Thursday, May 29, 2008

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

First of all, I just want to say thanks to such great friends who have reached out to my family, my whole family, during this tough time of losing our sweet "Dearmom" so tragically. After the initial shock wore off, we all considered it a blessing from the Father that she is now happier than she has ever been and we know that "Boppie" was standing at the pearly gates waiting on her, cowbell in hand.

It was amazing to see the turn out at visitation on Thursday, to see how many people loved my grandmother and my family enough to wait, on average (from what we were told) an hour (some even more) in the monsoon to give their condolences and let us know how much they loved us and that we were being lifted up in prayer. It was a true testimony of the love you get reflects the love you give. My grandmother, and my grandfather, were just amazing people with amazing hearts and amazing love for others, that can only come from the Father himself. They both instilled amazing qualities in my mom, her two sisters and one brother. They have left an incredible legacy of the Gospel that is being carried out and will be carried out as long as there is Stone blood in our veins.

I want to leave you with the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness." This song means more than you'll ever know to my family and it reflects the immeasurely love and grace of God. Through its words, we find comfort that God is the same, yesterday, today and forever and that is mercy flowing unending. He will never fail us, not matter how many times we fail him and his glory is revealed not only through his creation around us, but through his creation of us, failures and all.

The summer of 1997, my dad had a heart attack. He told us later that while he was in the emergency room, all he could hear was this hymn. It reminded him, and us, of God's divine ways of revealing himself to us, in the most desperate times of need. Five years later, it was played at my sister's wedding. Six years later, we sang it at my grandmother's funeral. Praise God for his faithfulness!

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Lord Is Good...

So it seems in the past year, I've been faced with more circumstances of death, illness, moral failure and natural disaster than I ever have before whether I was affected directly by it or have just seen it affect people around me. I don't know if it is that the circumstances have grown or that I'm just older and am more aware.

Two weekends ago, 12 people were murdered in Birmingham in two days. A week before that a friend lost just about everything she possessed in a fire two weeks before she was to leave for Brazil for eight weeks. This past week several countries in the Asia and Africa have been affected by natural disaster. Sunday a close family friend's body was discovered in the backwoods of Edwards, MS after a month of being missing. A co-worker lost her sister earlier in the year to cancer. Today, my roommate found out that her grandfather may have lung cancer. Also another close family friend found out her 9-week-old son may have a rare disease and today, my grandmother, who was going to turn 90 a week from Saturday, was killed in a freak car accident.
What happens when we are faced with such circumstances? How do we respond? Why does it happen?

When I found out about my grandmother, I cried a bit, talked to friends, started packing and then sat down to read the Bible. When I opened my Bible, my eyes fell on these verses in Job:

"God does all these things to a man - twice, even three times - to turn back his soul from the pit, that the light of life many shine on him"

"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."

I have to say that I'm quite surprised by the way that I've handled certain situations this year. Instead of wallowing in grief, my immediate response has been, "May God receive the glory from this."

Why? Because there is nothing that I can do to change anything in this life. God is the ruler of this universe and controls everything, down to the smallest detail. And I can't argue with the Big Man. I don't want to. The only thing I have is my faith, through the amazing grace of God, and peace through the abundant mercy that he shows his people.

Two of my favorite verses come from Psalm 71:8, 14-15:

"My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long...But as for me, I will always have hope, I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of you salvation all day long, though I know not its measure."

It's so fitting, I think. There's nothing else that we can do, nothing else that we were made for, no better way to spend our time here on Earth, than to declare the glory and majesty and love and salvation of awesome Mighty God.

No matter how bad things ever get for me, nothing will ever be as bad as if I was not a child of God. There are millions of people in this world who haven't ever even heard the name of Jesus. They are much worse off than I ever will be. So I can sit back and pity myself or I can join the mission of God and go and tell those people why I can face such hardship and still have hope.

I've learned that life is fleeting, people are perishing and eternity is coming. So I can either get involved or get out of the way.

In the words of Jonathan Edwards, the great man of God from the Great Awakening, I am "resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live." And "resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do , if it were the last hour of my life." Live for Jesus and the hope that he gives.

Please pray for my family, especially my mom as Dearmom's death came as such a shock. We were all praying that the Lord would take her on, but in a list of a million ways we imagined it would go, a car accident was definitely not one of them. God works in his own way.

Also pray for the family of Mark Ginn. Losing a father is not easy, but losing a father like they did is definitely hard to swallow. Pray for peace for his wife Regina, and for his children Matt, Marcus and Marianna. I know they have a lot of unanswered questions and I pray that they will seek the Lord for guidance.

Pray for my roommate's grandfather as he goes to the doctor to get a spot on his lung checked for cancer.

And pray for three friends who are abroad sharing the love of Christ. Amanda is in Tokyo for the summer, Leslie is in Brazil for eight weeks and Carrie is in Africa (for what amount of time I am not sure). May the love and grace of the Lord flow through them so that his glory can be seen. May he travel before and behind them and may they be his hands and feet to the lost of the places where they will go.

This may have made no sense but as a writer, this is my way of getting it all out. I'll just leave you with a few more of my favorite verses which show the complete awesome character of God.

Exodus 34:6-7
"The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Following Suit

Maybe I should – work on updating some bios. But then again, this is more fun.

I love the smell of – freshly cut grass, the beach, apple pie and barbeques

People would say that I’m – I don't know. Ask them. No. Kidding. Way too sarcastic for my own good.

I don’t understand why – lots of things happen in life but praise God that he's got it all under control.

I lost my willpower to – work today.

Life is – fleeting. People are perishing. Eternity is coming. What are we doing?

My past made me – the person I am today. Of course.

I get annoyed when I – students park where there are four signs that say "No parking at any time" and block the flow of traffic.

Parties are not a good time to – run around naked. OR maybe they are. For me? Not so much.

Dogs are – the best thing God could give humans. Besides life, of course.

Tomorrow – is another day.

I have a low tolerance for – rudeness.

I’m totally terrified of – snakes. Katie don't do snakes.

I wonder why I thought my life would be – simple. Nothing is ever simple.

I always knew I would – not have an answer for this question.

Never in my life have I – been to an NFL game.

High school was- freaking eight years ago. What the heck?!?!?

When I’m nervous – pplay with my hair.

One time at a family gathering - my mom made me sing "Happy Birthday Jesus"

Take my advice - Let the boy come to you.

Making my bed – does not happen every morning.

I’m almost always - texting.

I’m addicted to – Big Brother. I don't know what to do now that it's gone.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Rainy Days Are Made For Staying In

There's only one word to describe today and that is "gross." It has not stopped raining at all today and now all the ditches here are starting to flood. I don't mind the rain though. It's much needed. Praise God for the blessing of rain. It was only eight months ago that we were praying for rain because of droughts in this area of the U.S. Now it rains at least once a week. I think today we got a weeks worth. I woke up this morning and just wanted to call and say that I wouldn't be at work today because it was a perfect day to just stay home and lay around.

Chris sent this to me today. The Mississippi State Alumni Association is pulling out all the stops for MSU baseball next year. They are offering a six day travel package of only $979 (which includes six nights hotel accommodations with the team at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Diamond Head Tower in Waikiki, a guided tour of Pearl Harbor, airport transfers and baggage handling, and bus transportation to games). All you have to pay for is you plane tickets. It's March 3-9 which I'm sure my mom wishes was her Spring Break. I definitely wish I got a Spring Break because I would sign up today if it weren't for my unpredictable schedule at that time of year. Who knows? Maybe I'll get a break and not have any home events that week. I can work away from the office. No problem.

I guess since I can't go outside and exercise (like I actually would have exercised if it wasn't raining), I will just stay in and follow the newest workout craze, Dave Barnes' first workout video. I received this in my email yesterday and could not stop laughing. If you don't find it funny, it's probably because you either have no sense of humor at all or have never experienced Dave's humor before. It's one of a kind. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hello Goodbye

Today I said goodbye to a great friend (well, maybe not goodbye...just "see ya later"). Leslie had her last day as the marketing intern at Samford today and she is off in about five days to spend eight weeks in Brazil. I'm not going to talk about how jealous I am. I'll just tell you how awesome she is. I will outline for easy reading:
  • She has one of THE MOST bubbly personalities of anyone I know.
  • Her apartment burned down two weeks ago and she has not lost a step. She's been more up-beat and grateful and has not stopped giving the glory to God.
  • She dresses unbelievably cute.
  • And she's just too sweet.
I'm definitely going to miss her. She was my token "girl" in the workplace. I can't wait to here all about her trip.

Good Luck Del!

Also today my family said hello to a new sweet baby. My cousin Laura, had her first, which makes the twelfth great-grandchild on my mom's side of the family. Payne Adams Pennebaker was born tonight around 8ish and was a little last the 8 lbs. I hate that I don't have a picture to show but my mom said he has lots and lots of dark curly hair, which doesn't surprise me since his mom has lots and lots of dark curly hair as well. It's funny that there are 11 girls and one boy in the line of grandchildren and every girl that has had a baby so far has had a boy except for one. Welcome to the world, Payne!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Time flies when you're...well time just flies

Wow! It's May, already? The past month has flown by. I can't believe that the school year is already almost over with. This weekend my tennis teams wrapped up their season at the NCAA Tournament and now I'm down to just one sport. Finally! Track is still going but at least it's not as high-maintenance as the other sports.

Since I've not be blogging lately, I'll update you on what has been going on.

I actually got a weekend off a few weeks ago and got to actually go out and do something with my friend Chris, who came in town from Montgomery. We went to eat and then went to the Barons game. It was so fun to actually do something, without having to worry about getting home to write a story.

Last weekend I got to go visit Bethany in Knoxville and have a lazy girls' weekend with her. I did have to work a little while I was there but it was just track so it wasn't that bad. We did some stuff to spruce up her apartment a little like painting the chair in the collage below. Other than that, we went shopping and just watched fun movies like 27 Dresses and August Rush, both of which I hadn't seen and both of which were cute, cute, cute.

This past weekend, I went to Tallahassee with my tennis teams who were playing the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Florida State. They didn't win but they played extremely well and we all had a fun little weekend away from Birmingham. I made a little slideshow of the weekend activities which includes pictures from the teams playing, the cookout at the pool at the guys' hotel and dinner with the girls on Friday night.

We got back from Tallahassee at about 5:30 Saturday afternoon and I was beat. I was so tired. I went and got some food and went home, ate, unpacked and was in bed by 9:30. However, I had no idea what the night had in store for me. An hour into my sleep (for the second night in a row), I'm awoken by a text message from Chris. He's in town (unbeknownst to me) with is friend who is a Marine for his "send off". Well of course, after a few texts I'm wide awake so I turn on the TV. Good idea. There's a tornado warning for Jefferson County. Three tornado sirens and lots of window-rattling thunder later, it's 3 a.m. and I finally fall asleep. No one has to ask what time I woke up Sunday morning because it wasn't morning when I finally did. I decided to sleep in and go to the 6 p.m. service at church. I was pooped.

And last but not least, I guess I should give a shoutout to four amazing mothers in my life on this Mother's Day. My mom is the best mom in the world. Despite her tendency to nag every once in a while, she's the most amazing woman I have ever met. I could not have asked for a better role model. She has been through an incredible amount of things in her life and has come out a much stronger woman, having an even better faith in God. She has been and continues to be the one person I look to to see what a Christian woman looks like. She loves to have fun and has a song for everything. I guess that's where I get it. Yay for mom! Here is an old school picture of mom having fun.

My sister is the second mother I want to praise. This is her first Mother's Day and it even more special because her son, my nephew, William was dedicated at church. I was so sad that I could be there but I know it was special. Anna has become one of my best friends. Although, we had our ups and downs when we were young, I couldn't have asked for a better sister. She is amazing. She's really taught me how to be a strong Godly woman and she's only three years older than me. Besides my parents, especially my dad, she is my biggest cheerleader but she is also the one that will tell me I'm in over my head and put me in my place.

My two grandmothers are last but not least. Grandma is my dad's mom and just turned 80 in January. I don't get to see her very often and I miss her so much. Up until I was a freshman in college, my family would go eat Sunday lunch at Grandma and Papaw's every Sunday. They lived just behind the church so it was a must-do on Sunday afternoons. Grandma makes the best mashed potatoes and was a birthday cake master until her arthritis forced her to quit. She was a lunch lady and was the matchmaker for my mom and dad. Oh, and she loves the Braves and puzzles. Now I know where I get it from. Here is an old-school picture of me and Grandma.

Dearmom is my mom's mom and will be 90 in June. She's still kicking though. She's got four children, 12 grandchildren plus 8 spouses, and 11 great-grandchildren and one on the way. She has been a rock for my mom's side of the family and holds a great faith in God. She's got maroon running through her veins never misses a chance to talk about the Bulldogs.

Ok...I must go to bed now so I'll wrap it up. Thank you Lord for putting such wonderful, amazing Christian women in my life. I've learned something from each and every one of them.