Happy New Year

I took a blogging break.  I didn't plan to but I did.  The thing about blogging is, if you stop writing, the ideas stop flowing.  Its not that I haven't been around the computer, I have.  I have kept up with all of my blogs, and gotten frustrated with the ones who were not writing (as if I were setting an example).

Isn't it funny how a few days after Christmas, you get some energy to try to resume normal life, but just as you get up the courage, New Years rolls around and fun and laziness creep their way back into my life and keep me from finishing the mounds of laundry that I have been trying to tackle for the past few days, and the Christmas decorations, oh how I wish they would magically disappear.

I am so relaxed and spoiled from a wonderful night away with my husband at a super awesome hotel in Charlotte that I don't think I will ever finish that laundry or cook another meal (hey, at least I am back to blogging).  I think I am going back to the resort to live where people knock on your door with wonderful food.  Sigh.  What a great husband I have.

Tonight I am going to enjoy New Years and think about the rest tomorrow.  Or maybe I will just start thinking on Monday.

Merry Christmas

I have a million things running through my head that I want to say but it is 10 pm on Christmas night and I need to head to bed.

Last night was unbelievable.  There was no better Christmas Eve service anywhere in the country.  Three services, 6000 people, 400 salvations, awesome music, and killer sermon by a really hot guy.  Wow.  Thanks to all the staff and volunteers who made that happen.  It was a privileged to be a part of that.  I loved all three services!

Today was wonderful.  We took it really slow with presents and enjoyed each gift.  We had great food all day (breakfast casserol, boiled peanuts, chili, and we finished off the day with a Christmas ham meal) and a great time hanging out with Steven's parents (Grammy and Choo Choo).  I never left the house but Elijah, Steven and Choo Choo went to see Tale of Desperaux along with everyone else in South Charlotte.

I am so thankful for a great family, a great church, healthy children and wonderful friends.

Hope you had a very merry Christmas.!

Honoring Staff

I love Christmas time because I love to give gifts.  I put a lot of thought into what I get people (probably too much if you ask my husband). 

At Elevation we make it a point to honor each other.  Its one of my husband's core values, honor those God has used in your life.

This year for Christmas, I wanted to honor our staff wives and a few other special ladies that God has placed in my life.  Their husbands eat, sleep and breathe Elevation and there are days where they pay a personal price for being in the ministry.

I had a custom necklace designed for each of them.  Its something that they can wear with pride and know that everyday, when their husband goes to work, the mission of his employer is… so that people far from God will be filled with life in Christ.

My husband honored the men with a killer ring.

We gave the gifts out at our Christmas party last Friday night.  I don't think McCormick and Schmick had ever seen a Christmas party as fun as ours!  Thanks Larry and Ryan for providing such wonderful entertainment!

Pictured below are the necklace the core women received (in silver, not gold) and the ring the core men received (minus the diamonds). I don't have pictures of the the ring the other staff men received and the necklace the staff wives received.

Elevation necklaceStevensSignerRing3

Sorry, these pieces were limited edition :).

The Nativity Story

Have you seen this movie?  It is awesome.  I watched it for the first time back this summer and made my husband promise that he would start a new tradition with me this Christmas by watching this movie every year.

I rented it from blockbuster the other day.  I tried to buy it but couldn't find it for sale at Target, New Creation or Blockbuster, so we rented it (and Blockbuster says I can keep it for the small fee of $9.99).

So we haven't watched it yet and Christmas is almost here.  But I know we will squeeze it in somewhere!  If you haven't seen it, you really should watch it. 

Today is Christmas Eve eve and I feel a small panic when I think about all the things I want to do before tomorrow at about 3pm and all the Christmasy (I know that's not a word) blog entries that I have in my head.  Check back, I may have more than one post today!

Monday Morning (or Afternoon) Commentary

Yesterday my husband preached a messaged entitled When God Answers With Fire.  Wow.  What do you do when you are praying for rain and God sends fire?  What do you do when you ask God for help and things seem to get worse get worse?

The whole message was great.  My favorite thing he said is that the teacher is always silent during the test.  When you feel like God is silent, it is probably because He is trying to prove if you are ready to promote so He can prepare you for the promise!  Preach baby!

In my life, the hardest situations I go through always take me to a deeper place in my faith.  Its so funny because when I am going through a "fire," it feels as though I am so far from God, the reality, is He has to bring me through something to take me to the place I want to go. 

Tests are hard.  They take work and concentration but when its all over, if you pass, you get to move on to the next level.  The last thing I want to do is repeat because I was too stubborn to go to the place God was trying to take me to.  My prayer is that I will embrace the changes the Lord wants me to  make so I can move on with Him.

You can go here to listen to week 3 of the Do You Hear? series.

Spilled Beans

Last night Steven took Elijah out to eat,  to sit with Santa and buy me a present.  Graham couldn't go because he has croup and an ear infection but Elijah kindly requested gifts for both of them to Santa (don't worry, I told Elijah what Graham "wants" from Santa since it has already been purchased).

When they came home Elijah immediately said to me "Mommy I can tell you about our night but I cannot tell you about your present!"

Fast forward about five minutes.  He was sitting in my lap telling me all about their evening.  He looked at Steven and said "Daddy, I am not gonna tell mommy we got her a shirt and pants!"

We laughed.  Secretly, I am glad he spilled the beans.  I don't really like surprises.

Done (ok almost)

Is Christmas really only a week away?  I feel like there are not enough
days left to do the things I want to do to enjoy Christmas.  I am so
excited about our Christmas Eve services.  It will be an Elevation
first and I can't wait.

I am proud to announce that I am 95% done with my Christmas shopping.  I have a few odds and ends to tie up and a few gifts that I ordered that the mailman has not brought yet.  But as far as malls and toys stores go I am done and that feels good.  Last year I had to shop on Christmas Eve.  I was determined not to let that happen this year.

So how about you, how much more shopping do you have to do?

Christmases Past Part 3

Pound puppy
Growing up in Miami, Florida had many great benefits and the weather was awesome the ocean always nearby.  However, Miami is very far from Virginia (where all my extended family is from).  Very few of my Christmases were spent with extended family.

My parents were always creative with how we celebrated.  There were always close friends and family around our holiday table.

Well one Christmas, my parents hosted two girls from our local Baptist Children's home.  I couldn't have been much more than seven.  I am pretty sure I gotta a much anticipated pound puppy for Christmas (Can I get a shout out from all of you who got one that year?  Mine was white with dark brown spots like in the picture above that I swiped off ebay.)

I don't remember the girls names or much about them.  What I do remember is that they received 3x as many presents as I did.  I guess people sponsored them and provided things off their wish list.  I remember being really confused, I guess a little jealous.

That night, as I was going to bed, I had a conversation with my mom about it.  She said something about how those girls would give up all the presents in the world to have a family like mine.  As a young child, I am not sure I agreed.

As an adult, I realize, all the presents in the world would have never made up for the wonderful parents that I had.  I think about what a sacrifice it was for them to host two extra children for Christmas (as if 3 girls wasn't exhausting enough).  Even though I don't remember much more about that Christmas, I am sure that it played a huge roll in shaping who I am today.

Monday Morning (or Afternoon) Commentary

Yesterday was week 2 of our Christmas series, Do You Hear?  Yesterday's message was another hopeful message about hearing from God.

Throughout the series, my husband, has been emphasizing the importance hearing God rather than talking to God.  He pointed out in Exodus 3 how every time Moses spoke to God he said the wrong things.  Moses responses were filled with fear, worry and questioning.

I think that most of us don't necessarily have a problem hearing God, we just don't want to obey what he has told us.  We want God to say something else.  We don't want to hear "break up with that boyfriend" or "get on a budget" or "forgive that person."  Why would God entrust me with more direction when I can't follow the directions he has already given me.

My very favorite verse in the Bible comes from the Christmas story.  When the angel told Mary that she would have a baby she did not say "but God, no one will believe me?"  or even "what am I going to tell Joseph?"  She simply replied

I am the Lord's servant, may it be as you have said.  Luke 1:38

My prayer, is that I when God speaks, I will obey. 

You can listen to week 2 of Do You Hear? here.

How to Pray Part 5- Christmas Edition

So I thought I would do a special addition of my series How to Pray.  Even though I have at least one more post in mind for this series (how to pray for your church) I thought I would do a special Christmas edition.

Christmas time is hectic for everyone, no doubt we all need prayer during the Christmas season.  So as you steal away some time to pray and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, here are some things that you can specifically pray for your church and church staff…

  • for all of the details in planning a Christmas eve service to come together
  • for all of the people thinking about trying church for the first time (or first time in a long time) to venture out and attend a service
  • for the staff wives who have to bear the weight taking care of family business
  • for the your pastor as he prepares his Christmas messages
  • for your staff as they hammer out so many details to pull off a great series
  • for there to be plenty of volunteers throughout the month (from childcare to set up and tear down)
  • for lives to be changed
  • for the people of your church to truly worship Christ, Emmanuel, God sent to be with us this Christmas season

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be
with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”- Isaiah 7:14