Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The gathering....

With the approaching holiday weekend, we are preparing for the arrival of family for the weekend. Since Chandra and family have moved we look forward to their visits, catching up (even though we talk daily!) and playing with the grands. Michael can't wait for Kailyn to arrive, she is his best friend. Rachel and family will join us, and this particular weekend we will share in the dedication of our grandson, Levi.

We will also be blessed to have friends over on Monday for a day of cooking out, playing games, and relaxing. We will be "gathering " everyone in one place and enjoying fellowship. As I thought of the word gathering, I was reminded that Christ is gathering his people, even as we speak.

There are those who feel that they just "don't need church". They don't feel that they need or want to conform to the "rules" set forth in a congregational setting. I have heard it said from more than one person that they can feel just as close to God in a tree stand in the woods as they can in a church on Sunday morning. Or in a boat on the lake... or on their couch in front of the TV... just fill in the blank...

Yet in all of those instances they are missing out on something very important... the gathering. The gathering together of a group of people who share one common factor... their love for the Lord and their desire to praise him as one. I can't help but wonder what the final gathering will be like... when Jesus steps out of the clouds and takes his children into heaven... and I often wonder if those same people who have opted out of church for the woods, (or whatever destination filled the blank!) will be filled with excitement over what is to come... or if they will look back longingly at their tree stand wishing to "worship God on their own terms"?

I look forward to our "gatherings" each Sunday at GCC... I love to sing praises to the Savior... I love to hear God's message sent through Chad... and I love the fellowship we enjoy with those we meet each week.

Am I conforming?? I don't think so... I like to think of it as embracing.... and preparing for the greatest "gathering" of all!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tough Decisions

We'll now that I have posted that we have a dog... we don't anymore. Some decisions are just tough... especially those that make you cry. Such was this decision.

You see... since we got the puppy, I have noticed a change in Michael. I had started to notice that while he enjoyed watching the puppy play, he never played WITH the puppy. He just sat on the couch at all times. Last night this was really brought home to me... and I have to tell you, it really made me sad.

I had placed the dog in his crate in order to do a few things without having to keep the "ever watching eye" on him. As soon as I did that, Michael got down from the couch and began to play. The puppy went to sleep in the crate and when I finished up I sat down and Michael immediately came to me with a stack of books and wanted me to read. We ended up reading every book he brought. He had the biggest smile on his face the entire time. Then Koby woke up... and Michael ran straight back to the couch, and didn't get down again until it was time to go to bed.

This morning... when I asked him to go get dressed for school, he told me that I had to hold the dog so he could go to his room. That did it for me. I knew right then that having this puppy just wasn't fair to Michael. No matter how much I liked this little guy, or how much Carly and Mickey did... Michael had to come first. I also knew that this puppy stage could last a long time... and I wondered about the long term effects this could have on Michael.

So this morning I called the lady where we purchased him and she told me that she would take him back and make sure that he had a good home.

I cried all morning... Carly has cried all after noon... and Mickey looks a little sad. As for Michael, well... he asked where Koby was, and then ran straight to his room to get some toys to bring out and play...

... some decisions are just tough... even when they are right...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's a Boy!!!!

Meet "Koby Jack", the newest memeber of the Neal Household! Many of you will remember that we had to put our dog, Roscoe, down a few months ago as he had received extensive injuries in an accident. Since our return from vacation I have been on the hunt for a puppy. I was set on getting at least a schnauzer mix... and I finally found one.

Last Friday I was actually driving through Borden on my way to Clarksville and there was a sign on 60, handwritten on a piece of cardboard, Boston Terrier / Schnauzer mix puppies! As it was before 8 am, I opted to call around 11:00... went past and saw the puppies, and ended up paying for the male. The only boy, with three sisters! Remind you of anyone???? Yes... Michael is the only boy with three sisters!!!!!

Since we had such a hectic weekend planned we had them hold him until Monday, and we didn't tell the kids we had bought him. So yesterday was the "big reveal"!!!! Carly was so excited... she had been asking daily when we would get a puppy... she didn't want a dog... just a puppy! Michael, while excited, is a little leary of this little puppy... but I know that they will soon warm up to one another...every boy needs a dog!

But for now... he is my dog... he has bonded with me... and that is okay. He is a puppy who misses his momma... guess I am as close as he can get right now. As a matter of fact, as I type this, he is snuggled down on my lap, snoozing away. But in a few minutes, we will begin our crate training in earnest. Last night... he was up every two hours, which is to be expected at this age, but my goal is to get him used to being in the crate without freaking out... so that begins today.

Having a puppy is a lot like having a baby... they are scared... they get lonely... and they are needy. If we work it right, we will soon have a dog who loves his family... and a family who is thrilled to own this dog... but until he grows... sleepless nights are ahead... and I think that I might just need to stock up on paper towels!!!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Simple Inspirations

One of the magazines that I receive through the mail is Women's Day. I must confess, I don't get it for all the articles on how to get organized, or how to save $$$ at the store... I get it because I love the recipes! Sad isn't it? That is the first place I turn to in any magazine. I love to look at recipes. I might never make what I see, but I enjoy seeing how other's throw together a few simple items and make something wonderful.

Another favorite feature in this magazine is always found on the back page - inspirational quotes from those who are or were famous. There were a couple in the September 16th issue that really sparked my interest...

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure. Colin Powell

Now isn't that a question that we have all asked at one point or another... how can we be a success at what we do? Be Prepared... Work Hard... and Learn! And not just learn, but learn from our failure! I really feel like that is something that we are NOT passing along to our children. Failure isn't something that we should be ashamed of, it is something to learn from! Not everyone wins all the time... there will always be someone who comes in last. I think of how many times the disciples must have gone into a new town and walked away feeling as if they had failed. But that didn't stop them from going into the next town, did it? Of course not! I am sure that there were many nights spent around a small fire, eating a simple meal, with a discussion about what they could do differently at their next stop to get people to listen to the gospel!

You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you. Mary Tyler Moore

Why do bad things happen to good people? A universal question... one asked by people of all ages, all races, all creeds. I think that MT Moore hit it right on target.... bad things happen and from those events you must learn to be brave. Bravery will get you through life... especially being brave because you know that Christ is right by your side. What more does one need to get past the curves that are thrown your way than Christ and a sense of bravery! I imagine it took a great deal of bravery for Saul to become Paul... going from a persecutor of Christians to a Christian himself! I can just see him now, walking down the streets of towns where he was known for his hatred of Christians, wondering how he would be received as he preached the words of Christ! Frightened... I would think so... but knowing that Christ, with whom he had a personal relationship, was by his side... what bravery must have filled his very being! And bad things did happen to Paul, all throughout his ministry. Yet he continued on, being brave AND learning from his failures.

Two small inspirational quotes... so many ways they can be applied to our lives.... just a little something to think about .....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

First Day of School

Today, it finally happened... School Started! While this is an exciting day - Carly is a Junior and Michael started Kindergarten - it is a sad day... I am home alone! While that does have its upside... uninterrupted knitting - followed by blogging - followed by more knitting (just kidding Mickey - I WILL do the dishes!!!!) it also has its downside - how will I ever keep up with what is happening on Sesame Street! Here are a few pictures...

Isn't it just amazing how quickly kids can grow? It seems like yesterday that Carly was off to her first day of kindergarten... and there were pictures of she and Rachel over the years heading off for their first day! Now Carly and Michael... time sure does fly! And Carly... well... she drove herself to school today... another first in our household!
God has certainly blessed us, and we are just so thankful for all that He has done! We know that he will watch over these two as they begin the school year, and that He will stand right beside them along this journey. I was reminded of this verse this morning... familiar to many, but so true... there is a time for everything! Even going to school!!!!
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecc. 3: 1-8

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What a difference....

Learning about Jesus is important... meeting Jesus is even more important!

This thought has been rambling about my mind for several days now. We can teach people ways to study the bible... we can give them historical information... we can help them memorize verses... show them maps, facts and figures outlining Christ's journey, the people he healed and the lives that he touched. There are just so many ways that we can teach about Jesus. And teaching about Jesus is important... but there is just so much more!

The change in a person's life doesn't come from hearing about Jesus... it comes when they meet him face to face.

At the WoF conference Nicole C. Mullen talked about the woman who had an "issue"... for years this woman had bled, making her an outcast among her people. She was considered unclean and couldn't even come into the presence of her family, much less Jesus! Now... this women had "faith" that Jesus could heal her... so much so that she made her way towards him and simply reached out to touch the hem of his garment! Instantly Christ felt the power leave him... and instantly this woman was healed. Now... here is my point... she had the faith... she knew about Jesus... she had heard the stories... yet the difference in her life came from the meeting!

As Christians we have been given a commission... to take the gospel into the world... I believe that part of the "taking" has to involve allowing people to meet Jesus... and as Christians WE just might be the first glimpse of Jesus they see!

Are you allowing Christ to work through you or are YOU trying to do all the work? There is such a tremendous difference... and it is the difference between allowing people to learn about Christ or allowing them to actually meet him face to face!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Women of Faith... and Fun!

Well.... it came and it went... Women of Faith 2008 is now history... but what a wonderful bit of history it was! Our first stop of Friday... the outlet mall at Edinburgh... and we had a blast! As you can see from the picture at right, Rebecca was the recipient of a leg wound... surgery to correct a "minor slip and slide" injury. So we knew that she wouldn't be able to shop effectively on crutches. Angie made a mad dash for the offices there and secured a wheelchair for the day. Gotta say, Dawn and I had a blast wheeling her through the various chairs... WHAT POWER!

Next we made our way to Indy for the conference. The first night is always filled with music and a short message or two. It was powerful to say the least, and we all enjoyed our time. Rebecca, Angie, Michelle, Erica, Crystal and I then made our way to our hotel, by way of Cheeseburgers in Paradise. We spent our meal time laughing and singing songs along with our entertainment for the evening. By 2:00 AM we finally stopped all the chit-chat and fell asleep.

The Saturday portion of the conference began at 9:00 AM... and it was an awesome experience. One of the featured speakers for the day was Sandi Patty, and Anderson, Indiana native and a powerhouse singer... who knew that she could speak so beautifully as well. She spoke on "layers" and I must confess... I cried through her entire portion of the program... from the songs she sang to the words she spoke... I was in tears... and I cold feel God speaking to me through what she had to say. I walked away from the portion of the conference with a lot to think about... it was a joy to hear what she had to say!

We walked to the Circle Center mall for lunch... Rebecca stayed behind because of her leg (and aching arm pits! Crutches can be brutal.) While she remained at the Conseco Fieldhouse she did what she does best... she made a friend through her knitting! I do believe that the lady seen in the background will soon be the recipient of scarf... or maybe a pair of socks... I just love my friend!!!! Watch out... I think that her goal is to win control of the world through her knitting... one person at a time! And if you know her, you know this isn't out of the realm of possibility!
It was a tremendous weekend... and I am again, very thankful for the blessing of the trip. And you know... I am already looking for a 2009 calendar so I can block out August 7th and 8th for next year's conference! Mark your calendar... it is sure to be worth the trip. Hope to see you all there!