Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fun visits and the Turkey Day that was turkey-free

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Thanksgiving brought a fun class party at Logan’s Mom’s morning out program. But this sweet sobbing face was as good a picture as I could get. He was over it and had no use for a thanksgiving feast when he was ready for nap.

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Big Mama came to visit before Thanksgiving and we had so much fun.

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Logan loved playing at the park and showing Big Mama all around our new town.

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This is pretty much how the days went: Logan having an audience of people saying “Awww!” to his every move. Oh, well. We enjoyed spoiling him. We enjoyed playing with an early Christmas gift from Big Mama – a set of block bricks. We had a fun day at church . . .

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And then . . . the croup hit. Poor baby was super sick. We cancelled our Thanksgiving trip with the family to Gatlinburg because of the snow there and then planned a low key Turkey day at home when we realized how sick our baby boy felt. Brenda left us to go home Wednesday and then Ashley ended up coming for a visit, so she could cook for us and see her “Moosh.”

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We had a good time together, even if it wasn’t turkey and dressing but a roast in the crock pot. Who cares? We have full and thankful hearts anyway.

After Thanksgiving had come and gone, we enjoyed a couple of days of rest and getting our boy feeling better. We were ready for the first Sunday of Advent. I am excited about all the Advent and Christmas happenings this year.

Mom absolutely MADE my Christmas by sending me this homemade Advent calendar quilt. Each pocket is embroidered and holds an embroidered ornament that buttons on the tree. It took her endless hours of making this. It will be a treasure for years to come and I can’t wait to make it part of our family tradition.

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The first couple of  ‘ornaments’ even have the grandparents’ picture on fabric.

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So, so special. Let the season of celebration begin!

 

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Macon days

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We had a blast having Mimi visit us. She helped entertain Logan while I tried to decide what to unpack, what to leave boxed up and send to the basement!

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Logan is loving playing outside, and there is a big backyard here to play in.

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We also have adventures in feeding ourself. Oh my. We tend to use the yogurt as a hair conditioner rather than food, but in the end something ends up in the stomach. We got to show Mimi around Highland Hills.

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We are so blessed to have found a wonderful church here. I’ve had my Heritage folks on my heart a lot lately. Just when I was really missing my Heritage church family yesterday, we had the delight of our first Wednesday at Highland Hills. Their fellowship meal was delightful. We were ushered in by a sea of friendly faces, and Jake got Logan seated at a random table. We wondered at first why no one was sitting with us, until a sweet lady said, “You do know where you’re sitting, right?” We did not. She informed us that we were about to be overtaken by a gaggle of girls – we were sitting at the GA’s regular table. They didn’t mind and we didn’t mind (I feel like we got the cool table). So, in moments about eight 4th, 5th and 6th grade girls descended upon us and Logan was enthralled and in love! They giggled and talked and told us a thousand things. Love it! Then, at the start of the Wednesday night program, they had a young man play the piano. Beautiful! And then there was a town hall meeting for the church, where we got to hear the voices of several folks share thoughts about the church. This Sunday is “Children’s Sunday” at church, and I could not be more excited about that. I have always wanted to see that in action. Yes, last night was a delightful reminder that we have found a wonderful place here.

We also ventured out with Mimi to find the Children’s museum here.

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It was fun for Logan, as they have a nice toddler area. They are renovating, which will make it even better if we venture there again. But for Logan, they had bubbles and blocks, so what more could you really want?

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Halloween!

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We had a great, low-key Halloween.  We had a couple of boxes unpacked when Mimi came on the scene here in Macon.

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The little green frog had a great time paying with his jack-o-lantern. Really, this is all the Halloween he wanted. But we did attend his first trunk -or-treat at Highland Hills . He had a great time seeing all the new friends.

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Miss Carol, his preschool minister and Miss Ruth, his children’s minister are just awesome!

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We spent the rest of Halloween with Mimi and Aunt Ashley, showing them around town. We trick-or-treated with our sweet elderly neighbors across the street, and that was all the excitement we needed this year. 🙂 Besides, chocolate candy goes on sale the next day, so Mama was happy with that.

 

Fall Festival

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With all the move-in stuff this past week, we did get to have some fun with our new church at the Fall Festival.

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Logan tried out the bouncy house during “toddler time” and liked it. But he really like the entrance to it – his own personal slide.

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Guess which pumpkin was Logan’s favorite in the pumpkin contest?

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This pumpkin was made by our friend Rachel and Logan’s new buddy Reece. They were so sweet to welcome us to Macon with cupcakes and a special toy book for Logan. So thoughtful!

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Logan and Luke “mowed” every inch of the church’s grounds (Nathan Brandon, you’d be proud) And the ball pit was a favorite.

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Logan’s buddy Luke from Canton was there because his grandparents go to HHBC, our new church. They had a reunion.

 

 

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Such fun on our first weekend in Macon!

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Our bags are packed . . .

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All our stuff is packed, and tomorrow we leave our Canton house.  This house has been good to us.

With everything packed up, I can see all the knicks and scratches on the walls, and I know the story of every scratch. I can see the tiny holes in the closet and the one big gigantic hole in one closet where Jake had watched a little little too much HGTV with me and got a CRAZY idea about plowing through the closet under the stairs to build something. Hilarious. There may or may not still be pink duct tape over that hole.

I can see all the people who have walked through this door and made this a home with us.

When we bought this house, I sat down on the hearth and prayed that God would make this a home with a wide and generous heart, and that we could host and offer welcome to all kinds of folks. We sure did. Friends, church folks, family. Each of my siblings lived with us for one time or another; college friends would call and ask to sleep over even when we hadn’t spoken in several years. Such good times.

So many memories are tied up in this little house. Love and laughs. Bringing home our baby boy. His first steps were over there in front of the fireplace.

It’s all packed up. We know for sure that home is where our family is, and that our family is headed to a new adventure. And we are glad. But it still took my breath away to see this today.

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In the end, I guess that’s just right. Pack away all the stuff, and what you see left is faith, hope and love. We leave here with the gift of bigger faith, tremendous love and so much hope. Our friends here have gifted us with seven years worth of faith, hope and love. For that, we have full and grateful hearts. Heritage folks,  you sang your goodbye on Sunday and our hearts were so full: “Until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hand.”  We love you. We love that you have been as much home for us as these walls here.

Saying Goodbye

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This goodbye stuff is just a mess.

Our time serving at Heritage Baptist is soon finished. Tomorrow, we will say goodbye to our church family, these beloved people we have journeyed with for seven years. It’s hard to believe that we won’t be here next Sunday, sitting around coffee fellowship time telling stories, teaching, preaching, watching Logan and his buddies in the nursery. We will be starting a new journey by then. We are so glad for this next step and all the new people we will come to love at Highland Hills. But, for today, we are preparing our hearts to say goodbye.

We’ve had some really nice goodbye moments. Dinner and coffee with people we could squeeze in.  Not everyone we would like to see one last time, and that’s a little sad. But some good times these past couple of weeks, too.

My MOMS group had a little party for me at our last meeting and then a fun girls dinner out. They gave me the most beautiful memory box, filled with pictures of our times together. Those smiling faces and the memories are just treasures to me. Love them.  We got one last dinner on the “mountain” with David and Susan. Their house is like a sanctuary out by the pool, with the forest of trees in fall so absolutely beautiful. We treasure those sweet moments with them, as they prepare to do brave things, too. Our hearts are steadfast in prayer for David’s surgery soon.

My youth had our last worship together. This little band of the “coolest kids in the world” will have a piece of my heart forever.

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During that last Wednesday night, I talked to them about a lot of things. And I put each of their names on a rock. They know the meaning of this. I can only imagine the amazing things God will make of the Church through their lives. We also got to see three loves get baptized in the past few weeks. One was sweet Erica . . . she was dedicated to God on the first Sunday Jake preached at Heritage and he baptized her on one of his last Sundays.

Tomorrow, we will sing and worship and spend time with one of the best congregations I have ever heard of. These people are wonderful. Sure, we’ve had our moments. Sure, we’ve had silly discussions about church business meeting gobbledygook and little things that matter very little to the kingdom of God. But we have done good and important things about important matters, like caring for hurting people and feeding hungry children. Sure this church’s life has not always been easy. There was a season we saw church friction threaten to undo this fellowship, and our hearts broke and cried out to God for new life to flourish here. But we saw amazing life spring forth in the years that followed. We got to journey with these dear folks into something new. We have laughed more than we’ve cried here, and that’s something special in a church. We’ve walked with people through deaths, births, new journeys in their careers, crossroad moments where tremendous life change has happened and even hilarious moments  . . . like when Jake said from the Communion table, ” God breast this cup.” Yep. That happened.

We worshipped and worked here, I was ordained here, our son was dedicated here, this church prayed him into life.

So, overall, we will go into tomorrow with thankful hearts. We are thankful that God works through people like the beautiful tapestry of Heritage Baptist Fellowship.

We had a moment, just the three of us, in the sanctuary the other day. We cleaned out my office, started on Jake’s office clean out (that is a task of epic proportions) and, to tell the truth, let Logan play in the sanctuary. This was not the first time this PK has done that.  Well, this time he definitely did not take a sippy cup in the sanctuary (oops, Miss Mary) and he surely did not play with Miss Carolyn’s step stool. He definitely did not try to climb up on Miss Joan’s piano bench and he of course did not climb in and out of Mr. David’s chair on the chancel. As he rambled throughout this place, I could not help but be overwhelmed with a heart of thanks for all the people who have touched our lives, who have loved our son and who forever shaped our lives.  We are better because of you.

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I heard this song, about a tapestry, and it rings true to what we are thankful for as we worship with our Heritage family for the last time tomorrow.

“God will, He will finish what He started

No thread will be unwoven

Nothing will be left undone

Every plan and every purpose That He has will be accomplished

And God will finish what He’s begun.”

We cannot wait to see that beautiful things God will do through Heritage Baptist Fellowship.

Pumpkin Patch

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It’s finally Fall!

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In the midst of prepping for our move to Macon, we carved out a little family time. We celebrated Ashley’s birthday Friday night and she spent the night with us when I insisted she come to Yahoo Pumpkin Farm with us.

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I really like this farm because it’s smaller and space for little ones to run around, not really as crowded. We went last year with MOMS group friends and I was so excited about taking my big toddler this year. Maybe a little over excited, says Ashley’s story? Nope. Just right.

Logan was amazed by the pumpkins.

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They really have a great variety. I loved the white pumpkins and the Cinderella pumpkins.

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And we had to do the silly pictures.

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We are learning our “farm animals” sounds and so the petting zoo heard a good bit of “oink! oink!” and “Moo!” from Halls. They had actual animals, too, so we saw the ducks, turkey, goats and pony.

 

 

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And we found a slide of course. Exactly like the one at home.

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Such a fun day!!

A big move for the Halls

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So, we did the ugly cry today in church.

More me than Jake, but he had his share of tears.  These were tears of joy and thanksgiving and some sadness, too.

We shared with our church family today that Jake has accepted a call to be the Pastor of Highland Hills Baptist Church in Macon, GA. It is a wonderful church and we are thrilled to journey with them in ministry. We are very happy about this new chapter for our family.

But today was heavy with emotion.  Jake announced his resignation as Pastor and I resigned as Minister of Congregational Life. It began in sunday school when I had a heart to heart with my youth and had the “this is where I talk and you listen” moment. And I told them what I wanted to say about how proud I am of them and how I have been blessed to minister with the coolest kids in the world. And how they are just amazing.  We all had a good cry and then Brooke snapped us all back to reality with her fabulous “no filter” sensibility: “Oh my God, WHO are they going to stick us with?” Um, if anyone wants something to be said that no one else wants to say out loud, just call Brooke.

Just as we took a deep breath and got ready to make it through worship, I realized that our dear David had a lovely anthem planned that I would have to fuss at him about later: “Here I Am, Lord.”  Nicely played, David. And you thought we wouldn’t cry today. . .

This song has always been special to Jake and me, and as soon as we heard the choir sing “I will hold your people in my heart” I grabbed the tissues.

We will always hold Heritage in our hearts. This has been our home for 7 years. We have loved each other well, whether side by side in hospitals or classrooms or youth trips or home groups. We have shared life with these beloved people and we have been amazed at what God has done in and through them.  This is no small church. This is an amazing fellowship of people who see a need, jump right in and serve, and then look around and say, “Oh, that was a pretty big challenge to tackle. Now, what’s next?”

What’s next for Heritage is going to be just as amazing.  As Jake said today, he can’t wait to see what minister will be lucky enough to serve this church. (Brooke, no worries, you won’t be “stuck” with anyone. You will be blessed by a person uniquely called and gifted to lead an amazing congregation)

We leave this church with so much love and thankfulness. This church has been a home for us. We are thankful for the journey over these many years and we are stepping forward with trust in the One who can do exceedingly more than all we ask or imagine.

 

Knee Deep in the Water Somewhere . . .

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Oh, how I wish I was knee deep in the water somewhere . . . like we were last week.

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We had a fabulous family week at the beach with the Robinson fam at Myrtle Beach. Lots of stories, some of which are told here, in true Ashley fashion. All true, and hilarious.

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My parents got a condo at the beach and our only task was to figure out the means to get there. For us, that meant hauling half the house and the boy into the car, for Ash that meant throwing three items in a bag and stowing away in our van for the 20 million hour drive, and for Bryan, that meant flying in from NYC. Lordy.

But we’re glad we did. Good, good times.

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For the first day on the seashore, Logan was . . . unconvinced. He was not altogether sure this whole sand and salt water and blazing sun thing was a good idea. Not at all. Add to that a good bit of sunscreen in his eye, and he was LESS than pleasant. Which pleased his Dad just fine, because Jake is just fine to sit on the ocean-front deck and listen to the ocean rather than deal with sand.

But by the next morning we were all happy. I eased him in, and let the waves splash our toes and he loved the beach as much as his Mama! And I do LOVE the beach.

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We set up a mini village of chairs, umbrella, and STUFF for the day and had a blast.

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One of his favorite activities was running to “find” a shell. I’d say “take it to Mimi” and he would run to carry it back to Mimi’s chair.

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Run is the key word here . . . We got a work out chasing this little man across the Carolina shores. He loved chasing the sea gulls, and would take off, arms spread, yelling “Aughhhhh!!” at the “bird! bird!”  He also loved sitting at the water’s edge playing in the sand.

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We did a little shopping, of course, at Broadway, and experienced fabulous people watching. Of course, we probably WERE the people that others were watching, too.

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Yep. We’re that cool.

And, of course, we had to celebrate Jake’s birthday. For his party at the beach, we had a delicious homemade meal and a cake made by the talented baker, Bryan Robinson.

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That would be three layers of chocolate-peanut butter goodness, thank you very much. Amazing! Happy birthday Jake!

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Good times with the family – we don’t get to see each other enough!

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Ahh, the beach.

Until next year . . .

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(Tiny Logan foot inside big Jake foot)

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Thank you, God!

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So, I have about a million pictures of summer fun I want to upload and share. But, first, tonight I want to share our dinner moment.

I learned this afternoon that my friend, Gwen Brown, passed away today. She was an amazing lady who I appreciated in so many ways.  I knew her through Baptist Women in Ministry, and she was a Baptist pastor.  A great one. I always admired her style, gracious ways and her kindness to me. She was a class act.

So, at our dinner table, we have tried to practice little rituals as we make family moments with Logan. We sing our blessing at meals (the “Super Man” prayer song, thank you very much). And over the past week or so we have added a new little something. We light a candle, a way to mark dinner together as a stop-everything-and-sit-for-a-minute-and-shut-up-and-be-thankful-even-though-your-day-has-been-crazy moment. And, it fascinates Logan and makes him chill out while we cut his chicken. It’s not a silver candelabra, mind you. It’s a vanilla candle, sitting on a silly pink plate. But I like it.  Sometimes, as we sing the blessing song, complete with motions, Logan dies laughing, and sometimes we insert a family member’s name instead of food (“Thank you GOD, for giving us Big Mama!”)

Tonight, we spread our little dinner, lit our little candle and sang “Thank you God, for giving us Gwen! For the friends we love and the lives they lead, thank you God. Amen!” Yep, Logan clapped his little hands and I cried. But I like to think this made God and Gwen smile.

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Thank you, God, for giving us Gwen.