Hallelujah is still our song

4 05 2011

One clear December night, a diamond dropped into my hand
How cleverly disguised you were, clothed in the starry sky . . .

I don’t know where it is now, but the poem I wrote about the night we met started along those lines. And before that same December ended, I stepped inside your soul, recognized my home, knelt beside my bed and whispered the sense of be-longing to God. If this is You, You’ll have to tell him. I was twenty, you were twenty-two, and we were building a friendship. Playing guitars. Talking in the kitchen. You snapped the above photo, a moment of happiness captured.

We parted ways for the summer. One evening I had a reason to call someone living in your house, and when you heard my voice you laughed low — joy answering joy. Later that night you wrote Song of Friendship to our dearest Friend. I always loved that you wrote it after we talked.

Like the friendship Jonathan had with the servant David,
that’s how you are with me, delighted greatly . . .

Oh, what a Friend you are.

I returned to school for the fall semester, still praying, still wondering, without any sure evidence you saw as I did. And then in September you asked if you could help me celebrate my 21st birthday, and I hoped that maybe this might mean a beginning of something more. We went out to eat and you gave me a gift. Two bright yellow, hand-painted t-shirts, one in your size and one in mine. “We are an Easter people . . .” on the first. On the other, ” . . . and Hallelujah is our song!”

A message meant to be shared by two as one. Hope sparked but hardly had time to fan to flame before the Spirit breathed and my heart quivered and then you said it. I wasn’t the only one with the sense of be-longing.

We decided not to tell anyone yet — it was our first date, after all — but to keep praying until you spoke with my father. We asked God for assurance, and He gave it day by day in countless gentle ways. He also gave us the promise of Jonathan to David, “Behold, the Lord is ever between you and me,” and we delighted greatly.

That semester you often came courting on Mighty Bones, your valiant steed (bicycle). We danced in the kitchen and waded in the creek (we had no car or money between us), and we still remained silent in our words to others, but we couldn’t control the radiance on our faces. People knew.

That December you spoke to my father, and he asked, “when?” and (trembling) you said, “May,” and miraculously, he said yes. Our hearts rose and our spirits bowed low and we sang our gratitude to the One who’d gone before and would surely continue to go with. We didn’t know what lay ahead, but weren’t all our days already written in God’s book?

On May 5, 1979, we spoke our vows and shared our first kiss (the waiting was your gift to me, a deep healing), and off we drove into the sunset. I imagined a life of unbroken unity, lived on our knees, and prayed through our music. We would dance our way to eternity, a living picture of marital bliss, and everyone who saw us would be encouraged to do the same.

But God loved us too much for that. Yes, we discovered that marriage is filled with countless delights, but it is also iron sharpening iron, the one lifting up the fallen other, forgiveness offered and asked for again, again, again. We’ve wounded each other. We’ve  found ourselves up against walls as tall and thick as Jericho, one of us inside and the other out, hope hanging by a scarlet thread. And through it all, this grace, always this grace, holding us, shaping us, remaking us. We are an Easter people, and we aren’t left to rot in our graves, even when we dig them ourselves.

The Lord who is ever between us gave us three children. We who are so weak, so small. We who stumble. And you were a tender father. A good father. Even when nothing made sense and your own steps almost slipped, you held them close to your heart. And you held me there, too. When the wind howled and everything we thought was solid seemed to be crumbling, we clung to each other until the storm was past and the ground stopped shaking and we came out of the wilderness leaning on our Beloved.

A photo album holds images — events and travels and what-were-we-thinking hair styles and fashions — but the whole story can’t be captured in pictures. Roots going deep, hitting rock and persevering, anchoring a couple and a family by streams of living water, establishing a foundation that can’t be shaken.

There’s a oneness deeper than words, deeper than flesh, a thousand shared moments interlacing souls, a unity that doesn’t always agree but always accepts and respects and rests in the freedom of the willingly bound. It’s brokenness redeemed, trust built and sheltered, love given without keeping score, simply because it delights to give and doesn’t remember how not to.

I imagined a life of unbroken unity, lived on our knees, and prayed through our music. We would dance our way to eternity, a living picture of marital bliss, and everyone who saw us would be encouraged to do the same. I was young and idealistic, but I wasn’t too far off. I just didn’t realized the path to unbroken unity would lead through suffering, that knees get bruised, and prayer sings a purer song after seasons of silence. I didn’t understand that those who know they are lame are finally ready to learn how to dance. That marital bliss is a journey daily traveled, a battle daily fought, a cross daily carried.

Sometimes it’s receiving the hardest gifts, breaking under their weight, then rising again to lay shattered dreams at His pierced feet and watch the slow miracle of Easter happen all over again. Beauty from ashes. Joy for mourning. New dreams created in the image of redemption. This first-born son, carried, then taught to walk, then set loose to soar, his wings clipped, ours to carry again. And, oh how you carry! Your patience, gentleness, delight, love. You are a tender father. A good father. Jacob rises up and calls you blessed.

And our other children join with him in the chorus, these younger two who have followed their own sense of be-longing and found their heart’s homes. Together we climbed the hill with our daughter and gave her to a good man. And you had the honor of presiding over the marriage of our son and his beloved. What gifts we’ve all received in these treasured ones prepared for our children. And now we watch in holy awe as they learn unity, live on their knees, and pray through their music. We watch and we worship, because we know how haltingly we lived before them, and yet they saw.

Easter is new life. It’s redemption and irrepressible joy and better-than-we-dreamed-of miracles. We are an Easter people, a message hand-lettered and meant to be shared by two as one, and now we’re grandparents.

Have I told you that you’re a tender grandfather? A good grandfather? You are. And I am not surprised.

Tomorrow we celebrate thirty-two years of marriage, and the Lord is still between us. Your heart is still the place where I be-long, and Hallelujah is still our song.

I love you. Happy Anniversary, my dearer friend. Oh, what a friend you are.

Living the resurrection in community:

Practicing Easter with Ann Voskamp

Sharing brokenness and redemption with Emily Wierenga



29 responses

4 05 2011
Megan Willome

How unbelievably precious! And those photos–they tell the story all on their own. I’ve never thought two people looked better as they grow older.

4 05 2011
Sally Apokedak

What a fantastic post. Wonderful story, well told. Thanks. This is so encouraging and as beautiful in its way as a sunrise or a mountain stream. A work of art.

4 05 2011
Katy McKenna

So beautiful, Jeanne. You’ve given me my first good cry of the day! Happy Anniversary to you and your man.

4 05 2011
jeff jordan

Love the picture of you guys in front of the green van…especially your son and his expression. Great, encouraging story told in your words and pictures. Hope your anniversary is a special day!

4 05 2011
Barbara Thayer

What a beautiful way to celebrate 32 years together. God is good to us and it shows in the truthful telling of a wonderful life you share together. Great pictures and fun to look at. Time flies doesn’t it Jeanne? God’s blessings to you and your dear husband.

4 05 2011

Blessings to you both. Indeed you bring Him glory with your song of love.

4 05 2011
Linda Gilmore

Happy Anniversary! Thanks for sharing your journey together.

4 05 2011
all shall be well

I love your words, and wonderful pictures. Blessings to you and your sweet family……

4 05 2011

Deeply moving and absolutely lovely. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful post. Blessings and prayers to you and your loving family.

4 05 2011

So so beautiful! Thank you for sharing and being real. Blessings on your day.

4 05 2011
Sharon O

This is incredibly beautiful.
I hope you print it off for your children for a book like at kodak or snap fish. It is so wonderfully wise. I had tears when I read it because ‘we’ have been married 37 years and your pictures reflected alot of ‘us’ too. The 70’s rolled into the 80’s then the 90’s and children growing up and getting married and having babies. Now we have six grand children to love and to leave a legacy for them to follow. Thank you for showing this precious post it reminds me so much how divorce breaks the ‘stories’ that are to be written. God bless you in your life and your love for each other. From a reader in Oregon.

4 05 2011

What a beautiful love letter and marvelous telling of your story!

There are many specific lines and sentences I appreciate, but today the image of “walls as tall and thick as Jericho, one of us inside and the other out, hope hanging by a scarlet thread” touches my concern for two families I love and encourages me to hang that Easter hope in the window for them.

Thank you for letting us into this. May you have a truly happy anniversary.

4 05 2011
Diana Trautwein

A sweet song you sing, and a powerful one. Thank you for these glimpses into a marriage will-lived. May many more good and growing years be yours.

4 05 2011

Happy Anniversary! Loved the tribute, too…those early photos…so 1970s!!! (I KNOW : ) )

4 05 2011

happy anniversary…you have lived a beautiful story that i hope has many more chapters…

4 05 2011

It was a delight to watch your life unfold in pictures, to know in the end of this scroll that you have 32 years together. God Bless your love and your faithfulness towards your family.

4 05 2011

We have a mutual friend who lives in TX and I came to your blog via our friend. How precious our your words and your life. Such sweet encouragement to continue to love the husband of my youth. Oh to see friends giving up and leaving their husband or wife is heart-breaking, know that but for the grace of God there go I. Marriage is not for the faint of heart. Thanks to both of you for the daily decision to love.

4 05 2011
Patricia (Pollywog Creek)

{tears, smiles} So very beautiful – you, your story, God’s story through you and your precious George. Happy Anniversary, beautiful friend! XOX

4 05 2011
Grace Walker

Beautiful pictures paired with beautiful words and a testimony of faith! May God continue his blessings in the next 32 years.

4 05 2011

I have so few words right now. I’m overwhelmed. This is simply magnificent; a love song between 2 embraced in The One. May I say, Heaven dances in this post.

5 05 2011
deb@talk at the table


Happy Anniversary to you , to you both.

and thank you for wrapping me in this love , too..

5 05 2011

This made me cry–the two of you so beautiful together–with the Lord between you and making music and dancing into eternity.

5 05 2011
Melissa S

what a beautiful story. so rich and full. I love the pictures to go with it! Thanks you for sharing it here and happy anniversary

5 05 2011

Now that’s amore!

5 05 2011

Thanks so much, lovely friends, for sharing our joy and celebrating God’s faithfulness to us through the years. Your kind words are a beautiful anniversary present. We treasure them.

Much love,

5 05 2011
emily wierenga

oh, my dear jeanne, hallelujah is still your song–i see it written all across your faces, which still radiate after all these years… how beautiful, how very beautiful, your love…. i am crying. i can only pray i age so gracefully with my husband. i hope you’ll keep sharing with imperfect prose, dear sister. xo

7 05 2011

Oh my gosh Jeanne what a story!! And your wedding picture! The cross didn’t go unnoticed. And my – your first kiss at your wedding. I. am. floored. And smiling. And your life so far – so full. In awe – just awe. I hearted this – I really did. God bless and keep you and all of yours this day. God bless.

7 05 2011
Deborah Carr

Oh Jeanne – this is the most beautiful thing I have read in ages. It so reminds me of my post on families. You’ve shared with us 32 years of joyful moments and shattered dreams and living through each and every one of them with humility and trust. What inspiration and encouragement you’ve given to others, just by this story of your love. Marriage is not about living a fairytale life, but working through the darkness with someone you trust.

“Sometimes it’s receiving the hardest gifts, breaking under their weight, then rising again to lay shattered dreams at His pierced feet and watch the slow miracle of Easter happen all over again. Beauty from ashes. Joy for mourning. New dreams created in the image of redemption. “

1 01 2014
imperfect prose on thursdays: on British shoes and falling stars - emily wierenga | emily wierenga

[…] Jesus…11. Elaine12. Cindy @ 12Tribes13. melissa14. Sarah15. E L K16. brian miller17. Kati18. Jeanne Damoff @ The View From Here19. Christy@ The Margin Fading20. […]

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