Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

A Valentine Worth Keeping

I recently read an article I wrote Valentine’s Day 2016. I talked about Ruth and Boaz, about the beauty of the kinsman-redeemer. I talked about singleness just being a season, a period of time with a beginning and an end. I talked about God bringing the right man along at just the right time.

As I look back over that particular article, it’s hard to believe how much my life has changed. It’s hard to believe that as I wrote those very words, God’s answers were right around the corner.

It was only three short months after I wrote that article that Roy and I began dating. Today, we celebrate our third Valentine’s Day together.

Don’t think for a moment this has been a happily ever after story. Things have been hard at times—really, really hard. We have lived more life in the last three years of dating and marriage than many people live in a decade. We have lost Roy’s dad. My kids have lost their dad. Roy has (in some ways) lost both of his children. My daughter (and his) have suffered life-altering illnesses. My boys have had two surgeries each in the last year. We look at the scars, the damage, our children suffer from the on-going losses and our hearts break. I could go on and on.

But today… Today I celebrate my Valentine. Today I celebrate my kinsman-redeemer, the one God brought to me to redeem the pain and losses I have experienced in my life. Today, I celebrate the gift God gave me when He brought Roy to me.

What makes Roy special? Let me share a few reasons he is more than I ever dreamed of. And, I pray that as you wait for your kinsman-redeemer, you keep your eyes open for someone like Roy.

Roy is my friend. I always said I wanted I wanted my first date to just be a continuation of an established friendship, that I wanted to be so comfortable with the person that there was nothing awkward about a date.

Again, God heard my prayer.

I’ve known Roy for over 30 years. He was my “go-to” friend when I needed a night away from kids. We had a friendship LONG before we had any type of romantic notions.

So often, we get so caught up in wanting someone to love us. We are desperate to have that companionship, that security a relationship should bring. When we are single again, we long for physical touch, just to have a hug or an arm around our waist pulling us close. The deep longing for love often causes us to rush into a relationship before we have the foundation of a friendship.

Please, my friends. Don’t make that mistake. Have a solid friendship upon which you can build a relationship. It’s so worth it.

Roy is a man of integrity. I love the story of Ruth and Boaz. When you read the story, you see that Boaz respected Ruth for her selfless way of loving her mother-in-law, Naomi. Her reputation preceded her. But you also must respect Boaz. You see, he made sure to do what he could to protect Ruth’s reputation. He made sure that he followed the cultural rules of the time by approaching the kinsman-redeemer who was next in line. He made sure he protected Ruth as she gathered in his fields. He told his workers to make sure they left plenty of grain for Ruth to gather.

Roy is much the same way. I know his heart is good. I know he wants the best for me, for us. He gives so much of himself to everyone around him. He is generous to a fault. He cares deeply—so deeply he sometimes tries to carry the world on his shoulders.

I know I can trust Roy. He means what he says. He follows through when he says he will do something. He is trustworthy. He is the same person behind closed doors that he is in public.

And that, my friends, is such a gift.

Roy loves me (and my kids) well. My mom recently said there’s only one thing she doesn’t like about Roy: HE DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO TELL MY KIDS NO. There’s no joke here: He let my daughter “wax” his chest…with duck tape! The man doesn’t know the meaning of the word no!

We laugh about it (and I constantly remind him it’s ok to say no), but he wants the best for us…always. I know if it was something to protect us, he would say no…and put himself in danger before he allowed us to be hurt. He knows what it is to love as Christ loved, even giving himself up for us.

I don’t know how many times I’ve told Roy how much I appreciate his kind gestures, and he simply responds, “I pray every day that God would show me how to love you well.”

There’s no greater gift…

Roy makes me laugh. Last night, we went to my son’s student auction for FFA. We had so much fun! Roy was doing everything he could to run up the bids…without actually having to spend any money. I was oblivious…

Or his relationship with my daughter. Cassie bought him a shirt for Christmas one year with her picture…and “Favorite Child” emblazoned across it. Roy wears it. This year, she bought him a pop-socket with her face on. He bought her one with his face. I understand the next purchase is Van’s shoes…with their faces on them.

Roy has this deep, jolly belly laugh that just brings a smile to my face. He exudes joy, even when he is in mourning. He has brought so much joy to our lives, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Roy desires to be more like Jesus every day. One of the things I love about Roy is how he acknowledges his sin every single time he prays. He knows he is a sinner, a wretch saved by grace, and he is so thankful for the gift of forgiveness. He doesn’t take God’s grace for granted in any way.

We are both learning what it means to have Christ at the center of our relationship—something we both desire but have never had. It’s a journey, a journey of learning how to seek God together. We are slowly beginning to implement intentional ways of seeking God together, and we are learning it’s a beautiful thing.

I know Roy’s heart is to be like Jesus, and that makes me fall in love with him again every single day.

Roy is after God’s heart. When I first reconnected with Roy, he was drowning his sorrows in rum and Coke…not exactly the man I was looking for. I was praying for a man who loved God, a man who was committed to walking with Christ for the rest of his life. As I prayed, Roy began to turn to God until he reached a place of total surrender.

Shortly after we started dating, Roy told me about the day he decided to pursue God’s heart. He told me he knew that to get a girl like me, he had to seek God. Oh, how my heart melted that day!!

I’ve always loved the quote, “A woman’s heart should be so lost in God that a man needs to seek Him in order to find her.” As I reflected on his words, my heart was overwhelmed with God’s grace, that He would send a man who understood what was most important to me.


I realize reading our love story may be painful for some of you. That’s certainly not my heart. My desire is that you know:

God is working. Somewhere. Somehow. In the background. Even if you don’t see it.

There are amazing men (and women) out there. Don’t grow discouraged. And don’t settle. Keep your eyes on Jesus and let Him guide your every step.

Singleness is only a season. There’s a beginning and an end. It may seem like it’s never-ending, but it’s not.

Let God have His way in your life. Cling to Jesus. Make Him your greatest desire. In His time, He will give you the desires of your heart.

Surrender. Every day. In every way. Remember that you are crucified in Christ and this life is not yours (Galatians 2:20). Ask Him to live through you.

Soak in God’s love today. As you approach another Valentine’s Day, let God’s love wash over you. Spend some extra time with Him—in His word, in prayer. Let His love draw you into His presence today.

Remember that I love you, too. Each and everyone who reads these words is an answer to my prayers. You are loved. You are prayed for. You are a gift to me. Thank you for walking this journey with me. And, have a very Happy Valentine’s Day wherever you are, whatever season you are in.

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