In January 1974, I decided to speed up my college courses and try to graduate in just three more semesters, instead of four. The first step was to sign up for 21 hours, instead of my usual 17 or 18. It turned out to be a great idea because one of the first things that happened when I got back to school was that I met Ray. We had our first date five or six weeks later. Ray graduated just over two months after that. We got engaged about two weeks after that and he turned 22 three weeks after that.
I took a one-month intercession course, went to summer school, and packed in all the remaining courses I needed in the fall semester. I turned 21 on December 2, graduated from college on December 20, and married Ray on December 27. It was rather a busy year. In fact, I think it set the pace for our lives!
Ray and I married in the middle of the seventies, which followed the sixties, which followed the fifties. The feminist magazine Ms. was three years old that December. The Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision was almost two. Bob Dylan had released “The Times They Are A-Changin'” just a decade before. Dylan was right; the times were a-changin’.
Ray owned (and wore) a lavender paisley shirt, a pair of baby blue polyester pants, and a pair of coral and white plaid pants. You will be relieved to know that he didn’t wear any of those things at the same time!
I wore a long, flowing baby blue cotton dress in our engagement picture. Wanna see?
And here’s another shot from that black and white photo session, photographed on old-fashioned black and white film, because that is what the newspapers wanted — both the Daily Herald and the Ashland City Times, which Ray and his dad — both newspapermen — always liked to call the Bugle to tease me.
While the world was a-changin’, so was the church in many good ways. Not all college students were becoming promiscuous drug users; some were becoming “Jesus People.” Weddings were a-changing, too, so when Ray and I planned ours, we followed the changing times and planned an unconventional wedding.
I did the unheard of and drew our wedding invitations.
We chose Christmas trees rather than the popular flowers and brass candelabras with long white tapers used in most weddings. And we wrote our own vows. Ray typed them out, along with the entire ceremony on the then-popular erasable bond paper, on his own gray plastic portable typewriter, which was an exact replica of my gray plastic portable typewriter my parents had given to me.
First, Ray promised me:
God is first, and must always be first in our lives.
It is He who made our love, His matchless gift to us;
And who made you, His matchless gift to me.
What greater task have I than to strive to be worthy of His kindness?
I love you, and promise to love you always, and to please you, and to bring happiness to our home.
I will be with you forever on this earth, and will face with you whatever this life brings.
Forsaking all others, I will live to fulfill God’s promise of love for us,
Until he fulfills His greater promise, and calls us to be with Him.
These things I pledge to you.
Then, I promised Ray:
Our Father in His loving wisdom gave you to me as a special gift.
I will always lean on Him for guidance in our life together.
I love you, and from this day forward I will be by your side along the paths which God shows us.
I need you to be patient and long-suffering as we grow into one.
I will be so for you.
On happy days and sad, in easy times and hard, I will be your sister, your friend, and your wife.
For you I forsake all others and give my love to you.
With you I’ll stand in the shelter of God’s love until His Son comes to take us home.
We said those vows 47 years ago today and God joined us together. Today we are joyously celebrating 47 wonderful years together.
Marriage and family take patience. Days are sometimes happy and sometimes sad. Times are sometimes easy and sometimes hard. Life brings many things to face together. God does guide and He must be first. And, through it all, marriage is worth the work of making it work.
Consider it all joy, my brethren,
when you encounter various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
And let endurance have its perfect result,
so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.