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My friend LaRessie Mason (North Carolina) is preparing to go to Guatemala on a mission trip in March. She has always wanted to do mission work, so when this opportunity came her way – JUST IN TIME FOR HER UPCOMING 40th BIRTHDAY – LaRessie jumped at the chance to serve God in this special way. I’m SO proud of her, and in support of this important trip she will be taking mid-March, tomorrow – Feb 1st – I’m launching “40 Days of Fasting and Prayer for Guatemala.” For health reasons I cannot fast from food, but I CAN fast from Facebook and from cell phone games… two HUGE time wasters that I tend to allow to take away from time that I’d normally spend in prayer with the Lord. I’ve sent my sweet and Godly friend, LaRessie, a special list of things I’m going to pray for during each of these coming 40 days – things specifically related to her upcoming mission trip. I hope you’ll join me in prayer for LaRessie and her team as they travel next month to Guatemala. And now you’ll know why I’m out of the loop on Facebook for the next 40 days! If you need to reach me in the meantime, try email: kyshartank@yahoo.com. Blessings, Sharon

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Twenty years ago this evening I was rushing around like a crazy person, trying to finish decorating the church while checking the music while folding programs while barking out orders to the rest of my bridal party like they were members of some unfortunate chain gang.  Somehow we all got past that crazy night and even managed to get through the next day, too.  Most of those involved that day are even still speaking to me… Thanks to each and every one of you (you know who you are!).

There are a lot of funny stories from that day, and from our first few years as a married couple.  Well – at least we think they’re funny NOW.

I could tell you about how my brand new husband, behind the wheel of our honeymoon vehicle, chauffeured his brand new bride out of the church parking lot, drove a few blocks and turned straight into a car wash where he fed pocket change into a machine and wiped the car clean of all tale tell signs that would have let others on the road to Gatlinburg know that we were “Just Married.”  NOW I know that he did it because we were in a borrowed car and he felt nervous about driving it with all that junk on the windshield.  But at the time all I could think about was my childish, bratty self – and how disappointed I felt at not being able to arrive at our honeymoon destination with signage in tow.  So silly…NOW.

Or I could tell you about our first anniversary, and the fact that my sweet, broke college student of a husband penny pinched and somehow figured out a way to buy me a wonderful, heartfelt gift that reflected his nostalgic memories of our early dating.  At the time I didn’t respond well at all when I opened the package and saw the contents of his mysterious box… A Fry Daddy.  I wish I could take back my reaction that day – spoiled, immature and self-centered.  You see, my husband is one of the last true romantics, and that first anniversary gift meant that he remembered how much we’d enjoyed sharing our favorite buffalo wings during early dates together… and that he planned to recreate those special wings for me with the new fry daddy.  If only I’d known then what I know NOW.

There are dozens and dozens of other stories from our twenty years together, and many of them lead to similar conclusions.  What I know NOW, after having been with this man and sharing my life with him all these years is THIS:  Bob Tankersley is the most spiritual, most creative, most romantic, most spontaneous, most respectable, most loving man a woman could ever hope to marry.  He is Home to me, my anchor in the storm, and my sense of humor when I’ve forgotten how to laugh.  Sometimes he’s my conscience when I’m tempted to cut corners.  Often he is my inspiration when I feel like my river has run dry.  He is, quite simply, my best friend.  So, on this eve of our 20th Wedding Anniversary – I would like to say to the world that I would marry this man again in a heartbeat!  So, Mr. Tankersley, tell me:  What are you doing for the NEXT twenty years?…

‘Tart

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Bob and I recently enjoyed a lovely week visiting family and friends in Texas.  The time flew by in a swirl of warm hugs, sweet laughter, and more good Tex Mex than a middle-aged body should be asked to digest.  It took me awhile to get back into the groove of life back here in Kentucky.  I think this is partly because I was exhausted from the trip, and partly because leaving loved ones behind was bittersweet.

Of all the beautiful moments we enjoyed while on the trip, one in particular has clung to me like a lovely perfume… I’m still savoring its scent nearly a week later.

It was a rainy afternoon at the Fort Worth zoo – a favorite old haunt where adults become like children again through hands-on interaction with animals from every part of the globe.  We’d gone there that day with some of our oldest and dearest friends – Ryan and Amy Gibbons and their two delightful children, N and L.  The sun that had shone all week chose that day to give way to rain showers.  But a few raindrops didn’t keep us away from the lions and tigers and bears – oh NO!  We were feeling adventurous and the animals were calling.

Bob and I took turns snapping photos while our little group wound its way through the various exhibits, trying hard to keep up with the boundlessly energetic children among us.  I had fun capturing this shot of Amy under her umbrella while she laughed at a silly story Bob was retelling.  I hoped that the photo would capture the essence of what I love most about my precious, long-time friend: Boundless joy and peace that remain buoyant even in the midst of life’s rain showers… THAT is what I think of when I reflect on my image of Amy Gibbons. 

She and her family have endured many challenging days in the past few years.  Job loss, hurt-filled separation from those they once called “friend”, and an uncertain future framed by seemingly perpetual transition have been the puddles they’ve had to trudge through of late.  Yet Amy’s faith in our Father remains steadfast.  Her comment to me when sharing some especially disappointing news she received a few days ago?… “Well, I’m not exactly sure what that means.”  Wow – talk about an unwaivering faith!

In fact, their journey has been both a mirror and a forecast of the road that Bob and I have travelled this past year.  Funny how God moves us along such parallel lines at times.  I like to think that it’s His way of providing a built-in support group when we need it most.  And as I think about my friend Amy and her unsinkable joy in the midst of strife, this image of her laughing under her blue umbrella as the rain poured down all around her that day at the zoo is so completely uplifting, so utterly endearing, so thoroughly inspiring that I plan to use it as a daily reminder to steady my own anchor to the Rock in the storms of life.

Thank you, Amy, for reminding me that real joy and peace can truly pass all understanding when we remember to buoy our souls to the One who calms the seas.

P.S.  Didn’t my husband do a GREAT job recoloring this photographic work of art!??

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Gal Pals

“If friends were flowers, I’d pick you.”  This saying has meant a lot to me over the years. Growing up in a military family – then marrying a minister – means that I’ve lived many places, and I’ve had to say farewell to good friends far more often than I care to count.  Saying goodbye never gets any easier, no matter how much practice you’ve had.

I was taught early that collecting stuff isn’t what life is about, but that protecting and keeping relationships is what anchors a person to this life and also to the life that awaits us in Heaven.  I’ve been blessed with the privilege of amassing quite a “collection” of good friends throughout the country and around the world. 

Have you ever wished that you could call up all your pals from every place you’ve ever lived, worked or played and have them gather in one place for a really big reunion party?

This past November I experienced a very happy “accident”.  By planning a surprise birthday party for my husband, I was able to enjoy a rather lovely serendipity – having friends from my past and from far away gather with local friends from the present.  And it was a gift!  They all seemed to mingle well and enjoy each others’ company, which was really special to me.  Even when they started comparing notes and ganging up on me to use their collective knowledge of my idiosyncracies against me as they teased me relentlessly… It was FUN!

LaRessie, Edie and Tammy – each of you is special to me for very different reasons.  I love you all so much and had a blast sharing you with each other.  I hope and pray that we can get together again like that some day – even if it means I have to take more teasing.  You gals are class acts, each and every one of you, and I am blessed to have you in my life – whether separate or in unison.  Thank you – all three of you – for loving me these many years!

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I was unemployed when “WE” (my husband and me) launched this writer’s blog.  For those that are reading closely, the quotation marks are a nod to the fact that Mr. Tank has yet to write a single word using this particular high-tech form of expression.  I, meanwhile, have two very chatty posts and an extremely verbose introduction to my credit.  But alas -that was nearly three months ago, and a lot has happened in the meantime!

New job (thank you Lord!) with steep learning curve.  A turkey day celebration of thanks with dear friends.  A surprise 40th birthday party for the man that I sleep with (Hmm… Is that Old Man I smell?).  Even more holiday hoo-haa that included a houseful of family and waking up to fireworks outside our bedroom at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and BOOM!  Here we are.  Wow.  2010.  So tell us – do you say “Two Thousand and Ten” or are you hip and chic and use the more youthful “Twenty-Ten?”  Seriously – TELL US – We’re taking a poll!

I’m thinking about all the things I haven’t done up to this point in my life.  Why?  Because I like torturing myself.  But now that I’m married to a middle-aged man, I must also face the fact that I’m right on his heels in the aging department.  Really makes you pause and reflect on where you’ve been, who you are, and where you’re headed.  All that reflecting took me down a dark path this week.  But glad to report to you now that I’m Back.  Silly, really, to allow room in my head for regret.  Especially when I’ve been able to do so much already.  And who knows where life’s road will lead me to next?  He does – and he’s keeping it a closely guarded secret for now.  Probably because He knows that I’d obsess about it before I ever got there.  Much better to face it with Him one day at a time.  While breathing.  Deeply.  Ahh…

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