Brief updates (again)

1. I am now the proud owner of e-tickets for flights that will carry me to and from Italy in April. My dad very graciously allowed me to use his frequent flier miles so I only had to pay $125.00 in taxes and booking charges. How amazing is that? How amazing is he?

2. Since January I’ve lost 13 1/2 pounds. I want to lose 11 1/2 more by the time we leave. Don’t applaud yet because I still have a LONG way to go and will probably have to think about what I eat for the rest of my life. I just don’t want to spend the rest of my life being FAT and thinking about what I eat.

3. Plans are shaping up for my California trip. Did I tell you I’m going to California? It’s a work thing, but it’s going to be so great. We have our flights, our hotel rooms are booked, and the van for the drive down the coast is rented.

4. The WINGS conference was this past weekend and it went very well. We had record attendance. I helped with music/song leading and was on a panel discussing the reality of motherhood vs. the cultural myths. I hope if you’re within driving distance of Searcy you will try to come next year. It’s always the last weekend in February, so mark your calendar now.

5. I have exactly one week left to be 39. Thursday is my birthday and I will be 40. I’ve been practicing it. “I’m forty.” “How old am I? Not thirty!” “Yes, I’m forty.” How weird is this? I remember when my MOM turned 40. How can I be turning 40 when inside I feel pretty much like I did when I was — well, not 18, but 25 I guess. 40. It is a very important number in the Bible, and it’s playing out that way for me too. This year I am:

  • Going to California for the first time
  • Going to Europe for the first time
  • Finishing grad school

I’m not sure if that’s anything of Biblical proportions, but it’s very, very cool!

Kids are good, by the way. I’ll put some pictures up soon. Life’s just kind of going in fast forward these days.

Grace and Gratitude

A group of women at my church have started a new women’s class. This past Sunday was our first meeting and we were challenged to practice gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal for a week. Just one week of writing down three things we are grateful for each day and telling why we are grateful for them. What a great exercise! What a doable discipline!

I’m already two days behind.

Yesterday, however, I attended a memorial service that has spurred me on to incorporate this practice into my life. Grace was a friend of my family, one of those people who have just always been there. Her husband taught with my dad and they shared an office for several years. She was my Bible class teacher in 2nd grade and she taught Becca as a 4-year-old every Sunday morning. We were in the same prayer group for a couple of years. She had a beautiful smile and was a wonderful Christian woman who loved the Lord and this life with a quiet but noticeable passion. She lost her battle with lymphoma last Friday.

At her service, Grace’s daughter Rachel — a beautiful young woman in her early thirties — spoke of her mother’s ongoing reminder that we should practice the admonition, “in everything give thanks.” She spoke of her teen years and how her mom would remind her to be grateful even for the people who made her angry. She spoke of how this discipline of thanksgiving had led her to have a more positive view of life, even during very hard times. She spoke of how she still felt very angry about the cancer who had robbed her of her beautiful mother, but how she also knew that her practice of gratitude would help her work through her grief and anger as she faced the rest of her life without her mom.

In everything give thanks. It’s hard, isn’t it? When death looks at us, laughs, and steals someone we love it is very hard to be thankful. When we continue to pay the consequences for a sin long ago confessed and forgiven, it’s hard to give thanks. “In everything?” Surely not everything.

But — yes — everything.

So, today I am thankful that God put Grace in my life and that her beautiful smile and passion was in front of me for thirty-something years. Because of this, I know that Christian women can influence many people and make an impact on the world.

Today I am also thankful for words and the ability to express thoughts and share emotion. Without them we would be isolated and alone; because of them we are connected and can share the joys and sorrows of life.

And I thank God — profoundly and passionately — that he is a God of love who forgives and invites us to partner with him throughout our life and for all eternity. Because of that we can know that death is not the end, but only a new beginning.

Grace and gratitude. A wonderful combination.

A few (hopefully) quick notes

Life runs full steam ahead during the school year but I wanted to drop in and catch you up on a few things.

1. If you’re within driving distance of Searcy, come to Harding’s WINGS conference next Saturday! I’ll be helping with the music and will also be serving on a panel discussion debunking the myth of the perfect mother. Trust me — I’m *really* good at getting rid of that idea!

2. I learned earlier this week that the University of Tennessee is going to accept six hours of graduate credit I took before enrolling in their program. This means that I will be able to finish my degree in August instead of going through December. HOORAY! I get my life back four months early! Woo-hoo!!

3. Last week, one of my best friends from forever got married for the first time. I was honored to be a bridesmaid for the first time in thirteen years. We had a great weekend together and she and her new husband are now on a cruise and will be settling down in the Dallas area.

4. I’m going to Italy with my sister in April. How cool is that? I’ll be sure to take LOTS of pictures!

Long Time Coming

It’s amazing how quickly time gets away from me once school starts. This post is long overdue.

I spent my last Friday of freedom with my wonderful God-given friends Suzanne and Maury. Here are some pictures from the day.

It was such a good day! Once upon a time, my daughter Becca told me, “Mom, I hope that when I’m grown I have girlfriends as good as yours.” I hope she does too. Even with all of our moving, I have never been without friends who shared my journey and helped me along the way.

By the way, that yummy chocolate chip covered thing was awesome! It was a combination of cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and — I don’t remember — but it was amazing. We also had some really good homemade salsa that day. Isn’t it fun to just cook, eat, and hang out with friends?

A great way to wrap up the holidays before returning to work and school. Thank you God for amazing friends.

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