Thursday, November 18, 2010

today, in 1995

I remember the day very well. 

It was a Saturday ... I was 21, he was 28.

I spent most of the day trying to decide what to wear ...
and trying to calm my nerves.

Strangely, I don't really remember the conversation when he asked and I accepted the invitation for a date.  But, I know it happened and the rest, as they say, is history.

We had actually met a couple of months earlier, in September, through mutual friends at the Baptist Student Union.  Then, at the Mississippi College/Delta State football game, we ran into each other again ... I had been visiting with a friend of a friend on the MC side; he was over showing a little support for his alma mater and when I left, he decided to walk back around to the DSU side with me.

I don't have any idea what we talked about ... my school or his work, maybe ... or maybe we just talked about how the football season was going for the Fighting Okra ... I can't remember.  But, our friend (or his girlfriend) saw us talking and decided to give us a little push in the right direction by inviting us both over for lunch at his mom's house after church on Sunday.  And before I knew it, I had agreed to go out with him on the following Saturday, just a few days before I would be heading home for Thanksgiving.

On Saturday, he picked me up from my dorm and took me to one of the best restaurants in Cleveland (keep in mind there were only 2 or 3 really nice places to eat ... or 4 if you count both the Mexican place and the Western Sizzlin').  This is Ronnie's favorite part of our first date story ... he took me to a place that specialized in steak and I ordered grilled chicken, because my Mama always told me not to order the most expensive thing on the menu.  On top of that, I ordered a baked potato for my side, not realizing that the chicken was served with rice pilaf.  In my defense, I grew up in a large family ... we didn't eat out much, there were just too many of us.  In other words, I had very little experience ordering from a menu that wasn't printed on the wall ... not that I hadn't done it before, but this night my nerves got the better of me and I ended up feeling a little bit like a doofus.

After dinner, we went to the little movie theater in town and watched the James Bond movie GoldenEye.  I have never been a huge movie-goer, but there isn't much to do in Cleveland if there isn't a DSU sporting event to watch ... which is exactly where we would spend a large part of our dates over the next couple of years. 

Oddly, I don't remember many of the details of the date.  Odd because I have friends who marvel at the details I can remember from our childhood.  But, for this one, I couldn't even begin to tell you what we talked about, but I do remember that he was incredibly polite and did all the things that he was supposed to do (but that many guys don't do) like opening my car door ... which he would continue doing for the entire time we dated, and still does when we aren't trying to herd three kids into the car mini-van.

This date would prove to be the beginning of a beautiful thing.  Our second date came on the following Tuesday night before I left to go home for Thanksgiving, and by Christmas we were introducing each other to our families.  Again, the rest is history, and I am incredibly thankful for that history.  In a world where marriage is so fragile, I know how blessed we are to still be together and I hope to never take for granted the gift we have been given.

Monday, November 15, 2010

would you join me?

It begins today.

The third week of November.

The final week before Thanksgiving
(bringing with it the beginning of the holiday season).

National Collection Week 
for Operation Christmas Child

Beginning today, more than 3000 locations around the country will be collecting shoe boxes for the next week.  I have no idea how many volunteers that number represents, but I can guess that the number is quite large.  Between now and next Monday, these volunteers will have the opportunity to meet thousands of people who have packed a shoebox.

They will meet ladies who have a passion for this ministry and spend months each year planning and preparing shoeboxes.  I know two women from another local church who do just that ... they transform a garage into a storage place for shoeboxes and then hunt for any and every way they can fill that garage each year.  God is blessing their efforts and each year their church gets more involved and packs more boxes than the year before.

They will also meet children who have packed boxes with their school or their Sunday School class.  Children who are excited about what they have done and who want to have the opportunity to tell about their experience.

They will meet families who want their children to know that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Or maybe, they will meet a mother who has packed special needs boxes because she knows first hand exactly what should go into a box for a special needs child.

And, if these volunteers are anything like me, they will be inspired and encouraged by the stories they hear from those they come in contact with this week.

The stories and motives behind each box that will enter our relay center and others just like it across the country this week are as diverse and special as the people who bring in those boxes.  And, in truth, the opportunities to share the Gospel through a shoe box begins today, in those relay and collection centers, where we never know who might come in needing to hear about the love of God. 

So, would you pray with me this week? 

Pray for the thousands of volunteers who will be working this week ... for safety and energy and most of all, sensitivity to the Holy Spirit as we have the opportunity to meet and talk with thousands of people who are being the hands and feet of Jesus and helping to share the Gospel with a lost and dying world. 

Pray for a hedge of protection around these volunteers.  Our adversary does not like what is being done through this ministry. 

The Light of the Gospel is penetrating dark places and hearts that have belonged to him. 

Churches are gaining greater unity as they work together in serving the Lord. 

Lives are being transformed.

This may sound melodramatic, but I don't think it is overstated.

For where two or three are gathered together in my
 name, there am I in the midst of them. 
Matthew 18:20

There will be thousands of drop-off locations open this week with their two or three gathered in the name of Jesus and He will be there in each one of those locations and His power will be displayed across this nation. 

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season
 we shall reap, if we faint not.
Galatians 6:9

I believe with all my heart that God is working through the ministry of Operation Christmas Child and Samaritan's Purse and I am so thankful that He has allowed me to be a part of this ministry.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

a reason to get involved - updated

I only have a few minutes before leaving for our monthly book report meeting, but I wanted to share a video about Operation Christmas Child.  I could talk for hours about why I am involved in this wonderful ministry, but I think hearing from those impacted by the boxes might be even more effective.  Enjoy.

Here is another video that I absolutely love to watch and share.  It is the story of Oksana Nelson, told in her own words as she has come full circle from receiving a shoe box in an orphanage in Russia and now works with Operation Christmas Child.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

a belated birthday post

D's 5th birthday came and went last month in the midst of a flurry of activity helping with the completion of the new church building and my Mama's birthday and all the other fall busyness that has contributed to my lack of time for blogging.  We did celebrate around here, twice actually.  Before I share some pictures, I have to tell you a funny story about my little guy. 

His birthday was Wednesday, October 20th.  We had planned to have his party on the Friday following his birthday, but we ended up moving it to the next Friday, the 29th.  So, all day long he kept telling us that he wasn't 5 yet and it upset him every time someone told him that he was already five ... which, of course, made it more fun for his older siblings (especially JW) to tell him repeatedly that he was 5 years old.  The long and short of this story is that he would not tell anyone or let anyone tell him that he was 5 years old until we had his party ... a full week and a half after his actual birthday.  He is one stubborn little guy!

Rie's daughter, Shelby, made this cake for D, who loves anything Thomas the Train. 
He did have 2 problems with the cake, first, it doesn't have a #1 on it, a fact that Ronnie enjoyed pointing out to Shelby when he saw her last night ;-).  Second, and the thing that was funniest to me, he had a hard time eating Thomas!  As a matter of fact, Thomas' face is still in my refrigerator because no one has been allowed to eat it!  Even if Thomas is a person in the eyes of my 5 year old, he tasted really good!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

a good excuse

I haven't been blogging much lately, but I have had a good excuse.  I have been working on a gift for my Mama.  I would have loved to have finished it by her birthday, but it came and went a couple of weeks ago and I have just finished the gift tonight.  I think I am happy with it, though I am tired of looking at it, but most of all, I think she is going to like it and isn't that what matters?

So, for those of you who haven't seen this yet ... I have been crocheting like a crazy woman for 2 weeks to finish this:  the pattern name is Simply Shawl by Caron - which is the brand of yarn I used.  I think it turned out pretty good, except that it is a little smaller than I pictured it to be.  What I liked about the pattern is that the rows in the body of the shawl are identical from row 2-98.  This made it easier since I didn't have to keep looking at the pattern to see what to do next.

I really struggled with the decorative stitches that make up the two outside rows of the border.  I had never heard of the stitches before I started this project, so I had to learn how to do them ... the tall ones are called double treble stitches and they are very hard to keep going correctly, at least for a beginner like me.  The smaller stitches on the outside edge are called picot stitches and they are relatively easy to make, but much harder to keep even.

I had thought that since I couldn't give this to Mama for her birthday that I would save it for Christmas, but I'm not.  I plan to give it to her tomorrow, if I can get to her house.  The weather we are having now is much more suited to this kind of shawl than it will be after Christmas, so I just can't see waiting.  Besides, I don't think that I would be able to keep it to myself for that long.