Good morning! My name is Stephanie Carder, Bodien is my maiden name, and this is my husband, Doug Carder. We have both been Catholic all our lives and are just beginning married life together. Our second anniversary will be on June 8th. My husband and I officially joined the St. Clare of Montefalco family this past August. We feel at home here because of the warmth and joy that fills the Parish through Fr. Andrew and Fr. Tom’s energy and commitment to helping each of us to be bold, Catholic and holy men and women.
I grew up around the block from here in a chaotic, loud family that taught me how to find love in the details. My parents taught me that the challenge of the Cross and Resurrection is to serve as God deserves, to give and not to count the cost, whether that means joyfully weeding Grandma’s lawn for the 14th time in one week (love you Grandma!), or lending a hand and sharing tears when it hurts to see a loved one grieve. To fight for what is right and not to worry about what other’s think or say, whether that means including my sister in a game even when she is annoying, or standing up for Jesus in everyday conversation at school. My parent’s example taught me to work tirelessly out of love and not to seek for rest, except that of knowing I am doing the work of God. But I quickly realized this kind of love gets a lot harder going off to college and having to learn how to do this on my own two feet. In the midst of trying to live the love of God my family taught me, my husband and his friends helped me through a very vulnerable point in my faith by patiently enduring and little by little helping me understand my endless questions about Jesus, free will, suffering, and my place in the world. Equipped with the joy of love that my parent’s taught me, and the reasons to love that my friends helped me find, I began to learn what itmeans to face marriage and the “real” world completely-yet imperfectly-in love with God.
I was born in October 1989 in a small town in southeastern Ohio. I was the baby of five kids. My mom is an x-ray technician and my dad is a high school math teacher. I have great memories of family vacations to Myrtle Beach, going on long runs with my dad, and walking all over town on my weekend paper route. My childhood did not have much sadness, but it did have its struggles at times. My family also made it through these hard times with faith and with hope. As a child, I remember that whenever I looked at my mom, she would always look back at me and smile, no matter what was going on. That always gave me hope and confidence. Besides my parents, the people who influenced my faith the most were my brothers-in-law and my college friends. My two oldest sisters married very good Catholic men. Both of my brothers-in-law, Josh and Gabriel, were important influences on me as a teenager. They are both intelligent men, and they both showed me how faith and reason go hand-in-hand together. While in college at Notre Dame, I made great friends who challenged me and each other to be good Catholics. These friendships trained me for my tasks at hand now: marriage and the professional life. My friends taught me how work done well gives glory to God. Josh and Gabriel showed me how to love a woman and how to raise a family. For these lessons, I am forever grateful.
At different times in our married life so far we have heard many different reactions to our age. One of the most popular ones is “You’re married? How old are you? Don’t you know what your 20s are for?” Someone said that to Stephanie once and she gave an answer that I was really proud of. She said, “Yes, I know my 20s are supposed to be the best time of my life, and I want to spend that time with my
best friend.” We both know that marriage is a vocation, a calling, to be modeled after the love of the Trinity. It is fulfilling to know that we both found our calling in each other and that we are both trying to get each other into Heaven. We also find comfort in knowing that Jesus, too, was counter-cultural.
Doug and I both think our childhood Resurrection stories prepared us to now live our wedding vows: “For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health”. After all, our goal is to model the promise that Jesus fulfills for all of us in His Resurrection. He promises to be with us whether things are going well or whether we feel as if the world is crashing down; whether we are rich in love and wealth, or poor in spirit and struggling financially, whether we are sick and suffering, or whether we are happy and healthy, until we are together for eternity in Heaven!