I TREASURE HER!
October 31st was the 44th anniversary of the night I met my wife. I remember it like it was yesterday as I have treasured that moment all these years. I had just driven to Rockwell City, Iowa to attend my first Christian conference since devoting my life to Jesus Christ. That evening as I pulled into the gravel parking lot of the camp it began pouring down rain. There was a popcorn stand right near the edge of the parking lot with an awning that kept the rain off people standing under it. I got out of my car, ran as fast as I could to stand under the awning, and noticed a few other people had done the same thing. There was a group of several people already talking to my left, and on my right was one other person by themselves simply staring out at the rain. I thought it would be kind to say hello, and introduce myself to this person. That person was Kathy. As the rain poured down, we began to share our stories of how we came to Christ and what God had been doing in our lives. It was without a doubt a divine and sacred moment, clearly orchestrated by God. Without the rain sent by God, driving us simultaneously to the popcorn stand, under that awning, we would have never met each other, nor had such a meaningful conversation. I was stunned by the genuine sincerity of her devotion and love for Jesus Christ. I treasure the way she talked about her faith. I treasure the sweetness of her spirit and her voice. I treasure the radiant glow that emanated from her face and her soul, that was unmistakably flowing from a heart so authentic, so pure, and so in love with her Savior. I treasure the fact that the next afternoon, she decided to get baptized even though they needed to break through a thin layer of ice to baptize her. That was how serious she was about following Jesus Christ.
I treasure how the conference ended on the last night. I had not spoken with Kathy since the first evening in the rain at the popcorn stand. I had asked the Lord if He wanted us to speak again, to have us literally bump into each other. I was standing in a crowded room, talking with a group of brothers as we ate our snacks. I asked these men if I could throw away their trash for them. As I gathered it up, I stepped back to turn and bumped into someone. I said, “Excuse me” and started to go, only to realize the person I bumped into was Kathy. God answered my exact prayer! Then and there we visited more and shared what God was doing in our lives. We also exchanged addresses to begin to correspond.
I treasure those letters to this day. I treasure Kathy for the persecution, ridicule, and suffering she endured because of her love for Jesus and her love for me, it was beyond what most of you would imagine. I treasure the way she just kept persevering, so steadfast and faithful, no matter how difficult, or filled with trouble our lives became. I treasure her physical and spiritual discipline. I treasure her contented spirit and her willingness to accept whatever living conditions, deprivations, and sacrifices we had to endure because she loved me, respected me, and knew we lived for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and not for the things of this world. I treasure watching her become a mother. I treasure the extraordinary way she loved and trained our children, she was so kind, so patient, so faithful and attentive in the training of our precious little children. What Michael Jordan was to basketball, Kathy was to motherhood and children. It was magic, supernatural, unlike anything I have witnessed ever and I treasure it deeply in my heart.
I treasure the way she so tirelessly laid her life down for our family, prepared our meals, and educated our children around that old kitchen table till they went to college. I treasure the way she devoted herself to our home and our family. I treasure how seriously she obeyed Titus 2:4-5! I treasure the way our 12 grandchildren adore her and get to experience her kindness, her grace, her deep faith and the love she has for each of them. They light up when they are around Grandma Kathy. She was and is simply amazing.
I treasure her love, her unshakeable commitment, and devotion to me. I treasure her heroic faith, watching it lived out right in front of me over 44 years of trials, extreme hardships, deep anguish, loss, sorrows, grief, injustices, betrayals, great sacrifices, sleepless nights, health challenges and pain, and getting to share with her the deep companionship of the soul, of walking through suffering together with God. I treasure her courage and bravery. She has been so courageous! I treasure the many intimate moments, and the life of faith journey we have shared.
I treasure being in her presence, and knowing that I am with the person who understands me, truly understands me, and accepts me like no other human being in the whole world. I treasure her kind, encouraging words of praise and affirmation, the genuine love and respect she gives to me, though I know I am full of shortcomings, and flaws. I treasure her steadfast belief in me and the way she has devoted herself to me as her husband. I treasure her loyalty and trustworthiness. All my confidences are safe with her. I treasure her submissive spirit and her willingness to follow me and my leadership, despite my mistakes. I treasure her gentle and quiet spirit, and the way she hopes in God. She is truly a daughter of Sarah!
I treasure the simple life God has given us together, to live under the same roof, to enjoy the same simple foods, the same simple living space, and the deep fellowship we share as we pray together each day. Kathy sitting in the old leather recliner, me pacing the kitchen floor as I cry out to God, worshiping him, bringing all our needs, and our family’s needs to our Heavenly Father.
I treasure her devout Christian life and her deep fear and reverence for the Lord. I treasure her disciplined devotional life, her love for the word of God. I treasure the way she always has a verse for everything. I treasure the peace that emanates from her spirit and brings me such comfort. I treasure her loving smile that warms my spirit every time I see it. I treasure the grace that flows out of her to every person she interacts with. I treasure everything about this lady in my life.
In 2002, I was staying for a week in an upstairs apartment in Honduras as I was ministering there. A friend loaned me his guitar and I wrote this song for Kathy, for our anniversary. She means everything to me, and I share it now with you.
Today’s our special day,
First time I saw your face,
Why would God give me,
Oh, if I lived a thousand lifetimes,
Through these many years,
I thank God every day,
Let me urge every one of you, treasure your mate in your heart, mind, and soul, and let them know it and you will find a richness, depth, and joy to your love that only increases with time.