It’s Valentine’s Day as I write. The table is set. Okay, so the plates are plastic from Target. At least they’re red. I finished the runner this week. The menu is planned and everything prepped. My husband and I have been married almost forty years, but he is still my best Valentine.
There is so much that I appreciate about him. He’s much more of a people person than I am. Without him, I could easily become a recluse up here in the Northwoods surrounded by books, the Internet and lots of woods for quiet walks. He kicks me out into the world and opens doors to incredible relationships. He’s always ready to help a stranger, sometimes embarrassingly so for an introvert like me, but I wouldn’t have him any other way.
His openness draws people of all cultures and genders. On the outside he looks like a North American male, but on the inside he identifies with Africans and Latin Americans, and even Asians have been known to treat him as an insider. He’s capable of ridiculous silliness, playing sea monsters in the lake or watching endless cartoons. He’s the best grandpa my grandchildren could ever have.
When we first met, it was his mind that attracted me. (Well, that and the 1970s mop of curly blond hair, sailor’s tan and big blue eyes, not mention his nibble fingers at the piano and that gutbucket he played in the improvised band on the beach—an early indication that life with him would never be dull.) He always had a question to get me thinking about God’s Word and what it had to do with my own life. His mind still amazes me. He’s a fabulous teacher, communicating the most profound ideas in ways an ordinary mind can grasp. He’s a mine of information about education and what’s going on in a zillion countries around the world. (He’s eaten pizza in 80 to date.) And then this guy does word puzzles at night to relax before sleep. Once in a while I can come up with something he’s stuck on, but mostly I go, Huh?
My in-laws are all musicians. My husband has perfect pitch, which he insists is no big deal. He reads music and plays by ear. Listening to him practice four-handed piano with our youngest at Christmas was worth letting them both out of dish duty every time. Where I would enjoy falling asleep to soft music, he can’t—too busy analyzing chord structures and progressions.
As cross-cultural missionaries, we haven’t made a lot of money in our careers, but that doesn’t matter to my husband. We own a home and a car and have plenty to eat. He is content—except maybe when the National Geographic Travel brochures arrive with fabulous tours costing five to ten thousand dollars per person or more. But even then, God has allowed us to live in so many interesting places and travel to many more. Who needs National Geographic?
When we first met at an Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship leadership camp in the summer of 1970, we knew we shared a commitment to the Lord. He has never “outgrown” that commitment to God or to me. Here’s to you, Valentine. May we share many, many more years.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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