April 5th. Five o’clock in the afternoon on a cool, washed clear by the rain, spring day. New life springing forth everywhere. Tomorrow is the anniversary of a two weddings: my maternal great grandparents married more than 65 years and mine. Memories flash like an old fashioned cinemagraph. Family and friends are gathered from far and wide. Sunlight casts shadows through the amber colored windows. Music playing. Fragrant flowers. Candles glowing. A gown and veil of white sewn with ohh so much love by Mamma. A paternal uncle standing in for my Daddy, already gone home to be with the Lord. A tiered cake. The officer and gentleman looking handsome, happy, and a wee bit nervous. Tears of joy slide down cheeks. Vows written by the bride and groom, long before it was popular, to love, honor, cherish, and yes, obey. Charges given. Promises made to take divorce out of our vocabulary and fight fair. Rings of pure gold exchanged. Camera bulbs popping white light. Bouquet and rice thrown. This was just yesterday or so it seems.
I met this officer and gentleman on a warm spring evening in May just before worship service. He was fresh off active duty with the Air Force having served his country during war time without facing combat. He was introduced to me by none other than his mother. She would live to regret this I do believe. She was not prepared for what was to come–a college sophomore from the “poor side of the tracks” loving her first born. Mothers often find it difficult to release their son to a woman they are uncertain will nurture and care for their son as they have. Today, I totally understand this. I have a son.
We fell in love quickly and this added to the dismay of the parental units. My mother, newly widowed, recognized all that was on the horizon and knew her once full home would soon “lose” another’s voice, laughter, hurried activity, place at the table, and need of her constant care. She knew the challenges to be faced by a bride slightly less than a decade younger than her groom. Innocence meets experience, immaturity meets maturity, idealism meets reality, dreams meet a budget, a prophet clashed against mercy. So, yes, there were some rocky times.
This love would give us two children of our own and would be shared with other children that came and went in our home. I was given the supreme privilege of being a stay at home mom for sixteen years and this gift was invaluable to me. Being a mom was my second highest calling. I would do it all again! Even knowing what I know. It was so worth it!
1 Samuel 7:12 “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
The officer and gentleman did something for me every day–he believed in me. He thought I was beautiful. He protected me and insured my well being. My wish was his command. He demanded I be respected. He calmed my fears. He supported my dreams. He provided for my needs both then and now. He called me his bride every day and on our twenty fifth anniversary he commissioned friends Kay and Cindy to deliver 25 long stem red roses, one for each year, to me at three different times, in three distinctive bouquets. Each bouquet contained a part of a message written to convey the love I sometimes but never should have doubted. Some would say “flowers are such a waste of money.” To them I would say, “oh no they are not!” They speak of extravagant love. A love you would die for. A love which cannot be measured. A love written down and shouted for the world to see and hear. A love that is exquisite. God Himself instituted remembering anniversaries. Remember Passover. Remember Resurrection. Remember Purim. Remember Pentecost. Remember, rehearse, recite, recall. Do not forget! Remember love.
Marriage is suppose to be a picture to us of the love Christ has for the church, His Bride. Christ loved us and gave His life so we might live. Scripture speaks of a wedding feast. A time when Christ will be reunited with his bride for eternity. This is the longing of every heart. This is the need of every soul. This is why Jesus came to earth: To redeem his Bride. Even now He is preparing the new mansion for His Bride! According to Jewish tradition it must be fit for her and until His Father is satisfied it will not be completed. Then and only then will He return to bring her home FOREVER! Never again to be separated.
Psalm 77:11 “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.”
I was so blessed to be given thirty four years in the presence of such greatness. I have spent the last nearly nine years in the presence of my Great God. Clinging to Him for dear life. It has been a journey I did not ask for, did not want, and fought not to take. Today, it is a journey I am thankful for. No, I am not thankful my officer and gentleman left earth and left me on earth. No, I am not thankful he had a demon called cancer that ravaged his strong, healthy, happy body and soul. No, I am not thankful for the loneliness. I am thankful for the faithfulness of God, my children, my family, my friends, my church, my community, and for the support and prayers given to the officer and gentleman and me during his year long battle to defeat the monster from individuals around the world. I am thankful for the lessons I have learned. I am thankful for God’s provision of my daily needs through work. I am thankful for opportunities to share what I have learned and continue to learn so others do not feel alone in the valley. I am thankful that God is with me and I am never alone. I am thankful for the children now grown and the Beauties (granddaughters) who are so attentive and caring. I am blessed among women. My cup really is running over with goodness and love. (Cup of Christmas, December 3, 2015)
I Thessalonians 5:18 “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
I recently visited his final resting place. He is not there! Though his body “sleeps” among his fellow heroes, I know he is more alive today than ever before. (Land of Being Alive, January 8, 2016) Like King David, my officer and gentleman, whose name means king, was “a man after God’s own heart.” Perfect? He would be the first to tell you “Not at all,” but sure perfect for me. I am at peace knowing each day, I am one day closer to being with Christ and reunited with all those I love who also loved Christ and are now with Him, especially MY officer and gentleman.
I am thankful for a husband who loved God first. I am thankful for his leadership, love, integrity, honor, and strength. I am thankful he cheers us on from heaven. I am thankful he was mine and I was his. God is so good! And we are both fine.
“Telling my heart to beat again,”
Thank you Father for loving us always!