30 Years in Love
Today, my husband, Jim, and I celebrate 30 wonderful years together as husband and wife! What splendid adventures the Lord has allowed in our lives, and I trust that He will continue to do so. Some of those adventures have been fabulously amazing and welcomed with open arms, while others have been laced with hardships and growing pains and faced with gritting teeth. All of these experiences have been part of our faith journey, as we have walked together, growing us closer to our Lord and to each other.
During the year before our wedding day, Jim and I enjoyed getting to know each other through Bible studies and pre-marital counseling. It was a lot of hard work, but going through in-depth counseling with John Zimmerman at Grace Community Church gave us valuable tools to use throughout our married life. Another key pastor/teacher was Eddie Eggerichs, now known as Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, who had recorded his male/female differences lectures on cassette tapes that we wore out listening to over and over and sharing them with our young married friends. We later had the privilege of sitting in his first-weekend marriage conference that had some of the same content and has since been included in his national bestseller book and DVD study called Love and Respect.
We were loved by sweet mentors, held accountable by dear friends and prayed for by many. What a blessing it is to have had a courtship so rich in love and godly wisdom.
We began our growth process together as one in Northridge, CA on February 6, 1988. We enjoyed the company of many family and friends as we celebrated with a long ceremony followed by a cake and ice cream reception. Later we had dinner with our families and wedding party at Giuseppe’s, an Italian Restaurant where we had our first date. We honeymooned as we drove up the coast of California stopping at B&B’s as we made our way to a lovely condo in Lake Tahoe for the week. What a special gift that was given to us by my Aunt Angie and Uncle Jim. We enjoyed skiing, snowy mountains, fires in the fireplace and hot tubs in the great outdoors. In June, we celebrated again at a reception hosted by my parents, Marge and Al, in Connecticut. Jim’s mom, Janet, also hosted a lovely reception for us a few weeks later in Idaho. I got to wear my wedding gown for the third time! Then we went to Yellowstone Park and the Grand Tetons for another honeymoon.
We came home to our Chatsworth apartment and began real life together. Jim continued his work as an engineer, and I was a preschool / 1st-grade teacher. I wish I could say the next six months were as lovely as the first five, but they were not. Illness entered our lives. Jim came down with something that had all of the doctors puzzled, and he was not able to work for three months. Several times we found ourselves crying out before the Lord perplexed and exhausted. It was especially difficult the first time we were advised to see an oncologist; however, the Lord heard our cry and answered our prayer in a most unusual way. A friend from church, who happened to be a nurse, had just returned home from a mission trip in the Amazon. She said that she had a suggestion that might sound crazy, but what did we have to lose? She encouraged Jim to drink tea made from boiling what looked like shredded tree bark in water. In fact, it WAS tree bark called Pau d’Arco. Well, it worked! For the first time in 3 months, Jim began to regain strength, and his symptoms were disappearing. About a week later, Jim’s blood results had improved greatly, and he was back at work. Fears of being a young widow were replaced with the joy of being Mrs. Berreth again as I continued teaching arts/crafts and Bible in a missionary school.
We purchased our first home in November 1988 in Simi Valley, CA and were blessed with the help of many friends and co-workers who helped us move while Jim was still too weak to do very much. We enjoyed our first Christmas together in Idaho at Jim’s grandmother’s home with all of his family. In January, we celebrated Jim’s 30th birthday with a surprise party. I quickly learned that Jim doesn’t like surprises especially after a long day of church elders’ meetings. Mental note to self… no surprise parties for Jim. I had fun, but poor Jim looked exhausted. Learning that he was a total introvert and that I was the exact opposite didn’t take us long, but learning to speak each other’s love languages needed some practice time.
Shortly after our first anniversary, Jim had a relapse and looked to be down for the count. A couple of weeks into it we remembered the tree bark; okay, it was kind of unusual, so it wasn’t the first thing we ran to as medicine. But the Lord reminded us, and once again, we saw great improvement in Jim once he started drinking it. Jim doesn’t get sick very often anymore, but we try to keep some Pau d’Arco on hand for whenever he starts feeling poorly, and it seems to do the trick. However, nowadays we can find it in a health, vitamin or local grocery store in actual tea bags or pills – no more boiling, straining and picking bark out of his teeth.
So that was the first year of marriage. Okay, I guess I didn’t mention the time Jim came home to our apartment from work to find that his new bride had sprinkled, well, maybe poured, Comet all over the counters and perimeter of our kitchen to stop the ants from getting into everything… again! Or the time that I hid in the closet just sobbing because I was so homesick I thought I would die! Or the time I threatened to rip Jim’s newspaper because I thought he should be reading the Bible in the morning and not the dumb newspaper. Yea, I was pretty emotional at times. It was also a big change coming from a home with loud Italians to just Jim and I. If you know Jim, you know Quiet is his middle name. I think I would pick a “fight” just so I could hear his voice or more than one voice at a time in our little apartment. But it didn’t work. I just found that I was fighting by myself. Boy, am I grateful for such a patient, wise, and loving husband who obviously had the power of the Holy Spirit active in him to put up with me!
So, just a little insight into our first year of marriage… Since we are celebrating 30 years of marriage and have experienced so many adventures together, I think I will write about some of them from time to time this next year as we walk down memory lane and consider all that the Lord has done in our lives.