You’re Damn Right I Believe in Another Gospel.

Since beginning this blog, I have had several Evangelical friends accuse me of believing “another gospel”. At first, I bristled at their accusations. But here today, I would like to say to them all, “You’re damn right. I believe in another gospel.”

If your gospel is that God is some sort of abusive parent who loves you “unconditionally” unless you die without accepting his love and then he sentences you to eternal conscious torment in hell, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel says some people aren’t good enough to help feed, clothe and educate children simply because they are married to someone of the same gender; if your gospel says you can cut off these kids like a subscription to Good Housekeeping because “Ewww, the gays.”; if your gospel closes the doors of heaven in people’s faces because of who they love, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel says women are eternally subjected to men because Jesus is eternally subjected to the Father; if your gospel says women are equal, but men are more equal; if your gospel excludes women from any area of ministry, leadership, service or vocation, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel allows you to feel oppressed when other people gain rights you have always enjoyed, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel encourages you to pass laws that discriminate against others, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL

If your gospel encourages you to identify and exclude people who disagree with you, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel permits you expelling a little girl from school for not being girly enough then, YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel teaches that women are responsible for the sexual sins of men, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel teaches that everything in the Bible is to be taken literally, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel teaches that God is some sort of genocidal terrorist who condones the killing of entire races, including children, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel features a God wrapped in the American flag, who always votes Republican, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel features an AR-15 toting, cage fighting, ass-kicking Jesus, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel is one of “us versus them” or “in versus out”, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel puts anything above loving God and your neighbor as yourself, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

The Gospel I embrace is one of love; one where we are all equal in the eyes of God. One where neither how much you’ve blown it or how perfect you’ve been is what matters; one where everyone gets to play. One where the Father loves without an unless; one where grace and generosity trump fairness; one where we do not get what we have earned or what we deserve but one where we all get to belong. The Gospel I embrace is truly good news, and if THAT is “another gospel” I am guilty as charged.

 

 

 

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Don’t ask me if you can marry my daughter.

purityballMy husband never asked my father’s permission to marry me. We also didn’t ask for his blessing. Not only that, I have a feeling if Kent would have asked him he would have said it wasn’t his decision to make.

Because it wasn’t.

It was mine. My life was mine to join to someone else’s. My future was in my hands. My heart was mine to give.

Once Kent and I decided that we were going to get married we told both my parents together. Simple.

My parents, wise as they are, knew that even though they had given me life, raised me and protected me, they did not have ownership of my heart and could not give the naming rights to whomever they chose as if I were a sports arena. They knew that even though they had dreams for me, and thoughts about how my life would turn out, those were not necessarily my dreams for myself. They knew that they had raised me to be independent, wise and trustworthy and they knew that they had given me more and more freedom to make choices, to try and fail and to try and succeed. They knew that if at some point I found the one person I wanted to give my heart to, that they had already done what they could to help me make the best choice. They knew that if I wanted advice I would ask them for it. And I did. Plenty. But they also knew, lovelies, that it was my decision to make. My heart. My future. My life. My choice.

Recently the topic of so called “Purity Balls” (hee hee) has been back in the news. (I think maybe because it is spring? Not really sure. Is that when these things traditionally take place? Or possibly on Father’s Day (um, ewww)? Thank God I don’t know from first hand experience.) The first ball was put on by the Wilson family in Colorado Springs in 1998. Randy Wilson is a field director for the Family Research Council, which was originally part of Focus on the Family until 1992. The recent Nightline feature which ran March 22nd, featured Randy Wilson, Ron Johnson, the Pastor of Living Stones Church in Indiana and their daughters. Johnson, is quoted in the program as saying to the young women (who typically range in age from 9-14),  “You keep this [ring] on your finger and as this point you are married to the Lord and your father is your boyfriend.” Seriously? Seriously? Does this creep anyone else the eff out?

The Balls, according to Wilson’s Generations of Light web page, now take place in 48 states. The ceremonies themselves resemble wedding receptions. The fathers give the daughters a ring (often they wear a ring themselves that they later gift to the future husband at the wedding), there is a father daughter dance, the girls wear white dresses and the father and daughter exchange pledges. The amazing thing to me is that these balls are considered “godly” events by their participants.

On Saturday night I shared this story with my Dad. He was disgusted and appalled and I thank God every day that I was raised by a father (and mother) who respected me as an individual, and never believed it was his job to be my “boyfriend” and who never taught me that I, individually, was to be married to Jesus. Ewwwwwww.

I am proud to say, my husband and I are carrying on the proud tradition my parents started. We are our daughter’s parents, we are raising her to be strong, brave, independent, discerning and trustworthy. When the time comes I hope we don’t know about her proposal before she does. If her future spouse does come to us first, I know exactly what I will say, “She is not mine to give. Her heart is her own. You will need to ask her. It is her choice.”

 

Fear and Loathing in Arizona

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As we speak, the whole nation (and even the world) waits for Gov. Jan Brewer’s decision. And we are all wondering, “What is taking her so long?” One side is wondering why it is taking so long for her to sign a piece of legislation that both houses of her state’s legislature have passed insuring that the “rights” of business owners  to discriminate by refusing service based on their “deeply held religious beliefs” are not infringed upon. The rest of us are wondering why it is taking her so long to veto legislation that so blatantly violates the constitution and is so obviously discriminatory. Currently, the word on the street is that she is leaning toward a veto. It is my belief that if she does veto the measure it will be based purely on economics. First, “gay people have money and they buy stuff“. Second? The Super Bowl. So far the Arizona Cardinals, the NFL and the Super Bowl Committee have all come out with statements urging the governor to veto the legislation. Here are their respective statements:

“Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard…We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time.”
— NFL spokesman, Greg Aiello

“We share the NFL’s core values, which embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination.”
–Super Bowl Host Committee

“What so many love about football is its ability to bring people together. We do not support anything that has the potential to divide, exclude and discriminate. As a prominent and highly-visible member of this community, we strive to bring positive attention to the state. We are concerned with anything that creates a negative perception of Arizona and those of us who are fortunate to call it home.”
–Arizona Cardinals

As Bob Dylan once said, “the times they are a changin'”and thank God they are. Sadly, it seems, not fast enough, with laws such as this one cropping up all over the country, Uganda’s new law making being gay a crime punishable by life in prison, the lobbyist who is drafting legislation to make it illegal for gay men to play in the NFL, a thing I learned about today called “gay denialism“, and this article about Vladimir Putin which praises him as a “man of Christian faith and values” because of his stance on homosexuality. Yikes!

If you have been on my blog for long you know that I am an ally. I have written extensively  in support of full equality of LGBT persons both in the church, politics and society at large (you can use the search box on the right to see some of my previous posts, try searching homosexuality or LGBT). It is my prayer that the time is coming when legislation like this is looked back upon with embarrassment and contrition. For those of you still holding on to the notion that your rights as a Christian are being violated by being asked not to discriminate against LGBT persons, I came across a handy quiz you can take to see if that is indeed the case. Here are the questions from Rev. Emily C. Heath:

1. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to go to a religious service of my own choosing.
B) Others are allowed to go to religious services of their own choosing.

2. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to marry the person I love legally, even though my religious community blesses my marriage.
B) Some states refuse to enforce my own particular religious beliefs on marriage on those two guys in line down at the courthouse.

3. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am being forced to use birth control.
B) I am unable to force others to not use birth control.

4. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to pray privately.
B) I am not allowed to force others to pray the prayers of my faith publicly.

5. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) Being a member of my faith means that I can be bullied without legal recourse.
B) I am no longer allowed to use my faith to bully gay kids with impunity.

6. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to purchase, read or possess religious books or material.
B) Others are allowed to have access books, movies and websites that I do not like.

7. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) My religious group is not allowed equal protection under the establishment clause.
B) My religious group is not allowed to use public funds, buildings and resources as we would like, for whatever purposes we might like.

8. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) Another religious group has been declared the official faith of my country.
B) My own religious group is not given status as the official faith of my country.

9. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) My religious community is not allowed to build a house of worship in my community.
B) A religious community I do not like wants to build a house of worship in my community.

10. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to teach my children the creation stories of our faith at home.
B) Public school science classes are teaching science.

Scoring key:

If you answered “A” to any question, then perhaps your religious liberty is indeed at stake. You and your faith group have every right to now advocate for equal protection under the law. But just remember this one little, constitutional, concept: this means you can fight for your equality — not your superiority.

If you answered “B” to any question, then not only is your religious liberty not at stake, but there is a strong chance that you are oppressing the religious liberties of others. This is the point where I would invite you to refer back to the tenets of your faith, especially the ones about your neighbors.

If you are a Christian and you are for this law, I have only one question: What do you think Jesus’ answer would be today if we asked him the same question the young lawyer asked him in Matthew, “Who is my neighbor?”  Knowing Jesus’ penchant for parables, it is a safe bet he would tell us a story…

“A gay couple was going down from Phoenix to Tucson to pick up a wedding cake he had ordered. The Christian owner, upon seeing that he was gay, invoked his right not to make the cake because of his deeply held religious beliefs. Now by chance a pastor was in the same bakery and heard the whole thing but rather than get involved he sat quietly eating his danish. So likewise the Governor, when faced with the opportunity to veto the measure before her, stalled. But a baker who worked in the next town, who happened to be an illegal alien, heard about the couple and had compassion on them. He not only offered to bake the cake for their wedding, he also set about helping them find a caterer and a venue. He even helped out with the flowers and bought the couple a wedding gift. Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the men getting married?” And we would say (I hope), “The one who baked the cake.” And Jesus would say to us, “You go, and do likewise.”

Jesus left us with only one law with two parts, love God with all you are and love your neighbor as yourself. That is the essence (or spirit) of Christ. This law (and laws like it) are the essence (or spirit) of antichrist. Is that a strong statement? You bet. But in 1 John 4:20-21 it says, “If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen. The command that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love others also.” When we truly love others we will afford them the same rights we claim for ourselves.  Until then, we are self-deceived and we are loving neither God nor our LGBT neighbors.

You Are Strong: Yet Another Proposal

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My husband and I have a running thing (not really a joke per se but it is one of those things that gets said over and over) it goes something like this… we will be listening to some couple tell their engagement story complete with horses or some other grand detail or we’ll watch the viral video of the guy who does the flashmob proposal where he has his soon to be fiancee sit in the open back of a car and all their known friends and relatives sing and dance and act out the Bruno Mars song, I think I Want to Marry You. In the couple scenario, after the telling of their story we usually get asked to tell our engagement story. (Turn about is fair play after all). “Well”, we say, “we don’t really have one”.  Then we proceed to tell the whirlwind story of how we met in late March of 1986 and were engaged by the end of July. Honestly I am not even sure what the actual date of our engagement is except that we told my mom we were getting married on July 4th, 1986 before we had even bought the ring. Kent knew pretty much right away he wanted to marry me and began bringing up the possibility in conversation just a few weeks after we met. I took a little convincing, as I was 16 and had previously planned it all out and intended to get married in my mid twenties after finishing college.

Aside: Life is funny that way. you think you have a plan and then…as the mom said on the Six Feet Under episode we watched last night, it rarely happens the way you think it will. My plan, up until this point, certainly did not include meeting the one great love of my life at a conference at the Anaheim Marriott.

So we go on and tell them our story, how he moved down to where I lived, how one day I got so freaked out by it all I lied and said I didn’t love him, how he knew and refused to believe it. We tell them how we talked about it many many times and how at some point I just realized that, YES. I did want to marry him. Usually it is sometime around here  (or in the video scenario when it ends and we are both teary eyed) that Kent says, one of these days when you least expect it, I am going to propose to you.

Here’s the thing he has been proposing to me all along. Every time we spoke about it he was proposing that we were better together than we were apart. There was no horse, or song and dance number, but there was proposing. 

I have come to a realization recently and I would like to share it with you. A proposal of marriage is NOT a one time event.  The dictionary defines a proposal as an offer of marriage and one definition I found of marriage was “any intimate association or union”. Back in the day Kent did propose to me and I have come to see that from that point on we have been proposing to each other ever since. 

Many years ago before we had children, Kent and I had a big shift in the way were looking at and experiencing life. On one particular night I remember him saying, maybe I should just let you find someone else, you could do so much better than me. I said no and told him I didn’t want someone else I wanted him: I proposed we were an us. We were. We said yes. Proposals don’t always come on white horses or on beaches at sunset. Sometimes proposals come in the middle of tornados, sometimes they come on really hard days. The important thing is to say yes when they come, and to propose again tomorrow.

You Are Strong. That is the message Kent wrote to me on my side of the bathroom mirror the day before yesterday. Those three words. Changed my life. In that moment he offered me afresh to join him in an intimate union. Sometimes proposals are simple and take 5 seconds to scribble on a mirror.

Aside #2: A couple months ago I grabbed a dry erase marker normally used for my family fridge calendar and wrote something I appreciated about Kent on his side of the mirror. He left it there. I liked doing it so I kept changing it each day. A couple days into my little proposals I had one on my side of the mirror. It is one of the most beautiful things we have ever done. And now I realize, each one a proposal and offer of intimate union.

On our 25th anniversary we celebrated by renewing our vows, I wrote mine out and Kent spoke from his heart. These vows were also a proposal; an offer of intimate union. Some times proposals are made on the glorious days when babies are born or marathon finish lines are crossed. Sometimes they are grand, romantic and/or breathtaking.

It happens every day now that I have eyes to see it. I propose to him when I ask about his hard day. He proposes to me when he helps me clean up after dinner. I offer intimate union when I make a family meal for us all to share. He offers it to me when he asks what show I prefer to watch on the DVR. We propose to each other when we forgive the other’s faults and shortcomings and when we celebrate each other’s accomplishments and victories.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a sucker for a good proposal story. And, if I’m beng honest, I am looking forward to being surprised one day when Kent throws down with his “big proposal”. But you know what? This is our new proposal story and it will keep getting longer, more breathtaking and more complex with each offer made to one other. Every addition to this story is beautiful. Every one spectacular when you think about it. 

 

Mad Men (and Women) of Christianity


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I know we are way behind but my husband and I just started watching Mad Men from the beginning on Netflix. Last night after watching the second episode, Kent turned to me and said, “Do you know why I like this show? Besides the great acting, writing and to-the-t period stuff?”
“No,” I said, “What?”
“This show is a perfect illustration of what people mean when they say they want to go back to the good old days. It’s how guys like Driscoll and Piper wish it was.”

I have been thinking about this ever since he said it last night.
At the time my mind immediately went to another blog written by Ben Ponder, editor-at-large for mediarostra.com which I read a while back. In it Mr. Ponder asserts that,

“Family” is the euphemistic code du jour for “Evangelical Christian.” “Focus on the Evangelical Christian” and the “American Evangelical Christian Association” didn’t have the same zing to them as their familiar twins. The watchword for these organizations is the preservation of “traditional family values,” which are, in a nutshell, white American family values from a period of 1939 to 1964. The family values constituency longs for a return to the virginal time before the Civil Rights movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement, the Vietnam War, the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs, John Lennon, and Rock Hudson made the world a more complicated place.
When I read the Bible, I get the distinct sense that Jesus wasn’t interested in saving the nuclear family from a windy onslaught of liberal opinions. I rather get the impression that he was concerned with diving headfirst into the unvarnished messiness of the human condition and saving us—as individuals, as families, as communities, as people—from our own unhinged self-absorption and festering lovelessness.

I also remembered a scene from Modern Family which I told you all about in The Will of the People. The scene takes place between Jay and Gloria.

“Jay: This weekend we’re going up to Pebble Beach. I’m gonna meet a bunch of guys I played high school football with. Man, those were the good old days.
Gloria: Yeah, unless you were a woman, black, Hispanic, or gay.
Jay: But if you were a straight white football player you couldn’t have a bad day.”

I am sure most of the folks nostalgic for a time gone by prefer to think of it like Leave It to Beaver where everything is clean and sanitized and the worst you have to worry about is Eddie Haskel and his mischievous ways. Mad Men is a more unvarnished look back that doesn’t gloss over the messiness of life. Honestly lovelies, neither is a perfect picture. They are both fiction. However we are talking about a real period of American life that is often pointed to by christians in general and evangelicals in particular, as a time when things were simpler, better and frankly closer to what God intended. After all, the marriages and families I see in the Bible look just like the Cunningham’s on Happy Days. 😉

Personally, I have no desire to go back to the way things were.

Christian Piatt wrote a great article about a year ago titled: GOP Nostalgia? Only Christian White Men were Better Off Back Then in which he said in part,

The fact is that, unless you’re a white, Christian, straight male, there’s little to look back to and say “yeah, I was better off back then.”… To call for a return to the good old days is, in some ways, a marginalization of those for whom history has meant progress. For the majority of Americans today, turning back the clock means losing ground, acceding power or opportunity and returning to a time of greater imbalance and division.”

Sadly, the church, whom I love seems to be stuck in a nostalgic longing that is really nothing more than a mirage. It offers the illusion of a cold drink of water but for many they find only a mouthful of sand and the scorching wind of shame. Heck even some of us raised in the church who know how beautiful and life-giving our communities truly can be, all to often have found our mouths filled with sand rather than the cool and refreshing living water.

Those who feel their privilege slipping away continue to grasp at an unhealthy nostalgia responsible for keeping the church on the wrong side of history way to often. It is what makes and has made people justify slavery and segregation or oppose women’s suffrage, a woman’s right to own property, interracial marriage, women in church leadership and gay marriage. (Even when people believe they are excluding people because of unrepentant sin I still call B.S. as we often hold the door open with a big smile for people who continue to stumble when it comes to gluttony, lust, gossip and lying while slamming the door in the face of homosexuals under the guise of “unrepentance”.) When people perceive their place of privilege is slipping away, rather than rejoicing that others will share in the freedom and forgiveness which they have enjoyed, often defend and set up barriers that push people further away from Jesus. Once again, someone else addresses this issue of priviledge much better than I can. I encourage you to read The Distress of the Priviledged by Doug Muder. He explains it like this:

As the culture evolves, people who benefitted from the old ways invariably see themselves as victims of change. The world used to fit them like a glove, but it no longer does. Increasingly, they find themselves in unfamiliar situations that feel unfair or even unsafe. Their concerns used to take center stage, but now they must compete with the formerly invisible concerns of others.

Then this morning as lady luck or Sarah Bessey would have it, I woke up to a post which exposes another facet of the mirage with a fierce and brave vulnerability. In Which I am Damaged Goods is a post way too many of us could have written. Sarah shares a time when she was served the sand of shame and judgement rather than the living water of love and forgiveness. She was taught that because she was a woman who had been sexually active she was damaged beyond repair and that she should be thankful if there was a christian man out there who would have her as a wife. While this may seem at first blush unrelated to a nostalgia for an earlier time, rest assured, it is. It is nostalgia for a time when a girl who gets pregnant (not the boy of course) would be sent away “to camp” for the summer or a divorcee would automatically be viewed as desperate, a home wrecker or “hot to trot”. “Oh Myyyyy,” as George Takai would say. With just a few google searches you can find church leader after church leader (including women) who will state unequivocally or simply subtly imply that women’s sexuality and/or women in general are something to be feared, suppressed and even demonized. Tertullian went as far as describing woman as the root of all evil. This is yet another mirage of sinking sand that brings death, shame and bondage rather than life, reconciliation and freedom. A current hotly debated question in the church is, “Why are young people leaving in droves?” Perhaps it is partly because they are tired of receiving a glass of sand when they are begging for water.

Please lovelies, let us remember this, Jesus came not to condemn (John 3:17) but to bring freedom and forgiveness.

This of course is just one example. The non-drinkers exclude the drinkers, the men exclude the women, the heterosexuals exclude the LGBT community, the races exclude each other, the hits just keep on coming and love loses –or so it seems. As a friend of mine (I can’t remember who, if it is you send me a note so I can give you credit) said in a Facebook post this week, many in the church upon arriving at the banquet to which they themselves were uninvited have set themselves up as doorkeepers, judging who is and who is not worthy to enter. Do they not see the irony? None of us were invited –yet we got to come in. And now here they sit callously turning away those whom Jesus would let in. Let that not be me. I say swing wide the doors; Come in. Taste and see that He is good.

As always my lovelies, I remain hopeful. Behold, Jesus is making all things new. He is NOT making all things the way they used to be. He is making all things NEW! Make no mistake, love will win. Look around. There are more and more people who shout and whisper and sing, “Come in! Come in! All are welcome. There is enough living water for us all.

LORD JESUS, May my judgements never push people away from you. Please show mercy to those who having already received grace for themselves would push away others whom you came for. Forgive them, for they know not what they do. AMEN.

——————————

As we were driving home I was reminded of the song Pieces of You by Jewel.  It drove home the point that we are all connected. When we exclude, shame and hurt each other we cut off our nose to spite our face. Any damage we do to each other, we do to ourselves.

She’s an ugly girl, does it make you want to kill her?
She’s an ugly girl, do you want to kick in her face?
She’s an ugly girl, she doesn’t pose a threat.
She’s an ugly girl, does she make you feel safe?
Ugly girl, ugly girl, do you hate her
‘Cause she’s pieces of you.

She’s a pretty girl, does she make you think nasty thoughts?
She’s a pretty girl, do you want to tie her down?
She’s a pretty girl, do you call her a bitch?
She’s a pretty girl, did she sleep with your whole town?
Pretty girl, pretty girl, do you hate her
‘Cause she’s pieces of you.

You say he’s a faggot, does it make you want to hurt him?
You say he’s a faggot, do you want to bash in his brain?
You say he’s a faggot, does he make you sick to our stomach?
You say he’s a faggot, are you afraid you’re just the same?
Faggot, Faggot, do you hate him
‘Cause he’s pieces of you?

You say he’s a Jew, does it mean that he’s tight?
You say he’s a Jew, do you want to hurt his kids tonight?
You say he’s a Jew, he’ll never wear that funny hat again.
You say he’s a Jew, as though being born were a sin.
Oh Jew, oh Jew, do you hate him
‘Cause he’s pieces of you.

The Afore Promised Vows

So, as you know I have been absent from the blogosphere for a couple of weeks. I am not 100% sure of all the reasons why. Some of them are simple like, I was in Mexico celebrating my birthday and 25th wedding anniversary. Some of them not so simple like, feeling unmotivated and overwhelmed. And then there is just plain busy. But, I am here now and how I have missed you. Without further ado, here is the post I promised you before I left on my trip.

 

These are the vows I made to Kent Krabill on the occasion of our 25th wedding anniversary.

25 years ago we agreed to be there for each other. We agreed to be the witness to each other’s life. We promised to care about everything; even the small things, the good things, the bad things the mundane things.  Over the years we have learned things about each other that have surprised us and we have learned things about ourselves that we never dreamed possible. For example, I learned that I like basketball and you learned that you like So You Think You Can Dance.

When we got married I expected that we would love each other forever, that we would have fun together, make a family and be best of friends.  What I couldn’t have predicted were the ways in which you would evolve to become the man that I love more than I could have imagined at 18.  I love all kinds of things about you. I love the way that even when you think you are 100% right about something you still walk away and consider that you could be mistaken and I love that you shift if you learn that you were wrong. You are not afraid to say you are sorry or to ask for forgiveness and you always tell me you love me. I love that you still bring me flowers.  I love your creativity and problem solving ability. I love the way you take care of the money and how generous you are. I love that you like to go places and do things. I love your passion for people and the way you choose to do things you really don’t want to do to bless someone else. I love how excited you get about racing and basketball. I love that you want to give our kids great experiences and teach them how to live a full life. I love that you like to eat good food. I love that our kids playing music is important to you. All of these things I love about you point to your love of Jesus and your love of people that drive you to be who you are and do what you do. I love you for all of these things and a million more.

I also love the things I have learned about myself because of you. I have learned that I am stronger than I think I am. I have learned that sometimes I need to be willing to get worked up over things I believe need to change. I have learned that I am a good writer and a good speaker. I have also learned that I am adventurous just not the kind of adventurous that jumps out of planes. I am the kind of adventurous that moves half way across the country with two babies so her husband can go to law school.

Most of all I love what we have become together. I love that we are one of the most “we” couples I know. I love that the people who know us know how much we love each other. I love that young people want to be like us. I love that we made amazing beautiful smart creative crazy extroverted kids together. I love that we have family hobbies. I love that we can watch basketball and dancing and idol and Brave and Mission Impossible and love them all.

I am looking forward to our future together. I am looking forward to finding more things to love about you. I am looking forward to the things you will help me discover about myself and I am looking forward to seeing Caedmon and Rosalind become who they were always meant to be.  Mostly I am looking forward to being with you though all of it. Becoming more myself, as we become more us. Isn’t that the magic of it all? Because we are together we get to be more of who we were always meant to be.

But these are supposed to be vows where we make promises to each other about our future.
So today I promise all over again to love you and to notice all the things that happen in your life.
I promise to be your witness.
I promise that I will hold you up when you are weary; That I will hear you when you are frustrated; That I will laugh in your joy and cry in your pain.
I promise that on all our adventures you will find me right where I always am, right next to you.
I promise you that even when I discover something new about you or about myself that it will never change my commitment or love for you.

You know I won’t be perfect, and I know you won’t be either and some times our dance will struggle to find the music but know this, I will be there.
I will be the one stepping on your toes until we find the melody again. You see we have a quantum entanglement. We are an us, always.
So again I promise that I will be part you.
And I promise that you will be part me.
And I promise that I will love you always.

Vows

In just a couple short weeks on the 4th of July Kent and I will be celebrating 25 years of marriage.
I will turn 43 right before our anniversary so if you do the math you will quickly figure out that I had JUST turned 18 when we got married. On the 30th of this month we will be heading to Puerto Vallarta with both sets of our parents and our amazing friends to celebrate our anniversary and renew our vows. This is where you come in on the story. When we got married in 1987 writing your own vows was not the phenomenon that it is today (and frankly I was a little clueless on how to really plan a wedding) so we said the vows that were laid out in the little book our officiant used. Our wedding was at noon on the fourth of July and the whole wedding party wore white (If you think of Adam Sandler in the wedding singer you are probably kind of close). It was beautiful and I was thrilled.

I had no idea what the next 25 years would hold, but I knew one thing on that hot day in Moreno Valley, CA, I loved Kent with all my heart and I intended to be with him forever. Everything I knew at that point about marriage I had learned from my parents and grandparents and I had amazing examples. I can tell you though, watching someone else be married and being married are two completely different things. I had no way of fully knowing the amazing, powerful, difficult, glorious, challenging relationship that is marriage until after that day and I am still learning more all the time.

So wow, vows. Yeah.

I have been thinking about them ever since we decided we wanted to take this trip and renew our vows standing on the beach. I have thought and thought and have written n o t h i n g.

Yet.

My struggle is how exactly to put into words all that it means to me to be married to Kent? How do I sum up in feeble speech this spectacular, insane, beautiful ride that has been our life? What can I say to make him understand how I feel about him? It sounds so cheesy but I sometimes wonder if he really gets it.

Don’t get me wrong, we have our oil and water moments. (Let me tell you, being married to me isn’t easy for someone who likes order and organization.) I hate schedules, have messy zones, say yes to too much and live life by the seat of my pants (translation: I am fun to be around but I have a tendency to forget things). Kent is also ridiculously busy and spontaneous but as a general rule he is much more organized than I am (thank God).  Part of our biggest issue is, as we like to say, neither of us makes a good secretary. But I will tell you this. There is no one I would rather spend time with or that I trust and admire more. Kent helps me be my best self.

Kent is the kind of man I want our daughter to marry. It is not because he is perfect. He is not. He knows he is not. It is because though he is the same person I married he has changed in ways I never would have imagined or even known were possible in 1987. Together we have grown through workshops, college, faith communities and just plain living to question what we believe to be true and look at how we come across to others and adjust and shift. I have watched him in the last 25 years become more loving, more accepting, more humble and more wise.

His support of me and my writing this blog blows my mind. He never asked to be part of what was happening here and honestly I didn’t even know what was going to happen when I started Word of a Woman on a whim at the end of last year. But his grace under fire and his defense of me to friends who think I have lost my marbles give me strength to keep going when I feel like writing people off and hanging it up.

Over the years we have moved out of a church home in the dead of night, worked crappy jobs, moved hither and yon, had both our cars die on the same night, lost people we loved, watched our friends get divorced, dropped out of school, had health scares and hurt each other. But we have also made beautiful babies, finished college, drilled wells in El Salvador, lived in San Francisco and New York, driven cross country, danced, stayed up all night, been to Disney World, made love on a private balcony, given away more than one car, planted a church, written a song, made life long friends and grown together.

The last 25 years were more than I bargained for bad and good, but I chose the right partner to share the ride with me and I will happily spend the rest of eternity with him. As a good friend of ours used to say about her husband, “I just can’t imagine my life without Pat Powell!”. Kent and I actually say this exact thing to each other when there are no other words to express how we feel. I know it sounds weird but I think the Powell’s would love that wherever they are. (mental note:scour facebook and find Pat and Mary Powell)

I know what you are thinking, “there you go, you just wrote the vows!” Not quite, but I think I have a good idea where to start now. Thanks for helping me figure it out. I’ll tell you what my lovelies, when we get back from PV I will write another post about our little beach ceremony and share the finished vows with you. In the mean time. Live together and love each other deeply from the heart.