Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Case in Point

July 1, 1995
Twenty-five years ago today, July 1, 1995, Kraig and I got married. We looked at each other this morning and said, “A quarter of a century? Really?”

When we sat down to breakfast this morning, I thought I’d get nostalgic. 

“Someday,” I said to Kraig and the kids, “we should pull out the DVD of our wedding and watch it.” 

“You have a recording?” the kids asked, jaws dropped.

“Of course!” Then I paused. “Well, yes, there’s a video recording, and I’m pretty sure we’ve got it on DVD….”

“Yep, that was before digital recording,” Kraig said. “It was analog.”

“What’s the difference between digital and analog?” Clare asked.

That was all it took to desert nostalgia. For the rest of breakfast we had an in-depth discussion and analysis of how digital recording works vs. analog. Kraig, of course, did most of the technical breakdown. I added a few examples (“This is why vinyl recordings are becoming more popular again—seamless sound.”), but for the most part I listened and mentally sat back and pondered how I could translate this breakfast discussion into a blogpost celebrating Kraig and my twenty-five years of marriage. It was a perfect example of one of the things I love about being married to Kraig, but in a way it’s a picture of our married life—lots of unexpected twists.

When Kraig and I married, we had plans—naturally! We were missionary kids who had loved that experience, and we wanted to go overseas ourselves. Kraig wanted to teach overseas and was in the process of getting his degree in civil engineering. I had a degree in secondary education and planned to get a master’s in teaching English to speakers of other languages. For the first years of our marriage we worked on those degrees, with Kraig moving into a master’s and then a doctorate. I taught secondary education for a few years, and then tutored international professionals in the Detroit area.

About five years into married life we thought it’d be great to start having kids. Despite experiencing plenty of shifts in our lives growing up, I think this was the first time we came face-to-face with the truth that life doesn’t always go the way you plan.  We had two miscarriages in 2001, and suddenly parenthood took on a greater significance. We realized we didn’t just want to have kids, we wanted to be parents and to raise kids and create a family. When we got pregnant with Keren in 2002, we were thrilled…only to have our world shaken again when we learned prenatally that she might not survive birth. But God had prepared us. Her life had significance and worth it might not have had if we hadn’t miscarried before. Keren was born with Trisomy 18, but she was ours, and God had given her to us for as long as he planned, and that was all that mattered. 

Summer 2008
With Keren in our life and all of the doctors, therapists, and special education needs her life required, our life-plan changed. We no longer planned to head overseas. My life shifted into being a mom, even more-so when Clare and Evie joined our family in the following years. Kraig completed his doctorate, and did some teaching locally, but moved into a consulting firm. He saw the need to get practical experience in his field; the health insurance package didn’t hurt, either. We grew together, learned together. We watched how our family, church, and school friends came alongside us and loved all of us. As we lived with Keren and saw her love us, we discovered new depths to what God means by unconditional love. 

And then January 28, 2009 dawned, and Keren left us, and our world shifted again. In the midst of our grief, God gave us joy. I was about thirteen weeks along with Jon when Keren died, and my doctor, looking at that early ultrasound, predicted he was a boy. It was as if God said, “I’m not replacing Keren—she will always be unique in your lives. I am giving you something new.” Again family and friends surrounded us and loved us. We moved with the shifting, grieved, and laughed, and changed.

With Keren’s death, Kraig and I were faced with another question: Did this mean we should look at the possibility of going overseas again? It was a hard question, because in some ways it was as if we were setting aside our life that we’d had with Keren. It’s extremely strange to be a parent of a special needs child for six-and-a-half years and then suddenly have a “regular” family with no outside indication that we’d ever been different. By leaving our home and roots in Michigan, we left everyone who had known Keren and us when we had her. That was a tough choice.

Yet God opened the doors, and in July of 2014 we stepped off the plane with our family in Guadalajara, Mexico, into a new life and a whole new career for Kraig. The initial one-year visiting professor contract was extended to two, with hope of more years. Our first year was difficult, to say the least. I’ve written about some of that before—Kraig was exhausted with new work, the kids struggled with culture shock and change, and I struggled with, well, wanting to love what we were experiencing, but actually hating much of it. By the second year, though, we found our stride and as friendships grew and work life and home life settled, we looked forward to a longer time…only for the university to upend its hiring plan and structure, which meant it was impossible for us to continue there….

What we knew clearly by the end of those two years was that Kraig wanted to continue teaching. What we didn’t know was where. Would we move to another country? Would we be back in the United States? It was fascinating to watch as God opened the doors for Kraig to teach at LeTourneau, and in the fall of 2016 we settled into life in Longview, Texas. 

I remember our second year here we got some estimates for new windows in our home. One of the assessors asked, “So, you’re planning on living here for a long time?” I cocked my head, puzzling how to answer. We needed new windows. How was this a decision that meant we’d be here longterm? I liked being here. All of us settled into life in East Texas extremely smoothly. I knew I didn’t want to leave. 

But in the years Kraig and I have been married, and in my life in general, being settled in one place has never been the key to our happiness and security. We haven’t even celebrated life events like anniversaries in particularly special ways—anniversaries typically fit around other momentous events. 
On our tenth anniversary we stayed close to home—we had Keren and expected Clare any day.  
On our fifteenth we chose shingles for our new roof. 
On our twentieth anniversary we left Mexico and headed to Michigan for the summer.  
This year, our 25th, we were supposed to go on a cruise to the Baltic with my parents and sisters to celebrate my parents’ 50th, and our 25th and my sister and her husband’s 20th by default. Instead, thanks to the coronavirus, we headed to a quiet family cabin in Pennsylvania to be together. 
To say the least, life hasn’t gone as planned. Everything from children, to career changes, to breakfast conversations has taken detours we haven’t expected. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ll never be fond of change or dramatic, life-changing events, yet I can look forward to the years God has in store for Kraig and me and our family. I will trust God with his plan because every time I look back I can see he has been with us and has helped us grow in him, which is what we want most. 

And I will say, as I said to the window assessor in answer to his question about our living here longterm: “As the Lord wills!”

March 2020


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! Happy anniversary dear friend.

  2. Loren and Craig, I have known you since the day Keren was born. I stood along side her and watched the dynamics unfold while life and death was knocking at your door. I watched from afar as you cared for her with perfect love and compassion. I observed with my fingers literally crossed as your family grew and your dreams unfolded. Thank you for sharing with me. It is a great honor to know you both. Congratulations on your anniversary. What a match made in heaven! Love Ruthann