year 17

“we’d like you to meet our oldest son someday,” they said.

“ok,” i replied.

i barely knew them.  and i had no idea who he was.

two years passed.

and then we met, this son of theirs and i.

he came to volunteer at a church jr. high event that i was leading.  and he was silly and goofy and obnoxious and cute and also a little mysterious.  and the kids loved him.  and he made me smile.  and he made me laugh.  but, he was seeing someone.

i had just graduated from college.  i was looking for a full~time job.  i was contemplating moving to connecticut with my sister.

we saw each other a couple more times that summer.  then i was going to make the big move to CT.  then he broke up with his girlfriend.  then he asked if i’d have dinner with him sometime.

that weekend, we had dinner.  it was october 2nd, 1999.  and i am pretty sure that at the beginning of dinner, when he told me that our waiter (whom he actually knew) who had a patch on his eye really was a pirate, i started to fall in love.

we had one date, and that was it.  we were together.  sadly, we don’t remember our first kiss.  and we don’t remember the first time we said ‘i love you’.  but we do remember that we both knew he was the one for me, and i was the one for him.  we were it for each other.

our time of dating was fun.  josh always made me laugh.  we really enjoyed spending time together and with his family.  we got involved with a great group of people at church.  and josh was always finding ways to make me smile.  one time, while leaving the grocery store, he bought me a ring from a gumball machine.  it was a cute idea.  and very sweet.  apparently i liked it so much he decided to do it again, a few times.

we talked of marriage.  we talked of family.  we shared the same faith.  we shared the same goals.

in december of 2000, he proposed.  it was just the two of us, at my apartment.  we were asking each other questions from a packet of papers about marriage given to us by a pastor at church.  the questions went something like this, “would marry someone who _______?”  we were laughing and having fun, really enjoying one another.  and josh asked if i’d marry someone who gave me a ring from a gumball machine.  i said yes and when i looked up, he had a gumball machine ring container, only inside was a real diamond engagement ring.

we were married on august 11, 2001.  the weather was cool, breezy, sunny.  we had an amazing day!  we also had no clue what we were getting into(i know no one does!).

we didn’t  know how the vows we took before God, our family, and our friends, would be tested.

we couldn’t have predicted that one year after we said ‘i do’, and one month after buying our home, josh would lose his job.

we didn’t know that waiting until we’d been married for two years to start a family would eventually lead to the diagnosis of medically unexplained infertile.

we didn’t know that a surgery for me would not aide our attempts at conceiving.

we didn’t know that God would call us to foster care adoption.

we didn’t know that God would call us to the adoption of a sibling group of three.

we didn’t know that two months before the children came home, josh would again lose a job.

we didn’t know that the lives our children lived before they came home to us would be so difficult to work through.

we didn’t know that six months after our children came home our daughter would start having seizures, multiple times a day.

we didn’t know that after seven years of marriage, i’d battle through a bout of depression and spend a year in counseling.

we didn’t know that after eight years of marriage josh would once again lose a job, this time for over a year.

we didn’t know that after 12 years of marriage, God would call us to foster care again.

we didn’t know He would call us to a sibling group of three again.

we didn’t know that right before we celebrated 13 years of marriage, another child would join our family making a grand total of seven children under our roof.

we didn’t know that right after we celebrated 14 years of marriage I would begin a series of medical tests that would reveal I had cancer.

we didn’t know that God would be sending two more children our way after my cancer treatment.

we didn’t know that when we got to our 17th wedding anniversary, we’d be the adoptive parents of nine children.

we didn’t know that we’d question whether or not we should have gotten married.

we didn’t know that we’d question whether or not our marriage would survive.

i didn’t know that this young man i was pledging my life to would be strong when i was weak. would have faith when i had none. would take kids to dentist and eye doctor and adhd and autism and orthodontist appointments. would go grocery shopping at midnight.  would pick up the pieces when they’d all fallen apart. would father as his own nine children that didn’t come from us. would say yes each time we were asked if we’d adopt. would stand by me when i wasn’t sure i could stand by myself.

we’ve lost each other. we’ve found each other.

we’ve laughed. we’ve cried.

we’ve been great teammates. we’ve managed things on our own.

we’ve yelled. we’ve whispered.

we’ve been exhausted and overwhelmed. we’ve been amazed and full of joy.

we still find each other when we reach out~a hug in the kitchen, a hand to hold in the van.

a smile across the room when one of the kids does something cute.

a tag team send off when one of us needs just a few minutes alone.

“better than our promises
is the day we got to keep them
i wish those two could see us now,
they never would believe how
there are different kinds of happy”
different kinds of happy sara groves

“i do” are the two most famous last words
the beginning of the end
but to lose your life for another i’ve heard
is a good place to begin

’cause the only way to find your life
is to lay your own life down
and i believe it’s an easy price
for the life that we have found

and we’re dancing in the minefields
we’re sailing in the storm
this is harder than we dreamed
but i believe that’s what the promise is for

’cause we bear the light of the Son of Man
so there’s nothing left to fear
so i’ll walk with you in the shadowlands
till the shadows disappear

’cause He promised not to leave us
and His promises are true
so in the face of all this chaos, baby,
i can dance with you”
dancing in the minefields andrew peterson

now we pray Lord, that the union they have brought to this place would be forever blessed by Your Spirit, Your presence. that it would be the interjection of God in a world that really needs to see it. and may others watch them live, live out this faith of theirs, no matter what comes their way. amen.” ~pastor bryan feathers praying at our wedding ceremony