Too early this morning (6:30 am) Johnny woke up to travel with the Smith Band to Arkansas. He will be gone for a whole week, boo hoo. I am halfway kidding. I entertain myself quite well not to mention I read ALL the time so I will be ok. However, I eagerly await his arrival on Friday night.

His birthday occurs on the 28th so we celebrated on Friday at our favorite restaurant, Shiva, with a big group of friends and their cute kids. Pam and Kim had the brilliant idea of bringing a TV and DVD player to entertain the little ones. That way the kids only ran a few laps around the table before their parents kindly commanded them to watch the movie. The Simmons say that Indian food is the best food ever created. We feasted on chicken tikka masala, saag paneer, lamb rogan josh (my spelling is all guess work here), rice, pinot noir and naan bread. We all laughed our heads off. My brother dropped by the festivities though he loathes Indian food - what a good brother. Johnny opened his many gifts from our generous friends. Three year old Von Hart serenaded Johnny with "Happy Birthday." I gave him several books. My parents and I gave him an authentic Crusader's cross. Johnny was elated! He wanted that cross the minute he spied it in the Sadigh Gallery catalog found in a tea house here in Houston. As he said, "It is amazing to hold a Christian relic that a man wore 1,000 years ago." Johnny plans to polish the cross and wear it around his neck hoping many will ask him what it is so he may boldy negate the fallacies most people harbor regarding the Crusades. That is very Johnny. As our friend Miho said, "I can totally see you crusading, Johnny."

We closed the night with homemade carrot cake (my aunt Pat's divine recipe; I even baked the cake in a silver pan with a lid just like the one she used all my growing up years) and chocolate chunk brownies for our WEIRD friends who do not like carrot cake mainly because they do not like cream cheese in the icing.

The highlight of the night was sitting at the head of the table with Johnny. At one point he reached over, held my hand and became teary-eyed. He said, "Look down the long table. Think back 3-4 years and these people, our friends. This is what God intends - our covenant community."

I love this man and we do love each of our nutty friends. Read again on July 28th as I write more about my favorite person, John Scott Simmons.

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