Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Box of Memories Helps Me Celebrate My Parent's 49 Years of Marriage

Author: Susan L. Prince

It is not a pleasant thing to come home from a wonderful vacation to open the front door and step into an inch of water standing on your beautiful hardwood floors.  You discover that the line to the ice maker on the freezer broke at floor level and had been leaking for, most likely, the majority of the week you were gone, saturating the floors of three rooms.  For the entire following week you've had to endure your home being dried out with giant, industrial dehumidifiers and blowers, the carpet being torn up, the hardwood floor buckling, and the most affected area of the linoleum floor being torn out down to the subfloor.  From under the house, Service Master has pumped out +350 gallons of water and the house is now being tested for mold.  Nope, not fun.

This has been my life for the last week.  My house is a wreck with stuff everywhere that had to come out of bedroom closets and storage spaces.  But, then, I happened upon an old box of memories.  Old pictures, old letters and other paraphenalia like game winning softballs signed by teammates.

In this box of memories I came across a farewell note from my Musicland manager in Ames, IA after I gave notice to leave for TN, and I find it interesting that Brad, my manager (now deceased) credits a "higher power" calling me to leave.  I found letters of recommendation after I left teaching at Keystone Local Schools, notes that my mom and dad sent me while I was on a Search weekend #80 in 1984  (Catholic retreat for youths), and a plethora of other notes and things that make me smile.  I call it all "Happy Notes" and it has been fun rummaging through it.

So many faces were brought to my mind as I came across various reminders of the people from my past; former colleagues, classmates, bosses, employees, students, roommates, customers and family members.  What a treasure!

 While each of the things in this box of memories has significance, a few special ones stand out.  I don't have the time or space to share them all, but probably the most special to me are the notes from my parents.

That Search #80 weekend concluded with a surprise of getting letters from loved ones.  In the lesson for that day we learned about how temporary this life is and that the only eternal thing is the love of God.  All else is "meaningless" and a "chasing after the wind".  We were told that the cards and letters we received, while meaningful things to us, they were written on paper that would deteriorate and that everything on this earth is temporary.  I don't know how it happened, but we were all encouraged to throw these letters into a pile in the middle of the floor.  Then everybody started stomping on the letters and destroying them, I guess hastening the destruction and showing that regardless of the emotions expressed in these letters and things, it is meaningless in comparison to the eternal and gracious love of our heavenly Father.

Being the "free spirit" I am, I chose to keep my letters.  I understood the point of the "lesson", but did not participate.  While others were destroying their letters from family members, parents, friends and whomever else, I chose to cling to mine.  These were precious things to me!  I refused to participate! And now, 26 years later I can pull them out of the box and cherish them.

I've often wondered if those who no longer have their letters have ever regretted destroying them?  I know that I'm glad I rebelled and kept mine.  :)  As I reread them today, I am simply reminded about how much I have always been loved, and that God gave me to the perfect parents.  Mom even points to that in my letter saying "I often wonder why the Lord gave you to us in the special way He did, but thank Him everyday for you."  

I think the most meaningful part of Mom's letter to me is when she said, "Sue, I not only love you, but I truly admire you as a person.  I don't know how many parents can say that to their children, but I can say it to you very easily."  Those words have stayed with me all these years, even when I haven't been digging through my box of memories. 

I read these with different eyes now, 26 years later, and with spiritual eyes, and I can see from them how God cared so much for me that He gave me parents that always pointed me to Him.  Mom tells me in my note, "remember that your best friend, Jesus, is there in good times and bad, to carry you if need be."
Dad shared that I know that, "Christ loves you and you know how good He has been to you.  I have seen you give this love to others and it really makes me feel good.  Please continue to live in Christ in the trying times ahead.  You know He will help you."

My dad also said that he was "very proud of the way [I] conduct [myself] and the way [I] live [my] life." 

How blessed am I?  VERY!  :)

This has reminded me about how God orchestrated my life and cared for me even when I had not yet given my heart to Him.  Not that I lived a life of debauchery, but I did not live for Him until I committed to Him in 1999.  All the while though, I have had loving parents praying for me and loving me.  They have been an example of Christ in my life and I am forever grateful God chose them to be my adoptive parents.

What better way to celebrate my parent's 49 years of marriage today than to be thankful that God put them in my life and raised me to know Him?

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