Friday, December 27, 2013

2013: It's Yours, Lord

Last New Year's Eve, I decided upon my phrase for 2013:  It's Yours, Lord.  I had felt the need for reset and focus for 2013, and that is what God laid upon my heart for the new year.  In the blog post I wrote, here was my final words...."I pray that the year ahead is full of blessings.  But no matter, I know that God is planning all for my good. And in that promise is where I rest."

Wow.  How true those words became.  

I love my blog for no other reason then the journal it provides me to reflect upon. I committed my year to the Lord and to get the "I" and "My" out of my plans and put "His" in first place.  I believe that was all ordained from the Lord for me to walk the journey that was 2013.  As I do at this time of year, I'll reflect on the year that was....

After much prayer for about three months, I decided in March to get my MBA.  I still am in awe that I'm truly doing this, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it is exactly what the Lord wants me to do.  With three classes behind me, and three A's (yay!), I am thankful for this break at the end of the year to take a breath.  

The Louisville Cardinals won the NCAA Basketball Championship in April.  I'm a Louisville girl and proud of it.  It was an amazing run and my love of college basketball came from my Dad who taught me to love sports....since he didn't have a son.  I was oh so grateful I got to watch many of their games at Dad's side this past season.

Shortly after basketball season ended, Dad had some health problems, and he passed from this life to the next on Derby Day, May 4.  I still find it surreal that he is gone, but there have been so many lessons God has taught me through it all.  I miss him and my Mom terribly now but know they are in a much better place...together....praising our Savior.  Dad was so proud I was getting my MBA and that is one of the kabillion reasons I know the timing of that was perfect.

In June I served in VBS for the first time in years.  I worked in the Preschool craft room (Mom would have been in heaven there), and loved every exhausting minute of it.  I took vacation time and it was my "mission" trip for the year.  To see so many of the children that attended VBS be baptized since then makes my heart sing.  And knowing the seeds we planted in those preschoolers will take root one day and hopefully grow makes me look forward to next year's VBS already.

I visited my Alabama family for the Fourth of July holiday.  I wanted to get away after the loss of my Dad and the Fourth of July was perfect.  It would have been my Mom's 85th birthday.  The rain never stopped on July 4th, and most of my visit there, but it was absolutely wonderful as always.

Our annual trip to see the Todds was delayed until September, but was a wonderful time.  Seeing Allison and Logan and how they've grown was big fun.  And great food and fun with the Gentrys is always some of my favorite times of our visits.  Laughing and hanging out with the Todds is the best part of all.

I traveled to Northern California 3 times this year for work and each time was special.  The first trip out there after my Dad passed was so needed.  I drove out to the coast and ate overlooking the ocean.  It was peaceful and such a great reminder of how the Creator of the universe cares about the smallest of details in my life.  

Speaking of work, I am so grateful for my team.  From the passing of Dad, through helping them through their tough times and changes, I absolutely have the best team on the planet.  Hands down.  I manage 14 people, which may seem daunting, but I love them all.  I have been diligent to pray for each of them this year by name regularly and hope I have been a manager that has set the proper example for them.  To me, managing people is my favorite part of the job....the part that drives most managers crazy.  Realizing that helps me know I'm right where i'm supposed to be.

The last few days of the Christmas holiday have been beyond glorious.  I may never understand why God blesses me with friends that are family (I refer to as "friendily") and love me so.  Christmas Eve was spent with the Roederers and their new puppy, Penny.  I'm an aunt again!  I wish I had live tweeted the event because it's like a Cosby show waiting to happen.  I love this family and how they let me be a part of their family Christmas.  On Christmas, I was able to spend it with the Blackwells.  Beth is a sister from another mister and her husband, Kelly takes good care of me.  Kelly carted Brock and Kaylee over to wash my car one day and I am so thankful for those kind of surprises.  Dad would be so glad I have Kelly (and other Kellys) around to take care of me.  Makes me very thankful I asked Kelly to be a pall bearer for my Dad.  Kaylee was quick to show me all her gifts and even Lexi, her cousin, became my BFF.  Yesterday I got to spend the day with Christie, my NOK (next of kin), and her Mom.  Again, they are family to me and her Mom is one of many who take care of me like a Momma....especially on those days when I miss my Momma so much.  Tonight I get to hang out with the Thelma to my Louise, Amy....eating Thai food and crafting....and catching up on life.  I love her so.   The Lord sovereignly arranged all of these friendships in such a way that He knew who I would need in my life.  Blessed seems so minor to describe how I feel.

When I sat in the church last New Year's Eve, praying about the coming year, I had no idea what God was doing in my heart.  Oh, He did, and He was preparing me for the year ahead.  Reading the words I wrote reminds me how much better it is with God in control.  I look back and see He was planning all for my good.  And the year was full of blessings....even with the loss of my Dad, leaving me without my parents.  His love for me is immeasurable.  Lord, may I always make my life Yours.  

Friday, December 06, 2013

Five Minutes: Reflect

Each week Gypsy Mama chooses a word to write about for five minutes. No editing, stream of consciousness. Today's word is: Reflect.

Ready. Set. Write.

As I sit in my warm house today while snow and sleet is falling outside, I'm reflecting on many blessings....most of which, today, is my job.  It affords me the flexibility to work from home on days such as this.

When my company was acquired almost two and a half years ago, I asked God why He brought me over the line?  I've been to this rodeo before and rarely get "saved" to stick around.  The survivor's guilt and the carnage of molding companies together is brutal.  Yet, I was saved for some reason.  Today, I can't imagine being anywhere else.  Does my job drive me crazy?  Yes, doesn't everyone's job drive you somewhat crazy?  But the perks and benefits are much.

  • I work with some of the most intelligent people around.  My office lacks the back biting gossip most offices endure.  
  • After sitting through a health benefits presentation to understand the impact to a company due to Obamacare, and how my company is handling it makes me more thankful than I can express.
  • The flexibility of working anywhere keeps my job somewhat 24/7, but I'd gladly keep the flexibility to be somewhat always "on call."
As I reflect, I'm understanding more why God kept me in this job.  Surely my mind couldn't have comprehended it more than two years ago.  

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Top Five Christmas Albums, CDs, EPs or However You Listen

The weather outside is frightful, and the holiday music is delightful.  So since I've no place to go (but work), here I go, here I go, here I go....with the top five Christmas music collections no particular order.

1.  Kenny and Dolly: A Christmas to Remember - This collection only has 9 songs but it is timeless.  One of the greatest songs ever "Once Upon a Christmas" was written by Dolly herself.  The grand duet talents of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (for those of you who were still lost on "who is Kenny and Dolly?"....sigh) are what this album is all about.  This collection also was the creation of an hour-long Christmas special that I get excited when it replays.  The scene of Kelly and Dolly as Mr and Mrs Claus singing "I Believe in Santa Claus" is priceless.  If you haven't listened to this album, or, better yet, seen the special, you haven't lived.

2.  When My Heart Finds Christmas (Harry Connick, Jr.) - I swoon at the very breath from Harry's lips, much less his vocals.  Le Sigh.  This, his first Christmas CD, is amazing.  Fourteen singles and so many to comment upon.  The title track is a touching song, and the soundtrack runs the gamut of genre.  "It Must Have Been Ole Santa Claus" includes my favorite chorus, "Happy Ho Ho Ho to You!" which I drive everyone crazy with during the holidays.  My Christmas ringtone is the song "I Pray on Christmas" which makes me want to dance down the French Quarter.  There may be no other richer version of "Ave Maria" than the one in this collection.  Brilliant and moving.  The final track is "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"  Nothing, Harry, so I'm available.

3.  Rose of Bethlehem (Selah) - Selah is by far my favorite Christmas music group.  This Christmas CD stands tall among my choices during the holidays.  I have to admit there is a cover of "Once Upon A Christmas" featuring Dolly Parton that wins me over.  Another favorite is "Mystery" which is theologically rich in explaining the mystery of a Baby born to save the world.  The final track is the title track, "Rose of Bethlehem," and is a beautiful song explaining the True Rose of Bethlehem.

4.  Christmas (Michael Buble) - If I can't have Harry, I'll take Michael all day long.  This collection of 15 tunes are diverse and well done.  I can't say I have a favorite because his smooth voice always delivers a win.  Like Harry, he does a version of "Ave Maria" that is good, and almost (not quite) as good as Harry's.  Michael makes me swoon too.  I wish he'd do a Christmas tour in my area because as a live performer he is second to none.

5.  Duck the Halls (Duck Dynasty Family) - This is the first Christmas season the Robertson Family Christmas album has been around...and it's already made my top five list.  Where to begin?  There are laughter and tears while listening to the entire collection.  The duet of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" between Jase and his wife, Missy, is precious.  I already love Jase, but love him more when he playfully flirts with his wife in this duet.  Missy sings a lot on this album and has a beautiful voice.  It's hard to not love all the songs that feature Si.  I love Si.  "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and his recitation of a "Duckified" "Twas the Night Before Christmas" make me laugh every time.  And like every episode of Duck Dynasty ends with prayer, so does this Phil leads in prayer pointing us all to the true meaning of Christmas...Jesus.  

Monday, December 02, 2013

The Gospel According to Enriched Flour

It's that time of year when high-caloric recipes are flowing through my Pinterest feed and I get in that baking spirit.  Although I play a career woman on a daily basis, there is a secret side of me that would enjoy meal planning and being able to have the time to cook and bake for more than just me on a regular basis.  With work and school, many times, Cheerio is more than a greeting, but a dinner menu item.  

There are so many flour options these days - whole wheat flour, gluten-free flour, all-purpose flour, enriched flour.  During my devotion this morning, I read this verse:  "That by Him you were enriched in everything--in all speech and all knowledge." (I Corinthians 1:5)  The word "enriched" stuck out to me.  I've been enriched.  Hmm, what does that mean?  To help me understand I go to the process of enriching flour to understand the context. 

The purpose of enriching flour is to replenish the flour with the nutrients it lost from its unrefined flour state.  Clearly this process isn't flawless and there isn't a way to make it completely as nutritional as the pure, unrefined state.  But it is an attempt to restore what's been lost.  Read that line one more time.  It is an attempt to restore what's been lost.  And then the light bulb came on.

The sin in the garden ruined our pure state and we became flawed...missing our valuable "nutrients," if you will.  Jesus came to restore what's been lost.  Like enriched flour, we won't be perfect and sinless like Jesus until we are in Heaven, but as I Corinthians says, "By Him we are enriched in everything."  

My life is still sinful.  Yet, Jesus' righteousness enriches me.  Until that day when I "rise" to meet Him, may I cling to His enrichment every single day.