Forty years ago . . .

Amidst the stark bareness of winter, I see it green and living, nestled and attached.

It is mistletoe in the upper branches of an old water maple tree that grows near my yard.  The bunch of green grows where nothing else does in the deep of winter. The season that hangs heavy around us.

And it reminds me . . .

A tall young man, muscular and strong, walked with me, just a young woman, to the back of property owned by my uncle, Sam Rayhill, Jr.  It was just fields and high weeds and a few trees, a place for a courting couple to be together in the outdoors that seemed a bit of Heaven on earth for those who are young and falling in love.

We spied the mistletoe in the top of a tree that day. It was nearing Christmas, and wouldn’t fresh mistletoe be wonderful to hang in my mother and dad’s house, already decorated with reds and greens?

I’d never seen real living mistletoe before.  But how to get it out of that tall tree in the uppermost branches?  The tall young man borrowed my pellet gun, and we walked back to that tree.  He aimed with an eye trained to hit the target.  The bullet struck its mark, a piece of the mistletoe fell to the ground, and I thought he was just wonderful.

I gathered the green plant and took it to our house.  We hung it with some ribbon.  And we kissed underneath it.

Now, forty plus years later, life has taken its toll on that tall young man.  He has suffered much, grown weary at times with too many illnesses and too many surgeries.  Yet . . . he is still the one and only love of my life.  He is my hero, my friend.  After all these years, I still think he is so handsome.  And he tells me I am beautiful.  He will always make my heart thrill.  Today we celebrate 40 years of marriage.

We are two who have beaten the odds to remain as one.

We almost lost this precious gift of love, of covenant promised long ago. Once I held papers in my hand that read, “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” and I cried, uncontrollable, inconsolable, unable to breathe. I had never wanted that.  Neither did he.  But there seemed to be no other solution.  Too much pain and too many hurtful words.  Too many misunderstandings and too much anger and too much pulling away.  Too much dysfunction.

How did we manage to salvage what was so broken and beyond repair?


There is no other explanation except that God will have compassion on whom He will have compassion, as He told Moses on the mount when He revealed to him His glory (Exodus 33:19).   God’s glory announces “I AM” when He pours out compassion and mercy on souls so undeserving.  Souls like us.

And we were soaked, drenched, plunged into the glory.

Sweet William and I will rejoice in this milestone of our lives.  It will not be picture perfect this year.  No fine restaurant, no trip to the Bahamas, no sparkling gemstone in a setting of gold.

But we will celebrate nevertheless.  How can we not?  We who believed have seen the glory of God (John 11:40).

The glory that picks up the pieces of shattered lives, that puts brokenness back together while leaving the scars.

The glory that restores what the locusts had eaten and destroyed only to gives life in its place.

The glory of love renewed from Love Himself.

The glory of covenant kept and of legacy passed to the next generation and the next.

The glory of grace.

I love you, Sweet William.  Happy Anniversary.

14 thoughts on “Forty years ago . . .

  1. Happy Anniversary to a special couple. God has indeed had his hand on you and provided the grace you need. My husband of 56 years shot mistletoe out of a tree twhich we used to decorate my Mom’s dining room on our wedding day. It was so special. I am praying for you to have many more anniversaries.

  2. Happy anniversary Peggy and Bill. Yours is a TRUE success story. Many blessings, much love, and many more happy anniversaries.

  3. Bill & Peggy,
    What a beautiful love story in spite of some rough roads you traveling getting to where your are today. Peggy, you paint a picture with words. You are both right! After 40 years, you are a handsome & beautiful couple, not only on the outside but on the inside too. Wishing you God’s greatest blessing on this special anniverary and many, many more.

  4. Peggy, so glad you found my blog through the HomeLife article. What a joy to meet you! And your article made me teary. I have been praying this morning about an article I need to write about love and marriage and this was the inspiration I needed. Thank you!

  5. Yours and Bill’s love story is so very special. Every time I look at the two of you, I see God’s love and Grace surrounding you both. It’s also a special day for me too. It’s my birthday. My best friend ,confidant, and sister-n-law, and Walt’s sister, was her Birthday too. Her and I would go out for lunch or just talk on the phone when it was way too cold to go out. She has passed some 7yrs. ago now, and I had the sweet pleasure to lead her to the Lord a few months before she left this earth. What an honor God gave me to do this and witness this special day with her. Jan. 21st is usually the coldest day of the year, but it holds a warm place in my heart to have shared our birthdays together. Yes, I agree, you and Bill are drenched, soaking to the bones with God’s Grace that you can share with others how they to can reconcile and be a witness of God’s love and Mercy. You and Bill are a witness to others who may be going through some bumps in the road, and how with God’s Grace can be reunited even more so, because of God’s Agape love.

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