Today is our 21st wedding anniversary. For some this may not seem like that long, but our story is a bit different from your average dating couple. You see 21 years ago I was engaged to be married, but it wasn't to the man that I married. Let me start from the beginning...
Michael and I met when we were in 7th grade. During our high school years, our friendship grew. We were not interested in dating one another. We just were close friends. We both ended up graduating high school a semester early. I went on to college. He moved to Florida with his family. He ended up moving back home to Kentucky and joining the Navy about a year later. I had not heard from him since we graduated. I was working at the local Dairy Queen one evening and a co-worker came to tell me that there was a man to see me at the front counter. As I walked out to the front, I saw Michael standing there waiting for me. I ran to the counter and threw my arms around his neck and gave him a huge hug. I asked him how he knew where I worked, and he told me that he ran into my boyfriend at the bowling alley. Michael had asked about me, and the boyfriend mentioned where I worked. Michael asked permission to stop in and see me, and the guy I was engaged to said sure. While we were chatting at the counter at Dairy Queen, Michael asked if he could wait for me after work. I told him that would be fine. I was a very good girl. I always told my parents were I was and what I was doing. That night after work I went riding around with Michael in my dad's truck, but my parents didn't know it. I didn't think to call them. After all, I was just meeting up with an old friend. As Michael and I were catching up on the last year, he told me all about joining the Navy. He was leaving for boot camp in 3 days and he just wanted to say goodbye to me. He asked me about my upcoming wedding. I broke down and told him how unhappy I was. I was going to marry the guy because I felt so bad about hurting him. Michael looked me straight in the eye and told me that if I married this person I would be a fool and I would end up divorced. He was honest and it was so wonderful to share my heart with a close friend that wasn't trying to talk me into marrying somebody that I really wasn't happy about marrying. The next day I broke off my engagement with the person. It was a shock to everybody except Michael.
Michael had 2 days left before leaving Kentucky. Guess where he ate lunch the next day...Dairy Queen. He came back up to the counter, and I showed him my left hand minus an engagement ring. He smiled and asked if he could come by my house. I told him that would be fine. Remember we are just friends. When he pulled into my driveway, my dad was out in the yard mowing the lawn. Michael went over to him on the lawnmower and extended his hand and introduced himself to my dad. Let me tell you, my dad was won over that instant. He told my mom later that he really liked that boy and that boy was going places! To make a long story short, Michael left for boot camp. We wrote letters back and forth. Upon his first phone call, my mom answered the phone. I was at work and she said that I had lost my mind. Everybody was worried about me because I had broken my engagement and all. Michael told my mom during that phone conversation, "I love your daughter and I plan to marry her. She doesn't know it yet." My mom was speechless.
We had limited phone conversations because the Navy doesn't think that boot camp people should be allowed phone privileges very often. During the 8th or 9th week of boot camp, Michael asked me to marry him on the telephone. I said "yes", but I didn't tell anybody. Everybody already thought I was losing my mind, I didn't need to give them evidence of this. I went to boot camp graduation with Michael's mom and brother. It was so good to see him again. This relationship had grown from friendship into an engagement by just letters and a handful of phone calls.
After I came back home from boot camp graduation, I was eating dinner with my parents. My dad asked me JOKINGLY when I was planning to get married. I don't know what I was thinking, but I started singing "Anchors Away My Boy". My dad was livid. He liked that boy, but after all he had only met him once. He also liked the boy when he thought he was going to be half way around the world without his daughter!!!
After boot camp, Michael ended up getting leave to come home and get married. He lied to the Navy and told them he was already married in order to get leave. He obviously wasn't married so he had to go to the Senior Chief's office and explain himself. He put his entire career on the line in order to come to get me. Let's just say the Chief wasn't very happy. After much ranting and cussing, he finally looked at Michael and said that if he had enough guts to do what he did, then he should go home and get me. He gave Michael two weeks for leave. Michael assured him he only needed 8 days to get to Kentucky and back with his new wife.
In one week's time, I had planned a wedding and Michael had managed to get home to get married. For the first several days, my dad told me he wouldn't come to the wedding. He was so unsure of my behavior. I had NEVER done anything like this before and my dad was concerned. I was heartbroken that my dad wasn't going to be there. After all the wedding was going to be in his living room. I told my dad that if he made me choose, I would choose Michael over him. I shared my heart that I hoped he would never make me choose. The next morning I woke up to a hand written note on the kitchen table. I usually got up and had coffee with my dad before he left for work. That morning my dad was already gone, but his note was waiting for me. He told me in the note how much he loved me and how he only wanted the best for me in life. He told me that he and my mom had poured their whole lives into raising me and that he would trust my decision. He told me to go buy a wedding dress because he was coming to the wedding! My heart danced that morning.
Our neighbors all pitched in to help and Michael and I ended up getting married in my parents backyard. It was the same house that I grew up in my entire life. It was to be the same house that my dad would die in 18 years later. It was a lovely wedding under the same trees that I had played house in as a little girl.
Michael and I left for our honeymoon which was a night at the fancy hotel in the next town. We grew up in a town of 3,000 people so we had to drive 30 minutes to go to a nice hotel. The day after our wedding we ended up going to the hospital and spent a good portion of the day waiting to see Mr. Nanney. Mr. and Mrs. Nanney lived across the street from me all of my life. I grew up thinking they were my grandparents. They treated me like a grandchild. He was laying in the hospital intensive care dying. They told them I was a grandchild and I was allowed to go into the intensive care unit to visit him. It was a chance for Mr. Nanney to meet my new husband, and it was a chance to say my final goodbyes to him.
We drove back to my parent's house and spent the night. The next day we loaded up the smallest U-Haul made and we headed to Orlando, Florida. This was Michael's first duty station. After his training there, we were headed to Saratoga Springs, New York. This was quite a shock to a girl that had just turned 19 the week before!!! I will never forget the first time I had to plan a grocery list. I asked Michael what he liked to eat. I REALLY had no idea what he ate. We had never dated and we had been married all of 4 days how was I suppose to know what he ate. He told me he ate anything except turnips and prunes. I figured that should be easy enough. The first meal I made was homemade spaghetti. I used lots of spices because that is what makes homemade sauce good. While we were eating dinner, I noticed he was sweating a lot. Apparently his mom didn't cook with spices or crushed red pepper!!! He married me without having a clue that I could cook.
We spent the first year of our marriage getting to know one another. We had a wonderful time and made many wonderful memories together. Now as I am older I realize just how hard those few weeks would have been for both of our parents. I pray that my children don't ever "pull such a thing"! However, I knew in my heart that it was right. One night before the wedding I was sitting on my bed. I was overwhelmed because I realized that I was making the decision of my life on what seemed to be a whim. I sat on my bed that night and prayed. I prayed like I never prayed before. I poured out my heart to the Lord and told Him that I needed His peace and I needed to know that I wasn't as crazy as everybody thought. I wanted His will in my life. I felt a peace from the Lord that instant that I had never felt in my life. I knew that I knew that it was all in His plan. This very night of prayer gave me the strength and courage to marry Michael and know that it was right. Later in our marriage, I shared with Michael about my prayer and that night. Come to find out that very night in a boot camp barracks, he too was praying to the Lord asking the same questions!!!!
I woke up this morning to the sound of sheep and chickens outside my bedroom window. Who knew 21 years ago that we would have a farm and each of us would be living our dreams? Who knew that we would end up with 5 children and 5 miscarriages from the union of this marriage? Who knew that we would wholeheartedly give our lives to the Lord and raise our family according to the Word? Many people had doubts...my best friend's dad commented that I shouldn't even bother to pack my winter clothes because I would be home before the cold set in!! Who knew the awesome things that the Lord had in store for us!!!!
grace and peace,