Thursday, December 30, 2010

Waxing a bit poetic...

I know most people think this trip is about football. And there is a big game being played in a couple of days between our beloved MSU Bulldogs and the Michigan Wolverines. And our cowbells are ready and we will be ringing them loud and proud.

But honestly, this trip, this Bowl Game experience, is about much more than that for us. It is about re-connecting with dear dear friends. It is about a chance to introduce our children to the friends that made our days at MSU so amazing. And we are relishing every single opportunity to do that!

Back before Facebook and text messages, back when our Bulldogs went to the Cotton Bowl and the Independence Bowl, Wade, Todd and I would wander the stands hoping to see a familiar face. Desperately wanting to re-connect with friends that had been "lost" during all our moves around the country.

This trip is already so much better. For starters, we had coffee with a dear friend Gary Nichols. Gary and his wife Carolyn are not technically friends from MSU....but the connection is through Mississippi as Carolyn's mom, Mrs. Yvonne Hurt taught me in Sunday School when I was 5. During a 3-month stint in Jacksonville when the triplets were 5, Gary taught them in Sunday School. He is special to them and they were thrilled to see him again after all these years!

Mr. Gary and his once-5-year-old Sunday Schoolers...

Also during our stint in Jacksonville, Wade was mentored by Dr. Eric Loveless. Eric is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and specializes in treating kids with Cerebral Palsy. His passion about, care for and dedication to kids with Cerebral Palsy was instrumental in defining the surgeon Wade is today. We are ever-thankful for Eric's influence and continued friendship.

Wade and Eric Loveless

Claire and Eric's wife, Loli -- also a gift!

The kids with their pal, Dr. Eric!

My days at MSU were shaped largely by my summer experiences as a counselor at Camp Garaywa. Miss Trish Simmons had a huge impact on my life and continues to be a friend, confidant, mentor and prayer warrior for me all these years later. When we first traveled to Mississippi with the triplets, Miss Trish arranged for us to meet at her brother's home in Starkville. Butch and Susan were gracious to offer and we immediately adopted them as family. We do not visit Mississippi without seeing them.

Mr. Butch and Mason have a long-standing tradition of arm-wrestling...really, since Mason was very small. Of course they have already made time for that right in the middle of the Sawgrass Mariott! Too bad the team wasn't wondering around right then, I am sure they could have helped Mason out.

Gator Bowl Arm Wrestle

Butch and Susan Simmons

Tonight we went out for dinner and heard our name. Another friend, Gary Harris, was coming in the door of the same restaurant! We haven't seen Gary since the Independence Bowl ten years ago! It was so good to hug his neck!

We also had dinner with the Winters tonight. Marty and Wade were best friends from childhood. We can go years without seeing them (and sadly have often) and yet feel like we have never been apart when we get together. Marty's wife, Kris, is simply one of my favorite people. Her hugs are the best and we chatter non-stop when we are together. There is never enough time to say all that we want to say...but tonight was good. In a deep sigh, no pretense, sort of way.

Kris and I....I am so thankful for Wade's friendship that brought this dear friend to ME!

The Shraders and Winters all together! Do we look like we were having a bit of fun?!

Reed and Cate -- even our kids act like they see each other regularly!

Mrs. Kris and Cate

Mason, Benjamin and Reed

The guys who started it all -- Wade and Marty

So yes, there is a ball game to play. But there are also more friends to see. More hugs to get and uh...more maroon to wear! Oh, it is such a blessing, y'all!