Monday, November 28, 2011

Family and Friends

Last Thursday on Thanksgiving Day, it was a special time once more to be with family.  Sondra's brother, Alden, who lives here in Rialto came over and spent the day with us.  Evan and his girlfriend Callie were here for the Thanksgiving meal.  Shawn and Crystal and the two girls (Bailey and Brynnlee) were here as well.  It was a feast -- turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green beans, sweet potatoes (with a sweet pecan top), rolls, salad, homemade pumpkin pie with real whipped cream and homemade pecan pie.

The day was relaxed, enjoyable and fun.

No, we did not do the Black Friday craziness.  I spent a little time on the computer Friday morning around 10 am trying to find a few good deals.  But, by that time, the really amazing deals on TVs and computers and such were already sold out.  Sondra did go out to the stores to shop a little on Friday but came back early.  Too many crazy people and parking lots full.  Anyway, Shawn and Crystal brought the girls over and we got to take care of the kids while they (Shawn and Crystal) went out to buy a Christmas tree.

Saturday was a day to celebrate friendship.  One of our best friends, Sharon Harrison, turns 60 years old on November 28 (today as I write this), and a special surprise party (in the planning stages for several weeks) was put together in her honor.  Friends from the years past were invited -- those of us who came to know each other through church involvement.  There were many of us young couples who attended First Baptist Church of Rialto in the early 1970s when we were all first married and having kids.  We did everything together as couples - holidays, trips to Glorieta in the summer, birthdays, picnics, trips to the beach and all.  We all kind of went separate ways in geography and church life as vocations and life expanded our horizons, but never did we lose touch with each other.  We all now live within a 50-mile radius again.  So, this was the group that got together for a special night.  It was a reunion with a birthday as the center of focus!

The celebration was planned with everyone meeting at our house on Saturday evening 4:45 pm.  A limo had been lined up to arrive here at 5 pm.  Next, the limo would arrive at Sharon's house and she would be surprised, not only with the limo but who would be inside (all of us friends and her kids too)!  She was shocked and so surprised.  The limousine was a shiny white stretch Hummer.  The driver rolled out a little red carpet to make the occasion more special as Sharon came out to the limo.  It was great!

We had a such an enjoyable time just riding in the limo together -- with Sharon and Lorn Harrison, the Harrison boys (Michael, Ryan and his girlfriend Summer, Chad and his girlfriend Jen), Jim and Sandy Woolard, Daryl and Loretta Grapes, Jess and Mel Givens, Janet and Mike Castro, as well as me and Sondra.  I made a little trivia quiz about the year 1951 (the year Sharon was born) and we had fun with that.  We talked, hugged, laughed, reminisced, joked, cried and got wore out with old funny stories.  It was an evening filled with wonderful memories and catching up.  The party and celebration really happened in the limo, with an awesome time of renewed friendship and closeness with each other.

The dinner was planned and was held in a special back room of the Chart House restaurant on the beachfront in Redondo Beach.  We arrived at the restaurant a little after 7 pm.  We had choice of prime rib, salmon or chicken.  The food was delicious.  We left the restaurant a little after 9 pm, and we arrived back close to 11 pm.  We were full, we were tired and we were blessed!

On the way home in the limo, Sharon said it best when she thanked us for a wonderful evening, stating that this get-together was a tribute to our past years as a group of young adults going to church together, growing in the Lord together and enjoying the blessing of friendship and spiritual fellowship together.  What an  awesome time we had!

Sunday was a day to recall our love for the Lord and to give him thanks.  During an open time in the worship service for sharing the many things we were thankful for, I again had a "happy dollar" offering basket on the communion table in front of the pulpit area.  I teased the members into putting in a "happy dollar" (or more if they desired...and none if they didn't have any cash with them right then) as they shared their testimonies of thanksgiving to God.  It was a very moving and touching time, hearing many share their heartfelt thoughts.  My message was about the ten lepers who were healed, with only one returning to thank Jesus.  The question comes again, "Where are the othe nine?"  We must take time ourselves to thank the Lord for his grace and mercy and love and forgiveness.  We must not be like the "nine" who took so much for granted and went on with life.  Someone said, "If you receive today only the things you thanked God for yesterday, what would you have?"  A sobering thought indeed.  It is a powerful reminder to give thanks always.

After church, we were invited to a Mexican lunch with "Big Jim" and another church member.  It was a great time of fellowship and getting to know one other better.

This morning, Sondra is off to work.  She begins her "intervention teaching" with elementary students at a new school location -- Garcia Elementary School here in Rialto.  The intervention classes are to help at-risk kids who need more focused teaching in a small group setting to learn the basic skills of reading and writing.

She is looking forward to getting back in the classroom for a few hours a day (right now it is four hours a day, five days a week).  In addition, she is teaching basic English to parents (of the school children) at her old school, Myers Elementary.....this will only be two days a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) for a couple hours each of those days.

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