It’s Easter Sunday morning. I am lying curled up next to my husband, his arm around me. These are the type of mornings I ache to be writing. Writing is my drug, as they say. These days, though, lying next to my husband is better than any drug. Perhaps he is my drug of choice.
We have been married 46 years and I am 69 years old, yet it feels like I just learned what it really feels like to love someone.
I met Roy the summer after my sophomore year in college. I had been guarded about relationships with guys mainly because of the man who molested me when I was 11 and also because I really hadn’t met anyone who was the type of guy I wanted to marry.
They had to be dedicated, caring, loving, committed, and a solid Christian with a great work ethic. I had this whole marriage thing planned out. I’d meet someone, get my degree and get married. It would probably be someone at the Christian college I was attending. It just made sense.
Then all of a sudden out of nowhere this guy appears. We met at a Christian coffee house in my hometown. I’d never been to the New Wine before. I was missing fellowship with those my age. Everyone I knew seemed to have left town for parts unknown. I felt very alone. An acquaintance I ran into from high school invited me to come hear him and his girlfriend sing and play that night.
I drove around the block five times before I got the courage to park. Then I sat in the car before walking to the old brick building. A girl wearing a peasant top and bell bottom blue jeans with Jesus embroidered randomly across them in orange and yellow stood outside with a box of kittens.
“I need to give a couple of these away tonight or they go to the pound,” she said sadly.
“My mother would kill me, plus I’m only home for the summer,” I said.
“We’re really not supposed to have them where we live, but the mother had them under our house and then ran off. We need to do something soon.”
“They are really cute. I’m sure someone will take them. Hey, is this the New Wine?” I pointed to the storefront building without a sign.
“Oh, yeah. I’m Ritzel. I’m really the greeter and while I do need to give away kittens they are a really great ice breaker. I talk to people and invite the inside. Most everyone is in the pre-session prayer in the back, but there’s a book room right inside the door. Feel free to look around.”
Encounter at the New Wine
Inside to the left was a small room with a wall of books on one side and a table with a mountain of books on the other. Since I am a sucker for books, especially Christian fiction, I started browsing.
He came out of nowhere. He was tall with broad shoulders. He was wearing blue jeans and a white t-shirt with a wooden cross hanging by a leather cord around his neck. His smile was contagious.
“Hi, I’m Roy,” he said. His hand engulfed mine, dwarfed it really. And although he had the largest hands of any man I’d ever met, it was his muscular forearms bulging with veins I really noticed.
“This your first time here?” he asked.
“What was your first clue,” I said.
“Maybe that deer caught in the headlights look.”
“Where did all these books come from and what do you do with them?”
“People donate them. It’s a kind of trade-a-book program. You bring a book and leave it and take one home to read. Or you can just borrow if you want. It’s totally on the merit system.”
“I love books, but I can look another time. When does the music start and where?”
“Let me show you around.”
Getting To Know Him
He introduced me to his friend, Ricky. We walked the low stone wall around the downtown area, climbed on top of the New wine building, and threw pebbles down on Ritzel. Then, he and Ricky climbed the Methodist Church where they made sounds like chickens caught in the rafters.
Ricky was a poet so he and I had some things in common. We talked about poetry and writing. Roy seemed rather left out during those conversations. Ricky was an interesting character, but sort of incongruous in that he wore very conservative clothes and yet had long hair and a headband. It made my head hurt trying to figure out which part of him was the real Ricky.
Roy asked if I’d be back the next night. I explained I was borrowing my mother’s car so I didn’t know. He offered to pick me up. It didn’t really sound like a date. I expected Ricky to be with him when he picked up because Ricky bummed a ride with him most days.
It’s A Date?
I was surprised when he showed up alone. I told him so and he said he didn’t want Ricky along on a date.
“I wasn’t sure if this was a date or not,” I said.
“Look, Ricky always gets first dibs at the girls. I just wanted to be sure he didn’t this time.”
After that, there was no question. I was Roy’s girl. Our summer was spent at the New Wine, spending time with friends, enjoying time with my family, and falling in love. The problem was, it wasn’t the right time on my calendar to fall in love. That had to come in my senior year in college.
The Marriage Proposal
So when he asked me to marry him in August before I went back to college, it scared me to death. A man I think I love just asked me to marry him. Do I throw away my college scholarship and marry someone I just met? It didn’t seem logical and yet I knew, even then, that love can never in a million years be logical. Still, can’t it fit into some kind of schedule?
This is the start of a book I may someday write. The ending won’t be a surprise but how we got there and how we’ve stayed married for 46 years through ups and downs might be. One day I may finish the story.
Today, though, I just want to celebrate being married to the most man whom God hand-picked for me. If I were to give him a nickname, it would be Mr. Peace. That’s exactly who He is. Never frustrated or in a rush, just abiding in the everlasting calmness God gave Him.
I am honored that God chose me to be this very special man’s wife.
Should I write the rest of the story? Let me know what you think. Meanwhile, I’m actually working on my eighth book, Sweet Victory. I’ll let you know when that one is ready!
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach, podcaster, and speaker, who has lost 250 pounds and kept it off since 2013. Her books include: “Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor,” “Sweet Grace Study Guide,” “Sweet Victory: Winning the Battle,” “Sweet Surrender: Breaking Strongholds,” “Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy”, “Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God’s Help,” “Sweet Freedom Study Guide,” “Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation,” “Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God,” and “Sweet Excuses: Stop Lying to Yourself & Start Losing Weight.” She also offers Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Academy and VIP intensive coaching. Don’t miss her weekly podcast, Sweet Grace for Your Journey, where she shares tips from her personal journey of losing weight and discovering healthy living. Contact her at [email protected].