Two unrelated things I've been thankful for this week. Worthy of two separate posts, but I'm jamming them together into one.
First, super thankful for our weekend getaway to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We have the best sisters and brothers-in-law who love us and our kids so we can get away and do things like this. It wasn't easy for them, so THANK YOU to our family!
Los Angeles was the destination this year and we loved that the hour drive led us to somewhere so NOT where we live, with yummy non-chain restaurants and a chance to be just us. Lesson learned: we will always tell our future hotels that we are away to celebrate our anniversary, because this time, we got a sweet gift:
In my dreams, we have a talented photographer following us around, snapping candid pictures of us throughout the day so that we can get the memories on film. But unfortunately, that's not the case and when we stop to ask a stranger to snap a photo of us, more likely than not, it turns out like this:
So in order for my memory card to not be entirely comprised of food and Mike eating the food, we had to get creative. Self-timer, collages, and mirrors are now my friends.
But I still took lots of pictures of food. #notdinochicken
(Our favorite restaurant, which we have no photo of, was Obika Mozzarella Bar in Century City.)
A last-minute decision to see Diana Krall at the Hollywood Bowl was a definite highlight.
One funny: I gobbled my Subway sandwich during intermission and it was a pretty messy sandwich, so I made sure to leave the last napkin for Mike so that he could use it when he ate his. The dilemma was that I also wanted to eat my juicy peach. So in pure selflessness, I decided to eat my juicy peach in a way that no juice would trickle down my hand. That way, I wouldn't need the last napkin. Apparently, the manner in which I ate my juicy peach sounded like I was loudly slurping brains out of an animal. My loving husband waited as patiently as he could until I was 3/4 done and he could take it no longer. He turned to me with a loud, "REALLY!?". Then we busted out laughing because seriously, I had no idea I was annoyingly slurping brains. I thought I was being the good wife by leaving him the last napkin. "PLEASE! By all means, use the napkin, babe!"
Then, I saw the people in front of us turn around. Either they wanted to see what we were laughing about, or they wanted to give Mike a high-five for getting me to stop my sound effects. Whatever. I was being the noble wife.
But in all seriousness, I love my husband. I love how he loves me. I love God and I thank Him for sustaining and growing our sin-wrought marriage the past 10 years. I love that Mike and I can enjoy these chances to have fun and celebrate and enjoy each other even while shouldering some hefty burdens. I love that my husband and I can cleave to one another here while remembering that it's actually temporary, and our relationship will only to be sweeter in Heaven.
Which brings me to the second thing:
We started attending a new church a few months ago. Among the many blessings have been two mentor couples in our young marrieds group. They are older and in God's providence, both have adult sons with special needs. And by His loving grace, they both have hearts to minister to me and Mike. It's something we've longed for. Not that we haven't been ministered to by others before. In fact, we have been greatly blessed by so many in our lives who have blessed us and taught us and loved us in our special needs journey. But there's something so unique about having someone who completely understands your pain because they've lived it themselves in even more profound ways.
So when they tell us that God is good and that He does good even when we can't understand his purpose and plan, it is like gold to us. With 30-40 years of marriage under their belts and story after story of God's redeeming grace being sufficient in their tremendous suffering, we see the Word of God and the grace of Christ so beautifully illustrated in their lives. Seeing them gives us tremendous hope that God is with us in our trials just as He has been with them.
On the Sunday that Mike and Marcus left for NIH, I happened to be sitting alone at church, surrounded by a sea of people I didn't know and who didn't know me. I missed my previous church body tremendously that day, knowing that if I was there, many people would have known what was on my heart and perhaps they would have encouraged me. After a very sweet service, I was exiting the building by myself when one of the mentor couples (Stan & Mary) ushered me to the side. They sandwiched me and told me they had been praying for Mike and Marcus' trip, which had me erupt in tears. I didn't have to say a word before Mary sweetly said, "I understand, Sue. I understand your mother's heart." Then they put their arms around me and prayed with their own tears over Marcus. They knew intimately about the testing that Marcus would endure the week ahead because they watched their own son undergo the same (and more) difficult tests for years and years and with very little answers. Needless to say, their love and prayers for us have been a unique and sweet way that God has breathed life into our souls.
So yes, we get to move up to the 10-year notch on our marriage belt. What a privilege it will be if we get to do this for 30 or 40 more and be a Stan and Mary to another young couple in similar shoes. God is good. He does good even if we can't see it at times. I'm thankful that we can understand that a little better at this season in our marriage.