Happy Valentine's Day!
I hope it is a day filled with love for you.
Nick and I are spending our day speaking on the topic of marriage at
a MOPS meeting today. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate together...
sharing with a group of mothers of pre-schoolers about what has sustained our marriage these past 25 years.
We would covet your prayers.
That the Lord would use us to speak truth into the lives of these women.
That we would encourage and equip them to be the wives and moms the Lord desires them to be,
and most of all that we would glorify the Lord.
Nick will totally be outnumbered today...but having been the only male in a house with 4 females all these years I think he will be ok. ;)
And being that it is the day of Love, I thought I would share our love story.
My dear friend, Danielle, has been sharing love stories on her blog, Take Heart.
I shared mine on Monday over at her place but wanted to share it here too.
You should really go check out the other love stories....they will put a smile on your face for sure.
Thank you again for praying for us today as we share with these precious mommas !
I was tickled to death when Danielle asked me to share my love story. Mine starts 27 years ago so I have to go waaay back. So much "life" has happened between then and now and it's
sprinkled.. no saturated with God's grace...I look back and am so amazed at His hand on us even when we didn't know Him or live for Him. Many of our friends and family from back home call us their favorite "success story". Because you see, statistically we should have never made it past our first year. But we did. I'm so thankful God is not into statistics. Nope. He had much bigger plans for two fifteen year olds who fell in love.
We started dating when we were both 15. And from our very first date at Pizza Hut, where I nervously chewed on a straw the entire night that I still have in my hope chest, we were inseparable. Nick was my first real boyfriend and I just knew he was "the one".
We were high school sweet hearts to the very core. He was an all around incredible athlete being scouted by many colleges. I was on the homecoming court. We were both on the Sweetheart Court. Blah, blah, blah.....all that stuff teen movies are made of.
We were loving life....and then, in the middle of our Junior year....,
I discovered I was pregnant.
I share about that here in a letter to 16 year old me but let me just tell you....I thought my life had ended. I thought we had messed everything up... as in permanently. But I didn't realize at the time what kind of Redeemer Jesus was. How He is the restorer of all things broken and that He makes beautiful things out of marred imperfect people.
Nick and I got married three weeks before our first daughter Elizabeth was born. Nick started his senior year of high school as a husband and became a daddy the second week of school. As I said earlier....statistically we shouldn't still be together. But we are. This August we will celebrate our 25th anniversary. God did that.
Long story short...even though Nick was scouted heavily, he didn't keep his grades up so playing ball in college didn't happen. Fast forward a couple of years and Nick decided to join the Navy.
We had never been a part and the two months for boot camp seemed like a life sentence so when he graduated, we both decided I would move to Great Lakes, Illinois with him where he had to finish up his school. Much to my mom's dismay, we loaded as much as we could in our Mercury Topaz and scraped together about $500 and headed to Great Lakes to rent an apartment. We thought we had a load of money but little did we know, that wouldn't even be enough for a deposit.. much less the first months rent and turning on the utilities and everything else that goes with moving. But off we went with $500 dollars and whole lot of love.
In the Navy, when you rent off base, you have to check into the housing department to get a list of approved rentals. So Nick goes in to get the list while I sit in the car with our sleeping 2 year old. He comes out a few minutes later with the biggest grin I had ever seen on him. This is one of those times when God showed out in our lives when we weren't even seeking Him (my mom's prayers!) ....He had the keys to a newly remodeled apartment ON BASE... As in free.... no rent...no deposit. And the biggest miracle of all.....NO WAITING. He literally had the keys in his hands. People, if any of you know anything about the military, then you know that just doesn't happen.
But it did happen. God did that.
So here is Nick fresh out of boot camp. He's not even a petty officer and we are living in the same housing where all of his instructors live! That is a God thing. Now since we were only gonna be there for 6 months, the Navy wouldn't pay to move any of our things...so this is how we lived the entire time we were there...
Not a single stick of furniture the entire time. (those curtains were thrifted and our neighbor loaned us the tv.) And oh...I forgot to mention I was expecting our second daughter by this time. We found a twin mattress at the Navy thrift store and Nick and a very pregnant me slept on that ...together. Elizabeth slept in a sleeping bag next to us the entire time. But I loved every minute of it....just being together. We look back on Great Lakes with great memories.
Fast forward a few years down the road, a move to Virginia, two more daughters, and two six month deployments.....
...we moved to Meridian, Mississippi. This is where the Lord interrupted both of our lives, saved us by His grace, and put us on an entirely different path. Basically, He rocked our world in the best kind of way.
Nick had always been a very attentive and loving husband. He had always put me and the girls above anyone or anything else. But when He began to put the Lord above us, our marriage began to strengthen in a way I had never experienced. It was like our usual romance but illuminated and deepened a thousand times over.
It wasn't long after that, the Lord called Nick into full time ministry.
Here we are the year Nick was called to his first church as pastor. We are only a year older than our son-in law is now. Woah. Talk about full circle.
Don't get me wrong, we have had our share of rough times... We've suffered loss, experienced the disappointment of miscarriage, had severe financial struggles, dealt with depression, had health problems and endured the journey of a prodigal child to name a few. But all of that made us into who we are today. And through it all, my man loved me. He has always made me feel beautiful..desirable....whether I am a size 6 or a size 14. I could never put into words what he means to me so I won't even try. He's my rock. He's my best friend. He's my lover.
He's my man.
We are now entering into a new season of life.
The empty nest.
Come September, all three of our girls will be married and gone. In the beginning of this journey when our first daughter was married 5 years ago, I never thought I would ever embrace and enjoy this season..the empty nest...my girls gone. But through God's grace tendering my momma's heart, He has helped me to loosen the grip and with open hands...let them go so I can enjoy being their mom in a new way. A new role.
And in letting go...our family grew. We haven't lost our girls, but have gained three sons.....
And did I mention GRAND CHILDREN?!!
I'm so thankful that when my girls were old enough to have their own love story, their daddy had set the bar high.
They had watched him love on me, romance me and honor me me through the years.
They have seen us in our "for better and for worse" and they know that marriage is for the long haul...through the good times and the bad times.
I am so thankful that we cultivated our love story through the years...that we didn't drown ourselves in the lives of our kids.
Because soon the dust is gonna settle and they will all be gone and all that will be left is me and him...us.
Well us and maybe a few grandchildren every now and then..
I am beyond excited about this new chapter of our love story.
Love it. As always.ReplyDelete
I said a prayer for you two.
You have such a beautiful love story. It's quite similar to my parents' love story.ReplyDelete
I'll be praying for the two of you today!
Honey, I hope to have a love story like this someday. My first one did not end so well, but I have trust in the Lord that He is writing another one for me and will reveal in His time. God bless your love!!ReplyDelete
TEARS!! What a beautiful story!! I hung on every word! So beautiful to see what beauty God has created in your lives! Have you heard the song by Gungor, Beautiful Things? I felt like I heard that playing in the background the whole time I was reading!ReplyDelete
I loved reading this on Danielle's blog and loved it all over again here!! So amazing!!! I shared a brief version of ours here: http://www.laurencasper.com/2013/02/14/the-real-thing/ReplyDelete
I loved your story! I was a single mom at 16, so to hear of other's success makes me tremendously happy! Now married with two more little ones, I can only hope that my marriage is as strong as yours. Truly inspiring!ReplyDelete
love, love, love this! what a great testimony to share with others...praying for y'all today. God is so stinkin' awesome!ReplyDelete
God bless, happy valentine's day!
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Such a beautiful love story yours is and such an example of God's love and grace...and what sweet little grandbabies :)ReplyDelete
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This is a beautiful love story. And you inspire me so much. To have more faith in life, to discover all the things HE has laid out for me. I'm not a church goer, but every time I read your words I feel closer to Him and HIS spirit. Thank you Honey, connecting with you has been a huge blessing!ReplyDelete
Found you from Danielle's blog. I love this story! God is soooo good! You have a beautiful family. Looking forward to reading more!ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing this. My husband and I also married young and we are celebrating our 18th this year :) 3 kiddos later and we are still very much in love and with His grace we have become closer and closer (didn't think that was possible but oh it is so possible with His love) Thank You :) many hugs and prayers for you.ReplyDelete
your story... it blesses me every time i hear it. every time. we've had the same struggles you've had with exception of the prodigal child (ours are still too young. praying!). your story-His story in you, gives me continued hope for our story.ReplyDelete
I have goosebumps while reading this. What a huge demonstration of God's provision, grace, and love. Your words and your family are beautiful.ReplyDelete
What a sweet testimony of God's love, grace, and provision. Your words and your family are beautiful.ReplyDelete
You have a sweet sweet love story. I smiled at that empty apt. We had the 'minimalist' look going in our first apartment and I remember how thrilling it was to buy a kitchen table and chairs. We kept them forever and my daughter had it in her apt for a while too. Those early years were special. The empty nest years harken back to them a bit, except we have a fully furnished home now : ) Enjoy your day!ReplyDelete
this is precious for a million reasons. happy (belated) valentines day and how did the MOPS talk go?ReplyDelete
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Beautiful love story!ReplyDelete
Loved reading your love story! My husband and will celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary next month. We were high school sweethearts and dated for 5 years before we were married. It seems all our peers are divorced remarried...its always so special to see other couples who have not only survived 20 plus years of marriage, but thrived in their love for one another.ReplyDelete