Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Anniversary (04/11/05)
TITLE: Celebrating Love After the Locusts
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A motley crew we are, indeed. Some singles. A third wife. A Green Party supporter. A ministry family. Step-grandchildren. Step-step-grandchildren. We wouldn’t gloss over our differences to create a Hallmark moment; we would celebrate them.
When Ricky, the lone son, announced to our parents over Christmas breakfast that we were hijacking their celebration to honor their anniversary, our parents looked up with shock and disbelief on their faces. Also detecting smiles, we felt comfortable proceeding as planned. We headed to the family room to fill the monstrous sectional couch with our happy bodies, and then the festivities began.
After a devotional on love from a son-in-law, Denise began the anniversary gift giving. She showed us all a scrapbook page she had created to honor our parents’ marriage. Its beauty stunned us, since few of us knew she even had this talent. She also shared a funny story an uncle had written about our parents. Both pieces were the beginnings of a scrapbook she intended to create to document their history together.
The gift giving continued in the same vein: from the oldest to the youngest we shared gifts related to our talents. One sang a French operetta; another used technology to create a framed panorama of our family. I had documented several of my most poignant memories into a journal; another sister sang worship songs with her guitar and untrained yet talented voice.
Mom and Dad sat on the couch more snugly than we had seen probably since their courtship days. It was obvious from their contented smiles, hearty laughs and occasional tears that they were thoroughly enjoying the experience. They were being honored and, despite the weaknesses that dogged their marriage at times, they wholly deserved it.
I have no doubt in my mind that sometime during that happy celebration, my mother called to mind a verse I had heard her claim in prayer with gut-wrenching pleading many times during difficult days: “I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten … and ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.” (Joel 2:25,26 KJV). In my teen years, I finally understood this strange thing I had heard her pray so many times. She was claiming a promise she believed about the LORD restoring to her family the years she lost in her abusive marriage before she discovered Jesus.
She and Dad must really have felt that Jehovah their God had dealt wondrously with them when we closed our time together in prayer. Even those whose sinful lifestyle choices had caused our parents to lose sleep gathered around these parents who genuinely strove to please God and laid hands on them. Those of us who felt comfortable poured out our hearts before Him and asked blessing upon our parents, thanking God for the gifts He had given us through them.
After getting up from our knees, we gathered the 14 of us for a picture. The resulting photograph is in a frame on my dresser today. I look at it often and, even though our family has not been together in full since, I feel satisfied and praise the name of the LORD my God. That Christmas we did not focus on the Christ child in the traditional sense, but even those of us no longer choosing to follow Him focused on giving Him glory for taking a sometimes hopeless marriage and making it a testament to God’s restorative grace.
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