FOR BETTER, OR FOR WORSE; IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH . . .
The gems I'm writing about today are two officer friends of mine, Betty and Fred Thornhill.
I first met Fred and Betty a little over three years ago when they moved to the Northern Virginia ARC to take up their appointments as chaplains. They are both outgoing, warmhearted people who connect instantly with everyone they meet. Unfortunately, Betty has experienced a string of serious health problems in the past several years. This means that, in addition to his duties as chaplain, Fred has had to assume the role of caregiver for his wife. Both of these roles require intense commitments of time and energy. Still, he never complains about his lot in life. He lives each day in the full joy of God's grace.
Similarly, Betty does not complain about her hardships. If you ask her how she's doing, she'll tell you honestly, but she does so without whining. I've known a number of people with health concerns who talk about nothing else but health, exercise, nutrition, diet, medication. . . . Betty is not one of those. She takes avid interests in many aspects of life. Like Fred, she lives her life in the full joy of God's grace.
In May 2006, Betty experienced total kidney failure. From that time until last week, she was undergoing 3-4 dialysis treatments per week. She no longer has to take dialysis because Fred donated one of his kidneys to her last week. They are both home from the hospital now, recovering from their respective operations. So far, Betty's new kidney is functioning well.
In the three-plus years that I've known Betty and Fred, I've constantly marvelled at the strength of their marriage. When they got married nearly 40 years ago, they never envisioned the medical trials that they would endure. They have taught me what it means to commit one's life to another, "for better, or for worse, in sickness and in health. . . ." I know they've been frustrated by the way in which Betty's health has affected their formal ministry as officers. What they may not realize, however, is that God has created a truly unique avenue of ministry for them. In an era in which many people take marriage and family life for granted, Betty and Fred powerfully model what a God-centered, God-blessed marriage can be. I thank them for the lessons I've learned through their examples and I pray that God will continue to bless their lives and ministries in the days and years ahead.