It’s official.

Today, Steve and I have been married for 25 years.DSC_8176

So here is a short story to sum up those years. Not really, it’s actually long. You can’t possibly sum up 25 years of marriage into a short story, so I decided to write some highs and lows and other random moments in chapter form.

Introduction -Destiny

When Steve and I were first married, we  worked in a camp ministry. Mike Johnson was our boss at that camp, and he was an incredible leader and mentor to us. Mike left that camp ministry to go work for Compassion International, leaving Stephen and I behind. A few years after working at camp, Steve and I decided to pursue other jobs. As we were about to drive away from that ministry, Mike happened to drive by while we were packing our car. He stopped and told Steve about a job opening at Compassion International, encouraging him to apply. Thus, our journey with Compassion began 22 years ago when Steve got that job. To this day, Mike Johnson is Steve’s boss. Destiny!

(Also, I had a secret credit card from Nordstrom during our first year of marriage. Steve discovered it and cut it up.)

 Chapter 1 – I almost shot my husband when I was pregnant. These were dark days.

Our first house we owned was in the slums of Salem, Oregon. The house was very charming, but in a rough part of town. Prostitution was common in our hood, and shady people roamed the streets. Across the street from us lived a drug dealer. Cars would come and go all hours of the night.

One night, when I was alone, and pregnant with Julia, there was big thump on the window. I looked outside, and nobody was there. Later that night, I got our handgun out of the drawer and put it on my nightstand because I was scared. People, this was a rough neighborhood, so don’t judge me!

After I had gone to bed, I heard the door open. It was too early for my husband to be home. He wasn’t expected to be home for several hours from his trip. I heard the door creak open, and I knew I had to be brave. I quickly loaded the chamber, and with the most commanding voice possible, from my bedroom I said, “Who’s there?”

My husband knew I had that gun ready and loaded by the confidence in my voice. He quickly said, “Patricia, put down the gun. It’s just me. I am home.”

We moved shortly after that.

Chapter 2 – A brush with fame and Rich Mullins

Steve got involved in the Christian music industry early on in our marriage with his job at Compassion. One of the first artists I met was Rich Mullins and his sidekick Beaker. Rich Mullins actually came to our house in Salem and performed at our church. I thought he was kind of a weirdo and cool all at the same time. Steve and Rich became friends, and later Steve would travel with Rich when Rich would present Compassion in his concerts. I would say, Rich had a major influence on Steve. He helped Steve understand the nature of the beast of Christian music. What do I mean by this? Rich was an honest dude about how the industry worked, and he didn’t hold his opinions back. We then learned Christian music wasn’t all fun and games, and full of the love of Jesus. Steve grew to respect Rich’s honesty, his raw personality, his prophetic voice in an industry that was trying to find itself, and his pure talent. He loved being around Rich Mullins.

Chapter 2 – The Big Move

In 1996, Steve and I moved to Vancouver, WA to be near the Portland airport and help plant a church. Grace was born nine months after we moved, and life got a little bit crazy with a toddler and a newborn.

Chapter 3 – The Sting of Death

Steve’s dad died in August of 1997 just three months after my Grace was born. We sat at his bedside as he left this earth and entered Heaven. I held my three month old in my arms, as I watched her grandpa die.

Within a couple weeks following his death, we learned Rich Mullins died in a car crash. (And Princess Diana and Mother Theresa too, though we didn’t know them).

Chapter 4 – India

I was a mess, with a newborn and strong willed toddler. Steve was depressed. We were growing apart. September of 1997, Steve had a trip scheduled to India with an up and coming artist named Rebecca St. James. Her and her mother would be going to India with Steve, and a band named Lost and Found. Steve told me years later, he almost turned around to come home. He was loosing it in the airport, but he called his friend Greg Frady, who prayed him through and got him on that plane.

That trip to India was monumental. Out of that trip, we saw thousands of children get sponsored at Rebecca St. James concerts as well as Lost and Found concerts. Steve developed a life long friendship with the Smallbone family, and the Lost and Found guys. Still, to this day, For King & Country (lead singers are Rebecca’s brothers) carry that heart for Compassion, and present the ministry at their concerts.

Christmas, 1997, Steve and I realized we were not doing well. He was depressed and I was a mess of a mother. We then started date nights and a babysitting co-op with friends from church. It changed our lives to have a date once a week. And we took a family trip to Hawaii with his mom.

Sometimes you need to re-boot when you get stuck.

Chapter 5 – The Adventures

Paris…1998. Steve and I took our first adventure overseas, that wasn’t a Compassion trip. We went to Paris in 2008 and left our kids at home. This started our love for getting away without kids, and finding each other. Though we had one of our biggest fights ever, after a day in Paris, we discovered Steve likes an easy pace on vacation, and I like to go go go. We learned to compromise after that. The trip ended with a stronger marriage, and a better understanding of each other.

Chapter 6 – When you have a big surprise!

In 1998, we were back to normal. We had two kids as planned, and a great life. We had things in control, until one day, when I was late. Late to what? Ummm late. Like late. Nine months later, God brought a beautiful baby girl named Isabel into our lives. She was our surprise child.

Chapter 7- The market crash

2005 Steve and I invested in some property. We leveraged our home equity to do it. We poured $200,000 of home equity into an investment property with two other people. The projected profits looked really good, and we were excited about the long term impact this could make in our lives. In 2006, the market crashed, our bank went under, and we were told we needed to pay back the loans. All equity was lost, and our marriage went through a trial of a lifetime. We fought, we blamed, and we were angry. In order to make it, I went out and found a full time job so that we could survive the times.

Chapter 8 – God provided

God provided me a job at a non-profit here in town, and we slowly got back on our feet. In 2009, we were able to save enough, and take our kids to Kenya on a Compassion trip. My kids lives were completely changed by that Africa trip. My 10 year old started her own non-profit called “Shoes for Kids” and my girls grew to love missions, ministry and children.

Chapter 9 – Not everything is perfect, but it’s pretty good.

For the last few years now, we’ve grown our family up. There was middle school, high school, college, dating, engagement and marriage. As a family, we traveled to a lot of places, ate a lot of family dinners and lived a lot of life.

I turned 51, and Steve trails behind at 48. I had skin cancer once. I thought I had it again recently, but the biopsy came back negative. Steve’s shoulder hurts often; we both have our funny ailments and aches and pains, but in general, we are pretty healthy.  We love our long bike rides, we love adventure, skiing, and having fun.

Oh yeah, we bought ourselves a new house recently, with land, and now we pull weeds when we aren’t working.

Life is pretty good.

Chapter 10 – It’s more than pretty good.

Life is more than pretty good. It’s very good. It’s very good because I have Steve by my side. We are healthy, we have an amazing family, we have great jobs, and go to an amazing church.

For 25 years, minus the times we travel, I wake up next to him.  I never sleep well when we are apart. I have a man who is honest, who loves me, who hangs with me on my whims, who rides bikes with me, and waits for me when I am slow. He helps me when I am crazy, and holds me when I am sad. He cooks, he does laundry, and he leads well. By no means is he perfect, but he is the perfect husband for me.

Chapter 11 – We love to Tango

I love to dance. I love the Tango.

Actually, that’s not entirely truthful. I know nothing about the Tango, but I love to dance. I think it’s fun, and I like watching Steve’s face when I dance. He laughs at me in the most endearing way, as if to say, ”She dances like a white girl, with no rhythm.”

But have you ever watched a couple dancing the Tango? It’s passionate. It’s angry. It’s sexy. It’s beautiful. It’s graceful. It’s grace filled. To dance the Tango, you have to cooperate, communicate, and know each others moves. You have to be comfortable in your own skin, and confident in your decisions. You have got to work together. It’s like marriage.

And now, I am pretty sure I am going to sign Steve and me up for Tango lessons. I think this is a great idea to launch us into the next 25 years.

 

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