Just a few of my favorite things that made the past weekend one to be cherished. Again, the list is varied, so if one topic isn't of interest, try the next:
Gene. (I love you! And, no, I probably didn't expect to start with that!)
Texas. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is at home in Texas, especially in the spring!
Family farmsteads. First stop was the Gilliland farm, grown up with the first weeds of spring. They might have been pretty had they not meant so much work ahead for Gene. He spent the afternoon mowing and trimming and making it all beautiful again, while I headed on to the Davidson farm, where Mom and Dad and Amy and Mike and Elaine and ALL THEIR GIRLS (Jen, Laura and Angela) and Kathy and Wade and Russell and Joslin awaited, along with cows, trees, cats, good food, laughter, catching up and a lot of love.
A country-style wedding at a ranch retreat. The bride arrived with her dad in a horse-drawn carriage. Brandi and Danny (my nephew) exchanged vows with the setting sun peeking through a hedge of trees behind them, then they rode off in the carriage. The reception was in a red-dirt-floored arena in the chilly damp air of an April evening. The setting and timing were the dream of the bride, with probably only one thing missing, and that was her brother, who is enlisted and at the last minute was not able to attend. Good food, plenty of beer for those who wanted it and music for dancing and listening were accompaniments for celebrating such a happy occasion with family and friends.
Sunday dinner for 24 or more at a favorite barbecue joint. Conversation and laughter. Unfortunately for Danny and Brandi, they were with us instead of on their honeymoon. Here's hoping it will be better than ever when they finally get to go. Lots of picture-taking, hugs, and then good-byes as various families headed toward homes, including in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
And the unexpected finale: Gospel singing at the tiny white wooden Methodist church in Sivells Bend. Despite all the work Gene had to do at the farm, he couldn't resist the lure of fishing on such a perfect day, so Mom came by our farm to pick me up and head on up the country highway past Moss Lake and toward the Red River. The pristine white church glistened against the late afternoon blue sky and the carpet of green grass, which quickly filled with cars. Inside, people from the Sivells Bend Methodist church, nearby Bear Creek (I think) Baptist and Whaley Methodist, some 20 miles or so away in Gainesville, scooted into the old wooden pews. Before long, folding chairs were being brought to lengthen the rows. And then the music began, starting with an old-time gospel trio and superb accompaniment, setting the perfect tone for a night of praising the Lord in robust harmony. What a sweet, sweet spirit! It was like a heavenly chorus on Earth. People who were there either loved to sing or loved to hear the singing. "Floods of joy o'er my soul like the sea billows roll since Jesus came into my heart ...," "Victory in Jesus ...," "Lily of the Valley" and so many favorites that just aren't sung enough anymore. Afterwards, sweet and savory treats were served along with something pink to drink. Topping it all off were more smiles and hugs and warm wishes to send people on their way, hearts singing, spirits renewed.
Life is good. Thank you, God!