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Quick Trip to Dallas

Ray Pritchard pastored in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. Married to Marlene for 38 years, he enjoys being a husband, a father and a grandfather, riding his bike, and playing with Dudley and Gary, beloved basset hounds.

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Sometimes you just need to do something fun and crazy and that’s why we are in Dallas tonight.


L-R Mark, Marlene, Vanessa, Ray, Josh, Leah
After a phone call with Mark and Vanessa on Tuesday, Marlene said something like, “We should drive to Dallas and surprise Mark and Vanessa and Josh and Leah.” From such little thoughts great ventures grow. So early this morning—about 4:30 AM—we got up, loaded the car, and drove from Tupelo to Dallas. It happens that this is the only weekend I’m free between now and the middle of December, and in the spirit of “Do it now while you have a chance,” we spent 8 1/2 hours on the road just so we could surprise our kids. 

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It worked out pretty well. I called Josh from our hotel room at 2:30 PM, ostensibly to ask his advice about some stereo equipment that we might be buying but really to find out where he was. We didn’t mention that we were in Dallas so he assumed we were in Tupelo. When we arrived at their apartment at 4:45 PM, he and Leah had gone shopping. So we sat in the car across the street as if we were cops staking out the joint, watching and waiting. In the meantime Marlene called Vanessa who said they would be home from work late. She also said how much she wished she could see us. After Josh and Leah arrived, I called Josh and said, “There’s a delivery downstairs.” “Really?” “Yes. Go check it out.” So he and Leah came downstairs and found . . . us. They were surprised and glad and gave us big hugs. So we went upstairs to see their apartment. Meanwhile Vanessa called Marlene and they talked for a minute. At the end I called out, “We’re looking forward to seeing you at Thanksgiving,” while Josh and Leah tried not to laugh.

A few minutes later Mark and Vanessa arrived at their apartment (across the hall from Josh and Leah), When Mark knocked on Josh and Leah’s door, he was rendered speechless when Marlene and I answered the door. Vanessa almost started crying. And Parker (their superactive Malti-Poo) went nuts because I threw the ball and he would run and get it just like we used to do in Tupelo. 

Tonight we celebrated by going to some jazzy, hip pizza joint in the Uptown section of Dallas. While we waited for a table I talked theology and politics with Josh and Mark. I have no idea what Marlene talked to the girls about. The place was packed, noisy, full of beautiful people, so loud that I could hardly hear anyone. We ate and laughed and tried to talk. I should mention that before we went in, we called Nick in Birmingham so we could all say hi to him.  

Tomorrow we are meeting for breakfast at Josh and Leah’s apartment and then who knows what we will do. 

I realized tonight that I am very tired from the long day of travel, but I kept saying to Marlene that it was not only good to see our kids (who aren’t kids at all but I can’t think of a better word right now), it was very encouraging to be with them. That’s the word I kept using. How encouraging it was to see them. I feel better tonight and happy and glad and a bit stronger inside. 

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