Thursday, March 5, 2015

20 Years

Earlier this week Matt and I celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary. I CANNOT believe we have been married for 20 YEARS! It's crazy to think we have been together for 20 years. When we got married we only knew each other for 6 months. We met at a college party on Labor Day weekend, and from that point on, we spent almost every day together. The first time he met my parents he asked my dad if he could marry me, and proposed later that night.

We didn't have a big wedding, in fact, we didn't have a wedding at all.  We went to the local court house on a Friday, got married in front of a judge, and 5 days later Matt left for basic training in the Army.  Our first 5 months of being married we were apart.  As a matter of fact, we could only talk on the phone once a week. 

After basic training Matt was going to be stationed in S. Korea for a year.  It was an unaccompanied tour which meant the Army was not going to pay for me to go, in fact, they highly recommended I not got.  Yeah, that wasn't going to work for me.  Matt came home in August for 2 weeks before leaving for Korea, by the middle of September I was getting on a plane to join him.  When I got there I was met by one of his Sergeants and was told that I wasn't allowed to be there.  I informed her that I was there on an American Passport and Visa, and that I have every right to be there.  She said they didn't have to set him live off post, my response, "try it."  Needless to say, I lived with Matt in Korea for 10 months.  I came home early because I was pregnant with Blake and didn't want to get too close to my due date and not be able to fly.

From Korea we spent 3 years in Honolulu, HI where Blake was born.  Hawaii is absolutely beautiful, and we made many, many friends while living there.  It was a great experience, but to be honest, we were ready to get back Stateside.  We missed the seasons (what I wouldn't give to be in HI right now), and our family. 

After leaving HI, we went to Washing DC for a little over a year. Absolutely LOVED living there. There is SO much to do. I highly recommend visiting there at least once. Anyway, while living there, I was working full time. Matt was never home, he was always at work. He was an MP (Military Police) and was either always working shift work or training. During this time he was also going back and forth to S. Carolina for Sgt. training. Blake and I lived as if I were a single parent, which is not something I signed up for. I'll be the first to admit I was a terrible military wife. It was not the lifestyle for me. People don't realize how much military wives do, and give up for their spouses. I have so much respect for ALL military spouses. It takes a special person to be able to live this lifestyle. So, after a year in DC, we decided to move home.

About a year after moving home, we were blessed with our daughter Emma. I cannot even express how happy I was to have a daughter. Don't get me wrong, I love Blake, but I so badly wanted a girl. During this, Matt was working and training to become an Electrician, and I was running a daycare out of our home. Life went on. We were happy, and had no plans to have any more kids.  I was more than happy with my boy and girl.

A few years after having Emma, Matt started talking about having one more. So, along came our son Gabe.

God had blessed us with 2 happy, healthy, beautiful children. But something was missing. Before Matt and I got married he knew that someday I wanted to adopt a little girl from China. I have no idea where this came from, but since I was in middle school I wanted to have a Chinese daughter. A year or so after Gabe was born we started looking into it, saw the cost, and ran. There was NO way we were ever going to be able to afford to adopt.

A few more years down the road my urge to adopt got stronger and stronger. Finally, we made the call and set up an appointment to meet with an agency. By the time we left, we had filled out an application and were ready to go. We decided that since the wait at that time was about 2-3 years, we could easily save the money during that time. Until we got the call asking if we were interested in SN adoption and from there, things changed really fast for our family.

In 2008, we turned my dream of adopting from China into a reality when we brought home Mylee. Matt didn't travel with me, he stayed home to take care of the other 3. Never in a million years did I ever think going to China would change the person I would become. When I left China with Mylee, I knew somehow, someway, I would return.

I had no idea at the time what God was putting on my heart. He definitely made it clear that we had more than just 4 kids. After getting over the initial shock, Matt agreed that we would adopt from China just "one more time." So began the process to add another son to our family who we would call Andrew.

Just as we were getting everything wrapped up to leave for Andrew, God once again spoke to me about another child that we were to bring home. This child was different. This child was someone Matt and I said we would never do. This child was a boy, who would soon be 14 and no longer have the opportunity to have a family of his own. Once again I went to Matt with what I knew was an insane idea, but I had to at least try. After spending a few hours talking and praying about it, we decided that we were going to not only add one, but two sons to our family that trip. And so began the process to bring Jaxon home. Because he was aging out, our process was expedited to get us to China in time. He actually turned 14 while we were still in China.

By this point I knew Matt would never go for more, so I didn't push it. I personally didn't think we were done, but I didn't want to rock the boat. Until, I saw an absolutely beautiful girl with medical needs way more than we were thought we could handle. I first saw her picture only a month after getting home with Jaxon and Andrew (May), and waited until August before bringing her up to Matt. To my surprise, he wasn't as shocked as I thought he would be. In fact, he seemed pretty open to it. So, we began the paperwork to bring Kalia home.

When we got home with Kalia Matt made me promise we were done. He was adamant that we WERE done. I on the other hand knew we weren't. I knew I had one more daughter. It didn't matter how many pictures I showed him, or how many stories I told him, he was not budging. Until about a year ago he came to me and said that he had been thinking and praying about us adopting again. He said that it had been on his mind for awhile and that this was obviously my calling. "This is what you are supposed to do," he said. "Who am I to stand in the way?" Of course there were stipulations with this. He said that we would not start looking or doing any paperwork for a year. So, I waited, and waited, and waited, until I thought I was going to burst.

Fast forward to now, and you know how this ends. In just a few short months we will be adding yet another son to our family who we have decided to call Owyn. this adoption is like no other. We are the fast track to getting to him before it is too late. Like Jaxon, he too only has until he turns 14 to get home. What typically takes a year to do, we have less than 3 months. Stressful doesn't even begin to describe these past 2 weeks. I have done nothing but sit at a computer and fill out paperwork after paperwork after paperwork. But in the end, when I am able to wrap my arms around this boy, it will all worth it.

Why am I tell you all this? Because for the 20 years that Matt and I have been married, it has all been about our kids. We don't take lavish vacations. We don't live in a massive, overpriced home, or drive fancy cars. We don't go out and party and drink. We would rather sit at home with our kids and have pizza and movie night. If you would have asked me 2 years ago what I wanted for my 20th anniversary I would have said a new wedding ring (Mylee flushed mine down the toilet right after we brought her home. At the time it was new, I got it for our 10th wedding anniversary). Now, when I look down at my ring finger, that is missing a wedding ring, it is a reminder of everything I have. I certainly don't need a big diamond to prove Matt's love for me. I don't need a big diamond to make me feel like more of a person. What I do need is to know that when I walk through the door, I am going to have not only a husband who loves me and would do anything for me, but 7 beautiful, happy, healthy kids, that God has so graciously entrusted us with to call me "mom."


Anonymous said...

Welcome Back!!! Happy to have you here again.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you are back again :-) I used to follow your blog before, and just visited your blog the other day and was so surprised to see you are on your way to China again!

Good luck with everything - I will be following you blog everyday again!

Alycia said...

Hi Mandi!
So happy to have chanced upon your blog again!
Adahlyn is doing well and has a great picture of herself with Andrew in her room.
I just finished her baby album, and i had such fun with all the photos of the two of them together.
i miss chatting with you!
Congratulations on Owyn!
Much love,
p.s. my email is still the same... hint, hint.