It’s my husband’s birthday today and I’m celebrating him even as we prepare to celebrate the Birthday Boy, Lord Jesus. Paul’s birthday often gets shuffled among a lot of other things in December. He doesn’t mind. He’s my laid-back love, my patient pastor, my servant-leader, the one whose greatest joy is watching others flourish. He will not be pleased that I chose to post about him today.

I don’t often share how amazing he is and what a gift it is to be married to him. He’s put up with me for almost 40 years. We met in August of 1982 on the campus of International Crusades, our mission agency now called One Collective. We were to be teammates, serving together in short-term missions for three years. For me, it was love at first sight. For him, well, as I often say, it took me three years to convince Paul that we should stay on the same team for the rest of our lives. We married in the summer of 1985. Bits and pieces of our love story are sprinkled throughout my novels, but someday maybe I’ll tell you the real story. It is filled with plot twists and God’s surprises!

I think the best way to honor Paul today is to share a few poems I have written about and for him through the years.

Along with a few photos. Because, as you have doubtless realized, I really enjoy photos.

Joyeux Anniversaire, my precious Paul!

I wrote this poem in 1984 while we were serving as teammates in a dried-up mining town in Eastern France and were suddenly finding ourselves moving toward marriage. It is actually a song, and Paul and I sang it together at our rehearsal dinner. Paul has a gorgeous voice. I do not. He puts up with a lot, as I’ve said.

Here we are in 1985 with our beloved teammate, Odette

Tu M’As Offert Un Tres Joli Cadeau

(You Gave Me a Beautiful Gift)

Tu m’as offert un tres joli cadeau.

Oh, Lord, how did you know

The deep desires within my heart?

I’m in awe of Your gentle, gracious Hand

Tearing down the things I’d planned

So You could set me worlds apart.

I was hopeless imagination

With dreams of glory and fame.

I wanted a guy

Who was spiritually “high”

With a list of credits after his name.

I was searching for adventure.

I had carefully imagined the man.

We’d be serving our Lord,

But surely we could afford

To buy some treasures from this land.

Tu m’as offert un tres joli cadeau.

Oh, Lord, I hope You know,

We’re so different, and yet

Where I’m weak, I find that he is strong.

We’re a harmonizing song,

A guitar and flute duet.

‘Cause I like fancy restaurants and dances,

Riding bareback on a horse.

Well dressed men

And art museums,

A French impressionist course.

But he likes peanut butter and chocolate

With a soccer ball at his feet.

A child on his lap,

And an afternoon nap

With Reader’s Digest or Time magazine.

And he likes wearing tee-shirts in winter.

He likes Dempsey Dumpsters in Spring.

A bottle of Coke

And a light-hearted joke

When he smiles, it makes my heart sing.

Tu m’as offert un tres joli cadeau

An eternity ago,

When I took Jesus as my Guide.

Now You’ve given me this very special boy,

And like a child with his new toy,

Let me cling to him with pride.

No, he doesn’t dress real fancy,

But he’s a precious jewel to behold.

‘Cause I looked in his eyes,

And to my surprise,

I found gold.

He’s a treasure from my Jesus

According to His riches above.

He’s abundantly beyond

All that I’d counted on.

He’s my Father’s perfect gift to me of love.

Tu m’as offert un très jolie cadeau.

Summer, 1984

The grandkids call Paul ‘Papy’, the French equivalent of ‘Granddaddy’

This one was written (another song, ah-hem, that I will not sing for you) the summer before we got married in 1985, fresh home from the mission field, Paul was working at a furniture store, delivering furniture while I planned the wedding in Atlanta.

The Chattanooga Song

Chorus: See Rock City and Ruby Falls

From the highway the billboard calls

But I’m not heading to Chattanooga for sightseeing tours,

I’m bound for Chattanooga ‘cause I am yours

And those signs that I once thought were tacky,

Now they make my heart beat faster

For they lead the way to my fiancé

And our life happily ever after

Chorus

And the sun shines bright on Lookout Mountain

You can see seven states from the top if you want

You can ride the incline and the food’s real fine

At the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Restaurant

Chorus

We’ll build a life in Hixson, Tennessee

Inside our little love nest

And if you’re looking for action we’re the main attraction

‘Cause with you and me together, love’s the best

So come on Rock City, hurry up Ruby Falls

From the highway my heartstrings call

I’m bound for Chattanooga just as fast as I can

‘Cause I’m gonna be the wife of my once-in-a-lifetime man

I can’t wait to be the wife of my once-in-a-lifetime man!

See Rock City and Ruby Falls….

(written while driving back and forth from Atlanta to Chattanooga, summer, 1985)

August 31, 1985

Years went by and we were missionaries struggling to help start a little church in France.

Song for Paul

–written for his 40th birthday

Strong like the wind in the winter

Gentle like a warm breeze in spring

Kind like the kiss of a kindred heart

Passionate for action and dreams

Light like the laughter of children

Deep when I peer in your soul

Hopeful and happy and humble of heart

The much better half of our whole

Soft is your voice as you sing to me

Wise are your words when you pray

Fun and affection you give to our sons

As your life leads these boys on their way

Time is a test of our promise

And time and again you’ve proved true

Simple and sweet, thoughtful and deep

All of it wrapped up in you

Why you would choose me forever

Is one of the mysteries of love

You are the best gift I ever received

From our most gracious Father above

You are the best gift I ever received

From our most gracious Father above

Elizabeth Musser, December, 1998

I’ve written many other poems for my precious partner and lover Paul, but the last lines of the above poem sum it up best. Apart from my salvation in Christ, he is the best gift I’ve ever received.

On the beach at Hilton Head, SC, 2020
With Andrew, Lacy, Jesse, Nadja’Lyn, Quinn, and Lena, fall 2020
Giving the message at Chris and Ashlee’s wedding, August 7, 2021

What is the best gift you’ve ever received? Take time and thank the Lord for this today!

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog, Letters to the Lord.

2 Comments on “Letters to the Lord: Birthday Boy

  1. Oh ma Cherie!!

    Elizabeth, what a precious tribute! I understand as the Lord has given me such a man, godly, wonderful example to our sons and precious Daddy to our girls, opa to our grandchildren. May the Lord give you many more years to serve Him together. Priceless. Love from Lynchburg, Donna Jeanne

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Today is my husband’s birthday as well! I also consider him the best gift I have ever received (apart from Jesus). Thank you for sharing these remembrances. We have been together almost 38 years.

    Liked by 1 person

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