As soon as we moved to Shreveport we began visiting different churches. One thing that’s good about being in the bible belt is there are lots to chose from! Our second week here we visited First Baptist Church. I remember thinking it looked like a college campus because it was so big but the service we went to was relatively small. We heard a good sermon and people were friendly to us. After the service as we were walking out I saw a girl run up to the pastor and give him a huge hug. I remember thinking, that must be his daughter. As a daddy’s girl myself, I always get a little emotional seeing a daughter and her dad sharing that special bond. A couple weeks later I was reading the news online and saw that a local youth group from Shreveport had been in a bad bus wreck on the way to a summer camp. I was shocked to see that it was the youth group from First Baptist. Having been on countless trips as a youth and a leader I felt burdened for this youth group and began praying for them daily. As more details came available I learned that one youth died at the scene and almost everyone on board sustained injuries, many serious. Among many others this included their youth pastor and one girl who was critically injured- Maggie Lee Henson. Maggie Lee was the daughter of the pastor who had preached that Sunday, the girl who had ran up to give him a hug. As I kept up with her Care Page I was inspired by the faith of her parents as well as how the community of Shreveport surrounded this church with their prayers. All around town signs were posted of people praying for the youth group of First Baptist. Unfortunately Maggie Lee’s injuries were too severe and she died several weeks after the crash. To honor her memory her family decided to spend her 13th birthday doing acts of service for others. They decided to try to get 1300 people to commit to just one act of kindness. They decided to call this day “Maggie Lee For Good.” As of last week over 17,000 people across the country had signed up. As I have read about the impact that this young girl has made on so many people, many of whom she had never met, I am reminded of how God works in mysterious yet astounding ways. How amazing for a horrible situation to bring God into focus to so many people. How amazing that a family suffering from grief could still minister to others. How amazing to see the town that we moved to extending love to those around them. So…I challenge you tomorrow to join with many other people and to perform an act of kindness for someone else. It can be as simple as sending a friend an encouraging email or buying some food for your church’s food pantry. My kindergarteners and myself will be participating as well. Life is short and precious. Let us do all we can to make it count…for good!
Parents- the older I get I not only appreciate my parents more and more but I also feel like I need them more and more. Anyone who thinks parenting ends when your child turns 18 better think again. They may have thought they got rid of me when we left NC but I think they are quickly realizing that is not the case. I am blessed not only to have incredible parents but I also have awesome in-laws. One of the things Ryan and I miss most about being in NC is not being able to just drop by and say hello to our families. However both sets of parents graciously decided to come to visit us during the first month we were here. This was especially helpful for me because it gave me things to look forward to. Anyone who knows our parents knows how wonderful they are but here are just a few pieces of evidence from their trips to prove it. These lists could have gone on and on but I included just a few. I will begin with Rick and Sandra. 1. They drove 18 hours here in Ryan’s car so we didn’t have to pay to ship it 2. They literally cut down a tree that was blocking our window while Ryan and I slept. This was accomplished before 8:00 the first morning they were here! 3. They devoted the majority of their visit to working in our yard in 100 plus degree weather. For all those who know me- I don’t know much about gardening and yes Mrs. Holland is the one who taught me how to shovel. :) 4. They were willing to eat pizza while the dishwasher man installed our appliance and he was at our house forever. We had a great visit with Rick and Sandra. They helped us in so many ways and it was fun to get to show them around Shreveport. It was especially neat to try our first Louisiana Cajun food at Copeland’s restaurant while they were here. A few weeks after they left we got to have some more visitors, this time Jim and Debbie. I have some evidence of how wonderful they are from their visit as well. 1. Jim endured going to multiple stores including TJ Maxx with me and my mom. This is no small feat. 2. They bought one of every cupcake flavor that was for sell that day so we could sample each… and they helped me eat them for breakfast! (for those of you who do not know, we have a special cupcake store. More about that to follow) 3. They endured a lengthy walk on the boardwalk in 100 plus degree weather. 4. They put up with me and Ryan’s “TV” debate. This debate went on for the entire time they were with us. That is a story in of itself and yes, Ryan won the debate. We got the bigger TV. We had a wonderful visit with Jim and Debbie. It was a chance for us to see parts of Shreveport that we hadn’t explored and eat at some neat restaurants like in an old Victorian house and at a restaurant on the lake. While we got to do lots of fun things with both sets of parents, the greatest gift of all was being able to spend time together. They have all been so supportive of our move and we are very thankful for them. We miss you guys so much! Please come back and see us again!