It’s our 25th!!!!
25 years ago today we tied the knot and rode off into the sunset together. Spending the next week on a Southern Caribbean cruise, we were living the good life and prepared to take on the world together. For those that don’t know, we were high school sweethearts and had already been best friends for nearly 7 yrs to this point. Thus, we’d had plenty of time to dream about the future life we’d planned to spend together.
Starting out, like many couples, there were some adjustments we had to make. It was likely a bit tougher on my lovely bride as she’d moved away from home to Owensboro, KY with me and found herself with a lot of idle time as I was off pursuing my career with guns blazing. While I experienced a few of our challenges in the first year, I likely didn’t know how difficult it was for Lisa until several years later as we looked back upon our journey. I’ve always been grateful for the grace Lisa has extended me in our lives for which aspects of the first few years show the true women of God she is.
In the first few years, we have many fond memories of “just the two of us”. Whether it was headed out with friends to our favorite Mexican restaurant having one of the world’s best margaritas, floating down the Ohio river on our own boat, or trips home on US231 to see family, we enjoyed “just the two of us”.
Then, many people say they knew when it was time to start a family and that was the case with us as well. In 1996 (5 yrs later), Chris Jr came into our lives followed by Kylie in 1998. While the times of margaritas and floating down the Ohio seemed to have shifted a bit, the addition of children brought on a whole new joy in our lives for which we’ll be eternally grateful. Today’s not about them; however, you might enjoy my last blog post, “Don’t take these times for granted!”, which capture the essence of children in our lives.
As we journeyed on together over the next several years, outwardly, we were “living the dream”. I was fulfilled with a successful career and Lisa was afforded the opportunity to fulfill many of her dreams being a stay at home mom. With the financial benefits of a successful career, our lifestyle crept up along with it. While we really weren’t necessarily living extravagant lives, we simply had finances to live comfortably. Beyond comfort, we were afforded things like a lake house, regular family vacations, Christmas trees full of gifts, and many other things finances tend to provide.
Then, it happened! One night back in 2002, sharing time together in the hot tub like we regularly would do, Lisa said, “I’d give it all up if we had to!” Yes, this statement is evidence of the true spiritual leader Lisa was to our family during this season of life. I was lacking a bit behind in my walk with Christ during that season. With that said, I knew exacting what she was saying and agreed at a heart level. I don’t believe either of us were really over emphasizing our faith in God at the time nor was it much more than a passing conversation. That being offered, these were words we’d always remember.
You see, as I write today looking back, I can tell you that life has looked a whole lot different than those dreams we shared floating down the Ohio River. And, that statement of “I’d give it all up if we had to!” has much relevance in our lives today. What once was a season of “plenty” has turned into a season of “daily provision” as our financial net worth has transitioned from what likely would have been in the millions at this point in our lives to now being next to nothing. Yes, in some ways, just as we made a vow to one another 25 years ago, that evening in the hot tub we made a vow to God for which He’s allowed us to go on an unbelievable journey.
The journey we’ve been on over the past 8 years could have wrecked many marriages. This hasn’t been the case for Lisa and I. Candidly, its been during this past season that we’ve grown together the most and I’ve seen my wive’s true beauty. You see, it’s easy to extend grace, show compassion, find joy, and have faith in God when things are going well. It’s how Lisa has responded with even more grace, compassion, joy, and faith as we’ve gone into “the valley” which has drawn us closer. Together, we’re learning what it truly means to set our eyes upon Christ, total surrender all, and reap the benefits with one another together along the way.
So, reflecting back on that time on the Ohio River in the early years, the plan was that we’d be on a cruise ship right now celebrating 25 years together. While we’d still be grateful for God’s miraculous provision to share time together on a cruise in October, it’s no longer a dream or necessity in our lives. In fact, to the depth of our relationship, while I’d never plan or encourage one to follow in our footsteps, today I’m boarding a plane and traveling overseas on business without my lovely bride. I don’t do so without a bit of a sadness in my heart that I’m not home tonight to celebrate; however, I regularly experience this feeling anytime we have to go separated for days. God speaks of a union where two become one flesh for which we’ve grown to experience and love in our relationship. We’re not designed to experience separation from one another; thus, I’ll miss my bride as I always do!
So, Lisa Marie Burton Arnold, you are a joyful, compassionate, faithful daughter of our Heavenly Father! Without you the past few years would have been unbearable. I truly appreciate the wife you are to me. I appreciate the mother you are to our children. I appreciate the way you selflessly serve other children, young women, and wherever else called. We have great times ahead of us in the second half. May God allow us to share in the journey together only to pass as the Notebook couple many years down the road. While we may have missed the ship this week, I’m betting God has a much better ship in store for us.
Love you baby and see you later this week!