For our 20th anniversary, Tony and I decided to head off to Gatlinburg and visit the Smoky Mountains for a few days. Tony’s family used to visit there every summer when Tony was growing up so Gatlinburg holds a pretty special place in his heart. Tony and I had been to Gatlinburg three times over the years – once before kids, once when we only had one, and then the last time was eight years ago with all three boys.
It kind of made the trip even more sentimental as we reminisced over things we had seen and done on our previous trips together and marveled at how quickly twenty years has passed.
After all these years, he’s still my best friend and I love him even more each day. Not once on our trip, did we ever get bored. We just had the best, most relaxing time, just hanging out together.
And I think a part of what makes 20 years so special is how we’ve shared our lives together for so long now. It really is a beautiful mystery how God can take two separate lives and weave them together in a unique tapestry. While we were on our trip, we spent a lot of time being reminded of friends and family. We would be amazed at the beautiful scenery and would think of a friend who we knew would take a zillion pictures there. Or we would walk past an arcade and think of how our boys and some of their friends would love it. Although this getaway was just for the two of us, it was funny just how much of it we spent thinking of friends and family.
It was a great time for counting our blessings, that’s for sure.
One really neat blessing was that when we drove through Cade’s Cove, we actually saw SEVEN black bears. It was simply amazing. I had been praying to just see ONE, but when we saw the first one, there were actually THREE in the tree – a mama bear with two babies. I was just using my iPhone as a camera so you can’t even see the bears in the pic, but I promise they WERE there!
Right after that we saw another bear in a tree, a mama bear and baby walking in the trees, and then the last one was a young bear walking all alone. You can kind of see him in this picture.
I can’t even tell you how much fun I had driving around with this guy and just admiring God’s creation. It was such a fabulous trip.
This is the first year that we’ve been able to getaway on a 5 day trip like this, but we are SO thankful that we could do it. We reminisced over our first anniversary that we spent with our dogs and both sets of our parents at my parents’ lake house. We remembered a lot of years where we weren’t able to celebrate much. And we laughed about the past few years of going to different bed & breakfasts and one quick camping trip.
There’s a lot of memories and shared history in 20 years and I’m so, so glad that I have Tony to share it all with. One of my friends blogged about her husband the other day and I so appreciated what she said about what her husband’s love and care means to her.
“This one man has found it in himself to shower the love of Jesus Christ upon me in ways which are sometimes a mystery. I know God here in this place. I know His love. It has to be the way Christ loves us, His bride, because it is so good.”
Tony represents that to me too. When I first came to know Christ, what truly drew me was His unconditional love – how He could love me even when I was so undeserving. And I think of how Tony walks a little slower with me these days because of the pain I battle. I think of the things he picks up so I won’t have to bend over. I think of how he is so quick to give me an arm to steady myself and how our boys do that even now without thinking. I think of how he’s never grumbled over the amount of money we spend on prescriptions or supplements, doctors’ visits or tests. Surely he’d rather have that money to spend on other things, but yet, he never begrudges any of it. I think of how he tenderly sympathizes with me when I reach a breaking point time and time again, but he still hangs in there with me.
I was 19 and he was 21 when we married. Although we loved each other like crazy, I can honestly say that the love we had for each other back then was just a drop in the bucket to how we love each other now. There’s something about sharing a life together that just makes things more rich.
I’ve always loved that saying by Robert Browning, “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.“
Although I never thought I could love Tony Carter more than I did on the day that I married him, I realize now how the best truly does lie ahead because of how we will go through it together – cherishing memories, giving thanks to God, loving each other, and trusting God.
And taking silly photos too!