Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We got to spend a whirlwind 2 and a half days in Daphne with our sweet family.

We flew in to New Orleans late Tuesday night, and Dan's parents picked us up from the airport. The first thing we did was stop at McDonald's in Slidell to eat.  Now, my daughter has NEVER eaten at McDonald's, but we were so hungry that it didn't matter.  PawPaw bought her a cheeseburger, and at first she wouldn't eat it!  Well, as soon as Nana convinced her to take a bite, she inhaled that thing.  Yummy!

On Wednesday night, Dan's parents cooked steaks for everyone, and I do mean everyone!  They were so kind to invite all of my side of the family over so that we could spend time with them, too.  It was lots of fun to all be together!

Thursday was, of course, full of food and family and laughter...we have so much to be thankful for!  Again, Dan's parents welcomed my family into their home so that we could all 
be together. 

On our way to the airport Friday, we stopped in Mobile to meet Dan's brother and sister-in-law, and our nephew Jake for lunch.  They were out of town for Thanksgiving, so we literally met between our flights to see each other. 

Over the course of the week, Allana got to spend time with her grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, great-grandparents, and great aunt.  What an amazing family we have!
Allana was so darling...she remembered everyone almost immediately and had a fantastic time with her family!


Here are some of our favorite photos:

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Our first Toy Chest!

I teach preschool at Little Lambs Learning Center, which is located at Bayleaf Baptist Church.

Every year before Christmas, Bayleaf has an event called "Toy Chest" for seminary students.  Basically, church members donate money to Toy Chest.  Volunteers go shopping and purchase top of the line toys.  Seminary students come and for a very small fee, purchase Christmas gifts for their children.  There is a limit of 3 gifts per child.  

In addition, there is a "Quarter Room" where one can purchase unlimited gently used or toys that went unsold the year before. 

Words can't tell you how wonderful this is...it's the most amazing ministry I've ever seen.  They do this with excellence.  People begin lining up before 5:00 a.m., although we weren't out there quite that early.  It's not like they ask the church to bring in their unwanted toys to give to the poor seminary students.  Instead, they donate money so seminary students can give their children the best of the best. And they do it with the most wonderful attitude.  They don't give you the impression that they feel like they are doing some wonderful thing; they are genuinely excited for us.  I wept as I went into the Family Life Center this morning and church volunteers lined the halls cheering us on as we went in..."Merry Christmas!"  "Have fun!" 

We got ALL of Allana's Christmas gifts this morning, and boy, is it going to be a fun Christmas at our house!  Additionally, they raffle off 50 AWESOME items...I'm talking jewelry, train tables, motorized jeeps, digital cameras, Mac computers, etc.  You pay $10 for whatever you win.  You will NEVER guess what the Davis family won today - a Nintendo Wii!!! 

I just don't have the words to tell you what an incredibly ministry this is to seminary families.  Bayleaf Baptist Church is a powerful example of what it means to minister to the community you're in.  We are honored that we've been able to see a powerful example of what effective, excellent ministry looks like.  They happen to be located in a seminary community, and they have come up with an incredible way to minister to seminary families.  It changes things for us - what a gift!  Just a few weeks ago we were wondering what we were going to do about Christmas.  We've tried to save, but there have been some unexpected expenses, and it just hasn't happened.  Amazing what God does....

Monday, November 5, 2007

Little Miss Opinionated

I am laughing my head off while writing this journal entry...my little girl is so opinionated.  I wonder where she got that from? 

She woke up from her nap today around 4:00, and asked for a snack. 

A snack.  Hmm.  From time to time, she has Strawberry Newton minis for a snack.  They're 100% whole grain, and yummy.  Well, on my last trip to the grocery store, I got her the regular fig flavored.  They have a little less sugar, and more protein and fiber.

So I put her in the high chair with a sippy cup of water and fig newton minis...not the strawberry kind.  She takes one bite, gives me this horrible, "What did you do to my snack?" face and spits it out. 

I wait until she takes a sip of water, and try to offer her another bite, thinking it might just be the unfamiliar taste that's throwing her off.  As I extend the newton toward her, she says, "No!  Yuck.  Trash." 



Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween

Halloween: the Christian's second most important holiday
19 October 2007   Jeff Gill


Easter is, of course, the winner. Without the death and resurrection of Jesus there would be no Christianity. That is important to celebrate.

I am relegating Christmas to the number three spot because it is owned by commerce. Yes, Christmas is a wonderful family holiday. Yes, we Christians celebrate the incarnation of God (even though Jesus never said we should). Yes, I love Christmas. But frankly, we Christians just don’t own it anymore. The shops do.

We don’t own Halloween either, but we could.

I grew up hearing about the evils of Halloween – satan worship, demons, razor blades in apples – not from my parents, but from the Christian culture I lived in. I grew up going to Halloween alternative events, having lots of fun in my bible character costume, knowing that I was safe from all the devil-worshiping psychos that were certain to get me if I dared to risk knocking at the doors of the heathens in my neighbourhood.

Then one year I tried it, and I didn’t die.

As soon as my son was old enough (3) I introduced him to the joys of trick-or-treating. That was when I started realising that Halloween is the second most important holiday for Christians.

Jesus said there are two commands that matter: love God and love your neighbour. The Easter holiday is all about the first command. Halloween is all about the second.

What other day of the year can you put on funny clothes and be welcomed at your neighbour’s house? In my neighbourhood Halloween is the only day of the year that that people actually get out of their houses and chat with the neighbours that they don’t know. It is a night of celebrating community.

In the neighbourhood behind our church they throw a party at the shop and lots of people come out and have a great time. That’s where we went trick-or-treating last year.

On Halloween people let down their guard and come out of their houses. And unlike Christmas, it is not fraught with expectations and busy-ness. So here is my plan of how Christians are going to take over Halloween:

Full disclosure: I will be on holiday over Halloween this year, so for me this is more of a memo for 2008.

1. Ignore the demons and the occultists. (Almost) no one else in your neighbourhood cares in the least about that stuff. They are interested in costumes and sweets. Paul tells us to overcome evil with good, not with huddled prayer meetings in the church basement. If you want a prayer meeting, do it on the 30th. If you want to do some real spiritual warfare, put on some silly clothes and go hang out with your neighbours.

2. Cancel your anti- and alternative events. In the words of Disney’s little mermaid, ‘I want to be where the people are.’ Hint: they live around you in those house-shaped things. Stay home, put some pumpkins in the window, hand out a bunch of sweets (not tracts!) and have a nice chat with all the witches and axe-murderers that come by. Even better, go outside and meet the little ghouls’ parents lurking at the bottom of the drive.

3. Be positive and proactive. Find out in advance where the nervous old people live. Let them know that there will be adults out and about and that you will keep an eye on their house. Have some extra glowsticks to give to kids who need to be more visible. Find good places to hide so you can jump out and scare the trick-or-treaters. If you are feeling really ambitious, have an open house/garden with games and hot chocolate and snacks.

4. Check your motivation. You are doing this because God commands us to love people, not because you are trying to score crowns in heaven by getting converts. People can smell a rat a mile away.

5. Make Halloween the starting place. Probably sometime over the course of the evening you will meet somebody and there will be a bit of a connection. Go with it. Invite them to join you for bonfire night. Have their kid over to play with yours. Give the relationship opportunity to grow. And remember it is about loving people, not converting them. That is the Holy Spirit’s job.

Doesn’t that sound like a lot more fun (and useful) than anything else you could be doing Halloween night?