Lauren and Trey recently decided to become fosters for the Bassett Hound Rescue of Georgia. A few years ago they adopted their 2nd Bassett Maddie from there. When they go....they go big. Their first foster experience didn't just bring them 1 dog, it brought them 6....a mama and 5 puppies. 4 boys and 1 little girl.
This is a picture of some of the great people that I work with at Grace. I missed this picture (and the Starbucks card that apparently came with it) because I was out in the lobby with some other staff breaking down things. So, this picture is not all of the staff.
In 2009 Grace did 12 Christmas Eve services. The last 2 years they have rented out the Gwinnett Arena for the service. 10,000 people, gathering together in one place on Christmas Eve....it's pretty amazing. Music, teaching, tons of Baptisms, a personal story of God's goodness amidst tragedy....there were salvations....there were even over 50 Muslim refugee families in attendance. Did you hear me? Muslim families at an event thats purpose is to celebrate Jesus.....ha. Here are some pictures of the event.
Yesterday, I donated blood for the first time in 11 years. The first and only time I ever donated blood was when my high school had a blood drive when I was a junior. When my coach found out I had given blood he was ticked because we had a game that day. It was mid season, so I was in really good shape, but that day I felt like I had never run a day in my life. So you might be asking what made me end my 11 year blood donating hiatus? Well, Amy...that is what....or rather who. She is a nurse for kids with cancer and her kiddos often need platelets, so she goes and donates when she can. She wanted me to go with her back when I first moved here, but I had just gotten back from Africa and well...they don't let you donate for a while if you've been to Africa. I went with her just with the intention of letting them draw a tube of blood so I could donate platelets later, but she convinced me that if they were going to stick me anyway to take a tube of blood I might as well let them take a bag while they are in there. I am good if unexpected pain happens to me, but I cannot stand anticipated pain. Shots fall into this category. I sat down in the ominous chair. I made the mistake of watching the process unfold on the guy next to me. The needle was the size of an arrow (well maybe this is a bit of an exaggeration, but that is what it felt like). I said to the lady, "This is going to hurt isn't it?" And instead of doing what nurses normally do where they make it seem okay and try and distract you when they give you the shot she said very bluntly, "Well, yeah its gonna hurt. Of course it is." She stuck the needle in my arm and Amy (and apparently the man beside her giving platelets) thought that I screamed very loudly. I maintain that it hurt....and that I didn't scream all that loudly. I was reminded when I was done that I had just saved 3 lives. It is hard to argue or complain when they say something like that.
I decided a few months ago that I wanted to plan some type of outreach event for the women's ministry at Grace. I wanted it to be connected to a place the church was already involved in so I talked to Erin who runs our Infusion ministry about doing something at for the Muslim refugee families they work with. We decided to gather together a group of people who knew a lot more about the Muslim culture than we did and out of that meeting came the idea to do a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at Grace for refugee families. The idea was that each refugee family would be paired at a table with a Grace host family. The ultimate goal was that the Grace family would build lasting relationships with the family they were hosting. We set a menu, recruited volunteers to cook and serve and host and sent out invitations. It was a massive undertaking. I spent all of my Thanksgiving break working on it. I now know why people prefer to get dinners catered rather than have people bring food. If it wasn't for my wonderful sister and my dear friend Amy (as well as a man named Paul with lots of catering experience) I might have cried. The event ended up going off perfectly. I could not have asked for a better turn out. We had 80 Musilm refugees and well over 100 Grace volunteers. Our pastor, Buddy has called it one of the top 3 things that Grace has ever done. The event has already been reciprocated. The manager from one of the complex who helped with some of the program called 2 days later and said they wanted to invite us to eat in the mosque. I mean really? What church has the opportunity to share a meal with 80 Muslims in their building and gets invited to their mosque? Crazy. Below are some pictures of the event.
I experienced my first American phenomenon known as "Black Friday." When I first told Amy that I had never done Black Friday before she acted as if I had just said I had never heard of chocolate. Apparently, Black Friday has always been a big deal in her family and she was very bummed when she realized she had to work that day. The only upside to working that day though is that she gets us super early anyway, so she decided why not get up a little earlier and drag me along with her and even though she might regret it at 7pm when she is at work this is exactly what she decided to do. The alarm went off in the 4 oclock hour, which is just not okay, I rolled out of bed, threw on some clothes and off we went with the masses. Our first and only stop was Target, and by the time we got there the doors had already been busted down, all the "punch someone out" worthy deals had been snagged up and the line was wrapped to the back of the store around both sides. I have really never seen so many people in a store in my life. People had these giant TV's that didn't come close to fitting in their carts, so they were coming dangerously close to knocking people around with every turn. Target workers were trying to direct traffic the best they could and huddling around yelling things like "Stand there and don't let people cut."(Really? Cutting in line? I had flash backs from childhood...I mean I know that adults in this type of situation do this, but it still shocks me that we are that childish and that self-centered. We decided against the cart since I refused to try and steer it through the herds and went for the basket, which turned out to be a good choice. Our first stop was the movie section to pick up several $3.99 classics (not sure Elf is a classic, but it should be). We then headed to the electronic section where we got a few $25 itunes gift cards that were $20. I decided to go ahead and get in line and let Amy do some more paroozing, since she had less than an hour (and God only knew how long that line would take to move) and I wasn't keen on her leaving me in that line to prance off to work. As I stood there waiting and looked down at a basket that looked like this... I told Amy that I was going to need us to find a more sought after, expensive item to put in that basket for me to think this ordeal was worth it. As much as I enjoy movies....they were also $3.99 on Amazon.....and there is no mile long line on Amazon. She continued to remind me that it was the experience that was fun, not really what you get. I am still unsure. Here are our "how we feel about Black Friday faces"...
While I waited in line she picked up a few other random things, including several things my sister wanted for gifts like a coffee pot and an Easy Bake oven. We made it out of Target before she had to go to work and after she left I headed over to Gap because I was already awake, everything was 50% off, I wanted jeans and I didn't think the masses would be fighting over cardigans. All in all, my first Black Friday was not too bad.....but don't tell Amy ;-).
This year has been one of accomplishing goals, mainly in the area of running. I ran my first 10k, 2 half marathons and a full marathon, all of which were things I have always wanted to do. Last week I ran the Thanksgiving day half marathon. I had nothing else to do Thanksgiving morning and I could run it without training since I just ran the full marathon on Halloween, so I decided why not? Another cool shirt...another race medal...another race to say I've run...a chance to beat the 2 hour time mark and a way to off set the 3,000 calories I would consume later that day. So my sister and I got up way too early (she is a saint for coming with me) and drove down to Tuner Field. The traffic was heinous...NOT MOVING off of the exit and if it wasn't for Lauren's prodding me to get out of line and come back the other way (and the fire truck that blazed a trail through the line that I followed...whoops) we would not have made the start even though we were at the exit an hour early. It was perfect race day weather; overcast and in the high 60's. I did run it faster than my first half in Chicago, but I did not beat the 2 hour mark, which was my goal. I made it in 2:02, which I was still pleased with. For now I am done with races. For one, it is way too cold to run outside and I can't afford a gym membership. I also just think my body needs a break. I would like to run if I want to, not because I have to...although, with all of the cookies and sweets I have been eating maybe I should sign up for something else.
I went out of order. This post was supposed to go before the one about Florida, but since I got behind uploading pictures we will just go with it. So, this is #2....Thanksgiving Feast. Amy would tell you, "It started with napkins" and it really did. She saw cute Thanksgiving napkins she liked in Hobby Lobby one day and then out of that this was birthed an amazing idea to have a Thanksgiving feast at our house. We bought the plates and napkins, which committed us to the ordeal, sent out invitations and started planning. We decorated the house. I borrowed tables and chairs from Grace and we set them with our fun plates and napkins. We took on the cooking of the turkey...really Amy did. It was her first turkey and it turned out amazing. Here he is. We lovingly named him Gordo because well, it takes a 21 lb turkey to feed a lot of people and we had a lot of people. We have planned parties where people were supposed to bring food and nobody really did and we all went a little hungry, but this time people showed up. The food was AMAZING! Everything was so good. Mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, stuffing, dessert...all delicious. We even through in Thanksgiving trivia and gave out prizes to the winners. It was so much fun that by the end of the night there was already a request for Christmas Feast 2010. This, of course, can only happen if the proper plates and napkins can be found.
My grandfather (Mom's dad) has been actively involved in the Boys and Girls club since the 60's. He recently received this award for his work with the club and my family went down to Florida for the ceremony (I referenced this in a previous post). Here are some pictures from the event.
The Whole Gang... From Left to Right: My Uncle Mike, Mom, Suzanne (my granddad's wife), Granddad, Me, Lauren, Trey
It started with a list. My roommate and I planned a Thanksgiving Feast (Thing #2 on the list of November happenings) for our group of friends. We sat down to make a list of all the things we wanted/needed to do to get ready for the big event. In the course of making this list we decided that we wanted to turn the extra bedroom into an office and redecorate it. While on the way one day to get things to make this plan happen we decided that my stuff would actually go better in the open bedroom and that my bedroom would make a better office. The room I was in was green and though there are an array of colors in my bedspread, green is not one of them. Moving all of my crap to the new room was now on the already lengthy agenda.
We wanted to put a desk in the office and Amy had seen this desk that she loved that was made out of an old door and 2 file cabinets. My sister had made a desk out of a large piece of glass and two wooden storage cubes she found at Ikea, so we headed to Ikea to see if we could find something we liked. After walking through the whole store finding nothing we could afford we decided to stop into the "As Is" section at the end and we found exactly what we were looking for. It appeared to be a part of a door. It had a white wooden frame, 2 peices of glass and best of all it was $10. We combined that with 2 white cubes from Walmart and below is our masterpiece:
Here are some pictures of the new office.. And of my new bedroom.. We were very pleased with how all of this turned out.
The last couple of weeks have been super busy with work things, fun things, holiday things and a lot of eating. I have not been faithful about blogging about these things, mostly because they have all kept me very busy. So here is an overview of all the big happenings of November and individual blog posts will follow:
Thanksgiving Feast 2010
Trip to Florida for Pre-Thanksgiving and my Grandfather's Boys and Girl's Club award ceremony
Apparently, in Buckhead there is a two story target with a cart escalator! I am not really sure why Target needs two floors, but it is fun none-the-less. You go up one side, while your cart gets its own ride up the middle. Fancy Smancy. I got a cart just for my dog toy and chocolate chips just so I could have the experience! What will they think of next?
Lauren and I were a little stir crazy today in Florida so we decided to drive down to the beach. On our way we spotted the coolest tree ever and in true Jordan fashion....stopped to climb it. This is a Banyan tree. The tree produces roots that grow from the limbs in the air to the ground and eventually root themselves into the ground and form a new, connected tree.
This is one of the roots that now looks like a connected tree
I am blogging....not from my work or from the comfort of my own home, but from the car....yep, the car. Don't worry, I am not driving. I may break the law from time to time and text while driving, but I draw the line at blogging on a laptop.....just seems unsafe. Anyway, I am on the way to Venice, Florida, which is located here.... on the gulf of Florida. My granddad is getting a major award for his work with the Boys and Girls club and my family is headed down there to support him and have an early Thanksgiving. All of this is really not the point though.....the point is, we have wifi in the car. That is right, internet. Our car is a moving wifi hotspot, an internet cafe cruising at 75 (sometimes much faster) miles per hour. If you know my brother-in-law, guru of all advances the technological world has to offer, you would not find this surprising. But I just think it is neat and that is all this blog post is really about....nothing important to say...nothing deep and life-changing, just a small moment to marvel at the wonders of technology.
Though my current job is not one that really makes sense to anyone who knows me well enough to know both my heart and my giftings, I took it because I really believed that God was doing some things at Grace Fellowship Church that are truly unique. Two of those things are kids and students. Below is a picture from the most recent LUG. LUG is the middle school program that Grace does on Wednesday nights that combines fun, high energy music, dynamic teaching and break-out groups lead by adults and LUG heads (high schoolers discipling down). This program intersects the lives of nearly 1000 middle schoolers every single week. The church is exploding with middle schoolers. This past week they saw 25 students respond to the gospel for the first time.
On days that I do not love exactly what it is that I am currently doing, I remind myself that I am blessed to be a part of a place like Grace...a place that really is reaching the Neighborhoods, Nations and Next Generation.
I had a car full of things I needed to take inside of the church. I loaded my book bag with things and flung it on my back. I placed a large Bible study DVD set in my arms and a full Operation Christmas child box on top of that. In my right hand I had my coffee mug with yummy peppermint mocha creamer in it that I had yet to fill with coffee. I started walking toward the church offices and am not really sure what happened, but suddenly I was falling and I knew that I wasn't going to be able to stop myself. I went toppling over and slammed into the ground with all of that stuff in my arms and on my back. My right knee hit first, the boxes went cascading out of my arms. Then my right hand slammed down with the coffee cup in, shattering the mug and sending creamer flying into the air and into my face and hair. I laid on the ground in pain looking at all of my crap strewn across the parking lot. I rolled over onto my back moaning and really hoping that nobody just saw me because I am sure that from a distance it just looked like I decided to belly flop myself onto the concrete for the heck of it. Everything was throbbing and I didn't want to get up. I had woken up sick already and at this point I just wanted to go back home and start Thursday over again. (Thursday mornings going wrong has been a pattern this fall) This mom and little boy ran over to help me and see if I was okay. The little boy says, "You have milk all over your face," which made me laugh. They helped me pick up my stuff, while I assessed the damage to my hands and my knee and tried to get up. I have a swollen knee, small cuts on my hand and a slightly bruised ego to show for myself, but all-in-all I am okay....though I cannot say the same for my favorite coffee cup... ...Sad day, I really liked that cup.
I like sweets. I really, really, really like ice cream and chocolate chip cookies. I could take or leave candy and cake and pie, but ice cream and homemade cookies....I could consume (and have consumed) until I was sick. Lately, I have been eating a great deal of crap. I have been eating healthy meals, but a lot of dessert before and after and around those healthy meals and although I have been running a ton training in the past months, all of the crap I am eating still makes me feel yuck at times. Yesterday I decided that I would ask my roommate Amy if she wanted to keep each other accountable to not eating crap for a week. I figured since we live together and frequently eat these things together that it would be very helpful to invite her into that process. What is funny is that when I asked her about it last night, the second I got the words out of my mouth she shot back, "10 days...I want to do it for 10 days." Apparently, she had also been thinking about the same thing. So, this Friday begins the torturous "no crap fasting detox" until around Thanksgiving. Though I might be slightly cranky those 10 days about giving up some of my favorite things, I do think it is a good practice leading into the holidays to deny yourself those types of pleasures, especially because the holidays are teeming with dessert and junk food and you could easily find yourself in a sugar induced coma by the New Year...not to mention a larger pant size.
I am baking potatoes tonight for Bible study and though I was pretty sure you bake them in the oven for an hour, I wanted to be sure. What do you do when you want to be sure about something? You google it. I googled baked potato and I found this very helpful website entitled "How to bake a potato." Who dedicates an entire website to something like this? Who pays for the URL? I mean there aren't even that many steps and they even give you pictures with each step. They tell you to poke holes in it with a fork and then show you a picture demonstrating poking holes in it with a fork as if on your own you would be unable to figure out exactly how that should go. I think this is funny.
Today is my least favorite day of year. Why? Because tonight when I am on my way to the 5:15 service at Grace, the sun will be setting...and when I get out at 7:00ish it will be pitch black dark outside. I cannot stand this. The days seems so long. At 8pm I feel like its midnight. It seems like you have so much less time to get things done, to be outside, to enjoy anything and everything.
Now, for the sake of not posting something completely negative here are the only 2 good things I can think of that come from this day light savings occurrence: 1. The extra hour of sleep (I often thwart this though by falling back early in my mind and staying up later than I should) 2. It is lighter earlier in the morning....this helps my motivation to get out of bed and get going.
I did it. This past Sunday I finished my first marathon and I didn't die. I really can't believe it. It is by far the most difficult thing I have ever done. 26.2 miles is a VERY long way. I was so nervous. I did not think I would be able to finish at all. I was surrounded by crazy athletes who were WAY more prepared than I was and completely confident in their ability to run the race in times much faster than I could imagine. My friend Amy came up with me and she kept reminding me that I just needed to do it my way and that she knew I could finish...and she was right. I finished in under 5 hours and I managed to run the whole thing without walking. Even though this was a very hard journey with all of the training it took, it was worth it. I had to keep reminding myself that there was a major "why" behind what I was doing. I wasn't just running to say I ran a marathon or to check another thing off my list...I was doing it for my sister, my brother, my dad...to connect with them...for a cure for diabetes.
When I crossed the finish line the first feeling I had was excitement, the second was relief and the third was that everything in my body hurt and I might collapse if I didn't quickly sit down. I was in a great deal of pain for the next 3 days, but feel much better now. It was truly an amazing experience. At this point, I have no "marathon bug." I have no desire to do another one, but it is really neat to be able to say that I have run a marathon. It is really neat to have done it for a cause that is so close to my heart. Thanks to all of you for your support!
In less than a week I will be running the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington, DC. This will be my first, and probably only, Marathon. I have always wanted to accomplish this, so when the opportunity came up to run with a team and raise money for Diabetes, this was perfect. It has been so much more difficult than I imagined...so much more difficult than training of the half. The time and planning it takes to accomplish the training is just crazy. I have struggled to fit it in with a full-time job and other life things. It is hard to set-aside 3 hours in just one day to run...plus over 4 hours of running on other days. I also managed to injure myself in my last long run. I ran 18 miles a week and a half ago and hurt my right foot during that run. I didn't do anything to it, like twist it, it just hurt and I could barely walk the next day. I took a week off, did the doctor/X-ray thing to make sure there wasn't a stress fracture and that turned out all clear. But when I attempted to run 5 miles yesterday the pain came back with a vengeance, so something is wrong with it and I am just hoping it will miraculously feel great on race day and that all of this healing time off will not affect the run. I am very doubtful at this point about my ability to run that distance, but I am going to give it a go. On a more positive note, I have nearly reached my fundraising goal, which is awesome. So we will see how it goes. Click here to see my personal page and hear about why I am running.
If you were to ask me what my idea of a perfect Fall Saturday was, I would tell you that it would have to include; apple picking, a pumpkin patch, a drive through the mountains with the windows down, 73 degree temperatures and a picnic by a river with some fun friends. You would be hard pressed to come up with a better line-up of fall activities than that. This is what this past Saturday consisted of and it was amazing.
First stop: Apple Picking
We discovered really yummy green apples on the last row. Not sure if we were supposed to pick those, but they were better than the other ones, so we did. We are really excited about our full bags of apples. Not at all sure what we are going to do with them all, but it was fun times! The plan was to leave the apple orchard and find a place to hike in the mountains. On the way to do that we saw a sign for Bert's Pumpkin Patch and I went so crazy I almost drove us off of the road....whoops. A friend had just told me about this place the week before and then there we were...accidentally there, so we had to stop. The place was a mad house. Tons of people apparently knew it was there and went there on purpose. Either way, it was amazing. The whole place smelled like the most amazing pumpkin pie you have ever smelled. They had ginormous pumpkins like these... This is Amy in the wheelbarrow with our pumpkin. We both spotted one at the same time that we liked, so he is the one that came home with us.
The pumpkins we chose.
This is a difficult rule to follow....I mean the second you see a pumpkin as big a Lazy boy chair all you want to do is sit on it. Ever the rule breakers we are.
Who knew there were so many uses for gourds? I certainly did not!
If you have yet to take a day to enjoy the fall and do some activities like the ones above you should. It is, after all, the best time of year!
"He was in the world, and the world was made through Him and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and they did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." John 1:9-14