Monday, December 28, 2009

Gonna Write a Letter

Ladies and Gentlemen, children of aaaalllllll ages, friends, foes, and fellow countrymen... listen up, y'all! I figured things are getting a little, shall we say, heavy 'round these parts; so I thought I'd take this opportunity to start a little thing we bloggers call a meme. Although, I guess it's technically only a meme if someone copies it and spreads it. Any takers?

Well, whether you call it a meme or a theme or just something to write about when my brain is fried, I am proud to introduce: Gonna Write a Letter or GWL.

Who among us hasn't come home from a vacation, a store, a fast-food drive-through and said, "I'm gonna write a letter to that manager... or owner... or CEO... or President of the United States"? I have probably said that phrase a ka-jillion times in my life, yet I have never, not once ever, written one of those letters. And since I am probably too chicken to ever actually send a letter like that, I have decided to post them here for your viewing entertainment.

Now, here are the rules:

1.) You can write a letter to any person or organization you choose: past, present, or future.

2.) The letters can be positive ("Hey, thanks for not laughing when I fell down the escalator.") or negative ("I don't think french fries are supposed to taste like dirt.")

3.) Keep it chruhstian, y'all. (If you're not from the deep south, chruhstian, pronounced "Kruhr-Stiuhn," is literally translated "Christian" but is more often used in looser translations as "No curse words and only PG themes.")

4.) Write the letter on your blog or (if you don't have a blog and would still like to participate) email your letter to brandythixton at yahoo dot com. Just make sure you title it GWL so I don't think you're telling me that you didn't appreciate the look I gave you across the register last Thursday.

Eventually, I might add a timeline like "First Thursday of the month" or "Every Monday at 8:30am" or somesuch nonsense. But seeing as how I can't seem to keep my regular blog updated at decent intervals, I don't think I can make any grand promises about how often this little meme/theme will pop up. If you don't like it, write me a letter. :)

Stay tuned for my first Gonna Write a Letter....

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2010: Part 2 (Alternate Title: The Year of Random Resolutions)

Ok, so lets get down to the nitty-gritty of 2010. (Can I just say how much I love the word(s?) nitty-gritty? I love the sound. Just say them over and over... nittygritty nittygritty nittygritty. They're fun, yes?)So, the nitty-gritty of 2010. This is where the rubber meets the road, where we attempt to live out the things that God has put in our hearts over the past twelve months. It's a new beginning. Tabula Rasa. Blank Slate.

I luh-huv a new year. And 2010 promises a slew of resolutions:

1. Lose weight. Original, no? Seriously though, I have an appointment with good ol' Dr.Z on Monday where I will get the okay to begin my hormone therapy once again. Barring any unforeseen pregnancy (like last time), I plan on continuing the treatment for three months, which will (hopefully) kick off the rest of my weight-loss for the rest of the year.

2. Refresh the little wells. Kim Heinecke wrote a post about the little wells in her home. She reminded me that "What's in the well will come up in the bucket." While my little one has a lot of Mickey Mouse and Barbie Princess and Ariel in her well, I'm ashamed to say there's not a lot of Scripture. So we are adding "Verse of the Month" to her repertoire. Taking a cue from Aunt Martha, we have a tradition of saying/singing things while we brush Chloe's teeth. It helps her to learn things (songs, ABC's, counting) and provides for a great distraction while doing a task that she hates. So this year? We'll be quoting scripture during those times. One verse a month. So that, theoretically, she will have a new verse memorized at the end of every month. Genius, no?

3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Among the principles we want our children to learn is the principle of stewardship. In money, of course, but also in managing the earth and its resources. We might not be able to reduce the use of fossil fuels or restore the demolished rain forests, but we can separate our paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass. And so we shall.

4. Avoid Stuffitis. Dave Ramsey says that many Americans suffer from a disease called Stuffitis - the need for more "stuff." In Korea, we lived with less "stuff" than I ever though possible. While I am thoroughly enjoying the comforts of American living, I would love to keep that Korean mentality of "less is more."

5. Jingle and Jangle and Change for Africa. More on this later...

6. Bake. I love to bake. Seriously, it might be my most favorite way to calm down after a long and difficult day. But I'm tired of the old stand-by's: chocolate chip cookies and apple pies. I want to learn yummy pastries and scrumptious tarts. I want to layer cakes and whip frosting. So my goal is to learn two new baking recipes a month. But... since I'm going to be working with Dr.Z and avoiding all things baked, I'll need some guinea pigs to tell me how everything tastes... any volunteers?

7. Cook a Goose. Yes, a goose. A whole, beautiful, goose. Like in the Charles Dickens novels. I just have to figure out where to buy one... and how to save up for it...

So. That's it. I wish I had 10 resolutions, just because that would make a nice, tidy blog post.

Se la vie.

Alrighty then... I might be out of touch for a few days because my sweet hubby has planned a little trip for us and because Christmas is not completely over for our immediate family and because I will have an entire day in the car heading back to Memphis. So, yeah.

I guess I'll see ya when I see ya... Lord willin' and the creek don't rise.

Monday, December 21, 2009

2010: Part 1

Over the last year, one passage of scripture continually comes into my mind. During prayer, during church, when I wake up, when I go to sleep, when I'm washing my dishes, in conversation, in messages, in music -- it seems to be popping up everywhere.

Then, my first night in our new home, I finally realized why the Lord keeps bringing these verses to my attention.

They're found in Hosea chapter 2, which starts in verse 2 like this...

Rebuke your mother, rebuke her,
for she is not my wife,
and I am not her husband.
Let her remove the adulterous look from her face
and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts.

Daaaaaang, y'all. He ain't kiddin' around.

The background of this story goes something like this: God instructs Hosea, a prophet, to marry Gomer, a prostitute, as a symbol of God's relationship with Israel, who has been selling herself to her "lovers" (other gods) and committing adultery against God.

It's kind of harsh. Are y'all ready for this? Lets start again at verse 3:

Otherwise I will strip her naked
and make her as bare as on the day she was born;
I will make her like a desert,
turn her into a parched land,
and slay her with thirst.

Vengeful much? verses 5-13:

She said, 'I will go after my lovers,
who give me my food and my water,
my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.'

Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.

She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
'I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.'

She has not acknowledged that I was the one
who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold—
which they used for Baal.

"Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens,
and my new wine when it is ready.
I will take back my wool and my linen,
intended to cover her nakedness.

So now I will expose her lewdness
before the eyes of her lovers;
no one will take her out of my hands.

I will stop all her celebrations:
her yearly festivals, her New Moons,
her Sabbath days—all her appointed feasts.

I will ruin her vines and her fig trees,
which she said were her pay from her lovers;
I will make them a thicket,
and wild animals will devour them.

I will punish her for the days
she burned incense to the Baals;
she decked herself with rings and jewelry,
and went after her lovers,
but me she forgot,"
declares the LORD.

Can I just be honest here? I have a haaaard time with these verses. This isn't the God I know. The God I know is gracious, slow to anger, abounding in mercy, and gentle in His discipline. But this God, the one of Hosea, He ain't playin' no games, y'all. This is His bride we're talking about here! He removes all her security, all her earnings. Doesn't He know what she went through -- what she did -- to earn those vineyards? Those fig trees are a part of her. She is more secure than all other women because she has figs and grain and oil of her own... food and goods that she literally sold herself to attain. And now He destroys it all. As if that weren't enough, He strips her down, exposes her in public. He humiliates her in every way possible.

Verse 14:

Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her back into the desert
and speak tenderly to her.

I tell you what, I don't like my husband even looking at me after we've had an argument. You mean to tell me that this God who just stripped everything away and completely humiliated her now wants to take her into the dirty, dry, parched desert and whisper sweet nothings into her ear?

But something beautiful happens in that desert. Something lovely and mysterious and supernatural occurs in that dry, dusty, lonely place:

Verse 15:

There I will give her back her vineyards,
and I will make her Valley of [Trouble] a Door of Hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

After everything has been stripped away. Every thing she had acheived. All the things that told her who she was. Her jewelry. Her suggestive wardrobe. Her financial security. Any semblance of who she had been. When every single reminder of the shame and resignation that came with her occupation had been completely demolished. When He had completely destroyed her old identity...

He slayed her with thirst in the desert, and became her water and nourishment.

He removed her foundation, and became a strong chest and a broad shoulder on which she could lean.

He removed the name "lover" from her lips, and became her husband.

Men paid for her body.

He made her priceless.

Men treated her like a whore.

He made her His bride.

How do I know what happened in the desert? How am I certain beyond any doubt that, though He seemed vicious, it was His mercy and unfailing love that lead her into the desert? How can I possibly understand the myserious and beautiful transformation that happened in that place?


I am Gomer.

I have sold myself. For money. For sleep. For a television show. For a nicer car. For a better body. For some personal time. For friendships. For love.

I have sold away pieces of myself time and time again to achieve some semblance of security, of balance, of a life that everyone dreams of.

And it has all, in one way or another, been stripped away.

That, my friends, is what has happened over the past five years.

I have made plans and developed ideas. I have bought property and saved money. I have told myself that, because I had made wise choices, I was secure. And that security was my god. Sure, I was still "married" to the Lord. But He was not my security. I had not acknowledged that He was the one who gave me the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on me the silver and gold. And I used it for myself and to strengthen my sense of security.

But those things were stripped away. One by one, the things in which I had put my trust began to falter and crumble. I realized that the things for which I had sold myself - my time, my energy, my love, my passion - were dwindling away.

Spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically - I was, I am - slayed with thirst.

And it was in that place where I realized. He is my source. He is my strength. He is my foundation. He is my security.

So, here it is, the year of 2010. And would you like to know what I truly believe He has in store for me this year?

Verses 15-16:

There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of [Trouble] a door of hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

"In that day," declares the LORD,
"you will call me 'my husband';
you will no longer call me 'my master.'"

In that day I will make a covenant for them
with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air
and the creatures that move along the ground.
Bow and sword and battle
I will abolish from the land,
so that all may lie down in safety.

I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.

I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the LORD.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2005-2009 in one super-dee-duper long post.

It's 12:14am in Memphis, Tennessee. So many things have happened over the past three weeks that I can hardly decide what to write first. I have a list of things I want to tell you all about: the highs and oh-so-lows of our plane ride to the states, Thanksgiving week in Athens, my first Target run since December of 2008, our cozy little apartment in Memphis, the first two weeks at my new job, the anticipation of Christmas and seeing my sweet hubby for the first time in over a month. So many thoughts swimming around in my head and aching to make their way onto my computer screen.

But, as I said, it's 12:14am, and my littlest one will be awake and hungry in mere hours.

So instead I'll just skip to the thing that has really been consuming my thoughts over these past few days: 2010.

I know, I know. Christmas isn't even here yet. There's still a lot of shopping for presents and stuffing stockings and reading cards and drinking egg nog and singing carols to get done before we start making New Years resolutions.

But I feel that 2010 is will be a special year for me and for our little family.

This is going to sound weird, but I feel as though my years have themes. As I look back, in particular, over the past 5 years, I see a series of lessons and themes that weave their way throughout the weeks and months. I have spent much time this past week thinking and praying over what those years have taught me, and what I can expect for the next one. If I could sum up the past five years in a few (or a lot of) sentences, it would look somthing like this:

2005 was The Year of Intimacy. Spiritually and emotionally speaking, this year was the pits. In the first quarter of the year, we were in an accident that totalled our car and left me in a lot of pain. In the summer, we obediently moved to where the Lord was calling us. For me personally, it was the most difficult move I have ever made. Though I understand now why that move was so significant, at the time, it felt like a very cruel and hurtful trick. In December of that year, I was told in no uncertain terms that I would probably never have children. So why is 2005 called "The Year of Intimacy"? Because that was the year, more than any other year, when I learned to hear God's voice - and feel His peace - in the midst of the raging storm. Never before had I experienced such a difficult year. Never before had I needed so desperately to know God's grace and peace. Never before had I felt His peace and presence in my life, despite my circumstances.

2006 was The Year of Manna. If you don't know, the Hebrew word for Manna literally means "What is it?" You could also call this year The Year of Big Change. That title may surprise some of you, considering how many changes our family has gone through since 2006, but this was the year that set all the other changes into motion. Exactly one month after I sat across from a doctor as she told me my "chocolate chip" ovaries would probably prevent me from ever coneiving, I sat across from another doctor as she confirmed what I had been suspecting for a few days - I was pregnant. I was in school, working full-time, and still trying to recover from 2005. And everything changed. Before I knew it, I had quit school, cut my work hours in half, purchased a second home, took out a loan on a "family car," and - somewhere along the way - grew a baby (plus 49 pounds or so). Changes were happening faster than my little brain could wrap around them, and I had to trust that, though I couldn't see the big picture or know our future plans, God could see and did know. In 2006, I learned to just be obedient TODAY. Be where I'm supposed to be, do what I'm supposed to do, trust the Lord to provide our needs... Today. "Because tomorrow can worry about itself..."

2007 was The Year of the Bad Attitude. Who, me? A bad attitude? Whateverdude. *rolling my eyes* So, a lot happened in 2007. I was totally stoked about spiritual things. Went to this really awesome all-day prayer thingy called "The Call." Got some pretty cool prophetic words about great things the Lord will do in us in the distant future. Heard some great sermons. Traveled long distances to participate in some great worship... I say these things sarcastically, not because they aren't important, but because I was a little bit (or a lot bit) like Joseph with his dreams. I looked wholly and completely at the dreams and visions God had given us for the future... while completely disengaging the here and now. I hated my job. I hated cleaning my house. I hated school. I wasn't a fan of the responsibility that came along with being a wife and mother. I just wanted to, you know, preach and pray and praise and talk about super-spiritual things. All the while, laundry and dishes and dust piled up. As my dad would say, I was "Too Heavenly minded to be any Earthly good." That might offend some folk' out there, but I'm just tellin' it like it is, y'all. And to be honest, there was no great lesson this year. Except, maybe, dreams don't bring home the bacon, amen?

2008 The Year of "Ah-ha!" Pardon the Oprah-esque nominclature, but if I had a penny for every time I learned something new that year, I'd have, like 100 pennies. Don't laugh, dude, that's a double cheeseburger at Mickey D's, yo. January of 2008 was weird. It was like somebody woke me up from a dream and said, "Hey, your life is falling apart. Shouldn't you, like, fix it or something?" Honestly, I think the Lord opened my eyes to some patterns that had emerged (or grown stronger?) in 2007 in my home, my marriage, my spiritual walk, my family. I went to Dr.Z and found out that there was a "disease" in my body that affected the way I functioned. I went to a counselor and realized that there was a "disease" in the way I viewed marriage that affected the way I related to my husband, my home, and even my children. If I could sum up the lessons of 2008 into one phrase it would be, "You got alllllll wrong, guhl." By the end of that year, one thing was very clear to me: My life, our family, our home, it all had some changes that needed to be made. But how?

Enter 2009: The Year of the Reset Button. (I won't repost all that stuff, since this post is already 2 days long and since I just wrote about 2009, like, a month ago.)

So here we are... 2010... and what's in store for next year, God willing? Stay tuned to find out...

Seriously though... come back soon... I'll tell you about 2010 goals, like, soon...



You're coming back, right?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Christmas Reminder...

Yesterday I had a discouraging doctor's appointment.

Almost seven months after Maple's birth, my body is still striving to make itself whole. It looks like we still have a way to go.

In the midst of my discouragement and (I'll just say it) self-pity, I clicked over onto one of my most favorite blogs ever, and read THIS.

I am so grateful today that my God loves me this much.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'll Be Home for Christmas....or thereafter...

Yes, we're alive.

Yes, we're doing fine.

No, we do not have internet access at our house yet.

Yes, I will post some decent updates as soon as I have both internet access and a home computer.

No, that will not be before Christmas.

No, it probably won't be before the New Year.

Yes, I am quite upset too.

See you soon, loves.

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood