I LOVE old pictures. Sometimes when I am home, I go through boxes of mom's old photographs. I can't tell you how many times I've heard her say, "One day you'll be glad I took these," as we grumbled about having photos made. Now I can sit for hours as I look through pictures from our childhood, or even from before I was born, and appreciate the photo and what it captured. A moment in time that we don't get back, but can only remember and try to retell.
Sometimes looking at photographs will make you laugh--younger looking faces, "stylish" wardrobes, unsightly bangs and other hideous hairstyles. Other times, photographs can make you cry as you thumb through photos from a chapter in your life that was particularly tough, or even a part of your life remembered with much fondness, or as you look into the faces of loved ones that are missed terribly. And often times as you look at photos, you will neither laugh nor cry, but simply smile as you remember something that was worth a photograph!
Of course I don't remember Mario at this age, because I didn't know him then. But here is a photo that makes me smile:
I smile because I look at him and think about all of the wonderful things he would grow up to be! I smile because I am thankful that his parents took the time to love him, teach him, and groom him into a wonderful person that would one day make a wonderful husband for one lucky lady!
I love so many things about Mario, but let me just name a few. Above all, is his desire to serve the Lord and really walk in a relationship with Him. He is a man of integrity. He is a great artist. He loves a challenge. He loves and values his family. He is a great brother and uncle. He is nice to everyone, even when they are not nice to him. If he sees someone feeling left out, he makes it a point to include them and make them feel important.
He is patient with me, patient with the kids, patient with his customers, and patient with his horses. For anyone who is unaware of the time and effort it takes to train a roping horse (pictured above), just know that it is not for everyone. Mario, on the other hand, has the patience of Job. I get impatient just watching.
He appreciates and enjoys the simple things in life, and I really love that about him! He gets excited about lots of things and it just oozes out of him when he talks about something that he is passionate about.
He always enjoys when he has an opportunity to teach younger kids, especially with roping or horsemanship. But it's not limited to those things. When we go to the gym to play pick up ball, he gets a game going with some young kids, and then will invite a guy that no one else wanted on their team to play with us. When we went to the track one day, he ditched me for two young boys that were walking around with a football. Before long, he was drawing up plays for them to run and throwing them the football. When we left, the mother was sitting in her car. She stopped us and couldn't quit thanking him for spending some time with them.
And what's not to love about this side of Mario? I hesitate to say "side" because that's one of the nice qualities about him is that what you see is what you get. But many people who know Mario think he is a little more reserved than this! This was a couple of years ago on our anniversary when he rented a costume and serenaded me -- a HILARIOUS performance with his nephew and another boy as back up singers.
Mario requested dump cake for his birthday. The first time I ever had this was a LONG time ago--Kelly's mom made this when we went to their house for dinner when I was probably still in junior high...My mom makes it sometimes when we come to visit, and Mario loves it. It has cherry pie filling, crushed pineapple, a yellow cake mix, butter, and pecans in it. It's yummy when you serve it hot with a fresh scoop of cold ice cream!
If you've never tried this Blue Bell kind of ice cream, it's really good. My mom put me on to it...
Happy 28th birthday to another special person in my life! I love you so very much, Mario!