Today, I have officially been married for half of my life. I got sappy sentimental and wistfully nostalgic this week thinking about the lifetime of memories I have with Brent Kaser. In honor of our 23rd anniversary, here are 23 of those memories:
1. I knew I was going to marry him 20 minutes into our first date. The only way I can describe what happened in that curved booth in Mimi’s Café is that I felt like I was “home” with him.
2. Brent broke his jaw four weeks after we started dating. He proposed to me with his mouth wired shut.
3. We were engaged eight weeks after our first date, and married four months later. We knew each other for six months when we committed to spend a lifetime together. The crazy part about that fact is that neither of us remember anyone suggesting we wait and get to know one another better. It’s not a timeframe I’d generally recommend, but I’m not sorry it was the one we followed.
4. Our honeymoon was spent in Yosemite. The dogwood trees were in full bloom and we decided dogwoods are our thing. We spent years vacationing with our kids in the Yosemite area and every time we saw a dogwood tree in bloom, we “had” to kiss. It’s still my favorite tree, and I wish they would grow in our area!
5. We started a homeless ministry a month after we got married. The first night we served sub sandwiches to 17 people in the park and Brent led a guy named Larry to the Lord. We don’t run it anymore, but Shining Light Homeless Ministry is still serving meals at the same park.
6. The first year we were married, we got in an argument and I got super angry. So angry that I cocked back my hand and slapped him as hard as I possibly could on his bare back. I then ran out of the house and down the street because I realized I was way out of line. I came back a half hour later and he was still sitting at the kitchen table where I left him. The one thing that had changed was the giant red hand-shaped welt on his back. The only thing he said to me was, “Hey, Nance…don’t ever do that again, okay?” I was so humbled by his grace.
7. When I was nine months pregnant with Ellie, Brent walked in on me getting dressed and caught a full view of me in broad daylight. At seeing how absolutely enormous I was, he started giggling, then laughing, then fell to the ground in uncontrollable crying hysterics. It’s a good thing that whole “till death do us part” thing was part of our wedding vows.
8. We used to own a landscaping company and we did competitive landscape shows at South Coast Plaza together. We made a great design team and won the competition a few times. Working with plants is still something we both love.
9. I once had to drive Brent’s beast of a work truck to an appointment. Leaving the parking lot, I thought I was stuck on a curb, so I pushed the gas trying to get the whole truck off the curb…except it wasn’t a curb. It was a 3 foot high pole on the side of the truck…the dent was super deep and six feet long. I parked the truck across the street so he didn’t see the damage when he got home. After I fed him his favorite dinner, I told him what I did. He went out and saw his mortally wounded vehicle, sucked in a long breath and said, “It’s a really hard truck to back up.” He soon traded the truck to buy me a minivan.
10. One day he came home from work, sat on our living room floor and said, “What if we started a child sponsorship ministry?” The next day, he pulled over and called me from a pay phone. “What do you think of the name Promise Child? It kind of goes with Acts 2:39…” The rest is ministry history!
11. The biggest, messiest, nastiest fight we ever had was over…wait for it…a Christmas tree. I’ll spare you the ugly and just say that apparently my insisting on an economical, reusable, synthetic tree was an annual show of blatant disrespect. We had an epic word battle in the garage about the stupid thing. It’s the one fight our kids really remember us having, and they make sure to bring it up every December. (BTW - He won, and I have wholly converted to the real tree team!)
12. When my sweet mom went on hospice, Brent released me from all responsibility at home and encouraged me to spend every moment I could with her. He ran our entire home, cared for our kids, and worked two jobs so that I could do nothing but enjoy and care for my mom and usher her into heaven. It was one of the most precious gifts I have ever received.
13. When I asked him if I could fly across the country to go to an over-priced writer’s conference and pursue my dream of writing a book, I didn’t expect him to say yes. Money was super tight that summer. He not only agreed to send me, but made me immediately register, buy plane tickets, and book a hotel. His support in that moment gave me the encouragement I needed and convinced me writing a book was something I could really do.
14. When Seth was 12, he was hit by a car while Brent was on a mission trip. For two days, I was in ICU with our son by myself while Brent flew home as fast as he could. I will never forget the way I crumbled into his arms with relief when he came through the hospital room door.
15. When I got the opportunity to start teaching again, his only condition was that I use part of the money I earned to hire a housekeeper so I didn’t get overwhelmed. That wasn’t a hard deal to agree to!
16. Brent sings at home. Constantly. Except he changes every song to sound like some cheesy lounge rendition of the original. Even hymns. Think about “How Great Thou Art” but Vegas style…sometimes I forget how the songs are really supposed to go.
17. I’ve listened to countless sermons that Brent has taught over the years. The one that stands out as my favorite was an evangelical message he gave at a concert in Asia. He had ministered in that closed country for ten years, and suddenly he had an opportunity to share about Jesus with a thousand people in a public place. It was the most powerful gospel presentation I have ever heard.
18. The most difficult season in our marriage was when we had to ask our oldest to leave our home because of his foolish choices. It was agonizingly painful for us. But God did an incredible miracle in Josh’s life and saved him during that time. Seeing our son grow into one of the godliest men we know – one we both go to for Biblical counsel and encouragement – was absolutely worth that awful time.
19. For my 40th birthday Brent (and some wonderful friends) threw me a surprise party. He got a hot dog cart (my favorite food!) and danced with me in front of everyone. Prior to the party, in lieu of presents, he asked the guests to do something for someone else in my honor. Our friends and family came up to the mic that night and shared their “gifts” of surprising strangers, caring for the poor or lonely, and loving others. It was the best party I have ever been to!
20. A few years ago, I got very sick and was unable to function normally for about two months. I then had major surgery and was out of commission for another two months. I had never felt so vulnerable and helpless, and my emotions were all over the place. Brent was an incredibly kind and patient caretaker and lived out his vow to care for me in sickness. He loved me on a whole new level in that season.
21. Our dog got sprayed by a skunk and then rubbed herself on absolutely everything we owned. It was the worst mess of my whole life. We both had moments where the only logical solution to the awful stench seemed to be burning the house down. It was three months till we didn’t get random whiffs of skunk in our home. Brent bought me a stuffed skunk for Valentine’s Day and hand-delivered it to my classroom. My students named him Sherlock and he is one of my class mascots now.
22. We rode bikes all over Paris last summer on the greatest vacation ever. There was this moment we came out of the river trail, up through a canopy of trees, and suddenly we were in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was absolutely magical and one of the sweetest days of my whole life.
23. Our 23rd anniversary was on the 42nd day of the Covid-19 quarantine. Being isolated at home for the six weeks leading up to our anniversary was actually super great. There’s no one else I’d rather be stuck at home with, and I hope I get to make memories with him for at least another 23 years.
If you’d like to read a more detailed list of all the marriage lessons I’ve learned, CROWN – 30 Wife-Changing Lessons is on sale this week at nancykaser.com!