Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my Mom's birthday. I love her to pieces and could go on for hours, but in an effort to keep myself from rambling on and on, I am limiting myself to 66 reasons why I love her so much--1 for each year she's been on the earth. This is nowhere close to an exhaustive list, but you will get the idea. :-D

I love my Mom because. . . .

1. I wouldn't be here without her! :-D
2. She gave me 3 sisters that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.
3. She is one of the most giving people I know.
4. She has lived in her current house for almost 25 years and just replaced some of the flooring for the first time a couple years ago. She doesn't need the newest, best accommodations to be happy. This is because her treasure is not wrapped up in the house itself, but in the experiences she helps to create in it.
5. I can't remember a single moment in my life when I didn't know for sure that she believed in me. I don't remember specifically all the ways she showed me, but she made sure I always knew.
6. She loves Jared like her very own.
7. And she is just as proud of him as she is of me.
8. She and my sister Jody planned a surprise trip to Nashville several years ago just because they "could tell I was down last time we talked on the phone." It ended up being exactly what I needed.
9. She makes up occasions to send surprises to Macy and Grace. ;-)
10. She flew to Nashville the weekend before each of my girls started kindergarten to host the perfect "Big Girl Weekend" just before each of them started school. This included a nice hotel, room service, shopping, and all sorts of fun activities like bowling and movies.
11. She is a scrapbook-a-holic.
12. It is not unusual for a dozen extra people to drop by her house during mealtime, and when they do, somehow she can throw together a full meal for the whole group within 15 minutes.
13. When my kids list their favorite places in the whole wide world to be, they always say "Grandmom's house" first. (even before Disneyworld!)
14. She is FUN to spend time with. We always laugh A LOT when we're together.
15. My friends in Vermont want to adopt her. :-D
16. And pretty much all of my childhood friends wanted her to adopt them.
17. She hauled entire volleyball, basketball and cheerleading teams around for years and years and years while my sisters and I were growing up. She never missed a single game.
18. She collected every single article and movie review Jared wrote while he was in college.
19. She loved her Mom and Dad with everything in her and took good care of them until they went home to be with Jesus.
20. She knows no limits when it comes to making her grandkids happy.
21. She let us keep every stray puppy and kitty we could find when we were growing up. And then they would have puppies and kittens and she would tell us we needed to get rid of all but 1, but she never actually made us follow through. Sometimes we had 10 or 12 pets at a time. :-D
22. She can get ANY baby to stop crying pretty much immediately.
23. She rides my Dad's motorcycle with him, which I think is a special kind of awesome.
24. She keeps her swimming pool looking like a resort, and she is never more happy than when it is full.
25. She has moved several friends into her home over the years to help care for them during difficult times--sometimes even literally having to help bathe and clothe them after surgeries, etc.
26. She has a gumbo pot that I could use as a hot tub, and she fills it to the top on several occasions.
27. Every Christmas when I was in elementary school, she used to have singalongs at our house for each of mine and my sisters' classes at school. It was always the favorite field trip of the year.
28. She has more energy than most people half her age.
29. She knows almost every single person that works in her local Wal-Mart. And not just their names. She knows ABOUT them.
30. She has the biggest collection of magnets I've ever seen, and she would still rather get a $3 magnet for Christmas than an expensive gift.
31. She thinks I am smarter and prettier and more talented than I actually am.
32. She's addicted to online canasta
33. She makes the best shrimp po-boys I've ever tasted
34. She has 11 grandchildren and she treats every single one of them like they're the only one
35. She somehow can survive on almost no sleep at all--especially when her house is full of company
36. She is the best hostess ever
37. She has always treated my friends like royalty, whether she's just met them or known them all their lives
38. Her house is somehow always clean, even when it has been full of her wild and crazy grandkids for days at a time. I don't know how this is possible.
39. I have literally NEVER heard her complain about being sick or in pain. This is not because she has never BEEN sick or in pain. It is just because it doesn't occur to her to complain about it.
40. She hurts deeply when someone she loves hurts.
41. She would so much rather spend her money on someone else's happiness than her own "stuff."
42. She has only owned about 5 vehicles in her entire lifetime, and that is just fine with her. New cars are not a priority.
43. The more people I meet, the more I realize my childhood was far from typical (in the most amazing way possible.)
44. She is proud of my Dad and has served him well for over 44 years.
45. She wouldn't know how to be selfish even if she wanted to.
46. She talks to me about things she struggles with and asks for prayer when she knows she needs it.
47. I find myself hoping that my kids will feel the same way about me as I do about her.
48. There is no such thing as "just an ordinary day" at Grandmom's. EVERY day is an adventure!
49. She would much rather be eating a sandwich and playing games with her family than being wined and dined at some fancy restaurant
50. She used to let my sister "shop" from her pantry, then just grin and roll her eyes and replace whatever she took. :-D
51. When she says, "Call me if you need anything," she means it with all of her heart. (And if you don't call her, she will probably find a way to help anyway.)
52. She has no idea how special she is.
53. I'm absolutely positive no one has ever left her house hungry.
54. And I'm pretty sure no one has ever left sad. Unless they were already sad when they arrived, in which case I'm sure they were less sad when they left than they were when they arrived.
55. She is one of my very best friends in all the world, and I would choose her as a friend even if she wasn't my Mom.
56. She listens to Macy and Grace and is never too busy to hear their latest stories and ideas.
57. She can't bear the thought of a child feeling lonely or sad
58. She honestly believes that her grandchildren are the most amazing kids on the planet. Period.
59. She takes GREAT DELIGHT in making someone's day--whether it's by doing something simple like bringing them lunch unexpectedly or by doing something that changes their whole life like paying off a strangling debt
60. I never remember not feeling completely safe and secure as a child. I know that doesn't happen by accident.
61. She sends us happy care packages all the time with some of our favorite "southern staples" like Tony Chachere's seasoning
62. She always made sure we had Godly leadership in our lives when my sisters and I were growing up.
63. Our Christmas traditions are important to her (and were pretty much exactly the same for 30+ years), but since my family moved to Vermont, we've done something completely different every year, and she is happily rolling with it. I know that's hard for her, but you wouldn't be able to tell by the way she acts.
64. I walked through a horribly difficult situation with some very dear friends at the end of last year, during which Mom checked in often to ask me what she could do to help from across the miles. And help she did, no questions asked. She loves anyone who loves me, even if she barely knows them.
65. She taught me everything I know about loving people joyfully.
66. I can't think of anyone in the whole wide world I would rather call Mom.

Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you with my WHOLE heart!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Good List 1-26-11

10. Honey Wheat braided pretzels. You know, for when you just NEED some carbs.
9. Blistex Deep Renewal lip treatment. That stuff is a winter miracle.
8. Warm, sound, comfortable sleep. Feels SO good!
7. Huge piles/fields of undisturbed snow that demand to be frolicked in.
6. What happens to boiling water at negative 22 degrees. I mean, if it's gonna get that cold, you might as well do something fun in it, right?
5. I'm FINALLY training for my first ever half marathon. Not a specific one. Just on my treadmill to prove to myself that I can do it. :-D
4. This picture of Grace. The quality is terrible, but the adorableness cannot be matched.
3. My sweet, sweet friends the Blanches for inviting our girls over all the time and treating them like family. Special thanks for keeping them Saturday night so I could attend Forge.
2. ForgeVermont. We weren't sure what to expect, but even in the extreme cold, we had a great group, many of whom traveled an hour or more to attend. It was a fantastic "inaugural" service, and we look forward to many, many more!
1. Hearing that Macy stood up for a friend at school. I'm so proud of her!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Prayer Time 1-25-11

It's another snowy day. (And I still love it!) My ladies' Bible study is this morning, which always puts me in a great frame of mind for prayer time. And then I'm coming home to hibernate. I would love to pray for you while I'm all bundled up watching it snow. Feel free to leave requests in the comments field. These will not be published publicly for the sake of privacy in case that is a concern for anyone.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Study in Contrast

So I have this theory (that I'm sure is not original to me) that you can only understand and appreciate any given extreme to the extent that you've experienced its opposite. (Ummm. . . . Say whaaaaat?) Yeah I know. That's a weird sentence. Let me see if I can explain.

Let's start with a simple basic. Hot vs. cold. Ok. Y'all! It's cold in Vermont. It's about negative 18 right now as I type. (I KNOW, right?!?) And--I'm pretty sure just about anyone in the world would agree that that's cold. I'm not arguing against that. BUT I'm also pretty sure that I feel the intensity of that cold quite a bit more sharply than say someone who has lived here since birth. Or someone from Canada. Or Finland. Why? Because y'all! It's HOT in Texas! And I lived there. I know how HOT hot can be. And this is indeed the opposite of it. Just sayin'. BUT--bring on the negative 25 we keep hearing about! 'Cause the colder it is outside, the warmer my house feels on the inside. :-D Funny how contrast works that way.

Ok, moving on. How 'bout now we talk about lifestyle? The busy vs. simple spectrum. Have you lived at both extremes? If so, you probably already understand what I'm talking about because of your experience way better than I will ever be able to explain it, but I'll give it a shot anyway. (I apologize in advance if this ends up making very little sense.) I think there are lots of people who are crazy busy and don't even fully realize it because it's just "normal" for them. They've never known any different. My oldest sister comes to mind. I love her with all my heart, and I think she is absolutely amazing for all that she does, but honestly--her schedule gives me headaches and panic attacks if I think about it for too long. For real. (Love you, Vick!) And then I think there are those who live very simply, and for them, THAT is normal, and they just assume most people live the same way and don't really think about it that much. Nothing wrong with either extreme. They're just different. HOW different is a matter of perspective that I think is only clear when you've seen both ends of the spectrum. For instance, to me--my life seems amazingly simple right now in the most refreshing way I can possibly imagine. Which is funny, because I just had a conversation a few days ago with a friend about how crazy busy my schedule seems. But that is compared to others around me here in Vermont. When I compare my here and now to life before we moved, OH MY. A typical month there was something like this: Me working Monday through Friday 8 or 9 hours a day plus usually a 30-45 minute commute each way while Jared was on kids/errands/household duties plus leading a volunteer ministry and working on his writing. 3 Saturdays a month (at least) plus every Sunday and Monday night were devoted to Element (the ministry that we helped launch there), and then sprinkle in piano lessons, various meetings at the girls' school, other Element meetings, etc.--well, let's just say the calendar got pretty packed very quickly. (I'm honestly not sure how we ever got laundry done or prepared meals.) So NOW--even though I still might be "busier" than the typical Vermonter, life seems beautifully simple to me compared to before. It's just a matter of perspective.

Now on to the really important stuff. Jared talks a lot about this idea of Gospel Wakefulness. (He even wrote a book about it! Go figure! :-D) The overarching concept submits that until someone has experienced profound brokenness, it isn't possible to fully "get" gospel wakefulness. This doesn't mean you can't be fully "saved", fully devoted to your church, or fully in love with Christ. It certainly doesn't mean you can't be a Christian without having experienced this. But what it does mean is that the human soul with all its sinful "bents" and all of the distractions that are thrown at it each day is basically incapable of seeing Christ and the Gospel as its only hope UNTIL Christ and the Gospel are its only hope. That is when Gospel Wakefulness occurs. When there is no other option. When the hope you have had in other things or other people has failed you. When you have tried everything to pull yourself out of whatever pit you're in--whether it be depression, financial devastation, a failed marriage, abuse, addiction, etc., and NOTHING works except the Gospel. An awakening happens. The scales fall off. And suddenly you see the Gospel so much more clearly and recognize it so much more easily than ever before. Why? Because you know the opposite of being awake to the gospel. Subtlety is out the window. There are no shades of gray. You've seen the blackest black in existence. The depths of despair. The complete opposite of hope. You've been to the "end of yourself" just like the prodigal son, and there is nowhere to turn except into the arms of your Father. And once you have thrown yourself into His arms, and you KNOW what it feels like to be pulled securely into His impossibly strong yet so sweetly tender embrace, you DON'T want to ever be out of His arms again. Ever. EVER EVER EVER. I promise.

I would never ever wish heartbreak on anyone. But we live in a broken world whether I like it or not. So, as Jared says, "Brokenness will find you. Be holding hands with Christ when it does." Or better yet, be in His arms. On the spectrum of life, that is the farthest extreme you will find from your brokenness. And I promise you will recognize it as such.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Good List 1-19-11

10. Shout wipes. Man, do they come in handy sometimes!
9. Gift cards. I mean, who doesn't love a little "free shopping"? :-D
8. Cauliflower. Versatile little item. I've used it to "healthy up" all kinds of recipes lately, including. . . . wait for it. . . . . pizza crust! Yes, folks--you read that right. Cauliflower pizza crust. Don't knock it 'til you try it. My whole family loved it, including picky Grace and not-easily-impressed-by-vegetables Jared.
7. Emma Stone. Could she be any more adorable? I submit that she could not.
6. Revisiting all sorts of favorite childhood movies since Macy and Grace moved the little tv/vcr combo thingy into their bedroom and tapped into the VHS storage. Remember Fun and Fancy Free? And Aladdin? And Dumbo? Good times. . .
5. Jim Rome. He cracks me up. Especially when he trashes Rex Ryan.
4. Cinnamon. Did you know 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon has just as many antioxidants as 1/4 cup of blueberries? Sprinkle that deliciousness on everything!
3. NOT watching American Idol this season. Ahhh the freedom of not being sucked in and not having to devote hours every week to this addiction.
2. The fact that my kids get to go sledding during recess. Pretty much awesome.
1. Jared Wilson. Have you heard of this guy? He's really somethin'. :-D

Monday, January 17, 2011


From David Platt's Radical--
. . .we are starting to redefine Christianity. We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with. A nice, middle-class, American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn't mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationships so that he receives all our affection. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, he loves us just the way we are. A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream.But do you and I realize what we are doing at this point? We are molding Jesus into our image. He is beginning to look a lot like us because, after all, that is whom we are most comfortable with. And the danger now is that when we gather in our church buildings to sing and lift up our hands in worship, we may not actually be worshiping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead we may be worshiping ourselves.

Wow. I have nothing to add except to say that I need to go pray about this an awful lot.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I Can't Get Enough

Yesterday we had a snow day. We got a call at around 6am saying that school was canceled. Because it snowed all night long. And then it snowed all day long. And it is so gorgeous I can hardly stand it. This is easily the prettiest winter I have ever seen, and I'm lovin' every minute of it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Good List 1-12-11

10. Cinnamon Vanilla Nut coffee. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
9. Tangled. So cute and sweet.
8. The home-grown, home-made basil pesto my friend Anne served us last weekend. It just doesn't get any better than that!
7. My new slippers that I purchased with an Old Navy gift card I got for Christmas. (Thanks, Nana and Papa! :-D) Oh, my goodness, y'all. They are so warm. AND they're super squishy at the bottom so they feel like I'm walking on a cloud. I may never leave the house again so as to never have to remove these from my feet.

6. Cotton Bowl 2011. LSU WINS!!! (Pretty convincingly, I might add.) WOOHOOOOO! (My Dad graduated from there, so I really have no choice but to be a fan. ;-)
5. Working out first thing in the morning. Makes me feel more energized all day long.
4. The ultimate snow fort that Macy and Jared are building together. Pretty cool that we live somewhere where this can be a week-long process. ;-)

3. Ted Williams' testimony. You've heard of this guy by now, right? The homeless man with the golden voice? He talks about Jesus every chance he gets, and now he is getting the opportunity to do it on national television. Pretty incredible story.
2. FORGE Vermont! The very first meeting is January 22nd at the Brick Box in downtown Rutland. It's gonna be awesome. Tell all of your 18-30something friends!
1. Watching the family of God come together and take care of each other completely unselfishly. It is such a special honor to live within this community.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gospel Wakefulness

I absolutely cannot wait for this book to come out. Living through the content of this book with Jared over the last couple years has changed my life in ways I will never find the words to express. I can only hope and pray that it will have the same kind of impact on others. I'm so blessed and so proud to be married to a man who not only beautifully writes about the power of the gospel but who also so desperately longs to live what he writes.

Friday, January 7, 2011

I LOVE this Woman!

I have seen A LOT of Beth Moore, but I'm pretty sure this is my favorite thing I've ever seen from her. Love that woman!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Good List 1-5-11

10. Getting our fill of good seafood and Mexican food while we were in Houston.
9. My salad spinner. I love whoever invented this thing. So much quicker and easier than washing and drying lettuce by hand.
8. Natural, local honey. It's pretty much a miracle drug.
7. My sweet friend Annisa for collecting and canning and supplying natural, local honey. ;-) (And I love her for LOTS of other reasons, too!)
6. Those 4 dudes who have been to every single Super Bowl so far. I'm pretty jealous of those guys. I hope they all make it to at least 50. And then I wanna hang out with them and hear all their stories.
5. Vermont tap water. Clean and cold. It's very refreshing! :-D
4. Watching Macy and Grace devour the homemade hummus I made earlier this week. Yay for discovering another healthy snack they enjoy eating!
3. Having time for a "Holiday Afterglow" moment rather than rushing back to work less than 8 hours after arriving home. So awesome.
2. We're all booked for Gospel Coalition 2011!!! I can't wait!!!
1. Having the same address as my family ALL YEAR this year! I love 2011 already!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Prayer Time 1-4-11

Please let me know how I may pray for you in this new year. Just leave a comment here on this post. These comments will not be published publicly for the sake of privacy for anyone who might be concerned about that. And if you're into resolutions, how about we all resolve to spend more time in prayer? Not just because it's the beginning of a new year, but because we should make that resolution every day. (I sure need to.) Blessings to you, my friends!