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My Greatest Earthly Blessing

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth from more than rubies.

Proverbs 31:1


Night falls as I write this, and with it my thoughts drift back to a summer day, a Saturday, 34 years ago. I'd arrived in Warner Robins, Georgia the day before as a single man, but by the time I rolled out of town that muggy afternoon of August 9th, I'd taken a trip to the altar of the First United Methodist Church and I had a better half riding beside me. My green-eyed beauty, as I like to call her.


Those 34 years have been filled with abundant highs and, fortunately, not too many lows. The lows have been what you'd expect in the course of life - the deaths of aging grandparents and parents and the sadness of leaving one congregation and community to move to another. Of course, those lows have carried with them blessings. In the case of death, we've known the ones going before us were secure in their relationship with Jesus Christ and our mourning was born of having loved deeply. And, in moving from one church to another, we were excited for a new chapter in life and ministry.


Oh, but the highs! Growing together with a youth group and then getting the chance to start a congregation from scratch. Buying our first home and discovering within weeks of moving in that we really would need one of those extra bedrooms. Nine months later, I remember thinking that she had never been so gorgeous as in those moments after she brought life into the world. Mr. Miles stole our hearts right there on the spot.


Three years later - to the day - we wheeled back into the same hospital parking lot and God blessed us with Cole, another precious boy. We've followed those two to Little League ballparks, to cross country races and football games, to band concerts and FFA banquets, to graduations and even to a wedding. Summertime picnics, ski trips out West, fall afternoons in a deer stand, seeing the Grand Canyon together for the first time, grilling steaks and tossing a baseball or football, all these are threads that knit together to form the quilt of a wonderful and blessed life.


Six years we lived on a little farm looking up at the North Georgia mountains. Serving that church in Jasper, we were convinced that we'd been sent to Mayberry. Then we lived seven years on family land in Pike County, Georgia, and we served two incredible churches - small in size but large in love - in Griffin. The next four years we were back to Mayberry, this time to Thomaston, to serve a church which boasted one of the most beautiful sanctuaries in Georgia. Its beauty, though, was dwarfed by the grace and love of that congregation.


Now, we're back in my home town, serving Providence, a church which started after I left home to go where my Bishops sent me. We're in suburbia, surrounded by houses and neighborhoods and blessed to be a part of a wonderful congregation that has welcomed us and made us a part of their family.


Cole brought Alecia into the fold and with her arrival, my beloved finally has feminine companionship. Another girl, Miss Hazel, has arrived, and we've entered the stage of grand parenting. And she's stolen our hearts once more.


Through it all, I've known that my single greatest earthly blessing is the one whose hand I get to hold as we drive down the road, the one who brags on my sermons even when they don't deserve bragging, the one who encourages and supports and keeps on smiling through it all. I cannot imagine the journey without her.


In my denomination - United Methodist - an official called the District Superintendent relates directly to the local churches during the time when a minister is moving to a new appointment. In every one of my congregations, upon hearing that I would be transferred, the committee meeting with the Superintendent has asked if they could at least keep Regina. Fortunately, the answer has always been "no," and she's led the way to the next stop along the path.


What tomorrow holds, or next year or the next decade, I have no idea. But of this I am certain - I want to experience it with the love of my life, with the one who makes every high a little higher, and every low at least bearable. I want my green-eyed beauty right beside me, and if she is, then I can sleep content that everything's gonna be just fine.


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