I just love him.
We met almost 20 years ago. He tells me, today, that it was in February of 1997 (because I have a hard time recalling dates the way he does): He walked up to me, and our mutual friend Abbie, kissed my hand and told me it was “delightful” to meet me.
He was 17 years old. And already a romantic at heart. An old soul, of sorts, and just wise and witty beyond his years.
A few weeks after that strange and intriguing first encounter, I saw him at a high school battle of the bands and approached him to say “hi” … but we ended that evening taking the “music in our minds” outside into the rain, where we danced and laughed and played. I was 15, still a confused and broken girl, but I found a real friend that rainy day.
And that my friends is where our love began.
The love found in child-like laughter of two friends restoring their hope in a world that had (has) a way of tearing us down.
The love that is found in a listening ear over the phone when one pensive soul is trying to understand the lessons of life.
The love found in bins filled with letters over a four year time span, while James was away in the Army. It was encouragement through his Basic Training, Army barrack life, and Sergeant School and encouragement for me to smile and smell the roses when I couldn’t cope after coming back from Africa after a short term mission trip, navigating through community college, and later Nursing School at University. It was care packages of sand, rain in a bottle, and audio “tape” recordings of songs we wrote about faith (just to name a few). And it was the steady flow of written word that bore our hearts of our daily struggles, dreams, hurts, and growing pains.
The love that is found when a wild young artful soul loses his free spirit in surrender to a cause that is “bigger” and foreign to his own …. a growing up of sorts, and sorting out of sorts … only to leave a man whose heart understands more deeply pain and what it means to fight for something you love.
The love that is found when I realized James tended for me as a shepherd cares for his flock; velvety, non-assuming, all accepting arms of love reaching out to me with big hugs through the phone … and I finally saw what I always knew.
The jaw dropping, knee quivering, shouting and dancing, utter shock love that left James (almost) speechless, when I told him, “I love you” and he (after a couple of other attempts to tell him) finally understood that I finally meant a love that was more than friendship. (yes I know that I used the word “finally” a couple times in that sentence. deal with it!)
A love that is patient … and kind … and not jealous, or rude.
A love that stayed up with me and held me during the two weeks it took to miscarry our first baby. And a love that fully supported me while I birthed all four of our children and joyously celebrated their lives with me.
A love that lets me cry, and talk, and get lost just to get found. (Yes, even James, needs reminding sometimes to keep his mouth shut and please just listen).
A love that trusts me, and God, no matter what!!! And doesn’t question the bends and twists that life brings (or at least not as severely as I do!)
A deep and earthy and connecting love.
A father’s love and teaching example.
This man. He doesn’t hinder one dream God puts in my heart. Not one. He says “dream big” and I do. He says “God will”, and I try to trust the way he does. He says. “I love you Sarah.” And I know that he does. With all my heart I know he is true.
This is the kind of love story books are made of. Not the fairy tale kind, but the ones etched out of blood, sweat, and tears.
This man, I would not trade for the world!!!! He is mine. and I am his.
But, today when I was rolling over in laughter while James personified a interesting (to say the least) group of individuals with great accuracy and wit, and our kids could not understand why we laugh so hard at each-other’s “jokes that are not even funny!!”, I had to just inform them: “because you aint smart enough yet” to comprehend the intricate quirks and humor that we have etched out over the years to cope and rebuild again.
The past year, has been an interesting one for me to watch James.
A freedom and creativity has sparked in him and in his ventures to use his talents, abilities and God given desire to provide for his family.
He decided in 2011, after losing his job due to the economy, that he would step away from working for someone to build something for our family, a decision that was mutual, as we felt God was calling me back to pursue working in women and children’s healthcare. However, 2011-2013 were hard years for both of us. We stepped out to pursue our dreams and callings, but it was no bed of roses, and both of us carried far more mental burdens than either of us should have carried, which in turn stole our creativity, freedom, and joy. 2014 was a transition year for us that was just plain painful in and of itself, even if we were shouldering those extra burdens on Jesus.
But this year, 2015, I am starting to see the man who used to dress himself up like Charley Chaplain, carrying a cane wherever he went, walking on his hands, and philosophizing with anyone and everyone he met. In high school he was a social butterfly … but one with depth. He was (and is) the quintessential youngest child. He had (has) charisma.
I don’t know if he will actualize or accomplish all that he dreams. For me, It is yet to be decided as to what God has dreamed for him vs what he has dreamed for himself; what James’ original design is vs preconceived notions of what “provider” should look like. Whatever it is God has created him for, is exactly what I want for him, because I know that is where Jame’s true joy is found. I am seeing glimmers more and more of who I know him to be. And, I think to myself, again, who is this marvelous James-man?