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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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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.

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Adapted from Psalm 16

Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;

I say to the Lord, “My God are you.  Apart from you I have no good.”

 

I bless the Lord who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me.

I set the Lord ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.

Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body abides in confidence.

 

You, O Lord, will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.

AMEN.

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