July 14, 2008

Acceptance Speech

(Please forgive a little self indulgence with today's post...)

Today I am fifty. The Big Five-O. Half a century. Five decades. There, I said it.

My life so far has been filled with the expected and unexpected ups and downs. You know, the stuff that happens to all of us and makes us either better or bitter, either grateful or angry.

Transplanted to California from the East Coast before I started grade school but now living in Colorado, I will always be a Californian at heart. My folks were young and hopeful like all newlyweds, and they choose to take off to the Golden State for a better life. I'm glad they did. I grew up loving the beach, the bountiful sun, the surf, all the great music, and Disneyland.

Most all my folks' relatives soon followed them out. In an age where so many families are living apart, it was a huge gift to grow up very close in distance and in heart to both my grandmothers. I cherish those memories of my time with them! There were also numerous aunts, uncles and cousins that joined us.

Our family was and is now, warm and loving. We had our issues like every family, especially in the teenage years when my sister and I knew everything. We knew how to fight, but we knew how to make up, too! There is so much about my parents and my sister that I didn't appreciate until I had kids of my own, but I knew I was loved deeply, and I loved them back. My Dad taught me how to be a great husband just by watching him. My Mom taught me what it meant to be a friend. Great role models to this day.

I will always be thankful for living in California for two other reasons. As a young adult, I got to experience the "Jesus Movement" of the seventies. It was an exciting time to discover there was more to life than what I knew.

A young pastor named Greg Laurie explained God's love and sacrifice through Jesus for me (and about 1,000 other people). I made a commitment that night to give things over to Him. I have never regretted that choice. God washed away my pain and sin and replaced it with joy and hope and new life. Although the struggles in life don't disappear, God is faithful. I've been trying to live a peaceful and love-filled life for Jesus ever since. Sometimes doing better in that than others, but still trying.

Fast-forward a couple of years. Reason number two for being glad I lived in California: it is where I met my wife- the biggest blessing from God I've ever received. She also came with a pretty terrific family of her own. I love them all as if I grew up with them myself.

As it should be, my wife is the person I would choose to spend all my time with given the choice. There is no one else I'd rather talk to. We laugh, we cry, we work, and we play together really well. In the midst of life's experiences, she continues to amaze me with her wisdom, her silly sense of humor, and her beauty. She navigates the working world with ease. Always the mechanic in the house, trying to fix anything at least once. There is more to say, most I'll never tell. It is wonderful to have your wife as your best friend. I've always said "One woman is more than enough for any man", and I plan on spending the rest of my life loving her.

Three of our four children were born in California, but the youngest decided to make his appearance in Colorado. (Our red-haired and blue-eyed "Bronco Baby" as the doctor described him.) We have been blessed to also have a great family life, playing, working, traveling, and just enjoying each other. Our kids are all adults now, with lives and families of their own. (But deep down inside, they will always be "Munchie", "Silly Honey", "Ted" and "Boy" to me!) Each very different from the other, but I am so proud of them as they have encountered their own struggles and joys and survived and thrived with their faith intact. As they say, time marches on. (And I love being a father-in-law and a Granddad as it does!)

Even though we live far away from our families, we are still close. After two decades in Colorado, God has blessed us with wonderfully fun and faithful friends. There have been more parties on our patio than I can count and all the support you'd ever want when things are tough. I enjoy work and the folks I work with. After five decades, I still love my wife and kids and my God. Guess life is pretty good, even at fifty!
Well, enough ranting! It is time to move on and enjoy the future. Thankfully, my favorite verse from the Bible has no expiration date, even for this next season of life: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him." 
(From the Book of I Corinthians 2:9)

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