I am still in awe of what happened 22 years ago on March 1, 1997. The moment you stepped into the sanctuary at Peace Lutheran Church in Greenview, Missouri the whole place turned to see the most beautiful woman, but I was the fortunate one who would get to see you every day for the rest of our lives. Still to this day your beauty captures my heart and attention.
Our love story starts really began 42 years ago when you were only five years old, and I was just three. You and your mother began praying for your future husband. The prayers were offered continually while you all lived in the State of Washington. What we didn’t know at the time is that we both lived in the same state, but God sure did, and He began to orchestrate our first date many years later in the State of Missouri.
The two of us were solid in our stance to wait on God for the very best and to not move in any direction until He revealed His plan for our lives. We both graduated college and began down the path He was leading us. We were only three miles apart from each other, our steps never crossed.
October 4, 1993, while I was a Children’s Minister at Sunrise Bible Church in Sunrise Beach, Missouri. The church had a special meeting with Rod and Cheryl McClain. It was during that Sunday evening service that Rod asked me a question. He said, “Do you want to get married? ” I answered, “Of course I do.”
What he said next would lay a solid foundation for Real Love|Real Life. I was encouraged to throw away any mental lists that I had in looking for a spouse and replace it with three spirit-led directives. This amazing couple then asked to pray for me for my future spouse. They warned me ahead of time that God had used them many times to pray for this and within a year most would be married.
Step One: Ask for a mate who loves God more than they love me so that they can love me.
Real Love|Real Life has its foundation in the author of love and life. Our marriage started in Him, stays in Him, and will end in Him. We both know firsthand that if it wasn’t for the love of God at the center of our marriage that we would be a statistic of divorce and not a celebration of marriage all these years later. The God kind of Love continues to be the dependable source of our relationship.
Step Two: Ask for a mate who is a Soul-Winner.
Real Love|Real Life is consumed with eternity. Our marriage needed to be more than just about the two of us but consumed with His plans and purposes.
John 3:16 TPT says, “For this is how much God loved the world he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life.”
I will never forget you and I planning our wedding ceremony. You were adamant that Jesus Christ would be represented in every aspect. Your passion and love for music were expressed throughout, and each song pointed our guest to Him. It has been our desire throughout the years to keep our marriage pointing the viewers towards Him.
Step Three: Make sure that you and your mate are not unequally yoked.
Real Love|Real Life will take the time to make sure there are common pursuits in the future. Our mutual pursuits included family, ministry, and children. You had just graduated with your degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education, and I had just become a children’s minister after college.
When I think about the three common pursuits of family, ministry, and children, I see them as the three pillars in our marriage that define our past and continues to determine our future. We intentionally made family our goal. Our pursuits in ministry have remained focused on children. When we were unable to bear children of our own making, we were led to adopt three of the most amazing daughters, a grandson, and another grandchild on the way.
Real Love|Real Life has real moments. These moments could have destroyed our marriage. Instead, our determination to place our FOCUS on HIM instead of our mistakes have defined our marriage. We started with the perfect wedding, the perfect honeymoon, the perfect first house, the perfect first several years. Then it hit, what was perfect wasn’t so perfect after all. We focused on what tried to destroy us:
*Infertility crushed the dream of having Steven Charles, Barridee Denise, Christel Irene, and James Michael.
*Poor Money Management cost our business and has led to so many other issues.
*Lost Hope caused our focus to be taken off of Him and onto what we were good at and it magnified our issues.
*Failure to Communicate opened the door to our separation and kept us from the reality of our need to openly discuss with each other about our failed expectations.
Today as we celebrate 22 years of marriage, I am reminded of the day you came home from Ashes To Beauty conference with Encounter Ministries. We embraced for the first time in years. It was at that moment that God supernaturally healed our marriage from the things trying to destroy us.
The very next week we had planned to go to Hope Restored in Branson, Missouri to prove that we should no longer be married. We expected to make it the last ditched effort to assure ourselves that our marriage couldn’t be fixed. But GOD knew better, and we spent the next 5 days discovering His plan for our marriage.
Real Love|Real Life are the few words that come to mind about our marriage. Happy Anniversary to My Most Wonderful Love and the greatest woman that I know. Your an inspiration to me and I thank God that before we were even born, He had a plan for our lives, and even our marriage. What the enemy meant for our destruction, God has turned around for His Glory.