Friday, August 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Andy!

I married a wonderful man.

You may have picked up on it, but I'm pretty fond of my husband.

You may have also picked up
from the two above photos
that Andy likes the Huskies,
and his black sweatshirt...

Today is his 30th birthday.

Mostly, Andy is pretty unaffected by life. He takes things with an easy stride and quiet resolve. This birthday milestone is no different.

When a friend asked him how he felt about turning 30 Andy just shrugged and said that he was okay with it, that it made him feel like a valid adult now.

Before I had even met Andy I remember telling a girlfriend that if I ever got married (I was one of those I could be single forever gals - not a man-hater, just someone who was pretty comfortable as a single) I wanted to marry a "man."

When I said it, I meant someone with strong hands, a deep voice and big muscles who wasn't afraid to get dirty, especially while changing my oil and mowing the lawn.

But as I have discovered more and more of the treasure inside of my husband, I realized that although Andy does have lovely, rock-hard muscles and a swagger in his manly step, those are not the qualities that cause me to think of him as a man.

We have just had a new near-17-year-old boy move into our house. He is a BEAST! Six-something feet tall and a good 250lbs. Linebacker material (for other women whose husbands do not watch sports, the linebacker is the big-guy on the football team). He stomps around the house challenging everyone, throwing his weight (quite literally) and bragging about how he is twice the man that Andy is.

The first two weeks
I was SO
irritated by this peacock
I really wanted to put him in his place
and point out all his shortcomings
until the spirit in me that loves Jesus
fluttered enough to catch my attention
and remind me
that this show of arrogance
is most likely masking
some deep wound.
His hurt will never be healed
by my pointing out his failures
over and over.

The contrast between this boy and my man is so startling. I wish so badly that I could make our giant kid understand that masculinity is not a matter of size, it is a matter of character.

If there were ever a magic trick that could make teen boys actually listen to what I said, I would use it in this relationship. I would point to my husband and commission our new charge to care less about his stature and instead learn from Andy.

My husband lives out an example of humility.

A fact you should know about Andy is that he is really good (REALLY GOOD) at a lot (A LOT) of things. He is just one of those guys who can pretty much pick up any sport or activity and be awesome at it. He knows his skills and he uses them well. He also knows that besides physical activity he is highly intelligent and quick witted. Yet he approaches new situations with a watchful eye. He does not look for moments to prove himself or show someone else up, instead he listens, he learns and he does his best whenever he can.

When I first met Andy, I mistook his quiet and understated confidence as arrogance (or, perhaps it did use to be arrogance, but he has outgrown it). Now, when I watch him or work with him, I am amazed at how comfortable he is with himself and how capable he is.

I love knowing that he is the best around, but never hearing him say it himself.

Andy is generous.

Andy gives cheerfully. He looks for opportunities to support missionaries, he tithes without fail and he loves to walk Jack through toy aisles looking for something fun to play with.

Several years ago we were part of a building campaign at our church. I had an amount in mind that I wanted to give and was nervous to tell Andy about it, as it was a lot more than I thought we could do. But when we talked about it, he had the same amount in mind! For months and months we gave, even when it felt like we couldn't do it. At one point I wanted to back out and quit, but Andy remained steady and we saw the entire campaign through.

Andy expects to learn, grow and change.

I am not married to the same man I walked down the aisle with.

The man I am married to now is deeper and wiser and more understanding than the man I first feel in love with.

Andy has made intentional decisions to change attitudes and actions that have been part of his make-up for a very long time. He refuses to cop-out from hard work relationally by saying, "that's just the way I am." Instead he does the slow and steady work of learning about me and teaching me about him.

He is softer now, more compassionate, is slow to anger, speaks wisely and plans for the future.

The man I am married to now has stepped into his responsibilities as husband and father and has WILLINGLY made sacrifices to his own comfort in order to care for me and our boys.

Andy listens to God.

None of what I've just said would matter much, nor would it be a part of who Andy is, without the fact that Andy hears from the Lord and is willing to obey.

I am so very grateful that Andy cares more about what God says than any other voice in his life, including mine.

If you ever get a chance to hear all of Andy's story, it is worth listening to. Andy is the best example to me of a life transformed by the love of a heavenly father.

The man I live with and love now, is not the man who went by Andy Aichele 10 years ago. He has grown from heavy drinker, recreational-drug user, angry, aggressive, disrespectful, imprisoned, dismissed, dishonest, calloused, and careless to honoring, thoughtful, respectable, influential, brave, and willing to go where he is sent.


I adore you. I am grateful beyond words that I get to journey through life with you. Thank you for being a MAN: living boldly, loving deeply and leading well.

Happy Birthday!


Colleen said...

what a wonderful, loving tribute to someone so special to you - beautifully written - thank you for sharing! you can tell a lot about a person in how they treat the others in their lives and watching him with you and your two sons, speaks volumes!

ChristyLynne said...

Wow Em, your August posts bring my heart both joy and grief. Praying always for you and that you sense and know Gods love, grace and provision daily. glad you have Andy :)

Carol said...

Wow, I mean just WOW! THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU, Emily! I read this to Tom in a restaurant on Andy's 30th birthday...probably not the best choice, but at least we had napkins handy! As parents, you live for these moments. They don't come often, and for some, never. So we know how blessed we are! But you put it down so eloquently, so genuinely, that all we can say is Thank You for loving our son so well!