38 Years


Today is Joyce and my 38th wedding anniversary. Our wedding was late in the evening. We got into our little ’67′ red Volkswagen ‘Bug’ and drove away to our new home in San Luis Obispo, 500 miles away. We never looked back. I was an engineering student at Cal Poly. Joyce worked long late hours as a gas station attendant. We had each other, a couple hundred dollars, and an uncompromising love for the Lord Jesus. I nearly died that year from an undiagnosed heart condition. Surgery lasted almost six hours. We had no money. The doctors and the hospital did what they could, but the Crippled Children’s Association offered to pay for the bulk, because at 20-years old, I was a legal child in California, yet Joyce at 18-years, was a legal adult. Joyce became my legal guardian. She wore pigtails at the time, and the staff at the hospital thought she was my 15-year old sister. Sister Bertha, the head nurse (it was a Catholic hospital in Los Angeles) was mortified after discovering Joyce was my wife, not my sister, and apologized profusely, because during intensive care, she had not been granted the visiting privileges of a wife.

For our first wedding anniversary, we walked into a gift store and “pointed” to the anniversary cards we would give to each other if we had the money to spare. That has been a tradition ever since.

After graduating from Cal Poly, I worked on the Space Shuttle. Joyce and I could not have children. We had a little girl, Jenee, 4-1/2 year old, our legal ward. She was in our home for 2-1/2 years, and was, for all intents and purposes, our daughter. We were in the process of legal adoption when we suddenly lost custody of her. It was indescribably painful, like a shark taking a piece from you that would never heal. Joyce and I cried ourselves to sleep for months. One day, soon after losing Jenee, the Lord whispered to my heart, confirming that we would have children. Joyce had been diagnosed infertile, yet with unflinching conviction, I told Joyce she was either pregnant or would soon be. I did not know at the time, that the Lord had similarly “spoken” to Joyce during a women’s group prayer meeting, that she would be supernaturally healed, and to “rejoice,” because she would be a mother of daughters. Karyn Rejoyce Sheely (the misspelling was our play on words) was born nine months later, followed by Kristin Praise Sheely, followed by Anne Mercy Sheely.

During our 38 years together, the Lord has many times revealed Himself to Joyce and me in wonderful and undeniable ways, sometimes dramatic, sometimes subtle, sometimes joyful or humorous, other times quite the opposite. Yet, every time He “whispered”, the resulting faith and conviction clung to our hearts like a vice.

I would not trade our life for anything.


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