The Wedding Gift – 41 One Years Ago Today


The Wedding Gift

By Phillip Hix Woody

I know they aren’t diamonds – these boots

But if you’ll give them a chance

I think they’ll make a fine pair of roots

for your feet.

You see, I thought it would be romantic

To walk in the woods with you

To get away from the frantic routine

and be alone.

I wanted your feet to be protected

And if I had suspected you’d be upset

I’d have bought you a diamond instead.

Maybe someday.

Someday we’ll hike to the end of a trail

where we’ll find hidden treasure.

And these boots will take us there.


When Phil gave me hiking boots as a wedding present, I must be honest and say that I was a bit disappointed. Yet, I know that I have enjoyed hiking with Phil in many places that I never would have dreamed of visiting. The interesting fact is that I remember being disappointed by the hiking boots, but I can’t think now of one gift I would rather have received. 

We hike together often with children and grandchildren. The above photo was taken this past Friday on the top of Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It continues to be a favorite hiking place for us.

There is a lesson in this for me – 41 years later. I should receive gifts as tokens of the relationship I have with the giver. It really is NOT about the gift – it is about the one who gives. Phil gave me the hiking boots because he wanted us to hike together. His motive was to share together something he loved doing. What a meaningful expression of love – one that blesses me as I read his poem.

So, on this our anniversary, I will share a Scripture that I have prayed concerning Phil many times.

Philippians 1:3-8

3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

I am so thankful for these 41 years!

May we have many more years of hiking together!

Love – Invest for Eternity

IMG_5980 (2)

Today would have been my parents’ 68th wedding anniversary.

They had over 67 years together and this is the first anniversary that mother is alone.

Yet, she would tell you she is not alone.

She has Jesus.

I was with her two weeks ago and we were going through the many cards, letters, notes and messages that Mother has received since the passing of my father at 91 years old on February 10th. It was a very sweet time of remembering people who had been blessed by my father and mother, and who had in turn blessed them. Among the notes was one in my father’s handwriting. It was on a small piece of note paper and must have been placed in a small gift box on their anniversary 4 years ago. She had placed it with the new notes to put in a memory book I was making for her.

Tears came to my eyes as I read the following:

Dear Esther,

I could fill this box with many material things and they would end up being just things. But I am filling this box with two intangibles that will be valued by you for the rest of your life.

So – this box is filled to its fullest with God’s love that can not be fully described but keenly felt, and with my love that has been yours for over 64 years and will continue on till we have to part, but then will become the indescribable love of being with Jesus.

love, Bark

This is what authentic love invested in another individual looks like – an investment for eternity.

I Corinthians 13 describes REAL love. Verse 7 summarizes love that is the antithesis of the love our culture practices.

Love never gives up,never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (NLT)

Verse 13 ends this treatise on authentic love –

Three things will last forever – faith, hope and love – and the greatest of these is love.

I am so thankful for parents who loved one another with God’s love. It was loved that lasted as long as they both lived, and now is “that indescribable love of being with Jesus” as my father wrote to mother.

I pray that our marriages will be just such a demonstration of God’s love to our children and grandchildren.

Invest in love for eternity.






Phil and Gayle 1975

“How did you and Phil ever get together?”

We just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary, and the answer is still the same –


We could be the poster couple for “opposites attract.” Just ask any of our friends, or our children for that matter. Phil and I are very different. That has created definite excitement in our marriage. May I use excitement to describe these extremes?

  • I think money is to use – he thinks money is to save
  • I think decorating means arranging items by color and visual harmony – he thinks it means putting items wherever they fit
  • I think it is relaxing to have friends over for food and fellowship – he thinks relaxing is being quiet by yourself
  • I think it is fun to be in big crowds and be a part of what is going on – he dislikes big crowds (unless it is a major league baseball game)
  • I like to sit near the front at church gatherings, concerts or performances – he likes to sit in the back

These are just a few examples of the contrast between Phil and myself.

Contrast as a principle of design is defined as “the juxtaposition of different elements of design in order to highlight their differences and create visual interest.” Differences create visual interest because things don’t all look just the same. Contrast creates excitement in art work. Light and dark elements of a painting create drama, just as neutral values that are all the same seem dull or uninteresting.

Contrast can also easily become conflict.

Jay Fesperman, a very wise and Godly man shared at a marriage retreat – “If both people in a marriage always agree, one is unnecessary”.

We do NOT have that problem! We often don’t agree. Yet how do we prevent the contrast of our relationship from plummeting into the depths of hurtful conflict?

What has allowed us to stay together and resolve our contrasting viewpoints low these 40 years?

Godly advice.

Ephesians 5:31 Amplified Version

31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined [and be faithfully devoted] to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery [of two becoming one] is great; but I am speaking with reference to [the relationship of] Christ and the church. 33 However, each man among you [without exception] is to love his wife as his very own self [with behavior worthy of respect and esteem, always seeking the best for her with an attitude of loving kindness], and the wife [must see to it] that she respects and delights in her husband [that she notices him and prefers him and treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honoring him, and holding him dear].

This says it all.

Phil and I do not live up to this standard – yet this is what we come back to when the contrast in our relationship threatens to tear us apart.

We do share several things in common –

  • God is first in each of our lives
  • We are both deeply committed to our family
  • We walk in forgiveness toward each other – yes – this is a choice
  • We respect each other, we don’t always agree, but sometimes we agree to disagree

I am humbly thankful for our marriage, because as imperfect as it is, we are committed to walking out the next 40 years together – with God’s help.

God had a plan when He brought us together.