Happy Birthday to My Bride

We fell in love in college.  You were finishing your freshman year.  I was finishing my college career.  We dated for two months before we spent the next 22 hardly ever within five hours of one another.  I was in seminary, then an interim youth pastor, then a pastor.  The snippets of time we salvaged together were usually late on a Friday night or a shortened Saturday afternoon.  Why?  I have always been crazy about you.  I would drive every hour of the distance to spend what seemed like just five minutes with you, but you always understood why I had to end every date early - Sunday’s coming.
You never saw it as a chore.  You were always proud that this was us.  
Youth lock-in.
Valentine banquet.
Worship service that morning, a meeting that afternoon, worship again that night.
Some people had steak, we had casserole.  Who needs to go out to eat so much when you have potluck?  Even though it should have been your night, you sat there with me at a napkin-paper cloth covered table in a Baptist fellowship hall and gave everything to every person who wanted to talk.  And you gave me to every person who wanted the same.  You never complained.  You knew this was our call. 
We didn’t do a lot of things young couples do.  Even though it was hectic, every minute we spent together during those days was special.  I always hated leaving you.  Now I never will.
You left Charlotte a bride.  You arrived in Crossville, TN one week later the pastor’s wife.  Very few understand what that really means.  With grace you embraced it.  My admiration for you is immense.
For those whose lives are given to ministry there is no such thing as a weekend.  The church demands your all.  Christ deserves even more.  Pointing people to Jesus, serving them in loss, meeting them in crisis, writing the next sermon, making sure you do not lead someone astray - there is no end.  There is no time for a late movie, a Saturday night concert - what’s a 3 day weekend?  There are so many parties we have missed for one simple reason - the sermon was not finished.  Yet you have counted all of it gain, never a loss.  Because you are so sacrificial for Christ and so in love with me, in your eyes, you never missed a thing.  Don’t ever think I haven’t noticed.  You have never taken your eyes off of Christ.  I can’t keep my eyes off of you.  
For some the week ends.  For us, it never does.  You have yet to even realize how much we haven’t missed.  I guess it is true, love is blind.
Even though our early dates may have consisted of three hours of Saturday morning door to door visitation, you loved me.  You did what you did and you continue to do what you do because you love Jesus.  Because of Him, you have sacrificed everything you are for what we do.
You are so much more than people realize - sacrificial, beautiful, teachable, humble, special, stable, flexible, available.  I think the hardest thing about being a pastor and a pastor’s wife is that it demands everything you are, but at the same time the grind and expectations of it all make it nearly impossible to be who you are.    
But I know you.  I know the things we laugh at that no one will ever know we said.  You know I love it when you’re sassy - but be careful with the choir.  You are dead on right about that - but you can’t say it.  The things you have forgiven in me and protected about me, making sure no one will ever see - you are soft for me when I need your comfort you are a shield for me when I need your strength.  You are beautiful to everyone, but I am gifted most when you are simply mine and I get all of you.
Life in ministry makes friendship complicated.  Every connection is complex, every person tied to someone else, every relationship intricate and delicately balanced between what you may be going through as a person and what must be done for the sake of The Kingdom.  The personal side is always slaughtered on the altar of Romans 12:1-2.  The most beautiful thing about you, Shannon is your life of sacrifice.  You love Jesus way more than you love me and that makes me crazy in love with you.  Every friendship, every decision, every word, every choice, every weekend, every day you somehow bring it back to Christ.  You are His treasure and that makes it so much more precious that you are also mine.  You are my bride, but I am blessed that you are my most uncomplicated, take me as I am, yep - I really said that, friend.
Today is your birthday.  All I can say is that as wonderful as you are in the eyes of so many, I only wish that the world could know you like I do.  But that is my privilege and delight as your husband.  I’m an insider to a gorgeous soul.  
Happy birthday to my bride.     


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