Thirteen.  We have survived that many years.  We have beat the odds.  We have overcome.

I look back on that cold Friday night thirteen years ago and I have to laugh.  Me, still in college.  You kicking off a brand new career.  We thought we had it all figured out.  No money, no clue, but we had love and a beautiful wedding and lots of big plans.

No, we didn’t know the depths of the pain we would feel in thirteen years.  We didn’t know the struggles that would come… Bills, illnesses, surprise babies, temptations.  There were long seasons of wandering in the dark and losing our way.  Seasons of heartache and tears, of anger and bitterness, of sadness and fear… What-ifs and maybes and maybe-nots.  So many opportunities to give up, to walk away, to let go.

And when we hit the bottom of the pit there was nothing to cling to except Hope- Hope in the person of Jesus- and it was there we found redemption… and love, and grace, and mercy, and forgiveness, and restoration.  It was there we found all that we ever needed… and it wasn’t you or me or anyone else- it was Him.

Our life isn’t quite the fairy tale we envisioned on our wedding day… But it’s a beautiful life.  We have had to struggle and fight for what we have. We have endured hardship and persevered through trial.  We work at it- every day.  As we have raised children and prayed by hospital beds and accepted a different way of life than we ever imagined, we have made the most special team.  We know what it’s like to almost lose it all, and we understand the gift we have in each day.

So, as we embark on another year together, I look back at our past- the good, the bad, and the ugly- and I thank God for it all.  Because as I once looked back and wished I could erase some of the not-so-beautiful moments, I now realize that I needed that dark to appreciate the light.  I learned that God does indeed work good for those who love Him, but sometimes that good sprouts from the mud and the muck.  Here’s to another thirteen years (and more) of loving and learning and growing closer to Him…

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