July 17, 2018

Today we honor our 8th wedding anniversary and 4th blog anniversary. To date my greatest accomplishment has been my marriage. It is a source of incredible joy, a wealth of trial and error, and proof that God meets us in the middle of the mess and can make it truly beautiful. Blogging was a dream I have that accompanies our dream as a couple: to use our story to help others. I believe my calling, my duty and my greatest role on earth is wife …. so when I started this new role of blogger I hoped it would become another integral part of my journey ….. so I figured they should share a day: July 17.

 

The reason our marriage continues to grow and flourish is because we celebrate the good, survive the bad, and remember to honor both parts equally. Funny, that has come to be sorta the same as blogging. Raw honesty about how life truly is – that’s important, but choosing to celebrate the good in each moment that’s what makes the journey so rewarding. So this year’s anniversary post is in line with that philopshy: you can remember surviving the challenges, but don’t forget to honor the good – both made us who we are today.

 

2010
What We Survived
Being newlyweds is hard – there I said it. You are navigating a shared home, the intersecting of two lives, and learning about inlaws. We struggled through the sharing of finances, the growing pains of a shared space, and what it meant when you marry the other person’s family.

 

What I Cherish
We officially became each other’s family and realized the blessing of getting to design our own world. All of the firsts were really special – first home, first Christmas tree, first  vacation….. everything felt new, exciting, and I welcomed the awe of being chosen by Danny …. it still catches my heart off guard today.

 

October 2010
2011
What We Survived
Transplant life became a part of our life. It was scary and often felt like a weird dream….

 

What I Cherish
That year Chapel Hill became like home to us and the docs we got to know, and the patterns we developed, even the ways we tried to look at relocating and surgery as an adventure – I think planted the largest seed into our marriage of the people we would be: constantly filled with uncertainty, but always choosing hope.

 

July 2011
2012
What We Survived
This year we made our first choice of moving back in with family as a result of our circumstances. We were challenged with pride, with the reality that so many others in our position were moving forward with life and under our circumstances we were feeling stuck. The true journey into the unknown had not become just a possibility, but our reality and we struggled to face that as a young married couple.

 

What I Cherish
We never stopped dreaming. Day to day we really struggled with “what are we doing”, but when given the chance we would continue to think of how to get a taste of what we wanted to see in our lives, despite the quickly changing reality.

 

August 2012
2013
What We Survived
We refer to this period of time as just plan bizarre. During this year my whole career shifted, we bounced between moving out on our own, staying with family, or moving to NC to sign onto transplant listing life, and Danny’s health faced significant mountains. We both lost ourselves in trying to accept a life both did not want and the struggles cast a shadow over so much of our world.

 

What I Cherish
Since before we said “I do” having a family was so important to us both and a constant topic of discussion….. always complete with a 4-legged baby. We spent HOURS while dating talking about the type of dog we would have, boy or girl, names…. in 2013 we finally made this dream come true! And although our little Quinlan is a long ways off from the Chocolate lab “Ottawa” we had planned…. and he is more personality than either of us were EVER prepared for…. he has filled a part of our hearts that needed his love.

 

April 2013
2014
What We Survived
Life became too much of a question mark that signing another lease wasn’t possible…. so we moved in with my family. As always this is humbling, hard, and frustrating…. and then I lost my job – our income.

 

What I Cherish
That year we faced the one thing we had said we could never survive – my lost income. For years (even before marriage) our priority for my job to be stable and my career successful had been one of our primary goals and on February 14, 2014 it was gone. We came up with plan Bs, odd and end jobs, and believe it or not still enjoyed parts of our life while figuring this out. We acted as a team and learned that the worst that could happen wasn’t a lost job… it would be a lost marriage.

 

August 2014
2015
What We Survived
Your health had stabilized…. my career had stabilized… we had a new transplant center that was closer…all of our fears had found a home and place to quietly rest…. so we choose to enter “normal” life. We moved out, took some trips, and tried to find a way to make it all work  – we faced serious stress just for a chance to feel like a couple in their 30s….. even though we weren’t that couple, we were a couple with a huge ticking time bomb of transplant.

 

What I Cherish
It was hard and we really struggled to not lose ourselves in the rat race of keeping up… in the end it wasn’t about that at all, it was realizing that our life might always look a little different, we had to stop fighting it, and just work together to make things happen. We both realized how much we had accomplished with so much against us and celebrated….. we embraced the beauty in the unique.

 

May 2015
2016
What We Survived
Getting to transplant….

 

What I Cherish
The road to transplant was often confusing. But we literally held hands in hospital rooms and choose to go after life…. LIFE. There are days that were right out of hell….. and yet in my 30s I learned a lesson most folks wait a lifetime to learn – I had a partner in life until death do us part and those moments will never be shared with anyone else as long as we both live.  You choose life and on November 30, 2016 with new lungs you came back to me.

 

November 2016
2017
What We Survived
Transplant recovery. We both thought that getting to and through surgery would be the answer to every prayer we had uttered. It would become that way…. but during the recovery we became caregiver and patient and lost sight of what makes us great: husband and wife. That was the worst thing that could have happened to us and we had to fight hard to find our way…..

 

What I Cherish
We found our way. The hard work was exhausting and yet the joy and peace discovered was greater than what I hoped for,  prayed on, and imagined. And just as we returned to the marriage we had been building – your body found the gift of life it had been granted. The evening of July 2, 2017 running around the streets of Chicago wondering how much longer my feet would keep up but looking ahead to you who could not slow for a second in case you would miss something – I realized we had a new life and THIS is what God had asked me to wait for……

 

May 2017
2018
What We Survived
A dream we had that suddenly found us, didn’t work out.

 

What I Cherish
We lost out on a big risk we had taken. The loss itself left us sad and in pain, but with time and perspective we realized it wasn’t just the sadness of the result, it was losing the goal we both had been running so hard toward together. The last 6 months we had become an incredible duo – no longer patient and caregiver who worked well together but held very different roles – instead were on the same team. We saw the hard work of years of dedicating ourselves to our marriage, dying to our own personal needs to live for the needs of our spouse, and we got a chance to use that to teach others…. we were truly awaken to the power of possibility. Our lives have great purpose ahead and it is our job to lean into that uncertainty we have become so good at trusting.

 

April 2018
Today we honor 8 years of marriage. And ya’ll it ain’t all pretty and it ain’t all perfect….. but man, it is powerful. The ways we have had to stretch and learn and grow…… the human instincts to protect your heart, defend your emotions, demand to be heard that must literally die away to make room for something so much greater – selfless love. It is not of this world, it is not a natural state, and it is not a popular choice – but if everyone could see the possibility it has, you too would choose it.  And if you have this sort of desire, but aren’t sure how or where to seek the proper channels, get the necessary help – I promise you it will be worth it.

 

2010
Wedding Day – Chantilly, VA
And also as we celebrate 4 years of the blog, I am so grateful for this way to process, reach out and connect. It has been a journey that had quite a long way to go, but I am grateful for the courage to chase it and for those of you who read it. This little dream fills my heart and I am honored by those who follow along.

 

Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!
Jackie

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