Today, August 13th, 2016, is my 5 year wedding anniversary. I’ve been a married woman for 5 years! Holy cow, I never would have even thought this was a real thing.
This last year in particular was the one where I feel like I finally have figured love out. Love has always kind of confused me, and I’m sure I’m not alone. But this year, I think I learned what it is.
But instead of boring you with the definition I’ve come to understand, I’d rather just talk about my best love of a human of all time, Christian Hodgden.
We started dating when we were just youngsters… and spoiler, we’re still young. But we’ve certainly come a long way from being these people…
I mean… that hair…
This picture was taken on an Easter Sunday when we were dating. We hadn’t quite considered the possibility of marriage yet, but knew we were really into each other. Being young and a couple makes people ask you a lot of questions, and this made me constantly ask myself – why Christian Hodgden? It really was a different kind of guy than I had ever even known, much less dated. It really would have been easy to answer my own question with because he’s crazy intelligent (different than I’d ever experienced), or because he’s respectful (again, quite a change for me). But that’s not what makes Christian the guy for me.
What made Christian my main-squeeze-4-lyfe was this simple statement: He knew what he believed, and he knew why he believed what he believed. For him (and for me as well) that means that the Bible is God’s inspired Word, and that God is all powerful, and provides all we need. We serve God because that’s what we believe, and we know there is a fulfilling and true Love (and grace) that comes with that.
All the single ladies, please know that this trait in a man is absolutely invaluable. If your man knows why he believes what he believes… I think that is the definition of a solid foundation. And if your foundation is solid… you are unmovable.
I remember articulating this to my BFF Hannah when I first realized I liked Christian. I had been through a series of weird guys, and I had finally decided I’d just be content with God, because I had actually taken the time to let Him fill me up in a real way. So it was a new twist on my life when I saw this long-haired, half-homeschooled, nice-guy from across the room at church a few times a week. The fun part for me was just how much hotter I was than him. (It’s probably the opposite now…)
Christian and I dated for a year, got engaged, and got married 8 short months after being 18. We graduated high school, got married, honeymooned (a.k.a. learned how hard it is to travel when you aren’t old enough to rent a car), moved out of our parent’s homes, and started college all in the same summer. I also had my first job that paid regularly scheduled paychecks.
It was an awesome precedent to the theme of our marriage – fast and furious, and sometimes hard. But the excitement those who love us had for our marriage and future, and the God we knew was on our side made us feel invincible.
I went on a mission trip to Cambodia for two weeks right before our first anniversary, and had this crazy sickness, that we later found out was a baby growing inside me. The day we found out we were pregnant was a classically terrible response. We just cried and blamed each other. But then we rose to the occasion, and went on with our lives. Yet another trademark of our marriage. When you have a purpose and a sense of greatness inside, it’s easy to accept and adjust to new realities.
First Anniversary Picture…
By year two, we were having a much better time. Some of the best times we’ve had so far. I’m looking forward to topping it, but for now, suffice it to say that things were as they should be.
Russell (our first baby) was perfect, we were moved away from home, which was actually a good thing in that time. We were able to discover who we were as a family, and we really liked what we had found. Christian was working as an intern at a job he really loved, and although I was staying home, I was really making some choices on who I was going to be as a mom. That’s something I recommend every parent do – decide what kind of parent you are going to be, and stick to it.
And that ‘going on third’ year was the year, as many know, that tragedy struck, and we only got to live 11 months with our first born son, Russell. It was also the year we had decided to pursue our first adoption, and ended up receiving our amazing baby Roman.
These people in this picture above are really strangers to me now. That feeling of being invincible, is not as strong as it once was. By no means would I say we think of ourselves in any different way. God showed himself even more real amidst our loss, and our loved ones swarmed us in an unbelievable way. But our speed and fervor for what lies ahead got reigned back, and it’s been an interesting journey along the way. It seems, at times, we are navigating uncharted territory. To be so full of life and to have the wind knocked out in a few different ways is something not many were prepared to guide us through.
But that foundation… it’s really something. Our core beliefs have remained unshaken. Our feelings, those are something I gave up relying on a while ago, and I’m glad for it. No matter what things looked like, we always knew why. Our why isn’t something I plan on articulating, because it looks different for everyone, and I wouldn’t presume to think that my “WHY” on what I believe will be something that speaks to anyone but me. But I do know that it is a necessary thing to seek out in order to build a strong foundation. If I can stand on a truth that I have cultivated a strong and bullet proof belief for – FOR MYSELF – there is nothing that can deteriorate it. Not death, not uncertainty, not fear- not anything.
My husband is a man who knows what his truth is. If it weren’t for that, I would’ve chose someone hotter. (Just kidding).
Year 3 brought in our 3rd baby, the girl who will go down in history as the only thing who can repeatedly stress me out. Renee is a princess, and the silliest of princesses there ever were.
Year 3 was also the year of healing. We had to put that wind back in our sail, and we are still in some ways doing that. We did a lot of self discovery, only to go back to the fact that we really won’t ever understand everything.
And this past year, we really became best friends. I look back at our first year together, and we barely knew each other. I think having more kids, for us, made us have to swim through late nights, lots of diapers, emotional ups and downs, lots of dishes, and just a lot of poop (from the children) to find each other, and when we did, it was so much better.
I realized that no matter how hard I try to be friends with other people, I’d rather spend an hour saying nothing to him than I would a whole day with anyone else. Unless we were kayaking – I really like to kayak.
Our kids noses never stop leaking snot, our house is apparently on a strict mess-only protocol, our families are both amazing and ridiculous simultaneously, and who knows what our bank account looks like (please can someone figure that out for me?) But at the end of the day, there is nothing a little snuggling and falling asleep watching Netflix can’t do to infuse our souls with the connection we’ve spent over 5 years developing.
I’m really excited in writing this post. Christian is notoriously un-romantic (a fact I’m finally at peace with, and also still hoping will change). So it’s hard to spotlight him. But he really is the kind of guy who needs to be celebrated. Unfortunately the Facebook status “OMG Christian plugged my phone in for me AGAIN…. like he does every night. I just love knowing I’ll never run out of battery first thing in the morning. (50 heart-eye emoji’s follow) #blessed.” It just doesn’t get as many likes as it should.
But that’s my guy. Consistently heroic, in the small and important ways. And man – is he rational. (swoon).
I want to end with one more picture from our dating years. I find it ironic, that even though it’s probably the cutest thing we’ve ever done, I don’t think that at that time I really connected to what we were doing. I think I was actually focused on drinking the shake (pictured below). But now, that it’s year #5, and our kids are finally going to be older than infants (a long awaited victory), I feel like he’s been my best friend forever. I feel like that picture really depicts who we are now, way more than who we were then. How crazy is that?
Moral of the story.. haircuts make the heart grow fonder. Happy loving, everyone.