Full Circle

 Today’s article is another “Share Your Story” contribution from blogger, Julie Silander who writes at Greener Trees.

Julie on her wedding day, 17 years ago

This weekend we head to Johnson City (my hometown) for our oldest daughter’s wedding.  I know what some of you are thinking – I’m not old enough to have a daughter getting married. Technically, I am. But this daughter is one born of my heart, not my body.

At the tender age of 24, I married David, who had 2 small children. Ashley was 7 and Chapman was 4. Most marriages signify hope, the creation of a family, the fulfillment of life-long dreams. For the children, ours was by its very nature the opposite. The ceremony itself marked the finality that their original family would never be again. Although the four of us embarked on a new chapter in life, it was one that would be cobbled together with broken, damaged lives.

Our early years were turbulent at best. I always had a twinge of sadness when I heard the term “newlywed bliss”…  It never applied in our home. 

We tried our best to stumble through life and look like everyone else. For the most part, we pulled it off. We looked like other families who seemed to have it all together—with soccer games, church picnics, trips to the beach, and smiling Christmas cards. But we all knew that we were different and longed for the “normal” family that everyone else had.

It was not until years later that we grew to understand that we were not so different after all.

We’ve experienced much together in the last 17 years …  a move to Charlotte right after we were married, the loss of one and birth of three more children, my early “retirement” from corporate America, the deaths of David’s parents, his job loss, all the while making the ongoing choice to hang in there and be “for” each other.

Sounds easier than it was (and is), but you know that.

Somewhere along the line, we slowly began to learn that not only was love a choice, but that it had an unexpected cost. The more we understood and chose to lay down our shields of protection, unspoken demands that the other “come through,” and expectations of what life was supposed to look like, a strange thing began to happen.

As we began to shift our allegiances from self to other, we became freer.  Less energy was required to demand of the other, so more was available to give.

Freedom, grace, and genuine laughter were more bountiful in our home.  Our “newlywed bliss” came 15 years later. Well worth the cost—and the wait.

True, abundant life really is available when we are willing to lay down our life on behalf of another.

Now Ashley is 24 and the bride, not the flower girl. This time, we’re embarking on a wedding ceremony of a different kind.

Yes, we’ve learned that all families are actually cobbled together with broken, damaged lives.  But the story doesn’t end there.  

It’s just beginning. As we’ve watched the Lord’s hand in our marriage and family, we have a glimpse of what is to come for Andy and Ashley. As they are married in the same church where we were married, their wedding is a living testimony that God does indeed resurrect, heal, grow, redeem, and bless His children. We have been given a small taste of …

“How wide and long and deep and high is the love of Christ.”

And by the way, not many people can say that they are the mother of the bride, flower girl, ring bearer, groomsman, and pianist. I am richly blessed.

Click on Julie’s button below to check out her blog.

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  1. Heather C says:

    Beautiful story and reminder. Thank you.

  2. Awesome post! Hopping from On, In, and Around Mondays. 🙂

  3. JosephPote says:

    “…expectations of what life was supposed to look like…”

    That’s a big one, isn’t it? Such a joy-thief!

    …and so hard to recognize, sometimes.

    So long as we stay hung up on our expectations of what life is supposed to look like, we feel justified in all sorts of complaints and feel constantly disappointed, without really even knowing exactly why.

    Learning to accept circumstances for what they are allows me to appreciate God’s blessings in the midst of difficult circumstances, and to use me to make a difference in someone else’s life.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. What a great reminder of grace and redemption! A beautiful picture of faith and the way God makes all things new. Congrats to your family!

  5. What a moving and beautiful story, Julie. In a relatively short post, you’ve captured a full circle of life, starting with your wedding, continuing through you years in marriage and raising your new family, and coming back around to your daughter’s marriage. This brings hope to many people. Thank you for sharing it!

  6. OutnumberedMom says:

    This is such a beautiful story, but more than that — a real picture of redemption. Just lovely. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy this wedding!!

  7. messymarriage says:

    Thanks so much, Heather, for encouraging Julie! 🙂

  8. messymarriage says:

    Thanks for encouraging Julie and for stopping by, Mindy!

  9. messymarriage says:

    You are so right, Joe. And much of it simply boils down to trusting Christ more. I’m so glad that you stopped by, weighed in and encouraged Julie!

  10. messymarriage says:

    I totally agree, Ann. Julie did a great job of picturing the beauty and redemption that God works in a marriage that is yielded to Him. Thanks so much for coming by to encourage!

  11. messymarriage says:

    Thanks so much for stopping by and encouraging Julie! 🙂

  12. Yes – Even as I read your words, I’m reminded of the great joy that found only by living fully in my own story (rather than the one was “supposed” to have).

  13. Thanks, Ann. It’s an honor to share.

  14. Thanks so much for you kind words. We’re grateful.

  15. Thanks so much for hopping over!

  16. It’s a constant reminder to me as well – what a good Father we serve.

  17. Jessica says:

    what an amazing story! thank you to julie for her vulnerability and encouragement to all of us! “well worth the cost – and the wait.” i love that.

  18. It’s been a long process, but I’m amazed as well. Thanks for your encouragement!

  19. Wow, Julie, that is such a neat story! God has truly blessed your faithfulness even through the hard times.

  20. Thanks for your visit, and your comment – and I am glad I came here. Appreciated reading your story, and your grateful heart for how God has worked things out for you. Have a wonderful weekend with your daughter’s wedding!

  21. He is a good God…

  22. Thanks for your kind words. We’re still a work in progress, but grateful for the process.

  23. Such an honest and beautiful story, Julie. Thank you for sharing, Beth. Too often we give up so easily. Yours is a testament to perseverance. Lovely.