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Forty years ago today my life changed.  I went from being single to being married.

As I think about that day, a multitude of thoughts flow through my mind.

I remember standing at the back of Lakeview Wesleyan Church in Marion, IN, thrilled and amazed that my dad was standing beside me.  We didn’t know until the day before that he would actually walk me down the aisle.  (If you know much about my family, you know that my dad was a backward, shy, awkward, uncomfortable man) I couldn’t believe that he would actually face all those people and walk with me.  I was so filled with joy.

I remember John, standing at the altar of the church, beginning to sing to me.  The tears started flowing at that moment…and they didn’t stop until we ended the service and walked to the back together as husband and wife.  They weren’t pretty tears, either.  But they were tears of joy.

I remember the sadness that my best friend, Marsha, couldn’t be standing there with me that day because she had just given birth to her precious Jeff.  To this day it makes me kind of sad that we missed sharing that day together.  But I am so grateful that the Lord gave us (and Darrell) the next 40 years to continue a deep, lasting, profound love that has given me unbelievable joy.

I guess most of all, I remember the love that I had for John Bray that day.  I clearly remember thinking, “I feel sorry for everyone else who is getting married because no one could love anyone as much as I love John Bray.”  Probably pretty naive, I now realize, but it’s how I felt.  Oh the joy I had to have the privilege to marry this person whom I loved with all my heart.

But the joy didn’t end that day – or even reach its highest point!  The Lord has allowed me to live 40 years with the person whom I STILL love like that…except more.  We’ve walked through so much of life together, as married people do – all experiences that have the potential to challenge and even destroy love.  But we’ve made it to this side of the journey still madly in love, still totally committed to one another, still concerned that we live right for the other so we won’t give each other reason to doubt, reason to worry, reason to love or trust less.

I’m a very blessed person in so many ways.  I have children whom I adore; grandchildren who bring my heart amazing joy; a church that gives my life so much meaning; close friends who encourage, challenge and bless me; a Savior who loves me, fills me and meets me at my deepest point of need; and the Word of God that teaches and guides me.  They all bring such joy to my life.

But one of the greatest blessings of my life is my love, my partner, my best friend, my encourager, my confronter, my companion, and so much more.  I’m more who God designed me to be because John Bray came into my life 40 years ago and has made it a essential part of his life to make my life good.

Thank you, John.  There are no words to express my gratitude.  Thank you, Lord.  There are no words to tell you how much I appreciate your hand on my life that guided us together and that has helped us live in such a way that we get to enjoy this life.

I am so blessed.

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