Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Happy Anniversary: A Tribute

What do you do on your parent's anniversary when one of them has gone home to be with the Lord? If you're me, you give a tribute to 48 years of love and devotion and you surround the remaining spouse with love and celebration.

I wrote the following blog three years ago, on their 45th anniversary. It is a love story worth telling again, so I will:

My dad grew up in Oklahoma and went to Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the late 50s - early 60s. In 1962 (I think), after graduating from seminary, he packed up all his belongings in his car and moved to Long Island, NY, to be a church planter pastor. He had been bitten by the urban ministry/church planting bug as a summer missionary in Chicago and Detroit during college and was following God's leading to the mission field in the Northeast.

My mom grew up in Maryland and graduated from Carson-Newman College before heading out to Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth. She and Dad were there at the same time, and even casually knew each other, but Mom was determined not to marry a preacher, so she moved back to Maryland after graduation to work at the Baptist State Convention Women's Missionary Union.

Their family and friends had pretty much written them off as a confirmed bachelor/old maid, since they were in their mid-20s and hadn't gotten married. Then, as God's plan would unfold, He helped them show everyone that He is in control.

At that time in the early 60s, the Maryland and New York Baptist Conventions were combined, so there were many opportunities for attending the same meetings and having mutual friends. It was some of these mutual friends who decided to play match-maker with Nancy and DeLane, and they had their first date in the summer of 1963. By December, they were engaged and were married on a snowy Saturday night at Oak Grove Baptist Church, in Bel Air, Maryland, on February 28, 1964.

Dad likes to joke that since it was a leap year, he was pushing for getting married on February 29th, so he'd only have to remember their anniversary every four years. I know he was joking, because I have never known my dad to forget his anniversary or any special dates related to his wife. Oh, they had other things that made each other mad, but forgetting important dates didn't seem to be one of them!

So, now, 45 years later, I am so thankful and proud to say that my parents have been married to each other this long and are still very much in love. They have had to deal with many challenges over the years, but they have been a real example of faithfulness to each other and to the Lord, and have shown me love in action throughout their marriage. This past year, they gave of their time to help younger married couples through the "Fireproof" series at their church. I know that the wisdom and love they shared with those couples helped to enrich those marriages and will hopefully be a lasting example for years to come.

I am so thankful that God brought DeLane and Nancy Ryals together in marriage. There are five people who wouldn't be alive if it weren't for their love. And I am thankful that they had so many years together and that even though "death did them part" the love is still alive and we can celebrate that long-lasting love.

Tonight, our family will get together for dinner. We will hear stories and look at pictures. We will eat some frozen yogurt (a favorite treat of both the bride and groom, but especially the groom). We will remember and be thankful for 48 years of marriage and the Lord's blessing on every minute of those years.

1 comment:

Its Lainee said...

This was dear. I know you girls miss your sweet Dad. I'm glad we can smile and know all of us will be well before long!