Saturday, January 30, 2010

exciting possibilities

:: "Now unto Him that is able to do EXCEEDING abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us" ~Ephesians 4:20 ::

A few weeks ago I started having this funny little feeling that I wanted to do something. I didn't know exactly what but I wanted it to be something kind of off the wall crazy and out of the ordinary. I didn't really expect it needed to be anything huge, in fact the first time it hit I just painted my toenails blue and that helped. It made me smile anyway and I shrugged the feeling off as too much caffeine and went back on my merry little way.

It kept niggling away though in my subconscious, and a week or so later I randomly said "I want to go to London!! Wouldn't that be awesome??" It was a completely random, far out (in my mind) thing to do although something I would really and it made me feel better just saying it out loud. One time I mentioned it to Sarah and being the ever wonderful encourager she is her reply was "You should TOTALLY take Anna and go!!" This made me happy to think about and I think I said to Anna "Let's go to London on Spring Break". Riiiight. :)

Not very long after this Savanna told us that a friend from Champion Forest had told her a missionary family in Paris we knew of wanted a nanny for 6-8 weeks this summer while they were having a new baby. Savanna of course said "No way!" but something inside of me jumped. I asked her if she thought they might be interested in letting me come help. She put me in contact with the friend on Facebook so I could ask her myself and I sent her a message explaining who I was and that I was interested in hearing about the opportunity in Paris. She said she would talk to them and find out how to get us in contact with each other. I really wanted to do it but was trying to not get too worked up about it until I heard if they were even interested in having me. I am normally very much a homebody and I would rather be at home than anywhere else but there was just something about this trip that made me want to go.

A few days later Amy Cross messaged me. She said they thought they had found someone to help but she was interested in hearing a bit more about me. I was a little bummed that maybe this wasn't going to work out after all but sent her a paragraph or two about myself. Amy replied that she'd like to have me fill out a little questionnaire and told me about the general timeframe she would want someone to come. I filled it out and told her I would check with my boss to see what she thought about my taking off that time. Amy said she was very interested to hear the outcome. So I emailed my boss and tried desperately to push it all to the back of my mind.

The next day my boss called me and said "So let's talk about summer!" I kind of held my breath to hear what was next. "I talked it over with some of my family and stuff and I think this is a fabulous opportunity I definitely want you to go do! I think we can make this work." This was all the encouragement I needed. Right away I let Amy know that it was all clear on my end that she should just let me know if they decided to have the other girl come and help or if they'd like me to.

A week later I heard from Amy and she told me what her ideal plan was for having someone come and help and gave me three sets of dates with an extra set to possibly add on to one of them. By this time the church had announced this year's graduation date and Mom reminded me Micah was going to be participating--and the day was about two weeks into the best set of dates I saw. I really wanted to consider the second set but it would cover the week of this year's IBLP seminars and I really wanted to still be available to help with that. I was just a bit disappointed because I just didn't have a peace about either of the sets and emailed Amy. After discussing these things she offered July 26 - September 26. I couldn't think of any reason why those wouldn't work. It would be leaving the Monday following CI (and unfortunately meant missing the CMT conference) to be there in time to go to Poland for their missions conference, and include a week in August for sightseeing. It was way too amazing to take in. Just like that it all turned back around again...I really could go, this could really happen!!

Even now plans are continuing to take shape. I am so thrilled that God has opened the doors for me to do this since it combines two things close to my heart (children and missions). I've signed up for a 12 week beginner course in French online in hopes I might can learn a few useful phrases. :) Throughout this whole time Ephesians 4:20 kept coming back to my mind and how awesome God is to create these sorts of opportunities for us. It's truly far surpassed anything I could ever have dreamed or hoped for. While on the one hand July 26 seems so far away on the other it seems amazingly close like I could never get everything together and accomplished that I need to before then. I cannot wait to see how the rest of this unfolds. God is so good!!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Post-Wilds wrap up

Friday we slept in and took our time getting dressed for the day. There was much deliberation over what to do with ourselves since it was so cold and we had a whole day but in the end we just decided to go to Taco Bell for lunch and figure everything else out as we went. We were thinking of going to the James' house for the night but on our way back we saw just how bad the ice and decided we really didn't want to chance it since we knew we could safely get to the highway from the Tysons'. We were very sorry to not get to see the James again before heading home!!! :( So we opted for a quiet afternoon/evening in complete with Rockband and a few movies. It was nice to relax and just hang out with Joey.

Bright and early Saturday morning (7 AM Eastern time) we set off for home. There was a lot of ice and snow in Georgia but once we made it to Alabama it began to disappear. I drove us as far as the Mississippi border where Erin took over. I tried to nap a bit and while I was asleep Erin found more ice starting around Meridian on towards Jackson but after that it seemed to clear up again. We were very grateful that God kept us safe and we were able to avoid all the big ice patches by keeping to the center lanes.

We made a brief stop in Lufkin to have dinner with the wonderful Slanny!! :) I don't get to see this girl nearly enough. :( Everyone was anxious to be home so we kept our visit short and hopped back in the car to go again, finally arriving at my house around 9:30. Would you believe I almost felt TOO warm when I got inside my house??? I was sooooo glad because I feel like I've been freezing to death the last week. There was of course a wonderful reception by the kids complete with a welcome home banner and my room being very carefully cleaned and vacuumed. I have of course now trashed it again with all my luggage from my trip but it was nice to see it clean to start with!! I'm beginning to feel somewhat human again after giving my face a good scrub, brushing my teeth and putting on some warm, clean pajamas. Now the tricky part after a week away...what is clean that I can wear to church tomorrow!

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Wilds, day 4

Thursday started out pretty much like Tuesday & Wednesday but took a much different turn in the afternoon. Around lunch time we were wondering if the coming weather would make it unsafe for us to travel home on Friday morning and debated whether it would be better to leave Thursday night after session. Several people seemed to indicate waiting would be fine and so we just continued our plans.

Erin and I were packing a few things up and organizing stuff for the big squeeze back into the car and I paused briefly to go get something. My phone doesn't get reception in the cabin so when I got to the car I usually get a few texts come through and one was some very good advice on leaving tonight rather than waiting for the mountain roads to be covered with snow and ice. I called Mom and she seemed in agreement and so I headed back to the cabin to discuss it with Erin but she met me on the way having just got off the phone with her mom. This was enough confirmation for me so we finished packing things up only for real and contacted our people in Atlanta to let them know we'd be coming back early.

We took all our stuff out to the car and this time I was determined to get more packed into the trunk so we'd have less around our feet. It was probably quite hilarious to watch but I actually climbed in the trunk at one point and shoved my sleeping bag into a back corner by my suitcase with my feet. Something worked because everyone agreed we got a LOT more in the trunk this time. :) We were pretty excited about it. Oh the little things. ;)

At dinner I briefly began to doubt our decision to leave when one of the guys at the table we were at indicated the forecast had changed again and we would no longer be having the same kind of snow and ice as previously forecasted. At this point we had everything packed into the car though and I felt like there was no reason to unpack it but was feeling a little sorry for having gone to all the effort. There were little snow flurries all afternoon but they were barely visible and none had accumulated yet.

After dinner we had a reading session and then there was a twenty minute break before the evening session. During this break I walked out to the foyer and Erin said "come and see Megan the snow is starting to stick and it's so pretty!" I went outside and was just a little concerned at what I found. The snow was sticking but there also seemed to be a thin layer of ice forming. When we walked across it the snow didn't leave footprints because it was already icy. Erin and I both had the same idea that perhaps we should leave now or we wouldn't be able to leave at all tonight. We were afraid if we waited much longer the ice would only get thicker and the mountain roads would be very treacherous.

We piled in the car, Angie prayed for us and we set off. As we drove down the mountain I was glad we left when we did because I knew this was only the beginning of the weather and the road was already white enough in some stretches that it was difficult to see the yellow line in the middle. There was patchy fog and snow flurries so I drove very slowly. It took a long time to make it down because of how slow we were going but we did safely get down. At the bottom Erin relieved me of driving so that I could catch my breath, let Mom know we made it down, and route our path to Atlanta.

The rest of the way was very clear and there wasn't much snow or ice until we got nearly to Atlanta. At some point just past the Georgia border we stopped at Sonic to get some drinks and food as we were all hungry again. While we were there the snow began to fall a bit more heavily than we'd seen it and it was sooo beautiful!! I took over driving again and we still didn't have a lot of trouble on the freeways. We passed several snow trucks some headed the way we were and some going the opposite way. I'm not sure where they were going because we didn't see the kind of snow that would need those!! Once we got to Atlanta we saw snow in the open areas and on parking lots and cars. It was really fun to look at as we passed. When we turned off into the neighborhood though we found a lot of snow. The Tysons' yard and driveway was covered!!! It is still all there this morning and should stay there as the temperatures are well below freezing.

Today we heard that the problem has become as people drive on the roads it melts the snow but then because it's so cold it refreezes into ice. We are glad we made it in last night and hope that by tomorrow things will be clear enough to leave. Thanks for all who prayed for us last night as we traveled!! We are going to be very happy to make it safely home. :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Wilds, day 3

Today seemed pretty much a carbon copy of yesterday which is lame because it doesn't seem very fun or exciting to post about. It's really been nice to not do a lot of anything but it makes for some lame blogging. :) It did seem to be a bit warmer today than Monday/Tuesday...I think it made it to 37. ;) When the sun went down though the temperatures fell again.

Tonight was the funtime where we get to watch the guys do hilarious sketches. I videoed all of them this year although none were new. I will post them when I get a chance. After that we had a concert from Mac & Beth Lynch and then a devotional with Dr. Binney. He is so funny and yet preaches the most convicting sermons. I put in an order form tonight to get the mp3s from this week and I can't wait to get them and listen again.

The only real noteworthy thing from today seemed to be that as of this morning the forecast only called for some snow flurries tomorrow with little or no snow accumulation...but as of tonight it is changed to 70% chance of snow with up to two inches of accumulation possible. Friday morning when we wake up it should be REALLY white around here!! (Note: To our mothers and grandmothers--we DO plan on driving carefully when we leave and safely and all that jazz. There shouldn't be any ice on the roads I don't think just snow and Mr. James assured us that was all we had to worry about.) Pictures will definitely be taken. :)

Well I am off to bed soon. Love to all at home!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Wilds, day 2

After an exhausting last week I decided that today I didn't want to go the morning sessions and was going to sleep in and get ready for the day leisurely. I slept til 10 and it felt really nice! We went to the reading session at 11:30 and were just a bit disappointed...Majesty was there and had some good stuff but nothing mind blowing. We had lunch and decided that it was probably not so smart that we didn't fill the car up before coming up the mountain so Erin and I drove down to fill it. Along the way we admired the snow again and mentally marked a few spots to stop and take pictures at. When we came back up we pulled off the road and had fun.

We had a second reading session at 4:30 with the major publishers which usually has some of the better music and then dinner followed by another reading session. The concert for tonight was a quartet of men from The Wilds and was wonderful as usual. Following that we had our second session with Dr. Binney which was just as amazing as the night before. I am definitely getting the mp3s of this week to listen to again and again so I can just soak it all in!! This is what I really love about The Wilds...not just music but really good, convicting, challenging and encouraging preaching.

All in all it seemed like a fairly uneventful day but I like it that way to a certain extent. While I dreadfully miss all the peoples who are usually here and all the fun and partying that goes on it is also really nice to not do a whole lot of anything but try to stay warm and listen to the wonderful music and preaching. I hope to come back this week refreshed, recharged and ready to start the new year off right.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Wilds, day 1

I can hardly believe it's January 4th and here I am once more at The Wilds for the annual music conference. Where does the time go? That saying that time flies faster the older you get scares me because if it's this fast at 24 how fast will it be at 44? 64?

Saturday morning very early Erin & Angie met at my house to take off on the first leg of our journey, a 13ish hour drive to Atlanta. Our first excitement was when we piled all our bags around my 1999 Chevy Lumina and realized this was going to be a VERY TIGHT squeeze. I had been worried that would happen because I knew full well how much luggage girls tend to take and we were packing for a week of frigid temperatures along with bedding and towels. When we discussed if it was even possible Erin felt pretty sure we could make four girls work in the car although I was thinking three was going to push it. Where there's a will there's a way though and we began stuffing bags and cramming things in just as well as we could. When we climbed in the car with our stuff piled all around we had to laugh because there was really only enough room for us to climb in, hold our breath and slam the door shut. There were many strange looks from other drivers on the road and especially when we fall climb out of the car at gas stations and such.

It was relatively an uneventful car trip to Atlanta as we did not get lost as in previous years. Haley was driving and did happen to turn the wrong way on one road but I pulled out my phone, opened up the GPS and navigated us straight to the James's house. Yay us!!! The James gave us a wonderful welcome as they always do and we all stayed up to chat awhile. I fell asleep at about 2 AM and didn't even realize it until Erin woke me up the next morning when my alarm went off. Mrs. James left us careful instructions on exactly how to get to the church and we had no problem getting there either. This is all very comforting to me as I was just a bit nervous at taking this trip without Jonathan who usually is the one to tell us where to go. After a very good sermon we all went back to the James house for a very delicious lunch. I love the James because they cook very similarly to the way we do at home. When we could eat no more we sang around the piano a little as is our tradition and then visited before the others headed back to church.

At this point we had discovered that while we had packed very warm things for Houston winters, the rest of the country is apparently in the grips of the most arctic blast I've ever seen. In Atlanta the highs were in the low 30s and the lows at night were around 18. We were all soooo cold and new it was supposed to be even colder at The Wilds so it was decided we should make a trip to a few stores and try to locate a few more pairs of tights to wear under our skirts. I even wore some under my jeans and it helped a lot to add that extra layer!! By the time we were done at Ross & Walmart church was over and we met a group at McDonald's before going back to the James house for the night. Joey came over for awhile afterwards and we had a fun time.

This morning we got up intent on repacking the car so that we had a little more room to breathe. We all attempted to repack our own individual bags so that they were more compressed and felt like we had done the best we could. Mr. James and Daniel helped us pack things back into the car and although we got more in the trunk it didn't seem like we had that much more room in the car. Erin seems to think there was a bit more leg room but it sure still looked full to me. After lunch at Chick-fil-a with Joey & Charissa we were off again. Thankfully the drive from Atlanta to The Wilds feels like nothing at 3 1/2 hours compared to the day before!

As we made the turn onto 178 and began the actual driving into the mountains I started noticing some white chunks along the side of the road. I asked Erin if she thought those looked like chunks of ice and she agreed that they did. We thought perhaps they fell from higher up somewhere because there really didn’t seem to be any other ice anywhere. At some point we rounded one of the curves and saw icicles hanging from the side of the mountain. A little further on and we saw a white patch of snow. We got all excited until we looked on the other side and discovered the entire side of the mountain was covered with it! I found a little drive to pull off on and we all got out to take a picture. The rest of the drive was amazing as there was snow everywhere, on roofs of houses and drifts along the side of the road. To these native Texan girls it was quite the thrill!! When we finally pulled into The Wilds there was not quite as much white everywhere but the forecast is flurries possible every day this week so we are very hopeful.

When we checked in they told us we were in duplex number 52 and he showed us how it was at the back of the line. After driving back we realized he wasn’t kidding—it is the last row of duplexes at the very back of the camp and in the very end of the row on the second story. We decided it serves us right for waiting until the last minute to register. On the plus side these are apparently brand new duplexes and the fixtures, paint and beds look brand new. The heater also works very well which we are very grateful for!!

Dinner tonight was chicken parmesan which is a new dish I don’t remember having here before. Our speaker for this week is Dr. Jim Binney and I am already sure I will want a copy of the messages. Tonight he talked a bit about how when we say “I know God has forgiven me but I just can’t forgive myself” it shows a very flawed view because if God can forgive us but we can’t forgive ourselves that means we think we have a higher standard than God. I had never thought of it this way and it hit me like a ton of bricks. He also gave teasers about some of the other topics this week such as more on confessing sins vs asking forgiveness and I can’t wait to hear more.

We are taking pictures and I will add them later. For now there are a few on Facebook that Erin has posted. I'm excited about what God has for us this week and will share more later. Here's hoping we don't freeze to death tonight!! :)