‘Twas the Week After Christmas

Christmas has come and gone – in the literal sense anyway.  I pray you’ve had a wonderful season of Jesus and family and church and friends.  I know we have.  We are flat out blessed and grateful for all the ways that Jesus has reminded us that He is present with us in the dailyness of all we face here on planet Earth.  Hard stuff.  Happy stuff.  He is here, alongside.  What a gift.

There is so much I can tell you about the holidays but I’ll just start with the most recent event.  The day after Christmas (yay for snow on Christmas Day!) we loaded up and took the kids to The Wilderness Resort in Sevierville, TN.  Oh my.  LOVED IT.  You’ll have to visit the link to see all the offerings but the highlight for the kids was obviously the indoor water park. 

Now, I don’t think I have to tell y’all that the thoughts of putting on a swimsuit in the dead of winter after two months of holiday feasting was not something I looked forward to whatsoever.  Everybody knows that tan flab is cuter than white flab and my complexion as of late can only be best described as pasty.  I finally broke down and played with the kids one day with t-shirt and shorts over my swimsuit.  It was so fun but the time I chose to play happened to be when the Connect Youth Conference that was held in the adjacent event center was out on break.  So, imagine 4297 teenagers in teeny bikinis and mamaw in shorts and t-shirt and you can begin to see how I may have gotten a weird look or two.  Oh well, the wonderful thing about being 39 is laughing maniacally to yourself with the knowledge they will one day be you.

We also had a near miss during the trip.  Most near misses are happy but not this one.  Back in October I had the privilege of being a radio guest of two awesome dudes who have this groovy show called Grounded.  One of the hosts is Toben Heim, hubby of the fabulous Joanne (The Simple Wife!) who has been my blog and IRL buddy for a few years now.  The other dude is Ryan Dobson.  You may have heard of his dad.  He writes books about parenting and stuff. ( Books I have obviously never read}.  Of all the interviews I did with the Cute Shoes book, this one stands out as one of my all time favorite.  They have amazing chemistry with one another and made me feel like I’d known them forever.  Y’all seriously need to check out their show.  

All that to say, Ryan was a speaker at the conference.  He and Toben flew down together and we tried to find a time to say hello to one another but they got in late one evening and we left out early the next day so it just didn’t work out.  Even though we didn’t attend, it was so fun walking through the hotel and seeing all the youth pastors and their wives wrangling their groups.  I wanted to hug all those darlin’ women so much and realized they would think I was a freak.  I walked by one youth pastor in the hallway who was telling his kids, “I don’t care what you do as long as you don’t leave this room tonight.  I don’t want any old fogies whining to me that you made too much noise.”  I laughed all the way down stairs to stand in an hour line to get my Caramel Apple Spice it the STARBUCKS COUNTER.  Could this place be any better? 

Also on my way down I chatted with a group of girls on the elevator.  I asked if they were attending the conference and when they said yes, I asked if TobyMac had played yet.  They squealed, “YES!  And sheeee (pointing to a girl among them) GRABBED HIS FACE! ”  (more squeals) So I’m going to go out on a limb here to say Toby is glad to have his face back from the overzealous pre-teens.  But seriously.  They were adorable and it was all I could do not to squeeze their darlin’ cheeks right back.

So we’ve made it back home.  The road trip was uneventful unless you want to count my beating Elijah in an Angry Birds smackdown as an event.  As  much as we enjoyed the time away, there really is nothing like your own bed.  Speaking of it, I’m getting in it now. 

How did you spend your week after Christmas?

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.

Poor, Poor Penguin

Saturday we took the kids from church to Santa’s Village in Huntsville, AL.  We all had such a great time and with the exception of a smushed penguin and my Sam after a lady dashed his childhood creativity, we all returned home with a healthy dose of Christmas cheer to kick off the season.

There were scenes scattered throughout the village and they were all delightful except for this one.  If The Burger King had a north pole cousin, this guy would be him. 

Speaking of distant relatives, this is Jack, the Country Cousin to Rudolph.

This is Poor Penguin. He (she?) was unaware that my kids have an unhealthy obsession with penguins. Sam gave it a very, very enthusiastic hug.  It was not amused.

At this point the kids were asking the penguin if it would be their bff. It scratched its chin as if in deep thought. And then it ran away.

This moment made me so happy because Sam does very few child-like things anymore. He was ultra concentrated on making this ornament so I walked around inside the room to look at Christmas trees while he worked. After a bit, he came to me and told me a woman had told him to ‘hurry up and get out of the way’ so her kid could have a spot. I asked him purposefully to NOT show me who ruined his moment.

Sam posing as a local radio host. I call this one: Happier times, before the lady crushed his Christmas spirit.

The snowman. Also a victim of zealous hugging. Also not amused.

The girls with Mrs. Claus.  I didn’t let Sam anywhere near her.

Not to end the fun there, I am looking so forward to going to Georgia Jan’s church this weekend to teach at her church’s Christmas Brunch. I’ll be even more scarce than usual this week as I finish preparing for the trip. I would appreciate any prayers you could send our way. In the meantime, I’ll be praying your Christmas season is filled with lots of smiles, even more Jesus, and no angry penguins.

Much love to you all!

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