Craig & Julie, high school sweethearts and married 43 yearsIn the spring of my senior year of high school, I found myself thinking about this cute redhead in math class. She was cute, smart and laughed at my jokes, so we were off to a good start and ended up going to prom together before I left town for the summer. Even though we had only had a few dates, we started writing and our affection grew. That fall she headed for Santa Barbara and I headed for Austin, and we both expected that would be the end, especially since we were so different from each other, but we kept writing. Over Christmas, her family arranged for me to go with her to a Young Life camp, where I first heard and understood the Gospel. That began a new journey towards Love for me, and when I finally began to follow Christ, we finally had some common ground that we could build on. We both loved Jesus and thought we loved each other, so we got married expecting a glorious happy ever after claiming Psalm 118:23 "The Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes."
We had very unrealistic expectations and soon had some new verses. Things about iron sharpening iron and such. Really, the only thing that kept us together was a promise made. Since we were not going to bail, we became committed to try and figure out how to make this marriage work. As God blessed us with children, we had some new common ground and some new incentives. We wanted to give our children the gift of parents who love each other and we were deeply committed to model for them the joy of the Lord. We are both so grateful for those years.
The departure of our children to their own lives and families has been a hard adjustment, but God has faithfully helped us each to understand each others story better and to accept the fact that we will always come at life differently. And really, that has been good for both of us. She has become more adventurous and I have become more organized. And even more important, we are more and more not just accepting each other the way we are, but loving each other the way we are. How cool is that?
When Craig and I got married in 1970 we really knew very little about love. We knew we were attracted to each other, and I guess we thought that was love. It was not long before disappointment and anger began to take over in that first year. We were just so different from each other. But when we got married both Craig and I had been very serious about our vows and we had said that no matter what, divorce was not an option for us. So even though we were having difficulty getting along, we knew we had to figure it out. We read books, we read the Bible, we went to seminars, and we were learning a lot about what it really meant to love each other. It just wasn't as easy to put it into practice. As I look back over 43 years together, I realize how much God has knitted us together. We both adored and were so committed to our children. We both worked together to parent them. We both were committed to serving God and did that together in lots of ways. And I learned that the ways Craig was different from me were really good things for me, even those things that drove me crazy. Craig taught me to love the outdoors, and to be willing to take risks in order to have some great adventures. He helped me see how legalism and perfectionism were destroying me and our relationship. He made life fun, and I knew wherever we were he would figure out a way to take care of us. I definitely have grown to love him deeply and could hardly wait to get home to see him after being gone a week recently. He is truly a gift from God to me.