A Day of Love

Valentines Poem from Joanna 2013

For Valentine’s Day, Joanna wrote me a incredibly creative poem on poster board, with different types of treats substituting for different words. For example, she wrote, “You are the best husband in the ___” and inserted a Milky Way bar. And she slipped in a reference to my weight gain with a Chunky bar.

If you think that last one is a little mean, wait until you understand what I got her. . . . Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

The best I offered her was that she didn’t have to do much (or anything) for any of our meals that day. I prepared the kids’ breakfast, I picked up friend chicken (Hardee’s, of course) for lunch, and we went out to dinner. At least it was something, right?

But what made this day even more special was not the love that our family got to show each other, but the love that we got to share with others in our Allendale community.

An Early Start

Normally, Joanna prepares breakfast for the kids. Sometimes we all eat together, and sometimes I have to leave to get an early start to my day. But last Thursday, I handled delegated breakfast. (“Hannah and Elijah, put in waffles or toast for you and Sender.”)

The day before, when Joanna ate lunch at the elementary school (as she’s been doing on Wednesdays), a teacher asked her if she could help with a Valentine’s Day project the kids were working on. The catch — Joanna needed to be there at 8AM. If you don’t know, that’s kind of a big deal for her.

But Joanna was happy to serve. The entire task took about 30-40 minutes, and Joanna didn’t feel like it was much. But it was important to the teacher. That’s the thing about serving, it’s not about what the “server” feels is important, but about what the recipient feels.

A Quick Conversation in the Car

Soon after Joanna was back home, I was out the door. I had just received a text from a young man who is attending USC-Salkehatchie, who needed a ride to class. He lives just a mile or two from my house, and I was heading to Salk for work anyway.

But in that short car trip, I got to give him some direction about a school issue, and he got to share about his recent struggles with some emotional issues. Not wanting him to be too late for class (he was already running behind), and knowing that this conversation would have plenty of time to continue, we didn’t talk long. But I shared some things God had been teaching me recently and some other gospel truths.

And he texted me the next day, wanting to get together. I’m thankful to have this opportunity; just another example of the power of Conversations in the Car.

A Night on the Town (of Beaufort)

As you may remember, we had been planning to take kids and parents in our after school program out to a Valentine’s Day dinner. So at 3 o’clock, five adults and 14 children began our caravan to Ruby Tuesday’s in Beaufort. (Sadly, one child was sick and couldn’t attend, a mom had to stay home with an infant, and another volunteer had to take care of a family medical issue).

Ruby Tuesday Dinner 2013 Valentines

We had practiced etiquette and table manners, thanks to our local Clemson Extension agent and 4-H leader. And the kids mostly did well. Napkins in laps, ordering politely, not throwing food (at least, not that I saw). And it happened to fall on or near birthdays for two of the moms that were with us!

Did this dinner change the kids’ lives? Doubtful. But it was a great opportunity to enjoy time with them and some parents, and to give them a fun experience.

All About His Love

I hesitated to write this post. I didn’t want to come across as boasting about “the good things we did.”

In truth, this really isn’t just about Joanna and I, and our kids. After all, the money to go out to eat was from a generous and anonymous donor. And we wouldn’t even have a successful after school program without the handful of other volunteers.

Furthermore, we wouldn’t even have the ministry opportunities here if not for other individuals and groups that laid a well-tread path before us.

But above all that, anything we do is because of the love that Jesus has shown us, and by the power that He has given us. We fail to love others and trust Him all the time, but by His grace He continues to allow us to be used by Him. If not for the transformative grace of Jesus Christ, we would not be here.

Now that is love.

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (I John 3:16-18)

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