Welcome to our Friday morning Bible study. This video is from our first session in our 3 week study. It took more time to edit the video than I thought, so right now this post is going to have the bare bones necessary to get you started. Check back later for more info and the next 2 sessions.
I love people-watching. Have you ever sat at the airport and
just observe the people passing by. It is so interesting and entertaining. I
also love reading biographies and fiction stories about communities and all the
different kinds of people that make up a town.It is often the differences in people, the quirks, that make the most
Have you ever read
the Mitford Series? Or watched shows like Andy Griffith, The Gilmore Girls, or
Mary Tyler Moore?We wouldn’t watch it without all the different
personalities involved. It would be soooooo boring. I remind myself of this
whenever I am tempted to get annoyed at someone. I think, “This is what makes a
good novel or TV show. It is what keeps life interesting.” You should try it.
It will give you a new perspective.
Well, I don’t need a TV show or a book to entertain me,
because I have so many interesting and great people involved in my life. I want
to share their life stories with you, because I have learned so much from these
people in my life. They have inspired, encouraged, challenged, delighted, and
comforted me. (I am sure they've done so many other great things as well, but I can’t think of
anymore adjectives right now.)
Oh, boy. I hope that
it doesn’t sound like I am calling my friends quirky or annoying. Please don’t
get me wrong! On the contrary, these people have put up with my idiosyncrasies and have helped me grow. Well, at the least they have watched me grow old if
I would like you to meet my friend Sharla. I have known her
since January 1987, which makes it almost 28 years now. I met Sharla during our
1 year stay in Pensacola, Florida. I was pregnant with my 2nd son,
Jed, and she had just had her 4th child, Molly.Tom and Sharla had a homeless and military ministry
that they ran out of their home, which they paid for out of their own pocket.
Everything they had went into their efforts of sharing the good news of the
gospel of Christ to the world around them. Maybe some other time I will write
about this period of our lives, but for now this about Sharla.
If there is ever a person you would want on your team, it
would be Sharla. Believe me, she should be one of your first picks. But
remember that I saw her first, so please don’t take her from me!Truly, I don’t know what I would do without
her. I guess we all just need to be on the same
Don’t let Sharla’s small size fool you. She is a fireball. Really!
The creative juices that flow out of that woman are nothing short of Niagra
When I first came to Virginia I decided that I was interested
in quilting, and I also wanted to connect with people in the community. I
convinced Sharla to go to a quilting guild meeting. I dabbled in quilting for a
bit, and then decided I was too busy with church and my little people. I didn’t
need another creative outlet, but not Sharla. That woman not only learned to
hand-quilt during her busy life schedule, but went on the road with quilting
shows, taught classes, and hand-dyed her own fabric to make beautiful works of
art. She left me behind in the dust!
This is just Sharla’s way. All in. Full intensity. Often no
sleep required. Truly inspiring. That's why I say that if there was ever a time you had to pick people to be
on your team, she should be one of your first picks.
Sharla has cooked thousands of meals for the people that they
have invited into their home. Every Sunday, for years, Sharla and Tom would
cook dinner and invite military people over to join them in a Sunday meal and
volleyball. Thanksgiving was a huge outreach time. For several years we even
helped them rent a Recreational Center in Norfolk on Thanksgiving, because
there were so many people. There was
food, games, and always an invitation to know more about our best friend, Jesus
Christ. The military ministry has changed, but Tom and Sharla’s hearts haven’t
Sharla has been, and is still, instrumental in helping with
Avalon’s women’s Bible study and other events. She also has written and
directed many of our Christmas plays and Vacation Bible School events. She has
taught debate at a homeschool class. She also teaches sewing and quilting to
Well, I could go on and on, but, out of all the many things I
admire about Sharla, I want to share with you two specific aspects of her life that mean something special to me. First,
and on the playful side of life’s happenings, is the creation of her tiny
house, which I totally LOVE! And second, something about her journey to faith
during which her first husband, David, was murdered. Truly inspiring.
So hope you will come back for more of the story --~Sharla’s
Jed and Lauren try and come to our house once a week for
family night. We use to have it on Tuesday nights, but with iD group, Luke’s
work and Dave teaching an evening class at church on that night, we decided
that Monday nights might be a better choice. I relish this special time with my
children! We had missed being together the past week, so on Monday, January 20, I was so ready to
enjoy the life they bring into this ol’ house!
Having fun on this very night!
About the time we were finishing dinner, Lauren said, “I
want to play a game.” I love to play games, and I can rarely get my man or my
man-children to play a game with me, so I love having daughters (via
daughters-in-law). Lauren said she wanted to play Apples to Apples. I didn’t
think I had that game, and Jed said that he thought I did, but it didn’t
matter, because Lauren had the game in their car. The dishes were swiftly put
away, and the game set out. Since it was early enough, Luke was able to play
with us for a while before he had to leave to go to a Bible study he attends on Monday
It was Dave’s turn to flip over the Apples to Apples topic card and pick the
best response from each of the other four players. The topic was “Loveable,” and everyone turned in the card in their hand they thought fit best with
the topic “loveable.”
The “Apples to Apples” game includes four blank cards that
players can use to fill in their own nouns or adjectives—to sort of personalize
the game. As Dave was reading the
handwritten card that Lauren turned in, he saw something like, “Loveable: Eli
or Elle Rieke.” Instead of reading it out loud to everyone, he said, “What does it
mean?” Luke and I were thinking like, “What do you mean, ‘what does it mean?’”
And Jed and Lauren just looked amused. And Jed told Dave to read the other
handwritten card. It said, “Baby Rieke, loveable, adorable, cuddly.” Then Dave pulled out the card for me
to see, and again said, “What does it mean?”
I was confused, too. We
have played the game before and I knew we had already written on the blank
cards, but I couldn’t remember why we would have written these particular words on
the cards sometime in the past, and I hadn't seen anyone write on any card this evening.
Dave asked him something like, “Is that really it? Are we
going to have a baby?” And Jed and Lauren nodded with big smiles. And the
celebratory cheers, squeals and hugs began. Well, I was the only one who
squealed, ‘cause boys don’t squeal!
I wish you could have seen the look on Jed and Lauren’s face.
They were glowing! They were so cute as we enjoyed their clever surprise!!
Just look at those two! They just melt my heart!!
They had it all planned out before them came over. They had
pulled out all the right cards about babies, cuteness, child birth etc… Even if
we had the game, Jed was ready to stack the deck with his pre-planned cards. I
didn’t catch on at all. Later they told us they really hadn’t counted on Luke playing,
so it rearranged the cards just a bit. The cards in my hand had nothing at all
to do with babies, and I think that is what kept me from catching on even a
I was thoroughly surprised and delighted! My heart is overwhelmed
They had to be extra creative, because the original plan was to send us a little gift in the mail.
Lauren told me earlier that they were expecting a package, and she had asked earlier that day if it had arrived yet. It had not, and I said it was probably because of the snow. The real deal was that Sacha and Julie, and LeVon had already gotten the gift that afternoon, so they already knew the surprise. They needed a different way to surprise us! I think they were so excited for us to know too!!
Several days later, the package finally arrived. Now this special little elephant sits in my living room where I can look at it everyday.
I can’t explain the special feeling I have as I look into my
children’s eyes. Jed is going to be a
daddy! Lauren is going to be a mommy!! I am on cloud nine! Just the Sunday
before, I was sitting next to Lauren and Jed in church and my heart was
overcome with a desire for Jed and Lauren to have a baby. What a better place
to pour my heart out to the Lord than during worship at church with my church
family. I had no idea that Jed and Lauren were even trying to have a baby, nor
did I tell anyone of my crazy prayer. Little did I know, our little Eli or Elle was already on the way.