most of us never sit down and talk about what it really is and why.

As I was preparing for this weeks convention I wanted to be intellectually honest as well as emotionally honest. To me that meant not just listing off what scares me about marriage but really looking at it long enough to understand why that scares me. For example- one of the things that scares me is that we would have a breakdown in communication. Why is that scary? Well because for me, one of my deepest insecurities and pains is that I am not worthy of connection and thus end up isolated even while lying next to someone. I have seen couples who let communications break down and it undermines their entire marriage and they wake up one morning and have no idea who they are married to.

We talked through our fears. We laughed a little, I cried because… yeah, that’s what I do when things get real. And we connected in a way I have never connected to anyone before. I shared what hurt and shaped and terrified me and got support and understanding and love in return. We hit some really raw topics, and neither of us turned away. I think for me that is the ideal of what marriage should be- seeing the real you in all your mess and sifting through it with you instead of turning up your nose and leaving.

So my dear, in all my mess and all my flaws, despite the fact that standing in a white dress at the end of an isle with everyone staring at me still makes me feel like I’m going to jump out of my skin, if you are there with me, I’m not scared or at least I’m willing to face my fear and conquer it. With you by my side I feel fearless. I love you.