Friday, November 18, 2011

An Open Letter to My Mother on My Parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary

November 18, 2011

Dear Ma-Ma,

I am thankful today as I reflect that 50 years ago you and Dad were married. I looked on the internet and found that in 1961 postage stamps cost 4 cents, JFK was inaugurated, Carry Back won the Kentucky Derby, West Side Story was adapted for the big screen, and Patsy Cline released her song Crazy!

I think of a lot of people who would have been at your wedding – Mom-ee and Pa-Pa, Frances and Emily, Dad’s parents, and high school and college friends.

Lots of good memories come to my mind. Many more than can be penned. I am thankful for the security of my childhood home that gave me the foundational grace and strength to stand through the storms of life as an adult. You all instilled in me that family was very important. I never doubted if you and Dad loved and cared for me. You took time to develop a relationship with me and eventually with my friends. I knew that I was a vital part of your lives – not just someone passing through. You and Dad both took time to spend with me and let me know that I was important. And you both communicated your love for me, of which I am grateful. As I became a pastor and began working with men, it surprised me to discover how many grown men have never been hugged by their father nor ever been told the ever-important words from their father, I love you. I cannot recall one night I lived with you and Dad that you both did not touch me and tell me that you loved me.

You all instilled in me the need to love and respect God, to believe His Word, and to be involved with the church. We talked about the Lord, the Bible, and church so often around our supper table. I distinctly remember you and I sitting one dark night at our kitchen table in Henderson with a children’s story Bible while you told me the story of Old Testament Joseph. The lesson from his life, that God is always with us, has carried me through many highs and lows in my adulthood. I have so many pleasant memories related to church and our friends from church. Those were great, happy times for me that I enjoy recalling and reliving in my thoughts. I remember your impacting my friends in high school as you taught the girls in Sunday School.

I remember so many wonderful holiday memories – Easters, birthdays, anniversaries, Halloweens, Thanksgivings, and Christmases. The house was always ablaze with Christmas decorations in December. I remember enjoying our advent season, particularly when school got out and we were home.

You also modeled for me to have a lifestyle of showing compassion to other people and to use your life to serve your fellow man. I saw in you that life was not just about making self happy but about reflecting God and giving to others. Many times I can recall your taking time to share what you had with others and get involved in their needs.

You worked so hard to provide for me. I know that was very difficult at times, and it did not go unnoticed. Thank you for the sacrifices you made in order to give me a good start on life. In part it gave me a great sense of responsibility to make good choices and invest my life wisely. According to the Gallup organization’s StrengthsFinder, one of my top five natural strengths is “responsibility.” I know you modeled that well for me.

You all embraced Tracey when she won my heart, and you both showed interest and love for her. And when our children came along, you exhibited great love and joy for them. It has brought me much pleasure through the years to see the joy that you all had in our children. I distinctly remember all of us being together at the hospital when Hendrix was born. A snapshot in my memory is walking out of the operating room holding Hendrix with you, Dad, Karen, and Ray looking on. Anna-Frances has so enjoyed spending time with Amma. Moose Keller told me a few years ago that Dad’s daily topic of conversation at breakfast was “Dawson.”

Finally, you specifically exhibited two qualities worth remembering. One, you prayed so consistently for my life, my friends, and eventually my own family. Thank you for your labor of love and ministry of intercession. I have no doubt that your prayers enabled me to make many good choices and have a relatively smooth voyage into adulthood. I value your prayers for my children as they grow up in a culture hostile to the Judeo-Christian value system. And two, you modeled for me perseverance in the midst of trials and disappointments. You were often like the Energizer Bunny that took a licking but kept on ticking! As Twila Paris sang, the warrior is a child who keeps running back when she falls down. You showed me how to cope with difficulty, trust God in the face of heartache, and hang on when your world is shaken. Those are very important qualities worth remembering.

Happy Anniversary! I am glad that you all were my parents.

Much love,


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