From joy to despair but not really

I hope you had an amazing weekend and that your Christmas season has kicked off in right perspective.  I went to Macedonia Baptist Church in Ranburne Friday night and had a fabulous time with my PW buddy Stacy and Charlotte, ministry assistant extraordinaire.  Their church hosts a Christmas Extravaganza every year and the name does not disappoint.  The tables were over-the-top beautiful and true to form, I didn’t have my camera to get pictures.  These are the only ones I have from Stacy.  (Charlotte, send me the picture of all of us! :) They both make me so happy.  And yay for being invited more than once!

That doesn’t happen much.

In fact, it may never happen again.  I taught on Matthew 2 and gave the girls some fascinating history on the four major world empires that ruled over Palestine until the time of Jesus’ birth as well as mucho-info on the Magi and their prolific influence during each reign.  It was incredibly nerdy.  I know y’all are sorry you weren’t there.   For those who were, I know the wonderful worship music and chocolate fountain made up for it.  I would sit through anything for some good singing and a dipped strawberry.  I thought about sharing the points with you but I cheated off some of Luke’s research so I don’t want to steal his thunder if he decides to use some of the same material here at home.  I can assure you the principles and application will be altogether different because try as he may, the female gender is still a mystery to him. I like to keep it that way.

Saturday brought more joy…for two quarters anyway. For the first time I can remember in months we had an entire day when we didn’t have a single place to be so we had a family SEC Championship/Georgia Bulldog party.  That’s really the only kind of party transplanted Georgians can have in Alabama because I can count on one hand how many other Dawg fans there are in the state.  I’m trying not to be bitter over the loss. Not that anyone expected us to win but the first half we looked like the team I know we can be.  By the fourth quarter I was just begging the Lord to make it stop. It would be very easy to become despondent over all the missed opportunities and ‘if only’s’.  However, in the words of my father-in-law, “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts it’d be Christmas every day.”

And then there’s the whole BCS deal about who gets to play in the National Championship.  Luke just explained to me how two teams from the same conference can end up playing one another.  Now I love my Alabama friends and I’m happy The Tide is playing in the game, but I’m thinking a true national championship needs to be made up of two teams who actually won their own conference and there should be some play off tournament to decide the top two. (Bracing for hate mail.)  Don’t get all worked up on me.  It’s just a thought. Because I know the BCS people are tuning in to see my opinion on the matter.  Especially since I had to ask Luke during the game if the correct term is “in zone” or “end zone”.

It’s time for me to jump off here and watch “Good Luck Charlie” Christmas movie with Sydney for the 32nd time.  The ancient history of the Medes is looking better all the time.

What are y’all up to?

They Were So Shweet

Last week I mentioned I was headed to The Lodge at Deer Run for a weekend with the Fusion Women’s Ministry of West Hartselle Baptist.  One of my Siesta friends, Dianne Walters, invited me to teach for the retreat and of course, I was absolutely delighted to do it.  Occasionally there will be one Siesta at an event, but this time there were two.  Hi, Karen! Meeting you made me so happy.

I’ve told y’all many times that there is always something special about each group I have the privilige to serve and this one is no different.  Of all the things I loved about the Fusion girls, I think the discussion time at the very end of the sessions was my all time favorite.  It was so very obvious these women had a deep love for one another, their church, and felt no condemnation in being honest and open about very complicated issues and emotions they were facing.  These girls were profound. (Rhonda, the ‘heart in the bucket’ comment you made will stay with me forever.  There were many others that will as well but I’m afraid I risk oversharing if I am too specific with the things that touched me so.)  They were hysterical.  (From this point forth and forevermore I will refer to a group of wild turkeys as a herd.  And the amazing worship team’s rendition of ‘This is the Stuff’ was nothing short of priceless.  Especially the car.  And the cop. *grin*)

And I can’t get away without praising the accommodations. (IBC girls, this screams Couples Retreat! And yes, I’ll be checking in to that.)   Deer Run is located right outside of Franklin, TN and somehow I accidentally ended up downtown.  Probably because I was so busy looking at the leaves that were in full glory.  Or hoping for a sighting of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban.  Or Toby Mac.  I hear he lives there but I’m sure he just forgot to give me his address.  Anyway, I immediately called Luke to tell him I must have died on the way because I most certainly was in  heaven.  There were quaint Main Street shops and adorable cafes.  And there was a Pumpkin Festival, for Pete’s Sake!  For a Fall Loving girl like me, I could have been laid to rest right there.  I didn’t get any pictures because I was driving.  My fellow drivers who weren’t as eager for heaven are still thanking me.

Here are a couple of photos I’ve stolen off the Facebooks of my new friends:

 

The Amazing Dining Table that would not fit in our vehicles.  Not that we tried.

 

 

The wood-burning fireplace.  After sitting on this hearth, Cracker Barrel is dead to me.

 

 

The Girls.  One of the points of teaching this weekend was my sharing how I had been praying specifically as of late for the Lord to make me sweet.  It’s one thing to act nice – I’ve got that one down pat –  but to be a woman who is authentically sweet in the core of her being is another altogether.  (Does that one get just me or is anyone else resonating with that thought?)  I’ve got a way to go but not this group.  In the purest way, they are shweeeeet.  And adorable.  Just look!

 

 

Thank you one more time for taking me in as one of your own.  And for next year, remember the words of the Holy Spirit….”Two Nighter.”   And may I also add, though I do not have a word from the Lord on this, “Invite Lisa.”

 

And now a question for all of you:  Where is your favorite retreat location?  I’m always on the lookout for a good place for our church and I’m sure many other girls are as well.  You are welcome to leave a link/web address if you’ve written about it on your blog or have the facility’s contact information to share.

 

p.s.  I’m still giving away a Casting Crown’s “Come to the Well” cd on this post.  Nothing to do but leave a comment and there are only 10 entries so far.  What??   Jump 0ver there and enter!  I’m announcing a winner Tuesday.

 

Hope you had a great weekend, too!

 

 

On Silver Linings and Being Real

I may have whined a time or 7 about our internet woes since we’ve moved.  DSL is still not offered on our road and the next best option – a service called Boonlink that operates on radio signal, requires no contract, and has no usage limits  – wasn’t available to us because pre-tornado our “foliage density” blocked the transmission. 

Since our landscape has changed considerably I decided to try Boonlink one more time just in the off-chance the flattening of our foliage cleared the path for reliable service.  And praise the One who dwells in the High Heavens amidst silver-lined clouds, we got it!  I have internet!  I have internet!  I have internet!

What I still don’t have is a laptop.  I’m borrowing one that belongs to the church so I can work a little this week but the good news there is that I finally ordered a bright, shiny, Georgia Bulldog RED Dell that should be arriving in a couple of weeks.  We don’t even want to discuss how laboriously I wrestled with the Mac vs. Dell option but at the end of the day, I decided to stick with what I know because you know what they say about Old Dogs and their inability to learn New Tricks.

On another note of happiness, I had a fabulous weekend in Pigeon Forge, TN with some of my favorite people in this world.  My MIL plans a bible study retreat every year for her church ladies, my SIL brings a large contingent from hers, and several other friends and family join in the fun.  I also take Sydney with me because it is an excellent chance for us to have an Mom/Daughter getaway and she is more of a help to me than a hindrance.  It is always such a comfort to be among those who love you knowing that if you flat out blow it, they will still love you and not compare you unfavorably to all the awesome teachers they’ve had in years past.  They can’t do that because they’ve never had another teacher and I like it that way just fine.  Because I’m insecure like that.

One of the things we talked about was authenticity where we considered the question, “Are we the Real Deal?”  I normally don’t Tweet while I’m set aside for teaching but I was out shopping with my girl on break and opened it to see what was up with all my imaginary friends.  Beth Moore had quoted Melissa (her daughter) as saying that most of the time what we mean by ‘real’ is something negative. That struck me like a ton of bricks because something very similar was already in my teaching notes for that night and I took it as divine affirmation I was potentially on the right track.

The point I suggested was that if we find ourselves ending sentences with “I’m just saying”, it may be that what we just said wasn’t our just being real, it was our being real mean.  The one who prides herself on ‘telling it like it is” may just need to repent of hatefulness rather than glory in her plain-spokenness.  If we are fully aware that we are abrasive and hurting feelings on a regular basis, it’s not the public-at-large’s responsibility to learn to deal with us and our ‘authenticity’.  Does that mean our criticisms are unfounded? Not always.  But there is a world of difference between speaking truth in love and spewing the truth in hate. As NeedtoBreathe so eloquently states it, “Just cause I’m wrong it don’t make you right.  No you ain’t right.” 

And lest you think I’m pointing a mean finger, I only write these things because I’ve recognized it in my own self.  This *ain’t* always about you.  But if it is, maybe we can work on it together.

I’m just sayin’.

 

 

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