Marry Me? –
When Donna and I were courting— I used the word courting because the world’s notion of dating has become anything but Godly or productive— anyway, when we were courting one of our ideas of romance was riding together. Out on her Dad’s ranch on Blue creek, what would later become known as the Heyu-Cow Ranch, Donna kept the family horses on the forty acres that belonged to her.
I was living nearby in the old Helfrick house, the one that I told you about last week that would burn down after we got married. Anyway, Donna would come out and we would go catch and saddle up the big appaloosas and ride to our hearts content in the beautiful rugged and broken hills of upper Blue Creek where you could see for miles from the hilltops, or get lost to the world in the ravines— the big coulees, that seemed to have been forgotten by time itself.
It was a time to laugh, to feel truly alive and explore both the land and each other as we rode and talked. On one such occasion I decided it was time. I hadn’t planned it for this moment— it just kind of happened.
We had just turned the horses out into the back side of her forty after unsaddling and brushing them out and were standing near the gate to the pasture. We were in a beautiful bottom where 3 or 4 large coulees came together to form a green well-watered valley where the meadow larks sang and the Red Tail hawks kept watch from up above.
Donna and I were holding each other and just enjoying the moment, I don’t know if she heard my heart thumping or what but she asked me— “Are you afraid of me?” I said no, I’m just afraid of what’s next. She then said; “What’s that— you mean marriage?”
So right there in what we called the horse gate I asked her to marry me. I told her before she answered that I wasn’t afraid of getting married, I just wanted her to know what she was getting into. I said; “I don’t know if you are going to be marrying a welder, or a pastor but I do know that I will always make sure you are provided for.”
I was working in a welding shop that also did pipeline construction at the time and that was the person she had come to know, but she also knew that I was passionately devoted to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world and that I had heard the call from the Lord to become a pastor— someday.
There is a very large difference between the two— the life of the wife of a construction worker and the life of a pastors wife. I knew she loved the life of the working man, judging a man by the callouses on his hands as well as what was in his heart, just making a living and building a home on a little piece of ground where you can plant roots and grow old together. That was the way she was raised and I was kind of fond of that notion myself.
And indeed we did build a home, right there on that forty acres after the infamous fire I told you about last week, and we tried our hand at ranching building a small but very nice herd of cattle. But on that day, standing there with her in my arms before the horse gate, I wanted her to understand that this could all change. I had committed myself first to the Lord and to following him wherever he led.
I knew my call would be a huge challenge as serving the Lord whole heartedly is never convenient nor the path of least resistance but I also knew that if the Lord was in it, that if Donna was the one he had chosen for me, of which I had no doubt, then this would work, But we had to start this relationship with honesty and with our eyes wide open.
Her answer that early spring day in the big coulee at the horse gate was…”I’ll have to pray about it.” I said; that’s the right answer. She didn’t pray nearly as fast as I would have liked though as it took me a couple more weeks to get the answer out of her. I offered her an engagement ring on the trail out of Vernon Lake after a day of fishing in the Beartooth Mountains and finally got her answer when we got back to the car. She said yes.
And they all lived happily ever after… No. but we learned to because we had decided to. Turns out saying I do and doing it are two different things.
Donna says she doesn’t remember that Pastor qualifier in my proposal, though she did know it was a possibility. The notion was, and is, a huge challenge for her; just as passionately, and sometimes blindly, pursuing the life of ministry has turned out to be a huge challenge for me. I wanted to save the world and she just wants to be the mom, the wife and now grandma.
There have been times when we have both felt like the other was preventing us from truly pursuing our dreams. But with the Lord’s help and the tempering effect of being joined together as one in spirit and by choice, we are doing it, not exactly the way she would like to, not exactly the way I would like to, but I am convinced it is the way we are supposed to. Any dream I might have that does not have her in it is not a dream I want to live.
I could have just dragged her along; mandating, manipulating or tricking her into doing things my way. But that is a selfishness and would never have been blessed. Using religious fervor or scripture to bully your spouse is also a form of selfishness.
6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 2 Tim 3
She could have thrown fits and refused to follow me as well. Even giving up and leaving- I didn’t sign up for this! But she didn’t. We sought the Lord together and came up with the plan that worked for us together, God’s real plan, for us. There is no sweeter place to be.
Happy Valentines day!