Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Call for Cans

I am so excited to be a part of LaGrange College's Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society this year. Like many other locations across the country, LaGrange and Troup County always participate in Relay for Life, but this year, LaGrange College is holding its own Relay.

As is customary at most Relay for Life events, luminaries will be made available for purchase either in honor or in memory of someone who is/was directly affeced by cancer. The luminaries line the path on which many will walk together as a symbol of unity- and hopefully as a symobl of the upcoming cure for this horrible disease! Typically, luminaries are made out of bags and can be purchased for varying amounts of money. Because LaGrange College is a sustainable institution, doing its part to recycle and help raise awareness towards lifesaving efforts for the environment, we are this year making our luminaries out of soup and vegetable cans. Would you be willing to start saving your cans for us? Relay for Life LC is April 17th, so we have a few months, but are hoping to save as many cans as possible. Becuase of the reduced price of the luminaries, we expect to need a large number of cans, so any you are willing to save will be so helpful! Of course, if you'd like to donate in honor or in memory of a loved one, I'll gratefully accept any donations.

My family and I will be donating in honor of my grandfather, who thankfully is finishing up his chemo in the next couple of weeks after a surgery to remove some cancerous colon polyps last July. We will also donate in memory of Garrett's grandmother, who fought to the end against a brain tumor; my cousin, Robert Whatley, who bravely fought much longer than doctors gave him time for against Multipe Myloma and lost his battle last August; and in memory of Mrs. Sharon Niedrach, who lost an incredibly hard battle against pancreatic cancer just last week. These people are true heroes of the faith, and of the fight against this horrible disease. We will donate our money and our efforts to Relay for Life in hopes of finding a cure- preferrably in our lifetime, but surely in Saralynn's generation. It can be done, and with your help, the fight against cancer will rage on.

I urge you to consider being a part of your local Relay for Life in some way, but if you can't, please consider a donation of some sort. Yes, it's true that teams will "compete" for donations, but it's all done in the name of the American Cancer Society and all funds raised go directly towards research and upcoming erradication of cancer!

Thank you in advance for your help, not only with your monetary donations, but your time, your cans, and most importantly, your prayers. On the subject of prayer, I would love to pray for those of you that have loved ones suffering from cancer. I'd also love to hear stories of those that have gone on to the Eternal Home after bravely fought battles. Would you leave comments and share with me? I look forward to reading and praying!

Intentionally,
Mary Beth

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Only at OUR House...

You may remember that Pop gave Saralynn (and her Uncle Matthew- they have joint-custody) a kitty for Christmas. The kitty's name is Muffin. Well, it was until today. Muffin went for her surgery this morning to ensure that we don't have any McMuffins running around... And, well... The vet informed Matthew that Muffin is a he, and not a she as we originally were told. She was adopted from the Humane Society and has been to the vet numerous times, but we didn't find out until today that she is indeed a HE. Wow.

So, we are on the hunt for a food-related name that begins with the letter M. Macaroni (Mac for short), Mustard, Mole (short for Guacamole) are some that have been considered. Thoughts anyone???

And, while you're at it, any thoughts on how to get a two year old to change a kitty's name?

Intentionally shaking my head, (hey-wouldn't you, too? Only in my world...)
Mary Beth

Friday, February 20, 2009

An Awesome Picture in My Mind's Eye

The post that I knew would come, but that still takes my breath as I type...

Mrs. Sharon Neidrach went to be with Jesus a little bit ago.  Her legacy will live on for so many years through her children and her grandchildren and those of us she adopted as her own through our growing-up years.  There are many people in my life that have shaped me into who I am today, and Mrs. Neidrach is one of those people.  Though she was, maybe, a quiet force in my life, she was nonetheless very much a force in my life.  As I read on the internet the other day, she always had dirty knees.  Why?  Because she was on them praying for us as we traveled down the road life had for us, and for that I am a better person.  

Thank you, Mrs. Neidrach, for the force you were, no, ARE, in my life.  Though you are watching me from your Heavenly Home now, I know that you are still watching over all of us, praying us through this craziness called life.  I am honored to be one of those you dirtied your knees for and only hope to live up to the prayers you prayed over me.  I promise to tell my daughter about you and the tenderness with which you loved us and taught us, and I promise to honor my mother the way you always asked us to.  

Thank you, Mr. Bob, Amy, Wendy, Jim, and Nancy, for sharing your beautiful wife and mother with us.  Amy and Wendy, thank you for being such the great role models that you are in my life.  Wendy, thank you for the line dancing lessons at Camp Cherokee.  Amy, thank you for being the best 9th grade homeroom teacher on your stage in your classroom that anyone could've asked for.  Nancy, thank you for teaching me what it means to appreciate a mother that prays continually for her child.  Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to pray for you over the years, and for allowing me to watch your mother pray, too.  Jim, thanks for being the model of what a great man of God should be when I looked for someone to marry- I always said I wanted to marry someone big and strong like Jim.  Mr. Bob, thank you for sharing your wife and your family with us over the years.  Thank you for joining Mrs. Sharon in prayer for all of us.  Thank you for the force that you are in my brother's life now.  

Now, to the title of the post...  It wasn't that long ago, August 10, 2008 to be exact, that my cousin Robert Whatley went to be with Jesus.  His pathway home?  Multiple Myloma- another form of that horrible disease we call cancer.  But, like Mrs. Neidrach, he fought the good fight- and he, like she did, fought it well past when the doctors said he would.  He heard the words a few months ago that she hears now, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."  Now, tonight, as our hearts ache here on earth, Robert just walked alongside Jesus and welcomed Mrs. Neidrach Home.  

When there are no words of my own, I echo these, the words to a God-breathed worship song:

There is Love, that came for us
Humbled to a sinner's cross
You broke my shame and sinfulness
You rose again, victorious!

Faithfulness none can deny
Through the storm and through the fire
There is truth that sets me free
Jesus Christ who lives in me.

You are stronger, You are stronger
Sin is broken, You have saved me.
It is written, Christ is risen,
Jesus, You are Lord of all.

No beginning and no end
You're my hope and my defense
You came to seek and save the lost
You paid it all upon the cross.

You are stronger, You are stronger
Sin is broken, You have saved me.
It is written, Christ is risen, 
Jesus, You are Lord of all.

So let Your name be lifted higher,
Be lifted higher, be lifted higher!

You are stronger!

Tonight, I choose to focus on the fact that Jesus is stronger than any hurt, grief, or confusion we may feel.  He's even stronger than any rejoicing we express that she isn't hurting any more, or any excitement that we feel that she's finally Home.  Thank You, Jesus, for being stronger than we are!

Welcome Home, Mrs. Neidrach.  Your fight is over, and your prize is there for the claiming!

Intentionally,
Mary Beth

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fishies and Such

Yesterday was a FABULOUS day for the Pelts! We went to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. We were going to go to the Pine Mountain Wild Animal Safari, but it was cold and the folks at the safari told us the animals don't come out when it's cold, so we opted instead for the aquarium. Saralynn of late is borderline obsessed with seahorses, so when we told her we were going to see fish and whales and..., she asked "seahorses?" Wow.

We had an eventful travel to Atlanta, filled with a horrible wreck in front of us that caused Garrett to get out of the car on the interstate and help an unconscious woman whose car was filling with smoke. Thankfully, she regained consciousness as the HERO unit arrived, but I was so proud of him for wanting to help. He said to me, "If it weren't for Saralynn being in the car, I would get out and help." Then he said, "I just can't leave that lady!" So, with Saralynn and I safely parked in the farthest lane closest to the wall, and 3 lanes of traffic blocked so that no one could get through anyway, he jumped out and went into rescue mode. Not too many people would've done that in downtown Atlanta, so I had to brag on my Sweetie for a minute...

I'll get some pictures up soon... Garrett sent me some but they aren't cooperating...

Oh, yeah, speaking of Garrett and pictures, he has a blog! Yippee! Check it out http://web.me.com/ghpelt.

Intentionally Grateful for Little Blessings,
Mary Beth

Friday, February 13, 2009

Looking Forward to the Weekend

Garrett and I are taking Saralynn to her Nana and Paw Paws' house tonight and celebrating our Valentine's Day with dinner in Newnan. Tomorrow morning my dad and I are giving devotions for the Upward Basketball games at church. Sunday will surely be a great day at church, and then we all have Monday off. I know I mentioned this in an earlier post, but I'm still very excited! I hope you all have a great weekend, too!



Intentionally,

Mary Beth

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gettin' Sick and Other Random Thoughts

I woke up this morning at 6:00 am like I do every weekday morning and went upstairs.  I'm usually one of the last to get a shower in the mornings since I can be the latest in to work.  Most mornings I doze off again once I get upstairs, and I did this morning, too.  My mom comes in the room to tell me that Saralynn is sick.  Yummy.  Poor Mimi caught the wrath of the yuckies first hand.  I contemplate my options and decided to keep Saralynn at home today.  I called day care at 6:30 expecting to leave a message but instead talked to Ms. Sandra, who told me that indeed a stomach virus was running rampant through the day care.  Perfect.  So much for Mom's intuition that it might be the phlegm she seems to be struggling with.  Back upstairs armed with grape Pedialyte and a fresh pair of pajamas I go.  I had stripped my parent's bed and thrown in yucky PJs (along with the TV remote) to wash.  Just fabulous.  I get upstairs just in time to help my poor, helpless 2-year-old struggle to understand what is happening.  I'm hungry, I'm sleepy."  Poor thing didn't know what was happening but knew it wasn't normal.  Oh, how right you were, Sweet Girl.  Mommy is supposed to be able to fix it, but in that moment, all I could do was move her hair out of her face.  That helpless feeling is one I don't want again for a while...

After 3 naps and almost a full bottle of Pedialyte later, I think we're ready to go back to school tomorrow.  It is, after all, her Valentine's Day party, and that cannot be missed.  She told me so.  "I go my party, Mommy.  It's 'portant."  I hear ya, Baby!  She's going to stay with Nana and Paw Paw in Jonesboro this weekend and Garrett and I are going to dinner at Mama Lucia's in Newnan tomorrow night since he has to work the night shift Saturday.  Yippee.  Don't get me wrong- I'm grateful for his job, but I don't like night shift.  Then we'll do church on Sunday, and the 3 of us will have a family day on Monday.  That, my friends, deserves a celebration all its own.  I am so excited!!!  Shhh... don't tell Saralynn- we want it to be a secret- but we're hoping to go to the Wild Animal Park on Monday.  Hopefully there will be some cute pictures to share!  

Until then, in case I don't get back on the blog, Happy Valentine's Day everyone!  Take time to spend with those you love, and be INTENTIONAL about it.  I know I will...

Intentionally, 
Mary Beth

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Hound of Heaven

Another of Dave's illustrations from this weekend was a reference to God being the Hound of Heaven. Maybe you've heard this before, but I had not that I recall. He talked about Jesus sniffing us out wherever we are and calling us back to Himself when we've gone astray. I just pictured a dog on a mission and it made me smile. When a dog wants to find something, it doesn't stop until it's found what it's looking for. Whether it be a ball or a snack or a stick, in that moment, finding said item is the dog's only mission- the only item on it's agenda. God is the same way. When He sets His eyes on us (and thank heaven He does), He runs hard after us, and doesn't stop trying to reach us until He succeeds. He never quits- always perseveres. It's us that give up on Him. But, thankfully, no matter how we may try to run or hide, He knows us well enough to track us down. When a dog is given a piece of clothing or something with a person's scent and is commanded to find the person, it runs feverishly, but so meticulously sniffs and searches. And, then what does it do when it finds what it's looking for? It whimpers and barks. Not exactly what Jesus does, but the dog makes it known that it's found what it's looking for. Just imagine the cheer in Heaven when Jesus is able to pierce a heart that accepts Him- much more than whimpering- more like shouting!

Thank You, Jesus for sniffing me out. Sometimes, because of the sin I find myself in time and time again, I'm sure my scent is less than desirable, but because You created me, You know exactly where I am and I am familiar to You. Thank You for never leaving me and for tirelessly pursuing me. Hound of Heaven, thank You for being faithful!

Intentionally,
Mary Beth

Monday, February 9, 2009

Recalled

I didn't update during the weekend like I'd hoped to, but alas, I am here.  In a word, DiscipleNow 2009...

ROCKED!!!

We had the absolute, most amazing weekend ever.  I was ever so blessed to be placed at the home of Stu and Wendy Marshall with the coolest 10th grade girls on the planet.  Allison, Taylor, Katherine, Tori, Anna, Savannah, and Jennifer are the most fabulous girls ever!  Not one time was there any drama, no fights, nothing but pure fun and awesome fellowship.

As mentioned earlier, we were led during the weekend by Dave Rhodes and Casey Darnell and band.  Chad outdid himself in finding the best worship leaders I think I've ever experienced.  I've been a part of DNows every year since I was in the 7th grade, so that's alot of leaders, but I'm serious.  God ordained these guys.  It's just obvious.  Dave had a way of communicating that felt like I was the only one in the room he was talking to.  Plus, him using my favorite passage of scripture (the story of Jesus telling the disciples to throw their net on the other side of the boat and they'd catch fish) did wonders, too.  From a leadership standpoint, it was the smoothest DNow ever to lead.  Usually the small group discussions and the corporate sessions compliment one another.  This year they were the same.  We had questions to discuss in small groups, but they were really all what Dave had already gone over in our big group setting.  Casey has one of the most effortlessly beautiful voices I have ever heard.  To one day have the chance to sing on stage with him as we sing to the Creator would be a dream come true for me.  And his "mini-sermons" between songs Ias my girls called them) were amazing, too.

Perhaps my favorite analogy of the weekend came on Saturday morning (I think).  Dave talked, basically, about how firemen use controlled burns as a way to combat wildfires.  At first, I wasn't sure I followed, but God allowed my heart to camp on it a little more, and I think I get it now.  A few months back, California was absolutely crippled by wildfires, and I heard many reports of the firemen creating controlled burns to try and stop the wildfires from spreading.  I'm not the brightest bulb in the box, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought that was absolutely the craziest thing I'd ever heard.  Why in the world would they create more work for themselves and waste their time creating a fire that took their efforts away from trying to control the one that was already out of control?  So counterproductive.  So stupid, to put it bluntly.  Why?  Because.  If an area of land had already been burned by fire, when the fire that was coming towards it got there, it wouldn't burn as rapidly because it would've already been ravaged by the fire that was perfectly set.  The fuel for the fire that was coming would be lessened because that piece of land had already experienced the fire and was ready for it.  Sweet mercy, what a concept for me to have learned.  How many times in my life have I been standing still watching a fire come my way?  Knowing it's coming and not being able to do anything about it... wondering how long I'll be able to stand the temperature...  But, now, I see things differently.  I can do something about the fire that's coming towards me, because I've already walked through it- I've survived it- I've been burned already, so when the fire arrives, I won't be consumed because I've been weathered for it- I've already been prepared.  God, being the all-knowing Creator that He is, allowed me to be charred up a little back that one other time so that I'm not consumed now.  Thank You, Jesus, that You're able to, in love, be burned a little along the way, so that we aren't consumed when the fire finally gets to us.  Thank You for controlling the fire.  

I've always been fascinated by fire.  Not in a pyro-always-have-to-have-a-flame-in-my-hand kind of way, but I love references in scripture to fire (think Moses and a burning bush), and I love quotes about fire (I'll attempt one here)...  "Light yourself on fire with the flames of passion so that others stop and watch you burn"- Carl Spurgeon.  I know that's not quite right- I'll find it later and repost, but I'm on a roll (no pun intended).  

Chad, thank you for the opportunity to serve.  It's not a calling I take lightly, but it is a calling on my life, and I look forward to it every year.  Thank you for your service to us and to the Savior.  Many people's lives were changed this weekend through your leadership.  Stu and Wendy, thank you for opening your home to us.  It was a true blessing to me to serve with you.  Allison, keep rockin' it for Jesus, girl.  Your spirit is infectious.  If only I'd had what you have when I was your age.  Taylor, I miss that giggle and that smile that took up your whole face already.  Thank you for your words in the share service.  I promise you I'll do my best to make this a life-altering weekend and not just another weekend.  Katherine, keep on plugging at school, sister.  I know it's hard, but know that I'm praying you through it.  Be that light in the halls that people need to see.  Tori, I had the best time meeting you and getting to know you.  Just remember- the dramas we face are all part of the story of life and will only make you stronger.  Keep your head up high and focused on Jesus and it'll all work out.  Anna, that laugh cracks me up.  You remind me so much of a childhood friend of mine it makes me want to find her and hug her now (shout out to ya, Rachel Reagan- I met your clone this weekend!)  Oh, and you have mad driving skills, Anna, even if my car doesn't have automatic locks.  Savannah, I'm sorry your shirt ate you, but I'm glad I got to see how cute you were in it- rolled up sleeves and tucked in your back pocket though it was.  What an absolutely beautiful girl you've become.  I'm proud of you.  Jennifer, you are one of the most hilarious people I've ever met.  I admire you for keeping your commitment, even though it conflicted you.  Good for you!  I've enjoyed watching you grow up, too, and will tell my grandmother all about you in my dreams tonight.  

There is so much more to say, and I will, but my heart is full tonight, so I'm going to end here and have a conversation with Jesus.  

Grateful for intentionally burning,
Mary Beth

P.S.  Would you please pray for me and a calling I'm feeling on my life right now?  Sorry to be so ambiguous, but I'm still trying to sort through all the feelings.  It's a good calling, but one not to be taken lightly, so I'm spending some much-needed time in prayer and ask you to do the same for me.  Updates forthcoming.  Thank you all!  

Friday, February 6, 2009

DNow kicks off tonight!

So, the long-awaited day has finally arrived! The official start time for DNow is 7:30 tonight, but I am certain that God has gone before this weekend through the prayers and efforts of His people.

The theme of the weekend is Recalled: Reclaiming the Story of Redemption. I absolutely love this idea as a Christian. Often times DNows focus on those that are lost, which is critical and absolutely necessary, and I'm sure this one will do the same. But, this year's DNow speaks directly to those of us that have been redeemed and might've lost sight of what that means. We were bought with a price, and our walk with Jesus often has "prices" all its own. Sometimes we get caught up in the "religiousness" and forget that, at it's foundation, our life-changing experience with Jesus happened because HE WANTED IT TO and values us enough to come down from Heaven and take our place, and He wants to walk with us DAILY. We are worth it to Him, and when we lose sight of that, for whatever reason, He recalls us from our yuckiness called life and brings us back to community with Him.

Tonight will begin the weekend like this: the kids will show up with their bags- most girls' will be utterly ginormous for only a 2-night stay, while the boys' will be utterly miniscule for a 2-night stay. We might get lucky with a few in-between sizes, but I'm not very hopeful... We'll then join together for corporate worship before "the big reveal" where the kids find out whose home will be theirs for the weekend, with which leaders and friends. It's sure to be a rousing time! I myself am very much looking forward to the worship experience. Folks, if you've never exeprienced a DNow and/or summper camp experience, you're missing out on one of those experiences that can only be matched in Heaven itself. God just shows up and touches that service with His hands in a way that is indescribable. So, if you've not experienced it, why not? You should. If you're in LaGrange, swing up to FBC on the Square and be ready to be blown away. It'll change you. If it doesn't, I'm not sure there's much hope for you. (That said in love, of course). :)

During worship and during our first small group session later in the evening, we will study Jeremiah 4:1-4, which is written out below. Would you partner with us? Read it, examine it, internalize it, and pray it over us as we study. I will attempt to blog at some point tomorrow to let you know of our progress. But, knowing you will be joining us as we study the Only True Word is such a gift, and I thank you in adavnce for sharing this opportunity with us.

God, thank You for showing up! Thank You for revealing Yourself to us already, and thank You in advance for all You'll do in and through us this weekend. Change hearts forever. We don't want to leave the same. Re-call us back to You.

“If you will return, O Israel, return to Me,” declares the Lord. “If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray, and if in a truthful, just and righteous way you swear ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ that the nations will be blessed by him and in him they will glory.” This is what the Lord says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem: ' Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, circumcise your hearts, you men of Judah and people of Jerusalem, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done- burn with no one to quench it.'" Jer. 4:1-4

Praying Intentionally,
Mary Beth

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stamps!

Saralynn loves stamps! She gets a stamp on her hand most days at school. Sometimes it's a smiley face, other times it's a "way to go!" stamp. But, she marvels at each and every stamp she gets and shows each one off. She was in the tub Wednesday night, getting ready to wash off her stamp, and she tells me, "Miss Annielissy (Analissa) gave me a stamp. I be da line leader (yine yeeda)". She was so unbelievably proud of herself. I asked her what a line leader does, and she said "Stand in front and STOP". It was too sweet. I wish you all could've been there to hear and see it for yourself, but hopefully reading it here gives you a taste of her excitement! I wamt to go give her a stamp right now, just for being cute!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Excited

I'm excited and getting ready for one of my favorite weekends of every year. Beginning this Friday night, I get the chance to participate in DiscipleNow weekend with the youth of our church and the friends they bring along. DiscipleNow (or DNow as it is called by the "pros" that have done this time and time again) has always held a very special place in my heart. Very quickly, if you're not familiar with the concept, DNow is a weekend retreat that takes place in town, at various host homes, with corporate worship sessions held at the church. A group of 6-12 teenagers, broken out by grade, stay at a host home provided by a family in our church and spend the weekend in intense Bible Study, worship, and fellowship with one another. A group leader (in this case, that would be me) joins the kids at the house and facilitates the Bible Studies and just generally becomes the in-the-flesh hands and feet of Jesus to the participating youth.

I am SO excited to be a part of this weekend. Garrett and I will both be leading houses. He will be at one house and I will be at another. Being honest, I would've loved for us to be at the same house leading. To me, that could've been a chance for us to lead as a couple- ministering to the youth as a couple just trying to love each other and love people in a way that glorifies our Father. We have separate ministry opportunities in the church and its varying programs, but leading together would've been ideal. However, I also realize that this weekend and everything about it is so much bigger than me and what I want. I firmly believe that it's ok to plan and want, even when planning and wanting things in the name of Jesus and serving Him, but we all have to plan and want, above anything else, for Him to be glorified. Jesus, that is what I want. Glorify yourself through this weekend.

Our youth minister Chad and his assistant Debbie have put in countless hours of work preparing for this weekend, and I, for one, am grateful for their service. So much planning goes into one of these weekends- from lining up host homes and leaders, to communicating with speakers and band members, and so on... Literally being responsible for the lives of hundreds of youth and adults is a very daunting thought. I know because I've been there. During my service as Youth Minister a few years back, I held a DNow myself, and though I had less than 20 youth vs. this weekend's hundreds, the responsibility is no less daunting. Please join me in praying for Chad and Debbie as they lead this weekend. Please pray for our speaker, David Rhodes, as he speaks the Truth of Jesus to all of us, and for Casey Darnell and band as they lead us to the throneroom of worship. Pray for the hearts of all that attent the weekend- that the soil of our hearts will be open to the seeds that God wants to plant and cultivate. Pray that our hearts overflow in worship to our King and that our offerings are genunine.

I can't share which group I have yet or at which house I will be staying, but know that I am praying for those hearts especially, even now. Please join me.

Lord, I'm humbled to be Your servant and look forward to all You have in store. May You be lifted up and glorified through this weekend!

Intentionally,
Mary Beth