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. :)