Today I launch this site to share our GodStories to help others chart the waters that lay ahead in the river of life.
49 years ago we began our wild ride together.
I can still picture you, my 18 year old sweetheart, kneeling by me at the altar, sweat dripping off your long Vincent nose. I had just promised…
“I, Cathy, take you, Don, to be my husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish and obey (did I really promise that?) til death do us part, and thereto I pledge you my faith.”
Weren’t we young, honey? Clueless about what lay ahead, we expected OUR life to be better (not worse), richer (not poorer), full of health (not sickness). We were certain our love was at its peak. We didn’t know that life would be so hard, that love would also be so much work, that we would always be happily incompatible, and that we’d be even more crazy in love 49 years later .
For better—for worse That first year was a doozy as we each wrestled to get our way and prove that we were right. Remember how late one night in May you came home exhausted from farming and found an empty supper table and a missing bride? Frantically you searched among river cabins and dark country roads until you found me, lonely and bored, at my folks’ house, pondering, “What have I gotten myself into?” You were asking a similar question, “did I say ’til death do us part?’”
The next year God swooped into our lives and began showing us the meaning of “for better,” transforming us, teaching how to love and respect with our actions and showing us how to be fun to live with (most of the time). “For better” meant proudly seeing our four amazing children, born in a span of six years, all graduate from college in a span of four semesters. “For better” meant having seven delightful grandkids (our reward for not killing our own kids). “For better” meant doing the journey with all the incredible friends we would do life with along the way. Loving God and loving people– that sums up “for better” for us.
For richer or poorerWe have had an incredibly rich life without much money. I chuckle at the untruth many believe that “Money isn’t everything, but it is right up there with oxygen.” I wouldn’t trade our rich life filled with joy and love amidst tragedies and triumphs for a life of wealth and comfort. When Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows,” He wasn’t kidding. He also promised, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” John 10:10 He have done that in our lives too.
What a ride we’ve had together with Him, overcoming what the world has thrown at us: losing our baby Cory, seeing your new dream shop flattened to the ground, facing depression, downsizings, and on and on, each test turning into a test-imony of God’s faithfulness. God has miraculously provided financially too in big and small ways, such as when we purchased hearing aids with an anonymous gift, wiped out a huge debt load unexpectedly, and discovered your ideal truck in a cornfield. We have experienced His riches indeed.
In sickness and in healthYet our most amazing Godstories would be when God stepped in and healed– healing me of epilepsy of 15 years, giving our “infertile” daughter two children, restoring our son after being beaten and left for dead, regrowing our granddaughter’s finger which had been severed, amazing stories after heart attacks and your stroke, and so much more. Now as we age, I am even more glad God still heals.
To love and to cherish and to obeyOn our wedding day, I recall that Granddad Craig really enjoyed having me repeat after him “to obey” in my vows. I’m still working on promise, or at least thinking about it, honey. You do make it easier as you have never lorded it over me but have gently honored me; it isn’t too difficult to obey someone who loves you like Christ loves the church.
Til death do us partAfter your quadruple bypass, doctors had braced me for not having you around very long, but God intervened and here you are, twenty-two years later, still passionate about me, delighting in people, determined to follow God’s leadings, and living life every day to the fullest.
Thank you, Don, for this ride that still takes my breath away. Who knows, the best still may be yet to come, beyond that next bend. I’m looking forward to finding out as we travel toward the 50 year mark together, my love.