Life brings us many stretches of time that are entirely ordinary. Not much happens in these times and they quickly fade from our memories. But then there is the occasional stretch where all sorts of consequential events take place in rapid succession. And as it happens, my family is heading into one of these right now.
Tomorrow Aileen and I will celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. August 8, 1998, dawned hot and humid and only got more so as the day went on. We had chosen to be married at St. John’s Anglican Church in Ancaster—the beautiful and historic church at the center of our hometown and the church where Aileen’s parents had been married many years before. It was a great building in every way but one—it had no air conditioning. We had chosen to have our reception next door in Ancaster’s historic Old Town Hall—another beautiful building but another one that lacked A/C. It is amusing to look back on our wedding photos now and to see our foreheads progressively glowing over the course of the day, our faces flushing, our hair flopping as time went on and the heat refused to relent. But we had a wonderful day nonetheless and enjoyed celebrating with friends and family. It marked the beginning of something wonderful.
We were just 21 and 22 at the time—so young and so naive. We were barely independent, both of us having lived in our parents’ home until that very day. We were poor as church mice and had no obvious prospects for successful careers. But we loved one another and were committed to joining our lives together. The Lord blessed us on that day and he has blessed us richly ever since. We have endured our share of sorrows, of course, and have passed through a good number of difficulties. But our love for one another has only grown. As we look back we can only be thankful—thankful to God for his grace and thankful to God for providing just the right person for each of us. It has been a blessing to do life together. I think we can each say that there’s no one else with whom we would have wanted to endure the peaks, the valleys, and everything in between.
This anniversary comes at the cusp of a significant life change. On Wednesday we will load up our car and head south to Boyce College where, on Thursday, we will get Michaela set up for her freshman year. By the time we return home, we will be empty-nesters, at least through the school year. And while we are finding some sadness in this transition and the thought of a quieter, emptier house, we are not afraid of it. In fact, we are looking forward to figuring out together how to do this stage well. Since we can’t change it, we plan to embrace it!
Michaela is ready to go! She and Aileen have been busily planning and buying and packing, and it looks like they’ve got everything she needs. She will be living in the residences and sharing a room with a couple of roommates. The three have been chatting online and are already coming to enjoy one another. We are excited for her and are as convinced as we can be that she will be able to thrive there.
After we have gotten Michaela set and made the drive home, Aileen and I are getting away together to celebrate twenty-five years and so many other blessings. We exchanged a bunch of Air Canada points for some flights to New Zealand and are excited to spend a bit of time on the wintery South Island. It will be something of a working vacation, but should be a nice one nonetheless. (In this case, working means writing, not public speaking.)
Abby and Nate continue to live in Louisville while Abby completes her degree at Boyce College. Since one of them is Canadian and the other American, they had to make a decision about which country they would live in. He, after all, has no intrinsic right to live in Canada and she has no intrinsic right to remain in the United States after completing her degree. Something had to give! They decided that Nate would immigrate to Canada and just a few days ago he received his letter of acceptance for permanent residency here. This frees him to move to Canada anytime, to secure a job, and to begin the path to citizenship. They are planning to make the move in May when Abby has wrapped up her studies in biblical counseling. We will be so excited and so thankful to have them back on this side of the border and hopefully living nearby.
Ryn continues to be part of the family too, of course! She is living in Louisville and focusing on work. She recently had the opportunity to do a mission trip to the Middle East, then to share with her church her “Story of Grace” through the loss of her fiancé. From what I have been told, it went well and was a blessing to the congregation.
In other news, I have now completed filming 7 of the 12 episodes of Worship Round the World. The schedule, which has involved crisscrossing the globe and moving through so many time zones, has been nothing less than punishing. Yet things have gone well and the project is slowly, steadily coming together. If all goes according to plan, we will film another three episodes this fall before finishing up in early January. And then, of course, we will need to actually create scripts and produce films and write a book and turn it all into something you may wish to watch and read.
Here’s the tally of countries I’ve visited this year:
🇨🇦 🇺🇸 🇵🇱 🇸🇰 🇨🇿 🇦🇺 🇫🇯 🇹🇴 🇰🇭 🇸🇬 🇩🇰 🇸🇪 🇳🇴 🇨🇱 🇦🇷 🇺🇾 🇧🇷 🇹🇭 🇰🇷
And here are the ones still to come:
🇳🇿 🇿🇦 🇿🇲 🇪🇬 🇵🇹 🇮🇳
As I write all of this—as I look to the past and project into the future—I can’t help but think of James’ words in the fourth chapter of his letter. He means to remind us that all of our times are in the hands of the Lord, for “you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”
We can bear twenty-five years of testimony to God’s care, kindness, and providence—to all that his good will has decreed. As we look to the next few weeks and the next few decades, we have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but we do know who will bring it. And we know that he is good, that he is kind, and that he loves us. We are eager to honor, serve, and praise his name.