The Photo Albums of Our Marriage

Our love, our marriage is like a series of photo albums that is kept through the years. 

The old albums show the beauty and arrogance of youth. We were young and lovely. Best of all, we knew everything. The smiles and laughter shine through every picture, every page. The trip to Egypt and Pakistan to get engaged, the wedding in July with 200 people from all over the world, the short shorts on our honeymoon. Even the faded photos can’t deny the sheer joy of it all.

Then came the kids. Blonde-haired and blue-eyed for the first two, clear evidence of the strength of your genetics. Then darker-haired with brown and hazel eyes for the next three – as though we were in competition. But we weren’t. They were so incredibly cute and bright and fun – a unit of littles all connected through blood and family. People would stop to watch our unit pour out of a little red Zastava car. We were like an Egyptian family that fit as many as possible into whatever vehicle we had. Those photo albums make us laugh. We laugh through super man pajamas and picnics at the Pyramids. And our kids? They were so perfect! Not like other kids.

But then there’s the photo album that we sometimes want to keep hidden. The photo album that feels heavy with pain. These were the hard years, the ones where we didn’t know we would make it. This album is sparse – no one wants to view photographs of the hard years. The camera is put away and all energy goes to survival. A few photos make it in, evidence of the strength of our commitment, of sheer grit and determination. The grace is that even those photos show sparks of joy, like life could throw us all kinds of awful, but we would defy the naysayers, we would make it. This album shows the stain of tears and the bruises on knees bent in prayer. But family still continued through beach trips to Sanibel Island and Harry Potter Halloween costumes; through prom glamour and community theater productions. Because you just can’t stop family. Because what God joined together, let no one separate.*

The albums continued through college trips and cross-country moves; through late night phone calls and times of crisis. We looked in envy at younger families with their perfect kids, because we remembered what it was like to know everything and to have perfect kids.  But even as we envied, we loved what our kids were becoming: Passionate young adults with hearts that beat hard for justice; young adults with creativity coming out of their pores.

And now we’re in a new album. The pictures now are less of us and our five, and more of – well, just us. This is the album where we learn how much fun we still have, the album where we begin to dream again of far off places, of making a difference during this time of our lives. In this album, the prayers for our children take on new urgency and meaning. They are creating their own albums, and we are desperate for those albums to last. 

Through all of these photo albums, we glimpse the mystery that is marriage and we shake our heads in awe. As we watch while all around us marriage is stripped of its mystery, boxed into a man-made definition where love is the main ingredient, we remember the photo album that is our marriage. We remember the Garden and we desperately look to the wedding feast of the lamb. A feast where our albums fade into insignificance as we celebrate that greatest mystery of all — the wedding that will last into eternity.

Happy 31st Anniversary to the man behind the blog!

*Matthew 10:9

16 thoughts on “The Photo Albums of Our Marriage

  1. This is great Marilyn! You guys are an inspiration! Through the hard times and the good times it’s so amazing to see a beautiful family such as yours!


  2. I’ve never heard anyone say that the dark years are picture-less….but it’s true. I’ve been meaning to write a post called, “Burnout Stole My Pictures!” ….Or “Reentry Refused to Photograph!” —Thanks for saying that. When I was putting together an album for Connor this spring I realized how few pictures we have from 2007-2010! Astoundingly few. It makes me sad in retrospect. But it’s like you said all my energy went to surviving those years. Had I taken photographs they would have all been in black and white.
    Happy Anniversary to you two!! Here’s to many more albums full of adventure and travel and meaning and purpose and crazy selfies! I love you both and can’t wait to see you!


  3. I hope our card got there on time! But just in case will say our Happy Anniversary here to our so special daughter and that favorite son-in-law. Love you both so much, and more love to your five plus two. I had to look back at the wedding pic in the 2013 post. Remember how the sky threatened all the morning to rain on your outdoor wedding, and then the sun came out? Your 200 guests would never have squeezed into that tiny chapel. And so many memories through these 31 years. May God’s mercy and grace continue to bless your marriage and your family.


    1. It didn’t – but that’s okay, because you know that I am notoriously late with cards! I do remember those clouds! And how the contact at the college said that even if it rained within 24 hours we couldn’t have it outside because the chairs would sink into the ground. And then it was clear and beautiful and not too hot. Thanks Mom, for these words!


  4. Marilyn – this is so very touching. Love it and love you all!! Our albums tell similar stories, but have never captured it as well as you have here. Happy Anniversary!!


  5. i remember that little red zastava full of gardners. whenever i saw you all in it, i’d say, “if you’ve got it, flaunt it!” having known you now for 25 or so, of those 31 years, i do appreciate this post, and love you!


    1. Heehee! I can’t believe we’ve known each other that long. I still remember meeting you at an AUC orientation event, the year after we arrived. You were pregnant with Marie, and then our relationship took on new meaning when I cut your bangs….! Love you so much.


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