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
"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