This story begins with an ending.
In the end of 2004, I was a broken girl with a stubborn heart and a bruised sense of hope. Around that time, I picked up a little book called Blue Like Jazz and found comfort in stories about Portland, a faraway sort of place for me at the time, and an honest look at spirituality, which wasn’t yet en vogue and certainly outside of how I’d been relating to God thus far. I read every Don Miller book I could find for the next few years and filed their contents away in my mind.
Two years later I found myself in Oregon, in a little house in my parents’ brand new big backyard, and began the slow and painful process of learning how to be alone, how to mourn the life I’d anticipated and face the life I had, how to be content with the woods and a family who loves me and a God who knows my name. I made friends who hadn’t known me as I had been, reworked my relationships, watched and protested as God rewrote my story.
Two years later I found myself in Portland, lonely for a church family, standing in front of a book case with a copy of Blue Like Jazz in my hands, scanning the pages frantically for the name of that church, you know, the one Don Miller talks about, the one with the football player pastor and the new idea of religion. In only hours I found myself seated alone in a high school auditorium, unaware of the significant moment of my body in that chair, my heart in that building, my first day in a new home that I couldn’t yet recognize.
Nearly two years later I found myself at a party, a celebration of the birth of the incomparable Annie Skroski, one of the many amazing people who have become my Imago/Portland family. I’d been to dozens of parties like this one over the last year and a half, full of laughter and costumes and belonging and love. Parties with dancing, and friends, and food, and photo booths.
Favorite and I met that night, in a photo booth. I could tell you how it went down, but I’ll show you instead. Here we are meeting for the very first time:
More importantly, I’ve been loved gracefully, wholly, and unrelentingly by the most amazing, generous, and intelligent man. He has never allowed me to hide, never let me feel less than beautiful, and invited me into every corner of his life, his space, his time. He has given me an extraordinary gift – the privilege to love and be loved in a way that acknowledges God, respects the journey, and inspires me to be a better follower, to love more, to give more, to open up.
Last Friday I uncovered my eyes and found myself in a photo booth that Favorite had set up in his house. And, after a bit of goofy photo taking, Favorite found himself down on one knee.
This story ends with a beginning. Five months from now, I will stand in front of friends and family with the man I’ve chosen who so wonderfully has also chosen me, and we will be married by our cherished friend Tony, who was once only a beat poet in a book that brought me to my new family, and is now someone I call friend and share a table with every Sunday night. If God is in the details, and you know I believe He is, He is most certainly in that one.
What I would say to you is this: This story you’re in, I’m in, we’re in, is a symphony. It’s so much bigger than all of us, the plan is so much greater than we can fathom, and the pieces come together in ways we can’t begin to imagine. The miracle will come, grace is yours to accept, God wants to bless you. Watch for the tiny patterns, the echoes of amazing love. You’ll find them. You’ll feel them. God takes broken edges and marries them like puzzle pieces. Hold on. Stay in. Wait for the miracle. And when it comes, and it will come, try to take a few pictures.