A Valentine

It must have been fall when she first heard him sing, because she remembers how his tenor soared among the fiery maple leaves one hundred feet above ground as she sat by her window. It made her breath come in gasps, as if she was doing the singing. She saw him from a distance many times, but they conversed only shyly in small bites, like sparrows pecking at morsels of maybe. Then came the moment he told her he had hopes. Contagious, those hopes.

They wed in her parent’s yard, June sun and rain alternately pouring down. His truck carried them west as if with a will of its own, like a wild horse in search of a mountain herd. They lived simply and worked hard under the big sky.

He had a powerful build, but she came to the marriage rail-thin. Some subconscious torment had kept her in a state of semi-starvation until her ribs stuck out and her hair shed in clumps. His unshifting love and acceptance, his stance that she was beautiful regardless, put ground beneath her feet such that she finally walked away from her fears, including her fear of calories. Though we won’t know until eternity, he may have saved her life. He definitely saved her health and made childbearing possible. In more ways than one.

She chose natural childbirths. The angst of labor and the joy of birth prophesied of the longer labor of birthing each child’s individuality. Nothing cements a man and woman together like raising children. Even today they recollect the little scenes of those years—the dramas, the accidents, the hilarious goof-ups—as if an open channel flows back and forth between their minds. They float through the memories together, blissfully, in the same boat. They’ll never leave the boat, nor will anyone else come on board. It’s sacred, like a vow.

Love is the most difficult thing, and the easiest thing. Love feels unnatural, but then makes nature sing. Love is pure, cold principle, and flooding, hot passion. Love is a towering edifice requiring years of toil, and a flower growing at our fingertips, waiting to be picked. Love is a mystery, but an obvious one. It can’t be explained; but it can be known.

Marriage provides an opportunity to know love. God established marriage in Eden, along with the Sabbath. He built a relational structure fitted perfectly to our needs—one man and one woman, together for life. Within that structure, love is learned, as one learns a foreign language through immersion. Flesh protests as if about to die; and it does die, repeatedly, slowly, painfully. But out of the compost of dead nature love gathers its strength.

He still sings—in the shower. Their children are grown, so his voice bounces off the walls of their more-empty house. In fact, he’ll get up two hours from now, shower, sing, dress, eat breakfast, and go off to work for approximately the 8,320th time in 32 years. Happy Valentines day, Michael Schwirzer. I love you!

11 thoughts on “A Valentine

  1. Jane Reply

    Beautiful Jennifer. I learned things about you and Mike I didn’t know. A wonderful tribute to a man who has stood by your side all these years. Thanks for this creative valentine.

  2. Neil Bergman Reply

    In our modern world where all too often long term loving and committed relationships seem “old fashioned” and less common, it was a great blessing to read the condensed story of your love and marriage to Michael. It was, indeed, a nice Valentine gift. Thank you for sharing, Jennifer, and may you both continue to be blessed and enriched by and with each other.

  3. Keith A. Johnson Reply


    It is only through God’s love that our broken, selfish, and self-destructive characters can heal, bond, and flourish. Will-power can’t fix us nor positive thinking. It is only through total surrender and a receptive and teachable spirit can we heal. Roxanne was wounded by her father as I was by my mother; yet, despite our brokenness God brought the two of us together and healed the mine-fields that our parental opposites had inflicted. This month we will celebrate our 30th anniversary.

    By God’s grace, He has helped to strengthen our love for our Creator, with an appreciation for marriage (and the intimacy; with all of its multi-faceted layers), and friendship that brings about a lasting relationship. Both of our parents were divorced; which brought about more dyfunction through step-fathers. Despite the odds of our marriage working, God over-ruled those odds. He gave us a relationship that provides safety and strength to the spouse and a knowledge of total commitment, respect, and love. Not only as best-friends, but as great fans.

    Yet, we can “only imagine” what God’s true intent for marriage was had Adam and Eve not failed to allow it to play out in the pristeen environment of Eden. True functional families, without the blight of the propensity to sin. Total Agape Love in unfallen natures. We can only imagine.

    I wrote this for Roxanne one Valentine’s Day eve: It is from my “Kittylitter Collection” from those who can’t afford to give the very best!

    “I L?VE Y?U…” (the big “O” are hearts but it didn’t take the paste)

    I L?ve Y?u for the beauty…
    That the human eye can’t see.
    I L?ve Y?u for the beauty…
    That’s so full of dignity.
    I L?ve Y?u for the beauty…
    That can never pass with age.
    I L?ve Y?u for the beauty…
    That surrenders center stage.

    I L?ve Y?u for the beauty…
    Surgeon’s hands can’t duplicate.
    I L?ve Y?u for the beauty…
    That can’t help but radiate.
    I L?ve Y?u for the beauty…
    That can veil the setting sun.
    I L?ve Y?u for the beauty…
    That keeps “Lonely” on the run.

    by Keith A. Johnson
    February 13, 1993

  4. Virna Reply

    I loved this Jennifer!

    I look forward to the day, if it be the Lord’s will of course, when God will bring me to the valentine He may be preparing me for…

    Until then, Jesus is my valentine & husband!

    God bless you sis and thank you for sharing this, I was so blessed and inspired 🙂

  5. Kathy Reply

    You have a genuine God-given talent to put into words your thoughts and feelings. This was no exception! I found this very beautiful and touching. Thank you for sharing your love story with us! May God continue to bless you and your husband!

  6. John Warren Reply

    That brought tears to my eyes. Both of you have a special place in my heart. Thank you for sharing the love story and for showing your love to me and encouraging me to move forward in God’s Kingdom.

  7. April Reply

    How beautiful!
    Jennifer, you’ve captured the essence of love in marriage with these thoughts.
    Thank you for sharing them with us.
    May God continue to bless your ministry.
    In His care,

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