The last week has been insane with pack out activities: getting ready for yet another military relocation now that Ted's two-year command tour is officially over. I'm in my house...alone...and I don't have to be anywhere for an hour and a half, so it's the perfect time to sit, breathe, and reflect a bit. You're welcome to join me for awhile. :-)
Twenty years ago, on June 28, 1997, I became the luckiest girl on earth. That's the day I married my Ted, the day I stepped blithely into the role of Air Force wife, the day that would seal my fate as an eventual mother of nine...NINE?!?!...children. (Oh, if you asked us back then, we would have told you that we planned to have two, MAYBE three children. If you don't know our story, maybe someday we can have a long visit over a good cup of coffee!)
I had no idea what I was getting into. This military life is not for the fainthearted. If I had known some of the difficulties we would face, would I still have said "I do"?
Absolutely. And I would do it all over again. One thing I've learned...each challenge that we have muddled through has only made us stronger as individuals AND as a couple. That's not a credit to us, because we are two incredibly sinful, weak people. Our journey with Verity has revealed ugliness that is all too easily hidden in relatively "easy" times.
But we have received grace upon grace, praise Jesus!
And so here we are, celebrating our 20th anniversary, which coincided with the same date as the Change of Command ceremony, at which my husband relinquished command of the Best D*** [insert kind of squadron here] Squadron on June 28, 2017. It was a wild and wonderful ride, an incredible opportunity for Ted, and though there were sticky situations and a number of sobering events, we are thankful that overall, this was a really great assignment. And I think it's completely kosher (not to mention unbiased!) for me to say that morale and production soared under my husband's leadership.
Here he is, my amazing husband. He gifted me a beautiful pendant during the Change of Command ceremony in honor of it also being our 20th anniversary. Shown below is the cross necklace with ruby in the center: Ted's gift to me on our wedding day was a specially made cross with a ruby from my
grandmother's engagement ring at the center. We used that engagement ring, but Ted replaced
the middle ruby with a diamond. That necklace was sadly stolen from our house when we lived
in Italy, so Ted decided to build upon his original design! This one has the birthstones of our children surrounding the ruby.
After the ceremony, we celebrated with friends and family at a park, and then he and I escaped for a much-needed overnight alone, the first since our anniversary in 2014.
What a lot to celebrate! An ever-deepening marriage relationship and a successful completion of a command tour that also completes 20 years of active duty service.
But wait...there's more!
In our family, the 28th of any month is now a reason to celebrate! And on June 28, our little Verity turned four months old! All of these milestones made her pretty sleepy...I didn't get any photos of her with her eyes open that week, it seems! We had out-of-town guests, some dear friends from our previous duty station, who visited us and got to attend the Change of Command and did a lot to help us prepare for our moving week(s). One of their daughters, Sasha, brought a whole bag of handmade goodies for Verity, which you can see in the photo below. This little girl! So loved and prayed for! Sasha and her siblings (and parents!) have joined the ranks of those who have been blessed by our little Verity in person.
As I close this post and prepare for a homeschool moms' night out, I can't help but tie these two precious people together: my husband and Verity. I remember when our oldest was born (October 18, 2000) and watching Ted in the hours and days following our daughter Charis's birth. He was so gentle and caring, so perfectly natural in this new role of Daddy. I remember feeling incredibly grateful upon learning that this was another dimension of my husband that I would get to see and love, a role that I had no way of (truly) knowing about ahead of time. I mean, you can assume and hope that your chosen life partner will be a good parent when the time comes, but you can't REALLY know until it actually happens.
I've seen heartache and desperation exuding from Trisomy parents who are all alone in this journey. Whether it's a spouse/significant other who walks away during the pregnancy, saying in effect, "I didn't sign up for this," or whether it's an emotionally distant partner who refuses to be involved in the all-consuming care a special needs child requires...my heart goes out to the brave warriors who soldier on, choosing life for their babies and doing what it takes to give them love and care despite the immense burdens they bear alone.
I can't even imagine doing life without Ted, let alone life with our special needs girl. From caring for the g-tube site to being able to prime and start a feeding tube in his sleep, from gently strapping boots onto her kicking little feet to bathing and bottle feeding, Ted is as much of a part of Verity's care as I am. He talks to her, sings to her, dances with her (or makes her dance!), and loves her just as much as he loves each of our 8 other children. He's exhausted most of the time because he is probably awake with Verity at night more than I am (mostly because I wear ear plugs because of his snoring, lol), but he just keeps on...keeps loving all of his crazy, chaotic family, loving us even at our lowest and calmly encouraging us forward.
Ted, thank you for your willingness to command the craziest squadron of all: your family! Thank you for being such a loving, faithful, committed, and involved husband and father. I love you more than I could ever say.