A handsome man proposed to me at the weekend.

We sat in a public place with voices murmuring in the background, glasses chinking and food being heartily consumed by ravenous folk around us.

We’d hope to join them in eating here but the long delay for food meant we sat patiently nursing glasses and drinking in the moment, savouring the atmosphere.

It was a ferry inn pub by the riverside with boats harboured nearby and weekend cruisers pausing for refreshment.

We’d parked close to the door, stepped out into a stiff sea breeze blowing across our faces.

Romantic red roses, growing abundant around the entrance way, captivated me with their hypnotic, heady perfume.

Geraniums sat proudly pink and willows swooped low to ground.

Exposed brickwork, chalkboard menus, wooden beams, copper jugs and pans all a part of its quaint English hostelry charm.

anniversary sfp interior WoJ

We sat at a scrubbed wooden table on which many friends and lovers had undoubtedly rested their hands, elbows bent and brows frowning in concentration, ears attuned to their companion’s every sound.

Maybe wood held knotty secrets of lovers trysts and proposals like this?

This man reached for my hand and asked me the question burdening his soul.

Knowing deep within what my answer would be.

Placed an engagement ring before me and implored with his eyes.

And I looked into his dear familiar face and said a heartfelt yes, accepting a proposal that took me back as well as bringing me forward.

Yes to being back where we began, to accepting this new-old ring that he’d had repaired because it cracked and scratched too much for me to wear, now presented in a borrowed blue box.

This plain and simple ring with its eye of sapphire and small smattering of diamonds was one I’d loved as we’d browsed jewellery shops together and he’d remembered before parting with his impoverished student cash.

It was the ring I’d been given once before on a cold February day by the same stretch of riverside as we huddled in the car away from freezing wind and sheeting rain and watched ducks dabbling, warming ourselves with our own happy glow.

I’d had no hesitation in accepting a proposal then.

Returning excited to share our news and have his mother look shocked and mine indifferent.

But now… now there was no-one to look askance at the culmination of our romance, so I said my sincere yes to this and so much more.

anniversary new old ring WoJYes to being yoked together, always.

Yes to living, leaning hard, learning, laughing and loving together.

Yes to being and staying your wife when I so often feel unworthy of the name.

Yes to all the messiness of our moments and the daily dirge we dance to.

Yes to staying put in those (rare) times when we may long for some space.

Yes to remaining faithful in the face of life’s frustrations.

Yes to dealing with testing and trials and making an effort to be close when tempers rise and feelings get hurt.

Yes to the overcoming and the tears and the triumphs, the glory of our personal story.

And an overwhelming yes to all we have made and will make of this gift God has given us.

Tears filled my eyes as I gazed at my boyfriend/husband/lover/father of my children.

The man who has filled my days for more years than I ever imagined we would survive together and who planned this moment as part of our 40th wedding anniversary celebrations.

Because we have survived and thrived as a couple by the grace of God alone.

The waterfall of God’s grace has always refreshed our marriage, kept us glued together when life tried to tear us apart.

And it continues to do so through all the length of days where chronic illness and pain pervade strong but the flower of love blooms stronger still.

And it will do so for you too as you allow God to become the focal point of your relationship, and watch how He will redeem and transform it into a thing of beauty by His love and grace.

anniversary grace WoJ