Saturday, January 23, 2010

January Daze

The month of January is almost over. That's crazy to me! It's nicknamed Januweary for a reason, but it's been such a busy month I almost haven't had time to get bogged down with the winter doldrums that often accompany its arrival. And if the events of the month are an indication of the year to come, I'd like to reconsider moving forward, please.

While we've had the excitement of Matthew and Lindsay's engagement, this same calendar reminded us of another marriage, a divorce, two moves, and a couple of closet cleanings that have come our way in the last four years. Definitely extreme emotions to be sure.

I feel like Lucy in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when she tells Aslan, "I think - I don't know - but I think I could be brave enough." I've seen God's faithfulness in so many ways in the last few years in our family's life, but my courage is wavering a bit right now. It's hard not to worry about where we're going to live next, what job Hamp will be doing, or how our kids are going to navigate the life paths they've chosen. My head knows all the right things to say and it's what I really do believe, but the rest of me hasn't quite caught up yet.

So, finding myself in this state, you can imagine the joy and awe when I read the news I'm about to share with you. First, though, you need a little background.

This video series by Louie Giglio was recorded a couple of years ago and introduces us to a girl named Ashley and her family. A lot of you have seen it and if you haven't, I would highly recommend it. The summary on the back of the cover says, "Life isn't easy. We experience problems and setbacks every day. But during the hardest parts of life, when the bottom seems to fall out, where do we turn for peace? Although God doesn't offer any easy solutions, He does offer Himself and His cross as an anchor of hope no matter what we face in life. And more than simply enduring suffering, the hope we find in Him allows us to leverage our darkest moments for His fame. When life hurts most, the world listens most intently to our message, allowing us to broadcast through our pain the goodness of the One who loves us the most."

Then a year or so later, we heard him give an update on Ashley's story which ended up as another DVD message. The summary for it reads, "Sometimes the best things in life are those we're not even sure we're looking for at the time, but those we realize we can't live without in the end. That's the story of Ashley, a somewhat typical college senior - loving life, partying hard and trying to balance it all with success in the classroom. Disengaged from God and turned off by most Christians she knew, unexpected events turned Ashley's world upside down and brought a new roommate for her final semester at the University of Florida. Unpolished, and marked by unscripted authenticity, Ashley's personal journal entries provide the backdrop for Fruitcake and Ice Cream, a message that breathes hope for the spiritually searching while providing a massive kick-start for those within the Church who carry the unrivaled story of God's grace and truth in a darkened world."

That message was carried across the world through the Passion World Tour last year and hundreds of thousands have been praying for Ashley's family for years now. I subscribe to the 268 blog for Passion Conferences and by using Google Reader, I get the updates pretty much as soon as they're posted. The title of the one I discovered late yesterday afternoon simply said, "Somtimes, There Is A Bow". Those five words brought tears to my eyes because I knew exactly what Louie was talking about and knew that God once again had done what only He can do - redeem a life from the clutches of His enemy. Even if you don't know Ashley's story, reading the blog post from yesterday gives you enough background for you to celebrate the miracle that God has done. This link will take you to that post. If you haven't seen the videos and want to buy them, here's a link where you can do so.

As for me, nothing has changed circumstantially as today begins, but the reminder of God's love through the hope of the cross of Jesus is enough to keep me going until my emotions can catch up again. Someday, everything will change, things will never be the same and that really is the Glory Of It All .

Saturday, January 16, 2010

She Said Yes!

Lovely, isn't it, how one simple word can change your life?

It's official - Matthew and Lindsay are engaged! The wedding will probably be in June which means our family will be very busy the first half of 2010. Michael and Bekah's wedding is in March, we will probably be moving again for another job since Hamp's company is closing, and then Matthew and Lindsay will be married.

Here's a picture of the happy couple from some that Tiffany took at Christmas. Welcome to the family, Lindsay, and congratulations to you both!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Today Is Brought To You... the number

As in the first number of our temperature today. Not 1 or 2 or 3, but 4. It's 42 degrees...with the sun shining...and no wind. It is glorious outside. And it's the little things that keep us going sometimes. Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Too Much To Say

Those of you that know me well know that I like to talk. I process by talking and prefer doing that with other people but when necessary will talk to (and answer) myself. But I have learned something about myself in this very young new year. When there's too much to say, I don't know where to start and end up saying nothing. Sleepless nights and stressful days have been indicators that I need to get some of the words out so there's room for life that seems to keep happening. While I don't really know where this is going to head, I figured I'd attempt a blog post today and see if that helps. So in random order, both in importance and occurrence, I'll give this a try.....

To begin this year, I finally decided to join Weight Watchers online. They had a 3 month special and I knew I had to have some sort of accountability or I wouldn't stick to any kind of plan. Like everything else in life, it comes down to choosing well and I'm first-born enough that having a way to track meals and activity gives me a worthy foe in the battle of points. So Hamp and I are being more intentional about using the limited exercise area in our apartment building, eating less, and choosing healthier foods. We've both lost some weight and are hoping this becomes a lifelong habit of taking better care of ourselves.

We had a good visit at Christmas with family and friends, but it was a fast and busy time. Looking back I realized that I missed the relaxed sharing of life that comes from having the time to experience it. Breezing in and out of town doesn't provide that and while I don't know how to change that living far away, we've got almost a year to figure something out.

Bekah was able to fly in early Christmas Eve morning and Lindsay, Matthew's girlfriend, joined us too. We had the Jones family gathering that afternoon at our niece's house near Newnan and while we didn't get many pictures, we had a great time.

When we left Newnan, we headed to the Freeman's where we've spent most of our Christmas Eves in recent years. We have a tradition of reading the Polar Express using flashlights that brings the magic out of the story and newcomers to the families are given the special privilege of holding the flashlight. This year, Bekah and Lindsay were given the honors.

Friends let us borrow their house since they were going to be out of town for the holidays. That was such a special gift because it allowed us all to be together for Christmas morning without having to travel. Thanks, Bob and Melissa!

We headed to Matthew's house that afternoon where the Hurst family joined us for our Christmas celebration.

Are you tired yet? I am just looking back at all we did in such a short amount of time! The day after Christmas brought Hamp's birthday which was celebrated with breakfast and then he dropped Michael and Bekah off at the airport so they could fly to Buffalo and be with her family and he began the long drive back to Baltimore. After taking about 3 hours longer than it should have because of traffic on the way down, he decided to drive when others would not be. I rode back with Tiffany to Florida and stayed for two days hoping for a warm visit, but the weather didn't cooperate. I flew home in time for New Year's and we greeted 2010 with friends here in Baltimore.

So now you're mostly caught up with the exception of one tiny detail. Remember the adventure that Hamp and I fell into when we decided to move to Baltimore because we could? Well, apparently there's more to be experienced because right before Christmas, the corporation decided to close their Baltimore shop. Hamp had the difficult task of letting his employees know when they came back from their Christmas holiday that they would no longer have jobs. He's been asked to stay on board to get the shop closed completely which usually takes around 6 months. They could ask him to go somewhere else before that time is up or if another job with another company became available, he could probably leave to take it.

As you can imagine, life is mostly uncertain right now for us. It's become more difficult to stay in the moment and be fully present in our lives here knowing that things will be changing in the somewhat near future. Yet, God asks us to live as if each day is our last anyway and sometimes I'm excited about the chance to get to really live that way right now.

This has always been one of my favorite Mary Engelbreit illustrations because there are many times in life when the road on which we're traveling is no longer an option. But God knows the plans He has for us and while I'm still wondering what sort of adventure we've fallen into, it looks like I don't have to worry that 2010 is going to be boring!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I Am Cold

Yes, I realize that most of you that read my blog live in the south and are actually colder than we are right now. But, I'm still cold and already tired of being cold. Even Kit has had enough and has claimed a new spot as her own. Notice there is no blanket, no bed, nothing but floor...and the heater that is never turned off.

Sigh...there are still 72 days until Spring and yes, I checked. I did get to be reminded that it's warm in some places during the winter when Tiffany and I went to Epcot while I was there. But honesty compels me to admit that even Florida has been chillier than normal and was during my visit. Still, it was nice to see roses blooming.

I still don't have time right now to catch you up with our holiday pictures. It's been a busy start to the new year with work issues for me and Hamp along with wedding details that are time sensitive. Hopefully in the next couple of days I'll have some extended time to do so. I mostly just wanted to whine about how cold I was...and to say that I will never make fun of snowbirds again.

Until next time, here's to a good start for the new year and a reminder from Disney how we should greet each day.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Miscellaneous Tidbits

Greetings, blog readers! I'm close to having pictures ready to share with you from the holidays, but it's too late to dive in to that tonight. However, I wanted to post a quick blog for you because of today's date. I read in the paper earlier that today, January 2, 2010, is a palindrome. What is a palindrome, you ask? It is a word or number that reads the same backward as it does forward, which means 01/02/2010 is still...01022010. Cool, huh?

I want to leave you with something to ponder that I read a few days ago from the 268 Generation blog. Passion 2010 is happening this weekend in Atlanta and Louie posted a prayer a day for 16 days as people prepared to come. While specific for Passion 2010, they were totally applicable for us all as we head into a new year. I wanted to share the one from Day 13 which he titled "Humbly".

If God spoke the Universe into existence, and sent His Son into that world on a rescue mission of love–a mission He knew would cost Him His life and purchase ours–then let’s come to Passion 2010 carrying a hefty dose of humility in our hearts…that attitude that says “You are God and we are not.”

Humility is simply seeing God. Pride, on the other hand, is seeing ourselves. No one has ever had a glimpse of God and not ended up closer to the floor. He is glorious and massive and radiant and holy and imposing and awe-inspiring and intimidating. Yet, God somehow wedged all that into a Bethlehem manger in Christ so He could wrap us in His arms. Sin continually and deceptively puffs us up, making us think we’re larger than life, stealing our ability to appreciate all that He is and all we are in Him.

So, arriving at Passion 2010 let’s let the re-sizing begin.
Let’s tread gently.
Come reverently.
Loved and treasured by God, let’s insist less and say “yes” more.
Let’s not stiffen our necks, let’s soften our hearts.
Why act like we know it all already, let’s come open to whatever He has to say.
Let’s lay down our agendas and figure out where we fit in His.
Let’s surrender first, before He even asks.
Let’s stop assuming.
And demanding.
And ignoring.
And running.
Let’s bow.
And bend.
And pause.
And honor.
Let’s lift Him high and bow down low.

This was a great encouragement for me as a new year begins and our adventure seems to be ramping up a few notches again. Stay tuned - while the best might not be yet to come, it promises to be an eventful year!