A young woman, who was a youth director at a Methodist church in Missouri, was lonely. Dating was not that much fun, and the type of man she was looking for seemed to be out of reach for her. So one day, she said a simple prayer, asking God to show her the path He had laid out for her, and to lead her to a man who loved Him as much as she did.
On a spring day in May of 1975, this young woman was driving down a small road in the Oklahoma countryside, appropriately named Methodist Road, toward a church camp. There was a conference for youth directors being held at this camp, and even though her traveling companion had backed out at the last minute, she decided to go ahead and go.
As she pulled into the camp in her little yellow Mustang, she was unsure where to park. She saw a young man walking toward one of the buildings, so she rolled down her window and stopped next to him. “Excuse me, could you tell me where we’re supposed to park?”
He looked at her like she was crazy before pointing to her right. “Right over there with all the other cars,” he told her.
Feeling a bit embarrassed, she thanked him and pulled into a parking space. The young man just shook his head and walked off.
As the conference got underway, people were broken up into small groups. The young man realized he was in the same small group with the crazy lady who had asked him where to park. But as the week went on, he found himself spending more and more time talking to this young woman. Her love of God was something he had not found in his own dating experiences, not that he dated much. He was a lay pastor for two small Oklahoma churches and was a divorced father of two young daughters, aged six and five. But something about this young woman fascinated him.
At the end of the week, instead of going back his own home, he followed the young woman back to her Missouri town. They both knew they were going to get married; he asked her when they got back to Monett, where she lived. Even though they had only known each other a week, they realized that God had brought them together.
For the next three months, they drove back and forth between Monett and Pryor, Oklahoma, where he lived. They alternated weekends. On August 15th, 1975, they were married at the Monett Methodist Church. Their honeymoon was spent moving to a little town in Texas called Dimmitt, into a house that was right across from the FFA feed lot.
Four months after they got married, his daughters moved in permanently with them. She became an instant mom just before her 30th birthday. The first gift she made for them was two dolls: one with a big head and one tooth, orange yarn for hair named Roothy Toothy, and another doll with auburn hair, a sun hat, a dress, velvet shoes and a purse, and her name was Lulu.
For thirty-nine and a half years, these two wonderful people served churches in Texas and New Mexico, working as a team, sharing their love of God with everyone they met. And it wasn’t just their love of God that was evident to everyone, but their love for each other. They rarely spent more than one day apart. They raised their two daughters with love, teaching them to love God and to have faith no matter how hard things got to be at times. And when they because grandparents, they showered their grandson with the same love and affection, and also taught him to have faith.
The answer to that young woman’s prayer all those years ago passed away in February 2015, a few days after she lost her beloved mother. But the reminders of her answer to that one simple prayer to God is still around her: through the friends they made over the years, the stories that are told about the things they did together, through the love of their daughters and their grandson. He is gone, but he is not forgotten. Today, we remember and celebrate the day that God brought this wonderful woman into our lives.
I have a reminder of the love she showed to me that first Christmas over forty years ago: Lulu is sitting on my bookshelf in my room. The hat and purse are long gone, lost in one of the countless numbers of moves we made over the years. The velvet isn’t as soft as it once ways, but the love that was poured into it when it was made is still there.
I wish I could be with you today, Mom, to remember that day in August of 1975 when you said, “I do” to a goofy man with wavy reddish brown hair. Just know that every day, I thank God, and Dad, for bringing you into our lives. You may have been looking for an answer to a simple prayer, but I believe you were the answer to one that was unspoken by all of us. I love you more than words could ever say, and I am truly blessed and honored to call you my mother.