As you know by now, Janet and I have been looking forward all summer long to our trip to Hawaii. And as you also know, the trip didn’t go exactly as planned – but that’s what happens when we make plans and life intervenes. More than 40 years ago, Janet and I were married on the south side of Chicago at Trinity United Methodist Church. It was a Friday evening, at 7:00. A candlelight service – and the wedding was held at the same church where both our families attended. In fact, it was where I met Janet’s folks more than 15 years before we were married – when we were both very young – 5 or 6.
As I look back at that event, it seems like it was yesterday – when in fact it was now more than 4 decades ago. And it wouldn’t even cross my mind, after all these years, to have our lives any other way. Throughout the years, I have mellowed some; and I would never have considered going to seminary back in those early days. I wanted to be a surgeon, and although I was accepted to Northwestern University to get my undergrad degree and continue on to medical school, it was out of reach financially and so my life took a turn I never expected.
Janet and I would have still known each other – that happened way before college – but we probably would’t have decided to get married and spend the rest of our lives together. It’s odd for me now to realize that one of the most painful consequences of my young life, the failure to attend Northwestern, was also the catalyst to provide the greatest joy of my entire life – my love affair with Janet. And I am sure that Janet, if she was writing this post, would pass along similar stories about her life and the choices that she made that resulted in her attending school closer to home after her sister and brother-in-law graduated from college. That strange series of events brought us together and the rest, as they say, is history.
I remember when we put together a 25th anniversary celebration for my parents. I don’t think that Janet or I ever really thought about what life would be like so many years in the future for us. And here we are – having blown way past the 25 year mark ourselves. And while many people make big deals out of anniversaries, we never have. Yes, we celebrate, but usually alone and very quietly. We believe that life happens day by day and every day that God give us together is a day to celebrate our love for one another. And throughout the years, I have become a little less social than I used to be and we are more “home bodies” than we were when we first were married.
While many of our friends still are quite active socially, that just isn’t how we spent our time. In fact, we usually sit in front of the TV while I write my post each evening. I know – DULL… So it was really something special when we decided to travel to Hawaii – a place that we have wanted to see for the entire time we have been married. And to be sure, the first three days we were there, including our anniversary on August 24th, were terrific. We had a quiet day and dinner together in one of the private dining rooms on the cruise ship, having boarded earlier that day. And then the tragedy the next morning of Nancy’s passing – life can change so quickly. So suddenly, the quiet of the day before was met with the frantic reality of returning to the mainland to prepare for Janet’s mother’s memorial service.
And while we will always remember her passing on the day after our anniversary, it doesn’t diminish her life, our lives together or all the blessings our family has had for all these years. Hopefully, the blessings will continue for many years to come. So while it was a short lived trip to Hawaii, we had a great anniversary celebration and we chalk up another year together – 40 married with 55 total years of knowing one another. The verse for this evening is a simple one – somehow it suits us – from the book of Proverbs. We are told in Proverbs 5:18, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Enough said? I think so.
My encouragement this evening is to affirm that God wants you to live your life, dedicated to Him, day by day… And every day is special – not just anniversaries – although I admit that we are a people who seem to remember and celebrate occasions as we get a little older. My prayer is that you have someone in your life who is as important to you as Janet is to me. I just can’t even imagine my life without her. And so we continue, one day at a time – starting the next decade of married life. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…