Matt moved to Alma, GA with his parents when we were in the third grade, so I’m guessing he was around eight years old..it was a small town and a small school, so everyone knew everyone. Throughout the years, his mom was a PE teacher for me, his dad, a principal and football coach, and Matt…he was a friend. My brother played recreation league and high school baseball, as did my high school boyfriend, so I was at every game I could be, and practically watched Matt grow up playing baseball and cheering for him. He was fun to watch, I remember a very good player…and he was somebody you couldn’t help but like. Just an all-around good guy.
His family moved the end of our junior year, and for eight years, I would occasionally hear his family’s name about where they were, or what they were up to, but we had no contact. Then, Valentine’s Day 2004, that all changed when fate would deal a different hand. I’ve written before about our love story, so I won’t bore you in this post about all those details on how it came to be…I will, however post another link at the bottom…but everyone was in the right place at the right time, and within just a few weeks, I knew I needed to be wherever Matt was. That place ended up being Mars Hill, NC - I moved in May and we were married December 19, 2004, and welcomed our first baby September 2005 while I was still in graduate school at Emory. Almost four years later we welcomed our caboose, and now had three babies under the age of 4 with a sweet girl smushed between two bouncing boys.
Today, I sit here…14 years married, and having known this man for around 33 years…seems crazy and so normal all at the same time. I think since I knew Matt and his family growing up, that it made our relationship just so comfortable…in my mind, God had laid all of that groundwork years before. Sometimes it seems like only days, and sometimes it feels like F.O.R.E.V.E.R. that we’ve been married…because…that’s life.
I always wanted to be married and have kids…I just never realized there would be days that would be so dang hard…magazines and, now social media, makes it all look pretty much like a storybook. I’m one of the lucky ones, and am beyond thankful that Matt breezed into my life at a time that I couldn’t have needed him more, but we’ve definitely had our share of difficult times, and there have been moments..days…and at one time weeks that I thought divorce might win….so very happy it did not. With every struggle, we came out stronger…more appreciation and more understanding for each other, and today, I’m so proud to have a partner as we navigate life.
A few years ago, I saw a craft that I just had to make…it’s a shadow box with the words “Jingle All the Way” on the front. Inside, there are jingle bells of different colors. I guess each family can make up what they want their jingle bells to stand for…ours has silver bells for each year of marriage, red jingle bells for each child we have, and a special pink one for our “Emily” that we never knew by Effie’s special request. One day, if and when we have grand-babies, I will represent those blessings with green jingle bursts of color. In our box, we have big and small jingle bells…and just like the bells, some years for us were bigger than others…some were more broken than others…some we were glad to have survived…some years, well…I could’ve shoved that jingle bell up his nose….but this year I’m just so thankful for this man and this life we get to live.
Today, I will add a jingle bell, and we will keep jingling…some years that jingle is louder than others, some years, it’s more peaceful than others, but the important thing is that we keep on jingling together, even if it’s not all the way, all the time…we will keep working at it. Two imperfect people…perfect for each other.
Merry Christmas to you all!
Here’s a link too, to the story on how we actually met…Effie asks me to tell her this story at least once a month…I hope she always loves to hear it.