Posts tagged forever

(image by Hillary Kupish)

INTENT: goal, purpose, design, plan, aim

Dear Matt and Simona,

You’re married!

After months of planning and preparations, endless lists and endless work, the wedding is over. The two of you stood before friends and family, before God Himself, and said, “I Do.”

The wonder of your wedding day is still sending ripples of delight in my mind, memories I will cherish for a long, long while.

Simona, your elegance cast a magical beauty over the entire day. Matt, your laughter lit the night with joy. Could your grin have gotten any bigger?

We waved you off with our blessing and our prayers. And then your dad and I turned to each other, grasped hands, and prayed. We asked God to fill your night with the joy of discovery. To fill your hearts with confidence. To fill your minds with pictures of beauty. To fill your honeymoon with memories you will both relish forever.

And we prayed that you would both remember what we’ve told you:

That the purpose of your honeymoon is to know and be known. It is the beginning of a lifetime quest for two people to so understand each other that they begin to think as one. To meld bodies and lives and hopes and dreams into an unbreakable bond of wholeness.

To become one.

And to that end, it is a set apart time.  This is not simply a vacation. Not just an expensive adventure.  If you get a little sightseeing in on the side, great! But you’ll have lots of vacations and only one honeymoon.

Your honeymoon is a time for the unveiling of yourselves to each other. For undressing, and uncovering.  It is a long anticipated choosing to be “naked and unashamed”.  To be before each other just as you are, without masks or covering.

You have both waited for this— have guarded yourselves and each other in anticipation of a lifetime of unrestricted passion. You love each other. You want each other. You have waited for intimacy on the promise that this gift is best unwrapped under the covenant of forever.

Forever begins now.

But a great honeymoon doesn’t happen by accident. Like most things of high value, you will have to be intentional about this time. You will not want to squander the potential of this beginning.  And so I have put together a short list of ways to purposely create an environment in which you will both thrive. A list of guidelines in order to intentionally write your history well.

Six Guidelines For A Great Honeymoon:

1.  Guard these days

That may mean you’ll need to turn off your phones. Do not return texts. Don’t like anybody’s pictures or messages or requests. Instead, turn all your attention to each other. Too soon you’ll be stressed by the tensions of all the other demands on your time. Now is the time just for one another.

2.  Give yourself completely

It takes a tremendous amount of trust to unveil your real selves to another person. To not pretend. But those who do will have the reward of a love that is real.

Two cannot become one if there is hiddenness.

This is the time to tell each other what hurts deeply, what gives you courage, why you fell in love and what you hope the years ahead will hold.

And it is a time to be all about the other. To coax and allure each other into a safe place.

3.  Laugh a lot

Instead of taking yourselves too seriously, allow room for hilarity. Sex is fun! Sure, the timing can be complicated, but learning is the best part. Be gentle with each other, be friendly and affectionate, don’t try too hard to imitate the movies- sex just isn’t always so hot and instant, especially at the beginning. Have a blast learning to get it right.

Then bask in the rush of emotions that will have your redefining the word happiness.

4.  Affirm each other frequently

You both need to hear the unedited pleasure of each other. Don’t hold back, say it, show it, tell each other what makes you feel like you’re coming out of your skin with the joy of it. And then say it again.

Please, please, please do not allow even one discouraging word to shadow your intimacy. If you have a mean moment, apologize immediately.

This is a sacred time, honor that.

4.  Spend time alone with God each day

As absorbed as you are with each other, you’ll be in danger of imposing too much need on each other unless you each spend time alone with the One who is your “life that is truly life.” Honor each other’s individual-ness by giving each other space to be alone with God. Then come together and share what He’s telling you. This is the way to greatest intimacy.

And one last word of advice:

6.  Have Fun!

Flirt, rest, jest, tease, talk, sleep, eat, indulge, play! Be lazy. Relish beauty. Find gifts for each other. Write notes. Tell stories. Crack jokes. Swim in the ocean, splash in puddles. Saturate all your senses with the pure joy life.

My dear son and daughter, take these days as the gift that they are. You are free, you are healthy, you have plenty, you are loved.

With much love and hope for the two of you,


P.S. For those who are reading: Do you have anything to add? Or any questions to ask?

Let’s start a conversation for a few weeks on what you hope, what you wish, what you’d do different in order to intentionally write the story of your first days as husband and wife.


(image by hillary kupish)

Our house is a very, very, very fine house

With two cats in the yard,

Life used to be so hard,

Now everything is easy cause of you…

I’ll light the fire,

You place the flowers in the vase that you bought today.[1]

(still my favorite love song…)

 Dear Matt and Simona,

Saturday was your wedding day. A beautiful, romantic day you have both dreamed of for many months. Today the two of you are flying across oceans and mountains, glaciers and jungles… to a place just for the two of you. Alone.

And I sit here in my tiny cottage in the woods trying to condense all that I want to say into these few words on a screen. I type and I delete. I walk around the block and think of too many things I want to say. I try again.

And there is only this:

A love that lasts a lifetime doesn’t happen by accident.

It is not a romantic ending to a good story. It is not in the stars, not because you found the One. The kind of love you hope for isn’t because of good luck or good personalities or good timing. It does not wear out or go away. No one falls out of this kind of love.

A love that lasts a lifetime is a love that is lived on purpose.

It is a love that is gone after. A love that is done daily. A love that is thought about, sacrificed for, worked towards.

Even on bad days. Especially on bad days.

Yes, love is a gift. But perhaps more, real love, the kind of love that all of us long for, is a skill. A vocation. A calling.

And that is why I am writing these letters. Because I dare to believe that this is a kind of love that is possible. I believe that you two and anyone else can have a love that lasts for a lifetime. I believe that any of us— all of us— can become excellent lovers.

And more, I believe we are called to do this kind of love.


For the rest of forever.

That is what these letters will be about. The doing of real love. The craft, the skill, the expertise it takes to navigate real life and cultivate true love. I want to pass on what I am learning about how to “walk in the way of love” (Ephesians 5:2) so that when you are both old… with all the inherent greying and sagging and wrinkling and slowing that old age brings… you will still be in love.

Because I believe it’s possible, this whole-life love. Maybe not normal, but possible. And I don’t believe it has much to do with luck, though no doubt about it, some people have an easier time at it than others. And though I may have started off life as a dreamer, a romantic, a head-in-the-clouds innocent… I now have three plus decades of church ministry under my belt and all the inherent sad, tragic, disgusting, horrifying real-life-marriage stories to off-set my fairy tale take on life.

And I believe more than ever in the theory of redemption:  that our God is a fixer of broken things. That your mess-ups and mistakes do not define you.

Nor is all that messiness a predilection for future failure. I read it in God’s Word and I see it in real life.

I have seen people tuck their broken, repentant, honest selves right into Jesus. I have seen Him exchange their sorry state with His glory, with His beauty. I have seen—close up—two people collide and fall on their faces and call out to God. I have seen the beauty He brings out of the ashes of fire-ravaged lives. How He melds two people into one.

And I am one of those: broken, selfish, spoiled, self-indulgent, and… redeemed. And so is your dad. You know that.

God doesn’t automatically make repentant, dependent people good, instead He fills them with God. With Himself. And then He slowly begins that painstaking process of smoothing off the ugliness. Something like the way He used glaciers to craft great swaths of smooth tundra, so slowly the movement is almost imperceptible.

The key, I have come to see, is patience. Patience with each other first, but also patience with yourself. We learn to love well. God Himself trains us in the way of love. Scripture is filled with wisdom to get us started and then to stretch us further until His way becomes, if not natural, at least a whole lot easier.

So, before the letters even officially begin, let me leave you with just a couple of things to tuck away.

  1. A love that lasts a lifetime is possible.
  2. A love that lasts a lifetime is not natural or easy or automatic.
  3. A love that lasts a lifetime requires the humility of daily brokenness before God.
  4. A love that lasts a lifetime involves skills that can be learned.
  5. A love that lasts a lifetime takes a lifetime.

And this...

A love that lasts a lifetime is worth it.

From my heart,


P.S. While I am writing these letters to my son and new daughter, they have agreed to let you read along. What I am hoping, is that you will bring your stories and wisdom and questions and comments with you. I get tired of talking all by myself. So please, let the conversation begin.

[1] Published and recorded in 1970, by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I’ve been whistling this one under my breathe for longer than you’ve been alive!

LETTERS TO MY SON: can you trust this woman with your heart?

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.


The heart of her husband trusts in her and he will have no lack of gain.


Her husband can trust her and she will greatly enrich his life.


Proverbs 31:11

Dear Matt,

On July 15th, 1978, your dad and I stood in front of our friends and family to pledge the rest of our lives to each other. We made grand promises to be faithful, to love, and to honor forever.

While he held my hands in his, I felt just the slightest tremor go through your dad’s body. As if a moment of undeniable fear shook the length of who he was. And then he squeezed both my hands, fastened a joy-filled grin on his face, and held on tight.

And for the last 34 years he’s been hanging on tight, opening up his life to me, choosing to love me every day no matter what.

He trusts me.

I trust him.

We both trust God.


Someday you will stand in front of an invited group of your friends and family to pledge the rest of your life to a woman. But before you make those promises, you must be absolutely certain that you have found a woman you can trust.

And by that I mean a woman in whom you can wisely place your confidence because you know she has your best interests at heart, and because you know she believes the best in you and will handle your heart with the greatest of care.

And so, knowing your penchant for lists, I’ve come up with…


#1 Take a long time to get to know her.

Just as a man presents his best self to a woman as he’s dating her, so a woman knows how to hide her less-than-lovely parts in order to attract the attention of a man. And yet, as I’ve said before, the purpose of dating is find out what a person is really like and then ask yourself the question, Can I live with that? Can I thrive with her?

That takes time. Lots of time. You’re going to need to see her when she’s tired, when she’s discouraged, when she’s stressed, when she’s mad.

When she’s not perfect.

Because nobody is, my son. And so you’re going to need to take an honest look at her flaws and at your capacity to love her just the way she is.

And you’re going to need to be realistic about her capacity to love you just the way you are- and to even like you when she sees those flaws.

 #2 Listen to your fears.

The Hebrew word, a, translated trust here, “expresses that sense of well- being and security which results from having something or someone in whom to place confidence.” [1]

You need to be honest with yourself about how you feel in her presence. Can you trust her with your failures? Will she accept you as a man who is learning and growing, one who is being redeemed daily but who has not yet arrived? Does she get that?

Or is she “helping” God to fix what she doesn’t like about you? Making sure you know when you did wrong, what you should have done instead, what she surely would have done if she’d been in your shoes.

That will wear a man down faster than the worst kind of enemy.

Because, my dear son, every man needs and craves respect. And acceptance. And hope.

If you’re getting that nagging sense that you cannot trust her to think the best of you, listen to that fear because its not going to go away. 

#3 Look at her long-term relationships.

Do her friends blossom in her presence? Does she put people close to her at ease? Or do you get the sense that everyone around her is being ultra careful not to push her buttons or disappoint her?

How about her dad? Is she sassy or respectful?

What about her annoying little sister? Is she kind and considerate or rude and edgy?

#4 Observe her attitude towards others.

Watch especially closely how she responds to those in authority over her. Does she resent her boss? Is she always second-guessing people? Correcting them? Scolding?

The Scriptures unapologetically teach the loving authority of a husband over his wife. Has she learned how to do that when she doesn’t agree? 

#5 List what she likes about you.

I know, I know, I know, this point sounds egotistical. But the truth is, you need to marry someone who really likes you. A lot. And you need to know why she likes you. You need to know specifics; character qualities she notices, accomplishments she admires, strengths she observes.

While you are still dating you need to know what it is she sees in you and if she is able and willing to put herself out there to tell you.


Matt, it is no small thing to trust a woman. May God give you the wisdom and insight to see clearly.

And may He gift you with a woman who is so filled up with God that she can’t help but spill joy and hope and help onto you every day of your life.

From my heart,


Women, mothers, friends, girls, guys- do you have something to add?

Remember, we’re not talking perfection here, just that sense that a man’s heart is safe with such a woman.

I’d love to hear your take on this!







[1] Harris, R. L., Harris, R. L., Archer, G. L., & Waltke, B. K. (1999). Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed.) (101). Chicago: Moody Press.