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The ancient Jewish Talmud says, “A wife is the joy of a man’s heart.” You wouldn’t have to read it to know this, just get married and go on an adventure with your wife. Being married to Ann has made all the beautiful things in life so much more amazing.
In high school I took a trip to Paris to work on my photography. I still can’t believe that my parents let me go by myself. I just dreamed up the idea and decided to go. That trip was wild, with lots of great stories. I climbed the Eiffel Tower, explored every corner of the Louvre, saw all the sites, and slept on a park bench. One of the best stories from that trip and my life is that I made friends with the president of Benin (a small country in Africa), and he asked me about God and prayed the sinner’s prayer with me.
Traveling to Paris was my first big trip away from home on my own and I thought $250 would be enough cash for two weeks. I was only 17 at the time and didn’t have a credit card. That big mistake made the experience all the more interesting. I look back at that trip and though it was amazing, and though I made lots of friends, memories, and photographs I was pretty lonely.
Big cities are wonderful places but when you are alone just taking pictures of the architecture they can feel cold. That was over twelve years ago now and I can still vividly remember a few really dreary rainy days of walking around the city trying to figure out how I was going to live on a budget of $17 per day. As I reflect though, my inner turmoil was not about the financial crisis that I was in, or about the weather, or even about being so far away from home, the turmoil was just the feeling of being alone. Shortly before that trip my high school sweetheart and I had broken up and every lovely site made me wish that she was there with me. Every new experience was missing something.
Shanghai has some very old European buildings in an area called The Bund built back when Europe was trying to colonize China. As soon as I saw them it reminded me of my short trip to France. What takes your breath away in Shanghai is not the European buildings but the sky scrapers. Once you leave The Bund and cross over to the east side of the Huangpujing River you feel like you have exited a space craft and are on a future city on planet Mars. Shanghai has the fourth and fifth tallest buildings in the world and the city is currently building what will be the second tallest in the world. Shanghai is massive, beautiful, and great for photography.
However, this journal entry is not really about the buildings in Shanghai or Paris. It’s about how different it is to be with my wife in such places vs. being alone there. As I sit here in Dave’s loft in Dallas, and look back at my photos, I imagine what the pictures would look like if Ann were not my subject in them. I’m sorry, but metal and glass is not enough to awake my heart. Shanghai could be just as cold and dreary as I remember Paris was. But Ann didn’t only bring the pictures to life, she brought the experience to life. Walking along the river at sunset was a romantic moment. I love it when Ann loves something. I love sharing my joys with her. The Talmud is right; her delight and excitement fills my heart with joy.
A note for the unmarried world traveler:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”…”You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
I look back at my life and I realize how impatient I was in my heart. God had an amazing woman in mind for me. I wish that I believed that back when I was in Paris at 17. It’s so easy to not believe that God’s heart is out for our best. God clearly made Adam and Eve to experience the most joy as a couple in their new world. Loving and enjoying my wife is very pleasing to the Lord. If you ever find yourself off on an adventure alone, trust in the Lord that His plan for you is beyond your dreams. Pray for the beautiful wife or wild husband of your future. You can trust Him to care for your needs. Knowing that she or he is out there will brighten your day.