Praising God for 35 Years with Ann!
May 26, 2007
Today, May 26, 2007, is my thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. I simply had to take this opportunity to break from my regular series of biblical meditations and say something about the most awesome woman in the world, my wife Ann.
I first laid eyes on her at the University of Oklahoma at a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting in early October of 1970. Actually, I was gazing with admiration at two young ladies, Ann (although I didn’t know her name at the time) and one of her sorority sisters. I was trying to figure out which of them was prettier and therefore deserving of my calling and asking for a date. Yes, I know that’s immature and prideful and countless other things, but I was an immature and prideful young man of 19 at the time! Later that Wednesday night, I called Ann and asked her out. Praise God, she said Yes! For our first date, we drove to Oklahoma City to watch the movie, Dr. Zhivago.
As many of you have heard, Yes, it’s true, I proposed to her later that evening! No, I do not recommend this to anyone else. Yes, it was silly and arrogant and unwise. No, she didn’t say Yes immediately. She was too stunned to take it seriously.
If that first date wasn’t weird enough, it got even stranger in the weeks that followed. When Thanksgiving arrived, Ann returned home to Tulsa and I to Duncan, Oklahoma. I called her and asked if I might drive to Tulsa and bring her back to school at Norman. She said yes. What I didn’t know at the time was that upon returning to Tulsa for the holiday break, her former high school sweetheart had called her and asked if she would be willing to drop out of school at OU and transfer to in-state rival OSU. That was bad enough, but he then asked her to get engaged with a view to marriage the following summer. Worst of all, she said Yes! You’ll have to ask her why, but I think it had something to do with not believing the sincerity of a young man silly enough to propose on the first date!
Her plan, following my phone call, was to break the bad news to me during our drive from Tulsa back to school at OU. But before she could inform me of her recent engagement, I told her that I wanted to solidify our commitment and begin a more steady dating relationship. Lo and behold, she said Yes again! But No, she never told me about having said Yes to her high school boyfriend, at least not until many years later (a wise decision, indeed).
Needless to say, we made a lot of mistakes along the way, but God was gracious and forgiving and probably got more than a few laughs out of us as well.
On May 26, 1972, we sealed the deal. Not once in these thirty five years have I regretted the decision (although I certainly can’t speak for Ann!). What an unspeakable blessing she has been. She has given me two beautiful daughters and a lifetime of love and sacrifice and support.
I read Proverbs 31 and say, “Sorry lady, but you ain’t got nothing on Annie!” She has given herself to her family and to others in need in ways that I can’t begin to describe. She is a true servant and revels in the opportunity to hide away behind the scenes and do whatever unpleasant tasks everyone expects but few fulfill. If you want to get a good definition of the spiritual gift of “helps”, look it up in the dictionary and you’ll see Ann’s photograph. She embodies mercy and kindness in ways that remind me, fittingly, of Jesus himself.
But best of all, she loves her Lord Jesus more than anyone or anything. What more could a man want in a wife? I thank God daily for her presence in my life, for her words of counsel and wisdom, for her undying support even when I’m stupid and reckless and say dumb things.
Sadly, I’m in Scotland today on a lengthy ministry trip and unable to share this anniversary with her except by way of e-mail and a brief telephone call. But we’ll celebrate together soon. In the meantime, Ann, thank you for everything: for your love of God, for your love of me, our children, our grandchildren, and countless others, many of whose names you didn’t know but whose lives were forever transformed because of your kindness and tender-hearted compassion.
Grateful for thirty-five years and expectant of many more,