Thursday, April 18, 2013

4 years...

Today, I celebrate 4 years of marriage to the man I love. Just 4 short years ago this afternoon we were saying, "I do" in a small church in my hometown of Alabama. And oh, what an adventure it has been ever since!

In the last 4 years, we have spent almost 8 months overseas in Thailand, Burma, India, Swaziland, South Africa, The Grand Cayman Islands, Canada and Mexico. We started a non-profit organization that has helped care for over 200 children around the world. We've snuggled majestic tigers and ridden massive elephants. We've stared at zebras and giraffe on Safari and wondered at the beauty of Niagra Falls. We've spent time in slums, leper colonies, refugee camps, and brothels. We've been blessed to explore together and to serve together.

We've moved across the country - twice. We've lived in snowy Michigan and sweet home Alabama and spent a lot of time in Arkansas too. We've also spent a lot of time traveling between those three states! I wish I knew how many hours we've spent in the car together since we got married. I think it's safe to say, A LOT. We've also spent a lot of time in airplanes together... and a lot of time stuck in our office together working full-time from home. Surprisingly, we haven't killed each other yet. Even more surprisingly, we still like each other! ;)

In the past 4 years, we have grieved together and celebrated together. We have loved through sickness and health. We've experienced great success, and devastating failure. We have had our hearts broken. We have seen extraordinary miracles. Through our non-profit organization, we've had the incredible opportunity to buy a Children's Home in Thailand, to buy land for a Children's Home in India, and to make an incredible impact on the lives of our children in Africa through education initiatives and sustainability projects. We are continually humbled to see how God uses us... two flawed, stubborn individuals - just because we're willing to be obedient. (even if sometimes we don't have the best attitude about it! He is too good to us!)

On our 1st Anniversary, Rusty surprised me with an incredible trip to DisneyWorld! My very first trip to the most Magical place on earth was... well... magical! We were super broke, but had some dear friends who gifted us their timeshare and skymiles, and some other dear friends who gifted us Disney tickets. (Seriously, we were SO blessed!) It was a trip I will always remember, and it was just the sweetest time to celebrate our love.

On our 2nd Anniversary, we were working in Thailand, and we were surprised by the most incredible event on our "special day". Our Karen partners, Hebrew and SerneGay, had decided that they too would get married on April 18th! That day, we got to share "our day" with this extraordinary couple. A couple who has very little. A couple who has given up their rights and their lives to care for children in a refugee camp.

That day I got to make another Bride feel special... just like my friends and family did for me 2 years before. I did her hair... I did her makeup... and I was even recruited to create the flower headpiece she wore to her ceremony. If there is anything that could make our "special day" even more special, it's that we now get to share it with this amazing couple. They even sent us an anniversary message this year!

Our 3rd Anniversary, we had just returned from a month in Africa and we were exhausted! A planned trip to the beach became, "can't we just stay home?" and so, we rested instead. We did manage a nice dinner out though... ;) This Anniversary signified something very special - we had now been married long enough to adopt a child from Thailand!

And now, here we are, at our 4th Anniversary. We are being pretty boring again this year, and just going out to dinner on a PF Chang's gift card I got months ago. But this year, there is so much MORE on the horizon! This year we will buy our very first house (though it is the third home we've lived in together) and we will spend hours upon hours working on adoption paperwork to bring home our Baby Girl! This year at our anniversary dinner, we will not only get to reflect on the wonderful blessings God has given us in the past, we will get to focus on everything He is doing for us NOW, and all He is going to do to over the next year get our little girl home and into our arms.

I can't help but wonder how many more anniversaries we will have before our sweet Kate is home. Will it be just one more? Will it be two? Could we possibly be on our way to get her this time next year? Either way, we are feeling very grateful to have each other today, and excited about God's future plans for us as husband and wife and mom and dad to-be!

Years ago, I got some wonderful advice from an incredible couple who led my college ministry. They told us that you would know who you were supposed to marry, when you knew you could do more together for the Kingdom, than you could apart. As I look back over the last four years I am more convinced than ever that this is true for me and Rusty. Together, we have accomplished more than I ever could have done alone. Together, we are a complete team!

Thank you Rusty Jackson for sticking by my side through all of our crazy adventures! Thank you for being willing to take great risks to be obedient to what God has called us to. I love you, and I'm grateful to have you as my partner in life. I can't wait to see what the next 4 years has in store for us!

1 comment:

  1. This is a lovely tribute to your love and lives together, Ericka! Congratulations to you both, and many blessings in all the years ahead.