Today Ryan and I have been married 15 years!!! This helped to spur this post that I’ve been wanting to write for awhile.

Ephesians 5:1-2
Follow God’s example in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like sweet perfume to him.
To my kids: These are the verses we chose as our wedding verses.  As I reflect on them, I hug and I embrace and cry with my 20-year old self for getting it SO right even as I was just barely an adult.  By God’s grace, covered in the prayers of our parents and their parents, this marriage has been on solid ground since its beginning.  My children, marriage is not easy.  Marriage takes commitment, sacrifice, and arduous work.  But, in following God’s example of loving well and living out this example first and foremost in your marriage, your union with your spouse will become the sweetest fragrance.  Then this love, poured into your lives from God himself, can flood your families and then bring Hope to this world which desperately needs it. 
Who you marry matters SO profoundly.  The best decision I ever made was to marry your father.  He is a man of integrity, ingenuity, insight, wisdom, and perseverance.  I fell in love with him because he was always optimistic, always up for fun and adventure and activity, he was confident, and he seemed wise beyond his years.  He doesn’t dally in “shoulds” or “should haves”.  He lives free of the box others place around their lives.  He comes up with wild ideas and I’ll admit they often make me nervous and up-tight.  But, oh how I appreciate your Dad’s ability to think and dream without inhibition.  Because I know in his wisdom, he will make good choices.  Furthermore, never have I doubted that your Dad would always be by my side.  Yes, we’ve had to talk about how to best support and love me.  But even in the chaos of twin babies and the turmoil of a cancer diagnosis, your Dad is firmly by my side.  That is what marriage is: committing to stay beside one another even when the lightness of life turns heavy. 
Fifteen years after saying our vows, I am more committed than ever to love my husband who God has graciously gifted me with.  Thank God for the blessings He keeps pouring into our family.  Our marriage is rooted in love, firstly to and from our gracious God, secondly to one another.  Nothing is going to tear apart the foundation of this family.  In proclamation, in the voice of Paul, “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from [God’s] love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t and the demons can’t.  Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away.  Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And if God’s love is in this marriage and in this family, I am confident it will stand firm.  It will stand firm!
So, when did this family start? I am so happy to share the story with you.
(I’ve been wanting to write some of these details down, I don’t want them to get lost, and our anniversary feels so very fitting a time to make record.)
The Pursuit
It was fall 1999.  I did not want a boyfriend.  I was just finished high school and had moved to Saskatoonfor University.  I was content being single and focusing on my studies.  Somehow, Ryan managed to get my interest.  In fact, well into our relationship he later told me that he knew he would win me over.  While I was turned off from his cockiness when I learned this and appalled because he certainly would NOT have won me over had I known this; his confidence is truly one of his strengths which I admire, now.  The first time I spent time alone with Ryan, he invited me to go for a run with him.  It was perfect, but I was nervous.  Slowly we started spending more time together, usually along with our mutual friends.  By Christmas, though, I really was getting antsy for this guy to make “us” official.  Finally, the night before I left Saskatoonto go home to Swift Current for Christmas break, he asked me to be his girlfriend. 
Our engagement.
Ryan and I were at family camp together, must have been the summer of 2001.  We went for a dirt-bike ride to a spot along the side of the lake that has a clearing.  We stood there enjoying the beauty and Ryan said to me, “I think we should get married.” My reply was simple, “Me too.”  (I was confident in my response because six months into our relationship, the summer of 2000, I did an assessment.  I decided that I needed to evaluate what I wanted out of life and to determine if Ryan fit into this plan.  At this point, it was either move on with life or invest fully in our relationship.  The best choice was clear, and indeed it is the best choice I’ve made!)  Very shortly after our “pre-engagement” we had dinner at Mom & Dad Rostek’s along with my parents, since they were out visiting.  It was here that we stated our intentions to get married and received the blessings of both our parents to do so.  Dad Rostek booked Oshkidee, because I knew that was exactly where I wanted to get married: it was the perfect place.  And later that summer, Ryan officially proposed when we were out in Jasper.  He had a “hidden song” he had put on the burned CD we were listening to.  It was the guitar music he had written and recorded for the proposal song.  He sang his proposal to me one evening when we were out for a drive after going to the hot springs.      
Our wedding day
I awoke that morning, June 22, 2002, got my journal and my bible and headed to my favorite place of all time (to this day still): the boat dock at Camp Oshkidee.  It was probably around 7AM and it was perfect as always: a prisitine lake before me with loons calling, a serene stillness and the sun warming my back and I lay on my stomach, propped on my elbows, chai tea by my side.  I don’t know what I journalled, I suppose I could hunt out that journal in my stack in storage, but I don’t think it really matters, because I can feel the desire I had for my future with this young man completely unaware of what the hardships of marriage look like, but also completely committed to bring God into this marriage and to love Ryan for as many days as I am blessed to call him husband.
The whole day was absolutely incredible.  It was my wedding day and I had hopes for it to be grand.  It was.  That morning, Ryan and I went waterskiing.  I remember being nervous that I wouldn’t get up, because I wanted a great ski for such a great day.  It was a great ski.  I am still thrilled that I got to go waterskiing with Ryan on my wedding day.  This puts a huge smile on my face and in my heart.             
I showered and Ryan’s aunt Sandra set my hair in rollers.  Guests started to arrive to the camp and I was able to visit with many of them, my hair in rollers still, as we were slowly getting ready.  My auntie Anne did my makeup on the deck of the lodge, while my maids of honor (my sister, Carmen, and friend Rahimay) also did their makeup there.  It was relaxed and I was relaxed. 
It was time to get dressed so Carmen, Rahimay, Mom and I headed to our room in the upper lodge to get ready.  Ryan and the guys were staying right next door to us and I remember hearing at this point (the lodge is NOT soundproof at all) the guys starting to shower.  Startingto shower.  But they did still make it to the Chalet for the ceremony before us. And little did I know that some of the guys (Ryan’s ushers) had just been out on the boat and flipped it so my Father-in-law had to rescue them!
I remember my Dad coming to join us before the ceremony and when he saw me, dressed as the bride, he said, “That’s my girl.”  Those words embody so much meaning: I love you, I’m proud of you, you’re beautiful.  As a teenager I really didn’t understand my Dad, nor the demands his health-struggles placed on him.    It was Father’s Day one week prior to my wedding.  On that Father’s Day I took my Dad to the park for Ice cream and read him a letter I had written him apologizing for my lack of respect over the years.  I am so glad I had the courage to open my heart to my Dad that day, to reconcile the strain in our relationship, and to go back to simply being “his girl” for my wedding day. (PS. Dad, I’ll always be your girl. Always.)   And what a beautiful speech he presented me with at my reception.  My Dad does not like public speaking; but he took the time to write out his speech and took the time he needed to present it to me at my reception.  I don’t remember the details other than a general “I am proud of you” sentiment and it meant SO much to me that Dad brought Mrs. Peters into my wedding day, by speaking of her in his speech. (Mrs. Peters was the blind lady I read to on Monday nights through out high school who became a mentoring friend/Grandma and so much more to me.  She passed away about one year before our wedding.)  
I loved my wedding.  I remember only little tidbits of the ceremony, which I’ll share here. I remember that it was getting a bit late and my Auntie Faith (her husband, my Uncle Randall was marrying us) came stating it was time for the bride to come.  So, in true Cheryl form I thus became hurried to get there and rushed ahead of my attendants and parents over to the chalet (there’s a picture somewhere showing me walking ahead of everyone else over to the chalet, that is why.)  I remember wishing I had a longer aisle to walk down and that it was very important not to see Ryan before walking down the aisle.  I remember being excited to be at the alter with Ryan, but mostly that I was thinking about how warm I felt up there and that my armpits were starting to sweat and I started holding my elbows further and further away from my body as I held my bouquet to try to prevent my pits from starting to drip.  I remember Grandpa Ernie Rostek praying a blessing prayer over our marriage during the ceremony.  (Likewise, I remember my Grandpa Krahn speaking words of blessing to me and for my marriage, despite dementia setting in, prior to the ceremony.)  I remember Uncle Randall praying that our marriage be blessed with children (he did ask prior to the ceremony if we wanted to have children; but I admit, that I have thought about this prayer and the fact that we have twins!). 
Between the ceremony and the reception guests relaxed and swam while Ryan and I had hours of pictures taken (which I loved!)  We served milk chocolate chip cookies (we had tried to get Chip-Its to somehow sponsor this through sharing our story- to no avail). These are the cookies which I loved to make for Ryan. 
At our reception I appreciated Auntie Shelley speaking on behalf of Grandpa Braun, who had passed away a couple weeks prior.  She spoke approving words of how Grandpa was proud Ryan had chosen a girl from Swift Current.  These words meant a lot because  grandparents mean a lot. (And I have to add it here because it is a beautiful expression of true love: until she died Grandma spoke often of how she missed Bill – Grandpa- and near the end of her life she longed to go to heaven to be again with her Bill.  Shelley was with her when she passed away and she says Grandma was calling to Bill as she slipped from this world to the heavenly.  What an example of beautiful love.)
After dinner, we served our wedding cake to our guests.  It was lovely to greet each one of them and I loved that I knew everyone at this party! (I didn’t have to worry about small talk, I could just have a lovely chat with anyone there).  I remember after the reception our violinist, Alison, serenading us on the dock.  That was spectacular. 
As the evening pressed on we set off in Ryan’s red ’83 tercel wagon to begin the rest of our story together.  And what a story it’s been!  Fifteen years later and the best of life keeps on coming.

I love you Ryan.  Happy Anniversary.