63,072,000

Today is our wedding anniversary.

63,072,000 seconds

1,051,200 minutes

17,520 hours

731 days

104 weeks

24 months

2 years

I am so blessed to be married to this man who just wants to take care of me.

I will always be grateful for this man who opens doors for me,  pulls out my chair and prepares my first cup of coffee every morning.

I am so happy that this mans works so hard, but still finds ways to make me laugh.

I will never underestimate the value of the man who loves and serves all of our adult children.

I will never take for granted this man who is so passionate about our life together.

He is my friend, my confidante, my joy, my lover, my husband.  I love him more that I did two years ago, more than I thought possible.

Here’s to the rest of our lives together.  Whether it’s for 1 second or 1 Billion seconds, I am so glad we get to spend it together!

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24 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.

29-33 No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.”

Ephesians 5:24-33 MSG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebration

We celebrated this weekend. The focus of the celebration was the Twenty-Fifth anniversary of my pastor and his wife at Westland. But, I celebrated a lot more than that.

I celebrated the children that have grown into wonderful young adults through the years at Westland. Some of them are now raising their own families. I love watching the generations grow.

I celebrated friends. Friends that knew both Terry and I as well as new friends that only know me. I spent time with some very special friends and was reminded how wonderful it is to have them in my life. And, I was a bit ashamed that I don’t spend more time with them “just because.”

I celebrated memories. Memories of the last 17 years at Westland and the people who have passed through the doors. Some as quick blips in my life, others that have made a big impact and then moved on their way.

I celebrated the God Strings that pulled us all together, weaving our lives into a tapestry that is as unique as it is wonderful. The tears, the laughter, the coming and the going are all elements that have shaped my life. I pray that the rest of my life is as full and rich with the treasure of friends and family as it is today.

Eight

There’s nothing really spectacular about the number 8. It’s not a prime number. In the dictionary it is “the number following seven and before nine.” It’s not a symbol of perfection like seven or three. It’s just eight. But there are some things associated with the number 8.

An octupus has 8 legs.

The Octet rule in science deals with the line up of electrons.

The eighth amendment prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishments, including torture.

Eight track tapes were all the rage in mid-sixties thru the seventies.

“Eight is Enough” was a popular television series in the late seventies.

Eight O’Clock coffee is a well-known brand of coffee.

No one wants to be behind the eight ball.

Skaters work on their figure eights.

In music, eight notes make up an octave. There is also an eighth note, 1/8 of the whole. And, eight people making music together is an octet.

Eight babies born at the same time to one mother are octuplets.

It took me eight years to complete elementary & middle school classes. And then I spent eight more years finishing High School and college classes.

And finally, eight is the number of years you’ve been gone. Eights years of our kids lives without your input. Eight years of spending anniversaries alone. Eight years.

I miss you, Terry.

Terry Gene Benson
Feb 1, 1958 – Nov 2, 2005

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Darkness

When I was a child, my parents would take us to Six Flags over Texas in Arlington. At that time, the park was divided into sections that represented the six flags that had flown over Texas: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederate and USA. In the Republic of Texas area, one of the rides was the Davy Crockett River Adventure. You would get on a big “boat” and float down the river. On the way, you would see Indians hiding in the trees and shooting at the boat. There were bandits that were trying to stop the boat, too. The first time I was on this ride, I was in kindergarten. While the adults could see that the people attacking the boat were actually mannequins and the shots fired were really fakes, to a five-year old, it was terrifying. At the end of the ride, the boat guide would start yelling “Oh no! We’re going into that cave! We’re doomed!” In front of the boat, a waterfall would part and the cave would open up to allow us to enter. And, then it closed behind us. I don’t remember much about that first ride. Except for the screaming. My Screaming. I panicked and nothing my dad could do would calm me down. I was certain we would never escape from that cave with it’s spooky skeletons. Of course, we did find our way out. I think all the riders on that boat were glad to escape the screaming little girl. It was YEARS before I chose to travel on the Davy Crockett River Adventure again.

The past few weeks of my life have felt like that river ride. Everything has been dark and a bit sad. Small things that would usually be no big deal have set off explosions in me. Memories have come fast a furious, many precious ones and some I’d rather forget. I know that they’re just memories to be visited and then left behind, but I can’t seem to walk away. I’m surrounded and I don’t know how to escape. This weekend, I entered that cave. It has been dark and scary and I know it’s not forever, but I feel the panic rising and the screams trying to escape just the same. I’ve pushed away those that care about me. No matter how many tears I’ve cried, it’s just not enough. The nightmare just continues.

But, I’m beginning to see the light that marks the way out. I know there is escape from the darkness. I see flashes of hope. Breathing is getting easier, the smiles are not as forced. There will be a few more tears before I’m completely out of the cave. I will come out! And I pray that it’s a very long time before I visit this dark place again.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:5 NLT

Confession

I have a confession: I’m not crazy about life. In fact, I don’t like it much at all. And, I feel guilty admitting this. I have been given so much in this life. I had 18 years in a wonderful marriage to a man who loved me to his last breath. I have two fantastic kids, a great family and friends that knock it out of the park. I have a home and a good job and I get to serve and worship with some wonderful people throughout the week. I should be enjoying it everyday. But, I’m ready to resign!

Behind every ray of sunshine, there seems to be a dark cloud. I get something repaired and something else breaks. I’ve never been very good at criticism (taking it, handing it out is a breeze) and that’s all I hear: I’m too mean. Or, I’m not taking a stand. I’m too involved. Then, I’m not showing enough interest. My body is revolting against me. I need to get more exercise and get the endorphins pumping, but my knee or my back or my hip or my sinus’ keep me inside. Some days the only thing I do well is stand in the middle of the living room and cry. And I’m tired of crying.

So, I remind myself of the blessings I have and hold on to the hope that “this too will pass.” I look forward to better days and until then will paste on a happy face and pretend. Maybe my brain will start to believe. I’ll try to be a little less sensitive and remember that stuff happens.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-14 NIV

All that (and a bag of chips)

There are two men in my life that I knew loved me completely and unconditionally. And on this day, twenty-six years ago, one of them walked me down the aisle at Spring Woods Baptist Church to marry the other. Daddy assured me that it wasn’t too late to call the whole thing off and offered to take me out the back door of the church as Terry waited nervously at the front of the church wondering if Daddy would REALLY give me away. Every girl should be so blessed and so loved.

They’re both gone, now. I miss them both. I wonder how many others have been “all that (and a bag of chips)” to another person. I got to experience that feeling twice. I have been truly blessed in my life. I look forward to seeing them again in Heaven.

So, Happy anniversary, Terry. I miss you. Every. Day.

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Anniversary

An anniversary marks a significant event in life. Most times, we think of anniversaries as celebrations. But what about those anniversaries that aren’t so great? Death and divorce leave a huge imprint on the lives they touch. And these anniversaries are multiplied by every other special event was ever celebrated. We can not avoid the anniversaries, and we do not want to celebrate. We honor the memory while touching the pain they cause as little as possible.

Admittedly, it’s easier not to remember. I’ve been told that I live life as if it’s a circle. I always come back to an event. Some people live life as a straight line and just move away from unpleasant events. Yet, those sad anniversaries are just as important as the happy ones. These anniversaries give us a chance to review the past year, to see what growth we have achieved, to see that we are still living. We are given a chance to reflect on what we currently value, what is really important. While I don’t want to dwell on the rough times, I do think there is value in remembering. I guess I’m looking for whatever good there is to remember. I want to find value, and justify the pain that shoots thru me at odd times.

Too often society defines how we should react. We are told to be strong. Be brave. Don’t look weak. Don’t get mad, get even. And, the expectation is there: Get over it. Move on. The first year in a child’s life is measured first in days, weeks, months and eventually years. Anniversaries are often measured the same way. But, after the first anniversary of a death or divorce, we are supposed to stop noticing the passing of time. After all, its been a year. You should be “over it”, right? I expected that first year of widowhood to be hard. I was surprised how hard the second year was. I wasn’t “fixed”. I still had issues. I didn’t cry as much and the days weren’t as dark, but the scars were still fresh and tender. I was moving forward with life and any admissions of grief were frowned upon by most. I had little patience with my own progress. I often felt guilty about grieving because it showed weakness. I was blessed to have friends that understood, accepted and encouraged me to be honest. Never underestimate the value of a strong shoulder or a firm embrace. These can quite literally save a life.

My faith was all I had left when death destroyed my life. I had my hope. And while hope and faith are good, they don’t remove the pain or the regret. So often in the darkest days, I thought I was letting God down. I wasn’t recovering fast enough. I was too sad. I was angry. I was lost in a world I didn’t understand and I didn’t want to be there. People that had offered support, the people I thought I could depend upon drifted away and moved on with their lives. I had to inch forward into the world around me, careful not to make anyone uncomfortable with my neediness. I had to learn to trust myself and others, again.

As each anniversary comes and goes, I remember what used to be. I wonder what might have been. And, I mourn the losses. And, I remember that I am alive and I have a purpose. I believe that God has a plan for my life even if I don’t understand or (sometimes) agree with it. Each year gives me a chance to measure how very far I have come and what I have accomplished. I’ve learned to celebrate the inches instead of bemoaning the shortage of miles. The anniversaries still hurt. They always will. And, I will continue to celebrate what I can as each year passes.