Sixty years ago today, two simple people from Mansfield, Ohio said “I do.” Sixty years ago today, they made their vows for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, etching their promise on parchment and hearts. Sixty years ago, I doubt those teenagers had any idea where that promise would take them.

They grew together, learned together, and built a life together, this man’s man becoming father to four daughters, and this spunky, free spirit becoming their homemaker, teacher, and mother. Together, they’ve planted numerous churches, raised many children in foster care, and supported missionaries and children around the world. Together, they’ve given food to the hungry, company to the lonely, and hope to the lost. From the beaches of South Carolina to the deserts of Israel to the cornfields of Indiana, together, they’ve made their mark for Christ. Because of their lives and examples, several generations of people now live to serve the Lord and tell of His goodness.

From Grandpa, I’ve learned the value of hard work, Michigan football (haha!), persistence, and standing up for what is right, even when it is hard. (I’ve also learned that you can weld the factory bully’s lunchbox shut when he keeps stealing your chocolate cake.) From Grandma, I’ve learned gentleness, how to bake lemon bars, how to be patient with those who seem to least deserve our love, how to body surf, and how to dance in the rain. (I’ve also learned how quickly to drive when it rains…) –And these are only a few of the things I’ve learned from them. They’ve been a rock for my family more times than I can count, and their home has always been my safe place through multiple cross-country and cross-continental moves.

Sixty years ago, I’ll bet they looked up at the stars and wondered where their journey together would take them. Abraham did the same thing millenia ago, reminding the Lord of His promise:

“‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’”

I can only hope that my life will reflect God’s faithfulness as theirs has and does.

Happy anniversary, Grandma and Grandpa. I love you.