10, 950.

That’s how many mornings my heart has awakened next to yours. Can you believe it?

I remember when we were getting close to our wedding day, and I was trying so hard to project our future in my mind. I could see babies, but not their sexes. I could imagine us in a log cabin next to a river, since that’s what we used to dream about over a rotary phone at precisely 11:00pm on Wednesday nights (when the rates went down), when you were at your college and I was at mine. I could gather a vague outline of events I hoped and prayed would come to pass, but beyond that, all I really knew was that we’d be walking it all together, as the lines filled in with color. We’d walk it all hand in hand.

And you know what? We have.

You held my hand as we graduated college, and as we moved our one truckload of belongings into our first real house on Lemmontree Lane, and dumped it all – everything – into a smallish pile in the middle of the living room. You held my hand in celebration when we went from being renters to homeowners of that same house, as we blew the bank at The Mansion with an $80 bill.

You held my hand (and suffered with the pain for days afterward) while I labored to bring our first child into the world, a beautiful dark-haired, wide-eyed baby girl, and a piece of that outline filled in for me. I know there are those that say children complete a couple and make a family, but to me, they are sort of an expansion of love. I never felt there was anything missing with us that needed completing, but it seemed only right and good that what we had would grow.

I held your hand when you started a commission sales job just months after closing on our house, and right after we found out we were pregnant. I held it tight through early hard and lean months when you felt the weight of the pressure of providing for a growing family. Yet, even with all that pressure, you gave me the gift of staying home with our baby because you felt as strongly about that as I did.

You almost had to let go of my hand to catch our second baby, she came so fast! Another dark-haired, wide-eyed beauty fresh from God. Another expansion of our hearts. I remember wondering what I’d done to deserve such a prize as two little girls and a dad that still made my heart sing.

I’m still wondering.

We’ve held hands through potty training and driver’s training, tumbling and soccer, horses and dance (and horses!), corporate moves, the purchase of 7 homes, remodeling, church-building and leadership, small business debacles (mine), and the challenges of raising teens. With hands held, we saw both daughters graduate college, and one pledge her own heart in marriage. We’ve held hands over dreams, both realized and lost, and have felt our hearts blow wide open at the first views of our amazing grandchildren.

I sit here now, looking out the windows (always the windows) at this property of ours. For years we’ve wanted to be out on some land. We tried. We had the doors shut in our face. But now, here we are. On 30 acres, this 30th day of July, celebrating 30 years of marriage, and the house isn’t too far off from being a log cabin next to a river (hey, that pond will have water in it one of these days!). Somehow, at 19 years old, I wasn’t too far off on my projections. There was a lot that I didn’t know, and a lot of hard things that I wouldn’t have chosen, but the by-product of it all is exactly as I pictured: you and me, walking hand in hand. Looking a little older, yes, but still looking right at each other.

Thank you for a sweet, sweet life, my darling. It’s been, and continues to be, a wonderful, long walk.

I love, love, love you…always beyond.

(If you don’t see the slideshow on your device, click here to view it)

“This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” Matthew 19:5 NLT

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.” Ephesians 5:22-28 MSG