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

Tahoe and a Family Trip

It wouldn’t be a trip to Florida if we didn’t stop and see our ninety-eight year old Aunt in Tampa. In the beginning of each year Brent has a meeting in Orlando and we add a couple days to our travel so we can swing over to Tampa to see her. This year we had another opportunity over spring break when we went to Clearwater Beach with my brother, Brian and his family during spring break.

Aunt DicksieShe is not as spry as she used to be, but she reads two newspapers each day and does the crossword puzzles. She often reads the latest books before we do.

Leah and Maya enjoyed time with their old Auntie, and Leah volunteered to come visit me regularly when I got old. I like that she doesn’t think I’m already old!

I had to include this picture with my sister-in-law Ann. She is so ‘purty’ but never likes anyone to photograph her. I could do a whole album of pictures where she avoids the camera like this:

My brother, Brian, cuddles with Tahoe!
Can we say completely spoiled puppy? Tahoe doesn’t look like much of a helper dog, but I desperately miss him when I drop my keys or phone or toothbrush or money or protein bar or peach!

It is so wonderful when holidays can be shared with family……

This is how Tahoe wakes his cousins, Maya and Leah, on Easter morning! ‘He is Risen…you guys need to get out of bed!’
Leah and Maya make me smile – I love them so much.

A week in Clearwater is full of many trips to the beach where sisters make memories!

Maya buried Leah one day…

Five trips to our favorite restaurant, Columbia, were all delightful and yummy experiences! Their  ‘Original 1905 Salad’ was enjoyed at every meal.  Check out the recipe here.

Wish all five siblings and their families could have joined us. I think of them so often and pray for them regularly. Hopefully another time!

I treasure times with my family. So thankful for them and for beach memories…and Ha! another great photo of Ann with her incredible family!

Cheers and prayers for treasured family moments. Hope you have summer plans to make memories with your family.

It is truly wonderful when relatives live together in peace. Psalm 133:1 (CEV)

-Blessings, Madge

Family Visit

One of my brothers, Brian, brought his 14 and 15 year old girls from Cincinnati for Thanksgiving.  His wife’s a nurse and had to work over the holiday (God bless our health care workers!)  We ate, played games, visited friends and family, watched movies, did homework, shopped, went hiking and four-wheeling…and goodbyes came too quickly.

Here we are in the mountains…I love my family and miss those I don’t see often.

People say my brother resembles Anderson Cooper. He’s closest in age to me and helped me adjust to life in a wheelchair…in many ways, he and my parents suffered more than I did after my accident. The support of my family made all the difference in my growth and adjustment – I am blessed.

Some handsome guys hiking with the crew…Our friend David, Brian, and my love, Brent.

Girls have a special bond and these teens bring us great delight. What fun…it was so warm, I hardly needed my borrowed hat. I’ll brave the cold weather to see the grande six foot icicles that form on the waterfalls next time.

My friend, Carolyn, keeps me from falling over while everyone hikes to the falls. Her family is one of the most generous and loving that I know.

Leah is a happy girl..Carolyn and David are brave to help Brian teach the girls the tricks of the four wheelers. They have fifteen year old triplets and manage to minister to and love on multitudes of kids from other families.

Maya, is my goddaughter, and so is Carolyn’s oldest daughter, Rachael. I’m so proud of both of them. Driving on rough terrain is good practice for the day Maya drives on the smooth streets.

We had chili for lunch and pizza for dinner and had to top off our ‘healthy’ day with s’mores. I love a perfectly toasted marshmallow.

Tahoe was happy to get home and play with his kong after spending much of the day in the van. He didn’t like staying in the van while we went out…the kong makes everything better…

…and so does the bed.

Nothing like friends, siblings, girls and Tahoe to usher in Christmas joy…”For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!” Isaiah 6:6.

Let us savor each moment!

Tahoe’s Vet Visit – One of ‘Those’ Days

Tahoe had a recent trip to the vet to get a check-up and to get his teeth cleaned.  I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing him get drugged, but I was told he walked around with his leash in his mouth – resisting sleep and finally collapsed with his leash squarely planted between the very teeth that were about to be cleaned.

After his teeth were clean, he recuperated on the floor….would you look at that tongue?

He was plain tired out.  I’m glad he’s a dog and not a human.  A child might not forgive his mom for posting photos like these!!

Some days I feel a bit like Tahoe looks in the above pictures.  It’s OK when it happens, right?  We all have ‘those’ days.   When ‘those’ days strike, I try to strike back with a bit of faith – and quote a couple short verses for inspiration:

March on my soul, be strong.” Judges 5:21   or

Rely on the Lord! Be strong and confident! Rely on the Lord!” Psalms 27:14.

An ‘attitude of gratitude’ is another effective weapon.  I tell myself, ‘Name 10 things you are thankful for in less than a minute.’   Then I go on with my day, knowing there’s hope that it’ll get better today…or…tomorrow may be more like this:

…or even like this!

Tahoe jumps for the kong

Today, I’m praying for my niece, Crystal, who lost her young husband to cancer last January when she was six months pregnant.  She’s an inspiration to me as I watch her navigate being a single, working mom of three.  My hope is that she has less days like the first pictures and more like the last ones.

…..what do you do to get through ‘those’ days’?

May your day be filled with wisdom, faith, hard work and fun.  Love to all from Madge on a ‘Tahoe Tuesday’!