A couple weeks ago my stepdaughter and I drove over to Cheyenne to go shopping (much better shops over there than in Laramie). On our way back, I don't know what prompted this, but I mentioned how I took a road trip with my friend after college and it was one of what I called "the top ten things in my life."
|One of the less memorable moments of our road trip, when Gracie the Jeep broke down|
Stars was curious and asked, what are some other things on your top ten list?
I shared a few more things with her, and she shared a few of hers - her top one being when she got her own horse (Callie) and how wonderful it was to cross the road and see her anytime, and just jump up bareback and take off. I could totally relate because my first horse also made my top ten list.
When we got home, and for several days later, I kept thinking, what else is on this supposed top ten list of mine? I started trying to list them in order, but I really couldn't. So I've just listed them randomly, with the next numbers on my 1000 gifts list. (Which is kind of fitting, because while these are the most memorable gifts God has given me, they are still just a few of many, many, many more - so many I will never remember them all).
478. Holding the twins together for the very first time.
They were born 2 months early, and for almost a whole week I wasn't allowed to hold them, as they had to stay in isolettes (it was too early even for kangaroo care). So when I was finally allowed to hold them - together - oh my, I have no words for that moment! I have never felt such joy and contentment and wonder as in that moment. I was 36 years old.
|My expression here just doesn't do it justice|
479. Getting my own horse
This was a dream of mine since I was 8 years old. My parents could afford to get me riding lessons, but never my own horse (we lived in a large city). I was 22 when circumstances finally worked out that I could buy a horse and afford to keep him. Actually, the most incredible moment wasn't when I found Rebel, or when he was delivered to our barn, or even the first time I rode him. It was the day after he was "moved in" - that morning I woke up and my first thought was, "there's a horse in the barn! My own horse!" and I raced down to the barn in my jammies and peered inside and yes, there he was!
|A picture of my mom riding Rebel on a S.C. beach - a dream of both of ours, to ride in the ocean!|
480. Snorkeling in the Caribbean
This one made my list because it was so surprising. Based on my experience as a kid, I thought snorkeling was pretty lame. You can't see very well and you're always getting water down your pipes. There's not much to see anyway (I snorkeled murky lakes). So when B and I had our honeymoon and went snorkeling for the first time on a deserted (and pristine) reef off St Croix, I was blown away. It was like entering another world. The water was so clear, the coral was so close, and seething with a rainbow of life. I had thought you could only see this sort of thing scuba diving, not just sticking your head underwater! The rest of the day I was in a daze from all the beauty. I was 30 years old.
481. When B asked me to marry him
I forgot what we did that day, but I do remember the date, February 19 1999. We were in my apartment, late at night, and B was talking about how hurt he'd been by his ex, how he'd thought he'd never trust again. But his growing faith in the Lord had shown him it was possible to trust again. Then he looked me straight in the eyes and asked, "will you marry me?"
482. Writing the last words of my first novel
This is an interesting one, because it happened twice. I'd been working on this novel since 12 or 13 years old but very "on again, off again, let's start over again" kind of thing. I finally finished in 2000, and it was a surreal feeling to have it all printed off and complete (so long it required two large binders). I shared it with my writing buddy N.L., and she told me it needed "a lot of work" (which I pretty much knew already, it was way too long). But still, it was incredible to have finally finished it, after, um, 17 or 18 years (no, I'm not at all ashamed at how it takes me to write). I began the process of revising to pare it down, and ended up completely re-writing it over the next 9 years. Amazingly, when I finished it the second time, the feeling was just as powerful. I think I cried as I wrote the last words.
483. Walking down the aisle
I had a wonderful wedding, which I completely attribute to my mom and dad, since they did 80-90% of all the planning and details, so I could sit back and relax. (I highly recommend this method. Micro-planning your wedding may end up wearing you out so you barely have strength left to enjoy it). But as it turns out, the wedding and reception, wonderful as they were, didn't make my top ten list. What did make the list was walking down the aisle on my father's arm and seeing the expression on B's face when he saw me.
484. Seeing my first child for the first time. And the second child.
Oh, the anticipation! What will he/she look like? Is this really happening? And then it finally does happen, and you see your baby for the very first time. It's such a miracle. Again, B's expression on his face as he put Blaze (her screen-name) into my arms is another thing I'll never forget. I was 31 years old. Another truly amazing miracle is you get the same feeling with your second child - and the third, and the fourth. Even though you think you know what to expect, you still don't. The miracle is still just as unique as the first time.
485. Hiking in Canyonlands and afterward calling a friend I hadn't talked to in years
My whole post-college road trip was memorable, but this was the highlight of the whole trip. I had never been west of the Mississippi River before in my life, and the further west we went into the vast mountains and deserts, the more awed I became. One particular hike, in Canyonlands National Park, left me so awed that my spirit was humbled. The earth was so huge and grand, so wildly varied, I was blown away. We were so far into the Utah wilderness that there was no phone access, but a few days later when we got back into civilization, I called my friend M.C., whom I had not talked to in 2 or 3 years, due to a bad falling out. After being so humbled and awed, I just had to share my experience with her and start rebuilding our friendship, admitting where I had gone wrong and asking forgiveness. I was 22 years old.We are still close friends, 20 years later.
486. Realizing God is real.
About a year and a half after that experience in Canyonlands where my spirit felt that mixture of awe and humility, and several more humbling experiences God used to draw me (without me yet understanding anything about him, or even really believing in him), I reached the point where I challenged him to prove Himself to me. Which He did, immediately, just a few hours later as I read the Bible for the first time in years. He did not speak out loud but I have no doubt that He spoke to me through a very specific word-image in the Bible. I was stunned and at the same time serene, if that makes any sense. It felt like searching for a needle in a haystack, doubting you'd ever find it. But then suddenly, there it is, so unexpected, and a thousand times more beautiful than what you had ever imagined.
This last of my top ten moments in life didn't come to me right away (not until today, in fact). I found it interesting that the things that were most important and memorable to me did not include my parents at all, or any friends (except for one, indirectly). It did not include anything from my childhood or school years or college years. (I really wished I had thought to put together a top ten list earlier in my life - I wonder what would have been on it back then? It's impossible to reconstruct now with the bias of age).
I kept coming back to my parents. I have the most wonderful parents in the world; I have no bad memories of them. Sure we had some fights and I had some spankings but really, I can't even say those were bad memories because they didn't scar me in anyway, rather they helped me grow. I could think of many wonderful moments with my parents, but nothing compared to the powerful moments with my husband or with my own kids, even my horse! (insert a huff of disgust toward myself). Which really saddened me. I felt like I had lost something. And it was also sad to realize my own kids will someday find their best memories may not include me! But that is exactly when it hit me:
487. When my parents held my first child for the first time.
I have a hard time describing this. For my mom, she barely looked at me when she came into my hospital room. When she picked up my baby, she made some soft noises of wonder, but other than that she was speechless (which is so rare for my mom). It was the same way with my father, a while later. When he saw her (I have the hardest time not writing her real name here!), he had to sit down first, and then asked me to hand him the baby. I handed her over all bundled up. He slowly unwrapped her blanket and just sat there staring at her for a long time, speechless, dabbing at tears. My father does not cry easily.
I am not sure if we truly ever appreciate our parents, or love them so much as we do the moment we become parents ourselves and see them with our own children.