Voyage: Reflections on Our Thirtieth Anniversary

Thirty years ago today, on a cold December evening,

                 you said yes. And so did I.

        But it was more than a mere wide-eyed, cotton-mouthed yes

             repeated between a goofy boy in a rented tux named David

            and a sweet girl in a rented gown named Paula.

                It was a promise of love

                 and a pledge of fidelity

                       made before our gathered family and friends.

             But even more,

           it was a solemn vow

           made before the gaze of our Almighty God.

Thirty years ago, on a cold December evening,

        a wedding happened in a few moments when  

        vows were exchanged.

But those moments launched us

       on the voyage of our lifetimes,

                   together, as husband and wife.

For thirty years—

      three hundred and sixty months,

      ten thousand nine hundred and fifty days–

 we have shared the adventure of marriage

  on the journey of our life.

Thirty years ago, on that cold December evening,

       two clueless kids cast off together.

Those early seas we sailed were shallow and mostly gentle. 

     We knew the “one flesh” words,

                but had no idea how difficult the becoming would be.

      Figuring out that I am a talkative morning person

                  and you are…well…not, was only the start.

We were young, silly, foolish, immature and often confused

      (or maybe that was just me)

We joyfully discovered each other and the world,

           and all along, our Father gave us

           the mercy of growing up and growing together.

Thirty years ago, on that cold December evening,

       we hoped for the sweet joys of ordinary days

         and maybe some jaw-dropping surprises, too.

We didn’t hope big enough.

        The Father has given grace upon grace even in the everyday stuff:  

                 caroling in Dickens costumes on 3rd Street,

                teenagers at the house playing spoons or mud volleyball,

                 enjoying and making  music of all kinds, doing baskets,  

                   laughing with friends playing Taboo (buzz!),

                    buying a house and decorating rooms,

                    long conversations about everything (you with coffee and me with water),

                    vacations in Cleveland (really?), killing plants and enjoying dogs,

                      watching odd little movies (“sed-a-give!”), and so much more…

all while serving churches in four states up and down I-75

              and experiencing life – together- with those unique faith-families.

 Thirty years ago, on a cold December evening,

               I’m not even sure a child was a gleam in our eye.

But after an agonizing seven-year wait, our miracle came

               in a little (if you can call 11lbs, 8 oz little!) boy named Andrew.

He just expanded our love and the depth of our connection

             beyond life partners; now we were parents responsible to shape a life.

Andrew —our joy-boy, grabbing life by the throat, fully engaged in the

             moments, strong-willed and passionate –

                in time became Drew,  a young man fiercely loyal to his friends,

                     tender to Jesus from an early age,

                     and discovering that he, too is a called one.

As he has grown from boy to man,

          we have prayed, protected, dreamed, agonized, talked,

            wondered, worried, counseled, trained

            and released him to his own journey —


Thirty years ago, on that cold December evening,

            we could not see that our Father’s sovereignly charted course

                      would lead us to days when skies grew so dark that horizons were lost

                       and getting our bearings in the world was impossible.

Waves swirled high and came crashing over the bow of our lives:

                 grief, loss, misunderstanding, failure, the weight of the past, injustice, debt

                  and in more  recent years, mid-life questionings, chronic illness

                              and a season of pain so intense that it threatened

                                              to drag us both to the silent deeps

                                               where faith dies and devilish despair smirks in triumph.

But we had vowed “for better or for worse” and so we stayed.

                  We stayed together in the storms, mixing our bitter tears,

                   pleading for our Father to bind our wounded hearts,

                     and learning –together– that mercy looms large even in our misery.

     That when all seems lost, resurrection comes again

                     and the gospel is still (always) enough for us.

Thirty years ago, on a cold December’s night,

       I knew I loved you, Paula. 

       I just didn’t realize how much my heart could grow

                to love you more with every passing year

 You delight me with your ferocious faith in God,

             a stubborn trust in your sovereign Father  and a relentless grip on His Word

             that gives you rest in His mercy.

You astonish me as I watch you live in constant pain,

                yet express His real joy.

You impress me with broad wisdom and long perspective,

                   because it is rooted deep in His truth.

But even more, there is just you, Paula that I love—

                     joyful, sweet, compassionate, fun, interesting,

                     authentic, creative, curious, forgiving, loving you.

 Thirty years ago, on a cold December’s night,

           we two vowed to become one flesh.

And somehow, across these decades, in the mystery of our marriage

                 it has happened: we are one.

I cannot imagine this journey of life apart from you.

             Our hearts share beats, our souls track the same paths,

                 pursue the same mountain peaks and thrill to the same beauties..

                                                             We are one.

           If our years are a voyage, we have moved every inch together.

           If our years have been a crucible, we are being purified together.

          If our years are a song, we are melody and rhythm flowing together.

          If our years are a tapestry, we are threads woven together.

And so here, thirty years on after that cold December’s night,

            I see the vastness of God’s simply profound mercy:

                                           God gave me you.

 You are the earthly gift necessary for me

              to live the life God intended me to have.

                       Your respect and encouragement have kept me on the path

                                            more often than you know.

 The other side of the mercy coin is this:

                                                God gave you me.

                     I get the privilege of loving you towards the beauty

                                           that your heavenly Father sees;

               loving you exclusively and sacrificially for a lifetime.

Thirty years ago, on a cold December’s night

              we started this voyage.

We’re older now, and things are different.

 We still don’t know what’s around the next bend,

               or how long the journey has yet to go. 

 But the adventure of life together still beckons,

                        and I can’t wait to see what’s next for us

 No matter where this voyage goes as the winds fill our sails,

                                                         this I know:

Jesus alone has been sufficient, and He will not fail.

          Jesus alone has carried us this far by His gospel

                             and He will carry us Home.

                    We will voyage on, with Him…


                                      I love you, Paula—happy anniversary!

5 responses

  1. I almost went to the “ugly cry”! I love you, my precious husband.

  2. really lovely. thank you.

  3. Stunning! I did go to the ugly cry. Thanks for a beautiful testimony.

  4. Dear David,
    James forwarded me your website and I just read the heart wrenching poem of love to your wife who is truly blessed to be loved so. I was reading aloud the poem to James when I reached the part of pain and the Refiner’s fire when I could no longer read as I unsuccessfully tried to choke back my tears. James and I celebrated our 32nd anniversary in October, and God has blessed us with two lovely daughters, two “I couldn’t have chose any better” son-in-laws, a beautiful granddaughter, and an adorable grandson. But in recent years, our lives have also been touched by disease, pain, and tears. Thank you for sharing this poem of love and faith.
    May God bless…
    Polly (Embry) Moore

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