The Lucky One + The Brave One

Mike and me in Rwanda

It has been said that the best marriages are between two people who each believe they are the lucky one. In this marriage, I am the lucky one and Mike Sparks has always been the brave one. If it weren't for him, I never would have found myself in the lobby of Hotel Rwanda last October (picture above)--a trip I was far too fearful to say yes to for months. I also wouldn't have lived the last 16 years in Denver or be the Marketing Director of a medical device company that Mike founded.

When we got engaged seven weeks after our first date, Mike was a stockbroker at Merrill Lynch. The plan was to build up his clientele in Iowa and live minutes from all I knew and loved. Two years later, he announced we should move to Colorado where we had no jobs or friends. "It will be great," he said.

Fast forward a decade, and he informed me (on my birthday) that he had quit his lucrative job with amazing benefits to start his own laser company. I had to sit down for that one, but he just smiled and boldly told me it was going to be great again.

Almost daily, I questioned his need to be his own boss and build a company. "Please go back to work for someone else," I pleaded ad nauseam. Luckily, Mike Sparks doesn't always do what I ask.

There is much to celebrate these days at the company he created that now has about twenty employees--including me. I was afraid for so long that this venture was going to fail, but he never stopped believing that success was on the way. We will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary this month with a family trip to Hawaii.

As I look at the years I wasted in fear, not trusting Mike's belief that it was going to be "great", I'm reminded of the letter I gave him on our 15th anniversary when the future still looked daunting. It has been posted in his closet for the last three years, as it finally said exactly the words he had long needed to hear from me.


I have sat down twice in the last week to write you a poem. It was titled "The Brave One," but there was just too much I wanted to say and I didn't want to worry about rhyming and phrasing and the like. So, please accept my humble gift of a letter--and a $15 bottle of Italian wine!

It must be hard to be the brave one all the time. The one who believes when I do not, the one who carries the dream when all I crave is some good, hard evidence. It must be exhausting to do battle all day long and then feel like you have to explain yourself to your wife at the dining room table every night for a week. It must be frustrating to KNOW God is doing something great in your life, and not quite have your wife's support.

So, here is my gift to you:

I will not let fear make me the naysayer of your life. I am, and always will be, your biggest fan and I am committing to do a better job proving it. Fifteen years seems to have passed in the blink of an eye. In my heart, you will always be the party boy in the cutoff plaid shirt catching yams to "C'Mon Ride the Train" at that camp site, and making life more fun that I ever imagined. I am a better person--more adventurous, faithful and passionate about life--for being your wife.



"Her husband has full confidence in her...She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."

~Proverbs 31:11-12