John and I recently celebrated three months of marriage! (By “celebrated,” I mostly mean that we noticed the date late in the evening, said, “wow! three months!” and then moved on).

But it really is quite a milestone—a quarter of a year, already in the rearview mirror. They have been wonderful, novel, fast-paced, laugh-filled, tear-soaked months. And I’ll share soon about how we’ve settled here in Missouri, but for now I’m feeling nostalgic about those first couple weeks when we were learning to share space and reveling in the novelty of not having to say goodbye—when even simple things like sharing meals felt like a new adventure.

We spent our two week honeymoon in Sanibel Island, Florida. We’d just happened to stumble across it in a google search, but when we arrived, it felt like we’d discovered paradise. One third of the small island is protected land, and impassioned efforts by the local community have ensured that there are no chain businesses and no street lights. The island is full of beautiful beaches, wildlife reserves, and high-quality restaurants. We had no shortage of things to do; it was the perfect mix of restful and adventurous. A dream.

And then, on June 19th—exactly halfway through our honeymoon—I learned that a close mentor from George Fox, Dr. Javier Garcia, had died suddenly in a surfing accident.

Grief is an uncaring companion. It does not delay itself for our convenience. Suddenly the acute delight of celebrating married life in such a beautiful place was plunged into the dark mire of mourning. I remember standing on a beach during the sunset, hand-in-hand with my husband, feeling so overwhelmed by the immensity of both joy and sorrow swelling within my heart.

How am I supposed to bear feeling this much? I asked God. There was no answer except the obvious. The God who’d carried the cross for the joy of our salvation expected me to simply keep walking.

How wretched it was to have that joyful season intruded upon by the ugliness of death. Yet how grace-bound those memories appear to me now. In our vows, one of the promises we made was to be faithful partners “in good times and in bad, in joy as well as in sorrow.” It was surreal to find ourselves living out the extremes of that promise in just our first two weeks of marriage. John loved me in new ways—covenant ways—through that grief. And I learned to rely on him like I’d never had to before.

This is, of course, a very incomplete summary of our honeymoon. But I wanted to share some photos of those weeks, and it felt strange to do so without sharing a bit about our time. To me, these pictures are bittersweet, and neither the bitterness nor the sweetness negates the other. I hope you enjoy them.

Thanks be to God for the gift. Alleluia.

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