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Over dinner last night you said it, “I did not expect how fast all this would go.” We were talking about our kids and transitions and how, by some very weird turn of events, we keep getting invited to 30 year reunions for stuff. Thirty years? How exactly did that time fly by so quickly?!

And yet it did and here we are.

We looked at all the pictures yesterday. The recorded memories of our beginnings. We laughed over the things we would tell that young couple so fresh and eager in 1993.

I had some expectations way back in the beginning of us and it is remarkable to see in what perfect measure those expectations were granted, often exceeded and, sometimes, inevitably, squashed. Life does not always unfold as we expect it to. This is, looking back, mostly a tremendous relief.

We still resemble them.

But we are solidly not them.

I am so thankful for all the ‘now’ of us.

Here are a just a few of the great things about you, JSC, that profoundly contribute to our love on this day, today.

1. You always fight for life. Always. Quitting is simply not in your play book. This is helpful for many reasons especially in the area of, say, a lifetime commitment.

2. You build a really beautiful fire. I cannot overstate how many times this skill has saved our marriage. Remember that first hike from Ramona Falls to Timberline? The beautiful fire and the steaming cup of coffee that remade me and reconciled us. Hikes, cold, dark Fort Portal evenings with nothing but stars shining into the pitch-black silence. The long, lingering, heart-sharing late into the night. The singing with our kids, S’mores, the smell of smoke in our clothes and jackets. Any place we can build a fire = home. And you, my love, can always build a fire.

3. You never stop learning. You take classes, pursue degrees, study new skills all the way to mastery over and over again. New skills, your own mind and soul, mine---you never stop learning.

4. When I want something, you make it happen. This is far more tricky than most folks could comprehend because I am terrible at wanting stuff. But when you catch the glimpse of my own heart’s desire, it will happen. In Zanzibar, I was SO miserable that one day. First, I wore the total wrong thing which I was obsessing over incessantly and THEN our tour did not go as I had expected and THEN that stoned/drunk guy approached me (ahem) in the alley where I perused the work of a local artist and you were there for all of it. Getting between me and every discomfort, protecting, listening to my worry and persisting in encouraging. And right at the end of the day, you saw me staring at the jewelry. In that shining display outside the store—Tanzanite. I whispered, “I’ve always wanted one…” And that was it. Whichever one I chose.

I appreciate so much about you. All the plumbing, solar power set ups, dog shed construction and for giving me the largest part of the closet. For killing every snake and rat for over 20 years. For your awesome theological library that you are always thrilled to share (Gracious- all those locally owned bookstores. On our honeymoon. Hours happily perusing those shelves. We were, indeed, made for each other.) And every time you’ve read something I’ve written and been moved to tears.

The other day we went to check on the grading at our family land. It started raining, of course, just as we arrived. You were excited to get to the crest of the hill and make sure the machines were rolling in the correct places so you parked the car and quickly reached for your rain coat. Without hesitation, you tossed the rain coat to me, donned your light (non-waterproof) jacket, pulled your baseball cap down tight and with a smile jumped out of the car to tramp off up the muddy hill while the rain drenched you straight through.

The number of times we have lived this scenario is ridiculous.

My raincoat, that you bought for me, is always tucked safely in my closet. Your raincoat that is always in the car with us is ever wrapped around me. And you are always happily walking through the rain to whatever the next adventure holds.

You say, "Oregonians don't mind a little rain."

I have sat through my fair share of marriage instruction throughout the course of my life. Methods, practices, paradigms, theories and spiritual motivations.

Perhaps though, it all really boils down to rain coats and amazing campfires.

Or any of the simple, daily moments that diligently persuade another person, “You matter most to me.”

Thank you, my love, for always remembering the matches and for sharing your coat and for setting up my camp chair right next to yours by every fire.

Let’s keep talking long into the night.

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