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Celebrating 40 Years of Life Together

40 years ago, Karen and I got married on a blustery day in Chicago. She was 21 years-old and had never been out of America.  We flew to Indonesia, that largest of Muslim nations, and took up residence in an apartment in the slums. We didn’t have a fridge and cooked on a bunsen burner. An …
By Seth Barnes

seth karen alaska

40 years ago, Karen and I got married on a blustery day in Chicago. She was 21 years-old and had never been out of America. 

We flew to Indonesia, that largest of Muslim nations, and took up residence in an apartment in the slums. We didn’t have a fridge and cooked on a bunsen burner. An open sewer flowed by outside. We learned the language and navigated Jakarta in tuk-tuks.

From there we moved to the Dominican Republic and did the same thing all over again. Two years later, we had our first baby and before she was 30, Karen was pregnant with our fifth child.

You can look at that and say we were crazy. We didn’t have any pre-marital or pre-field counseling. It was sink or swim. You can say that our parents or bosses should have protected and prepared us more.

But we learned to swim and we are still swimming. 

Maybe the current parenting philosophy will swing back to the one that gifted us with resilience. Maybe not. I’m thankful to God for a woman who was up for an adventure, parents who trusted me to God, and for a God who takes our failure and uses it to craft marvelous stories of redemption.

The forty years have come and gone quickly. We have sought to live in such a way that we will be able to die without regrets. We have taken risks that many thought imprudent. We’ve been pioneers when others played it safe.

And I like the fruit. Karen and I are still in love. When we go away together as we will tomorrow to an island off Belize to celebrate, that old flame is still there. We are blessed to have fallen in love young and to figure out how to stay in love. 

In a world gone crazy this past year, that’s something worth celebrating.

 

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