Sunday, August 31, 2008

Life and death

Today, I attended the funeral of a godly man. He was a WWII veteran, a husband of 63 years and a father of four. I haven’t had much time to spend with him and his sweet wife, as he’s been sick most of the time we’ve been at Bethany, but every time I saw him, he always had a smile on his face and a kind comment to offer.

Mr. Warren had leukemia, and he and Gunter shared the same oncologist. As we celebrated his life today and wept for the broken hearts of the family he left behind, I couldn’t help but think about all the amazing things that must’ve happened during his life, all the experiences, all he learned.

I also couldn’t help but watch his wife’s face. How do you cope when you’re suddenly without your spouse of 63 years? I can’t imagine that, and I’ve only been married for two and a half.

Life is temporary, and I know God calls us to live so much deeper than we do. He wants us to die to ourselves every day, to put away selfishness and to live His great adventure, His life of sacrifice. He wants us to cherish people more and see meaningless pursuits for what they are.

A few weeks ago, The Preacher’s Wife posted a survey for ministers’ wives about how they show love and feel loved by their congregations, and vice versa for laypeople. I approached the survey from the mindset of how our churches have shown love to us, but as I read the other comments, I began to remember that I’m not here to be loved or to be concerned when I don’t think I’m being accepted. I’m here to love others! I read comments about how ministers’ wives showed genuine concern by listening, spending time with people and making a conscious effort to reach out. It liberated my thinking and drove me to seek God about how I can fulfill my call to love – to focus on others’ needs instead of my own.

After 20 years of being a Christian, I’m still pretty clueless, but I figure that every day God leaves us here, we have a purpose. And it seems like as soon as I’m getting the hang of fulfilling my purpose, it changes. I guess that’s why we have to take up our crosses daily and follow Him step by step. It’s a good thing He’s patient.

Friday, August 29, 2008

T-R...O-J...A-N-S! Woo!

I listened to the radio on the way home from Brewton last night as my team beat Middle Tennessee 31-17 in their first game of the season. It made me think back to the first “Battle of the Palladium” in Troy…there I was, proudly clad in my red toga in the pouring rain with my friend “German Andy” yelling by my side. Ah, memories.

So, I got inspired to post some photos from our good times in the Elba High School Marching Tiger Band…

the Sound of the South…

and my first football game as a non-band member my sophomore year. These are two of my lovable roommates and me in Birmingham when Troy (State back then) played UAB. Fun stuff.

Happy football season!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Getting light-headed?

I have sort of a shallow, personal question, and I need some input. I've tossed around the idea of getting my hair highlighted, but I'm a little on the cheap side and don't want to pay the $60 (I think?) my hair lady charges. I don't want to change my hair color completely. I just want a few subtle highlights to snazz it up a little.

My husband --who shares my sometimes incorrect view that just about anything can be done just as well at home for less money -- has encouraged me to get highlights and has, on several occasions, volunteered to do the honors. Himself. At home. I'm sure some of you are laughing at me for considering this venture.

To his credit, Gunter is quite artistic in every area he's tried his hand at -- music, painting, sketching, photography, interior decorating (not gonna go there, or I'll get in trouble). So, he has a pretty good track record. But could he prove to be an accomplished hair highlighter?

Don't panic. I'm not going to do anything hasty. I'm not even sure if I want to go to the trouble of having to maintain highlights.

Has anyone out there had any experience with boxed hair color? I've heard (and seen) a few horror stories, but are there any good ones? Any certain types to avoid or look for? Any tips for someone who's never touched the stuff? Any pros and cons of professional versus DIY?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A good report

I guess that exciting, terribly creative headline says it all, huh? We visited our oncologist yesterday and got a perfect report. Gunter's PET scan was clean as a whistle, and Dr. D said he had the healthiest blood he had seen all day. Gunter's itching has settled down, and Dr. D said his soreness was probably the result of some nerve damage caused by chemo. Maybe that will go away in time.

Everybody raved about his curly hair!

This appointment seemed more routine because we didn't expect a bad report (since they haven't called), but we're always reminded that nothing is certain. The metal on the walls carries sound pretty well, and we often hear people in the next exam room receiving not-so-good news.

Though I doubt we'll ever become obsessed with some organic diet, running 50-mile marathons or maintaining 1 percent body fat (as is obvious at first glance), we can't take our health for granted. We don't know why God chose to erase Gunter's cancer, and we don't assume He's less merciful toward others who still have theirs. But one thing we are -- overwhelmingly thankful.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

From here to yonder

We’re moving! Next month, we’ll begin moving into a trailer across the road from our church. We hope to be completely finished in October. We’ll miss our cute little house, our backyard pond and my 12-minute drive to work…so many happy memories...but we can’t wait to be a part of the New Brockton/Enterprise communities.

I estimate it will take me about 45 minutes to get to work, but we’ll actually save on gas by making the drive from New Brockton to Andalusia five times a week, instead of driving from Andalusia to New Brockton an average of 10 times per week. And it will be mighty nice to return from a late-night youth activity and only have to travel across the street, instead of the 35 minutes back to Andalusia.

LET THE CLEANING AND PACKING BEGIN! Gunter is taking the youth on a tubing trip this Saturday – perfect timing for Mom and I to clean out some junk and prepare for a yard sale the first weekend in September.

Between now and then, some men from the church are going to make a few minor repairs to the trailer and have the carpet cleaned. Then comes moving.

Please feel free to share some moving tips that might make this process easier. It seems like I’d have it down by now, but I absolutely don’t.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Corny but clever

A story, courtesy of our good friend Glennie:

80-year-old Fannie Mae just married the town funeral home director. But he is not her first husband. In fact, Fannie has been married three times before.

In her 20s, she married a banker. In her 40s, she married a circus performer. And in her 60s, she married a preacher. Now, she's the bride of the funeral home director.

That's right...She had 1 for the money,
2 for the show,
3 to get ready
and 4 to go!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The skin he's in

Gunter had about a 5-minute appointment with the dermatologist today, who diagnosed his itching as eczema and wrote him a prescription for some cream. I hope this clears up the problem, but Gunter was a little doubtful because of how quickly he was in and out. I guess we're used to Dr. Kerr, infamous for being thorough, and Dr. Davidson, who sits patiently and answers every question on my list.

Thankfully, the trip to Montgomery was not a waste of time because Gunter got to shop at LifeWay and peruse to his heart's delight. I'm so glad he enjoys what he does for a living.

This afternoon, we're visiting Crossover Ministries in Opp for an Alabama Baptist story I'm working on. I took a break from writing for The Alabama Baptist, but now that I'm working as a correspondent again, I'll post some stories and photos as they run.

Looking forward to our first Saturday morning at home in a while (which may or may not end up spent at home) and a double-date with my "twin" and her Nike-fabulous husband. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Summer streak

Our past few weeks have been filled with youth trips, a revival service, visitation, work and other stuff. At the end of this busy summer streak, I was going to write about the fun we’ve had, the relationships we’ve built, my Dramamine-induced haze and even a chaperone’s concussion caused by a thrilling game of slip-n-slide woffleball (sp?), as you see below.

But in the midst of our personal plans and hopes, something amazing happened. Seems like that’s how God always moves. Even though He calls for our obedience to open doors, He has His own agenda and His own way of doing things. What a pleasant surprise.

God has been prodding me in a certain area for a few years but has been working on me pretty intensely for the past few months. I’ve had several “mountaintop” and “valley” experiences lately – mostly valley – which I think He’s used to prepare me for what He was about to do in the youth group.

The evangelism part of the Christian walk has never really appealed to me. I tend to avoid conflict with people, so I don’t enjoy selling things, telling people they’re wrong or pushing them to act. Sharing the gospel usually makes all parties involved uncomfortable, so I naturally avoid it. In my mind, I knew introducing people to Jesus was important, but I just sort of hoped I could make friends and it would just happen with no confrontation and no venturing outside my comfort zone. In response, God began to make me quite uncomfortable inside my comfort zone – quite dissatisfied and yearning for a deeper, richer walk.

My faith was also a problem. Had I come to the point where I believed evangelism wasn’t important because nothing was going to happen anyway? Maybe. Until one night, I heard the testimonies of a bunch of former drug abusers whose lives were completely made new as a result of a faith-based rehab program in Covington County. Here were people just like I’d see at IGA, sitting on a front porch or at a trailer where we’d pick up kids for church – changed and talking about their new lives after meeting Jesus. That’s when I realized it was really possible. More on this ministry later.

So now I’m at the point where God is constantly pressing on my heart to talk with people about Jesus. I’m finally broken. I’m not sure how to respond, except from now on, it’s not going to take an act of Congress for Him to have my obedience. When He prompts me to act, I’m going to just do what He says. What a concept!

Back to the youth group…To make a long story short, God has moved among a several of the youth. I’m seeing a passion in some of these kids like I’ve never seen, and it doesn’t seem to be just an emotional flare from a youth retreat. Daddy has said before that it doesn’t matter how high someone jumps; what matters is how straight they walk once they hit the ground. They have definitely hit the ground walking straight. They’re making plans and are actually sharing Jesus with their schoolmates. WHAT?!

I can’t wait to see what happens this fall, and I pray God will let me play a part.