My brother, Toby wrote this love story for a K-LOVE contest where the winning entry gets a song written by Mark Schultz for Valentine’s Day. Toby’s and Debbie’s story made the top five and this morning . . . THEY WON!
Congratulations, Brother! Debbie and Toby agree, Tobe has set himself for Valentine’s gifts for the rest of his natural life. All he has to do is play the song and she’ll melt every February 14. They are a beautiful couple and romantics to the marrow.
We’re so happy for you, Toby and Debbie, but we also know much more about the goodness of your lives than people on the radio hear. One example of their love is their work with CareNet. Toby has run two marathons to benefit CareNet, and both Toby and Debbie go to public high schools to teach an abstinence program and about what true love really is.
They know true love and we salute them today, Valentine’s Day 2007.
Here’s the story that won the contest and the basis for Mark Schultz’s song. I don’t have access to the song yet. Someone let me know if you find it. They’ve played it on radio a couple times. The song is called, “I’ll always love you.”
A Warm Summer Morning
By Toby Taylor for Debbie Taylor
On a warm summer morning in 1986, I saw my wife for the very first time. I had just finished my second year at Harding University and had flown a thousand miles from home to spend the summer as a counselor at Camp Hunt, a Christian youth camp in Upstate, NY. Being a “home body”, I didn’t like traveling away from my home and family in Oklahoma. But, a friend from Harding, Bob, talked me into 6 weeks of camp in the green hills of central New York.
By providence, another friend from New York told me about a girl that was to be a counselor with me that summer. He had been to Camp Hunt and knew several people from the area and just a month before I left, he told me about Debbie. Brown hair, cute, short, a lot of fun and a devoted Christian; was how he described her. She was someone special from the way he talked. I knew that I would look for her that summer.
When I flew into NY, Bob picked me up and I entered the countryside. I marveled at the beauty of cornfields, cattle and farmhouses on rolling green hills and meadows. Camp Hunt was set on a hill overlooking a valley of trees and more farms. A large green wooden building stood in the center of the camp and served as the mess hall. A cut tree erected in the grounds served as a flag pole and just behind the flag pole, the lodge. Deihl Lodge was a picture of camping Americana. Surrounded by pine trees and painted brick red, it also stood over the valley. Inside was dim lighting and musty smelling furniture in a common room where we had our counselors meetings.
It was here. I sat miles away from home, not sure what I was getting into. I sat on the old dusty couch and while others visited around me, I gazed out the open door facing east and the morning sun. There was a mist in the valley that was slowly rising and dissipating in the warmth of the sunlight. My trance-like state melted away as she walked into the doorway.
I knew it was her right away. Her smile, auburn hair, small nose and freckled face were immediately recognizable; Debbie. But it was the warmth and kindness and joy she carried that told me this was the girl I had heard about. As she stepped into the lodge in front of the morning sun, sun beamed through her hair and danced around her smiling face, the face of an angel. Never had the sun been adorned with such beauty as when my future wife carried it’s rays around her.
I can’t say I knew then that I was going to marry this bright, happy girl, but I knew I’d try. The vision above soon ended as her boyfriend walked into the lodge behind her. But, 6 weeks of counseling camp and then attending Harding together in the Fall, our friendship grew. We took a class together, “Hebrew Poetry”. Studying together, we memorized verses from Psalms and Song of Solomon at the college Laundromat. Our fondness for each other was natural and pure. Our first kiss was on a Sunday evening standing on a sidewalk and under a light on the Harding campus in January 1987. We were married June 25, 1988 at the Church of Christ in Utica, New York. We now live just 25 miles from Camp Hunt. We often spend a week or two in the summer teaching Bible class at camp. I often venture back to the lodge and look out the doorway to the valley below. But, many times my mind doesn’t see the beauty of the valley, instead I see my wife again for the very first time.