During the 30 days leading up to my 30th birthday, I am posting a letter a day expressing thankfulness for someone or something that has played a major role in shaping the first 30 years of my life.
Happy 30th Birthday! These letters are roughly in chronological order, according to when the individual made an impact on my life, but since it's your birthday I wanted to post yours today. So, where do you start in a post thanking a wonderful husband and daddy? I feel a little overwhelmed at the thought and I know I certainly won't do you justice. But, here goes ...
Thank you for the person you were before we got married. Thank you for your crazy, adventurous self - it was one of the things that attracted me to you. I loved that you spent time hanging out with the high school cell group you led, that you wore Birkenstocks and fleece jackets, that you let your hair grow long, that you climbed mountains in Austria and worked on a ranch in Colorado and loved on orphans in Colombia. The night I first fell for you, you told me all about the book, "Wild at Heart", and that's how I saw you. Thank you for not being dull.
Thank you for being a great boyfriend. You wooed me with the painting from the coffee shop that you bought me for Valentine's Day after I had mentioned it once. You asked my parents if you could pursue me without me telling you that was important to me. You helped move my super heavy couch into my ridiculously tiny over-a-garage apartment ... and then back out again 4 months later. You laughed with my friends and became friends with the cell group I led. You started saving for a ring when we'd only been dating for a couple of months and then you picked out a beautiful one without ever talking to me about it at all. I was so glad you never asked me one question about rings - I wanted it to be a surprise.
Thank you for being a wonderful husband. You are a hard worker, both at your job, at extra jobs like working with your dad on the farm, and around our house. It truly feels like we are a team. Thanks for thinking I am funny. That's not my best-known quality (it may not even be one of my qualities), but I love that you think I am. Thank you for making a point of paying cash for big purchases and protecting our family from debt. Thank you for being content to live in a basement for a couple of years and to drive my parents old minivan for a year while we saved for a car. Thank you for all of the wonderful trips we took before we had kiddos: Jamaica, Indonesia, London, the Pacific Northwest ... you are great to travel with. Thank you for praying with me every night and for seeking the Lord in our marriage. Thank you for surrounding yourself with godly men who also love their wives and families. I love your friends and I'm so grateful for who you choose to be influenced by.
Thank you for being a great and fun 4th, 5th, and 6th grade pastor. I love watching you with students. The middle-school aged students in your ministry, the junior high students in the townhouse you lead, the high school students who serve in 456, and the college students who work for you. You are so fun and funny and encouraging to them. You make everyone feel special and you truly enjoy the kids you work with, and they can tell. Thank you for applying yourself to your study of the Bible and theology. It has been so neat to witness you grow in your knowledge in these areas over the past 6 years. I love learning new things from you.
Thank you for being a good neighbor to everyone you meet. Without you, I would probably only know a couple of our neighbors instead of nearly all of them. I love that they feel comfortable enough with you that they let their little boys play in our backyard or that they ask you to come dispose of their hamsters when they die. That's a good neighbor. Thank you for being so friendly and easy to talk to. I am frequently challenged by the way you always make time for conversation. I am often too hurried or uncaring, but you consistently communicate to others that you value them. I would like to be more like that. And it isn't just our neighbors ... it's the cashiers in Wal-Mart, the tellers at the bank, Kelly and Louisa at the donut shop, and the guys who make your sandwiches at Firehouse. You show Jesus' love to people you barely know effortlessly.
I think I want to thank you most of all for being an awesome daddy to our children. They are the most precious gift we've been given, and I am so glad that you are the person God assigned to steward them with me. I love how much you adore them. These are some exhausting years we are in the middle of, but I never doubt your delight in who they are. What a gift. During the times when they need mom-specific attention, you are so great about pitching in in other ways, like washing the dishes. Thank you for taking the initiative in getting us out of the house to make fun memories. Sometimes it is easy for me to get so bogged down in just taking care of the little people and meeting their basic needs that my brain is too tired to cook up plans for fun. I really appreciate that you say, "Let's go __________!" and that you say it often. Our kids are going to have great memories of growing up. Thank you for laughing at them with me daily. Thank you for speaking kind and gentle words, thus teaching our son to speak kind and gentle words. As much as I love hearing his little voice say, "hi lovey!" and as much as it melts my heart when he opens the door to the garage for me or picks me a flower, it means even more to me because I know you taught him that. He will be a wonderful husband and daddy himself one day, largely because of you. Our little girl already hears from you on a daily basis how beautiful and sweet she is, and I'm thankful for that, too. She's going to need you to communicate that to her a lot over the next couple of decades. Thank you for reading Bible stories, praying, and singing with them before bed. That was an important part of my childhood and I am thankful it is a habit in our family. Thank you for thinking that it is important that I only work one day a week while our kids our little, even though it means we live on less. I love being with my babies and taking care of our home.
For all this and more, I thank you. God was generous when he let me marry you.