Image may contain: 2 peopleTomorrow is our 17th wedding anniversary. It’s pretty crazy to believe. These two kids to the left set out on an adventure within a few days after getting hitched. We hopped into a motor home and travelled the country. Then a couple of months we got back to Massachusetts, and loaded our motor home with wedding presents, got an apartment online in Seattle and headed West. We were full of life and ready to take on the world.

We’ve (my husband) has owned over 300 cars in our 17 years of marriage and several motor homes. We’ve owned 3 houses, 1 inn and I can’t tell you how many computers, trailers, car parts, 3 businesses and a bunch of acres.

We’ve had 5 children. We’ve had one miscarriage. Two children had have surgeries. One has Down Syndrome and two have gone Home. We’ve had one boy who got staples in his head. One boy got super glue for a cracked head and a few months later did it again and rather than taking on $500 ER bill, I cleaned out the wound with a turkey baster and super glued it myself.

We’ve lived in two states, but we have traveled nearly all of the continental US with and without our children. We have seen ancient carvings at the Petrified Forest, we have been awed by the Grand Canyon, but then when we found out we were pregnant with our first born, the grandeur faded in our excitement.  We’ve had lobster in Maine. We’ve met Mickey in Orlando. We’ve sat on the beach in San Clemente and we’ve driven through the Olympic Rain Forest and just a bunch of roads in between. We didn’t want to pay the fee for Mt. Rushmore, so we drove on the road and found the perfect view of the mountain and I hopped out and we snapped a picture in my shorts and tank top in the 50 degree weather, so we could say we’d been there. We’ve been to Fenway and Safeco field to cheer the Red Sox. We’ve watched beautiful sunsets, but never woke up on purpose for a sunrise.

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We used the traditional vows for our ceremony: “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” 

For Better or worse We have had better and we have had worse. Each day our five children were born was an amazing better day. The joy of welcoming new life into the world and rejoicing. The two days we had to say goodbye to two of our boys and Mike’s mom were a few of the worst days of our life. The day we got the keys to our first home was one of the best days.  The day our daughter was diagnosed with Down Syndrome was one of the worst.  For the nearly 6,205 days that we have spent together we have had some of the most amazing better days and some of the worst worse days, and with amazing grace we have made it thus far.

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For richer or poorer. There have been a few times when we’ve felt like we were in the black, kinda rich. Not too many. There have been more than enough times where we felt like we were going to lose it all, definitely headed toward poor. One particular season we were barely making it each month paying two mortgages and having some serious prenatal needs, stress was high for months. With each month our needs were taken care of. Many times by God’s grace.

I don’t believe, however, the richness and poorness is based solely on the amount of money in the bank account. We have most certainly been rich in our blessing, because we believe and were saved by the One who died for us. However, during those moments of distress, while we were still incredibly rich, I had wondered if God had left us.

In sickness and in health.  We have been relatively healthy, but I have had seven major surgeries since we have been married, four of them being c-sections. One where I nearly lost my life. A few times the recovery had been slow, but each time, Mike has been at my side picking up the slack around the house, grabbing me the pain meds and making me laugh when it hurt too much to even crack a grin. When we have had the flu or colds or sprained ankles we’ve cracked jokes about being cranky, but I believe that even those little things, they are times where we learn more about one another when we are forced to be down, rather than up fixing a car or making a meal.

For as long as we both shall live. When we said those eight words 17 years ago, we believed them and we promised them with all of our hearts. We meant them, however, I would be amiss if I was not honest that in the hard, hard times of grief, stress, frustration, pride, selfishness and anger that we didn’t think that we may just give up. Sometimes it seems easier to give up rather than fight for the one we love.

We have had more than a lifetime of pain and suffering. We’ve also had more than a lifetime of love, commitment and honesty. We’ve yelled. We’ve cried. We’ve cursed. We’ve thrown some pretty good adult fits. We’ve comforted one another. We’ve laughed so hard we’ve cried or passed out. We’ve had sleepless nights because of arguments. We’ve broken one another’s hearts and we’ve asked forgiveness and we’ve given forgiveness. We’ve cried out to God together and individually about one another.

I wouldn’t choose anyone else. Mike is my guy and I am his girl, and it will be that way until death do we part no matter what the next bazillion years bring. No matter how hard, because it isn’t really about Mike or I, it’s simply about Jesus and what He did on the cross for all of us sinners whom He loves.

Each year I get blown away by the amount of grace that has been lavished upon us. We are two sinners trying to make a life together and we continue to make a lot of mistakes and we mess up a lot and often and we wake up to new mercies despite the mess ups from the day before.

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….And a Bazillion Years More…