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OUT TO PASTOR: Memories can be so... memorable

In growing older, I noticed a strange phenomenon.

The older I get, the more I forget.

Last week, for example, The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage stumped me with one of her infamous questions.

“Do you know what next Monday is?”

I looked at her, smiled, scratched my head, and said, “No, who’s birthday is it?”

Keeping up with family birthdays is not my strong suit. My wife has 11 siblings, and I have 2 siblings; with all their children and grandchildren, there must be hundreds of birthdays. I have trouble remembering my birthday at times, let alone family members.

“You don’t know what next Monday is?”

“Oh,” I said, “I just remembered, it’s our daughter’s birthday.”

I didn’t like the look she threw in my direction, but I caught it, and she said, “Her birthday was last week.”

Okay, I’m in trouble. I have no idea whose birthday it is, and I have no way of finding out. I must succumb to The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage’s agenda.

“What is next Monday’s celebration?” I said with a worried look.

“You really don’t know, do you?” She looked at me as though I had committed the unpardonable sin.

Thinking about it, I said, “I don’t have another doctor’s appointment on Monday, do I?”

Then she did something that I’d never seen her do before. She flashed her wedding ring in my direction.

“Oh no,” I said in desperation, “it isn’t our wedding anniversary is it?”

“Yes it is, and do you know which one?”

I can balance my checkbook but cannot balance wedding dates. Looking at her with a smile, I said, “Is it our 30th anniversary?”

“If you don’t get your act together it might just be our last!”

Then she said, “Let me give you a clue. Our oldest daughter just turned 51. Does that ring a bell?”

I did remember that she was born one year after our wedding, so I turned to my wife with a smile and said, “Oh, my dear, it must be our 52nd wedding anniversary.”

I met my future wife at a Bible Institute I attended in September 1970. In December of that year, we went to a function with schoolmates, and coming home, we sat in the back part of the bus. We were chattering and having a good time.

Then this young girl looked at me and said, “Wouldn’t it be great to get married?”

Not being girl-smart, I didn’t get the drift of that conversation, but I smilingly said, “That sure would be very great.” Then we laughed all the way home. She got the joke, but I did not.

Walking down the school hall one week later, many people looked at me, smiled and said, “Congratulations.” I had no idea what they were talking about.

Then one of them said, “I guess you’re happy that your girlfriend is getting married.” Then he laughed as he walked away.

I was happy she was getting married, but what about our relationship? I thought we had something. Now what do I do?

Someone else congratulated me, and I finally said, “Who is she marrying?”

“Oh you silly boy, she’s marrying you.” Then they walked away laughing as though it was the joke of the week.

Later that week, I spent time with her and said, “Have you heard the rumor that is going around about you?”

“Yes, I have; I’m the one who started it.”

“Well,” I said hesitantly, “maybe you should’ve told me first.”

“Oh, you silly boy,” she said, “don’t you remember we talked about it on our way back from that event in December?”

I then remembered that conversation; I didn’t understand its meaning at the time. Silly me, I thought getting married meant you made a proposal and were conscious of it.

The story develops and on Feb. 14, 1971, I officially proposed marriage and gave her the engagement ring. The wedding took place on August 14 of that year. We barely knew each other a year before we tied the knot and got married. Maybe that’s why it lasted so long.

It is hard to believe that was 52 years ago.

Reflecting on this memory, I remembered what Solomon said. “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.” (Proverbs 31:10-11).

I don’t think it was an accident when I found the woman that was to be my wife. It was a work of the Lord in both our lives. For 52 years, not only have we been married, but we have also been serving the Lord together.


Dr. James L. Snyder lives in Ocala, FL with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Telephone is (352) 216-3025, e-mail is, and website is

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