Nineteen Years


Today, my husband and I are celebrating nineteen years of marriage! We were married when we were both only 19 years old. As I look back on those early days, I can tell you the only way we made it was by God’s grace. He has carried us through so much.

Here are a few of my favorite stories of “us”:

Where We Began (This one could take a while!)

Fourteen Years

He Dried My Tears

He Can Handle the River

We have grown up together, and I pray we can grow old together.


With love,


Eighteen Years of Wedded Bliss


On January 2, 2016, Terry and I celebrated our 18th anniversary! I lost my dad suddenly after Terry and I were married seven short years. One day I spoke to my dad on the phone, and the next, he was in Heaven. This was a difficult time for my own marriage. My grief was so great during those dark days. It wasn’t just the grief that I dealt with, but the thought that I, too, could be left a widow in just a matter of minutes. This realization was frightening. Terry soon bought life insurance, which helped ease my mind a bit, but the fear of losing him was something I would continue to face regularly. That knowledge of death has made me even more grateful for these 18 years of life with my soul mate. I pray we have many more.

I shared a link to my love story on Facebook, and the kind comments overwhelmed me. Thank you for reading it and for taking the time to put a smile on my face. I rarely get comments, and when I do they tend to be more on the serious side. Your kind words reminded me of Proverbs 15:23, A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! Thank you for your good words. It made my anniversary extra special.

My mother is visiting us for the holiday season and she was kind enough to watch the children overnight so that Terry and I could have some time away together. We enjoyed seeing the movie Creed (highly recommended for any Rocky fans out there!), eating at our favorite restaurants, and we even went shopping! This year, he gave me a wonderful gift: the gift of a good night’s sleep, otherwise known as a new mattress! After nine moves and 18 years, it was time. It was delivered today!

Like most, if not all, married couples, our marriage has had its struggles. We are two strong-willed sinners, and it often shows. Because of God’s grace, we have survived these years together, faithful and more in love than we have ever been. In fact, we both commented that compared to how much we love each other today, it’s as though we didn’t love one another at all on our wedding day. That’s how much it’s grown.

My mother must go back to Arkansas tomorrow. The holidays are over, my anniversary trip is in the past, and it’s back to reality for me. But I realized something fabulous today: I love my reality. 


He Can Handle the River


I can’t recall where he got the canoe, but he told me it would be safe, even fun. So one day in late summer/early autumn, just a few months after our marriage, we loaded up and headed for Saline River. I could not swim and I had never been in a canoe, or on a river, but Terry had been many times. As we made our way to the water, the sun shone around us as though it were being beamed through a strainer, specks and streams of sunlight dotting randomly through the tall oaks, pines, and sweet gums. Arkansas at its best.

He got the canoe into the water and told me where to sit. As I stepped into the wobbly canoe for the first time, my apprehension turned into full-fledged fear. My eyes grew wide and I gasped. “It’s okay,” he said calmly.

Of course it’s okay, he can swim! I thought.

We pushed off as I gripped the sides of the canoe for dear life. What had I gotten into?

“Just one thing you must remember,” he said.


“Whatever happens, don’t stand up.”

That sounded simple enough.

He did most of the rowing since I was an inexperienced “canoeist”. I did try it once and managed to get us going the wrong direction! He quickly took the oars and righted us while we both laughed at my efforts. Not being an outdoor girl, it was a great adventure to be so close squirrels, songbirds, and fish. I was still nervous, but as I observed my faithful “captain”, watched his confidence and ability, I felt my heartbeat return to normal.

Then a strange noise filled my ears. It sounded almost like rushing water, like maybe a waterfall? But, we didn’t have waterfalls. Did we? As we continued on, the sound only grew louder.

That’s when I screamed. And when I did, the birds for miles around flew up and away in one giant formation,  red squirrels scurried into holes, and deer leapt over fences to get away.

“That sounds like a waterfall!”

“It’s okay, don’t worry.”

“No, Terry! I can’t swim! We can’t go down a waterfall!”  In my panic, I started to stand up, the canoe lurched one way, then the other, and that’s when I saw fear grip his heart.

“Don’t stand up; it’s okay.” I could see the seriousness of the situation in his eyes. I halted and forced myself to stay put. 

“Valerie, just listen to me,” he said from his end of the canoe, gripping me as hard as he could with his eyes since he couldn’t reach me with his arms.  “We’re going to row over there,” he pointed to a rocky bank. “We’ll take the canoe up the bank and then let it down past the falls. It’ll be fine.” I could see he was more worried about what I was doing than anything else.

Okay. That sounded okay. I tried to calm down.

We soon learned that it wasn’t so easy to get to that bank. We kept trying, well, he kept trying, but we just kept getting closer and closer to the falls. Finally, he was able to grab an overhanging branch to stop us. He got out and waded to the bank, dragging me in the canoe along with him. The “waterfall” that sounded so deafening to my ears was only a short wall, about two feet high, just enough to make a loud sound, but not enough to kill anyone. I felt my face grow warm with embarrassment. I laughed and apologized, he laughed and said no big deal and that we probably couldn’t have gone over it anyway. I did feel terrible as I saw he was soaked from the waist down, and I was completely dry. I tried to help get the canoe back in the water and we continued on. The only thing I had done right was that I hadn’t stood up!

That trip was many years ago, before we had experienced any real sorrow. We hadn’t walked the valley of the shadow of death, started over in eight other new homes, or faced financial reversal hand in hand together. We hadn’t dealt with hatred from other Christians, watched friends walk out, or seen our children suffer sickness, surgery and stitches. All of that would come in time, and will come again, I’m sure. The strength and skill I’d witnessed that day on the river, would be apparent in real life, too. Through all of the trials and heartaches, through the valleys, and in the darkness, I’ve learned I can trust my husband. I can just stay seated because he knows what to do. I’ve seen him take the oars of our life and get us going in the right direction (usually after I’ve messed things up). I’ve seen him handle the ups and downs – and the waterfalls – with deftness.

Eighteen years ago today, he asked me to marry him, and obviously, I said yes. In those years, I’ve learned that he knows how to handle the river, and everything else, too.

With love,



Me and My Man


As a little girl, I had a man. He was my dad. I wanted to marry someone just like him – hard working, funny, strong, and wise. By God’s grace, I did just that sixteen years ago today. My man is not perfect, but that’s okay. His wife isn’t perfect, either! We’ve traveled many roads together in just sixteen years. We’ve moved nine times and visited two foreign countries together. We’ve endured personal heartaches more than once together. We have seen five babies born into our family. He was by my side as I buried my dad over nine years ago. He has cared for me when I was sick. He’s cheered for me when I’ve succeeded. When I got my first *paid* article published, he surprised me with a framed color copy of the check! Every time I see it in my room, I am reminded that I have someone who believes in me.

I cannot properly put into words what my husband means to me. He’s more than a friend. He’s more than  a soul-mate. He is as much a part of me as my hand or my heart. It has not always been this way. In our early days of marriage, we had more than a few disagreements. After one such argument, I was crying very hard and even scrunched down in a corner of our 500 square ft. apartment and cried out to the Lord, “I thought this was Your will! I wouldn’t have married him if You had said not to!”  I had mistakenly thought that life in God’s will would be trouble-free. I thought that we would live as one with perfect unity and harmony, because we believed we were marrying in “God’s will”. I had more than one person in my church go as far as to tell me that if God meant for two to marry, there would be no problems. In these sixteen years, I’ve learned that we are, in fact, in God’s will, despite the rough waters we have sailed through. We have managed, with much prayer and patience, to finally come upon that harmony that I had expected from day one. I guess I just wasn’t prepared for the work, the waiting, the listening, and the learning that it would take. God graciously has allowed me to come to this wonderful place in my life, and I’m so grateful. I owe each minute of my blissfully happy marriage to Him!

Happy anniversary to the greatest man alive, Terry Basham, II! I love you, Terry, and I pray God gives us many more years in which to serve Him together.


Fifteen Blessed Years

I can’t believe that I’ve been married for fifteen years already! I remember thinking during those first few years, which were very difficult, that couples who had been married for 25 years or more were amazing – and here I am, only a decade from that mark! Marriage was, and is, hard. That’s why the divorce rate is so high. It takes work. My husband and I have faced many challenges together. We’ve moved eight times. We’ve had five children in five different cities and hospitals. We’ve been to funerals of family members together. We’ve sat in hospitals with our children, and even had two ambulance rides with them. We have faced financial reversal more than once. Oh, and we’ve had our share of “discussions”. We’ve had to say “I’m sorry” to each other more times than we can count! Yet, through it all, here we are. Our love isn’t perfect, but it’s strong, because it’s built on the Rock – Jesus Christ. He has seen us through each valley.

The beginning: January 2, 1998, at Victory Baptist Church, Benton, Arkansas.

I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for not only bringing my man into my life, but for sustaining us as we’ve walked life’s road together these fifteen years. I pray that He gives us many, many more.

Fifteen years later, in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

Here are a few past posts about my amazing husband and our life together:

Our engagement story
Our love story
What I love about him
A special memory
Our Fourteenth Anniversary
About Terry (The only post written by Terry!)

Wow, I just listed six posts in a few minutes! The scary thing is, there are many more stored away in my archives. I love my husband very much, and I love writing, so I guess I just combine the two pretty often.

Terry has always been my hero, as well as my cheerleader. He believes in me more than anyone else. Last July, I received my first paycheck for writing. He took the check to a printer and had them photocopy the check in color, then he framed it for me. I don’t think I have anything more precious in my possession than that little gift. What a joy to know he cares about what I care about; he believes in me. I don’t deserve his love, but I am truly grateful.



September and October have been very active “anniversary” months for us! I mentioned before that on September 3, I celebrated blogging for five years.

On September 11, we celebrated two more anniversaries! Before 9/11 was a national day of mourning, it was a day of joy for me. In 1997, on a crisp, starlight evening, my husband got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! 🙂 I usually write a mushy post about it, but since we were away, you were all spared that bit of PDOA. (Public Display of Affection for those who may not know.) I am grateful to be married to a godly, hardworking, handsome man. He is my hero. Like every marriage, we have our moments when life is…hmmm, how do I put this? We have times when life is stressful. But, amazingly, he doesn’t leave me (though I would leave me if I were he) when things are rough. He hangs tough and is usually the one pulling me through. He isn’t perfect, but he’s pretty close. Years ago, he would buy me a single long-stemmed rose for our engagement anniversary. This year, he bought me a chocolate milkshake at Steak ‘n’ Shake! I love that place, and for some reason, the chain hasn’t made it this far South yet. Maybe someday. They have the best milkshakes!

It was yummy! 🙂
On September 11, 2005, my husband was called to pastor his first church in Burnet, Texas. I know! What a busy day for our family! It was a very exciting day to be called to pastor the Northside Baptist Church. It was a dream come true for my husband, and I have never been so happy or proud of him as I was that day. We love those people dearly and miss them still, some four years later. (If any of you from Burnet are reading, I miss you!)
We officially began our ministry there one month later, on October 11, 2005. Which brings me to yet another anniversary! This October 11, we celebrated seven years in the pastorate. We moved from Texas to our current church in Southwest Arkansas in May of 2008. It’s been an amazing ride being a pastor’s wife. I have seen God do great things in my life and teach me some valuable lessons. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been worth it.
I am grateful to the Lord for my husband and the ministry. I have no idea why He blessed me with a great man, or a place in full time Christian service, but I am happy that He did. I am not worthy, and I often fail in my roles as wife/mother/Pastor’s wife, but He loves me anyway.
The past fifteen years in my life and ministry have been a roller coaster ride! I read the following verse yesterday morning and I think it fits perfectly right here:
Notwithstanding, the LORD stood with me, and strengthened me… 2 Timothy 4:17
I think those are some of the most beautiful words in the Bible! When man has failed me, when life has been unbearable, the LORD has been beside me. He has been, and still is, my strength and my stay.


Why I Keep Blogging

On September 3, I celebrated blogging for five years! We were away on vacation during that time, so I was unable to write about it on the big day.Yep! It was the big…zero-five. Of the five years, this one has been my most difficult. Not because the desire to blog or write has waned, but because the words have not come as easily as they once did. I have been through some personal trials that are hard to share with the world at large. Also, it’s been a very busy season for me. When the choice had to be made between living or blogging, well, living won! And, to top it off, my confidence in what I was saying, and the point of saying it, came in to question. Why do I do this? In an internet crazed society, where blogs are available by the million, what point is there in mine? I have done some soul searching, some praying and some plain-ol’ thinking, and I’ve realized that I blog for two reasons:

#1. I blog for myself. I like re-reading my posts and seeing my kids as they’ve grown and changed. I always feel better after writing, so for me, blogging is therapy. Free therapy. It helps me to sort things out, share thoughts, and bronze memories.

#2. I blog for you. You might be my mother, or some other relative. If so, I blog to keep in touch with you. You might be my friend, who cares about my life and wants to keep in touch with me. If so, I’m glad you’re here! Or, you might be an enemy, and believe me, I have them!You might want to see if your gossip is affecting me; if I’m quitting or giving up. I hope you see that I’m still hanging in there, serving the Lord. I hope you see that I bear no grudges or hard feelings. Most of all, I hope you’ll stop being my enemy, and become my friend, for I am already yours. You might be someone who heard from a friend that I’m a nice person (unless you’ve talked to my enemies! lol!), and you’ve dropped by out of curiosity. If so, one of my all-time favorite things is meeting new people, making new friends! I love my family, and I love people, so it is you for whom I blog.

Five years seems like a very long time! A lot has happened in my life over those five years. I thought I’d share a few posts from the past to celebrate my [belated] fifth blogging anniversary.

My very first post.
What my kids looked like when I started blogging. *sniff sniff*
One of my favorite posts. 
Okay, another one of my favorite posts.
The post that has received the most hits (since May of 2010 when I started this current site): What I Love About You  – 3,795 hits
Second most popular post: Listening Sheets – 2,770 hits
Most popular page: My Love Story  1,651 hits
Total comments: (drum roll, please.) 2,784! Thank you! Those comments are the frosting on my blogging anniversary cake! They mean so much to me.
A few other stats:

  • This blog began as “Life in the Hill Country” and then moved to, “Valerie’s Hope Chest”. For a short time, I had my own domain,, using WordPress. In May of 2010, I moved to In January of 2012, I relocated everything to Blogger using my own domain name, I hope it stays here. Forever. *Phew*
  • I’ve had several different layouts over the years. One was designed by a friend and the rest by me. I enjoy tinkering around with the design, but I love writing more than I do the web design. That’s why I haven’t changed the look since January! (gasp!) Sorry about that.

Some of you, okay, maybe only two of you, have been with me since the very beginning. Thank you for being my online friend. Thank you for reading, for looking at my photos, for laughing and for crying with me. (Even if some of those tears were because you’d never read a worse blog post anywhere on the web.) Thank you for the comments you’ve left and the prayers you’ve prayed for me over the years. Thank you for finding me on Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest and being my friend, there, too!
To my newer friends, thank you for joining me in whatever wacky phase of life I’m currently in. You have many choices in blog-reading-material, and I am so honored you’ve chosen me! I have no books to sell. I have no quota to meet. I just love writing.

And comments.

Just those two things. 🙂

With love,