Saturday, November 30, 2013

In Everything Give Thanks

   The weekend of Thanksgiving is so refreshing to me.  To have Thursday with family, and then a Friday that feels like Saturday, and then ACTUAL Saturday...and then you've still got Sunday!  I am so thankful for this time of rest.  It's like a chance to press the reset button.  

   My chocolate chip turkey cupcakes were a hit.  Only one little guy remained after lunch, and I think he met his end shortly after this picture was taken.  


  A few Christmas decorations are starting to go up around my house!  I actually started that a couple of weeks ago, just because I felt inspired.  Little things--christmas hand towels, framed pictures of past Christmases, etc.  This little olivewood nativity scene sits out year-round in my house though.  I love it.  We got it in Bethlehem, on our trip to Israel a couple of years back.  It is really special to me, and I think it is so beautiful!  

   Note the red mixer in the background--it gets to move over to the position of prominence on the kitchen counter during the Christmas season!  It helps remind me to bake all those cookies I don't need to be eating!  Speaking of things I don't need to be eating--you know you had one too many helpings at Thanksgiving when you are getting dressed the next morning and doing the "I'm going to squeeze into these jeans if it kills me" dance (girls, you know what I'm talking about), and your toddler thinks it's a funny new dance move and starts laughing and imitating you.

   Yep, that happened.

    This guy.  

 
    T.Mark and his cousin Sterling had fun playing in the backyard at Mimi and Doc's house!


   My crazy nephews and husband decided to start being ridiculous with the pumpkin.


   
 Taylor and me:
   
  All the cousins on my mom's side and their kids--minus T.Mark, who was snoozing after his big lunch.  It was a fun crew!


     I loved this one of my sister and her kids!  I'm a candid pic kind of girl.  They always capture moments much more true-to-life than the canned pics.
   
 Take this one, for example.  We decided we should start a magazine called "Cousin Weekly."

   I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with family and friends and the making of many happy memories!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Praying for You, and a Book Review

   I have always loved Christmastime. My friends have given me grief for as long as I can remember because I pull out the Christmas music the day after Halloween. There have been many an embarrassing moment where I am singing at the top of my lungs in my car this time of year and look over in the next lane to see someone I know laughing at me, or a totally random person looking at me like I've lost my mind. 

  Ok let's be honest.  That happens year-round.  But I digress.  

   But as life goes on, I realize that this holiday season of thanksgiving and Christmas is very hard for many people. Difficult memories come haunting, and the pain of loss is particularly sharp this time of year. Someone is missing at the dining table.  Maybe you struggle with loneliness. Or maybe it is that this time of year brings the disappointing reality that this world is insufficient to fulfill our hopes and dreams. 

  But we do not grieve as those without hope. If your hope is in Christ. I love this quote by C.S. Lewis: "If I find in myself desires that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most logical explanation is that I was made for another world." Thank the Lord--this fallen world is not all there is. 

  My sweet friend Alison, who has lost more than one precious family member this year, wrote some wonderful words a couple of days ago that I want to echo here. I don't think she'll mind me borrowing from her.


 "For you who, too, will tear your clothes this 30-day-stretch (and many more, I'm sure), I'm praying for and with you. I'm so sorry for your loss. Jesus is coming. He is with us. I'm so thankful for the sweet hope of Christmas. God with us."

     Thank you for that, Alison. And for any of you reading who may feel this way-I join her in praying for you. 

  Now, in the spirit of thankfulness--tomorrow is Thansgiving after all--I will tell you one thing I am beyond thankful for.

   BOOKS! I don't know what I would do without them, honestly.  I love how they can teach you new things, transport you to other worlds, change your perspective, or just simply entertain. I finished these two recently and will give a short review of each. 



    The Housewife Theologian book was decently good. I applaud the author for stepping out and writing in a time in her life that must be hectic and overwhelming (she has young children). I appreciate the systematic way she deals with different issues women face in the home, and how and why our theology matters in those instances. Towards the end of the book though, it almost seems like she got a little tired and just wanted it to be over! (Which sounds like a familiar feeling to moms sometimes!) I wish the end had been a little more fleshed out. But overall, it was a worthwhile read.

   
 Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors. In short--READ IT! I heard Voddie Baucham speak years ago at a conference, and was hooked--this guy is the real deal. He has a winsome way of bringing scriptural truths to light, and in this particular book, I felt like I saw the Joseph narrative in Genesis in a whole new light. One that was there all along, but I never saw it because I had not read the story from the "redemptive-historical perspective" to which Baucham refers numerous times.

   Here are a couple quotes from the introduction:  "The Bible is not some disjointed collection of unrelated tales; it is a unit. Therefore, reading and understanding the Bible requires familiarity with, commitment to, and comprehension of the whole. This, of course, is a lifetime pursuit. Nevertheless, there are things we can do now that will put us on sound footing." And another: "Far from making the Bible more difficult to read and understand, the approach we will take in this book is designed to make the Bible more accessible. We're taking what we already know-- the story of God's redemption of sinners through the person and work of Christ--and using it as a grid through which we interpret all of Scripture. We are unlocking the Old Testament."

   If the Old Testament sometimes seems intimidating, this is the book for you! 

   I have now moved on to a different book of his--Family Driven Faith. Be looking for a review soon. I am having a hard time putting it down! 

  Happy thanksgiving to you dear friends. I pray that you (and I) will rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances.  And I will pray that as we look forward to Christmas, you will experience the very real hope of Immanuel--God with us.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Lately

 The last week or so hasn't been too eventful for us. Friday was a low-key night at home. Saturday Taylor went hunting, so T.Mark and I hung out with his Aunt Angie and Uncle Lee. 


 Carols by Candlelight, the Christmas program at our church, is just around the corner! I had the opportunity on Sunday to help decorate the sanctuary for Carols and for the Christmas season. I loved working with these sweet ladies, along with many others! 

  My staff thought it would be REAL cute to post this pic of me on our office Facebook page last week on my birthday. Their excuse was that it was "throwback Thursday". Hmph. Bah humbug. However, upon closer inspection, I saw a little twinkle in my eye that is a lot like the one in the eyes another little kid I know:

Pictures of him are a bit of a blur these days, but hopefully you can see what I mean. 

The brand of the dog bed in our kitchen is "Lazybones". Ted takes that to mean it is his calling, and he will stop at nothing to make sure he does an excellent job.

Case in point. 

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Despite the hardships we all have in our lives, there is much to be thankful for!  "Rejoice always, pray continually, GIVE THANKS in all circumstances!" 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Monday, November 18, 2013

All By Myself

  Yes, you are supposed to have broken out into song as you read the post title. Go ahead, sing your little heart out. I might have. Just a teeny bit.
  Loneliness is defined as: the quality of being unfrequented and remote; desolate. Dejected by the awareness of being alone. 
   I don't know about you, but I get lonely sometimes. The weird thing is, I don't even have to actually be alone for it to happen. Sometimes there are just times that, for whatever reason, it is easy to feel lonely. Now maybe this is a self-centered view, and if I would just get outside of my own head, it would take care of itself. And that may be true. But the feeling is there nonetheless. 
   I try to fight it off. Music helps. Hugs help. Reaching out to another person in compassion or service helps. 
   The Lord tells us to be strong and courageous--that he will never leave nor forsake us. Jesus says that surely he is with us always, to the very end of the age. 
    I believe Him. But sometimes, I still have to ask Him--ok Jesus, I believe you, I really do. And I am so thankful I can talk to you, I really am. But it would be so wonderful if you could just speak to me audibly. And speak some warmth and light and sweetness into my ear.  
   That hasn't happened yet. Don't worry, you'll hear about it if it does! ;) However-He supplies just what I need in other ways. Maybe not the ways I think I want, or think are best. But through a text from a friend. Hugs from my husband or my sweet boy. A song or a book I love. My church family.
     And then when I sit down to read my Bible, it comes alive, and I realize that He IS speaking to me, quite clearly. And I remember that any loneliness I may feel has nothing on what He felt hanging on that tree. No one could do the task for him. No one could sympathize. No one had ever done before what he did that day, and for all eternity. As he prepared for what lay ahead, He sweated blood for me. His friends fell asleep, essentially deserting him in his greatest hour of need.
    When I think about those things--my light and momentary struggles become just that--light and momentary.  
    
    Here are a couple of pics, just for fun: 

T.Mark and his "Auntie Em":

Cousin love! We were excited to see Taylor's cousins Erika and Britain when they were in town, and their little boy Coll. This is blurry but with these boys everything was a blur! With that shirt and sippy cup, I see shades of the Ole Miss/LSU rivalry that is sure to come in the years ahead! 

Ok so I know y'all (all two of you who read this--hey, Mom and Angie!) may be tiring of my sunset pics. But I just can't help but share them when they look like this:

  I wish you could have seen it. 


Saturday, November 16, 2013

BFF and an Award

I don't have anything too crazy to report from this week. It was a busy one, which I like. We had a lot going on at our office--a crew from Minneapolis came in to take some photos and shoot some video because we got chosen as a national winner by one of the large dental supply companies, Patterson Dental, for our office design. Yay for that! The one thing I ever designed in my life actually won something! Unfortunately, I think I used up any possible decorating prowess all on that one project. I never can seem to quite do things quite so successfully at the house. Oh well!

Here is a pic of the setup before one of the interviews:

 

I had the fun surprise this week of my best friend and her sweet husband coming home from Annapolis for the weekend! We were able to have supper with them, her parents and grandparents--essentially my second family. It was honestly soul-nourishing to be with her. Sometimes you just need a little hangout time with those who know you inside and out!

Naturally her sweet Nana requested some playing and singing. We were happy to oblige. Every time we sit and do this though, I kick myself for never practicing during those years I took piano lessons! I can play chopsticks now and that's about it. Emily, on the other hand, can pick out pretty much anything by ear. It takes her about 30 seconds to get the chords figured out, and then she can play it with no problems. I am spoiled when we get to sing together!
 
Here is a video of my sweet man when we were trying to learn to say Emily's name. Excuse my crazy hair and lack of makeup!

Now Taylor, T.Mark and I are enjoying a lazy weekend and cleaning up around the house a little. Hope yours is as relaxing as ours has been so far!

 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Kisses and Irrecoverable Moments

This past weekend we were back in Oxford for the Arkansas game. I was able to steal some kisses from this busy little boy. 


The rest of the weekend he was either dancing:


Playing with Daddy: 

Watching the big boys play football: 

Or jumping in to hand off the ball:

My weekend was made when I almost ran smack into my precious friend Mary Catherine, and sweet baby Greer! I had not had the chance yet to meet this precious child, and it was such a joy to see how natural my friend is at being his mama. I do not get to see Mac as often as I'd like, but her friendship is such a sweet blessing to me. I can remember many ways over the years that she has challenged me and helped grow me spiritually. So thankful for her. 

  We left early Sunday morning to get back home in time for church. I was excited to have our friend, Marsha--who also happens to be our high school physics teacher!--bumming a ride home with us. She is another sweet friend who has had tremendous influence on my life, and I treasure any time I get to spend with her! 

    The ride home was a little more eventful than I would have liked, however.  T.Mark ate too big of a breakfast and got a little motion sick right as we stopped for gas and a snack. So his breakfast came right back up and ended up all over him, the car seat, the car...you get the idea. Poor Taylor was not feeling well already, and this just about did him in. Thank goodness for Marsha being there! I imagine helping clean up someone else's child's throw-up was not on her planned agenda for the weekend, but she selflessly stepped up to the task! 

    It's interesting--I had read an article just that morning by a missionary in Thailand about her awful smelling apartment, and about her praying to the Lord about it--because yes, He cares about even the little things in our lives!--and then her ensuing realization that her own sin is a stench in the Lord's nostrils. Well y'all, let me just tell you, that sweet baby's throw up did not exactly smell like roses. And it continued to not smell like roses the entire ride to Jackson. As I cleaned up the mess, and then rode on wishing (for once!) that I had a stuffy nose instead of clear sinuses--the reality of my own sin was again made fresh. But the beauty of that is that the more clearly we see our own sin and depravity, the more we acknowledge our need for a savior.  Jesus' sacrifice becomes all the more precious to me as I realize the depth of my need for Him. So I am thankful for the smelly ride home. It was actually a great way to prepare for Sunday morning worship! 

   And lastly-I wanted to share a quick story. I had an irrecoverable moment today at the office. I was able to share a little bit about the Lord with a patient. I get that opportunity from time to time. I am ashamed to say that there are more times I'd care to admit that I have shrugged off that feeling that He was prompting me, and have not shared Jesus with someone. I've kept Him to myself. The selfishness of that is pretty sickening, honestly, when I think about it. Thankfully time and time again He convicts me, and as life goes on He is emboldening me. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. Do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord" 2 Timothy 1:7-8a. 

   This is a beautiful pic I snapped yesterday of the sunset. It is amazing how quickly the sky changes. I had to run to get my phone because I wanted to capture the sky exactly as it is in the picture, and I knew a minute later it would look totally different. An irrecoverable moment. 

May Jesus continue to embolden me to speak the truth in love and to live unashamedly for Him--both in word and in deed.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Toofies

   Well our little man had his very first dental checkup this past Monday! I was actually really pleased with how well he did. Here are a few pics to commemorate  the experience! 

Getting ready:

Listening intently to Mama talk about the mirror and counting his teeth with the "tooth toucher":

"I'm not so sure about this, mom!"

Having Gran hold your hands is a big help!

All done!! 

  The only meltdown occurred actually AFTER the tooth cleaning--when we told him that he couldn't see his Doc (my dad) right that minute--he'd have to wait. 

    So naturally he proceeded to throw himself onto the floor in despair. 

   Goodness. Glad I read The Strong Willed Child when he was still in utero. I had an feeling I'd need it. Can you enter the terrible twos at only 17 months? 

    

  We are so thankful for this precious boy. He is a blessing from the Lord! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Grafted In

  I had the opportunity this weekend to go with my dad (who also happens to be my business partner) and our staff down to New Orleans for the American Dental Association's annual conference. It was a HUGE meeting. Thousands of people from all over the country attended.

  Yesterday morning dad and I went to a continuing education course entitled "Grafting and Surgical Guides in Implant Dentistry." Now don't worry-if you're not a dental person, bear with me-I'm not about to give a dental lecture. There were just a couple of things that really hit me hard while I was sitting these listening to this guy, and I wanted to share them.

   Part of the lecture was about the success or failure of various types of bone and tissue grafts. What causes a graft to succeed? What causes it to fail? The answer to these questions, bottom line--is blood. The presence of it, or the lack of it. Now when most people think about blood, they have a negative connotation. It makes many people squeamish. It makes little kids cry when they see it on a skinned knee. It is scary in a horror movie. 

   But for a surgeon-blood is good. Necessary, in fact. It is a sign of life. Where there is blood, healing is bound to follow. In a bone grafting procedure in the mouth, for example, the main objective is to establish a good blood supply to the area. In the mouth, it is not uncommon to actually drill tiny little holes in the bone adjacent to the area you are augmenting with the graft. Does this injure the bone? Technically, yes. But the purpose of this is to create blood flow that will cover and spread through the material that is grafted in, so the different pieces can integrate and become one. 

     There is a visual indication when this happens. The bone being grafted in turns red. And over time, when you later uncover it to see how the graft has integrated--you can see little difference in the original bone and the bone that was grafted in. However--if the graft was unsuccessful--there is a visual representation of that as well. The graft material will become dry. Brittle. It has a pallor. There are no signs of life. The area may even become necrotic. 

  I think it is so incredible that the human body, and even the surgical protocols and procedures in the world of science (that we as humans think we have so cleverly created!)--are a beautiful illustration of the all-sufficient, all-covering blood of Jesus. 

Matthew 26:28 "For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Romans 11:17 "But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree" 

  Because of the blood of Jesus, I have been grafted in to a family that I do NOT deserve to be a part of. My sins separated me from God, but I can say with complete certainty that I have been reconciled to Him through Christ's sacrifice. "And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." Colossians 1:20. 

   One of the best parts about this is--not only are we saved by the blood, grafted in by the blood--but we are healed by it as well. Whatever it is you are going through--Christ's overwhelming grace that he demonstrates through his sacrifice of death--ie, blood--can heal it. Whether you have a sick child, a broken relationship, or maybe a hurt so deep that no one even knows about it, and the weight of it is crushing you--the blood can cover all of that. And the peace and freedom He brings is so precious. 
 
     And eventually, as he sanctifies us over time, and we are "grafted in"--there will be a visual representation, just as there is in the human body. Our lives will naturally emanate God's grace to others.  They won't be lifeless, dull, or brittle, like the failed graft. They will be full of life, strength, and a sense of belonging. We have been grafted in.