Friday, May 27, 2016

Remembering and Looking Forward: Celebrating Our Fifth Anniversary!

I remember it as freshly as if it were yesterday. Eight of my closest friends joined me to stand on a boat dock in West Virginia on Lake Floyd, and we prayed together as the time moved purposefully to the grand moment. A text message came through indicating it was time for us to begin the journey. It had been raining earlier in the day, and all around the region, massive storms had broken out, but for us, there were blue skies and the lush greens of spring. The water was calm, peaceful, and inviting. The nine of us purposefully descended into three small rowboats, and began our journey across the lake.

Upon docking at the far side, we came walking in single file to a gathering of a few close friends and family (to be honest it was all family—our friends are our family as well). The music had begun, and I was looking over the crowd smiling and filled with anticipation of what was to come. And then, she came from around the corner of the Lake Floyd Clubhouse with her father walking alongside her. My eyes began to well up with tears of joy. They came down to the waters edge across a grassy field through a center aisle made by folding chairs brought out for the occasion. I breathed in deeply as I thought about the sacredness of this moment. I was about to commit my life to this amazing woman, and she was about to do the same.

She looked so beautiful as she gracefully made her way down the aisle in a refitted and redesigned wedding dress, made from her mother’s own wedding attire. Her eyes glowed in the same bright azure blue that I’ve enjoyed waking and looking into as we start our day together for the last five years. I can remember so vividly every moment because my heart was (and is!) so captivated by this incredible, compassionate, faith-filled, beautiful woman. We exchanged our vows, we participated in an ancient Shawnee wedding tradition, and we even had the blessing of my best friend in the whole world, Willie, writing an original song for us. The entire time we were surrounded in beauty and held in love by our gathered witnesses.

As the wedding came to an end, the celebration started, and honestly hasn’t really stopped! We were presented to our gathered family as husband and wife, and made our way down the aisle exceedingly joy-filled to the tune of Country Roads, a fine new West Virginia/Appalachian tradition. We made our way to the dance floor of the clubhouse and enjoyed the best wedding food I have ever experienced thanks to the generosity of Jessica Kerr—She even made pepperoni rolls from filo dough. (Jamie had told her dad when she was a little girl that she didn’t know all that she hoped for with her wedding day, but she definitely wanted pepperoni rolls—a West Virginia staple).
And here we are, five years into the future. As full of joy and vivid memories as that day was, today seems more full. We have both grown in our understanding of what it means to be husband and wife, and we have also both grown in our understanding of how deeply loved and cherished we are by God and by each other. On our wedding day, when Willie sang that song he wrote, we carried it aspirationally, and today we still carry it in the same way, but at the very least we can say that for the last five years it has held completely true. Our love has only grown stronger over time, and our understanding of just what a treasure God has given us in each other gets revealed freshly each new day.
As we left crossed Lake Floyd late that night on a paddle boat to the cheers of many who we hold very dear, we had no idea that the late night paddle across the lake and ensuing drive to our home in Morgantown would be not only the very beginning of our marriage, but it would be a foretaste of our adventures around the world to make new friends and connect with old ones. So many times we have been richly blessed by the hospitality of others, and we have been so privileged to share in experiences with them as we learn together how to live out the exhortation of the ancient Hebrew prophet Micah to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.

And today, the journey continues. We are nestled on a small island off the coast of Maine, and enjoying a moment of respite and reflection before making the journey across another body of water and starting the drive back home. This time, instead of a paddleboat, the Swan’s Island Ferry will provide our transit.

We do not have any idea what the future holds for #TeamWilliams, but we are certain that if we continue to faithfully seek the wisdom and counsel of our gracious Creator together, He will supply us with absolutely everything we need for the adventure ahead. We are thrilled as we think back over memories that we have made with many of you during these last five years, and we look forward to savoring each new chapter of this story we are writing together with each new day. May we all take moments to soak in the joy of the present while we look forward to a future filled with hope and possibilities.

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