This is the time of year I usually go all nostalgic. It usually starts up when I decorate my Christmas tree. My decorating scheme for my tree could be described the way my now adult children call it, “It looks like Christmas threw up on the tree.” Handmade ornaments that go back to the year before I married my husband all the way to last year. There are the ornaments my college roommates made for our little tree in our campus house room, the ornaments my husband and I scraped up enough money to buy ornament making kits and we painted together our first year of marriage 28 years ago. Then there’s the assortment of ornaments my kids made throughout the years growing up. Plus, my latest treasure, my grandson’s first ornament for my tree, an imprint of his foot when he was almost 1. Each one a reminder of the good life God has blessed me with.
Since my husband and I got married on January 2nd, and we always plan a way to celebrate, my thoughts on the early years- the first time I saw him, our first date, our first kiss (we bumped noses because we were so nervous), the 8-month, whirlwind romance during our “summer of love”, his sparkly eyes… all that stuff runs through my mind. This year probably more so than most. We’re closing in on a big anniversary. 29 years this year. 30 next.
Midnight of January 1st 1992 I was at a party with some friends. We took the time to pray as the New Year came in. I had been planning a third short term mission trip with YWAM (Youth With a Mission) for the summer of 1992. This would follow up 2 previous trips to Mexico the two previous years. I was certain I needed to go again. I had my plans. Finish college, get involved in a mission organization, go live on the field the rest of your life. God however had other plans. I distinctly felt like I should stay home and take a summer class at college, something I would never do unless God was in it, Ha Ha (I hated college). So I registered for class and stuck around.
The church I attended in college strictly practiced courtship. They were loosening up some of their dating rules that year, but there were a lot of single 20 ish year olds there. Something noticed by a friend of my husband when he visited one Sunday. I believe he told Rich “I know a church you should visit. There are a lot of single women.” So you have to give Rich credit, he was out to pick up a woman and he chose church, not a bar. lol. So Easter Sunday, April 19, 1992, he walked into the church service and was sitting in front of me. At one point in the service that 6 ft 2, brown hair, muscular 19-year-old (I didn’t know he was so young then) turned around and winked at me. I being the hyper-religious/ courtship obeying girl thought… “What a flirt! He’s not serious about God.” Little did I know that God had begun to rock my world and set me on a very blessed course. I had my plans, but God had His and thank God for His love that directs our steps when we don’t really know where we need to go. He always does. January 2nd,1993 we were married.
Rich 19, me 21, just a couple of kids started our life together with nothing, literally. A little one-bedroom apartment by the Missouri River in St Charles that we shared with a roommate, roommate had the living room with an office divider blocking off the area for his bed and worked nights, so it “worked” for 8 months.
We were the masters of finding fun things to do that cost little to nothing. Getting married in January insured we would have some snow our first month of marriage. So it made sense to take the boxes from our wedding gifts out and use them for sleds on the hill next to our apartment. It was a blast!! Then there were all the evenings in the summer we spent fishing at Bush Wildlife Reserve. The time we dug through our couch cushions and emptied the money out of the ash trays of our cars trying to get enough money to go to Big Surf water park. (Which we accomplished).
When we started our family with the birth of our oldest son, Rich worked hard to insure I could stay home with him. He has sacrificed much, working shift work, working all kinds of overtime, working his way up from a janitor at the local nuclear plant, studying hard to get a Reactor Operator license and beyond all this… to provide a good life for our family. And I have been able to work my dream job, a stay-at-home mom that homeschooled her four kids from Kindergarten to Graduation.
We have not been without times of struggle in our marriage. Just ask our kids about the “Budget discussions” we started doing after a Dave Ramsey “Financial Peace” class (highly recommend) which proved to be more of budget wars (NOT highly recommended lol). Personality differences, HUGE ones, fights…, disagreements, sadness’s, losses, struggles, etc. And yes there have been times we loved each other, but really didn’t “like” each other.
The secret sauce/ glue that has held it all together has been first of all our commitment to God (Specifically a relationship with JESUS). With exception of covid, and a few other weeks, we’ve been in a church every Sunday. The past few years we take time every work morning, hold hands and pray after breakfast. We read the Bible together on the Bible app. and spend time frequently talking about what we are learning about God. We pray for each other as we walk through our individual struggles we go through. God has been so faithful to us through the years and the past few years of our marriage have been some of the sweetest.
So, this year at year 29, I find myself marveling at the goodness of God. Having walked through some very hard seasons in my life off and on through the years, I can truly see how God stepped in and blessed me with His good life, and 30 years ago on a New Year’s Eve, He changed the course of my life. I didn’t end up with my degree or living on a mission field in a foreign country. God’s plans are not my own. They are BETTER!
The beauty of it is that God didn’t stop there. His grace has given me much more than I deserve, and God has truly worked all things out for my good.
On a personal note: Rich, I have never regretted us. You are that special young man God gave to me. Let’s do at least another 31 years. Love you more than I ever could express.
Happy 29th Anniversary to us 🙂 (Let’s swim with the Sharks. It will be fun)