Eleven years ago, a young, naive, optimistic WonderGirl set out on a path with an equally young, naive, optimistic King Pen.

Our goal was for him to go back to school, get a degree in landscape architecture (which is not doing lawns, y’all), and go into business for himself.

It was a ten year plan, and it was hard.

Harder than we could have imagined.  We had a one year old, no money, but lots of love and support from our family and friends.

We made it through school, working all kinds of jobs and enduring crazy stress, and tacking on an extra two kids.  Got into the work field, way behind everyone else in the world, and added two more to the pack.

There have been moments I didn’t know if we’d make it.  Times we almost didn’t.  Times we cried and worried and suffered- times when we questioned what we were doing, times we lost our way, times we couldn’t find a glimmer of hope.

But here we are, so many hundreds of miles under our belt, and only a few steps left to take.  Today, we jumped the last big hurdle, and from here on out, “it’s all downhill,” as they say.

As this time comes to an end, I am looking back and I am surprised to feel a sadness in saying goodbye to these days.  I never expected that.  I’ve had my eyes on the destination for so long, I didn’t realize I’d miss the journey once I got there.

I am ready for the next ten year plan.  I’m ready for what lies ahead.  It’s just hard saying goodbye to the WonderGirl I have been, holding on so tight to this shared dream with my husband that it hurt.  I’ll miss who he has been too, the tenacity and perseverance that I  have seen grow before my very eyes.  We are different now than when we began– and I’ll miss who we are exactly in this moment when we leave it.  Does that make sense?

As we begin to wind down these days, making plans that are real and solid that will carry us into the next chapter, I am full of many things.  Joy, I expected.  Gratitude, relief, excitement- all things I knew I would feel.  But I never would have guessed my heart would be heavy when it was time to turn these pages.

That’s just life though, isn’t it?  It’s beautiful and complex and bittersweet, and the pages never stop turning, no matter how you feel.  The story moves, chapter to chapter, whether you are ready for it or not.

Anyway, those are the thoughts in my mind today.  Tonight, we’re going out to celebrate as a family the accomplishments of the last eleven years.  Tonight, we’ll look back and toast the tough times, thanking God for His sustaining and gracious hand. We’ll remember the rocks and the hard places, and all the things we learned in them.

And tomorrow, we’ll look forward, and prepare for the journey yet to come.