Mission Accomplished

 We did it!!!!
Our garage is cleaned up.
Well, one side of the garage is cleaned up, but this is a noteworthy accomplishment. 

All of us worked together to tackle this monster of a project that’s been hanging over our heads for a year. 

Tomorrow dad and I will go to the dump and to Goodwill and to pick up a new dryer (our friends Chad and Megan are giving us their old one).

I’m calling this weekend a success.

It was long and tiring, but that’s okay. Not every weekend is supposed to be like a beach vacation. 

Christmas Cowboy

Christmas 2015 was a lot of fun! 

Today’s been a whirlwind, so I’ll keep it brief and share a cute picture:

  Here’s a cowboy playing his guitar. 
Courage hadn’t stopped playing it since we gave it to him this morning. 

Our family is blessed beyond measure and we all had a good time eating and opening presents. 

The new year will be here in less than a week!

2016 here we come!

Christmas Eve Adventures

I didn’t make it into any pictures, but my Christmas Eve was awesome. 

The Kennedy/Neely Christmas parties were a success!

Opening presents with my cousins was fun because they picked out their own gifts for everyone this year. It’s cool to see the people they are becoming. 

My cousin Mathew celebrated his first Christmas as a father and I love his fiancé Kristen. He picked a winner for sure!

I pray that you have a wonderful time with your friends and family over the next few days. 

Merry Christmas!

The gift of empathy

7-christmas-tree-backgroundI bumped into a bad memory last night. It happens from time to time….

I allowed myself to think back to the people involved, the events of the evening, and the décor of the room.

The emotions were strong and I found myself gasping for breath. I was choking–trapped–in the moment and all I wanted to do was run out the door.

I’m sharing this story with you because I learned something in the process:

You can deconstruct the past, face the truth, and then move on.

The reason people remain stuck in the past is that they never learn how to see it from a place of freedom.

I am free from the pain, shame, and guilt of my past. (Notice that I didn’t say sadness of my past. It’s not possible to remove the sadness.)

With time and a year of counseling, I stopped seeing my past as a bully that’s holding my present hostage and casting a shadow over my future.

I can now face up to the memories instead of running from them.

Christmas will be here in 3 days and Facebook posts are already warning us to be sensitive to the hurts and pains of others.

No one can have a good Christmas (and don’t even think of sharing your joy online) because hurting people will be scrolling through their newsfeeds.

This kind of attitude is detrimental.

Even if everyone didn’t share about their holidays, there would still be hurt in the world.

There is nothing sympathetic about making others feel guilty. Likewise, there is nothing empathetic about walking around on eggshells.

Why don’t we comfort our hurting friends and family?

Take hold of their hands, give them a hug, and sit with them through the tears.

This is genuine empathy and it leads to healing.

There’s no magic formula for grief and sadness, but genuine empathy is the greatest gift you can give this Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change of plans

This Monday did not go according to plan, but it turned out much better than I could’ve imagined. 

Some days everything gets changed on a dime–and that throws me for a loop. 

I’m learning, though, that a change of plans doesn’t mean the whole day is ruined. 

Goodness…I’m a slow learner. 

Rolling with the punches is not my strong suit. I have to consciously say, “Life will go on.

(I try to be as easy going as possible, but my perfectionist side sneaks up on me.)

Keep this in mind as Christmas gets closer. 

What’s most important is not having everything go according to schedule. 

And I hope you guys are faster at learning this lesson than I am.

The key to Christmas cheer

You are enough. Keep that in mind this Christmas season. 

The chatter at parties can quickly turn into brag fests by well meaning family and friends. 

My Susie got accepted into Harvard and Yale. 

Well, Billy is now the head of his department. 

What about you?

Uh…I’m about the same as last year. Everything is rocking along quite normally. 

There’s nothing wrong with being excited and sharing good news. When else can you tell all the family?

Just keep in mind that you’re not the center of the universe, the star of the show. 

On the flip side, don’t walk away from a Christmas gathering feeling like a failure because you can’t compete with the success of others. 

It’s not a competition! 

We’re all on different paths. Respect the differences, okay?

Christmas is the time for families to encourage each other and to reflect on the important things in life. 

It doesn’t have to be a stressful, overwhelming experience. 

Enjoy the egg nog and banter over a plate of Christmas fare. Remember, you are enough. Let yourself relax for once. 

Merry Christmas Traffic

  I met Santa today!

Turns out he does all his last minute shopping at Wal-Mart too. 

Traffic was a bit crazy on my delivery route because everyone else just realized Christmas is next week. 

Be careful if you have to go out this weekend. 

Don’t lose your joy over a few extra minutes at a red light. 

And if you happen to see Santa this weekend, be sure to give him a word of encouragement and ask him what kind of cookies he actually wants on Christmas Eve. 

AIDB Christmas Chapel

Tonight was our last chapel of the school year. 

We had a big gathering with all the schools from the Alabama Institure for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB). 

The chapel was packed! 

I played a shepherd in the children’s reenactment of the nativity story. (My leopard print tunic made me the most fashionable shepherdess of them all.)

There was drama, dance, music, and a brief message was preached. 

Afterwards, we ate dinner together. The kids received goody bags full of Bible study material, candy, etc–the staff did too. 

Everyone enjoyed the time of worship and fellowship. 

I am happy to be a part of such a thriving deaf community that really pours into the lives of the children. 

Please pray for the chapel volunteers and staff at the school. 

They need guidance and wisdom for the upcoming year as more events like this are planned. 

To whom much is given

7-christmas-tree-backgroundChristmas time is here.

Gifts will be filling up living rooms across the country. Kids are writing out lists for their families. Parents are working extra shifts to pay for these gifts.

The Christmas spirit is taking over our brains as we speak.

But what about those of us who won’t have any presents under the tree?

Whose parents are working hard just to feed their families with no money left to spare?

Kids who wish for new clothes as much as they do for a new toy?

Every Christmas, these questions bombard my mind.

I can’t help but think of the verse that says, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48).

The needs are great this Christmas–as they are all throughout the year. Something about the season of giving, though, make the needs more evident.

In other words, we’re paying attention.

What can we commit to doing this year to help others?

One of the goals for this blog is to help others. That’s my aim every time I share with you. I want this community to become a place that recognizes and meets needs.

I plan on giving money to the Big Oak Ranch, a local children’s home, to buy presents for the children in their care.

If this is something you’d be interested in doing, here’s the link:

Big Oak Ranch Christmas

Let me know what you plan on doing to give back.

Remember: To whom much is given, much is required.

Friday Updates

  Today’s post will be more of an update. 

  1. I’ve picked up some extra work to save up for Rhema. Dad and Nana are showing me the ropes of the medical courier route. I’ll be picking up for my dad while he’s in Mexico. Also, I’llbe helping out Nana too. 
  2. My dad and I are working on a new project together. It’s going to be a short video series where we talk about our journey of being reconciled to each other. 
  3. I want us to to walk our way through a Christmas carol this December. We’ll look at history and origin, it’s telling of the Christmas story, and I’ll put up videos of different musicians singing it. 
  4. I’ve found a couple of great restaraunts in Birmingham this week. An African restaurant named Rafiki’s Grill and a Pho restaurant named Pho Que Huong. I highly recommend both!

Well, that’s all I have for today…

Please leave me a comment on which song we should discuss.