This month marks 25 years since the day we were married.
Approaching this milestone has made me wistful and proud and amazed. I look back at all the memories and wonder, “How?”
We’ve moved a lot. And loved a lot. And laughed most of all. We are beginning a new endeavor of building a new house, our second time in such a feat. In building this new house, this forever house, we’ve thought long about what we’ve loved about each home we’ve made.
1. The California Apartment
Launching a new Air Force career with a two-week-old marriage, we brought all we owned (i.e. wedding gifts still in original boxes) with us in a rented trailer. This move taught us the true diminishing worth of ‘stuff’ and how it loses value over each flight of stairs. Within the thin walls of our first home as a couple we learned the dangers of expectation, the definition of compromise, and how to cleave.
2. The “Historic” Montana Cottage by the Park
3. The First Base House
With four bedrooms, it felt like a mansion. We brought home first a baby girl, then a baby boy and we learned how to expand our love while shoveling snow. Our first big test of this thing called marriage came when we learned the logistics of PCSing from here with two babies in tow.
4. The Wyoming Split Level Fixer-Upper
We shoveled snow and painted the kitchen red. We ached from the sting of miscarriage, but I learned where strength originates and what it feels like to be carried, even through the snow. Our church loved us well.
5. The Warren Historic
Another baby girl joined us here. We loved the 100 year old woodwork but not the bats in the attic. We survived much: a ruptured tubal pregnancy, the beginning of our homeschooling journey, a new millennium, rabies shots (from the bats), and multiple blizzards.
6. The Colorado Apartment
We lived on top of each other while our house was being built. Everyday we wondered, “What we were thinking?”, but we loved our littles well.
7. The Colorado House on the Prairie
We brought home our last baby girl and suddenly the older kids were fun. We built a fence and a sprinkler system and carted tons (literally) of rocks. We jumped on trampolines and into snowdrifts and held on to each other as the days ran together from sheer exhaustion.
8. The Virginia House in the Woods
We schooled and schooled and saw Indians, and trains, and hurricanes, and snow. We watched an election from the D.C. perspective and stood in January Inauguration drifts. We said goodbye to Tanner, whose absence left us raw, and we planted a garden only to learn why the Pilgrims starved. We fumbled through darkness and were forced to lean on Truth.
9. Another Montana Base House
We fell in love with our neighbors as we powered through each day. Heartbreak reared its ugly head and we learned about servant leadership through laughter and tears. The spawn begged for a puppy, so we brought home Elijah – The Wander Dog, and later toted hay bales and scooped endless poop for a stint in horse ownership. One day in April found us shoveling snow three times to keep up with the record breaking 29″ snowfall.
10. The German House with the Bus Stop
The vine-laden trellis in the back turned red in the fall and we learned that a family of six could survive with one bathroom. The biking trails, and the traveling, and the wine soothed as we grew strong in converting anything and everything. We shoveled the bus stop snow on endless dark mornings. We took care of Frau Matilda and she took care of us.
11. The Louisiana Swamp House with the Pool
We launched the first baby and simultaneously processed life back in the U.S. We felt the emptiness of losing a parent and learned anew that raising up a new generation is just hard. Celebrating a successful Air Force career, we nervously began life in the civilian sector, looking hard for clues from Him about what this life was supposed to look like.
12. The Utah Mountain House
Our first winter found us pleading with the heavens for the magical snow we’d been missing. We launched the boy and God taught me about prayer as I wept for far away babies and wandered through parental helplessness with the babies at home. Still living here now, He reminds us daily about how He loves and moves mountains – and how our help comes from Him. We are learning how to spark the local culture and ooze Grace from our very beings.
13. The Utah Valley Home……..TBD
The secret treasure gleaned from these memories of each home has nothing to do with their physical structures. Our memories don’t focus on bricks or drywall.
Instead, what we value is the strength built on the structure of our family. A structure built on the solid Rock of Jesus yet woven loosely at the joints to bend and sway with the change that comes with the years and days. It’s grown and expanded and we as individuals have changed and matured. We’ve given each other room, while still holding on. Sometimes at arm’s length, but still holding on.
We’ve given each other grace as He has given us Grace. We’ve weathered many storms. These 25 years of love and laughter, transition and triumph have become a sticky, protective web around two fumbling, messy humans. It is delicate yet strong, and as a living entity, will always require attention.
And yet, these many years are a mere beginning.
Come grow old with me; the best is yet to be.
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears
Fiddler on the Roof