Happy Birthday, Husband o’ Mine
“Tomorrow I hit my life’s halfway mark.” – said by Dave on Saturday afternoon about turning 55 on Sunday. Yes, he plans to make it to 110. No kidding.
22 + 33 = 55 (You were 22 when you married me 33 years ago).
Forget the speed limit sign. You’re 55 and just hitting your stride!
I love that your big sister reminded you that in the Bible, the number 5 symbolizes grace. And I love that she said since you’re 55, it must mean double-grace. Immediately I thought of one of your all-time favorite passages from Zechariah. It is such a word of courage, such a call to remember, “‘It’s not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord.”
And the confidence that passage inspires goes on to challenge the mountains that seemingly stand in our way, sometimes, “Who are you, mountain – you’ll become a molehill,” and the man of God will get to finish what he started by the power of the Holy Spirit and he will get to place the capstone on the whole thing with people all around rejoicing, shouting “Grace! Grace to it!”
“For who are you, O great mountain [of human obstacles]? Before Zerubbabel [who with Joshua had led the return of the exiles from Babylon and was undertaking the rebuilding of the temple, before him] you shall become a plain [a mere molehill]! And he shall bring forth the finishing gable stone [of the new temple] with loud shoutings of the people, crying, Grace, grace to it!” Zechariah 4.7 Amp.
It’s the cherry on top promise. It’s the star on the Christmas tree. It’s the king of the hill scenario, that finishing gable stone story.
And it is your story. It is your revelation.
Remember years ago when we attended James Ryle’s Grace-Grace-Grace weekend in Boulder Valley? We found out grace really had nothing to do with unmerited favor (that’s more like mercy), but that grace was
“The empowering presence of God enabling us to be who He created us to be and to do what He created us to do.”*
Grace is God’s presence and His power and I love that you have always understood the grace of God and so been able to receive it and walk in it and share it freely.
So, 55 years ago
A teen-age girl gives up a baby. For 5 days you were in a Topeka, Kansas hospital, motherless, fatherless, it would seem to the staff. But I know that is when you first encountered Grace, His power, His comforting Presence and must be why you know Him so deeply that way.
Then they came for you – the Rhoades family. They signed papers and took you home, then moved you to Colorado and raised you for me.
I didn’t know, the summer of our big Colorado vacation in the early 70s that you were living here in Denver, all brown-skinned and dimpled, being prepared to be my husband. You had no idea those same June days that some stringy-long-haired tourist from Iowa, in a station wagon with her family was being prepared for you, to be your wife.
Maybe we passed you, madly pedaling your bike through the neighborhood. Maybe I saw your super-short, good Baptist-boy haircut. Maybe you saw me flash the peace sign out the rolled-down window (something I wasn’t allowed to do) and thought me rather sinful?
All I know is, you have been the gift of grace* to me. You have spent all the years preaching the message of it, reminding me time and again that I can’t earn it and I don’t even have to try. You have graced me with your love and your presence and you have opened the door for me to live in the Grace of God, not churchy-ness, not religiousness (my fall back every time), but in His empowering Presence.
It happens, the bad with the good…
I once saw a bumper sticker that said, in other words (if you get my drift), “Dung happens.” And I remember thinking, “No kidding. This bumper sticker speaks the truth. Dung does happen!” And it was in a season to which I could fully attest to it. Dung had happened. Lots of dung.
But then, we saw another bumper sticker. It spoke of what you have nurtured in our family through love and sweat and tears and sacrifice and more love and and tending to. I see this, now. And this is truer than true, the truest of all things, this bumper sticker: “Grace happens.” And it does, freely, abundantly, time and again. Grace happens!
Tara, Stephanie, Tredessa, Rocky & Stormie
Grace does happen. I am living proof. Our family – those wonderful 5 we got to raise together: aren’t they just so beautiful? Aren’t they darling human beings? Don’t they just make you want to burst with pride and thankfulness? They’re all so pretty and so talented and passionate about so many cool things. I look at them and I am in awe. Thank-you, honey, for these children, for the ones you hinted to me about when you proposed marriage in 1981, for when you told me, “I want you to be the mother of my children.” I had no idea how amazing that was going to turn out to be, to get to be mommy to the children of grace, grace.
Tristan, Dave, Jovan, & Ryan
And hasn’t Grace, His holy Presence, so graced us yet again with the 4 who have joined us by marriage (so far…one to go)? Aren’t they the perfect additions? Aren’t they all just people we would have chosen for our babies, anyway? And didn’t Grace show up and bless these unions? He did! Aren’t we just unworthy of this, yet graced anyway?
Gavin, Hunter, Guinivere, Gemma, Averi, Amelie, Malakai, Bailey, & Evangeline
And now – we’re practically mush, aren’t we? To see these 9 and enjoy them so, so, so much. Gifts – just *boom* happiness pouring-sparkling-raining like a summer shower straight from heaven.
For all you were born to do and for all you were born to be (Psalm 112 and Psalm 128 man of mine), these 9 have been added to you. Added to you.
You are no longer a baby in a hospital nursery in cold Kansas of 1959. You are Dave, Jeanie’s husband, her lover and hero. You are dad, who checks in making sure everything is ok, who prays for and is prayed for and who leads his family beside peaceful waters; you are a spiritual father to the sweetest ones (others the ages of our own tribe) who respect you and honor you in the gates and who seek that supernatural fathering you possess; you are grandpa, poppa, grand-poppa – pouring mercy, love, peace and grace on the next generation – making an impact into the 22nd century from where you stand today.
That beautiful baby boy, once alone, has been increased and Graced beyond measure. And all the people who know you and love you now are cheering you as mountains become molehills, as barriers are blasted through as you finish everything you have started with strength: Cheers-rejoicing-yay!-Blessing-Grace and more Grace!