Family,  Love,  Marriage

The Little Chapel on Morrow

I’ll always remember that day. We stood at the front of the church, my sister and I—she in a teal colored sweater, and me wearing the same version in pink. Together we sang, “Jesus Loves Me This I know…” I sang the melody, while Bonnie chimed in with harmony. She always could sing better harmony than I; however that’s considering I couldn’t sing harmony at all. Neither one of us were amazing singers by any stretch of the imagination, but that morning we sang like we were–spreading the love of God, from radiant voices of praise.

It was a crisp February morning, the 14th to be exact. The congregation of maybe 45 people at most, were gathered together in the wee chapel on Morrow Avenue. Mr. Dorsette sat hunched over the keys of the organ that towered above him, while Mrs. Hensley shuffled through her purse in search of her specs. A Kleenex that fell to her lap was carefully tucked into the cuff of her sleeve. Our parents sat stage left, near the front, beaming with pride, since singing to a congregation of 45 was about the closest thing to success our family knew.

Members of the congregation leaned in, squinting, smiling, and glaring at the girl with the blond hair. I was new to the church, but one look revealed that I belonged with the red-headed girl–sisters that looked, sang, and dressed so much alike. We wore beige nylons beneath denim skirts, and flat pumps that added nothing to our short stature.

Sitting in the back row sat a group of young men. The leader of their pack, Michael Schacht, combed fingers through his hair with one hand while the other lay resting on the back of the pew. Listening more intently than he had for the past 20 years in attendance, his eyes remained steady on the girl with the golden hair.

“We need to get them in our band,” he whispered to the guys. And together they nodded wondering which one would get our phone numbers first.

Two weeks later, I answered a call from my sister Bonnie. “Hey, I forgot to tell you,” she said. “Remember when we sang at my church on Valentine’s Day?”

How could I forget? I was nervous beyond belief, wondering if the congregation had gathered a collection to have me taken out for stepping on stage that morning. It’s unnerving to look into the eyes of people whose relaxed demeanor shouts, “You’ll be burned at the stake if you miss that high note.” And I’m sure I missed several.

“Well,” she continued. “There’s a guy in our church who has a band, and he really wants us to sing in it.”

My first thought was What’s wrong with this band? Why would they ask US to sing with them? Weren’t we the girls who stood there only two weeks earlier sporting nail polished nylons (fyi it stops runs) and belting out kindergarten tunes? My second thought was BOYS. In fact my third, fourth, fifth, and sixth thoughts were Boys, Boys, Boys, Boys. So that afternoon in 1986, I joined the Crossroads band.

I hadn’t planned to join a band that morning, 24 years ago, nor did I plan to find my husband in the back row of a little chapel on Morrow Avenue. But God’s plan that Valentine’s day was exceedingly abundant above anything I could have dreamed of or prayed for my life. He knew my desires, as he knew Michael’s heart, and so in that moment divinely orchestrated by the Father of love, our journey began.

24 years later, Michael is still the leader of the pack, but that pack has changed some with four children, two birds, three hamsters, and a little blond wife. The pink sweater and nylons are gone, the chapel is empty, and praise God–our house is full.

Today we are celebrating 22 years of marriage. Yes, we still miss the high notes now and then, but a happy marriage of 22 years is about the closest thing to success our family knows.

Happy Anniversary, Michael. I love you with all of my heart.

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