This past weekend, Rebecca and I traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to celebrate and enjoy the joining of my brother, Phillip, and his fiance, Shannon, as a married couple. Most of my family, the Swartzentrubers and the Reeds, were able to come together for the occasion, traveling from as far East as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and as far West as Portland, Oregon.

The rehearsal dinner took place at the beautiful Galt House hotel in downtown Louisville on the 25th floor. The room spun and so we were able to enjoy a magnificent view of the city, Ohio river, and downtown architecture—including the recent construction of the new Louisville Cardinal arena on the riverfront. Because the Louisville Bats baseball team was playing a home game only a few blocks away, the post-game fireworks lit up the sky and accompanied our evening as we dined. One of my uncles, with all his wit, claimed that he had arranged the fireworks as a tribute to Phillip and Shannon.

The wedding went smoothly and we rejoiced as Shannon and Phillip confirmed their commitment and companionship before God and one another. I was thankful to participate as best man and relished the opportunity to read scripture (Colossians 3:12-17) in the wedding. After the wedding, we loaded up in a party bus and returned downtown to the Muhammad Ali Center. We took photos outside in the oppressive heat and humidity before moving inside. Once inside, we were given special access to the boxing ring. We snapped some great photos in the boxing ring, including an all-out brawl between the bridesmaids and groomsmen. It was great fun!

The reception was at the Muhammed Ali Center and included a fantastic panoramic view of the river and the city. I was able to say a few words at the toast, including a great story about Phillip as a youngster. When he was probably 3 or 4, mom and dad took out their video camera and filmed him walking a circle in the living room. Being the conniving older brother that I am, I took up behind him, following him step for step. Annoyed, Phillip turned to me and said sternly, “No, Michael, can’t come!” Unshaken, I continued to follow him in his determined circle. Finally, Phillip turned to the camera (that is, he turned to mom and dad) and complained: “Michael is coming with me!”

 I used that story as a way to talk about the invitation Phillip had extended me, so many years later, to “come with him” on this journey of married life—to be his best man and a person with whom he could turn for advice, conversation, and support. I also celebrated the fact that Phillip had, in significantly different way, invited Shannon to “come with him” as his companion, friend, and partner. Importantly, I also wished them a happy, enduring marriage, including the ability to fight well, that is, in the context of love, care, and trust. Two years of marriage has taught me that married life is not about ignoring or hiding from conflict, but about negotiating it well—fighting is inevitable.

 As is true with most wedding ceremonies, Rebecca and I were able to reflect on our own marriage and the vowed we shared already two years ago. We lamented the moments when our ceremony did not go perfectly, but also recalled the moments when life “fit together” and joy sprang up.

 We returned safely to Chicago on Sunday night. Tired from a long weekend of travel and excitement, we realized that rest would not come soon—its time to MOVE! So, this week, we’ve begun the laborious task of packing… only one week left in the Windy City together. It’s time for this chapter in our married lives to come to an end and a new adventure to begin.


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