It's been 34 years since I said "yes" to my man.
He had just pulled an all-nighter as a medical resident in a Memphis hospital. I had driven from Jackson, MS to visit him for the weekend in his home town, Hernando, where he was temporarily staying at his parents.
We were sitting on his grandmother's porch swing next door...
A small country town,
a white farm house,
a definite southern charm.
We were swinging slow; I was hoping much.
There were no hidden photographers, no cell phones in our hands, no thought of recording the event,
just him... and me...and a ring in his pocket.
After some small talk about nothing and then large talk about big things, he then quoted Proverbs 18:22: He who finds a wife finds a good thing...
Then, he got on one knee and told me something--I don't remember what it was, but it was sweet.
The next question was only 4 words, but at the same time, it was life-altering. After only 3 months of dating him, Mac asked, "Will you marry me?"
Wow, I had waited for this;
I had dreamt about this,
and here I was, living this!
Of course I said "yes," not in the least bit knowing what that meant other than a ring on my finger and an "I do" at the altar.
My dreams hadn't gone past my wedding day.
We got up from the porch swing and knocked on his Mimi's screen door. She was the first one to see the ring; the first to hug us; the first to congratulate us. It was a memorable celebration of three.
Shortly afterwards, I was met with an embrace from Mac's mama who was waiting at their house. I remember her saying, with her thick southern accent and deep rooted faith, that she had been praying for me, Mac's future wife, for years, and she was so thankful that God answered her prayer through me.
Those life-giving words filled my cup, and they didn't cost a dime.
The good news spread...by the house telephone that was attached to a wall. Excitement was in the air rather than on a feed.
Wedding plans were made, mostly by my task-oriented mama, some specifics by my dreamy self. Next came showers and gifts, southern style. (Anybody need a sliver tray, silver tea set, silver place settings?)
And so, just like that, we were married in my growin'-up-church in Jackson, MS, six months later to the day.
Mac and I have come a long way together these 34 years.
Lots of life. Lots of growth. Lots of change.
It's a different world than way back when I said "yes" to my man.
But if he were to ask me to marry him again now, I would hope he would do it the exact same way.
Just him...and me, and a ring in his pocket.
From our forth floor balcony at Panama City Beach, my husband, my daughter, and I watched the waves roll in and the waves roll out. We could have gotten mesmerized by the rhythmic sight and sound, but it was a different kind of evening on the white sandy beach beneath us. Several boats with blue swirling lights were driving back and forth in search of a young 20 year old who had gotten pulled away from his friends by a riptide. His panicked friends and accumulating spectators lined the shore in hope.
At 11 pm, the search was over, the young man was found. A thriving life ended, and inexplicable grief began.
Only 24 hours later, same balcony, same white sand, same rolling waves. Yet, what we witnessed on this perfect sunset-evening was a young man, dressed in khaki and blue who had set up a twinkling "marry me" sign in the sand. He waited for his sweetheart, and sure enough, she came. He bent to one knee and asked the question that young girls dream of. When they embraced, the condo balconies erupted in applause.
At 7pm, the search was over, the boy got his girl. His anxious thoughts stopped. Uncontainable joy began.
To be honest, I'm not sure what to make of the two extremes, the high and the low of it. I'm still processing the waves of emotion on both ends.
My only consolation with the young man who was swept away so suddenly is to think that Jesus himself was with him, saying, "Come with Me to a better place." There is a better place, I hope you know...maybe that's why I'm writing this right now...to tell you there is a better place than this life, and Jesus will take each of us there if we believe in him as our Savior. Yes, He saves us...from messes, from chaos, from riptides.
My genuine hope for this young, engaged, very happy couple is that they will walk with Jesus in the land of the living. Maybe that's why I'm writing this right now...to tell you that you don't have to walk this life alone, and that Jesus will help you in each moment and in every relationship. Yes, He helps...in the happy and in the hard.
We will always have the extremes...the high waves of over-the-top-joy as well as the low undercurrents of knee-buckling sadness.
Life and death and everything in between. The hope is this: Jesus is in the midst of it all.
Maybe that's why I'm writing this right now...to tell you that Jesus is in your midst...and to tell you to hold His hand in your extreme.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
I'm a visual learner therefore I journal most everything that I want to know and remember. One of the consistent little pictures that I draw every morning beside the current date on my journal page is a quick sketch of two hearts side by side, slightly overlapping, with a cross going straight through the middle of the hearts. The hearts are meant to represent Mac and me, and the cross, of course, represents Jesus. When I draw this simple picture, I pray something like this over our relationship:
Lord, may your strong love pull us together.
May your love fill us and flow through us towards one another.
Bind us together and make us move towards other people.
Use us, O Lord, however you want, and where ever we go. Amen.
Well, not too long ago, Mac and I went to Spearfish, South Dakota. We stayed at the Secret Garden, a lovely Bed and Breakfast near the bubbling Spearfish Creek. In this small historic town, our hope was to visit some young friends of ours, John Michael and Erica Elder. Mac got to fish with John Michael, and I enjoyed coffee with Erica. We saw their new home, met their adorable little a six month old JJ, and had dinner with Erica's parents. What a great weekend of new sights and new relationships!
To top it off (no put intended here), John Micael took us on an uphill hike on his in-law's property. It was quite vigorous, OR I'm quite out of shape! However, when we reached the pinnacle it was well worth every upward step. From this vantage point, the view of Spearfish was spectacular: the Black Hills were in the distance, the green valleys lay beneath us, while blue skies and cotton clouds completed the work of art.
But what caught my immediate attention were the three dark wooden crosses that stood prominently at the crest of the hill. I loved to see them there, making a strong statement without words. I asked John Michael to take a picture of Mac and me in front of it, simply because it was something I wanted to remember from our trip out west.
It wasn't until the next morning in my quiet time, when I was sketching the hearts-and-the-cross-picture that I realized that my "journal art" had become reality. God is so sweet like that. I never want to miss his intentional intimate gifts he designs just for me! (He does this for ALL his children! We just have to open our eyes.)
After making this journal/reality connection, I went one step further, which is the TRUE reason God allowed me to live out my paper-sketch:
I believe with all my heart, that God will answer the prayers that I lift up for our marriage as I draw the simple picture.
I'm mainly posting this "evidence of God at work" to encourage you, wives, to pray for your husbands, and to love them with the unshakeable love of Christ. It's vital to him, to you, and to your marriage, no matter if you're six months in or 31 years like Mac and me.
Today, Mac and I are in a new place, literally. He's had a job transition, coming out of 27 years of doing the same thing at the same office. My prayers for him and my love towards him are a key factor in this faith-filled change. I have recently added to my prayers for us: Lord, show us where to live, give, work, and play.
Remember being a wife is a divine gift. Culture may shout to you that it's not; that it's a burden even, and a second rate role. But think about it, what a powerful privilege to be someone's "wind beneath their wings". Embrace your call and pray your man into the Lord's heights, which is way higher and far greater than any position this fleeting world can give.
You may not need to draw a journal picture right now, but maybe take a minute to pray the prayer above for your marriage. And in time, with a surrendered heart, watch your prayers become reality.
Hi Readers,I wanted to let you know that I am doing a short video series called "Two Minute Tips to Encourage a Lifelong Marriage". Check it out by clicking on the Facebook emblem at the top of this page.I knew very little about what I was getting into when I said "I do" almost three decades ago. I thought the bride just rode off into the sunset with her Prince Charming and lived happily ever after. Goodness, I had a lot to learn! These lessons are some of what the Lord has taught me throughout my marriage journey to my husband Mac.No matter what year or decade, all marriages need encouragement to stay the course. Healthy daily choices lead to long-lasting relationships. I pray these tips will be a blessing.In His love,Chris
I am pleased to announce my NEW BOOK:25 Years, 25 Lessons: Letters to a Bride from a Seasoned Wife
This decorative coffee table book is for any married woman. It provides foundational insights to newly weds, and it offers basic reminders to those who have been married for decades. The pages are full of beautiful images accompanied with Scripture based letters concerning on-going lessons that I have learned in my own marriage. Some topics are: be an encourager, put on love, and laughter. I invite you to be blessed by God's directive word within the pages of this book.
They are also in Hot Pink in Brentwood, TN and Oak&Willow in Nashville, TN.
On July 22, 2017 at 5:30 pm, Maggie Marie Baxter became Maggie Marie Gilmer. Her utmost heart’s desire at her wedding was for all those attending to understand and know that the ceremony that they were witnessing was an acting visual of God and His great love for each one of them.
In Scripture we are called “the bride of Christ.” Here are some of His beautiful promises straight from His longing heart. Allow them to wash over you today. Become His bride all over again. Live in His love.
For your Maker is your husband–the Lord Almighty is His name–the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth. Isaiah 54:5
photo by Marissa Roberts
As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so your God will rejoice over you. Isaiah 61:10
I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord. Hosea 2:19-20
…Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her… Ephesians 5:25
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Isaiah 1:18
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Revelation 21:2
From the beginning of time and then for all eternity, God has picked His bride, His people. He pursues in steadfast love.
He asks, “Will you say, ‘I do’?”
If so, He changes your name and gives you a new identity, in Christ. You wear His white, His purity. He is faithful and true…forever. Today, let us each rejoice and live securely in the strong arms of our Perfect Husband.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:7-8
Thank you for your instructional word! Please Lord, through your powerful Spirit, help us to submit to your authority, as well as resist the temptations or arrows of our enemy. As we do these things, thank you for the promises that the devil will flee and you will draw near. Amen.