A smoke ring of love!

Today Mandi and I celebrate our 30th anniversary. We have been through a lot together, and (being totally honest) we’ve put each other through a lot.

Marriage, I have been learning (kind of like 2020), is not for the faint of heart!

I have been told by some that marriage is war; and by others that marriage is a sentence of death.

“A man isn’t complete” they say, “until he’s married…then he’s finished!”

One guy told me marriage is like a bathtub—once you are in it for a while, it’s not so hot!

Another person told me he felt marriage was nature’s way of keeping people from fighting with strangers.

Despite these negative views of matrimony, Mandi and I have not only survived, but still actually enjoy being with each other. “How do you do that?” People ask us. “What is the secret to having a successful marriage?” I don’t think there is any one “secret.” At least, after 30 years I cannot yet summarize things that concisely.

But I can say this: She is a constant reminder of God’s grace and love for me. Like God she has always been there,
In good times and bad,
when we were richer and when we were poorer,
and whether we were sick or healthy.
I get the distinct feeling from her that that is not going to change either.
She is a blessing from Master Jesus, reminding me of His love and presence. A love that is not based on performance, or expectations, or successes, or fortune, but because God gave her a love for me.

Mandi and I have been through a lot. We have lost loved ones. Gone through the pain of a miscarriage. We have struggled with the pain of depression, cutting, and attempted suicide of one of our own kids. I could go on…but I have found that Mandi, like a fine wine, just gets better with age; and adversity—by the grace of God—has made her stronger. Life is no bed of roses—and marriage is no exception. Marriage takes work, commitment, tenacity, and truckloads of humility and grace. Mandi has brought all that and more to the table.
She has been knocked down, but never backed down,
She has been tired, but never lacked the will to keep going,
She has been frustrated, but has never given up,
She has been hurt, but always been full of hope.

With Master Jesus by her side, she has never lacked what she needed.

I have seen marriages crumble and fall in less time and under less pressure. But instead of becoming sour and bitter, she consistently grows deeper, fuller, richer, and sweeter. Yes, every morning I wake up to a better woman than the one I went to bed with. The more I know her, the more I want to know her,
The more I want to give her,
The more I want to be for her,
The more difficult it becomes to find the right words to express my deep and abiding love for her.

I am certain of this one thing: as long as Mandi is alive on this earth, I will be walking with her as her husband. That is a fact.

After 30 years…
There is no woman I would rather be with,
No person who is a closer friend,
No one I would do more for,
No one I cherish more,
No one who knows me better,
No one who has shown me more grace,
No one who I love more,
And no one I would love to spend another 30 years with.

Happy 30th anniversary Mandi!


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