Sunday, October 2, 2016

12 Years Later

"12 Years later..."

12 Years ago today on October 2nd,  
we said, "I do" and shared our first of many kisses.

We said we would. 
We would cherish the love we were committed to fostering in this lifetime together.
We would follow Jesus together.
We would trust Him to hold us together when we weren't any good at marriage or life or whatever.

This year hasn't been the easiest one, so as our anniversary approached, I thought we could remember together. A reminder that theres been so much good to reflect on.
So I told you to meet me at my parents and we'd drop the kids and go on a date. "I'll bring your clothes so you can come straight from work and we can head out from there."

But I got you good. I love a good surpirse, Lord knows it. 
So after you changed into a little somthin' somethin' favorite white tee and jeans...nothing suspicious...I had a photographer waiting to catch your face when you saw me in my wedding dress for the first time in 12 years.

And then I couldn't help it.
 It had been such a hard week, filled with unexpected crisis in the lives of friends and family.
 And gosh, we've made it 12 years, babe.
So I just started crying.

My hope was that my friend and phenomenal photographer, Dana, of #DanaAshleyPhotography
would be able to capture the beauty and the mess and the raw gratitude 12 years can bring.  Seeing as she is typically a birth and newborn photographer, she's pretty good with the gritty kind of beauty I was wanting to capture. No up-do this time. No tux. Just real life
She nailed it.

And as life would have it,  the messiness of 12 years later was near impossible to forget.

Even my dress couldn't hide that 12 years shows age. If you look closely you will see a brown stain all over my dress that 12 years ago was perfect.
That's because 12 years ago I spilled champagne on my dress while trying to awkwardly toast our life together .
I never even thought to have my dress professionally cleaned.
Who knew that after hanging in an attic for over a decade, everywhere the champagne was would become a brown and unsightly stain? 
I've become better at managing my champagne. No comment on the cleaning.
No amount of stain remover was going to undo what had been done. But that's ok. 12 years has revealed plenty of stains on the hearts of these two people. Stains that always lived there but would be exposed simply with time and trial.


You have always welcomed me in 

  to be exposed,
known and
somehow, still loved. 

Thank you.

Even that beautiful abalone shell necklace I wore on our wedding day...
I pulled it out and began cleaning it before putting it back on, and wouldn't you know?
It fell apart, shattering on the ground.
The good news was that family was there to glue it back together. We've needed our people and they've been there to hold us together in our weaknesses. The necklace will never look like it did 12 years ago. In fact it's merely a remnant of the original, superglue and all, but reflective of beauty nonetheless.

This past 12 years has been filled with, what seems like at times, 
more difficulty than most people's first 12 years. 

We have had jobs we loved, lost jobs we loved, almost lost a child, parented a child who had severe medical needs, moved a bazillion times,  some of which were international, walked through 5 pregnancies and got 5 children out of the deal, argued a lot, learned how to love each other and talk hard things out, are learning how to parent together ...
but perhaps the most cherished part of our life together and the part that has added so many gray hairs and wrinkles and sleepless nights...12 years later... is loving other people together.
We've walked hand in hand with so many hurting folks. We've been witness to plenty of pain that's not our own, but lived it like it was.
This is what I love about you. I knew from the moment I met you. You'd be willing to go into storms with me and not turn and run to higher shores. It's beat us up pretty good at times. But we were made by God to lay down our lives...together.

And I'm not gonna lie, those 12 years, they show.
Look at all of that grey in your beard.
Hair dye took care of hiding my grey hairs. But you know.
Look at those lines around my eyes and the deep wrinkles punctuating my mouth. I'd love to believe they are all from laughing. 
They're not though.
Some are. Plenty are. But not all.
It's all good. 
God has kept us through what these 12 years has spun. And praise Him!
Because we know the sobering truth that we are just beginning. 
We still have babies. Lots of them. Who we are trying to learn to love, each in their unique needs.
And those babies will one day have babies. We have so much learning and so much loving, still to do together.

12 years ago, it looked like this 

And 12 years later...

When we were dating, I gave you the idea that I would be the kind of wife who got up early to make breakfast and send her man off to work with a full belly and a kiss.
I lied.
But somehow I sincerely believe it wouldn't have changed much if you had known.
I hate making breakfast.
The more work that awaits me, the more my urge to sleep in grows. 

So 12 years later, this is where we find ourselves.
2 people with lots to learn and lots learned, so grateful for all that God has done and will do.
here's to the chance that in the next 12 years, I become the woman who gets up early to make breakfast. 
Hey, a lot can happen in 12 years.
We have good reason to be hopeful people.

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