I am stunned and amazed and can't believe that it was twenty-five years ago, to the day, that I said, "I do" and received the precious gift of a good and faithful wife: Lynn Carol Grunow. Everyone who knows Lynn knows she is a special person, very special. She has a unique combination of steely determination and the most kind, outgoing accepting personality I've ever known. Nobody is a stranger for long around Lynn. She can rattle off the names of every person in a mile radius of our home and tell me their children's names. I forget my dog's name.
I tend to be a bit more reserved.
She was a high school and then big-time university cheerleader. I was a bookworm. I was embarrassed to admit I was dating a cheerleader. It broke every stereotype. My high school friends were stunned and shocked when they heard about it.
Lynn and I met during my second year at River Forest where she had transferred in for her final two years of college. She was the yearbook editor and I chief photographer. I know you are not supposed to say stupid things like this, but honestly, for me at least, I was smitten at first site of her. I fell into those big blue eyes and have never found my way out. I was knocked off my feet by her big smile. But she did have a most annoying habit of bossing me around and telling me what to do. She had the nerve to disagree with me and tell me I was wrong, and why she thought so. The fact that she was, and is, right, most of the time only makes it more irritating.
We made an agreement the day we were married. We agreed that I would make all the really big decisions and she would make all the little ones. So far I've not had to make a single decision. (OK, old joke, but I love it).
Shortly after meeting her I announced to my roommate: "Remind me never to marry that Lynn Grunow!" So, of course, I married her. I had just turned 21 when we were married. She was a year or so older. Funny, but she still is older than me. I had not finished college. Lynn had graduated. My mom told me the other day that she was shocked I was getting married so young. Lynn told me, "Oh, I could have waited. I didn't care, but you really wanted to get married." So, I learn all this finally after twenty-five years?
I had a great senior year of college and Lynn stood by my side through my senior year of college, four years of seminary, two more years of work at the seminary, and finally into a parish. Every pastor should have a wife who is so completely supportive of his ministry. I attribute this a lot to Lynn being raised in a pastor's home. She understood the importance of a good pastor's wife. Her commitment to the ministry has been absolute, total and never, not once, has there been any complaining, whining or "poor me" that we hear so often from seminary wives and pastor's wives: total, constant encouragement and support.
The most devastating experience for Lynn very early in our marriage was when we did visit a seminary and she sat in on a seminary wives meeting. She came back to the dorm room where we were staying and cried her eyes out at the thought of having to be around so many negative, complaining, whiney, "pity party" types. Thankfully, the Lord provided a teaching position for Lynn in a parish in Defiance, Ohio, where we were just far enough away from the seminary that she was not forced to be involved with "seminary wife" groups. She instead poured herself into her teaching. And what a fantastic teacher she is. While were in Ohio she earned her Masters in Education, with a concentration in reading and computer technology.
Lynn's idea of a fun time is doing fifty things, and going 100 places, in a day. My idea of a fun time is reading in my chair and listening to Bach all day. We compromised. I do a lot of things now and go a lot of places. And she understands how much I enjoy reading and thinking and being contemplative.
We absolutely are nuts for each other. It's a mutual admiration society. I'm her number one fan, and she is mine. We just really enjoy being together. We were driving somewhere together the other day, spending some time alone, and I said, "Lynn, I just really like you." She laughed. And said, "I like you too." The more years you are married, the more important it is to like each other. You kids who are just married, you have a lot to look forward to. It only gets better. Before we fell asleep last night, she said, "Tomorrow is our 25th anniversary! It doesn't seem like 25 years." I said, "No, it feels more like, oh, maybe five years." "Right, maybe six."
She was my "secret weapon" in the parish, charming the socks off every member of the parish, precisely because she was so sincere. I do NOT advise this, but….in my first month at my parish I had one particularly grumpy member who started to give me a hard time. Lynn took it upon herself to drive to his house and politely and sternly tell him to stop giving me a hard time and told him point blank, "My husband is a brand new pastor. He loves this congregation. So be nice to him and support him. I will not let you ruin my husband's ministry." Now, please, understand, only Lynn could get away with this. He became her fast friend and she beautifully took care of him and his wife when his wife was in her final days with advanced Alzheimers. He became my staunchest supporter. She has been a superb mother to our three children, who are all so incredibly unique. Vexing at times? Sure. Fascinating? Always. I just sit back on this day and thank God that I have been so blessed. So blessed indeed. It truly amazes me.
One more glimpse into Lynn's personality. On our wedding day she knew that I, being a shy person by nature, was highly uncomfortable with a number of the silly ceremonies associated with weddings, chiefly the whole "throw the garter" thing during which the groom is expected to lift his wife's dress, expose her leg and take her garter off. Pastors, you know how nearly obscene these foolish spectacles can get. Well, the moment came and I lifted her dress gingerly to find outrageously pink and white striped socks all the way up to her knees, and brand new white Nike tennis shoes on her feet, and the garter discreetly placed below her knee.
Yup, that's my Lynn.
That's more personal information in one post than I've posted on this blog site in years. So, please indulge me and realize how deeply this day, and this woman, means to me. Rejoice with me and pray for us.
Twenty five years ago today, these two people were married: Lynn and Paul. What a truly blessed man I am.
Then along came these three people: Mary (13), Paul (18), and John (16). The fuzzy white creature is Sunny, the Dog.