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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.

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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

 

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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.

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A little more than a week ago, I packed up all my earthly belongings (except those Star Wars toys my mom promised to not throw away) and moved to Catonsville to the house Casey and I will share for at least the first year of our marriage. With the help of my mother, my friend George and Casey’s family, we also moved Casey’s stuff into the house during the same weekend.

One thing that hasn’t moved in is Casey.

I’m there alone until Dec. 30, the day she becomes my wife. Sure, she comes over and we have dinner or watch a movie together, but right now it’s mostly just me in there. While I was covering the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) for The Catholic Review, Casey spent an extraordinary amount of time unpacking boxes, putting things in their proper places (which I’m still trying to figure out) and getting the house in order. All of it was preparing the house to be our home.

And, that’s the thing. While I have adjusted to living in Catonsville, it’s not home yet. The most important piece for me – Casey – isn’t there yet. All of the material goods in the world make a home fun to be around, but love fills it.  I look forward to New Year’s Eve morning, when I can look across the bed and see the face of my wife and know I get to spend every day of  my life growing with her, supporting her and loving her.

The cliché goes, “Home is where the heart is.” My heart will be full Dec. 30 and each day that comes after.

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On November 1, we remember the lives of those who have gone before us– both the recognized saints and the unknown people who are the unsung heroes of our faith.  We have a great many role models who have shown us what it means to direct our lives toward holiness in simple and mindful ways.  By looking to the saints for inspiration, we are guided to discipleship through their every-day decisions and relationships.

We also know so many people in our lifetimes who influence and inspire us in our faith… these are the “unknown saints” who give us examples of faith, hope, and charity within real life.  They aren’t afraid to share their faith.  They teach their children about God.  They pray.  They forgive.  They personally inspire us to be better people ourselves.

Time and again, my future groom is one of those unknown saints, influencing me for the better.  Matt’s own choices of actions and words are often careful to reflect the light of Christ in unassuming ways, and he is a positive influence on his friends and family.  Through the sacrament of marriage, we can draw one another closer to heaven by encouraging lifestyles rooted in faith.  Sometimes this means admonishing, or correcting behavior that isn’t best.  Sometimes, it’s as simple as leading by example of joyful service.

For the times that he’s demonstrated patience during our wedding planning, and forgiveness when I make my own mistakes, I am filled with awe at Matt’s generous heart.  I am inspired to make my own life a reflection of the same love and generosity, and then in turn hope to strengthen his faith as well.

Happy All Saints Day!

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I’m not sure when I contracted it, but I’ve got a chronic case of the blinks. While other kids had their awkward yearbook photos taken open-eyed, I always had my eyes closed.  I once got my picture taken with Sleepy the Dwarf at DisneyWorld and they changed his name to Awakey after he stood next to me.

My future sister-in-law, Rory, likes to say, “Open your eyes!” as she snaps a shot when I’m with Casey. But, Rory’s been on the other side of this as well.

In fact, here’s me blinking with Rory at Ice! in Prince George’s County in early 2010.

Here’s me blinking at a Pasni, a Nepali celebration for babies who are sixth months old. This is called International Blinking.

Here’s me blinking at an Orioles game with some friends. And, no, the Orioles didn’t put me to sleep.

Take a look at the shot this blog’s main photo. I’m blinking!

This week, Casey and I are meeting with a potential wedding photographer, which is something we’re both excited about. Admittedly, I’m a little paranoid about our wedding photos.

If ever there was a day I want my eyes wide open, it’s my wedding day.  I feel like I need to do some calisthenics and get ’em all stretched out.

A photographer is going to be a partner in this journey with us. Weddings tend to go by in a blink (No pun intended. OK, maybe it was intended.) and a photographer can be an extension of us, capturing people we love that are sharing in our day. Most importantly, he’s going to snap the photos of us that we will be sharing with our children in the years to come. It’ll provide endless amounts of entertainment for them as they make fun of how mom and dad looked back then.

Keep your eyes open – even if I can’t – for our photographer decision.

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Being single often, not always, means you can afford to be a little selfish. OK, a lot selfish.
While I’ve always been conscious of others and want to help those in need, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about me. That means going to the movies and spreading out. A 5-foot-9 guy can go big sometimes.
It’s amazing how quickly you get used to sitting alone in a movie theater.  I watched couples file in over the years and guessed which one was likely to talk and not let the other person watch the movie. I thought about how bad they had it off because I could use the empty seat next to me to store the Industrial-sized popcorn bag, candy box and drink. One of them was going to wind up butter in their lap.
Have you ever had two cup holders? It’s how the kings live.
As a young man, I used to think about marriage in an idealized fashion, but as I got older, I got used to being single and love seemed less appealing. Answering to no one ruled.
I now know, thanks to the presence of Casey in my life, that I was kidding myself.
One of the recurring themes for our Engaged Encounter weekend was that marriage isn’t a one-day thing, but a lifetime partnership. In our Catholic faith, it’s rooted in Christ’s love.
Casey and I currently live about an hour away from one another. When she’s working late, I’m faced with the same options I always had when I was a single man and bored. I’ll check out Fandango and go to the movies, get my snacks and plop down. Then I’ll look at the empty seat next to me and the word “bonus!” doesn’t come to mind. Instead, I think “Dagger!”
Love’s to blame and I’m not putting up a fight.
I look forward to having Casey by my side, not just when the theater lights dim, but for life’s journey ahead.

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