In His power and with His joy…

We wrote drafts of our vows in Atlantic, Iowa, a little town halfway between our parents’ farmhouses. Our tired eyes hovered over cups of bad coffee that a very sweet, very blonde waitress brewed happily after she heard what we were doing. It was supposed to be our “date night” the week of the wedding, but the bowling alley wasn’t open and we didn’t feel like hanging out in the Hy-Vee parking lot or at the Tropical Sno stand. We were getting married in a few days, which also made “scooping the loop” seem a little silly.

So, we slid into a booth at Oinker’s and scribbled on scraps of paper while we imagined what covenant and promise and marriage was supposed to be about. We looked at other vows and wrote out our own words and I mostly remember saying, “We are really getting married!” over and over again.

There is nothing light about making a marriage covenant. The first covenant in the Bible involved God walking through halved animals with a vow that the same would be done to him if the promise of provision was broken. Covenant promises are heavy things and when something is really heavy, I seem to go in search of large rocks to have “writer’s block” against.

writing vows

So, I mostly sat there while Patrick mostly wrote versions of our vows and then read them to me out loud. At some point, we both realized that making any statement of promise was completely ridiculous. We were weak, and not just because we had planned a wedding in three months. We were weak because we were (and are) human – fearfully and wonderfully made humans whose words and promises are limited just like our existence.

But the promise we were powerless to make to each other in front of God and witnesses was still possible. I will never forget the statement of introduction we wrote that seemed to both honor the weight of our commitment and resign our powerlessness to keep it on our own.

“I believe that in Christ all things are held together. In His power and with His joy, I am able to make this promise.”

I still have the scribbled scraps of paper. I found them in the zipper pouch of my backpack this past week when I was fishing for a pen. I’m not sure how they got there or why I decided it was a good place to keep them. But, there I was, staring out at lunchtime commotion in Bryant Park and thinking about all the things God was holding together in that moment.

Somewhere in the mad middle of our three month engagement, our pastor challenged us to write a mission statement. Our excitement to make a declaration about how we wanted our love to honor God and bless others seemed more important than parking arrangements and party favors. So, we thought and wrote and prayed in the summer quiet of his living room. I don’t think we realized at the time that our mission statement would have the same foundation as our vows.

We are disciples of Christ and believe that in Christ all things are held together. We will proclaim the Lord’s name to one another, family, friends, and neighbors through acts of service, words of encouragement, and invitations to break bread.

As it turns out, our belief that in Christ all things are held together (Colossians 1:17) has been one of the most beautiful truths to preach to ourselves in the first few weeks of marriage. Our excitement for this new adventure feels like holidays are happening every morning. In Iceland, we were almost embarrassed by our goofy grins enjoying lobster soup at little roadside cafes and standing at the bottom of glacier mountains and holding hands in coffee shops. We were that couple, on honeymoon.

And, as gratitude for this new life spilled out over the unbelievable horizons and breathtaking views, we were in awe of just how completely Christ holds things together. Our confidence in Him grew as we thought about our vows – confidence that the God who holds all things together is holding us together and empowering us to do the same.

It has been exactly two weeks and I am now more convinced than ever of my inability to keep such a crazy promise as I made on my wedding day.

But, God. He’s such an abundant provider! He is making it possible in this moment for me to keep my promise. He is holding us together like He holds together the Icelandic moss fields and Iowa’s rolling hills and the New York City skyline. He is making it possible for us to make these promises again today.

I believe that in Christ all things are held together. In His power and with His joy, I am able to make this promise.

I, Patrick, take you, Caroline, to be my beloved wife. I will lead you, protect you and provide for you as I seek to glorify God with my life and with our lives as one. I will stay committed to you for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, wherever the Lord leads. I will be by your side, as long as we both shall live.

I believe that in Christ all things are held together. In His power and with His joy, I am able to make this promise.

I, Caroline, take you, Patrick, to be my beloved husband. I commit myself to you, striving to encourage, uphold, forgive and affirm you as I seek to glorify God with my life and with our lives as one. I will stay committed to you for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, wherever the Lord leads us. I will be your side, as long as we both shall live.

 

tiny and giant, fast and slow

I watched the silhouette stride across the three mammoth windows of Grand Central Station – just a tiny stick of shadow making its way through giant panes of light. Nobody minds when someone stands still in the middle of Grand Central because everyone is either a commuter or a tourist. Commuters rarely pause and tourists rarely speed. The two kinds of Grand Central Stationers coexist easily and well, as long as they respect the plaid crossing pattern when they do decide to move.

You know the pattern I mean, right? I remember it from marching band and 5th grade choir concerts. One line of people meets another line of people at a diagonal and when the lines intersect, the people alternate so both lines pass through toward different directions. Anyway, that’s how movement happens in the Station and it is a wonder to observe. Diagonals on diagonals and motion on motion and it all buzzes like a beehive of ambition toward productivity of work or play.

And above all the commotion was this solitary figure last night, the tiniest silhouette framed by summer evening city light.

I straddled the world between tourist and commuter (because I am rarely fully either) and tilted my head toward my right shoulder to consider what tiny looks like against giant and what fast looks like inside slow. It was probably foolish, stopping like that for no reason.

But I can’t shake the mystery of feeling both tiny and giant, both fast and slow.

Living in the city is like that for me. It is why my body felt like a hundred dead weights by the time I reached my apartment door with groceries last night and it is also why I went on a bike ride with my husband to listen to jazz in a tea room an hour later. The perfect sunset breeze, an upright bass, and the best conversation over a decaf cappuccino is what summer date nights are made of.

And so we rush a little bit to slow down a lot. We subway scurry home from work and we bike to lazy trumpet sounds. It is like the calm, steady stride of a silhouette in giant train station windows above a frenzy of motion – both tiny and giant, both fast and slow.

when everything is magnificent

It’s true what they say about being a newlywed.

It’s like an contagion you would be glad to catch – it makes you want to stay in, to say endless cheesy lines, and to build forts in your tiny New York living room (let’s be honest, I would do that regardless). I’m a week and a half old in newlywed years, and I’m obsessed with the idea that the two of us are a unit.

But let me pause a hot moment for some #realtalk.

I haven’t got it all sorted, but I think I can boil my thoughts down to this reflection that bubbled up inside me while traveling around Iceland for six days:

A magnificent thing is never less magnificent next to other magnificent things.

God is a good Creator – the best there is, really. Everything He makes is good and He holds each magnificent thing together in Christ. The reality of God’s magnificent handiwork sunk in while we viewed the alien landscapes with dropped jaws and wide eyes – landscapes that changed almost immediately as we rounded pristine snow-topped mountains and followed black sand coastlines and maneuvered bright green countrysides under dreamy fog.

So much magnificence.

The fields of yellow flowers were no less magnificent than the hodge-podge fields of bright green, moss-covered black rocks. And those moss fields were no less magnificent than the erupting geysers. And the geysers were no less magnificent than the Hobbit looking valleys.

All of it was magnificent and sometimes I had to close my eyes to give my soul a rest.

But, back to #realtalk. This side of marriage is a different kind of magnificent, but not different in a “finally made it” sort of way. Not like that at all. The beauty and joy of my solitary journey with the Lord has emerged in deeper hues these first weeks of being newlywed.

Because I was always first and most in love with the Maker of magnificence and that has not changed.

Last Sunday, we sat our newlywed selves in the familiar church pew (on the left side, in the middle and towards the back) and listened as our pastor talked about real hunger. Everyone everywhere will always be hungry because that is how our bodies are made. And this very real, very deep hunger is mirrored in our spiritual selves as our bodies groan for something that satisfies our souls.

Jesus offered Himself, the most magnificent thing at the most costly price, so that we could be the best kind of full.

He offered Himself so that we can experience all kinds of magnificence (Icelandic landscapes, weekends with friends, singlehood, pancake nights, married life) knowing that He is the Maker.

I still have my rosy newlywed shades on, sure. This is a grand life I’m living with my best friend in the world. I would not hesitate to call all the cheesy phrases and the midnight Icelandic adventures and the breakfasts in the morning “magnificent.”

But I also would not hesitate to call magnificent the year I lived with my sister in Des Moines or the road trips with Alejandra from Colorado or the conversations on porches in Iowa and Michigan or the endless, ridiculous adventures in Honduras. They are all equally magnificent only because they have a Maker who never changes, a Maker who knows our hunger for good things and does not hesitate to provide perfectly.

Guest Post | Wedding Speech, Take Two

I have been signing things Caroline Kolts for the past week, not that there was a whole lot to sign on our honeymoon in Iceland (check out Patrick on instagram). I have to keep reminding myself that together we make a family, the two of us. These first days of family are like making fresh footprints in untouched winter snow – everything is sparkling with promise and waiting to be discovered, built, and dreamed. We went to church for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. Kolts yesterday and I was overwhelmed to be sitting next to my newly covenanted love and worshipping my First Love.

I will spare you all of my marital bliss-speak and offer instead the sweetest words that my sister insists appear as a guest post. I am more than glad to oblige, because her guest posts always attract more attention than my regular posts and (I’ll admit) I like the traffic. ;) Actually, I have read and re-read these words since she sent them earlier today and I can’t figure out why I hit the jackpot with such a sister and why she thinks so highly of me. God has blessed me abundantly with her crazy love.

sisters

Caroline is the wordsmith between us.  While she’s weaving words, making landscapes that you feel and experience, I’m working on writing a to-the-point-email that will inspire people to work for me for free, so there’s a difference clearly.

She’s also the cheesy one of us, the one who waxes poetic about our sisterhood.  Whereas I’m the problem-solver, the send-Caroline-random-gifts-giver, the two-words-on-a-card-writer.  Those two words? Love you!  So, a difference there, as well.

But Caroline and Patrick’s wedding made me feel all kinds of cheesy, like there weren’t enough words in a speech to convey the joy welling within, and there wasn’t enough speech time to squeeze in the love I have for them, the slow moving sadness that comes from missing them, and the gratefulness in loving them together and separate, so much.

So, here is my guest blog post.  The speech I wish I would have spoken.  The official unofficial wedding speech, only 2 weeks late.

Caroline.  Your soul is the most beautiful I know, you know me better than anyone and yet are my biggest cheerleader.   My friendship with you makes me think marriage must be ok, that ‘someone knowing everything-ness’ and all.  In a weird way, it is so not weird that you got married before me.  For you have always gone first.  In following Christ, in maturity, in radical hospitality.  At a soul level, I think in some ways we are both the older sister, just in different ways.  Someone told me the other day that they love the way I talk about you, a mixture of awe, respect, and love.  And how could I not? You are exceedingly lovely, and I’ve always been baffled at the male sex due to their failure to realize this and marry you quickly.  But now I realize why it took them so long.  It was always Patrick, who you were meant for.  And the Patrick novel needed more chapters of adventure before the marriage part.  So, male gender, I’ll give you a pass this one time!

I have always been more concerned with who Caroline would marry than she found necessary.   I always had this desire for her to end up with a person who would fit her, wouldn’t stifle her, wouldn’t try to get her to calm down, settle down, and stop dreaming crazy dreams. Someone who would bring out the hilarious side I see, and reassure her of its validity in the world, that her creating laughter is just as important as creating ponderous thoughts.  And, selfishly, I thought her marrying someone that was ‘ok’ would make our time odd or strained, or worst case scenario, that there would be less of it.

But Patrick. Patrick who’s always been around in the best of ways, always been Caroline’s best fit, the moment just waiting to be right so all those puzzle pieces would fall into place.  I told Caroline at William’s wedding, “He just needs to be in our family.  Why don’t you just marry him?” The funny thing is, that premonition was so right.  He fits perfectly into our family.  Patrick who I have loved as a dear friend for years, who insisted I sleep on his air mattress when I slept over at the apartment he shared with his cousin (he slept on the floor).  Patrick who rented a car when I visited over Thanksgiving because he knew I was getting stressed with the subway like a pansy.  Patrick who along with Caroline, somehow thinks that I am both a good dancer and the life of the party, two things I have trouble seeing in myself.  Patrick who is a relentless friend, visiting his tribe often and asking heart questions over skype without that hurriedness I find myself plagued with often.  Dear, dear Patrick.  Who, having somehow drank the Kool-aid that my family’s been drinking for years, is now fully on board with the relentless cheerleading that is the Nichols family.

I told Caroline the other day that, strange as it may be, now when I’m with her and he’s not around, I miss him. Which is strange, because I’ve been around her without him for her whole life! But there’s just something about this great pair, that’s kind of like a 2-for-1 special.  Two creative people, each uniquely helping and filling in the gaps for each other, but together stretching each other to be more, do more, love more.  What they both did so well separately, they are able to do increasingly well together.  Like a 1+1=3 situation.  Them together, they’re a pretty unstoppable power couple.

Cheers to Caroline and Pat, my favorite 2-for-1.

he is one of the brave ones

After all the invisible confetti settled on the post-engagement ground in Brooklyn, I heard bits and pieces of the story that led up to the ultimate Easter proposal. Somewhere along the way, I heard about the conversation between Patrick and my Dad at the littlest steakhouse in Anita, Iowa. My Dad has never mentioned it, but Patrick shared a few things and I’ve stored them up in my heart.

Before my dad could settle into midwestern pleasantries and pretend this meeting was about anything else, Patrick said, “Dick, I’d like to marry your daughter.”

I suppose that set the tone for the conversation, but maybe more so when my dad said, “Patrick, I would be honored.”

I wasn’t there, but both men are great conversationalists so I kind of wish I could have been. In between the appetizer platter that I’m sure my dad ordered and the steak that is the best in the tri-county area, I guess they talked about life and marriage and love. I don’t know exactly how it came out, but at some point my dad shared this encouragement with him (and he paraphrased it for me):

Patrick, not many men want to pursue a strong woman these days. They are afraid or intimidated or something, I don’t know. Cindy is a strong woman and I am blessed every day that I chose her to love. And Caroline is like her mom – strong. 

It has taken months to let this conversation sink in – that Patrick flew to Iowa to ask my dad if he could marry me, that my two favorite men shared a meal, that my dad said I am a strong woman, and that Patrick loved me enough to pursue me.

I think my dad might be right – men are afraid to pursue strong women. I don’t always feel strong, but I know the Lord provides it in abundance. I am confident in a strength apart from me and maybe that looks intimidating – that I can say yes to crazy things or hard things or dangerous things because I know God has already gone before me and will sustain me with His faithfulness. I was humbled to hear my dad say he sees strength in me; humbled because it is the grace of God and it has much to do with growing up in his home.

More than that, or at least equal, came the realization that Patrick is one of the brave ones. He, too believes God is faithful and strong and sovereign. He is not afraid to pursue a strong woman and that makes me love him ever so much more.

Tonight, we are going to take my parents out to dinner to celebrate 35 years of their marriage and to celebrate the beginning of ours. We are strong women, I guess (by the grace of God), and the Lord has blessed us with brave men.

We will always be learning about God’s design – the way marriage reflects something beautiful about who He is and how He loves us. Today that lesson seems to be about God’s grace to give strength and bravery in order that two can serve one another and give God glory for His provision.

frivolous friday

In the spirit of lavishing love “just because,” I set out to soak as much in as possible this morning before I leave for Iowa in about an hour. I woke up to run in the park, dropped off my laundry, biked over to chat with Lele in our other favorite neighborhood coffee shop, and wrote out some thoughts. Then, when the responsible and predictable part of Caroline said, “Go home and pack” the carefree and whimsical Caroline looked at my beautiful bike with a basket and said, “Adventure instead.”

So, I did. I biked up Bedford and through Fort Greene. I meandered away the minutes I didn’t have walking the streets where no stores were yet open. I swayed under the shade and I smiled for no reason. I closed my eyes and walked with my head toward the cotton candy clouds, just because.

I jumped back on my bike, noting the ridiculousness of my summer dress and the goofiness of my grin, and biked over to Park Slope where I did more aimless walking. And all the time, it was okay that my joy didn’t have direction. It was okay that I wasn’t frantically checking and re-checking my bags I packed last night while watching Runaway Bride (it was free on Amazon Prime and who doesn’t love Julia Roberts with Richard Gere?).

It was more than okay, it was perfect.

What is the dumbest thing a bride can do one week before her wedding? Ride down the big hill in Prospect Park with her hands outstretched and her knees/elbows/face exposed to possible catastrophic collision. And that’s exactly what I did. I spread out my hands and embraced the breeze and it was exactly the best way to leave Brooklyn before coming back a Mrs.

I know it doesn’t make sense and I promise it isn’t just because I’m in love. I think I am finally realizing that adventures, a lot of times, are not planned. And receiving love brings joy to the giver as much as it does the receiver (if not more). So, when God gives good gifts like this absolutely beautiful day, it delights Him when I step completely into it.

Turns out, His delight is my delight. Let the adventures begin!

double surprise | double love

Two nights ago, Patrick and I were walking home from one of our favorite places in the neighborhood.

He was gnawing on a 5 pound vegan chocolate spelt pound cake log and I was slurping the last bubbles out of a decaf iced coffee with almond milk under perfect summer clouds. Emily, the owner and our new friend, wouldn’t let us leave without giving us that giant loaf and Patrick’s sweet tooth couldn’t wait to try it. He had just moved the last bit of his belongings into my little room in my little apartment and I had just picked up the most adorable plantable wedding favors. We were a sight at that café on the corner of Midwood and Rogers, clicking through lists and speaking assurances and sharing our fears that all the celebration will slip by too soon.

Anyway, the funny thing about all that emotional commotion in the coffeeshop, is that we parted an hour later – him to go to the gym and me to go for a run, with plans to meet up after he got his hair cut. Nothing extraordinary or special about the night before he was to leave for Iowa.

Meanwhile… I had been planning a surprise for him on the roof of his building with a bunch of our friends and neighbors. It was organized like a ragamuffin. As I sprinted back from the park and jumped in the shower, I kept up text conversation with everyone to make sure nothing was spoiled. I confirmed the plan with the neighbors, dropped off blankets and ran to the store to pick up summer snacks (watermelon and finger foods).

I showed up to his apartment in one of my new white dresses and I blushed when he said I looked nice. I have to find reasons to work all the white into my regular wardrobe in order to justify cost per wearing (thank you 4-H). Anyway, after our friend Rebecka made him look extra handsome in his new haircut, he suggested we go to the roof.

I thought he was playing right in to my surprise until HE surprised me with stargazing and proposing a second time with the perfect ring that finally came back from the custom jeweler. I said yes the first time, but I melted all the same when he started listing the reasons he wants to love me forever. And there we were – just the two of us looking at the big ole Brooklyn sky – still on this side of marriage and claiming every moment for joy.

Then I texted the neighbors (who I thought only knew about my surprise) and up they came. Patrick was so confused as they all filed out through the door. We had the most wonderful gathering of folks we love – huddled around candles and covered in the Brooklyn night sky.

roofparty

Aaron, our friend and neighbor and the most faithful pancake Mondays eater, said, “When I found out you were both surprising each other on the same night, I said ‘Of course. You would do that.’” Of course we would double surprise each other, using the same friends to make it happen and confusing them all. 

And it’s okay for love to be like that, just wild and ridiculous and ready to tackle naysayers.

It’s good when love makes a double surprise that ends with friends glowing on a little roof in Brooklyn. I’m learning that not every love proclamation needs to get results or have a purpose. Sometimes, gifts of love are extravagant and just because.

This is how God lavishes His love on us – it’s His kind of plan to double over surprises without condition or desired result. There is no reason to overflow a glass that is already full. A glass can only hold so much and a heart can only receive so much love. But, God loves us abundantly “just because.” He overflows us where we are full and where we are empty. He sustains us where we think we need it and where we think we don’t. He is unbelievably faithful and kind – too much so. He is good just because He is good and His love makes me melt.

This is the kind of love we want to double in our marriage – the ridiculous, ‘just because’ kind of love that brings glory to the only God who could author it.

 

those who return to Him

As the father looked upon him, and kissed him much, there probably came another kiss, which seemed to say “There is no soreness left: I have not only forgiven, but I have forgotten too. It is all gone, clean gone. I will never accuse you of it any more. I will never love you any less. I will never treat you as though you were still an unworthy and untrustworthy person.” Probably  at that there came another kiss; for do not forget that his father forgave him “and kissed him much,” to show that the sin was all forgiven. There stood the prodigal, overwhelmed by his father’s goodness, yet remembering his past life. As he looked on himself, and thought, “I have these old rags on still, and I have just come from feeding the swine,” I can imagine that his father would give him another kiss, as much as to say, “My boy, I do not recollect the past; I am so glad to see you that I do not see any filth on you, or any rags on you either. I am so delighted to have you with me once more that, as I would pick up a diamond out of the mire, and be glad to get the diamond again, so do I pick you up, you are so precious to me.” This is the gracious and glorious way in which God treats those who return to Him. As for their sin, He has put it away so that He will not remember it. He forgives like a God. – Charles Spurgeon, “Prodigal Love for the Prodigal Son”

This is sweet beauty. This is the “gracious and glorious way in which God treats those who return to Him,” this is His delight over diamonds that never lose their value. The Spring season is bursting with its own diamond offerings, of bright colors and bold raindrops and the warmth the winter was craving. Spring wears beauty so well and I am obliged to “waste” New York minutes admiring it.

There are too many kisses for us to gloss over the story of the Prodigal Son in a synopsis.

Greedy child asked Dad for inheritance early and then wildly wasted every penny before coming home, where Dad received him with a party.

The father’s undignified run was too brilliant to get smashed into the word “received” and the kisses were too many for this reunion to be an average greeting. He kissed the soreness out and the guilt and the shame and the worry – He kissed it all with the power of a Father who forgives.

I’ve been thinking about value and worth and (okay, fine) diamonds. There has never been a time in my life when I have thought more about what I don’t have. I suppose NYC does that to everyone, to some degree, but it has never been part of my rhythm. Contentment has carried me through the sparse and plentiful times in miraculous ways, so this thinking is throwing me for a loop.

People (particularly women) everywhere are obsessed with knowing what might make them more lovable and that manifests itself in all sorts of colorful and crazy ways in this city. My sister’s advice when I moved to New York was, “Care, you can wear anything and no one would bat an eye. That’s the nice thing about New York. You’ll sit next to someone in a suit and someone in fishnet stockings on the same subway ride.”

Turns out, she was right.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the way my eyesight has changed. I am more aware of myself, my style (and lack of), and all the categories I do not fit inside. People say, “If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.” I’m still trying to find out what “make it” means to figure out if I passed. But I’m not trying too hard to understand that litmus test, because there are too many kisses in the story of the Prodigal Son and the Loving Father.

When my pastor preached on Luke 15 this past Sunday, I thought about the Father’s eyesight instead. His love that covers a multitude of sins looked out on that haphazard hellion of a son and broke with compassion. The worth of the son was not about the words he prepared or the way he presented himself. The worth of the son was bound up in the love and compassion of the Father when the son returned home. He lavished love and kisses and let all the neighbors talk about his ridiculous sprint when the son was still “a long way off.”

This is the beauty the spring shouts, because winter did not deserve to be reborn into Spring. Winter died because God blew in Spring with the power of His words.

We are worthy of the Father’s love because He has said it is so and we hear those words spoken over us when we return to him, haphazard and tangled and unkept. This is the freedom of Spring – that the tree did nothing to earn its blooms and the sky did nothing to earn its shine. God, in His grace, is speaking His love over creation. And those who return to Him will hear the words spoken directly over their souls.

Hello, Spring! Hello, Easter!

we were made for campfires, coffee tables, and kitchens

Maybe, one of the sweetest successes in hosting is when you become the guest.

That’s what happened tonight when we brought our black bean cilantro salad over to the neighbors’ apartment who have enjoyed pancakes on so many nights. Patrick’s neighbors opened their door (with a clever invitation taped to the front) to a Cinco de Mayo feast they spread on their coffee table in their little NYC living room.

the cinco sign on the neighbors' door

the cinco sign on the neighbors’ door

I think we made community, this little pancake crew. Somehow, being a guest made it feel official. Our conversation was about things “we” do and games “we” should play together and other nights “we” should all host. Patrick’s apartment building missed him tonight, but while he was in Spain we were celebrating Mexico’s independence with the sweetest neighbors you could find.

We were made for this – for campfires and coffee tables and kitchens.

Two months from today I get to promise forever to the man who loves campfires, coffee tables, and kitchens in the very same, excessive amounts. That is a lot of handwritten notes on doors, a lot of pancakes, and a lot of side dishes sealed in tupperware containers. Not all of it is romance. Sometimes the recipes flop and sometimes the neighbors don’t show up and sometimes there isn’t enough bacon. But, thankfully enough, the requirement for community is persistence. Between the two of us, we have quite a bit of that (in between and in the midst of failures/successes). Still, the most precious necessity for community is persisting in knowing the One with the original idea.

We try to take our cues from the Lord, who was so persistent to send Jesus to show us what love and community look like when they are done perfectly.

Community is my favorite. I think I can say that and not mean it like ice cream or sunshine or the breeze in my face while biking the west side of Prospect Park (because those things are some kind of favorite, too). Community is for bruised hearts and for delighted souls and everyone is welcome to the table.

Did I mention that I really miss that Mr. Kolts? He gets back on Thursday and I am hoping we can squeeze in some non-wedding planning time to enjoy the magic of community.

I kind of promise I won’t write every post about my engagement/wedding. But, I am hoping some of you readers cut me some slack because I only get to be in this stage for two months. You don’t mind, right?

broad strokes of the painting I am living inside

I am starting to think the 60 and 70 degree temps are not exceptions, finally. It is spring… or maybe it is summer. The changes in this season are all melting together and I guess I needed some time to process all the changes, apart from public reflection. Let me give you some updates, to paint some broad strokes of the painting I am living inside.

>We have a rosemary plant hanging in our living room now. The pleasure we get from throwing fresh rosemary into recipes is perfectly silly.

>I like to sleep when I’m overwhelmed. I remember feeling like this sometimes in Honduras – after leaving work at 3 pm, I would crash on my bed and not wake up until morning. It sounds strange because I spend so much of my time chasing activity. But sometimes, like I told Tam recently, “Sometimes, I want to go to sleep because I don’t want to be awake anymore.” I think my body makes a bold ask for a recharge. I have been indulging lately. But, more sleep does not addressed envelopes make, so I will have to do some finagling this week.

>The park is green and crowded with activity! Runners and bikers and farmers markets and frisbee and pee wee baseball games – spring activity exploded in Prospect Park and it looks like a permanent smile on my face as I ride my bike Betty through it all. I went on an errand run yesterday with a very roundabout route, but the day was so glorious it didn’t matter that I took the long way.

>Yep, I am still engaged and still swirling in the post-proposal, full planning mode whirlwind. I’ve learned some things, already. First, I learned that NOT dreaming about specific wedding details for the past 20 years means this wedding has the potential to be as good as my Grandmother’s spontaneous recipes in the kitchen (with whatever is in the cupboard). I’ve also decided to actually take the advice everyone is giving me (in view of their wedding day), “At the end of the day, you will be married and that is what is most important.” True. So, I’m willing to let go of everything else (traditions, pinterest, etc). As long as those vows happen at some point in front of God and witnesses, we will be glad to host a party for all of our favorite people to celebrate the meaning of marriage.

>Lucky is not the right word and blessed is too cliche. I will tell you a story instead about the man I am going to marry. I was biking all over Brooklyn last week because I had convinced myself that I needed envelopes… instantly. It was pretty much the only detail I could move forward on and I wanted desperately to feel like I was productively moving forward with wedding planning. I looked for something practical and creative… but by the third store, I ended up with the plainest white envelopes you could find (something you might get your water bill in). I let go of all my expectations of what it would feel like to invite people to this celebration, because I knew it didn’t really matter anyway. Then, the next day I talked to Patrick on facetime (he’s working in Spain) and he reminded me that we don’t have the guest list done, the invitations are not printed, and there is no reason to give up all my hopes for an envelope that invites our guests in a creative way. He won’t let me be irrational and I love him for it. I ordered envelopes today and we both like them. They cost way more than plain, white bulk envelopes and that is okay. Hopefully, I will have invites to stuff into them soon, but I read somewhere that etiquette is 6 weeks before so I’m still in the clear (and so concerned about etiquette).

>I started a journal, with pen and paper. My friend Barb sent it to me in the mail and it could not have come at a better time. I don’t need more electronics or reminders or advice or schedules or dates or plans. I need more Jesus. I need to sit and get quiet, to enjoy late Sunday night moments and early mornings. I need to breathe deeply and remember that no phase in life is about getting through to something else. Every phase in life is brimming with abundance because God said so. There are plenty of joy thieves out there, but they don’t stand a chance against God’s promises. Not a chance.

>This is still Easter. And I am going to practice the resurrection with the green buds on trees and the magnolia blooms. I am going to practice the resurrection because something so transformational is worth repeating.