Today is our wedding anniversary. Twenty-four years! Let me bullet-point through the memories before sharing three reflections that is on my heart this morning.
Wendy and I work hard. Our 24 years of marriage has been an incredible journey. It is almost overwhelming when I reflect upon it:
- 1991-1993: We married as a family of four. We lived in a small apartment. Wendy worked full-time for a mail order service while I finished my English degree.
- 1993-1994: Wendy started homeschooling while I substitute taught in 30 districts around St. Cloud, Minnesota, building up experience teaching in the hopes that a district will deem me worthy to hire. We had two more children during that time, now up to four daughters!
- 1995-1997: I served my first teaching job in Wahpeton, ND. I fell in love with academic debate which became a big part of my life. We also welcomed our first son! Most thought we’d stop having children. So did we, actually.
- 1998-1999: I moved to two other districts as a teacher — Fargo, ND and Moorhead, MN — before being laid off. As a family of seven children (two more boys and another daughter were born to us), we moved to Colorado to pursue a writing career with Focus on the Family.
- 2000-2006: I built up Training Minds Ministry while working as an editor, leaving Focus on the Family in ’04 to focus full time on academic speech and debate. Wendy and I kept having children, welcoming them as God blessed us, our twins coming in ’06.
- 2007-2012: As a family with 13 children, we were featured on a TLC reality show called Kids by the Dozen. It launched what we now call our “Love in the House” ministry, sharing with families how love is the “most important commandment” that families cannot miss.
- 2013-2015: Our last child was born to us three years ago, and — Lord knows — he may be our last. We have a home of 12 children still at home, four have left the nest.
Whew! These 24 years have been quite the journey. On this anniversary, I have three reflections to share with you, and perhaps you will identify.
- We feel we have lived a full life. Seriously, the list above sort of exhausts me. And I must be honest, we have gone through a tremendously hard time these past few years — right around the time we stopped having children, come to think of it. We have had to cling to one another through the most difficult times of our life, and that has made us stronger than we ever could have imagined. I have a new perspective of trials; with God’s guidance, we always come through stronger than before.
- We feel we are only half done. I like to think we’re rather accomplished, but my parents’ 50th is coming up in October. We’re only half way through their journey, and I reflect on this with a tremendous amount of hope and excitement. We are exiting the child-bearing years and entering the middle ground of raising the most of them. Yeah, we’re odd in that our home is filled with most age groups of any family out there (ages 3-19, at the moment), but we feel like we’re “over the hill” and focused on raising the rest.
- We feel we have come full circle. I reflected on this in our recent trip to Australia. We left the children with my parents while we traveled to Melbourne to celebrate Alissa’s golden birthday (she turned 29 on the 29th of March). It was the most joyous, wholesome trip with Wendy since our anniversary in 1991. We came back refreshed and rejuvenated much like we did when we took two weeks at my parents’ cabin in Northern Minnesota, a week alone and a week with our two children, twenty-four years ago.
Feeling finished, half done, full circle. Sounds confusing, I know, but we’re still on the journey and figuring out life together. So, here’s to 24 years! And, with God’s help and provision, may we enjoy just as many more years together.