Happy 25th Wedding Anniversary Leslie!

These are a few of my favorite memories that we have shared, that have made the past 25 years moments of joy in my life with you. I hope and pray that our son Gabriel will be blessed with a wonderful Proverbs 31 woman like I have. Given with love to you, Ken

  1. 1989: The year of our first date! Thank you for saying yes to me and going to Il Cielo restaurant and to the Comedy Store afterward. Something told me that not only was that night special, but that you were also very special and that you were someone who I wanted to spend a lot of time with. Little did I know that this night would yield 25 of the best years of our lives together! Thank you for saying yes! P.S. Do you see the table we were seated at? Do you remember the strolling violinist?
  2. 1990: This was our beginning as husband and wife! What a wonderful moment in our lives saying I love you and “I do” overlooking the ocean in Malibu, in front of our family and friends. I am so blessed and thankful for you and the beautiful bride that you were then and still are. I thoroughly enjoyed our first Thanksgiving together at La Jolla De Mismaloya in Puerto Vallarta as well! Remember the feast we had?
  3. 1991: The beginning of too many moves and school experiences for me! Thank you for supporting me at UCLA Hospital and thank you for sharing me with Royal and the 7-year journey we would have together through Big Brothers. The experience with him helped me to not only grow but to realize that I could be a Dad one day. Thank you for saying yes, and supporting me in my personal development in so many different ways throughout our years together.
  4. 1992: I am so grateful for the night that you, me and Karen “snuck into” the condominium that would become our home for 3 years in Santa Monica. It was such a memorable evening with our Maid of Honor and lifelong friend. I am so thankful for those bike ride/skating afternoon evenings we spent riding down the bike path to Venice, and just having the opportunity to spend time together watching and listening to the interesting people on the beach. It brings such warmth to my heart.
  5. 1993: I am thankful for the Jeep trips that we took to Northern California (Santa Cruz and San Francisco via the Carmel Valley Road) prior to the kids coming into our lives. We had a lot of fun exploring and taking impromptu trips that I will treasure the rest of our lives. Northern Cal is one my favorite places on earth and I am thankful that I had the chance to create beautiful memories with you! Thank you for being spontaneous and willing to indulge my off-roading adventurous self!
  6. 1994: The year started with the Northridge earthquake but ended as one of the happiest years of our lives as God blessed us with Marissa! You were and still are the best Mom a daughter (and son) could ever have, and once again I am thankful how you took care of yourself, Marissa and me. I am a firm believer that our children are who they are because of the time you took to make their baby food and because of all of the nurturing you provided to them in addition to the great nourishment. Such a surreal day June 17, 1994 was as well huh? Graduating with my Masters and watching the slow white Bronco chase live and at the Dodgers game? We have had some pretty crazy times together!
  7. 1995: I enjoyed all of the precious moments with Marissa and the other children at the Children’s Learning Center in downtown LA, and being able to pick up our little darling at the end of the day and going home to celebrate time with her. Mealtimes to baths to reading and praying with her and our trips to the park were so special for me as a husband and as a Dad. Thank you for making our lives so complete!
  8. 1996: I remember our 1st trip to Maui with Marissa when she was 18 months and such a magical time that was for us! Being in the Keiki pool at the Launiupoko State Beach park and taking the walks along Front Street bring back so many sweet memories with her. Remember “Hey Kenny!” that Marissa shouted as she heard you call me? What a wonderful little darling. Everything that was special about her I attribute to you, as you were a great and devoted Mom.
  9. 1997: I think this was the “Green House” that we lived in on Figueroa Blvd. What a crazy experience huh? I think meeting and working in downtown Skid Row LA prepared us for some of the craziest moments we could ever experience in our lives. I also remember how enjoyable it was to take Marissa to some of the Stuart House Christmas parties were we continued to see her creative side come out. She was such a blessing to us and to many others who saw her and experienced her sweet spirit. What a creative girl and thank you for nurturing the gifts and talents that we saw in her!
  10. 1998: I so enjoyed our parties at the park and the birthday celebrations we had there. You always made those occasions such special and memorable times for all who were in attendance. You have always had the gift of hospitality and I am so thankful that I got to experience it front row center. I think this was also the year that we watched the Rose Parade from the Norton Simon also right? I am glad we had such special moments by being in the right place at the right time with the right people. God has blessed us with some wonderful experiences and memories!
  11. 1999: Wow! A new baby boy was given to us in Gabriel! What a wonderful gift he was and is to us! He made our lives and our family complete, and brought so much joy and happiness to me, you and his sister Marissa. She never ceased to dote on him and was the perfect big sister to a brother she adored every day of her life. I was so proud to be the Dad of our family and never once tired of telling the kids that. As if that wasn’t enough, we moved to Azusa and I started my Doctoral program; yes, we never did things simply! You were a trooper who kept our family going in the midst of welcoming our “Little Saint” into the family, even as we prepared for Y2K, remember? I did say crazy times!
  12. 2000: Our 2nd trip to Maui, and this time with Gabriel in tow, and back to the favorite sites and experiences we had 4 years earlier with Marissa. What fun and joy with the squeals of the kids playing and having a great time at the park, in Hana and just overall making some of the most precious memories a Dad could treasure. I’ll never forget the trip to the Waianapanapa State park cave that Marissa and I took together; she was braver than her Dad! Thank you for giving us a life full of joy celebrating our family!
  13. 2001: I enjoyed our weekend walks to the community pool at Foothill Village, and playing in the water with you, Marissa and Gabriel. That was so much fun! Or taking the kids for a treat at the Baskin Robbins or the 4th of July Fireworks at APU/Citrus College. What fun we had as a family. I enjoyed the excellent food you prepared from the gardens you grew in our back yard, and I am thankful for the times when we could eat Habanero peppers as freely as we could! Remember the chalk drawing, the barbeques and the splash pools we had in the yard? I am also thankful for Auntie Wanda and the times she allowed us to get away overnight for dinner and time to say I love you. Very, very special!
  14. 2002: I think this was the year that we went camping with the Christs and Hansens at Lake Cachuma. I became my Mom by renting the 31-foot Motorhome! Wow, what a fun vacation that was. I am so thankful that we gave the kids these special and wonderful times together and with us. I look back on our time and really think we did a great job of being good parents who wanted nothing but the best for them. If I am not mistaken, I think this was also the year that I got to spend the summer with the kids and took them to Raging Waters everyday. I had so much fun that summer being off work with them and creating memories that I will delight in the rest of my life. Thank you God for allowing me the time to spend with them!
  15. 2003: “There would be no Dr McGill if it were not for Mrs McGill.” I was so proud to say those words because I know the commitment that you endured (driving 3 hours round trip daily to Downtown LA for 4 years), so we could live a mile away from the University. Amazing that you did this and that you had the stamina to accomplish this and still be a wonderful wife and devoted Mom! You never ceased to amaze me! No husband could have asked for such a commitment from his wife and you graciously gave this and so much more to us! I love you!
  16. 2004: Wow, moving to Mississippi? I’m sure you thought I was out of mind when I came home and told you about the opportunity, but you supported me and supported this opportunity to advance my career and give our family the chance to leave LA for a better life in Hattiesburg. Thank you for giving us the best 4 years we spent in our lives, and for making our house into a home of peace and beauty, which was also seen in the lives of Marissa and Gabriel. I am so thankful for what you have done to make our lives the best that we could experience, whether we were going to school, trips, vacations, sports trips for the kids games; you made everything special because your hands and heart were in it all.
  17. 2005: I think this was ther year that we took our “American History” vacation and went to Washington, DC, Philadelphia, the Amish Country, Hershey, PA and the Hershey Chocolate Factory, and to Booker T Washington’s birthplace. These were so much fun and informative for all of us. You have always made our trips special and family times that were balanced with fun and enjoyment along with opportunities to learn about something new in our lives. Speaking for the kids, we are forever thankful for these moments that you have given to us. Also, remember all of the fun we had getting together with the Brelands on the 4th of July? And shooting off the fireworks, or having the kids over for Gabriel’s birthday celebrations in the pool? Or just our times of eating dinner on the pool patio? Thank you for the fun and special memories that we shared. Finally, you and the kids were troopers to make it through Hurricane Katrina. I know the “Momma Bear” came out in you as you told me what you had to do to keep you guys safe, for which I am very appreciative. Thank you again for loving our family dearly in the ways that only you could do. Also, it seems that we are the couples version of Jim Cantore; wherever we go, natural catastrophes seem to follow!
  18. 2006: I really appreciate the times that you let Gabriel and I go on the boys trip, this year to see Troy Aikman inducted into the Pro Football Hall of fame, or to New Orleans or Dallas to attend Football or Basketball games. When we were away, I treasure the memories that you had with Marissa, as the two of you had the “girl’s weekend” that make Mother and Daughter relationships so special. Although away from you guys, I am so glad that God gifted you two with those special times together. I know that her faith grew in direct proportion to the time you spent with her, as a sweet Godly Mom who nurtured her faith, and that of Gabriel, every day. I treasure your “glow in the dark” send off to us when I took the kids to school. Thank you for nurturing their faith. We would draw mightily upon it in our future.
  19. 2007: I remember the day I came home and Marissa was in tears and was moved after seeing the Lost Children presentation at school, and eventually she was so stirred that she made a commitment to become a Missionary to work in Africa. We were all so proud of her and her faith and commitment to devote her life to the service of others, and although I know that God was helping her to mature, you have always been the support of nurturing her faith. Although she did not get the opportunity to  personally go to Africa, I know you have kept her dream alive in the Marissa’s House ministry endeavors that we three have come to love. Thank you for those special moments to our family and for beautifully capturing all of our family occasions through Creative Memories. I have always appreciated the thoughtful and beautiful ways that you commemorated our activities in this special way. Thank you for saying I love you to us by pulling out a book and saying to us “remember when…”
  20. 2008: I am very thankful that you and Marissa had the opportunity to take the FOTF Mother-Daughter cruise to the Bahamas, and for all of the special time that God gave to you with her during her last year with us, and I am thankful for the time I got to spend with her attending the NCAA Women’s Basketball tournaments during the two weekends in Louisiana. I know that during our time together I just praised God because of how she was growing into the beautiful young woman that we always saw, with a lot of characteristics and traits that you sown into her. I know that losing her during this year was the hardest experience on all of us, and I am amazed at how in the midst of such grief you found strength to care for and continue to love yourself, Gabriel and me. I saw your faith grow in such exponential ways, and it carried you through our collective pain and hurt. I am so glad for the family and friends past and present who ministered to you and for Jackie, our Therapist, who counseled us all during our time of loss. I am saddened that Gabriel would not get to know the sister and doting Aunt to his children that she would have been to him, and that we would not get the opportunity to see her become the excellent wife and Mom that we anticipated her becoming. Largely, I am saddened because I know you lost your best girl friend. In light of Marissa’s wishes, I am so glad that you took on the task to start Marissa’s House, and you have been the guiding light and beacon of hope to see her dream become a reality. I know that we have said that we lost one child but gained 23 others, and with each mental or actual snapshot of the kids I see how your maternal love continues to and for all of our children.
  21. 2009: As much as 2009 was challenging for us, I really appreciate you being Mom of Gabriel and wife of me, and just being the strong woman who helped us keep functioning. Your strength during these next few years amazed me, which is a reflection of your faith that you have nurtured through the years. You literally “glowed in the dark” and I am thankful for your heart and commitment to our healing. I appreciate your support of Gabriel in any and all of the endeavors that he wanted to do; Sports with Football and Baseball, or going to NASA’s Space Camp for kids. We still had fun, even during a very trying time in our lives. Once again, you made everything special for all of us with the positive memories you created for us. Thank you my love!
  22. 2010: I am thankful that Gabriel switched schools and that he began to heal a bit in the new but familiar environment of a Christian school. He has always been a smart and active son, and I see that our commitment to wanting nothing but the best for our children continued in our commitment to provide the best opportunities and experiences for him. Thank you for allowing us to attend the Hall of Fame ceremonies again, to provide me with another boy’s trip with Gabriel even thought I know there was sadness on your part. Your generosity to us never waned and your selflessness was never more present than in times like this. Once again, it just goes to show how special you are as a wife and Mom. I am so very thankful that you said “yes!”
  23. 2011: Wow, our first trip to Africa to see Marissa’s House in Ethiopia! The culmination of your hard work with Brad and International Cooperating Ministries, and with Samson as our guide to visit the orphanage, soon to become school for the children in Jimma. What a beautiful trip for the three of us, to see the ministry, the children, the country that Marissa originally fell in love with from a distance and how we felt her spirit as we engaged in ministry with the children and church there. I know we have never been fans of how we got to this place, but I know that we have felt called and committed to love God and honor our daughter’s wishes in this unique and life changing way. Thank you for your hard work in loving so many people in such a powerful way internationally! You’re amazing!
  24. 2012: Our second tip to Africa, to Uganda to see the children at Marissa’s House. What a special trip that was for all of us, and it was such a blessing to see you and Gabriel love on the kids as a reflection of your faith and because Marissa’s dream took us there. I think we have continued our promise to each other to have “no regrets” when it comes to activities that will bring us closer as a family; if you could think it, lets see what we could do to make it happen. I am thankful for our practice of this value, and I know our lives and the lives of others have and will forever be changed because of it. Also, I am so thankful for all that you have done to help Gabriel blossom into the intelligent and thoughtful young man that he is. He is amazing in his own right, and I know that your love to him has blessed all three of us, as we have celebrated all of his achievements, accomplishments and who he is as a person.
  25. 2013: As you were in Africa with Karen’s sisters, it was a blast for you to support Gabriel and I to have another “boy’s trip” to California. It meant a lot to me to show him the state in which he was born, to see the city where hearts were left (San Francisco) and to see the city, sites, family and people who were dear to us in the LA area. Once again, I am so thankful for the opportunity to create positive and lifelong memories for all of us. Also, I am thankful for the role we continued by being supportive parents to a child who excels in sports. I have so appreciated spending hot Thursday afternoons, the cool Friday night lights, and the iced-over Saturday playoff games with you. I know we have had a lot of fun supporting Gabriel in the process and I hope he looks back on this time in his life with joy because we loved and supported him in this unique way. I am also glad that you spent time with Amy and Ellyssa in Uganda, helping them to complete their Master’s projects that eventually led to a water well being installed at Marissa’s House. I treasure the pictures of you loving on the kids and wish that Gabriel and I could have been there loving on them with you. I so appreciate your compassion that you have freely given to them. Again, a reflection of the big heart you have!
  26. 2014: I have appreciated how you have supported my career, by not only keeping me healthy (great meals!) but by trying to make any vision I shared with you to become a reality, in addition to providing the necessary support by being the Proverbs 31 woman that you are by spinning straw into gold. You have always had that skill and talent and Gabriel and I are so better off because of this. Thank you for your love and support in this area, and I am certain, for many, many years to come.
  27. 2015: And with this year, we celebrate our 25th You don’t know how much it means to me to celebrate in a place (Macaroni Grill) that has so many sentimental memories for us as a family. I remember the tic-tac-toe games played with Marissa and Gabriel, the drawings that you and Marissa made on the butcher paper as we celebrated their grades and other accomplishments, even you and Marissa going to the Macaroni Grill in connection with her Grand Recognition award at Duke University! I also treasure the phase of life experience we are in as we help our son plan his next big step in his life, as we all contemplate his decisions regarding planning for and selecting a college to attend. I know this will be bittersweet for us, as we’ll be empty nesters, but I also look forward to which Zagat guide #1 restaurant we could go to celebrate our union together as we have done 25 years earlier. I know there are far too many memories that we have shared that I could not list here, but I just wanted to share a few of the very special times and experiences that have brought you and I much joy in our lives. Here’s to 25 more, should God grant us the time! I love you! Ken

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