by Tim Paauw
I remember vividly holding hands with you, the love of my life, and walking through the sparkler-filled tunnel of our favorite people at the end of our perfect evening. I can still see family and friends holding their sparklers and smiling with us as though that moment happened in slow motion and was meant for eternity. I was about to enter the next chapter of life with you, the big unknown was in front of us and yet we promised to take each step together. That was a promise that was easy to make and has been easy to keep, because we did it with Christ in our hearts and as Lord of our life. We love because He first loved us.
The pastor preached our wedding message earlier that day from 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Our wedding day was filled with surprises, fun, toasts, and songs (even a Paauw Brothers Special and a Tito & Rich Blue Moon duet). We danced our first dance to “Bless the Broken Road” by Selah. I believe that song choice was not just a reflection of our past but nearly prophetic about our life ahead as it is a broken road but God has blessed each step.
Twelve years later, we find ourselves celebrating our anniversary in the spirit of true, eternal love – filled with self-sacrificing Christ-like ‘agape’ love each putting the other’s interest first and finding joy in that. Since our wedding, we have celebrated new life with our 3 kids!
I would have never imagined when we said “I do” that it would come with the autism journey for two of our kids. I also believe if someone had been able to give me that heads up years ago, I would not have been able to imagine the amazing blessings that are found within this journey. I get to see your love daily as you put our kids needs above your own. I’ve seen your strength as you have advocated in situations where autism has been challenged in ways that others can’t even fathom. I have grown in my faith by seeing you model a self-sacrificing love in ways that most moms have not been privileged to know as a result of the needs that come with autism. I’ve learned about hope through you as you’ve taught many others and continue to build awareness within our community of how to better understand autism and warmly embrace our boys. I’ve learned endurance through your ability to manage school, therapies, and swimming lesson schedules for all 3 kids so that each one would know that mom cares and is there for them.
What I did already know twelve years ago when I said “I do” is that you are a teacher, but I have now seen you teach our kids things that I didn’t think they’d ever be able to achieve. You’ve taught our daughter how to understand, love, and befriend both of her brothers – she is ‘all in’ for this crazy broken road with us. You’ve taught our boys how to face challenges and know they are able to grow through them. You’ve encouraged them to see beauty in their abilities rather than be bogged down by the glances of the public or the comments and questions people ask in front of them about their autism. You have taught them to be their best even when they are facing their worst moments.
So, God HAS blessed the broken road that led me straight to you AND the road that you and I walk, hand in hand. Although the road may feel quite different than that magical moment filled with sparklers and smiles, I believe as our West Side Christian School friends would say, it is ‘beyond belief’.
I love you to the moon and back and cannot wait to see where this crazy broken road will lead us next. We’ve got this!!