Marriage

We do not enter into a marriage as an obligation, as something that has to be done.  We do not enter into a marriage for the sake of the ritual or ceremony.  We do not enter into a marriage as a law given by the state.

But rather… we marry as a celebration, as a signpost, of how God takes two beautiful and unique individuals and brings them gloriously together as one.

No longer are there two individuals… but rather one flesh- united together as one.

No longer are there two separate or competing interests, but rather one cooperative interest.

No longer are there two sets of priorities, but rather one shared set of priorities.

No longer is there a mindset of mine and yours, but rather ours.

No longer are there “your responsibilities and my responsibilities, your role and my role, your duty and my duty,” but rather our responsibility, our role, our duty… together.

It is this new creation, this two becoming one, this beautiful union, that we celebrate in marriage.

You may have heard the saying, “What God has joined together, let no one separate.”

But I would go even further:  Let each one of us- every friend, every family member, and every person do our very best to, not just avoid separating or dividing marriages, but let us work together cooperatively to encourage, build up, strengthen marriages and families through our words, our actions, and our prayers.

Marriage is a communal responsibility-  we all take part and have a responsibility in the life of this new creation.

But may the bride and groom always work to encourage, build up, and strengthen their marriage and family as well.

With words of life, grace, peace, and love to one another.  With the disposition of Christ, always serving each other in selfless and humble love.  With prayers never ceasing for your marriage and your family, as you are showered and covered with God’s blessing and love.

And may the love of God received… be the very love given to one another.

A love that is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude.

A love that is not selfish or quick-tempered.

A love that does not keep a record of wrongs that others do.

A love that rejoices in the truth, and not in evil.

A love that is always supportive.
A love that is loyal.
A love that is hopeful.
And a love that is trusting.

It is this kind of love that will never fail.

It is this kind of love that will never fail a marriage.

It is this kind of love that will never fail a family.

Thank God for that kind of love.  For demonstrating that kind of love.  And for letting each of us take part in that kind of love.

I am performing a wedding today.  This is a small edited portion of my message.

peace…

brandon

Mother

We are drawn to stories.  The heroes.  The villains.  The supporting characters.  The conflict.  The hurt.  The pain.  The bitterness.  The comfort.  The grace.  The mercy.  The forgiveness.  The climax.  The resolution.  The triumph and celebration.

I believe we are drawn to stories…because we always try to find ourselves in them.

Who am I?  What part do I play?  What is my role?  Am I the one causing hurt…or the one comforting?  Do I inflict pain…or do I grant mercy?  Have I become bitter…or do I forgive?  Do I continue to hate…or do I choose to love?

Of course there are choices throughout the story.

A character can be molded and shaped by situations and circumstances, or by the lessons learned as the story twists and turns.

But woven into the fabric of every situation, circumstance, and lesson learned, we find a supporting cast with their own unique stories that have, and will continue to, influence and shape our own stories.

While it is true that some of these individuals carve valleys into the landscape of our story, others work the fertile soil of our lives to show us heights we would have never seen otherwise.

They pass along their heart and sense of selflessness to their sons and daughters… and the sons and daughters of future generations.

But it is not by word alone…but by word and flesh.

This perfectly describes my mother.

For her daily example in word and flesh… I am eternally grateful.

Her uniqueness

Her influence

Her tender and gentle shaping

Her undying love for her children

Made me who I am today.

And she continues to work the fertile soil of my life so I might see greater heights.

It is because of her that I stand tall and see more clearly.

But my mom does more than simply nourish the soil of my life.

She is also a seed sower.

The school bus pulled up early on a cool fall morning.  A little man stood with his red satchel beside his mom in anticipation.  The doors opened wide.  The little man took the gifts from his mom and stepped onto the bus.  He handed a box of handkerchiefs and a Snickers bar to the bus driver.

I gave because my mother always gave selflessly.

She has always been a giver.

A giver to her family and to others.

Time, gifts, money, and instruction, she has never failed to give.

Even when we did not have much.  Even when she battled cancer.

She continued to give.

Not begrudgingly.  She did it without complaint.  She did not expect anything in return.

She gave of herself to others.

The seed of selfless giving was planted in me.  This seed took root in the fertile soil of my life.  This seed was watered by the Spirit.  And the shoot broke forth from the fertile ground.

The tree extended branches and produced an abundance of fruit.  The fruit fell to the ground and scattered more seeds.  The seeds of giving and selflessness were planted in me by my mom.

They grew to produce in me the fruit of giving and selflessness to others.

And that cycle continues.

From person to person.

From generation to generation.

My mother made me a fruit bearer and a seed sower.

A part of her will always live and carry on with me… as I continue to pass along what was given to me.

In and through my own children.

To my friends.

And even among my enemies.

I know who I am today and I know what role I play in this life because of my mother.

Happy Mother’s Day mom.  My words are insufficient… but it is the best I have.

I love you.

Brandon

 

GUEST POST: In Which We Eat Nachos and Fall in Love by Emily Wierenga

trent bursts into the room and asks me to pray and so i bow on the bed, in this retreat of a home called Young Life. a place where staff spoil unchristian kids in the name of the gospel. a place where God emerges in the form of pool parties and walk-on skits and water-skiing and five-star accommodation and zip lines. a place where you can almost HEAR the mountains and lakes clapping their praise.

and trent is head leader here, and a boy named emerson is a camper. a boy who hasn’t eaten in two days. he wants to get back at his dad for sending him here. he wants to hurt his parents who are going through a divorce, so he’s smoking pot in the guts of the rocks and hiding behind shower curtains when trent comes looking for him. and he screams and swears at trent when he finds him.

soon he’s running across the cliffs and trent is following him and talking into his walkie-talkie and it feels like a man-hunt. and so trent slows down. he’s lost sight of emerson, and he prays, and he sights a sliver of black jacket from behind a tree. so he stops, and he sits,and he prays, and he waits. and emerson sees this, and eventually they talk.

trent apologizes. for it seeming like a man-hunt. for all of this, but they care about him, he says. then God tells trenton to bring emerson some pizza (trent not knowing emerson hasn’t eaten in two days) so he does, and they talk some more.

this goes on for the next two days, this chasing and hiding and not wanting to be at camp and trent praying and seeking emerson out. and then someone reports three i-phones missing, and cash. and emerson is the only suspect.

he says he didn’t steal them, and then trent sees him leave the cabin and scale the mountains and trent and the other head leader follow him. pray as they follow him and God leads them to a pile of rocks and wood and grass and they dig beneath it and find a bag with three phones and the cash.

and emerson is sent home.

but before he is, we make him sandwiches and we tell him we love him and we wish he could stay. and trent fairly cries for it all, for the way this boy refused to let them in.

late that night trent bursts into the room again, and he’s holding a plate of nachos, and he says, “emily, come have some nachos with me, and let me tell you how much i love you.”

so i do. we sit in the moonlight, in the kitchen of the lodge, the campers partying below, and we eat nachos and he tells me how much he loves me. for praying for him this week. for loving emerson alongside him. for letting him sleep in after he’d been out late searching for the boy.

and i tell him i love him too. for the way he loves on others. for the way he loves on God.

and this moment, it fills us up more than any nachos ever could.

Emily Wierenga is the author of Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder (Ampelon, September 2012). She is wife to Trenton (a math and science teacher), mother to Aiden Grey and Kasher Jude, foster mom to Joey and Jin, a freelance journalist, and a commissioned artist. Emily also volunteers as a counselor for families with eating disordered loved ones, and in quiet moments, she runs, plays guitar, kisses her babies, and travels. For more info, please visit http://www.emilywierenga.com.

Blog: http://www.emilywierenga.com

Twitter: @emily_wierenga