February 2nd would have been my parents 49th wedding anniversary. Forty-nine years ago my father married my mother. After dropping out of school in the 8th grade to help support his family through the depression, then going to serve in the Korean War and returning home to be a bachelor farmer, Dad married my Mom. Their marriage is a true example of two phrases that fascinate me in scripture, different versions depending on your translation,, “set his heart” or “determined in his heart” and “with your whole heart.” Several of God’s commands say do it “…with your whole heart.” People in scripture “set their hearts.” Setting in your heart is making a decision ahead of time and with your whole heart, well that’s obvious. Back to Dad, he married my Mom in 1946 in a small community in southwest Iowa where everybody knew everybody. Back then being a single mom was not nearly so prevalent as it is today. My father not only got Mom, he got my brother and I. He determined in his heart this was the thing to do and he gave us his whole heart. He ignored the talk around town and loved us like his own from day one and so did his whole family, I might add. Dad took us in and completely committed himself to loving all of us. Through the smart-aleck talk of young teenagers, broken curfews, ball games and music lessons. He was there. He legally adopted us as soon as he was able. We have his name. We are his children.
Today, Dad continues with his lifelong decision. They moved off the farm in to town where Dad took care of my mother who had Alzheimers for 7 years. I haven’t mentioned how he also opened his heart to Mom’s whole family and now has three widowed sisters-in-law who he helps with in any way he can. And then there is his church family and friends. Just last week he drove a friend and his wife to the VA in Omaha, Nebraska because they didn’t think they could do it themselves anymore. When I was younger I didn’t understand my Dad’s quiet witness of love. He’s not a talker. He shows you the love of God by example. I’ll never forget the days surrounding their farm sale. Men just kept showing up to help, most were close neighbors but others drove miles to come and help. They told my brother and me countless stories of times my Dad had been there for them and that they were pleased to be able to help him back.