Dear Mom and Dad,
After 40 years of marriage, I know that you both would be the first to say that marriage is full of many blessings and joys but that it is also not without much work and even pain. In our comparatively short time in marriage, we have learned enough to know that, most of the time, the blessings and joys, work and pain are closely connected. Work reaps blessings, and pain brings joy.
As we reflect on your marriage, there are several prominent themes of God’s grace at work in and through you, which are producing much fruit.
Together, you are a striking example of commitment – to God, to each other, and to your children. It isn’t surprising to hear how many marriages end up in divorce, and, after being married, I’m more surprised at how many marriages last as long as they do. Marriage is hard!
40 years ago, on March 18th, 1972, a skinny, young, slightly nerdy guy with a mustache married an attractive, popular blonde. It may have seemed to some like an unlikely match. (Although, Derek has stopped being surprised at how many churches are filled with “unlikely” matches – a love for Jesus covers a multitude of physical shortcomings!)
But because of God’s grace cultivating a strong sense of commitment in both of you, you are now celebrating and providing an example of 4 decades-worth of marriage. You survived differences in personality and love languages, disagreements over how many squares of toilet paper to use and what mini-skirts were just too mini, tension with finances and when to spend or save, the stress of raising a family and building a house, and the changes of sending children off to college or the mission field and learning how to practice long-distance grandparenting. And not only have you survived all these challenges, but your marriage has produced much fruit because of your commitment to work through difficulties in faith that “those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!”
Another theme that describes you so well is prayer. How much I have learned about dependence on God and casting all my cares on Him by seeing Dad on his knees in the morning before heading off to work or by hearing Mom’s stories of lying awake at night praying?! I can only imagine how much God has spared us from or has blessed us with as a direct result of your prayers. It is an indescribably precious thing to see your neediness, humility, and faith displayed through lives of prayer. Derek and I often encourage ourselves to be more dependent on God through prayer because of the example you have set.
I think that another key to a successful marriage is self-sacrifice. Of course, marriage is one of the tools that makes a person self-sacrificing – and if marriage doesn’t do it, having children will! Well, after 40 years of marriage and raising 5 children, there is sufficient evidence that you have learned self-sacrifice. I could make a long list of these evidences, but for Derek and me, the sweetest one is that we have full confidence that you are there for us no matter what. You have displayed this in not only sending us to the mission field but supporting us all along the way and in every way imaginable.
We are so thankful to God for bringing you together 40 years ago and for these 3 (and the many more!) themes of grace He has cultivated into the heart of your marriage. It is such a joy to see and taste the fruit coming from your lives. May you have many more years of bearing fruit!
We love you – Happy Anniversary!
-Kristin and Derek