Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas, Christmas and More Christmas

This is the 2nd year I haven't been able to decorate for Christmas. :( It's disappointing to me, because I LOVE Christmas. The cheesier the decor the better. I am all about being sentimental. I can't wait until we finally get settled. I pray that next year I will be able to decorate, and make goodies with Greg and Kirsten. I look forward to watching Christmas movies, hosting Christmas parties, driving crazy distances to see over-the-top Christmas lights, and sending out Christmas cards again. I want to take Kirsten to Stone Mtn. every year to write her letter to Santa. I want to serve those less fortunate, and make birthday cupcakes for Jesus, and have a birthday party for Him. As my Mother In-law says, "This will come, this is only temporary." I praise God for the selling of our house in MS. Now, my prayer is for Him to reveal to us our new home. I know He's preparing it for us, and handling details we may never know. I look forward to the day when He says, "Here you are. This is where I want you planted in GA."

Traveling for Christmas is hard. This effort consists of packing for 10 days for 3 people... one being a 2yr. old, presents for both sides of the family, Chloe, our 4 legged first born, and goodies and entertainment for the car ride. This is a lot to fit into a Camry. Don't get me wrong, it's been more than fabulous seeing everyone, but maybe Christmas isn't the best time to do this. Christmas is about family, but maybe this means immediate family. Maybe it's the rest of the year that's about the entire family. I don't know, this one is tough. I know we aren't the only ones with relatives in other states. It's a tough call, you want to be able to have your own traditions, but you want to spend time with the rest of the family too...what's right? This year, for us it was best to travel. God only knows what's best for future Christmases.

Our first adventure was to see Greg's side of the family in New Orleans...Destrehan, LA to be exact, but it's easier to say New Orleans. It took us about 8 hrs. to make a 6 hr. drive. LA was about 40 degrees warmer than GA. As soon as we crossed the LA state line we no longer saw red and green Christmas decorations. Everything was Black and Gold. We made it just in time to catch the Saints game.

We had such a great time catching up with family we haven't seen in years. We ate shrimp creole, meatballs and french bread. Conversation consisted of the Saints going to the playoffs, Mardi Gras parades, and the never ending effects of Katrina. My Mother In Law's friends that she refers to as "the YaYa's" stopped by to catch up. I call them the girls from Sexy in the Crescent City...always a pleasure, always a blast, ALWAYS a laugh.

My Father In-law took us to Mr. Roo's for lunch on Monday. Mr. Roo's is one of Greg's and my favorite places to eat. They have the best poboys in NOLA. They're always consistent. I'll post pics.

Sooooo goooood! Greg had the muffaletta and I had Mr. Roo's special.

As if that wasn't enough to make the day complete, we met Mover Rich from Imagination Movers in Target. He was super super nice. I apparently was more impressed than Kirsten was. As you can see in the picture below, she was more impressed with the toy train on the shelf behind him. His wife loved Kirsten's hat (she's wearing it in the background) I made her. She asked me how to do stripes because she's learning how to make hats too. I took Kirsten's hat off and showed her how. Yeah, we totally bonded.

A great ending to a great visit.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Party With The Girls

Tonight was our Bible Study Group's Christmas Party. We've spent the last 12 weeks doing Beth Moore's study on Daniel. This study was challenging to say the least, but it was so worth the challenge. We all made a commitment to learn back in September. Not only did we learn about Daniel and his faithfulness, we also learned about his God. The wonderful thing, this is also our God.

Through the study of Daniel, I met some amazing women that I was privileged to spend my Monday nights with. Who needs Monday Night Football when I can spend time getting to know God and these wonderfully gifted women? I am so blessed that God placed each of these precious women in my life.

Our Christmas Party was at O'Charley's in Hiram. The food was great, but the company and fellowship was even better. We were each greeted at the table with little bags of Christmas goodies. Also, our entertainment was the little game we played for our ornament exchange.

I love these ladies and I am so blessed to know each of them. God has placed us all in each other's lives for a reason. I can't wait to start our next Beth Moore study, Stepping Up, a study of Psalms.

To my girls, this is my prayer for you...

Phil. 1:3-6

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Best Gift

This weekend was the eagerly anticipated Best Gift production at Pinelake Church. I say production because the word program can't justify the greatness of Best Gift, and program is a word that's too easily stereotyped. I am so excited that I was able to take the trip to see it. This was such a bittersweet experience for me. This was the event that I have been bracing myself for since we moved. I've always been a part of the choir, so this is my first year to deal with not being in it. I am a visitor now :(. However, this was also the first year I actually got to sit in the audience and see it with my husband. It was such a blessing to have him with me.

Best Gift never ceases to satisfy me. It always manages to go above and beyond my expectations. After all, it is all about the way I see it, right?....Totally kidding. I credit the splendor of Best Gift to Obedient Leadership, Prayerful Teams, and Faithful Servants. Sprinkle this with some amazing talent given by God above to all involved with the sole purpose to glorify HIM.

On top of this being an amazing production, God blessed me with a personal gift during the show. He answered a question that I forgot I had asked Him a long time ago. I won't go into details, but about 4 years ago, I wanted an answer to something and never received one. It was nothing huge, and God owed me no explanation. But clear as day He said, "That's why! Now know it's not about you (me), and see I am working on a bigger plan here...but you (I) do play a part." I was so blessed, humbled and honored all at the same time. God is good, and God is faithful!

I honestly can't say whether or not this was my favorite Best Gift because I am partial to the ones in which I got to participate. However, this was some of my favorite music. It was beautiful, and every song had a wonderful message. To see and hear from the audience what I haven't really had the opportunity to before, made me appreciate everything even more. I didn't know what to expect, and as I mentioned earlier, I was amazed. The choir was absolutely beautiful, glorious, and just freakin' awesome. I am so blessed to say that at one time, I was a part of such a wonderful group and ministry.

I love going back to MS and visiting Pinelake and my friends. They are all so precious, and they always make me feel welcome. I miss being a part of this ministry dearly. I really grew as a Christian through that experience. It's so great to be able to call such a godly group, family.

We had a Best Gift after party at Lea Anne's house and it was so fun catching up with my friends I haven't seen in a while. I can't wait to go back for Christmas and see them again. Only 12 more days!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

De Ja Vue

Today was such a special day. It started off like any other Sunday morning. My family and I had every intention of attending the 9:00 am church service, but, like every other Sunday morning, we chose to be lazy and go to the 11:00 am service instead. With this choice we got to drink our coffee in mugs instead of travel cups, and we watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with Kirsten in our PJ's. I love family time like this.

We went to church as usual. When we got there Greg went to the computer to check Kirsten into childcare, and I took her to look at the fish tank. As I was standing there I got the most intense sensation of de ja vue. It was like the world paused and this scene passed through my mind really fast, but it was so real.

I knew this was God speaking to me. He let me know exactly why I was feeling this. It never crossed my mind until that instant, but today was exactly one year from the first time we visited West Ridge Church. I swear this feeling was so strong. I couldn't concentrate on anything, but remembering the first time I stepped foot into that place.

My life was in such a different place a year ago. Greg and I visited West Ridge last year, while we were in GA looking for a place to live. That weekend was honestly the most overwhelming and stressful weekend of my life. The day before, we spent all day visiting every suburb of Atlanta that could be a possibility for us to start our new life. We ate lunch at quiznos that day, and I told Greg there was no way I could move here. I was determined that I was supposed to stay in MS and he was going to move to GA and somehow we would work it out. I mean, couples do it all the time. Greg wasn't going for this.

This morning I cried from the second the Worship started until church was over. They were tears of gratitude and humility knowing that God brought me to this challenge and He is bringing me through it. He showed me that I am no where near where I was last year. He has held all my anxieties and frustrations, and He has been in control of everything. He is showing me so much love here through His blessed children. I haven't consistently attended West Ridge for the past year because I didn't officially move to GA until April, but Greg has. He even bought me an "UN" shirt...which I don't know why they sold t'shirts for that series logo, when there's been so many cooler series logos since then, but that's another blog.

After church today I received a phone call from one of my new GA friends. She's so precious. I was able to tell her how special church was today for me, and she said the sweetest thing to me. She told me that now I have family here, and now I am at home.

Phil. 1:3 I thank God every time I remember you.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Pleasures of a Southern Miss Alumni

Last weekend, Greg, Kirsten and I got to go to Southern Miss' Homecoming. I always treasure the opportunities to go back to Hattiesburg for visits. This is where Greg and I met, so it's very special to us. It was such a blessing to take Kirsten. We always pass Applebee's on Hardy St. and tell her, "This is where Mommy and Daddy met." When we were dating and leaning towards the more serious side with our relationship, we would always talk about getting married and having little legacies we could bring to the games. Now we're getting to live out this sweet talk.

It never gets old strolling around Southern Miss' beautiful campus. There's nothing better than taking those same steps through the campus that we have taken hundreds of times before, and reminiscing about old times. It's so nice to take those paths with a calm and cheerful heart, unlike when we were students. As students we would walk those same paths in a hurry, rushing to class, or going over less than useful notes in our heads, anticipating a test we were about to take...and prayerfully pass. Now, we can take these paths well rested, and focused on everything but test anxiety.

It gives me a sense of pride to call myself an Alumni of University of Southern Mississippi and of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. Both of these keep growing and improving. The sororities now have their own houses...their own Sorority Row in fact. These houses are beautiful. The buildings on campus are constantly being updated and refurbished. The growth and attention given to Southern Miss is obvious and appreciated.

Homecoming brings opportunities to reconnect with old friends. Christmas is for families, but Homecoming is for friends. I hate I didn't get the chance to see all of them. This time I didn't get to meet up with the ones I miss the most. It's just the different seasons in everyones' lives that don't always allow us to see each other. Hopefully, there's next year. Praise God for facebook!

I can't stress enough how much I love my college friends. They knew me when I was broker than broke, dumber than dumb, crazier than crazy, innocent and naive, parents always on my back giving wake up calls at 6:00am, and my friends never judged me for it. They knew me when I was most myself. Whenever I reconnect with them, that part of me comes back. Of course maturity comes with experience, marriage and parenthood. College friends can bring you back to the old you. This would be the "you" that has nothing to prove. The "you" that is encouraged for your accomplishments and not judged by your bad decisions and/or failures.

We've all changed and gone our separate ways. Some didn't marry their college sweethearts and some have. Some have not married yet, and some have taken the "no children" option. Some are all over the United States, and some have stayed in Mississippi. Some are very successful, from the "world's" point of view, and some have less than glamorous positions. As long as every one's priorities are straight, and each person is happy and healthy, that's all that matters.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Our Move to GA

About a year ago, Greg started to question where his future was headed with his job. He was happy with things, but he hit a plateau for possibilities of advancement. Greg wanted to help people hands on, with opportunities for growth and other areas of learning. He prayed for answers, and felt God leading us somewhere outside of Mississippi.

In the meantime, while Greg was going through this, I was praying for directions in my life...for God to expand our territory. I am a stay home mom, and I paint ceramics on the side. God has blessed me beyond measure with the opportunity to do something I love, but I felt called to be involved in some ministries inside and outside of church.

One day last Oct., a guy Greg did business with called him out of the blue telling him about a job at a law firm in Atlanta. The guy heard about the job from a client and thought of Greg. So this guy called Greg asking him to consider looking into the job. Within a couple of days, Greg had a phone interview. Things sounded nice but we were a long way from getting an offer.

The next week we were going to NYC for Greg to get a certification. This firm called and wanted to do a second interview via satellite with Greg.

You want to know how God works? Like this.....
There wasn't anywhere for Greg to do a satellite interview in Jackson, MS other than his current place of employment. That just wouldn't be the right thing to do. Greg explained to the prospective firm that he had to go to NYC for the certification and they could try to work out something as soon as he got back into town. The firm had an office in NYC and suggested that Greg do the satellite interview while he was there. So, Greg arranged the interview. Did I mention it was in NYC? We were worried he would never find the place. We didn’t know if he’d have to get a cab. Then, if he did have to get a cab, how early would he have to leave to make it there? We were so confused.

So guess where the firm was located? Almost next door to where we were staying. It was so close that I could look out of our hotel window and see Greg walk out of that building when he left the interview.

Still don't see God working? I'll go on....HE gets so much better.

While we were still in NYC, the day after his satellite interview in fact, the firm in Atlanta wanted to interview him in person, soon. From the first phone call until this point was all within one week. The firm wanted to interview Greg on Friday, and we were flying home to MS on Thursday.

Here comes God working His wonders again...

We had to switch flights in Atlanta on Thur. night. Greg took off of work on Friday and stayed in Atlanta for the interview, while Kirsten and I flew back home. Kirsten and I weren’t left hanging. God was protecting us. He brought Allison, my BFF with us on our trip. As for Greg, his BFF, Jason, lives and works in Atlanta...not far from where Greg was interviewing. Jason, who travels more than he’s home, was in town that night, going to work that Friday, AND....see God here.....driving to MS on Friday night for a Southern Miss football game on Sat. Oh yeah, I am not exaggerating at all....I don't have to.

Now for the sprinkles on top....Greg's future boss....graduated from Southern Miss, and his name is Greg. Can we just stop and say Hallelujah!!

I wish I could say that this was enough for me to see God’s hand in this experience, but at the time, it wasn't. As I said before, I didn't want to move to Atlanta. It scared me. I cried, I argued, I pleaded...I tried everything to convince Greg we didn't need to move, but I couldn't. Greg explained that this was an answered prayer. I had prayed for this and so had he. I just couldn't see things that way. After more praying, I realized this was God's will and I had an awful attitude towards this gift, and towards my husband for trying to provide a better life for our family.

Greg moved to Atlanta in Jan., 2009 and stayed with Jason until Kirsten and I moved here in April. I really needed those 3 very long months to say my good-byes, and to appreciate my husband for the wonderful man he is. I developed such a heart for single parents. It is SO hard. Kirsten was only 18 months old when Greg moved, and she couldn't understand any of this. She became very attached to me and never wanted to be left alone. She would wake up all during the night, every night, when Greg wasn't there. It was so hard to deal with all by myself. The lack of sleep really takes a toll on you mentally and physically. During those three months Kirsten had the stomach virus, a really bad cold, and strep throat, so I tried not to take her out too much. I truly survived only on God's strength and grace. Lack of sleep breaks your immune system down so me not getting sick was a miracle and a blessing.

God bless Allison for her help. Without her I wouldn’t have made it. Seriously, she was the only one there for me during this season. I was so lonely and sad. I am not trying to have a pity party, but it was a very hard time for me. I tried a few times to reach out to family, just for moral support or a nap, but no luck. After the first week of Greg's move, I never really heard from either side of the family. They called once or twice, but only on choir practice nights. After the second week, they quit calling and checking on us. My mom didn't speak to me the last month and a half I was in MS. At church people would say, "I thought you moved." The people that used to call me everyday to hang out, quit calling me, and quit wanting to hang out. I knew life would go on when I moved, but I felt forgotten before I was even gone. I started to buy the lies Satan was feeding me that no one really cared about us. Lack of sleep can tear your guards down. I remember being on the phone with Greg one night and everything I was doing by myself hit me all of a sudden. I just had a breakdown right then and there. I started crying out of exhaustion, fear, frustration, hurt and anger. I was thinking, "what if something happened to me? Kirsten can't call for help." "What if I had a heart attack?" "What if we got in an accident?" There was no one I could call. There was no one I could count on. As I was having my breakdown, the Spirit reassured me that God is my protection and shelter. This was happening to strengthen me and teach me to rely on Him. I see that I went through this season to develop my independence, increase my confidence, and to appreciate my husband more.

Now moving on to the second phase of this season….

Being in an apartment for the past 6 months has been challenging to say the least. The pros are that our family is back together, and we have time to really figure out where we want settle down. Also, the fact that we have a place to live in such an economic crisis is a blessing in itself. The cons are it's a small 2 bedroom apt, with limited spacing and almost everything we own is in storage. This is difficult because we can't get to our stuff in storage because it's packed so tight. Also, for six months money was extremely tight. Paying rent and a house note back in MS, not to mention utilities and insurance for two residences can drain you. This has taught us financial discipline and that God gave us this gift, so He needs to be in charge of our spending. We have been strapped, but He has always provided.

God is in control of all of this. I consider this season in my life as visiting my "Shack". I have had nothing to do but play with Kirsten and develop a deeper relationship with My God. I am seeking after His heart, and I am getting to know Him in ways I never knew Him before. He is showing me who I am in Him. He is breaking my heart for what breaks His. He is cleaning up my "stuff" and healing my hurts. He is helping me to let go of bitterness that I've held onto for a long time. He's showing me not only the importance of forgiveness, but He's teaching me how to forgive. I am finding rest in Him and His timing. I understand that while I am with Him at my “shack” He is doing His BEST work in me. He is preparing me, equipping me, and training me for His purpose for me. I am humbled by how much He cares about not only me, but my family.

God blessed us last week with the sale of our home in MS. His timing is perfect. I can't wait to see where He takes us this next season. I am just so amazed at how much God loves us, and the extremes He'll go to, to show us this. He has brought us to GA for a reason, and I pray everyday to live out His will.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My New Blog

I want to invite everyone to follow me on my new blog. My family and I have just moved Georgia and I would love to share our new life with you. Those of you who know me really well know that I LOVE Pink. With that said, Greg and I feel that "What do you Pink?" is only fitting for my blog's name. I hope you enjoy reading my posts and keeping up with us.