We were so broke [and still are most days], with a new baby, and college to finish.
In fact, we were so broke that I didn't even have an engagement ring. There wasn't a formal proposal for us. We had a baby and we knew we loved each other so we began to plan a wedding. We decided that later, when we could afford one [bahahahahahahahahaha] we would buy it. I didn't care. Honestly.
Little did I know that my better half was secretly stashing away the few leftover pennies [seriously, pennies people, pennies] to buy me an engagement ring. He didn't want me to not have one. He surprised me with it by hiding it in a closet for me to find.
Two weeks before our wedding, he placed this beautiful diamond on my finger and asked me [formally] to marry him in the kitchen of our condo.
Yesterday, I looked down while teaching and realized it was gone.
The diamond from my engagement ring was not there. Empty space.
I almost cried. [That's not really that unusual these days.] My kids offered to look for it. One boy asked was it a big diamond worth a lot of money.
"No, it wasn't big but worth so much more than money."
You see, that ring is a symbol of the pledge we made to start a life together. It is a symbol of struggle and sacrifice and laughter and tears. We made some tough choices that had some tough consequences early in our married lives. Coaching, kids, jobs, finances, more kids, less money, moving, teaching piled up and changed us as a married couple.
We had to learn to work at being married. Yes. Relationships, if they are going to be worth anything, must be cultivated. Those vows and "I do's" don't mean squat if you aren't willing to work.
That ring was a symbol of the sacrifice and commitment he was wiling to make to me. Yes, we had a baby together. No, that didn't mean we had to get married. We chose to get married.
Loved him then. [Told my daddy, after the first "official" date with Craig that I was going to marry him. I didn't lie.]
Love him even more now.
He brings coffee right up to my window of my classroom. [Like a reverse drive through...]
He tells me, EVERY DAY, that he loves me.
He prays for me. Every day.
He makes me laugh. [Wit. Sarcasm. Stupid stories. Inside jokes. One liners. The man is funny.]
He is an awesome daddy to our children.
He lets me steal ink pens and gum off his dresser and rarely,
He is a Godly man who is constantly searching for, praying for, and desiring a closer walk with Jesus.
He cleans up the kitchen and lets me get away with keeping a messy dresser.
When I look at this empty space on my ring I am reminded that God took something messy and turned it into beauty. He saw fit to make us Molly's parents [then Cooper's...then Emma's...then Gabes...we finally stopped drinking the water]. He allowed us to honor Him in front of our family and friends when we married. He sustained us when the power was cut off, the cupboards were bare, and the nerves were frazzled. He became the center of our marriage. He has been our refuge, our gracious friend, our biggest protector, and the redeemer we needed in our lives.
God hasn't ever forsaken us. Even when we doubted and didn't trust.
Yes. My diamond is gone. I can replace it. [That is if I can actually get the ring off my finger. So far, no luck.]
But these memories, of all these years, being married to the absolute love of my life, they will never be lost. Ever.
With this ring I promise to always love you.
And he has.