Gratitude Day 661

Song of Solomon 3:4 – Then I found the one my heart loves.

As a pastor, I am fortunate to be invited to so many important events of people’s lives. Baptisms, weddings, confirmations, birthday parties, communion, end-of-life, and the list goes on and on.

Yesterday, Hubby Rick and I participated in one of those very special times. And we are the richer ones for it.

About a year ago, Jerry Johnson asked if I would be a part of a surprise for his wife, Linda. The Johnson’s celebrated their 50th anniversary about a week ago. They had a family outing planned in northern Wisconsin. Jerry and Linda invited their family – kids, significant others and grandkids – to join them at the cabin they rented for this past week. Jerry inquired if Rick and I would join them for a couple days. During the time we would be with them, would I renew Jerry and Linda’s wedding vows?

How could I not be involved in something as cool as this?!!

We’ve spent the last couple of days celebrating Jerry and Linda’s 50th anniversary. And looking at what 50 years looks like.

Married when they were 21, these high school sweethearts began dating when they were introduced by a mutual friend, Carol. Linda was part of the pom-pom squad. Jerry thought she was prettiest girl at the high school they attended.

They began talking about marriage when they were 20 waited but until they were 21 when a parent signature was not required. Married July 31, 1971, they vacation in northern Wisconsin for a couple days before beginning their married lives together.

Jerry and Linda are opposites attracted to one another. Opposites rarely have boring relationships … if they can navigate their differences! This couple has navigated this path very well. They are just in love with each other today as they were 50 years ago.

In planning for the vow renewal, I asked Jerry what attracted him to his wife. He said her beautiful smile and personality, which is even more precious today.

To begin our involvement in the celebration, Rick and I meet the Johnson clan at a restaurant the evening before the vow renewal. This is where Linda discovered she would be getting married again the following morning. Her three daughters and four grandchildren planned everything out. They ordered a cake and flowers and had a new dress for Linda to wear. Linda’s father passed away before she was married, so she walked down the aisle alone at her first wedding. At this second wedding, her grandsons escorted her. The granddaughters shared special readings.

With just 12 of us present at Jerry and Linda’s second wedding, it was a very intimate and special event. There were lots of tears and hugs and smiles. I was probably not the only one thinking that this day might not have happened. In March of 2020, many Johnson family members had COVID-19. Linda’s symptoms were most significant. Shortly after going into the hospital, she said good-bye to her family before going on a respirator. Thankfully, she recovered and now truly values every single day.

What does 50 years of marriage look like? I’ll use Jerry’s words. It’s respecting your spouse and honoring him or her every day. It’s making faith the foundation of your relationship and leaning on God regularly. It’s knowing there will be difficult days and beautiful days but always returning to why you chose to say, “I do.” Jerry said he loves his bride more today than when they had their first wedding 50 years ago.

I’m not sure Hubby Rick and I will make it to 50 years because we were a little older when we got married. In some ways, we were able to celebrate our marriage all over again as we witnessed the Johnson’s vow renewal. As they kissed repeatedly, cut their cake, had their first dance and ate a celebratory lunch, we and their kids and grandkids saw the deep love and affection they have for each other. We witnessed a couple that gladly said, “I do” once again … and mean it.

Fifty years to a special milestone. We celebrated all day long with the Johnson’s and their family. Thank you for modeling a Christian marriage, Jerry and Linda. We’ve loved being part of your celebration.

For the joy of watching a couple keep their marriage rooted in God, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Holy God – What a joy it has been to celebrate Jerry and Linda’s 50 years together. May you continue to watch over them and their family. We thank you for couples who model Christian marriage. Amen.

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