Happily Ever After Project: Featuring Mike & Patty Lowe
Ever been to a barn dance? A few years ago we had the opportunity to attend one at the Lowe’s farm. There were hay rides and pony petting, and of course lots of food — chili and pies set up and served from the welcoming, rustic setting. Then last summer we volunteered as they opened their home and farm again for a special hands-on student activity day with a local school. It was delightful watching both Patty & Mike teach and hearing the kids laughter as the learned about farming. Patty & Mike have such a heart for ministering to the community and they work tirelessly to help make a difference in others’ lives.
We have only known them a short time, but they are like family and forever friends. When we chose a date to capture their happily ever after story, we landed right near their 45th anniversary. Happy 45 years married (& even longer together) Mike & Patty! Their property is a like a dream – a wonderful house with lovely gardens and that cozy barn. We are inspired by their relationship and their willingness to share. We hope the images and their words will inspire you as well!
One pose we like to capture with each couple is “the sitting on the couch shot”. Of course for them, sitting on the couch is not common.
So here they are sitting on the Gator! That’s more like it!
Tony enjoys pony-sitting these two, Mocha and Cinnamon (even when they are stubborn – shaking apples in the tin can will get them in every time!)
Patty, the pony whisperer.
Their Love Notes:
1. How did you meet, what attracted you to each other?
Mike: We met when I was 8 and Patty was 6. My brother and I were throwing snowballs at her (a beautiful little red haired girl) and a little puppy following her as she walked to school past our house. At first meeting, she justifiably had a strong dislike for me!
Patty: He’s right! I first met Mike and his brother as they delighted themselves by making me cry in their surprise snowball attack in an early morning snowstorm as I walked to school from my cousin’s house which was not far from theirs. Though he was 2 grades ahead of me, I came to know he was a good student, though mischievous – and both of those qualities were very appealing to me. As elementary school years went by, I saw Mike was a person of integrity and determination, and I secretly admired his achievement of Eagle Scout. Watching him perform with the Order of the Arrow Native American Dance Team, and because I loved to dance, I thought maybe we really could have some fun together!
Both coming from dysfunctional families, we could easily talk and share for hours with each other about our problems and issues, hurts and concerns, and dreams for a better future. We listened with our hearts and our souls became one. This bonding – listening, hearing, knowing, understanding each other with caring compassion was the basis of our attraction to each other.
We were teammates for several years on the city diving team and practiced together both in the pool and at the gym, perfecting flips and twists on the trampoline. We grew from being teammates to good friends, and then best friends. Patty was finally “allowed” to date when we were 14 and 16 and were married while in college at ages 19 and 21 … a 13 year courtship!
2. Describe a memorable story of the two of you.
One of our many favorite stories is that of our adventurous honeymoon … backpacking and mountain climbing for ten days in early June, 1969 in the Sierra Mountains of the northern area of Yosemite National Park. The highlight was our climb of Cathedral Peak.
There were still many feet of snow on the ground, and our 7 mile hike in to Cathedral Lake was up and down through continuous deep “sun-cups” – five to ten foot wide moguls melted into the snow. The lake was still frozen solid, so we had to bore through a foot if ice to get to water at our base camp to cook dehydrated food on our tiny gas stove. Being newly married and poor, the only tent we could afford was a plastic tube tent – little more than an over-sized garbage bag, open at both ends. Thanks to friends who gave wedding $ rather than “stuff”, we were able to have good down-filled sleeping bags that zipped together … and we had each other so we slept warmly while excited and anticipating our ascent to the summit of Cathedral Peak.
In his 1991 journal titled “My First Summer in the Sierra” John Muir, the Scottish-American naturalist and preservationist wrote, “No feature of all the noble landscape seems more wonderful than the Cathedral (Peak) itself, a temple displaying Nature’s best masonry and sermons in stones. How often I have gazed at it from the tops of hills and ridges, and through openings in the forests on my many short excursions, devoutly wondering, admiring, longing! This I may say is the first time I have been at church in California, led here at last, every door graciously opened for the poor lonely worshiper. In our best times everything turns to religion, all the world seems a church and the mountains altars. And lo, here I am at last in front of the blessed Cathedral, ringing her thousands of sweet-toned bells, the sweetest church music I ever enjoyed … listening, admiring until late in the afternoon.”
Our class 4 climb to the 11,000 ft. top of Cathedral peak was challenging fun with ropes and carabineers, trusting each other with our lives as we took turns on rope belay to reach the next crack or handhold, and eventually reaching the summit. The view was exhilarating as we hugged on the barely 9 sq ft mountain top!
(Images of Cathedral Peak provided by Mike & Patty)
Together on the wind-swept peak, we watched with wordless God-awe as storm clouds rolled across the granite landscape with an occasional finger of lightening striking far-off peaks. As the sun settled into the western horizon, we celebrated our love for creation and each other, then repelled off the peak and hiked back to our base camp where we talked of our dreams for eternity together and drifted to sleep trying to count all the stars a-glitter in the black night sky … a holy good beginning for our 45 years of marriage.
3. Key ingredient to your success as a couple, biggest challenge to overcome?
So far, through marriage we have learned that key ingredients in our marriage are faith and forgiveness … prayer and playfulness … listening and laughter … giving encouragement to reach for dreams … and loving – even when we are not liking. Marriage has taught us the value of commitment and creativity and compassion and compromise … the joy of caring for creation and nurturing nature … and always to be in awe of God’s gifts in each person and experience we encounter. Through the years of ‘loving it out’ we affirm we are not the center of the universe, but are intentionally created and called by Christ to reach out to others with compassion expressed through our hearts and our hands… and that we continually learn to love as we continue to love!
One of our biggest challenges to overcome but didn’t understand until midlife is that we are very different personality types. Both introverted and strongly intuitive, Mike processes data through critical analysis and makes analytical and judgmental decisions. Patty processes data through feelings and intuition, with decisions coming mostly through perceiving and discernment. Both of our personality types are a very low percentages of the general population and according to the personality gurus, our personalities are predicted to clash … and we know about the clashing! We like to defy odds, though, and we do know that opposites attract … and that all things are possible through Christ who strengthens us. By way of our woundings and weaknesses, differences and poor decisions … with our pledge to forever together, we have been made strong!
Often we have renewed our vows to grow old together; there is security in that. In our difficult times and our good times we have walked together. Yet, there have also been seasons when we didn’t like each other due to differing values and priorities and relationships with others. While we still yearned for the love and friendship and intimacy and romance and simple times of the early years of our lives together, the chaos and exhaustion of raising our three children with both of us in the midst of career demands certainly complicated our marriage relationship. There were times when either of us could have justified walking away, but every time grace broke through and forgiveness prevailed, and our love for each other was strengthed.
4. Favorite quote of verse?
Patty: For as long as I have known Mike, he has been a man of integrity. His mantra from an early age was “Live what you say you believe.” The meaning and living out of that for both of us has developed through the years as we have grown in our commitment to Christ and to each other.
Mike: Patty’s is a message of simplicity based on Psalm 46:10. She reminds us and others to …
Be still and know that I am God!
Be still and know that I am!
Be still and know!
5. Best gift ever?
Patty: The best gift Mike gives to me is simply ‘presence’ … when he puts everything else aside – his agenda, commitments, personal desires, and all … and is intentional about spending time together … letting The Spirit guide us in play and prayer and spontaneity and creativity … in silence and in conversation … sharing everything on our hearts and minds to the very depths of our souls.
Mike: The best gift I ever received from Patty was a surprise birthday weekend excursion. She picked me up at work but wouldn’t tell me where we were going until we arrived at Gorham’s Bluff, a romantic inn overlooking the Tennessee River. Patty had secretly made reservations and arranged for a wonderful dinner with a favorite bottle of wine. After dinner, when back at our cottage, her birthday surprises kept coming when I found a French chocolate pie with whip cream on our bed pillows! Needless to say, it was one of the most romantic, playful, intimate evenings of lovin’ we’ve ever had! (Oh! Did we mention Mike’s birthday in is also the anniversary of our very first “real date” in 1963?)
6. Something he/she does very well?
Mike: Patty is a holy listener. When in conversation she is fully present to the other person, connecting at the spirit level with people, listening with ears and eyes and open mind, heart, and soul. An atmosphere of authenticity and trust is established almost instantaneously. Yielding to God’s time, she lets a conversation unfold and people respond in amazing ways sharing their problems, their life stories, and depths of their beings with her. Listening has always been natural for her, so it was not surprising when she became double certified as a Spiritual Director. She has amazing conversations with people of all ages, the youngest children to the most elderly … people she’s known for years and often those of momentary encounter. While in our teen years, her ‘listen-ability’ was part of what bonded us as best friends.
Patty: Mike is a visionary with the God-gift of being a futurist. I also admire and am grateful for Mike’s integrity and his gift of mentoring young adults and others who have aspirations for career development, even to the point of helping prepare one young engineer to take over his own professional managerial position! Mike has guided and encouraged our children and others to methodically attain their goals and dreams. He is a problem solver and a phenomenally creative thinker, so naturally he is an amazing CFFO (Chief Financial and Fix-it Officer!) at Flint River Animal Hospital and at home!
7. Favorite food? Favorite color? Explain.
Mike: Without question, Mike’s favorite food, for longer than I have known him, is chicken noodle soup. He would be happy to eat it 3 meals a day forever! I have a simple recipe for “Poppi’s Noodle Soup with Chicken” as it’s been named by our grandsons, and I concoct a huge pot of soup we enjoy for many meals. Mike says, “Every bowl is special … and I will never get tired of it!”
Patty: Favorite food? Red raspberries fresh out of our garden – food of the angels, she is sure! As a little girl she helped her mother pick berries in the huge raspberry patch on the Idaho farm where she grew up, though I’d bet she ate more than she ever dropped in her bucket! Now in our own garden, she picks raspberries, and I think she still eats more sun-warmed berries than she ever drops in her bucket!
Mike: Mike’s favorite color is blue, the color of his eyes … and he sees the world through those blue filters. His spirit resonates with blue, the color of a clear sky and deep sea, giving him a sense of harmony, faithfulness, confidence, inspiration, sincerity, truth, calm, and spirituality.
Patty: Patty’s favorite color is the rainbow – the gaiety of the flowers in our gardens … the mix of paints and pens she uses for drawing and painting … the hues of her moods from the warm yellows of the sun to the serene blues of the sky … the greens of creativity and the orange-ish pink-purples of clouds in the sunset.
8. Something you still dream about doing but haven’t done yet?
Mike: A dream I have had for as long as I can remember is to see the Fjords of Norway. Pictures of the fjords intrigue me and draw my spirit to them. I don’t know how this infatuation came to me. Maybe it’s my inherent Scandinavian ancestral roots. The only thing I can figure out is that my grandparents subscribed to the National Geographic magazine and there must have been an issue that featured Norway’s fjords that caught my attention as a child. It’s on our bucket list. We are retired now but have “not been careful what we have gotten good at” and are as busy in retirement as ever. One day we will go Norway’s fiords!
Patty: My dream is to give away all our possessions, save a few necessities including our dogs and cats and a few favorite garden flowers, some books and good music, and to live in a small moveable home, meandering where ever The Spirit leads … finding places along the way to para-sail and kayak, to zip-line and mountain climb, explore places not yet experienced together … and taking our eight grandchildren on all kinds of mind and soul expanding adventures!
9. What is a favorite thing we enjoy doing together?
When we have time and are moved by the spirit of playful curiosity, we will play “The Left- Right-or-Straight
Game”. With no intended destination or time schedule, we will go for a drive and at every intersection we alternate turns choosing to turn right or left or go straight. We experience wonder-full, beauty-full, unique back roads geography and scenery and people we wouldn’t have otherwise discovered if we hadn’t set ourselves free from the usual everyday shortest-time-direct-to-destination travel.
10. What does “love it out” mean to you?
“Love it out” means to be gratefully faithful to each other every day though, at times, it is difficult but right to choose sacrifice or compromise for the sake of the other over self-centered needs and desires.
“Love it out” means to honor our marriage covenant by working through difficulties and differences, to forgive seventy times seven, and to let God’s grace prevail
“Love it out” is to remember our story of love together again and again, to choose to fall in love with each other anew through time … and to make our promises to grow old together through any situation or circumstance come true …
“Love it out” is to be grateful beyond measure every day for the joy of loving together through life and death and into eternity.
11. Post Script:
It is good to tell our stories again and again. Every prophet and leader through Biblical history has reminded the next generations of the story of God’s people. As we re-tell our stories, we remember again who we are and whose we are as we acknowledge God’s grace in deliverance from our wrong choices and in the abundance of blessings in our right decisions. Forever we are grateful to God for the entwining of our long lives together … and for being Our Guide as we ‘love it out’ knowing our history is a part of His Story. Amen.
Celebrating your continued joy and years ahead together! Thanks Mike & Patty for the smiles!
View their Happily Ever After video:
YOUR life is beautiful, love it out!