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My Second Best Decision

By pastorbillwalden

Twenty six years ago today, I married Deborah Jeanne Durry. Her father had died just four days before, a victim of cancer. Just two days before our wedding day, we had the memorial service for her dad. Then after two more days, we made our commitments before God, family, and friends. After 26 years of marriage, and 31 years of knowing each other, I thank God more than ever for January 2, 1982. I thank God for my wife.

Back in 1982, it wasn’t standard operating procedure to video tape or even tape record wedding services, otherwise, you would be seeing a YouTube link with two very young looking people getting married. I sang to Debbie at our wedding, and in between verses of the song, I held her hand, and told her how nervous I was. She told me later she didn’t dare cry, because she knew that would be the end of me. Even then, she was being strong for me. That hasn’t changed.

We met at Fullerton College, in the music department. We were both music majors. She played clarinet, and I played saxophone. We had lots of classes together, and eventually became friends. In fact, we became really good friends. Before we were ever officially dating, we were friends for three years.

One funny story to share…
My best friend back a Fullerton College was Richard Hubbard. He was a sax player also, and we sat next to each other in the wind ensemble. From my position, I could look through the ensemble, and watch Debbie where she was seated as 1st clarinet. From that position, she used to wink at me.

I leaned over to Richard one day, and said, “Hey Rich, Debbie Durry is winking at me”. His response?….”Aww, she winks at everybody.” It was true, she did wink a lot, because she was so sociable and friendly, but I figured I might have a chance with her, and so friendship turned to dating, dating to an engagement, and eventually marriage.

We can look back and see that one of the blessings of our marriage today is because we were friends for a long time before we ever dated. It was a very natural thing to fall in love with this woman who had become my friend and confidant. I would encourage all young people to spend a lot of time with groups of peers, and become friends for a LONG time before even allowing romance to enter the equation. As both a husband of 26 years, and as a pastor, I know what I am talking about here. Romance comes and goes; passion is up and down, but friendship is a steady foundation that becomes a platform for love and commitment that will hold couples together through thick and thin.

I also knew from the beginning that Debbie was so different from most of my friends. I respected her so much, and she made me want to be a better man that I was.

Debbie is my best friend, most honest critic, and greatest supporter. If you are reading this blog, and getting any kind of blessing out of it, she has something to do with it. If you attend the church that I am privileged to pastor, then you already know what I am saying. God has used her to fortify me, stabilize me, and provide an environment for me where God could change me by His Spirit.

It is too light a thing to say, “Life can be hard”. You know what folks? Life IS hard. I know that God has blessed me with Debbie. She, by God’s grace, has made my journey towards Heaven so much more meaningful and bearable. In fact, she has made the pilgrimage wonderful.

She has been and continues to be a wonderful mother to our three children. She is a very gifted music teacher at American Canyon Middle School.

Copy and paste this link for a recent newspaper article on Debbie’s teaching career.

She is a very gifted and anointed teacher of the Bible. She is also, in my humble opinion, one of God’s best kept secrets regarding women teachers. If Christendom and the church at large knew about my wife, she would be on a speaking tour, and I would be eating a lot of frozen dinners.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. I am thankful, I am blessed, and I am privileged to have a wonderful wife. It has been rewarding to grow older together, and have a friendship and a love that only goes deeper as time goes by.

My prayer for all of you who are married: Make every effort to die to yourself, and love your spouse. It is a paradox of God, that as you die to yourself in order to love your spouse, then you are blessed.

Debbie, I love you. You already know that, but I wanted to say it again here, in front of God and everybody.

By the way, for those of you reading this, don’t call me today…I’ll be out with my wife.