Day 1: Everything was so new and exciting. I held a big bouquet of vibrantly colored flowers against my white dress. We stood in front of our family and friends. He was handsome in his black tux. Candles were lit. Promises were made. The violin played and happy tears were present.
Mile marker 1: We had already moved three times. Far away from family, learning to lean on each other. It wasn’t easy, but we had fun. He saw that I couldn’t cook much of anything. I saw that he was serious when he said he would love me no matter what.
Mile marker 4: We were living in Québec, trying not to drown in a new language, or freeze in the below-zero weather. Hoping to survive in our tiny apartment, with no money to our name. Arguments and frustrations came often and easy. It was hard. We were selfish. God and his stable grace helped us through to that next mile marker.
Mile marker 5: The adventure took us to Guinea, Africa. We learned more than ever what it meant to support each other, learn, and grow together. Everything we had ever known was taken away from us, in the form of another culture, worldview, language, lifestyle. He took care of me when I was hallucinating and drenched in sweat because of Malaria. I congratulated him when he became friends with the head of the Guinean military, when he learned valuable insights into the culture. We survived a traumatic experience together. Bullets in the air. Fear present. Hands held.
Mile marker 7: We found ourselves celebrating in a village, with muffins and coffee and talks of that first day. The excitement, the royal-blue bridesmaids’ dresses, and the people who surprised us and made the long trip out to Colorado. We thanked God for his guiding hand, and for not leaving us to walk this sometimes-rough, sometimes-smooth road of marriage alone. After coffee and muffins we hiked a cliff on the side of the ocean and found a secluded beach where we soaked up the beauty of another September 18th.
Mile marker 8: This year brought us to move # 11, this time to Dakar, the capital of Senegal. Our bond was strengthened in a new way. Beauty was found in brokenness. We were reminded of some of those same “year one” lessons: don’t assume the other person can read your mind, say you’re sorry, prefer your spouse over anyone else, go out of your way to do thoughtful things, have fun together, and look for ways to serve.
Mile marker 9: Hooray for another mile to walk (or maybe even at times crawl) together. Hooray for more inside jokes. Hooray for another chapter in the book of Shawn+Jenn. Another anniversary, another reason to celebrate!