Some of you reading this have known James his entire life…40 years. Some have known him since high school, some college, some have known him since his days at Coral Ridge Church, some through work and some know James by their association with me. I have known James for almost 9 years. I have been blessed to call him my husband for the past five years, ten months and two days (he hates it when I do that).
There has been no break in our time together since starting this trip; i.e., 8 hours at work, time out with friends, shopping errands alone, etc., we have been together non-stop for three and a half months, 24/7. Many of you may be shaking your head in disbelief and thinking, “There is no way…” or, “How in the world do they do it?” But, I assure you, there are no magic words, secret formulas or tricks we have played. I can say that this experience has been the best time since we have been married, and a lot has to do with Christ and a lot has to do with James.
I fell in love with James all over again on this trip. Not necessarily the “butterflies in your stomach” kind of love when we first started dating, but more like a heavy, warm, comforting kind of love that is anchored into something substantial and strong…safe. I have seen him in a way that I have never fully seen, or let me say, fully appreciated before. I have always known James to be kind, caring and honest, but being with him for this amount of time and in all kinds of situations, I see his kindness, caring and honesty differently.
James is a man of great integrity. I’m not sure how many of us truly appreciate that particular trait in the man. I can’t say that I have ever given it too much thought, but I realize now that it is probably the most important trait a person can have. Because of James’ integrity, I know I can trust him. I know I can rely on him. I know that when something goes awry, I can count on him…time and time again. He is consistent in his actions and has provided me a stability I feel safe around.
James is also the most generous and gracious person I have ever known. And I don’t mean material generosity, though he is this also, but just a generous spirit in general. It emerges in the smallest of things, like when driving the RV on a two lane highway and pulling over so the cars behind us go by…even though he may be doing the speed limit or better. If we are walking or hiking somewhere and see another couple taking pictures of each other, James will ask if they would like their photo taken together and then take it. When he and I are walking down a street together, he makes sure that he is walking on the side of traffic, sheltering me from the oncoming cars. When hiking, he lends me a hand, or foot, in the more challenging places, making his hand into a step for me to climb on or his foot as a brace while coming down a steep rock. After nearly six years of marriage, he never fails to thank me for a meal I have cooked. Never. It could be breakfast, lunch, dinner or a small snack…it doesn’t matter, he always thanks me.
They say you can tell a lot about a person by the friends they have. That is true. As you all know, I have met a lot of James’ friends on this trip and am honored to call them all my own friends now. But, seeing James with his friends, some he hasn’t seen in years, some weeks, some months…is really special. He genuinely loves his time with each and every one of them. He is truly interested in hearing their story, catching up, reminiscing and just sharing space together. And, his friends seem to feel the same way! It is a beautiful thing to witness from the outside. These are not only friendships, but relationships that have been carefully maintained by experiences of old and time apart hasn’t diminished their intensity. There is a lot to be said about a person who has such friends.
These things I’m sharing aren’t big things…things that get one in the paper, or invited on a TV talk show, they are little things, and I believe it is the little things that show a person’s true character. James isn’t a saint and he isn’t perfect, but overall, he is the best thing outside of Christ that has ever happened to me. He is the truest friend I have ever had, the most honest confidant I have ever conversed with and the most loving husband I could ever wish for.