“Laura, you look like you’ve lost weight, you have a beautiful smile and you smell good.” Said John.
“Really??!! Thank you so much for saying so, my love.” Said I.
“Yeah, I read somewhere that those three things are what a girl wants to hear.”
I burst out laughing at this honest man. A man with no guile, my husband. He rescued himself by explaining, “Well, I read that article and thought, you really are those things. So there you have it.”
I just love this guy.
Today is our 466th wedding month-a-versary, as we call it. I greeted him with this news today. He looked a bit crestfallen that he hadn’t said it first. I thought I’d one-upped him, but then he left the room and came back with an envelope (see card above).
How did we get so blessed?
Well, I know for sure it’s not because we’re alike. He is coffee to my tea, I’m rabbit to His tortoise, steel to wool- but hey, steel-wool is useful! We are consistently inconsistent in who is which.
I also know life has not all been Comfy beds and Venti Mochas. We had $200 dollars to throw the wedding of the century, and nothing for a honeymoon (we camped out at a lake). My Mom and Dad did not come to the wedding. Mom was really sad about that, but my dad was pretty sure this marriage was not a good thing. About 200 others thought differently, and our wedding was an amazing celebration at the park.
That first year of marriage, John had surgery for a golf-ball size lump that screamed “Cancer!” to the docs, but ended up mysteriously benign; and, we lost a baby to a late miscarriage.
We both worked- I, at a school for Special Needs kids (days), John at a cable T.V. station (nights) and full-time student (days). We didn’t meet the requirements for low-income housing. The Housing People did not believe anyone could live on our income. So we lived in a very retro trailer before retro even existed (always ahead of our time, John and I): A 10 ft. wide, 45 ft. long, metal house, conveniently located a few yards from the railroad tracks lest we ever felt the urge to hop a train and travel the world-not via the South Pacific, but the Union Pacific.
John rode his bike to school (a Schwinn, not a Harley). Our car, a 1963 Lancer (nicknamed “The Potato) gave up the ghost before our first wedding anniversary, so we bought me a bike: $65 on credit, $5 per month. The only thing we bought on credit for a very long time. We did it so we would have some form of credit rating. I rode 8 miles to and from work, initially stopping every half-mile to keep my heart and lungs from pummeling each other. Eventually twelve pounds lighter, I breezed down the road, enjoying the ride. Except on rainy days when my fashion statement was an ugly gray plastic poncho.
So what did we have?
We had people who loved us: John’s family, my siblings, our church and the college Inter-Varsity group. All these supported us just by living. We watched them and learned: My sister Peg and her husband, Curt showed us how to work toward a goal. Curt started and completed a degree from Fuller Seminary while my sister stayed home to parent (what a novel idea!) their baby boy. Did they struggle? Yes. Did they finish well? Yes, and to this day. We had older, seasoned couples in the church that demonstrated what a Christian marriage should look like. They even allowed us to minister with them, resisting the urge to drop “helpful hints”, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to us through their example. I eventually did start wearing a bra, and John started wearing shoes to church.
We had contentment. Our idea of an AWESOME DAY that first year was the closing of the local White Front store. We walked to the store, bought 2 pairs of black low-tops for 2 bucks, and a basketball for the same amount and played Horse at the school playground all Saturday long.
We had purpose. We worked together to pay our bills, looking for the best deals for food (one time getting a free chicken at Safeway, then going behind the store and picking wild mustard greens to complete our dinner- boy, did we feel smart!)
We had ministry and service. We tithed, knowing that it was to God we gave, regardless of the quirks of our church body (they put up with ours, so it was only fair). John and I sang in pretty much all the local churches, the hippy Jesus Freak coffee houses and we front-lined for the newly formed Maranatha! Music Concerts. We offered our home to whoever needed a place and were richly repaid in many shared stories of life and faith, “and then God did this” experiences.
We had faith. A young, naive, shaky strand of faith became a three-cord steel cable as we simply did what we knew to do: We prayed feeble prayers, went to church and small group studies, read the New American Standard, and mostly just fumbled and stumbled while learning to walk in Christ, but kept it up, or I should say He Kept Us.
It is true that God is faithful, even when we are faithless, and 466 months later, we are living proof. God is faithful to teach, to grow us up, to show us a better idea, to say, “I don’t think you should do that”, to give us a new perspective, a different way of thinking, a better way to live. He is faithful to show us the way of love. Sometimes, it’s all we have. And all we need.
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2Pe 1:3