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 LOVE suffereth long, and is kind; LOVE envieth not; LOVE vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. LOVE never faileth: ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

LOVE that is lasting, continuing, patient, persisting, surviving, growing, and enduring.

Thirty-six years ago today, I married my best friend. He loves me unconditionally.

Thirty-six years is a long time. Time that God has given to us, woven by all that HE IS. The essence of Who God is has given sustaining and enduring life to our marriage.  No marriage is perfect, because no two people are perfect; only God is perfect. Enduring Love is what perfects our marriage covenant. Faith, wisdom and reverance for God as the center of our marriage is what has made it an Enduring Love.

Enduring Love is not jealous, is not self-centered, is not arrogant, is not strong-willed, is not selfish, is not controlling, is not impulsive, is not disrespectful, is not revengeful or begrudging, it never gives up. It is not a fairytale.  Enduring Love is all that the Love Chapter proclaims, it suffers long, is kind, is committed, is sacrificing, is giving, is caring, is honest, trusts, honors God, never retreats or gives up, it grows forward, stronger and greater, it endures.

In thirty-six years there have been some tests, some mistakes, some poor judgments, some uncertainties, some challenges. But overwhelmingly there has been a lot of joy and God’s goodness, dreams come true, blessings on top of blessings, lessons learned, experiences and memories to cherish, children and grandchildren.

Some years ago I had the privilege of presenting a seminar for married couples. The conference theme was “The Race of Your Life-Making It To The Expected End” so I entitled the presentation, “Enduring Love Covenant Marathon” (Running With My Mate — A Marathon to The Finish”.  The focus was that marriage is not a sprint or a relay, it is a marathon. A marathon is a race of endurance. Much preparation, training, and conditioning is necessary to FINISH a marathon.  Because at the FINISH is where you receive the rewards, the expected end. The key points I shared was understanding the runners in the race (two, ‘together’, making a team of one) (Matthew 19:5-6); determining and understanding the singularity of your goal(s) (1 Corinthians 9:24-25); conditioning for the covenant marathon with the mindset to win (Romans 8:37); actually running the race, the huddle experiences, and seeing (always in view) your goal, seeing your marriage at its expected end, claiming the rich rewards of enduring love.

“Do you think our love can make miralces? I do.

“Do you think our love, can take us away together?

I think our love can do anything we want it to.” (Allie & Duke/Noah from The Notebook)

[Reflecting now, that was a good presentation.]

So today, we’re still running this race with so much more maturity and wisdom. We’re running it with our enduring love as the wind in our backs and beneath our wings. We’re enjoying some rich rewards too, a life well lived, blessed by the favor of God, children who make us proud everyday, and grandchildren who literally take our breath away and consume our hearts with joy.

Thank You, God, for my gift, my husband, my lover, my covering, my friend, my confidant, my covenant partner, my forever love, Terry D. Lipford.

Thank You, God, for our Enduring Love, ‘ageless and evergreen’.

Love, soft as an easy chair
Love, fresh as the morning air
One love that is shared by two
I have found with you

Like a rose under the April snow
I was always certain love would grow
Love ageless and evergreen
Seldom seen by two

You and I will make each night a first
Every day a beginning
Spirits rise and their dance is unrehearsed
They warm and excite us
‘Cause we have the brightest love

Two lights that shine as one
Morning glory and midnight sun
Time we’ve learned to sail above
Time won’t change the meaning of one love
Ageless and ever evergreen

(Lyrics of one of our wedding songs, ‘Evergreen’ by the incomparable Barbra Streisand.)