I think we all have times when we can recall a moment we made a promise with every intent of keeping it. Whether we were caught up in the moment or with all sincerity and premeditation spoke words of conviction, we made a heart felt promise to someone. When I think of promises my mind often darts to Matthew 5:37 where Jesus says, “let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” But the reality of life is that often we make promises that we simply fail to keep. I can think back over my life at promises I have failed to uphold and I can think of promises made towards me that have ended poorly (says something to the forgive and forget idea.) Promises are typically good at the moment and situation in which they are made. It is when life starts to happen and circumstances change our situations that we see how true a promise really is.
December 14th, 1996 I stood before the love of my life, a dear minister friend in Jerry Hendrix, and a room full of friends and family to exchange promises with Amy. Clearly in love and with the dreamy idea of a perfect life in front of us we said that no matter what; we would always love each other. And then, life happened. First there was a moldy rent house that was supposed to be considered “home,” and then several church changes which included saying good bye to old friends and hello to new cities. There were sleepless nights as our first born struggled with reflux and weeks of doctors not knowing the best way to fix it. We encountered a drawn out adoption process and 48 hours of pure torture as we waited for the birth mom to sign papers. We found ourselves in a season of limbo when I wondered if my time as a vocational minister was coming to an end. And now the most recent part of our journey – Carter’s black eye. Life happened all right. I look back over the 16 years and through all the memories, all the decisions, all the questions, all the prayers, all the cause and effects of life, and I am amazed at two things.
First and foremost, never can I recall a time where I felt outside of God’s loving care and plan for our family. Don’t get me wrong, I did not always understand His plan but I never felt removed from His grasp. The second thing that simply floors me; my wife was divinely ordained to play a large part of that God-given plan. We vowed that in sickness and in health we would do life as it happens. We agreed that for better or for worse we would always love each other. Those words sounded so good back then but have meant so much more now that they have remained true through the trials and tribulations.
Many have heard the story of Amy, I, and one other student sitting in IHOP prepping for our first psychology test of my Senior year of college. To recap for those not in the know… I was being asked theological and practical church questions from the third person at the table, seeing that I was a ministry major and on staff at a local church. That night I found myself staring at Amy as she spoke beautifully of Grace, Truth, ministry, the purpose of the church, and ultimately her passionate love for God, among many other things. I knew then that she was special. Just months later I had the courage to propose and as Paul Harvey would say, the rest is history. The point of going back to that encounter at IHOP is simple. I saw then someone who understood life is bigger than us. And today I see that same person. It has been incredible to watch Amy handle the trials we have encountered and these past few months have been no exception.
Since that gut wrenching September day when we learned about Carter’s situation, Amy has been as impressive as anything. Sure we have had our moments of breaking down in tears and it’s not like any of us never questioned exactly what was going on. Still, it was as if my wife was not going to let this define us. She refused to quit and pressed on with each day as there were more meals to be made, more loads of laundry to do, and the house was not going to clean itself. She continued to fulfill responsibilities at church helping me launch a new initiative in the student ministry and still found time to make meals for friends in need. She made sure the Operation Christmas Child boxes were complete and delivered on time. She made it possible for me to take a trip to Columbia with Compassion International, missing a full week of life at home. She did all this and so much more knowing that life happens but we still get to decide how we will react to the hand we are dealt.
In sickness and in health. For better or for worse. Promises made that have proven true over time. I remember another promise, this is one from a guy named Matthew quoting Christ who said, “Come to me all who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. For my yoke is easy to bear and my burden is light.” Obviously this means Jesus wants to help us in times where weariness surfaces, and that help comes in many different ways. I am grateful He placed Amy Denice Malott in my life to help me make it through the tough times where the burden seems to heavy.
Amy, thank you for 16 amazing years. Thank you for sticking to your promises even when it’s hard. It is true, “there are many virtuous and capable women in the world but you surpass them all.” You truly are more precious than rubies!