Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Friday, December 31, 2010

Xtreme Winter Shots in Gatlinburg

We made it back from Winter Xtreme and here are the pictures I promised of our trip.  I hope you enjoy them.  Tyler(in brown jacket) and Adam (in black jacket) were the first two to arrive at our house.  Tyler wanted to leave his truck in our yard so it would be ok.  The rest of the kids were going to meet us at the church by 7:45 a.m.

It was so cold and we finally got the cars loaded with suitcases, kids, and two old people (that would be Frank and myself).
A quick group shot, sin the photographer, a prayer and we were on our way to Winter Xtreme 2010 in Gatlinburg.  The group from left to right is:  Libby, Stiles, Lyndi, Stuart, Jessica, Preacher Man Frank, Tyler and Adam....I made number 9.
This was our first view of Gatlinburg on Monday, Dec. 27th.  Was it not gorgeous.  The sun decided to shine for about 60 seconds and then the gray set back in and it was cold and dreary.  The sidewalks were slick with ice and walking was anything but easy.  We saw quite a few people fall and bust their behinds.
Libby, Lyndi and Stiles at the first Xtreme Worship on Monday night.  They were all excited to hear the band and listen to the speakers.  After the service we went back to our room and had a debriefing where we talked about what they heard and got out of the service.  Bed time and up again tomorrow for another day of worship.

Day two we hit the ground running so we could get good seats and so Frank and I could attend a Youth Leaders session done by Josh McDowell.

After the morning service we ate lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  It was so much fun.  The waiters went around asking trivia questions about Forest Gump and sometimes your answers got weird replies from the.  One of the questions was where did Bubba Gump get shot?  My answer was, "In the but-tocks."  The waiter informed me that this was a family establishment and Forest was shot in Vietnam!

After lunch we walked Gatlinburg streets for four hours.  We had to be back at the Convention Center before the doors opened at 6:30 to get in line to get good seats.  Libby, Frank, and I went window shopping as far as the Mountain Mall....where I gave out.  Libby posed pretty in front of the frozen water fountain.  Does she not look like a pretty snow bunny.

Between the Mountain Mall and Hard Rock Cafe I saw this window box of pansies and just had to show you the snow covering those poor pansies.

 I discovered that even cold water rolls right off a ducks bath.  Part of this water was frozen with a thin sheet of ice but the ducks just kept diving down to get something to eat!
This was us heading in for the night service for Tuesday night.  The kids were really pumped because Skillet was the band for tonight.  They could not stop talking about this group.  Tuesday nights music was a little bothersome for me.  We must have been sitting right in front of the bass amp....because it made my heart feel like it was jumping beats and eventually I had to go outside the room and let me heart settle down a bit.  Skillet was still loud even out there through closed doors.

Day Three and we are now the proud parents of a little Indian girl.  The Youth Group decided that we wanted to pay 30.00 a month to support this child until they can get her placed in a Forever Home (adopted).  It was really sweet to watch them pour over the countless children until they found just the right one.  I loved them for this moment!

Headed back to Alabama.  The snow was still there and it was still extremely cold.  I was looking forward to heading south and into warmer temperatures.  I never knew 35 could feel so good....but when we survived 9 degrees on Tuesday....35 was a heat wave.

I am glad we are home, but I would not take anything for this experience.  We have an awesome bunch of kids at Rock Mills and I am so glad that I got to worship with them for the past three days.  Have a safe New Years Eve!  Love you all!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lies The Government Told You Review

Lies The Government Told You
Myth, Power, and Deception in American History
Judge Andrew P. Napolitaon
Thomas Nelson Publishing Company
2010/317 pp/24.99

In the 36 years I have voted I have never missed an election.  I believe it is my right as a woman and as an American to cast that vote.  I was raised to believe that even a "white" lie was wrong yet, after reading Judge Napolitano's book, "Lies the Government Told You, " I find my core beliefs shaken a bit and some of my personal convictions and opinions changed drastically.  I have to admit that I did not want to read this book when it was my only choice to review, but a little voice inside told me to take a chance and I am glad I did.
This book made me laugh, think more than I wanted to, and get mad.  It made me mad at myself for accepting these "lies" and mad at the politicians, who ARE our voices, for telling them  I will never take political workings for granted again.  The book is an attempt of one powerful and intelligent Senior Judicial Analyst for Fox News to reveal to the American people "lies" he believes our government has told us.  Like all Americans it is comforting to think that we are never lied to by our government, yet, as an intelligent person we know that is not always the case.  Judge Napolitano write this book as if he is a lawyer presenting his case to the judge (we, the readers).  It is neither a Democratic nor a Republican attack.  It is simply a series of 17 chapters/arguments for debate like:  "All Men Are Created Equal," "Everyone is Innocent Until Proven Guilty," and "Every Vote Counts."  The beginning of the book is a discussion of the difference between a "lie" and the truth.  The chapters are well presented and filled with quotes, facts and stories that seem to back up Napolitano's claims.  I found the book a shocking an uneasy read, yet by the time I was finished I felt a strong urgency to delve deeper into these same topics and discover more and perhaps develop my own opinions.  It is a book in which the political savvy and the politically challenged can both find nuggets of useful and useless information.  It is well written but, the reader must understand that this is simply one man's opinion about the American government and the "lies" they tell us.  The reader needs to read the book with an open mind.  I would give this book a 4 star rating.
Disclosure:  I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers provided this book for free as a part of book review blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255:  "Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising."

Blind Hope

Blind Hope
An Unwanted Do & the Woman She Rescued
Kim Meeder and Laurie Sacher
Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
178 pages
Price:  13.99
Trade Paperback

Blind Hope is an uplifting and inspirational story true story.  This book is a must for a youth pastor's library to aid young people searching to find themselves.  It would also be beneficial for a guidance counselor or any anyone struggling with their past and trying to find their way into the future.  Once I started reading it I could not put it down and read it in a day.

Blind Hope is a touching story about the Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch run by author and co-founder, Kim Meeder.  The camp, in Oregon, is a place where disadvantaged children are paired with rescued animals and together they find healing and hope.
Laurie Sacher, co-author, finds her way to the ranch and becomes a staff member.  While there she "adopts" an unwanted and unloved Australian Shepherd she names, Chiquita Mia (my little girl).  The story of the great rescue unfolds only to find the reader wondering just who is rescued.  Laurie rescues Mia from a terrible life and gives her a new life full of love, hope, and trust.  But, Mia gives Laurie the path to God as both "wretched creatures" learn to trust and hope again.  It is a wonderful story where a four legged blind dog gives her two legged master sight!

Kim Meeder is the cofounder and director of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, an organization that rescues abused and dying horses and pairs them with children in need. Kim’s first book, Hope Rising, propelled the ranch to win the national Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award and launched her extensive public/motivational speaking schedule at schools, churches, and governmental conferences across the United States. She and her husband, Troy, have been married for twenty-five years and live in Central Oregon. The size of their family fluctuates each year with the number of horses and kids that they rescue.

My Thoughts:  As a pastors wife/youth leader/rescued pup owner I truly related to this story.  I work with a number of youth that this story could be about.  The book gave me insight into what they are feeling and how to help them.  This story is a must read for anyone who has someone in their lives that is running from God, or anyone who needs a shot in their arm concerning their own relationshipe with Jesus Christ.  It is a great way to start the New Year.

Disclosure:  I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogger Review Program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinion I expressed is my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255:  "Guides concerning the use and endorsements and testimonials in advertising."

The story unfolds at the Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, run by author and co-founder, Kim Meeder.  The Ranch is in Oregan and is a place where disadvantaged children are paired with rescued animals and together they find healing and unconditional love.

Laurie Sacher, co-author, finds her way to the rance and becomes a staff member.  While there she "adopts" an unwanted and very unhealthy Australian Shepherd she names, Chiquita Mia (my little girl).  The story of the great rescue unfolds, only the reader is wondering just who actually is rescued. Laurie rescues Mia from a terrible life and gives her a chance to thrive, grow healthy, and be loved.  But, Mia gives Laurie the path to God as both "wretched creatures" learn to trust and hope again.

Kim Meeder is the cofounder and director of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, an organization that rescues abused and dying horses and pairs them with children in need. Kim’s first book, Hope Rising, propelled the ranch to win the national Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award and launched her extensive public/motivational speaking schedule at schools, churches, and governmental conferences across the United States. She and her husband, Troy, have been married for twenty-five years and live in Central Oregon. The size of their family fluctuates each year with the number of horses and kids that they rescue.

As a pastor's wife/youth leader and rescue pup owner this story was very touching.  Many of the youth I work with are just like Laurie.  They are running from God and have not yet realized just how important God is in their lives and how much he loves them inspite of what they have done.  I was one of those youths myself so I recognize the signs.  This is a must read story for anyone who has a family member that fits into that category.  Even if you don't you will love reading this sweet story about finding oneself through a four legged blind dog.

Disclosure:  I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their blogger review program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Moments In Life That Take Your Breath Away

We got home from Winter Xtreme a couple of hours ago.  After we delivered all our charges safely home, to parents, or to their vehicles we unpacked and headed to our sweet Shirley and Denney Pounds house.  While we were gone their 19 year old granddaughter died tragically in a wreck in the Prattville area.  It broke my heart when Frank told me this at our last bathroom stop on the trip home.  We were in Sweetwater, TN and my heart to think of how they were feeling....and I was not there to hug them both tightly.  We got to their house and hugged them and sat down and ate a wonderful supper of Ms Betty Jeans mac and cheese (to me that is the best comfort food in the world)...and Ms. Jean's chicken casserole. The meal was yummy after three days of pizza.  We left there and went to pick up the dog from my dear friend Marian who graciously kept him while we were gone.  She is a love and Beau loves her dearly.  She spoils him unmercifully.  Today, on our trip back....the kids were asleep in my car....and I was wishing I could join them....Stiles had put my radio on a current country music station (I don't listen to it much....I am into classic rock and contemporary Christian)....but a song came on....and it touched me so I had to post about it.  You will have to wait for my pictures of Gatlinburg until tomorrow.  I came home and found the lyrics....and after you read them I have a story to tell you.  The song is entitled. "Take Your Breath Away" and it is done by George Strait.  It goes like this:
He looks up from second base
Dad's up in the stands
He saw the hit, the run,the slide
There ain't no bigger fan.
In the parking lot
After the game he said
"Dad i thought you had a plane to catch"
He smiled and said "Yeah son, I did."
But life's not the breaths you take
Breathin' in and out
That gets you through the day
Ain't what it's all about
You just might miss the point
Tryin' to win the race
Life's not the breaths you take
But the moments that take your breath away
Fast forward fifteen years
And a thousand miles away
Boy's built a life, he's got a wife
And a baby due today
He hears a voice sayin'
"I made it, son."
He said "I told you dad, you didn't have to come"
He smiles and says, "Yeah, I know you did."
But life's not the breaths you take
Breathin' in and out
That gets you through the day
Ain't what it's all about.
You just might miss the point
Tryin' yo win the race
Life's not the breaths you take
But the moments that take your breath away
Just like it took my breath
when she was born
Just like it took my breath away
When dad took his last that morn
Life's not the breaths you take
Breathin' in and out
That gets you through the day
Ain't what it's all about
You just might miss the point
If ya don't slow down the pace
Life's not the breaths you take
But the moments that take your breath away.
My mantra is:  Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take....but the moments that take your breath away....and believe me over my 56 years I have had my fair share of moments that have taken my breath away.  The youth choir I sang with, New Dawn went on tour and my cousin Jerry, and my parents appeared at one of my concerts....unexpected.  They didn't have to...but they did.  The day my daughter was born was one of those moments....I looked at the tiny bundle and she reached up and grabbed my finger...and squeezed my heart  The day my daughter graduated from college with her B.S., Masters, and Ed.S.  The day Frank asked me to be his wife.  The day Frank married me.  Franks first sermon at Waverly.  The first time Frank's daughter, Amy,  hugged me....and told me she loved me.  The day that Kat and Brian and Amy and Steven married.  Singing with Still Magnolias.  Singing in the Arbor Praise Band when we did O Happy Day and Shackles for the first time.  When the congregation stood when the Praise Band sang Awesome God.  Opening for George Jones.  Holding Drew, Wheeler, and Jax for the first tme.  Fishing and shooting with my dad.  None of these moments can be bought with money....they are those moments....the ones you live for....the ones that take your breath away.  They may not seem like much to you....but they cannot be purchased and they mean the world to me.  So, as 2010 closes out....I wish you all many of those moments...when your breath is taken away from you.....God Bless You All!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day One of Winter Xtreme

Wow!  We left Rock Mills yesterday a little before 8 and headed to Gatlinburg.  The ride was pretty uneventful even though there were several shady areas where ice and snow were still on the ground.  We got checked in at the Convention Center and then went to our hotel to check in there.  We are staying at the Smokey Shadows in Pigeon Forge.  Our hotel is great.  We have two king sized beds and a jacuzzi in our room. Our balcony opens up to view the beautiful Christmas lights on 441.  We ate at CC's Pizza...and it was packed....only because they were holding three long tables for a bus who was not there, over and hour late....and when we had eaten and left....was still sitting there empty......our group had to eat at three different tables because of this.  Granny Grumps mode kicked in on me....I was tired and showing signs of travel.  We got back to the Convention Center and were late because of the traffic  Our seats were on the very back row of the left side.  We could see.....because they had three jumbotron screens up.  Last night we saw Mercy Me, Tenth Ave. North (they are from my home town - West Palm Beach) and heard some really great speakers.  We returned to the motel and met with the kids for a debriefing and discussion....we all turned in and I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.  What a glorious day!  I can't wait for Tuesday.  God Bless You All!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Winter Extreme Here We Come!

It is Monday and it is a day I have been waiting for since back in September.  Frank and I are taking 7 of our youth to Gatlinburg to Winter Extreme.  Originally we had 12 commit...but they began dropping out early....oh well...they won't know what they are missing.  We will be home on Weds. night.  I am a little antsy since it has snowed here...and there....and it is going to be colder than a well diggers backside in North Dakota...but it is going to be fun.  I just hope I can keep up with them.  Monday we will check in and then Monday night have our first service/concert.  Our first Xtreme Evening will feature Tenth Ave North, Ergun Caner and MercyMe.  I love Mercy Me.  I am so excited about seeing them.  Tuesday there will be two services/concerts.  Xtreme Morning will be Newsong and Josh McDowell.  Xtreme Evening will feature Francesca Battistelli, Tony Nolan and Skillet.  The kids are looking forward to Skillet.  Wednesday morning we will load up, check out and go to our final concert/service.  Xtreme Morning will be done by Johnny Hunt and Newsboys.  I like them too.  I will be deaf before I get home...but I will be in heaven with all that music and energy.  I am planning to take my laptop so I will keep you up to date on Winter Extreme...and Gatlinburg in the winter.  If you have never been should is a beautiful place.  Have a Happy Monday and pray for traveling grace for us as we transport the kids from here to there (its a 5+ hour ride).

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

Oh what a night.  We all gathered at Amanda's treehouse in the Valley.  Randy was not supposed to be with us....but at the last minute they let him come home.  There were 30+ of us gathered celebrate the birth of two new babies, God's blessings for Randy and the stem-cell transplant....and of course....hold, and kiss on new babies...and exchange gifts.  This has been a tough year again for my family.  March 2nd, my second mom - Aunt Shirley died, my mom's in the nursing home with dementia, Randy got sick....but even with all the bad....Susanna and David brought into the family sweet little Tommy and Della and John gave us precious Jax.  This Christmas has truly been one of those times when you just know....that God is everywhere and you are never alone.  For the first time in over 100 snowed here on Christmas....
and this morning when I got up and began my drive to Wedowee First Methodist....I knew in my heart...that God saved the best present ever til last.  When I topped the first hill on Hwy 431....the undisturbed snow, in a pasture with a barn,....was breathtaking.  I have to ask how people can see this splendor....and say there is no God.  How great is our God?  I filled the pulpit in Wedowee this their 8:30 and 11:00 services.  Rock Mills called church off this morning due to ice...but no one called from I went on....and what a blessing I got.  The 8:30 service was very small....8 counting me.....but you know....God says...wherever two or more of you are gathered......and we took Him at his word and had church.  At the 11:00 service there were around 25 present.  The roads off the main roads....were so icy and terrible. sermon today was called "The Greatest Gift" and I thought I would share it with of an hour was still snowing outside...and it is bitter cold.  Christmas is supposed to be a time of giving. And that means Christmas is a time of shopping. Ever since the wise men from the east showed up at the stable carrying gold, frankincense, and myrrh, people have been exchanging gifts at Christmas. Of course, it’s much more complicated today than it was for the wise men. For one thing, they didn’t have to contend with shopping malls, all packed full of parents going from store to store to store, desperately searching for the correct Wii game or an IPad. The magi didn’t have to worry about sizes, or colors, or return policies. There were no scooters in those days, no life-size Barbies, and definitely no robot dogs. Just plain old gold, frankincense and myrrh. Well, this year, just like every year, millions of people, both children and adults, will open millions of gifts. Some won’t fit. Some will be the wrong color. Many will be returned, regifted, or exchanged. But there’s one gift that meets everyone’s need, one gift that will never wear out, never breaks or needs repairing. A gift that is appropriate for a small child, or a teenager, or an adult, or a senior adult. Boy or girl, man or woman, it makes no difference. The gift we all need, the most valuable gift of all, is that baby in the manger. The one that this whole season is about. On Christmas, we are supposed to celebrate the fact that God gave us the gift of His own Son, Jesus Christ, so that through faith in Him we could be forgiven of our sins and have eternal life. We read it in John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” So this morning, the day after December 25th, I’d like to make three points about this gift, this incredible, priceless gift. First, the gift is Jesus Christ himself. The gift God offers us is to know Christ…not just know WHO He is…but to know Him as a friend, to have fellowship with Him, to have a relationship with Him. The gift God offers us is to be known and loved by Christ. In John 15:15 [Jesus is speaking and says: ] “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” He goes on to say in John 17:13 - “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Let me ask you a question: Have you received this gift? Do you have this kind of relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you know Him as a friend? Is He someone you can talk with, confide in, seek counsel from? Do you feel at ease in His presence, like you would with a close friend, or do you feel like you have to rush around cleaning up your spiritual “house” before you can welcome him in? If the answer is “no,” if you don’t have this kind of relationship with Christ, the good news is that you can. All you have to do is ask. Come to him in prayer; confess your sins, ask His forgiveness, ask Him into your heart. That’s all you have to do. Maybe you’ve never heard the Christian life described in this way before. Perhaps it sounds a little strange to talk about spending time with Jesus Christ, as if He were a flesh and blood person, someone you could see and hear and touch. Well, no it isn’t like that. We don’t claim to see visions or hear voices. But that doesn’t make our fellowship with him any less real. Christ is present with us. His Spirit lives in us. He speaks to us through the Bible. And we speak with him through prayer. I John 1:3 tells us - “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” –  People sometimes think of Christianity as nothing but a set of burdensome responsibilities. Doing things you’d rather not do. Like going to church, when you’d rather be home reading the Sunday paper, fishing, or golfing. Some people see the Christian life as a lot of rules, a lot of “do’s” and “don’ts” (mainly “don’ts”). Or if they view Christianity more positively, they might see it primarily in terms of the benefits it can bring – improved relationships; stronger marriages; guidance in raising children; emotional strength to deal with difficult circumstances. And that’s true, but even this misses the mark. The essence of Christianity isn’t rules, or “do’s and don’t’s”, or even blessings. The essence of Christianity is a relationship with Jesus Christ. Yes, the Christian life brings many benefits – joy, peace, hope. But they all come through Christ, they all flow from our relationship with Him. Your greatest gift to your children isn’t the bazillion boxes wrapped in colored paper, on Christmas or their birthday. The most valuable thing you can offer them is a relationship; your love and care, your time and attention, your commitment to always be there when they need you. Right? Everything else flows from that. In the same way, God’s greatest gift to us is a relationship with Jesus Christ, and a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.  My second point is that This Gift Has Great Value.  Although there is truly nothing more desirable than knowing Christ, many people just can’t see it. Their eyes haven’t been opened. They look into the manger, and they don’t see a king. They don’t see the Savior of the World. They don’t see “the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace,” as the Hallelujah chorus puts it. They don’t see anything special at all, because they don’t have eyes of faith. All they can see is an ordinary human being. And so, they pass by the child in the manger and instead seek after the gold, and the frankincense, and the myrrh sitting at the side. They don’t want the baby, they want the presents. Which do you value more, the toys and trinkets of this life that will all eventually crumble into dust, or a relationship with Jesus Christ that will last forever? In Matthew 13:44-46 we see that "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Knowing Christ is worth more than anything else in this world; in fact, knowing Christ is worth more than everything else in this world. We will never be disappointed by Him. He is that treasure; He’s that pearl of great value. God’s gift to us, this child in the manger, is worth more than anything else we could ever possess. Does your life reflect that truth? Do you know Him? Are you seeking Him?  If you are then you can claim 2 Corinthians 9:15 this morning - “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” The third, and most important point is that the gift must be received. It’s available to everyone, but God doesn’t force it on anyone. We have to receive it. We have to take the package, and open the box, and accept it as our own. We each have to make the decision to receive Jesus Christ into our lives. John 1:12 tells us “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Not all who heard about him, or agreed with his teachings. Not all who attended church. Not all who tried to follow the golden rule. But all who received him. Some people imagine that God’s love has to be earned; that we have to do something special to deserve His forgiveness, that we have to somehow be good enough to merit His acceptance. But a gift you have to pay for is no gift at all. Now, maybe you opened that gift years ago, but lately it’s been sitting on the shelf. You’ve been too busy, or too distracted, or too hurting to give Christ the time and attention you know He deserves. Or maybe for you that gift is still under the tree, wrapped and ready to be opened. My appeal to you this morning is this: Don’t leave Christ on the shelf; don’t leave Him under the tree. Take him into your heart and into your life, even today. That gift from God has a tag with your name on it. What better day than the day after Christmas to renew your commitment to Christ; or what better day than the day after Christmas to begin a new life of fellowship with Jesus Christ, a new life of joy and peace and love? My friend, Mary bought the cutest book for her grandkids at LifeWay Christian Bookstores. It is entitled, "What Does God Want For Christmas." Last Monday night after I got back to her house with her goodies from our bible study party (she was home sick), she asked me to read the story out loud to her and as I did she opened each little box in the book as I got to that part. The final gift is number 7 and after you read that part in the book you open the tiny box and see the gift God wants for is so very touching. After I went to bed I laid there and thought about Christmas....and all the past weekends I have had during this holiday time....when I had my whirlwind 2 programs and 1 Open house. What was I thinking? As the holidays rapidly approached (there were eleven days to be exact) many of us were scurrying around like little mice trying to make all of the necessary preparations for our families and friends. I had lists made everywhere....there is the Walmart list....full of foods I still needed to buy, I had scoured the countryside looking for the perfect decorations to hang, and, of course, the perfect presents to buy. I spent so much of my time thinking about, searching for, and buying, presents for family, friends, and even myself. I wasn’t spending a lot of time thinking about what I wanted. I am the kind of person who loves to GIVE presents.....but don't necessarily have to have one. I am the kind of person that if I see something I want....I get it....or I do without it. Don't get me wrong....I LOVE getting presents....I love things someone made for me because it shows me you spent time on me( One of my all time favorite gifts my daughter Kat made by taking pictures of places we had been and writing scripture on the borders of the framed print. They are in my bedroom and some of my prized possessions). I love pins and pendants that are unique, sparkly, and shiny. My other daughter, Amy and her husband Steven excelled here with a teacher/music Brighton pin. I smile everytime I wear it.) I love unusual candles. I ADORE Christmas ornaments. I love scarves (especially pashimas)....I love books and CD's. I love to have mani's and pedi's. I love to be pampered. I love to spend time with people I love. I am really NOT difficult to buy just have to put some thought into it. I spend all year asking, and thinking about, what other people in my life would like to receive. It thrills me to get to be a blessing to others. I love to see the joy on the faces of my husband and our kids as they open a gift they wanted. I get excited thinking about the happiness the gift I am giving will bring to friends. My joy of Christmas is found in the sharing. What about God? Do I think about what God would like to receive for Christmas? Do you ever think about what the One who gave everything for us would like to have for the holiday? Sadly, no, or at least, not enough, and I wonder if others do either. In the midst of the busyness of the season and the concern for self and others, it is easy to assume that since God doesn't need anything, there is nothing to offer him. It is true that God needs nothing, but there are things God desires. Sure, the Almighty could merely speak and any desire would be fulfilled, but part of God's desire is that we would be the source of that fulfillment so he waits for us to respond. So what does God desire. The first thing God wants for Christmas is us. He wants our heart, our love, our attention. Like a mother, or father who is less concerned with the cost or quality of the gift, but is filled with joy to be remembered, God is not looking for a bigger gift in the offering plate or some extravagant gesture, but is blessed when we remember him. It is true that ultimately it IS the thought that counts, but how that thought is expressed can be important. So how can we express our thoughtfulness to God? Allow me to offer a short list to stimulate your creativity.
Love one another.

Love someone you consider other.

Love mercy, justice and humility.

Work for all three.

Share the compassion and grace God has shown you.

Pray for peace.

Work for peace.

Make time to be with God.

Make time to be with people.

Feed the hungry.

Clothe the naked.

Visit those imprisoned by law or by life.

Be good news to poor and captive.

Encourage the brokenhearted.

Proclaim the year of the Lord.

Embrace the Gospel.

Live the Gospel.

Be the Gospel.
As these next few days pass quickly let me say, may the joy of the coming new year be yours. May it come to others through you, and may you feel the joy of the Lord as he rejoices over you this holiday season.  God bless you all today and in to the coming new year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Gift of Love

I have been dying to share with you Kat's Christmas present from Frank....and even though she does not always read my blog....I knew...the day I posted it would be one of the days she would read it....and I just could not take the chance.  Back in October we were up and my mom's house and Frank decided to bring home a doll house kit that my mom and dad gave Kat for Christmas when she was 2 years old...She was 30 this year.  He said he was going to build it for her.  The dollhouse was called the Pierce and is a three story house.  I never dreamed how big the thing would be....but...the first part of November...Frank began building....first the stairs.
Before he finished the stairs we made our first of many trips to Hobby Lobby for stuff.  First we got paint for the outside and the inside and during that trip we bought some cute wall paper.  Second trip was for the first bag of shingles and the bring underpining you see....he also bought the laminate flooring sheets.  It is amazing to me how a kit...can come with so little.  It would seem to me that if you buy the should get all the essentials.  Don't you think?  Especially for as much as those blasted kits cost....griefus!

After he finished up his first round of school he began to work earnestly on the house.  He painted, sanded, painted some more....wallpapered, and during all his working....we had we had to put the house away ....which meant taking it out of the living room where he was working and moving into my office.....then there was the Open House...and he had to clean it all up again....and then...we went back for the second bag of shingles......and this week when we went to Knoxville to get our guns...we bought bags number....three and four....and will need at least two more to finish up. 
We went to my parents and got the television that was he could watch football while he worked....and he painted...and constructed the dollhouse....with his coffee, diet coke, and snacks he worked hard on this project.
He did allow me to paint the porch rails and some of the gingerbread pieces when crunch time came.  Last night...when we went to bed...we knew it was not going to be completely through....but that was ok....they would not be able to get it into their car to take it he finished one side completely....and when she called today to say she was an hour away....he hid it.  You see....we did a scavenger hunt for her to find this part of her present. 

This is what the roof looked like.  To date we have used 1400 pieces of roof stuff and are nowhere near finished.  Our next to the last trip to Hobby Lobby....we found some little Christmas wreaths, a string of lights and a tree.....We opened our gifts.....and I saved this one for last.  I had made her a photo book....and on the very last page was clue number one.....The hunt went like this:

Clue #1 – You have to walk the narrow and straight
Hurry and find me, Oh please don’t be late.
I’m hidden away in a yucky gray box
Just open me up….Hey! I ‘m not even locked!

Clue #2 – I’m hanging on a Christmas tree
Won’t you come and look for me?
I’m shiny and red and have lots of bling,
I don’t make a noise and I don’t even ring.

Clue #3 – This clue is somewhere I shelter my friends.
With pictures and churches and some odds and ends,
You will find me ‘neath the big angels feet,
Sitting there waiting – all nice and neat!
Clue #4 – Inside your momma’s office there’s a big and small brown box
The boxes were peepaws and neither is locked.
Search for the next clue in one of these two
And you’re getting closer….please shout now…Whoooo Hoooo!
Clue #5 – Music abounds in this room you will see,
Magnolias of Still and guitars one, two, three,
An old mandolin and a new one rest quietly…
Look for some thunder….you can make it sound brightly!

Clue #6 – Deep in a case holding glasses of green
Is your final clue if you know what I mean,
The glasses and plates I have loved through all time,
Look in the punchbowl…that green one of mine.
Final Clue – Go to the room where the meats are kept cold
There’s a present there waiting …at least that’s what I’m told.
This gift is so special and full of great cheer.
Merry Christmas from Frank
I love you, my dear!
She found it sitting on the freezer in our utility room....she and Frank both cried when she found it....and then Clay and Frank moved it back into THE WORK ROOM so she could see it.  Inside it...where little pieces of furniture that my mom had actually begun....  This was a wonderful gift....28 years in the making.
Kat was so sick today....but this gift...made her made her year.  It tickled me to see a dream...fulfilled...even if it did take 28 years.  Merry Christmas to all!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to All!

I am so excited about tonight!!!  Some of my favorite traditions begin tonight...and we have a lot of them that we have carried out over the years.  This is the first year as a pastor that we have gotten to host come and go communion at our church.  Frank and I will serve to who ever drops in from 5-7.  During this time we are expecting Clay and Missi to arrive from Nashville.  They will be with us this weekend and I have been so excited all day.  Frank and I will open our gifts to each other tonight.  We always wait until everyone is fast asleep and then we sit in front of the tree and cuddle and open presents.  I love this moment. Tomorrow morning we will have breakfast with the Towler family....and then Missi and I are going to see my mom and visit her mom's grave.  We will come back, cook for tomorrow night and about 3 head to Amanda's for our big family thing.  We are so blessed this year because Randy is going to be with us for the celebration.  This is truly God's answered prayer.  Most of you know that Randy had a stem-cell transplant after Thanksgiving.  We will also get to see the two new babies in the family....David and Susanna will be there with new baby Tommy....and of course his big brother Wheeler (Big Wheels)....Ramona and Dustin will be there with my precious Drew...they will have a new baby, William Alexander, in May.  Della and John will be there with their new sweetheart, Jax.  Our family is full of sweet little baby boys right now.  Kat and Brian are both sick...but they are coming to my house tomorrow for a bit...they are not going to Amanda's...because they don't think Randy needs to be around them.  We have a big surprise for Kat....and that is all I am going to say today....I will blog about it on Sunday....with pictures....can't wait for you to know!  I miss being Santa and putting stockings together.  We visited with Eric and his family this morning and took their gifts to them, my godmother, Frances, and my dear friend, Deborah and delivered gifts today.  Life has gotten so busy that it takes away from spending time with the ones you love sometime.  I promised Deborah...we crossed our hearts and shook hands that 2011 we would spend more time together....seriously, I can't wait for the rest of today and tomorrow.....because it means being with the people I love!!!!  I hope each of you has a very Merry Christmas and thoroughly enjoys the time with your family...hug them once for me. I pray that each of you know the JOY and HOPE that came with the birth of a baby....the Savior, Jesus Christ.....who died for YOU.
Merry Christmas with Love!  K

Thursday, December 23, 2010

...Twas the Day Before Christmas....

When did we begin....or how did we begin celebrating Christmas Eve?  Many families....including Frank and I open presents on Christmas Eve.  We do because the kids will be here on Christmas Day evening....and so it is our special time....of course there are only two of us and we could open our presents on December 1st....but is the 24th.  I looked up a little history about Christmas Eve and found it very interesting so I thought I would share it with you....Did you know that for centuries, Christmas was celebrated not as a single day, but as a whole season in parts of the world, beginning with this day, December 24, Christmas Eve. Perhaps the practice of celebrating the evening before the big day is an echo from ancient Jewish reckoning. Among earlier Jews, a day began at six in the evening and ran until six the following evening. Had not Moses written: "An evening and a morning were the first day"? Christmas means "Christ mass." Although the date is a guess, the tradition of observing it goes back to at least the fourth century. Under the influence of the church, Christian traditions replaced pagan solstice festivals throughout Europe. Often the more innocent pagan practices (such as bringing in a Yule log, decorating with holly and the like) were carried over into the Christmas observance, transfigured with new meaning. Christmas Eve (the evening before Christmas day) was then celebrated with roaring fires, story-telling, feasting, drinking, dancing, and sometimes clowning. Sir Walter Scott described its festive air in a poem:
On Christmas Eve, the bells were rung;
On Christmas Eve, the mass was sung.
The damsel donned her kirtle sheen,
the hall was dressed with holly green;
 All hail'd with uncontroll'd delight,
And general voice the happy night
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.

Things weren't always so pleasant, however. On Christmas Eve, 1521, with the Reformation gaining steam in Germany, crowds rioted in Wittenberg. Against the orders of Elector Frederick, Andreas Carlstadt had given them both the bread and wine at mass. Zealous for more "reformation," the mob smashed church lamps, sang ridiculous songs to drown out the choir and intimidated the priests.  Luther is supposed to have cut the first Christmas tree. The story may be apocryphal, but we know that on Christmas Eve, 1538, he was in a jolly mood, singing and talking about the incarnation. Then he sighed, saying, "Oh, we poor men, that we should be so cold and indifferent to this great joy which has been given us."Despite Luther's lament, others would make warm memories on Christmas Eve. In his memoirs, Sir John Reresby told how he invited his poor tenants for a feast on Christmas Eve, 1682. During World War I, the famous Christmas Truce began for many troops on Christmas Eve, 1914, demonstrating the power for good that is inherent in the season.  For a season that is so know Santa, a special baby being born, family and was startling to me to see that Christmas has had some not so spectacular things happen on it.  As you begin your day....hug your loved ones, enjoy the magic of the moment, say a prayer for those who are sick or away from their families right now....and be a little kinder to everyone!  Merry Christmas Eve to All!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wednesday's Hodge Podge Direct to You from Knoxville

Today's Wednesday Hodgepodge, hosted by Joyce From this Side of the Pond, this is our last one for 2010. Joyce is traveling next week, so she's taking a break until January 5.  I don't know about you guys but I will miss next having one next week.  Think about your own answers and enjoy mine.
1. Share your Christmas Eve traditions.  Up until this year we have always had Christmas brunch at either my house or Amanda's....followed by Dirty Santa.  It is so much fun.  For years our mothers did Thanksgiving and then we girls did Christmas.  This year we are having dinner at Amanda's on Christmas night....and RANDY is going to get to be there.  We are so excited!  We did not believe this would happen.  Prayers have been going up so fervently....and God was definitely listening.
2. What was the best book you read in 2010? (we're not going to include The Bible here).  I am a voracious reader and have read probably 50+ books this year....but my favorite(s) would be:  Same Kind of Different As Me (Ron Hall et al.) and the Hat Box (Patsy Clairmont)
3. Do you have pets and if so do you allow them on the furniture?  We have a doxie named Beau....and as for ALLOW on the furniture....well he ALLOWS us to live in his house.  Nuff said?
4. What event from 2010 are you most thankful for?  Randy at the treehouse for Christmas!
5. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before.  Went to Michigan and moved into a parsonage.
6. Brussel sprouts...friend or foe?  Foe....brussel sprouts should be abolished from the face of the earth.  They stink cooking and they taste terrible.
7. Who would you nominate for man/woman of the year?  Beth Moore
8. Insert your own random thought here.  What is your favorite winter/Christmas poem?  Why?  Mine is In the Bleak Midwinter.  I love it because it is so touching.  I hope you enjoy it.  Happy Wednesday!
1. In the bleak midwinter, frost wind made moan, 
 earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; 
 snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, 
 in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

2. Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain; 
 heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign. 
 In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed 
 the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ. 

3. Angels and archangels may have gathered there, 
 cherubim and seraphim thronged the air; 
 but his mother only, in her maiden bliss, 
 worshiped the beloved with a kiss. 

4. What can I give him, poor as I am? 
 If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; 
 if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; 
 yet what I can I give him:  give my heart.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Frank's First Wedding and a Tall Tale

Frank did his first wedding tonight at 6 pm at our church.  It was a very casual, yet very sweet wedding.  Shelby and Greg Spivey are officially man and wife and after the wedding we all went to Shelby's dad's house....Amy and Wayne are members of our church.  Together they have six children....Wayne had cooked some really good food and the fellowship was so much fun.  Everyone was in a festive mood and it was fun to sit and listen to all the conversations going on.  Amy's dad - Mr. Dollar is a big gun collector and he and Frank had a great time chatting....Amy's mom....loves antiques and lives in a haunted house in Standing Rock.    Amy promised to take me over there soon and I can't wait.....Mr. Dollar is my post tonight really....he met comedian Jerry Clower once and told him a story I am going to relay to you all tonight.  I can't remember when I have laughed so hard.  There was a little boy who was a notorious liar.  He lied about everything....big or small.  His parents were quite concerned so they turned to a psychiatrist to see if he could help them break their son of telling such huge ball faced lies.  The Dr. said he would have him broken in no time and would they bring him to his farm the next day for his first....and probably last session.  The parents and their son arrived promptly at 5 and the Dr. talked with the little boy for a big....then he asked him if he would like to see his farm.  The boy and Dr. walked toward the barn.  The Dr. then began to tell the youngster one of the biggest bald faced lies he could think of....the story was about a bear....a huge bear....10 ft. tall....and it came at the Dr. one day....on his back legs....with his huge paws slashing at the air and backing the Dr. closer and closer to the barn....just as the Dr. felt the barn to his back....a very small chihuahua came running round the corner of the barn, started biting the bear on the leg, which made the bear fall....and then....THEN...the chihuahua drug the bear into the woods and ate every bit of him.  The Doctor paused and asked the little boy if he believed that story.....the little boy did not even hesitate and answered....Yes!  Why do you believe that story the Dr. asked....and the little boy replied....That was my dog!  You just have to love 'em!  That was a story my Uncle Cecil would have been proud of.  Hope you had a wonderful Tuesday.  Frank and I are driving up to Knoxville tomorrow morning to get our guns.  We will be back on Thursday.  Pray for traveling grace.

Monday, December 20, 2010

All I Want For Christmas is World Peace and Neil Diamond

I saw Neil Diamond for the first time when I was 14 years old and fell in love for the very first time again....that is if you don't count Davey Jones, Paul, George, and John....Bobby Sherman...I have loved them all....but Neil Diamond was my first big girl crush...and I have crushed on the man for years.  There is something about that gravely velvet voice that just lulls me into a coma.  I now definitely have to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because 2011 is the year he will be inducted.  From I'm a Believer through the  Brother Love years to America and I Am I Said....I could listen to the man forever.  His movie, The Jazz Singer I sat through twice.  The first time I actually paid for a ticket....then I went to the bathroom and hid until the next seating was allowed in....and I went back and watched it again.  Yeah I know....not something a preacher's wife should be telling....but I am human...and forgiven.  The first concert I went to as an adult I had front row seats, got to stand at the stage and he touched my hand.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  Every song that he sang....I felt his eyes were focused right on me.....and only me.  I have learned that as a singer....they weren't.....I focus like that too....and many times people have commented on the fact that I was looking right at them......and to be honest....I learned a long time a device to avoid stage fright....look at them....but over their head......ok....herd the cats back to my post on world peace and Neil....Have you ever felt that feeling?  That electricity that you get when you see a super star?  Monday night the Sing Off (Acapella singing contest) had two guest singers....two of my favorites...Sheryl Crow....and you got it....Neil Diamond himself.  I was so excited.....and to make it even of my picks to win groups, Commited sang with him.  I was in heaven.  Yep...there he was in all his glory....singing...just like he did before....singing to me.  Now, don't get me wrong....I would not trade my precious Frank for anyone.....but a shining moment....long ago....I dreamed that Neil Diamond came off a stage, kneeled in front of me.....and sang to me....then lead me live with him in his castle forever.....and then I turned 21 and reality hit me....but a girl can still dream....and dream I did for years.  Do I have a favorite Neil Diamond song....oh yes...I have plenty....but today I am leaving you with my favorite for today.  Happy Monday!