I have been thinking of creating a blog for a while now, hoping to chronicle our first days and weeks and months as married people. To journal through this season of our lives is especially important to me. Perhaps years down the road our grandchildren will flip through pages of posts and marvel at the faithfulness of our God. That's what this is really about.
I also love to write and haven't done nearly enough of it lately. One quote by novelist Anais Nin sums up what I believe blogging to be about:
"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection."
That said, let's start at the beginning - our legal beginning :) - our wedding day.
We got married on December 27, 2008 - the 28th wedding anniversary of my parents. It was the most sacred, passionate, undeserved day of my life. Just thinking about walking down the aisle to "Holy Spirit, Rain Down" and looking through tears at my precious groom still takes my breath away.
After our honeymoon cruise in the Caribbean, we returned to freezing Chicago and Shawn moved into our apartment where I had been living. Going to Bible school downtown for the past few years had spoiled us, and we knew that if we were to live anywhere in the Chicagoland area, it had to be downtown. God so generously provided this sweet urban nest for us to begin our married life. [If you're reading this, we love having people over. Please come.] We have enjoyed making it our own and filling it with our art and photography, craigslist purchases, and more wedding gifts than we know what to do with. Most of all, I can't begin to describe the privilege it is to wake up to my best friend in our own place, hearing the bustle of the city we love, watching the snow fall. It is magical.
At the same time, this recent journey has often felt like an uphill battle when it comes to trusting God as our Provider. We tend to question why it was that just as we graduate college, get married, and are looking for jobs, the economy is at its worst in so many years. But each week that we've had to pay bills, buy groceries, or pay off parking tickets (oops), the money has been there. Miraculously.
And we even have jobs! I am fortunate to work in an inner city kindergarten classroom where I am beginning to feel that my gifts are truly being used. I am being stretched to love these kids more and more each day. Shawn just landed a fabulous insurance job where the training has been so intense, but it's about to pay off. I am so proud of him. We don't know how long we'll be in Chicago, but are grateful to be in the heart of the city and pray for opportunities to be salt and light.
Since moving here, I must make mention of my favorite new neighbor: "Pops."
Pops spends several days a week in his wheelchair just outside our bedroom window. He greets passersby with his rattling plastic cup of change and offers them a gummy smile.
One morning as I was getting ready for church, I noticed a homeless looking man outside the window and, having never met him, felt prompted to bring him some muffins. I called Shawn and had him meet me at the apartment (we weren't married yet, so I was living here alone), and we gathered an assortment of baked goods to bring to our "neighbor." We headed outside on this particularly frigid day, bag of muffins in hand, and introduced ourselves.
"People call me Pops," he told us. We assumed he was homeless, but in fact, Pops lives in a state-run nursing home several miles away and is dropped off by his sister a few days a week in order to panhandle for some extra cash. We learned that he was born in Tennessee, too, and served in Viet Nam for 9 years where he lost his leg. He’s been a Chicagoan for the last 40 years.
Pops has certainly come into my life at just the right time. As Shawn and I are literally watching the Lord’s provision day after day, I see him outside and my heart just breaks. Who am I to complain about my circumstances when I could easily be in his predicament, sitting out in the Chicago wind, hoping for a few benevolent strangers to spare some change. I have so much to be thankful for.
The other night a friend and I were going out for dinner just across the street and as I was getting ready to go, noticed Pops outside. I just happened to have more muffins (which we usually do... I live with an all-the-time eater) so I grabbed another bag. For the first time, he recognized me when I came! I felt a certain joy about that. His eyes lit up when he saw another bag of muffins and when I asked him how his day was, his head hung low and he replied, “Not good.” But quickly, he added, “But God woke me up again this morning, so why am I complainin’?” He then offered to pray for me anytime, and I said I’d do the same for him.
Pops – my brother in Christ. I had a feeling from the beginning he must know Jesus because of his amazing attitude despite despicable conditions.
Even with an Urban Ministry degree, I have yet to work out my own theology of the poor. But I think I figured something out tonight. Perhaps God has placed Pops on that corner so that others may know the Father he serves. Callous hearts may pass him by, but some may stop and hear of the God who has taken care of Pops every day of his life and has given him the gift of joy. God knew I needed Pops as a reminder to be thankful.
So to wrap this up, what is our future looking like at this point? Hopeful. As for logistics, we have no idea. We dream of working internationally on the mission field at some point, but right now, are given this city to love on.
And most of all, we are daily convicted and convinced of this:
His mercies are new every morning.
Great is His faithfulness.
To hear a sermon we found profoundly encouraging, go here.