Today would have marked the 49th Anniversary of my parent's wedding. Even though my dad only lived to celebrate their 36th, my mom's love for him has endured and left a legacy for me and my family to learn from.
Our families are under attack in the current culture. Modern marriages rarely last. While my husband and I have seen our own share of challenging moments, I've always had the example of my parents and my husbands to look at and follow.
In honor of her 49th year of loving my dad, I wanted to share some of the ways that her love has inspired me to stay strong even when times get hard.
- Faithfulness to God First - My mom grew up in a Christian home and loved the Lord with all of her heart. "Elizabeth" means consecrated to God, and she has truly lived up to her name. When times became hard, it was her faithfulness to God that sustained her, enabling an extraordinary love for a lifetime.
- Pray Without Ceasing - When I would go to find my mom as a kid, I would always look in her room first because I knew she'd most likely be there praying. Even in the most challenging years of her marriage to my father, the single most powerful thing she did for my dad was to pray for him - without ceasing.
- Expect the Unexpected - Several years into their marriage, my mom discovered that my dad wasn't the "good old Christian boy" that she thought him to be. As it turned out, he was a regular thief, and he had been their whole marriage. When the truth came to light (and it always will), she found strength in the Lord to stand by his side through all of it. You can read more of that story here...it's a good one.
- Shower on Grace - In all of the stories I heard from my dad about his time of exposure, I never once heard him speak of my mom's judgment of him. She may have checked his receipts every time he came home with a purchase, but that was love, not judgement. She poured out grace which watered the soil of his heart, softening it to receive the gospel.
- Stay Strong When Times Get Tough - After my dad was exposed, he no longer wanted to pretend to be happily in love with my mother. His job transferred him to Dallas, and he was ready to live his life apart from Christ, which would lead him away from my mother. Instead of just joining in on his new lifestyle, my mom insisted that they find a new church. While sitting on the back row of this little church, he heard a message that would change their lives forever. The soil was prepared, and he was ready for a true relationship with the Lord.
- Choose Your Battles - When my dad started seeking the Lord, all of a sudden, his love for my mother increased. He started noticing the inner beauty that radiated from her relationship with the Lord. Instead of constantly arguing with him about her disapproval of his lifestyle, she fought for his relationship with the Lord. In the end, she was blessed with a deep and enduring love from a man that loved the Lord too.
- Embrace Transparency - Since my dad was now out of hiding, his changed life included transparency. This would reveal hardships and embarrassments for my mom for the rest of their relationship - because he never stopped telling their story his whole life. Whenever he exposed her ignorance, she would smile proudly at the man she loved. In the end, she knew that her embarrassment was less significant than the opportunities for people to come to know the Lord. She embraced his transparency, and she happily supported his story telling.
- Serve Continually - My mother has the spiritual gift of service. In whatever project my dad had going on, my mom would be right there by his side helping him along. I know he was strengthened by her service, and I strive to do the same with my husband.
- Cheer Him On - There was nothing my dad felt he couldn't do with my mom by his side. Her smile, laugh, and look of love encouraged him to trust the Lord in all things.
- Encourage Godly Values - One of my dad's favorite things to do was give people Bibles. My mom was a frugal shopper, but she happily encouraged my dad spending thousands of dollars over the years to purchase and give away Bibles. A new oven could wait.
- Be Patient - Even though my mom would have liked to have kept my dad all to herself, she was always so patient with all of his endeavors.
- Be Generous With His Time - Every Saturday morning starting about when I was in high school and to the day he died, my dad met with men for Bible study and prayer. They didn't have a set time, so some Saturdays their time together would extend further into the day than expected. She generously shared her husband with the men he served, which allowed him to touch many lives.
- Don't Expect Perfection - My mom knew that my dad was far from perfect, but she never complained about his shortcomings to her kids.
- Be In It For the Long Haul - Enduring love requires a mind that is focused on pleasing the Lord. It is impossible to sustain a relationship that lasts without the idea that you're going to keep your vows and you're going to need help. Their marriage lasted because they both had their eyes fixed on Jesus.
- Seek God's Word For Wisdom - Throughout all of their years of love, God's Word was the foundation on which their love was built. Their legacy of love is in every note in every margin of every Bible they owned. They loved well because they first loved Christ. In making it a priority to spend time seeking God's Word for wisdom, they had deep roots like a tree planted by a stream, which never worried in times of drought.
I am so blessed to have witnessed a marriage relationship that honored the Lord. Not everyone has that privilege. Of all of the wonderful things my parents provided me with over the years, the example of love is the gift that I cherish the most.
Happy love-iversary mom. I know your time loving my dad will get a "well done".