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Happy Camper

March 11, 2009

The WifeIt wasn’t that long ago, or so it seems, that I was walking down the stairs at a conference in Washington, DC.  On the landing I met two people and we struck up an engaging conversation.  He was smart and insightful, she was very cute, and quite charming.  He wasn’t my type, and I thought she was taken – so I moved on.  Besides, I wasn’t in a place where I was “looking.

Fast forward a few months and I’m in SW Michigan checking out a grad school.  I run into this beautiful woman again, but since I thought she was unavailable, I hadn’t tried to remember her name.  Imagine my embarrassment and chagrin, when she asked if I remembered her.  I didn’t forget this unforgettable woman, I just didn’t remember her name – Jennifer.

Several months later, after I’d sold all my stuff and moved to Michigan, Jennifer and I became friends.  It helped that she wasn’t available – and it helped that I was on a relationship fast.  Taking time to get my head, my heart, and my spirit in order – while advancing my education.  It wasn’t long before Jennifer became available.  But fortunately for us, I was still abstaining from dating.

A year later, a mutual friend suggested that Jennifer and I would make a great couple.  Besides, she offered, you’re already good friends.  That was all the encouragement I needed.  A week later, we had our first date.  We shared a 2 fer one McDonald’s coupon during her short lunch break.  We drove out to the shores of Lake Michigan and there on that sunny, Spring day in April, I shared with Jennifer that I was done with recreational dating.  If we were going to date, I said, it would be with the understanding of “healthy” and intentional courtship.

And though this was a bit scary for both of us, we moved forward.  Now today, we celebrate eight years of marriage!

I never really understood why people were so eager for me (or other singles) to get married.  It isn’t always roses and romance.  There is a cost to marriage.  Surrender, compromise, humility, and disappointments are all part of the deal.  Companionship, contentment, cooperation, and celebration are the rewards.  I was willing to pay the price, for the growth of my own character.  I am a better person having shared the last eight years with this saint of a woman.

I know why I stay in the game, sometimes I’m not sure why she keeps putting up with my crap.  But as she shows patience and perseverance, I am more determined than ever to repay her love with even more love.  Sometimes, when everything is quiet and I’m left with my thoughts, a burning appreciation and devotion wells up from my heart – I get teary thinking about the joy this woman brings into my life.

My goal, my drive, is to provide more than just a home and comfortable living.  I want what is best for her.  I want her to thrive and grow, to become the woman God created her to be.  To do this, I have to let go of my own expectations, my own agenda, and my own selfish motives.  Instead, I am learning to create shared expectations, a shared agenda, and shared goals.

The icing on the cake for all of this is our children.  I never knew how cool it would be to be a Dad.  I don’t think I ever really knew what love was, until my kids were born.  I’m in the process of learning how to better express my love, and in healthier ways.  I also know that my wife, my beautiful, loving partner – the mother of our kids – is the reason I’m living the dream!

Jennifer, though words are inadequate, I love you with a burning love, from inside my soul.  Thank you for being the woman you are.  Thank you for being here, now, with me.  And thank you for being such a terrific Mom!  You are incredible!!

I’m one happy camper!

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3 Comments
  1. Jennifer permalink
    March 11, 2009 11:41 am

    I love you, too, Gary! Thank you for your loving words and memories. I remember meeting you for the first time and thinking, “This guy is cool!” I’m thankful I have gotten to find out! Each year keeps getting better and better!!

  2. Jeff Campbell permalink
    March 11, 2009 12:33 pm

    Great post Gary, sounds like you and Jennifer have a great thing going, love the way you met, almost like it was destiny eh? 🙂

    • March 11, 2009 4:58 pm

      It’s funny, I taped a fortune cookie saying to my dash right before I met Jennifer: “Do not depart from the path set for you by destiny.” It’s been there for just over 10 years.

      I do believe there was an intelligent design in our being together.

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