Today, my mom and dad celebrate 56 years of marriage. They said, “I do,” shortly before their sophomore year at Oklahoma Baptist University on Aug. 22, 1958. From that time on they planted their tree on the foundation of Jesus. It has become a sheltering tree for countless boys, girls, men and women for the past 56 years.
They started with three children. Jay, Krista and Kyle. Now there are six. Jay and Hope (married 32 years); Krista and Billy (30 years); Kyle and Shannon (15 years). They have welcomed our spouses as their own from the first day we came home and said, “This is the one.”
Our family tree is filled with many others. Some related by blood and some not. From a very early time, my parents taught us to share life with every soul God places in our paths. I shared my room with several teenage girls that needed a helping of the abundant love they had. I shared my room with my grandmother Mollie Oaks when the Oklahoma winters became too cold and lonely after my grandfather died. I still share my parents every time I go home for a visit because weary souls know where to come for counsel and hugs and they seek them out often.
There is a tree near my house that is a beautiful picture of the family tree started by my folks. Last winter, a huge limb broke off from the top and the lower branches caught it. Ensuing spring storms could not wrestle the limb free. Today, behind the green foliage of a hot, wet summer, the limb stays snug between the remaining branches.
My parents taught us to catch falling branches. They taught us to love the broken. They taught us to hold on tight, even when others can't see what we were doing.
No one is so far gone that they can’t be loved.
I celebrate their fierce and all-encompassing love today. I celebrate the sheltering tree that I have been able to hide in when I need rest. I celebrate the deep roots that have sustained us all. I celebrate the new branches as we continue to add to their legacy of love. I celebrate Bill and Karen Colle and thank my Lord for allowing me to be a branch in their tree.
Photo of my parents by Donna Irene Photography at my niece Laura's wedding in May.