Thursday, November 28, 2013

Join me for Bible study this Advent!

Happy Thanksgiving! If you are reading this then I'm definitely thankful for you!! Writing is my therapy and an act of worship for me, but it's a bonus if someone cares to read my words.

I don't want to miss Thanksgiving, but I do want to invite you to think about something "Christmassy" today. Many of you are friends I've studied with over the years. I'd like to invite you to an online Advent Bible study! Here's how it would work!

I need to stay in The Word throughout this typically busy season or I will be miserable and make everyone around me miserable. I've come across a wonderful little book that I want to use as a study guide for the 4 weeks of Advent.

Liz Curtis Higgs recently wrote The Women of Christmas. Starting Monday December 2, I want to study these women of Christmas with you. Each Monday I'll post on this blog a reading assignment and some "discussion" questions. Jump on the comments and study with me. This is a great way to have some direction, interaction, and accountability without actually ever meeting together. We can meet together with longtime friends and make new ones. We can pray for each other! There are no videos to watch, but some weeks I might post something I'm learning. 

You'll just need the book, your Bible, and maybe a journal. I bought my book at Mardel this week and even just saw a 40% off coupon in the paper today! I'm sure you could find it at other Christian bookstores or major retailers.

So who's in? Even if no one joins me, I'm going to do this, but it sure would be fun to have you joining me! Comment below if you're interested!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving away from home...and who's making the gravy?

As Thanksgiving week gets into full swing, of course I have so much for which to be thankful.  I am indeed thankful for my family's decision to follow God's leading to Lee's Summit four years ago.  I love this place more than ever , and it's the perfect place for my children!  The people here are hardworking, generous, compassionate, real, and anxious to have a vital relationship with God. They seem to love us and joyfully encourage Blake by letting him lead however he feels God is leading. What else could this pastor's wife want? We are blessed!

However, Thanksgiving can sometimes be a lonely holiday for families in ministry. Most ministry families who live away from their parents and grandparents must choose whether to "go home " for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Very rarely do staff members have enough vacation to travel both times. Since leaving Arkansas almost 12 years ago, we've never been "home" for Thanksgiving. 

Honestly Blake and I don't mind so much, and our kids haven't really ever known what it's like to live near family. Truthfully, Blake and I have always been the family rebels. I figure it's part of the reason I have a degree in Home Economics, so I can pull together an entire Thanksgiving meal without a mom's help. (And truthfully, my own mother wasn't much of a cook. Now Blake's mom? That's totally different !! She will always be able to cook circles around me!  All our family favorites are her recipes.)  Even though I have no problem cooking, I do sort of miss the whole family vibe of Thanksgiving. 

The closest thing to an extended family Thanksgiving my we've had was spending the day with our dear friends, the Carman's, during our time in Georgia. Now to be direct, not everyone wants the preacher's family for a holiday! We get that! Trust me, it's as stressful for us as it is for anyone who hosts us. We have a hard time being ourselves, always afraid we'll blow Blake's reputation. But the Carman's aren't church members as much as they are true, real friends! They always let us be ourselves, and they were themselves! Our boys enjoyed crazy fun before lunch and we all enjoyed dominoes afterward! There was the annual planning of Black Friday complete with newspapers , then watching football! And Lord have mercy, they can cook! Jim. (Aka Kermit) Carman's smoked ham just about kept me from following Blake to Lee's Summit! And to this day I cannot make gravy without texting Kermit and Andrea because we had the annual argument over how to do it. So when we think Thanksgiving, we are thinking about lunch with the Carman's!

We are thankfully within three hours of my sister these days so we can have time with family for the day. I'll be hosting her family on Thursday, and it will be a fun time with a house full of teenage boys. (I'll be cooking extra to feed said bottomless pits!) Sarah and Caleb help me cook so we have lots of fun preparing! My sister and I are making up for lost time because she was on her own and working in retail when I was growing up...never coming home for Thanksgiving. 

I said all this to ask you to please think about the ministers at your church! I'm not saying you should include them with your family, but just an acknowledgement of them would be an encouragement. I often see young ministry families try to figure out how to have tradition for their young families without over stretching their budget at Thanksgiving. Whether it's plane tickets home or the cost of the entire traditional meal, it's tough to make that stereotypical Thanksgiving happen! Sometimes it's even tougher to host parents and grandparents because of limited space. It's one of the things we readily sign up for when we go into ministry, but it's still hard and melancholy at times. Just telling your younger ministers that you appreciate them makes a difference. 

I'll be forever grateful for my friends Kermit, Andrea, and Jimmy as well as Andrea's sister and father who gave us a place to "go home to" for several years! As much as I miss being with family on Thanksgiving, I truly miss our Carman family too! I wish we could make gravy together again!

Monday, November 18, 2013

One "flu" over the cuckoo's nest

Sometimes you don't appreciate the blessings in life. Sometimes the loudness of my house just about makes me scream...which is ironic, huh! Not today though. Today I've been given the gift of health...and perspective.

One week ago I was writhing in anguish with the flu. That sounds a bit dramatic, and let's face it, my middle name is "dramatic", but it was horrible! At one point, and I'm not embellishing this, the thermometer said my fever was 105 degrees. I was sicker than I've been in a very long time. And my ears were totally clogged. The only sound I really heard most of last week was the ringing in my own ears. 

This is not exactly me, but trust me when I say you wouldn't have wanted to see me anyway! I'd like to think I looked this good.

I've heard from friends around the country that also had the flu last week so I realize I was not alone in my misery. Honestly, at one point I was a little suspicious that bioterrorism might be amuck, because it would be a fairly successful evil plan to give every other mom in America the flu. Imagine the fallout!! Every kid would be eating takeout pizza and skipping homework and instrument practice! It would be the fall of our society I'm sure!

That, however, did not happen at the McKinney house, and I'm ever so grateful to Blake for holding it together. Somehow he managed to get everyone to school with lunches and homework, drive kids to multiple practices and rehearsals, work, and plan a marriage retreat we were previously scheduled to lead. The fact that he didn't leave us and become a monk is testimony to God's calling on his life. Here's what I did last week: lay in my bed, cough, moan, pop Motrin like it was sweet tarts, complain about my ears ringing, and cough some more. I might have also checked Facebook and Twitter periodically, but only to see who else was sick and pray for them. It was my only ministry last week! Did you know that Beth Moore had the flu too? 

Thankfully the flu doesn't last forever, and today I joyfully hopped out of bed to enjoy being a part of the morning routine again. I'm not sure if the kids were thankful I was back or not because there was a bit more nagging involved, but I'm sure they will be thrilled when they get home and once again are reminded to practice their instruments and do their homework. Sometimes a little setback is all you need to appreciate all you have! I'm once again looking forward to hearing screeching violin and banging drums and tap shoes clicking on my kitchen tile.

And here's my advice to you: GO GET A FLU SHOT!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Quick trip by myself!

Last Thursday I drove to my home town in Arkansas all by myself. It's not a big deal for me to drive 7 hours alone, other than I'm never alone in this season of life. Well, unless you count the 5 hours every day while everyone is at work and school, but I'm actually rarely alone then either. Anyway, though I was going for a sad reason I was pretty excited to spend some quiet time in the car. 

I purposed to make that trip as fun as possible by stopping at all the little places between Lee's Summit and Norman, Arkansas. We make that trip a few times a year but it's usually in a hurry or late at night. We always stop in the same places, but I've had my eye on a few "off the beaten path" destinations since we moved to Missouri. So stop I did!! I discovered a little something about you see the pattern? These were my first three stops!

Evidently food is my love language. I would like to add that I also stopped at one of my favorite shops in Fayetteville (Riffraff on the it!) that involved zero food, just clothes. I would also like to say, in my defense, that I did not buy anything. 

I did finally make it to Norman in time to celebrate the life of my aunt. I enjoyed some time with most of my family and heard some great stories. Less than 24 hours later I turned around and made the trip home, stopping only at Chickfila! I did manage to listen to 15 chapters of Pride and Prejudice so when I entered the house Friday night my British accent was awesome! 

I live such an exciting life...