It’s been 12 years.
12 years since we pulled up to that government building.
4384 days, since we walked through that narrow hallway lined with other military couples waiting for their turn, at forever.
105216 hours, since we stood together hand in hand in the magistrates office (in the Cumberland County detention center, mind you), and said I do.
No, our wedding wasn’t a typical celebration. We didn’t tell our friends, or our families. We eloped if you will – It was just us, and two witnesses, in a dark little room. Private, and unseen. It was just us and thats all we needed. We knew we wanted to be married, and thats all that mattered. We didn’t have a house, and were living with friends, we had nothing. But, that’s the best thing about starting our marriage with nothing. No matter what changes, as long as we have each other, we will always have everything.
The last 12 years have been an adventure, and even that may be an understatement. We have endured more than most people have by our age (33) and we’ve probably been married longer than most our age as well.
Shortly after we were married in June, we found out you would be deploying to Afghanistan for 15 months the following January – so we began planning a wedding celebration for the month of August, the same weekend as your moms 50th birthday. All of the family would be in town, so why not have two celebrations in one weekend?
As we prepared for our wedding celebration, mid-July, I started experiencing sickness I never knew was possible. I laid on the couch in our tiny apartment, so queazy, and sick and knew it could only be one thing. We were expecting! We found out that I was pregnant and we were going to be parents! We didn’t know it at the time, but sadly, we wouldn’t have our baby long; as we packed up our truck to begin our drive south for our wedding weekend, I would miscarry. I remember pulling over on the side of 95, curled up in your arms, sitting next to your truck as cars zoomed by. The days that followed were spent in and out of the emergency room, trying to compose ourselves for the weekend ahead.
As our celebration day came (on what had to be the windiest day ever in August), it seemed the worst was behind us and we could finally enjoy the celebration. We stood on the beach and committed ourselves under God to one another surrounded by our family and a few close friends.
The following September, we found out once again, we were expecting. We hadn’t given up hope – and this time I would go full term and deliver a beautiful baby boy. Our sweet David (now almost 11!), came into the world on Fathers Day, 2007. You were deployed overseas, and wouldn’t get to meet him until he was almost 5 months, only for a short time before heading back to finish your tour in Afghanistan. While you were home on leave, we found our forever home, and soaked in as much time as a family as we could – only before you got back on the plane to head back. You wouldn’t return again until David was almost 11 months old.
After your tour in Afghanistan was over, you hung up your maroon beret, and we began a new in Palm Coast. We thought the craziest years of our life were behind us, but in reality, they had only just started.
In 2009, you suffered a horrible motorbike accident. No, not a motorcycle, and not a bicycle… It was a bicycle, that you modified with a weed-wacker motor, making your own mo-ped. On your way home from raquet-ball, just up the road from our house, you hit a culvert in a driveway, and sent you straight over the hand-bars, and into the emergency room. It was one of the scariest moments of my life, watching you sit in that hospital bed; broke ribs, and collarbone, and punctured lung. You still managed to crack jokes at the doctors, and make everyone laugh. (Looking back at this, we still laugh!)
In 2010, our oldest son David was diagnosed with a rare form of AVM, and underwent 3 separate 8 hour surgeries over the next 2 years. (You can read more about it here:) and that same year, I lost my grandmother as well.
By our 5th anniversary in 2011, we wanted to do something different. You had already been half way across the world, I hadn’t traveled much further than our own backyard. So we headed to the biggest concrete jungle together, and explored the streets of New York City (and even got our picture put up in the middle of Times Square).
At the end of 2012, we began working together, in a career that allows us to relive in all the newness and freshness of marriage – and invest in so many amazing couples lives. What we didn’t know, was through each wedding we stood witness too, God was reshaping our own marriage as well. Rebuilding a foundation on Him, and reforming a friendship and love between the two of us.
In 2014 we welcomed baby #2, our little rambunctious boy, Aric. To see you hold him, and experience all that you had missed while overseas, filled so much of my heart – and I knew God was filling in pieces of yours, too.
We were a family of four. <3
In 2017, we traveled to England and saw parts of the world we had only ever seen in pictures. We walked through some of the oldest churches, and learned about different customs and traditions in a foreign land.
2018, has been one of our hardest years. We’ve dealt with grief far sooner than we had ever hoped to with the passing of my Uncle, and your mom, on the same day in January. In March, we said goodbye to one of our pups (our big Bulloxer) as we found him a new forever home. In April, we hustled and exhausted ourselves, through one of the busiest weddings seasons we’ve ever done. And in May, dealt with another loss on my side of the family with the news of my cousin passing away.
We’ve learned a lot over the past twelve years, and Lord knows – theres still so much more ahead. But the three things you and I both know, and always cling to are this:
1.) Marriage is not 50/50. We’ve both learned, that it doesn’t matter how much the other person is giving and contributing, it matters what you give to your relationships. – Always contribute 100% no matter what the circumstance.
2.) Love is a choice. Falling in love isn’t a choice, but staying in love is. God doesn’t force us to love Him, we choose to – and the same can be said about loving your spouse. You choose to love them, through the good and the bad. Each and every day. Real love is an unconditional commitment, a conscious choice, for better or worse, through sickness and health… good times and bad.
3.) There is not divide, heartbreak, wound, or hurt that God can’t heal. If He is at the center of your relationship – there is literally, nothing, that can tear you apart in this world.
Though this year has been an uphill climb, I can honestly say I have never loved you more than I do today. I have never been prouder to call you my husband, and stand by your side as your wife. You are my very best friend, and I am so thankful for all we have endured together – both through the joyous times, and the times we carried each other through the muck. Twelve years ago we started an adventure together called marriage and we’ve never stopped moving forward. Not once looking back. Thank you for giving me the chance to bear witness to your life, and be a part of every moment in between.