Happy Birthday, Dixie!

Probably most of you who read my blog have at least a general knowledge of my story. I have posted about my theological quest here, but today I wanted to be a little more personal. I was raised by godly Christian parents and through the means of their witness at home and the preaching of the Gospel at our church, by God’s grace, I was, to use the Apostle Paul’s words, “made alive in Christ” at an early age.

During my Senior year at West Orange High School I met Lydia Franks, a sophomore at Orangefield High School, and three years later we were married (Yes, I know we were young but it worked). The next thirteen years were filled with many ups and downs as I finished my education, and began my life as a pastor, first at the Morgan Mill Baptist Church, and then, at the First Baptist Church in Mauriceville (both in Texas). We (Lydia and I) easily grew together as husband and wife, and then as Christian parents to a boy and a girl until our world was shaken when we discovered that our daughter, Leah, had cystic fibrosis when she was eighteen months old.

The next six and half years were filled with breathing treatments, extended hospital stays, IV meds both at home and in the hospital, all added to the normal challenges of being a busy pastor. Thankfully, God’s grace was sufficient, as we saw Leah grow in “wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” God, in His mercy, had placed me in churches with loving, supporting people, and most importantly, had given me a loving wife who was able, by God’s grace, to care for Leah, love me, and somehow make family life as normal as possible under such circumstances. However, on Mother’s Day, 1989, my world was shaken again when both Lydia and Leah were killed in an automobile accident.

Overnight, I was a single pastor with an eleven year old son (Josh) and my primary supporter, prayer partner, confidante, and friend was no longer with me. Thankfully, the Lord upheld me through those dark days, and friends did all that they could to support me, but in many ways I felt totally alone. My thirteen years with Lydia had taught me how good marriage could be, and I realized the truth of our Lord’s words in the garden, “It is not good that the man should be alone.”

It was then that the Lord brought Dixie Gomez into my life. She faced many challenges that others who were entering into new relationships didn’t have to face. For starters, in many ways I was still in the midst of the grieving process (as was Josh), and she had to sail through those uncharted waters. Secondly, it seemed as if we could go nowhere without running into someone that we knew, and soon the phone lines would be burning up with the latest news of the pastor and his “date.” (It gave a whole new meaning to me of what it meant to live one’s life “in a fishbowl.”) Yet, through it all, she stayed the course and I am so glad that she did.

Now, we have been married for over twenty years, and it seems in many ways that all of those things took place yesterday. Our marriage has survived the horrors of infertility issues (Don’t wish that on your worst enemies), the adoption of two special needs children (for whom we are so grateful, although they are not without their challenges), and a change in our religious denomination (from Southern Baptist to the Presbyterian Church in America) along with my place of ministry. Again, Dixie has been a true helpmeet (to use the old King James Version word) through all of the joys and the dark providences of our lives and I am so grateful to the Lord for her love and support for me. Tomorrow is her [I am whispering now] 46th birthday and I am praying that the Lord will bless her deeply as she continues to live out her life to the glory of God.

Thank you, Lord, for the grace that is ours through our Lord Jesus Christ!

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5 Comments

  1. Mehgan Drake said,

    January 27, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    Thank you for sharing your story with us–I was very touched.

  2. Renee, Lindsey, and Lauren said,

    January 27, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    Happy birthday Mrs. Dixie!!! Hope you have a great day!

  3. January 27, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    A noble wife, who can find? Her worth is far above rubies.

  4. JMac said,

    January 28, 2011 at 7:53 AM

    I remember all of this like it was yesterday…. especially that beautiful wedding! She was just a babe when she married you! Happy Birthday, Dixie. I hope you have a wonderful day!

  5. Sandra A. said,

    January 28, 2011 at 9:06 AM

    May you be greatly blessed, Clifton, for honoring your wife with these words.


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