“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
30 years ago, when Lynn’s father placed her hand in mine and we began a journey together I had no idea the treasure that he handed me. 20 and 21 years we had no idea what it meant to be a husband and wife team. As fortune would have it, we were also blessed with the title of Mom and Dad for which we were equally unprepared. So off we went, barreling into life to take on those responsibilities and burdens the best that we knew how. Problem … our know-how was minuscule.
It did not take us long to realize that we were in over our heads. Additionally, we began to realize that our childhood dreams and desires were going to as a minimum have to be put on hold. I was not going to be the star athlete or the Pulitzer prize-winning author and she was not going to become studious accountant or powerful tax lawyer. We were going to need to be parents first. Oh and with little or no resources.
We became adept at digging ourselves a deeper hole to live. We realized that our only real common dream was those children that we were pretty good and making and raising. If it were not for that crazy money thing! I thought I had found a career path in food management, but my inability to be responsible, my lack of discipline, and my first real dealings with greed, selfishness, and pride sort of nixed that direction. In the midst of this … enter Sarah. God proved faithful though, Lynn despite all odds did not give up on me, and we survived the first two years somehow.
My First Command was the USS Albany in new construction. Long hours but home almost everyday. Lynn and I started to develop to actually get to know each other after 5 years of being married. I learned of her tender heart for hurting and struggling people, her ability to listen and discern, and her ability to wisely intercede in difficult situation. I began to notice that she was learning to be an advocate for young mother even though she was a young mother herself (already more experienced than most). She was a rock even when we things were not going well. Although we were more stable, we (I) continued to make poor financial decisions, avoided as much responsibility as possible … basically “I was tossed about by every wind”. Despite this, Lynn and I began to become a pretty good team. (Enter Sam)
My second command .. Detailer: “we are going to send you to the USS LY Spear. They call it the L.Y. Pier because it never goes to sea.” Orders: “Report to USS L.Y. Spear, deployed Bahrain (Persian Gulf).” So our first real separation. We survived those months apart and when I returned, hours were better, I was enjoying success at work, the kids were doing well and we were coasting. Then … we had to walk through sorrow together. We lost our first child in a miscarriage and followed by the loss of our 3rd son Andrew Cory in a still birth. This was more than my Lynnie could handle alone and for the first time we really had lean on each other and began to lean on the Lord. God saw us through even that difficult time, but I felt that our time in Norfolk was coming to a close. God showed His mercy and gave us Elizabeth and we began to feel like life might be able to move on. Time for new orders.
In October of 1993, I climbed in my little blue Subaru, I left for Kingsbay, GA and left Lynn and the kids in GA while waiting for housing and hoping for the house VA to be sold. Before I was even out of VA, I had cried out to God to give me new start. He met me heard me. For the next few months, with the help of an awesome new church family and an open heart, God poured out His grace on me and I earnestly sought for God to bond Lynn and I in a new way. For 10 years, although I was there, I had poured very little into my marriage. I had never treated Lynn with the love and respect that I had pledged in 1983.
When she arrived in December, we began a new partnership. We grew together and began to reach out to other families. Don’t get me wrong, we still were and are a mess. We were just a mess together and we were actually enjoying each other for the first time. We grew in the Lord, we grew as a couple, and we grew as a family. Lynn took on the herculean effort of homeschooling our brood. We saw God’s hand move in mighty ways through and too us. Life was as good as it had ever been.
Jumping Ship / A Parting Shot
After a couple of years, things started to change. Another miscarriage, friends started to move away, our girls were becoming teens, and we were facing guaranteed extended sea time began to weigh us down. Lynn and I made the decision to start a new life apart from the Navy (unless they would send us to Hawaii … fat chance!), but we would have to make it through a couple of years of deployments. They would not prove to be an easy couple of years.
My deployment in January of 1996 would prove to be an abbreviated and painful deployment. I joyfully missed our shake down cruise with the arrival of Josiah and then we shoved off for patrol. Mid patrol I was called to the CO’s stateroom. A day later I was off the ship and on my way home to say good-bye to my Mom, loosing her battle with cancer. Life was not going to be the same.
Two more times I had to leave my family before my end of active duty rolled around. So life was going to start over for us on the other side of the Navy.
Loss Upon Loss – The Cloud
Even though these are more recent memories, they are vague to me. July 31st, 1997 I took off my uniform for the last time and headed to Kentucky with hopes of finding employment in the nuclear industry. Bad timing and poor job hunting skills made this a difficult prospect. Add to that severe depression that had begun to settle on me after the loss of my Mom, the loss of our house in VA and increasing debt. I am only beginning to realized the effects that depression had on me for the next 12 years. We began to live life that I can only describe as a life of poverty. I don’t mean that in a financial sense although we have struggled financially. Poverty is a mindset of despair that allows us to reject the abundant life that is available to us despite our lack of worldly possessions. Throw into this the final realization that I was getting older and that many of those dreams that I had hung onto were no longer within reach and you have a man that is on the precipice. I am only beginning to realized the effects that depression had on me for the next 12 years. It is only through God’s grace and an amazing women that our marriage has survived. As with any depression, there are highs and lows and we had many of both and we apparently hid it from most everyone outside our family (as far as I can tell).
Recently, a group of guys have taken on a challenge of reading 1 John ever day for 30 days. One of the questions that came out early is about abiding. What does it love like when some one abides with someone else?
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:11,12 ESV)
Lynn has been an example of loving me for 30 years. I did not earn that love and even rejected that love at times., but still she walked beside me through the worst, but with an expectation for the best. She has believed in me when I did not believe in myself. My failures did not appear to dim her love light toward me. I think that this what happens when He abides in us and His love is perfected. For 3 decades she has abided with me even when I was blind to it.
How Beautiful is Your Love
“You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much better is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your oils than any spice!”
(Song of Solomon 4:9,10)
I thank God everyday for the pearl that He placed in my hand 30 years ago.
Happy anniversary my love.