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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Bind Us Together Lord

Bind us together, Lord
Bind us together, Lord
Bind us together with cords that cannot be broken

Bind us together, Lord
Bind us together, Lord
Bind us together with love

During the last academic year, my priest taught this song at one of our youth ministry nights. Among other relationships, the song speaks to me when thinking about marriage, family, and memories. Last summer, inspired by an idea in Ali Edwards' Hello Story scrapbooking class, I created a visual timeline on a wall of our hallway. There is an 8x8 framed picture for each family member for each year (with oldest at the top moving down by age for each column). Starting with two pictures in 2002 - one of my husband and one of me on our wedding day, the timeline then expands to add our oldest in the next year, our second three years later, an ultrasound of our third six years later, and as soon as I update it, our fourth will be present just in time for it to be necessary to bend the timeline down the hallway. 

Though it was not part of my original motivation behind making it, I have come to realize that it is beneficial to have a glimpse through our lives visible. When the house is calm and quiet, I sometimes like to sit on the couch and glance at our timeline. For those on the outside, some milestones and events are easily recognizable, such as our wedding day and my three college graduations. Others might be less understood without some explanation, such as knowing that the picture of my husband holding a small US flag and a piece of paper is the day he became a US citizen (the paper is a voter registration application). Everyday photos are mixed in as well.

Then there's all those hidden layers behind the outward appearances. Aside from what can be seen on the surface, some pictures evoke memories of the specific day and time the pictures were taken, as well as the overall context of our lives at the time. Based on the pictures, I think about where we lived, where we were in school or working, exciting events coming up. I think about interactions between different family members and the rhythms and routines of our life during specific years. I think about the layers of support for me to be able to pursue my educational dreams.

Almost all of the pictures depict smiling faces, even in those spans of time that represent the biggest challenges in our lives. As such, the photos represent celebrations, struggles, and everyday life all mixed together. As a teacher, getting things straight on my bulletin boards and walls was never a strength, so as expected, trying to get rows of frames in perfect alignment simply did not happen; however, so much about relationships is recognizing the beauty despite the imperfections. 

Memories and experiences bind us together. The more we can allow the lessons of the Gospel to guide our lives and interactions, the stronger the bonds become. The more we allow guidance from people with a strong Catholic lens and prayer to help us navigate decisions and confusions, the stronger the bonds become. If we strive to be humble enough to recognize our own imperfections, be merciful enough to accept each other as we are, sacrifice enough to show our love, we can reflect on how our Lord is working to bind us together.

In the last little over a year and a half since I have been focusing more on intentionally aligning my life to the will of God, there have been some confusions as to which path I should take in some areas; however, other aspects are clear. One area of clarity is knowing that living out my vocation as wife and mother means nurturing our faith and our relationships and trying to keep Christ at the center of our lives. 

Today my husband and I celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary, as well as the baptisms of our oldest 13 years ago and of our third daughter 3 years ago. We will celebrate by having our priest bless our house this evening.

We are grateful for Your unwavering presence Lord, through different phases of our lives. Please continue to bind us together and to remember those common memories through all the bends in life. 

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