Lauren and I showed up to our first pre-marital class in winter of 2004. We drove out to a far-flung Minneapolis suburb to listen and learn from another Christian couple assigned to us by the church. I still remember walking into their house, glancing at the framed picture of George W., taking a seat awkwardly in the ultra-formal, ultra-floral love seat, and wondering how weird this was going to be. Sparing you the details... it was, in fact, weird. We flunked our compatibility quiz, stumbled through the sex discussion, and fought desperately from rolling our eyes as the couple waxed-on about their unbelievably obedient, gifted children. Despite all of the weirdness, the couple had two things right: they were desperately in love with Jesus and desperately in love with each other. It was infectious.

Six months later, I married my beautiful bride on a warm and sunny June day in Minnesota. She balled her eyes out the whole day.

It was perfect.

We flew to Mexico for our honeymoon. While in Mexico, we drove up an ocean-side mountain, discovered Lauren had a severe allergy to shellfish, and watched thousands of "creatures" emerge from the Pacific one night, just after nightfall. The million crab march was utterly terrifying and altogether beautiful... just like marriage.

The ensuing years equalled lots of grad school, apartment hunting, meals-gone-wrong, and beautiful dusk walks. We spent lots of time traveling. We wandered through Florence and Rome: lovin' the Bernini and biscotti. We flew to Rio de Janeiro: explored a jungle, lived for churrascaria, and got mugged on the Copacabana. We travelled to Paris: fell in love with the Marais disctrict, pane au chocolat, and Chartres. This past spring we took a trip to northern California and drove from valley to valley looking for old mission churches, vineyards, and breathtaking views.

While president-elect Obama was speaking to a crowd of thousands in Chicago's Grant park (election night 2008), Lauren and I were a few blocks away eating dinner. That night Lauren told me that we she was pregnant and I was so joyful. I remember instantly thinking: what name should we choose for him? For her? Where would he/she go to school? Would he/she be a cubs fan or a sox fan? ... But, before Obama could take residence in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, we had miscarried and were distraught. so shattered.

By late summer 2009, Lauren was pregnant again. We were fearful but so excited. I didn't allow myself to think of names or schools or sport affiliations. We took one day at a time and everything seemed to be going so well. Lauren's midsection grew slowly...then dramatically. Week 8, 12, 20, 24 passed and everything was perfect. Then in the last throes of winter, our sweet boy, Isaiah, passed away at 32 weeks. Lauren endured labor and we held our dead son.

It snowed with abandon on the day he was buried. The snow covered my bible. It covered our coats, boots, and faces. I wanted to disappear with the snow. To be white and only one of millions of flakes.

We drove our old Saturn along the north shore as the snow storm intensified. The sensible would choose to stay off the roads, but I had no sense and so we drove from Rosehill cemetery on Chicago's northside north along the crashing waves of Lake Michigan.

The days that followed were so dark and schizophrenic. We hurled our anger toward the ALMIGHTY and buried our faces deep in HIS beautiful chest. We sensed HIS love more than ever before. And, in our desperation, lived for HIM alone.

There is a song that captured our thoughts during that time (and it's still our favorite worship song).

soon and very soon
my KING is coming
robed in righteousness
and crowned with love
when I see HIM I
shall be made like HIM
soon and very soon

soon and very soon
i'll be going
to the place HE has
prepared for me
there my sin erased
my shame forgotten
soon and very soon

i'll be with
the one i love
with unveiled face I'll see HIM
then my soul
will be satisfied
soon and very soon

soon and very soon
see the procession
the angels and the elders
'round the throne
at HIS feet I lay
my crowns my worship
soon and very soon

though i have not seen HIM
my heart knows HIM well
the LORD of heaven

soon and very soon...

My favorite phrase in this song is "with unveiled face, I'll see him." This comes from 2 Corinthians 3:18 where Paul writes:

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the LORD's glory, are being transformed into HIS likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the LORD, who is the SPIRIT."

Heavenly Father, it is our desire as husband and wife these 5 years and the next 50, to reflect YOUR glory with unveiled faces.

we've experienced so much joy, discovery, patience, and pain these last 5 years. Tonight we are packing for a long weekend at Sleeping Bear Dunes near Traverse City Michigan. The landscape along the lake dunes is utterly sublime and breathtaking. I can't wait to enjoy the CREATOR'S creation, and walk hand in hand with my beautiful bride.


  1. What a beautiful story you two share. This entry brought tears to my eyes. Even though you have endured pain you remain strong with each other and in your faith.

  2. Beautifully written. Happy 5th Anniversary, you two.

  3. Matthew and Lauren, Happy 5th Anniversary! Love, Mom and Dad

  4. Your words are beautifully written. I got a few tears! I hope you have a wonderful anniversary!
    -- Jessie

  5. Five years ago I was fortunate enough to witness the two of you become husband and wife - I literally felt the presences of God that day like never before. I knew the two of you were truly bonded with the Lord. More difficult days may come in the future, but to know you have HIM in your corner will give you all strength you need. My wish is that HIS light will shine brightly upon you in the years to come.
    We love you.
    Patty, Shanae & Brandi