Friday, February 14, 2014

Today is a Special Day

Today is a special day.

No, no, not because it is Valentine’s Day…. blah, blah, blah, blah…

Certainly there is nothing wrong with a special day to celebrate love shared with your significant other, but men, we are supposed to cherish, care for, encourage and verbally tell our wives we love them on a regular basis. Remember what Paul tells us writing to the church at Ephesus. Husband are to “love their wives as Christ loved the church and GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER.” Last time I checked that sort of love is an everlasting expression of on-going sacrifice resulting in eternal life and communion with God. Go ahead and do something nice for your sweet thing today. Buy her flowers, take her to dinner, try to act like a gentleman and chocolate never hurts, but please, for Christ’s sake (literally) let’s not devalue romantic expressions of love by limiting it to a once a year gesture.

With that said, let me tell you why today is special. Today is the anniversary of the birth of the most special woman on earth (to me). She is not famous, she’s not been in the movies and there will likely be no books written about her. She has not made any world changing discoveries, she has no patents and has not broken the glass ceiling of any fortune 500 company. She does not get to live in the biggest and prettiest of houses and doesn’t have the finest clothes… but she is everything to me (cue the Michael Buble song).

Today is the anniversary of the day Janet and Leo gave the world someone who would become the most special Valentine Day gift to three guys who would not be who they are without her. I’ve thought, many times, what my life would be had she not entered it. The thought makes me sad, more so empty than sad, but sad because of how empty I would be. Not only would two of the coolest boys on the planet not exist, I wouldn’t exist (as I am now). It’s not that she “lets me be who I am,” rather it is that she has helped to shape who I am and need to be. It’s not just that she provides me with someone to share my life with, she is the reason my life is what it is.

She literally is the reason I have succeeded in my academic life. When I met her I didn’t even have an associate’s degree (and she already had a Master’s degree). She is the one who encouraged me to grow and helped make a way for me to continue my studies. I now have an Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s, two Master’s and am working on a PhD. This would not have happened were it not for her encouragement, support and flexibility.

She is the reason I have had and will have any success at being a good dad. She allows me freedom to be a dad who leads our home by encouraging me with words of affirmation and loving reminders/nudges. She nurtures and teaches while I attempt to set the tone and direction for our family life. We have this saying in our home, “daddies are for fun, but mommies are for real.” That’s so true for us. I get to play with, have deep philosophical conversations with and “jam out” with our boys while she tends to us and helps build us into the men we need to be. She reinforces my authority and is the compassion when my compassion is lacking. I will spend my life helping my boys to see what a blessing they had growing up with Michelle Lynette as their momma.

She is the reason I am the Pastor I am today. I’ll never forget October of 1996, in room number 6, Azalea Hall, at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina while at the very first Experiencing God – Weekend for Couples. As we lay in bed late at night (wide awake), both thinking the other was asleep, I spoke out in the darkness, “are you awake?” She replied, “yes.” I said, do you think God is…” and before I could finish she said, “Yes, I do.” It was that weekend that I submitted my will to God’s and knew he was calling me to the pastorate. She listened to my groaning and cries of insecurities for the first two years of my first church and helped me through it by consoling me then confronting me on my lack of faith. Later, she was not only willing to go, but encouraged me to pack up our family and move to the nether region of southeast Louisiana to study and Pastor our present church. She quietly carries out her main ministry, that of caring for the Pastor, and does so with more grace and mercy than I display. I try to protect her from the typical “pastor’s wife duties” churches thrust upon those girls, mostly because I need her first and foremost.

She left her family for me and I don’t just mean leaving and cleaving. I won’t go into all the details but for those who knew us back when, you might recall that she chose me over her family and paid a dear price for it. Thankfully, things healed up years ago but I regularly think about the fact that when presented with the choice of being with me or retaining her family of origin… she chose me. The deep hurts were sometimes more than I thought we could bear but she chose me and together we made it through.

No, she is not famous, but she’s the most important person in our family. No, she’s not been in the movies but she’s the leading lady of the story of my life. No, she will likely not be the subject of books but she has helped to write the book of my life. She has not made any startling discoveries, but she’s discovered the secret of being the best mom and wife a Christian woman can be. She has no patents yet she helped to invent two of the most intelligent and kind boys I’ve ever known. She has not broken the glass ceiling of any major corporation, but she is the CEO of our home. She does not get to live in the biggest and prettiest of houses and doesn’t have the finest clothes but that one’s on me and she seems not to be concerned about those things.

I am thankful for the “fruitful vine” who nourishes my life and provides the substance that holds our family together.

I love you Michelle Slater and I am thankful to God for your wisdom, kindness, judgment, the years you’ve given me and that I get to hold your heart. Happy Birthday!

From your boys,
Jay, Quint and Canon

P.S. Oh, and happy Valentine's Day