Today we celebrate twenty nine years of marriage. There may be thousands of miles between us right now, but we remain one. Our beginning was like living a fairytale. Most people don’t know this about me, but I spent the first eight years of life in speech therapy as I struggled to make many of the basic sounds of English. It was a mystery as to why I couldn’t speak. With professional help I was able to overcome this hurdle, only to awaken one morning at the age of nine with a muting stutter. To this day I have only met one other person who stuttered as terribly as I did. (A few years ago I watched the movie “The King’s Speech” and became quite emotional hearing someone who sounded just like me. ) Looking back, we understand that my young mind had succumbed to the severe psychological stress of abuse that I had spent my entire childhood stuffing. The next ten years were spent in a humiliating prison as I fought for the freedom of every single word. Because of the exertion of speaking, I learned to measure my words and only speak when it was important, and I embraced the role of being a listener. ( Now I talk too much- even though I made up for those lost years a LONG time ago lol) At the age of nineteen, I met Mr Wonderful. Unable to translate my pitiful language, he asked me to write my name down ( I couldn’t say my own name for ten years) and he patiently listened as I painfully stuttered my way through a conversation. He admits now that he didn’t really get much of what I was trying to say, but he was determined to get to know me. Then the miracle happened. Just a couple months into our relationship I was chatting with my mom when she suddenly stopped me excitedly exclaiming, “Lalena, do you notice anything different?” I paused, not sure what she was so animated about. “You aren’t stuttering!” It was true. Just as mysteriously as it had appeared ten years earlier, it left. I believe it was the protective presence of a man who purely loved me- or what Huey Lewis called “The Power of Love”. Our first year of marriage was difficult as I came extremely close to an emotional breakdown when the memories began to surface and overwhelm me, but my bewildered husband stayed by my side and our pastors came to our rescue. This was the beginning of a very long healing process, but through all those challenging years Scott remained faithful and so many beautiful friends and my family loved me to wholeness. All good stories, including fairytales, have challenge, conflict and loss at the climax. It’s the pain that sets the stage for the beautiful overcoming and redemption. Each of us has such a story, and we all need saving. I am ever thankful that I met Jesus at an early age; He not only saved my soul, He healed my heart and carried me through the fire. Then He extravagantly blessed me with a wonderful man to walk this journey with. For twenty nine years Scott has selflessly carried my backpack, shared his water when mine ran out and gave me both sleeping bags when I was cold. I can’t imagine anyone better to adventure through life with. I love you, Babe!