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 Just two nights ago my husband and I were completely surprised by our all of our kids ( which to us is our kids and their spouses ) with a surprise 40th anniversary party. When I say that I was completely shocked, that is not an understatement. The big lie that they told me to get me to come to the restaurant was that we were all meeting for dinner to celebrate my birthday which also had been the day before. That sounded reasonable so of course I had no clue that the bash planned was for our anniversary which is soon after my birthday.

You would think that as our son was escorting us to the back private party room of the restaurant that a red flag would go up or a bell would begin to ring in my head...but nope ..not me. As we were walking towards the room where everyone ( a large group of both family and friends ) were waiting for us I caught sight of balloons on a table through a window in the door that we were about to go through and here is the one thought that I had ....." I can't believe that they are making such a big deal about my 59th birthday ...they must think I'm turning 60 ...those knuckleheads....they don't even know how old I am !!! " - Ha ha - little did I know that they had an entirely different and beautiful celebration in mind for us....one that I will NEVER forget !

The entire evening was one of memories of our life together as a couple and with our children growing up and now with the grandchildren. There was a touching video shown, memories and stories shared, jokes flying and lots of love and laughter with those that we care most about in this world.

The reason that I am sharing all of this however is not to boast or glory in the joy of it all. It is to be an encouragement to younger couples, young families still slugging it out in the trenches as you are loving each other as a couple in the midst of raising kids and all the triumphs, disappointments, chaos and busyness that goes along with that time period of your lives.

As I look back, there were many days where my life as a wife, mom, and full time school teacher seemed to be filled with just keeping my head above water. Every day seemed to be an endless race through getting kiddos up and ready for school on time, then driving to my job to teach school all day to race home to fill up jugs with gatorade to race to the soccer field to cheer on boys playing their hearts out on that field. Then we would zoom home to gulp down a quick meal and there was always homework, sibling squabbles, spilled milk, things in disarray at times, homework or test papers to be signed, pets to be cared for, the phone ringing off the hook ( no cell phone days ), and endless mounds of laundry. Life seemed to be one event after another that we couldn't be late for. I remember feeling overwhelmingly tired at times and I am also pretty sure this is where my habit of walking while mumbling and looking at the floor developed as I was just trying to keep everything straight in my mind as to what needed to be done next for our family. To sum it up ...life seemed to be a blur.

Fast forward now to this past Tuesday evening where the happiness , the reward, the joy for sticking it out through all those challenging years seemed to just wash over my hubby and I as our kids worked so hard and in secret to surprise us and to honor us with such an evening. Can you tell that I am still on cloud nine ? Not because of anything that we as a couple have done or for how we parented ...no way. It is because with God's incredible help, and protection, and hand on our family, we somehow emerged to enjoy the fruits of what seemed at the time to be never ending struggles and obstacles in the raising of our family.

The truth is there is no perfect family. Such a thing doesn't exist. Trust me when I tell you that in every family there are tears, yelling, misunderstandings, fights, messes, being late for events, missed appointments, chaos, pranks, kids disappointing you, shocking you , you name it. BUT - there is also laughter, tickling, hugging, wrestling, pride, cheering each other on, snuggling, and just flat out JOY.  The problem is that the hard stuff seems to happen more regularly than the positive stuff when those kiddos are still under our roof and we are still trying to mold and shape them into what God desires them to be. The even bigger and more important challenge is to remain as kind, as sweet, as loyal, as concerned, and as loving to your husband or wife in the midst of these chaotic and busy years. What the world and the devil whispers in the ears of so many is that it isn't worth it.  I am here to tell you that it is. No matter what struggles or problems you are facing in your married and parental life, it is all worth it to see it through. Lean on God in every trial, every circumstance, every situation regardless of how big or small that it is. He will never fail you.

If you do, my hope is that some day you will enjoy a night such as we did this week. Nothing could have given me more contentment or more happiness than what our children did for us that evening and the truth is that it never would have happened without God in our lives. He is the answer, He is the KEY !

Look to Him in all that you do and make Him the focus. He never fails. He never disappoints. He never stops loving.
Honor Him and He will honor you.

If you do.....
It is SO worth it in the end <3