7 year anniversary

Today John and I celebrate seven years of marriage! I know it is cliché to say but I truly love my husband more today than on the day we got married. We certainly had no idea the heights of joy or the depths of sorrow that were waiting for us in these first seven years of marriage, but there is no person on earth I would rather walk beside through it all. Our first seven years: 


Two weddings! The short version of our "two weddings" story is that we needed to get married to start my immigration process (I'm Canadian), but my mom was recovering from a coma/severe respiratory illness in the hospital; we couldn't imagine our wedding without her, so we first got married in the hospital! Six months later we renewed our vows with all our family and friends present.

Hospital wedding (January 2, 2008):

Vow Renewal:


After a long, long, long 15 months of living apart from my husband (I was in Ontario and he was in Michigan), I finally got my green card and immigrated to the US! We took this picture in Montreal after my final visa interview. Approved!

Another noteworthy event for us in 2009 was John's pastoral internship. He was in his last year of seminary and we spent 10 weeks together in Florida while he interned at a church. It was stinking HOT in Florida in the summer, but we absolutely loved it. Financially this was the hardest time of our marriage as we had absolutely no money (two full time students living on John's part time waiter income), but also one of the best times of our marriage! We spent a lot of time at the beach, relishing the fact that we were finally TOGETHER!


The highlight from this year was obvious: John graduated from seminary! He also got his first job as a pastor.

We didn't know it at the time, but another huge event in our lives happened in 2010. On June 7- halfway around the world in Russia- our son was being born! Incredibly, John and I have a couple picture from this day because we went on a picnic in a park. They are not great pictures, but I will always cherish them because of what they mean.


In 2011 I followed in John's footsteps and graduated from seminary myself! This was a bittersweet day for me because we had been trying to conceive for about nine months and I still wasn't pregnant. I had envisioned graduating with a baby bump under that black gown and felt rather empty inside. Still, I was proud of obtaining my master's degree and celebrated as such!

Later in 2011 we started the adoption process to bring Arie home! Here we are in December 2011 opening one of the first gifts we recieved for Arie: a stuffed elephant.


We spent 2012 working on our adoption and, in the end of November, he came home!  
Meeting him!
Christmas 2012: one month home.


2013 was both an incredibly hard year and an amazing year. We lost John's dad after a battle with cancer in January 2013. The grief of loosing him and the joy of our first year with Arie intermingled daily. It is still hard to express what that year was like.

My favorite picture from 2013 is this one where we recreated a wedding picture with Arie. (I know I look pregnant here. I'm not; it's just a food baby. Wish I would have sucked in!)

We also celebrated one year home with Arie! In October- on the anniversary of our court date in Russia- we went out to eat and to a children's ballet with Arie. It was definetly a highlight of the year for us!


2014 was another mixed year of grief and joy. We spent the whole year undergoing fertility treatments and lost two adopted embryos in November. 2014 is not a year I will look back on fondly. We did, however, enjoy a blissful two weeks in July when we went on a two week long road trip to Prince Edward Island, Canada. When reflecting on the joy of 2014 this is certainly the first thing that comes to mind! We were able to escape the pain of infertility for two weeks and build some awesome memories as a family and as a couple. Perhaps my favorite memories of that trip were the evenings after John and I tucked our sleepy little boy into bed and spent hours sitting by the campfire, talking, dreaming about our future, and enjoying one anther's presence.



We're happy to leave 2014 behind and start both a new calendar year and a new year of marriage. Hoping and praying with all our might that 2015 has better things in store! Mostly I'm just thankful to walk into this new year with my husband. He and Arie are my greatest blessings and I pray I never loose sight of that!



  1. I love seeing Arie change over the years! He went from being a shy little boy, to such a joy! He literally exudes joy! LOVE it!

  2. Jillian, as I read your recent blog post, I remember how Scott and I would get a rare date night and enjoy sitting at one of John's tables in the restaurant during our Seminary days. :-) I'm wishing we could have hung out with you guys more. I enjoy following your blog. Blessings to you in 2015!
    Kristin Elgersma

    1. Thank you Kristin! Blessings to you as well!!

  3. Suzanne1/12/2015

    Thanks for sharing all of your stories. My husband and I have tried to grow our family for 3 1/2 years. We are currently a "waiting family" with our adoption agency. We are so excited to welcome our child home and are trusting on God's timing. We are dedicated to adopt debt free and are looking into fundraising and grant opportunities. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you! God bless!


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