Yesterday, Mark and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary so I thought I would share with you all our cute love story about how it all began:
Our first encounter with each other was not necessarily pleasant, at least not for me. I grew up in a small country congregation called Tidwell Chapel Church of Christ and Mark grew up in another small country congregation called Hillcrest Church of Christ. As is common, our congregation had held a meeting and one particular night Mark visited with his family and like most kids, we played in the church yard after services. My mother says she remembers me running to her crying and saying Mark had pushed me down. Mark says he was just trying to get me to leave him alone...Whatever!
Time went by and one Sunday morning I remember a man announcing that a young preacher would be coming each second Sunday night of the month to preach. Our congregation was great about giving young men the opportunity to preach. That night, I remember a twelve year old boy stepping up to the pulpit wearing a navy blue suit with his black hair parted to the side. He could barely see over the pulpit and his sermon only lasted about five minutes. He was twelve and I was only ten. I learned quickly that in the summertime when Mark Howell came to preach, I would get to go home early from church and could ride my bike a while before it got dark.
That didn't last long...the older he got, the longer the sermons got and the better speaker he became. He also got taller and could see well over the pulpit. I would catch him looking at me sometimes at church and he would quickly turn his head. Finally, the summer before my senior year of high school he asked me out on a date to go to a Sunday afternoon singing at a nearby congregation. Since there were several small congregations holding meetings all summer long, we were with each other what seemed like nearly every night of the week that summer.
On Christmas Eve that year he proposed to me by asking, "Do you think we could love each other and help each other get to heaven someday?" He had picked out a ring all by himself and it was perfect. Of course I said yes and we were married a little less than a year later on October 18, 1984.
It has been a wonderful life. Always easy...not necessarily, but worth every struggle. When we married, I was 18 and he was 20 so we have grown up with each other and made mistakes and learned together, but not for a thousand lifetimes would I change a thing. We have had almost a dream life together. We have two wonderful children, Daniel and Rachel who have made us so proud. They wisely chose christian spouses for themselves and we have welcomed Martha and Brandon into our family. In May, we will reach a new milestone in our journey as a couple together...Daniel and Martha will bless us with our first grandchild.
I would have to say life as a preacher's wife has been a very good thing. Little did I know when I saw that little 12 year old boy stepping up to the pulpit, that I was seeing my future husband. I thank God everyday for Mark and the wonderful husband and father he has been. He truly is my very best friend and made me a far better person than I would have been without him in my life. I hope I make him as proud of me as I am of him.
Here's to another 26 years as a preacher's wife and all the wonderful twists and turns that life will take us on! I love you Mark!