So at dinner tonight we started discussing what we'd like to accomplish in the new year. Because of the chaos of the kiddos at the table I was the only one who actually declared any ideas. Here's what I'd like to work on for the new year.
1. Lose the last 20lbs of my Weight Watchers goal.
2. Begin training for the marathon I want to run before I turn 30. Ideally I'll run it by my 29th birthday, but at least I'd like to get back into running.
3. I'd like to be published in a professional library journal.
4. I'd like to visit the state of Maine.
5. Have some sort of vegetable garden.
6. Go camping at least once.
and I'm sure if I think some more I'll come up with a few additional items.
Happy New Year!
Today is my brother in law Nat's birthday. Happy 28th Birthday Nat. It's been a good year for him (at least I'd say so) cool new job, cool new baby.
and lots of new cars (with crazy bumper stickers!).
A few entries back I posted a talk I gave in Chapel here at Emmanuel a few weeks ago. It was an honor to have a few minutes to share a snippet of my life as it is today. After I posted it I had a conversation with my friends Tim & Joanna about what has been good and hopeful about my transition to life here in Northeast GA. Those who know me know that this has been a difficult transition. But in an effort to affirm that good things and the ways that God has challenged and blessed my time here I think it would be helpful for me to write about them.
My brain is a tad foggy so I'll write a list.
1. I am thankful for my job. It has been good and I am thankful for the connects I am making there.
2. I am thankful for the folks who helped me move in and settle into my home. Some of those included folks I'd never met before. It was a tremendous blessing.
3. I am so so thankful for my dad, damon & nat for loading my moving truck up! It was no easy task. And then for damon, nat & doug for carrying the sleeper sofa up the stairs and figuring out how to get it in the van.
4. I am thankful for the lovely holiday/vacation to Alaska. It was a treat and a delight to be with my friends Morgan & Ben.
5. I am thankful for the church family I am slowly connecting to. It has indeed been a blessing and a gift. I also joined the ladies Sunday school class. My teacher (betsy w.) extended tremendous hospitality and care to me at what has been a difficult time for me.
6. I am thankful for Tim & Joanna and their two little ones. They have unconditionally opened their home to me. I've eaten countless meals with them, bowls of icecream, watched movies and had encouraging and lively discussions about all kinds of things. I am thankful for all the cuddle time I've had with Elanor and Ian.
7. I am thankful to live closer to my sisters. It was wonderful to have Alicia & Fuller visit me when I first moved in. It has been good to travel to Chattanooga.
8. I am thankful for Erin. She cuts my hair each month and does a great job. I have enjoyed getting to know her and she's given me my short hairdo back! I am loving it!!
I am thankful for Car Point. They change the oil in my car and do other maintenance things. They pick my car up at work and bring it back at the end of the day. I seriously cannot tell you what a gift that is. As a single woman getting car work done has always been a headache. Having my car picked up when it needs to be serviced and not being charged for it. Wow. That's a gift.
Okay so I'll pause for now. There's certainly more I could and should write. But I'll keep thinking it over and am challenged to continue to look for the blessing bestowed on me!
This morning I had the house opened up and ceiling fans going, the high today is expected to reach 78 degrees.
On Tuesday of this past week I had the privilege of speaking at the Emmanuel College weekly Convocation. I was one of three college staff members to share. Speaking in front of large crowds is not one of my favorite things, but I must say that I was grateful to have had the opportunity to share a bit of my story.
All for Jesus!
All for Jesus! All for Jesus!
All my being's ransomed power;
All my thoughts and words and doings;
All my days and all my hours.
Let my hands perform His bidding;
Let my feet run in His ways;
Let mine eyes see Jesus only;
Let my lips speak forth His praise.
Worldlings prize their gems of beauty,
Cling to gilded toys of dust;
Boast of wealth and fame and pleasure -
Only Jesus will I trust.
Since mine eyes were fixed on Jesus,
I've lost sight of all beside,
So enchained my spirit's vision,
Looking at the crucified.
Oh what wonder! How amazing!
Jesus, glorious King of kings,
Deigns to call me His beloved,
Lets me rest beneath His wings.
Those words speak loud and clear to me. That is the official hymn of Covenant College. As a graduate of Covenant, I sang that at least once a week through all four years of college. This morning I want to focus on two of the lines from the hymn—from the first verse and the last verse. All for Jesus! All for Jesus! & Deigns to call me His beloved.
It is a privilege to stand before you this morning and give you a glimpse into my spiritual journey. I am new to the Emmanuel community and I count it a privilege and joy to be amongst you. When I first began here I’m not so sure I would have been able to say that statement truthfully.
My transition to Emmanuel and life here in Franklin Springs has been a difficult one. It has been one filled with loneliness, grief, fear, uncertainty, quiet, separation and frustration. I left a job I enjoyed, a community I was comfortable in, a city I loved, a church that nurtured and cared for me. I knew when I took this job that it would be a significant transition. But I never could imagine how truly difficult it would be. I thought that all the transitions I had experienced over the years had prepared me for what I would experience—and to a certain extent they have. During the first 8 weeks when I really wondered if I was losing my mind and if I had made a huge mistake, God comforted me. In God’s providence all the quiet and time by myself gifted me the opportunity to meditate on what it means when I say that I believe God is sovereign. Over time things have improved—life is not always pie in the sky—it’s not always easy and comfortable. It is messy and it is hard. But for those of us who know the joy of the LORD and claim Christ we can affirm that even in the midst of difficulty we serve a God who is good, loving, and desires good things for his children.
The first phrase of the hymn repeats the line All for Jesus! All for Jesus! It is my sincere hope and desire that those three words will always influence the ways in which I live my life. It is sweet relief to know that I am not created for my own purposes but rather that I live my life for a God who transcends the pain and difficulty of this life. That I serve a God who loved me so much—loved his creation so much that he sent his beloved son Jesus to die—to die for me—for my sins—my very real and consequential sins. I experience Joy and freedom in the midst of brokenness because Jesus died and three days later rose again that I might know life—Joyful abundant life.
The second phrase that speaks loudly to me in this Hymn is Deigns to call me His beloved. Deigns to call me his beloved. I am the daughter of a Presbyterian Minister—and Chaplain in the Air Force. I have lived in 4 countries—6 states—10 cities—16 houses and attended 11 schools—from elementary through graduate. I am the middle child—I have an older sister--a younger sister—2 brother in laws—a nephew and a niece. I am Fred and Celeste McFarland’s daughter. I am a librarian. I am single. I am a college graduate. I have two masters degrees. But most importantly I am BELOVED and I am God’s Princess. From the time I was a little girl my mother and father have always asked my sister’s and me whose princess we were, at five, ten, sixteen, twenty and even now at twenty eight when I leave home my parents ask me that question and I say with great confidence and assurance that I am GOD’s PRINCESS. I am God’s Beloved Princess. And the thing about is that he calls me his Beloved by no works of my hands—but rather as the song says—Deigns or grants to call me his His beloved. That overwhelms me. The creator of the Universe. The God who spoke all of this into existence. Calls me---Calls me Austina McFarland his beloved.
Living out of that Belovedness means trusting God to provide. Trusting him to provide in the midst of difficulty and in the midst of joy. Trusting that he truly forgives and he desires me to live faithfully. Even when living faithfully isn’t the easy option.
We must live our lives as sons and daughters of the King of Kings. We have no other option. All for Jesus! All for Jesus! Our belovedness is not our own but a gift. Share that gift with those who know the LORD and those who do not. Do not take it lightly. Take it seriously. Live like you believe it in the depths of your soul that you are princes and princess of the King. We are here at Emmanuel because God has called us here. My prayer for our community is that we pursue faithfulness together in pursuit of the holiness, righteousness and justice that we are called to as Beloved People of God.