Saturday, June 18, 2011

So Much Joy

The Wife of My Youth
June 19, 2011

Life would be so different and disappointing were it not for the wide range of ingredients that blend together to make it what it is.  Some of them are easy to recognize on the tongue of experience.  Others seem tasteless, but are just as essential to make life full and robust.  They range from extreme joy to extreme pain, but together they make life what it ought to be ... as God designed it ... a full meal deal!

Embracing grace in each experience of life will translate the description of those experiences from good or bad into joy and pain.  I suspect that great rewards of grace rest in the ones that are more painful.  I have discovered that I am not qualified to define a personal experience as good or bad.  Only God is qualified for that.  But, I can express the joy and/or pain that each one brings.

Beginning of our 43rd Anniversary Day!
On this past Wednesday I passed a major mile post in my time and space journey of life.  Pam and I celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary!  It is challenging to remember that a couple of kids, who met in bible college, walked down the aisle of a church building in Grand Detour, Illinois, all those years ago to begin a life together.

The day was a lot like any other day here in Uganda. We didn't go out to dinner or do much of anything out of the ordinary.  Pam prepared tacos for us to share with Sami, Blair, and Robyn at dinner and we thanked the Lord for this amazing experience of sharing life together in a covenant relationship.  This many years spend together can yield the full range of ingredients that make life the joy and pain that it is.

The wife of my youth and best friend
Together, we decided to do the next best thing we could do without the privilege to share the day with our family and friends in Oregon.  We threw a dinner party for our African friends on Friday night!  Pam was amazing.  Before the African sun rose from the east she was in the kitchen preparing food for the celebration.  She worked hard all day with the help of her two granddaughters, Petersen (who was cooking BBQ spare ribs), Grace, and Sera. Sami was our decorator for the event and I was the gofer running to and from town to cover the gaps.  Loving and sharing our love with our friends here made for a festive day!

Covenant relationship
Before we shared our meal with our friends we stood before them and broke bread and gave thanks.  We thanked God before them for the gift of our union and all that it has yielded.  We celebrated the Lord Jesus who has made it what it is as we passed the bread and juice to each of them to share in our table of celebration.

I then shared the last experience I remembered from my anniversary day on Wednesday.  I was about to escape the joy of the day into unconsciousness, lying on my back with my arm folded under my head ... when Pam's hand suddenly dropped upon my head and neck, surprising me.  I asked, "What?" and she responded by saying, "Here.  Take this and put it on your ear."  I felt for the earpiece she was handing me in the dark, and put it into my left ear as she put the other one in her right ear.  She whispered, "Listen!"

My curiosity was buried by tearful joy as I heard (and heard best through headphones!) Van Morrison ask the question for Pam:
Have I told you lately that I love you?
Have I told you that there is no one above you?
You fill my heart with gladness
Take away my sadness
Ease my troubles, that's what you do.
At the end of the day
We give thanks
And pray ... to the One
We give thanks!  We give thanks for the parents we have.  We give thanks for the children and grandchildren we have.  We give thanks for all the friends we have.  We give thanks for the cleansing and forgiveness of the blood of Jesus.  We give thanks for His sustaining grace for our failures, our sins, and our weakness.  We give thanks for the gift we are to one another.   And we give thanks for all the joy and pain that has been a part of our marriage relationship, making it the way it is.

And, as we replayed the song for our African friends, gathered around our decorated tables and under our tent, we took each other in our arms and danced a slow dance, and quietly spoke words of love and continued covenant to live life together ... with all of its ingredients that the rest of our lives will yield.  And we prayed to the One that makes the difference.

A good wife is from the Lord.  I chose Pam.  She was the one chosen ... but, really, she was given.  And I have so much joy for the wife of my youth.  This was a time to taste the joy of life.  There would be other days experienced, to name, and to write about that would taste the pain of life.

After dinner and cake prepared for us by our friend Jude, we entered the house and projected a video on the wall for our friends that captured our days before our love, our wedding, and our marriage and the weddings of our three children and three of our African children ... and we wondered, "Who are those kids that ended up being us?"  We give thanks and pray to the One.

I love you Pam.  Happy Anniversary.


  1. You're a good man Paul. I see Jesus in you in such a new way. And your words here truly mirror Jesus' love for His Bride.

  2. I'm confident that Jesus is the explanation for any goodness in me as well as the goodness of my marriage. Thanks.


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