This is not an open letter.

This is more or less a heap of thoughts which grievously resembles the current state of my house. Which reminds me of all the things I could be doing at home instead of being stuck in a hotel room going back and forth to training for work. Tonight, I ate dinner with a thirteen year old girl, and now I can't get that Erin McCarley song out of my head: little girls don't know how to be sweet girls, mama didn't teach me // little boys don't know how to treat little girls, daddy didn't show me. To say that she was not a sweet little girl could very well be the understatement of the century -- the latest iPhone held close to her face, the only time she spoke was to scoff at or speak scornfully to her mother. I fingered the bulb of a Christmas light that twisted around the trim of the booth and occasionally laughed to keep from screaming.

I can't stop thinking about all the blurred lines and wrecking balls that, at the end of the day, only demolish our souls; multi-billion dollar corporations feeding us our thoughts, telling us what we want and making coy promises of liberation and enlightenment, and I just want to tell her that they don't care about her a bit. 

I wonder where our innocence has gone, and I try not to feel responsible. Its more comfortable to not bear the weight of that burden. But I know avoidance doesn't change anything. I still laughed at the joke in that movie and rushed to watch the video of her twerking. We are all responsible for what we produce and choose to reinforce, and I try hard to shake the thought that her parents have created a monster. We've all created monsters.

I want to tell her that I remember what it was like to be thirteen, but I'd rather not revisit the years of my life wasted adamantly believing that only Hollister or American Eagle clothing were good enough to adorn this body, the years absorbed by the notion that life happened on a screen, and that more and bigger was always better -- except when it came to the circumference of my waist.

Its funny -- there's that verse of scripture that we memorize in youth group about not letting people look down on us because we're young, and what they don't tell you is that that is a much harder concept to grapple with as an emerging adult. Because at 23, I am still young, and while I don't claim to know everything, what I do know, I know well.

At 23, I know that far more important than the circumference of my waist is the circumference of my lifeI know that life can be as rich as the soil beneath my unpolished toes, and that the ripples our lives make have nothing to do with how many followers we hoard and everything to do with how willingly our hearts stretch and our arms reach to meet the needs of others. This is what I want to tell her.

It took awhile for me to grasp that life is live, and it flies by so much faster than you want it to. I think the shift happened around the time that I looked up and realized that there are literally countless things to be thankful for, and so much that I am afraid to lose.

I want to tell her that when your heart stretches, there's resistance and pain. And that the whole of life is about coming to the uncharted ends of yourself to find that glory resides in the fringes. There is something so holy about that place.

I have two friends who, three years into college, decided to change their majors. And they're probably two of the most courageous people I know. I laughed as I likened Hannah to Abraham, leaving everything she thought she knew and just going until God said stop. I have to admit, sometimes, my words stick with me. Now, I just whisper over and over and over lead me, lead me, lead me.

A Marriage Prayer

IMG_3638_2

Lord, thank you.

Thank you for the past two months, the past four years. Time spent putting down roots -- laughing, crying, dancing, cherishing roots.

My heart is full.

But Lord, as we continue to grow, I know there will be times of emptiness. You promised that there would be trouble as long as we are in this world, on this side of glory. Help us to remember that You have not given us a spirit of fear, and that two are always better than one. Help us to remember that everything that happens here is for the purpose of making us more like Jesus.

Help us to remember that love, most often, has nothing to do with how we feel, and everything to do with our commitment, our will, the strength You have given us. We love because You first loved us. You have shown us the perfect way.

Father, we want Your Word to be at the center of this marriage. Forgive us for the times when we lean on our own understanding, and help us to forgive each other in the midst of the frustration that ensues. Remind us of Your character -- slow to anger, rich in grace and mercy.

I pray for our purity, because I know it will be challenged. I pray for our eyes, for our minds, and for our hearts, that when we are tempted to wander, we would remember the promise we made to each other in Your presence. I pray that we would honor and respect the men and women we interact with, and that we would be intentional about creating healthy boundaries in our places of work, recreation, and worship. And Lord, I pray that our intimacy would continue to grow.

Lord, You have charged me as a wife to respect my husband. Help me to consistently search for ways to encourage and build up my husband. Give me the grace to find joy in serving him. Help me to not be discouraged by laundry and dishes and things that often seem mundane. Forgive me when I take the small things for granted, and remind me that this life, this marriage, is truly a ministry that can be used to magnify Your goodness.

You have given the husband the charge of loving his wife. God, we both know that this is not always an easy task. I am anxious and forgetful and headstrong, but love covers a multitude of faults. Love not only bandages the wound, but heals it. Lord, I pray that You would strengthen Craig in Your love, and that his love for me would be an overflow of that. I pray that he would find the grace and safety in me that is required for him to be vulnerable.

I pray that we would be patient and kind. Help us not to be jealous or boastful or self-seeking. Help us not to dredge up past grievances. Give us the grace to always be truthful. Lord, let our love be a place of protection, trust, hope, and perseverance. Only in Your strength.

Above all, continue to remind us that our marriage gives only a glimpse of how the Bridegroom loves and yearns for his Bride.

Thank You for my husband, for his smile and strength and wit and constant willingness to serve and search for the best.

Help us to keep seeking Your face and expanding Your kingdom-garden.