Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Most Important Guest at Any Wedding Is . . .

I was thinking recently about a long-ago wedding—the one Jesus attended at Cana of Galilee, the same one in which he became the wine-maker for the feast. And that reminded me of another wedding or two. 

I’m told that when my maternal grandparents decided to get married, they hitched a horse to the buckboard and rattled down the road one evening to the preacher’s house. He came out with his Bible, stood beside the wagon, said a few traditional words, and asked the important questions. They each responded, “I do,” and . . . they were. Married, that is. That’s about all there was to it, but I guess it was enough. The marriage begun by that wedding lasted for over six decades. 

Whenever I hear a couple today telling me, “We just want a simple wedding,” my first thought is, “Oh, dear people, you don’t know what simple is. In our society, we rarely see any such thing, and, unless you want to be married almost immediately, I’ll guarantee you that it will grow, and grow, and grow (‘metastasize’ is the word I’m tempted to use), but simple is a worthy, if elusive, goal.” 

The wedding author Robert Fulghum wrote about a few years ago was never intended to be in the “simple” category. From the very first, the bride’s family pulled out all the stops. Lavish pre-wedding parties, the largest and most ornate church in the city, a wedding dress that cost more than the annual budgets of most small countries, enough attendants to defeat the Germans at Normandy, a full orchestra, and every wedding “trimming” known to womankind. It was a big one, a bona fide occasion of state that would make most royal families envious. 

Maybe that’s why the bride was even more nervous than most brides. Nervous, she started nibbling—a lot—during the hours before the ceremony. As she walked down the long aisle in her lavish dress, the gown was white, but the guests noticed that the bride herself seemed distinctly green. Just before she got to the altar, she stopped, greener than ever, bent over, and . . . tossed her cookies, setting in stone the one memory that every guest would carry with them forever from that royal occasion. If Elvis himself had later shown up to sing, the bride’s retching would be what everyone remembered.

When an engaged couple sits in my office, I try to remind them that a big wedding and a big marriage have not a thing to do with each other, and that most of their effort should be spent on preparing for the marriage.

I’m not sure what sort of miracle Jesus might have worked to save the day at the wedding I just told you about, but the fact that he cared so much about that couple and their special time so long ago at Cana tells me that he cares about every facet of our lives. As the Lord enters not just our feasts but every aspect of our lives, he loves us, he cares for us, and his mercy and grace are always with us. May we never forget to invite this most important and loving Guest to be marvelously present in each moment of our lives.

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


How Do You Feel About Growing Older?

January. I think of it as a birthday month. My dad’s. My oldest granddaughter’s. And mine.

Last weekend we helped celebrate that sweet little beauty’s sixth birthday. My own 56th was a week earlier.

Fifty-six is not all that significant a milestone, though I’ve noticed that a lot of survey-type forms bump people into another category once they hit 55 or 56. But I don’t see it as a very noticeable bump in the road. I felt exactly the same the moment after I reached 56 as I did the moment before when I was 55. I’d actually spent a good bit of that year thinking I was 54. I’ve never been very good at math.

At one point in my life (was I maybe 15?), I reckoned that the perfect age must be 30 or so. I remember thinking that 30 would be old enough to have life pretty much figured out and young enough to have at least a few good years left. I also knew that theoretically I’d likely live to see the world’s odometer slide past 2000. I’d be over 40 and probably starting to decline, but 2000 seemed a long way off. I know better now.

Yes, 30 was a perfectly fine age. But, no, (are you surprised?) I didn’t even nearly have life figured out at that age. Maybe, by the time I was 30, I was beginning to realize that life holds many, many more questions than I’d ever imagined. But maybe I was also beginning to realize that life’s questions that truly matter can probably be numbered on one hand, and that knowing the answer to just a couple of the truly big ones puts all the others into their proper places of relative unimportance.

And now I’m 56, and we’re thirteen years past 2000, and, yes, I’m sure I’m in decline. But I realize now that I began declining even before I began declining—(Latin nouns, that is) in Mr. Craddock’s 8th grade Latin class in Amarillo’s Sam Houston Junior High. You see, if I understand the physiology involved, we all begin declining pretty much from the moment of birth. So I can deal with that.

No, 30 wasn’t the perfect age. And 39 wasn’t. Nor was 18 or 22 or 32 or 45. I don’t think 56 is, either, though I haven’t been 56 long enough to know yet for sure. But it seems okay so far, and I know now for sure that grandparenthood much more than compensates for any of 56’s down-sides!

So far, you see, I’ve enjoyed some fine blessings at every age (none as much fun as grandparenthood!). They’ve all been, in their own ways, very good, and I’m genuinely thankful for that. At the same time, I mean no disrespect to any of the ages in my rear view mirror to tell you truly that I have no desire at all to go back.

Yes, I’ve done the math. Even being pretty generous, I’m not sure how much longer I can claim to be “middle-aged.” I neither expect nor desire to live to see birthday 112, so I’m well past my life’s mid-summer, even barring the kind of surprises that really should surprise no mortal.

Faith makes a very practical difference here. I can’t know what will happen tomorrow in the story of my life, but I know the end of the story. I believe God’s promise that once His people have finished their chapters here, the very best part of the story remains—and it will never end. If I was (perish the thought!) 18 again, I’d be that much farther away from the story I can hardly wait to read!

 

You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


If Everybody Had a Father Like I Had a Father . . .

 

I was bumping up toward my own birthday last week (Jan. 11) when I was reminded that January 9 was the thirteenth anniversary of my father’s death. And then our youngest brother reminded his three brothers, including me, that Tuesday, the 15th, would have been our dad’s 100th birthday! With that in mind, I offer these words I wrote in January 2000:

It’s been just a little over twenty-four hours since I got word that the kindest, gentlest, strongest, and best man I have ever known passed away. He was my father. Though many thoughts have been racing through my mind, I’ve realized that, if everybody had a father like I had a father, well, lots would be different in this world.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, no child would ever have to walk out the door or crawl into bed wondering if his father loved and wanted him.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, no child would ever go to bed worried that his father might not really love his mother.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, no son or daughter would ever see his father raise his hand or even his voice in anger.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, no one would have to ask how it is possible to be strong and gentle, just and loving, all at the same time.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, nations would not fight nations, families would not fight families, and Christians would never fight Christians, because we would all rather be hurt than be hurtful. And the hurts that are part and parcel of human existence would never be hurts we inflicted upon each other.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, every child would grow up knowing that the way to real happiness is to love the Father of all and the Son who died to save us.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, every child would grow up knowing that, even with all the church’s imperfections, the Bride of Christ is still the finest family of all, and that in her warmth is found spiritual nourishment and fine fellowship and genuine love.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, good times would be even better and bad times would be more bearable, because of the unfailing love of our fathers.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, well, there would still be problems in this fallen world because we would all still be sons and daughters of our father Adam, too.

But if everyone had a father like I had a father, then everyone would grow up knowing a lot more what their Father God looks like and acts like and loves like.

If everyone had a father like I had a father, then everyone would know the Father’s love largely because of their father’s love.

If everyone had a father like I had a father, this world and life itself would be much, much better.

But if everyone had a father like I had a father, I might not know what a fine father I had. And, not knowing that, I might not know what a Father I have, and that the best Father of all is your Father, too.

 

 

You’re invited to check out my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


God’s People Know the End of the Story

 

Setting up housekeeping is no easy task. But the task on the other end of the journey is harder.

Ask anyone who has buried their last parent or whose parents have had to move into a care facility. Sifting through three-quarters of a century’s worth of accumulated mounds of paper, pictures, trinkets, and family treasures is a daunting task.

But it can be interesting. It can bring laughter. And tears. And it certainly can make you think.

Such an undertaking takes much of its character and color from the character and lives of the folks who’ve gone on. At least, that was my experience with my own parents.

Mom passed away first, and we cleaned and culled. But the real job came when Dad passed away some years later.

I was surprised at some of what they kept and some of the treasures and the trinkets we ran across.

We found tons of birthday and anniversary cards that Mom and Dad gave to each other, cards lovingly inscribed in their completely unique handwriting. (Mom’s was the most beautiful and perfect penmanship I have ever seen; Dad’s, perhaps the most unique.) I don’t think they ever threw away a single card.

My siblings and I even found the little pencil-written penny post card that Dad had mailed to his own folks as he and my mother had just left their wedding for their honeymoon. He described them as “supremely happy,” and signed the card proudly, “Mr.  & Mrs. G. B. Shelburne, Jr.”

I found the letter one of the men I’m named for had penned to me and my family when I had just been born. I found a kindergarten graduation diploma, a notebook with pasted pictures used to help me learn the letters of the alphabet in first grade, and crayon-colored pictures that I had drawn in third grade.

I found a letter (the page dripping with homesickness) I’d written home from scout camp.

I found a number of pictures of myself in various embarrassing stages of adolescent ugly-duckling-hood.

And I think I found every letter I’d ever written Mom and Dad once I’d left home. I read some of the college letters we’d written, and I was reminded reading between the lines (I’d blissfully almost forgotten) that Juana and I thought we might starve before we got me through school.

We didn’t starve. We made it.

And that may be one very valuable lesson that comes from taking this sort of mandatory trip down memory lane. What we were so worried about then either never happened or we got through it.

Mom and Dad made a successful trip through this life. If our eyes stay focused on the same Lord who led them through, so will we. We may not know what may transpire in our life’s story tomorrow or Thursday or next week. But Christians know the Author. He’s told us the end of the story. And it’s great!

 

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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