In twelve years of marriage, there are a lot of lessons to be learned. And I thought I’d take some time tonight, to share a bit about some of the ones that I’ve experienced. So here goes, in no particular order:
1. Be spontaneous. On those hot summer evenings when the humidity makes everyone a little cranky, just drop everything and run to the ocean. Your kids will follow close behind, and your wife will be just behind everyone else, capturing the moment and breathing a prayer of thanksgiving that everyone is happy again.
2. A scary alien picture of your baby will bring incredible joy to your heart. Because life, no matter how small, is miraculous and precious.
3. Sometimes in life, you’ll break the mould. And it will be awesome. When we first got to Eastport, I remember the church secretary sharing that the average time in a church for a youth pastor was 18 months. Since we’re going on twelve years, it’s safe to say that we definitely didn’t live up to that one. And I’m glad. Because in 18 months, you can’t see your youth group students grow from this:
To this. I don’t think I could ever fully express the value that is to be found in longer term ministry. We’ve been incredibly blessed in these twelve years to know and love and support so many students over the years. And for that, we are so thankful.
4. Contrary to popular believe, kids don’t need fancy electronics to keep them entertained. Over the years, I’ve basically narrowed it down to two basic things. The first is: puddles. Give your ten year old a puddle and tell him that he can jump around in it, and he will. With great delight.
The second would be a box. It doesn’t even have to be a fancy one. A plain, old brown cardboard box that they can sit in can basically keep them entertained for hours. So save your money. Puddles and boxes. That’s all they need.
5. Mom friends. If you’re a mom, you definitely need some of these. My mom friends have been my support and encouragement in so many ways over the years. The best ones, are the ones that don’t judge you and the very best ones, are the ones that will pray with you when you’re going through both good times and tough times.
6. Our kids need a Solid Foundation. Because look around… this world is crazy. Over the years, I’ve realized that I will not be able to make my kids choose Jesus. That decision will be solely theirs. But I also know that it’s my job as a parent to help them build a solid foundation of faith. It’s my job to help them learn that life is hard, and that doing it trusting God while not always easiest, is the best way.
7. I’ve learned that we live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Eastern Long Island is gorgeous. It may have taken us a few years to realize and to fully appreciate that, but it’s something that I’m reminded of more and more these days.
8. Going out in our little boat brings this smile on this guy, every single time. And I’ve realized that it’s so important to find those little stress relievers in life. Because life is busy. And stressful. And it always will be. But finding that thing that helps you through it all? Priceless.
9. Your friends may move away. Especially if you live on Long Island. It’s something that we have learned over and over again since moving here. And even though it’s hard, every time someone leaves, I’ve realized that sometimes God brings people into your life at a certain time, and for a certain time, for a reason.
10. Losing a loved one will be hard. But knowing that that person is with Jesus will remind you that you’ve not lost them: They are right where they are supposed to be. When my Grandpa passed away, it was a great loss for our family. But there was such comfort in knowing that after 90 years, he wasn’t suffering anymore. He had lived a great life and could now go home, whole and healed.
11. And while I’m on the topic of hard things. I’ve learned that when your husband breaks his ankle, it will also be really hard. Honestly, before Jeremy’s skiing accident, I hadn’t thought too much about broken limbs. But going through that, I realized just how hard it can be to have to go through. It taught me great empathy for anyone I come across that may be experiencing the same thing. It also taught me great gratitude for good health and non broken bones the majority of the time.
12. I’ve learned that New York bagels will always be my favorite. Because they are delicious. And because I think I have a bagel problem. I’d personally like to blame Pete’s Bagels for making them so well.
13. Shared interests. I don’t like to watch sports. Which I’m sure is to my husband’s dismay. But since he picked up a love for photography a few years ago, I have learned the joys of shared interests with my spouse. It’s so good to find things that you can love together. It helps to join and strengthen marriages which is always a great thing, in my humble opinion.
14. Seeing the world. I’m an advocate for it. Because of the blessing of earned income through my photography business, we’ve become world travelers for the past few years. And it’s been awesome. Because God created a pretty awesome world out there. And I think everyone should check it out.
15. More Love. And finally, it may sound weird, but I think I could honestly say that I love my husband more, the more years that we have together. Of course I’ve loved him since the beginning. But as the years are going by, I’m finding that I love him more and more. I love the man that he has become. I love seeing God grow his strengths and strengthen his weaknesses. I love doing life with him and even though we have our good days and our hard days, I’m thankful that God continues to strengthen and bless our love for each other and can’t wait to see what the future years will bring.