The Day My Life Changed Forever

Three years ago today I met my wife.

It’s easy to point to a lot of different moments in my life that I can say had a lasting impact. Moments where everything to come would never be the same as anything that came before. But this moment. The moment I met Candace Rose Anderson was a moment among moments.

Needless to say, a lot has happened since we first met. We very quickly fell in love (although we were very slow to date or make such monumental claims). We got married. We had a baby.

We’re tracking pretty fast!

Candace is a woman most men only dream about. Not only that, but she’s a woman I dream about as being for me when I’m at my best. When I walk closely with the Lord and I have my priorities in line and I have humility and am swimming in grace… THAT is when she really glows in my heart.

The reason is that she’s a godly woman who has a soft heart and a strong will. She loves Jesus more than anything and her life is proof.

She is an incredible wife.
She is an incredible mother.
She is an incredible step-mother.
She is an incredible friend.
She is an incredible follower of Christ.

Three yeasr ago today, God changed my life forever when I sat down next to her and we first met. I can’t imagine what life would be like had we never met. I don’t want to imagine. God has me in the best possible place for me and I’m overjoyed that Candace is a part of the way He loves me.

I think I may be the most blessed man on the face of the earth.

Bringing In Jack

I can’t wait to write about our son. He’s already made such an impact in our growing family and Candace and I are both looking forward to what God has for all of us as the days and months and years go by. Jack is only 3 days old at this point, so there isn’t too much material yet. However, I want to start to get these thoughts out NOW. 

We spent four days in the hospital this week due to a surprise c-section. 

So many friends and family made comments to me that they were watching Twitter and Facebook for updates on how things were progressing. We both appreciated everyone’s prayers and comments throughout the process. 

I had my phone nearby for most of the week and I jotted down some thoughts as the hours went by the first two days. Below is a little baby journal of how those two days went:

Monday 5/23/11

6:45am
Candace gets her I.V. I know she was really nervous and the first try failed because her vein collapsed. But despite her nerves and discomfort, she was asking the nurse how she was doing… about her family and her night. My wife is amazing. In the moment I would most expect she deserves to be focused on herself (and who would blame her?), she’s focused on others. My wife is a rock star. 

8:06 AM
Candace had the invasive part of her morning completed. She did a great job with it! The nurse is great and very helpful answering all of our questions and making sure Candace feels comfortable and confident. 

Mother-in-law is bringing coffee and I have to get a shot. So I’m doing good so far. 

12:52 PM
Candace made it to a 5. She just got the epidural. I have a newfound respect for my wife and especially her ability to deal with pain and situations she’s not excited about. In awe of her right now. 

3:00 PM
Candace isn’t progressing as quickly as the doctor would have hoped. Starting to talk about a c-section…

5:00 PM
Candace hasn’t made any progress. Rather than keep going, we’re going to go with the c-section. Also, the doctor thinks he may have underestimated the weight…… For the record, the original estimate was somewhere between 7 and 8 pounds. 

5:36 PM
Jack is born! Everyone in the OR was incredible… especially Candace. Everyone made comments about two things: he’s really cute and he’s really big. He was 9lbs, 1oz and 21” long!

I cried when I saw him and Candace and I got to enjoy watching him get cleaned up. His eyes were wide open and he was completely calm as long as they weren’t poking and proding him. 

He’s absolutely beautiful and completely healthy. We are both feeling so overwhelmed by God’s matchless grace. 

8:10 PM
Jack has latched on with no problems and is eating like crazy!!! Candace is feeling ok… better with drugs. Seeing her nurse this new young life stirs up affections in me that God had not yet stirred before. 

I’m falling more deeply in love with my beautiful wife and am head over heels for our new little son. 

9:19 PM
Jack is sound asleep being transferred between the 2 grandma’s arms. He loves to be swaddled and he doesn’t want you to touch his huge feet. He has a ton of hair, which looks blonde at the tips, and he has deep blue eyes. 

11:05 PM
Jack is clean and has been sleeping HARD. He’s waking up for more to eat. By the way, our nurse for the night shift is British. So we’re hearing lots of “lovely” and “straight away” and “poppet.”

Tuesday 5/24/11 

12:08 AM
Jack is trying to eat again. He makes a snorting noise that is absolutely hilarious. 

3:30 AM
Candace has been fantastic. I’m sort of in and out of sleep. But she’s patiently working with our boy to nurse him along. Her strength and patience make one seriously attractive combination. 

9:51 AM
I managed to make it to Peets for a quick cup of coffee. Candace is back asleep now and so is Jack. The grandmas are coming back in a while. The nurses suggested I go home for a while to rest as long as we have help. I don’t want to leave my sweetheart or my new son. But they’re probably right…

12:15 PM
The pediatrician came by to check out Jack. She said he’s absolutely perfect and everything looks really great. Candace and I feel so blessed by God to have a healthy little boy. Grace upon grace. 

5:38 PM
Candace finally had everything taken out of her (I.V., etc.). She said with a very serious face, “I’m trying not to laugh. It’s not that you aren’t funny. I’m just not going to laugh at what you say.” 

11:50 PM
Jack had his first real blowout. Up and out of the back of his diaper. He ruined 2 blankets. It begins…

You Don’t Complete Me

It might sound weird, but one of the most incredible things Candace has ever said to me is, “You don’t complete me.” I still remember exactly where I was standing when those words sunk deep into my heart and mind. If someone were to ask me, “when did you know for sure you wanted to marry Candace?” I might say it was that very moment.

The biggest danger in a human relationship is falling into the temptation to be the ultimate sense of satisfaction for the person you are in relationship with. It’s most clearly experienced in a romantic relationship and it happens on multiple levels (searching, dating, marriage). But is the goal of being your significant other’s greatest joy of satisfaction really a healthy thing? Or is it potentially destructive?

I would argue it’s ultimately destructive.

If you love someone, you should be most interested in their greatest joy. The best way to build another individual’s joy is to invest yourself in helping them experience Christ to the fullest. To point the one you love in any different direction is not love, it’s actually harmful.

The main reason, at its most basic level, is that humans fail. Christ does not. You may fail as a husband in your serving or in your leadership or in your faithfulness. In fact, you WILL fail as a husband or wife in some way or another. Even if you think you never could fail, external factors like health issues or even death can remove you from being the ultimate fulfillment for your spouse. But Christ never fails. He never leaves. He never forsakes. Are you setting up your spouse for devastation without recovery? If they’re happiness is in you, then the answer is yes.

If you’re married, it’s healthy to evaluate whether you ultimate goal is to be everything for your spouse or if your ultimate goal is to make Christ everything for your spouse. If you’re not married and are seeking a relationship, seek someone who loves Jesus more than they love you. Their joy will not be dependent on your perfection.

Some might take this to mean the pressure is off if it’s not really your ultimate responsibility to make your spouse happy. In reality, the pressure is greater. God calls us to mutually submit to one another in love and to build one another up so that we are boasting in Christ, not ourselves. We are accountable to God for the way we love our spouse. Pointing your spouse mostly to yourself is leading them down the path of idolatry. You, as a spouse, are accountable for that. Talk about pressure!

I’m thankful for a wife who is supremely satisfied in Jesus. If I were not around, she would survive. Not only would she survive, but she would keep her ultimate joy because her contentment, worth and value is found in who she is in Christ. I’m just here to come alongside her and help her lift her eyes and fall harder for her first Love. It’s a tremendous blessing. The greatest earthly blessing I know.

We’re Having A Baby!!!

Candace and I have some pretty big news…. we’re having a baby!!!

After a lot of praying, “God, help us know when we should start a family.” He made it very clear. And we could not be more excited or thankful.

The baby is just about 14 weeks along and everything is looking great for both baby and mommy. We know that the miracle of life is an act of God’s grace and the health to this point is because of Him as well. We’re thankful and humbled that He would use us to bring a child into this world.

We’ll find out in January what the sex is and we will keep everyone up to date on the blog/twitter/facebook/email.

We have some good names in mind already, but it’s always amusing to hear people’s suggestions so feel free to leave those in the comments.

Thank you in advance for your prayers and your counsel. God is already doing great things in our marriage and family through this and we can’t wait to see what else He has for us in this process!

(Source: sarpali.us)

The Worry Free Marriage

My gorgeous wife and I have been married for more than 5 months now. While bliss is probably an understatement, it doesn’t mean we haven’t had difficult days. But when I look back at the last 5 months, the difficult days actually add to the bliss.

We both believe that how you view God’s sovereign grace has everything to do with how you approach life. Marriage is no exception. In fact, it may be the greatest setting in which to practically demonstrate faith in God’s faithfulness.

When challenges present themselves that bring worry or anxiety, it should be pointing the afflicted to the faithful promise of God that He will grant the mercy needed to suffer those anxieties well. When God is the strength in your weakness, your joy skyrockets.

Your marriage can be worry free if you really trust in the sovereign, glorious, powerful faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We aren’t there yet… but we’re trying!

Mutual Submission: The TP Roll

Over or under? Don’t say you don’t have an opinion because I won’t believe you. In fact, I bet some of you judge your friends by whether they go over or under. I’m speaking, of course, about toilet paper.

As you might imagine, Candace and I do some things differently. For fear of judgment, I’ll just say one of us hangs the toilet paper on the spindle so that it comes over the top and the other hangs it on so the paper comes under the roll. We both have our reasons, but that really isn’t the point here.

What’s great is that we both put it on the way we prefer when it’s our turn to replace the roll (by the way, Candace should be thankful I replace the roll at all, right??). What I’ve noticed is that Candace doesn’t change it when she discovers it’s not the way she would have done it. She just leaves it the way I put it on and I do the same for her.

It’s a small, pointless gesture in a lot of ways. But it also marks an attitude of mutual submission we try to live out in our marriage where we prefer one another above ourselves. Candace’s preference for my needs and desires go way WAY beyond TP direction and I do my best to make sure my preferences for her extend beyond the bathroom as well.

Loving each other the way Jesus loves us is to put one another’s needs before our own… submitting to one another (Ephesians 5:21ff).  

One Month & Already Depressed

Ok, so that title was just to get you here. I’m not depressed. But I did have a bad day.

Today marks the 1 month anniversary of our wedding. Yes! We have both been overwhelmed with God’s grace in our lives over the last month as we’ve enjoyed such an incredible relationship with one another. Trust me, Jesus gets every last drop in the bucket of credit for that.

Yesterday was a hard day for me. No particular reason. No fights. No broken dishes or picture frames. No chores. Just a hard day for me. After a 5 hour drive to take the kids back home, I returned to my beautiful bride in an exhausted heap of apathy. Candace made her way over and gently talked me into a stab at an explanation.

Then she prayed for me. It took me back to the night before I took her dad to lunch to discuss dating his only daughter. She and I sat in the grocery store parking lot and she prayed for me. It made an impression on my heart that was indescribable and joyously wonderful. Here we were a month into our marriage and she was praying over me again.

1 Corinthians 13:7 - “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Jesus is the one who cares for us most. He says to cast our anxieties on him because he CARES for us. In my experience, he puts his hand on me through the hand of my wife and his Spirit comforts me through the voice of my best friend (also my wife in case you’re wondering).

If you’re married, or if you love someone (platonic or otherwise), be Jesus to them. We all get depressed and we all have bad days, weeks and years. But we have a constant God who loves us with a steadfast love through the love of his people.

Absence Makes The Mind Grow Clearer

The last three days I’ve been away from my new wife of only 19 days. I had the joy and privelege of participating in one of my best friends’ weddings in Michigan. But I missed my wife. Bad. Real bad.

It’s said that absence makes the heart grow fonder and I get that. I’m crazy for my wife and my aching for her weighed even more heavily on me than the joy of time with a few good brothers. If you’re in love, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re not, then I think you should still be able to relate… at least if you love Jesus.

God, in his mercy helped me contemplate this weekend what it means to long for what I don’t yet fully enjoy, namely the presence of my First Love in heaven. My time away from Candace didn’t mean we weren’t married, but how much sweeter our reunion, in person, will be (I’m on the plane while I write this and am very much looking forward to it) now that we’ve been apart a few days.

If you’re a follower of Christ and have been saved by his mercy, you’re enjoying his kingdom and love and peace and strength right now in this life. But it’s marred by sin and selfishness and material and vanity. How much greater…. sweeter…. glorious it will be to enjoy him in a sinless eternity.

I’m thankful to the Father for using this absence to stir up in my mind the affections for my wife and, even more importantly, my savior.

Epic Drama: Marriage vs. LOST

I’ve been a fan of the t.v. show LOST since the first episode. And tonight is the 2-hr premier of the show’s final season. But instead of watching, I’ll be attending a Blended Family class with my fiancee. My craving for an epic reaches beyond Jack and Kate.

God created us for a desire to experience things bigger-than or outside-of ourselves and this is often manifest in the way we enjoy creative works like LOST or Avatar (I guess). We get caught up in the passion and the affection and the arc of a story very easily. What is sad however, is that we so often fail to realize that we are a living part of the greatest epic ever, which is that of God’s redemptive work in His own creation.

Lately, in preparing to be married to Candace, I’ve been considering how the relationship of a marriage is designed to be a dramatization of the covenant love of Jesus and His bride, the church. That’s one reason why there won’t be marriage in heaven… we’re pointing toward a reality that will be fulfilled in eternity with Christ and the pointer will vanish into the reality. How glorious that we get to enjoy the blessings and honors and intimate excitement of marital love here on earth! Yet, it’s only pointing to the ultimate epic of Christ’s love for us.

Skipping LOST tonight (and tomorrow night) to work on the foundation for my marriage with Candace is vastly more important and exciting than enjoying a 2-hr epic on television. 

(By the way, my DVR is still set to record it and we’ll be watching on thursday. Thank the Lord for the technology of a DVR!)