When Jerry and I tried to think of ways to celebrate our 50th anniversary, nothing we discussed seemed quite right. Pack rats that we are, we certainly didn’t want a party where friends would bring gifts. We actually thought about throwing a party where friends would have to take home some of our “treasures”, whether they wanted them or not!!!!
Then just a few weeks before our big day last summer, we met Jason and Misty Carson from Nashville, professional musicians who had joined up with the organization “Food for the Hungry”. The Carsons, traveling around the country presenting “in home” concerts, were on a mission to recruit sponsors for children with needs including empty tummies. We agreed to hold a concert at our church on Sunday afternoon. We only invited locals, knowing that friends and family from a distance wouldn’t be able to join in the festivities. After the Carsons presented their mission in word and song, three people signed up to sponsor a child in Nicaragua. Others gave cash and checks. What we didn’t know at the time was a matching grant was available from USAid. Every dollar donated would be matched 22 times! The amount our friends had so generously donated to this cause had suddenly grown to $30,000 making this the most exciting anniversary we could ever have hoped to celebrate! It had come together so quickly—the planning commenced just a few weeks before our big day. Special friends offered to help. With the catering skills of dear friend Irene Mackin, exquisite food trays were set up at a fraction of what it would have cost elsewhere. Irene even helped shop for fruit and veggies at Costco. Then to top off the afternoon, sinfully delicious “Nothing Bundt Cakes” were donated and served by our bakery owner friend, Jan Newton of Gilbert. Five beautiful cakes in tantalizingly different flavors! There is truth to the saying “if you feed them, they will come.”
Seriously, why share this story? It was one of the most wonderful days of our lives, and we hope to encourage others to consider turning a special birthday or anniversary into an opportunity to benefit a favorite charity. For more info, check out www.fh.org and/or www.usaid.gov or other organizations whose mission is to feed, clothe and minister to those less fortunate.
We don’t think it was a coincidence that the Carsons were going to be in the Phoenix area the weekend of July 1. Nor was it coincidence that we met them because Misty’s parents, Guy and Terry Sereff, had moved from Anthem to Brentwood, TN and invited us to visit them. Thus, the chance to meet the Carsons and learn of their ministry. We believe it was all orchestrated by God! He is in the smallest and the biggest details of our lives. This wonderful event took place just months after my diagnosis of an illness that requires daily oral chemo for the rest of my life. This and other events have helped take the focus off us and has challenged Jerry and me in many ways. In the words of St. Francis of Assisi, “Keep a clear eye toward life’s end. Do not forget your purpose and testing as God’s creature. What you are in His sight is what you are and nothing more. Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take nothing that you have received…..but only what you have given; a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.” This quote was found in Jan Karon’s book, Patches of God Light, a seriously good read and a source of inspiration.