10 years of marriage…looking back

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In a week, Marcus and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage. Because of the way that I’m made, I need to process things like this either verbally or through writing. I wanted needed to look back over the last ten years together and marvel at all that we have seen God do. The following post is my letter to my groom, my gift to him- celebrating all that we have made it through, the lessons we have learned, and the growth we have seen.

Year 1- 2005– The months that led up to our wedding were filled with
excitement and wonder. I was going to be marrying my dream man! I loved
planning our ceremony, our honeymoon, and setting up our registry for the items
that would soon fill our home. The ceremony was great, but we really had no
idea what we were getting into. I remember thinking, “I KNOW he is the right
one. I know it. But I am SCARED to death!”

The wedding day went perfectly and we departed for our honeymoon the next day. You were such a good sport to wear our matching t-shirts. I know that you never realized it would be college Spring break week when we were traveling and that you would be walking around in a matching t-shirt. Thanks for sticking it out and indulging me in that one.  Talk
about a great time! Jamaica was wonderful!

 As soon as we returned from our trip, we received the
news that your sweet grandmother had passed away while we were gone. The first
several days of our married life at home were full of tears, visitation, and
her funeral.

Summer quickly approached and we tried to figure out how to live together. As
much as I loved being married to you, I was homesick- OH SO HOMESICK. I had
difficulty figuring out exactly what my role as “wife” should look like while
balancing it with “teacher” and “coach”, while you tried to figure out how to
balance a new wife that was extremely emotionally needy along with working at
the hospital and also at the high school providing sports medicine coverage.  

We enjoyed our little dog Jackson and loved sharing time with him. He was WILD and
full of energy and loved to make messes on everything.

The Fall of 2005 was a difficult season in our marriage- probably one of the
two toughest we have faced so far. I kept counting on you to fulfill all of my
emotional needs, an impossible feat. I remember one day (or more!)  that first year thinking, “Why is this so hard?!?!” Figuring out how to trust one another, how
to work through disagreements, how to not be selfish with our time, space, or
belongings…We struggled through and thank God, we stuck it out!

In October we sold our house and moved to our first home. We loved that little
house, and I loved working together to make it our home. I remember camping out
on the living room floor our first night and staying up late painting while you worked on the sidelines of football games. It was fun playing “house” and getting to make that little place ours.

We spent our first Thanksgiving together in NYC and made some good memories. As
soon as we left we knew we wanted to go back again one day!

As our first
Christmas approached we were so excited to create our own traditions and memories.
Two days before we celebrated our first Christmas, my Grandmaw, a HUGE part of
my life, unexpectedly passed away and it rocked my entire world. I don’t think
you knew exactly what to do, but we learned together how to keep breathing and
staying afloat even when we didn’t quite know how. It took me a long time to get back to normal, but you were patient and kind.

Year 2- 2006-
 I left the classroom
and accepted a new position coordinating a Federal grant. Looking back I can
remember what hard days they were- I didn’t quite know who I was and all of the
sudden I was in a new position at a new school without my friends. You continued working providing sports coverage and it was a strange season for us
as I was no longer coaching at the school. We tried to figure out a balance of how to spend
time together now that I wasn’t on the same schedule that you were.

I began trying to figure out what my greater purpose was and we started to
begin deepening our faith walk. We were baptized together that Spring and it’s one of my sweetest memories. We helped coordinate and lead
a lay renewal weekend that year and I really think this was the beginning of
the turning point in our marriage. This was the first time that we stepped
forward and realized that maybe there was something greater ahead for us to
complete. I loved watching the spark that started in your heart that weekend
begin to glow and grow brighter.

We added another member to our family that year- sweet little Josie. She got
along great with Jackson and was a really good fit for our life.

I enrolled in Graduate school in the Fall at LR and you supported me
whole-heartedly. You helped me set up a little office in our bonus room and let me practice my counseling techniques on you. Between working full-time and
grad school I was gone a lot, but you were busy working late nights at games and practices. We made time together when we could including implementing our
favorite night of the week: Sunday night Pizza night.

We traveled that year Charleston for our 1st anniversary in March
and then to Washington D.C. in July for a work conference.

Year 3- 2007
Life moved on at a fast pace. We began to consider if it was time to add
children yet or not and we made a list of things we wanted to complete
beforehand. With grad school, work, church, and trying to develop new
friendships, we were busy and life was good.

In March we rented a cabin for our anniversary weekend and enjoyed lots of
resting, hiking, and eating.

That same winter we saved up enough money for you to get LASIK and had amazing results!

We took a cruise that summer and drove down to FL to board our ship. We
had such a good time relaxing and enjoying the food and time in the sun.

Early that fall we decided to try for children and the next month we had a
positive pregnancy test result. We were so excited to share the news with
family and I’ll never forget how fun it was to tell everyone!

Year 4- 2008
The months leading up to Karsyn’s birth were full and exciting.

You worked hard
helping me paint her nursery, put together furniture, take Lamaze classes, and
even put up with my middle of the night leg cramps. We read all the books
(well, I did, but you listened to me talk about them!), bought every little
gadget for raising ‘happy babies’ that we could find, and thought we were

Then she arrived.

That little ball of fire turned our world absolutely upside
down and quite literally knocked us off our feet. For the first three weeks she
was extremely jaundiced and I was convinced something was terribly wrong with her. She was readmitted to the
hospital for several days and then had to come home and be strapped to that
bili-belt for over two weeks. Twice a day blood draws on a newborn were torture
for me, so I was so grateful when you volunteered to come home every day from
work to help me when the nurse arrived to stick her little heels. You proved
that year over and over again that you were my hero and that we were in this
thing together.When I was at the end my myself and my patience, you stepped in. I wouldn’t say that this was a phase where we were deeply experiencing “in love” feelings, but we were a team and learned in a very real way that love is an action, not a feeling.

Watching you become a Daddy was amazing, and though we
struggled, we grew and began to learn the importance of dying to self on a
moment by moment basis.

More than a few times we didn’t think we would survive,
but we got through it. At one point you determined that we needed to teach her
to sleep through the night and told me to go to bed and turn off the
baby monitor. You were right and it only took three nights and we suddenly had a
girl on our hands that slept through the night peacefully. Such a gift!

We made the decision to step out in faith and for me to take an entire school
year off of work so that I could stay home with K. Financially on paper it did
NOT work, but God provided and almost immediately you were given a promotion and raise at work
right after she was born. Your job responsibilities also changed and you were
able to be at home now most nights and on the weekends- such a blessing!

We decided after K was born that we needed to find a church closer to where we
lived instead of the one I had grown up in and attended all my life 30 miles
away. It was HARD, H-A-R-D to leave family and friends there, but looking back,
it was one of the most pivotal decisions we made in our lives. We stepped out
on our own and found a church with people locally that have encouraged our
spiritual growth, held us accountable more times than I can count, and that
have walked with us through each and every stage since then. As I look back now, I can see the importance that this decision has made on every decision since. Not necessarily the church, but the choice to grow deeper in our walk with Christ and to risk our comfortable situation for a chance to grow more in Him.

Year 5- 2009
We were in a whole new stage of life once we had a child. No longer could
we go and do what we wanted, and our Friday nights were full of giving K baths,
bottles, bedtime stories, and snuggles.

You agreed to support me in training for and completing a half marathon and kept K for me to go on all of my long training runs. I needed something during that season of life that felt like I had control over it, and the new running training plan helped tremendously. When I crossed the finish line the day before K’s 1st birthday, you were right there cheering me on.

We began to get really involved at our church and enjoyed serving in lots of
ministries there. We made new friends and started learning about living
differently than we had in the past…living for HIS purposes and not our own.
You would rush home on the afternoons and evenings that I had grad school
classes, and keep K while I was gone. We enjoyed watching her learn to walk and
talk and we found this really sweet spot where she was pretty happy most of the
time and we mistakenly thought “we’ve got this parenting thing figured out!”.

When she was about a year old I had to complete a full-time internship to
complete my School Counseling program, so I returned to work. We prayed and God
sent me a great job working as a middle school counselor. I was so excited to
get back to work, and as hard as it was to begin taking her to daycare, it was
the right choice for that time in life. You supported me in every way that he could including showing up at my work over the summer to help me paint the
walls of my new office the perfect shade of yellow ‘to brighten things up a

I finished grad school that December and when my graduation ceremony was
cancelled due to an unexpected 6” snow storm, you got me a cake and a present
and tried to celebrate with me at home. I loved you for recognizing that it was
a big deal to me and that I needed it.When I finally got to walk in May (2 days after Mack was born), you were right there, sleep deprived, and cheering me on!

Our dog Jackson wasn’t really a fan of Karsyn and her erratic movements and
running around wildly, and  he tried to bite her a few times. As much as it
broke our heart, we had to let him go and live with a sweet lady across the
state. You were brave and held it together that day, but I know it hurt you as
much as it did me.

We decided we would try to have another child (remember, K was in that really “sweet spot” and relatively low-maintenance at the time), and thinking that it would take
us a while to get pregnant, we were shocked when the very first month the test
turned out positive. We shared the news with our families and no one really
believed it was true and that we would be having another child so soon, 23 months after having K. 

We were excited and didn’t realize how much life would change. Once we found out it was a boy, we were thrilled as
we knew that our family would be complete.

 Year 6-2010
 I worked right up until the last
week before I was due and we did our best to prepare ourselves, our home, and
our daughter for the little boy we knew we would name Mack.

Mack was born with jaundice also, but only had to be on the bili-belt for one
week so we were thrilled.

We also soon learned that he had torticollis and
would require physical therapy twice a week for several months. Postpartum anxiety
hit me hard, and you were my rock. With all of that going on, we decided once
again that I would take a year off of work to stay home with the kids.

When Mack was just a couple months old, my Popow began his journey towards Heaven and I spent a lot of time away from home with him. Once again, we walked  through some really difficult days, and you still calmly reassured me that all would be okay.

I really struggled with figuring out how to raise two kids that were so
strong-willed and lost a bit of myself during this time. There were some dark
days and when I finally decided that I would visit a doctor to find out what
was wrong, you supported me without exception. When I decided that I would try
medication for a bit, you didn’t second guess me or cast any blame. You were my rock- my
teammate. And we got through it.

I began my first blog that year and it brought such a helpful outlet for me. I
wrote about faith, homemaking, couponing, and organizing. It was the first time
I realized that there were people out there who were struggling just like me
that needed to be encouraged. And I felt the call begin to stir to be the one
willing to put hard truths to paper, the one to speak up.I think this was partly because you made me brave enough to do so. Thank you for that.

We put our house on the market to see if it would sell and after six months
without much interest, we decided to stay put for a while.

You continued teaching Sunday School and I ventured out into
leading worship in our newest service at church. You were also ordained as a deacon
in our church. This picture is one of my favorites we’ve ever taken. My Daddy praying over you is such a picture of God’s grace and provision in my life.

We grew a lot in our faith and relied on each other heavily to survive the challenging season we were in. 

Year 7- 2011
You enrolled in Graduate school and began working full-time while taking night
classes. I spent the first half of the year at home raising the kids and trying
to learn how to be wife, Mom, and real follower of Jesus. Although I decided NOT to return to
my job as a middle school counselor, I was approached with an opportunity to
work part-time as the school counselor at our local early college high school.
I had a list of objections on why I shouldn’t return to work, but God threw
open every door and told me to walk through. I worked three days a week and was
home the other two weekdays with our kids.

I loved getting to work in the school again and our kids enjoyed their time
with their sitter, Mrs. Dena.

Graduate school was in full-swing and you were super busy learning
to be a new Director at work as well as balancing home, school, church,
and life.

You surprised me and took me to NYC for my 30th birthday. Such a fun trip eating,
sightseeing and resting! I was homesick for our kids, but we made the most of it, pretending we were big-city folks for a few days.

To be completely honest here, we struggled with parenting and with our marriage- there were some low moments. Once both kids were mobile it became more difficult plus working again and trying to balance life was difficult. There were many tears shed, moments of frustration, moments of anger, and moments of apologies and forgiveness.You saw me at my worst and didn’t run away. I’m so grateful.

Year 7- 2012
Life continued on at a fast pace. You pressed forward with your graduate
program and the kids enrolled in a half day preschool two days a week.

We decided to try to put our house on the market again to sell and we purchased
a couple acres of beautiful property out in the country with the plans to one
day build.

The first people that came to look at our house wanted to purchase
it and we had a formal offer and agreed upon contract within 5 days! We had
approximately 6 weeks to find a place to live and this pushed me into hyper
mode. I researched homes and neighborhoods, rental houses, school ratings, and
anything else real estate related that I could get my hands on. We toured home
after home and when I first set foot in our current house, I knew it was the

I called you to come to look at it and remember praying that you would like it.
He did, and we made an offer. After a few times back and forth the house was
ours and I was so excited to move in and make it our home!

A little less than one week before our
moving day, our large retaining wall in the side yard of our current home FELL. That was one
stressful, $12,000 experience that we could have done without. Talk about being
stressed out! But like always, you were calm and steady, quite the opposite of me. When you realized what had happened and had to come tell me, you were calm and collected. Even in that expensive mess, you knew we would be okay. I love that
about you.

As our moving day approached and it was time to leave our
house, it became harder. I struggle a good deal with change,
and so actually packing up that house and leaving it was hard. I kept thinking
about all of the memories we had made there- bringing our babies home from the
hospital, rocking them through the night in their little rooms, celebrating our
first Christmas together, grilling out in the backyard…I was a mess! I took
pictures of everything I could think of, including their little hand prints on
the front door glass, cried more than I’d like to admit, and then we set off for new

Our new front porch

We settled into life at a new location and began working to bring that house
out of the 80s and turn it into our home. You chopped down trees, helped me
paint rooms, hung new lighting fixtures, and helped me move furniture back and
forth and back and forth again.

Our home dedication service

Graduate school and work continued and we did our best to balance both of our
careers with life in general. Our Sunday school class continued to grow so we
multiplied into several groups and then ran out of classroom space so you began
leading us in a Sunday night life group. Several couples made this transition
with us and we were grateful.

Year 8- 2013
At the beginning of the year I determined to FINALLY get healthy the right way
and to begin implementing lifelong, sustainable healthy habits. I lost a
significant amount of weight both physically and emotionally and once I began making good food choices and
exercising more, many of my lingering health and emotional issues were
resolved. You were my biggest cheerleader, helping me with workout ideas,
recipes, meal prep work and taking my monthly pictures and measurements.

You finished your Master’s degree that Spring and me and the kids enjoyed watching you walk
in your Commencement ceremony. (well, as much as one can enjoy sitting for 3
hours alone with 2 kids that refuse to sit still and whisper!!)

 We threw
you a surprise party at our home with several of our best friends and enjoyed
knowing that not only was the difficult coursework was over but also the
tuition bills!

You were given more responsibility at work and handled it so
well. I transitioned to working more at my school counseling job and was there
five days a week.

We had a giant tree fall and then a major rainstorm that completely flooded the basement and ruined our flooring but you were calm. I remember calling you to tell you to get home quick that morning, and felt so relieved when you arrived. You always know how to handle these types of things.

Karsyn entered Kindergarten and as much as I feared it and cried to try to
delay it’s coming, her first day came and went and she did wonderfully. You were calm and steady- no tears shed by you! I remember you telling me to go ahead and ‘get a grip’ a time or two. You were right and we survived. Thanks.

started full-time daycare at our church and we stayed busy with our first
attempt at the kids playing an organized sport: soccer.

We joined the local neighborhood pool and had the best time
watching our kids learn to swim and make new friends. I began feeling a calling
towards teaching others what all I had learned about our health and taking care
of our bodies for God’s glory and you listened to all of my crazy ideas. You helped me try out possible ministry names and designs.
Year 9- 2014
The year started off with the launching of Wellness Witness.
You were so supportive and kind! Life got really busy for us at this point as
the kids were developing interests of their own and as we became more involved
in different ministries and groups.
I had a few weeks where we worried about my health and some
strange test results and you were calm, cool, and collected. I remember being
so afraid and then you telling me, “Whatever it is, we will be okay.” in typical
Marcus fashion.

For our anniversary you had me a jacket made embroidered with my ministry name
and a note encouraging me to wear it one day when I taught my first fitness
class. You knew this was a dream of mine to one day do, and you were thoughtful
enough to push me in that direction. Because of that jacket and the blog post
about it, my biggest dreams WERE fulfilled and I was able to enroll in
Revelation Wellness Instructor training.

You walked with me through each step. You kept the kids while I was completing
assignments and reading, put them to bed so I could be on the weekly training
calls, and held our home together for an entire week so that I could fly off to
Arizona for training retreat. You didn’t begrudge the time and energy I spent
in that course or the time I now spend working on my fitness classes- you just pushed me
and encouraged me and you helped me to be bold.

Out of all the years of our marriage 2014 was the year I think we finally “got
it” and realized that we had to live differently… To walk forward into the callings
we had been given.

You also put some of your dreams on hold so that I could go chase mine. What a gift.

Karsyn began 1st grade and Mack started his last year at daycare.
You bring joy and delight to them with WrestleMania, rides in the Jeep, and
your uncanny ability to find anything that is lost.

After deciding that we would rather make memories than to fill our homes with “stuff”, we saved up enough money to take the kids to Disney for a week and enjoyed every second.

2015- Year 10
This year has started off as our busiest yet. God continues to bless our professional careers and has given you new departments to lead and people to

You still fills in all the gaps that I leave when
I’m too busy writing, blogging, videoing, and planning for my Wellness Witness
ministry. You still support me and keeps me calm when I’m everything else
instead.  You make me brave. And sometimes a little crazy. And you push me to be more.

 When I married you, I didn’t know what was in store
for us.

Thankfully, the longer we have been married, the more you’ve learned to love
Jesus. Which in turn makes you love me.

I don’t know what the next 10 years will hold, but I know that I’m choosing

I choose you today.

And I’ll choose you tomorrow.

Even on days when it may be hard.
And even on days when you wish I wouldn’t.
May our love for HIM grow bigger each year so that through our marriage others are drawn to know Him more.

Here’s to another 10 years!

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