Every man longs to have a woman look deep into his eyes and whisper those words of awe and affirmation. I know this to be true because I've read the book LOVE AND RESPECT. (Which I would highly recommend to each of you.)
And I know it's true because I've been married for almost 32 years! In that length of time, if you will watch and take note, you'll learn things that make the second thirty years even more pleasant than the first. Smile.
This weekend I had opportunity to journey alongside my personal hero as he lived a bucket list dream. I found it both exhilarating and educating.
Frank loves anything to do with missions. Foreign missions. Home missions. U.S. missions trips. Missions trips abroad. Raising missions support. Highlighting mission-aries! He loves it all.
So when he heard that there would be a 200 mile bike ride to raise money for missions - he was in! In the A/G, our teenagers raise funds to provide vehicles for our missionaries. Cars, trucks, vans, etc. One missionary we support needed a unicycle - the youth provided that!
Frank started training for the ride in January. Our youth group discovered that he planned to make the ride on a regular trail bike and they took a calculated risk.
"We'll raise the money to buy you a road bike, Pastor; if you'll raise twice as much on this ride."
The week before the ride, John decided he didn't want Dad riding alone. So he bought a bike and started riding too.
Last Tuesday as they trained, Frank took a tumble which landed us in the urgent care center closing the gash on his leg with ten stitches. (My man is all or nothing!)
"He FELL?" you ask in shocked disbelief.
No, Frank never falls. He occasionally has an involuntary dismount! And this one was a hum dinger!
On Friday morning, Frank and John started out on their conquest with equal parts of optimism and trepidation. Finishing would take true focus and determination. This was no joke; Frank had the stitches to prove it!
When Joy and I met them at the fifty mile point, they were already pushing hard. When the first day ended, we were there to cheer with the others. And to make liberal application of Ben-gay! 100 miles down. 100 miles to go.
Saturday, however, took a bad turn. Frank's front tire began to leak air and they were forced to stop every 10 miles or so to pump it back up. By mid-morning they were an hour and a half behind their time from Friday.
A ride like this is largely mental and when we met them with a new inner tube, they were both very discouraged.
John repaired the tire and then stepped aside to talk with Joy.
We had discovered that only a few riders were actually attempting the entire 200 miles. Most were content with 100. Several more had dropped out completely for various reasons.
I came close to Frank and asked the unspeakable, "Honey, should you cut it short since you've had such a time with this tire?"
"NO!" His answer wasn't unkind. It was simply emphatic.
The new inner tube helped. But it couldn't change the facts. The last fifty miles found them pedaling against the wind. They knew they were the last men on the trail. Frank had been told that he was the oldest rider.
But they pedaled on. Because that's what heroes do. Giving up? Not an option!
When those two yellow jerseys appeared on the trail near the finish line, we all burst into applause and began to cheer wildly! They made it! They rode 202 miles in two short days!! And the funds raised? Three times what the youth had invested to put Pastor on the trail!
On Sunday, the entire congregation joined the cheering and congratulating! Such a joyous moment for everyone involved.
Typically, this would be the wrap-up point for my post. But a marathon bike ride isnt the entirety of this hero story.
That came this morning around 6:30.
Frank came into the living room and said, "Sheri, we've got to get that Christmas cactus replanted today and this morning is when I can help you. Come on, let's get it done."
The cactus plays an important part in our lives because it came to us from the funeral service honoring my mom. This Christmas will be three years that it has bloomed brightly; telling us that there is joy in sorrow.
But it's grown to the point that I can no longer transplant it by myself. And our busy lives had delayed the transplant far too long jeopardizing the health of the plant.
So early daylight found the two of us wrestling with a slightly overgrown Christmas cactus; a 25 lb bag of potting soil; and a pot that could hide a small child. Thirty minutes passed before we could clean up.
With my hands finally clean, I reached up and touched Frank's face.
No one else was there to cheer. No one snapped pictures of his work. No one would ever know of his effort to keep that plant living just because he understands its significance.
But I looked deep into those blue eyes and declared, "You're my hero! Thank you."
The truest heroes are those who live that way in the spotlight and in the shadows! Just thought it needed to be recorded somehow. Smile.