Sally Jo and I attended a 200 student Christian high school: Wheaton Academy. The school had both “town” and “boarding” students. We lived in town and during my senior year I often had permission to use a family car. Sally Jo and I would double date, and our dates were dorm students. After we took our dates back to the dorm, we would drive the 6 miles back to Wheaton. That ride began to take longer and longer. After a several months we realized we did not need to drive to the Academy to pick up our dates. I would drive the three blocks to Sally Jo’s home…and we would head out for a great time together.
We slid into our relationship. There was no thought, I assure you, that we were dating because we believed it was God’s will for our lives. None! We wanted to be together.
Sally Jo spent 16 summers at Hills Lake. While living on the South side of Chicago her mom and dad purchased a summer cottage…complete with an out-house in the garage and a pump at the kitchen sink. Each June, her dad would take her mom and the four kids up to the lake for the summer, and he would drive the six hours to be with the family each weekend – and then for two weeks each August.
At “Hoppe Pine Vista” Sally Jo learned to swim, row, fish and clean fish, canoe, water ski – and to take her baths in the lake. She had summer friends – and school year friends. Sally Jo learned to live in two very different worlds…comfortably.
During grade school Sally Jo’s family built a home in Wheaton…and indoor plumbing arrived at the cottage. While in college I had many wonderful days with the family at the lake – learning the world which was so much a part of her life.
Twenty years later we were living in Texas…and each June I would take Sally Jo and our three children to Sky Ranch for the summer. Through the week I lived in Dallas, where Sky Ranch had its primary office…and each Friday I would drive to the ranch to be with our family for the weekend. Twenty seven years later we moved together each summer to Deerfoot Lodge – a wilderness camp for boys. Sally Jo already had the pattern of moving each summer to the lake…and for her to have running water and a hot shower in our cabin was luxury! God had prepared Sally Jo well.
Did Sally Jo and I choose each other…or did God engineer the whole thing? Or both? While we were dating the 5 ½ years before we got married I do not remember thinking that God had prepared Sally Jo to be my wife. I do remember struggling through many differences/challenges during those years – and wondering…”is this the girl I should marry?” Today it is easy to see God’s careful preparation for the work He would give us to do…together. For 45 years we have worked together at Living In Partnership With God. Always easy? Are you kidding? But…God has blessed us, used us beyond what we could ask or think.
Remember how this relationship began – no more planned by us than I planned to go to Pioneer Camp in Canada at age 9 – or prayerfully chose to work on a farm, or wash pots and pans for Young Life, or help build a house in Costa Rica.
May it be that when I say to a girl, `Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, `Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’–let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.” — Genesis 24:14
Seek to live your life pleasing to God – and smile!