Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Wonderful Gift

Over the past few weeks, Julie and I had been looking forward to going out to dinner with her parents, Skipper and Dalma, this past Saturday night. They had invited us to eat and would not tell us where they were taking us, only that it was going to be a very nice restaurant. In the days leading up to the dinner, we talked about it several times and we were all very excited when the night finally came. Julie's parents picked us up at around 6:30 pm (we had a 7:20 pm reservation) and we headed out where all the best restaurants are.

Along the way, Dalma asked us if we knew where we were going and, of course, we had no idea. She gave us a hint saying that she was going to order fried crab claws (I think) as an appetizer which indicated just how nice the restaurant was going to be. I got even more excited at the prospect of such a wonderful meal. As we got a few minutes away from the house, Julie's mom got a phone call from Julie's sister, Lori. Lori had planned to have the youth group kids over to her house that night and told her mom that she really needed us to go by her house, pick up her two daughters (Caroline and Emma) and take them with us  because there Julie's other sister, Jennifer, would come take them off our hands. Julie's mom told Lori to call the restaurant and see if they would delay our reservation and if they would, we would turn around and go pick up the kids. Julie and I were certainly not pleased at Lori's apparent selfishness and horrible timing. After another phone call, we turned around went back across town to Lori's to pick up her daughters. Julie and I were becoming more agitated as we got closer because this seemed to be ruining our special night. Julie's mom called Lori to tell her to have the kids ready to go and outside so that we could just swing by and pick them up. Of course when we got there, nobody was outside ready and I was getting very frustrated with the whole business. I couldn't believe that we had gone all the way back to pick up Lori's kids and she didn't even have the courtesy to have them ready to go. After a few moments, Lori came out to the car and asked us to come in and help her get the kids ready. We all said that we didn't want to get out and that she should have had them ready by now. She begged us and finally Dalma got out to go in and Lori asked us to help to. A moment later, Skipper, obviously frustrated, turned off the car and got out to help. I followed and then Julie finally agreed to go in. I was giving Lori dirty looks for ruining the start of our special night. Julie was already fairly tired from a long day before all of this and she, understandably, was becoming more upset with Lori. As we got into the house, I had been expecting it to be a wreck with the girls running around trying to find their shoes or whatever, but the house was very well kept. Lori told us that we really needed to look out the back window at all of the youth kids back there to see how many could fit in her yard and how crazy it was back there. We certainly didn't want to look, but we eventually agreed. As she opened the door, we could see Jennifer standing there with a video camera and an awful lot of people behind her. I quickly noticed one of our good friends, Meghan, who lives in Alabama now and I knew what was going on. The whole thing had been a set up for an enormous surprise party for us celebrating Magdalena! They all yelled "Surprise!" and Julie, overcome with the emotions of the whole thing, stepped back inside for a few minutes to regroup. I went ahead out to see and greet all of the people there. There were probably between 75 and 100 people all eating some amazing food and sitting at lovely tables or standing around talking. As I looked around, I saw the tent that was set up with a huge spread of food, including one of the largest chocolate cakes (thanks, Lori!) that I have ever seen with Magdalena's initials on it. There was also a table set up for people to write prayers for us and to sign in that they had come to the party. It was so great to see so many friends, many of which came from out of town or even out of state. I couldn't believe the number of people there that Lori did not know at all. How did she know to invite all of them? It turned out that Lori had emailed every person that had joined our Facebook group, Magdalena's Feet, and asked for their address to send them a personal invitation to the party. She also went through Julie's email contacts to invite them too. The invitations told guests, instead of giving gifts, to donate to a fund for Magdalena's future expenses. People were so generous and we are so overwhelmed at God's goodness and provision for us.

Lori and Jennifer planned the whole thing with the great help from Stephen (Lori's husband) and Skipper and Dalma, and they all did such an incredible job. We had such a wonderful time visiting with friends, some of whom we hadn't seen in years, and eating way too much great food.
We are so thankful for such support from family and friends. God is so good.


  1. Anonymous4:02 PM

    You don't know us - we go to church with jason and conor cochran. thank you for sharing and celebrating this precious life. A little more than a year ago our daughter was born at 20 weeks. With complications from a rare genetic disorder called a triplody she was unable to sustain life, but we shared as much of her life with our family and friends as possible. We initially thought she might have edward's syndrom so I learned a lot about it and we were hopeful that we too would hold our sweet girl. What a beautiful gift you have given others in sharing your journey with magdalena. It has helped me to reconnect with pieces of myself that I forget are there some days. We will be praying for you this week as you welcome your daughter and celebrate her as well. May God continue to be glorified in your life as well as hers.

  2. Oh that is SOOO wonderful. What an amazing family and support group you have. I can say that the kindness, love, support, patience from others has lesson the burden on our family. I continue to pray for you as you get closer to the day you get to meet your sweet Magdalena. What a day that will be! Thank you for sharing your "suprise party" with us. It brings tears (happy ones) to my eyes to see how God has surround you all with not only His love, but love from family and friends.

  3. It was such fun to celebrate Magdalena with y'all!!! I had secretly wanted to come to a lifeday party, and felt so thrilled to participate! Y'all have an awesome family!!!

  4. Hey y'all,

    Thanks so much for sharing the surprise party story and posting some pictures! I love y'all and am praying for you. My friends here in GA have been asking about y'all too! There are many people praying for you all over the place.


  5. I loved hearing your version of the story about how selfish I was. If only I had gotten a picture of Julie's face when I made her get out of the parent's van! SHE WAS FUMING! It was an absolute joy to plan and host the party and definitely worth having her (and you) mad at me for a few minutes! We love you!

  6. I wish I could have been there. Sorry I was out of town... You made everything so beautiful!! I know Julie loved it :) God has truly blessed her with a wonderful family...


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