I simply can’t believe I’m writing this only twelve days from a wedding at my absolute favorite place in the world. You see, the invitation say T & S Farm and I just want to be sure everyone attending (and the world I guess) knows exactly what that field and that farm mean for me and my life.
I’m not sure why God thought that I deserved Tom & Sharon Gentges but I am certainly glad he chose me to be in their family (already crying writing this so hopefully this clears out some tears before wedding day). They are and were the most loving, genuine people I’ve ever known. My Grandpa was a hard-working, leathered farmer married to the most loving, gentle woman you could imagine. She truly was the light of his world in many ways.
I grew up on the farm surrounded by aunts and uncles and cousins – playing in the creek, selling rocks by the road, pretending to help putting up hay, counting cows, and riding four-wheelers all over “God’s country.” Love was found everywhere on that magical farm – in my grandparents, my family, the animals, and the land. In 2008, Grandpa’s life was changed just a bit. A brain tumor was found at the base of his pons and during removal, he suffered a stroke that left him “locked-in.” I won’t go into any more details but for our 62-year active Grandpa, it was a tough change. He could no longer walk, talk, eat, or breathe on his own. Doctors told us we likely wouldn’t have much more time with him – but remember that love I mentioned earlier? Yeah, that love told us otherwise.
After a battle in the hospitals for nearly a year, Grandma brought her man home and
transformed a living room in their home into a room that would work for this new life. Of course, that room had a front row window to the big, red barn many of you will see on wedding day.
Our lives had all taken a turn that no one could ever prepare for but as I look back, I realize God chose that life for us to make us all a better, stronger family.
I was sixteen at the time of his surgery and as many teenagers do, I rebelled and used this setback as an excuse to blame God and question His plan for our family. How could it possibly make sense for people much more deserving of this life to be walking the Earth when my Grandpa was one of his most faithful servants? It had to be a dream, right?
For nearly six years, my Grandpa proved doctor’s wrong. He lived….and although it wasn’t ideal, he hung with us for six BONUS Christmas gatherings and birthdays and marriages. He met his GREAT grandchildren. He watched hundreds of Nascar races and listened to WAY too many of my college stories. As I grew from sixteen year old MacKenzie to the MacKenzie of today, I realize that love kept him with us.
My last collegiate softball game was May 13, 2014. During that game, I lost my Dad’s father, Chester Bowden. Ten days later on May 23, my Grandpa Tom’s 68th birthday, we said goodbye and sent him to quite possibly the best birthday party he’s ever had in Heaven. Later that year, I lost my Dad’s mother, Carol Bowden and my little cousin, Dayne. It was a trying year in every way imaginable but one that was crucial to finish the lesson God started in November 2008. In short, I opened my first business – Wild Rose – and began working on myself and the dream I had for my life. A mission opportunity in Jamaica came up and in early 2016, I left the country for the first time to build homes and spread Christ’s love in the community of Harmons, Jamaica. It was there that I decided to let go of my grief and let God finish out his plan for me. I was home for all of three days before He sent me Tyler (ahh, be still my heart).
I’ve always known I wanted to get married at T & S Farm, but it wasn’t until I met Tyler that I realized WHY I wanted to be married there. It was one of the first places I saw love in action as my Grandma tenderly cared for my Grandpa in his final years. It was where I learned that God’s plan doesn’t always make sense, but He loves you so much that He won’t stop working in you until it does.
I’ll see you June 3rd when OUR new adventure begins!!!