Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In My Head

Since I have had so much going through my head over the past several weeks (and longer), I decided to lump them all together in an end-of-the-year-beginning-of-the-new-year-pre-wedding blog. So, here's what's in my head:

1. I'm getting married tomorrow!
2. I don't have everything done that I wanted to get done, but I have enough done to get by.
3. I really need to be packing right now instead of blogging.
4. I wonder if my bag will be big enough for the honeymoon, or if I should pack the bigger one.
5. I hit a deer.
6. I hope I can find some cuff links before the wedding.
7. I'm really ready to get this over with.
8. I mean it was last week, and I barely even felt it, but that deer jacked up Spot pretty good. The deer feels nothing now, though.
9. Do I have enough underwear?
10. Spot is my truck's name. He needs a new headlight.
11. Happy New Year!
12. What the crap?!?!?! I'm getting married tomorrow!!!!! (It's okay. Just breathe. Don't hyperventilate. Just breathe.)

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Friday, December 26, 2008

This Christmas

This Christmas is different for me than any other Christmas in my 32 years on this planet. Several reasons. First, it’s my first Christmas with my future (in one week!) in-laws. I never imagined being this close to marriage a year ago, but it’s something that God has done in my life and I’m thankful. Second, it’s my first Christmas outside of Texas (that I know of). It’s odd how traditions are so easily broken when there’s a good reason. I believe that if I had gone to Texas this Christmas, I’d come back to Tennessee more broke than I already am. Providence. Third, it’s my first Christmas in which I don’t get to see my Dad. I’ve always been able to see him on or around Christmas day, but I won’t get to see him until probably April (God willing) because of low fundage, wedding preparation, moving, and plenty of other reasons. I’ll admit. I was really upset when I first realized I wouldn’t see my Dad anymore this year, but I found hope. I found hope in the work I’ve been able to do with the church. Every year, the church where I work does a food / clothing / toy giveaway called “Christmas Blitz” and it was started several years ago by the late Tommy Gill. Shortly before he died, he told me, “Do good things for people and good things will happen for you.” Very similar to a Bible verse that says, “Give and it will be given to you.” That’s what Christmas Blitz is all about. We gather up food, clothing and toys, box it up, and deliver it to area families who are struggling. Some have a little food to get them through the holidays. Some have nothing at all. Steph and I met an elderly couple who is taking care of 2-year-old twin girls who were born prematurely and have had health problems all their lives. That’s got to be nightmarish at times. I can’t imagine being in that situation. But God is faithful. He brought them more than enough food to get through the holiday season, as well as some great toys and gifts for the girls. It reminds me to count my blessings daily. I may have gotten tons of stuff for Christmas. I may have gotten nothing material for Christmas. I’m not discussing that with people. What I will discuss, though, are the huge blessings I received from people who allowed us to give them hope for the holidays and a sense of joy and family. How many people do we know who have no hope or joy or peace or family? You might be surprised when you think about it. So, as we reflect on Christmas time, let’s reflect on the joy that comes from giving and from family. Let’s be in constant prayer for those who can’t be with family or loved ones this holiday season, especially our troops. Blessings to you all, and don’t forget…


Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Special Needs

Some of you (now, all of you) know that I used to drive school buses when I was in college in Texas. One of the greatest privileges I ever had was driving special needs buses. I know. You can joke all you want about me having been the driver of the "short bus" (but should've been one of the passengers), but I found that one of the most honorable jobs I've ever had was getting to serve children and young adults with special needs. Of course, I was a bit nervous when I started monitoring and driving those buses. Who wouldn't be. The difference, though, is that I learned very quickly that people with special needs are still people. Some of them are physically challenged, some have psychological hinderances, some simply think and act on a much younger maturity level than that of their age. Whatever the case, these kids really are special.

For example, I was monitoring one morning when we picked up one of our autistic passengers. This child was quite large for his age and a little on the mischievous side. This particular morning, I had a candy bar open and sitting on my seat next to me. When we loaded this passenger, my chips were still where I had left them. I got his seat belt fastened and turned around to answer a question the driver had asked me. When I turned around, my candy bar was gone! I looked at the culprit just in time to watch him scarf down the last bite of chocolaty goodness... the chocolate bar I had paid 65 of my hard-earned cents for! We got a good laugh out of that one.

On a different bus that I drove, I had a brother-sister combo who rode to school together. The brother was a few years older than the sister and wasn't in the special needs program, nor did he need to be. It was the sister who needed the special attention, so he rode to school and home with her to help her out. She used a walker and had a lot of trouble speaking. I believe she had some sort of palsy. Either way, they picked on each other a lot, as all good siblings should. One day, the brother was picking on his little sister so much that she got sick of it and threatened to hit him over the head with her walker... and she would've done it, too! I think the only thing that stopped her from trying to knock him out was her seat belt!

The thing that really changed my heart about special needs kids, though, was a kid who suffered with severe mental retardation. He couldn't speak, could barely walk, had to wear a helmet because his motor skills weren't always reliable. He was (and still is) an amazing child. I guess he's probably over 21 years of age now, although his mind is still that of an infant. The thing that got to me was the driver who was driving when I first met this passenger. Since the passenger had trouble walking, I, as monitor, had to get out of the bus and help his mom or brother or other family member get him into the bus. He would sit there in silence all the way to school. Then the driver and I would team up to help him off the bus. One day the driver, his name is Dave, said something that I'll never forget. He looked up in the mirror at this particular rider and said "I wonder what goes through his mind all day."

I wonder what goes through our minds all day. Do we spend the majority of our day griping and whining about how bad the world is to us, or do we try to think of ways to be good to the world? Do we think about the impure images we're constantly bombarded with, or do we seek redeemed images of our spouse, or better yet, images of our Savior? Do we waste our time worrying about the money we don't have so we can buy the stuff we don't need and then worry about the money we don't have, or do we count our blessings, thanking God for being all we need?

We're all children with special needs in one way or another. The One who meets all our needs made us special.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate