My wife, Rebekah, and I love to celebrate. Life is an awesome gift on so many levels. Our children; friends; our church family; our extended family; our work; peace; personal peace; the beautiful home we have made together; music; freedom; books; food; sunshine; this cool winter day...
I could go on, but I don't want this post to devolve into another rendition of "a few of my favorite things." Most specifically, this particular day - February 4 - has become one of our favorite ongoing celebrations. Yes, those are nice husband-generated flowers above left... Why? Because it's the anniversary of our first date!
Dateline: DeLand, Florida, Stetson University, 1977 -
The phone rings at my "dorm"; in reality a falling-down ancient house on the edge of campus designed as an affordable living alternative and populated by eleven Baptist pre-ministerial students plus me (believe me, that's a whole other story!). Rebekah Alexander is on the other end. "Derek," she said. "A bunch of us are walking over to the gym to watch the basketball game tonight. You want to come?"
So that was it. Group date; safety in numbers. She asked me out that first time, but she never had to again. Then, when it turned out we were still dating a couple of months later, we started shoving pennies, nickles and dimes in the brown ceramic frog that sat on my bookshelf. "If we're still dating after a year," we agreed, "we'll empty the frog and go to dinner on the proceeds. If it's $5 we'll eat at a burger joint; if it's more we'll splurge accordingly."
Long story short we celebrated the first anniversary of our first date at Orland's ritzy "Maison & Jardin" restaurant - one of those places where my menu had prices and her's didn't (kind of presumptive, if you ask me!). We both started with a flaming spinach salad - impressive - and we enjoyed filet mignon (Rebekah) and steak and lobster (me). The grand total, including tip, was $55. It was a small fortune in 1978, but the frog had been good to us and we somehow knew this wouldn't be our last celebration.
So last night I cooked tenderloin and we watched "Mama Mia". We couldn't help but think about how amazingly wonderful our 32 years have been, and how rich and full our ongoing experience, and how representative of grace and faithful commitment our family is.
So we celebrated - again (note exceptionally lovely flowers, at right!). Life is full of such opportunity. Are we grateful because we are so blessed?... or are we so blessed because we are so grateful?... or is it simply that - because of our gratitude and our honest relationship with God - we are able to perceive the blessings that were patiently waiting for recognition all along?
You be the judge. But also make it your experience - I'm talking about the awe-filled gratitude part - and just see what happens.
Love and blessings - always - DEREK