30 Years!! A Tale of One Law Enforcement Marriage that Made It!
I can hardly believe what my eyes are seeing as I type that number. What a testimony of God's grace!
We were just kids when we married--18 and 19.
Rick was volunteering at the Police Department until he could officially be hired on at 21. But it wasn't just that! He was also a volunteer firefighter (yeah, I know--hose dragger!) and he helped out at the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) in our town, not to mention a full-time job at an electric company.
We were dirt poor. I was going to school at Metro Business College in Cape Girardeau, MO, and trying to work a part-time job.
Those first two years we lived in my parents' basement. It wasn't ideal. It definitely wasn't what we preferred to do, but it was a roof over our heads and we were grateful.
During this challenging time Rick suddenly lost his mom at the age of 41. It devastated us all, and left scars so deep I wondered if any of us would recover. Yet we did. We kept on plugging.
We struggled like most young couples do. We were trying to mesh two lives into one--two different backgrounds into one family unit, balancing work and family, and at times it caused friction.
We went to church, but were not really living out our faith. I think we went more for the socialization aspect as we definitely needed friends.
There came some bumps in the road. We struggled--he going one way, me going another. I didn't like the long hours he was away, he couldn't seem to plug back in when we were together. I'm sure my demands for attention were too much at times.
Three kids into the game and I was feeling as if it was time to call it quits. I was lonely. Feeling like a single parent. Stressed.
He, too, was tired, stressed, and dealing with politics and immoral junk in the office, not to mention all our financial woes.
Our grand fairy tale was not so grand, though in between the chaos, there were some good moments.
We were still going to church for the most part, but not putting God first. Not seeking His will. Not praying or looking to Him for anything other than a handout.
Satan was hot on our heals wanting to destroy us, our marriage, our family, our lives.
And then it happened...
God stepped in. After hurting my foot so severely that I was on crutches for six weeks, I cried out to God. I was desperate for any relief--for a way of escape from the pit I had found myself in. The darkness had swallowed us both up and neither of us knew how to fix it.
I cried out as a last resort. I didn't know what to do, but I couldn't go on any longer broken--physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Flinging a crutch across the room, I yelled at God, "What do you want from me!?" At that moment, I felt as if He was saying, "I simply want you. Stop running and come to me. I will lift this burden."
At this point of surrender, I felt the Lord's peace wash over me like a healing flood. What once seemed hopeless, perhaps even impossible, was retreating into the darkness. No, my problems were not instantly fixed. No, our marriage was not wholly restored at that moment, but for once in my life, I had HOPE!
Not long after that encounter with God, Rick sought Him out as well and he was baptized in our church. I resolved to do whatever God wanted me to do with my life. We were finding the right path and He was illuminating every step.
Several months later and out of the blue, we were offered a job in a city two hours north. We moved there on faith. God worked mightily.
Throughout the next 22 years we would draw closer to the Lord and closer to each other. Baby steps at first. We had a few setbacks and challenges, but the continuation process of faithfully advancing to wherever He was leading opened up opportunities we would never have experienced had we thrown in the towel all those years ago.
Looking back now, we can see a bigger portion of God's woven tapestry. He has blessed us with three children, two bonus children, three glorious grand babies, and countless friends and family members. He has entrusted us with a nation-wide ministry to law enforcement--Badge of Hope Ministries, and I have seen God's promises of numerous books and publications come into being along with speaking opportunities far and wide. The two of us have had a front row seat to the awesomeness of God in lives all across this great country, and we are so humbled by all of it.
Today--30 years later, I marvel at God's grace. I thank Him daily for the gift of my husband and the way the Lord pulled us out of that miry pit of darkness into a life full and vibrant with the glory of God!
My prayer is that somehow, because of our testimony, someone out there will find Jesus just as we did. I pray that someone will experience the healing waters of God's love just as we did, and see Him do immeasurably more than anything you or I could ever imagine.
Thank you, Rick, for loving me. Thank you, family, for standing behind us. Thank you, FATHER, for being my rock and refuge. 30 years--though just a blip in time--would never be possible if it weren't for YOU!
To GOD be the glory!!