Thursday, May 28, 2009

To Have, To Hold, To Love Thee

Sonnet XLIII

from Sonnets from the Portuguese
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men might strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,–I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!–and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

I today awakened to sweet song of baby birds and whispering thoughts of my love. I eased through my early routine and found my morning spot on my sofa, where I read devotionally. My glass of water, placed beside me as usual by my dear husband, was full of ice and cold, just as I like it, so I sipped, and waited.

A soft, dear hand took mine in his. "Happy Anniversary," said he. "I can't believe it's been thirty-two years," said I. "Where has time gone? We're getting older." "No," my dear one replied. "No." Jeff's loving smile reminded me that God's best gifts grow richer in grace with years.

Vintage is such a lovely way to walk with marriage. A godly relationship appreciates with passing time, growing stronger, showing more honor, having greater love, gaining more patience, learning more value, sharing more joy. With Christ as its center, our Master designs, weaves a masterpiece, a work of His art, one wrought on the loom of time, with trials, with trust, with want and need, through peril, through darkness, in sickness, in storms, in health, in light, in line with His word, in plenty, in hard times, in sweet times. All joins together, becoming a beautiful tapestry of graceful truth, full of real faith, real flaws, and real love.

This most precious piece is not ours for gloating, but for using and handling. It is a work of art to be studied by our children and theirs and others around us. A still imperfect, textured fabric, testifying, not of our strengths or talents, but of the humble work of a merciful God, who takes what little thread and fabric we have to yield to Him and graces it with the beauty of Jesus Christ, His Son.

Thank you, dear Lord, for a godly husband and thirty-two years of our sharing Christ together and walking, hands bound as one, with faith in ministry and life. Thank you, dear heavenly Father, for the unity of your Spirit and the bond of peace, for without your work, our home would be empty and cold, our children and grandchildren lost, unconscious of God's sacrifice of love and His cherished handiwork. Please grant us continued grace and strength to honor you and each other. And for as long as we both shall live, may our marriage ever bring you glory.

A Portuguese proverb says that "Time brings roses." A precious anniversary day brought a dozen to my door. Dearest husband, "If I had a rose for every time I thought of you, I'd be picking roses for a lifetime" (a Swedish proverb).


  1. What a loving anniversary tribute....congratulations!

    My husband and I married in 1977 also, and we will be celebrating 32 years in August.

    Many blessings to you and your forever love for many more years of happiness!

  2. How fabulously wonderful! Congratulations. The picture is just too precious.

    God bless you both, and may the years ahead be even more dear than the 32 passing.


  3. Andrea, What a lovely post! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! Hope you have a great one! Blessings, Faye

  4. How very happy I am for you! Happy anniversary!! There is nothing like having your best friend at your side sharing life with you and with Christ as the CENTER. Amen to that!
    Blessings to the both of you as you share your very special day. Great big hugs!

  5. Dearest Andrea,
    Oh my..... what a gorgeous bride you were!!!
    Happy, Happy, Happy Anniversary!!!!!
    May the Lord bless you both richly and may He
    grant you many, many more years together!
    That sonnet by Elizabeth Browning is so beautiful
    *sniff.... sigh* I hope you have a wonderful day with
    your beloved!!!

    With Much Love & Affection in Christ~ Jen

  6. Happy anniversary! I just love that picture of you two... so sweet! And what a beautiful tribute you wrote.

  7. HAPPY HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO YOU!!! 32 years is awesome.
    Be blessed with many many more.

    Andrea, In Jesus Name, I just said a prayer for you and this blessed covenant relationship you have as husband and wife in marriage.

    How precious marriage is...

    A beautifully written post.

  8. Congratulations! The longer I'm married (23 years and counting) the more I realize what a precious gift a Godly marriage is.

  9. Happy Anniversary!

    My husband jokes about my Portuguese heritage because there is a very tiny garden dedicated to Portugal where we were raised. I love the Portuguese proverb! I grow roses of my own and they require much tending but they are so worth it.

    Every time I stop by you give me something in art or literature that I didn't know before. You also encourage my weary heart to keep resting in Him.

    We will be celebrating 15 years this year and I look forward to what our Vintage Marriage will one day look is wonderful now!

  10. Hello Andrea, I send you a hearty congratulations! In this crazy world, It's so beautiful to read about a happy union. This was such a beautiful post and your wedding picture is so sweet and precious. May God keep you both 'neath his wings always!
    Ps your dining room is beautiful and the roses, ahhh, what a wonderful gift from your hubby!

  11. Thank you for sharing--I love thinking of marriage as "vintage."

  12. Andrea, Happy Anniversary to you and your hubby! It is a wonderful thing to share a life with someone you love. Congratulations! Hope you all had a wonderful day! Blessings

  13. Lovely wedding picture!

    Happy Anniversary, dear Andrea and Jeff!

    May God continue to make your marriage beautiful and meaningful with each passing year. It warms my heart truly when couple stay married and in love! It is a beautiful picture of how God loves His church.

  14. Blessings to you and Jeff on your thirty second anniversary! All praise to our sweet Lord for your humble acknowledgement of His work through your marriage. You are sweet encouragement Andrea.

  15. What lovely words:) Happy Anniversary!



  16. Dear Andrea,

    A Most Happy and Blessed Anniversary to you and Jeff! How wonderful - 32 years! What a beautiful testimony to God's faithfulness :) You both look beautiful! I pray you both have many wonderful and fruitful years with each other :)

    By His Grace, For His Glory,


  17. Oh Dear Andrea~
    What a lovely thing for me to find first thing this morning! The Sonnet is my favorite, and your words are just golden!
    We will be celebrating 37 years together this July. Our marriage is truly vintage! God has been good!
    Happiest of Aniversaries, dear friend in Christ. May He richly bless your special day and grant you both gardens and gardens of roses!

  18. Oh Andrea, a "vintage marriage" what a joy! My darling husband and I have not been married so long to call ourselves in a vintage marriage, but I must say, if the Lord says would I do it all again...oh yes, all over again!

    You have brought tears to my eyes dear friend. The love, the respect, the joy that you have for your husband is so palpable. May Our Lord continue to guide your hearts. May He continue to shower you with love and in turn bless you for another 30 :)


    lady m

  19. Oh, Andrea! Happy be-lated Anniversary! I hope it was wonderful and it sounds like your marriage is the kind that so many people long to have in their own lives. Blessings to you and for your beautiful post.

  20. Dear Andrea,

    They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the countenance upon your "new" groom speaks volumes. May the Lord continue to be glorified through your marriage as it is a symbol of Christ and His bride. May you be able to look into your husband's face and find that same countenance that was there 32 years ago. What a lovely example. Many blessings to you both as you persevere and grow in the knowledge of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Mrs. Teapot

  21. Beautiful Post! My hubbs and I celebrated 30 years last September. I think..."How can my son be 27 when I'm 27?" Then I remember. the years stole away my youth when I was busy being a wife and loving my babies into adulthood.

    God is faithful.


  22. Lovely,lovely post-a true testament to God's goodness.

  23. A happy and blessed anniversary to you both...
    Pop on over to my place, I have left something for you ;)

  24. May God bless you both with another 32! Billy and I celebrate our 12th anniversary this year. Some days, I wonder if we'll ever arrive at 32; it's been a tough road at times. Still and yet, I imagine us getting there in tact and still in love. God gave me a lot when he gave me Billy. I pray to always remember that.


  25. Wishing you both a most blessed and happy belated Happy Anniversary!! What a lovely post of your dedication to each other, I am truly blessed.

  26. Happy Anniversary!

    I love the image of you reading your devotions, with your soul-mate delivering the glass of water.

    Beautiful writing; beautiful grace.

  27. Andrea,
    Thanks for visiting my place. And I am happy to have visited yours. Happy Anniversary! What a lovely post. . . God bless and keep you and your dear husband in his hands.
    By the way, you are from my home state! Beautiful place!

  28. My dear Andrea,
    I noticed on my site map that you had just left when I posted my June 1 entry. I would have loved for you to be the first to view my post entitled Blessing Israel. Do come back to read it soon!


    Happy first of June!

  29. What a truly, truly beautiful post and a lovely way to remember your anniverswary. My husband and I will celebrate 4 years this fall. It is amazing to me to see even in how short a period of time God has blessed us beyond our wildest dreams and every day we grow closer to Him and to each other. Praise Him for His faithfulness and goodness to us!

  30. Happy Anniversary! I'm enjoying your blog and your beautiful photos! Thank you for stopping by my blog!


  31. What a blessing it is to have found your inspirational blog! Happy Anniversary, and I pray that God will bless you both with many, many happy, vintage years together! My DH and I will be celebrating our #40 this summer--each moment is precious and we are so thankful.

  32. I just found your blog. I, too am a Christian. I am not a Pastor's wife nor am I a Preacher's Kid but I am the grandchild of a pastor who's one mission in life was to not pass by one person or have a conversation with one person without sharing with them how they could change their eternal destination. I have never met anyone as devoted to the purpose as my grandpa. I know when he took his first step into heaven, my grandma was waiting for him and there were hundreds of thousands waiting to shake his hand.
    On another note-I LOVE all your old vintage photos. Where do you find them?
    I hope you will stop by my blog and visit me.


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In the Wonderful Love of Christ our Savior,