I was interviewed in a little getting-to-know-you post over on Dropping Anchors blog last week. Check it out if you’d like to know more about me, why I’m a foster mom and what my experience has been like for the past 3.5 years.
10 Years is a BIG deal.
When Jason and I announced our plans to get married at 18 and 20 years old, we had a lot of skeptics. I’m quite thankful they kept their concerns to themselves, or at least didn’t tell us until much later. We were very young, no question about that. But we were sure. One of my bridesmaids, Chrissy, sent me an encouraging message on our anniversary and told me how impressed she was that I was calm and cool as I got ready on my wedding day. She had expected me to be nervous the way brides are portrayed in the movies.
When I was 14 years old, I had grown apart from my best friend emotionally and I was lonely. I prayed and asked God for a new best friend—someone I could trust, share my dreams with, hang out with at youth group and on the weekends, someone I could pray with and grow spiritually alongside. I was shy and dorky (middle school, hello!) and wasn’t imagining a boyfriend. Across town a 16 year old Jason was fed up with not being treated well by girls. He took relationships seriously and the girls he dated were flippant with his sensitive heart. He prayed and told God that he didn’t want to date anyone else unless she was going to be his future wife. When Jason and I met and quickly fell in love, we both realized that God had answered our different prayers by bringing us together. I am incredibly grateful that we met and fell in love so young and were spared from much of the heartache and regret that comes along with dating different people over high school and college years.
Chrissy also reminded me of the funny way Jason and I entered our wedding reception as our arrival was announced to the room of waiting guests. It took everyone by surprise and we really hadn’t put that much thought into it. We were waiting in the hallway as the DJ announced the wedding party and I just thought, hey, wouldn’t it be funny if you carried me in on your back? It’s best described with this visual:
That’s pretty much the way we entered into our marriage. We knew we wanted to be together and we just went for it, wholeheartedly, jumping in with both feet, full of joy and energy.
Here’s a little recap of the past 10 years:
• Got married on June 14, 2003 and were endlessly teased about not being legally old enough for a champagne toast
• Spent our first year living in a poorly climate controlled upstairs of an old house in Erie, PA. I was in college and working part time. Jason was working part time and teaching guitar lessons at two different music stores and leading a band. We did laundry at my parents’ house once a week. I have no recollection of how we managed all of that with 1 car.
• After nearly freezing to death in our drafty apartment we decided that there is no reason to wait until after college to move somewhere warmer. I applied to Watkins College of Art & Design in Nashville and got accepted.
• Much like our wedding a year earlier, we headed for the hills with excitement, hope and no reservations. At 20 and 21 years old, I don’t remember having any fear about leaving behind all we had known and starting a new life in Music City.
• I graduated from college in December 2006 with a BFA in graphic design. Two months later, we sold our starter home of 2 years and purchased our beloved mid-century modern ranch in East Nashville. The same month as I started my first full time job at Salem Publishing, where I still work as an art director designing magazines.
• Jason had been working part-full time at Starbucks while building his music career, working on his band, traveling and playing, networking and making friends, playing lots of different kinds of music gigs. In 2009, he was able to quit his part time job and focus completely on his growing music career. A year later, he had more than made up for his retail income by doing only what he loves—music. He has an amazing testimony of working hard, chasing dreams and reaching goals. He inspires me!
• In 2011 we decided to become foster parents. We had been thinking about having kids for a year or so and had talked about adopting some day. God planted the idea of foster care into our minds through some adoption research I was doing randomly one night combined with a home related comment on this here blog from K (and then I got sucked into their story of foster parenthood.) Jason and I realized that we really didn’t feel the need to have biological kids first (or at all) and that we had the room, resources and love to become foster parents at that point.
• In July 2011 we became parents for the first time to 16 month old Ladybug. She was with us for 5 weeks. On September 21, 2011 our home was blessed with the arrival of our little Alianna, our second placement. She was 2 months and 1 day old and the most content baby I had ever known. In November we were granted custody of her so we could pursue a private adoption. (Long story.)
• The same month, we put our cool little ranch up for sale and bought a property less than a mile away and started to plan the construction of our dream house with an architect. We knew that we wanted to have more bedrooms so we could continue to foster children. In 2012 we sold our house, started construction of our new home, celebrated Ali’s first birthday in Outer Banks with my family, finalized her adoption in August and moved into our dream house in December—just in time to get settled and host a Christmas family gathering.
• In March 2013 we reopened our home as foster parents. We did a weekend of respite for 11 year old Sunshine in April. At the beginning of May, 2.5 year old Buzz was placed with us.
• This past Monday night we went out for a dinner date to celebrate our anniversary (and sort of my birthday and father’s day too since they’re all in a 5 day period). Jason bought me a new dress as an early bday gift so I could wear it to dinner. He always picks the most lovely things for me! We stuffed our bellies at J. Alexanders and brought home a giant piece of carrot cake because it’s a must-have, even when we’re too full. We picked up the kids at their respective babysitters and put them to bed. Then we finally made time to sit down and plan our 10th Anniversary Child-free Vacation! We set the dates aside months ago but still hadn’t found time to sit down and book anything. Two hours alone for dinner was not enough time to catch up from all of the craziness of life lately. We are so looking forward to getting away together next month. I love this man.
Phew! It’s been quite an adventure so far. Not able to be captured in these bullet points are the wonderful friendships we’ve developed over the past 9 years that we’ve been in Nashville. I have loved to watch my husband grow, mature and adapt through roller coasters in the music industry, challenges in relationships and struggles with the foster care system. Jason is creative, keen, perceptive, wise beyond his years, loyal, humble, passionate, talented, fun, patient, consistant, generous, hard-working, loving, playful and strong. He takes his job seriously as a godly leader of our household—he prays for us, takes care of us, gently corrects and guides. I recently told a friend just before he got married that I think the greatest gift you can give your spouse is accountability. Jason and I have learned this hard lesson through the years—it’s not fun to be caught in the wrong by your best friend, especially when your actions are hurting the one you love. But, we’ve found that it’s actually a blessing and gift to keep each other in check—to not let each other get away with crap. No one cares more about your success as a person than your spouse. I tell Jason often that I appreciate how he keeps me centered when I start getting worried, selfish, angry or lazy. He’s truly my best friend and our relationship has only grown richer over the past 10 years.
I wonder what the next 6 decades of our marriage will hold!
“We’re like peas and carrots, you and me,” Jason said. A sixteen year old romantic.
“I don’t like peas,” I typed back on AOL chat.
“You don’t like peas?! Peanut butter and jelly, then.”
It was 1999 and we were young and freshly in love.
13 years later, we have an almost 10-month-old daughter that loves peas as much as her daddy.