Today is a very special day. 39 years in the making, in fact. Today marks my parents' 35th wedding anniversary. 35 years! 35 years of love, commitment, communication, hardship, joy, friendship, and a life together as one. For better and for worse, through the poorest of days as newlyweds to the blessing of longstanding careers and God's provision, through surgeries and hospital stays to healing and rejuvenation, through family tragedies and losses to the joys of parenthood, 35 years of making it work and reaping the benefits. Today I get to celebrate with my parents, and praise God for them and this work He's done! Last week Jason, Sean, and I threw our parents a surprise anniversary party with family and close friends -- and as if that wasn't enough joy to experience, I somehow managed to convince my parents to allow me to photograph them for an official session! My mom's a ham, so the challenge was to get her in a natural state, while my dad is camera shy -- always one to stay behind the lens (I wonder where I got that inclination from.....). We headed to Burgermaster in Bellevue, in my dad's shiny red '62 Impala no less, much to the entertainment of the Burgermaster staff and those already dining. After 10 minutes of my dad's meticulous rub-down of the car to make sure it was camera-ready, we started shooting. It was rough at first, finding that balance of being a daughter and directing a photoshoot as a professional, but after the first 100 pictures taken or so something incredible happened.
Even writing this the tears are coming. Because God gave me eyes to see my parents in a new way: a fresh, encouraging, mature vision of what they really are. 50-somethings who are truly IN love with each other, 35 years down the road. A love that is deeper than youth, excitement, vanity, and worldly treasure. A love that is far from perfect, but one that is so strong that I can look to their final days and see them together even still until the end. A love bonded by covenant, friendship, laughter, tears, and deep, deep joy. These two people have truly lived life together, still making each other giggle as they looked into each other's eyes or as I put them in an awkward pose, giving affectionate kisses, recalling inside jokes decades old, and just sitting side-by-side as content as can be. What mystery is marriage, that God can bring two individuals together and bond them in a way that grows stronger every year.
So, my prayer and wish for my mom and dad today is this: that you would continue to grow in love for each other, each day deciding to die to self and put the other first. That you would continue to grow in love for Jesus, without whom you wouldn't know true love. That you would always fight for that covenant you made 35 years ago today, even though it's hard. And that 35 years down the road, we can marvel at an even greater love the two of you share than today.
To my mom and dad, thank you for working at marriage and not giving up. And thank you for the joy of seeing your beautiful love come to life before my eyes.
(Photos from our session will be up later....)