Before we married, I grew to love you for many reasons. I loved you for not being afraid of difficult questions - both as a care group leader and as a person. I loved you for the generosity I saw you display toward me and toward friends and fellow church members. I loved you for relating to my roommates when you were hanging out at our house and for making them feel comfortable being around us. I loved you for the way you fit into my family - making my mom laugh, going hunting with my dad, talking politics, theology, and sports with my brothers. I loved you for making an effort to get to know the many people who are part of my life, how at ease they all seemed to be around you. I loved you for the way your whole face lights up with your smile and for the way you laugh deeply. I loved you for the story you wrote me on our first Valentine's Day, for the creativity and tenderness that showed up in it. I loved you for your steadiness and for all that offers to crazy, up-and-down, emotional me. I loved you for bearing with me through a particularly hard period in my life, for your patience and care for me in the midst of my fears and doubts and yes, lots of tears.
Now, two years later, I love you for all of these reasons and for so many more. I love you for the ways I see God shaping your heart - increasing your vision for ministry, helping you to grow in patience and leadership. I love you for the way you love children, for the way you pursue them until they like you, for the tears in your eyes when you met our baby niece. I love you for the risks I see you taking as you prepare to lead a care group, for your willingness to follow God even when the way forward is not always clear. I love you for your ability to take an idea and make it a reality, even if you've never done it before - for the planters you built in our backyard, for the electrical outlets you've replaced, for the drywall you've patched. I love you for talking to me late at night even when you wanted to go to sleep. I love you for challenging me in areas of my sin that I didn't see - or want to see. I love you for bringing me a glass of water before bed every night and for holding me before we go to sleep. I love you for doing life with me - from exploring the CA coast to making cranberry orange scones to sketching ideas for built-in bookshelves to dreaming about the future. I love you for blessing me with an amazing thirtieth birthday and a whole series of thirtieth birthday celebrations. I love you for knowing me better than anyone ever has, for seeing all of my strengths and weaknesses, and for loving me anyway. I love you for showing me what the love of God is like. I love you for being you.
I loved you then, and I love you more now. I am so grateful for all that God has given me in you, and I look forward to watching our love grow and deepen in the years to come. Happy anniversary, love!