Sunday, June 13, 2010

42 Blessings (and counting...)

He followed my flowing wedding gown through the winding pebbled paths of the Dallas Arboretum that hot June afternoon, lugging a cooler brimming with sparkling sodas and virgin margaritas. The women chatted and giggled like a gaggle of birds throughout my bridal potrait photo shoot, and an upbeat Charles stood ready with fans and kleenexes and comic relief. This defining afternoon began my realization of the fortune of an engaged, fun-loving father-in-law.
Fourteen years later, my mind stores countless examples of Charles, aka Papa, making things just a little more fun. He turns the ordinary into adventures.

"I just want to be where Charles is."
This was Jamie's response to my question, "How do you feel about moving from Rockwall?"
After living their entire lives in Dallas, then raising three children and putting roots into churches and schools and a community of dear friends in nearby Rockwall, Charles and Jamie put a for sale sign in their suburban yard and headed for the mountains. Angel Fire had been beckoning Charles' allegiance for years, and the time was right. With their own parents in their celestial homes, two children just married and the youngest tucked away at Baylor, Charles closed up shop and began his long-time dream of becoming a "local" in northern New Mexico.
And Jamie followed.
WITH a happy heart.

A decade and a half later, we all agree that it was indeed the right time. Charles and Jamie have put their mark on the rural mountain towns of Eagle Nest and Angel Fire, and it's given our own little family a beautiful place to claim (not to mention a beautiful place to hike, ski, and breathe fresh mountain air).

But despite all the beauty and grandeur of getting to live in this amazing spot, it was Charles' dream and not Jamie's. She hasn't said so, but I imagine she would have been quite content staying in the comfort of Rockwall. When she said yes to following Charles' dream, she said goodbye to her life-giving friends, a deeply LIVING church body, inspiring Christian radio stations, a convenient grocery store (!), and the familiarities of life. As a newlywed, I was impacted by Jamie's happy sacrifice of not only supporting her husband, but pushing him toward his dreams and callings.

After my last post on our parents' anniversaries, I'm including an email Charles and Jamie sent us last spring. It's their "thankful list" of 42 years together. So - Mama and Papa - we are deeply and eternally thankful for YOU both, for your marriage, and for the indescribable gifts you have and continue to lavish on us all.
Can't wait to hear what your "43" is!

42 Blessings

This is for a blessing to each of you for 2010.
Papa and Mama wanted to share 42 of our most precious blessings from our life, one for each year we have been married.
They are our way of saying we love you and have been blessed in so many ways.
1. God's love for us
2. Christ's sacrifice for us
3. A life foundation based on #'s 1&2
4. Our parents
5. Our family heritage
6. Brothers and sisters
7. Finding each other
8. Our relationship built on faith
9. Friendships that have lasted
10. A wedding that began with love and commitment
11. A career that was fulfilling and challenging
12. The adventure of parenthood
13. A fruitful church experience
14. Healthy children
15. A simple community that was comfortable
16 A fun neighborhood
17. Neighbors who became close friends
18. Friends for our children
19. Sharing fun sports events with our children
20. The Rockwall Band
21. Our children finding that eternal relationship with Christ
22. Our children attending college
23. Their college friends
24. Wedding bells for each child
25. Each of our children's mates
26. Experiencing each couples establishing a new home
27. Working on old houses
28. Branson "Charlie"
29. Foster"Jimmie"
30. Hudda Budda
31. Nettie May
32. Basden Joy
33. River Luca
34. Esther Jamie
35. Nera Sage Violet
36. Rowan Beth
37. Family holidays and vacations
38. Eagle Mountain Lodge
39. Sharing in the lives and faith experiences of Grandkids
40. HEART felt miracles that have touched us all.
41. Seeing our adult children live joyful lives
42. Another year to be together in spirit and love as a family

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Priceless Gift

Our parents gave us a humongous gift last week.
Something so big, I can't help but write a little something about it.
This is one of those "priceless" gifts... something we'll never be able to put a price tag on, with benefits we'll forever take for granted.

In the last week, mine AND Corbin's parents have celebrated their 40th and 43rd wedding anniversaries, respectively.
Amen, and Amen!

And it goes down the line.
Corbin remembers celebrating his maternal grandparents' 50th anniversary (his paternal grandparents died young, but were married more than three decades at that). Both sets of my grandparents stayed married until death as well, probably 40 or 50 years on each side.
So, we've been given this legacy. If I'm ever asked to share my story, my testimony, I always start with the fact that the story of God's work in my life began way before 1972, before my birth. He set me securely in a well-trod path footed by generations of godly relatives who trekked before me, clearing worldly debris and plucking weeds of pride, pointing to the truth that satisfaction comes not from this world but in the God who created it.

I claim Psalm 16:5-6 as one of my "life" verses -
Lord you have assigned my my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Isn't that passage grand? I'm well aware it's not everyone's story, not even most people's story. But it's a beautiful, undeserved GIFT that Corbin and I get to fall into family lines who not only loved and honored the Lord, but who took their marriage vows seriously!

Last week my mom and dad celebrated their anniversary in South Padre Island, where they honeymooned 40 years ago. I think it's only appropriate, along with a "way to go, Mom and Dad!" cheer, to share the following letter. My dad penned it last year on the occasion of my mom's 40th birthday.

Soul Mate
I knew from the beginning that Claudene loved someone else more than me. Her heart and loyalty belong to Jesus. A good start. Allows everything else fall into place.

I saw her at her senior prom. I was an invader from the nearby college, escorting the football coach’s daughter. Claudene caught my eye from across the room. Bouffant hair, flipped up at the shoulders. Pretty as a picture. She had her hair fixed the same way in her yearbook picture, the picture on my desk.

We flew kites at Padre Island. She was a fresh breeze. Dancing at a party, I told her I was going to marry her. She slapped me and wouldn’t talk to me the rest of the evening. I went to see her at her house. She was studying in the back yard. I sat down next to her in the grass. For no reason, she threw a Tupperware glass and hit me right between the eyes.

Everything kinda fell into place. Our dreams blended and strengthened.
She was bright eyed and expecting great adventures heading out for Marine Flight School.
She was bright eyed and expectant on the cruise ship heading for three years in Hawaii.
She was bright eyed and expectant arriving in Tokyo with two suitcases in one hand and two kids on a dog leash in the other.
She was bright eyed and expectant when we sat down to chart our new future, returning to South Texas for helicopter cattle herding.
She was bright eyed and expectant heading up to Fort Worth. After touring our soon to be seminary home, we had pancakes at IHOP. Her pancakes had maple syrup and tears.
The seminary home had several good points. It was convenient to the campus. It was convenient to find things because anything loose would roll to one corner of the house. If we ever wanted to hop a train there was one right across the fence.
She was bright eyed and excited when she hurried me out to see the new home she had found that even had an aviary name. In the Wren home she raised four bright eyed and expectant children.
She was bright eyed and excited sitting and cheering in the stands for all their games. All of them. She was bright eyed and excited to get started cheering for the grandkids.
She was bright eyed and excited driving up the crunching road to Driftwood in Lake Palo Pinto, where we are at home on dueling riding mowers and front row seats for reflective Texas sized sunsets. Where the sun always sets in that perfect picturesque place over the top of the Hill Country.
She was bright eyed and expectant touring an airport homesite on a golf cart, greeting evening walkers and cyclists.
She was bright eyed and expectant when she started teaching to pay for cheerleading outfits and soccer shoes, twenty years ago. She was bright eyed and expectant of those special needs children, making sure they got what they needed.
She is bright eyed and excited when Bogan asks to go for a ride in Daboo’s little red Panoz.
Claudene often comes out and sits in the hangar as I preflight the plane. When I taxi back in she is reading a book on the front porch. I see it as kinda like sitting in the stands cheering for Cap.
She took a flight with me along Bear Creek recently, bright eyed and excited about future trips to Victoria and beyond.
Every morning I wake up in 1970. I look past her yearbook picture out at the trees lighting up along Bear Creek. I thank God for this girl that has made me a better man, as things have kinda fallen in place.