Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Bride At 31

I married the girl of my dreams 10 years ago, and this past Sunday (June 20th), my bride turned 31 years old.  We were laughing the other night remembering what we were like when we met in 7th grade, full of junior-high awkwardness and adolescent energy.  I have known Barie Sue since she was 12 years old, and she has turned from an fun-loving friend into a fun-loving wife and mom.  Who could have imagined that the girl sitting next to me at the lunchroom table in middle school would end up being my lover and partner for life?  I'm sure if I went back and talked to 12 year old Keith, he would think I was crazy. But the 31 year old Keith who has had the privilege of knowing Barie for two-thirds of her life knows that God was being incredibly gracious to him when He put Barie Sue in his path. 

I am kind of a serious guy (some people call it gruffness - I like to call it intensity), and Lord knew that I needed a wife and best friend who could make me smile.  And if it is one thing that Barie does extremely well (among many), it is smile.  I mean, check out the picture that I posted with this entry.  Barie's bright, big, beautiful smile, and her penetrating eyes can soften the heart of the hardest person.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard Barie say over the years, "I know you can't look at me without smiling."  And it is true.  When I think of her, I smile.  Her laugh is infectious and her most commonly noted quality is her joy.  The fact that she has come from the places she has been and still exudes seemingly endless genuine joy from her heart is a daily evidence of the gracious love of Jesus in her life.

Which reminds me of another facet of Barie's life that nobody could have guessed when she was 12 - her hunger and passion for God.  She was passionate about boys when I first met her (which was good for me), but today she is most passionate about honoring her Lord with every aspect of her life (which is really good for me).  She has struggled to figure out how spending daily time with God fits into a life with four small kids and a husband who moves slow in the morning, but amazingly, she has still managed to grow in her knowledge of and love for Jesus Christ.  This year at church we have made it our focus to work at growing in Christ-likeness, and to that end, we filled out spiritual assessments on each other so that we could see what other people see in our lives.  When I filled out Barie's, I was reminded what a godly woman she has become.  When you know somebody a long time, it can be hard to see how they have changed because the process is so slow.  But when I stopped to think about the woman that Barie has become, I was thankful for not only her love, but her example.  I want to be the kind of Christian that she is.

Beyond her spirituality, she has worked hard to be more physically fit at 31 than she was at 21.  In 2009, she completed her first triathlon and her first half-marathon.  I mean, who are we kidding?  We're talking about the year after she had her fourth baby!  I can't speak from experience, but I've heard that having kids can be tough on your body.  I got to watch first-hand how her short body struggled to hold those big babies.  But she did it with joy and ease (and quite a few TUMS - but that is a story for another post), and now she looks like she hasn't even had any babies.  She is in the best shape of her life.  I remember trying to first get her into running and working out after I found out about my diabetes five years ago - it took some arm-twisting.  But now, I can't even keep up with her.  My bride at 31 can out-run, out-bike, and out-swim me.  I personally don't think that is fair.

Most of all, though, I wish all people could know the giant heart of compassion that grows in my wonderful wife.  Every person she meets is the most interesting person at that moment.  She never meets a stranger, though she has met some strange people, and her tears flow freely when she sees someone in need.  If God ever makes her rich, I know that she will give all that money away.  She simply feels so deeply for others.  I am thankful that God has grown my own heart of compassion over the years, so that now I can see people and feel for them with deep love.  But Barie feels that deep love for everyone, not the handful that I care about.  Almost every day when I come home, Barie starts off her first paragraph of conversation with these words, "you won't believe who I met today..."  And then we're off to the races.  And while it is funny to me - it's not funny to her - she is genuinely concerned and every new person she gets to know.  Over the years I've known her, that deep love for others has only grown.

When Jesus was asked in Mark 12 what the most important commandments were in all of the Torah, He answered with two - love God with all that you are and love others as yourself.  As I read those words, I can't think of any better description for my amazing bride at 31.


Laura said...

Wow- I am getting teary-eyed as I read your post. You have put into words what a lot of us know and love about your amazing wife. She brings so much joy to so many people, and truly does shine the light and love of Jesus with every smile. You are a blessed man, and it's great to read of your love.

GLMeece said...

Proverbs 31:10 - A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

Thanks for honoring your wife of noble character!

Elizabeth said...

Such a sweet and sincere tribute to Barie Sue. Yes, I've known her for 2/3 of her life, too, and she is definitely your "soul mate". She brings out the best in those around her. You have been blessed!
Love, Mom