Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

August 4, 2012

Fifty Years

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Fifty Years!  That is the celebration this August 4 for Judy and myself!  Fifty years of marriage!

Most of my close friends passed that celebration years ago!  And these fifty years have been so wonderful that I wish I had married years before my friends.  I was the one dubbed,  “Always the best man . . . but never the groom.”

There was a reason for being the last to marry!  It all came down to God’s timing and His will! (That takes care of all those remarks I used to hear:   “You are too choosy!”  “You are waiting on Miss Perfect!”  And that was true!  Of course, I had to take the kidding, “No one would have you!”)

But in God’s time and purpose He gave me the best . . . perfection . . . all one could ever dream of . . . and far more than I deserved!

God has such a remarkable way of bringing people together . . . God saw this marriage before Judy and I were ever born.  And He used events and circumstances to bring us together on His schedule.

In 1961, I came from Texas to help my parents relocate from Georgia to Clearwater, Florida. (Read a previous blog, What I Found in Clearwater )  On Sunday my folks had found a church near their new home.  As was the family custom, we went to church.  I attended a Sunday School class for young adults.  As I walked in to that class room I spotted her!  I knew I had a reason to remain in Clearwater! I knew right then I was never going back to Texas!

I found out these young adults had a Tuesday night Bible study in the home of a young couple.  I was highly motivated to go as I assumed she would be there.  And, yes, she was!  Beach lover!  Beauty queen!  Radiant!  Confident! Committed Christian!  Prepared to follow God’s will!  Leader and role model for youth and young adults!  Highly successful legal secretary!  Everything a man could ever desire! There was no doubt in my mind . . . I was never going back to Texas . . . at least not without her!  This group of young adults found reasons to socialize almost every night. They graciously included me.  Thus I was in Judy’s presence almost every evening.

Alas, however, I was to learn that she was in a serious relationship.  But . . . the good news was that he was working out-of-town.  I found reasons to walk closer to her where we could talk as the group would walk down the beach at night.  From some remark she made one evening, I pretended to be offended.  The following day I wrote her a note asking for an apology ( in jest, of course).  She responded with a note. This began a regular correspondence between us.

During these days, I accepted a call to be the interim pastor of a local church.  One of my last notes to her was that perhaps we should “break bread together.”  I thought that sounded spiritual more than “making my move.”  Surprisingly, she accepted.  I picked her up from her church after Sunday School and we drove to the church where I was preaching.  After church, we went to lunch at the famous Kapok Tree.  I attempted to keep her out all afternoon, but the time soon came that I knew I had to prepare to go to my church that evening.  I had hesitated to ask her for a “real” date as I was unsure how the day had gone.

That evening as I welcomed people to our evening service, Judy was standing in the foyer with several of our friends.  Of course, I insisted that I drive her home.  There was no argument from anyone.  I believe they all knew that something was happening between us.

As with the afternoon, there was no direct route to her home.  I had no problem touring Clearwater!  That was the beginning!  It had taken a little over two months to get a date!  The relationship with her “fellow” came to an end!  And fourteen months later we got married.  And as many know the story . . . I “unofficially” proposed  to her at Christmas by singing, “Tis the Season to be Jolly!”  It became official a few months later after I asked her Dad for permission to marry her as I chased him up and down in the pea patch!  (No, it didn’t take me that long to get my courage.  We just needed the affirmation that this was of God, and so we waited the months.)

Shortly after we began to date, a church in Clearwater called me to be their pastor.  I was living in the church pastorium. Following the wedding, when Judy moved in, she turned that house into a home!  And she has done that in a remarkable way every place we have lived.

Within a short time, we accepted a call from a church in San Angelo, Texas.  This would be the beginning of living and serving in so many places in this world!  It became so apparent that God had prepared Judy to be a partner in my call to ministry.  She has always been there to support my calling and to fulfill her own calling to ministry.

It is a true term in the Bible when reference is made that God prepared for Adam a “help-meet.”  And God blessed me so abundantly with the “help-meet’ he gave me.  As I said in an earlier blog, from that first date June 30, 1962 we have been on a first date since!  I just wish that we had two life-times to date!

God has so blessed our marriage . . . and He has given us three remarkable children who are blessing the world through their vocations.  And, the blessings continue through the grandchildren who I believe will outdistance us all in a commitment to influencing society!

But hold on . . . we still have a long way to go in this marriage! I have told others that we will celebrate at least 73 years of marriage — remember, I intend to live to be at least 100 years old!  Oh, I am excited about these coming years!

And so we celebrate this occasion of 50 years of marriage with all the family . . . and several hundred friends.  Our children have planned a wonderful celebration!

And so I conclude this love story by saying to the one that has made it such a remarkable journey of joy and brought completion to my life,   I love you Judith Richbourg Jolly!




  1. Pastor Jolly,

    What a wonderful love story! We know God is in charge of Life’s plan, and when we allow him to work the plan, wonderful things happen.

    Remind me some day to tell you of the Love story I have with Pat, though not 50 years as you and Judy, we are over 22 years and still “dating.” God and Love are truly wonderful!

    Comment by Ken Nesbit — August 4, 2012 @ 11:11 am | Reply

  2. What a wonderful love story! A real acknowledgement of how God’s plans and timing are always the best. Congratulations to you and Judy on your 50 years of marriage. May God continue to bless you on the longest first date possible

    Comment by angela — August 5, 2012 @ 12:02 am | Reply

  3. Oh, Pastor Jolly… stole Mrs. Jolly????????? Just kidding. God can certainly take us in different directions, HIS plans from the beginning! What a wonderful celebration it was!!!!!!! Such memories for everyone involved in any way in your and your family’s lives through the year. What a blessing for the two of you and blessings
    you bestowed on others all of your lives.

    Comment by doriswhite — August 18, 2012 @ 2:25 pm | Reply

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