Keen & Eileen in Singapore, 1975
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” ~ I Corinthians 13:13
Last week my sister called to tell me about a radio show contest she heard about on K-LOVE Christian radio. Contestants were asked to share their love story in 500 words or less, and the winner would receive a song written just for them by Christian recording artist Matthew West.
The following is a copy of my (non-winning) entry:
I was 14 years old in 1973 when my father announced that our family would be moving half way around the world to Singapore. I was heartbroken. I had just made the cheerleading squad and I had a great group of friends that I didn’t want to leave. Little did I know that my temporary heartbreak would lead to a lifetime of love and blessings.
Singapore American School was where I met my one-in-a-million future husband, Keen. He was a freshman and I was a sophomore when we met in March of 1974. We dated all through the following year and then we found out that my family was moving back to the States. This meant that we would be apart for two full years. My mom told my sister, “If Eileen thinks that Keen is going to wait for her she’s in for a big disappointment.”
But wait he did. In fact, when he had to cast his vote for homecoming queen, he voted for me, even though I no longer attended SAS. We wrote letters back and forth (all of which we saved), until Keen graduated in 1977. He didn’t even attend the graduation ceremonies because he couldn’t wait to get back to the States to join me. We soon became engaged and were married in an outdoor wedding at my parents’ home on June 10, 1978. Eleven months later to the day we had our first son, Jared, followed by three more sons: Josh in 1981, Keen II in 1984 and Kirk Van in 1989.
In 1981, Keen was the successful bidder on the trash collection contract for our county. We owned that business, along with a car wash, until 1999 when we sold out so that Keen could return to college at the age of 40. Keen earned a four-year degree in three years, graduating with honors from Kansas State University. He then went on to law school and graduated from Washburn University School of Law in 2005. He has been in private practice ever since.
Our life has been full of many ups and downs. We were involved in a five-year long free speech lawsuit that ended up at the U.S. Supreme Court. I lost my mother to breast cancer, Keen lost his father to bladder cancer, and one of my sisters died unexpectedly at the age of 54. In 2005, our oldest son and his family lost everything in Katrina. In 2006, we had a granddaughter who was born with Down Syndrome, and I was diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer, followed by a double mastectomy.
Maybe in some people’s eyes our story sounds more like a bad country song, but to me it is a story about the power of love. We have five grandchildren now, and I’ve just written my first book. By God’s grace and the love He has put in our hearts, we have weathered every storm and survived to embrace the rainbow.
“Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and it endures everything. Love never fails."
I Corinthians 13:7,8a
Keen & Eileen at Colorado lodge, 2006