True confessions: If you were alone in a room and saw someone’s love letter sitting on a table, would you sneak a peek? Well, your character is safe, because you have my (and my husband’s!) permission to read my Valentine to him …
Can you believe it’s our 23rd Valentine’s Day together? Pass the Oil of Olay and the Grecian Formula! I remember our first when we’d only been dating for two months. I’d had a fifteen hour work day and you were out of town. My mood and my expectations were low. Exhausted and depressed, all I wanted to do was go to bed and forget that the rest of the world was celebrating love. And that’s when I saw the beautiful package on my pillow. You, Mr. Sneaky, had asked my parents to place it there. I opened the velvet box and squealed over the heart necklace with little rubies and diamonds – a bold choice for our young relationship!
Fast forward to our fifth year of marriage when you discovered that TWA had round trip tickets from St. Louis to Paris for $300 over Valentine’s weekend. (No big surprise that they went out of business!) I was finally pregnant with our long awaited baby and knew that this would be our last “Just Us” getaway. Will you ever forget sitting on the steps of Sacre Coeur with all the other lovers to watch the sun dip behind the Eiffel Tower?
We had no idea that a brave new world was awaiting us when we returned home. The next week I went on prolonged bed rest and months later we became parents, but not like the pre-natal class films described. With Lily’s diagnosis of Down syndrome and a heart defect, we were drafted into the mysterious world of “Special Needs.” You took to it much faster than I did. You had an underdog to champion, your tiny damsel in distress. Remember how you actually prayed that baby #2 would have Down syndrome because of how much you loved life with Lily? I, on the other hand, was open to new adventures and our daughters, Grace and Hope, have certainly brought us an abundance of those.
And now, a blur of years later, here we are, shocked to find ourselves middle-aged. We’ve earned our grey hair, which looks so handsome on you, while mine magically disappears every eight weeks. God has blessed us with countless “for betters” – our beautiful family, a business that provides for us, a great church, a loyal dog, and a moody cat. We’ve experienced plenty of “for worse” too – burying three parents and a sister, family dynamics that I describe as “our issues have issues,” and the sun has gone down on our wrath too many times.
Every day as I get dressed, I look at the wedding present a friend made for us – a cross stitching of “Two are stronger than one, for if one falls, the other will lift him up again.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Doesn’t this describe our journey well? Over the years, we’ve both taken turns falling, and yes, sometimes we accuse each other of pushing! But our hope is found in verse 12: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” When we’re united in love, we are so much stronger than on our own. But we’ve learned that our love isn’t enough to overcome the brokenness we’ve faced. And that’s why I’m so grateful that the love of Jesus is the super-gluing, power-infusing, fountain of forgiveness cord that keeps us together.
So even though the closest thing to Paris we’ll see this Valentine’s Day is the French toast our girls will make us, I love you even more than I did then. “My beloved is mine and I am his.” Song of Solomon 6:3
Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, “A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!” Robert Browning