Madge and Brent Get Married

One of the sweetest notes I ever received came from my cousin, Buddy, shortly after my Brent and I were married in 2000.  About this time in 2010 he and his wife were beginning a battle with breast cancer.  It was not supposed to be too aggressive, but, sadly, she died in late January 2011. He’s a bit older than I am so we didn’t pal around much as kids, but his wedding was the first I vividly remember.  I remember how happy they were on that bright and sunny day! They began deeply in love and as she parted they were even more deeply in love along with a legacy of amazing grace.  Today, I’m thankful for cousin Buddy and his inspiring partnership with the love of his life….I appreciate the love of my life more because of him.  In honor of cousins Buddy and Mary, I present, ‘Madge and Brent Get Married’  written by cousin Buddy on our wedding day 12 years ago.

It’s a September Saturday morning, and we are on our way to attend the 11:00 AM wedding of Cousin Madge to her fiance, Brent.  Well OK, technically she is my second cousin.  You see her dad and my dad, were first cousins given that their mamas, Vera and Anita were sisters. Got it?  It’s getting to the point that you can’t tell a cousin relationship without a diagram!

We dropped by to pickup Mom and Dad because there was no way they were going to miss this special event in the life of a very special lady!  Now Dad could say that with conviction since the UGA-USC kickoff wasn’t until 3:30 PM that afternoon.  After all,  weddings are special, but this one was just a little bit special-er!

If you know Madge you know that adversity has been a more frequent visitor than any of us would ever like to see.   At the age of five, her mother died from complications of surgery.  While in college, she was involved in a car accident that left her a quadriplegic.  And in recent years she lost her dad to a heart attack and her step mom to cancer.   Yet I have never seen Madge without a smile or without that contagious positive outlook on life. (OK, so she didn’t see me that often!) So today is her wedding day!  Yep, it’s gonna be a special day.

The church building didn’t really look like a church, but it wasn’t long before you realized that God was present in that place.  As we walked in we saw Madge’s four older brothers and listened as a trio of singers set the mood with a series of contemporary gospel worship songs that once again told you, today was a special day.

The procession began with the Twila Paris song “He is Exalted” and as the minister and the groom waited, Madge came down the aisle in her wheelchair followed closely by her four brothers who ‘gave her away’. By the time she and her brothers got to the altar, there was not a dry eye in the church.  And yes, I will admit a tear as well, OK, OK, the plural form would be more accurate.  I never do have a Kleenex when I really need one.Four older brothers gave their little sister away…

During the ceremony, the couple requested we all stand and sing the Darlene Zschech song, “Shout to the Lord”.   By then I was ready for the Second Coming!   Yet the most touching moment came as the pastor related his personal comments before the vows were exchanged.  It seems he has known Madge for 23 years and Brent for over 6 years.   He shared how Madge had come to faith in Christ and how following her accident had overwhelmed them all with her never-look-back, only-look-forward attitude.  He praised her family as one who rallied around her like none he has ever seen.   Finally, he praised God for her Christ like spirit as reflected in her manner and service to the church.   Brent, he shared, was a true gentleman possessing a spirit of tenderness.  However, Brent had built up over the years such a wall in his heart that he refused to allow relationships to get very close.   That is, until he met Madge.   And brick by brick, Madge was able to tear down the wall and today they were ready to commit to a life together.

Following the exchange of vows the couple left to the tune of “Great is the Lord”.   We joined them at a nearby country club for the reception.  It was good to see the family.  Her brothers live New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Ohio.   Madge and Brent will be setting up residence at her current home.  I recall that Madge works for a software company and Brent teaches at a University nearby.

These days, gatherings of our extended family seem to center on weddings and funerals.   The former preferred over the latter.  Weddings have always seemed to be such a sacred moment for the wedding couple with the presence of family being a sign of love and support.  But today, I came away as the one who was blessed; it was a sacred time for all present.  Thanks Madge and Brent. Your wedding was a reminder that God is sovereign.  The verse on the wedding program said it all, “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails”.  1 Corinthians 13:7-8

Seven Days in Utopia – More Noteworthy Quotes

In my previous post about Seven Days in Utopia, I  briefly shared some noteworthy quotes from the book. The film surprised me by how well the movie depicted the book. It is appropriate for all audiences and had a solid quality message about life, not just golf.

Seven Days at the Links in UtopiaThe stage is set as it opens with a quote from Isaiah, “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21

Here are some other noteworthy quotes, but take heed, they may require a spoiler alert for the progression of the movie, but I’m not giving away too much and certainly not the ending!

You don’t choose the game, it chooses you.

Day 1 Driving Range
The first step in finding your game is getting some conviction. If you don’t have conviction your confidence can be corroded.

Day 2 Fly Fishing
Rhythm, balance, and patience is what you need.
You must have a calm mindset – and focus on feel rather than outcome. To stay in balance you have to control emotion.

Day 3 Fairway
Don’t be late in life. Time is too precious to waste.
Paint the shot with the eyes first so our bodies can produce it accurately.

Day 4 Washer Throwing Game
Have respect for tradition and passion for the truth.

Day 5 Flying an Airplane
You can’t play in a tournament unless you’re ready for the unexpected.
When a firefly knows it is trapped it won’t light. Freedom is a powerful force.

Day 6 Play Golf
See it, feel it, trust it. (SFT)
You can’t spend your life trying to validate yourself on the golf course.

Day 7 Cemetery
What will your epitaph say? What do you want people to say about you when you are gone?
See God’s face. Feel His presence. Trust His love.
Gifts aren’t meant to be paid for, they are meant to be passed along.

I’ll leave you with a thoughtful prayer that Johnny (Robert Duvall) prayed before a family meal in the movie. My husband and I have used it recently ourselves.

…Food in a world where many walk in hunger,

…Faith in a world where many walk in fear,
…Friends in a world where many walk alone,
We give you thanks, Oh Lord.

Plugged In did a nice job on their review of this movie.  Great book. Great movie.  Read the  book or rent the movie my friends; it surely will provoke some contemplation on life lessons.  – Madge

Words for the Roller Coaster of Life

Almost fifteen years ago Brent and I went to Six Flags for the first time together.  It was a big date early in our relationship. We spent the day loving every roller coaster and got soaked in water rides!

Six Flags is a blast for me because my wheelchair gives us a pass to the front of every line.   Then we are usually encouraged to stay for a second ride to avoid the hassle and slight delay of lifting me in and out of the seat!  Let me know if you want me to go with you on your next visit.

Toward the end of the afternoon we headed to the amphitheater for featured speakers and a concert with Point of Grace and several other artists.  We relaxed and were thankful that Brent’s back survived lifting me all day and my bottom survived the bumpy rides without my cushy seat.  The speaker, Andy Stanley, began to share.  It was the first time I had heard him, and I couldn’t believe it then, and I still can’t believe it now – the verse he used in his talk was etched in my memory.

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.  Proverbs 22:3

The fact that I walked (I mean rolled) away from a fifteen minute talk with a take away biblical principle and a verse that I have quoted over the years, and shared with others, is a hallmark of why I consider Andy Stanley one of the best communicators.  He has a gift, yet I’m sure he works hard to leave a listener with truth to remember, apply in their own lives, and use to help others in the future.  I’ve experienced other pastors and speakers who do this, just not quite like he does.  His one liners pack a powerful punch and resonate with me long after their delivery.

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes/principles from Andy Stanley:

“Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.”

“Direction, not intention, determines your destination.”

We have an amazing church home – it’s ‘family’ – and we learn and serve there each week.  Even if you have a local church where you lock in, grow and serve in Christ, I hope you seek additional valuable resources.   Be encouraged by the great technology available to us today and check out some wisdom from outside your church’s walls.  You could start now by tuning in to a message at North Point’s service online ‘live’ at 9:00 or 11:00 on Sundays or during one of four rebroadcasts.  Additionally, the podcast is available later.  This week they launch a series called, ‘Be Rich: Do More. Give More.’   Interestingly,  I just read an article featured in this month’s Consumer Reports magazine, written by a neurologist, titled ‘Surprising health benefits of giving.’  We have some other terrific ‘giving’ resources…ah…sounds like a post on ‘Giving’ is on my horizon.

Be Rich: Do More. Give More”  just might be a new favorite quote after this series.

Good Morning Quotes

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
Mother Teresa

“Life is too short to start your day with broken pieces of yesterday; it will destroy your wonderful today and ruin your great tomorrow!”
Author Unknown

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.”
Alexander Graham Bell

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough troubles of its own.”

Be Present Today

“Listen. Be present.  Value relationships today.”  Me

Have a great Sunday!!