2013 AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals dedicated to the Memory of Paul Candies
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven-A time to give birth and a time to die…a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance…He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart…I know that everything God does will remain forever…” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2, 4, 11, 14
And the season changes for each one of us; the time is appointed. And it is appropriate, beautiful…A time for birth, healing, building up, laughter, dance, gathering, embracing, searching, finding, sewing together, silence, speaking, love, peace. And the opposites are also true.
This weekend is one of my family’s favorite times of the year. As the crispness of the fall makes its way into summer weary Texas, for years our family has planned and welcomed an annual event, synonymous to us with this fall season. Although the AAA Fall Nationals showcases the finest drag racing in the nation, and the cars and drivers provide thrilling entertainment, the most valuable and memorable experiences come from the incredible people and relationships formed over lifetimes.
Yes, there have been years of marriages, births, healings, laughter, dance, gathering, embracing, victories, travels…And the pendulum of life swings…”And the train to Jordan travels coast to coast…no baggage needed, no ticket, just faith…Just thank the Lord…”
The lyrics of Curtis Mayfield’s timeless ballad, “People Get Ready”, released in 1965, have influenced millions of listeners…inspiring, challenging, convicting, reminding its audience that there is an appointed time for everything…a time for the train to Jordan to make its run, stopping for its passengers, according to God’s appointment…but,
Early in our marriage of thirty-four years, (blissful, I might add), I had the privilege of being welcomed into an amazing sport. Billy had begun his drag racing career in a funny car in his later years of high school. While most teens engaged in the social gatherings of high school, with parties, football games, and other school events, Bill left town on Thursday or Friday to travel to a drag race, compete, and then return to Waco with the intention of attending school. (Making it there occasionally) Needless to say, being the youngster on the circuit opened up many opportunities for friendships and mentorships to develop. It was a bit unusual for a teen to participate solo because young people most often found their way into the sport because of their family’s involvement. This was not the case with Bill, however. It was through adult friendships that he became involved, and it was through many of these adult friendships that he found his way…Yes, our Mighty, Loving God makes everything beautiful in its time…in His timing.
In our early years of marriage, I had the privilege of meeting and establishing relationships with many people whom Bill had encountered in his already lengthy career. There were several married couples who embraced us as newlyweds, and for those dear friends, I am deeply grateful. There is no doubt that God had gone before us, to prepare a way to help us build and fortify a healthy marriage. And for many years, we have done life together with these people, these friends. Although times, and seasons have changed, there is a bond, a connection with these dear people so valuable and meaningful.
One of the wonderful things about the Fall National event at the Motorplex is the incredible gathering of these people who have been such an integral part of our lives. For the last few years, the race cars and the event rank second in importance to the weekend gathering in our hospitality suite. Retired racers, sponsors, crew members, family and other friends crowd around tables to reminisce (to embellish tales) about the past seasons of their lives. It is one of the most amazing times! It is a season to laugh and to enjoy these relationships. On Sunday afternoon, when the goodbyes begin, I always experience that tugging and stirring in my heart…knowing that the possibility is great that the dynamics of this yearly event, will possibly be different in the future, knowing that the train…the train to Jordan makes its stops, often unannounced.
And this year is different. The train came…”But He makes all things beautiful in His timing…His appointment”…
Paul and Rita were some of the first people to embrace Bill and his young career. They were a beautiful, wonderful couple from Des Allemands, LA. rearing a gorgeous family, and were immersed in a family business as well as incredibly competitive and successful drag racing. They were one of those wonderful families that enjoyed the sport as a family venture. Their kindness and goodness extended to me when Bill and I married. I remember their incredible hospitality, their warmth, their generosity, and their love. And, we did life together.
One of the most beautiful experiences with Paul and Rita was the celebration of our daughter and son-in-law’s wedding in Horseshoe Bay, Texas. Paul and Rita flew in to celebrate with our family; they knew the deep value and worth of a godly marriage…Today, our daughter still mentions them as some of the ‘guests of honor’…Doing life together.
The yearly events at the Motorplex showcased some of the finest visiting with Paul and Rita, hearing the family updates, the grand-children stories, beautiful conversations about God’s faithfulness to answer prayer, sharing laughter and tears, victories and defeats in their family racing ventures, and the finest wines and crab-claws, all the way from Louisiana!
Doing life together…The train came…it came for Paul a few weeks ago. His bags were not packed because he did not need them. He did not have a ticket…he did not need one. He had his faith…and he thanked the Lord with his life. He and his beautiful bride, Rita, lived their lives as an altar of love.
Suddenly, Paul experienced his home-coming. Bill and I traveled to Thibodaux to celebrate his life and to love the family. Instead, we found ourselves once again, immersed in the rich deep love of their family. It was also apparent by the huge response of the small city that a pillar of their community had boarded the train. Their church was a testimony of their faith and the beauty and majesty of their Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of gathering at the tables in the hospitality suite of our racetrack, we sat side-by-side with many of the racers, sponsors, friends, and family members in the beautiful cathedral to remember. We remembered deep and abiding love for family and friends, a passionate love for life and laughter, a loyalty to friends and to family…and a beautiful and compassionate call to each one attending…reminding each one to embrace the love of the Savior Jesus Christ, where true and eternal life is found.
No one of us knows when the train will stop…the train to Jordan…It will stop for each one of us at some time…some appointed time, requiring faith…to board…but no burden, no weight, no trappings, no baggage…just faith and a “thank you Lord”…
This week-end, there is an empty chair. But there are many people whose lives are richer and fuller, and they are reminded of true, meaningful life because of the lives of Paul and his bride Rita. And may I mention that she is a beauty; she is strong; she is passionate; she is loving; she is the matriarch of her family…and we hope to once again sit with her and to reminisce, when she is ready.
As the celebration service came to a close on that Wednesday, a voice sang the lyrics into the hearts and the minds of the congregation…
“People get ready, there’s a train a-comin’
You don’t need no baggage, you just get on board.
All you need is faith…Don’t need no ticket, you just thank the Lord.
So people get ready for the train to Jordan…”
(Curtis Mayfield, 1965)
And the season changes for each one of us. And the time is appointed. And it is appropriate and beautiful…A time for birth, healing, building up, laughter, dance, gathering, embracing, searching, finding, sewing together, silence, speaking, love, peace…And, the opposites are also true. But…
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
I thank God for each one of you, for what you mean to our lives and to God’s Kingdom. I pray that each one of us will speak boldly and lovingly the truth of God’s love and His faithfulness. May each of our lives be a testimony to the goodness and kindness of the Lord. I know that Paul and Rita’s lives continue to shine as examples of this kind of love. And I know that when the train came for Paul, his life and his example did not leave our lives. His chair may be empty, but their lives and their examples fill my heart, Bill’s heart and the hearts of countless other friends and family members…
I trust God with you that He will heal hurting hearts, He will restore the laughter and the dance…He will love the lonely…He is the Almighty God…He will not forsake His children…He paid for our ticket with His life…He carries our burdens and our baggage on His cross…May all people respond to Him with faith and thanksgiving…because,
Abundant love and joy, Billy and Deborah Meyer
And the Lord…said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love…” Jeremiah 31:3