“You have captured my heart, my sister, my bride. You have captured my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
About 15 years and two months ago, my life changed forever. The event? I got off a plane in Louisville, KY. The plan? I was going to spend the summer teaching sixth- through twelfth-graders how to listen to God’s call in their lives. Six weeks were going to be spent on the campus of Spaulding University there in Louisville, and two weeks were going to happen at Camp Windermere in southern Missouri. And while I still remember a remarkable amount from that summer, that’s not what’s on my mind this morning. What I’m talking about came a year and two months later. Today is my anniversary.
It really did all start with getting off a plane in Louisville, KY. I was set to be a Bible study leader at Passport Youth Camps, a Christian youth camp whose founders, David and Coleen, are the proud parents of Walker Burroughs, one of the finalists of this past season of American Idol. I had been looking forward to this job for years—ever since the first time I attended one of their summer camps as a seventh grader some eight years earlier. And the day had finally arrived. I was nervously excited. I knew what the experience as a camper had been, but I didn’t really have any idea what went into making that possible from the counselor’s side of things.
After waiting alone in the airport for a little while, Bobby and Christian arrived to pick me up along with Sarah and Anna. They were veterans who had more energy and personality than I knew what to do with.
After we made the 30 minute-or-so drive back to a neighborhood in the shadow of downtown and arrived on the campus of Spaulding University, we unloaded our bags and headed toward the dorm that would be our home for the next six weeks. As we got close, suddenly three faces popped into the doorway—all of whom would have a profound impact on my life in one way or another.
The first was Katie. She was the camp director. She was an excellent leader who is still having a terrific impact on the church, especially in the area of raising up young leaders. This is her gift and calling and God put her there because He wanted to use her to call me into ministry. She’s the reason I’m doing what I’m doing. Indirectly, she’s the reason you’re even reading this blog because it wouldn’t exist had she not spoken truth into my life at a particularly opportune moment at the end of the summer—a moment she didn’t even realize was happening when it did. It just goes to show you that being faithful to God’s call will result in seeds getting planted you won’t even realize have been planted.
The second was Melanie. She was the assistant director. Melanie had the kind of sweet, mothering personality that is making her an excellent mom and elementary educator and pastor’s wife to Greg, a terrific pastor. In addition to doing her job with superb skills, she mothered all of the staff that summer in the best way possible even to the point of throwing caution to the wind toward the end of it and fanning the flames of a relationship she had watched forming for weeks into a fire by playing matchmaker. I am every day grateful for the role God used her to play in my life.
Speaking of that role, the third face in the doorway was strikingly beautiful. But more than anything, like Solomon wrote of here, it was her eyes that grabbed my heart and wouldn’t let go. Something clicked inside of me right in that moment and I was utterly hooked. There was a warmth and depth and intelligence and wisdom and excitement in those eyes that spoke of a character and grace that I had to find out more about. I didn’t have the words to put to it in that moment as time stopped for a split second amid the chaotic excitement of arriving at camp, but I had fallen in love. Her name was Lisa (and it still is).
The matchmaking Melanie would later do was with us. It was in true Middle School fashion too: “So, is there anyone on staff that you like?” What started as a pulling back of the curtain on the feelings that had been growing in both of our hearts for several weeks we made the bold decision to pursue in spite of being immediately separated by several hundreds of miles. Yet love it was because by New Year’s Eve I had proposed and almost a year to the day from when we said goodbye after spending eight weeks falling in love, we made things permanent when we said, “I do,” in front of the ornate fountain of the old Citadel right in the center of downtown Charleston, SC.
It was a magical moment that began an adventure that has pressed ever onward for fourteen years now. There have been high hills and deep valleys alike, all watered well by the ever-present grace of our faithful God. But that promise to love through it all has remained. And two churches, six states, three kids, a turtle, and a partridge in a pear tree later, my only wish is for fourteen more years (and then another 28 after that) to be the husband she deserves and to get to enjoy the treasure of her love each and every day.
Lisa, you are the delight of my eyes and the desire of my heart. I look forward every single day to waking up and seeing your face in the bed beside me. You have been more than I could ever have imagined and certainly more than I deserve and I can’t wait for tomorrow. Your wisdom and faith and compassionate heart are a blessing that doesn’t stop. Your beauty and grace shine like perfectly cut diamonds in whatever situation you are in. You make things better by being in them no matter what those things are. I said it to you when I asked you to marry me and it’s still just as true today: I know that I am the luckiest.
I love you. Happy anniversary.