On August 12, 2014, Mark and I will be celebrating 25 years of marriage. In many ways the years have flown. We live a busy life and the easiness of our relationship makes the days go by quickly. In many others ways, our life has been such a challenge and filled with much struggle. I look back amazed at what we have endured and what we have accomplished together. Right now we are in a good phase of life. There is nothing terribly tough going on, not that our life is ever easy, but over the years I have learned perspective. We are not in a medical crisis of any kind, those rock our world the most. For the most part, all of our family members are happy in where we are right now in life. There are always struggles, we have struggled much financially since Teale was born. At first it was her medical expenses. Then as she aged, we needed to shell out a lot of money to help with her care, so we could continue running our in home daycare together. At forty something, we had to make a career change because of Teale's needs. It became apparent that her mental illnesses were too much of a risk for Mark and I to continue working our in home daycare together. Teale was explosive and unpredictable, her behavior was effecting our ability to care for other children. We sent Mark back to college and started over. Those years of Mark back in college hit us hard financially. Mark worked part time for our local school district in special education, but the pay was pitiful. The benefits and flexibility were the only reasons Mark took the job. Our family would have health insurance during those years he was in college at night and Mark would be available to help with Teale's care after school and on school breaks. I cared for fewer kids, as regulations let me, and worked several odd jobs but our actual income took a nose dive that we are still trying to recover from. Not to mention how difficult those years were on Mark and I mentally. Both of us working jobs during the day meant we were working apart from each other for the first time in our marriage. Mark would be in college at night and also doing scads of homework in his accelerated program to finish the second two years of the associates degree that he came into our marriage with. I had the kids, Beau's busy sports schedule, Teale's behaviors and her involved therapy and medical schedule, plus our sweet toddler Gwennie to care for. Honestly, I often wonder how we got through those years. My Mom died during that time in our life also, causing me to feel a void in my life that was difficult to recover from. My Mom was proud of Mark for going back to college but she would never see him receive his diploma. Ironically, Mark's graduation ceremony was held on my Mom's first Birthday after she passed, it was difficult for me to not have her here with us to celebrate. Our financial life now is still a huge struggle because of the combinations of many unfortunate circumstances and our past. Mark works for a not for profit, enough said? Cost of living is just so much more difficult to keep up with, gas and food prices are always on the rise. Health insurance costs are impossible for an average family to pay and neither of our employees offer family benefits at a reasonable cost. Without a college degree, I'm not marketable, even though I have many life experiences that have taught me far more than any university could have. Also, the little work I do get, is not much because Teale needs me home after school and on school breaks. Employers do not want a parent who puts their children first. Teale can not be put in just any daycare situation. On top of that, sitters who would be willing to care for her, would actually be making more income than I would for working outside the home. So financially, we are stuck. Someday I hope our financial security will improve, but honestly, I can only see it getting better with winning the lottery! So, all that being said, I am a person who believes love is far more important than money. Our wealth defiantly far exceeds many when it comes to love. As I said, Mark and my relationship is easy. I know we work at taking care of each other and we try hard to not take the easiness of our marriage for granted. Our challenges have bonded us, they have made us stronger and have taught us that together, we are a good team. With our 25th Wedding Anniversary coming up, I have found myself reflecting on our life together. Would I marry Mark again, knowing what difficulties we would live together? Would he marry me, knowing the same? Did we get thrown together at such a young age because our life was meant to be spent together learning the important lessons we have learned? The questions haunt me at times. I contemplate our future and how will we get through the many years ahead of us, without the means we will need financially. I lean heavily on the premiss that it will all work out, mostly because I have to believe that. Having a secure marriage is a blessing, knowing I am loved and love my husband deeply far outweighs the losses we have endured. But as 25 years approaches, I can't help but reflect on our simple Wedding. We were young and our Mothers did not contribute financially. Neither of us believed in needing much grander, marriage was not about a big Wedding to Mark or I, it was the marriage and the love we shared that was important. I had said from the very beginning that I would like to have a renewal of our Wedding vows on our 25th Anniversary. I know I thought we would be in a better place financially by now and we might have a more grand renewal of vows than the picnic style Wedding reception we had as a young couple. I even thought we might take a second honeymoon, maybe a pampered vacation somewhere? Our original honeymoon, which was great fun, was a combination of camping and staying in Bed and Breakfast Inns across New England. We completely flew by the seat of our pants, going wherever our hearts desired and staying where the wind took us. There was no plan, just Mark and I on the open roads in my small Toyota Corolla stuffed with camping equipment and a week off of work. If we tried to repeat our trip, I don't think we could. Too many years have past and too much uncertainty of where we were. I realize the dreams of a more grand renewal and a pampered vacation are no longer on the table for our celebration this Summer. I've learned much about plans being derailed in our life together. We were married in the Catholic Church, because at the time, that was where my heart was. Mark had no preference in religion, as he was not actively involved in any church at the time. Shortly after our Wedding I offered to Mark that I would be willing to attend the church he was raised in, if he was willing to go with me? He accepted my offer and soon we became members of Mountain Rise United Church of Christ. For me the change was comfortable, as my dearest Grandmother had taken me to her UCC church much of my life. We soon joined the church officially and have been with them ever since. Mostly because of Teale, it has been difficult to attend church regularly over the past several years, but our hearts are still with MRUCC. For this reason, it would mean a great deal to me to have our renewal of vows with the church family that has supported Mark and I throughout our marriage. So the lessons I've learned are not about life working out perfectly, there has been much pain and loss in our 25 years together. We have grown in our love and we have remained hopeful and loyal to each other. I believe in us and that is the bottom line. So this Summer I would like to share our love once again with those who have supported us throughout this journey. August 12th, 2014, it may not be grand, but I guarantee, it will be special.