Today, Dana and I mark our 23rd wedding anniversary, and I am reminded of how blessed I am to have married such a wonderful woman! Indulge me for a post—as I wanted to publicly state why I so deeply esteem and respect this lady I call “my girl!”
From the first moment I knew her, Dana personified grace, godliness, and a sweet spirit. We met in 10th grade, and since that time, I have experience a daily increase of respect, gratitude, and love for her wonderful heart. She’s as close to perfect as any person I have ever known.
From the beginning of our relationship, she affirmed her commitment to follow Christ with me. Before we “got serious” I posed a question. “Would you go with my any where to serve Jesus in any way He calls?” Without hesitation, as a 12th grader, she said, “Yes.” No preconditions. No personal agenda. Just total surrender. That must make God wonderfully pleased with her!
From the early days of our marriage, she has been a student of marriage, family, and ministry. Most people think that marriage and family relationship should just happen automatically—that healthy relationships are easy and self-maintained. Not so. Any enjoyable, healthy relationship requires years of study, practice, skill development, and personal sacrifice—like learning a musical instrument or an advanced job skill. I’m thankful to have married a woman who has never stopped learning how to be a great wife, mother, homemaker, and ministry completer!
From the early days of our parenting, she has poured herself into her family with astounding personal sacrifice. I have been reminded of this all over this past week as she has expended herself in countless ways to welcome her boys home and care for her family with grace, love, and tireless effort. Dana has become an exceptional caregiver—I’m talking world-class! And her abundant joy, delightful laughter, and radiant smile are the warmth of our home and family!
From the beginning of every new year, she has committed with me to savor the adventure of life together—growing our family in God’s grace. With every first day of school, every birthday, every graduation, every report card, every family vacation, every special event—she has seasoned our lives with joy, fun, memories, wonder, and delight! She longs to make her family smile. By her nature, she lives to cultivate joy in others.
From the first news of cancer, she committed to walk through the valley with me by faith. Through tears, and with prayers for healing, she stepped up and trusted God in faith. Through the darkest days of my life, she was sitting there beside me, holding, waiting, praying, caring, comforting, and making the world as comfortable as it could possibly be amidst the suffering. With passionate commitment, fiery love, and an indomitable faith in Jesus, she was by my side helping me survive!
From the earliest moments of God’s call to pastor, she was courageous, faith-filled, and surrendered. Frankly, when I feared, she was confident. When I faltered and struggled to submit to God, she encouraged me to surrender. When the call of God turned out to be 3,000 miles away from everyone we knew and loved for more than two decades, she acknowledged God’s clear call and stepped out in total trust and faith. When it meant walking away from everything we knew in life, though she didn’t “want to”, she was willing.
From the first days here at Emmanuel, she has encouraged, believed, supported, and strengthened me in God’s call. On the days I feel like I’m failing, she has good things to say. When I’ve been too busy, she waits patiently. As I fumble through learning a new role, a new culture, a new church family, and a new “life” she willingly forges through with me—my truest human companion!
Little did I know, 23 years ago, what an amazing person God was placing in my life. Little did we know the mountains of blessings, or the valleys of struggle that we would experience together. Little did I know how little I knew about being a husband. Little did I know how patient and forgiving she would be toward me. Little did I know how much better and stronger our love would grow for one another.
Dana—thank you! You’re the best. I love you with all my heart. If I had a million lifetimes, I would want to live every one of them with you! the only bummer is how fast this one is going by!
And to other couples out there, earlier in your journey—don’t give up. When all the powers of hell come against your marriage—keep loving, keep standing, keep fighting, keep resisting Satan, keep pressing forward, and keep your eyes on the Lord. Choose to love! Choose to stay!
You won’t believe how much you will grow to love one another with every passing year—just because you loved each other enough to STAY!
The best days of your marriage are yet to come!