Happy Father’s Day!

This morning, the men of my church gave us such a beautiful gift. Several months ago, one of the men had the vision for a men’s choir. So at their last fellowship dinner (this past Tuesday) they rehearsed and this morning lead us in worship with How Great Thou Art! It was so incredible to see probably 75+ men singing with all their hearts, no matter their musical skill. What a witness to us of what it is to be a faithful, godly man! A role model to our boys, and an example to our girls (including this one) of what a husband should be. To God be the glory!

This evening I was painting tiles for Right Focus. One of the designs had III John 4 on it: “I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in the truth.” Y’all know, of course, that today is Father’s Day. As carefully painted the verse several times, I reflected that is such a blessing to be the daughter of a father (and mother!) for whom this is their greatest joy. All I have to do is follow my Lord and I will bring my parents’ joy. It doesn’t matter what job I have, or achievements I gain… if I walk in the truth, I know their hearts are full of joy. It’s not the reason to pick up my cross and follow the Lord, but it is a sweet benefit.

How do I know this is my parents’ greatest joy? They have shown me, in their attitude, teaching, and words to me, but also in the example of their own lives. I don’t have a perfect family; but walking in the truth has always been our family’s primary focus. From Sunday evening family devotions when I was little to daily Bible study before school, my parents have brought me up in the “fear and admonition of the Lord.” Our faith has always come before anything else. Before school (literally!), before material blessings, before entertainment. I have watched both my dad and my mom spend countless hours preparing and planning Bible studies, VBS programs, Sunday School projects, and youth group lessons, all for the purpose of sharing with others how to walk in the truth. Theology has always been as common a dinnertime conversation topic as the day’s activities or current events. My parents’ example has impressed their joy in my own faith as much as the times they have directly expressed that.

I am so richly blessed to have parents who have taught me and shown me how to follow Christ! It grieves me that many children, perhaps even you, have not had this jumpstart to walking in the truth. Even if you don’t have a godly father to celebrate today, you have a heavenly Father Who is the Truth, the one, perfect example. My own dad, as amazing as he is, is still but a dim reflection of God the Father. He loves you more than any earthly possibly could! Ask Him to give you earthly models… hey, if you’re in Memphis, come over to Advent. We’ve got a lot of men who can be as a father in the family of God!

xoxoxoxo,
Alanna

Once Upon a Time: Beanies!

In the past month, I’ve brought two of my little buddies to my house to visit the kitties. You have to understand, this is a seriously exciting activity when you’re two. But there’s something else in my bedroom both of them have picked out immediately: Bongo.

Bongo was my second Beanie Baby. I was 12 when the craze really got into full swing. Still very much a little girl (thank you parents for protecting my innocence), I got the collecting bug easily. I love cute things; at age almost-27, I still get a little melty inside when I see stuffed animals in stores. And at $5, it was the perfect thing for a preteen’s budget. After we moved to PA, I would walk to the sweet little gift shop downtown every couple weeks to check out the new selection and see if anything I wanted had arrived.

I believe my final count was around 90. I did have some of the big ticket Beanies – including both the tie-dyed Peace bear and the Princess Diana bear. Eventually I sorted through them and sent about 25 to an orphanage in Brazil. But I still have all the rest boxed up in my parents’ storage room.

All except a few special ones who accompanied me to college and eventually Memphis (and the one my mom sent me this year for Valentine’s Day :D). But even amongst those few, Bongo has always been the special one. I got him in my monkey-obsessed phase (it lasted several years, I think). But one of the special things about him was that my dad picked him out.

After being given my first Beanie Baby, I quickly got on the TY website and organized a plan of attack for adding more. Bongo was the top of my list. At that time, my dad met some friends every week for breakfast at a church member’s restaurant, which had a Cracker Barrel-style gift shop. I put him on the watch for Bongo and after not too long, he came home with a paper bag for me! But he hadn’t just grabbed any old Bongo from the shelf. He had spent some time looking at each little monkey to find the cutest face. He knew that’s what I would do (and he may have been following instructions).

Bongo has always been my favorite. As you can probably tell, he slept with me for a while. He sat on a shelf above my desk in college and now he sits on my bedside table. He’s just so cute and truly does have a great face (not all of them are sewn as nicely). However… I think a big part of why he’s got a special place for me is that he represents a special relationship and a special person. A daddy who takes a few extra minutes to pick the very best one for his girl.

xo,
Alanna

Road trip

20120424-000458.jpg

Yesterday morning, after catering two nights in a row (the second a two course meal plated and served for 150 people – that’s vs a buffet), I started out on a road trip. Six states, 650 miles, and 11 hours. All by myself. It was hard.

But it was worth it. I would do it again. For this reward:

20120423-235930.jpg

Finally, FINALLY having my precious, scrumptious little niece in my arms. It’s been a hard wait… Since Valentine’s Day. Y’all. She is just the cutest baby girl ever. Gorgeous blue eyes and expressive eyebrows. Rolls upon rolls of chub I just want to eat up.
xoxo,
Aunt Boo*

*my family nickname was Boo when I was little, so starting with my 20 month old nephew I’ve been trying to establish this as my name.

60!

Montana, February 2011

Someone super, super special turned the big six-oh today! My beloved, awesome, amazing papai. I got to celebrate in person with him and all the fam this weekend on our vacation in MI. But I wanted to tell the blogosphere what an incredible man is celebrated today! So I came up with a list of sixty things about or memories of my dad which I love. You ready? Here goes…

  1. He’s a godly man
  2. The personalities he made up when we were little
  3. Making my dresses compete to be worn on Sunday morning
  4. Writing Bible studies for us for homeschool
  5. His sense of humor
  6. Speaking Portuguese together
  7. His influence and care of the young men in Brasil
  8. How he’s always taken me seriously
  9. Talking about “Booland” with me when I was little
  10. Getting to see how many lives he’s changed
  11. Taking him to the steak restaurant for his birthday two years ago
  12. Watching the sunset on our last night in Brasil 2007
  13. His wisdom
  14. “Family Devotions” on Sunday nights
  15. Torn-paper art 🙂
  16. He picked out my alligator-skin stilletoes
  17. Our shared love of Simon & Garfunkel and Peter, Paul, & Mary
  18. His commitment to mission
  19. He’s an academic
  20. He’s a huge encouragment to me
  21. He’s always willing to learn
  22. His love for God over us
  23. How he loves to serve and take care
  24. His love for his family
  25. His understanding and acceptance of other people
  26. His hands-down AWESOME preachin’ skillz!
  27. His integrity
  28. That he irons and does laundry
  29. His earnestness in following God’s call, wherever it takes him
  30. Watching him as a grandpa
  31. He’s a cancer survivor
  32. He always knows the right thing to say
  33. He has been a runner as long as I can remember
  34. He knows everything! Seriously… he can talk intelligently on almost every subject
  35. I know I can call him with anything
  36. He is thoughtful
  37. He is a caring husband
  38. He still lets me sit on his lap 🙂
  39. He taught me to love the church
  40. How he used to make “pictures” when he made us lunch when mom was gone
  41. He is a brilliant leader
  42. He’s not embarassed to show emotion
  43. He loves to travel and experience new things
  44. He is good with all ages and types of people
  45. He loves to sing
  46. He’s always encouraged me to do what I love
  47. He is a friend to so many people
  48. He’s happy watching football or reading about history
  49. He is such a good writer
  50. How he picked out my favorite Beanie Baby and was careful to get the cutest face (I was 12)
  51. He does things the right way, even if it’s inconvenient or hard
  52. He can confront tough issues, but does so with grace
  53. He’s pretty good looking and passed that on to me! 😀
  54. He is a good decision-maker
  55. He makes his unconditional love for me clear
  56. He is an amazing listener
  57. He’s shown me what I should look for in my future husband
  58. He’s affectionate, both in word and deed
  59. He is humble
  60. He is so patient!

And there you have it. I challenge anyone who says he or she has the best dad in the world. It’s clear I do!

Te amo demais, meu papai querido! BEIJOS!

xoxo
Alanna