“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.”
Eleven years ago today, the two lives of Aaron Carpenter and Nichole Wieland became one. Standing at the altar, trying to remember the words to the song I was about sing, and gazing into the face of the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, I had no idea what I was doing.
All I knew about her, I could number on one hand with my thumb cut off: she loved God, she loved me, she was beautiful, and she played the piano. Honestly, what more a music-loving preacher could ask for, I do not know. But how much more God gave me that day, I am only learning. Perhaps someday, I will take Proverbs 31 and go line by line describing this wonderful woman who is my wife. I could do it now and still wish that Lemuel’s mother had written more. But there is another image that is just as fitting.
In a scene from 2008’s Fireproof, Ken Bevel’s character explains to Kirk Cameron’s something about the nature of marriage. He says that a woman is like a rose. Treat her badly, and she will wilt; treat her well, and she will flourish. I know that I do not deserve my wife and have not always treated her as well as she deserves, but in eleven years, I have seen my wife flourish.
She was always amazing…
First, there were those traits that she brought to the marriage, things that probably only a husband could recognize. When it comes to finances, I trust her implicitly. Taking some pre-marital counsel, we agreed that she should keep the check book, while I set the budget and do the taxes. We both sleep better this way, and I have never regretted it. I’ve never seen anyone keep track of pennies and make them go as far as she. In eleven years, our home has prospered under her stewardship.
She cannot be lazy. While late nights threaten her sanity, she will rise as early as necessary to accomplish the day’s tasks. Every day has its own to-do list, and she will work from rising until bedtime to make sure that everything has been taken care of, including spending appropriate time with the children. And on those rare occasions when she takes the time, even her naps are carefully scheduled.
Her work includes contributing to the household income through music lessons, and she manages a weekly schedule of students, at times teaching for several hours straight. She homeschools two grade-school students while watching a 4 year old bottle rocket. And she organizes and participates in numerous church activities, from outreach to simple, loving care of the hurting. Her heart belongs to God, and no day is complete without spending some time in the Scriptures and in prayer. These and so many other things I have seen for a long time, but there are others that have been planted, watered, and caused to grow in these eleven years.
…and has become even more so.
More recently, she has grown and expanded her interests in many directions. Never overweight, she loves her exercise and has taken it to new levels to make sure she is fit in both mind and body. As part of this, she has been known to walk even while reading a book. Never much of a reader, she has found a particular genre interesting and has devoured what the local library has available. This is no pulp fiction, either, but cleverly-written mysteries, such as those by Agatha Christie. Oh, and I love how she is always so very careful about offensive content, even returning a book before reading how it turns out when she runs across words and scenes that she feels will pollute her heart. On the other hand, some of these books are murder mysteries, and those mystery writers often do strange things to their food. So, I’m a little worried.
That’s because she has become a devoted fan of Julia Child. I believe she has watched every episode of The French Chef, and one of her most prized possessions is the two-volume set of Julia’s cookbooks that I got her for her birthday. This really is a win-win for me, and the children and I have only two words for the experience: tres bon.
But nothing prepared me for what I saw this past summer. My beloved wife is most comfortable behind the scenes, working quietly and efficiently, but this summer she became Marian Paroo in our community theatre’s production of The Music Man. And she did it for her husband. When it looked like I would be taking on the role of Harold Hill, she knew I would need someone to kiss on the bridge, and so she volunteered. Of course, this would mean taking on a lot that she had never really tried before, like memorizing the lines for lengthy scenes, choreography in period costumes, standing in front of a large crowd, and singing above a C. Always an alto, she bravely and tirelessly worked for months to learn her lines, rehearse her steps, build breath support, extend her range, and place her vowels. The result was one of the most enjoyable experiences of our life together.
Like the writer of Hebrews, I could ask, “What shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell…” I love this woman whom I don’t deserve, but who, in the providence of God, agreed to marry me and has spent the last eleven years with me, flourishing and even changing me in the process. I am a better man because of her, a better preacher, pastor, father, and husband. Our love has grown. I love her more than I can express, more than I did even eleven years ago, and I know that I will love her even more as the years roll on. Here and now, I praise her, and I know that her children call her blessed.