Forty Three, Green, and Merry Christmas

Today, my Preacher Man turns 43. I wish I could tell you we did something spectacular for him but he pitches a fit every year if we buy him anything because it’s close to Christmas and being the kind of guy he is, he figures money used on him could have been spent on the kids. Since he’s much happier with the latter we don’t rock the boat. Sam and I did sneak off to buy him a shirt but that was about the extent of the gift giving. The real gift of the day is that our family is provided for and protected by a man full of integrity, one who loves his wife and kids, who makes me laugh harder than anyone on this planet, and who takes seriously his calling to the Body of Christ. So when I think about it, it feels more like my birthday. I’m so grateful for you, Luke. So very grateful.

Right now I am in the midst of making cole slaw and green beans for a family gathering tonight. Oh, and I forgot to mention guacamole. Because apparently I’ve been charged with all of the green elements of the dinner. And what, you don’t eat guacamole with your cole slaw and green beans? No matter how much it doesn’t go, it seems we can never get away from having at least one thing Mexican at every gathering so guacamole and green beans it is.

I only have just a short minute to leave the green preparations and  jump on here but I wanted to express from the bottom of my heart how very grateful I am for this community. Whether you be a preacher’s wife or not, the friendships and connections made here have been so unexpected and yet have become so very necessary to me. 2010 has been one of the most difficult years of our ministerial life. I’ve not written as much as I would have liked because people I love are going through things so hard. So terribly hard. Those things have consumed me too and yet I’m not at liberty to process that here or anywhere for that matter. I could have lightened up and written about the trivial but truth is that life isn’t always funny and when it’s not it seems a farce to try to play it off that way. So I’ve been quiet but you’ve still come around when I have found words. Thank you for that. Please don’t stop. As many of us do, I’m praying for some fresh zeal in 2011. Many personal things may remain unresolved but God has reminded me so many times the past couple of months that there is a marked end to all our sufferings. To the extent we join with Christ in our calamities we will also experience unexpected peace and maybe, just maybe, even some flat out joy.

Merry Christmas to you, my friends. I pray Immanuel infiltrates and permeates all you do in this season of celebration.

Not Exactly the View We Were Going For

Saturday we were at Boy Three’s football game when Luke hurried out of the press box saying something about a brush fire behind the new house and that he had to go, call me later, bye.  What I thought I heard was “a fire was near the trees” and even though he hurried off it never registered to me that it was anything to be overly concerned about.  There were several acres of trees between us and anyone who would have been burning so it never occurred to me it would ever endanger our new neighborhood.  Luke is more of the over-reactor in our marriage when a crisis first presents itself while I prefer to dwell in the bliss also known as Denial.  It works for us. 

About an hour passed and Luke never called so I called him.  Me: “Everything okay?”  Him:  “It’s not out yet but I’ll need call you later, bye.”   Hang up.  I was a little perturbed with his being so short with me but didn’t have enough energy to invest in a full on mad.  So, I resumed my life which at the moment consisted of making my stinky football player bathe before we went to some friends’ house to watch Alabama embarass the Gators.  But I get ahead of myself.

Another hour passed, no call, and Luke is supposed to go to the friends’ with us.  I didn’t necessarily want to get hung up on again so I decided to drive over to the other house to find out why he was taking so long.  What I didn’t expect to see was our road lined in fire trucks and fire IN THE BACK YARD.  What I had heard as ‘a brush fire near the trees’ was really ‘it is burning to the tops of the trees’.  Yeah, if I’d heard that right the first time I wouldn’t have been so calm.  I parked near the road, ran to find Luke and he said, “See why I didn’t call you back?”  Why, yes.  Yes, I do.   Luke assured me what I was in current freak-out mode over was nothing compared to the enormity of what had already been contained.  See how that worked?  He was calm and it was my turn to lose it. 

Did I mention how that works for us? 

It’s normally at this point in a post when I’m trying to think of something somewhat funny to say or a tidy way to wrap up.  It wasn’t funny.  It’s not tidy.  The “little brush fire” burned 17 acres and necessitated 3 different fire departments and U.S. Forestry be called to the scene.  There is no more eery feeling than seeing fire trucks hose down your house and remaining on stand by just in case the fire jumps the break and decides to reduce life to ashes.  Let me be clear, I was worried about our home but we aren’t living in it yet.  Had it burned, it would have been devastating but not in the way it would have affected our precious neighbors.  I am so incredibly grateful that the Lord preserved all of our homes but especially theirs.  Especially theirs.

I am also so very thankful for our volunteer first-responders (many of whom are members of our church and/or dear friends in the community) who drop everything to run to our aid.  I’m afraid to begin naming names because it would kill me to forget someone but you guys know who you are.  Please hear with all the sincerity I own:  THANK YOU.  We take for granted the knowledge and skill required for what you do.  We take for granted that there is no ‘little’ fire to you.  You are endangered every single time without a dime to show for it.  How blessed we are to live in a civilized nation where we can call three little numbers and be confident that help is on its way.     

So, no.  A charred forest wasn’t exactly the scenery we had hoped for.  But sometimes the view isn’t so much about what you are looking at but rather what it has opened your eyes to see. 

Lamentations 3:21-23

21 Yet this I call to mind
       and therefore I have hope:

 22Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
       for his compassions never fail.

 23 They are new every morning;
       great is your faithfulness.

At Long Last – Release!

February 1 was the big day when my book was officially released and appeared on a shelf in a real live bookstore.

A friend was having a baby in a hospital close to LifeWay so I decided to run see mine just before I saw hers.  When I got there, I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes. It’s hard to explain why.  I finally went in, made my way to the Women’s section, and saw this:

I stood there long enough to appreciate the moment but not so long as to alert security.  I don’t think.  I thought I would cry.  I didn’t but not because I wasn’t on the verge.  I was simply trying to keep from looking any more freakish.   I just had myself a sweet moment with Jesus where I basically told Him, “You did this.  You did this.  Thank you. ”   I said some other stuff but you understand if it’s kind of personal.

I finally left the store knowing this was one of those days that would forever be written on a personal scroll of remembrance. .  

When I got home, I found these waiting for me:

They weren’t from Luke but not because he wouldn’t have sent flowers.  He just knew I would choke him for being so outlandish.  These were congratulations from a precious church member which served to heighten all I wrote about how extravagantly they love my family.  We love you right back, IBC!

Lastly, to those of you who’ve been asking if we’ll be doing an online discussion, the answer is YES!  I’m trying to work on the logistics of that as we speak.  Look for an announcement soon.

I truly pray this little book o’ mine will be a great encouragement to you.  If  it’s not, please don’t tell me.  

 I’m unstable.

p.s.  Don’t forget to put your ministers’ wives names in the hat over at Lifeway.com for the ‘You Deserve to Pamper Yourself Contest’.  It will continue through March 15.  I can’t wait to choose the winner!

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