My parents were married on December 6, 1956. We had a reception for them to honor them to honor them on their 50th wedding anniversary in December, 2006. I’m so glad we were able to do it because my Dad had been weakened severely by a stroke for several years and went home to be with the Lord about 18 months later on July 11, 2008.
It was a special occasion not only because it was the 50th anniversary of their marriage, but the place we held it at, West Huntsville Baptist Church, was the place where they were married. In fact, the very site where we had the reception was the location of the old building where they said their vows.
About halfway through the reception Melanie, Hoss, and I took a few minutes to thank the folks for coming and to offer a tribute to Mom and Dad. Recently I came across my notes for that occasion and wanted to share them here.
There were three areas I mentioned in deep gratitude that I wanted to thank them publicly for on that day. Here they are.
I am grateful for the spiritual heritage they left us. When Mom and Dad were married they were attending the church at West Huntsville. Mom had already given her heart to the Lord as a young girl in Alexandria, Virginia. Shortly after their marriage Dad was saved and baptized at the church there. First I came along, then Melanie, and finally Hoss. All three of us attended the same church with our parents and we were all saved and baptized there.
Mom and Dad raised us in a home that was built on Christ and the Bible. They not only taught us to be faithful to church, to read the Bible, and serve the Lord, but they modeled it as well. We have the privilege to raise our children in a Christian home because they taught us how to do so. We watched them read their Bibles and knew it was a special book. We attended the church faithfully together as a family. We do the same today with our families.
I am grateful for how they loved people and showed us how important that was. Some love things and use people; my parents loved people and used things. Again, this was something we learned from their example from the way they lived. There was nothing phony about it to Mom and Dad. They genuinely cared for people and it rubbed off on us.
I don’t ever remember cars, the house, or clothes being given a high value in our home, but people always trumped everything else. Dad loved the bus business not so much because he loved to drive, but he enjoyed serving, making friends and helping people. He especially loved spending time with coaches. I think he would have been a great coach. Mom’s lifelong friends are those she worked with at school. They were all like an extended family to her. They taught us to love and care for people by their own lives.
I am grateful that they poured their lives into us, not only in our childhood, but even as young adults. It was at great sacrifice to their own welfare that they gave us their time and energy.
Mom took me and my friends to hear great preachers….gave me a love for books…..taught us to be there for people at special, joyful times of life (weddings and anniversaries) and at times when hearts were broken (funerals).
They didn’t just get us involved in activities, but they were with us. When I went to school, Mom volunteered as a teacher’s aide and then was hired to work on staff at Butler High School and did so for almost 30 years. When Melanie was a cheerleader, Mom was the sponsor. When Hoss and I played football, Dad drove the team bus and came to our practices and games. When we went to church camps and retreats – they went with us.
Dad graduated from high school and went to play college football at Livingston College on an athletic scholarship. He realized he loved football, but wasn’t wired for college so he came home and went to work. Mom also worked hard to help with the bills and attended classes at UAH for a while, but her work prevented her from finishing her degree. Both of them sacrificed for us.
However, when it came time for Melanie, Hoss and me to go to college they found a way. Hoss had the easiest way with a football scholarship and Melanie even finished with a Masters Degree, but all of us finished college because of their investment and encouragement – though they never did because of their working for us.
Now, we are raising our own young adults, teenagers and children and they are still
making investments in them. In most of the pictures we have of Mom and Dad you can’t help but notice that they are holding or playing with their grandchildren.
I close with my favorite Psalm. I saw it fulfilled in my family and now want to do the same with my own children. It’s about the importance of building your home around God’s Word and how He will bless it. This is what my parents did for us.
“Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:1-5)
(This is from my notes on my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary to honor them. I could have said so much more, but time was limited and I tried to hit the highlights. I’m glad they were there to hear them and that Melanie, Hoss and I were able to say some things that would bless them).