Sixteen years ago, I met you and was attracted to you for your kindness, handsomeness, gentleness, conviction, and love for God. You were a young man who was going places...but not the usual places of wealth, power, and career. You were going to Turkey, then to Mongolia. You were going out on campus at NAU to share your faith with others. You were driving an old beige truck and washing dishes with your socks. And I liked it. I committed my life to going with you, even though it scared me a little bit. But you helped me catch a glimpse of what a life lived for something greater could look like and it made me feel alive.
On our first anniversary, I had “And I will go with you” engraved on your wedding band...a remembrance of the song our friends sang at our wedding and a commitment to not waiver on all that I had promised you and God.
We went...to Carlsbad, Kazakhstan, to Oceanside, to Phoenix, to Tucson, then Flagstaff (with a little Mexico, Inner City LA and Europe mixed in between).
4 years ago, you felt God's call on your heart over and over, against your best plans for your life, that you would go on to get a PhD...an idea that seemed strange to us and out of our league. Remember, when I met you, I thought you were cute, but I also thought you were a dumb jock? Yeah, so it seemed out of our league. But you prayed and waited and sought wise counsel from your professors and trusted friends.
So we moved here, with so many ideas of our own of what would happen and how we would build a life for ourselves in Southern CA while you pursued a Masters of Theology—a stepping stone to a PhD program. 18 months later, here we are today. So many of our dreams and desires have died painful deaths over the last year and a half, and yet you have persevered to finish your degree with excellence and integrity...often forging ahead on your own when the way seemed too hard and the path was lined with doubt. I am so proud of you and how hard you have worked and how you have not once lost your temper with us or taken your stress out on me, like I probably would have if I were carrying your load. You are still the kind, gentle, principled man I fell in love with 15 years ago...and your love for God has grown and caused me to grow with you.
Now I stand here with you in this moment and look around and see the fruit of the last year and half—the accomplishment of your degree and our personal growth and the sweetness of the relationships represented in this room and I feel deeply thankful.
I'm glad that I made that commitment to go with you so many years ago, and even though going with you has not been the easy road, it has been blessed and I know I can laugh at the days to come and the roads we have yet to travel because God will be with us and will lead you as you lead our family in ways we both have never dreamed of.