On a muggy July 7th, sixty-five years ago today, a shy, sweet Louisiana girl married a Pennsylvania boy, in an un-air conditioned building in Orlando, Florida. The year was 1945 and months earlier this beautiful young girl had met this soldier boy on a blind date at a friend’s house. Though no relatives could be there, in a borrowed wedding gown and his military dress, they committed their lives to God and to each other. She wasn’t too sure about this Yankee guy at first, but as they talked and went to church together, her interest was increased. In fact, she ended up loving him so much, that she boarded a train for Orlando to find a job and make her new home near where he was stationed. She would go with him as he spoke to youth groups about his new-found faith in Christ. He would eventually propose, asking her if she would agree to being “number 2” to him for the rest of their lives. “Number 1” would be the Lord Jesus Christ, whom He had given his life to follow. She agreed and the rest is a history that our family celebrates this day. They are still “number 2” to each other and Christ is still “number 1.” On that hot afternoon, words that are seldom used any more, were repeated that with only a few new friends nearby.
“I, Libby/Don…take you…to be my lawfully wedded (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”
Today we celebrate those vows made that afternoon. We celebrate two people who would lay their lives down for their Lord, for each other, and for their future children. We celebrate the calling they have walked in, ministering in Texas, New York, and literally around the world during these last 65 years, pastoring and teaching people how to pray. We celebrate a love that has deepened with every hardship and every sorrow. We celebrate a faithfulness that few couples in our world will ever experience or even know about. We celebrate a legacy that has been left to three adult sons and one daughter, 17 grandchildren, 7 great grandchildren, and more yet to come. We celebrate a purity, a life of love and selflessness, as they each care for each other today. We celebrate the laughter and the joy with which they have met every circumstance, including their “senior” years and ways. Forgetting things, moving slower, taking medications – looking around and seeing so many elderly people when they are out to eat – (thinking that they are not ones) -sitting side by side in a restaurant booth – holding hands everywhere they go – mom kissing dad’s bald head and dad kissing mom’s neck – dad’s romantic plans for every special day – more in love today than they could have ever imagined being, 65 years ago. She calls him “dad” and he calls her “momma.” In fact, people all over the world call her “momma;”she has loved so many people as they have traveled and taught.
Mom and Dad, today and every day, your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are so very proud of you – proud of your marriage – of who you both have become – of the thousands of lives you have touched literally around the world, as you have selflessly given yourselves to others in ministry – even today – always looking for someone who might need a word of encouragement, a hug, or a gift – sitting by the sides of those in the hospital or sick at home – always ready to share about your faith or how to pray, to the God Who has seen you through this life. As you both approach 90, we are amazed and so very thankful for your lives, for your marriage – and that we still have you with us. Our children and grandchildren have a real picture of what can be, when two people walk with the Lord and each other, faithfully. Thank you for being that picture – for loving God, each other, and all of us enough to stay together these 65 years. Happy Anniversary to two people, who could not be more in love. You have taught us more about love than could ever be recorded in all the books about the topic. Hollywood has no idea about the kind of love you two have experienced and still do today. We wish everyone could know you – see how you love and what your commitment to each other looks like.
We all love you more than we can express!! Have an amazing day – still in love – 65 years and counting.