Today is our sixth anniversary! Time sure flies when you're having fun! I spent some time this morning looking through photos (and if you know me in real life, you know I take a lot of pictures!) as a way of remembering everything our life together has brought us so far. (Those of you who are new to the blog may not know that I live with a brain injury, so photos become my memory of an event. After about three months, my ability to recall events without photos is greatly diminished).
When Niels and I got married, I promised to keep things interesting, and our life together has certainly been anything but dull! In addition to my ongoing health issues, we've weathered two miscarriages, a very difficult pregnancy and delivery, the loss of our dog, the humbling and excruciatingly slow process of applying for disability, and the process of selling our old house in a rotten market. While none of those events were pleasant, they did draw us closer as a couple, and made me eternally grateful to God for providing the husband I prayed for all those lonely thirty-five years. Niels was definitely worth the wait!
While every marriage has its struggles, I can't help but smile when I think of how abundantly blessed we have been over the last six years. In no particular order, my top six favorite events of our marriage are:
1. The Last Night of our Honeymoon
Niels and I honeymooned in Curacao, a tiny Dutch island in the Southern Caribbean that looks like any tropical island on one side, and Arizona on the other. We worshipped with other islanders at a church that met in the movie theater in a service that included three languages. We paid respect to the Africans our cultures (Dutch and American) enslaved by visiting the Kura Hulanda slave museum. (Unfortunately, Curacao was used by the Dutch as a key port in the slave trade). And of course, we enjoyed gorgeous beaches.
The highlight though, was the last night, when we sat on beach chairs with our toes in the water, looking out at a storm in Venezuela. There was something beautiful about that moment. Sitting in absolute paradise, watching the storm ahead.
2. Alaskan Cruise.
After our second miscarriage, I was pretty down. Our due date was in August of 2008 and I begged Niels to give me something to look forward to that summer. We decided on an Alaskan cruise. As it turned out, by August, I was 20some weeks pregnant with our son. I had had a pretty rough pregnancy, hooked up to Zofran pump for several weeks to keep my nausea in check (Happy Brown House wrote about the pump I used), plus a pretty intense headache that I couldn't treat with my regular injections. But for one glorious week, I felt almost like the glowing mom-to-be I dreamed to be as Niels and I explored the beautiful state of Alaska. (Within days of returning, I was put on bedrest for the rest of my pregnancy!)
3. Being Parents to D
It's nearly impossible to describe how wonderful it has been to be D's mom. Our little boy blows me away with his curiosity and intelligence. (I often say that I know more than he does, but he is way smarter than me!). He loves all things space, Legos, trains, and books. He's very sweet and loving, especially when I'm sick. I love this sweet spot of being his best friend.
4. Building our House
When we began the process of building our house, we were warned that it could cause a lot of friction in a marriage. For us, it was confirmation of how similar our priority and goals really are. When we were building our house, we were less concerned about trends, and more concerned about building a house that would meet our needs both now and in the distant future. We had a lot of fun dreaming about what our life would look like when our then-two-year-old is more social, when he is in school and I was home alone all day, when D is a teen, when we were empty nesters, when we become grandparents, and realistically, if something happens to either one of us and mobility becomes an issues. We took all those dreams into consideration as we designed our dream house.
We spent our fourth anniversary at the house, writing Bible verses on the ICF blocks. Not quite as easy as writing on wood, but we love knowing that those life-giving words surrounds us even to the foundation of our house.
5. Being Marissa's American Parents
One of the goals we talked about even before we were married was to host an exchange student. It was almost a year ago that we were matched with Marissa, our Dutch daughter.
I admit I was a little nervous about being responsible for a teenage girl for ten months, especially in a new house, but it was a wonderful, wonderful experience. So much so that we're now afraid to do it again because we can't imagine anyone being a better fit for our family than Marissa was. She truly became our daughter, and since she lives in the Netherlands, we are able to see her whenever we are there to visit Niels' family.
6. Seeing the World Together
Niels and I see ourselves as residents of the United States and citizens of the world. As parents, we want our son to appreciate the diversity of our world, and as much as we are able, we desire to travel to see the world for ourselves. In the past six years, we have been all over the States, and to Canada, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Italy and Curacao.
Six years down, a lifetime to go!
And now, and anniversary gift to you, our readers! I made this printable with the verse we used at our wedding. Right click to save to your computer and print it out. Of course, this permission is for private use only.