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.
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.
Together, they loved Jesus with a passion.
And Jesus called them, together, to shepherd His sheep.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.)