Saturday, July 27, 2013

He Who Walks with Integrity Walks Securely

20 My confident hope is that I will in no way be ashamed but that with complete boldness, even now as always, Christ will be exalted in my body, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22 Now if I am to go on living in the body, this will mean productive work for me, yet I don’t know which I prefer: 23 I feel torn between the two, because I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far. - Philippians 1:20-23

What a strange day.  This is the first time I have lost a grandparent when I remember.  My Pa died when I was 3 years old, and while I think I might remember a little from all of that, today is the first day of my life that I've lost a grandparent I can remember.  A great man. A godly man. A man of great integrity.  A man who led his family biblically.  A man whose word you didn't question.  My grandpa.  As we drove home to FL yesterday, a million scriptures were running through my head. Some Grandpa had talked about, himself, and some that just fit the situation.  I was praying I'd make it in time to just see Grandpa alive one more time. 
I was able to see him twice yesterday.  He was unresponsive, but since they say the mind is the last thing to go, I really think he could hear what we were saying as we talked.  As we prepared to leave last night from the nursing home, I leaned down to tell him goodbye for the night.  I was talking to him about a conversation he and Landon and I had in the hospital last August when it looked as though he might not make it.  We talked about how living is Christ and dying is gain.  Being conflicted between the two.  This was what he thought about his life - living his life with a purpose while he was here on earth, knowing that Father had a specific job and purpose for his life only, to use him in specific ways.  I must have told him I loved him 20 times yesterday.  Sometimes I wasn't sure what else to say but I just wanted to say something to him. 
I have a million memories over many years.  My most solid memory that I have thought of the most often during the last year was from times I would stay with my grandparents when my mom and dad were out of town.  I can remember crawling out of my bed at their house in the mornings and walking down the hall to the living room and kitchen.  Grandpa would always, without fail, be sitting at the kitchen table.  I could smell his aftershave, and he would be drinking coffee and reading his Bible and devotion books.  Sometimes Grandma would be still sitting with him reading her Bible and sometimes she'd already be up from the table cooking us flat eggs for breakfast.  He would see me coming and say (in his special Grandpa voice), "Hello, Sweetie."  It was that voice that was deep from just waking up.  I have always felt such complete security in their love and support for me. 
Over the years I have talked to Grandpa (and Grandma, too) about a million things.  I remember them coming to spend the night with Steph and me at our apartment in Gainesville.  That was really special.  I remember them coming up to the townhouse in Woodstock so that Grandpa could come to the men's conference.  I am so sorry he was never able to come to Bethabra.  I know he was proud of how Landon followed God's call, and he would have loved to hear him preach there.  I talked to them about our decision to surrender to the ministry and when we had been through some significant marriage struggles.  He was a good listener.  He was good at pulling truth out of the Bible and applying it to life. 
And he loved his family.  He and grandma wrote each other love notes in their Christmas stockings every single year at Christmas.  They put money in our stockings, but love notes in each other's stockings. 65 years of growing together.  My goodness.  If you listened for just a second to him, you'd hear him talk about how good God had been to our family and how much he loved his wife, his sons, and all of us.  He was a tight hugger.  He gave a really good hug.  The kind where you could barely breathe and it was a good kind of barely breathe :)
One of my favorite things was to hold his hand.  He was a tight hand holder.  Serious business. 
I was looking at his Bible this morning.  So much Scripture marked in the Bible.  It's hard to tell what might of been his very favorite verse because so much is marked.  Some of the pages are so worn they are about to fall out. 

This is a little Bible he carried everywhere with him.  Seriously?  Look at how it's falling apart.  
This was back in the spring.  God was so gracious to give me so many conversations with him this past year.  Even a week and two days ago, I had a wonderful conversation with him about challenges in our lives and what we felt like God was teaching us.  He said God was teaching him that it was okay not to be so independent. 

Special doesn't even begin to cut it.  To say that I love him doesn't even scratch the surface.  While I was driving alone from the funeral home to he and Grandma's house this afternoon, I was talking to him, if he could hear me in heaven.  I was telling him, "I know we just left the funeral home and are making arrangements, but it feels like when I get to your house in a minute, you will be there.  Of course you will be there, where else would you be?"  It's like even though I understand he is not here on earth anymore, it seems surreal, and impossible.  I don't know how people live without the hope of Christ and heaven.  I desperately cling to that because I know this life is not the end.  Reminds me of that song,
"All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong".
I know just like he had family waiting for him, he will be waiting for all of us up there.  I can't wait to see him again.  I don't know why God chose such a good family for me.  All I can say is thank you, Father. I love you FOREVER, Grandpa!
 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:35-39

Thursday, July 25, 2013

10th Anniversary - Gatlinburg

We had a really great trip. 

When we arrived in Pigeon Forge Sunday night, I felt really strange.  Like I wasn't supposed to be away from James and like I was a bad mom.  We just had friends who left their kids to go on a cruise, and I encouraged them and told them, "YEAH! GO! You need to get away!!" And even though I know that, it still felt like I shouldn't.  After crying about it a little it and sleeping Sunday night, I was good :) 

Here's our sweet cabin:

We spent most of our time sleeping, resting, and watching Law & Order SVU reruns on Netflix.  I am a serious Benson & Stabler fan.  However, it could have made me highly paranoid, but in typical Bethany fashion, I did have one slight freak out night where I insisted someone was breaking in and made Landon get the gun.  He got it, but then had to wait for me to go to the bathroom before he could go investigate the "situation", and by the time I finished and made it back to the bed, he was back asleep.  I said, "Where is the gun?  On your nightstand?"  He said, "I don't have a nightstand.  It's under my pillow."  I said, "WHAT?  Is it loaded?"  "Of course it's loaded," he said, "what do you think I am going to tell the robber to count to 30 before you bust in here???"  He eventually told me there was no bullet in the chamber which made me feel a little better, but it was basically a rough night.  I am weird like that and every once in a while have to have a small freak out about something.  Could be too many SVU's that evening. 

We talked about going to a show.  We didn't.  We talked about walking on a trail.  I forgot my big tennis shoes.  So.  We rested. And tried to beat each other in Subway Surfer (I'm winning still, by the way).  And talked - a lot.  And discussed some Bible stuff.  And slept.  And basically, just hung out and did whatever we wanted to whenever we wanted to for three full days. It was pretty awesome. Landon was in his batman snuggie and he put all the snacks on the table behind the couch. The cabin even had a Keurig, so I was all set.

We ate at the Old Mill - one of my favorites, and then I got to go to the Peddler for the first time!  Here's what I thought.  The steak - not good enough to be as expensive as it was.  The atmosphere was awesome, and everything else I ate was awesome.  I definitely want to keep going back, but I won't get a steak anymore.  We sat right on the river and it was beautiful.  A great place. 

 Here's what I wanted to do after our Peddler dinner...ride this!  I loved it - I'm not a huge heights lover, but this was great!  After it was over, I asked Landon why he didn't put his arm around me on the way down because it was romantic, but he said it was because he was scared and had to hold on with both hands.  True.

Krista bought me this owl cup in Destin before I came to Gatlinburg.  I took it as my trip cup.  Anyone who knows me well knows that when I finished taking a test in college, I bought myself a new cup for a reward.  I sort of have a cup problem.  Mugs, glasses, plastic cups - you name it.

 And, here's James.  He was livin' the good life with Grammie while we were gone.

It was a wonderful trip.  We are really blessed, and we know it.  We've been through some pretty significant challenges - especially our first 4 years.  Now we are at Bethabra, we have James, and although there are many challenges in those things, God has blessed us beyond belief.  I'm so thankful for the life partner God had for me in Landon, and I pray the next 10 years will bring great fun and excitement and deeper friendship as we grow closer in every way!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Whew, it's been WILDLY busy!

Boy, I was doing great with my little updates and then...V B S.  No need to say more.  It was a wild and busy week - and a wonderful one!  We had lots of children - lots of new children we'd never met - and an awesome carnival on Friday night. 
Confession time.  You know the baskets outside on the back deck that I have hanging up?  I have been pretty proud that I've kept those alive. Well, there are birds everywhere around here (uh, not as much as at my parent's house which sounds like some kind of bird sanctuary), but lots of birds, nonetheless.  I noticed they were tweeting like crazy and carrying twigs into one of my pots.  So, I went out there and took it all out.  I couldn't have them building a nest in a pot so that I couldn't water and fertilize the flowers!  Well, a few days later...I was TOO late.  They had already chosen another pot and there were already eggs in it :(  Well, you know I had to leave them.  I don't particularly like birds, so I hate that every single time I walk out the back door, birds are flying out of that pot and scaring me to death.  Birds are very unpredictable, and basically, my mental state just can't handle that.  So, the eggs hatched, the babies are growing, and once a week, I pull them down and try to water around them in the pot.  I am really hoping they are growing up fast and will leave soon (wow, I am such an animal lover).  BUT, then I noticed that those birds are carrying more twigs into another pot, and basically, I've just let them beat me.  Whatever.  Take over my whole porch.  I can't handle it.
 So, VBS was great.  We had crazy hair day, wacky tourist day, and more I can't remember - all for Colossal Coaster World.  James had a great time this year in his class and seemed so excited to go every day.  One day we got to lunch after VBS and Landon asked James to pray.  James said, "No, Daddy.  I already pray to Jesus today."  Like, yikes, I've had enough of Jesus today and I cannot pray.  I thought it was hilarious :)

 We had the carnival on Friday night with tons of jumpies and a train.  The kids had an awesome time, and as I looked around that night, I just felt like it was a glimpse of what I pray will continue at Bethabra - families coming together and having fun and growing together...I think sometimes God gives us a glimpse of what's happening and to come and just sustains us to keep on keeping on!!!!  It was wonderful!

 James finished swimming lessons this past Saturday - thank goodness, before I completely lost my mind - ha.  He did GREAT!  Still doesn't like his face in the water, but he doesn't cry when water splashes on it anymore.  If we were going to be here most of July I might have enrolled him again, but since we're going to be out of town a lot, we couldn't. 
 I walked by Gymboree the other day and the theme in there was GATORS.  WELL, you know I had to go in there and check it out.  I got James several CUTE Gator shirts (not like FL Gators, but to us every gator is a FL gator), so here he is before church last Sunday.
 We met Eric, Kelli, and Caroline at Cracker Barrel this week.  They were picking up their final boxes and stuff here and moving it up to KY.  It was so great to see them and James and Caroline had an awesome time hanging out :)  Such sweet friends!
Alright.  The biggest story is....wait for it...I got the pillows.  I got them yesterday and it was pouring down rain in a huge monsoon and I drove a long way to get them...and I just kept thinking that Landon would not have approved of this gas guzzling excursion in the pouring down thunderstorm - with James - to get these dumb pillows that I didn't even need right now.  But, it was like I had become obsessed with them.  I took James to Home Depot, Hobby Lobby, Target, Wal Mart, and Lowe's to look for pillows the other day.  Do you know what torture it is to get a 3 year old (who acts like 'hurrying up' is an impossibility) in and out of  car that many times?  It's a nightmare.  He is sooooo slow.  Hurry up, I say, as he gets a drink, buckles in his basketball, wipes something off the seat, finds a sticker on the floor.  Oh my heavens.  I had no success because everything is GONE from most stores because it's toward the end of the patio cushion buying season and the stuff is on sale.  However, online, nothing is on sale AT ALL.  And those bad boys are expensive.  Then....a light bulb moment...I remembered Garden Ridge.  I used to really like Garden Ridge over in Kennesaw and I knew they had rows and rows and rows of porch cushions.  I looked up locations of other Garden Ridges and there was one about 30 miles south of us.  So, I dropped Landon off after a fun lunch yesterday with the Wakeman's and headed down there.  And. I. found. them.  I was so excited about finding the right colors - I mean, even close to the right colors, solid colors, that I jumped up and down in the aisle and danced, and James thought it was the greatest thing.  YAY!!!!!  I got the rug and the pillows.  I am SO THANKFUL!!  AND SO EXCITED!  Carolyn is supposed to make the bottom cushions while I'm in FL - I cannot wait to sit on my little couch and drink some coffee (although I will be completing this project in the dead of summer when it will probably be too hot to step outside).  I just have to say that I would never do this again - unless I forget how bad it was (like people say happens with childbirth). 
 James took my pic with it because I was so happy!
Thankful for 4th of July today.  Growing up in a military area and seeing all of those folks all the time is something I really miss.  There was nothing like being at church on Memorial Day or celebrating the 4th at church and watching those men and women stand and shake hands - it's awesome.  I am so grateful for their sacrifice and the passion they feel for our country.  Headed to a picnic in a little bit!