Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gift Wrap Central

It's Christmas Eve and I'm up wrapping all the last-minute gifts. I'm almost done but I'll leave all the paper and bags and ribbons out so the kids can come down later (when they wake up) to wrap a few gifts that they have left. I was sitting at the table, looking at this coffee mug and it reminded me what I enjoy about this day so much. It's a coffee mug from Johnny's grandmother's house. His mom brought it to me along with a few other matching dishes after his grandmother died a few years ago. Here's how I remember the story - her husband of almost 70 years died just a few months earlier. On a Sunday morning she went to church and taught her Sunday School class that she taught for decades. She then went into the sanctuary, fell over in the pew and then met Jesus face to face. She was a precious woman with a lot of spunk and so faithful to her family and to God. I think about her just about every time I drink out of this mug.

What I enjoy so much about today and this season is being with special people - those that I love the most. Yesterday, 2 sets of friends dropped by with unexpected, sweet gifts. The first was a friend with 3 little boys dressed in their super hero costumes. I walked out to the car as they were getting out and reached down to hug them and their mom said, "Give Ms Jeanette a hug." They did but then (this is exactly how it happened!) Johnny came walking out of the house and they RAN and jumped up to hug him. Whatever. Another friend called yesterday that I have not talked to in ages and ages. It was a sweet surprise. Last night I had dinner with all 3 of my kids and my man - really, that doesn't happen too often anymore. Though school & college have been out for a week, Josh had to work all week so he just got home yesterday. We got an early Christmas present - a Kinect - and played games last night. It is really, really fun!

We've made some new traditions since we've been here in Mansfield and today is all about spending time together as a family. These are precious days. As my kids get older, I cherish days like today more and more. We'll go to my parents' house tomorrow evening and we are actually headed to Georgia this year since Johnny's parents were not able to come this year as his dad is still recovering from cancer surgery. I'm excited for a road trip and to see all our Georgia and Kentucky family!

While I've got gift wrap central set up this morning and value the time spent with loved ones more than any gift, the most important part of this Christmas is the Christ - the Savior of the world. I'm thankful for a Savior and a Redeemer. I'm thankful for a holiday set aside to worship the Son of God leaving His heavenly throne because He loved the world so much. He really is the gift that keeps on giving.

O, come let us adore Him! Christ, the Lord!

Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What Question Would You Ask?

It's the Christmas season. We are doing all things Christmasy. Today was one of my favorite of our newish Christmas traditions. Today was the staff Christmas brunch, the day that causes me to do some of my favorite things: look at new cookbooks and recipes for hours on end (I even checked out Pinterest which just might become a valuable source of information if I can fully figure out how to use it), cook, and sit around and eat and visit with friends. I did repeat some recipes from last year. One, at the request of our student pastor's wife, was Paula Deen's recipe for cheese grits. These are not your ordinary cheese grits but yummy deliciousness of grits and 2 kinds of cheese and, of course, butter.

There are other holiday things going on but, of course, our Life Group lessons this month are on the reason for the season, the birth of Jesus. I missed the first Sunday of the month because I was out running (see my last post) but this past Sunday covered, in part, the part of the story when Mary and Joseph receive the news that they will parent the Savior of the World. One of the questions that the writer of the literature asked was about whether, once Mary was told by the angel all that she would bear the Son of God, all her questions were answered. Obviously, we have recorded in Scripture that her response was that she was the Lord's bondservant but, just because she moved forward in obedience, I wonder if she had any questions rolling around in her thoughts.

So, I posed this question to my Life Group gals this week: if you could ask God any question and you were guaranteed an audible, verbal answer, what would it be? Please, don't get me wrong. I believe God reveals Himself to us and answers our questions in all sorts of ways but I was just asking out of pure curiosity. Honestly, I was expecting things like, "Why did _______ happen the way it did?" or "Why do children die of starvation when we live in the land of plenty?" (ok, that would be my question) or some question related to something biblical. I didn't get the responses I expected but one in particular has stuck with me for a couple of days: How am I doing?

How am I doing?

That question never even occurred to me prior to my asking for it out-loud to my class but, perhaps, it should. It's a great question to ask of God, I think. Am I on track with Your will for me? Am I living the way I should as Your ambassador? Am I loving enough, giving enough, praying enough, studying enough? Really, how am I doing?

I think it's ok to ask questions - the sort of questions, even, that we may never have the answer to like why? The key is not to let the questions keep us from moving forward and walking in obedience. And, then there's the question about how I'm doing. Definitely, ask that question. Evaluate your life. Pray about it. God may not audibly, verbally answer (then again, He might - He does whatever He wants) but that doesn't mean He won't answer. I think if you are genuinely seeking, He will answer. Be open to the answer and be open to the change that might come with it. Just don't be afraid to ask.

Seriously, what question would you ask?

Serving the King,


Monday, December 5, 2011

My Cup Overflows

Yesterday was the half-marathon. It rained the ENTIRE time. And it was cold. I could not sleep the night before. Weird, but I was worried about the rain and cold and wondering if I would actually be able to finish.
My brother, Paul,  and his family showed up on the race course around mile 7. It was so amazing that they came out in that awful weather and waited on the sidewalk for us. He had his camera wrapped in plastic and took a few pictures, including the one above. He then sprinted up the sidewalk and took more pictures. They stayed with us for a couple of blocks before leaving. It is the best part of the race except...

...finishing. Crossing the finish line was awesome. I slowed way down toward the end. Johnny asked if I had a kick left. I said, "Dude, this is my kick!" It was cold, we were soaked to the bone but it was so exciting to finish then to go in the building to be given a medal, a finisher shirt, and a warm cup of soup. Among those thousands of people we did find some of our friends after the race. It was great to see them and to celebrate the finish. It was also fun to check facebook and see posts about the race and finishing.

We came home and I soaked in a hot, hot bath. It seemed like I couldn't get warm. We had a big night last night - our annual mission fair & banquet - so I knew I couldn't rest. I had a few things to do at home and then we headed up to church around 4:30 to start getting ready for the evening. I had my son, Josh (Student Ministry Assistant), ask some students to come help and I had the mission committee and some other friends come up to help. There were so many people there helping and working. Truly, it blessed me so much. I think the mission fair was good - we had some new organizations & missionaries join us this year so that was great fun! I was sort of afraid that the cold, wet weather would deter some people from coming out but the tables were full for the banquet. Again, a blessing. The students not only helped get ready but they also served the tables. We have the most awesome students on the planet at our church! (Josh oversaw all of it and that helped me so much!)

Then there was the program. Some of our runners came and we presented giant checks for 2 of our fundraising projects - the 2 that are local. Two of our runners spoke about what it meant to them to be running for the causes. Most of us were wearing our medals. Oh yeah, there was no doubt that I was wearing my well-earned medal! We got to celebrate what we did this past year - what God did in us and through us! How blessed we are to be called to join Him on mission. Our friend, Tyler, shared a testimony about how God used him on mission and how he and his wife continue to follow God's purpose for them, in part, as a result of that. He did an amazing job - he made laugh and cry and encouraged us all. Well, maybe I should just speak for me. He encouraged me. Johnny closed my challenging us to be on mission in 2012. It was a great night. Really, even thinking about it now makes me emotional.

God has blessed above and beyond what I could ask or imagine - just like His Word promises. This blog post cannot nearly do justice to how fabulous yesterday was. I didn't win the race or even come close but I finished within what I hoped. I don't know what I thought last night would be like but all the people who prepared in advance for the night (Julie H is the BEST!), came early and helped, who participated in the fair, who spoke, who cooked, who served, who lived on mission last year, who came last night have caused my cup to overflow. Though my muscles are sore today, my heart is full. I feel blessed. I am blessed.

Serving the King,