My wife is awesome. Friends of mine on Facebook would know that because I often post things that reveal her awesomeness. Sometimes those things are pointing out the funny and quirky things that she does or says. Sometimes those things show the beautiful ways she engages her family and friends. What you may not know is how much she means to me. What you may not know is how much she loves her family. What you may not know is the delight she takes in her husband and sons. What you may not know is the excellent way she serves the broader community as a wound care nurse for the Veterans Hospital. What you may not know is the quiet ways that she loves and serves Jesus. I want to remedy that a bit.
We met at Grand Canyon College. She was a freshman and I was in my second year studying business administration. We had an archery class and a speech class together. I liked her a lot, but I was very shy. It took me quite a while to ask her out. When I did, I asked her to a Phoenix Suns basketball game on a Saturday night. She said she wouldn’t be able to go out with me because she had to take her sister to guitar lessons. Guitar lessons on a Saturday night? I was pretty sure she was not interested in going with me and was blowing me off. A couple days later she said her parents were going to be home after all to take Karen to her practice, so she would love to go the game with me. We went to the game and then to Mary Coyle’s Ice Cream afterwards. I was in love.
She knew she wanted to be a nurse early on. She had thought about being a hairdresser, but decided on being a nurse instead. Her grandfather tried to discourage her from nursing because he said nurses always married drunks and derelicts. That may still be true although I rarely drink. She volunteered at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix as a Candy Striper, which in those days was just a young volunteer. She drove a little baby blue Mustang and I used to find it in the hospital parking lot and leave her love notes. A security guard stopped me and quizzed me about what I was doing and I confessed. He knew who she was and told me how nice she was and that I should treat her well. “She always thanks me for walking her to her car and she is always thoughtful of others.” He invited us to his house for dinner and we enjoyed an evening of big band music and his wife’s cooking. Kathy made a big impact on a security guard at the hospital.
We married and rented a one bedroom apartment near my work. She finished her last year of nursing school at Arizona State University and went to work at the Veterans Hospital in Phoenix. She had agreed to join my church even though we were not on the same page theologically. It was an amazing act of submission and of offering herself that I did not fully appreciate until much later in life. In her interview with the elders she had told them that while she disagreed with some of the doctrine, she believed that she should give those things up for the sake of our marriage. Years later, elders who heard her testimony spoke about how impressed they’d been by her resolve to lay down her own longings and by her grace.
We bought a little three bedroom house and started our family. I had returned to school when Justin was born. Kathy went back to work after six weeks of leave and it was a difficult time for her. She loved being a mom and she was a good one. She was one of those naturally comfortable moms who didn’t get wrapped up in the hype of how others did the job of parenting. When Derek came along a few years later she was able to back off a bit from her career and take care of the boys. One of my favorite memories was coming home from work and seeing our little boys standing on chairs by the kitchen counter cooking dinner for dad under her watchful instructions. They loved it and so did I.
She once told me that she had read the Scripture passage about older women teaching younger women (Titus 2:3-5) and realized that she was older than some of the young women at church. She began a ministry she called “Spice of Life” where on Thursday mornings she would teach for a first hour on various Bible passages and then have the group split up into smaller classes that were elective for a second hour. Subjects included parenting advice, prayer, spiritual gifts, and numerous others taught by various other women of the church. It grew to be a key ministry in the church. She was, and is, a gifted teacher.
When I went through my dark depression she picked up the pieces. She returned to work and took care of the kids and the house. Those were hard days for her, but she simply did what was in front of her to do. She has always been my opposite. She is structured and organized and very accomplished. She is an extraordinary administrator and was known as the queen of ‘sticky notes’. When she first became a nurse, she said she had to decide whether to please her employer or please her patient. She always puts the patient first. In doing so she has become a stellar nurse. She was named Nurse of the Year for the southwestern region of the Veterans Hospital. She was named one of the top fifty nurses in Arizona. She receives many kudos from her patients. She is the consummate advocate for her patients. When Derek was in the hospital for two and a half months suffering from the H1N1 flu virus she fought for his care. More recently, when her mother was hospitalized with a heart attack, Kathy went to Phoenix to listen to the doctors and help with determining the best care for her mother. Each day she would direct nurses and doctors to do what was best for her mom. Much like Jesus advocates for us, Kathy advocates for others in their time of need.
Kathy is a woman of prayer. When Derek was near death, she listened to the doctors and then turned to me and said, “Call every prayer person you know and have them pray for our son. Nothing else will save him.” She knows the limits of science and the limits of human activities. She truly believes that, in the end, only God can save us.
I love our date days each week. Going to lunch with her is a highlight of my week. She’s funny and smart and a good listener. We enjoy trying new places and eating new things. She loves holidays with family gathered around tables full of food that she plans and helps cook. Making tamales as a family or planning a birthday party or decorating our home for Christmas are all things she truly enjoys. So do we.
She is a godly woman. I marvel that God gave her to me. She is a gift. The Village would not be what it is if she was not behind the scenes encouraging me, fighting for me, praying for me, supporting me, and making it possible for me to be a pastor.
These are things that reveal my wife’s awesomeness.