I don’t remember last New Year. I think I was too anxious.
I began my last semester of undergrad.
I attended Grace Banquet.
The same night Steven and I began talking again.
The same night I said a temporary goodbye to many friends.
The same night, I stayed up on the phone with Steven and we were able to say a lot of much needed words. We laughed. We caught-up on each others lives. I knew I had been missing him.
We started dating (round two) on January 21st.
I flew to Africa on January 24th.
I experienced life change and had a blast. I lived with a family whom I now consider family. I miss Dusty, Marlaina, Imani and Kubwa. I was given much opportunity. I made many new friends.
We had many skype dates. Steven lost a lot of sleep. Actually, that would be an understatement. He would work all day and stay up all night just to be able to talk with me.
We grew into each other. We learned more about each other. We began to understand love.
Steven flew to Africa and stayed through the remainder of my trip: April 13th-22nd.
Steven proposed. I said yes.
We arrived back in the States and the family reunion was filled with tears.
I attended honors night and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Christian Ministries.
Berbec family vacation in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
David Bazan show - June 24th.
We received bad news about my Nenaw. She only had 3-6 weeks to live.
We decided to move our wedding up to the following weekend: July 17th. It was worth having her there. Our wedding was amazing.
Steven and I took a last minute road trop to Asheville. They say it rained. We wouldn’t know.
Moved into a loft apartment in downtown Statesville.
We received news that Heather and John’s baby wasn’t doing well. She gave birth. We buried little bean Branon.
We became aunt and uncle to a beautiful niece born to James (Steven’s brother) and Kristen Berbec
I turned 22.
Steven turned 24.
Nenaw got worse. I got some much needed time alone with her. She’s not suffering anymore now. We miss her so much.
We sold Steven’s Infiniti thanks to the help our our amazing parents.
We helped teach a Marriage Matters class with Pastor Mark and Tiffany.
I received my first speeding ticket on one of our many road trips to Boone.
We took our original honeymoon in New York, November 22-29th. There, we met Father Christopher and our knowledge of marriage has been deepened. We celebrated our first Thanksgiving together - just the two of us. We also witnessed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
I became an associate of Bank of America.
We began photographing our life together each day.
We spent our first Christmas together, and Steven was able to experience a Santa Claus Christmas as my little brother and I have. We couldn’t have been more blessed than to have had amazing families to spend Christmas with.
On this New Year’s eve, I am reminded that this past year was filled with much joy and much sorrow. I’ve experienced life change. I’ve grown and developed into a better woman of God. Marriage has been an experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I absolutely love being his wife. It is because of him - Steven, my husband - that I have changed so much for the better over the course of this past year. It’s been challenging at times, but we’ve experienced an increase in wisdom and knowledge. We’re being taught by God how to pray. We’re trying new things. We’re holding each other accountable. We’re reading the Bible together. We’re finding our passions together. We’re learning how short our time is. We’re learning how to do our part and allowing God to do His. God’s path for our lives are leading us other places. May we not settle.
Tonight, as my little brother asked for God’s blessing over our food, he closed his prayer by asking God to give us more joy along with more sorrow in the year to come. May that be our prayer tonight.
“Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.”—Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Steven and I are staying the night at my parents house. Mom and Dad bought us new pajama pants for tonight. My little brother and I have a family tradition of always sleeping in the same room on christmas eve so that whoever wakes up first will then wake the other up and together we’ll shout and threaten our parents that we’re going to go open presents (note: in our home, we aren’t allowed to even look at the gifts from santa until my parents are in place with the video camera).
Steven and I are married now. He’s never really experienced christmas morning as my brother and I have. He’s in for a treat. Steven and I are sleeping in the room I grew up in tonight. Sleeping in my old bed. And my little brother? He’s sleeping on a makeshift bed next to us in the floor.
The three of us are going to bed now in hopes that santa will be on his way.
"God creates the vine and teaches it to draw up water by its roots and, with the aid of the sun, to turn that water into a juice which will ferment and take on certain qualities. Thus every year, from Noah’s time till ours, God turns water into wine. That, men fail to see."
I’ve recently mentioned my need to make note of a few significant events over the course of the last couple weeks.
That being said:
My husband and I experienced divine providence with regard to our flight to New York for our honeymoon. We had the privilege of sitting next to Father Christopher, a friar/catholic priest residing in New York. We had noticed him (i.e., he was dressed in traditional friar garments) in the terminal prior to boarding the plane, and he kindly switched seats with me so that I may sit next to Steven. Upon sitting, he pulled the following book out of his bag, Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retoldby C.S. Lewis. Seeing that we have something of similar interests, I asked about his book. For Steven and myself, this conversation started what will become a lasting friendship with Father Christopher.
He asked about our travels, and after learning that it was our honeymoon, could hardly contain his excitement. He had been in North Carolina teaching a seminar, something that he does often, to married couples. He began teaching us bits and pieces of his lecture and presented us with an bookmark containing a set of three icons, each of which teaches us more about marriage than one would think (note: there is a certain terminology used for a set of three icons, however, I can’t seem to remember it at the moment).
"as it was in the beginning… is now… and will be forever. Amen."
Having not gone through marriage counseling as most couples are required to do before getting married, we are excited to hear teaching on it. We’ve had several people “speak over us” or prophecy, if you will, that our marriage would be an example to others of a marriage as God intended. Considering that we began hearing this even before getting married and even afterwards, being just newlyweds, we were not sure how we would be this example. Surprisingly, not long after getting married, we were able to help teach a marriage small group with our pastor and his wife at church (and had a blast). Now, four months and several days after our wedding, we are finally leaving for our original honeymoon and we are seeing God’s activity in our lives again with the meeting of Father Christopher. God so perfectly orchestrated this meeting.
After hearing this brief sample of Father Christopher’s seminar, we asked if he would be speaking anywhere during the week so that we may have a chance to hear more. Rather than us hearing him teach publically, he offered that we meet for coffee one day and he would teach us all of his lecture that we have time for - just the three of us.
**Kids, don’t try this at home, but we took this stranger up on his offer.
On our last day in New York, Father Christopher gladly drove all the way to Times Square to pick us up. He stood out among the others standing in the lobby of our hotel, Sheraton New York and Towers. I’m sure it was uncomfortable. He waited as we packed our bags and checked out, and then helped us carry our belongings and loaded his car with them. We learned that he went to a good university and got a degree in accounting and landed a great job. However, he knew there was more to life that what he was currently living. He was dissatisfied with the way he had been taught about Jesus and Christianity in general, and after dabbling in several different religions, he decided to visit the friars. He’s been a friar in New York for approximately 13 years, and was recently ordained as a priest in the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He is now 37 years old, and underneath his friar attire, he’s a regular guy. He’s soft spoken and well-versed, and yet occasionally words such as “sweet” or “crap” were very much a part of his vocabulary. Yet he reeks of holiness.
He took us to the Bronx where a brotherhood of friars lived. We were definitely not in Times Square anymore. He informed us that the first week they moved into the building, there was a murder that happened on each corner of their residence/cathedral. It’s not safe there by any stretch. We were guided through the entire building and taught about all the different ministries they are involved with. A section of the building is classrooms and a gymnasium were they minister to college and high school age groups. Another section is devoted to housing the homeless. There were a couple chapels, prayer rooms, living quarters and a kitchen. There were also two gardens, one for the brothers, and another for the homeless - a place where they may find solitude in the midst of the city. Also worth mentioning is that they have a candle constantly burning in the chapels and prayer rooms. Each time we entered, Father Christopher would kneel briefly, in respect that the candle burning represented the presence of Jesus.
During the beginning of our tour through the property, he began explaining to us about the way they perform communion. I was able to put to use some of what I had learned in college about Catholicism and the idea of transubstantiationism, which is the idea that Catholics believe the bread literally, as opposed to symbolically, turns into the body of Christ and that the wine literally, as opposed to symbolically, turns into the blood of Christ. It was exciting to be able to personally ask someone holding this belief about their take on the idea of transubstantiationism. He proceeded to tell us about what has been called the Eurcharistic Miracle. If I’m not mistaken, there are several stories in which this idea has taken place. However, Father Christopher shared one in which a priest began to doubt their belief of the body and blood literally being the body and blood during the act of communion. As he was doubting and partaking in communion, his bread physically changed before him. Without explanation, he took the piece of “bread” to a lab to be tested, and promised to tell them where it came from after they told him what it was. The results indicated that it was human heart tissue, and from the white blood cells, etc., they were able to tell that whomever this tissue belonged to had suffered greatly. Needless to say, if the story is true, I’m sure this priest never doubted again.
Also the same room in which we were being taught on communion contained an altar that was built from wood taken from a burned building nearby. This altar represents the restoration and the rebuilding of that area that the friars hope to assist with.
Finally, we were taken to a small living room where he began his teaching on marriage. In following are my notes from his lecture:
What resonates with the heart?
They transcend the physical world.
The world has so many ways to attempt to resonate with our heart, whether it is with order or disorder (ex., lady gaga resonates with some, but this resonation is in disorder. Father Christopher attempts with anyone or anything that is highly esteemed in the world to determine how they are resonating with the hearts of the people).
Metaphysics: the study of being.
Our union (marriage) is more than physical.
There is no part of your body that the soul doesn’t exist. So your physical body is a representation of your soul. Your soul is made visible by your body.
"The body and it alone is capable of making visible the invisible mystery of God - the spiritual and the divine." - Pope John Paul II
When we touch with our physical bodies, our souls are touching. There is a spiritual connection, not just physical.
A man’s physical body is not just masculine. A man’s soul, spirit and being is masculine. As for a woman, her physical body is not just feminine. Her soul, spirit, and being is feminine.
In our culture, we have made eros (Greek word for love meaning ‘passionate love, with sensual desire and longing’) and love synonymous. A man and a woman experience the love of eros differently. Without eros, you aren’t able to be in relationship with metaphysics: goodness, beauty, and truth.
We’re all like Adam in a deep sleep just waking up to what it means to live/love in the world.
Written in our hearts is a distant echo from the garden of Eden. It is a faint memory.
We have a dual inheritance of original sin and original innocence. Original innocence is the soil that the roots of original sin grows in. This is discovered in our love for each other.
In the story of God taking a rib from Adam to make Eve, there is no Hebrew word for ‘rib.’ Rather, the Hebrew word here is ‘side.’ So in this story, it could likely mean that a ‘side’ of man was used to make woman. Better stated, man may have actually been cut in half to form woman (i.e., 1/2 + 1/2 = 1 whole).
The word for ‘created’ in the Hebrew text is actually ‘built.’ Meaning, God ‘built’ Eve.
**Chuppah - a canopy in which a Jewish couple will stand under during their wedding ceremony. Used to represent a home the couple will build together. This term originally appears in the Hebrew Bible.
Jewish legend: God the Father built the chuppah for Adam and Eve.
In the story of the virgin Mary and Joseph, Joseph’s fear came from the idea of, "How could I bring God’s bride into my house?" Joseph wasn’t divorcing her because he thought she had had an affair. He was afraid because he knew her innocence and knew she was God’s bride.
The loin cloth on Jesus is the beginning of our unwillingness to see. On the cross, God made his love visible. That is nakedness. In our marriage, we make our love visible as we unveil.
Marriage is more than a union, it’s a (re)union.
Eve, or the wife, reveals the secret of the Sabbath.
God hovers above us, touching yet not touching, as a canopy or chuppah.
Satan is a master of human nature and will use it against us in our marriage. He doesn’t want us to experience eros. When we are experiencing eros, we are getting it right.
Adam was next to Eve when the threatening presence came to her in the Garden of Eden. Adam’s mistake is that he didn’t guard Eve. He didn’t stand in front of her (ex., As my husband, if someone/threatening presence came up to me, Steven would step in front of me, as a way of saying, ‘who do you think you are, you don’t speak to my wife that way’). Rather, Adam was afraid of suffering (this is mentioned in the Book of Hebrews). Eve’s mistake was not stepping behind Adam, saying, “protect me.” In saying that, man needs woman to believe in him, and he needs to be ready to lay down his life for his bride. Jesus does this on the cross.
The union of Adam and Eve didn’t require the loss of virginity. Marriage, more than losing virginity, (re)establishes virginity.
The Fall brought about 3 fundamental breaks:
1. between heaven and earth
2. between body and soul
3. between man and woman
In the marital union there is the restoration of the union between heaven/earth, body/soul, man/wife.
The husband does not take his wife’s virginity away, but rather, he restores it. We have it completely backwards.
The theology of our bodies match the body of Christ.
There is an equation between the loss of virginity and death. When woman gives her virginity, she gives her life.
We need to love each other on every level of masculinity/femininity: as friend, brother/sister, mother/father, husband/wife. Discover the little boy or little girl in each other. Help each other to rediscover those worlds. (Note: An example was given here with regard to the story of the little girl being raised from the dead by Jesus)
Where is the beauty in marriage? The beauty is nakedness. Just as Christ was on the cross, Adam was supposed to be for Eve.
The Hebrew word for man and woman contain in it the Hebrew word for ‘fire.’ So the intent is that they burn with a godly fire, not an ungodly fire. We burn to make the image of God visible as we (re)unite together.
The beauty of living together is an infinite mystery we could never expound.
Those notes may or may not make any sense to you, the reader, but they were definitely meant for Steven and I to hear. What better way to learn something than to teach it.
Father Christopher has three knots tied into his rope belt around his waste. They represent three vows that he, and others, have made to live as friars. Namely, a vow of poverty, a vow of chastity, and a vow of obedience. He has vowed to live a life of celibacy for the sake of his calling. After his lecture, he told us that his desire to become a husband/father does not decrease because of his choice of celibacy, but it increases. Some live a life of greater sacrifice for God than others. We desire such a sacrifice. It’s the least we can do.
Lastly, Father Christopher and his band of friars have a CD to be released soon. They are a reggae/Matisyahu sound. To purchase the CD (when it releases) or for more information on Father Christopher and the friars, visit their website: Franciscan Friars