WHEE! 23!!

Today, on the 23rd anniversary of our wedding day, I come to you with a heart overflowing with gratitude. Yes, Joan and I chose to be married on Cinco de Mayo of the year 2000. I’m not sure May 5 had a lot of significance, but I will be forever grateful that we chose to marry in a year ending with three zeros. That way, if I know what year it is, I can always answer the question, “So… how long have you two been married?”

I don’t have to work hard to remember the bruised and battered person I was when we walked down the aisle on that warm Friday evening. Not physically mind you, but spiritually and psychically. After a painful divorce three years earlier and the failure of my solo venture into the world of advertising and public relations, the three-legged stool of my identity and self-worth was wobbling badly. 

My faith was still there but was hanging on by a thread. I certainly still believed in the idea of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, but mostly as an abstract theological principle. I was not sure it was something available to the likes of me in that moment.

And yet, here was this radiant, fun-loving, adventurous, kind, compassionate woman standing next to me… preparing to make eternal promises to keep standing there no matter what. She was beautiful inside and out and when she turned and smiled at me, left no doubt in my mind she was there to stay. 

“For better or for worse…” as Pastor Dustin prompted us to repeat after him. 

I have no doubt at all it was her love and encouragement that helped me see the vision of the new thing waiting to rise from the ashes of my previous existence. Joan was the one who steadfastly believed in me when I didn’t. She knew God had greater designs for my future and urged me to also see and lean into those designs. 

Without pushing, cajoling, or insisting, she helped me see that the path to seminary and professional, ordained ministry was not as goofy a path as it sounded to me at first. 

Since that day 25 years ago when we first met, Joan has been “God with skin on” in my life. She has been my champion, my encourager, my challenger, my accountability, my harshest critic, my fiercest defender, and the one who has continued to provide a vision of what is possible when I lose sight of it. She is the one who kicks my butt when I need it and strokes my head when that is the touch that is needed.

Every year when this day comes around, I struggle to answer the question, “What can I do to adequately show Joan the depth of my gratitude and love as we mark another year on our journey as husband and wife?” And every year I fail to come up with anything much better than flowers, a card, and dinner. 

Maybe this time – besides all those standard, boring celebration devices – I’ll clear my throat, summon my best Elton voice and sing…

It’s a little bit funny; this feeling inside.

It’s not one of those I can easily hide.

I don’t have much money, but girl if I did.

I’d buy a big house where we both could live. 

And you can tell everyone

That this is your song.

It may be quite simple, but now that it’s done.

I hope you don’t mind

I hope you don’t mind

That I put down in words

How wonderful life is

While you’re in my world. 

I love you, sweetie. Happy anniversary!

Abundant blessings;

10 Responses to “WHEE! 23!!”

  1. May 5, 2023 at 9:39 pm

    Happy Anniversary, dear friend. So glad you met your “God with skin on” life partner and found renewed faith in the bidding!

  2. May 6, 2023 at 3:09 am

    Aww… so sweet! Happy anniversary to you both! It was such a pleasure meeting you two. See you later – here, there, or in the air. 😉

  3. May 6, 2023 at 10:01 am

    Beautifully written, Russell. Really encouraging to hear your story – of ‘things working together for good’. We all have so much to be grateful for. Happy anniversary.

  4. 8 Jeanne & Bill Casey
    May 8, 2023 at 12:37 am

    Russell – What a wonderful letter of your 23 years with Joan. Beautiful. I read that God sent Joan to you when you most needed someone like her. Singing a song to her on this year’s anniversary was a wonderful choice. Over our 62+ years of marriage, Bill and I have given many songs to each other on our anniversaries. We started with 45’s, tapes, cd’s, etc. Some years ago our son Jim put all of them onto cd’s for us. We still enjoy listening to each and every one, all 30+ of them. They come from all genres. A couple long time favorites you can sing to Joan in future years: “The Story of My Life” (begins and ends with you) by Neil Diamond; “In This Life” (I was loved by you) by Bette Midler. We have so many more good ones but you will find your own to sing to your love on future anniversaries.
    God bless both of you.
    Love, Jeanne & Bill Casey
    (we still miss you RevRuss)

    • May 8, 2023 at 4:29 am

      It is so good to hear from you! I think the idea of capturing anniversaries with important songs is GREAT. Joan and I both love music and have so many songs that speak to us. I know this has been a rough time for the two of you, but I pray that the memories you share are bringing meaning and memories to your time together. Blessings!

  5. 10 ephesians413
    May 13, 2023 at 7:18 pm

    A little late, but congratulations! Very sweet. 🙂

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