A family formed by the grace of a loving God on November 14, 1998.
Fifteen years have passed.
There has been triumphant joy and blessings unimaginable.
There has been loss, grief, and mourning.
There have been mistakes and regret.
There has been healing.
We have celebrated and we have danced.
We have experienced more than we ever imagined we could.
~ ~ ~
It is April 1998 and you are down on one knee on a hillside in St.Paul.
It is November 1998 and we are exchanging vows with one another and with the girls. I am so happy and I almost cannot fathom how blessed I am to begin life with you.
It is summer 1999 and we are decorating our first house and we are pregnant.
It is October 1999 and we are watching the ultrasound screen, seeing no heartbeat.
It is winter of 1999 and we're struggling to love each other well and we need some help.
It is April 2001 and we are pregnant, but not for long.
It is November 2001 and our Colombian adoption application has been denied.
It is April 2002 and we fly to Haiti for the first time ever, having no idea what lay ahead.
It is the end of October 2002 and Isaac and Hope are on our laps on and airplane. They are legally our children. We almost can't fathom it. Our family feels complete.
It is June 2003 and I'm in Wisconsin watching our nephew Aidan enter the world. (Fertility is in the air?)It is exactly nine months later, March 2004, and Noah is born in a dramatic and life-threatening fashion. Even so, he is going to be fine and we almost can't fathom it. Our family feels complete.
It is June 2005 and we start having regular conversations about moving to Haiti, "someday". We agree that it sounds improbable if not impossible. We find ourselves talking to our Pastor and my parents in spite of the improbability of it all.
It is September 2005 and we are in Port au Prince meeting John and Beth McHoul and realizing that maybe we are moving to Haiti.
It is January 2006 and I am kissing you goodbye at the Minneapolis airport as you fly off to prepare for us to follow you three weeks later. I stand in the cold and I beg you not to go, and you mockingly remind me, "You started this." We follow in February and while the five kids file onto the airplane, I think "What happened?" and I almost can't fathom it.
2006 Our first year in Haiti is incredibly difficult. Dengue Fever and Malaria and cultural baptism by fire. You are strong and you rely on God and your strength pulls us all along.
It is January 2007 and we are worried that Hope's birth mother died in childbirth. We have no word from her about her own well being or that of the baby she had been due to deliver in November 2006. A few weeks later, in ways we will never forget, you locate Phoebe in one place and her mother in another. It feels like a holy occurrence and we almost can't fathom it. Phoebe joins us when she is 10 weeks old. Our family feels complete.
It is February 2007 and you have gone to buy lumber with my Dad, who is visiting us in Haiti. When you return I tell you I need to talk to you. We climb the hill to stare out at the Caribbean, I hand you a positive pregnancy test. You throw your head back and laugh. I wonder about you and I cry.
It is October 2007 and we are in Minnesota to have Lydia. You are hospitalized with Meningitis and I am pleading with you to be well enough to be at Lydia's birth. You are, and Lydia is healthy and our family is complete.
It is late January 2008 and we are back in Haiti and we are afraid when we learn Lydia has Meningitis. A week passes and miraculous protection and provision take place and we almost can't fathom it.
It is January 2009 and you and Todd are walking Brittany Rachelle down the aisle. She's getting married and we wonder how the 8 year old at our wedding so quickly became the beautiful bride.
It is March, April and May 2009 and we struggle to work through a difficult thing. We need some help - and God provides it.
It is January 2010 and there is an earthquake. No one can fathom it.
It is November 2010 and you lose your only brother to depression.
It is 2011 and 2012 and we are not adding new people to the family and we are busy in Haiti with ministry and kids and life is never boring.
It is 2013 and we have had some challenges this year. Every last trial and every last heartache and every last gift - it has all been grist for the mill - and I think it seems that by default or maybe by design, we are learning from all of it.
It is November 14, 2013 and I left out 96% of the last fifteen years. The path has zigged and zagged and gone places we never imaganed. I cannot make sense of it all, but I know God is to be thanked and this day is to be celebrated.
I love learning with you. I love celebrating with you. I love raising these loons together. I love taking risks together. I love attempting to grow in grace with you. I love experiencing God with you. I love never knowing what the heck will happen next but continually seeing God's faithfulness in the good and the bad, the sorrowful and the joyous. I love you.
Happy Anniversary, baby.