Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

It's time for costumes, candy, spiders, skeletons, witches, goblins, pumpkins, spooky treats and lots and lots of pictures of friends and family looking silly! Whether you're taking your kids trick-or-treating, going to a costume party, or clinging to a blanket during a scary movie, I hope your Halloween is great! Oh, and speaking of dorky pictures, here's one of Brad and me from last Halloween. We were the Spartan Cheerleaders. Stay tuned to see our costumes for this year!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Covered in Prayer

There are very few families that I respect more than the Hesselrode's, and few couples that I look up to more than Adam and Gena. They are incredible examples of Christians, spouses, parents, servants, and friends. They are currently in the midst of some trials. Adam has a tumor on his brain and will be going in for surgery to have it removed tomorrow.

In all of this, The Lord definitely deserves much praise right now. God sent a new eye doctor into their lives who noticed some irregularities in Adam's checkup and urged him to get further testing. These suggestions initiated some additional research which eventually led to the discovery of the tumor. However, the neurosurgeon says that the symptoms that prompted the investigation didn't necessarily have anything to do with the tumor at all. God was just using the circumstances to uncover the cyst sooner than may have been otherwise. Furthermore, the appointment to have it removed was scheduled within a week of the prognosis. The entire progression from first symptom to surgery has all taken place within one month! As bad as the situation is, the circumstances are truly piecing together in a way that only God could orchestrate. Praise Him!

Surgery is tomorrow morning, and they are nervous. Their families are nervous. Our whole church family is nervous. We all have total faith and trust in the Lord, but cannot deny our anxious feelings. Please keep this family in your prayers while they go through this process and recovery, and especially during surgery tomorrow, Oct 31st. Pray that Adam will be healed and that Gena may remain strong for Davis, Abby, and their unborn child. God will bless this family through this seemingly terrifying situation. I pray that we may also be blessed by witnessing their faith through this time of distress. Thank you for joining me in lifting Adam and his family up in prayer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween Traditions

We finally found some time to squeeze in the most important Fall Ritual of them all - the Pumpkin Carving Ceremony. We once again joined forces with the Howell's and the Mitchell's, and a little help from the Pumpkin Super Scooper, to create the best darn Jack-O-Lanterns this side of the Mason-Dixon line.

While the guys cheered for the Titans to beat the Colts (against my inner conscience), the girls had a great time getting all goopy as we prepared to sculpt our masterpieces. Daniel and Rachel did the "typical redneck Jack," complete with a few missing teeth. Brad and I (well, I) decided on a cute little Jack-Jack. And Aaron and Erin perfectly demonstrated their personalities by creating a "Pumpkin Pie."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall Fun with Friends

First of all, we all know that I love, love, love all things Fall. Whether or not we would be visiting a pumpkin farm was not a question. Determining which pumpkin farm, however, was a challenge. After some extensive research, I concluded that Honeysuckle Hill Farm was clearly the best choice. Joined by some of our best friends, Aaron and Erin Howell and Daniel and Rachel Mitchell, Brad and I embarked on a day filled with fall fun!

We arrived late in the afternoon with plenty of time to enjoy a pig race, pet the farm animals, "milk" a wooden cow, wind through a small haystack maze, and lasso a few bullheads. After each couple picked out a perfect pumpkin to carve and a few of the (free) baby pumpkins, we grabbed some hot dogs and nachos and waited for the sun to go down, and the temperature to drop.

Once it got dark, Brad read us the legend of Scream Creek before we rode the hayride to the haunted trail through the woods. Yes, it was scary. The other girls needed quite the coercion before they would even consider it. We did all survive the many jumps, screams, chainsaws, chases, and masks, but Rachel vowed to never do anything like that again. To calm down, we decided to do the 5-acre corn maze shaped like Johnny Cash - in the dark. What were we thinking?? We got far enough into the maze, to realize that we couldn't find our way out, even with the smuggled digital picture we took of the map. Out of desperation for a heat source, we decided to manage our way back to where we started. We eventually found our way out of the dying corn. It just happened to be by the sign that said "Entrance" rather than "Exit." Oh well.

Sad to leave Honeysuckle Hill Farm, but happy to be warm again, we headed home with every intention of carving our new purchases and enjoying some home-made caramel apples. Well, we only had enough energy to perform one of the exciting activities, so we tackled the apples. They turned out super delicious. The Granny Smith sourness was perfectly complimented by the sweet taste of caramel. Mmmm. They were so big, none of us could even finish ours. Well, except for Aaron, who ate all of his as well as the rest of Erin's.

Oh, Brad did manage to carve a special little pumpkin. He couldn't wait until we have the official Pumpkin Carving Ceremony with our friends Monday night (while watching Titans vs. Colts). He's very proud of his mini ode to the Cubs. As he should be. I can't wait to show you all of the rest of our perfectly sculted Jack-O-Lanterns. So stay tuned!

Complete Pumpkin Farm Album

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Prayer for our Nation

A Prayer by Max Lucado - October 2008

Our friends lost their house
A co-worker lost her job
The couple next door lost their retirement
It seems that everyone is losing their footing
This scares us. This bailout with billions.
These rumblings of depression.
These headlines: ominous, thunderous-
“Going Broke!” “Going Down!” “Going Under!” “What Next?”

What is next?

We’re listening. And we’re admitting: You were right.

You told us this would happen.
You shot straight about loving stuff and worshipping money.
Greed will break your heart, you warned.
Money will love you and leave you.
Don’t put your hope in riches that are so uncertain.

You were right. Money is a fickle lover and we just got dumped..

We were wrong to spend what we didn’t have,
Wrong to neglect prayer and ignore the poor,
Wrong to think we ever earned a dime. We didn’t. You gave it.
And now, tell us Father, are you taking it?

We’re listening. And we’re praying.
Could you make something good out of this mess?
Of course you can. You always have.

You led slaves out of slavery,
Built temples out of ruins,
Turned stormy waves into a glassy pond
and water into sweet wine.
This disorder awaits your order. So do we.

Through Christ,

God will always give what is right to his people who cry to him night and day, and he will not be slow to answer them. (Luke 18:7 NCV)

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's a Boy!

Or at least it's going to be in February! My brother, TJ, and his wife, Jennie, are going to have a little boy! Yea! They already have the most precious daughter in America. Now they're going to come full circle with their family by having a little boy, as well. Oh, I hope we can love him as much as we do Rachel. I'm sure we will love him just the same. I just can't wait to meet him!

*Photo of Chara Watson, taken by Starla Steward Photography

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Book That Makes an Impact

Chances are, you've heard of this book. It's been a recent bestseller all over the newsstands, and it seems like people everywhere are talking about it. I've even heard of church groups having Bible studies based upon it. Well, I wanted to know what all the buzz was about. So, I, too, picked up The Shack, by William P. Young. To be honest, I don't even now how to begin talking about it...

You know how there are some books that are so revolutionary to you that even once you close the cover, it still resonates within your mind long after. For me, this was one of those books. It genuinely changed my perspective on life, eternity, spirituality, self, influence, religion, faith, and God Himself.

The book follows a Christian man named Mack. Early in the book, he experiences a terrible tragedy within his family and directs all of his anger towards God. He blames God for the pain and suffering and can't understand why He would allow such a horrible thing to happen. He definitely can't fathom still loving a god who obviously does not love him in return. The majority of the book is a narrative of Mack's weekend experience with his encounter with God-the Trinity, in the very shack where all of his pain originates.

In order to reach Mack, God chooses to reveal Himself in human form; three forms, actually. The conversations that Mack has with each, God-the Father, God-the Son, and God-the Spirit, are so incredibly eye-opening that they made me re-evaluate my entire approach to nearly every aspect of my life.

I don't want to say much about the contents of the discussions, because I really want for you to read the book yourself. However, it is very "out of the box" thinking, and definitely can't be considered true theology. I can see where some people may take offense to some of the nontraditional concepts and the idea of God revealing Himself in human form to reach one struggling soul. But if you can get past the "absurdity" of that, then you may truly be enlightened by this story.

If you're not sure whether or not you would like it, check out the website and see what you think. You can even read the forward and first chapter to get a "feel" for it. If you believe that it may touch your heart, I pray that you give it a chance.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fall, Family, and Caramel Apples

This past weekend, we had a mini-Metcalf family reunion at my parents' house in Indiana. TJ and Jennie and their daughter, Rachel, were even able to make the trip. It was so nice to have the entire family in the same house again! I don't think that's happened since last Thanksgiving. And contrary to what the above picture implies, Richard was around, too. He just wasn't close enough when this picture was taken!

Brad and I got to Crawfordsville at about midnight, but Richard and Dad weren't going to be home from work for another hour. Well, what do we do to pass the time? Toilet Paper Richard's house, of course! We got to my parents' house, dropped Chester off, grabbed all the TP we could find, woke Mom up, grabbed Trevor and ran. Well, Brad and I had never seen Richard's new house, so we didn't know where it was located. As we pull up, Brad says, "And right on the highway, too! I hope we don't get arrested!" We park the car across the street, grab the toilet paper and hop out. At that exact moment, a cop drives by, pulls a U-ey, and throws on the lights. Our first response was to run the heck out of there, but he knew what we were doing and he'd just chase us. So, Brad explained that we're visiting from TN and were just trying to pull one over on our brother before he gets home. The officer looked at his watch and said, "How long do you have?" When we told him that he'd be home at 1:00, he said, "Well you don't have much time, do you?" and he let us go! Richard still doesn't know it was us, so don't tell him. :)

Last year, my parents began some bathroom renovations. Well, the efforts have been rather stagnant for a while. So, Dad, TJ, and Brad spent all of Saturday and most of Sunday working on replacing the walls, installing a ceiling, and wiring and installing new light/ventilation fixtures. There's still a lot left to do, but they got a whole lot done.

The rest of us embraced the fall season and made some Caramel Apples! At first, I thought we'd just get those "caramel wraps" that you drape over the apple. Mom said, "no way," and we did the whole melting pieces of caramel from scratch thing. Mmmmm.... None of us had ever made them before. Can you believe that! Jennie, Trevor and I made quite a nice batch, don't ya think? Too bad Brad and I had to run out of town in a hurry (we were running late, of course) and I forgot to grab the specially arranged trio for the go! I guess that means we'll just have to make our own again!

We spent as much time playing with Rachel as was possible. I love her sooooo much. I didn't know I was going to love her so much! Every time I see her, I love her even more than I did the time before. She's walking around with her big personality and talking the whole time. I can't believe how happy she is. I mean, sure, she gets crabby when she's sleepy, but so do I! She loves to jump-jump on the trampoline with her grandma, swing high with her arms up in the air, chase all of the pets, and even play on the computer. Oh goodness, you've got to see all of the pictures of her. You'll melt right along with me! I sure hope we can love the next one (due in February) as much...

Overall, we had a great time spent with the family. After weekends like these, I realize how much I miss all of them. Luckily, we have the kind of parents that will always welcome us home, even if their schedule is already full. I am truly blessed.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy Fall!!

Yahoo! October is here! Happy Autumn! Welcome Great Pumpkin! It's time for fall leaves and football weather!

I can't express how excited I am for the season to change. It makes me happy all the way to the inside of my stomach. The open windows and fall decorations give me a sense of calm and peace (that can only be matched by glowing Christmas lights). I'm so anxious to store my flip-flops for the winter and break out my hoodies and sweaters! Thanks to my brother's lifetime of football playing when I was younger, the fall season will always be classified as "football weather" to me. As a result, I've even found myself getting excited about the sport this year! Go Titans, 4-0!

We're going to my parents' house this weekend and meeting my brother and his family there. Mom mentioned making caramel apples and having a bonfire in the back yard for roasting marshmallows and hot dogs. I believe it can't get much better than that.

I have to admit, I've never seen "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," but I believe that Linus's sentiments in the above picture accurately reflect mine. I have every intention of watching all of the Charlie Brown holiday specials by the end of the year. I'd even venture to bet that a future blog will mention "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Anyway, I don't want to jump ahead to the Christmas season (although I'm soooo excited for Christmas!), because I'm not nearly ready to see Fall go by.

I hope you enjoy my new blog setup while it lasts. I know I thoroughly enjoy my new "Autumn Scene" desktop background. While I was searching for my new background, I saw so many beautiful Fall moments. I thought I'd share some with you. For your viewing pleasure...

One more little one to laugh at. :)
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