Tag Archive | anniversary

Going back

I’ve been doing a lot of going back and forth lately.  Back to the church of my youth.   Back to the place of so many memories.  Back to the songs I know so well.

Dixie Valley

The church were I grew up is having its 75th anniversary this weekend.  As part of the music planned for the weekend celebration, I’ve been traveling there for choir practices.  Dixie Valley Church of God is where I went from being a child to an adult, where I met and courted Sweet William, where we married and where we served when our one and only son was born.

I played the organ.  Sweet William played the guitar.  We were charter members of the Dixie Valley Youth Choir in its prime.  They were good days.

Former members of the church and choir are coming from near and far away to practice and participate in the weekend services.  We are singing a lot of old songs, the toe-tapping hand-clapping gospel songs.  Sometimes they raise the rafters.

What started as a youth choir in the 1970s is now a group of multi-generational people.  Those of us in the original youth choir have aged.  There are balding and grey heads among us.  We’ve born children and are enjoying grandchildren.  Some have parted with spouses by death or divorce.  We’ve had our share of happiness but we’ve also swam in deep waters and rivers of difficulty.  More importantly we have experienced the grace of God through the years and we know, yes, we know without a doubt that our God is real.

The church of my youth has changed in so many ways.  Pastors have come and gone.  A host of members have left us by way of the grave.  This weekend we will remember and be thankful for our experiences together.

And at the end of the day, one thing will remain.  When it is all said and done, God is still faithful and His church is triumphant.

May we always remember.

Anniversary

our wedding jan 21 1972, 2

Forty-two years ago I said “I do”.  I didn’t really know what I was saying “I do” to.  Does anyone?  They who stand at the altar in the perfect dress and the pressed tux with shiny shoes while love songs are playing and friends and family are smiling, they have no idea.

We didn’t either, Sweet William and I.

But we meant what we said and we said what we meant and were determined to be faithful one hundred percent. 

It wasn’t easy.

But today, on this our 42nd wedding anniversary, we are thankful for the commitment.  The promise we made was God-ordained, and He kept us from falling.

And we are thankful, counting it grace, counting it a gift.

Because love is still love no matter what it endures or how many bumps are in the road or how we felt we were drowning at times.

If you ask me was it worth the fight, I will say “yes” with a resounding shout.

To young couples, old couples, any married couple I encourage you, don’t give up.  Fight for the covenant you made.  Get help.  Make changes.  Give grace.  Forgive and don’t hold a grudge.  Move toward each other not away.  Remember love.  Pray hard.

So I re-post from a few years ago, because it’s worth saying again.

 

I remember catching you look at me when you thought I wasn’t looking.  But I was.

I remember when you asked me out, hesitant that I might say no.  I didn’t.

I remember when you first reached for my hand and how it felt encircled in yours.

I remember the first tender kiss by the gate.

I remember falling in love with you and never quite recovering from it.

I remember waiting for your call and hoping it would last awhile.

I remember walking down the aisle and having eyes only for you.

I remember the newlywed days that were replaced with the young parent days that were replaced with real life days.

I remember the struggles, the tears, the pain, the laughter, the joy.

I remember when it all began to fall apart, and we were afraid.

I remember how God gave us a second chance when no one else did.

I remember how our love bloomed again and became a bouquet I never thought possible.

Now it is today.  And I love you more than I did when I first remembered.

Happy Anniversary Sweet William.

Bill and Peg, dad's 90th

Forty years ago . . .

Amidst the stark bareness of winter, I see it green and living, nestled and attached.

It is mistletoe in the upper branches of an old water maple tree that grows near my yard.  The bunch of green grows where nothing else does in the deep of winter. The season that hangs heavy around us.

And it reminds me . . .

A tall young man, muscular and strong, walked with me, just a young woman, to the back of property owned by my uncle, Sam Rayhill, Jr.  It was just fields and high weeds and a few trees, a place for a courting couple to be together in the outdoors that seemed a bit of Heaven on earth for those who are young and falling in love.

We spied the mistletoe in the top of a tree that day. It was nearing Christmas, and wouldn’t fresh mistletoe be wonderful to hang in my mother and dad’s house, already decorated with reds and greens?

I’d never seen real living mistletoe before.  But how to get it out of that tall tree in the uppermost branches?  The tall young man borrowed my pellet gun, and we walked back to that tree.  He aimed with an eye trained to hit the target.  The bullet struck its mark, a piece of the mistletoe fell to the ground, and I thought he was just wonderful.

I gathered the green plant and took it to our house.  We hung it with some ribbon.  And we kissed underneath it.

Now, forty plus years later, life has taken its toll on that tall young man.  He has suffered much, grown weary at times with too many illnesses and too many surgeries.  Yet . . . he is still the one and only love of my life.  He is my hero, my friend.  After all these years, I still think he is so handsome.  And he tells me I am beautiful.  He will always make my heart thrill.  Today we celebrate 40 years of marriage.

We are two who have beaten the odds to remain as one.

We almost lost this precious gift of love, of covenant promised long ago. Once I held papers in my hand that read, “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” and I cried, uncontrollable, inconsolable, unable to breathe. I had never wanted that.  Neither did he.  But there seemed to be no other solution.  Too much pain and too many hurtful words.  Too many misunderstandings and too much anger and too much pulling away.  Too much dysfunction.

How did we manage to salvage what was so broken and beyond repair?

Grace.

There is no other explanation except that God will have compassion on whom He will have compassion, as He told Moses on the mount when He revealed to him His glory (Exodus 33:19).   God’s glory announces “I AM” when He pours out compassion and mercy on souls so undeserving.  Souls like us.

And we were soaked, drenched, plunged into the glory.

Sweet William and I will rejoice in this milestone of our lives.  It will not be picture perfect this year.  No fine restaurant, no trip to the Bahamas, no sparkling gemstone in a setting of gold.

But we will celebrate nevertheless.  How can we not?  We who believed have seen the glory of God (John 11:40).

The glory that picks up the pieces of shattered lives, that puts brokenness back together while leaving the scars.

The glory that restores what the locusts had eaten and destroyed only to gives life in its place.

The glory of love renewed from Love Himself.

The glory of covenant kept and of legacy passed to the next generation and the next.

The glory of grace.

I love you, Sweet William.  Happy Anniversary.