Back from a week of sand, sun and poor phone reception, surrounded by the people I love most in the world – my brother and his family back from Malawi, Africa, the kids and various partners, our first grandchild (who possibly is the cutest baby in the world) and a good friend who joins us on most family holidays. We had fifteen people at the height of the week with a contingent opting for the comparative serenity of the local caravan park. Despite debates, daily planning meetings, big dinners, a shared bath room, and regular, hush-baby, sleep times, it somehow still managed to feel relaxing.
While on holidays, Andrew and I celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary.
A bit of a strange way to spend such a significant anniversary, you might think. Yet somehow apt, seeing as I spent my first wedding anniversary in a hospital maternity ward having recently given birth to our eldest son, Jack. With four children, three exchange students and a couple of other young women who also bunked in with us on separate occasions, they have been significantly child filled years.
Andrew and I went out for lunch to celebrate, of course, and there was an exchange of cards and gifts, as expected. But the big surprise was Jack facilitating an impromptu, Denton style, interview on the eve of our wedding anniversary. We talked about the highlights (all present in the room) and the difficult times, how, looking back, those difficult times were all quite normal, and yet they didn't feel normal at the time. How sometimes we were just hanging in there because we said we would, at others because it all made sense. How various health problems have been taxing over the years, yet, strangely, this has also strengthened our marriage. How the four years we spent in Fiji expanded our view of life. How immensely proud we are of our children, how raising them has been our commonest interest, and how glad we are to have put the time and energy into building those relationships. How happy we are to have moved to Coburg. Yet some nights Andrew still looks around the empty dinner table and asks, so, where are the children? How the years have gone by as if in the twinkling of an eye. How the next thirty are going to present significant age-related challenges. That we are currently trying to work out new common interests and how, somehow, in the midst of it all, God has been present to us.
At the conclusion of our 'interview,' I asked my brother, Ian, to pray for us. He said, he thought the children should also be part of that blessing. So, they were, right there in that living room, with tears and choked voices and with ordinary, not-so-awkward silences, and in their prayers, we tasted the fruits of our thirty married years.