It was a sizzling summer afternoon, just like every other blazing July mid-day in California's Central Valley, where the heat forms a staid fortress around everything and beady sweat breaks out on foreheads before 8 a.m.
I was slipping my 20-year-old frame piece by piece into a billowy white Laura Ashley gown, purchased to be worn this day, lovely damask silk with a princess neckline and tiny white ballet shoes just peeking their dainty toes out below.
The man I fell deeply in love with would meet me there, at the front of Morris Chapel, under the rose window where abundant, fragrant cream lilies and roses spilled out over the top of the altar, flowing down the sides to timidly kiss the red carpet below.
He declared, publicly, in the earshot of 300 people who turned out to share in our joy, that he loved me. That he would tenderly care for me every day of our lives, tilting his ear to God to lead and guide us, and that he would lay down his life and die for me.
He loved me.
Soon a baby, a business, more babies, more business. Heartache, struggles, a lot of joy and pain and sickness and health. For better or for worse, as it were.
And I forgot.
I forgot the day, the heat, the dress, the shoes, the rose window, the cake, the getaway fire engine we borrowed from his fraternity.
I forgot the love, the commitment, the words, the vows, the wonder. I worked harder. Read more marriage books. Tried and tried and tried to submit, like a good Christian wife. The to-do lists, the boundaries, the theories, and the formulas. Just tell me what to do.
And I forgot. I let the vows and the love and all of the simple things he whispered in my ear slip from my memory, and it's a crying shame because that love - that simplicity - it motivates and grows and blossoms and enhances and strengthens and fortifies and sustains.
Tell me the gospel. Give me the basics, again. The gospel, the basics - they're the body that grows wings in freedom, and all our trying and straining and systematic theology and studying and doing - they're simply the tools God uses to make us more beautiful. But they aren't the gospel.
I want to hear how much He loves me. Preach that marriage sermon to me once more, and let me bask in the glory of the cross and His sacrifice and His work. He loves me. He loves me. What He did for me, and how He has strikingly changed me is more than enough, in sickness and in health.
Our getaway car. July, 1991
All other photos are from the Morris Chapel website