I should probably start at the beginning and share a little bit about Matt and I that will help explain how some traditions in our family began. It is actually pretty fun to reminisce about the beginning of our love story.
Matt is a Minnesota boy who grew up and was greatly influenced in his faith through his years going to and working a t Camp Shamineau. He felt the Lord calling him into ministry while he worked there as a teenager. So this Minnesota boy headed of to Oak Hills Bible College to become a youth pastor.
One year later this Illinois girl who thought she was a wilderness type girl who wanted to work in full time camp ministry also headed off to the great north to oak Hills Bible college as well. It wasn't till after they were married that she realized she is not the campy type of girl:)-but the Lord worked with her plans and changed her mind to His plans thankfully!
This Illinois girl and Minnesotan boy met before the first week of school even began and ended up happily in the same bunch of friends. Both of us were dating other people when we met and that became a blessing in that we formed a very fun and relaxed friendship with no distractions or temptations that come with dating. By March of that school year, we had both ended our previous relationships, and our friendship had become pretty close:)- It is pretty funny how you can be telling your friend not to worry, the Lord will provide the right girl at the right time, and it ends up being YOU! And As I write this, I laugh, because -like that was hard to see coming!
One night after getting back to the dorms in early April, i was absolutely compelled to finally speak what my heart was screaming! So , on a little piece of paper, i scribbled -I can't help but to love you. And ran out to meet him in the court yard minutes before curfew. He said , even before reading the note, he could sense it in my hug that night. And that is were it began. Our relationship began after we had fallen in love. And here is the part that almost makes me cry, two weeks later we picked out and put on layaway, our wedding rings! I so love this boy! It was an absolutely magical fairy tale time.
I came back home for one last summer, I took my mom to a park for dinner one night after work and told her Matt and I were planning to get married, and as calmly as you can imagine, she said, "I Know" She had just sensed the difference in me and how Matt treated me. You have to understand, I was 19-and mom had only briefly met him when he was dating my best friend from school!(she still is my souls most precious friend). And as many of you have heard matt say when he preaches, asking my dad for my hand in marriage was a little too easy. My dad said he was going o ask Matt to marry me,if matt hadn't asked. :)
I flew up to MN and stayed at camp for a week to visit Matt, and that is the week he proposed. We were married just 11 months after we had begun dating, And five kids later, 13 years later, we are more in love than ever-he is my very best friend and love.
Now, after that lengthy story, here is the point. While Matt and I were away for the three months right after we had begun dating, we wrote every day faithfully, sometimes twice a day/ Those letters speak our story. Those letters kept us faithful and close. Sharing thoughts in the written form sometimes express things that cannot be expressed by interaction or speech. Many of those letters are now in a book a made for Matt early in our marriage. And others are carefully bundled to pass on to our children some day who we hope and pray will have faithful, passionate, God centered relationships. So letters are important in our family,and many times Matt is better than I am in writing. But when we began serving in youth ministry and the trips started that i was unable to go on once our family began, i started a tradition. Awhile before a trip i would begin writing a letter for each day he was gone. I would date them, maybe put in some goodies, wirte scripture down, a poem, or just my thoughts and hide them in a bundle in his suitcase before he left. Let me just say, I have missed trips, and instead have written a journal for him while he is gone.
This Ecuador trip thathe is on, I did something a little different. I actually photocopied the journals I have written on past trips and tied them up for him to take with. And the kids are the ones who wrote letters for each of the days while he is gone. I was so touched or amused by some of them, that I had to copy them to share.
Here is Joslyn's interpretation of having to say goodbye to Daddy
Here is Bell's picture to matt, I believe that is her on his shoulders.
This next one is a letter from Madison.
And the next two are letters from Cole.
The letters on our frig are the letters Matt left on all of our pillows the morning he left for Ecuador.
These are always a reminder to me how just a few minutes taken to share your love or gratitude for someone, can go a very long way! I think how much I love my letters from Matt and how much they have strengthened our marriage, and yet, the greatest love letter written to me, I neglect to read sometimes-God's word, the Bible, His love letter to us! In Matt's letter to me, he encouraged me to really spend my time reading that love letter! Because that is what will sustain me through this time. So true.