Faithfulness seems to be in short supply these days. Divorce rates are high, people change jobs frequently, discontent seems to be the dominant theme on social media. Sit back, relax, and let me tell you a story that will hopefully restore your belief in faithfulness.

More than half a century ago….boy meets girl. Boy is actually set up with girl by his best friend. They are young college students in a small town in northwest Indiana. Time passes, and on June 7, 1968 boy marries girl.

faithfulness, Decker wedding photo

Fast forward through decades of faithfulness. First one daughter is born, then a second. A house is built, but more than that, a home, a family is being built. Children are raised and sent off to college (the younger one actually attending the same school her parents did). Children get jobs, find spouses, have children of their own. And the parents….still faithful.

These are my parents – Steve and Nadia. What I cannot capture in a short paragraph is all the countless ways in which they have been faithful – to their God, to each other, and to their family. No, they are not perfect, and our family is no different than any other in the struggles we have faced. My parents have weathered financial difficulty, family strife, health struggles. Even now, my mom is fighting metastatic breast cancer after having been a survivor for 9 years from previous breast cancer.

faithfulness, Mom and Dad at chihuly 50th anniversary

This past summer, they celebrated 50 years of marriage. That is so rare today. So few couples remain faithful to their marriage vows for fifty years. Such faithfulness deserves to be celebrated. And what better way to do that than a painting? My parents and I all call Valparaiso University our alma mater. My parents were married in the chapel there, in the little Gloria Christi chapel in the basement. So I sent Laura some photographs to see what she thought.

faithfulness, Chapel of the Resurrection, Valparaiso University

Laura admitted that she was hesitant to do the interior, not wanting the stained glass to get “muddied.” She also was nervous about the exterior architecture, since she doesn’t normally do buildings. I never doubted her gift! And even the progress shots were amazing.

Faithfulness - Anniversary Chapel progress shot

In the midst of Laura’s work on this gift for my parents, her beloved husband Ken passed away. Laura herself was a picture of faithfulness – both to Ken in her grief, and to God in her sorrow. Her own personal story undergirding this painting makes it that much more remarkable.

Faithfulness - © Laura Gabel, “Anniversary Chapel”, 18x24, pastel. Private collection.
© Laura Gabel, “Anniversary Chapel”, 18×24, pastel. Private collection. 

We surprised my parents with the painting on Christmas, and they were stunned. I could not have imagined a more perfect way to celebrate their faithfulness!

Faithfulness - Mom and Dad opening Anniversary Chapel

So…thank you to Laura for this incredible gift. Thank you to my parents for the amazing example of faithfulness you have shown me. Most importantly, thank you to the One who called my parents and keeps them in His faithfulness. (Jude 24-25)

Categories: Family


Nadia · January 24, 2019 at 3:55 pm

Oh, Michelle… You made us cry. Again. Not sure that we deserve all the accolades. Our faithfulness is only by God’s grace.

    Michelle · January 25, 2019 at 7:53 am

    It’s all God’s grace! I’m grateful I get to be a witness to that being worked out in your lives!

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