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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Love That Lasts

Mother and Daddy, Easter Sunday, 2003

Today is my parent's wedding anniversary---they have been married sixty years. What a wonderful life they have shared together. Though there were many difficult times along the way, they have held on to their faith in God and to each other. Their love for each other has never wavered, their devotion never faltered, their commitment to each other remaining secure through the passage of time. The only thing greater than their love for each other has been their love for God. I am certain this has been the cement that held their marriage together through storms that would otherwise tear them apart.
Born during the Great Depression, both my parents had their share of hardship and want. My Mother was one of seventeen children, several of which died while very young. Her mother died before I was born---Mother speaks of her with such a sadness in her eyes and I know she yearns for her still. Over the years, she has lost all but three of her siblings and her father as well. Daddy's mother was a paraplegic. Thrown from a horse when she was only fifteen, she received an injury to her spinal cord. She lay bedridden for five years before realizing that her life was not over. She became a seamstress and supported herself until she married my grandfather when she was approximately 32. She gave birth to my father and his brother within the next five years. Her faith in God was strong and she ingrained it into my father when he was just a child. Daddy's father was a tobacco grader, a hunter, and a businessman. He taught my father how to make a living on next to nothing. Most of all, he taught Daddy how to be a loving father. Believe me when I say my Daddy is good at loving his family.
Mother and Daddy met and married in August of 1950. I was born the next year. When I was only a few months old, Mother gave her heart to the Lord. Oh, what a Godly woman she has been. Daddy, on the other hand, proved to be harder to win to the Lord. Mother prayed for Daddy for seven long years and, in August of 1958, Daddy became a child of God. He was gloriously and wondrously saved. He has been a true man of God ever since. I think it was after his conversion that Mother and Daddy truly began their marriage.
Growing up as a child in Mother and Daddy's home was a sheer joy. Although I had wanted a sister, each new baby was a boy. After a while, I learned there were benefits to being the only girl (like having your own room). I learned to love each of my four brothers and we have the kind of closeness that has stood the test of time. Daddy decided that each son's name should begin with "D"---Don, David, Daniel, and Dwight. Sometimes it would sound like Mother was stuttering as she tried to call the right name. We would get so tickled and she would laugh along with us. She has truly been the dearest Mother.
My favorite memories of Mother and Daddy through the years has been hearing them pray together. When Daddy came to the Lord, he made it a point to spend time daily in prayer and study of the Word. I recall a time when I passed by his bedroom and saw him kneeling by his bed in prayer. The Bible lay open on the bed and Daddy had his head resting on its pages. I can still remember him asking God to give him what it took to make it where God was. Mother often knelt with him and together they would call the names of each of their five children in prayer, asking God to supply the need and bring us to Him. I can feel the tears begin to flow as I remember these sweet moments.
Though Mother and Daddy lost many family members, nothing hit quite so hard as the loss of their two oldest sons. Don passed in 1980 at the age of twenty-six, David in 1997 at the age of thirty-nine. Oh, how awful it was to watch them grieve and know there was nothing I could do but lift them to the Lord in prayer. Mother's beautiful blue eyes were rarely dry during this time and Daddy would frequently just stand in the hallway and weep. I know that the Lord strengthened them during this time, but they also drew strength from each other. They would cling to each other and pray for each other to be able to endure this horrible loss. I saw their love grow richer and fuller during this time. I recently asked my sweet Mother how she endured the loss of two sons without losing hope and giving up on life. She smiled that beautiful smile of hers and said, "Honey, I make it one day at a time, leaning on the Lord.". I began to weep at the words of this remarkable woman I call Mother, and she, being Mother, hugged me close and just let me cry. Oh, how wonderful is this woman.
Daddy retired from full time pastoring several years ago. He and Mother now spend most of their time in conferences, home Bible studies, and other special services. Daddy especially likes helping young pastors develop their churches and assists them with the business side of pastoring. Mother and Daddy are inseparable and go everywhere together. When I am in their home, I hear them laughing at each other, telling some silly story about one of the grandchildren, and I still hear them pray together. Sometimes, during their Bible reading together, Daddy will get excited and start preaching to Mother. She just sits and listens with a smile on her face and lets Daddy "have the floor".
Sixty years is a long time to be together. When I called Mother to wish them a Happy Anniversary, I jokingly asked how she had put up with Daddy all those years. She laughed and said, "By the grace of God.". Indeed, it is true. Leaning on each other is one thing, but leaning together on the Lord is quite something else. Mother and Daddy will quickly tell you they have indeed made it by the grace of God. For them, there has been no other way.

In Grace,