2013-04-29 15.43.13I wandered through the aisles of greeting cards covered with hearts and roses. I picked up several and then, after reading them, slipped them back onto the shelf.

None of them said what I thought. None of them expressed what I felt. None of them could match what it has meant to have Mike Parker in my life for over 40 years.

I met Mike in October, 1971, during Youth Night at Billy Graham’s crusade in the newly opened Texas Stadium in Dallas. Our church’ youth group had taken a bus load of kids to hear Dr. Graham and Mike had come as a guest of a new member of our church. I was immediately drawn to Mike’s handsome face, his gentle smile and eyes—oh my, those eyes!—but would come to learn that he was more than a manly physique and long lashes.

“Miracle of miracles and wonder of wonders,” he was drawn to me as well.

Fast forward to three years later. On November of1974, we said, “I do,” and became Mr. and Mrs. Michael Parker.

As newlywed college students, our life was packed with school and work. When our first married Valentine’s Day rolled around, I knew there was no money for a night on the town, so I saved something from my grocery budget to buy a card and planned for a quiet, romantic night at home.

I was cooking supper when Mike came home from work. After a quick kiss, he said, “I forgot something at the store. Do you need anything?” I asked him to buy a can of sauerkraut and went back to cooking. I was still in the kitchen—my back to the door—when he returned.

“I wasn’t sure what brand of sauerkraut you wanted,” he said. “I hope this is fine.”

I turned around to see him holding a single, long-stemmed red rose.

As he handed it to me, he said, “In the coming years, I will add a rose for each year of our married life.”

Throughout the years, Mike has kept that promise. They haven’t always been real roses, but they have been just as beautiful. One year he went to the beauty aisle of a store and bought rose lipstick, rose blush, rose nail polish and rose perfume. Another year, he bought a miniature wedding bouquet with the exact number of roses. One year he made cookie dough and made a dozen rosebud cookies.  In 1986, he gave me a rose corsage and, three days later, brought it to the hospital where I had given birth to our twins, Joshua and Anna, so I could enjoy the flowers. Last year, he secretly got on my Facebook page and changed the cover to  a picture of 39 roses.

When friends and family heard about that first rose and Mike’s promise, there were many who thought it was over the top and he would not be able to fulfill it.

But he has.

Each year has been a wonderful surprise. The roses are a reminder of a promise made and kept. Of love through good times and hard. Of challenges met and challenges overcome. Of dreams fulfilled and dreams to come.

The first day I met Mike Parker, all I saw was a handsome young man. This morning, when I woke up next to Mike Parker, I saw my godly husband.

Happy 40th Valentine’s Day, my Love.