"Enjoy the little things in life ~ one day you'll wake up and realize they were the big things"

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

St. Ogden Valsinkidane Day

We have a silly family holiday -- a few years ago we even mixed up the letters of some important words and gave it a funny name.

Have you thought lately about the moment in time that became the cornerstone for your family? You may not even know when it was or remember it. I'm a little odd, but ours is vivid.

Humor me . . .

Once upon a (very long) time ~ 23 years ago, tonight . . . he stood holding the door at 1153 Ogden Street. She said hello and walked through. It was 6:42 pm. His eyes twinkled when he smiled. He was wearing shorts and a blue t-shirt . . . and an elastic knee support. She held in her arms a bag of bananas and oranges ~ to share with the homeless.  Her heart beat with anticipation - she was headed for the mission field and believed this would be a great experience.

The evening passed quickly. She talked with the lonely and outcast, she served pastries and coffee and wiped down tables, she played Scrabble and heard stories, she prayed with the broken. His wisdom and competence were apparent, and his faithful, steady service blessed her. His ready sense of humor was evident right away.  He was part of something neat and she wanted to be more involved. She knew they shared the same Jesus and the same desire to serve him, but she never really gave him much of a thought beyond that.

A week later that changed.

She found a way to go back to that coffee house outreach downtown. The evening was much like the first (except she had come with just one friend, rather than an entire college group). She talked with the broken, she heard more stories, she felt at home. He was there too (he was the director, so it was rare when he wasn’t).

She noticed how his eyes shimmered, how others were drawn to him. She observed his quiet demeanor, his carefully chosen words, the good advice he shared and the assistance he offered to those in need. She started to wonder about his story. At the end of the night, they sat together for a moment, she was struck by his kindness. He joked and flirted. He ate too many jelly beans (because they were in front of him, and he hadn't had dinner).

She really noticed him. She thought about him as she drove home.

In the coming weeks she returned a couple of times. She met his 6 yr old son (adorable!!), she met several other volunteers, she helped move the coffee house to its new location, she spent time helping babysit the charming and silly 6 yr old. She dragged other friends back with her.

Back in the suburbs, she continued her “normal life”, she loved on the elderly at her (retirement home) job, she became increasingly involved in church, she helped with a Billy Graham crusade. She went on long runs at the park and tried out new recipes and explored parts of Colorado she hadn’t seen yet (she’d just moved here a few months earlier). Her mind was increasingly drawn back downtown and she searched, at times obsessively, for opportunities to return there.

She wrestled with her motives. A lot.

Almost a month later, she finally decided she needed to talk to him about that. They walked to a nearby restaurant and she attempted to confess her mixed motives.  After he embarrassed her greatly by ‘accusing’ her of having a crush on him . . . he admitted that it was mutual. Her heart raced, her tongue became tied. He ordered pie. They decided they should ‘become friends’ and spend more time together.

They went on hikes and picnics, they wandered in and out of bookstores and roamed the streets of Denver talking to the homeless, she helped him study Greek (he was a seminary student at the time), they looked for pictures in the clouds, smelled flowers and ate ice cream, she visited his church (she loved it!), she spent time at the discipleship home where he lived and worked (and became close to several people there). She grappled with her views on divorce and remarriage. She went on early morning fishing trips with her dad (and tried to get an opinion out of him!), she went on retreats with her college group and went mountain biking and rafting.

Somewhere along the line, she learned that about a week prior to that night (at the doorway ~ with the oranges and bananas), he had told God that he’d really like to meet someone – but he was so busy that if it was going to happen, He’d probably have to bring her to him!

She thought she was headed to the mission field. She began to wonder if she'd already found one.

Over the next year and a half they went from strangers to friends, they spent time with their families, they helped lead a house church together and eventually found themselves planning a wedding.

The ‘house’ has been built (and at times a wall torn down and rebuilt entirely) brick by brick over the past 23 years . . . an entire little family has moved in!  The house has become a community unto itself. That cornerstone moment is what we look back on and what we celebrate each year on June 30th at 6:42 pm.

Have some ice cream and join us! God is good.