Nine years ago today, Corina and I were married at Emanuel Baptist Church in Oradea, Romania. A couple years ago, I listed several reasons I am thankful for my wife. Today, I’d like to add two additional reasons that have become clearer to me in the past two years.
I am thankful for my wife because…
1. She prioritizes the kingdom of God over personal comfort.
Nine years ago, when we said our vows, Corina quoted from Ruth:
Where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
My wife meant those words. We spent the first three years of our marriage in her own country. But when the day came for us to move to the States for an indefinite period of time, she willingly said, “Let’s go.”
We’ve had conversations about the future in which she has made it clear that she would be willing to go to Africa if God called us there. Accumulating wealth and establishing comfort and security are not what appeal to her. She cares much more deeply about relationships and about God’s kingdom than her own comfort.
2. She does what she does well so that I can do what I do well.
Corina thought it odd that I dedicated my first book to her. After all, I wrote the book the summer we had our second child. “I wasn’t able to help very much with that book,” she says.
She has no idea.
My wife chose to put aside her college degree in social work and her love for the workplace in order to take care of our home and our children. Because she does so well in the home, I am able to focus on serving the church through my work at LifeWay, my writing, and my schoolwork.
3. She puts others ahead of herself.
Corina is a great cook. But if you watch her carefully, you will see that she is always concerned that everyone else gets enough to eat, even if she goes without. She has always been this way.
My wife constantly thinks of others before herself. I can’t even buy her gift cards for Christmas because she’ll spend the money on me or the kids. That is how selfless she is!
4. She has the gift of discernment.
Because she puts others ahead of herself, Corina tends to observe more than talk. Her power of observation helps her discern people’s actions and attitudes very quickly.
My wife can see right through people. At times, her gift of discernment has caused consternation on my part. I used to think that she was making snap judgments about people too quickly. I don’t think that way anymore. She has been right way too many times.
I have come to see that Corina’s gift of discernment is also a gift to me. Her analysis of a situation tends to be spot on. She sees trouble coming before anyone else does. And she is almost always right.
5. She is a constant source of encouragement.
Corina knows how to encourage me. We’ve gone through days of deep disappointment, but she has never failed to lift me up, strengthen me for the journey ahead, and remind me of what God has done in the past. She believes in me, and she lets me know it. I don’t know how I could handle the valleys if my wife were constantly doubting my ability to provide. She respects me and lets me know it.
6. She is a princess and doesn’t know it.
In our Disney-fied America, every girl grows up thinking she is a princess. I suspect that growing up in Romania was quite different.
When a friend of mine asked me what I thought of Corina the day we first met, I told him, “She’s a princess and doesn’t know it.” She is strikingly beautiful, and yet she puts forth none of the “look at me” attitude that is so prevalent in our day.
7. She is able to adapt to new cultures very easily.
Most international marriages are different than ours. When the international partner comes to live in the United States with the American spouse, cultural adaptation is rather one-sided. The international adapts to the new normal, the new tongue, and the new cultural reality of the U.S.
Our situation was quite different. I was fluent in Romanian and very knowledgeable of Romanian culture before we started dating. The reason we continue to speak Romanian in the home even today is because Romanian is the language we spoke while dating and getting married.
I spent five years in Romania. She has spent six years in the U.S. Because of our life experiences, we both know each other’s cultures very well. I’m thankful that God gave me the opportunity to know intimately the culture she comes from. And I’m thankful that God has helped her adapt so well to life in the U.S.
8. She keeps me grounded.
Corina is a great source of stability for me. She loves me without being terribly impressed with me, and I’m grateful for that.
One of the ways she keeps me grounded is by bringing me back to reality on the home front. Last summer at the SBC, I was able to sit down with a well-known pastor whom I respect. I texted her to let her know whom I’d just met. She texted back, “Wow, that is awesome!” with a big smiley face, and then, “There’s a dead bird in the yard. Where do you want me to throw it?” I love her for that!
9. She has a common-sense approach to the Bible and theology.
Corina has little interest in delving into the details of ongoing theological discussion that takes place in the academy, on blogs, or among church pastors. And yet this doesn’t mean she doesn’t have strong opinions. She does. And those opinions are based in a well-formed understanding of the Bible that serves me well whenever I bring her up to speed on a current discussion. She can cut through the intricacies of a debate and make a judgment that is (usually) quite accurate. “That’s right,” or “That’s dumb,” she might say bluntly and then back up her judgment with several biblical reasons.
Those are just nine reasons. I could think of many more, but I will save them for our anniversaries to come.
Happy anniversary, Corina! The past nine years have been the best of my life. I love you and look forward to what God has in store for us down the road.