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First Valentine
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Photo: MorgueFile
She was his first Valentine. He was hers. They married on Valentine’s Day, 1953. People said it wouldn’t last. She was too young; he was a bit restless. But their love set out to prove everyone wrong. They made a commitment to each other: no divorce. Anything could be worked out if they tried hard enough. He’d seen divorce between his own parents and longed to begin a new kind of family—a family that stayed together.

They made it through those first lean years, but they didn’t need much--they had each other. Life was simple with dates to get a burger and shake, long evening walks and trips to the lake. He surprised her one night with a back seat full of flowers he’d picked; she surprised him by making the first birthday cake he’d ever had.

They found God together. He gave his life to God first, staying up late into the night reading a Bible a relative had left behind. She wasn’t so sure…but as she watched the power of conversion make her husband into an even better man, God’s love found it’s way into her heart, too. It happened in the middle of the night. Just she and God awake.

Their Front Door was Never Locked 

They raised four children, making their family everything his hadn’t been. Years were filled with simple fun, parties for anything worth celebrating and lots of love. God was the head of their home. Family worship happened every night. Weekends were spent at church and having the youth group over. Their house was the house teens came to when they were troubled, in bad family situations, or lonely. Their front door was never locked—not even at night. They were like a Mom and Dad to everyone.

He became a pastor later in life and side-by-side they served for 30 years. God used these two to lead literally hundreds of lost people to Him. Yet they never took any credit for the numbers. They simply saw themselves as servants. They helped raise nine grandchildren, keeping the door to their home open through the years. They showed up for birthday parties, basketball games, piano recitals and school programs. Their house was, and still is, a fun and loving place to be—always ice cream in the freezer, always games to play, always a listening ear and always loving arms to hold them close.

Through the years their enduring love has been a steady witness to their children and their children’s children. People said it wouldn’t last. But their love set out to prove everyone wrong. In the end, love won. And I’m glad it did, because on Valentine’s Day I can write, “Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad. With love, from your Daughter.”

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.


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