The minister who was to officiate was unavailable due to a death in his family. The ring bearer had chicken pox but a kid was found who fit the tuxedo. The photographer could not make it because he was hospitalized. But the wedding took place anyway.

In spite of all the last minute difficulties surrounding the wedding, tomorrow will mark the 44th anniversary of our marriage.

December 28, 1968 is the second most important date in my life. That is the day that Lena Loper became my wife. She said she would love me, comfort me, honor and keep me in sickness and in health, and be faithful to me as long as we both were alive. She has kept those vows and I am eternally grateful.

I am so glad that Lena is my wife, the mother of our three children, and the grandmother of our two grandchildren.

For over four decades Lena has given herself to me. She has followed me from south Alabama to New York, Tennessee, and Georgia. She has gone with me to every place the bishop has appointed me for over 40 years. Her love has caused her to be my chief critic and staunchest supporter.

On our 40th anniversary Lena jokingly said she was grateful for 25 years of happy marriage. At least I think she was joking. The truth is all marriages, and ours is no exception, have bad times and good times. There are a lot of ups and downs. Mountains and valleys. Challenges and triumphs. The Apostle Paul said “love endures all things.” I thank God that Lena meant what she said when we stood at the altar and vowed our lives to each other “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish as long as you both shall live.”

Lena has been my encourager. Her laughter has brightened my days. Her devotion to me and our family has strengthened me. The intensity of her emotions has inspired me. Her creativity has enriched my life. Her integrity has been an example for me. Her love for people is remarkable.

We have shared a lot of life in the years since we started dating in 1965. We could not have imagined the wealth of experiences that God would provide when we began this journey together. There have been many twists and turns in the road but we have taken them together. Sometimes agreeing and sometimes having different opinions about the right course to take. But through it all we have been faithful to each other and God has faithfully guided out steps.

Our journey continues. As Lena and I begin another year of life together we trust God’s guidance and provision for our future as we have for our past. I am excited to see what the 45th year of our marriage will hold. And I pray for all persons who have given their lives to each other that God will “bless your marriage, grant you fulfillment in it, and establish your home in peace.”

Jamie Jenkins