For the love of a friend...
Mike Gibson and I have been friends for 19 years. We met he and his precious wife Donna when Larry and I were youth pastors at a church in Dayton, way back when I was pregnant with Jordan in 1990. Our friendship has been characterized by a ton of laughter more than anything. Mike loves to laugh, and you can't help but laugh with him!
After spending time with Mike and Donna, my sides literally ache from laughing so hard. Through these years we have found so much to laugh about and share the same sense of humor that often finds us (literally, no exaggeration) falling off of our chairs and not being able to get our composure for a few minutes. I remember one time at Mike's old house in Beavercreek, something funny was said and we both fell off of the sofa (he on one sofa across the room, me on another) and laughed for about five minutes laying on the floor in separate corners of the room while our spouses were thinking, "oooookkkayyy...pull yourselves together here guys..." which just made us laugh all the more when we saw their serious faces. They surely thought we belonged in the looney bin. It was the kinda thing where you'd have to be there, I guess. Sometimes pastoring kinda does that to you, and with the four of us all being pastors, well -- there was often the occasion to let off some steam. We have actually fallen off the sofas laughing more than once! Mike also used to have this talking bird that would say stuff and when it did we would laugh SO hard, we would just be beside ourselves. Ahh....memories.
A few of our other thousands of memories include many late night calls, emails and in person talks about pastoral ministry. We've helped each other through many trials and assisted one another in staying at least relatively sane...key word here being relatively. We talk just about every day by e-mail, facebook or in some way, even if it's just a few sentences. He and Donna have a passion for relevance and reaching today's culture just Larry and I do, and a distain for legalism as strong if not stronger than us. They are FUN. They are REAL. We are both musicians and singers with much the same style and a visit always brings a time around the keyboard singing and playing. Mike has helped me on several choir projects, personal recording projects, parenting issues, church issues, work issues, and so much more. He and Donna were beside Larry and I in two seconds flat when we resigned our abusive church (where we first were lead pastors) and basically became homeless. They even came for the weekend and were right beside us for our resignation and the aftermath and have stuck with us through hell and back. I'd like to think I've been a good friend to him too. That's one reason why my priority is to be there this weekend for his big 50th birthday bash.
Truth be told my 25th high school reunion is coming up in two weeks in Baltimore. Honestly, I couldn't do both. It came down to one or the other. The time off and finances would just not permit doing both. But when it came down to it, the decision was an easy one. A 25th high school reunion is nostalgic, but I do not have the relationship with anyone there even close to the degree that I do with Mike. In 25 more years, I would regret not being there at Mike's 50th. And I don't want to have regrets in life...
A few weeks ago I told Larry that I wanted to do what it took to get there for the party and he readily agreed and started looking for plane tickets. Mike is having a huge bash at the America's Packard Museum in Dayton and it's a 1940's theme, with costumes. I will be going as a flapper. (Can you imagine?!) Thank you, Candy, for the great flapper outfit!!!
So here's to you Mikey...Larry and I will be there in a few hours at the Dayton airport, costumes in tow, ready for an amazing weekend celebrating ALL THINGS MIKE!!! We love you!!!