Today is our 43rd anniversary. 40 of them were “normal.” The last three have been different for both of us. I had a stroke. Melanie contracted Lyme disease. In different ways, each of us has experienced a serious loss of energy and stamina. And you don’t find young people celebrating their 43rd wedding anniversary, so there’s that.
Until these restrictions crashed into our lives, we had enjoyed living in Florida, especially on vacations. Like my dad, we loved heading for the beach. Along the way we got to know people who already lived at the beach. When a hurricane was heading the Gulf coast, and a single mom who rented rooms at her waterfront beach house where we had stayed needed somewhere to flee for safety, we invited her, her two children, and their Labrador, to come stay with us in Lakeland for a couple of days. She never let us pay for a room again when we could get over to the water for a day or two.
By the time her children were off to college and our friend sold her place, we had made other friends who generously invited us to hang out at their homes close to the water. These beach vacations began to turn into private retreats for us, where Melanie and I would read spiritual books to each other and pray. Eventually we began writing our own books on these retreats.
This week, we had been remembering those days. I am hesitant to expect that we can ever leave the house like that again. I am too fragile and cannot eat a meal without special preparation from Melanie. Any vacation like those we used to have would not be vacations for her.
But I went back to look at pictures I had taken on these getaways. I had not looked at them since the stroke changed things for us. With the pictures, I looked through a window on those happy days.
And I rediscovered a picture that has become my favorite of my dear wife. I took it one night in the house where we were staying. The only light we had on was one above the kitchen counter. Melanie was across the room, sitting at the dining table with her computer. Writing.
I can’t express how proud I am of her and books the Lord has given her to share. I was thrilled to be her technical helper getting them published and listed online. These days in our daily devotions (during my long mealtimes) she often includes pages from her books written so recently, so long ago. We often shake our heads at the words of counsel and exhortation that strike us now as prescient. The fruit from our times of retreat now reminds us to hold on to our trust in Jesus. [See a listing of her books at her blog. The photo on the cover of her first book, Listening For His Voice, was taken on one our first visits to Anna Maria Island.]
Since my stroke, Melanie’s writing time has been largely taken over by the care she gives me. I love you, Melanie, and I hope you will be able to return to this ministry and gift from the Lord. I am delighted to think you still will be able to touch lives and encourage hearts, even if you do it behind closed doors while watching out for me.