Every Love Story is Beautiful But Ours is My Favorite!

Today will be an unremarkable day for most people. For me it is a very remarkable day because on this day 25 years ago I married my best friend and love of my life. Really, it doesn’t seem like 25 years. I am more the realist than the romanticist but I still enjoy a great love story, especially the real life ones. The real life ones like I saw on the news the other day when folks had been married 78 years. The real life one in Hollywood like James Garner who was married to the “love of his life” Lois Clarke for 58 years.

My favorite love story is ours though. I know it is corny. I don’t care. Our wedding day was a sunny, hot day in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We were at our beloved University Baptist Church where we met.

wedding outdoor

We were surrounded by loving family and friends. We were embarking on the great adventure as Jonathan would say. A great adventure it has been. Fairy tales begin with once upon a time and end with and they lived happily ever after.  People seem to forget that even in fairy tales a lot happens between the pages. Some of it is heroic and romantic but some of it is gunk! Marriage is a covenant, and for us the miracle is that God took two imperfect people and we are living out our own fairy tale with the heroics, romance and gunk!

Wedding gift from Neal. We still have this tray and the cups!
Wedding gift from Neal. We still have the set!

We have had a great life. I think Jonathan would agree that we have been blessed beyond what we deserve. I have married someone who is kind and sweet and fun and funny. He listens. He is a good dad. He sets a good example. We don’t have many arguments, but he usually lets me win. (Secret: That’s because I am usually right. Ha!) Jonathan is not perfect but he is the perfect man for me and the best daddy a little girl could ever have hoped for. He wants to go to Rachel’s activities including those dance recitals. He wants to go to open houses and he wants to be here for IEP meetings.

Jonathan loves my family and he has been a tremendous son-in-law, brother-in-law and uncle to them. He has brought a lot of laughter to our family. My family loves Jonathan and has been a great source of love and support for him.

This is Jonathan's favorite picture from our wedding. The dress was loaned to me by my cousin.
This is Jonathan’s favorite picture from our wedding. The dress was loaned to me by my cousin.

We have had a lot of things happen in our 25 years, some good and some of that gunk. We often say you can’t make up the stuff that happens to us and it is so true. We have done some traveling. We have gone to lots of sporting events. We are both giddy that college football season starts this weekend. We have many friends. Some of those friends we both married. Others we’ve added along the path. Jonathan has had two ACL re-constructs – both compliments of church softball. We learned our unborn daughter would be born with Down syndrome the day after he had a colorectal tumor removed. Our church and our friends rallied around us and to this day many of those same people support us even if it is by distance. Love and support come in different packages and sometimes it’s a kind compliment on Facebook and other times with a donation to one of our Down syndrome causes. We’ve lost grandparents, a parent, other relatives and close friends.

Jonathan has tolerated all my causes that I get involved in. He has judged a lot of 4-H speaking contests. He has set up a lot of tables for Buddy Walks, painted the Down Syndrome Wheel of Facts, loaded countless cases of water and soft drinks on trucks, taken out lots of trash, allowed our house to be turned into the Down Syndrome Association of the Mid-South, fed baby chickens that needed to stay overnight for a poultry project, and much more. Some of this he has done for Rachel but some of this was pre-Rachel and he did it because he loves me. Jonathan knows what is important to me and it makes it important to him because he loves me. That’s part of that give and take of a marriage.

Through 25 years and nine moves, we’ve attended a number of churches where we have always gotten involved. When the going has been rough like cancer and Down syndrome, they were the hands and feet of Jesus for us. We were in graduate school at the University of Arkansas when we met at University Baptist Church. We were a part of fun group that loved Jesus. We had great mentors. Through the course of our 25 years the core has been our church and our love for Jesus. One of our great loves is that through my 4-H Extension agent work and our churches we’ve been a part of many, many young people’s journeys. Watching them grow into capable, contributing adults and parents has been a great joy.

Back when we first started our courtship, a sweet friend said to me, “I believe you and Jonathan have true love. I don’t know if it is forever, but for this moment in time in it true love.”  I would say true love is forever and ours has been.

I don’t know what the rest of our love story will look like, but I am looking forward to doing these next chapters with the love of my life. Happy anniversary, Jonathan. I love you.

Saddle up your horses
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder
Of God’s amazing grace

Let’s follow our Leader
Into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other
This is the great adventure

Come on, this is the great adventure
Saddle up, saddle up your horses
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through God’s amazing grace

From “The Great Adventure” by the great Steven Curtis Chapman


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