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.

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.