Our Hoopfest 2022 Experience

The dust has settled and Hoopfest 2022 is over. If you read my blog post on Friday, I mentioned that I didn’t particularly like our chances to make a deep tournament run. Well, I can report that the Reser Puffs ended up finishing in sixth place.

Out of six teams. 😂

Although we failed to win a game we sure had fun.

We failed to make it into the win column this past weekend. That’s not to say the games weren’t close. We actually surprised ourselves by being competitive. We lost our Saturday games by scores of 17-14 and 20-13. Our Sunday morning game was even tighter as we fell in overtime, 17-15. That final contest was especially agonizing to lose as we wanted to make it over the hump and take home those consolation champion t-shirts. But it wasn’t meant to be.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay because it was never our goal to win a championship or even a game in the first place. Rather, we were more focused on making family memories and taking part in an incredible community event. Check and check.

Even doing little things like taking the bus downtown with my family was something that made Hoopfest memorable.

Playing with my brother, sister, and sister-in-law was an awesome experience. It means so much when you are competing with family. Being out in the heat together trying to make baskets and doing our other family members proud was a bonding experience I wouldn’t trade for the world.

To play in front of our children was something we didn’t take for granted.

But it wasn’t just the actual action on the court that was so rewarding. For the past few weeks, the four of us had our own text message group where we would hype ourselves up, share weather reports, and iron out details. The excitement and camaraderie we shared was special. We went together to pick up our Hoopfest packets on Thursday and on Saturday night we had an epic Reser Puffs BBQ at our house. On Sunday morning, after we were eliminated, we ordered a round of beers at a downtown restaurant. The tournament brought us together for an extended period of time and we loved every minute of it.

The Hoopfest experience extended far past the action that took place on the court. Our team BBQ on Saturday night was relaxing and a lot of fun.

Hoopfest is an amazing event and I am honored that I had the opportunity to take part in it. Seven years removed from being part of the event and 15 years from actually playing in it gave me renewed appreciation for how unique this tourney truly is. To be one of the 14,000 people shooting jumpers on the downtown Spokane pavement this past weekend was a true pleasure.

The four of us after our final game on Sunday. I really enjoyed playing with Miranda, Glen, and Carrie.

Thanks to Glen, Carrie, and Miranda for playing with me this weekend. Thanks to my wife, my kids, parents, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew for watching us. Thanks to the teams who played us (all great sports) and our court monitor (Keith Miner) who ran a smooth bracket. The soreness I feel throughout my body and the massive blister on my foot were all totally worth it. I am already excited for Hoopfest 2023. Don’t Blink.

Here Come the Reser Puffs

This could get brutal. Exactly 15 years since I last played Hoopfest, I am lacing up the sneakers to play in the tournament again. You might be asking, why the hell would you do that to yourself? Well, my brother asked me to…which leads to another level of insanity…

For the first time ever, I am playing in the family bracket. To balance out the testosterone of my brother and I, we will be joined by my sister-in-law (Glen’s wife) and my sister. Oh, boy. The Resers are in no way known for their basketball prowess. In fact, some of us have very little experience just dribbling a basketball. This could get interesting to say the least.

I went with Glen and my sister-in-law, Carrie, to pick up our Hoopfest packet on Thursday night and I snapped this photo of them at team check-in.

But no matter how bad we are, I am still really excited to play for several reasons…

1. I have never been on a team with my siblings in any type of organized competition before so this will be unique and fun.
2. The weather is going to be beautiful.
3. I will complete the Spokane trifecta of Bloomsday, the Lilac Parade, and Hoopfest.
4. My wife and kids will be cheering me on.
5. Nothing beats the atmosphere of downtown Spokane during Hoopfest weekend.

This is what the 2022 Hoopfest player t-shirt looks like.

Now, if you want to watch some comedy, you are more than welcome to watch the Reser Puffs play this weekend (yes, we are called the Reser Puffs). We are playing right in front of P.F. Changs on Main and Post on the F5 Networks #5 court. If you are crazy and want some bad basketball to start your day, you can catch our first game tomorrow at 8 a.m. Feel free to track us on the Hoopfest app, just simply go to the loser’s bracket.

When we went downtown to pick up our packets yesterday, not only did we see the location of our court but we saw the actual backboard as well.

What an opportunity to do something fun with my favorite people! My court monitor tenure was a great experience but I am ready to switch sides again. Watch out Spokane, here come the Reser Puffs. Don’t Blink.

Summer Is Here Thursday Rundown

Summer is here! With the official first day of the season this past Tuesday, the weather has definitely reflected it. We have avoided the brutal heat wave that has hit a large portion of the country and enjoyed extremely pleasant temperatures. Let’s get started with the Thursday Rundown…

Throwback to 2007 – I decided to squeeze in a #TBT for this blog post for a particular reason. This photo is of me playing in Hoopfest the last time I competed as a player. Although I volunteered for Hoopfest for several years after the 2007 event, I have not hooped it up myself for 15 years. That streak will end on Saturday but more on that tomorrow.

This was me playing in my last Hoopfest in 2007.

Funny Answers – If you have a child, most likely they have filled out a form about you like the one below. It is almost a rite of passage for parenthood and sometimes the answers can get pretty wild. I would say Sloan was rather tame with what “she” (her teacher) wrote below. I will give her a special dessert or something for saying that I am 16 years old.

Sloan filled out this form for me. It was good for a Father’s Day laugh.

It’s Summer – Last night I took the kids to Discovery Park in Spokane Valley. They immediately gravitated toward the splash pad. The parks in both Spokane and Spokane Valley boast these impressive water attractions. Last summer I wrote about the mystique of splash pads and included photos of some of the best ones we have visited in the area. If you live in Spokane and have kids who would like a fun option to cool off during the summer, this blog post is a must-read.

This was Beau last night at the Discovery Park splash pad.

Coffee Shops Unite – The espresso stand that is just a couple minutes from our house suffered a traumatic experience yesterday. Its truck was stolen! Th owners of Swell Coffee woke up on Wednesday morning to find out that their branded truck had vanished. It was about 10 hours of anguish before law enforcement tracked down the vehicle 49 miles away in Smelterville, Idaho. The carjacker fled the truck when pulled over. What I thought was really cool about the whole thing was that the million other coffee shops in the Spokane area expressed their relief on Instagram that their competitor’s vehicle was found…pretty classy!

A photo of the Swell Coffee owner with his truck after it was located in Idaho on Wednesday evening.

The Proposal – It was seven years ago on this date that I proposed to Sid (she said “yes”). I popped the question on the Murrells Inlet MarshWalk, the location of our first date. My wife always tells the story about how I inhaled my dinner at the restaurant we ate at prior to the big moment. She just could not figure out why I was in such a hurry. The truth was that we were losing daylight after our food took way longer to arrive than expected. The photographer taking photos of the event needed me to get Sidney to the proposal location before it got too dark. If you want the long story, tap here.

That magic moment.

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Thanks for stopping by tonight. I will be back tomorrow with a rare Friday blog post. Until then, enjoy summer! Don’t Blink.

Swatting

Last week, I wrote about an “S” activity that I had recently learned about. It was called salvaging and although it didn’t appeal to me in the slightest, I respected it and admired the people who practiced it as it did benefit the greater society.

However, this week I learned about yet another “S” activity that I am not so keen about. In fact, I am using weak language because “not so keen” doesn’t begin to describe how much I hate it. A few days ago, I learned about the detestable practice of swatting.

Swatting is when someone will call the authorities to report a person for engaging in a crime that necessitates the response of a SWAT team or other highly tactical law enforcement agency. The kicker is that the person being reported, besides perhaps upsetting the fragile ego of the caller, committed no crime. Yes, the caller will spin some outrageous lie usually dealing with a hostage situation and drop the address of whoever they want to “swat.” The trained professionals will dutifully respond with the intent of neutralizing a threat. Confusion abounds.

Swatting is the practice of making a false report that will deploy the SWAT team or other police tactical team to the residence of an unsuspecting person.

This practice of swatting is prevalent in gaming culture. A couple of dudes feuding over the outcome of an online video game will escalate their drama to a point where one feels the need to mess with the time, resources, and lives of others to “make a statement.” It is a pathetic, selfish act.

They say each swatting call costs the responding unit approximately $10,000. But even that blatant waste of money is minuscule compared to the loss of life that has resulted because of the abhorrent stunt. I learned about swatting from a new Netflix series called “Web of Make Believe” in which one episode deals exclusively with swatting. In this particular program, a tragic story is told about one swatting incident in which the caller gave the dispatcher a wrong address. When the SWAT team responded, a confused man walked out of the house and was killed.

Although “Web of Make Believe” details some schemes and practices that will anger you, it is a very interesting series that is streaming on Netflix.

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My dad told me a certain true story more than once growing up. When he was in elementary school, a classmate pulled the fire alarm for the sole reason of causing a disturbance. The responding fire truck got into a collision on the way to the school and one of the fire fighters lost his eye. My dad’s classmate had a tough time living with that guilt.

Now for some reason, I don’t think many of these swatters feel any remorse for their actions. But just like with the fire alarm, high risk stunts have awful ramifications. If these people don’t think twice about putting a whole bunch of others at risk, there must be some type of deterrent or penalty imposed. Sadly, it might just be taking their video games away. Don’t Blink.

Father’s Day 2022

This past Sunday, my family celebrated me for the sixth time since becoming a dad in 2017. Father’s Day is always special, especially when you are blessed enough to hold one of the best jobs ever created. Yep, out of everything that forms my identity, I am most proud to be a dad.

As usual, my wife and children spoiled me. I got to sleep in and after I took a shower they were waiting in the living room for me with gifts. My wife gave me new shoes (watch out Hoopfest!), my daughter made me a special glass (perfect for a cold one), and my son gave me my favorite candy (going to wait to indulge until after my dentist appointment on Friday).

Sid took this photo of Beau, Sloan, and I on Father’s Day morning.

We then headed off to 9 a.m. mass at St. Mary. Let me tell you, nothing makes you feel more like a dad than when you perform your fatherly duty and get your entire family to mass. It was the Feast of Corpus Christi and the ending procession stopped was beautiful.

This was the Father’s Day cup that Sloan designed for me. On the other side it reads “Cool Dad.” Can you spot a couple cuties in the background?

After mass we came home for a bit. Sid went to run errands and as Beau slept, Sloan and I played board games. It wasn’t lost on me that I was spending special time with the little person who first made me a dad.

As Sloan and I played board games on Sunday, it wasn’t lost on me that she made me a dad.

Once Sidney returned and Beau woke up, we headed out to my parents’ house for a Father’s Day celebration. My sister’s family and my brother and his wife were all in attendance. The sun came out and we had a terrific afternoon of playing basketball, eating steak, and visiting.

During our Father’s Day celebration, we made it a point to take a photo of my dad with his grandchildren. Dad, father-in-law, and papa….my father is a pro at all three!

Thanks be to God for allowing me to be a dad and for giving me such incredible children. I am truly blessed. Don’t Blink.

Friends For Life

When you get a text message notification from your parish priest, it is natural to tense up a bit. Did something bad happen? Did I do something wrong? Is he summoning me to confession? Those thoughts quickly ran through my head a few months ago when Sidney and I received a text from Fr. Jeff Lewis, our pastor at St. Mary Catholic Church in Spokane Valley. But before my thoughts could get too out of control, I simply ripped the band-aid off and opened the text.

Hey, good afternoon. So, do you two still want to be mentors to an engaged couple?

You bet!!

By saying “yes” to Fr. Jeff, we would end up meeting this very special couple.

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Nearly seven years ago, Sidney and I wrapped up our Pre-Cana program with our sponsor couple, Tim and Kathy McCormick. The McCormicks embody what a beautiful, fruitful marriage is all about and they provided us invaluable guidance as we prepared to get married in the Catholic Church.

The experience with Tim and Kathy was inspiring and faith filled. Beyond instilling in us the magnitude and beauty of marriage in the Church, it was also the beginning of a special relationship that Sidney and I hold extremely dear with them to this day.

I have always hoped that Sid and I would get the chance to give back and help prepare a couple for the sacrament of marriage in the same loving way that the McCormicks did for us.

Sidney and I with our sponsor couple, Tim and Kathy McCormick.

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In early April, we had the blessing of meeting Kailey and Corbin, a young engaged couple who will enter into holy matrimony in August. Fr. Jeff placed his trust in Sid and I to serve as their sponsor couple. With our pastor’s vote of confidence came our promise that we would do our best to help prepare Kailey and Corbin for their lifelong commitment. Over the course of six different lessons, my wife and I vowed to give an honest perspective on the joys and challenges of marriage.

Before we jumped headfirst into the heavy stuff, we invited Kailey and Corbin over to the house for dinner. Over pizza and wine we got to know each other. It was immediately apparent that we were in the presence of a very mature and humble couple. The evening was delightful and a seed was planted for future growth!

The marriage prep program we did was the Beloved series presented by Formed, a Catholic digital content apostolate. As I mentioned, this particular program had six different lessons, all delivered via video. The weekly lessons explained holy matrimony through its relevance, history, self-sacrifice, reliance on the Cross, and sacramental bond that it establishes. Each of these themes would address certain specific aspects of marriage such as conflict management, hardships, children/family planning, past baggage, traditions, sexual intimacy, and more.

The marriage prep program that we did with Kailey and Corbin was called “Beloved.”

Kailey and Corbin would watch the video together while Sid and I would watch the video together as well. After we had viewed that particular week’s video with our respective partner, Sid and I would send reflection questions to Kailey and Corbin to consider. The four of us would then gather and discuss the questions. These discussions were always deep, honest, and thoughtful. Although these conversations were designed to primarily benefit Kailey and Corbin, I can unequivocally say that they were such a blessing to Sid and I as well.

Our fruitful meetings didn’t always take place on the same day of the week nor at the same location. Although most did occur at our home, we also incorporated one lesson into a couple’s date night in Post Falls and another lesson we did entirely over Facetime. But perhaps the final lesson was the best of all. We met at a Mexican deli for dinner and a special guest joined us—Fr. Jeff!

What a joy the evening was. Fr. Jeff sat at the head of the table but basically allowed the four of us to navigate the lesson ourselves, waiting to offer his incredible insight and guidance as we came to an end of a discussion question. As we concluded that final lesson, we asked Fr. Jeff what themes he usually preaches about during his wedding homilies. He told us that he underscores the value that God places on marriage. Not only was marriage instituted very, very early on with the creation of Eve, but it went from important to sacramental by Jesus Christ himself. Jesus didn’t just sanctify marriage with his teachings, he did it with his actions as well. Christ’s death on the cross is the ultimate model of self-sacrificial love, the same self-sacrificial love that we must embrace and give in marriage.

After our final marriage prep lesson, the five of us, Fr. Jeff included, took this picture inside De Leon’s Foods.

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During that final lesson, Sid and I gave a resounding recommendation to Fr. Jeff that Kailey and Corbin are ready for marriage. On all levels—including spiritual and emotional—those two are ready to be joined as one. They are an impressive couple who will no doubt accept God’s grace throughout the course of their marriage and enjoy many years of happiness together.

What makes that positive outlook even more exciting, at least from the perspective of Sid and I, is that we plan to be part of those many blissful years. Just in the same way that we have a special relationship with our own sponsor couple, all signs point to a similar bond with Kailey and Corbin. We grew close during our marriage prep sessions and as Kailey mentioned in a Facebook post, that time together has resulted in us becoming “friends for life.”

It is an understatement to say that we are excited to be part of Kailey and Corbin’s special day when they are married this August in Hawaii. It will be a joyous and holy occasion.

Corbin and Kailey with Fr. Jeff at the end of their marriage prep program. What a blessing it was to get to know them!

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There is only one final thing to say and that is thank you. We extend our gratitude to Fr. Jeff for allowing us to be a sponsor couple and to Kailey and Corbin for letting us mentor them. As we stood outside the deli, Kailey explained that Pre-Cana has been her favorite part of the wedding planning/preparation process.  But for any good that our time together did for Kailey and Corbin, it did just as much for Sid and I. To dive deeper into the awesomeness of what makes a marriage rooted in the Church so holy made us appreciate our own vows even more. What a blessing that we were able to come to this realization while journeying with the future Mr. and Mrs. Schafer. Thanks be to God!

Please pray for Kailey and Corbin as they inch closer and closer to their wedding date. Don’t Blink.

Hustle Thursday Rundown

The days continue to get longer as we approach the first day of summer on June 21. So guess what that means? This is the last Thursday Rundown of the spring. Dang, talk about pressure. Here are tonight’s five topics…

Resemblance – Earlier this week, my dad texted Sidney and I the photo on the left and wrote You know anybody who looks like this guy? Of course, the photo was of me, and my dad was implying that Beau and I looked alike when we were both at that age. To be completely honest, I don’t really see it. However, both my wife and dad think there is a striking resemblance. What do you think?

I honestly don’t think there is much of a resemblance, at least not a striking one. What do you think?

Hustle – I never thought I would use the word “inspiring” to describe an Adam Sandler movie but here I am in 2022 doing so. Critics are calling “Hustle” the best movie of Sandler’s career and I would be hard pressed to argue. I watched the film from start to finish on Friday night and really enjoyed it. Sandler plays a Philadelphia 76ers scout who discovers a foreign prodigy and coaches him to NBA readiness. The creative basketball scenes, the celebrity cameos, and the underdog story all make this movie enjoyable to watch. But Sandler truly does steal the show with his motivational performance. You can watch “Hustle” on Netflix.

“Hustle” with Adam Sandler was really good.

Sloan Graduation – Yesterday, Sloan graduated from preschool. After spending a year in the Pre K-3 class followed by this year in the Pre K-4 class, Sloan is ready for her next challenge: Kindergarten. Wednesday’s ceremony was joyful and cute as Sloan and her classmates were celebrated inside the church. We are excited to watch our daughter and her cohort grow together as they advance through St. Mary Catholic School. Although she graduated yesterday, Sloan will attend one final day tomorrow in Ms. Lunsford’s Pre K-4 class before beginning her summer vacation.

Sloan graduated preschool from St. Mary Catholic School in Spokane Valley on June 15, 2022. She is pictured in the top right corner with her teacher, Ms. Emily Lunsford.

That One Club Experience – Sidney and I are the last people you will find in a club but six years ago on this date we made an exception. While on our honeymoon, we found ourselves at Coco Bongo in Cancun. We were entertained all night with celebrity impersonator musicians, side acts, and confetti showers. It was such a fun and memorable experience! If you ever get the chance the go, even if you cringe when you think about clubbing, you won’t be disappointed.

I only took a couple photos when we were in Coco Bongo and they are all grainy. However, this is one of Sid and I. The club was insane.

National Sea Turtle Day – When Sidney and I visited Baltimore in 2014, we visited the renowned National Baltimore Aquarium. When you enter the aquarium you come face-to-face with a gigantic tank full of fish and sharks. But what really stood out when we visited eight years ago was the enormous 500-pound sea turtle that also inhabited the tank. Her name was Calypso and she swam in the National Baltimore Aquarium waters for 20 years before passing away in 2020. She was quite the site. Happy National Sea Turtle Day, my friends.

This was the main tank that the National Aquarium is designed around. You can see Calypso swimming front and center.

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Let us pray incessantly for the end of violence both in our country and the world. Thanks for reading my blog and I hope you have a terrific weekend. Don’t Blink.

Salvage

Just yesterday I read a story on The Atlantic website about a practice I knew very little about. At the beginning of the article I felt a little queasy and at its conclusion, quite frankly, I felt the same way—but at least I wasn’t ignorant to it.

Have you heard about the concept of salvage? It is the practice of eating roadkill. For people who don’t know better, like myself, we might question why the “l” is in the word to begin with. To be honest, when I think of roadkill, the visions of racoon carcasses discarded on the side of a dusty road swarming with birds and bugs on a hot July day come to mind. You mean people want to eat that? Bon appétit.

This photo, which was taken by Ryan Bell of Biographic, shows a man dragging a roadkill deer across the street to his car.

But that’s not really how it is. Most people who take advantage of salvage are harvesting freshly dead deer that meet an untimely demise shortly after coming into contact with an automobile. It has become a sought-after food source. Here in our state of Washington, salvage has been legal since 2016 and apparently you would think there was a five-second rule from the point that a deer drops dead because they don’t stay on the side of the road for long.

It all still is a little tough for me to stomach. I don’t particularly like deer meat to begin with and now you are going to tell me that my venison made it to my plate courtesy of blunt force trauma from an SUV? I guess I am just conditioned to think the deer I eat must have suffered acute led poisoning before falling over in the woods.

Roadkill just has a negative connotation. Seriously, can a word be more appalling? But kudos to the many people who can look past preconceived notions and embrace salvage. Sure, I might poke jokes, but these state programs really do serve multiple valuable purposes. They get carcasses off the road and provide food to folks who need it. No matter whether my stomach turns or not, I can’t argue with that win-win. Don’t Blink.

A Surprise Reunion

On Saturday, my mom came over to watch the kids so Sid and I could celebrate our anniversary with a date night. We started at the Millwood Brewing Company and enjoyed a beer in the cozy atmosphere. While sipping on our brews, we debated where to go for dinner. After our deliberation and out of all the restaurants in the area, we decided on a place we had never been before. Little did we know the mother of all consequences was about to unfold.

My wife at Millwood Brewing Company, the watering hole we went to prior to heading out to Craft & Gather on our sixth anniversary.

We selected a place called Craft & Gather. It is nestled away on Dishman-Mica Rd., near a defunct golf course. It is a little out of the way, on the smaller side, and not necessarily a place I would expect to see anyone I know. The latter held true for me. But for Sid? That’s a different story.

Upon entering the restaurant, we spoke to the hostess about seating preferences. Because we were focused on answering her questions about the number of people in our party (just 2) and whether we opposed sitting in the bar area (of course not), we didn’t pay too much attention to the large table within eyeshot of the lobby area.

I snapped this photo of Craft & Gather in the Spokane Valley on Saturday night. We had no idea the crazy coincidence that would transpire within these walls.

As the hostess led us to our table, a voice cried out.

“Sidney!”
“Oh my gosh!” my wife responded.

It may have taken a moment for Sid to rub her eyes and trust that they were registering reality before confirming who was standing in front of her. It was Sid’s high school friend, Casey, who took a full slate of AP classes with my wife. During school they developed a friendship and it even extended into young adulthood as Casey was invited to my wife’s baby shower for Sloan. After the shock of this crazy chance meeting subsided just a tad, Sidney asked the obvious question.

What are you doing here?

Casey was there for the baby shower of her sister, Lindsay. Wait, in Spokane for a baby shower? For her sister? That must mean that Lindsay, who was a year younger than Sid but shared the same lunch group of friends during high school, must have some connection to Spokane. Lindsay was at the table and entered the discussion to add this tidbit: She had lived in Spokane for the past five years!

Oh, and it gets better! The mom of Casey and Lindsay was at the table too. She was visiting from South Carolina with Casey and it just so happens that she is a dear friend of Sid’s mom. The two worked in the same school district and—just like Casey—was also extended an invitation to Sidney’s baby shower nearly six years ago.

There was so much excitement and many more questions to be asked, but we had to move to our table that the hostess had already set and abandoned. Throughout our anniversary dinner we talked about how insane it was that we had crossed paths with Casey, Lindsay, and her mom. A split-second decision to dine at Craft & Gather had resulted in such an incredible surprise. Speaking of surprises…

After we finished and paid our tab, Casey’s party was still at their table. This gave Sidney the opportunity to uncover one more coincidence. My wife asked Lindsay where at in Spokane she lived. She responded by saying that they lived right off a certain street in the Valley. Sidney answered by asking if it happened to be a certain neighborhood that my brother and sister-in-law live in. Lindsay said YES. After a couple more questions, we narrowed it down that Lindsay and her husband not only live in the same neighborhood as my brother and sister-in-law but on the same STREET.

Upon exiting the restaurant, Sid and Lindsay pledged to keep in touch, especially after Lindsay has her baby and might need an extra hand. As we drove home, we still couldn’t believe the good fortune and uncanny timing that graced us during the night.

As unlikely as it might seem, this was actually the second “east meets west” coincidence that has centered on Sidney and I. In a future blog post I might share that equally amazing tale as well. But for tonight’s blog post, I want to simply recognize the “right place, right time” scenario that transpired for us on Saturday. Don’t Blink.

Our Sixth Wedding Anniversary

My mom is really good at remembering anniversary dates. The number of years the anniversary is commemorating? Perhaps not so much.

A couple weeks ago, she was chatting with me about Sidney’s and my upcoming wedding anniversary.

“How many years will it be?” she asked.
“Six years, mom,” I answered.
“Wow! Already?” she replied.

To use the cliché, time flies when you are having fun and I think that definitely applies to Sidney and I. On June 11, 2016, we tied the knot at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and since that moment it has been an exhilarating road paved with the joy of children, the adventure of a cross country move, and the countless blessings from God.

It was a beautiful feeling walking back up the aisle with Sidney after we were married.

As I personally look back on the past six years, what jumps out to me is progress. As the days turn to weeks, the weeks turn to months, and the months turn to years, the foundation of our marriage continues to grow stronger. To reference an analogy I used in our fourth anniversary reflection (and a Maren Morris song), we have good bones.

The reason for our strengthening bond and healthy bones is pretty simple: God. When we stood at the altar and received the sacrament of holy matrimony, we were blessed with God’s grace. That grace has been with us from Day #1 through Day #2,190—the only difference is that as time goes on we have become better at embracing humility and tapping into it.

Thanks Be To God, it has been a fruitful year of marriage (photo courtesy of Nicole Lynn Photography)

I will remember this past year of marriage for several reasons but for the sake of brevity I will offer just three: Sid and I took our first real vacation together since our honeymoon. We dealt with the loss of a loved one for the first time since saying “I do.” We had the incredible blessing of preparing another couple for holy matrimony.

As we journeyed through the above experiences—one really fun, one sad, one beautiful—we did it against a backdrop of inspiration. Sidney and I have no shortage of successful marriages to glean from, such as the rock solid 40+ year marriages of our parents. But we also admire the marriages of some of our closest peers, namely those couples who are part of our Young Adult Catholic Group. To walk with like-minded husbands and wives, who are also parents, is such a big advantage when it comes to cultivating a marriage that is fruitful.

Sidney and I at our first dinner while on vacation.

Although a faith-based marriage that centers on grace and draws from the experiences of others is bound to be successful, there is one other reason for our past six years of happiness: I have the best wife ever. Seriously. Sidney, thanks for all you do! I love you and feel so blessed to be your best friend. As you would say today, six years down, forever to go. Don’t Blink.