Wearing blue jeans, a hot pink T-shirt, worn out cowgirl boots and my hair pulled back in a clippy, I met Rip at the Home Depot parking lot 9 years ago today. Now, he was sporting his Kroger navy blue dress shirt and kacky pants, but the one thing we had in common … white trim paint on our hands and under our nails. It was just our look while we’d been spending months remodeling our future home during our engagement. With dark circles under our eyes and overly fatigued muscles, we sat in his Avalanche truck in that parking lot and knew that in only 30 minutes, we would be meeting with our pastor to talk about our wedding vows for the next weekend. But … things changed instantly because I actually met him there with a pair of rings and the marriage license tucked inside a gift bag. And it was all of 5 seconds when we both knew…
So at 4:30 we showed up for the meeting with our pastor, and Rip asked, “Can you marry us right now?” J.C. Christian didn’t seem too stunned and said, “Well, my wife is here practicing on the piano songs for your wedding next weekend so she could be the witness.” So we called family, Rip ran to Kroger to get flowers and within the hour, I was walking down the aisle to Rip. And he took me in his arms and we held each other for most of the time we were exchanging vows.
But I have to say, I didn’t know then what I know now about God and His kind, kind, kind redemption, justice, mercy and grace! Don’t believe it when people try to tell you that He doesn’t place His redeeming and restoring power of blessings on two broken and repentant people who are experiencing a second marriage.
But for 9 years, we’ve experienced a marriage that I hope to one day write a book about because Rip and I both know that what we are allowed (only by the grace of God) to experience in our marriage isn’t due to just mustered up determination or some kind of manufactured make-it-work-somehow mindset. No, we’re allowed to have the marriage we have because of one reason – God’s prerogative. When He sees two repentant people who depend on Him for healing and renewed life in His grip, He never says no. He smiles! And responds with great grace! With great delight! And with great movement of His righteous right hand in putting two people back together again.
Rip and I have both experienced deep healing from God. Not physical, but emotional and mental healing. Our hearts aren’t just knit together; they were first mended and sewn up with Triune threads of understanding, compassion and love. You see, any time a person places their whole self, wounded and all, but places their whole self on the altar and says, “I’m Yours. Do with me what You see needs to be done so that I am wholly Yours, not partially,” then that refining fire and that healing balm of God’s holiness gets to work and no, it’s not comfortable, but it’s necessary in order for two things to happen: In order to know God, and in order to be used by God in advancing His kingdom. He uses purified vessels and purified couples – “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God,” Matthew 5:8.
God isn’t a snob. He never has been in my life. He is a kind, loving, compassionate and understanding Hero. Our Hero! And He has demonstrated just how heroic He is through the love of a man I get the privilege to be the closest with.
Do you have a hero? What would your life look like if you came to really know God has your Hero? The One who rescues you out of a cycle of grief, sorrow, hurt or fear? Heros are strong, fearless, and focused on the rescue, and I want you to know something friend, He is your Hero! He is! And when you call on Him, He won’t keep you at arms length. He want ignore your calls and send your cries to a voice messaging system. He won’t wait until you grovel and beg. No, He is so heroic that He comes in full power and love to your side the moment a single tear wells up in your eyes. You may not can sound a syllable from your mouth, but He isn’t waiting for that. He sees the heart and hears your cries and then does what His Word has promised….He reaches down and takes hold of you. And let me just tell you, when you are being held by the kind, kind, kind and loving hand of God, you will know it!
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.” Psalm 18:16
Rip and I have experienced so much in so little time, and the result of our 9 years of marriage? I can sum it up in one word – PASSION!
With everything we have been allowed to walk through together has created in both of us a devoted passion first to God, then a devoted passion to each other. Now, I’m not trying to paint a fairy tale story, I’m only wanting to acknowledge today, on our anniversary, that where we are in our marriage is only because God has “willed it” to be so. God has taken us through tests, trials, and through some of the most miraculous mountain top experiences, but in and through it all God has been the Hero of our lives and of our marriage for 9 years and He finds extreme joy in being the Hero of your heart, too.
Here are a few photos of us that I just want to share with you because they are some of my favorite moments with my Rip.