ANNIVERSARY, OUR FIRST

one year ago on a chilly Sunday i married Christopher, and still more amazing than that - he married me .   and i was so excited i nearly burst a rib from the anticipation of it . 

now, one year later, tomorrow is our first anniversary and like many events in life you relish, it feels in one way like our wedding day was just last month, i remember it so vividly .  and in other ways this year feels like it could have been three .  

we bought the farmhouse, fixed it, painted it, patched a thousand cracks . and during the incessant repairing of the walls around us we were patching together our own cracks too .  my messy brain & a thick haze of depression that held strong over me through our first winter together . and then a doctor's visit in march that threw us a curveball which became a diagnosis of the beginning of cervix cancer .

if you and i were having coffee i'd tell you this year has been hard, and that would be true .  but i'd be skipping over some of the most altering truths about it all if i left it at that .

this year has been the most incredible year of my life,  and it brings me to one word i hadn't known much of until this year :    faithfulness .

when i met christopher july 1 of last summer, i had just come back to kansas city after hitting rock bottom and God reaching down and saving me .   just two weeks (TWO!) after arriving in missouri i saw christopher for the first time at our church, and leaned over to my friend ashley and said 'who is that? i have to meet him' .  she took those words to heart, dragging me up onto the stage after the service and introducing me to the man who would become my husband .  

the first time we spent time together this man sitting across from me spoke words to me that felt like they were arrows to the bullseye of my heart, right to the most important places .  he spoke to me, not at me.  he spoke truth . and he listened to me share my heart carefully,  in its state of newly found, wounded-but-healing, Hope .

it didn't take us long to discover we were going to spend our lives together.... we were both in our 30's and had been through enough crap to know what we weren't looking for, and also what we needed most in someone .  and i knew this :  i didn't care anymore how "cool" a guy seemed or if he had magnetic charm or knew who all the hottest bands were or drove a great car or looked good in skinny jeans .  

i needed someone who loved Jesus more than anything else in himself or his life .

and Christopher was the guy . (plus he's super handsome and has an awesome beard) . 

i wish i could convey how freaking unreal this all felt to me... i couldn't wrap my head around this man who loved Jesus, loved people, was genuine with his heart, and was totally smitten with me .  i didn't feel like i deserved to be with someone like that . i'd been married before in my 20's,  divorced, and then dated or haphazardly squandered my affections and my body with countless guys .  how was it that someone with so much love in his eyes, with a gentle spirit and truth-speaking lips and a willingness to tackle my recent (& longstanding) past actually wanted to be with me and not only that : he was choosing to .

i remember one night after a date,  while sitting on a parking lot curb, in one huge sigh i blurted out : 'i can't do this .  i can't let you be with me . you deserve better, you deserve so much better' .  and chris sat down next to me, calmly . with a resolve and kindness in his voice i'll never forget he said,

'amy, i'm not leaving and you won't get me to leave .  i want you and no one else .  i choose you and that won't change .  '  

(i'm laughing at this moment because as i'm writing all these heartfelt things at our farm table christopher's in the shower belting out 'have yourself a merry little christmas' frank sinatra style .   oh i love this man!) .

those words on the parking lot curb were true .  he didn't let my fears and feelings of not being 'good enough' sabotage the relationship we had begun,  and a few months later he spoke his vows to me in a room with 40 of our closest friends and family . 

this commitment christopher has made to me,  
the covenant we've made with each other,
points to the best, most extravagant, riveting thing about this past year:  God's faithfulness to us .

God's faithfulness to me in my healing,  His unwavering constancy to me in dark & messy places .   He didn't abandon me when i turned my back on Him and said 'i don't want You in my life' .  He pursued me when i was broken down and had nothing to offer .  

christopher is a reflection of this love in the tangible ...  when he brings me meals the days i can't get out of bed, when he calms my irrational fears that surface,  when he cries with me at the table and when we're silly in love dancing to rap music in our living room .  

he points me and draws me to Jesus, the One who is perfectly faithful, grace-giving, unwavering in His Love for us . 

this year has been grace upon grace upon grace .  

so tonight we will go to a beautiful restaurant and eat a meal together and drink wine and talk about all the ways God has shown us who He is this year . in the middle of darkness, pain, doctor visits, leaking roofs, and the cracks especially .  His love shows most in those places, afterall . 

photograph by ash parsons

photograph by ash parsons