He saw her across the gymnasium – a petite girl with long golden brown hair. His Science Fair project was on Bridges and hers was on the Human Body. He finally got up the nerve to speak with her and bought her a Coke. A couple years later they attended their Junior and Senior proms together but were heading to different states for college.
Over those years many hours were spent on dorm hallway phones and almost daily letters sent back and forth. Summers and holidays they happily reunited and by their senior year they began planning a future together. He was going to be a Civil Engineer and she was studying Nursing – funny how their early interests would become their careers.
Senior year of college, something wasn’t right – she became very ill. Graduation was followed by a trip to the hospital for tests and later major surgery. He sat by her bedside praying while she recovered in the ICU – what was God doing? They postponed the wedding even though she wrestled with God over that. She realized her fiancee had proven his faithfulness “in sickness and health”! Their bond only strengthened as they thanked God for healing and chose to keep Him in the middle of every day – good days and bad. Their wedding verse;
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalms 118:24 (ESV)
After the wedding they started their happily ever after and saved to buy a house. Three children came along one right after the other – a girl and two boys. Their lives took a different path when child #2 was born with cognitive and physical disabilities. Those early years included open heart surgery for that little one and casts on club feet. Doctor visits and seeing therapists became the new normal. The now mother of three also continued to have medical issues and the daughter had learning disabilities. Challenging? Yes. But nothing is impossible with God so they clung to His promises.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jer 29:11 (ESV)
Life was good just different because there are added concerns and some limitations when a family member has a disability. But days were filled with school, sports, church activities, celebrations and vacations just like everyone else. Most importantly they made life-long friendships.
Love and a solid faith in God along with a lot of family and friend support helped them overcome and in turn reach out. They became involved with Family and Marriage ministry to help others. Communication and commitment is necessary while quitting is NOT an option. The couple also became involved with Disability ministries like Special Olympics and served in their local church.
They learned that every day is an opportunity for grace with communication being the key -especially when an apology is necessary. Often they would laugh or make a joke about something else going wrong. Laughter does help make the burdens lighter!
After 36+ years this couple still celebrates with gratitude for all God has provided. They have met some amazing people and traveled to beautiful places they never dreamed possible. Their story is far from over as now in mid-life they plan for the future and retirement. Their parents are gone and the children are grown with their own careers. The son with disabilities is doing well. There were many more difficulties as well as great stories through those years because life is an imperfect balance. They still have arguments and misunderstandings but at the end of every day find security and comfort in each others’ arms.
Life is not perfect but good.
What advice would they give you this Valentine’s Day?
Set priorities: God first, Spouse (before self) then Family and everything else
Laugh – A little bit (or a lot) of humor helps along the way!
Listening well helps avoid misunderstanding
Trust God is in control even when life seems out of control.
During the hardest times of life – PRAY MORE – God will give you the peace and strength to not only endure but to excel when you trust in Him.
Loving one another requires patience, over-looking faults and compassion.
Teach your children well.
Always kiss good night.
Review your own imperfect love story and have a blessed Valentine’s Day.