"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast,
it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
I Corinthians 13:4-7
In 1968 my husband Joel and I stood in the front of the church and vowed our love and commitment to each other. Forty-four years of marriage, thirty-four years of ministry, seven children and bunches of grandchildren, have deepened our love. Add in twenty-six moves, many years of illness, and more challenges than I can list here and I know what holds us together~ God.
When people ask us about our long-lasting marriage, I always respond with a story that goes back to our beginning. Joel and I met at Bible College in 1966. We were not friends, nor really attracted to each other at first, but the prayers of others were working behind the scenes. My older sister and a family friend came to see me during parents weekend. While touring the campus they met Joel and and chatted with him. Long story short they told me later that "they had met the man I was going to marry." When they showed me who it was, my reply was not very nice...."He is loud and obnoxious, and he wears boots!" They both just smiled and said, "We will pray about it." They did, and Joel and I walked down the aisle just 18 months later! By the way, I quickly changed my idea of him......, he has been amazing, and I grew to love those boots that still grace his feet nearly every day.
I have often said that I know how much God loves me because He brought Joel into my life. He blessed me with a loving, dependable, honorable, optimistic, joy-filled, committed man of God who has taken his calling and vows seriously. We have shared many adventures and struggled through many trials. He stood strong as he took care of me for many years of illness from undiagnosed Lyme Disease, while tending his congregation and finding time for our family. I watched him cook, clean, shop, and pastor a church while tenderly caring for me~~ n.e.v.e.r. complaining. And when he also was stricken with Lyme Disease we held each other up. When I was able to, I took care of him and when he was able he took care of me, although much of the work load was on his shoulders. We cried together, we prayed together, we laughed together, and we struggled together. I have one visual that remains in my mind from that season of our lives~~ Sitting in our recliners, close enough we could hold hands, while the world went on without us. Not knowing what the future would bring, we found joy in the simple pleasures of our days. We still attempt to do so.
Last year my husband was healed overnight from Lyme. It is a joy to see him working again, serving God's people, and living a full life. My healing has been a process, but it is coming one day at a time and I am so much better. We still have our chairs close enough to hold hands, but spend a lot less time sitting in them. My healing journey has also taken me into PTS due to abuse memories that have surfaced. Once again my sweet husband is by my side to comfort and walk me through the inner healing needed. I am blessed. We are blessed.
So on this Valentine's Day as I write in response to Bonnie's word prompt "love" over at Faith Barista I am giving thanks to God, who loves me so much he blessed me with Joel ~ my cowboy preacher, my best friend, my partner, my children's father, my tender caring husband, my joy, my Joel. I am so so grateful and blessed to experience God's love through this man of God, who is the love of my life.