Semi-centennial celebration

I was truly overwhelmed with the many precious and amazing displays of love and appreciation shown to me on Sunday, October 3, my fiftieth birthday.

First, Jessica called from India and we got to talk with her for a LONG time!!!  It was so wonderful to hear her voice that I began to cry.  It turns out that that was just the pre-game warm-up for the lacrimal glands, which evidently work just as well as ever, despite their age.

Then we headed out to Silver Dollar City to spend a little time enjoying the great fall weather and the many craftsmen and women working out there.  Sadly, I forgot to wear my nifty SDC “I’m celebrating a 50th too” pin, but not to worry.  As we walked through the hospitality house (first mandatory gift shop), Scott spied a bright orange sweatshirt with two nice sunflowers and the words, “Silver Dollar City – since 1960.”  He thought the “since 1960” part was especially apropos on my big day, and he bought it for me!

We enjoyed our time at the park and left in time to make it (a few minutes fashionably late) to a luncheon at the Voth’s house.  Now, I had issues about this lunch appointment from the moment I learned of it on Saturday.  Scott told me that the Voths wanted to have our family over for lunch on Sunday.  However, that didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  For one thing, I had JUST talked with Sharon for 30 minutes on Friday night.  For another thing, Scott had spent two hours with Chuck on Saturday morning.  And to top it all off, we’d be seeing them both for another couple hours at group on Monday night!  Given all that, WHY ON EARTH did we have to meet with the Voths for lunch on my birthday, of all days?!?!?

I had asked Josiah if there was something planned for my birthday and his cheesy grin and guarded responses indicated that there was, but when I confronted Scott head on  – “I think you’ve planned something for my birthday” – he changed the subject and went on.  So that made me think that maybe my birthday party assumption was presumptuous.  Oh well.  One of those never-ending church meetings, I guessed.   Or maybe the Voths had some major issue, or were offended, or whatever.

So anyway we headed east down 76 to go to the Voths for the lunch meeting I really didn’t want to attend, and Scott pulled in at the Salvation Army Church (SAC).  I protested.  We were already almost eight minutes late.  “We don’t need to go HERE!”  but them I saw some cars in the parking lot – some cars that I recognized. . . “You!”  I said.  “You, you, you, you, YOU!”

In we walked to my surprise 50th birthday party!  We were greeted by the Browns, the Voths (who, incidentally, had no idea they had invited us for lunch), the Madrigals, the Duncans, the Fringers, Ms. Mildred, the Worleys, Dianne Walker and her mom, and the Ellis’ from Springfield!  The room was decorated in fall colors, with balloons and streamers and lots and lots and lots of flowers – two big pots of mums (orange and cream) and more than fifty beautiful marigold plants!

Once I quit crying (sort of) and someone had prayed, we dug into a potluck feast.  We had white chili, salad, beef, rice, enchiladas, potatoes, and I don’t know what all else.  Tommi Wilson (age 8) had made me a blueberry cobbler, and since it was my birthday, she gave me permission to eat dessert first.  It was yummy!

Upstairs, we watched The Video that Katie had crafted at Scott’s request.   Like everyone else involved in this amazing undertaking, she had only six days to put it together, and she had to wait for folks from all over to send her their pictures.  Technology is a wonderful thing, and all I can say is that the New Century Version of Proverbs 31 + Rich Mullins + a zillion (occasionally embarrassing) pictures of me through the eons + Katie’s creative eye = lots of precious memories and the use of many Kleenex.

I managed to get a picture of most of the folks who attended, and then various ones came up to the mic and shared nice things about me.  I was humbled and felt awkward.  They were awfully kind.  Wow.

Back downstairs, we photographed the WONDERFUL strawberry cake that Kristi Madrigal had made and decorated.  The gang sang Happy Birthday, and I blew out all five candles in one huff.  (BTW, I like the concept of multiples of ten on candles.  Very considerate of the one doing the blowing.) That cake was gorgeous, delicious, and gone, in that order.

Folks stayed around for quite a while, visiting and having fun.  We cleaned the place up and left around 3:30 PM.  At home, I quickly worked to prep the boys’ academics for Monday, and at 5:00 PM, it was time to leave for our combined anniversary/birthday gift from Katie (the gift she gave long before her dad asked her to make a video!), our “Evening with the Chapmans” concert at Remington’s in Springfield. On the drive up, I got to call Katie and thank her for the video and share many of the events ‘o’ day to that point.  What an honor to get to talk with BOTH of our far-flung daughters on my birthday!

I am a big Steven Curtis Chapman fan, and the opportunity to both hear him sing and hear his wife, Mary Beth, speak was a huge blessing to Scott and me.  Many of you may know that they have three birth children and three younger daughters adopted from China.  Their youngest, Maria Sue (age five) was tragically killed in a car accident in which her older brother was driving, two and a half years ago on Katie’s birthday.  They shared a great deal about their family, the accident, adoption, and the work of their ministry to care for special needs orphans in China and to provide financial assistance to families who adopt children from all over the world.  And Steven sang.  And he sang all the good old songs that we know and love.  And Geoff Moore was there to speak and sing.  Ah, what an awesome evening.

So on Sunday I had a full day of non-stop birthday blessings, and on the way home I read all the cards.  There were a LOT of cards, and they have kept coming in the mail all week!  Some of them had amazing enclosures, and all of them had very kind and special words.

I have also begun reading through the precious pages in my big red scrapbook, although I can only handle a page or two at a time.  Sue Brown and Kristi Madrigal crafted each page so beautifully, and the things people wrote just overwhelm me.

I have had a unbelievably happy 50th birthday!

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