Today my parents Steve and Michelle celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Us six kids, who live in five different states send our love and deep appreciation along with admiration for them. I can speak for Warren, Amy, Patrick, Anna, John and I when I say we are blessed and thankful to have been raised under a father who loved our mother unconditionally and a mother who showed our father respect, honor and love. Our parents are hilarious, quirky, selfless, responsible, loving, firm in their faith, caring, hospitable, educated…the list is endless.
Their story is unlike any other story I’ve heard. My dad proposed on the first date. I love telling people that. My dad knew he was going to marry “Michelle” before he met her and my mom knew when she saw him in a picture she would marry this man “Steve.” This isn’t a blog to tell their love story but rather to honor their marriage these past 25 years. But you should ask me their story some time. God is good. And awesome for choosing to create and place me as their third child, second daughter.
They are different. My mom was a cheerleader in high school and my dad was in the marching band. She loves to mingle and be around a lot of people while he would rather sit at home with her and watch a movie. Momma likes crazy boppy music in the car while dad prefers absolute silence. If you go to the movies with mom she’ll bring a bag of peanuts with M&M’s while dad gets the combos of popcorn and soda. Mom will listen for hours on end about which girl stole the other girl’s hair brush while dad will hear ten seconds and say “you guys figure it and if you don’t in five minutes I’ll get involved.” You never want dad to “get involved” over pathetic arguments. Never does it end in win-win situations. They both over the years have become more like the other and today dad likes going to parties and mom is much more laid back and enjoys quiet Friday evenings.
Okay getting serious.
In 1994 we had been living in California and after the 1994 earthquake that shook the San Fernando Valley our family moved to the northern suburbs of Chicago where I grew up and where they still reside. For a few years jobs were changing, money was tight and the sixth child (John) was on the way. I can try and write how hard it was for my parents to stay strong with my dad finding a new job, mom being put on bedrest for months all while having five children under the age of seven running around. I can’t though. I don’t remember my parents ever fighting, telling us how tight money was or how stressed they were.
They’ve showed me how a healthy marriage should be and how important it is to have dates, daily catch up time and constant communication. Since I could remember Sunday nights were “date night,” when my dad got home from work they’d have couch time for 15 minutes where the kids couldn’t disturb them while they caught up. During homeschooling days dad would call to check in constantly and I remember her answering the phone in a deep “hi handsome,” a cheery “well hello!” or the “hiiii” after a tiring day. All three excited to hear his voice. With four kids out of the house they still have a date night and have coffee every morning together.
They know how to raise both boys and girls. Having three girls and three boys, all with strong personalities would be rough. Here’s an idea of who we each are:
Warren: Type A, logical, likes straight answers, doesn’t take crap. Witty, believes in and encourages everyone. Diligent, hard-worker, loves having fun, hates not having a plan for the day and doesn’t waste time. A leader.
Amy: carries herself strongly, is a feisty firecracker who likes to discuss and converse with others on intellectual issues. Begins stories in the middle of the story, enjoys trying to be funny, has a tender sensitive side even though for the most part she is a woman of steel who is one of the only who can intimidate me because, remember, she is a firecracker.
Mary: is awesome. I honestly don’t ever like writing about myself like this. I’m a mix of Joe and Beth from the book Little Women. Check it.
Patrick: loved by all. Sarcastic, doesn’t like conflict, genuine, smart, laid back, has a huge soft heart for people.
Anna: has piercing brown eyes that radiate her sharp, opinionated, authoritative traits. Sees right from wrong in black and white and will call anyone out on anything. Is hilarious….her humor is rare, haven’t met anyone with her humor so I miss it daily.
John: out-going, fun, can make anyone love him, confident, funny, compassionate. Always on the go, thinks every day is awesome because, well, he fills it with awesome activities and adventures. Never is there a dull moment with John.
My parents raised three of the most masculine guys I know. They are too obsessed with sports, love shooting movies, kill spiders, help anyone out moving furniture, carry luggage out to the car whenever we Lentz women go out of town, scrap the snow off the windows, open doors for girls and they, simply, respect females in general. They also however were raised with three sisters so they can enjoy a romantic comedy, see girls cry and not be uncomfortable, understand the need to pull off ten minutes before the destination so we can put on make-up or make one last stop to use the bathroom. Looking back I see certain things my parents taught my brothers that I rarely see these days from other guys. They instilled the mind-set to Warren, Patrick and John that they have a protective role as our brothers. If their friends showed disrespect or used inappropriate sarcasm towards Amy, Anna or myself they were responsible for standing up for us. When a woman walks in the house they know to stand up, shack hands, hug, something to acknowledge them. They are great at telling us sisters when we look nice and hug us often.
My brothers are also BROTHERS and make “brother time” a huge priority. Going to the movies, playing sports or even shopping, they enjoy each other. I sometimes feel excluded, but have (still trying) to understand the whole “guys only” deal.
I commend my parents for embracing my sisters and I for our differences. They didn’t say things like “be like your older sister Amy” or “if you could be more like Anna…” Nope. They said things such as “when you guys grow up you’re going to be best friends!” Noooot what you want to hear after an argument. My dad routinely took us one by one out to breakfast and got to know us better. He’d give us his undivided attention and encourage, laugh, give wisdom and insight into our lives. Mom somehow found time daily to listen to each of us rant about certain issues, be dramatic about high school teachers and it always ended with some profound comment about being more gracious or showing more love to people. She also taught me how to approach conflict in a healthy, respectful manner in addition to which battles are worth fighting for. This came in handy in high school when I wanted to appeal any of my grades, friends if they hurt me, bosses through the years and co-workers. Speaking of respect momma Lentz taught the sisters and myself the importance of respect and how guys are wired around that issue. We know the importance of not disrespecting the male species in front of others, for they will shut down and simply, there is no positive in dissing a guy in front of anyone else. If I do I’m usually sarcastic or will apologize several times. She has spoken to groups of people about this and yes (to those who’ve gone to her speaking) Amy, Anna and myself know we are lucky to have such a wise, insightful woman.
In general, here is a list of what my parents have taught us that I rarely see anymore from people my age:
-When you drop a friend off you wait for them to enter the house. You don’t drive off as soon as they exit the car. Same goes for when you drop them off at their car. Wait until you know their car turns on.
– Whenever a guest, any guest comes in the house you say hello and acknowledge them. Whether you have to pause the TV, mute the music on the computer you acknowledge their presence.
-When a guest leaves the house you walk them to the door. Always.
– Friend’s parents are Mr. and Mrs.
-If you leave a friend’s house you thank the parent’s for having you over.
-Answer the home phone as “Hello this is ____.”
-Thank you notes. Important.
-Years ago my mom’s engagement ring was stolen. Years later dad saved his bonus’s and bought her a new ring. He had Amy cut out pictures from catalogs and presented it to her at the dinner table one night.
– She drives the nicer car.
– I think I get my humor from my dad and animation from mom. He loves how she can get all dramatic and animated. It’s normal for her to tell a story at the table and without fail, if you looked over at dad he’s be sitting there, giving her an endearing smile. THEN if she got really bad he’d interrupt her and say “wait, what was that?”
-He knows her love language is words and will encourage us kids to write to her.
-He has never, EVER talked poorly of her to us kids. That’s rare. So many dads I know will tell their kids certain things or not act as if he and his wife are a team, a unit. My dad has never told me one bad thing about Momma. I can say the same thing for my mom. They’ve told us challenges they’ve had, such as dad not re-stocking toilet paper or having it face the same way while mom doesn’t like buying paper towels.
-My dad chooses to eat differently quite frequently. Mom is always patient and caters to whatever foods he desires. She’d make a dinner the six kids ate, and he’d eat the dinner, but she’d alter his plate. If he wasn’t eating sugar she would make a special trip to the store and buy almonds, special fruits or vegetables. If he decides to go against his food choices, etc. and eat ice cream, she doesn’t nag or grip about how frustrating it is to always change her grocery shopping routine. She is patient and adaptable.
-Respect. She loves him SO much with respect. When he watches golf, football, any sport he is in the ZONE. From wanting to know if he’d like something to eat or needing to discuss something, mom would walk in the TV room, stand quietly and wait for a play to be done, hole in golf to be complete and when that was over she’d say “Steve we have a question, is now a good time?”
-I don’t think this is something he asked or demanded, but she did it. Every single morning mom looked nice. She had an outfit, curled her hair and did her make-up. And somehow, it only took her 20minutes. During homeschooling days when all we six kids had pajamas on and blankets wrapped around us mom looked as if she could go meet a group of friends for lunch, always. I think Dad appreciated this–that his wife made it a priority to look nice every day. She set an example for us kids.
My dad is…… a MAN.
Killing bugs, putting insulation in the attic, painting bedrooms, doing yard work, changing the oil in cars. Dealing with his emotional daughters after getting pulled over, yelled at by their manager or having to “approve” a dress for Homecoming. Giving wisdom to sons who lost their regional championship or who didn’t handle their emotional sisters correcting. Coaching football, initiating family meetings and leading our family are a few things my dad does. Because I AM the most emotional, sensitive daughter I shall give a list explaining how only a dad could be there for me and fill what I needed.
-Over the past five years I’ve had a few class-mates and a friend pass away. Dad was who I needed to give me a comfort hug and say a few kind words.
-This past winter I broke down one night. I felt as if I couldn’t handle anything that was on my plate so I called home. Mom summarized to dad in less than a minute what I was going through and he picks up the phone and (only those who know his sarcastic, matter-of-fact tone will not see this as rude) says, “Wow it sounds like your life is falling apart!” When we got serious he encouraged me to take action in what I could control and I did. Having my dad give his blessing on making a major change in my life made me feel content. Something about men, let alone a father be confident for you is awesome.
My mom is…..GRACIOUS.
“Maaaary, be gracious” rings in my head every time I want to be dramatic. She is sophisticated, humble, wise, and the best word is gracious and selfless. She is a trooper. I don’t know how she does all that she does. She managed to home school several children, cook meals every day, spend quality time with each of us, clean, drive us to either CYT, sports practices…maintain friendships, volunteer at church, become a director for Southern Living at Home, go on mission trips, scrapbook, host parties, mentor young girls, write letters, read books for pleasure, bake, do laundry….the list is endless. She never puts herself first. When kids are home she’ll offer to do our laundry, make us food, and her favorite is having coffee talk in the living room and just want to hear about YOU.
My parents are….A TEAM.
Like I said earlier, they never will talk poorly about the other. They enjoy, love, respect and encourage the other. For us kids, they are there. Sports games, pageants, training camps, honor assemblies, late-night study questions, 11pm vents, graduations. They mourn when we mourn, rejoice in our victories, encourage us when we doubt. They’ve had challenges and I don’t want this blog to scream “MY PARENTS are the best and all others aren’t….” or anything of the sort. They are great to me because I believe God has blessed, honored and lead their marriage through their constant faith and obedience.