Before Thom and I married, we went to Gatlinburg with a group from UGA skiing. Not having real snow but manmade instead, I felt like I was skiing downhill on ice way too fast with very little control. That's basically a picture of the Mercer life for the last 3 months. It's been a busy, wild ride.
Thank you to our very own Daniel Kaufman for getting us these animal outfits to demonstrate this fact. (Eleanor loved seeing this greeting on Christmas morning, Dan!)
We DO apologize to all of you, our church family, for being AWOL for a while now. But, hopefully, through this blog we'll bring you up-to-date on our lives.
Before Andrew's wedding on October 1, we were busy with preparations galore, mostly for the rehearsal dinner. Here, you see my first attempt at painting a sign to greet our guests at the Mexican Fiesta (Melissa, I believe you would be proud).
The wedding was beautiful, fun, and a blessing. Maddi is an excellent addition who fits right into the family (I'm not sure if that's a good sign for her, however). Here you see our family, which is increasing by leaps and bounds!
After the wedding, later in October, Thom ran the Savannah Marathon. What a man! As most of you know, his recorded time in this marathon was faster than in the one he ran when he was in his late 30's. He never ceases to amaze me with his positive attitude, commitment, and his steady faith in the Lord. This year has been a blessed one with no heart problems --- thank you, Jesus!
Speaking of blessings, as most of you know I (Denise) have a rich spiritual heritage. Thanksgiving for us is, therefore, always a wonderful time with my family. Thom and I do a LOT of prep before the weekend, which for the last 2 years has been spent at Camp Rockridge in Franklin, GA (a cousin of mine runs it). This year was absolutely amazing! We all shared communion on Friday evening (Andrew's idea), followed by singing and then a beautiful prayer time (a nephew's idea) as a family. Needless to say, many tears and hugs were shared. We were all reminded of the eternal blessings to come and also the possibilities of love which we can share with church "family" here on earth.
To all of you "young-uns," Thom and I want you to know that we have witnessed firsthand God's promise in Deut. 7:9: "Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God Who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations." PERSEVERE in your faith, beloved family, and in the training of your children.
Immediately after Thanksgiving weekend, Thom and I left for Kansas to visit his mother and sister for a week. Even though the visit was sweet, it was also bitter. As we shared with you on a Sunday a.m., we tried to share our faith with Thom's mother, but the enemy has her totally blinded, veiled, and closed to the Truth. Please pray for her (and the rest of Thom's family) that God will work the miracle of salvation in their lives. As soon as we got back from Kansas (no joke), we all ran/walked in the Callaway Gardens Santa Claus Classic 5K/10K. Thom got first place in his age group (woohoo!). It was really neat to see their Christmas lights up close and personal. But . . . Denise's body shut down finally and was sick for a solid 4-5 days! Anyway, it was not good. Not as young as I used to be!
We then went to Houston the weekend before Christmas for a nephew's wedding (really, who plans a wedding the week before Christmas?!?). Our sister-in-law was very sick with a bug, so we ended up doing a lot of the rehearsal dinner prep. Whew! One beautiful part of the trip was staying with my discipler and friend from days of yore and her husband --- always a HUGE blessing --- and lunching with our first pastor and his wife (he is CEO of a ministry called CERI - check it out - sounds wonderful). Moral of this story: cherish those people in your life who mean so much to you.
And then we celebrated Christmas, which is always a huge hoopla --- had a great time with friends and family. We spent Christmas Eve and morning with Kyle, Lydia and the girls. Eleanor's excitement did not disappoint us! For those of you who have asked, Lydia and Kyle are enjoying living in Lawrenceville close to T.J. and Kate and many longtime friends. They're attending a church they believe will end up being "home." Continue to pray for them and for Eleanor's continued illnesses.
Ehren has a broken leg from soccer (I'm beginning to re-think this soccer participation. Watch out, John Mark!). Andrew is loving married life and has begun an Assistant Manager position at QT. Being low man on the totem pole, he has to work five over-nights a week. His desire is to be involved in praise and worship, so pray that he will patiently await God's timing and walk in His will. And, Caroline keeps us laughing, of course, but also maintains her quiet ministry behind the scenes one-on-one with so many people --- pray that she and Ehren will find their church of ministry.
Finally, you see here one of my favorite Christmas gifts that Lydia drew for me. It's based on one of my favorite Scripture verses (and prayers), Philippians 3:12 (NIV). I pray this for all of you this coming year: "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that FOR WHICH CHRIST JESUS TOOK HOLD OF ME."
Blessings to all of you in the New Year!