It is especially amazing me to me because 26 years ago, I never thought I'd find anyone to love me and stand by me like my husband has....never. And here we are, way down the road....still together, still in love. This blog is dedicated you, Mark, the love of my life.
We started out as next door neighbors, the only English speaking people in our Spanish inhabited building. One day, coming up the hallway stairs, I heard this music. I stood outside his door and listened, wondering who the musician was....seriously. It was so professional sounding, I did not know it was Mark singing and playing. He has been my absolute favorite singer ever since. :)
It did take a while for us to finally meet, though. I worked and partied nights, he had a day job. I'd catch glimpses of him, and he I, but it wasn't until a rug salesman pounded on both of our hardwood doors at 6 a.m., that we actually faced each other. The only reason either of us opened our doors is because we thought the building was on fire!We have wondered if that was really a rug salesman or maybe an angel. He never did come back.
When we finally did start to hang out, the truth was that I was a mess. And just coming off the heels of a divorce(unwanted), he was still working through some things himself. But, he had one thing I didn't, a relationship with Jesus Christ. Somehow, he looked through my tough exterior into my hurting interior and saw someone worth loving. The only problem though, was it had to be conditional love. We weren't equally yoked yet. But it was an easy choice, and I soon surrendered my lonely, drug and alcohol saturated life to Jesus and we began our life together.
The things I fell in love with back then are the same things that keep me in love with him today; his beautiful eyes, his laugh, his gentle spirit, his love for his children, his loyalty to the ones he loves, his steadfast faith in Christ, and his compassion for people and of course, his love for ME.
To be honest, though, our first year was pretty rough. Mark was learning to trust again and I was convinced this man would reject and leave me like so many people had done before. My issues came out in angry outbursts, even violent and I just know Mark had to be wondering what he had gotten into! But, there is something wonderful about having a husband who listens to the Lord. During one of my crazy fits, the Lord told him to stop fighting me (pushing me away) and just grab me and hold me and not let go....yah, that's one way to tame a beast...and it did. Not right away, there was a lot of hurt and pain in my life that went back to early childhood and it would take a lot of prayer and counseling to be totally healed from it. But without a doubt, the greatest healing has come through my husband. He loved me unconditionally that night and has continued to do so ever since. He is the type of man who doesn't ridicule or call names; always, always builds up and doesn't tear down. He can be so mad at me and let me know it, but never tear down who I am as a woman. I've become who I am because of his faith and belief in what I could do and who I could be, far beyond what I've ever thought of myself. That is a good man and I am beyond blessed to have him.
Our life together has continually been full of challenges. We've dealt with 16 years of visitation/custody court battles, made cross country moves (a bit too often), known many years of financial struggle and physical challenges, and struggled with finding a good church home. But somehow, we kept finding things to laugh about, memories to create, built timeless relationships along the way and, and most of all, enjoyed the gift of having 7 incredible children (2 from Mark's first marriage).
Then, in 2008, we faced the trial of a lifetime. Jessica's diagnosis of stage 4 cancer, with little hope of a cure. No family can prepare itself for such a thing, and we were no different. But I see now, how all those other "little" challenges did equip us in some ways. We knew that we would stand together in this, never apart, that we would trust in the Lord above all else, and keep our family first. Whatever Jessica decided to do in regards to her life and treatments, we stood behind her, together. We determined not to let the pain drive us apart, but together and it did. Then, as we lost her in December 2009, the same resolve rose up again.
|She has truly graduated.....|
As we celebrate 25 years together today, I am reflecting on those solemn wedding vows we took at 4:00 in the afternoon in a small church on the north side of Chicago. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.....they certainly mean a lot more to me now. I don't see them as just promises that are kept or not kept, but rather values, that when truly honored, can not only create a strong and healthy marriage, but build a family legacy that will span eternity. Both sides of our family have felt the pain of divorce. Wouldn't it be wonderful if divorce never touched our family again? "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Mark 19:26.
It is truly by the grace of God we've come through all we have, along with the unconditional love of a most amazing man...... 25 more years? Bring it on.