I’m pretty sure that 95% of you who read this blog are family or friends. So, no need to go back and share the details of that day, 18 years ago, when Drew and I eloped. For those new here…
Yes, we went to Reno.
No, Elvis did not marry us.
Instead, I’ll share a timeline of this relationship, this marriage. It all started 19 years ago when Drew and I met in Jackson, Mississippi. Drawn in by this radical idea of racial reconciliation and black & white people living and working together, we both showed up Voice of Calvary. We left Seattle and Detroit behind, for good.
So here it is. The idea behind it is that there are runs of better and runs of worse and times when it all runs together…
For Better, or For Worse:
Better– Drew comes to Jackson to work at Reconciler’s Fellowship. Lisa’s already been there for three years. He and Lisa meet through the group of young people who live there, many have come from all over the country curious how they can be part of this movement.
Worse– Lisa thinks Drew is kinda loud.
Better– Drew doesn’t care what Lisa thinks and he pursues the hell out of her, she becomes interested.
Worse– One day while grocery shopping with a Jackson friend, Nancy Perkins, Drew and she get a call to come home immediately where they find the paramedics doing CPR on Nancy’s husband Spencer. Spencer dies. He was only 44.
Better– Community rallies during this heartbreaking time, Drew spends a lot of time at the house where Lisa lives with other friends to give space for out of town mourners to come. (Drew was living in the community house that the Perkins family was a part of.)
Better– This time it is the launching pad for the relationship. It launches us right into July when we get engaged and right into September when we elope.
Worse– Family and friends are kinda hurt we didn’t invite them.
Better– Nancy and her kids move to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, her childhood home, and Drew and Lisa follow her. Nancy’s family makes us feel like we are one of them.
Better– Johnathan, Nancy’s son, calls us one day to tell us that the other side of their duplex is for sale. He says, come buy it. We say, why not?
Better– Lisa finishes her college degree, starting teaching preschool and finds out she is pregnant.
Worse– Taking a long time to make friends. Lisa is now 8 months pregnant and it’s time to move into the duplex. We do most of it alone. Well, Drew does. It’s hard to ask for help. Feeling lonely.
Better– Living next to the Perkins now.
Better– Abbey Jane is born in August of 2002 and Joshua Lee quickly follows in December of 2003.
Better – Drew says enough of this job hopping, I don’t like what I’m doing and goes back to school. Becomes a nurse, starts working in the Emergency Department at Lancaster General.
Worse- One morning Josh is playing in the hallway after a bath, runs, falls and snaps his femur in two. Painful for him and painful for us. Several weeks in a body cast.
Worse– Drew and Lisa go to their 10 week ultrasound (third pregnancy) and find out the baby has no heartbeat. Lisa has a D & E and then totally falls apart. Spends a year in despair and can’t get pregnant again.
Worse– Lisa’s view on life and faith stops working in the way it used to. Must face that.
Better– Almost two years after the baby they lost would have been born, they welcome a third child. Will Harrison, born in June 2007. He steals all four of their hearts. This never changes.
Worse– Josh breaks his other femur in an accident while camping in Maine. Another body cast. This time more painful and difficult recovery. Drew works nights in the ED and Lisa takes care of infant, screaming 4 year old and get’s her 5 year old to preschool as much as possible. Family relationships take a beating.
Worse– One night laying in bed, Drew tells Lisa he doesn’t think he’s a Christian anymore. Lisa already knows this deep down but hates that it’s happening. Lisa panics and wonders how they will raise a family and stay married.
Better– Drew is still same person. Same convictions. Same values. All these things that brought them together don’t change. Lisa realizes the world has not ended. Just that part of life has.
Better– Drew starts working in the IS department at Lancaster General Hospital and this means regular hours and no weekends. Everyone is BIG TIME happy.
Better– Drew and Lisa begin to attend Sunnyside Mennonite Church. Drew still is cynical but makes some friends, so he grins and bears it. Drew and Lisa are honest with leadership and friends that they aren’t sure about their faith anymore. Sunnyside friends say –we love you just as you are. Nobody tries to change us. We stay.
Worse– Church is still hard, Drew is even more cynical.
Better– The unraveling of both of their faiths makes them think more about everything. Hearts are expanded, life becomes more diverse, and they find their world has become so much bigger. Lots of shifting and moving. Maybe this undoing of things isn’t a Worse?
Worse– Church gets too uncomfortable. Feel loved, but don’t think we fit in anymore No longer a place all seem welcome. Time to leave.
Better- Our friends understand and love us anyway. Only makes these relationships stronger. So somehow unraveling and leaving has shown us God’s love even more? Mid life is proving to be confusing. Things aren’t always what we thought.
Better and Worse becomes more and more intertwined. What is the real Better? Does Worse become a Better? OH, Life. You always keep us guessing!
Worse– Kid two starts a deep struggle with depression and loneliness. This becomes hard to navigate for entire family.
Better– Drew and Lisa start running. This saves them over and over again. Great way of coping.
Better (Worse?)– Drew gets a new job in Chicago and we move entire family to Oak Park, leaving dear family and amazing friends behind. Everyone loves Oak Park, everyone misses their people.
Better– Our families, and friends come visit us all year long. (Thank you Millers, Millers, Olivia, and Glicks for the great memories!)
Worse, or maybe better…. Drew and Lisa have to figure out how to live with a change of faith, kids in middle school, loneliness, neighbors of so many beliefs, marriage staying connected while parenting, supporting each other’s hobbies, building a career, Lisa realizing she doesn’t have a career, AND ON AND ON.
This timeline gets confusing. After a while I have found out some things that feel horrible at the time only make you stronger in the end. And some things that feel so good and easy aren’t meant to be. Mid Life teaches you that you know way less than you thought you did. Looking back over 18 years, we’ve grown up together. We’ve changed and reconnected. It’s been navigating it all without letting go. It’s been realizing that this is work and it will always be work but we are committed to the work.
Happy 18th Anniversary to us.
For Better, for Worse and for all the stuff that falls in between!
*There are many HUGE life events that I didn’t include and many VERY important people who I didn’t mention. Because I tried to focus more on the things that impacted our relationship and immediate family life. I could spend all day writing a real timeline, but let’s face it- this one was already too long and boring. 🙂