feliz cumpleaños mi amor

Today marked another big milestone - one that I was not ready for - Brandon's 22nd birthday. I woke up and the first thought that crossed my mind was 'i hate that i can't drive down to Houston, tell him Happy Birthday and spoil him for the rest of the day'. First piece of business when I get to heaven: getting a landline and some wifi installed...hello we are in the 21st century! No but really - skype would be so nice right about now!

I spent my entire drive to the Cook's dreading what the day would hold - knowing that what would normally be an awesome day of celebration would be overcast by a deep sadness that shaded everything grey. Once again, the Lord showed me just a little glimmer of hope and I was pleasantly surprised. Instead of spending the day in tears like I anticipated, we spent the day laughing, remembering, celebrating who Brandon is and the impact that he will forever have on all of our lives.

For months Bethany, Jim and I have been talking about getting tattoos and thought what better day to do it! I had never really thought about getting anything permanently marked on my body until December when Brandon and I had talked about getting our ring fingers tattooed with 

אני לדודי ודודי לי - "I am my beloved and my beloved is mine" from Song of Solomon 6:3

Initially I wanted to go ahead and get it done as a reminder of the place that Brandon has in my life no matter what my future holds. However, I know that the Lord's plan may very well include someone else someday, and I know how hard it would be for someone to understand such a bold symbol on my ring finger. So I decided I would think and pray about it a little bit more.

Lord knows that if I am going to tattoo something on my body it is going to be something of great significance. I wanted for it to be a constant reminder of this journey and what the Lord has taught me. A couple of month ago I started asking myself what was the biggest thing that I had learned thus far? If I had one take away to share with people right now what would it be? There were two things that came to mind: "love without boundaries" and "chosen".

Before I even started dating Brandon the Lord was doing radical things in my life. As a college graduate who had rarely walked outside of the walls of christian friends I had from high school, I wanted more. I wanted to be challenged and stretched and tested. I wanted to invest in people who didn't know Christ, or were struggling with their relationship with HIm. So I started praying for just that - "Lord place people in my life that will bring light to my weaknesses, challenge everything I believe, and teach me how to love the way that you do." Be careful what you pray for. For nearly 6 months I didn't meet a single person who wasn't struggling or completely against christianity. One of the first people I re-connected with was Brandon. He taught me how to love in a way that I didn't know existed, and I got to watch the Lord radically transform his life. I could spend hours going into detail about that entire journey but the gist of it is that Brandon taught me to love without boundaries - a lesson that I will never forget. 

Since Brandon passed away I have experienced the roller coaster of emotions that comes with such loss - shock, anger, sadness, denial - you name it - I've had it. In the midst of one of my more frustrated moments, as I was giving the Lord a little piece of my mind about His will, He spoke truth that changed my entire perspective about where I stand today. 'Brittany, out of everyone in the world I chose you. I chose you to love Brandon. I chose you to be loved by him. I chose you to walk this journey. Be honored because I could have picked anyone else, but I didn't. I chose you.' Talk about hitting you like a ton of bricks. In my weakness, in my selfishness, the Lord always manages to put me in my place. I was chosen. Wow! Later that week I was looking back at some notes I had taken in my bible and came across a yellow sticky note that I had shoved between a couple of pages. I started reading the words underlined by the top edge of the note...

John 15:16-17

You did not choose me, but I have chosen you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name, the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

I just stared at the page. There is no telling how many times I have read it and not thought a thing about it, but now...now it has an entirely different meaning to me.  

The word "chosen" in this context is the Greek word "Eklegomai" or ἐκλέγομαι. I wanted to be reminded every single day that it is not by chance that I am where I am or that I walked the journey I did with Brandon, or that I will walk the journey in front of me.

I will forever have a reminder on my wrist of the privilege and honor it is to have been chosen by the Lord.

Feliz Cumpleanos Mi Amore. I miss you, and I will always love you.