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To Eric and Steph

The pictures came in! The pictures came in!

On June 4th, my sister-in-law and (now) brother-in-law were married. I've been waiting for the professional pictures in order to give a proper tribute to the celebration of a marriage between two beautiful people in my life.

Today is the day, my friends. In celebration of nearly two months of marriage and all the days after this, I give you the words I shared on the day of Eric and Steph's wedding day. And some fantastic pictures, of course.

 Eric and Steph, it is an honor to be standing here, celebrating your marriage with you today. Thank you for inviting me- and all of us here today- to be a part of your big day. It is a beautiful thing to have been able to watch the two of you grow as individuals and as a couple over the past few years.

Eric- you are a talented writer, a hard worker, an insightful scholar, and a fiercely loyal and loving man. You have won the heart of a woman who I deeply treasure, and you have proven through time, actions, and heart that her heart is something you do and will continue to protect, nurture, and cherish. Although I certainly know you don't do it for me, I thank you for who you are on behalf of me and everyone else who loves Steph.

Steph- I loved you even before I loved your brother. You and I have danced in the rain and picked strawberries in the rain together. You opened up my world to indie movies, different ways to eating, different ways of seeing the world, and people and needs I didn't before think a lot about. You, my dear, have changed my life with that soft and adventurous heart of yours, and I am thrilled to see you marry the man you love today. I know you have brought the same things to him- and so much more- that you have brought to me. And today- I celebrate you, I celebrate the man you love, and I celebrate the official beginning of your lives as a family. I promise to continue celebrating you both through the years.

After all the anticipation, the planning, the meetings, today may seem to go relatively fast. But throughout this day, and when it is over, I hope you feel surrounded by love and support. Simone Signoret said, "Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years. That is what makes things last." Today is one of those threads. Eric- your servantheartedness and your teachability are some of those threads. Steph- your sensitive spirit and your thoughtfulness are some of those threads.

My prayer for you is that your marriage will continue to grow richer and stronger and tighter as you add threads of experience, honesty, acts of selflessness, unconditional love, forgiveness, and security.

Eric and Steph, we celebrate you and your marriage today, tomorrow, and every day after that.

All photos taken by Beth Licitra Photography. To view more, click here.


Four Years

There is lots swirling around in my heart and my head right now.

I'm wondering when my adoption journey is going to start. I'm reading Timothy Keller's Generous Justice; I'm thinking about church, traveling, and how I think I'm at least a little bit Hebrew at heart ( and how fitting it is that I was named "Sarah."). I'm thinking about money and how it's not really mine- it's God's- but how does that play out in the living part of life?

I'm thinking that I'm just this girl- this girl who is really not that outgoing or charming, who is at least a little bit cheesy and second guesses herself a little too much. But great stories are full of "just this girl"'s who said "yes" to something scary.

And I like great stories.

Years ago, I spent 3 months in Kazakhstan living with a local family. There was so much to be scared of there. There was a lot of new and a lot of different. And while I like a good challenge, I have a chicken heart and...any challenge I've taken has happened because I either didn't realize the challenge or I firmly told my chicken ways to "go AWAY!"

I remember one beautiful day in Kazakhstan. Every one was jumping creeks and fences and climbing rocks, and I was afraid to try. But there was this boy at home (he had my heart), and I knew he would have told me to just do it. To not even think about it, and just go.

So I did. And it felt great. It felt great to knock my silly fears down , just do it, just enjoy.

This is how our lives have been. The fears, the cheering, the prodding, the relief, the exploring, the wonder (and struggles, but they seem of little consequence when compared to all the rest).

Tomorrow, we celebrate 4 years of marriage. One day, I think that 4 years will seem like a drop in the bucket, but today? Well, today, I am grateful for how much deeper and stronger our relationship has become over those years...and I'm looking forward to the adventures that lie ahead for the two of us.


Kick Off Your Shoes

I wore those shoes at my wedding when I was 21 years old.  Before I had graduated college. When I was so young and still ironing out all my insecurities.

Leading up to the wedding, I worried. About the details, about spending my whole life with this person I'd said yes to on a romantic fall evening, about losing all my privacy, yes. But also, that I just wasn't measuring up. I'd invited few friends from college because I truly had few with whom I had a close relationship. I counted how many friends Tim had on his list versus how many I had. And when I had fewer, I felt like I wasn't measuring up.

I wanted to prove that I was good enough. That I was a good friend. A good everything. I didn't know how to recognize my make-up, accept it, embrace it, love it. But I knew how to judge. I knew how to hide. I knew how to scrape and struggle up insurmountable walls just to prove myself when I could have walked around them.

My wedding was beautiful. Undoubtedly, if I could go back, I would make some changes. But it was beautiful. They were there- those people that, even when I didn't love, believe in, or appreciate myself, they did. And so was he- the man who knows more about my heart than anyone else and still thinks I'm beautiful. Worthy, even.

And so were those shoes. Waiting patiently on a chair. Because I'd kicked them off and danced the night away. I'd shoved all my insecurities into a corner and let myself fill up with joy and life...through  kisses and smiles and dancing.

Since then, I've been cleaning out that corner. Getting rid of it instead of hiding it away. But occasionally, I find some. Gunk, filth, dirt. And then? I enlist some of them- those people that I have been brave enough to show that dirt to and who have come closer instead of backing away. It seems like a better plan than hiding.

And then? We dance.