It is that specific day that we celebrate and honor the vows we made to one another. The vows that were spoken only two and a half short years ago, but were made with such certainty, such high hopes, such excitement. When we spoke those vows into motion, I knew that we would face times of trial and struggle and tension...I knew that a great marriage wasn't easily achieved, that it takes years and decades of building life together, of navigating this journey of life as one. I knew that we would have adventures and surprises and discover more of who Jesus is, together. But I did not know what exactly those adventures, surprises, or trials and tensions would exist to be. And that was [and is] part of the great adventure. That was part of the excitement: we had a world of uncertainties and a wide open road of LIFE to pursue together.
Me and you [a brand new family unit] creating and forming a legacy.
I cherish you, may I tell you a few reasons why?
Right now I am watching you piece together a board game for us to play and your excitement for this game is so adorable to me. I adore you - you are adore-able. I fall for the way you squish your lips up real fat for me to kiss them while squinting your eyes. Your vision for not only making stronger students, but stronger families grips my heart and makes it soft. The way you talk about sweet Brenden, when your eyes light up about Jeremy and Kyle and Jake and all the other guys you believe in...it makes my heart swell with pride to be married to you. Our raw conversations that stir up pain as we walk through trial also bring me hope because you are true and honest and vulnerable; and in those rare moments I feel like the luckiest woman alive: you trust me with your heart. I hold dear the way you cannot lie or keep a secret to save your life, your lips quiver with the truth you are trying to conceal, and I know that you are inches away from busting into laughter. Your laughter is loud and often obnoxious; you can hear it from the other building. But it was one of those things I noticed that first week we met - I noticed that you laugh loudly and without shame, your joy radiates from your entire being, ricocheting from you onto anyone around you. It invites us into a place of freedom-joy, a place of light-heartedness.
What I have been discovering myself treasuring is when you interrupt my attempt to get ready for the day. You walk right up to me and you hug me so tight that I cannot move. You're asking me to stop all that I am doing, to pause my routine and see you, hug you, be close to you. You invite me into this place of togetherness for just a few moments. Though sometimes I squirm and the words of hurry and late and work slip from my mouth with slight irritation...I need you to pause life to hug me, to embrace me, to pull me close to you and let me know that this is important. Me and you, together, is worth being a little later than I planned. You are worth it. Our marriage is worth it.
I used to push back and say I wouldn't be too mushy and annoying and overly gushy-lovey-dovey to you online...but here I am. I always told myself I wouldn't call myself your Valentine - but why? That is what I am. And I am proud to be yours; being married to you is my highest honor.
I still find myself staring at you in disbelief that I have you for life; that I am safe and covered by a covenant that we made before 200 people. Though we have not experienced decades together, I still cherish you. I am thankful to live life with you, to learn with you, to be humbled with you, to grow into beautiful humans together. I do not want us to take this for granted, this thing of marriage and companionship and life-together. I vow to continue pursuing you and searching for ways to serve you.
I love you, Loren Brenner.
Forever your Valentine & unashamed to claim it, Natalie