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When the RV came around the bend in the road, I ran out to the driveway. Larry opened the door, stepped out, and wrapped me in a bone-crushing hug. Sixteen weeks of Vietnam-era Army training had toned and tanned him, and he didn’t know his strength. I was laughing, crying, and gasping for breath all at the same time.

We hadn’t seen each other in six months, and were getting married the next day. It was exciting, wonderful, and just a bit scary.

Larry was a California boy; I was born and raised in Portland. We met at a church service in July 1966, while he was in Portland for a weekend. At a picnic the following day, we discovered how much we had in common. I quickly sensed that he was a man of integrity and character; his primary goal in life was to serve God. He told me later that I matched everything he had listed to good friends a few months earlier.

September, 1966

Six weeks later he returned for a conference at the church, and we spent time walking each afternoon in the residential neighborhood around the church, talking about life. He was heading back to California to start his first job after college, I was soon returning to college for my junior year.

On the third night of the conference, Larry said, “I know we haven’t really known each other very long, but we don’t have much time. I want to spend my life with you. Will you marry me?”

“Yes, of course I will,” I answered. “We both know this is God’s will for us.” It wasn’t an infatuation, but a deep, settled knowing that this was the right thing for us.

In the next six months, we saw each other twice—in December when he returned to Portland with an engagement ring, and in March, when I flew to California during spring break to meet his family. During our lengthy separation, we each wrote a letter nearly every day.

Now it was September, and our wedding was scheduled in less than twenty-four hours.

September 23, 1967

The following day, we said our vows in a rustic log church in Brightwood, near my parents’ ranch. Sunlight slanting through the stained-glass windows created a glowing atmosphere as we pledged our lives to each other.

Army red tape had reduced Larry’s leave to 72 hours, allowing no time for a honeymoon. After a brief night at Timberline Lodge, we caught a morning flight back to California, where we started married life near Fort Ord.

That was forty-five years ago, September 23, 1967.

Our life together has been an amazing adventure. Like all marriages, we’ve had our share of joys, trials and challenges. We’ve lived on three continents and had the great joy of ministering to God’s people in many settings. We’re blessed with four children, a dozen grandchildren, and many wonderful friends. With God’s grace we’ve endured devastating disappointments, chronic disease, and cancer.

Through it all, I can honestly and gratefully say that my very human and comfortably imperfect husband has obeyed the scriptural command of Ephesians 5–he has consistently loved me, encouraged me, and unselfishly “given himself up” for me. If I could do half as much for him, we’d easily make it another forty-five years.

Thank you for loving me, Larry David Wade. Happy Anniversary, Darling!

September 23, 2012