CELEBRATING 15 YEARS OF MARRIAGE
This year Kevyn and I had our 15th anniversary. We punted the girls off to our friends and headed out of state. Our anniversary falls between Halloween and Thanksgiving, which is highly convenient when we want to travel. Jackson, WY was no exception. Being off-season, we were able to find wonderful lodging, close to the town square, visited the beautiful Wildlife Art Museum that overlooks the massive National Elk Refuge, and sampled much of the local (and very much over-priced) cuisine.
There is a certain conversation we have during our anniversary dinner. We recap the year—sharing our favorite things, how we've grown, what we appreciate about each other, and what we're looking forward to in the year to come. We highly suggest every couple do this. It'll evolve and be a little different each time, but it's important to reflect on and mark the completion of that year.
We've had a few years of mostly sharing how tough the past year has been. On other years, we've discussed mainly the boring and practical elements of our lives. And some years, it's been very romantic and loving. It doesn't have to be a certain way. Simply and truthfully acknowledge the year you've had; share your dreams of the future and how to work towards them, and appreciate each other in all of your flaws and wonderful qualities.
GOING BACK TO CALIFORNIA, BRIEFLY
After our relaxing weekend in Wyoming, my travel plans weren't over. We bought a Honda Pilot from my wife's godparents back in CA. That meant I needed to fly there and drive the car back. Two flights and 700+ miles of driving in one weekend by myself? Totally doable.
However, my wife and I created a plan to surprise our daughters. Not only was I going to drive our new car back, I was going to bring my sister and her two kids along as well. We had to keep it a secret for almost two weeks and there were a few close calls at blowing the surprise. Seeing the girls' eyes widen and slightly swell with tears as their aunt and cousins popped out of the car was worth all of the secrecy.
They stayed with us during the week of Thanksgiving. It was so great for the cousins to hangout and visit after so long. There were still some disagreements and a kid or two got sick, but that's just the realities of families during the holidays.
Every year I get older, I enjoy Thanksgiving even more. Although it is an American tradition, it aligns with God's word to "...give thanks in all circumstances..." and "...always giving thanks for all things...". I have so much to be thankful for and I never want to lose gratitude towards my family, my community, or to my God.
WHEN THINGS DON'T GO AS PLANNED...
Due to a storm and the policies of a "soul" crushing airline, my sister's flight was delayed multiple times. After being stuck in the terminal for nearly 12hrs, boarded their first flight. They then had an overnight layover in Vegas and eventually made it back home the next day.
Lessons were learned during this ordeal. It was tough trying to figure out all of the logistics for my sister and her kids from a far, especially as the weather was changing, a lack of airline customer service, and us still needing to work and be parents. We were definitely frustrated, but mostly felt helpless.
As silly as it may sound to do this, especially for winter weather delays that are all too common, we were simply trusting in God to help us work it out. It was not easy maintaining proper attitudes as we scoured airline websites, called hotels, and tried to figure out email confirmations and account login information. We were trying everything to make sure we found the best option for their speedy return. In the end, they made it home safely. And that is a prayer answered.
Years ago, I would have easily looked back over the last few weeks and thought of how terrible all of the travel hassles had been, or how tired I was, or how cold it was, or how sick we all were, or how expensive this or that was, or whatever. But I've lost too many precious moments befriending such a perspective.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
Philippians 4:6 (ESV)