Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Good List / Macy's Good List 11-30-11

10. Super 8. Crazy! Although I have to take issue with the people who called it a "Modern Day E.T." E.T. was sweet and gentle. This was quite a bit more. . . . . harsh. Still a really good movie though. Stellar acting by the young cast.
9. Frosty windows. Jack is quite the artist sometimes.
8. Elvis' Christmas Album. Warm and cozy.
7. The Saints doing Monday Night Football right with 49 points. Yeah, baby. None of this 9-6 business on MNF.
6. Rosy cheeks after snow play.
5. The magnificent gift of olive oil and Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar (I KNOW, RIGHT?!?) our wonderful friend Tracy Markland gave us for pastor appreciation. Oh. My. It is exquisite.

4. The smattering of brightly hued envelopes we find in our mailbox this time of year amidst the boring old stack of white bills and junk mail.
3. Gabe and Amanda McGann, missionaries to UVM, a university with a staggeringly high percentage of students who are not merely uninterested in Christianity, but in many cases hostile toward it and all who profess it. But they are unwavering and excited about what God is doing in and through and around them here in Vermont. What a fantastic couple! Plus, they're adorable. :-D
2. Jared has been preaching from the book of Ruth. Yesterday while we were watching football, he made a silly comment about being bitter about a bad call or something like that, and Macy quickly and mockingly responded, "Well, maybe we should just call you Mara."  !!!!!  Someone's been paying attention! Awesome.
1. Nellie Fitzgerald, a wise old saint who finished life well at 95 years last week. Jared got to hold her hand and listen to her recite Psalm 23 and talk about how much she loved Jesus and He loved her in her final days. Amazing Grace for sure.

Macy's Good List

10. Tom Brady and Drew Brees
9. Evergreen and snowy pinecones
8. Playing ukulele without a pick
7. Dad's word for our church foyer--"narthex"
6. Noise in the fellowship hall
5. Relaxing on the couch with a good book
4. Chicken tortilla soup
3. Mrs. Mahoney's molasses cookies
2. Ruth, Naomi and Boaz
1. Advent

Prayer Time 11-29-11

Today I'm making cookies all day long for an upcoming craft fair. Sweet and therapeutic. And a great activity during which to pray. Please let me know if I can pray for you today. You're welcome to leave requests in the comments section of this post. These will not be published publicly for the sake of those concerned with privacy.

Blessings to you in the Gospel today!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Most Excellent "Re-Gift"

Hi. My name is Becky and I'm a Christmas-aholic. I love everything about it. (well, except for Black Friday shopping, but that is a discussion for a different time. :-D) Christmastime heightens and delights all of my senses. I love the sight of candles and twinkly lights, the smell of evergreen and cinnamon, the taste of festively flavored coffee and all sorts of delectable treats that I only allow myself to indulge in during the holidays. :-D I love the sound of Christmas music and crackling fires and the feel of snuggly socks and blankets and all those extra hugs that people seem more ready to give during the holidays. And I LOVE Christmas movies. Way more than I should probably admit. Especially the old-school ones like the animated Grinch, Rudolph, Frosty and Charlie Brown. Like I said, Christmas-aholic. The whole scene is pretty cheese-tastic. This I know. Love me anyway, ok?

And one of my favorite things of all is when I think of a truly perfect gift for someone I love. Not just any gift. Not some new soon-to-be obsolete electronic item. Not another sweater. Not even a gift card, although I have given many and probably will give more this year. I'm not opposed to any of those things in general. I have given those kinds of items before, and I'm sure I will again. They're practical, and sometimes people really like them. They just don't seem "special" to me. I like special. SO--with that in mind, I try to find gifts that accomplish at least 1 of the following requirements:

a) The gift represents a special memory or captures a significant moment in time that will serve as a lifelong reminder to the recipient. Maybe it has the power to bring a laugh on a difficult day or remind a friend that they are loved.
b) The gift somehow makes life significantly easier/better for the recipient. By this, I don't mean something like a newer, faster iPod. I'm thinking more like a snowblower for an aging parent so that they don't have to shovel heavy snow. Or a few weeks of maid service for a new Mom to help her get some rest. Things like that.

OR my favorite--

c) The gift has the potential to have a compelling and meaningful impact on the recipient. One of my habitual examples of this is the book Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. Jared and I give this book as a gift to every couple we know when they get married. (Of course, we combine it with something from their registry lest you think we are completely opposed to the more "practical" gifts. :-D) It is easily the best book on marriage I have ever read, primarily focused on the work of the Holy Spirit and grace within the marriage rather than teaching individuals how to "get what they want" from their spouse. But I digress. That is yet another discussion for a different time. 

The MAIN point of this post was to get to offering a suggestion for a gift that I think works for pretty much all three of these categories. I don't have many brilliant ideas, but this is one I'm pretty excited about. Let me know what you think. . . .

A few years ago, I realized for reasons I (thankfully) don't even remember that my "career" as a parent would include a lengthy list of failures and shortcomings. It's called being human, right? Or so I recall being told. But I didn't like that answer. Not because I didn't agree with it. Certainly it is true that my humanness (and Jared's) will limit our ability to parent our children perfectly, but I don't want to settle for that. And the only antidote I know to my sinful, imperfect, constantly failing humanness is the sinless, perfect, constantly redeeming power of Christ. So how do I make sure my girls see that thread throughout the fabric of their lives? Ok--here's my "brilliant" idea--  When Macy and Grace were very young, I bought Jared 2 ESV journaling Bibles and asked him to alternate using them as he studied and marked in them and journaled throughout. I figured if he did this for 20 or more years, both Bibles would be filled with all sorts of notes and insights. My plan is to give each of our girls one of these Bibles on their wedding day. (Shhhhh! ;-) ) The idea is that we want to be able to say to them, "We know we didn't always get it right, but please see that we were in the Word trying to do our very best to center our family around Christ." Or something along those lines. I love this for so many reasons: 1. They will be able to see the time spent in those Bibles. Jared dates every entry, so they will see year after year of study and reflection. 2. They will see names of wonderful teachers/writers/scholars referenced throughout the pages. Names like Ray Ortlund and Tim Keller and Martin Luther. I hope that our girls will know and love the teaching of these men just like their Dad and I do and that they will be part of the legacy of faith these men leave behind some day. 3. I can't think of many things more precious and special than hand-written notes from the pen of someone I hold dear. I have a handwritten journal and cookbook from my Mom that I wouldn't trade for anything, and I have a card from my Grandmother in which she scrawled in very weak and shaky writing at the very end of her message, "I'm so proud of you, Beck." This I will treasure until the day that I see her again in the presence of Jesus. These are just a couple of examples, but I have boxes full of similar items. They are priceless to me, so the idea that my girls will have something like this in the form of a Bible which also happens to hold their Dad's exhortations and discoveries in the Scriptures makes my heart sparkle. I truly hope and pray that they will cling to Christ throughout their entire lives, and this is just one way I'm attempting to keep Him in front of them in every way I can.

SO there you go. Feel free to steal my idea if you think it might work for someone you love. It might be a little tricky, since you have to give it to someone with the expectation that they will eventually "re-gift" it, but hopefully once you pass along the idea, they will understand and enjoy it. :-D

Merry Christmas, everybody! May we all find creative ways to help the radiance of Christ permeate and saturate the lives of those we love!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve

Let's see. . .  I'm doing one more mental checklist. Desserts are made. Dressing and spinach gratin are mixed and ready to pop into the oven. Turkey is soaking in brine. Ham is ready to just warm and eat. Eggs are boiled for deviled eggs. Potatoes and gravy and green beans can be done tomorrow. I think I'm good to go.

Now I'm settled on the couch for a movie night with my favorite guy. And I'm so excited about tomorrow. All of the people who are coming to spend the day with me are some of my very favorite people in all the world. And I'm incredibly grateful for that.

But the Lord is reminding me that not everyone feels that way. Some people are dreading tomorrow for all sorts of different reasons. For some, it's because of difficult--maybe even toxic--relationships they'll have to deal with. For others, perhaps they're facing the absence of a loved one they lost recently. And then there are those who face desperate loneliness simply because they don't have families. If you are one of the people facing a difficult day tomorrow for whatever reason, please know that I'm praying for you. Not specifically by name. I probably don't know who you are. But God does, and I'm asking Him to honor my prayer for all those who find themselves in the midst of heartache tomorrow.

For those who are like me and find themselves genuinely excited about the company you will share the day with tomorrow, will you consider praying with me for those who are not as fortunate as we are?

Father, thank you so much for blessing me with family members who love me well and reflect your love to me. Thank you for bringing us together tomorrow to rejoice over the many blessings in our lives, and help us to remember that it is only by your grace that we have so much to celebrate.

Lord, I pray that you will draw near to those facing difficulties of many kinds tomorrow. Bring peace where there is turmoil, forgiveness where there is anger and bitterness, comfort where there is grief, strength where there is weakness, energy where there is weariness, and relationship where there is loneliness. Lord, interrupt these situations with your presence in a mighty way. Bring joy despite the circumstances, and help love, genuine and lavish, rule the day. 

Ready hearts to worship you tomorrow for blessings great and small. Give hope to those who haven't felt hope in a very long time, and surround broken hearts with the soothing balm of your Gospel.

Thank you in advance for all that you will do to draw hurting souls into your arms tomorrow. I trust that you will do so in a way that is life-changing for many. Thank you for your power. Thank you for your Son, in whose name I pray--


The Good List 11-23-11

10. Lemon ginger tea with local honey. It's a miracle cure for a scratchy throat. Plus it's yummy!
9. Decked halls. Somehow candles and twinkly holiday lights make every day magical. 
8. The fantastic array of owls and eagles I got to hang out with last Friday. I wanted to take them all home with me.

7. Zeb's Country Store in North Conway, NH. Two stories of all sorts of New England-y treats and treasures. Easily one of the most delightful retail establishments on the planet.
6. Waking up on Saturday mornings to find Macy and Grace snuggled on the couch watching The Brady Bunch. Takes me right back to my childhood living room.
5. The delicate yet powerful sound of a room full of Bible pages being turned.
4. The doll that Gracie sewed completely by hand with the help of the fabulous Ms. Deitra. So sweet!

3. When I ask this little monkey what she wants to do while the big kids are at school, and the first thing she says is "Snuggle!" Be still, my heart!

2. Jared got to spend time with John Piper last week and have him personally pray for him and our church. What an amazingly special time! God is so good to us.
1. Celebrating 100 days of sobriety with a very special friend. She's crushing idols and kicking demons in the face daily. Awesome.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Prayer Time 11-22-11

"Blessed be God, because He has not rejected my prayer or removed His steadfast love from me!" --Psalm 66:20

Thanksgiving week always makes me feel more grateful in my heart for things I tend to take for granted other times throughout the year. This week I'm particularly struck by the way God has answered prayer in my life over the years--sometimes "yes", sometimes "no", sometimes "wait." But always, "This is what is best for you, my daughter." It isn't always easy to understand that (especially before hindsight kicks in), but it does *become* easier with time simply because He proves Himself trustworthy over and over and over again.

So with that in mind, how may I pray for you today? You may leave requests in the comments field. Comments on this post will not be published publicly for the sake of those concerned with privacy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Photo of the Week 11-21-11

I really wanted to steal her, but I couldn't figure out how.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Daily Miracles

It's no secret to people who know me that I am currently in a situation I would never have imagined when I was growing up in Texas or even when I was firmly planted in Nashville in my "temporary" career that ended up spanning about 15 years. I had expectations. I had plans. I *knew* what my future *should* hold, and I was eagerly moving toward that future in the best way I knew how.

But full disclosure-- none of those plans ever even remotely hinted at Vermont. To be even more honest, it wasn't even that I thought of Vermont dismissively. I literally didn't think about it at all. Ever. It wasn't part of my life. I had no reason to believe it ever would be, so it didn't occur to me to give it a second thought (or a first one really). I wanted to be a stay at home Mom. I *thought* I wanted to do that in Texas, close to all of the rest of my family and close to conveniences and opportunities that simply don't exist in rural New England. So when the subject of moving here first came up, my initial response was much less than positive.

Well guess what. God knows me better than I know myself. Way better. He had other plans. Not Texas. Vermont. So pretty much the opposite of Texas. :-D This surprised so many people (including me), and I still find myself in conversations with others that include lots of comments like, "I could never. . . " "There's just no way. . ." "I just wouldn't be able to. . ." Etc. and on and on. There are all sorts of ways to say "NO", right? I'm well aware, because I thought of just about every single one of them while I was resisting our recent move/lifestyle change.

But here's the thing. If we believe in the power of the Gospel to completely regenerate a wicked, sinful heart, why in the world don't we trust that same Gospel to deal with the "little stuff"? These are the DAILY MIRACLES!!! We all love the external, dramatic miracles we get to witness. A baby born. A seemingly hopeless life suddenly and vividly transformed. A supernatural healing or deliverance from danger. We love witnessing and hearing about these things, right? I sure do. I wish I could experience something like that every single day. But in the in-between times, I'm learning to notice the little stuff. The small miracles that happen inside my heart. The smile on my face while I wash dishes. The chuckles as I sort through massive piles of laundry and remember whatever fun activity led to the widespread stains on wild little Gracie's clothes. The warmth in my heart when I trip over a "project" that Macy has spread across the floor and see her creativity at work. Hear me clearly on this-- no way is this the accomplishment of my wicked, sinful, selfish heart. NO. WAY. These are my daily miracles. This is Christ transforming me slowly and gently and patiently and sweetly. I call it quiet magnificence. His work on my insidest insides, and OH does He have a lot of work to do! But He is faithful, and I am grateful that He doesn't rest from this work.

So to those who (like me) try to find all sorts of ways to say no to things that don't make sense to you, may I gently suggest you trust that if God is calling you to do those things, He can change your heart to love them? I am living proof of this truth. Only by God's grace. Here is just a brief list of ways I am seeing my daily miracles:

  • I'm one of the most cold-natured people in the WORLD, and yet somehow I feel all warm and "glowy" inside when I see a freshly snow-covered landscape. I LOVE the long, snowy winters here! 
  • When we accepted the call to come to Vermont, I agreed to move into a house I had never laid eyes on, and it's a long story, but at the time, I thought it would only have 1 bathroom.
  • I admit that in my past, I was a little bit OCD about "order" in my house. For various reasons, my house here is rarely up to my previous standards of clean, but it hardly ever occurs to me to mind.
  • I enjoy *some* level of "routine." Spontaneity is great fun sometimes, but I generally like to have a regular schedule and an organized calendar. HA! I'm pretty sure we haven't had 2 weeks look the same since moving here. And yet, I still have my sense of humor. :-D
  • A dirty car used to be a big problem for me. Here we have snow boot season followed by mud season followed by summer (which means LOTS of kids in the car most days), and the cycle continues. I'm pretty sure my car hasn't been clean since I moved about a year and a half ago. :-D But my blood pressure hasn't risen one bit. 
  • I enjoy convenience. There was a certain comfort in my past lives in knowing that at the end of an especially busy day, we could just order a pizza to be delivered or pick up something from a restaurant 3 miles away. Here almost every meal we eat is prepared by me in my kitchen, no matter how long or busy the day has been. And I LOVE that!
  • I don't have a dishwasher here. Every dish that I use for all those meals prepared at home has to be washed by hand. I can honestly say I have never minded this.
NOW--lest anyone get the wrong idea that I am bragging about these things, PLEASE hear me clearly saying that the reason I call this list MIRACLES is because outside of Christ's sanctifying work in me, I would NEVER have arrived at these ideas/behaviors on my own. It is ALL JESUS. He has called me here, and He has made my heart love this calling. And I am stubborn. So if He can do it for me, I know He can do it for you too. What a sweet and loving God we serve!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Brotherly Love

Few things stir my heart like seeing grown men embrace, make eye contact, and say "I love you" to each other. 

Jared and I just got home last night (actually this morning to be more accurate ;-) from the LEAD11 conference in Auburn, Maine. It was every bit as refreshing and rejuvenating as I hoped it would be, (and my expectations were extremely high considering the key speakers were 2 of my favorites in the whole wide world, Matt Chandler and Ray Ortlund.) Each address/sermon/message/ whatever you wanna call it was full to overflowing with truth and passion and grace. A feast for the soul indeed. I loved every second of it.

But one of my favorite parts even as I reflect on all of the amazing teaching was watching at the end of the conference as men all around me embraced in brotherly love and spoke words of encouragement and honor to each other. Make no mistake. This scene held no weakness or frailty. Rather it was rich with strength, courage, boldness and Godly masculinity. These are the men who are strong enough to be vulnerable with each other for the sake of the Gospel. They are transparent and accountable in order to welcome sharpening. They are gracious and loving in order to offer support. They are honest and realistic about sin (their own and each other's) in order to press the Gospel into each other. They are forgiving, but not enabling. They are joyful and hopeful because of the Christ they see in each other. They are relentlessly chasing after personal revival, mainly because the desire of their hearts is to see widespread revival throughout their churches/regions/cities/countries, and they know that begins with themselves. And they are all "in this thing together," gathering themselves around the common goal of making much of Jesus in their own hearts and therefore in their friendships, families, churches, communities, cities, etc. They are STRONG and MIGHTY men of God, and they give me so much hope when I get to see them interact in this way. What an amazing blessing!

My heart will never grow tired of this scene. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Good List / Macy's Good List 11-9-11

10. The fact that Chuy's didn't make its way to downtown Nashville until after I moved away. Had this not been the case, I'm certain I would be at least 80 pounds heavier. :-D
9. Cabot smoked bacon cheddar cheese. Oh my.
8. The way snow and ice and water look when sun-kissed.

7. Captain America. It was every bit as good as everyone promised me it would be. And now I'm excited about The Avengers.
6. The huuuuuuge antique mall/toy museum we visited in Quechee a couple weeks ago. Like strolling right through my childhood.
5. The live performance of The Wizard of Oz we got to see at the fabulous Paramount Theatre thanks to VickVick's birthday gift to Macy and Grace. It was a fantastic show!
4. My November calendar is PACKED! But it's all amazing stuff! What a busy, fun, refreshingly exhausting month it will be. (Does that make sense to anyone but me?) I think it means I will either work hard or play hard pretty much every day and then sleep well every night. :-D
3. Joyful Noise. A fun night of music from all ages last Sunday night at our church. Good times. Good times.
2. All of the positive reviews I keep seeing about Gospel Wakefulness. I know that I am biased about such things, so it's nice to see similar responses from readers who are much more objective than me. ;-)
1. We leave TOMORROW for Maine for the LEAD11 conference. Excited!

Macy's Good List

10. Spelling contests with friends.
9. Dachsunds.
8. The smell of new books.
7. The smell of dusty old books.
6. Writing in cursive with the sharpest pencil ever.
5. Imagining new inventions.
4. Curling up in bed with 15 books by my side.
3. Fuzzy socks.
2. Tall wooden nutcrackers.
1. Hot tea.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Prayer Time

The Word was made flesh so that the wisdom of God could come within the reach of human beings. For his Word--the expression of the whole truth about God--is far beyond our comprehension. No creature can ever fully understand his creator. But the Word, the Son of God, put on a humble, human form, so that infinite truth could be seen in finite terms.
He humbled himself, coming down to the lowest human level. Those who will join him there--denying themselves, taking the low place--will be raised up with him to the heights of heaven.
It is not easy for man to stoop so low, or to abandon his self-confidence. But when he sees the divine Son lying, as it were, at his feet, wrapped in the clothes of human poverty, then his heart may be moved and his pride cured. And when we grow weary of trying to prove ourselves, we may be ready to cast ourselves upon him.
When we do, he who came down to where we are raises us to where he is.

May we all find ways to cast ourselves upon him in prayer every single day. He is within our reach!!! And speaking of prayer, how may I pray for you today? Please let me know by leaving a comment here. Comments on this post will not be published publicly for the sake of those concerned with privacy.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Photo(s) of the Week

Today marks the one-year anniversary of actually "moving in" to Vermont. I won't rehash the whole journey that led to finally getting to that point, but it was a long, disjointed one to say the least. On the morning of November 6th last year, I woke up to this sunrise--

A few hours later some of my favorite people arrived in this truck, which held the possessions we had been away from for several months including our bed that we hadn't slept in in almost 2 years by this point. It was a good, GOOD day. Happy anniversary, Vermont! You are a far greater gift to me than I will ever be to you, but I'm so grateful to be here!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Good List 11-2-11

This list brought to you by Pastor Appreciation Month.

10. A lobster-shaped cookie cutter that Jared chooses to label a crawfish. :-D
9. A sweet little stuffed moose for each of the girls.
8. A book and DVD to help me learn more about the history of Vermont, my latest obsession.
7. All sorts of sweet treats like homemade applesauce, apple crisp and even super yummy and creative pumpkin (and snowman!!! tis the season, ya know ;-)) cookies.

6. A kiss full of kisses.

5. All kinds of precious heartfelt cards and letters from friends of every age.
4. A gift certificate to Sugar 'n' Spice, home of the best hot chocolate in the WORLD! Our favorite!

3. Football game day party in a box!
2. Barby Carr's spaghetti with meat sauce. I'm pretty sure it's literally the best spaghetti sauce I've ever tasted, loaded with olives and onions. (And yes, I did use the word "literally" correctly. ;-) ) Oh, and don't even get me started on her homemade bread!
1. Feeling appreciated every single day of every month because our church family loves us so well (far better than we deserve or could ever earn.) Love you so much, MSCC!

Macy's Good List 11-2-11

10. The feeling I get when I learn that I achieved Honors/High Honors.
9. Using binoculars
8. How the attic smells.
7. Flipping through my favorite atlas.
6. Madagascar (the movie).
5. Doodling.
4. Blankets that come right out of the dryer.
3. The story of the Tower of Babel.
2. Warm bubble baths.
1. Blackberry-vanilla lotion.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

From Grace: Happy Birthday, Dad!

And last, but certainly not least, Gracie weighs in with her list--

36 reasons I love my Dad:

36. He took me to a Titans game one time so I could see them in person. It was awesome!
35. He keeps me safe.
34. He builds fires in the fire pit so we can roast marshmallows.
33. He has lots of old books.
32. He introduces me to all kinds of good music like The Ramones and Dwight Yoakam.
31. He buys football stuff like a TOM BRADY bobble head. (Yes, that emphasis is entirely Grace's. ;-) )
30. He laughs really loud at funny movies and it makes me giggle.
29. He taught me how to ride a bike.
28. He takes us to the school to play basketball and ride bikes.
27. He took me to Disneyworld, and it was the best vacation EVER!
26. He made it so that Mom doesn't have to go to work and can be home for me.
25. He has good taste in movies.
24. He dressed up as the Incredible Hulk for Halloween last year, and it was awesome.
23. He takes me rock climbing and cheers me on.
22. His lunch box notes are funny.
21. He helps take care of me when I am sick.
20. He tells funny stories.
19. He works hard every day.
18. He shovels the snow even when he doesn't feel like it.
17. He buys me ice cream at unexpected times.
16. He does family devos.
15. He likes sushi.
14. He likes dogs.
13. He takes me out to movies.
12. He is a really good pastor.
11. He is a really good author.
10. He likes Big Foot.
9. He likes Champ.
8. He is a good problem solver.
7. He helps me with my homework (but he's glad when Mom does the math part.)
6. He likes the Patriots. A lot.
5. He lets Mom take pictures of him. And everything else.
4. He always says, "I love you."
3. He brings us to school every day.
2. He is funny.
1. He is an awesome Dad.

That's why I love my Dad.

From Macy: Happy Birthday, Dad!

Not to be outdone, Macy has come up with her own list of reasons why she loves her Dad so much--

36. He is absolutely, positively awesome in every way.
35. He plans "Daddy-Daughter Dates."
34. He takes us to see the coolest movies like Thor, Captain America, and we might see The Avengers.
33. He writes cool lunchbox notes.
32. He gave me extra money to donate to the school at our fund raiser last weekend.
31. We sometimes have nights where he plays cool music videos while Grace and I dance around.
30. I like how he says, "Thank you, baby!"
29. He does his best to make sure we have family devotions every night.
28. He is always making jokes.
27. He records movies and tv shows for us even when it interferes with his tv shows.
26. When it snows 6 ft., he comes outside and builds a snow fort with me even if he is sweating from head to toe.
25. He warms up the car every winter morning before we have to get in it to go to school.
24. I love his grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.
23. He is obsessed with Champ and Sasquatches.
22. Tom Brady is his hero.
21. He organizes a way for me to get to every dance, sleepover and birthday party.
20. He took care of Grace and me while Mom was in Tennessee.
19. He gives us a buck if we look up words at school that he tells us in the morning
18. He doesn't care if we play Playmobil on the living room floor
17. He plans good family vacations
16. He shows us cool old movies (like Abbott and Costello)
15. He teases me about not liking sushi.
14. He helped Mom put up our Christmas tree in October.
13. He comes with me when I have to go into the creepy attic. ;-)
12. He is good at drawing.
11. He tells us when he has a new Fact or Faked recorded on the DVR so we can all watch it together.
10. I like his sermons.
9. He let Mom teach him how to make a scrapbook, and he made one!
8. He shows me all of the cool tricks on Mario.
7. He downloaded 8-bit Mario on the Wii. So fun!
6. He tells me about old books like "The Three Investigators."
5. He makes a way for Grace and I to join groups in after school program.
4. He chose a cool sound notification for his email.
3. He makes weird faces in the window when we're in the car waiting at the mechanic.
2. He rents awesome movies from Netflix.
1. He's a cool Dad.

Happy Birthday (on time this year) to my Favorite Man!

So I'm cheating a little by using the same list I wrote last year and just adding one more line since he is a year older, but all of these things are still true, and some are even more true, and I'm certain that no one who might have read this last year remembers any of it anyway. So on his 36th birthday, here is your reminder of 36 ways my Jared is amazing. Feel free to add your own as you see fit. :-D

36. The book that he wrote which released just recently, Gospel Wakefulness, is one of the best books I've read in a very long time.
35. He is obsessed with zombies. I am not; however, I can't help but find it endearing. I'm honestly not sure why. . . .
34. He drives everywhere we go together. Even if it's a veeeeeery long drive. Because he knows I hate to drive.
33. He loves watching football with me and doesn't mind that I'm *mildly* obsessed with it.
32. He loves my cooking.
31. He is one of the best writers I have ever read. (But he doesn't agree with that statement.)
30. He is introverted, but he loves people too much not to reach out to them.
29. He brings me chocolate truffles for almost every special occasion we share.
28. He loves my family. And they're pretty much nuts, so that's kind of a big deal.
27. He loves bulldogs.
26. He is absolutely positive that Sasquatch and Champ exist.
25. His heroes are people like the apostle Paul, John Piper, Matt Chandler, etc.
24. He loves books, especially old books.
23. He honors and respects the elderly.
22. He is my favorite pastor in the whole wide world.
21. He makes me laugh, and he LOVES it when he makes me laugh.
20. He is so much smarter than I will ever be, but instead of making me feel stupid, he teaches me.
19. He probably would like to roll his eyes at my stockpile of scrapbooking supplies and jigsaw puzzles, but instead he enjoys that they make me happy.
18. He loves family outings when we can all be together.
17. He was a single Dad for 9 months while we lived apart. I don't know how he did it.
16. He cares about orphans.
15. He wants lost people to be saved more than anything in the world.
14. His best friends are all men of integrity.
13. He has earned the respect of people of all ages because of the way he cares for them.
12. He still can't believe he is a published author.
11. My coffee always tastes better when he makes it for me. ;-)
10. He is proud of me.
9. He loves all different kinds of great music.
8. He LOVES all the Cajun cooking my family introduced to him, like boiled crawfish, gumbo, red beans and rice, etc.
7. He loves new adventures.
6. He followed God's calling all the way to Vermont.
5. He likes to build fires and hang out around the firepit. I love that!
4. I can't imagine raising my girls with anyone else.
3. He thinks being a pastor is about MUCH more than preaching on Sunday morning. :-D
2. He adores our children.
1. He desires to know Christ more and better every single day, and he actively pursues that desire. How blessed does that make me?