Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 - A Year in Review

It's that time of year again to reflect and ruminate over the year's happenings. Summing up 2009 in one blog post would be impossible, but I'll give you the Reader's Digest version...

January - I resolved to get my groove back in 2009 and I'm happy to report I did. God has done some amazing things in my life and provided me many unexpected blessings. Most importantly, He restored a joy for ministry and loving Him that I'd been lacking for a while. The year also started off with a bang as we were hit with ice storms and snow storms causing citywide power outages and shutdowns. Thankfully, no power outages for me, so the Red Rose Inn was a refuge for some.

February - I made a trip to Robinson Mountain. It's not really a mountain, but a place of hospitality and relaxation in the home of Mark and Sharon. What a timely trip this was as I needed a break from reality and being cooped up during the January storms. They surprised me with tickets to see Selah which was an unbelievable concert. The weekend was full of great discussions, sweet prayer, and Mark's infamous Indoor S'mores at the fireplace.

March - Our annual women's conference at my church was this month with Heather Payne, former Point of Grace member and member of my church, as speaker. I always look forward to these conferences as our women get a chance to really connect with God and others. In 2010, I'll be one of the three speakers at our conference, which humbles me and excites me all at the same time. I never cease to be amazed at how God uses one like me.

April - Although this officially was born in March, Open Arms Fellowship became a true reality in April. Our tagline, "We integrate, not segregate" sets the tone for the experience at our weekly meetings. It's very simple. We meet at Culver's after church on Sunday nights. We have fellowship (hence the name) and great discussions. I provide a pearl of wisdom each week and we always have a good table topic for discussion. Our Head Twit, Ben Sutton, makes sure our OAF Twitter page is live for those who can't be in attendance to follow along with the events. On Sunday nights when we don't have church, we typically plan an "off-site" that takes us to various places to keep the fun going....cookouts....drives to name it. We are official because we have t-shirts, a Facebook Fan Page, and our own Twitter profile. To those who haven't experienced it, this all seems a bit goofy. But for those of us who have, it's created some of the sweetest bonds in our family of friends at church.

May - My friend, Liz, made a visit over Mother's Day weekend which was a nice diversion to a holiday that is always difficult for me. And along with her visit, I was able to do a covert mission and deliver flowers to my friend Rod's mother at the 11th hour to make him look like the stellar son he is. Spring had sprung and after the long winter, I was ready to break free.

June - I broke down and finally got a Smartphone. A beautiful purple Sidekick from T-mobile. I affectionately named her Violet and quickly got addicted to the crack that is mobile technology. As my faithful blog readers know, Violet met her demise in October after a horrible data outage that lasted for three weeks and I now am a proud owner of the T-mobile G1 Google Android phone. She's not purple, but black...and named Pepper in honor of Tony Stark's (aka Ironman's) faithful assistant, Pepper Potts, who I dream of being on a daily basis. I love Pepper even more than Violet. I am one of those people whose phone is now an appendage.

July - My spontaneous friend, Amy, and I headed to the mountains of North Carolina for a weekend getaway. We stayed at this quaint little spot called Lakeview at Fontana and the time we spent together was priceless. Great coffee, great conversations, relaxing was just what we both needed. One of my goals for 2009 was to nurture relationships and the time we spent together on this trip surely met that goal. I am ever so blessed with invaluable friends.

August - Speaking of invaluable friends, my annual trip to Adel with Christie to visit Chad and Tracy happened in August. This year we had an added member to visit, baby Allison. I always love visiting Chad and Tracy. This year we had a good time watching them as parents, which was enjoyable and sweet. And I learned that I'm the best person you'll ever want to play Mario Kart with because you can always win.

September - I had minor eye surgery in September. Zap zap and sparkly eye once again. Another birthday came and went this year and the memory of my Mom's passing was rather vivid. Oh how I wish I could spend just a few glorious hours with her. She was a special lady that I miss and that I rarely make it through a week without someone telling me how much they miss her too. Someone said that very thing to me today. I pray I'm half the lady she was.

October - My OPCs rarely are able to get all five of us in the same room. But in October we made a quick overnighter to Chattanooga. We did nothing spectacular but hang out and spend quality time together, but it was so worth the drive. People may not understand that, but we sure do.

November - In my normal travel fashion, I headed to Viriginia to visit the Roederers in the middle of a Nor'easter. I can travel south and an ice storm comes...I'm like the Grim Reaper of weather when I travel. But, the flight was great and aside from being a bit inhibited due to the flooding of doing some of the things we'd hoped, it was a wonderful trip. I got to love on the sweet boys and spend quality time with a long-time friend that was in dire need of girl time.

December - Aside from holiday festivities and enjoying this special time of year, December has been a time of reflection over the past year. There are many more things I could ruminate about that happened over the course of these short 12 months, but many would take too long or simply seem a bit too unbelievable. But that is what makes this year so special. My number one goal was to fall in love with Jesus more. Through many circumstances, the One that loves me most, wooed me in a way I hadn't planned. For a Type A planner, getting out of the driver's seat has been hard. But once I surrendered and unbuckled myself and got out of the way, God blessed me in many ways. My prayer for 2010 is that my love for Him will grow ever more stronger and when I look back on "Twenty Ten" I'll be able to glorify and praise Him even more.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Posts of Christmases Past

Recently, my friend, Alisa, wrote a blog post about the man behind Rudolph and linked to a post I wrote three years ago. I'm amazed that she remembered that post because I had long forgotten it. In April 2010, my blog will celebrate its 5-year birthday....which means I've blogged for five Christmases thus far. I'd like to think my blog is like has "rewatchability" (or re-readability) so I've decided to pull some blog posts from the past four Christmases for those that may have missed them, or like me, have long forgotten. Enjoy!

"When the North Pole Meets Bethlehem" - December 2005 - So many people in my life have discussed the challenge of allowing their children to believe in Santa Claus yet still be able to retain the true Reason for the Season. This post explains my life as a child who believed in Santa, but more importantly, believed in Jesus.

"Dating Lessons from a Reindeer" - December 2006 - As a single gal, and a mentor to many young girls, I'm always keen on using anything I can to teach object lessons about relationships and dating. This particular post was born out of my viewing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and my appreciation for Clarice and her ability to be just the doe Rudolph needed in his life.

"All Aboard" - December 2007 - After my first viewing of The Polar Express, I was taken by the basic lessons of belief found weaved within the story. Be forewarned, there are spoilers, but this post focuses on how the movie teaches us to believe in that which we do not see.

"The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" - December 2008 - My OPCs and I went to see the local performance of this wonderful book by Barbara Robinson. It was a great reminder of why this tiny baby came for someone as lowly as me.

As you reflect during this most glorious season, find the true Reason for the Season amidst the chaos and commercialization around you. Let His Voice speak loudly during the hustle and bustle you experience. Have yourself a merry little Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tis the Season for Giving

I've worked for the management team at my company for many, many years and with various companies. We've been through the good, the bad, and the buyouts together and I trust them enough to follow them wherever they may roam. One of the things about this team is that for the almost 20 years I've worked with them, we've always done Adopt-a-Family at Christmas. A woman here locally in town finds families in dire need and has various businesses willing to "adopt" them for Christmas.

At every company, the process is the same. Employees are divided up into teams randomly and given the description of the family and their needs and wants....usually there are more needs than wants...and more "wants" for the children expressed by the parents. It's a great way to get to know employees that you don't typically work alongside. In years past, I've had some pretty amazing stories. One year when Rick Pitino was still coach at the University of Kentucky, my team had a family consisting of a grandmother raising her grandson. No details on what happened to the parents, but little Anthony, when asked what his dream gift was, indicated "A Basketball..I'm a UK fan." That melted my heart that all he wanted was a basketball and most likely dreamed of being a Wildcat. At the time, my Dad was traveling a lot throughout the state and was in Lexington. He had heard my story and went to the athletic office to see if he could get some UK paraphenalia to include in the gift. When he recounted the story to the staff, they said, "Hang on one minute." They called down to the floor where Coach was practicing with the team and relayed the story..then asked my Dad the little boy's name. One of the assistants took off to the gym while another one gathered the annual basketball yearbook, stickers and other assorted "fan" fare for my Dad. When the assistant returned from the coach, my Dad had a glossy 8x10 picture of Rick Pitino, personally autographed to Anthony. Wow...what I would have given to see that boy's face when he opened that present.

This year, our family is a soldier who, while in Iraq, was seriously wounded. They have three girls and one baby on the way. The Mom asked for a crock pot. Being the ever practical shopper, I wanted to get her that, knowing with three children and being pregnant, she needs easy cooking options. Because I love online shopping, I quickly ordered one from Target to be shipped to work. In just a few days, it arrived. The very next day the same crock pot was delivered. I was baffled, so I went online to check my order and make sure I didn't err by ordering two...and I hadn't. Great. Now I have a crock pot that if I return, I'll get credited as if I received no crock pot. Or keep it and chalk it up to Target error. But, that too, didn't seem right. So, I decided to call customer service and plead my case. Let's see if Target has a charitable heart...

I spoke to a representative who I would surmise wasn't located in the continental United States since I could barely understand him. I explained my dilemma the best I could and told him about our charitable efforts to help families and asked if they would be willing to let me keep the extra crock pot for one of our other families. After checking and re-checking, the customer service rep said "Sure, that's fine." Yes, Viriginia, there is a Santa Claus...and he's dressed in a red polo shirt and khakis with a bullseye logo on his nametag.