Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy Birthday Jesus. Sorry your party is so lame.

The title of this blog post comes from Michael Scott of The Office. It makes me laugh every time I hear it. Jesus' birthday is just around the corner. And I'm going to try not to make it a lame party this year. I plan to party in style.

I love Christmas. It's such a fun and festive time. I love thinking on and being reminded of God's great gift to the world-- himself. Baby Jesus. I love being with family, taking part in old traditions, being a part of the Lawson family traditions (which are still pretty new to me), and creating new traditions with Billy.

This Friday, we embark on our 13-hour journey to Texas for a whirlwind visit with the family. It will be crazy. And no doubt, when we finally make it back here to Kentucky, we will be exhausted. Worn out. Dragging our feet. But it will be worth it. I will happily give up a week of getting a good night's sleep, and will happily live out of a suitcase, spending each night at a different house, if it means I get to see my family and celebrate this sacred holiday with them.

So... in anticipation of next week, here are some things I enjoy about Christmas:

- My mom's Christmas tree. The ornaments that adorn it are sentimental and special, and all of the packages below it are wrapped beautifully in brown and gold. I always thought she was crazy for having such specific wrapping guidelines (and maybe she is!), but her tree really is beautiful.

- I also love real Christmas trees. They smell heavenly. My mom's tree is artificial (when my little sister was born and was allergic, we got an artificial tree), and as previously stated, lovely. But I just LOVE the smell of real trees. Billy and I got a real tree this year and I am very pleased with it.

- My grandparents have a real tree every year, and I love it. The tree topper is an angel that my dad made when he was in the 3rd grade. It's fabulous.

- I enjoy pretty wrapping paper and ribbons. I'm not a huge fan of the gift bag.

- As a child, my favorite gift was my EZ-Bake Oven. Now I'm not so interested in gifts. Sure, I'll take them if you're giving them... :) But mostly I just like being together.

- I like my 2 nativity scenes I have at my house. One was a gift from my mom and the other was a gift from Billy's mom. Both are beautiful. And besides a few candles (and the tree), they're the only Christmas decorations up in our home this year. I just couldn't put up any of the Santa stuff this year. I don't know... I kind of like Baby Jesus, and after I put the nativity scenes out, I just didn't feel like we needed any other decorations.

- I DON'T like Christmas traffic and I DON'T like the fact that I'm not done with my Christmas shopping. We just didn't finish... and I'm not quite sure when (if) we will, since we leave on Friday, and have commitments every night this week.

- I love sending and receiving Christmas cards in the mail. I love seeing all of the pretty ones, reading the enclosed Christmas letters, seeing new family photos and seeing just how much all of the kids have grown. I love that the Christmas card is a tiny little glimpse into the personalities of people. I've gotten some GREAT ones this year!

- Christmas movies. I love Christmas movies. There are the classics-- Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life, and Meet Me in St. Louis. And then there are the modern-day classics-- A Christmas Story & National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

- Christmas food. Iced sugar cookies, fudge, almond toffee, and Aunt D's famous shortbread. Oh, you can't forget Pittsburg Hot Links and Aunt Mary's Cornbread Dressing. And then there's pumpkin pie and homemade Chex Mix. And when I was a little kid, and we used to take family ski trips, my stepmom always made delicious snow ice cream.

- Christmas Music! O Come, O Come Emmanuel, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!, Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, The First Noel, O Little Town of Bethlehem. Oh, and I love the poinsettias that decorate the church sanctuary.

- Family, family, family! My mom's family, my dad's family, my stepdad's family, Billy's family! I love them all, and being so far away from everyone makes me truly TREASURE the time we have together at Christmas.

- Cold Weather. I LOVE cold weather. On Sunday I woke up to snow flurries, and against the rolling hills of Kentucky and the black wooden fences and barns, it made for a beautiful drive to church.

I could talk about Christmas forever. It's definitely one of my favorite times of the year.

What are some of YOUR favorite things about Christmas?

Blessed Advent!

By the way, many thanks to Kandice for the new blog header above! She designed it for me, and I love it! Thanks, Kandice!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fun Times... and not so fun times.

Well, here I am... in the final hours of the most difficult semester of my seminary career. This semester has just about killed me. Too much reading, too many papers, a group project, and a foreign language that I did not like and did not click with. The icing on the cake is that here in the midst of finals week, I've suffered from a pesky little cold that has completely zapped my energy.

One of the greatest lessons I've learned all semester is one I've always known but never really had to deal with: My grades do not define me. Jesus still loves me no matter what grade I get in a particular class. Greek class taught me that. :)

Well, even though Greek didn't turn out like I hoped it would, there were some great blessings this semester, too:

- My speech class with Dr. Don Demaray is perhaps the best class I've ever taken. Ever. Well, maybe it's tied with Sandra Richter's Old Testament Intro class, but I'm telling you-- Dr. Don's class was amazing. Dr. Don was encouraging, affirming, funny, insightful, and passionate. Every semester he prays daily that this would be the best class he's ever taught and that his class would be the best class his students have ever had. These prayers work, people. Every week I walked away from class, having been transformed more into the likeness of God, and more aware of God's blessings in my own life than when I entered the room.

- I got to take an Equipping the Laity course with Dr. Steve Martyn who is fabulous, but beyond that, I got to take that class with our friends Jeremiah & Jason. We were in a small group together with 3 other people, where we developed and mapped out a ministry plan for a church plant. It was a great experience.

- Every Friday I got to go to my Old Testament Exegesis class and take a Hebrew vocabulary quiz. Off the heels of a frustrating Greek experience on Thursday afternoons, the Friday morning Hebrew quizzes were a treat. Mostly because I knew what I was doing!

- Chapel this semester was no less than high-quality. My most meaningful chapel experience was the day Sean Gladding spoke, and God spoke directly to me through him. Other highlights? Any chapel with J. Ellsworth Kalas. Also, Tammy H. from India and Bishop N.T. Wright.

- Couples Connect. Billy and I had the privilege of serving on the planning/visioning team for Spouse & Family Ministries' Couples Connect events. We served alongside Jeremiah & Lindsay Aja and Andrea Summers. We have the honor of continuing this together next semester as well.

- Thursday night viewings of The Office with the Martins and the Ajas. So much laughter and so much fun. Of course, we're all now suffering withdrawals from The Office and one another due to the writers strike and subsequent absence of The Office on Thursday nights.

- Monday night dinners with the Browns & The Ajas when Jason & Dana would come to town for Jason's classes.

- Carissa & I decided we are going to start a Wilmore Chapter of The Finer Things Club. Lindsay is going to join us, too! Our first assignment? To read Pride & Prejudice! I can't wait! And I am so excited that finals are coming to an end, so that I can get to reading!

- Thanksgiving 2007. VERY fun.

- The birth of Stockton Isaiah. Jason & Dana are terrific parents and have given birth to one of the most beautiful babies ever born.

- The announcement of Jeremiah & Lindsay's little baby-to-be. We rejoice with you!

- Texas Fellowship Events & our trip to Abuelo's with the McCuaigs. We love Texas and we love good Mexican food. We've had some great times with our fellow Asbury Texans, including a visit to ATS by some Texas Tech Wesley Foundation folks.

- Our visits from Billy's parents and my dad & stepmom.

- And finally, we just found out yesterday that we get to move to Wilmore!!! We've been living in Nicholasville the past two years because it's the only place we could find to live that would let us have our dog. It's a pain sometimes commuting back and forth from Nicholasville to Wilmore. Wilmore is where school is, and Wilmore is where our friends are. So at the end of every semester, we look around and try to see if by any chance there's something that has opened up in Wilmore. We have not ever had any luck. Well, this semester I started asking around, and we found a great rental house that we get to move to at the first of February-- just in time for the start of the Spring semester. It's only a few dollars more per month in rent, and we get an extra bedroom (yea! Our bikes and desks won't have to be in the guest room anymore!) AND an extra bathroom (yes! No more competing for the bathroom with Billy. He does have quite a lengthy daily ritual!). We can't wait! I went to see the house yesterday, and it's going to be a perfect fit for us.

So. That hits many of the highlights, though I'm sure there's a lot that I've forgotten.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

One Year

Well, tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of when I made my first blog post here. I hope you've enjoyed reading what was formerly "Tales from Tooleyville", and is now "Love Found Me".

I probably haven't said anything particularly profound, but I sure have had fun blogging!

In other news, I've got a very busy few days ahead of me, as finals are fast approaching. When you think of me, pray that I will survive.

And on December 21st, we leave Kentucky for the Lone Star State! Now that's something to look forward to. :)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving o' Fun

Well, friends. What a GREAT Thanksgiving we had this year! Billy and I had the privilege of hosting some of our fabulous friends for an incredible feast. Everyone brought their favorite Thanksgiving dishes, and it was great to experience some of the flavors of Thanksgiving from different parts of the country. Here's who was there & where they're from:

Jeremiah & Lindsay-- California
Kevin & Rebecca & daughter Cavender-- Georgia
Lamech & Ann Marie -- Pennsylvania
Scott & Carissa -- Nebraska
And the Lawsons-- Texas, of course

So there you have it-- we had some Thanksgiving dishes I had never seen before, and it was so much fun. We had GREAT desserts, too-- a pumpkin pie (delish!), pumpkin cheesecake brownies (delish!), a pumpkin roll (yum!), and a pecan pie (yum!).

So... though we missed our families this year, we certainly enjoyed a great day with our "family" here. Here are some pictures from the day:

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Billy's beautiful centerpiece

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Billy getting ready to put the turkey in the fryer!

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There it goes!

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Billy carves the turkey (YUM!)

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Feasting on fabulous food

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Still eating...

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Carissa, Cavender, and Lindsay playing with pumpkin pie play-doh!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Funny Story.

I have a friend named Jada. She's 4 years old and she's the queen of sass. This is a conversation between Jada and Billy (who now wears a beard), this past Sunday:

Billy: Hey, Jada. Do you need help with that?
Jada: Hey Billy. What's that on your face?
Billy: It's a beard.
Jada: But Billy, you're not supposed to drink beer.

The end.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

It's still Greek to Me

... isn't that what they say? Well... I had my Greek mid-term on Tuesday. Never before have I gone into an exam feeling COMPLETELY unprepared. Until Tuesday. I'm not sure that any amount of studying would have helped me feel better about it. I got the test back today-- I didn't pass. And that's okay. Greek is just a struggle for me. It doesn't make sense to me like Hebrew did, and I've had to come to grips with the simple fact that my grades don't define me. I talked to my prof and he seems to think I'll still pass the course. I've just got to really buckle down over the next few weeks.

Earlier this week I got to see a good friend of mine, Greg Haseloff. He is the director of the Texas Tech Wesley Foundation, and was our campus minister when we were in college. He brought a few Texas Tech students here that are considering Asbury Seminary. We, along with our friends the Strebecks & the McCuaigs hosted a dinner for them on Monday night. We had a great time. But somehow, when I make my famous enchiladas, I ALWAYS make too many. Billy always tries to convince me to make less, but I guess I just don't listen.

Billy's parents came last Thursday and stayed with us until Monday. His brother Bryan came on Saturday and left with Bill & Diana on Monday. We had a GREAT time. We ate delicious food, watched The Office, went to Keeneland, went to church together, had some family photos taken, and Billy took them to Natural Bridge and to eat at Miguel's. We always enjoy the Lawsons and we were so glad to have them here.

And now we're making preparations for my dad & stepmom to arrive! They arrive later this month. We've had a very busy fall, but we're enjoying it.

And last night, something very exciting happened. The Dallas Mavericks began their season... and are off to a great start! They tore in to the Cavaliers last night-- in Cleveland. It was a great day, and thanks to my fabulous aunt, I got to tune into the game on ESPN.

Um, sorry that this post lacks a lot of substance. It had just been a while since I wrote anything, so I just wanted to check in.

Later.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Chapel...

Well, I've struggled with deciding whether or not to blog about what I'm about to blog about. How vulnerable to do I want to be with the folks on the internet? But really and truly, this is a story that I find myself wanting to tell everyone I meet. So I guess it's blogworthy. It's kind of a long story. But it's a great story, so hang in there with me. I promise it'll be worth it. It is something incredible that happened in chapel a week and a half ago.

The set up for the story is this:

The story has to do with the day I made the decision to go to school at Texas Tech. I know it was a long time ago, but this will make sense in a little while. In order for it to make sense, you need to understand that my life was a perfect picture of chaos at that time. My family was really going through some very hard stuff, and I felt very alone and abandoned and forgotten about by God. All of the craziness in my family contributed to the context in which I viewed God at that time. I was angry with and confused by him, to say the least.

The second part of the "set up" is that for the past 6-9 months, I’ve been struggling a bit with my faith-- wondering if God is a personal God anymore and wondering if he cares about or interacts anymore in our day-to-day lives. After a long dry period, I had come to the conclusion that maybe God was done being a personal God with me. I've had some dark days these past few months.

So last Tuesday, I got out of class. I was tired after pulling an all-nighter and was planning to skip chapel and go take a nap somewhere. As I was headed out, I ran into my friend Scott on campus, who asked if I was going to chapel. I told him I wasn't, but asked if he was going. He said he was and encouraged me to go, too. I realized that I really didn't have a GOOD reason for skipping chapel, so I decided to go.

During the first worship song, I all of a sudden began thinking about the ordinary day that I decided to go to school at Texas Tech. It was strange. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was an ordinary day in July. I had been living with my very dear friends David & Sue.But this day, for some reason, I was at my mom’s house and really and truly just said to myself, “Well, I guess I better decide what I’m going to do about school next month.” I didn’t really want to go anywhere in particular, but I wanted to start a fresh new life. And I kind of wanted to escape my old one. David & Sue, along with my family, had been working hard to encourage me to do something. So the idea of Texas Tech randomly came to me. It was far away, still in Texas, and I figured they would accept me at such a late date. There it began.

That day in chapel, while we were worshiping, it all of a sudden hit me. That decision was not a random one at all. It was actually an act of divine intervention by God in my life. What I had always seen as a decision I had made that God just happened to do good things from, was actually an act of God with purpose in meaning. That decision had MAJOR implications for the rest of my life. I realized that “my decision” was not random at all. I felt an urge to get out my journal, sit down, and write. Here is an excerpt from what I wrote in my journal at that moment:

I am overwhelmed by God’s intervention in my life. What seemed like a random decision, an escape really, I now know was divine interaction. Divine intervention. To get me to a place of wholeness. To get me even to THIS place in time. Of this I am sure. How could I have missed that this was God? This act of God got me to Billy. And brought us to a place of marriage—a calling for us. To get me to Asbury. Another calling. To get me to know and really meet Jesus for the first time. God acted. On an ordinary day. To make my life free and whole. So that Love could find me.

Are you still with me? Things are about to get good.

Then our speaker stood at the pulpit. His name was Sean Gladding. He’s from England, originally. But apparently moved from England to the US so that he could attend school at Texas Tech and work at the Texas Tech Wesley Foundation. This was in the early 90’s. I had not heard his name before, but already, just from his introduction,I was hooked. I went to Texas Tech. And I went to the Wesley Foundation... and there my relationship with Jesus changed dramatically. Sean now resides in Houston, and co-pastors Mercy Street, an inner-city ministry/church kind of thing (an extension of Chapelwood UMC) that works with people in dark places, trapped in addictions and prostitution. So he began proclaiming the word.

He talked about how our job is not necessarily to build the kingdom of God, but to go to the places where the kingdom is happening and join God in progress.

He asked the questions: How have we failed to recognize the prevenient grace of God? Where are the places where we didn’t recognize that it was God at work in our lives? How have we moved forward, gone on with our lives, without even recognizing or acknowledging that God had even moved?

What! I was getting really excited by this point. See my journal entry above. And the crazier part? One of the first things he said was this: Never forget where Love found you.

He talked about the woman who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, and breaks the bottle of perfume and how she was trapped in a life of sin, a life of prostitution. He asked “Who is this woman? What is her story? What happened to wound her? From what is she trying to escape?” But in the meeting of Jesus, somehow hope is rebirthed in her. She is coming back to life.

He talked about how Jesus asks Simon, whose house this all took place in, and who is casting some pretty severe judgment, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet…”

No, Simon has not seen THIS woman. Because he just has seen a sinner. He has not seen an individual who carries the image of YHWH within her. But hope was rebirthed in her, her faith saved, her. And that is where Love found her. In the midst of her darkness.

There was a long time when I couldn’t recognize the image of YHWH within me, either. I identify with her. Not because I was trapped in prostitution or anything. But I felt trapped in darkness. And somehow, in Jesus, hope was rebirthed. I felt like I had come back to life.

Anyway, he went on to talk about specific people in the Mercy Street ministry that have experienced the liberating power of Jesus and how in their very places of darkness, Love had drawn near and freed them.

Never forget where love found you.

In my life, I’ve always thought that Love found me that day when I first realized who Jesus was and committed my life to him.

But that day in chapel, I realized that Love found me long before that. It wasn’t that this was the first time I had come to believe in God’s prevenient grace. I’ve acknowledged that grace before and have been extremely grateful for it. But this day it became so much more important than it ever has before. And so much more profound.

And suddenly I feel so much liberation from my doubt.

God is certainly good. And in the very act of him reminding me of a previous time he had intervened in my life, he intervened again. To remind me that he still is actively persuing me and still very much a personal God.

I am grateful.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's time to laugh, people.

YouTube is a great big black hole for me. How many hours have I wasted on this fabulous website? I'm sure I'd be embarassed for anyone (including myself) to know. I have this group of friends, and we used to spend evenings watching hilarious video after hilarious video on YouTube. And then watching them again. And rewinding them to our favorite part.

Our friend Jason is one of those friends. And in class the other day, we were discussing our favorite YouTube videos of all time. And we talked about the idea of showcasing these videos on our blogs. So I hope Jason will forgive me for "stealing" that idea. I'm sure his top list will be a little bit different than mine, though. I hope you enjoy these videos as much as I have. I have a sneaking suspicsion that for most of you, they won't be brand new. These are modern day classics, really. But in case you haven't seen them, be prepared to laugh. Please note that the language in some of these is not "squeaky clean". But I wouldn't be embarassed to watch any of these with my mother-- and isn't that supposed to be the standard gauge for these sorts of things?

The Average Homeboy is what started it all. I would watch this over and over again and laugh at the ridiculousness of this guy. I'll refrain from giving all of my OWN commentary, and let you come up with your own thoughts. But PLEASE share them with me!



And then there were Whistler Tips. Oh, the Whistle Tips. Good ol' Bub Rub & Lil' Sis. I cannot tell you how many times my friends and I have quoted some of the classic lines from this video. Enjoy.



Not long afte we discovered the Whistler Tips, joy and laughter was added to our lives by the Leprechaun sighting in Mobile, AL.



And then there's sweet Cassie. Who will be ready if ever a monster appeared.



And while we're watching cute kids, how about this one?



And this one was shared with me during the height of the NBA season, when I was checking dallasmavericks.com daily, and enjoying their success. This video is just plain funny. But it helps if you know the basketball players this guy talks about.



And finally, the fake David Blaine. This is high-quality. There is a Part 1 of this video, but to be honest, I can't handle the language and I don't think it's nearly as fun as this one. Big Whoop!



I hope you've enjoyed these silly little indulgences of mine.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I love Rock & Roll!

I have a secret dream to be a rockstar. Or at least a karaoke champion. Oops. I guess it's not a secret anymore. Well, anyway-- it's a dream of mine. I sing when I'm driving in the car, I sing in the shower, I sing when I'm running around the house, getting ready for the day. I sing with gusto, people! I love to sing!

But sadly, God did not bless me with a beautiful voice. In fact, picture if you will, Sanjaya singing any number of his American Idol choices, and that's about where I stand. Not a good voice-- but I've certainly got a cute smile (Oh, and apparantly a big head, too).

Because this is the case, I NEVER sing in front of other people. Oh sure, I'll sing along to the radio if other friends are in the car-- but only if they're singing, too so that my voice can kind of blend in with all of the rest.

That is, until this past Sunday. Every year, on the last Sunday of September, our church has its annual Fall Festival. It's a lot of fun-- we get big inflatable toys (this year we had a velcro wall and a gigantic slide), a cotton candy machine and popcorn, and the whole church comes out for an afternoon of fun. We finish the day with a huge potluck dinner and a talent show.

Each year, in the talent show, the staff usually does some sort of skit or game or something. Last year (at my first VUMC Fall Festival), we couldn't quite get anything pulled together in time, but THIS year, we decided to do our own version of "Don't Forget the Lyrics". We had music. We had microphones, and the pastoral staff stood up front, in front of the 200 guests that were there, and competed against one another in a challenge of music and lyrics.

What happened is this: Someone would start a song, let it play for a while, and then they would pause it and it would be up to the contestant to provide the next line of the song.

I had a BLAST. Somehow, I had the courage to sing in front of those 200 people, and I even managed to win the competition! It was a BLAST and I loved being up there singing, and having fun with the rest of the church staff.

It was hilarious, perhaps. And no doubt off-key. But who cares? Sanjaya's personality got him pretty far, too.

Who's up for a night of karaoke?

Monday, September 24, 2007

I'm here to scare you STRAAAAAIGHT!!

This Thursday, September 27, is a day I've been looking forward to for months now. What happens this Thursday? The Season 4 priemere of "The Office". If you know me at all, you know that I LOVE The Office and think it's the best TV show on tv and certainly one of the top TV series of all time. If you know me at all, you know that I also love "Friends". Well, I love The Office more. And finally, if you know me at all, you also know that I watch at least one episode of The Office daily.

So, in anticipation of, and preparation for this Thursday, I am going to recap some of my very favorite Season 3 moments (in no particular order):

- Jim returning to Scranton
- Grief counseling-- and the bird funeral
- Andy. In the opening weeks of the season, I HATED Andy. But now, I just can't get enough
- Andy saying, "beer me", in order to get his bottle of water. I now use this ridiculous phrase in every day conversation-- it always cracks me up.
- A Benihana Christmas. Pam & Karen joining forces. Michael "marking" his new girl.
- Traveling Salesmen-- Jim & Dwight together
- Yeppers.
- Business School-- "Ryan doesn't know anything, and neither do you..."
- Jim dressing as Dwight
- Jim trying to convince Dwight that he's turning into a vampire
- Safety training-- the ENTIRE episode. Hilarious. Especially, "I, Braveheart." and the watermelon being thrown off the roof and landing on Stanley's car. I also really liked to hear Kelly explaining how NetFlix works.
- The Job-- Jim asking Pam out on a date, and Pam giving him a "medal" from The Office Olympics
- Dwight standing in the center of the room with the "Liar" sign in "The Coup" and he and Michael "hugging it out"
- Dwight & Oscar's return to the office, and the Mexican lemonade
- In "The Return", Jim admitting to Karen that he still had feelings for Pam
- Beardy
- Andy-- "always thinking one step ahead- like a carpenter who builds...stairs."
- Dwight in a bra
- Movie Monday "the only cure I know for the Monday Blues is Varsity Blues"
- Fashion Show, Fashion Show, Fashion Show at lunch!
- Two words: PRISON MIKE

... and the long list of things I couldn't think of when I was making this list!!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Deep In the Heart of... well, you know.

Together with my friend Brian, I head up the Asbury Texas Fellowship group. What that basically means is that once each semester, Brian and I organize an event/party for all of the students, faculty, and staff at here at Asbury Seminary that are from Texas, or have some connection to the Lone Star State. There's more of us than you might think. We get together, hang out, eat, and generally enjoy one another's company. Somehow, being with other folks from our great home state, makes us miss home a little bit less. We have a good time.

Tomorrow is our Fall 2007 Texas Fellowship Party. We're getting together out at Icthus Farm in Wilmore, for a disc golf tournament and pot luck dinner. Everyone has been asked to bring their favorite Texas dish to share. I was going to make my famous enchiladas. But then I thought, "Those aren't really transportable. I have to show up early to set up, and how will I keep them hot?"

And then I thought of a wedding gift I received 3 and a half years ago. A gift that has only been used once, and a gift that Billy has threatened to throw away several times, due to the infrequency of it's use. My cake decorating kit!

What you also need to know is that today I received in the mail, from my friend Katy (the former Asbury Texas Fellowship Coordinator), a box of Texas goodies for use at our Texas parties. Included in that box was a cake pan in the shape of Texas! Oh, this was meant to be.

I'm no Martha Stewart, so don't laugh. But this is what I made instead. I'm pretty proud:

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The finished product

In progress:

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Now, as awesome as this cake is, I have to admit that I'm a little nervous about eating all of that icing. I mean, I may as well drill the cavities directly in to my teeth now and skip the cake altogether. Oh well, I'm sure it will be well worth it.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Post-Surgery Riley

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Well, Riley had her surgery today. Surgery to repair a torn ACL. Yes, that really happens in dogs. Especially dogs like Riley who loves to run and jump and wrestle and play.

My experiences today with Riley's surgery have officially confirmed the fact that when I am a mother to an actual human child someday, I'll be as neurotic as they come.

Today, I took my sweet, unsuspecting Riley-dog to see our FABULOUS vet, Dr. Eckert. They weighed her and checked her in, I signed her paperwork, and then I had to leave her behind. I am not kidding when I tell you that I got in the car and cried. Call me crazy, but I'm telling you... it was heart-wrenching to see her sad little face as I left the vet's office, and couldn't take her with me.

Then I went to work and busied myself organizing and catching up on all of the work things I've neglected since the start of school last week. A friend stopped by and said, "You look really distracted. Are you okay?" I confessed that I was wondering about sweet Riley-girl and wondering how she was doing in surgery.

Finally, at 5:00, it was time to pick up Riley. She had been in recovery for about 4 hours, and was a little groggy from the anesthetics. She hobbled in to the waiting room, saw me, immediately put her head on my lap, and sighed. It was pitifully sweet. I couldn't help but get teary-eyed.

And then came time to pay the bill. I LOVE our vet. He's great with Riley and very capable. He also goes to our church and knows mine & Billy's financial situation, and knows that we are on a very tight budget with me being in school and only working part-time. So I went to pay the bill, and the woman behind the counter said, "Wow!! I think you got a great deal on this surgery!" The surgery that Riley had done is ordinarily a $700-$900 surgery. My bill was a fraction of that cost. I cried again. How blessed are we? Very. I really was overwhelmed in that moment by God's goodness and faithfulness and provision in our day-to-day lives, through something as simple as a little dog's surgery.

Riley is doing well. She doesn't quite know what to do with her bandaged leg, and I can tell she has some pain. But she's a champ-- she does really well at taking her medications, which makes life much easier for Billy & myself. We don't have to hide it in her treats or in her food. So even though she doesn't feel much like eating right now, she still has taken her medication, and that's a good thing.

The recovery time will be about 6 weeks, but at the end of that time, she should have about a 95% recovery of usage of her injured knee! No more hobbles! These first 10 days are the most critical, and we have to be VERY careful with what movement we allow, so that she doesn't undo the repair that was made today.

I'll leave you with another photo of Riley, taken earlier this evening.

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Good Old Fashioned Update...

The past few days have been pretty busy, and I don't really have anything major to report, so here's a regular ol' update on the life of the Lawsons.

- I'm back in school!! Yea! I started school this past Tuesday and am pretty excited about my classes. I'm taking a Christian Leadership class called Recruiting & Equipping the Laity, the first semester of Comprehensive Greek, Exegesis of Joshua, and a speech class. I'm quite certain I'm already behind in my reading!

- Tonight, for Team Lawson Date Night, we saw Shane & Shane, Bebo Norman, and Monk & Neagle in a sort of "Worship Concert"... it was great. Much less a concert, and more of a night of great worship. It was a good date night.

- My dog is having surgery on Monday. Sad. She doesn't know what's about to hit her, and I have a feeling she's going to HATE that cone around her head.

- Billy & I have recently discovered (Thanks, Barnes!) that "Arrested Development" is/was a fabulously creative and funny television show. We borrowed the DVDs of the show from some friends of ours, and we just can't get enough. Sad that it's no longer on the air. Had I given it a shot when it was actually on TV, I'm pretty sure I would have told everyone I know how much I love it, and maybe that could have saved the show from its unfortunate fate. Eh, maybe not. But I would have been a faithful viewer.

- The Office Season 3 was released on Tuesday. I've already almost watched the entire season. The Office is another brilliant TV show, and definitely my favorite out of all TV shows.

- Yesterday I updated my calendar (through Outlook) and did some fancy color-coding. Green is "Personal", Blue is "Work", Orange is "Class", Turquoise is "Non-Class or Work Commitments & Meetings", and Purple is "School-Related Study Groups". I printed the calendar out and looked at it. My schedule is a nightmare and completely imbalanced between personal time & everything else. Some things are going to have to be rearranged. I actually like my husband and would like to see him every once in awhile. The schedule as it is doesn't allow for much of that.

- I'm tired. So I'm going to bed now.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New notebooks & folders!

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Do you ever get those silly little email/internet surveys that your friends send around (Full Name? Time you started this survey? Favorite Food? Any tattoos?), only so they can have the opportunity to answer the questions about themselves and inflict this meaningless information upon their friends (you)? Well, I'm a sucker for those. For some reason, I love getting them (only I actually do enjoy learning about my friends), I enjoy answering them, and I enjoy sending them on to people in hopes that they'll oblige and answer the questions. Don't hate me for loving them.

I'm a dork.

One of my favorite questions that is often included in these silly little surveys is this: What is your favorite day of the year?

Most people answer this question with things like, "My birthday. Christmas. Easter. The day my Income Tax Refund comes in the mail."

Not me. My answer is without question: The first day of school.

I've always LOVED the first day of school. What interesting people am I going to meet this semester? Who am I going to sit next to in class? What are my teachers/professors like? Who will I eat lunch with? Oh my goodness! I am about to make the first mark in my fabulous brand-new notebook! What? I have a matching folder, too? What a good day.

As previously stated, I am a dork.

Nonetheless, I am SUPER excited about the first day of class. It's just around the corner, and I've waited all summer for it. Bring on the work. I'm rested and ready. Just don't ask me how I'm doing on Day 2. Pretty much guaranteed that the excitement will have faded. :)

I'd like to know: do you have any memorable first-day-of-school stories to share?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Honest Blogging

Well, I've had a couple of requests for a blog update. I racked my brain and tried to think of something clever or funny to post, but I couldn't think of anything. I guess the obvious thing to do would be to post pictures and stories from our AWESOME time in California with our friends Jeremiah & Lindsay. But to be honest, I don't feel like fighting with photobucket.com to get my pictures posted. Some other time (Soon, I hope). So instead, I am going to post a brief excerpt from my journal, that I wrote 4 days ago. Not much has changed since then, so I'm about to lay my heart out there for you. Don't judge too harshly. This whole thing makes me a little nervous. But hey, the 6 (maybe 7) of you out there that actually read this thing-- well, you're people that I trust. At any rate, it's from my journal, so a lot of it probably won't make sense!

8/20/07

Today I am very tired and feeling very distant from the Lord, whatever that means. Whatever that does mean, it's a common theme in my life these days. For starters, I have a hard time getting out of my head the expectations I have for what my relationship with Christ is "supposed" to look like. It's funny to say that I feel "distant" from God, when just 2 days ago I was so sure I was in his very presence.

But the truth is, there are so many unanswered questions swimming around in my head, and like I've said over and over again, seminary has made the questions even bigger and harder to deal with. Some days, God seems miles away and to be honest, completely unreal. And other days, like when I am in the presence friends and am communing with them, God's presence is so heavy. I am wrestling with some very real fears... most of which I do not know how to articulate. So I won't. But just how does God enter into our lives? How does he guide us (if he even does at all)? The Scriptures... well, that's a whole different issue for me. Is God really sovereign? I really struggle with that, because I just don't see how it works out. Needless to say, it's hard to do ministry with so many questions in my head. Sometimes, this whole thing seems way too hard.

My friend Jeremiah says that when he's standing at the ocean is when he feels the smallest and God seems the biggest. I just stood at the ocean, too. A great big, seemingly endless ocean-- it's proof of the greatness of God, right? Love. Laughter. Life. This is evidence of God, right? Friendship. No, my questions have nothing to do with the existence of God. My questions never have. My questions are about his workings. I understand perfectly that there's a lot I'll never understand. But I feel like I'm in a somewhat fragile place right now.

I don't know how to pray these days-- for how are those prayers answered? Yet, I know that to pray is not just to share meaningless chatter with God and that to pray is to listen. But somehow, it's a lot harder than it used to be.

Is it something I'm doing (or not doing) wrong? I am not convinced of that. I'm committed to prayer and to the study of scripture. And the frightening (yet somewhat comforting)part of it all is that I know without a doubt that God has called me to do full-time ministry. He has also called me to this place called Asbury, and that's another thing I'm sure of. So all of these ridiculous questions in my head, although scary, aren't really all that scary at all. For I do know (sort of) what direction I'm headed... so that must mean I'll be able to work through this eventually, right? I guess it depends on how committed I am to what I know God has called me to do and how committed I am to real faith.

So how has God entered into my life lately? In the quiet and in the lonliness. Through my marriage and the commitment of a fantastic husband. Through the most ridiculously wonderful friends a person could ever have. By standing at the foot of the ocean, being reminded of the greatness of God's creation (And sometimes through theology. But right now, it's making me crazy).

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Garden Update

Well, we haven't killed anything yet. Since my first post about our new tomato and herb gardens, things have grown up quite a bit around our house. Here are the new photos:

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This is the herb "garden"

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Close up of our basil and parsley

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Our first tomato!

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The tomato garden (or should I say "forest"?)

We're quite proud of our little plants and can hardly wait to start eating and cooking with all of the deliciousness they will offer!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Camp Adventures!

This week, I was at camp... I spent the week with 35 5th & 6th graders at Aldersgate Camp in Ravenna, KY. I was a counselor at one of Aldersgate's Elementary camps this week. All in all a good experience... good kids, good times, and lots of movement by a good God. However, here are some of the less-than-wonderful experiences I had this week at camp:

- There was a skunk in the bathhouse on the first night. He didn't spray, but he was roaming around in there, which of course freaked the kids out. We had to postpone shower time until maintenance could come and chase the skunk away.

- The dean of the elementary camp, John, killed a Copperhead snake on the first night of camp, on the walkway in front of our cabins. It was an agressive snake that chased John down the road and showed its fangs to him. As soon as it did that and John saw venom drip from his teeth, he really had no choice but to kill it. He did the job with a big stick.

- There was a (non-poisonous) snake actually IN one of the other girls' cabins one day. It wasn't in MY cabin, but it made me paranoid that there soon would be a snake in my bed.

- In the other girls cabin, there was a mouse.

- We had a giant spider in our cabin one night. Not a huge deal, but it certainly freaked me out, because it really was big-- and I don't know my spider classifications. How was I to know if it was harmless or not?

- One Wednesday, we saw 5 helicopters flying overhead. Turns out, they were trying to locate a black bear that was on the loose in the area.

- There were 2 skunks that approached our campfire on Thursday night. It pretty much ruined worship, because the mood was totally killed by the screaming kids.

- There was some pretty severe weather on Thursday night. I didn't feel incredibly safe in our little wooden cabin.

One of these days, once I have recovered, I'll have to tell tales of the GOOD times I had at camp. :) Stay tuned.

-Kelly

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How much is your dog worth?

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Growing up, we were never a "dog family". We had a dog once, when I was a young child. Her name was Snoopy and she was really my brother's dog. One morning when I was about 5, we went outside to feed her, and she had died. I can still see my brother crying and saying, "Snoopy, don't go. Don't leave us." It was pretty sad.

We didn't get another dog until I was about 14, when my little sister, on her 5th birthday, got a dog and named him Max. Now, as anybody knows, a 5 year old isn't going to be the best owner for a dog. Poor Max never got any attention. Max was a sheltie and was quite beautiful, but as beautiful as he was, he was often ignored. Finally, for the good of the dog, we sent Max to live out in the country at the home of some family friends. About 2 years later, in a tragic accident, Max was run over by the Postman and died.

Billy on the other hand, had a dog while he was growing up. His name was Chestnut and was a gift to Billy on his 6th birthday. Chestnut was as much a part of the family as any outside dog could be. About a week after Billy left for college, Chestnut died. Probably of a broken heart.

All through college, while Billy and I were dating, Billy often dreamed about getting another dog. He LOVES dogs, and I remember how sad he was when he had found the perfect dog in college, but realized he couldn't keep her afterall. He had named her Harley because of his fascination with Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Enter Riley. Billy and I got married in January of 2004, and about 6 months later, we adopted our sweet Riley. It was really Billy's idea and I decided to go along with it. When we adopted our dog from the East Lake Pet Orphanage, a no-kill shelter in Dallas, her name was Athena. We very quickly changed her name to Riley because that name just sort of seemed to fit her and it seemed to fit us. Over the years, I have grown to love Riley more than I ever thought I could love any animal. And to watch the way Billy loves this dog... well, it's quite amazing. Riley has truly become a part of our little family. And so now, I can confidently call ourselves a "dog family". We are "dog people". I never thought I would be, but well... here I am. Riley's mom. I find myself talking about her and bragging about our 'angel dog' all of the time. Call me crazy.

So. Riley. She's a part of the family... but how part of the family should she be? You see, we've just found out that Riley needs surgery. She's got a torn ACL that needs to be repaired. She limps a little, but otherwise seems fine. She doesn't cry about it much, unless she's playing really hard. As you can imagine, surgery to repair a torn ACL isn't an inexpensive ordeal. No, it's quite expensive, and so the question I ask, "How much is this dog worth?" I keep struggling because I often think, "Okay, she's just a dog." But to me, REALLY, she's not "just a dog". She's Riley. She's ours. But isn't it a little crazy to go to the same lengths for Riley that I might go for an actual child? What are your thoughts?

Just so you know, we're having the surgery. To us, she's worth it. Yes, she could live the rest of her life without the surgery and probably be fine. She'd be fine, but not great. She'd limp, and she'd hurt, but she'd live. However, Riley is only 3 years old. And she's a herding dog. Running and agility is sort of her "thing". If she were older, then we might consider doing without the surgery, but at this point in her life, it seems unfair not to do it.

I don't know. What is a dog really worth to you? Some people laugh when I tell them she's having surgery and say, "It's just a dog." Others say, "Oh, we would do it, too." And others say, "Well, we sort of have a price limit of what we would spend on any one procedure."

Thoughts? I'll leave you with a picture of Riley eating her Frosty Paws ice cream. That might help you formulate your thoughts. Ha!!

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Saturday, July 7, 2007

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... The "magical fruit"? Or FANTASTIC game?? Oh, I think you know the answer to that. Tonight, we learned how to play the game, Beans. There are stinky beans (he's even eating a polka-dotted sausage and is covered in slime), garden beans, chili beans, blue beans, red beans, green beans (he's green because he's about to hurl), and my personal favorite, the soy bean-- complete with a peace-sign and hippie attire. Beans is perhaps my new favorite game, compliments of Scott & Carissa. The game is a little to complex to explain in a blog, but trust me. It's fun. Any other Bean lovers out there?

The past few days have been nothing but high-quality, as our friend Jason would say. Oh, speaking of Jason, he and his fabulous wife Dana are large in part the reason that these past few days have been so high-quality. Here are the highlights:

- Wednesday, the Wilmore KY 4th of July Celebration. The festivities began with a parade, complete with the famous lawnmower brigade and super-soaker brigade. If you don't know Jason & Dana (and boy, is your life incomplete without knowing them!), they are our friends who just recently moved a couple of hours away to Bowling Green, KY. Jason is the former youth pastor at our church, and that's how we all met. Jason and Dana made it to the last 2 minutes of the parade, which is hilarious because they haven't seen an entire Wilmore Parade... and they used to live on the parade route!!

- Wednesday night cookout with the high-quality Browns and Marshes... with homemade peach ice cream and some fireworks that were smuggled in from Tennessee. My personal favorite? The Texas Cyclone, of course.

- Thursday was a day to relax. And relaxing with friends is always a good thing.

- Friday consisted of a Man vs. Wild Marathon, at which point we all decided that we would be DOOMED, should we find ourselves stranded in the desert, forest, artic, OR the Australian Outback. Wow. That guy is amazing. However, we found ourselves to be a bit skeptical of the show's authenticity, based on the sheer fact that the credits start rolling before we actually get to see him bum a ride on the ship that has miraculously appeared, or hitchhiked on the highway he has discovered, or knocked on the door of the farmhouse he has stumbled upon. Don't get me wrong-- I could NEVER do the things he does-- wrestle alligators, capture rattlesnakes, or jump off cliffs. But, I'd be a little more jazzed about the rescue if I got to see the follow-through.

- As if the Man vs. Wild Marathon wasn't enough, Friday also brought an afternoon of fun shopping with Dana, dinner at Moes, and Jason & Dana's first-ever visit to High Bridge. On the shopping adventure, I bought some fabulous red pants. I'm not sure I'll be brave enough to actually wear them, but we'll see.

- Saturday morning brought breakfast tacos here at Casa de Lawson, Sudoku, a quick round of Guitar Hero, and a sad farewell to our friends. Thanks, Browns, for blessing us with your presence.

Here's some more exciting information for you:

The Office Season 3 is released on September 4th. I can hardly wait!!! Prison Mike is on the COVER!!!

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Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows comes out on July 21. This one, I have pre-ordered from Amazon. I'm excited, nervous, worried, and scared. I'm also sad, because this is the final book in this incredible series. We spent part of our weekend talking "theories" about just how this adventure will end. Yes, we know this makes us major nerds, but we just can't help it. Read the books and you'll understand.

And finally, the movie version of Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix comes out on July 11. I have received very strict instruction from our friend James not to see it before we meet him in West Virginia at the end of the month, so that we can all see it together. I'm not quite sure I can wait that long.

Okay, thanks for sharing in my excitement. Sorry this post wasn't really about much of anything, but thanks for reading.

P.S. My herb garden is off to a great start! The basil, oregano, thyme, and tarragon are already sprouting!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I'm a Guru!

2 posts in one day? What? Okay, it's 12:28 a.m, so it's technically a different day. I hope everyone enjoyed the pictures of our new garden.

The reason for post #2 is to tell you about the most amazing discovery of today-- the Guru Library. It's an online library program (free!), that allows you to catalogue your books, movies, and music. And it's linked to Amazon.com, so it gives you a "purchased new" price and a "purchased used" price.

Cool features:

- The aforementioned price factor. For example, I'm nowhere near cataloguing all of my books. I've only input the books from my small bookshelf-- a total of 77 books. If something were to happen to (!!) my books, to replace them NEW, it would cost me $2,027. To buy used copies of the books, it would cost $1,296. Disgusting, right? It's incredible to think about how much money I have invested in books. But hey, at 17 books or so a semester, it really adds up! Good news-- I can print this handy-dandy list of books & their prices for my renter's insurance policy. Very nice.

- I can create sub-categories of my books and assign labels such as Christian Living, Bibles, Biblical Language Helps, Fiction, Multicultural Studies, etc. This allows for easier browsing of my library. I mean, maybe even quicker than going to the actual shelf!

- If I loan out any of my books, all I have to do is find that book in my GuruLib library, and click "Lent out" and type in the name and information of the person I've lent the book to. This could be quite helpful, as I do often loan out books.

- The program itself is sort of a network. I can search through the libraries of other people in my area, and if they have a book I'd like to borrow, I can send them a message and ask to borrow it. I'm not sure I'll grant anyone else those borrowing privileges with my books, but we'll see. I mean, I loan books to friends. I'm just not too sure about strangers.

- I can "review" each book in my library, which can be seen by other users. If someone is curious about a book, they can type in a search for reviews of that particular title, and my review will show up. They can read my review and reviews by other users of this program, and decide whether or not they want to read or purchase the book.

- I can create a "wish list" of books I'd like to read/buy. I can also set a target price for those books of what I'm willing to spend on it. GuruLib will send me an email once that book falls below that target price.

This extends beyond books. You can do all of these same things with movies, music, games, and software.

I'm just getting started, so I'm sure I'll have more exciting discoveries (or complaints) about this program. So far I'm totally excited. If you'd like to check it out for yourself (Which I recommend!), click here .

Monday, July 2, 2007

Hello! My name is Herb!

Well, we had a fun Sunday of "gardening". Let me explain. We live in an apartment, so there's really not a lot of space for us to garden. But about 2 weeks ago, we inherited 12 tomato plants and a whole bunch of seeds of various types-- flowers, vegetables, herbs, etc. We had initially planted our tomato plants in a big rubbermaid tub filled with potting soil, but we quickly had a forest of tomatoes in the tub, so we knew they wouldn't last much longer that way. We gave away half of the plants, and then wondered what to do about the remaining 6 plants.

Here's what we came up with. A tomato garden outside our back door. We realize the plants might not make it, but hey-- if they don't, they were free. No big loss. And we can always try again another time. We dug up dirt, mixed in organic potting soil, and planted our little tomato plants. We've still got to get cages for them, and the soil still needs a little bit of attention, but here it is:

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So. Tomatoes were planted, and in a few weeks, we will hopefully enjoy their delicious goodness. But my FAVORITE part of our gardening extravaganza yesterday was the planting of my herb "garden". It's not really a garden, but I think it will work just fine. Here it is:

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I'll let you know how everything turns out. It could be a disaster. We'll see.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sassy Kids

Yesterday at Kids' Club, all the kids were crazy. I don't know WHAT was going on. I went in to the preschool class, where one kid sat in the corner and refused to participate. This was the same kid that clawed at my arms and drew blood several weeks ago when I tried to get him to participate. I wasn't about to do that again, so I left him in the corner until I could get my friend David to deal with him.

Then, Miss Devetta was teaching the story and used a puppet named "Scamper" to tell part of the story. So, Miss Devetta pulled out the Scamper puppet and one of the little girls screamed out, "HEY! Miss DEVETTA! That's my toy! I left him here a long time ago." Well, the toy is not hers. But she was convinced that it was, so she absolutely couldn't listen to the story because every 2 minutes, she raised her hand to inform everyone that Scamper was hers and that she was going to take him home. "He's mine! I promise!"

THEN, one of the little boys decided he was finished listening to the Bible story, so he just laid down on the ground and started crying.

Then it was craft time. One of the girls decided she didn't want to do the craft, so she looked at me and said, "Miss Kelly, you do it for me. I don't want to do it. But give me the pink scissors."

Bossy, bossy, bossy.

Snack time was pretty uneventful. But then it came time to walk the kids home. I was walking Little Miss Sass home (same kid that was convinced the toy was hers). She said to me, "Miss Kelly. Give me a horsey ride." (same thing as a piggy back ride, I suppose.) I said, "Sweetie, I don't feel very good today. Can we do it another time." To which she responded, "Give me a horsey ride or I'm going to walk home by myself." Well, I informed her that she wasn't going to walk home by herself, nor was she going to get a horsey ride from me. At which point she said, "Then I'm not going anywhere. I'm just going to stand here." I told her that she was not going to stay put, nor was she going to walk by herself, OR get a horsey ride... and that she had better pick up her feet and start moving.

And that was that. We finally made it to her front door and I finally got to go home and sleep.

Sometimes these kids just wear me out!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Take the Plunge - Recap

Vacation Bible School is over. Okay, sort of. Tomorrow the kids will sing 2 of their songs in church, but after that, another year of VBS will be behind us. But hopefully the message of Living Water won't be forgotten.

We had an amazing time at VBS. 95 kids participated. We had excellent leaders and excellent teachers. Props to Nikki Branham for the amazing job she did with Bibleland Bay. And this year's crafts? Pam Crowell and Kathy Young provided the best VBS crafts of all time-- wind chimes, candles, bath salts, bird feed. Stuff people would actually use and enjoy.

Day 1. Plunge into Obedience. The miraculous catch of fish.

On Day 1, we introduced our missions project. We were, through a "loose change" drive, raising money for WorldVision's Clean Water Fund to provide clean water for Angolan school kids. There are a lot of kids in Angola who miss school because of the contaminated water at their schools. So... for $100 you can provide water treatment tablets for up to 500 kids for one year.

We introduced our goal. By the week's end, were going to try to raise $100. At the end of Day 1, we had raised $30. Not a bad start. Day 2-- the total was $171.00!! We had reached our goal. We set a new goal of $225, but by Day 3, the kids had brought in $302.00. So I stopped setting new goals and decided to see where we would end up. On Day 5, I go to announce that we had reached $500! That's $100 per DAY at Vacation Bible School-- with kids just bringing in the loose change they found around the house (and no doubt, a few contributions from Mom & Dad).

And the thing is, these kids were SO excited about helping kids in African schools have clean water. They weren't just giving to see who could bring in the most money (there was a girls vs. boys contest)-- they were talking about how they knew they were serving God and making a difference in kids' lives by bringing what money they had.

Day 2. Plunge into Worship. Woman at the Well.

Day 3. Plunge into Courage. Jesus Calms a Storm.

Day 4. Plunge into Faith. Jesus Walks on Water

Day 5. Plunge into Service. Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet.

A big thanks to Andrea Baker for being our guest speaker on our Plunge into Service day. She and her husband Andy and kids Eli and Luke serve God through Word Made Flesh Ministries in Bolivia (http://wordmadeflesh.org/countries/staff.php?country=Bolivia&staff=8)

We got to end the week by having a closing program and party. At the closing, the kids sang and did their memory verses. And at the party at Falling Springs we got to Take the Plunge by swimming! It was very fun.

I love VBS. It's exhausting, but it is very fun. It is my prayer that we would ALL (Me and the kids both!) continue to "Plunge" deeper into God' word and plunge deeper into service to Him and His people.

Thanks for your prayers. Pictures will post soon.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What's the deal?

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Over the past few weeks, I have recieved numerous "cat calls" from all sorts of people. I don't understand it. I am not writing this post so that I can brag about the attention I've recieved lady, but I write this mostly out of confusion. Gals, is being whistled at and yelled at flattering to you? Guys-- what success stories do you have in "getting the girl" from such tactics? Hopefully, I can predict the answer to both of these questions.

On the trip home to Texas we stopped at a gas station. It was 8:30 p.m., still light outside, and we were somewhere in Tennessee. I walked into the gas station (I was wearing jeans and an oversized t-shirt, and my hair was in a sloppy ponytail. I was not looking my best.) and this guy looked at me, noticeably looked me up and down, and said, "Hey Pretty Lady. Where are headed tonight?"

Gas Station #2. 1:00 a.m. somewhere in Arkansas. Getting out of the car, someone at another gas pump whistled at me. What? I went inside. My t-shirt was a Texas Tech t-shirt, so someone in line behind me struck up a coversation about my alma mater. They asked me in a weird sort of way if I lived "around here" and engaged in general flirting. I said no, and explained that my husband and I were on a trip home to see family. As soon as I dropped the "H" word, all conversation ceased.

Gas Station #3. 4:00 a.m. somewhere near Texarkana. Numerous whistles as I got out of the car.

On our return trip to KY, I got a couple of more whistles and comments... and that was in the daylight hours.

Moving on. Monday of this week, I went to the lumber store. I looked ridiculously out of place, but I was on a mission. I needed lumber for a VBS project Billy was helping me with, and in order to save time, I had to go to the lumber store by myself. Hey, I can handle these sorts of things. That day, I was dressed nicely and was wearing my fabulous new red shoes. As I drove up, everyone was staring at me. Granted, they were probably thinking, "What is this young girl doing at a lumber store?" But then I went inside. Where shirtless, toothless men, were staring me up and down. I also got whistled at. Well, I bought my lumber and went on my way.

Same day. I was walking down the street in Versailles, KY. Someone leaned out of their truck window, whistled at me, and yelled, "YEAH!!!"

So ok. That's that. The whistles and pick-up lines have been in gas stations, lumber yards, and downtown Versailles.

But last night Billy and I were in Office Depot. A young guy that worked there helped us find what we needed. As we left the store, Billy mentioned that the guy that helped us was a "good looking guy" and had I noticed. I honestly hadn't. Then Billy asked, "What is it that makes someone a 'dirty guy' or 'gross guy' that you think is hitting on you, and what is it about a guy that would make you think he's just a nice guy?" He was not meaning me, specifically. He just meant "you" in the general sense. He was trying to figure out if I sometimes percieved that someone is "hitting on me" when maybe he's just being nice.

Billy does blue-collar work for his job. Billy is also extremely polite. He's trying to figure out if it's his job/occupation that would make people think he's a slimy guy, or if it's the manner in which words are crafted and attitudes are conveyed that would make someone come to that conclusion-- regardless of the job.

Thoughts?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Take the Plunge: Make a Splash with Jesus!

Well, it's that time of year again. Vacation Bible School! VBS starts one week from today. It's the week where I practically live at the church, work an 80-hour work week, and come home exhausted. I've put in hours and hours of work doing VBS Worker Trainings and VBS Work Nights. We've painted murals, made clouds, put together posters, and made name tags. I have an AWESOME staff that I get to work with who has done a MAJOR amount of work already.

And in the end, it will have all been worth the work. For you see, next week, young lives will be transformed. Children will make first-time commitments to Christ, and others will grow into deeper relationship with him. I am honored to be a part of that.

We have a great theme this year-- "Take the Plunge!" It's a waterpark theme. All of our Bible stories have to do with water-- The Miraculous Catch of Fish, The Woman at the Well, Jesus Calms the Storm, and Jesus Washing the Disciples Feet.

Living Water. LIVING water...

"Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?"

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." (John 4:11-15)

This water wasn't just alive when Jesus was spoke of it that day. 2000 years later, this water is still very much alive. And it's still available to you and me. Soak in it for a while. Let it be poured over you. It's healing. It's cleansing. It's refreshing.

Well... sometime prior to Monday morning we will have transformed the church into a waterpark. A waterpark of Living Water.

Be blessed today... and pray for us next week during VBS!!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Goodbye to You!

(I really just like that "Scandal" song of the same name, so that's why I titled this post as such). I'm really not saying goodbye to anyone... except Texas.

Tomorrow we begin the LONG journey home. It's funny really to even say that. Kentucky is our home now and a year and a half ago I never thought it would feel that way. Then, when I spoke of home, I was referring to Texas. Well, wherever home is, tomorrow we will spend 13+ hours in the car on an incredibly exhausting journey.

We've had a good time. Just as we suspected, our visit was too short. We only got to see family--no friends, and not even ALL the family at that. But we are grateful for the time we've had. Billy's birthday is Wednesday so we had a couple of early celebrations here for him-- 2 birthday cakes, 1 iPod, cash, and the many well-wishes are all greatly appreciated.

Mom and Grandma were gracious enough to send us home with gas money. I'm quite certain we didn't have to pay for even one meal.

On the downside-- 2 of my family members told me I looked pregnant. THANKS! That's just what every girl, self-conscious of the weight she has gained, needs to hear. Ah well.

Goodbye Texas. Until next time...

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Lone Star State

I've been singing all day the song, "Deep in the Heart of Texas". I'm not sure why I love Texas so much, but I do. While Kentucky is our home now and really does feel like home, there's just something about Texas that gets me excited and puts a smile on my face.

After a VERY long drive (13 hours!) we finally made it to Garland around 6:15 this morning. The drive itself was pretty uneventful, with the exception of the drive through Tennessee. There was construction on every inch of the highway, which made for a lot of fun (yeah, right) as I am sure you can imagine. Also, we saw a burning car on the side of the road. Really-- flames ablaze, smoke everywhere, and one lone fireman trying to put the fire out. I hope he was successful. It was the front end of the car that was on fire-- obviously the fireman was trying to put it out before it made it's way to the gas tank and blew the whole thing up.

Arkansas is BORING. The interstate is pitch black with very few stops along the way, and has VERY few mileage signs. So we drove for about an hour and a half wondering just how far we were from Little Rock, because there were no signs to tell us.

We got to Billy's parents house and went straight to sleep. I only got to take an hour nap before waking up to meet my old boss for breakfast. I'm really glad I got to see her. She's a good friend, and I haven't actually seen her since we moved to Kentucky!

Today, I am dreaming of Mexican food. And the family fun has already begun. I love our families. LOVE THEM. And I can't wait to spend the weekend seeing all kinds of people in my family-- parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents. Life is good.

So those are some of the things I love about Texas. Here are some of the things I'm not quite ready for:

Making the rounds to see the family. It can get stressful and exhausting trying to see everyone in just 5 short days. In fact, it's almost impossible to do. Plus, the amount time we get to spend with them is never enough for me! Then there's the fact that we're in town, and because we have such large families to see, there's no time to see our friends-- our friends who are so very important to us. If only we could come here more than twice a year. But one day we won't live in Kentucky, and we'll be back in Texas. That will make things a lot easier. Of course then we'll be longing for our Kentucky friends! :)

Consumerism. Especially in Dallas. I struggle with this. I've become quite accustomed to our very simple lifestyle and very meager budget in Kentucky. I like it. I'm happier and more content. Yet for some reason, when I come to Dallas, I get tricked into longing for the life we used to have here. It wasn't an extravagant lifestyle really, but we could buy stuff. I could buy new clothes pretty much when I wanted them. We could go out to eat for every meal if we wanted to. We could even go out to eat at nice places. We had a way bigger apartment, that was always stocked with name-brand foods in the pantry and fresh flowers on the kitchen table.

The last time we were here, I was in a store and had to leave because I almost had an anxiety attack. I thought I needed STUFF.

As I drove through the big city this morning, some of those same thoughts came back to me, though not nearly as much as they had been before.

Stuff isn't bad. But it is bad when it becomes your idol. I think that somehow in our former Texas life I had let it become that to me, to an extent.

I'm looking forward to the next few days-- to sharing meals and laughter with our family. To cheering for my sister as she walks across the stage on Saturday and graduates from high school. To meeting my nephew Logan for the first time, and seeing just how much my niece Kayla has grown. To driving along the Texas highway, surrounded by cars with Texas license plates. To stuffing my face with chips and salsa and pretending that the calories don't count because I'm in Texas.

I'll be in touch in a few days. In the meantime, sing this with me:

The stars at night, are big and bright (clap clap clap clap!)
Deep in the heart of TEXAS!
Reminds me of, the one I love (clap clap clap clap!)
Deep in the heart of TEXAS!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Random Ramblings of Good Things

I've got great friends. I mean, really great friends. I am grateful for each and everyone of them. I mean, really. Do I deserve to have such great friends? No. But God has blessed my life with them anyway. I'm glad.

I get to go to Texas in 6 days. And in 8 days I get to see my sister walk accross the stage and graduate from high school. Interestingly, I've not been to a high school graduation since my own in 1998, because Robert E. Lee High School's graduations are incredibly long and boring. There were 700 people in my graduating class, and I'm sure my sister's will be around the same size. Still, this is a huge milestone, and I couldn't be more excited to be there with her in this big moment.

I have a new nephew. His name is Logan, and in 6 days, I get to meet him.

My grades for the semester are slowly but surely getting posted online and so far, this semester has turned out to be not too shabby.

Could the Season finale of The Office have ended any better? I don't think so. I woke up the next morning thinking about Jim and Pam as though they were real people. I did find out that The Office will be airing 30 new episodes next season, as opposed to their usual 22. I have mixed feelings about that. I mean, I LOVE The Office and 30 new episodes and a lot fewer reruns does sound pretty great. But with 30 episodes to write, do you think they won't be as quality? Maybe a little too much bathroom humor, just to get a cheap laugh? We'll see. It's something to consider, and my friends pointed that out recently.

I had a little car trouble the other day and the check engine light came on. Immediate sick feeling in my stomach. The last time a check engine light came on, it was in our other car--$2300 later, the car had a new engine. Claim denied by the warranty company. I have a warranty on the Camry, too but when I took it to the shop I wasn't feeling too hopeful that the warranty would be of any use. Turns out it was and they totally paid for the work done on the car. What a great feeling-- a warranty that's actually worth something.

I'm happy in Kentucky today. Nothing exciting to report or talk about. But I'm happy, and that's good.

Monday, May 21, 2007

I am done... sort of.

YES! I am DONE for the semester. Three whole months without papers to write or Hebrew quizzes to study for, or Philosophy books to read. Hooray!

However, I can't quite rest easy just yet. On May 31st I'll be taking the Bible Content Exam. Because I have completed 1/3 of my degree program (yes! 1/3!!!), before the start of next semester I have to pass the Bible Content Exam. This is no 60% equals a passing grade situation, folks. 70 % won't cut it either. In order to pass, I have to score an 80%. Hopefully it won't be too hard to do, but I've only got a week left to get ready for it.

And then I can breathe. :) Wish me luck!

-KL

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Try this on for size...

I am working today on my final exam for Church History-- 4 5-page essays. Here are the questions. If you have any insight, let me know. I'm not posting this to complain. I'm just sharing with you why my brain is so tired. Enjoy:

1. The concept of denomination developed as a distinctive concept of the church in North America, different from that of Europe. Explain the distinctive features of denominations, as compared with the pattern of Christianity in Europe and give examples of how the church/state pattern played out differently in each of the three sections of the British colonies in North America.

2. Compare and contrast the theological and historical features of the First and Second Great Awakenings, noting how Edwards and Finney influenced the direction of each Awakening.

3. How does the liberal theology of Friedrich Schleirmacher represent a response to the historical conditions and intellectual currents of his day, both in the church and in the larger society, and explain his position on the meaning of sin and salvation, in relation to the Person and work of Jesus Christ, which was developed in response to those conditions.

4. How does the evangelical or neo-orthodox theology of Karl Barth represent a response to the historical conditions of his day, and to the earlier liberal theology, both in the church and in the larger society, and explain his understanding of revelation, in relation to the human condition and salvation through Jesus Christ, which was developed in response to those conditions.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Freedom

Being vulnerable isn't easy. On Monday, I felt led by God to be a little bit vulnerable with some people...some people I'm not usually all that vulnerable with. Pouring my heart out is sometimes a struggle for me, but Monday it turned out well. It was an unbelievably freeing experience. In listening to and heeding God's direction and leading, I realized some things about myself that I hadn't up until that point been willing to admit even to myself. Once I said those things out loud, I felt an overwhelming sense of freedom. And today I choose to still be free. Oftentimes when we experience the true freedom that God wants for us, it is our tendancy to want pick up again those very same things that held us hostage. Not me. Not today.

I have been struggling a great deal with feelings of inadequacy, particularly as it pertains to my intellect. I lack confidence in my own original thoughts, and am afraid to speak them, especially when it comes to spiritual things. I've been feeling out of place lately-- I can't even articulate how. Just all over, I guess. At work, I'm the only one on staff who didn't graduate from Asbury College. I'm not the child of a pastor, nor do I know all of the UM people in Kentucky. At school, it seems like I'm the only person I know who didn't take Greek in undergrad (perhaps a slight exaggeration). I'm pretty sure I'm the only person at school who didn't know what the word "exegesis" meant until AFTER I had already been here a semester. I'm not from Kentucky or Indiana. I'm from Texas, which around here makes some people roll their eyes in a sort of "Oh, you're one of those..." kind of way (Okay, we ARE obnoxious! I don't entirely blame them!).

In short, I have been playing this ridiculous game of comparing myself to others. I take note of the ways I am different and have somehow looked at those things as though they were bad.

In this constant, ridiculous comparison game, I have not remembered what I know is true: that God created me uniquely and with beautiful purpose. I have allowed myself to become harsh and judgmental and jealous and angry, and full of resentment. I have not extended forgiveness to others. These are all things that I have chosen for myself and I am the only one that can accept responsibility for it. It takes a lot of energy to carry all of that around, people. I have felt very ugly.

I had forgotten, I think, that God knows me by name. On Monday I was reminded of that very fact, through the encouragement of the others that sat in that room with me when I obediently shared my struggles with them.

So, my friends. That's where I've been, but not where I will stay.

I am grateful for this freedom.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Nashville, Baby!!

What an adventure we had this past weekend! On Friday we went to Nashville (about 3 hours away) to see our friends and our dear Uncle Tony run the Country Music Marathon. We had all kinds of fun. Here are some pictures from our trip:

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Me & Uncle Tony with Elvis, of course!

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Me and Elvis

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And of course, Billy and Elvis!

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Billy lookin' good in front of the home of BR549

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Uncle Tony & Aunt Mary

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Leon's Pralines, the best pralines EVER!!

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Legends Corner

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LP Field, Home of the Tennessee Titans

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The Monastery, or as Mary calls it, "The Nunnery"

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The Columbus River & LP Field

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Me & Billy at Ernest Tubb's

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Billy, Me, & Uncle Tony

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Uncle Tony is the tiny dot in the white shirt and red shorts

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Uncle Tony after the Race

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Uncle Tony's Texas Socks

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With Uncle Tony post-race


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With Lindsay after her race. Way to go, Lindsay!

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Lawsons & Lindsay

Monday, April 23, 2007

Anxiety Strikes Again!

I'm just pausing for a moment from my entirely-too-insane life in hopes that once again this blog will serve as some sort of therapeudic release for me. How does this happen? What is is about myself that just sort of draws busyness in? I know we're all busy. But somehow I only ever realize I'm TOO busy after it's already too late. I don't ever see it coming and then I get anxious and overwhelmed. And when I am anxious and overwhelmed, I tend to be a bit of a jerk to people or I don't pay attention to Billy or anyone else, or something else equally ridiculous.

So. In the midst of my busyness, Billy and I got out of town on Saturday for a much-needed change of scenery. We went with our friends Rob & Kat, Thad, and Seth & Laura to the Red River Gorge (about an hour away in the Daniel Boone National Forest) for some rock climbing. Yes, rock climbing. Now, I enjoy rock climbing and when we lived in Dallas LOVED to go to the climbing gym. But this past Saturday was my first experience with real rock. I'm not sure that an indoor climbing gym will ever do again. I had a GREAT time on Saturday. Red River Gorge? More like Red River GORGEous (I can't claim that pun as my own, by the way). The scenery was amazing. And of course, I'm a rock star. Literally. I climbed the heck out of those rock walls. I can't wait to go back. I'd like to get better at climbing and would like to eventually attack some harder climbs.

I will post some pictures soon. Hopefully by the end of this week. In the meantime, check out the Red River Gorge website (www.redrivergorge.com).

Peace.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Post Office Woes

Well, I suppose I now have an actual reason to check my mailbox more frequently than twice a week. I don't why I don't check the mail everyday-- I have to drive by the mailbox to get to my front door, but most of the time I just keep driving.

Well, this past Friday, I opened my mailbox, and found a bright green slip of paper inside (and oddly enough, I had no other mail in the box, which was certainly strange). The green piece of paper read: "Notice: We have been notified that this address is vacant. All mail from 544 Wichita Drive has been forwarded to the address which was provided to the United States Postal Service."

Excuse me? I don't actually remember turning in a forwarding address form, nor do I remember moving. I called my landlord and she said, "Oh yeah, your next door neighbor moved out. I bet they got it mixed up."

Of course I hadn't checked my mail since Tuesday, so I had no way of knowing when our mail was removed and forwarded-- to who knows where?

I faced a dilemma. It was 4:53 p.m. on Friday. I did not have time to get to the Post Office before they closed. I decided to call. The problem is that the only number listed in the phone book or online is the main toll-free number for the USPS--I couldn't find a number for our local branch. Time was ticking. I called the main number, fought my way through the automated system, and finally got the number for the Nicholasville Post Office. It was 4:59 p.m. I hung up, dialed the number, and of course I got the answering machine.

So... on that same green form, it had a place for the "new resident" to list the names of all of the members of the household that would be receiving mail. I took it as an opportunity to remind the USPS that we had never moved and that the residents were and always have been the Lawsons. I told them that we would kindly appreciate the return of regular mail delivery and for the mail forwarding to cease.

And by Monday we had our mail. But who knows what other mail was forwarded, or to where it was forwarded. Oh well.

These are the adventures of our lives in Tooleyville. Just another funny little tale to tell.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

I love Easter!!

Well, it's here! My favorite day of the year-- Easter Sunday!! Today was absolutely the COLDEST Easter of my life! Just this past Friday, the ground was covered in snow. And at this morning's sunrise service, it was just 26 degrees outside. But even in the cold, today has been a glorious, magnificent, victorious day. Today the journey of Lent has ended and we celebrate the RISEN Savior. The resurrected Savior brings us hope. The resurrected Savior gives life. The resurrected Savior has conquered the darkness.

In this, the 300th birthyear of Charles Wesley (1707-1788), I offer his lyrics, a familiar hymn, a favorite on this Easter Day:

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!