Thursday, December 24, 2009

Joy comes in the morning... which is Christmas!!

I think I have gotten into a bad habit with blog... I take weeks off then think of a million things to write about... okay, so tonight's it two or three...

I have been doing a pretty good job at being positive and happy about Christmas rather than sad... so far, only when people are super nice and say things like -"I'll be thinking/praying/etc... for you as you go through this Christmas Season, I know it's going to be hard/sad/difficult/different/etc... this year" - that's when I get emotional, though I know people are just being nice and I am thankful for their support.

However, here's my thought that occured to me a few days ago that is making me happy...

Celebrating the birth of our Lord on earth is great... we have a good time with family, gets some presents, eat alot, and try our best to remember the true Reason for the Season. But Daddy's at the actual Birthday Party!! Celebrating with the Guest of Honor, and it's a party I've already RSVP'd for, one day.
I just keep trying to imagine what it's like... I love Christmas decorations, it's truly one of the simple pleasures of Christmas to me to just lay on the couch and enjoy the lights of the tree. Can you fathom the decorations in Heaven??!!? I guess they probably don't need twinkle lights when the Light of the World is present, but hey... it's a vision right?! I just know Daddy's having a good time... he's one of those multitudes of heavenly hosts singing...
" Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth,
peace and goodwill toward men!" (Luke 2:14)
Daddy wrote a song once called, From the Cradle to the Cross... I wanted to share it with whoever may be reading... because it's appropriate for this time of year:
He was born in a stable, in the town of Bethlehem,
No one knew he was a king, but those who worshipped him,
As the stars shone bright that night, the angels sang on high,
And as his Mother held him close, she knew he came to die.
As he grew up in Bethlehem, folks all knew him well,
Joseph’s boy was learning fast, and they thought they could tell,
That someday when he was a man, he would build things too.
They never knew who he really was, or what he came to do.
From his cradle, to his cross, the Savior came to die,
As he drew in his last breath, all of heaven cried,
Three days later, he rose up and conquered death for good,
And someday he’s coming back, just like he said he would.
He surprised all of the town, when he laid down his tools,
Then he picked out a dozen men, he could teach his rules.
No one thought he could be God’s one and only Son,
And that when he rose up again, Our victory was won.
As I was looking for the words to that song on the computer, I found this poem. It all stemmed from a question I asked daddy before last Christmas... I wonder what Jesus said when He hit his finger with a hammer (I mean, he was a carpenter, it was bound to happen). This poem is the result:

I’ve often wondered what Jesus said when he hit his finger with a maul
Drivin’ nails in his Daddy’s shop in his little boy overalls.
And when he went outside to play, what his Mama said to him,
Did she say you’d better behave or I’ll cut me a limb.

I know it may sound right funny to some if I think about these things
But I know sometime in his early life he had to kinda be like me.
For the Bible says that he knew what it was, to be just like all of us
So when he was a kid, he probably stood still and listen to his mother fuss

And I bet he had some friends that were prone to do things wrong,
And just like me he’d probably get scared and remember what he learned at home.
Now I just wish sometimes that I could see him there
Playing in the streets of his home town, and how he took a dare.

Did he ever get in trouble like I have been just for being there
When some other kid misbehaved, and how much was he scared.
I’ll know he must have always been a really, really good kid
And probably didn’t do a lot of things that some of his little friends did.

What about all those times, when his little friends wanted too
Do some things or go some place that he knew better than to do.
I’ll bet they called him names, and laughed at him, just like they’ve done to me
But he didn’t give in, he stuck it out, and he did that all for me.

I know the stories that I’ve been taught ‘bout when Jesus was a man
But I still wonder about what type of kid, played in Nazereth’s sand.
Cause you see I’m just a kid, and I’d like to understand,
What kind of child my Jesus was,
I already know the man.

I leave in less than two weeks... and am really excited. I've been reading the "Message for the Mission" book that my team was sent by the organization we are traveling with and it has really been speaking to me in alot of ways... here are a few:

- I'm not the leader of this trip, God is.

- God's plans will work out, even if mine (ours) don't.

- Every interaction is an impact (on me or them)...

- I will become emotionall involved in the lives of these kids... get ready to deal with the results.

- The good and the bad, the ultimate result is God's glory and our joy.

- Don't sweat the small stuff... (someone wrote a book on that, didn't they?)

- Pray - alot and often for my team, the people we will meet, safety, and God's will.

Joy comes in the Morning:

One of the statements in the booklet I am reading to prep for the trip was this:

"I think about how God has a plan for everyone... for the orphans and for me. I often grieve for their unfortunate situation, and then I think about the losses in my life. This is the place that I am reminded that God can always made something good out of the hurts, pains and hardship, just as He makes good things from the joys and happiness in our lives. (Lyndee K., Buckner Missions)"

When I read this... God really just placed a hope in my heart. For two things really...

1) I'm not an orphan, and never will be... but I know what it's like to lose/be without a parent. Now granted, I'm 26 and these kids are 0-18... but in some way I know what it's like, it's not the same... but God is showing me that through my tragedy... He's giving me one more opportunity to relate to someone else... so my negative is becoming a positive.

2) When reading that statement from Lyndee... I just kept thinking about that Psalm that says "Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5) There's a song that is based on this verse called 'My Redeemer Lives'... and as I think of that song, and think of that verse... there's a little shot of hope running through me... I kept reading through that Psalm and came to 30:11... beside which I wrote "I WANT THIS!!" in big letters in the margin of my bible. "You have turned for me my mourning into dancing..."
Oh Lord... I pray that You will help me to dance and look forward to tomorrow in the days ahead. Thank you for giving me the opportunities and people to steer me toward that Joy and please Lord, Please keep putting those reasons for Joy in my path for they make each day a little easier...

Happy Birthday Jesus and Merry Christmas to Y'all,

Sunday, December 6, 2009

An update - Long time coming...

So it has been a long time since I signed on to the blog... frankly it's been a while since I thought about it. But in the last few weeks it's been on my mind a lot. I guess for a while there I just was not getting much inspiration, but after a couple of reminders and words of encouragement from some wonderful people (Aunt Lanell and Russ) I have a variety of things to share... things I've seen happening in my life and others lately... as well as some concerns and prayer requests... so here we go:

Prayers of Thanksgiving:

About two weeks before Thanksgiving Pawpaw Cole was taken to the hospital with some serious stomach trouble... a week before Thanksgiving he had surgery to remove 3 masses which turned out to be colon cancer. In the days before his surgery I had lots of conversations with God... at one point I think I was trying to bargain with Him (though I have learned that bargaining with God is not really a smart thing to do... your fall farther when things don't work quite like you want them to) so that my family would not have to deal with another tragedy this year... but after I thought about what I was asking God, I realized it was the wrong perspective on the situation. Instead of asking God to not allow something bad to happen, I began to ask him to allow something good to happen. Considering the time of year, my prayer became one of hope - that God would give us something tangible to be joyful and thankful about. I'm always thankful for His provisions and His grace... but to have someone I can hold up and on to and rejoice in their recovery with was a pure prayer of my heart, and God answered it with more blessings than I asked for. I asked God to get Pawpaw through his surgery and help him to feel better... (as my family knows) He not only got Pawpaw through surgery, He did it without him having to go to ICU and be on a ventilator longer than normal and with his doctor saying he felt confident he removed all the colon cancer. He did it with Pawpaw coming home less than a week after his surgery and with his attitude being back to normal. If you know my grandfather then there is no doubt in my mind that you have been touched by him... through his generosity, through his encouragement, his service, or maybe even a piece of bubble gum. I know God didn't save Pawpaw Cole for me or my family... He did it for the inspiration that Pawpaw is for others.

Pawpaw has been home for over a week and his progress amazes me. I've figured out you can judge it by how far he walks in a day. His first day home, less than 12 hours after being out of the hospital, Pawpaw decided to go for a walk to the barn (pictured above after a recent snow!) on Thanksgiving morning. He told me when I came to see him that, "someone has moved my barn." His walk evidently was much farther than usual... and his comments made me laugh! However, when I talked to him today he told me that he had walked up to where the old block house used to be and cracked two or three dozen pecans... that's some progress!! God is so good... and I'm thankful He's given us some great joy to round out this year of much sorrow.

Being a Good Neighbor

When I was home for Thanksgiving break, I spent about 75% of it with Pawpaw and Mawmaw Cole at their house. I started writing this observation one night after an encounter with Pawpaw...

So I am spending the night with Mawmaw and Pawpaw, and like clockwork at 11pm Pawpaw woke up to eat a peanut butter sandwhich. I can remember him doing this when I was a kid as well, and it brought back alot of great memories. We sat and talked for a while and he told me some new stories that I have never heard (which is unusual with Pawpaw, he likes to repeat stories) of things he had done for neighbors.

  • His old neighbor across the street was going to move in a trailer as he was building his house and once Pawpaw helped him mark out the area he was going to put the trailer, the neighbor left and Pawpaw went to get his lawnmower. While the neighbor was gone, Pawpaw mowed the entire area around the markings of the trailer for two reasons. 1) that ___ grass (I forgot the kind of grass he said) could catch fire under the house, and 2) well, it was the neighborly thing to do. The neighbor, of course, was surprised and thankful and told all his friends about his nice new neighbor.

  • Years later, around the same area... there were some new neighbors who paid a man to cut their grass, and it's a heck of a lot of grass. Pawpaw and Mawmaw were sitting on the porch one day and were watching the "mexican" man cut their grass (I put it in quotes... because to Pawpaw and most other people in my family, anyone who looks hispanic is "mexican."). It was about 100 degrees that day and one of the summer rain showers had started and the man had been mowing for a long time. Pawpaw had to run to the store, so while he was there he picked up a root beer for the man on the lawnmower. By the time he had gotten back home, the rain had stopped but the man was still mowing, soaking wet in the hot sun. Pawpaw walked over to were he was and said hello and asked him how he was... just neighborly chit chat. He had the root beer in his back pocket so the man wouldn't see it. Pawpaw asked him if he was thirsty and if he could get him anything to drink, and of course the man said no. But pawpaw took the root beer out of his back pocket and gave it to the man who drank most of it in one swig... as long as the man worked for the neighbors, he always waved and said hey to "Mr. Cole.

Listening to these stories, that I am sure are a few of many reminded me of what a leader Pawpaw is. I think alot like Daddy (who didn't really think he was a leader of others) Pawpaw is a great servant leader, which in my mind is the most important type of leadership. I think if you asked most anyone in the Midway community who Claude Cole is... they would know, because he is loved and respected by many.


One of the things I love about my job is serving others, college students specifically, who need encouragement and guidance as they learn and grow... if that wasn't true, I wouldn't be writing this blog at 12:31 am in the Cafeteria, where I'll be till 3am so that the students have another place to study. God has given me a great opportunity this year, one that I am excited about because it's going to benefit alot of people. I have mentioned before that I am going to Guatemala in January. I'll be taking a team of 10 students to Huehuetenango Guatemala... we leave ATL on January 5 and return on the 18th. As I was explaining to one of my team members yesterday, I am excited about the renewal that I am praying this trip brings to me and my heart. In a year when my heart has been broken through sorrow... I want it now to be broken with love and compassion and praise and thanksgiving. I have not really talked to my team much about Daddy's death... in fact I think only a handful of them know. This group of students I'll be traveling with... I don't know them all so well... but I love 'em already. They are all different and bring different things to the table... but they want many of the same things out of this trip: adventure, a chance to share and show the love of Christ, new friends, new perspectives, and a chance to make a difference. I am so thankful and excited about this opportunity...I'm doing my best not to stress and accept things as they come. As a team, we've only had 4 meetings... at none of those meetings has every single team member been present. Our first meeting with everyone will be IN Guatemala... but I know God will give us the guidance and discernment that we need in order to perform the tasks He will have us do.

Prayer Requests:

  • the Guatemala mission trip and the team from Samford. Pray for guidance and discernment and compassion for all of us. I wanted to list the names of the team so that you can pray for them individually. Also, we have a group on facebook "Guatemala - Jan Term '10" if you want to follow us. Team members are: Laren Lewis, Lauren Malone, Lauren Sharpe, Rebecca Price, Rachel Newman, Ryann Headley, Mary Baggett, Meredith Toering, Maddie Taylor, Julian Hollan, Jeremy Copeland (representative from Buckner International... the organization we are traveling with), and me.

  • Pawpaw's continued recovery...

  • recognize the opportunities God gives me for joy

  • My future... I am still feeling unsettled about where to go and am looking for jobs... please pray for God's guidance in His plan for my future.

  • For my family, especially my mom... as enter this Christmas season. It's going to be sad and I know it, but please pray that we will receive God's comfort when we need it.

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So I guess this is it for this entry... I've been reading a book lately about the Holy Spirit (Forgotten God by Frances Chan) as well as am starting some weekly devotional material with my Guatemala team. My prayer is that as I study those materials that God will give me things to share with you... whoever it is that may be reading this, and that it may bring some comfort and joy to you as it does to me in writing.

Love and God Bless, KC