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When Ray brought in the mail yesterday, he said, “You win the prize for the most interesting mail.” Looking through the stack, I found two surprises — a hand-written envelope and a package, both from unknown addresses. Inside the envelope, I found an invitation to an out-of-town baby shower for our nephew’s wife. That sounded like fun. Then, when I looked at the package, I asked Ray if he thought I ought to open a package from an unknown source. He wondered a minute and then started opening it for me. I playfully grabbed it out of his hand and asked him what he was doing. “Protecting you,” he said. “Right next to me?” I teased.

When we saw what was inside, Ray told me that I should tell all of you about it, so here goes . . .

You know how, when you enter a contest sometimes, the rules say that if you win, they get to use what you entered in the future. Well, that’s what my story is about!

Several months ago Ray encouraged me to enter a photo contest sponsored by our local telephone company. I did enter my first photo contest ever and, to my joy and surprise, I won a prize, not the grand prize which included having your photo on the front of the telephone book, but first or second (I can’t remember which) prize — a $50 Roku and the privilege of having my photo inside the phone book. My photo is about the size of a credit card on page 25 along with phone numbers of government officials in a nearby county. I mentioned this briefly in a post last April.

Well, as it turns out, our phone company is part of an organization of rural Internet providers across the country. That is whose unknown address was on my package. The rural Internet provider organization has published a calendar for 2016. When I entered the local contest and gave my permission for them to use my entry, I guess that included sending it on to that organization, because inside the package was a letter from the organization and three copies of their 2016 calendar. Inside the calendar was my photo, not credit card-sized this time, but the full-page photo for the month of April! I felt like I did when I was about ten years old and went to the wholesale grocers convention with my family (my daddy worked for his daddy who was my Daddy Leland in Daddy Leland’s grocery store), entered my name in a drawing, and won a 2-inch by 2-inch transistor radio!

I was pretty silly for a little while yesterday afternoon — like a silly little school girl actually. Though I have never heard of this organization and had to look it up on the Internet (using my rural Internet service provider), I was very excited. I don’t know if I can publish my photo now, because I don’t think it belongs to me anymore; but I think I am safe showing you this one which I took that same afternoon. The angle isn’t very good, but it’s similar to the one in the calendar, so I’ll show it to you anyway.

Barn, Coreopsis, and Oregano
The contest photo didn’t have a name, but I’ll call this “Barn, Coreopsis, and Oregano” just for fun.

It’s fun to win, even if it’s a game of Spades or ping-pong or Nertz — not that I experience that very much. In the six years that Ray and I have played Spades with our daughter Mary Evelyn and her husband Nate, we’ve only beat them once, or is it twice?

Many parents struggle about the whole issue of competition. I understand the struggle. We did provide our children low key opportunities for competition. We have been to our share of soccer matches, basketball games, and even marble competitions. We’ve been to the fair to see who won a ribbon. But I don’t believe in letting competition become an idol or letting competition dominate a child’s life or a family’s life.

This whole area of parenting is one that needs lots of prayer. I take pictures because of the joy it gives me to do it and the challenge of capturing something special, not so someone will think my picture is better than someone else’s picture. I think it is best for children to participate in what helps them grow like Jesus did — in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man.

I am so grateful that God isn’t looking for “winners” but for people who trust Him.

The sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law;
but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:56-57


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  1. Very nice picture. I’m glad it won a prize. 🙂 And those who trust in God as Lord and Savior are most certainly winners!

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