On April 20th, 1955, Martha Marinell McCartney was born at the old Schumpert Hospital in Shreveport, LA. Two months later, on July 5th, Robert Randle Booth was born in the same hospital. Our respective homes were less than five miles apart. While we hadn’t met yet, God was already at work, planning a rendezvous in our future. We started out at different junior high schools but God used the politics of the times to shuffle the public school system and Marinell and I wound up in the same 7th grade class. It was a large class and she was very quiet. (It’s remarkable that any girl who knew a boy when he was in the 7th grade would ever wind up marrying him.)

Our ships continued to cross paths on a daily basis but without much notice. Then, in the fall of our junior year of high school (a school of about 1,800 students), I took notice of a cute majorette in the band, twirling her baton on the football field at half-time. In January I asked her out on a date (she was really wanting to be asked by someone else but she settled for me). After our first date I told a friend that this was the girl I was going to marry. (I didn’t tell her that just yet.) Of course that was a foolish thing to say at that time, but then again saying foolish things was normal for me. This one turned out to be right, which is more than I can say about most the foolish things I’ve said. We started “going steady” on February 29th, 1972. We’ve been steady ever since.

In the summer of 1972 we both made serious commitments to Christ and began to grow as Christians and that was the foundation for this very young couple. Marinell’s parents had both passed away when she was young and my parents were very fond of her. In fact, I think they (for good reason) liked her more than they like me. We graduated high school and both went to Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, OK. In the summer after our freshman year we were married on August 9th, 1974, at the ripe old age of nineteen. (This was the same day that Nixon resigned and left the White House.)

God was merciful and gracious to this young, naïve and even stupid couple (I brought the average down). We were blessed to have the loving support of family and friends and we squeaked by financially. On a couple of occasions, we sold our blood to get $30 so we could go to Dallas and go out to eat. Let me pause at this point and thank all the people who put up with us and helped us make it through the early days, especially my parents, who had us over for dinner on a weekly basis and, no doubt, had to bite their tongues often.

On February 11, 1978 our son Aaron was born and the next big chapters of our lives began. Christin was born on Marinell’s birthday (April 20, 1979), and Rachel was born on May 3, 1982. A whole bunch of other stuff happened and now our three children are married to great spouses and we’re enjoying sixteen grandchildren, which made all that other stuff worth it.

So, here we are today, celebrating our 43rd wedding anniversary, in the back half of the story. I love this woman. I loved her when I married her as a child-bride and I love her even more as a grandmother. There is no hyperbole (in fact it’s gross understatement) to say that she is the love of my life, my best friend, an excellent counselor, loyal, faithful, diligent, talented, lovely, steady, and much more. She still makes my heart race (which could be dangerous). There’s no one on earth I’d rather be with. Thank you Marinell for being my girlfriend, my wife and my companion. God is good. Happy anniversary!