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On, this, the third anniversary of the day I proposed to Casey, I remembered we have this blog. And that I wrote about proposing to Casey.
Anyone who’s Facebook friends with me is aware that we’re not engaged any further. We’re married and have two lovely children – Annie and Liam.
It’s time to bring this blog back. I better talk to Casey first. 🙂

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Just under five months ago, I asked Casey to marry me.
That’s going to happen today.
Almost immediately after I proposed, we talked about how we didn’t want to wait too long and that we were ready to be married to one another.
We just didn’t realize how quickly five months would go by.
Even up to today, we’re making last minute adjustments and prep. No matter what’s ready, we are crossing the finish line together by 5:30. We’ve come to realize that today isn’t the finish line, however. It is the start of the longest, most life-giving marathon there is: marriage. Along the way, we know there will be faith, family and friends with figurative water cups to help nourish and sustain us. We will never be thirsty without those things in our lives.
I know one thing: I am emotional as I type this. As a boy, I dreamed that I would marry a sweet and smart woman who brought me joy, made me laugh and made me better. As a man, I will stand in front of the altar and know I’ve found her and much, much more.
I will aim to be her equal.
A look at Cassandra Michele Anderson puts the world in perspective. All of its possibilities come into focus.
I don’t know where life is going after today, but I go into the unknown with great joy, anticipation and humility.
This blog will continue beyond today and become our marriage and family blog.
When I proposed, I asked Casey if she would be interested in doing a blog with me. As a professional writer, this was a natural outlet for me, but I figured Casey could use it as a teaching tool for the teenagers she works with. They would see the Sacrament of Marriage is something truly special. I may be the writer, but Casey is this blog’s best contributor and I learn something each time I read her musings. She makes me laugh and think at the same time.
Thanks to you, the reader, who has followed along. You’ve contributed so much to our journey and we hope you continue with us.
The journey is only starting. Bring the water cups.

Early in November, Matt and I met up with David Spence, our friend and wedding photographer, for an Engagement photo session.  It was unusually chilly, but we had a blast wandering around downtown Ellicott City and pausing every so often to capture affectionate moments against lovely settings in the neighborhood.  Here are just a few samplings of the amazing work David did with us…

cuddling because it was romantic... or really chilly outside?

 

"One Way"

 

dapper Matt

 

posing on the Trolley Path brings out the cuteness in all of us...

… and my personal favorite…

just. plain. sweet.

Many, many thanks go to David at Spence Photographics for being so awesome, fun, and brilliant with our photo session… we cannot wait to see what he captures on Friday!

Counting down….

 

This doesn’t even seem real.  In eight days, people will file into Church of the Resurrection in Ellicott City and they will be handed a program with this as the cover.

Four years ago, I didn’t know Cassandra Michele Anderson existed. She was working with teenagers and helping them grow in their faith. I didn’t know all the good she was doing for this world, how funny she was or how brilliant she was either.

And, now I do and I’m so much better for it.

 

 

One of my favorite faith-themed websites is Busted Halo, where articles, blogs, and videos explore young adult faith lives.  One of their most creative features are annual Advent and Lent count-down calendars.  Each day, there is a new reflection and prayer reminder that sheds unique light upon the season….

I think that their take on the meaning of the Advent season is just fantastic!Take two minutes to get the synopsis:

I have always endeared to the Advent season… the anticipation of Christmas and all its seasonal glory speaks to my sensibilities and my spirituality.  Both religiously and secular-ly, every aspect of Advent makes me a little bit giddy (the first snowfall! the lessons and carols! the blessing of the manger scene! the lights and decorations! the music! the Charlie Brown Christmas Special!).

This year,  our last month of engagement is almost entirely during Advent (25 out of 30 days, anyhow), and all of the meanings and themes of Advent take on a whole new meaning for me personally.

Christ is entering our world … and Advent is the expectant waiting… hopeful anticipation… and cheerful preparation of God breaking into our lives!

Oh my goodness, have I developed a new appreciation for hopeful anticipation!  Five days after Advent ends, December 30, Matt and I get to receive a brand new (for us) sacrament — and God will break into our lives in a new way.  And the connection between the spirituality of Advent and my spirituality of engagement go even farther than that.

When we celebrate Advent, it is meant to be a quiet time of reflection and preparation for Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  Our Lord chose to enter the world as a human being… submitting to our restrictions of time and space… out of pure love for humanity… in order to communicate that love to us in new and definite ways.  We look at the Virgin Mary’s obedience to God’s will as our supreme example of discipleship.  We look at the presence of the shepherds at the birth to demonstrate God’s preferential option for the poor.  We look at the gifts of the Magi for their forshadowing of the sacrifice Jesus would make for humankind. Personally, looking at nativity scenes in art and in decorations, I find myself prayerfully pondering the wonder and mystery of God’s existence as a helpless infant. We were not expecting the Messiah to arrive in such an unassuming way.  We hoped for a superhero of sorts, or at least someone born into nobility or a warrior-leader or a legacy rabbi…  but a humble family of a carpenter?!?  This defied conventions.  The day Jesus was born, God showed us the beauty and value in humility, vulnerability, and purity. 

To me, engagement is just like Advent because we are anticipating and preparing for the presence of Christ to enter our lives in a new way.  Jesus is present to us in the signs of the sacrament, and the sacramentality of our marriage will carry out beyond our wedding day for years to come.   God is love, and so every time we share love with each other and with our family or community, we are experiencing God’s presence — even when that experience is mundane, like taking out the trash, or meek, like offering forgiveness for mistakes, or quiet, like taking time to pray for each other.   Each encounter is no less loving, and no less holy — God’s incarnation in the small and unexpected.

Like Mary and Joseph, we’ve come to realize that God has a plan for our lives, and that our faithful partnership will offer something special to the world.  Like the three wise men, we seek to follow Christ and to offer generously of our own gifts and talents.  Like the humble manger where Jesus was born, we will encounter God in simple, unassuming, and unexpected ways throughout our marriage. We have hope and delight in knowing that Jesus is near…

Advent reminds us that there is joy in the waiting.

Peanutbutter Jelly Time!

This past weekend, Matt’s family threw me a beautiful Bridal Shower, co-hosted by his mom and sister.  Aunts, cousins, and dear friends gathered for delicious food, warm hospitality, and quality family time.  Everyone’s gift-giving generosity was positively amazing, and I am grateful for the abundant blessings of such supportive community.

Mom and little M. helping with the gifts

The biggest hit of the party, though, was an awesome cake that Elizabeth baked for us, in the shape of a Peanutbutter & Jelly sandwich!  The meanings behind the cake were layered — first, it was a nudge and a wink at Matt, who is a picky eater with, shall we say, an unsophisticated palate.  One of his lifetime favorite foods is PB & J.

E. and the PB&J Masterpiece

More poignant, though, was Elizabeth’s re-telling of the metaphor she had heard about marriage being like a peanutbutter & jelly sandwich.  A priest had once told her that if a marriage relationship was like peanutbutter & jelly (assuming Matt is the PB and I’m the J), the bread that holds the sandwich together and makes it whole is the Bread of God — Jesus Christ.  In a sacramental marriage, Jesus is an important third party included in the relationship…  if the Bread (of God) is left out of the recipe, all you are left with is a gooey, sticky, mess.  If that ain’t the truth!

practicing for cake-cutting on the big day!

The whole shower was a cheerful testament to the love and support that surround Matt and I as we prepare for our future…  but no one will soon forget the delicious lesson in the Peanutbutter & Jelly Sandwich cake!  Thanks, future sister-in-law!

Cheers,

Cassandra

 

In 34 days, I’ll be standing in front of the altar waiting for Casey. I’ve always been waiting for her and three years ago I penned this blog for The Catholic Review about my status as a single man.

It’s an odd place to be when you are 30, Catholic and single in a church that is all about family building.

Everyone and their mom claims to know someone who “would be perfect for you.” So, you go on a series of blind dates that leave you wondering if the people who set you up really know you at all.

“The Big 3-0” is the point of no return in the real world. You’re not- in theory, at least- a kid anymore. The bottle opener still on the key chain should have been gone after your 25th birthday party… at the latest. All of your friends had their weddings three or four years ago and those bottles you used to open for them at parties are replaced with ones that contain baby formula.

So, when the family gets together to give you a watch for the landmark birthday, it’s not by accident. It’s one of those non-so-subtle reminders to make like Simba in The Lion King and get on with the Circle of Life already.

So, where do you go from here? Some, like my childhood friend recently did, enter the noble life of the priesthood. Some people keep at the dating scene, whether its through local parish singles groups or Web sites.

Who can resist E-Harmony, with its 29-dimension match system?! Seriously, look at those people, laughing and dancing in the commercials. They’re not just harmonious. They’re e-harmonious.

I turned 30 last month and joined the Review two weeks later. As a single guy, I didn’t think about the “point of no return” much leading up to the big day, but have lingered more on it since I transitioned from sports writing to covering the church.

It’s easy not to think about the married life much when you’re eating hot dogs and covering games until 10:30 p.m. every night. Sports writers can be as emotionally stunted as the athletes they cover.

Families, though, are the essence of the church.

Single men and women are the stragglers, trying to find a place to belong. Who wants to be the loner sitting in the back pew? Trust me, we’ve seen you looking at us and it’s uncomfortable for us, too.

Even though we may not be running on everyone else’s clock, we can still be an important voice in the church. Finding that voice is the challenging part.

Casey tells me that she used to read my blogs and think we might be compatible. We were each on a similar plane, but on different tracks. One day soon, God willing, we might walk to the edge of Pride Rock and raise our own cubs to the sky. OK, Casey might kill me if I do that, but wouldn’t it be sweet to have an African chorus welcome your child into the world?

It’s extraordinary, really, to think of life’s possibilities. This weekend, I’m going to Mass by myself again. This time, it’s to look for a parish that Casey and I will possibly share as a couple, raise our children in and grow in our faith together. I know my future in the church now – as a family man.

I guess it’s time to get a watch.