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Friday, November 27, 2009

An Arkansas Thanksgiving

For the first time ever, my school was out all week for Thanksgiving break. This was awesome, giving me the opportunity to go hunting with Shawn. I had not been in 20 years, but I wanted to take Grace so that she could experience it, so that she could make a decision for herself about hunting. We dropped off the two younger girls with my mother-in-law and headed to deer camp for a few days.

I enjoyed spending time with my family and came away with some amazing deer stories of my own. Spending time in the woods has long been one of my favorite activities. I loved watching individual leaves spinning to the ground to gently land in puddles. I guess one of the best afternoons was the one I spent fishing with Grace. We squealed as we caught crickets to bait our hooks, and we squealed some more as we took turns taking each other's fish off our hooks. We're both squeamish about touching the fish. However, we laughed and joked and relaxed and had a great time. I'm loving making the transition into a mentoring friendship. I am sure there will be some hard teen years ahead, but I am also looking forward to this new phase in our relationship.

The funniest part of the trip was the excitement of all the males in my life about my deer hunting. You would've thought I had won a million dollars. My husband said about the whole experience, "I wouldn't have been more surprised if I'd woke up with my head sewed to the carpet." Totally cracked me up.

At Shawn's family's Thanksgiving dinner, we ate tons of great food, then moved to the carport to finish packaging deer meat. (For my tree hugger friends who have issues with hunting, think of it this way - my children will be eating antibiotic and hormone free, totally organic, lean meat.) As we were packaging the meat, I looked up to realize I was surrounded by all of Shawn's uncles. Through the fog of smoke emanating from their cigarettes and the sound of tobacco juice hitting the pavement, they were slapping me on the back and asking for my story and retelling their greatest hunting exploits. I felt like I had passed some sort of secret ritual to join a very secret club. It was certainly very strange, but strange in a good way.

I am glad that I gave hunting a second chance. I loved being outdoors and spending time with my family. It was great to slow down and let life come to a complete halt for a few days. It was amazing to just be still. For my only goal to be absolute stillness and quietness. I did not hear God speak into my stillness like I expected, but it was instead as if He was just being still with me. Like He was showing me how it feels to be quiet with someone you awkward silence, just companionable quiet.

Now I am back home, back into my crazy busy life. I have tons to do to prepare for out of town company coming in tomorrow. I also have lots to do to get ready for school on Monday. And so, my life is back to normal.

A very late Monday Morning Update

I have used being out of town as an excuse for avoiding this week's Monday morning update, but truthfully I have had horrific writer's block. It is hard to know what to say about this week at The Crossroads, because I was the speaker. It is a role that I'm very comfortable with, but rarely do. However, God has spoken to me strongly in recent months about why missions is important and about trying to share that with others. So Shawn gave me some air time Sunday to share just a little bit about what God's been showing me.

It is impossible to fit 6 months into 20 minutes, but basically I shared Is. 58 and Mt.25 as guidelines for mission work. I have come to understand that serving others is worship, that serving others is serving God .... ministering to Him, and that serving others is loving God. I always believed in missions for the sake of evangelism - which is critically important, but I did not understand until recently that serving others is exactly the same as loving God. That puts a whole new spin on doing good.

I talked some about our Mexico mission trip to an orphanage at Christmas. I was amazed that within 48 hours all 200 of our orphans that we wanted to provide Christmas for had been sponsored. I have heard from people all week seeking to apply Is. 58 and Mt. 25 to their lives - whether that looks like ministering to family members in need, or researching ways to provide clean water to 3rd world countries, or buying items for those in dire need. I was overwhelmed and very humbled that people sincerely took what I said literally and began looking for ways to immediately build service into their lives. I frankly did not expect immediate results. I expected this to just be the beginning. The very tip of a huge iceberg that would take months for people to grasp. I was actually slightly disappointed in my presentation of what I had to say. It had sounded so much more polished and less random in my head, but I am continuing to pray that God will take my scattered thoughts and help people to understand His heart.

Then there's all the usual stuff to say - music was incredible, I loved hanging out with old and new friends, and Shawn did a beautiful job with the communion at the end of the service.