Thursday, April 19, 2012


Last weekend my wife Marilyn and I went to see the movie American Reunion, the 4th installment of the American Pie series.  I wanted to see the movie for two reason.  I had heard it was very funny, the best of the series since the original.  And I had great memories of the original!  Despite its raunchiness (or maybe because of) I found it to be very funny.  I also found the characters to be quite believable, and the friendships they shared as they finished high school to be quite real.  I remember hearing about the original and the infamous pie scene and wondering if I should see it.  I was talked into going by one of my former students, who was in college at the time.  Lisa Kraus, Amber Herrick and I saw it together (in one of those "What was I thinking?" moments from days gone by!) and laughed hysterically.  I also saw the sequel and found it to be be pretty funny.  I never saw American Wedding, because I heard it was awful.  But the reunion installment intrigued me.  What would things be like when the whole gang got back together 13 years after graduation?  Who had changed?  Who hadn't grown up yet?  I wanted to know, and I very much enjoyed getting the answers.  And yes- it still had it moments of total raunchiness too!

Kathryn, Beth & Terri, 1981
As I thought about this a few days later, I realized something about myself.  I love reunions.  Even when fictional, I love stories of old friends reuniting and discovering that who they were in the past played such a huge role in who they are in the present.  One of my all-time favorite movies is The Big Chill, about college friends coming together for a weekend for the funeral of one of their own.  A couple of years ago I fell in love with the Adam Sandler flick, Grown Ups, about childhood buddies who come back together for the funeral of their former coach.  I can watch (and have) those movies over and over again.  And a great deal of my affection for them has to do with the stories of change, accomplishment, failure and redemption that the characters share with each other.  It just seems to me that reunions offer opportunities for great perspective and growth, as well as a chance to relive some amazing old stories.

Lauren, Chrissy and Amber, 1998
Some of you already know that if I had had a Genie and 3 wishes to work with, one of them would be to have a reunion of all of the students and adults I worked with in all of the youth ministries I served over the years.  It would be so amazing to see everyone again, to meet all the families and to catch up on life.  It would be great to share stories and see how similar the experience of youth group was for such a diverse population.  But there are more selfish reasons as well.  I want all of the Youth Counselors who gave of themselves in service to youth over the years to get a chance to share in the sense of pride and accomplishment I get from knowing these former students as adults.  I want my first "girl group" from New Garden Friends- Terri Johnson Harris, Beth Edgerton Bell and Kathryn Burris- to get to hang out with my "angels" from FUMC-K- Lauren Carr Cacciatore, Amber Herrick and Chrissy Weaver. I want Todd Willis, one of my favorite guys from Kissimmee, to get to hang out with Todd Farlow, one of my all-time favorites from High Point.  I want to hear people like Justin Overstreet, Keri Vinson Johnston, Nina Mock and Jocelyn Sessions Ward to sit around telling New York trip stories.  I want the wacky Charles Freedle and the wacky Ben Thompson to meet- and let the insanity begin!  I want to hear Jill Gilbreth Bryant  tell Jennifer Johns about the time we left her behind at a motel in Orlando, and Jennifer tell Jill about the time we lost her in New York.  I want all of the teachers (people like Lisa Kraus Spires, Jennifer Gastler, Beth Brown, Josh Fry and more) to hold court and solve all of the education issues in our nation.  :)  I want to hear a roundtable discussion of the wonders of the Betsy B featuring people like Adam Hill, Shelley Godwin Kirby and Laurie Rees.  I want everyone to hear the stories of Ken Hill, who just finished his second Boston Marathon; of Heather Beggs Varner who continues to do amazing work as the Quaker Lake Camp director; of Ashley Goad Broadhurst, who is changing the world through her work in Haiti; and of Kelly Jeck Trace who is making her hometown of Kissimmee a better place. I want everyone from my Hall of Fame to be in the same room at the same time.  I want everyone who doesn't know them to meet people like Teresa Reep Tysinger, Jerry Hanbery and Lisa Jewett who are still such a big part of my life today. I just cannot imagine how amazing it would be for all of us to share some time together in one glorious reunion.  I have confidence we will all be together again someday, for I believe Heaven will be a great community of friends and believers.  But forgive me for wanting it all now...

"The Gang" back in May, 2006.
That is not the only reunion I crave.  Many such gatherings have actually taken place; I just couldn't be there. I have missed being able to get together with my old friends (like my best friend Steve Semmler) from high school and college since I have been in Florida.  Sharing text conversations and emails lately with people like Denise May Langley, Carl Semmler and Beth Vestal McGalliard makes me miss them even more.  I miss getting to see Neal & Susie Thomas, Susan McBane Tuggle and the rest of my old friends from Quaker Lake, as well as my old North Carolina Yearly Meeting buddies like Tim Vestal, Jeff Byrd and Terry Venable.  I miss so many people. I even want a "union" of so many people I know through Twitter.  I haven't met them the first time yet...

So does all of this rambling have a point beyond my wishful thinking?  Probably not.  I guess I will wrap it up by saying that if you are reading this, and you know me at all, then I am probably wishing right now that we could get together and share life together again. I have always felt that life lived to the fullest is life lived in community- and community never ends.  Somebody famous once said it like this- "Friends are friends forever if the Lord's the Lord of them..."  Thanks for so many memories and so much joy.  And if someone wants to start planning the reunion of everyone I have ever known, go for it! I'll get you a list of names.  :)

Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous4/19/2012

    Just tell me when and where and I will be there. With bells on! ~Beth

    1. Now come on, Beth. No fair not leaving at least a last initial. Do you have any idea how many BETHS I have known? But thanks for stopping by, and I promise to let you know. Whoever you are. :)


Thanks for reading,and thanks for your comment!