Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Journey Day 1

Our plans over the Christmas holidays were to travel to Texas and Colorado to visit with family. We had our grandson Avery with us so that he would be able to spend Christmas with his dad.

Everything started out on schedule. We arrived at the airport 'Park and Ride' location at 5:30 for a 6:30 flight. It took a little longer than usual to get from the facility to the terminal. We went up to the check in counter at about 6 AM. We were informed that it was too late to check in for the flight to Dallas. We would be on standby for the 1:45 flight. Note, I have been flying out of the Richmond Airport for twenty seven years. That has never happened to me. I was not too happy with American!

Well the 1:45 flight was overbooked and we did not make that flight either. So we were placed on standby for the 6:45 PM flight. After waiting for twelve hours we made that flight.
It was a long day! There was some consolation. We happened to meet some others that had experienced the same kind of problem. One of those waited he did not make the 1:45 flight and then gave up to try again the next day.

Sometimes things just don't work out the way we plan them. We like to control events, but sometimes things are completely out of our control. Fortunately we had an extra day built into our schedule and things worked out OK this time. Years ago I read in a brochure that, "it is best to expect a little inconvenience when traveling internationally." I think now it is best to expect inconvenience whenever you travel! It is a good reminder that we really do not know what will happen tomorrow or the next day. We need to trust the Lord with all of our plans, He does know what will happen.

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." James 4:13-15

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Friday night we went Christmas shopping. It started snowing as we started, about 5 PM. It snowed through the night and most of Saturday. We have not had much snow in recent years and this was a real treat! The view outside of our side door.
The snow was very heavy for much of the night. Note the snow in the deck chairs. It was twice as deep by the next day.
The squirrel was on the rail of the stairs that lead to our side door.
The creek behind our home was beautiful.
This was a wet snow and it stuck to the tree branches.
The house on January CT has been our home for over twenty-five years.
My Nissan truck under normal circumstances looks rather large, but not when it is covered with snow. By the end of the day we had roughly twelve inches of snow on the ground.

Snow has an amazing effect on how everything appears. The blanket of white makes everything look pristine. It also forces us out of our normal routines. We have a chance to visit with neighbors as we clear our driveways. Ordinarily I am somewhat of a scrooge. I often feel that Christmas activities are a bit overdone. But Christmas shopping in the snow does have a way of making you a bit sentimental. But fresh snow is so pure and it seems to cover up a lot of ugly!

"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas with Sam and Allison

Saturday night Sam and Allison invited a group of their friends over for a Christmas party. It was a wonderful time and Sam and Allison obviously enjoy entertaining. Shawn, Farris and Janine helped serve everyone. Sam operates the Daily Grind a coffee shop in the Short Pump area.

Allison was relaxed in spite of feeding a good sized group of people.
The meal started with spanakopita and was followed with roasted lamb, rice with pine nuts green beans and tadziki sauce.
Then they served desert. Yes they were as good as they look and I did indulge!

I was excited to get a picture of Bill Bangham. As a professional photographer, he is usually on the other side of the camera.
Barbra and her husband Jay operate 'Dream Dinners.'

Edna is one of the regulars at the the Daily Grind. she was concerned about the wrinkles. My thought was they show character.

Shanon really was excited about the cup cakes. She enjoyed the hummus as well.

Michael and Anna served as short term missionaries, Michael in Colombia and Anna in Venzuela. They were married two months ago. About two years ago, they were in training and spent a lot of time (along with several others) hanging out at the Daily Grind. When training was over, they got together and gave Sam a bible with their favorite scriptures highlighted. Sam and Allison were deeply moved by their gift and started reading the bible.

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1: 3-6

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Memories of Christmas Past

Earlier this week we had a Christmas celebration with the Office of Global Personnel. During that time the leadership team shared some reflections on Christmases they remember as children. They told some interesting stories.Tom Williams, the vice president told about the Christmas when he learned that Santa Claus was just a story. He grew up in Georgia the youngest of six children. One year he asked Santa for a bicycle for Christmas. It so happened that his sister did too. There were some pine trees behind their house where he and his brothers liked to play and build forts often with dried pine needles. One day they found a pile of pine needles that they had not piled up. Under the pile they found two empty bicycle cartons. He realized that either Santa had bought the bicycles or mom and dad had done so and hidden the evidence. He said the real story is about the God who became a baby in a manger, that is not just a story, it is fact.Randy Rains grew up in western Kentucky. He said that every year for Christmas his family would drive to west Tennessee to his grandparents house. One year he surprised that Santa Claus knew his name. On Christmas eve the whole extended family would go to church and his grandparents church. It was a small church that planned a Christmas pageant, a service and an appearance by Santa Claus, who would bring each of the children a gift. One Christmas eve, as a visitor in this church Santa Claus called out his name and gave him his first bible. He said it was several years later that he realized the Jesus knows his name and that is what is really important.

Dickie Nelson talked about growing up in Mississippi. He said that every Christmas the family would get up very early to go to his grandparent's house. He remembers that every year his grandparents would give him a pair of socks for Christmas. Because of the early morning schedule Christmas day they had their family Christmas on Christmas eve. It would begin with the family gathering to read the Christmas story from the bible. Then they would drive around town to look at Christmas lights. Finally, they would go home, the children would wait in a bedroom while 'Santa Claus' came.

Lloyd Atkinson told about growing up in up in Miami where it is warm and humid at Christmas time. Again Christmas was about the grandparents. He said they always used home made decorations. He said that his grandmother would use a mixture of Fab detergent to flock the Christmas tree. There was always a lot of food as well. For Lloyd the aroma of pine, Fab and food are a great reminder of Christmas.

It was interesting to hear the stories. I am always fascinated with people's stories. Each story was accompanied by a childhood picture that provided an additional dimension to the stories. It was also interesting that several of the memories focus on grandparents and time spent with extended families. The bonds that tie families together are the shared memories and stories that are told again and again. They become a part of our identity.
He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our fahers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. Psalms 78: 5-7

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mustard Seed Christmas

We are a part of the Mustard Seed Class at First Baptist Church. We started today with a prayer breakfast for International Missions at the church. Our men provided the special music. The focus was praying for fourteen unreached people groups in Northern Africa. We ended the day with a Christmas party at Harry and Debbie Slayden's home.
Harry and Debbie have a beautiful home which was beautifully decorated for Christmas.

Lynn Moreau and Jean Bazemore enjoyed chatting and snacking.

Joe Evans and his wife Charlotte posing with my wife Charlotte.

Debbie and Harry had prepared a huge feast.

Then Lewis Myers led the group in singing some Christmas carols.

Charlotte and Pat Sharon hammed it up.

Then we started smelling something burning. We narrowed the smell to the hallway outside the downstairs bathroom. The wall felt hot so Harry called the Fire Department. When they arrived they had to dig into the wall.

Debbie was pretty shaken when they started digging into her wall.

The fire trucks created quite a commotion in the otherwise quiet neighborhood.

The Battalion Chief showing the Slaydens the source of the problem.

The problem was an electric wire that had shorted out because a staple (holding the insulation in place) had been nailed directly into the wire. The paper backing on the insulation was burned. The Slaydens were fortunate that the problem was discovered before the fire spread.
The fireman getting some last minute information from Harry before the fire department left.

It really was a Christmas party to remember. No one would want that kind of event to interrupt a party when you are hosting dozens of people. But Harry and Debbie handled it all very well. They were gracious hosts. Our class is a praying group and is also a very supportive community. I hope that we were able to be encouragement for Harry and Debbie. They really put on a Christmas party to remember!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Office Party

It's the time of the year for Christmas parties. Today our office, the Personnel Selection Group, enjoyed our Christmas get together. Everyone was asked to bring a $10 gift card for the gift exchange.
Four of our assistants waiting for everyone to arrive so we could eat!
Bob Dilks was at another table talking to another of the consultants.
Lunch was roast pork loin, with roasted new potatos, green beans and hot rolls followed by one of my favorites, chocolate pecan pie. Amy Stewart provided the meal. It was very good!

Cynthia Cunnyngham, MK Education consultant, enjoying lunch.
Duane Hammack played Santa Claus, handed out numbers to decide the order for picking your gift from under the tree.

Pat was the first to pick her gift. The catch was if a subsequent person liked the gift you got, then they could take it and you would have to pick another gift. Pat had at least three gifts taken from her. There were gift cards from twenty two different places including Cheesecake Factory, Khols, Cracker Barrel, Barnes and Noble, REI and others.

It was a good time of food, fellowship and fun. It has been a challenging year for our office. The celebration had a therapeutic effect. Fellowship has that kind of affect on you.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. I John 1:7