As I was trying to decide what I could say about you, Peter, my first thoughts were about what a great dad you are and how lucky I am to be your wife. But if I go on at great lengths about you as a dad and husband, I'll have nothing to say on Father's Day and our anniversary!
Instead I decided to take this time to say publicly how proud I am of you. A year ago, the only french you knew was "Ma maman fait le menage chez moi." (My mom does the cleaning at my house.) Eight months later, you french is better than mine... a confession that pains me somewhat to make.
As I write this letter, you're writing your second of the three exams that you need to pass in order to complete your language training. With the exception of waking once last night to dislodge Andrew's feet from your ribs, you seemed to sleep like a log. I, on the other hand, felt like I was awake all. night. long. I have no doubt that you'll pass these exams. I think my anxiety stems from knowing how badly you want to excel at them. Hopefully I'll sleep more soundly once we know your marks... unfortunately that might not be until Friday.
(For those who don't know, Peter has to get at least a 'C' on his exams in order to be officially hired by the Foreign Service. The grades aren't 'A', 'B', 'C', etc, instead a 'C' is a high level of fluency in French. Once this level is obtained, he'll have to re-write the exams every five years to maintain that level. However, if he does really well and gets an 'E' on his exams, he's exempt from having to write the exams ever again. Seeing as he's currently studying french 8 hours a day, if he's to get those exemptions, it kind of has to be now.)
I love that, while I wouldn't call you super ambitious (at least not in a wanting to make loads of money/be some powerful business mogul/rule the world sort of way), you are so determined to excel at whatever you do. I can honestly say that you have the strongest work ethic of anyone I know. Your attention to detail and your honesty and integrity impress me daily. AND YOUR ABILITY TO NOT ONLY BE ON TIME BUT EARLY (every. single. day.) is nothing short of amazing, and -as you well know- an almost completely foreign concept to me.
Although you are very driven, the driving force isn't money or wealth or recognition or power. Taking care of your family, doing something that interests you, being in a position to help those who are powerless to help themselves... these are the things that drive you.
I know that during my dad's illness this fall you felt guilty about "being the one who moved us out here", and even more so when I wasn't able to be there the night he died. Even though my dad wasn't thrilled about the idea of us moving - with his grandsons- to the other end of the earth once we're posted abroad, he knew this was what we wanted and, like us, he could clearly see God's hand in the circumstances that lead us here. He was excited about what the future held for us and where He would lead us.
I'm excited too...
I'm excited that you'll soon start a job that you'll (hopefully) love. One where you can use your degree and one that will challenge you and play to all your many strengths, especially your heart for people who are suffering.
...and I'm thankful.
I'm thankful that I'll be able to be a part of this adventure with you. If life is indeed a journey, with mountains and valleys, smooth roads and rocky paths... If there are muddy fields to be crossed... We've had times where not only have our boots been muddy, but we've found ourselves chest deep in some mucky bog threatening to suck us under, and having to use the rotting corpse of some dead sheep as leverage to pull ourselves free (a la Bear Grylls from Man vs Wild). But we made it. I don't think we're at the top yet, but the view is pretty great from where we're at.
So here's wishing you another wonderful thirty years, Peter.
I love you.
The photos in that slide show are all from the last year. We're only in three of them together. There were a few more, but not many. So this year, let try to be in a few more pictures together. Maybe even a few sans kids.