A Christmas Love Story 17


Today’s blog provides the context for a Podcast recording of a Christmas story I wrote.

Listen to it here. I think you’ll like it.

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She was 13. He was 17.

Too young to date.

Too inexperienced to know what they wanted in life.

Too immature to even think of building a lasting relationship.

Except they did. And they have. For 63 years.

Dad was a charmer, with a smile that lit Mom’s world. Mom was a beauty, full of spunk and verve.

Dad sang, his booming, unabashed baritone bear-hugging every note. Mom accompanied on the piano, her gifted fingers artfully redirecting Dad’s runaway rhythms to their rightful place.

Dad’s malapropisms and exuberant, silly dances moved Mom to giggles. Mom’s constant delight in God’s creation caught Dad up in gladness.

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Together, they loved Jesus with a passion.

And Jesus called them, together, to shepherd His sheep.

In fact,

it was in the middle of a shepherding trip …

six years ago …

after 46 years of shepherding together …

while staying at a remote location …

where Dad was to preach the next day …

that the unthinkable happened.

A stroke attacked Mom with merciless ferocity, taking not her life but the life they had known together.

I could tell you …

of wheelchairs and lifts, standing frames and bibs …

of psychiatrists and nurses, speech therapists and cafeteria workers …

of jumbled words and mystifying outbursts …

And those, indeed, are integral to this story. But here is its heart:

My mom

A bride whose face still lights up when her handsome husband walks in the room.

A warrior who fights bravely through her cognitive cloud to look intently in your eyes and let you know you matter.

A nurturer who kisses babies and holds them close.

A worshiper who nods and murmurs assent whenever she hears the Shepherd’s songs.

My dad

A bridegroom who chooses to spend the better part of each day in a care center with the woman of his dreams.

A warrior who braves mountains of paperwork and red tape to advocate relentlessly for the welfare of his loved one.

A nurturer who shepherds still, though instead of a congregation it’s now residents and caretakers.

A worshiper who takes his grief and doubt straight to the Shepherd and learns from Him.

Their Shepherd

A Bridegroom who cherishes them with the same relentless love that drove Him to the cross.

A Warrior who battles valiantly to fortify their faith and protect their peace.

A Nurturer whose rod and staff  lead them to quiet waters.

The Holy One who is worthy of their praise even in this valley. Especially in this valley.

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So, you see, this is a love story. But it’s not just theirs; it’s His.

This Christmas, I pray that His love story …

lights up your countenance …

sets your feet to dancing …

catches you up in gladness …

and brings you peace.

Held by the Shepherd,


P.S. This blog provides the context for a Podcast that captures the heart of both their love story and His. You may listen to it here: beckylyles.com/podcast. (Oh, and as you listen, I want you to know that in my dad’s life there really was a slingshot … and a bird … and ridiculously silly dancing … and a bride that still makes his heart sing.)

Leave a comment

17 thoughts on “A Christmas Love Story

  • Kim Veit

    This is such a heartwarming true story of God’s unconditional, committed love, visible in the marriage relationship of your sweet Mom and Dad. Thank you for sharing this sweet story. It’s so very inspiring! Your Mom has always had a special place in my heart. There was a time when she gave me hope and encouragement in a very hard time in my life.

  • Susan Carter

    Oh, Jeanelle! What an inspiring love story! Your parents’ dedication to serve the Lord and their dedication to one another is a beautiful picture of our Savior’s love and sacrifice. You captured the enormity of it all in the way that only you can do. Your father’s heart must be swollen with such a mixture of emotions; mine certainly is! Thank you for sharing this with us, your friends and followers!

    • Jeanelle Reider Post author

      Dearest Susan, thank you so much for letting the depth of what our family is experiencing sink into your heart. Your words, as always, bring a smile to my own heart. And yes, Dad was moved and touched, and I’m so glad. (Sat with Dad during first service, under the back window, on Sunday. Saw you and Luke in my line of vision and prayed for you both, asking God to bring His sweet peace and joy into your lives in this season.)

  • Jaclyn Palmer

    Beautiful. It was so lovely to ‘hear your voice’ again.
    Thank you for posting your heart this day! Marriage is an amazing gift from God. A gift that He fights for, cherishes, and loves. How thankful I am that I get to walk in this gift of marriage!
    Thank you to your parents for setting a 63 year path for us to glean from!

    • Jeanelle Reider Post author

      You are so welcome, Jaclyn. Thank you for your good and true comment about God’s amazing gift that He fights for. (And thank you, too, for your book–just read Chapter 22 today and am determined to love God with all my heart throughout this day, and my neighbor as myself.) A big hug to you this morning as you continue to pursue the vision God has put before you!

  • Jeanelle Reider Post author

    Thank you for what you see in my mom and dad, dear friend. You and David have been a profound encouragement to all of us, every step of the way. Praying the very same joy back to you as you live to love others and to celebrate our Lord.

  • Sharee

    This brought me to tears, Jeanelle. Ron and I were in a small group with your parents when we first came to UBC. We remember how loving your mom was to us as newcomers. We were at Good Samaritan last Sunday caroling to them and the other residents. I was elated that Juanita remembered me and delighted when she sang along with us. Others in our SS class commented on the love that your parents share and how obvious it is to us who spent time with them. They are an example of Christ’s love for us. We also caroled to Ruth and Monte and we experienced the same outpouring of love that they displayed for each other. We were blessed much more than those to whom we caroled.

    • Jeanelle Reider Post author

      Sharee, it’s such a gift to all our family that you caroled at Good Samaritan–I can only imagine the big smiles of enthusiasm Mom gave you! And I know it meant so much to Dad too. Thank you for remembering my mom’s love for you as newcomers. That was (and is) her heart. And I agree–Ruth and Monte’s example is so beautiful as well. Thank you for your tender comments.

  • Carol Montgomery

    Precious story. Beautifully written. I always loved your parents. In fact, your dad married us years ago. God has used them as carriers of His unfailing love. May their legacy of love continue to ripple across time and miles. Thanks for sharing. :)

  • Mary Gray

    Jeanelle, what a beautiful story about your wonderful parents and what God’s love does. This is a beautiful example of how God intended our marriages to be. You are as blessed as they are and your whole family is benefiting by your parents love of the Lord. Talk about leading by example. We should all be so fortunate to have what your family has. Hugs to you all.