Today is our 37th wedding anniversary. We certainly didn’t do things in a proper order. For me, though I had accepted Jesus as Lord when I was in my early teens, I had been a rebellious child of God. I didn’t really know any better although in my heart I knew my lifestyle was wrong. See, even though I spent my early childhood going to church on my own I had not been a Bible reader. No one told me that once I became a ‘born again’ Christian that I should be reading God’s word. I barely knew there were ten commandments. I had gotten a charm bracelet from my grandmother once, it only had 9 of the ten commandments. It didn’t have the ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ commandment for some unknown reason. Maybe because I was just a child and she didn’t think it was appropriate? Maybe it was just a manufacturing error? Who knows why but it didn’t. Not that it mattered at the time. I was, after all, just an elementary school age child.
I think that was a foretelling of my future. I had married young at 18 but that marriage did not last. Five years I lived with abuse and in that 5 years I never had any children. As a matter of fact, after much testing I was told I would never have children. No one ever thought to tell me that possibly my body was reacting to stress from the abusive relationship I was in. Though one doctor when trying to determine the cause of physical symptoms I had developed found nothing physically wrong and determined that it was psychosomatic and that what ever personal issues were causing me such stress I should resolve them. I did a year or so later. I divorced my first husband, soon married a second and realized within 5 months that it was a mistake and divorced again. (Looking back I believe during those years of marriage to the wrong men it was a God thing that I did not have any children.) Determined not to make those kinds of mistakes again I went off to college and began living a pretty promiscuous lifestyle.
I met Mark early through one of the first fellows I dated when I moved to the college town and began working. (That is a story in itself how I got my first job there – a God ordained event.) In any case, while dating this fellow I met Mark. I was not particularly favorably impressed with him and one of the first things I ever said to him directly was an insult to which his response was to simply get up and walk out without saying a word.
When that relationship was dissolving I went to talk to Mark, though I had intended to talk to his older brother who was best friends with the fellow. The fellow was there talking to the older brother, so my puny brain thought, oh well they’ve both known him just as long, one brother is as good as the other. That was also a God arranged thing. He wasn’t interested in helping me to patch up a failing relationship. Instead of finding out what went wrong with that other relationship, I found myself attracted to Mark instead. He was smart, witty in a way that made me laugh, and I thought him a good looking guy too. We began a relationship that was based on more than physical attraction. This year it will be 40 years since that fateful first conversation. I can’t say exactly what date we actually got together, but, I know for sure that by October of 1978 we were definitely ‘a thing’ and have remained so to this day. Still, we were not living a Godly lifestyle, though, he introduced me to Biblical concepts that I never knew about. He was after all a PK so had a lot more Bible knowledge than I, who had never read the Bible for myself.
My folks had bought me a little travel trailer to live in while I was going to school. Mark bought his own and lived two doors down in the same trailer park. One day I was sitting in my tiny living room with the front door open just watching the activity up the street, (I lived in a corner in the center of the park.) when God spoke to me in a vision. The vision was an image of me coming down out of the sky and pointing at me and saying, “You are pregnant.” Well, needless to say, having wanted a big family of children since I was young, I never prayed harder in my life that this was true. It was too early for me to even know yet, I wasn’t even to a point that my menstrual cycle was late. When it did get to the point it was late I tried the early home pregnancy test available at the time. It was negative, but, I didn’t trust the accuracy in those early days. A few days later I was sick, really sick, Mark was working on the swamp cooler on his little trailer so a friend of ours took me to the ER. They asked me if I was pregnant and I told them it was possible. Sure enough, they tested and the result was positive. Our friend was the first to find out. When I got back I yelled the news up to Mark on the roof. I think he was a little stunned by the news since I was supposed to be unable to have children. I think God was up there laughing at us knowing that we would eventually do the right thing.
Well, life went on and I was unwilling to force Mark to take on the role of father unless he wanted to. I spoke to God often during that pregnancy. I wanted a boy, but, if it was a girl then I asked God to make her look a lot like me. He answered that prayer and a little more. I told God that if I had to I was willing to raise this child alone. He sent another young woman to my front door inviting me to church. The church was across the street from the university and had a transportation program. I took her up on the invitation and spent the rest of my pregnancy going to that church. They even had a baby shower for me. They were a loving and caring congregation who did not make me feel bad about being an unwed mother. It wasn’t like I was a teenager who’d never been married. I was 25 and twice divorced.
After my daughter was born she was a few days old before Mark came around to see her. When he arrived my mom was changing her diaper and Mark went to watch over her shoulder. When Mom was done she picked her up and handed her to Mark. He says that it was then that he decided that this baby needed a father and he was it. Shortly after that we actually moved in together and when the baby was about 2 months old we found an apartment and really began life together as a family.
The following winter, we were poor. I had dropped out of school and worked for awhile at a bank and he had worked somewhere until he was laid off and was on unemployment. When he was looking for a job and had interviews we had no one to watch the baby and could not afford daycare. I missed too many days of work and was fired. So, the winter was very lean. I had returned to school part-time and my classes were in the evening because when the semester started I was still working. We couldn’t afford gas so I rode a bicycle all the way across town to go to class. It was really bad when it started to get cold at night. The trip wasn’t all that safe either. But, I survived. During the break between semesters we didn’t go anywhere except to the small church his dad had started when Mark was a young child. They were accepting of us without any judgments about us not being married. Maybe a lot of them didn’t even realize we were not married. I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. Anyway, we spent our days reading the Bible aloud, we took turns and read it from cover to cover during that winter break between semesters. The result was we were convicted that the Lord wanted us to get married and stop ‘living in sin’ as many of the day would have called it.
Even a minimal wedding costs money. We didn’t have it. Not long after we made that decision however, the new school semester started. I don’t remember why my financial aid was late in being disbursed but it wasn’t until the first week of March that I received it, probably because I was late in applying for aid. In any case, when I picked up the money there was a small check for a grant covering the prior part-time semester. That $200 or so was just enough to get married, another God thing. We asked the father of the man who had introduced us to officiate our marriage, he was an ordained minister and an elder in the church we attended. Though he did not often perform marriages he was willing to do so for us. We got our license from the county and bought a simple wedding band. The same fellow who introduced us was the salesman. The band was a plain simple white gold band exactly what I wanted, within our budget, was the last of a discontinued style, and fit me perfectly. That too was a God thing. We got our dress suits cleaned and within a week of getting just enough money to do all that needed to be done we were married. Though we had wanted just a simple small wedding, the entire church showed up and it turned out to be a very nice event.
Since then life has given us many ups and downs but we’ve made it through all the good times and the bad. We have four adult children and a total of 8 grandchildren counting the one step grand daughter who is now an adult herself. There have been times of spiritual growth, times of passing through dry places, and some backsliding. Our love of God and commitment to each other has brought us to this point. I am more in love with my husband now than as I was at the beginning. He still twitter-pates me and will until my life in this mortal realm is done. All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
That is my testimony and though it is not a dramatic testimony as some may have. It is mine and with it the devil is conquered in my life.
Revelation 12:10-12 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
The salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of His Messiah
have now come,
because the accuser of our brothers
has been thrown out:
the one who accuses them
before our God day and night.
11 They conquered him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony,
for they did not love their lives
in the face of death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens,
and you who dwell in them!
Woe to the earth and the sea,
for the Devil has come down to you
with great fury,
because he knows he has a short time.
Be blessed in the Lord Jesus Christ.