One of the first things that drew me to her…

Carol's Bible

I met Carol on “get acquainted day” at college in August of 1996.  We were next to each other in the batting order of a group soft-ball game.  She was interested right away.  I thought she was a nice person, but I didn’t really have any romantic inclinations then.  I was in a serious automobile accident that evening and ended up getting a bunch of stitches in my face and missing a day or two of school, the notoriety of that accident in our small school attracted her attention even more.  A few days later, as I walked into the school building, she was sitting on a chair at the top of a flight of stairs.  She – as  reticent as she often is – took opportunity to introduce herself with a little more detail than we had at the ball game a couple of days earlier.  She asked me how old I was and I responded, “twenty.” She quickly replied, “I’m twenty too!”  But she immediately realized that it sounded like she was “twenty-two” and begin backtracking with “I mean, I mean, I’m twenty also!”  She was concerned that I would think she was too old for a relationship with me.  Her verbal stumble was obvious, yet sweet and endearing at the same time.

Nothing else happened between us for more than another semester, other than a polite friendship.  I did notice several things about her, but wasn’t really interested at the time.

However, the following Spring, Providence began to pair us.  We were travelling in the school vocal ensemble together and I found that on occasion I would end up sitting by her during some of our services.  She is a prolific note-taker and would often ask to borrow my pen (which I guard diligently to this day).  The more I sat next to her, the more interested I became, though we didn’t talk much.  I discovered that I just liked being near her.  Her presence brought an emotional and peaceful satisfaction to me.

The Bible that is in the picture above is the one that she used during college.  When we arrived at a church, we would usually all go into the auditorium and put our Bibles and music down on the first couple of rows and then go to the restrooms to freshen up, or perhaps eat a meal in the fellowship hall.  I realized that I was beginning to look for her Bible whenever we would go into an auditorium – hoping there was an empty seat next to where she had put down her things – and then I would place my Bible down next to hers to save a place so that I could sit next to her.  Bold and not very subtle, huh?

The habit continued – whenever I got an opportunity to be around her, I would take it.  Sometimes in chapel, sometimes in the cafeteria, sometimes in class, and of course the clue to her imminent presence was the location of her Bible.  So, in both a practical and a spiritual sense, one of the things that drew me to her, was her Bible.

She pulled this Bible off of a shelf a few weeks ago for some reason and left it laying on a table in her classroom.  I saw it and asked if she minded if I took it to my office – she agreed.  I’ve looked at it often over the last several weeks and smiled as I’ve been reminded of the early days of our relationship.  I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to write of those memories  – today, her 42 birthday is a good day to write.  By the way, she is older than I am, but only by six months – not two years.  I love you, Carol, Happy Birthday!

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From Greenville, SC to Honiara, Solomon Islands

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It’s a little after 6 a.m. and I’ve been up since about a quarter after 4.  I’m waiting on my brother, Michael, to come through Paxton to pick me up; we’ll drive on together to Greenville, SC, so that we can load his shipping container to be sent to Honiara of the Solomon Islands, where he and his family will be missionaries.

Michael texted me and said he didn’t get away as early as he wanted and I should go back to bed…I might doze off, for a little bit, but I won’t go back to sleep.  My mind is too busy running back nearly 15 years, to 2003 when I had just resigned my position as an assistant pastor in northern Illinois and was getting ready to move my family back across the country in order to pursue another degree.  It was the summer I turned 27 and Michael turned 12.  Carol was mid-way through her pregnancy with Grant and caring for two toddlers, Joel and Laura – she wasn’t able to do much by way of helping us move.  I called my folks and asked about bringing Carol and the kids down to their place in Missouri and then getting Michael to help me load our moving truck and ride with me as I drove it to NC and then I would come back to Missouri to get my family.  They agreed and so the switch was made.

Michael and I loaded the moving truck (I can’t remember who else helped us), put my mini-van on a car trailer and then headed to NC, just the two of us.  The trip together was quite an adventure; he wanted to see the skyline as we drove through Chicago (but driving through Chicago with a moving truck and mini-van on a trailer wasn’t much fun), we slept at a truck stop somewhere in Indiana, we had a flat tire on the car trailer somewhere in Kentucky and had to wait for Budget to fix it – finally, we made it to NC.  After unloading the moving truck at the house I had rented and returning the moving truck, we headed back to Missouri.  I was so tired, we had to stop at a few rest stops along the way so that I could doze.  We pre-dated google maps, smartphones, and I didn’t have a GPS, but Michael had my old laptop and my Microsoft streets and trips disc and followed our route as we drove back through NC, TN, KY, IL, and then across the Mississippi river, by the Arch and through St. Louis, and then north to my parents in northeast Missouri.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since 2003.  The mini-van that we drove back is long since gone (our family won’t fit in one anymore).  I’ve finished 8 more years of school and Carol and I now have 8 kids, we’re established as pastor and family in Paxton, IL.  Michael finished high school, went to college, married Nora – the perfect partner for him, they have a son, and they are following God’s leading to go as missionaries to the Solomon Islands.  A few months ago, when he asked me if I would be able to go with him when he went from Rockford, IL, to Greenville, SC, to help him load the shipping container, I couldn’t help but feeling not only an obligation, but also some nostalgia and not a little irony at the role reversal.  God knew in 2003 that I would be doing the same thing for Michael in 2018.  Older brothers have a tendency to take advantage of younger brothers, but the Lord is making sure that Michael is being repaid now for his labors as a 12 year old boy; God is the One who established the principle of sowing and reaping.  And I don’t mind that I’m getting to reciprocate – I’m thrilled to get to spend these couple of days with Michael in the vehicle and loading the container.  I’ll probably only see him now every 3 or 4 years as he may be back in the States on occasion, so I’ll relish the hours that we have now.  Thankfully, technology allows better communication than in years past, so we will still have some contact.

Keep Michael, Nora, and Corban in your prayers; they are making a move across the world, not just a few states; getting a shipping container and sending it by cargo ship across the ocean is far different than renting a U-haul.  Their challenges are interesting and unique – they will actually be on the island for a couple of months before their container arrives. Pray for their health and safety, for God’s continued provision, for their lives in general, but most importantly that He would guide them as they seek to be tools in His hands to do His work on the Solomon Islands.