Faith, Family & Fun: The Force of Star Wars is strong in my family

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For a moment, I was 11 years old again. For a moment, I was that boy pretending to be Luke Skywalker, blasting away at the Stormtroopers while rescuing the princess from Darth Vader and the Death Star.

The moment was fleeting but the pain that went with running, jumping, ducking and stretching lingered on for days in my 50-year-old body. The staff of The Sealy News did a team building exercise at The Main Event in Katy last week. One of the things we did was play laser tag. I had never played before. For those few exhilarating moments, however, I wielded my blaster and became that little boy who used to run through the forest, shooting it out with his peers with gun-shaped sticks. All of us youngsters were on a high from having seen “Star Wars” for the first time.

That movie changed my life in 1977 and even now, 38 years later, it still has a strong influence. I have been giddy with excitement and anticipation for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” which finally opens in theaters this week. Back when the movie was first announced I told myself I wasn’t going to obsess over it. I should have known better. The Force has a strong influence over my weak mind.

I have watched the movie trailers numerous times and have read several stories about it. We purchased our tickets for the opening show about a month in advance. Sandy went out on Force Friday and bought some of the new merchandise, including some cool T-shirts.

When our middle son was born in 2001, we named him Luke. Anyone who knows me will swear that I named him after Luke Skywalker. The truth is that we named him after the biblical Luke. The Luke from the Bible was a physician, which represents Sandy’s occupation and passion. Luke was also an investigative reporter and chronicler of the life of Jesus and the early church. That made him a journalist like me.

A year and a half later when our youngest son, Colton, was born I wanted to name him James Timothy. Even Sandy saw through that one, knowing that I’m also a huge Star Trek fan. No matter how much I argued about the names being biblical, Sandy wasn’t going for it. In a compromise, James became his middle name.

Suffice to say, Star Wars has weaved its magic through the fabric of my life. When the original trilogy debuted, I was just another obsessed fan. In 1999, when the first of the prequel movies came out, I took Sandy to the Star Wars Celebration in Denver. It was there, standing in line in the rain and the mud that I first asked her to marry me. The Force must have been strong that day because she said yes!

We attended the midnight showing of “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” and I took the next day off from work so I could watch back-to-back showings all day. I can’t say that was the smartest thing I ever did, but it sure was fun.

On Dec. 17, 1999, Sandy and I were married. This Thursday will be our 16th wedding anniversary. We will celebrate with dinner out and a movie. Three guesses which movie and the first two don’t count!

All the excitement for the new Star Wars movie has me feeling like I’m that 11-year-old kid again. Celebrating 16 years with my beautiful, loving wife, however, is an even bigger joy. Doing both on the same day gives me one of those moments in time that will live with me forever.

For a moment I get to pretend I’m Luke Skywalker on a great adventure in a galaxy far, far away. Only this time I’m not rescuing a princess, I’m loving and cherishing my bride and celebrating with a wonderful family. I wouldn’t change that experience for anything – not even for a moment.

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