Yesterday marked 45 years of marriage for Ed and I. This past week so many memories have been flooding my heart. Like most people that have been married for many years, the adventures were many. I wasn’t sure what I was going to write today but I am going to share how a very dysfunctional couple of kids made it to this point. Many of you know our story and many don’t. It’s a story of unconditional love, trusting the Lord and miracles. Mixed in there were many hard times. Not just a hard time here or there but years upon years of struggles and hurt. We are so thankful for the unconditional love of our Lord Jesus and His faithfulness to always be with us. One of my favorite verses then and to this day is Proverbs 3:4-5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”
We were married on April 15, 1978. I wanted to get married outside and we did even though it was a bit cold. I was a 24-year-old widow with 3 little ones, ages 18 months, 3 and 4 years old. Ed was a 23-year-old business owner that was very independent and loved to drink at the bars. I knew the Lord and had prayed for the right husband and father for my children. Ed knew the Lord but didn’t walk with the Lord but heard Him speak to his heart the day of the wedding. We were not prime candidates for a perfect marriage. There were bets made the day of our wedding on how long it would last. Most didn’t give us a year. I understand the reasons and yet no one came to us with advice or hope for our new family. We were on our own and it was a rough start. I trusted the Lord to guide us in everything. Ed and I knew each other for years, my brother and Ed were best friends and our parents were best friends so that helped a little. Ed hadn’t drank the whole 4 months we went together and for 3 weeks afterwards! Then at my brother’s wedding the drinking began. I won’t go into details on that. Our last 45 years could be a book. I had to trust in the Lord and not try to understand any of it.
We were blessed to welcome our first child together, Adam, a year and a half after we were married. At Adam’s one year old check up the doctor heard a heart murmur which ended up being a hole in Adam’s heart. At 16 months old Adam had open heart surgery. We had lost our insurance because of the drinking. We wanted him to have the surgery at Children’s Hospital and through a series of miracles and God’s favor he was able to without insurance. As we sat by Adam’s bedside in ICU the Lord spoke to Ed and he dedicated his life back to the Lord. The whole thing from Adam being admitted to Children’s Hospital - to his successful surgery - to Ed’s life change was a miracle. We had trusted the Lord with all our hearts.
Then a couple months later as I was sitting back at Children’s hospital with Adam in a body cast from a broken femur bone (a table that had been leaned up against the wall here at church fell on him), I realized I was going to have another baby. This was not good news to anyone but us. People thought we were crazy, irresponsible, foolish, and they let us know their thoughts. We were struggling and still paying for Adam’s heart surgery but all I knew to do was trust the Lord with this new little one coming. It wasn’t planned but a gift from the Lord. Tim was born a few months later. By now we were going to church, Ed was not drinking and the day after Tim was born Ed went into ministry. He started working as a drug and alcohol counselor at a local rehab home for boys. There was not much pay, $400/month, but I was so blessed to have Ed growing in the things of the Lord that I did all I could to make the best of all we had. He worked there for 18 months. I had trusted the Lord with all my heart.
As life went on we focused on raising our children in the Lord. We always went to church, Mountain High Chapel😊. Our kids learned to work hard as we raised lots of animals, milked goats, canned our food, and did our best to bring them each up in the way they should go. Ed fell off the wagon and started drinking again for a few months and that was tough but he came to an end of himself and totally surrendered his life. He was always self-employed and sometimes things were good and sometimes they were tough. We put our trust in the Lord. Our marriage was ok. We knew we needed to learn more. We were so busy raising the kids and trying to make ends meet that we didn’t focus on us. Then one day we received a call from my sister-in-law that they had had a car accident and our 10-year niece was killed and 8-year-old nephew was on life support. Wow. I believed with everything in me that Matthew would live but he was taken off life support. About now I wasn’t sure how to trust in the Lord. The next year was so hard for me. I couldn’t imagine the pain my brother and family were going through. I knew the pain of a car accident and I got so deep into grief that I got depressed and just went through the motions of life. It wasn’t a good thing. I didn’t want to praise the Lord at church. I didn’t want to do anything but cry. This was hard on our marriage, and I knew it. It was tough to come out of but I knew I had to for my family. When my Grandpa died a year later it’s like my grief for the kids was released and I began to heal. Didn’t make sense but I walked through healing for the grief. I had to trust in the Lord again.
About then we met some awesome new friends who had a marriage ministry. We became very involved in it and watched our marriage grow and heal. We taught marriage classes for years with so much fruit. We didn’t have help when we were young and wanted every marriage to have all the tools they needed for a healthy relationship. We started to do weddings which included pre and post counseling. Our heart was for marriages. We were so thankful ours was healing that we wanted that for everyone. And we still do. After we were married 16 years, we began to pastor Mountain High Chapel full time. It was very challenging. One of our focuses, even then, was marriages and family because the enemy is out to destroy every Christian marriage and family. By then our children were going out into the world. Our daughter traveled to India at 18 and stayed there by herself after the team returned. TRUSTING IN THE LORD! Two of our sons were riding the rodeo circuit. Our kids were in different parts of the country and world. All I knew to do was trust the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my understanding.
We began to travel to other countries. We were already traveling to many states sharing the unconditional love of the Lord and marriage tools. Our 1st mission trip was with our youth group to Russia and Ukraine. While we were in the Ukraine we found out our daughter was seriously ill in a hospital in Uganda with malaria. We had to trust the Lord with her. Then we started building orphanages in other countries. We went to Venezuela for about 10 years, then Kenya, Peru and India building orphanages. So many times, there was no money to go but we knew we were called to go so we made plans and went forward. Our 1st mission trip to Russia Ed would say we would not go if we didn’t have money for this or that and the enemy made sure we didn’t have money. We decided to speak we would go no matter what, trust the Lord and we’ve gone everywhere He has told us to go. We went to India, Peru and Kenya in 2018. In 2019 we were in Peru and Israel. We are believing to go to Kenya this November. So amazing as we trust Him.
Throughout the years we have lost family and friends, had heartaches, church splits, financial hardships, family divorces, broke friendships, a fire took our barn, my Dad passed away, Ed’s parents passed away, we lost a grandson but we had to keep going and trust the Lord. When we were in Afghanistan visiting our daughter and family a few years ago, our son, Tim, had compartment syndrome in his leg from being kicked by a bucking horse. He drove home alone from a rodeo in California, and we couldn’t even help him. But we trusted the Lord with him and he didn’t lose his leg. Tim had a stroke 8 years ago and they said he would not live. We stood together in our marriage and rebuked that lie. Tim was in rehab in Colorado Springs for 3 months and we drove there every day. We did this together. We stayed strong in our marriage no matter what and believed together for his healing. Just a couple weeks ago when Josh was in the hospital, and we were headed to Tucson we wanted so badly to turn around and come home. The Lord had told us a week before that something was going to try and keep us from going. We didn’t understand that and knew we had heard to go to Tucson now. He told us mile after mile as we drove the wrong direction of our child in the hospital to trust Him. To this day we don’t know what was so important in AZ that we had to go then but we listened and went. It was hard but we trusted Him. We enjoyed our time and the sun and can’t lean on our own understanding. Through all the struggles and difficulties, we are still so blessed. Our kids all know Jesus and are serving Him in various ways. They are all teaching their children about Jesus and have strong Christian homes. Our kids are married to wonderful spouses, we have 25 grandchildren, 1 great grandchild born (2 more on the way😊), prosperity, health, a wonderful growing church, lasting friendships, love, joy, and opportunity to bless my Mom and we still focus on the Lord with all our heart, leaning not on our own understanding. We acknowledge Him and let Him direct our paths.
Our 45 years have been amazing. We started out as friends, and we are still best friends. We have love, honor and respect for one another. We seldom take each other for granted because we have learned to value our relationship and the time we have together. Ed is so good to me and helps me beyond what I ever thought. We get cranky once in a while, but we get over it. We learned to really know one another. We take time to know what makes the other feel loved and valued and then we honor that. We know each other’s gifts and callings and do all we can to help and support one another in ministry. We pray together every day. We share His Word together every day. We are thankful every day. We help each other every day. We rejoice together and Ed is so good to listen to me when I am in tears. We love unconditionally. We trust Him to guide us in all we do, every dream, vision, and situation. He is the cord that binds our lives together and we cherish that every day.