My friends John and Joyce (Estes) Samples have been married 61 years.
Not bad, but this is amazing: Joyce and her six still-living Estes siblings – two brothers and four sisters – have all been married for more than 50 years.
That’s right, seven brothers and sisters from the same family have each celebrated golden wedding anniversaries. Youngest sister Sue’s 50th in February 2008 was the seventh, and inspired national news coverage. The Estes siblings and current years of marriage are Agnes 65, Doug 64, Charles 61, Joyce 61, Eula 58, Sue 53 and Gladys 52. They were born in Kentucky, but grew up near Richmond, Ind. Joyce and husband John, a minister, live in Fishers. Thirteen of the 14 golden celebrants are still “alive and kicking” today (Gladys’ husband died in 1999). Another brother, Joe, died in 1992 after 48 years of marriage to Ruth, a marriage delayed three years by World War II. So that’s another 50-year-plus commitment. A ninth sibling sister died when she was less than 2 years old. As you might expect, their parents, C.M. and Minnie Estes, marked a long marriage – 59 years – before C.M. passed in1975. Minnie died in 1997 at age 99. Add it all up and that’s 521 years of marriage for these Christian, church-going, prayerful kinfolk who provide a Valentine’s Day reminder that love can indeed endure. But rather than making this about Christian marriage or a secular holiday (the “Feast of St. Valentine” has been dropped from the official Roman Catholic calendar), let’s talk about love, endurance and prayer in broader terms. Most of us, when we pray, pray for deliverance. We pray for God to fix this problem, heal that sickness, smooth life’s rough spots or calm troubled waters. “Deliver us from evil” we pray, because we think “evil” must be this thing making me crazy either in life or at this particular moment. But what are we doing for God? Jesus prayed for deliverance, sure, “Take this cup from me …” (Matthew 26:39), but then expressed his faithfulness to God (26:42), “May your will be done.” And when Jesus prayed for himself, the disciples and all believers (John 17) in the Garden before his crucifixion, he prayed for endurance for the sake of God’s glory. Try praying for endurance for the sake of God’s glory and see what happens. The proof of love is in our endurance – just ask Jesus. Or an Estes sibling.
By Bob Walters
Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org, www.commonchristianity.blogspot.com) learned Jay Leno invited the Estes siblings and spouses to fly to Los Angeles and appear on “The Tonight Show,” but some of the Estes siblings don’t fly – never have, never will. Endurance, evidently, has its limits. Happy Valentine’s Day!