Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!!

Hey beautiful girls!!! I don't have but just a second but I wanted to pop in before 2008! Tomorrow is a really special day for me which I'll have much to say about later, but it will be a novel, so for those that may pop in before then, I'll save you from 2 books back to back. :) I left my computer in North Carolina by accident, so my fab parents are sending it later this week. (Thanks to my bud Daniel for letting me borrow his.)

So my phone died yesterday on the way back to Nashville, and I was panicking cause this day and age what do you do when you are without both the internet AND a phone?! We don't have a house line, so of course I'm thinking the world is going to end...(not really, but just work with the dramatic scene here)
But have no fear, I was at the Verizon store this morning when it opened and got a brand new phone for free!! I walked in with a pink phone (my sweet dad got a little confused when he got our phones...we'll just say PINK was not on my list of favorite phone colors...but it was free for me, and I was a happy daughter at the time) ..and I walked out of the store with a RED phone--the color I actually wanted when we bought new maybe Jesus thought He'd give me a surprise, last-minute Christmas present. :) I sort of wish He had done it without the 6 hour freak-out session on the way back to town, but oh well...I guess His sense of humor is still in tact. :D

Anywho...I'm sitting here with my Banana Hot Cocoa (oh yeah...we have some rockin' gas station cappuccino [sp?] machines in town), new guitar strings (thanks again, Daniel) and a new red phone about to watch Dick Clark. Hope ya'll have an awesome last night in '07...special things to share later this ya'll..

PS...if you haven't read Daniel lately (not my friend mentioned above...the Old Testament book...hahaha) you should check it out's AWESOME. :)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My First Christmas as an Only Child

I have one older brother. Already the title of this entry sounds a little odd. I have a wonderful older brother named Aaron who is 25 and lives on Oak Island…a small place off the coast of North Carolina about 45 minutes from Wilmington. And up until tomorrow (I know…bad grammar) we have spent every Christmas (well, every holiday really) at home with our parents in Lenoir, North Carolina. (Apparently we have a thing for small towns.) But this year is different. Aaron got married to the best girl in the world (see side-bar for sister-in-law love)…Downey. I love her and she could not fit into our family more. Really, it’s scary how much she is like us. I guess my brother just loved me so much he wanted to marry somebody that talked just like me. HaHa. I am one of those that is able to take any one syllable word and immediately increase it’s grammatical status to at least 3 or more. (I blame Martina McBride, Tracey Lawrence, Teri Clark, and John Michael Montgomery…my first country loves.)

Anyways, back to my point. This is my very first Christmas as an only child. Last year Aaron and Downey were engaged, but not yet married, so they still spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at their own houses. We still got up between 9 and 10 (yes moms, there is hope for a day when your children will sleep past 6 Christmas morning…and believe me, we have to MAKE ourselves get up at that time), did our presents while eating (my favorite) cinnamon rolls with the orange icing and drinking hot chocolate (Aaron and dad) coffee (mom and me), then had a big Christmas lunch (that was actually breakfast food), and spent the rest of the day ooing and ahhing over our new stuff and watching the cheesiest lifetime movies we could find. All family traditions still in tact through Christmas ’06.

Now it’s Christmas ’07. I am sitting in the living room surrounded by Santas we have collected over the years, our 12 foot tree (that is artificial for the first time in my life…OH, that is another story with a soap box in itself), Love Actually is playing on the TV, and I just finished some apple cider that was a little too watered down to bring out my holiday spirit. Dang it. My brother is in Boiling Springs (again with the small towns) with his bride and her family where they will wake up on Christmas morning. My brother will not be here on Christmas morning. (I know, I just said that twice.) Not to be TOO sappy, cause please, he is my brother and we do still get on each other’s nerves from time to time...but its just not going to be the same! We are messing up the present system for Pete’s sake! Kid 1, parent 1, kid 2, parent 2 (repeat). It was so perfect! The sad part is, I won’t even get to SEE my brother on Christmas day! We won’t see him until the afternoon/night of the 26th. I know people do this all the time, and most of you won’t see your siblings n whatnot actually on Christmas day (and if you do, maybe just don’t tell me now…you can send me a “ps” after new years) but this is the first time our family traditions are going through a major change!

Aaron and I always sit together at the Christmas Eve service at our church. Dad's a minister, and mom is either in the choir or playing the piano, or both…so that just left us kids.

Aaron and I always sit together at the “kid table” at our pastor’s house after the Christmas Eve service…even though all of the “kids” at our table are college graduates except 1 who is just 2 years away. We’ve been our little Christmas gang away from the ‘adults’ since I was in Middle School! (Oh, the homely years. *Shudder*)

Aaron and I always watch Christmas Vacation with our parents every Christmas Eve, after the service, after the dinner, after our PJs are on.

Aaron and I always wait til Christmas morning and scurry around trying to find bags and bows to wrap our presents in. (He used to just open the presents from my parents and then go upstairs and use the bags they gave him to put their gifts in...yes, please laugh.)

Aaron always had to knock on my door to wake me up because I insisted we have Christmas morning actually IN the morning (a revolutionary idea, I know)...but I was always the last one in the bed.

Aaron and I always got at least one 'toy' that was the same. One year it was a giant stereo, one year a game boy, once a digital camera, there was the ipod year, and the next was the room speaker for the ipod. And the list goes on.

Aaron and I always made fun of my dad because we couldn't touch a present until his Mannheim Steamroller CD was full steam ahead in the CD player.

And after the presents were done, Aaron and I always gawked at how blessed we were and how much our parents had outdone themselves that year. Every year.

We will still have the Christmas Eve service, we will still go to Janis and David's afterwards for dinner, I will still sit at the kid table with Jon and Christopher (minus the two married couples), we will still watch Christmas Vacation (or sleep through before we go to bed tomorrow night, Santa will still come and bring my presents...he knows where Aaron will be ;), I will still eat my orange-icing cinnamon rolls (GLORY) and coffee, we will still have our big Christmas breakfast/lunch, and my mom will still cry at at least one present that she gets...happens every year.

Sigh. OK, life will go on. And more importantly, Jesus will still be praised. The last thing I do after watching Christmas Vacation every year is go up to my cozy bed and read the Christmas story in the quietness of my own little space. And almost every year, I sit and bawl at the newness I find in that story. This year I will think about my little Hutch and how I can't keep my hands off of his sweet face. And then I'll think if Hutch is THIS cute, can you imagine the effect the Savior of the WORLD..of MY heart..had on those around him? Talk about cute. I bet He was the definition of it. And the greatest love Mary's heart, mine, or yours would or will ever know. What in the world? God loves us so much!!!!

So here's to new beginnings...with our same sweet Jesus.
I love you girls!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! :)

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday Beautiful Jesus,
Happy Birthday to you

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Quick Hi :)

Hey girlies!!! I don't have much time because I'm running out the door, but I wanted to just stop in and tell you all how much I appreciate you and your blog friendship!! I think it was thinking about the Siestaville Blog-a-versary that got me in this grateful mood!! Knowing that 98% of us have never met and you still continue to lavish your love, support, and Jesus-wisdom on me for the decisions, successes and struggles in my life means more than you could ever know! The Lord has definitely used your prayers and words of encouragement more than a time or two this fall to carry me through a trial or two..(or 10) So I just wanted to say THANK YOU, and for your bloggity-randomness enjoyment...a top 10 list with absolutely no point :)

#10. I have only bought 1/2 of my Christmas presents.. (the men in my family stump me every year!)
#9. We have a silver tensile (sp?) Christmas tree (picture to come later) because we are poor 20-somethings...but it has brought us much joy :D
#8. I found these GREAT candles at Pier 1 today for like 2 bucks..want He more praise?!?!
#7. Tonight is the last Kairos service...I'm ready to get my praise on!!!
#6. We have substitute mistletoe in our living room=HOT PINK JINGLE BELLS :D :D
#5. I have a secret obsession with dragonflies :)
#4. I bought myself a present for Christmas...a sparkly ornament :D
#3. The peanut butter balls are almost gone...'Abby's pants, we have a problem'
#2. My roommate brought me a Cinnamon Toast Crunch bagel from Panera tonight...GLORY
#1.(and definitely most important) My Best Friend just got engaged!!!!!!!!!!!!! (she will kill me when she sees it's been great knowin' ya'll..)

Friday, December 14, 2007

News and Food

Well we finally have cold weather in Nashville!! It has been so back and forth I was getting frustrated. Last week I showed up to Hutch's house with a long-sleeved shirt, sweater, and a REALLY thick scarf to see his grandma waiting for me in a t-shirt. (FYI: She was dressed appropriately for that days weather.) I was so determined to make it winter (I mean it WAS the middle of DECEMBER for Pete's sake), that I stood my ground and suffocated my way through the whole day. Oh well, it was winter in my heart. (Awww...hahaha)

So I changed my blog because I wanted something different, but I'm not sure this is what I want either. So be prepared for more changes. I'm feeling indecisive today.

My new favorite coffee (other than anything at STARBUCKS)...Caramel Truffle Coffee. I used to be in an a capella group at Carolina (Go Tar Heels!) and we while on a retreat to the beach one September we found this lovely treat. It makes your house smell heavenly and taste just as good! :) Blue and gold bag on the coffee aisle. ;)

I am tired of watching the news. I don't do it often and one night last week I was reminded of why. There was not one positive or uplifting story in sight. NOT ONE. Everything I heard (not so much watched because I was playing SNOOD on my computer) was about somebody that got killed, somebody that was in jail for killing the somebody that got killed, school-shootings, missing children, sex-offender trials, scandals in politics, and a handful of other depressing topics. Normally there is at least one story about a cute kid winning an art contest whose work is now displayed in some building in the city, or a thing or two about bringing "holiday cheer" to others. (Don't get me started on people not being able to say "MERRY CHRISTMAS" anymore...) But there just wasn't anything to smile about. At first I was just mad at the news anchors (like they have anything to do with what they read off the paper). And then I was just mad at everybody. Why is it that nobody seems to care enough about the positive stuff to report it on national television?

My heart was marked the day they played the Invisible Children Documentary (click the name for the website if you are unfamiliar with this) at a very small showing at Carolina during the initial college tour of this video. I have been amazed at the ripple effect of efforts that those 3 boys started just out of a curiosity they had to see what was really going on in Uganda. I have always had a soft spot for Africa because my parents were missionaries there for 2 years before I was born. I have always known that I would go there someday, and I will be on the plane the day that the Lord says "Go". Please check this story out if you have no idea what I am talking about. It is pretty amazing what these college-aged boys were able to do with a little video camera and a lot of heart.

Speaking of Africa, I have a sponsor child named Lizzy that lives in Tanzania (an amazing story because she lives in the EXACT SAME TOWN that my parents used to live in...coincidence? I think not!) I think about her more this time of year and wonder what kind of Christmas they have at her house. I always send her extra money so that those who take care of her family's Christmas can make sure she has what she needs (and wants, if possible) and it just makes me wonder why we stress so much over buying each other presents. $18 dollars is all that this organization asks to provide for each child for Christmas. EIGHTEEN DOLLARS. That's 1/2 a gas tank for my Honda. And yet here I sit fretting over whether or not I have enough money left after bills to give my family the gifts they want. We need nothing and yet we spend until we're in debt during this time of year because somewhere along the way it became more about what you GOT for Christmas than the reason we even call it CHRISTmas. I am making a commitment right now to change the attitude in my heart about Christmas and QUIT stressing over what I am able to give to people. God gave us everything in that little baby Jesus and if that isn't enough for every heart, then nothing my money could buy ever will be.

I sponsor Lizzy through Compassion International, and there are lots of other amazing organizations like World Vision (which Avalon and numerous other artist and groups) represent). I really encourage you to think about sponsoring a child if you've never considered it. Just getting to read Lizzy's letters is more than enough in return for the $30 a month (that's only a handful of trips to Starbucks...or ONE night out to eat if you're buying for a small family) I pay for her to eat and go to school. I think the girl knows more about the Bible than I do, and she is only 10 years old.

Ok, so I made peanut butter balls last night (I won't even tell you what is in them) and now I'm thinking that it was a big mistake. Why you ask? Because 2 of my 4 roommates have already left for the holidays, which means that leaves Laura and I with a HUGE container of a-heart-attack-waiting-to-happen to eat ourselves. (Not to mention the reindeer cookies and white-trash goodies we also made.)
Another random though: I LOVE drinking sparkling grape juice this time of year. The funniest thing is when the person at the check-out counter asks for your ID only to be met with a funny look as you say "um, it's grape juice".

I have been sickly the last few days, and am now stocked up on Airborne. (I think I just spelled that wrong.) Which won't help my chronic allergies/asthma but it makes me feel better like I tried. It will have to suffice until I get my prescriptions refilled. They have a new kind out that you put in hot water to dissolve and it's supposed to taste like Apple Cider. What a let-down. We have the real stuff here left over from a party my roommate had a few weeks ago, so I was able regain my trust in the real thing.

And my last random tidbit for the day...I have been reading 1 Peter for a couple of days and just felt the need to post part of one of the chapters that keeps coming up in my week in conversations and sermons and Bible studies...I figured if I really needed to be reminded of this, then maybe someone else would be blessed by it as well. Happy Friday :)

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (1 Pet. 2:9-10)

Monday, December 10, 2007

'Disturb Me'

Disturb me for the one whose given up
For the one who’s perseverance has run out
Disturb me for the heart that knows no love
That looks everywhere else to find their worth

..I'm still amazed
At how you've changed, me..

Disturb me for the one who lives in chains
For the one who’s captive in the prison of their shame
Disturb me as a former prisoner of despair
Whose warden was her own jealousy and fear

*Burden me so I can see your heart
That my hunger might be for something more
Teach me how to serve
With words of grace and hands of love
I long to feel the dust around your feet
Disturb me

It shakes me to my roots
That people might have turned from you
Because of what they’ve seen inside of me
Or didn't see...

*Burden me so I can see your heart
That my hunger might be for something more
Teach me how to serve
With words of grace and hands of love
I long to feel the dust around your feet
Disturb me...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sorry, I can't stand it....He is TOO CUTE not to share :)

REAL post coming soon...I PROMISE!! :)

Monday, December 3, 2007

No More Secrets

So it's been a while...again. Haha...but I have been out of town since late Friday night...and I'm about to tell you why.

Ok, I don't like keeping secrets from you guys, and it's been hard to talk about my amazing job--and my precious little boy--without saying names...especially his!!! And I also can't easily write about my weekend without saying names. That just gets to confusing with to use "my boss" and "her son" and "her singing buddies" (1, 2, and 3) and "singing buddies 1 and 2's children" and "singing buddy's children's nanny" get the idea. So if you go here, my mystery boss will be revealed. (She is the second girl, on the right.)

Her name is Melissa Greene, and she is the most humble, sweet, and beautiful girl you've ever met. I am just loving every minute that the Lord allows me to serve her and Ben by keeping their son, HUTCH!!!! ..You know him as the love of my life. :) Her singing companions are Janna Long (the last original Avalon member) whose solo site you can also look at here (I'm sure you know her big hit "Greater is He" that plays when her website comes up), Greg Long (who is married to Janna) website here (his list of successes under "bio" is quite impressive!) and the newest member (who has taken Jody McBrayer's spot as the tenor of the group) Jeremi Richardson. Jeremi has just joined the group this fall after spending the last five years as a member of the Voices of Liberty at Disney World! :) You can read some about him here.

Melissa also has a solo ministry (as do the other members), but has just signed with a new label and will have a CD in stores and songs on the radio in the first quarter of 08! Ya'll...the girl can SING. She has a site here, but I will let you know when the new site and CD and all of that are ready.

So this was my first weekend on the road!! I got to the bus Friday around 9:15 or so and Melissa showed me my bunk and explained where everything was, and then I met everyone! :) The total bus group was Melissa, Hutch, myself, Jeremi, Janna, Greg, their daughters Lilian and Julia, their nanny Kristy, Keely (World Vision rep.), Heath (road manager), and Dale (bus driver). And I loved every one of them!

This weekend the group had shows in Kentucky on Saturday night and Illinois on Sunday night (Chicago...BURRRRRRRRRRR). It was their first round of Christmas shows, and they have a few more coming up, so be sure to check and see if they are coming somewhere near you! You Texas gals, I know they have some shows out your way at the end of the week, so check it out if it's close! They should also be posting tour dates for their big spring tour with the new cd coming can check out a preview of it here (and buy the EP on itunes!)

Well, we just got back this morning around 8:00. Which means....... it's NAP TIME for me, and I will have to tell details later!! :) (But I will say, the Chicago deep-dish pizza that was delivered to the bus after the show last night was good enough to make even the strictest dieter DIG IN.)