Thirty years ago, on 02/11/87, I received the second greatest gift I could ever receive in a lifetime — Tamara Lynn’s hand in marriage. Standing side-by-side in her mother’s living room, we pledged our love and commitment to one another in covenant vows.
As I look back over these 30 years, it is breathtaking to think about all we have walked through, yet it seems like just a breath. It seems unthinkable that she would want to be married to me. Why would a Southern belle say “I do” to this uncouth Iowa transplant?
Tamara Lynn was such a quintessential Southern girl. She had this winsome smile, a perfect mix of Southern slang with good English, and could make some killer fried chicken. She had this genuine interest in who I was. Quite a catch for guy who didn’t care about much more than his own personal interests.
BUT God was at work. Tammy had prayed that God would bring someone into her life that cared about her. I didn’t care a wit about God at that time, but I quickly found myself caring about her. If there really is such a thing as love at first sight, it happened when I fixed (or should I say God fixed) my eyes upon her. Six months later we were married.
AND God was at work. While trying to drag her down with my not-so-honorable lifestyle, Tammy wanted to go to church. I believed there was a God (since I didn’t believe I came from a monkey), but it had no import or effect on my life. After some months of Sundays at her home church a new pastor was preaching the gospel, making it clear that I was a sinner, separated from God because of my sin. The lights came on; I understood.
AND God was at work. On 11/15/87 I received the greatest gift I could ever receive in a lifetime – eternal life. I became a child of God. It was a total undoing of who I was and who I was to become. And yet, I did not become winsome and gracious. I morphed into a gospel hitman, with Tammy once again bearing with me, loving me and staying at my side.
YET God was at work. After the joys, tumults and challenges of raising our first two children, Tammy and I grew in the Lord, in our understanding of who He was, and who we were in Christ. The hitman was largely gone. We enjoyed one another’s company like never before. We shared life and love together like never before. Being empty-nesters and grandparents made it all ‘better’. Oh the joy! Why should I be so blessed?
BUT God was still at work. We chose to grow our family through adoption. We had hearts for adoption for many years, though we may have liked the concept more than the reality. After drawing a line in the sand, we (not we – God) accomplished what seemed like the impossible — we became Baba and Mama to two adolescent girls from the other side of the world.
And once again, life and marriage became complicated and hard because of my lack of paying attention to my wife. I did all the wrong things with our girls. I spoiled them too much and disciplined them too little. Tammy took the brunt of their trauma and loss issues. It almost took a two-by-four to dial me back into reality. We needed a regroup.
AND God was at work. He graciously reminded us of who we are in Christ, what we are to be about. He mercifully reminded me of the first and second greatest gifts I had received. He reminded me of my covenant vows to my beloved.
I am a blessed man. God has mercied me with a wife and best friend that has stuck closer than anyone else ever could or would. She has been faithful. GOD has been faithful.
Thank you, Tamara Lynn, for your hand in marriage. Thank you for 30 faithful, wonderful years. I look forward to whatever days we have left together in Christ, until He returns or calls us home.