Twenty years ago today, my wife and I had our first “official” date. I paid for dinner and she paid for the movie. We did not plan on it because it was Halloween, just happened to be the right time for us at the beginning of a relationship. We had met at work and been around each other at the “breakfast club”; a group of work friends who gathered most Friday mornings after work to eat, talk and hang out for little while at the close of the work week. I was still reeling from events that had taken place earlier in the year and was cautious. She was warm-hearted, good with people and engaging in our conversations. (Anyone taking a genuine interest in me at the time was really surprising to me.) Our conversations grew and lasted longer with each passing week. There were a lot of things to talk about: Love and Loss, childhood and our favorite things. We conversed about Faith and how that Faith had brought us through some rough times. Places we had been and places we hoped to go. There were dynamics to be looked at and we were hopeful but tentative about where this was all heading. The leaves changed color and began to fall and we were swept up in this newly formed friendship. Waiting to see where the road would take us, we found a deeper and more trustful relationship with each other than we had ever known before.
There were broken places in our hearts from our choices and those made by others; who would harm us rather than love us, leaving us battered and bruised. The Enemy would try to tear us down, bending us to the point of breaking. Tears would fall as our hearts would begin to mend. The Lifter of our heads would Shine on us and bring us together. With Healing Hands he Smiled on us as we learned to trust and love again. Out of the ashes, He formed beauty. Out of dreams that were dashed, He brought forth New Life. As blessings rose from the rubble of once broken lives, He reminded us that all was not lost. Everything smashed and broken apart was only temporary as He formed new hearts and made two into One. He was with us in the hard times and would be with us still. As we moved forward into new love, He would guide us as we chose to walk with Him as obediently as we knew how. We could have no way of knowing all that He would bring us through, all that He would walk through with us. The lowest of valleys have seemed like mountain paths with Him holding onto us. When the past has reached out to grab us, He has reminded us that we are not what we have been. We are not what we were, but instead, loved and adored children that are still learning and growing into Him. I can look back at His Grace and Mercy working in our lives over the years and I am very thankful for it all.
We have had ups and downs, highs and lows; but we can look back at our beginning and point to that as the foundation for our marriage and life together. Together, we tried to raise a daughter into a young woman with a heart for Christ. Two broken people, with broken lives and broken pasts, stumbled to carry her to Him. She has made us proud of her and her choices and she has rewarded us with three grandchildren. Our lives have been so enriched by all that His Grace has allowed. He has turned things for our good, that were all but destroyed. Across the years and across the miles, we have held onto Him and held onto each other. It has not always been easy, as relationships seldom are. Even the smoothest of relationships take work and unfailing, unrelenting determination to get through and get past the toughest things. I have made some huge blunders and said some pretty bone-headed things through the years and, somehow, she still loves me, forgives me and believes in me. She looks forward to the day that I will become all of the man that God wants me to become. And that has required quite a bit of patience on her part.
So today as we look back at the sixteen years God has blessed us with, we celebrate His Love for us, His Divine Wisdom in bringing us together and His Unfailing, Unrelenting, Never-gonna-stop Holding us together, Sovereign Plan for us.
To my wife, Peggy: There's “still” nothing wrong with you. I “still” more than love you and I'm “still” not going anywhere! You “still” have my Heart and You are “still” Home to me.