(The Wallsburg school. This building, built in 1904, was our home for ten years. It's been abandoned again for many years and is sadly falling apart. It was for sale a year or so ago and we excitedly thought about buying it again, until we discovered from the realtor that it was selling for $800,000.)
Yesterday, my parents celebrated their 48th anniversary. (I'd intended to write something about them yesterday, but then a Ford F150 pulled in front of us and my day changed.) But as great as 48 years of marriage is, that's only a small part of what makes my parents impressive.
I could tell you about what great examples they are, about their mission, about years of church service, about hard work and sacrifice and patience. I could even tell you about a few times when they showed their human side and lost their cool or severely over-grounded one of their kids, or got carried away at a basketball game.
But instead, I'll tell you about their sense of adventure. There are those who would say they showed their adventurous side by having eleven children. I think this is true, but imagine taking those eleven children on a road trip. Dad and Mom did that every summer. While we didn't have a lot of money, they wanted their kids to see and experience as much as possible. We traveled all over the United States. Mom made sandwiches and we had contests to see who could make an oreo last the longest. We played games and fought and sang songs. But we played in the ocean, we saw big cities, and beautiful barns. We traveled winding mountain roads and drove through hundreds of miles of plains. We went to National Parks and saw rock formations and State Parks where civil war battles had been fought.
Dad and Mom's sense of adventure carried over into everyday life. When I was six years old, they bought an old, abandoned schoolhouse in Wallsburg. I was scared when I first walked inside--the windows were broken out and the floors were covered with three or four inches of dead hornets, flies and broken glass. They transformed that scary, abandoned building into a home. They cleaned up the filth to reveal hardwood floors, tore down plaster to the beautiful brick underneath, put in walls to create bedrooms. It became a beautiful place with only one hallway that led to the underground storage room that continued to be scary.
We had a gymnasium and a stage. We had bats that flew above our heads as we fell asleep some nights. I had a bedroom that had been a library with bookshelves from floor to 12-foot ceiling. We had an enormous (and dangerous) slide until Dad and Mom "donated" it to the city park. It was an amazing house for kids to grow up in.
At the time I didn't realize how unusual my parents were. I didn't realize that there were parents who didn't take their kids on long family vacations. I didn't realize that there were parents who wouldn't even know how to begin a challenge like turning an old schoolhouse into a home. I took them for granted.
But of all the valuable things my parents gave me, today I'm thankful for their adventurous spirit. It helps remind me that I can do hard things, that I can look at things differently, that its okay to try something unexpected.
Happy Anniversary, Dad and Mom. I love you and I'm so thankful that you're my parents!