16 years ago today, my little, six year old self woke up, filled with excitement as I anticipated the wedding of my parents. My Mimi & Mama had worked hard the night before, weaving many tiny braids into my long, Native American hair so that it would be wavy for the next day’s events.
We let the braids loose, and I felt so thrilled to be my mama’s maid of honor as I slipped on my handmade dress and put on my gorgeous headband. At the time, I don’t know if I was the world’s best maid of honor. My nerves kicked in as mama and I were cramped into the little, tiny bride’s room at the church, waiting to walk down the aisle. I didn’t love attention, and became a bit anxious and light headed about my big moment. I wanted to make my mama proud, and especially make my new dad proud of me.
With a deep breath, I swallowed those nerves and began my walk. My face was filled with seriousness and intention. I was on a mission, and probably didn’t stop to smile at any of the guests. This girl was determined to be the best maid of honor ever.
I’ll never forget listening to my parents say their vows. My big brown eyes staring up with wonder at the man who was choosing to become my father. He was always my mom’s best friend, and we knew him well as the incredible, strong, superhero that would bring groceries, ice-cream, and delicious treats to our little home.
After the ceremony, we went to the Strawberry Mansion for the reception. My eyes were locked on that wedding cake. Kids do their best to be appropriate, respectful, and quiet during these long days filled with events, but I was done. I couldn’t wait any longer. It was time for me to get my cake.
I’ll never forget the first time I was disciplined by my dad. I stuck my little finger right into the frosting of my parents’ wedding cake! He scolded me and expressed how truly disappointed he was in my poor decision that was driven by my impatience and sugar addiction. As funny as it might seem, I was so happy when he disciplined me. Because in that moment, I realized that he was my father.
Today is my parents 16th wedding anniversary, and this day will always be one of my favorites. July 26th will always be remembered as the day I got a dad, the day someone chose to love me forever, and the day I finally felt safe again.
My dad always told my mom that the best part of the deal was getting the kids. His love for all of us has truly changed our lives, and I am so thankful for him.
My parents have had to really live out those vows and prove that they are more than words. They have stayed together through sickness, loss, pain, grief, debt, countless moves, problems, and numerous difficult circumstances. I am so proud of them, especially in the past year, as I have watched them go through transition and choose to be joyful, loving, and faithful.
We live in a culture where it is very common for people to give up on love. Unconditional love isn’t something that many people believe in or fight for. My parents changed my life by making the decision to stay together through everything.
Happy Anniversary, Mama & Dad. Thank you for changing my life for the better by choosing to love when it’s difficult, choosing to stay together when it’s hard, and choosing to have faith when all feels hopeless. God is going to bless you abundantly in the next 16 years of your marriage.