Valentine reflections of faith, family and friends

Dan Johnson
Guest Columnist

On Valentine weekend 25 years ago, I became a widower with three Swedish, blonde daughters ages 5, 7 and 9. Their birth mom, Linda, passed away from cancer after three active years of homemaking, traveling and treatments.

That story has been told before but now is the time to reflect upon the past 22 years that I have been married to my loving wife, Sherri.

For three years I continued to teach full-time at Cambridge-Isanti High School and as a single parent developing and molding the lives of my young daughters without their mom. This was a real time commitment with endless energy as there are no “proven” shortcuts to effective parenting with young children. Faith,  family  and  friends in that order kept me going.

Friends often asked me when I was ready to date again and after 2 1/2 years I agreed to be open for another “first mate.”  The mid-life dating scene was a unique challenge as I had three  “ love packages” with me most of the time.

I was the “captain” in charge but “the girls” as they were called, always came first in my life after my faith. I had two sets of grandparents who fully supported me as well as a network of friends at church who were consistently helping me. I had several first blind dates but many did not continue into the second as by then “the girls” were to come along.

When a picture of Sherri was sent to me from a close friend, I was too busy getting ready for a summer family missions trip to Jamaica, so I put that away for two months. I finally gave Sherri a call in August of 1990 and asked her out. It did not go very well at first but we continued dating with the girls and by  Thanksgiving we were ready to be engaged.

Now back to Sherri as a “city girl” who had never been married before, to move 55 miles north to rural Cambridge, quit her medical transcription job, live in the county with a man and three young girls plus two horses was a major mid-life adjustment. This is called committed, unconditional love as she ventured far beyond to “take over” and lovingly run the family operation.

She was an instant “mom” to the girls and I soon became the background person in the family. A lot of prayer support, faith, trust and work became the framework for the next decade. We are more then happily married and our now starting over again with three special son-in-laws and eight grandchildren.

She has been my true Valentine and at this time of year, I give to her all my love, adoration and praise for the success of our family. We together continue to praise the Lord for his goodness and guidance.