2007 was a year of tremendous blessing. The first anniversary of our time in Oklahoma happened in February. For a secular company, I have greatly enjoyed working with Dobson Communications. I have a good working relationship with my peers. I earned the highest award for IT. It was an award of Excellent Customer Service. It is nice to be appreciated for the efforts I make in my job. I was also happy to have earned this in less than one year of service. Later at the end of June, I would discover that Dobson was being acquired by AT&T. As I write this, I am now an employee of that huge company, though my day to day work has not changed much. Whether I stay with AT&T for a while or not, the Dobson acquisition gave me needed impetus for furthering my pursuit of self employment. I have investigated several possibilities, including copywriting, real estate investing, and pulling telephone cable. Any of these options would allow me to work for myself, incorporating the help of my children, at least more than what they are able to currently do in my corporate position. I am still happy with my employer, though the shake up is a wake up call not to get “too comfortable.” Change is most likely on the horizon sometime in the near future. Whether this change is just a transfer to self employment, or yet another move, remains to be seen. Thankfully we can trust in the providential hand of a loving Father God who ordains all things according to His good pleasure.
For the first half of 2007, we were relentlessly working our way toward the goal of 400 gold coins in Jamestown, Virginia in Vision Forum’s “Jamestown 400: Our National Treasure Hunt.” We had a great time and learned a lot of history along the way. On May 14th and 15th, we, along with 100 other sleuths, were up into the wee hours of the morning working on the final two days of the Jamestown 400. It was exhilarating as we received our “Congratulations!” from Jack as we solved the final clue. A month later, we were exploring the hallowed grounds of America’s founding, first in Williamsburg, then Yorktown, and Jamestown on the last day. My family and I managed to stay in the hunt on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, not being eliminated until Friday morning when the top three finalists went on to hunt for the physical gold. While we were disappointed not to actually get to dig for treasure, we realize that God has foreordained all that comes to pass. In His plans, He willed Melanie Thomas to become the “Fifth Trustee.” We were thrilled, however, to make it to the final 14 contestants, and for the opportunity to search for clues in Jamestown, when most of the contestants were eliminated after Williamsburg or Yorktown. This will truly be a time we will remember for the rest of our lives. It has also renewed a fire within me to learn all I can of history when on vacation. This Jamestown trip definitely tops my list of all time favorite vacations. The souvenirs we have from our Jamestown hunt are a three ring binder packed full of research, some 3 foot by 5 foot maps downloaded from the Library of Congress, and printed off at Kinko’s “just in case” (we never had to use them), a contestant t-shirt, and a ton of memories that we will cherish forever.
Sheri was an amazing trooper during our Jamestown hunt, as we packed our family of 8 into a very small hotel room for a week. Not to mention that this was June, and she was pregnant with our seventh child, Samuel Davies Southerland. He was named after the famous Virginia missionary who we learned more about in…the treasure hunt, of course! Samuel was born on October 29, 2007. After hoping for a VBAC, and changing doctors for that purpose, Sheri wound up getting yet another cesarean section after Samuel decided to turn sideways on the night of his birth. He was born at 3:15 AM Monday morning.
On November 15, 2007 my father’s mother, Gran-Gran, as she was known by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren went home to be with Jesus. Gran-Gran left a godly heritage for her family. She always stressed the importance of prayer. As I’ve mentioned more than once in this blog, Gran-Gran is the one who taught me to read and instilled in me a love for reading. My family and I will miss her greatly. Indeed, we already do. However, with the passing of a loved one, I am reminded of God’s plan for life. We lose those we love, and God blesses us with children that carry on the heritage to the next generation.
Finally, this is the first year that we, as a family, have stopped celebrating the holiday commonly known as Christmas. I have studied this out for several years. Our church has been a great encouragement in this area, as two other families also hold to these convictions. We visited family as they celebrated this holiday. It seemed to go well. I hope that the name of Christ was glorified in our actions and that we were a witness to them as we shared our reasons for not acknowledging a day that has never been commanded in scripture, promoted by the Roman church, and thoroughly mixed with pagan ritual.
All in all, 2007 has been an outstanding year. We have grown spiritually (and in numbers!). 2008 seems to be poised to bring us closer to many of our goals. Michael will turn 13 in December. As I prepared for Brittney’s “rite of passage” when she turned 13, a large focus of 2008 will be the final preparations for Michael’s ceremony. I have great plans that I will share in later blogs. I am excited to see the things that God has planned for us this year.