Today, I celebrate 16 years of marriage to this amazing and handsome man.
Oh the adventures we’ve had. From Michigan to Florida and back. Two fun kiddos, one scary birth. Health scares. Depression. Anxiety. This writing life. We were so young when we said “I do.” We had no idea that what we were saying was “I do” to all that and more. I do promise to stand with you when it’s ugly and scary and also when it’s happy and great. I do support your dreams and your hopes. I do stand with you in the failures and in the successes.
He’s been so supportive, even teary-eyed in the happy-kind-of-way, over the past few years as I’ve stepped into this world of writing. He’s my biggest supporter and continually challenges me to deepen my faith, grow my craft, and love others better. So many great stories.
I just realized that next week is the 20th anniversary of the letter that began it all.
Two years ago, I blogged the (almost) entire story of our dating life. You can find the full story on this page.
In honor of the 20th anniversary of our first correspondence, and 16 years of marriage, I’m re-posting that first letter and my response for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!
Part 1 – the first letter
The weather that early July day the summer I was sixteen was likely sunny and humid as most Ohio July days are. But the weather is a miniscule detail long forgotten. The only thing that mattered that day was the letter. As my Mom slipped the envelope in my hand, the world stood still, as if some small piece of me understood that my world was about to forever change.
The surprise wasn’t that I had received a letter. I had about half a dozen pen pals across the U.S. and Canada, amassed from a weekly summer Christian convention my family had attended since I was five years old. The surprise about this letter was the return address. It wasn’t from someone I had traded addresses with, this being before the days of the internet where you could find an address at the snap of a finger.
My heart rate picked up and I excused myself to the privacy of my pink bedroom. I plopped onto my twin size bed and gently ran my finger under the flap of the envelope. The hand writing had a manly, yet artistic scrawl.
So how are things going? How is or was driver’s ed? Things going or went ok in the car? You didn’t hit any bridges or anything I hope!
I’m looking forward to seeing you perform at the Fellowship of Christian Magicians. You’ll still have to teach me how to pass clubs.
You have probably been getting rained on down in OHIO. You probably get the same thing we do.
How is your clown group going? Working things out?
Well the mail man is going to be coming soon so whatever.
You will write back won’t you?
P.S. A day without a smile is a day wasted!
I took a deep breath and read the letter again. And again. And again. Would I write back? Oh, would I ever! As surprised as I was, this letter full of seemingly trivial questions might as well have been from the President.
Part 2 – my reply
As I sat down to write my reply, I couldn’t help but reminisce over our families’ lengthy history together. I lived in a small town in Ohio. Kedron lived in an even smaller town in Michigan about four hours away.
When I was five years old, my Dad decided to become a magician. He’d had an interest in the hobby since a friend introduced him to it while he was in high school. When my Mom saw an ad in a magazine for a Fellowship of Christian Magicians (FCM) convention in Winona Lake, Indiana, my parents decided to check it out.
Think of the FCM as a week long family camp for creative people. A thousand plus would descend on a college campus and spend the week mastering the arts of gospel magic, ventriloquism, storytelling, juggling, chalk art, balloon twisting, clowning and puppetry. The experts taught classes in every genre at every skill level and even the young people were encouraged to attend classes. It was a literal week-long circus.
We met families from across the country and over the years some of them became our closest friends, Kedron’s family being one of them. I’d make new friends every summer, and trade addresses with the promise of writing often throughout the year. I had shoe boxes filled with correspondence from my penpals, each letter a treasure.
But this letter from Kedron was a surprise. Although our parents had been good friends for over a decade, Kedron and I ran with different crowds at the conventions. I knew who he was. All the girls did. I’d sat in more than one circle of giggling girls where he’d been the topic of conversation. I had the stereotype that guys like him whom girls the ogled over certainly had big egos. I’d made it my point to avoid adding to that ego. But I couldn’t have been more wrong about him.
The previous October at a weekend FCM convention in Indianapolis, none of my friends were present. I found myself wandering through the dealers area browsing all the items for sale. I came upon Kedron sitting alone working his Dad’s table. I’d offered a friendly hello and exchanged a minute of light conversation then moved on my way. It was the hello that started everything.
Our moms had spent the weekend knitting together, our Dads trading magic trick ideas. Kedron sought me out, and we started to get to know each other a little. Not only was he not egotistical, he was a bit shy, yet with just the right amount of humor and charm. We juggled together and attempted to pass clubs (think mini bowling pins). I am not that good of a juggler, and you do not want to be on the receiving end of me throwing mini bowling pins. Fortunately for him, he has good reflexes.
Later, my mom informed me that according to his mom, Kedron had never spent so much time talking to a girl before. I was intrigued. Nine months passed. And then this letter arrived. I tried to come up with a suitable reply. His timing was impeccable. The week-long convention was just weeks away. He was obviously attempting a jump start on the conversation.
Things are all right here, well all except for Dad and his leg. Not only did he break his ankle, but he fractured his leg in two places! We’re both really disappointed that we can’t juggle on the evening program at FCM.
Driver’s ed went really well. I have to make up 4 days of bookwork and them I’m finished. NO, I didn’t hit any bridges, I did good!
Yes, we’ve had a lot of rain here, but yesterday was nice and my back got BURNT! It’s so red!
Clown troupe is o.k. We’re only bringing 4 of them. I don’t know how to pass clubs! I mean I know how, but I can’t actually do it. I guess we’ll both have to learn. I’m getting really excited & nervous about FCM.
Well, I gotta run! See you in a week!
Links to the rest of the story on this page.
Happy Anniversary honey! Here’s to 16 more.
Peter DeHaan says
I love your story; it is wonderful.
(I too had “pen pal” when I was in my teens, but our correspondence quickly fizzled.)
Thank you Peter! I wonder if pen pals are a thing of the past now that we have e-mail and social media. It’s definitely not the same!