All because of “I do…”
Twenty-two years ago, on a day just like today, Jody and I got together with about 250 family and friends, from both near and far, to celebrate a special day – the day when we said to one another, “I do.” Next to graduating from high school, I believe this is parallel in terms of the most strategic day in your life as it shapes the rest of your years. Hands down, on this day, I… I…hit the jackpot! But together, we have created, what can only be defined as a lasting legacy for years to come. Jody, who said she would never marry a “preacher,” and me, who was looking for a “southern bell” not a construction worker’s daughter, met the first day on the campus of Liberty University through mutual friends. Over the next two years, we became best friends until we began officially dating in September of 1988. After Jody graduated from college in three years, while I still had my senior year remaining, I brought her to New Hampshire to spend a long weekend and to meet my parents for the first time. It was then, I made the second most important decision of my life – asking my best friend to marry me as she sat on the rocks at Wallis Sands State Beach, looking out at the Atlantic Ocean – a place where I had gone many times growing up. This was the beginning of what has developed into being nothing less than a phenomenal journey. And who would have ever thought…twenty-two years, three different cities, six different households [three apartments and three homes], five kids [two biological and three adopted], one master’s degree [which Jody worked full time so I could go to school full time] and one ministry [18 years at the same church] would define the vast majority of our lives today. We have gone from being a young couple who desired to embrace the “American Dream” of the biggest and best – latest and greatest, to a seasoned couple who desires to do nothing less than sell most of what we have for the sake of others. Our lives which was once defined by selfishness, is now defined, most in part by selflessness – seeking to use what God has given to us and be good stewards in giving to others who have much less than we do. Rather than live a life which is all about us and our aspirations, we desire to look beyond ourselves to make an indelible impression in the lives of those who surround us, who we can influence each day. In a day and age where change for selfish reasons defines much of the landscape not only in America but the church of Jesus Christ, we seek to be a husband and wife, pastor and pastor’s wife whose life is best defined by the words resiliency, fortitude, love and passion. Where once we did ministry, too often overshadowed by ourselves, we now do ministry for the faithful [and others…] who have weathered the storms and still remain a part of our fellowship after all these years, many of who are our greatest encouragers some 18 years later. All of this…all of this because of two simple but most profound words – “I do.” And, we did and we will continue to do as we open our lives up to being used by God in some phenomenal and amazing ways – not for our own self-worth, self-indulgence, self-gratification or for any other selfish reason; but all for His honor and His glory. If the above is an accurate portrayal of what our lives have looked like and have been shaped by in the first twenty-two years, all I can say is whoa!!!…we better hold on tight because the next twenty-two years has the potential to be a wilder ride than the first.