Monday, August 22, 2016

Years and Gifts!

I was thinking last week about teaching Sunday School.  I believe that I started teaching in the John Wesley class about 25 years ago.  I just can't believe it has been so long!  Our children were in kindergarten and they will be 30 this year.  How did time pass so quickly?  When I volunteered to teach, my self esteem was at an all time low and I did not think that I could possibly stand in front of a group and teach anything (I didn't stand for many years - I sat!).  It is so funny how God works, isn't it?  He calls us to do his work and he equips us.  I still remember the very first book that I "taught."  I purchased the book from the book table on my Emmaus Walk.

It is amazing how some things have changed in that 25 years.  We sat in folding chairs around the walls of a small room on the second floor.  For the five years previous to that time, we had been in the "bowels" of the building - we literally met in a large closet for over 5 years!!!

Mark and I married in May of 1984 and the John Wesley class started in September of 1984 and Jack Allison was our teacher.  He faithfully taught our class for five years.  He and his wife, Polly, were just the right age to inspire us as young couples.  I can remember going to a pot luck dinner at their house and I can see us in my mind's eye. . .the women standing around in the kitchen . . .and the men somewhere else (out in the yard??).  We were all so emotionally needy (or maybe that was just me??) and we were growing and learning about God and what it meant to be married.

Now rush forward 30 years and we are in 2016.  We use tablets and screens and all sorts of fun stuff.  Who knew that this old lady could learn how to use all that equipment (thanks to Stuart - our young assistant communications director, who has the patience of Job!).

The picture below is from a couple of Sundays ago.  I arrived before early worship service to set up.  I couldn't get my laptop to project onto the wall so I snapped photos of all the important stuff and texted the pictures to Stuart, who was on the opposite end of the building, running the sound and lights for the traditional service.  Of course, it was simply operator error - I just needed to touch a button!!

This last week, I mentioned to the class that the podium  was not really large enough for notes and my tablet.  As I taught, I was actually flinging pages off to the side to make room for the next page.  Two wonderful guys from our class took the podium home to Jim's basement and made a new top - perfect size for a tablet/laptop and notes!!

What gifts has God given you?  Do you teach?  Do you make new podiums?  Do you sing?  Are you an excellent listener or an awesome encourager?  Has God worked in you to grow and develop the gift?

I love these verses from Hebrews 13:20-21 "Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,  equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

p.s. This is "Lisa theology" . . .I've probably taken this verse out of context but I love the thought of God equipping us for his work on earth.

Let's be the hands and feet and eyes and ears of our Lord Jesus here on this earth.  Let's use the gifts that God has given to each us.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Great God of Light

I've already shared this story with a couple of friends.  I had one of those rare and amazing God moments this week.  Some folks like to call these kinds of moments "mere coincidences" but I've spent much time in prayer lately and I think it was one of those "extra special" moments - some call them Godincidences or God winks!

I've been going out to walk each morning around 5:15.  It is still dark outside.  As I walked around our circle as I made my first lap, a shaft of light shot across in front of me.  It actually startled me and I turned my head.  The moon was full and shining right on my path.  I snapped a poor quality photo and kept walking and thanked God for the light on my path.

Thirty moments or so later, I was on the hill beside our house and lo and behold, the sun was coming up.  The sky was beginning to lighten and the colors were amazing.  I snapped another poor photo and thanked God for the sunrise.

I came inside the house and popped the top . . .on my diet pepsi (got you!) . . .and sat down at the kitchen island for my morning devotion.  I've been using the "scripture writing plan" by since last fall.  I don't always write the whole scripture but I read them everyday and make a note or two. 

First things, first - I opened my prayer journal and penned these words, "Good morning, God of Light - Moon, Stars, and Sun - you created them.  You created us!  You are so awesome, God."  (evidently the light of the morning was on my mind)

I consulted my sheet and the scripture for August 18 was John 8:12-14.  I opened my Bible and these are the verses:  When God spoke again to the people he said, "I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Yes, it could be a coincidence that I saw a full moon, a sunrise, greeted God as God of Light, and then read that God is the light of the world.  Yes, it could be a coincidence but I don't think so.

Not only is God the light of the world, but we are like lanterns - lit by the source of all Light - and we, too, are called - not just called but instructed -  to light up the world around us.  This is not always easy.  We are bombarded by darkness all around - murder, flooding, politics of all kinds, crazy folks - but we are called to bear the light into the dark world!

Go shine the light!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Middle Age Friday Night

I need to go to bed.  I am tired.  For some reason, my brain says "type" and my fingers respond!!  On Friday, I received a text from a friend and she said, "I know it is late notice, but can y'all go to dinner?"  Did you know that when you have an empty next you can spontaneously go out to dinner?  That is exactly what we did!

Mark and I had never eaten at Iron City Grill before.  I loved the exposed brick wall and I really loved this chalk board.  I thought of my daughter, Laura, who would love painting something like this!!

Iron City is also a concert venue.  The restaurant is in the front and the back is a concert venue.  Black Jacket Symphony was performing in a sold out 8 p.m. show.  They were performing Hotel California by the Eagles.  They do every song from whatever album they are performing.  There were soooo many people waiting to be seated.  Many of the folks were trying to eat dinner before attending the concert.  I overheard the hostess tell someone that there were 26 tables before them!  We had to wait quite a while.  We met around six and waited about an hour on a table.  We did visit the bar and were able to enjoy a beverage while we waited.  When the doors opened at 7 for the concert, the restaurant cleared out.

Unbeknownst (cool word!) to Mark or me, it was Birmingham Restaurant Week and Iron City Grill was participating.,  For $30 each, we could get an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert.  Mark and I both ordered well and had a delicious meal.  I ordered fried green tomatoes with pork belly and pimento cheese (really good) and Mark ordered hummus made from black eye peas.  Duane ordered the most surprising appetizer - buffalo cauliflower - it was yummy! 

I ordered beef; Mark ordered salmon; Terrie and Duane ordered fish (amberjack?).  Our food was very tasty and presented beautifully.

I didn't take a picture until dessert.  I ordered Pot de Crème and it was based on a s'more . . .oh my goodness, I had never had a homemade marshmallow before.  It was an awesome dessert.  I NEVER order dessert out so this was such a treat.  I couldn't eat it all and shared with Mark.

Mark ordered peach fried pies and ice cream.  He said they were good but that he wished he had ordered the Pot de Crème.

Imagine our surprise at 8:00 p.m.  The concert was scheduled to begin in the back venue at 8:00 . . .but lo and behold, the concert appeared on a giant screen right in front of us in the restaurant.  There were only a few folks left in the restaurant - maybe two or three tables - so it was like we had a front row seat!  Black Jacket Symphony was such a wonderful treat -- Lagniappe!


Now I really have to go "night night" - see y'all soon!  I'm sounding like the middle-aged mom that I am . . .but there are definitely some perks to being middle-aged!
1.  We can go out to eat whenever we want
2.  We get to hang out with friends
3.  We have the money to eat a nice dinner
4.  We aren't too old to enjoy a good concert
5.  There are a whole lot more but I'm about to fall asleep - ha!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Mish Mash of Sunday Lunch, Celebrations, Grandbaby

Mark's sister, Susie, came home a week ago to visit us (she really rode down with their youngest son who is starting his third year at Alabama) . . . .she may have come down because she has been dying to meet Miss Emma.  Isn't she a cutie pie?  We are so in love with this little one.  She is holding her head up and rolling over and reaching out.  She reached out and patted Pops (Mark) face on Friday.  Be still my heart!!

Every time Susie had the chance, she held sweet baby girl!!

We celebrate all birthdays on Sunday so this past week, we celebrated Bill's 60th.  Mark wanted to do something fun for him so he went to the bank and got 60 one dollar bills.  I wanted to make them look cute.  I had a new picture frame just sitting in the closet.  I folded all the dollar bills and stacked them inside each other and put them in the frame.  I think it turned out so cute!

It only happens a couple of times a year but this was one of those times - Mark's momma (also Susie) had all of her chickens under one roof!  We've been trying to document as many things as possible.  None of us ever know what tomorrow may bring! 

Mark's momma still cooks lunch for all of us every single Sunday.  She is amazing!  I feel so blessed to be a part of this family!!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Dancing With the Stars

Our friend, Julie, runs (owns?) a non-profit called "The Overflow Foundation."  It is a program to bring arts and music and drama to some folks who might not be able to have those same experiences due to finances, etc.  She also does it all with the love of Jesus flowing through each and every thing they do.  This summer, they had a camp in Tarrant.  I posted a tiny nugget about it here when I was a guest reader.  This was a new part of her foundation this summer - reading!

As we all know, a non-profit has to have money to operate.  Julie usually has a couple of fund raisers a year.  She hit the jackpot on her newest endeavor.

Dancing with the Stars

Julie was so smart because several of the couples were couples that many of us knew well.  Above is Dr. Dan Carter and his wife, Carrie.  They both grew up in our church; married there; have three children now; and are active in our congregation's life and ministry.  They were so cute!

Below is Wes and Halley.  They are dating.  They actually met in their apartment parking lot (casually) and then "re-met" at our Tuesday night group.  They are such a cute couple and they did a great dancing routine with lots of humor! 

The cute couple below is Ross and his fiancé.  They said that they used this opportunity to create a dance for their wedding reception.  I wonder if they will dance the same dance.  Mark liked the way that Ross was dressed (especially his shoes!).  I thought that was such a funny comment!!

I LOVED Kam and Nathan's dance routine.  They did the dance scene from Pulp Fiction and were spot on!  They looked the parts (wigs, clothes and all!).  They danced the parts.  They were awesome!  Nathan is one of our pastors so it made it even better!!  I love them!

So how did the fund raiser work?  She could only sell 100 tickets because of the venue so she advertised the heck out of that on social media.  There is something about knowing that there is a limited number of tickets that makes it even more enticing!  The tickets were reasonable  - I think $22 a ticket.  On the night of the event, after everyone had danced their routine . . .the dancers were stationed in the lobby with plastic buckets.  We were encouraged to put money in the buckets for our favorite dancers.  The couple with the most dollars would win.  (there were three judges and they did give out scores and a few choice comments but the main voting occurred through dollar bills).  One donor (maybe two) also offered to match the donation in the winner's bucket.

Do you know that Julie raised a nice chunk of change that night!  It was a brilliant idea!  Kam and Nathan won.  They were really good!  There were two other couples who did a waltz and a tango and they were cool to watch but there was just something about the folks we know well being willing to get out there in front of 100 people and dance their hearts out so that God's work through the Overflow Foundation can continue. 

Julie didn't ask me to write this and I'm certainly not a professional writer but if you would love to give - if you feel a tiny nudge - go ahead!  You can mail contributions to The Overflow Foundation 2715 Hackberry Rd, Vestavia, AL 35226-3913.  Your gifts are tax deductible.  If any of my Tarrant friends are reading -- the summer reading camp in Tarrant was successful and this fundraiser raised enough funds for her to start a program during the school year in TARRANT!!  There are bright kids in Tarrant who need a step up.  They always need art supplies so she also accepts those kinds of donations.

Here is a little blurb from their website:
The Overflow Foundation is a non profit organization committed to bringing the arts to kids who might not otherwise get to the opportunity to experience art in school. Our goal is to teach students to flow past their limits through the arts. Through visual arts, music and drama, students not only can express their creativity, but also learn useful skills such as public speaking, teamwork, and quick thinking. With time for homework, games, and art projects, students in 4th through 8th grade learn in a fun and imaginative environment.

Her Bible verse is from Nehemiah chapter 6
I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.
God has called Julie to this ministry and he is using her and all of her volunteers to bring about change in the world!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Moses and Cassanova

A week or so ago, I walked out onto the front porch and I could see a horse right across the street.  I ran back into the house to grab my camera.  I started snapping away and Moses and Cassanova even stopped to pose!

Moses has horses at two different locations very near our house and we've seen him riding on Shades Crest Road before.  On prom night, he had a carriage in our neighborhood and you could purchase a carriage ride.

Don't you love his horse's name - Cassanova!!

You never know what you are going to see in the Preserve!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Olympic HodgePodge

1. Are you watching the Olympics? Your favorite summer Olympic event? I read recently a list of the most iconic Olympic moments in history...what stands out in your mind as a great moment from some past summer Olympic games?

YES! YES! YES!  I keep staying up too late because I want to see a little more.  Last night was amazing watching the girls on the beam!  They are so awesome.  I’ve also really enjoyed watching Michael Phelps.  My kids both swam on the swim team so I can just imagine how many swim meets those moms and dads have watched!!  I remember watching Dorothy Hamill skate . . .and having a haircut like hers (1976)!  I also remember Nadia Comaneci receiving the perfect score!  I also remember watching Florence Griffith Joiner in the 1988 Olympics. 

2. Have you ever been to Rio? How about the place that started it all-Greece? Have you ever been to any of the Olympic Games in person? Is that something you'd like to do? Have you ever met an Olympian in person?

I’ve never been to Rio nor Greece but would love to go to both places.  I’ve never been to the Olympic Games.  In 1984, I worked for AT&T and the company was a sponsor.  My boss and several other uppity ups (that is what Mark calls them!) were able to attend the Olympics and they brought us back some Olympic pins.  I think I still have one!  I would love to attend at some point in my life.

I have two “ties” to Olympians.  Our Pastor of Youth and Families is in Rio right now.  I actually saw him on tv last night at the women’s gymnastics event.  He is there as an advisor for the Olympians in the Village.  Last Sunday morning, he did the greeting for our traditional worship service via video from Rio!!  Why, of course, we are having sermons based on the Olympics (starting line!).  David was on the USA Team Handball team -- David Thompson has been a member of the USA Team handball team since 2001 and has represented the U.S. in two Pan American Games, a World Championships, and various other international competitions. He sits on the Athlete Advisory Council for the United States Olympic Committee.

My other connection is also through our church.  Jeff Underwood is a friend and he is in charge of the Lakeshore Foundation which is an Olympic training facility.  He and his wife will be in Rio for the Paralympics in September.

3. The ball's in their court (tennis), cross the finish line (track and field), on target (archery), make a splash (diving), on a roll (gymnastics), out of one's depth (swimming)...which Olympic-related idiom best applies to your life right now? Explain.

Maybe “out of one’s depth” . . .heck, I don’t know.  That is a really hard question.  Surely I’m “on target” in some area of my life!!  I guess we are “on a roll” with our Tuesday night group.

4. What have you earned a 'gold medal' in recently?

Can I win a gold medal in talking?  I love to talk!!  How about a gold medal in paper banner making?  I’ve made several of those lately.  How about a gold medal in cooking????  I made a great dessert a couple of weeks ago and some killer shrimp and grits last weekend.

5. What is it (or who is it) that motivates you to eat right, exercise, and do what you can to be healthy?  

So far, no one or nothing.  I’m a round fat short thing!  I will say that our new little granddaughter is making me realize that I would like to be around for a while!

6. Are you young at heart or an old soul? Explain.

I’m young at heart!  I think hanging out with all of those young adults on Tuesday night keeps us younger!  I also work with a lot of younger folks and I sometimes forget that I’m not their age!

7. It's National S'mores Day (August 10th)...are you a fan? Will you celebrate with a s'more today?

S’mores are yummy but I won’t be eating any today.  Once again, who knew that there is National S’mores Day.  I’m so glad that Joyce tells us these things!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I’m looking forward to fall . . .to temps that are a tad cooler.  In the deep south, I might wear shorts on Thanksgiving . . .but it will be cooler than last week.  We had heat indices of 104 and 106.  Whew!  I also love pumpkins on the porch and Halloween decorations.   I don’t want to “wish away my life” by hurrying up time – I’m just looking forward to it!