We were blessed to have a new friend take some pretty incredible pictures of our family last weekend. Right now we're looking them over, trying to select our Christmas card images, and deciding which ones to print for frames (both for our house and for our moms and Ian's dad). There are some wonderful shots of our whole family and one of me and the kids that is definitely canvas worthy.
But this one?
Oh, it took me about 1.7 seconds while looking over our photos to declare it my very favorite.
Beyond being just darn cute, this one jogged something in my memory. It took me back just over 16 years to the discussion when it all started...
When I was born Mama began praying that I would one day I would meet and marry a man with a huge heart for God. I met Ian on May 31 of 1996, after we had both finished college, at the summer staff training for Carolina Cross Connection. While we enjoyed each other's company, there were no sparks, just an amicable friendship that started that week. We ended up being assigned to work at the same camp and our friendship grew as the summer progressed. Without meaning to at all, we often gravitated toward one another and often could be found surrounded by campers, but together.
Still though, we had pledged ~ along with the rest of the summer staff ~ not to get involved in any romantic relationships as it would take our focus off of our campers. Besides, I had a teaching job in NC to return to at the end of the summer and Ian already had been hired in an engineering position in MD. A relationship simply didn't make sense.
Until the last day of the last camp week. One of the adult campers from Cape May Courthouse, NJ asked me what Ian and I were doing at the end of the summer. Clueless as to why she was asking, I told her of our job situations. Undaunted, she then asked me what we were doing about that. Still not clear where she was headed, I told her that I thought he and I would exchange letters from time to time and that I knew I'd miss him, but there was about 450 miles between our homes, so...
And I'll never forget either the look in her eye as Barb very clearly said, "It may not be my place to say, but be sure you never let distance stand in between true love."
Uh. Wow. I knew I enjoyed being around him, but true love?
Confused about what it meant that someone who casually watched Ian and I interact for a week could declare us in love, I did the only thing I knew to do...I gave Ian the secret signal our staff had developed for needing to have a conversation as quickly as possible and asked if we could chat later that night.
After all the campers had been tucked in their beds and we'd finished our staff meeting, we stepped outside staff quarters onto the porch. Suddenly I felt pretty unsure and ridiculous about the conversation I was going to relay, so I asked him if we could sit back to back ~ so I couldn't see him if he laughed at me ~ while we talked.
Not knowing how else to say it, I replayed the conversation I had with Barb, right down to the "don't let distance stand between true love."
And then, "Hmm. Well I wonder if we should do something about that?"
Obviously we did.
For the few weeks before he moved from VT to his new apartment in Maryland, we saw each other every weekend. So began a long distance relationship from NC to MD with a phone bill bigger than the state of Rhode Island. The rest is history...
I had no idea that night 16 years ago where our back to back conversation would take us.
I wasn't sure we were headed for marriage, much less four ~ going on five ~ children carried by other women but grafted into our family by the One who defined adoption.
I certainly had no idea. But oh am I thankful that God spoke through Barb and gave me the courage to share her thoughts with Ian, even if it was in a back to back conversation.
Life has been an adventure with my very best friend at my side!