December 24, 2008

Christmas Traditions

I’ve been blessed to grow up in a family who celebrated many traditions. I am reminded every year of one special tradition that always made Christmas for me. On Christmas Eve each year, my family went to my Grandparents for a family celebration. This was no small event. My relatives came from all over the country to spend Christmas together. After we had polished off the turkey and dressing, but before Santa Clause showed up, our family experienced the Christmas story. As my Uncle read from the book of Luke, we each played a part in the Christmas story. We began with Mary, decked in true Hebrew attire, (my grandmother’s bathrobe and a fancy towel) she came riding down the hall on a handsome Christmas donkey (aka my grandfather). Next, came Joseph, who was normally riding on the back of my father, the camel. The 4, 5, or 6 year old Joseph was not to be outdone by Mary. This was only the beginning. My Grandmother and Great Aunts sang Glory to God in the Highest while wearing fashionable garland as a halo. My uncles and older cousins brought gifts of Chocolate Covered Cherries, Red Hots and Candy Canes, as the three kings. My mother and aunts were shepherds who held yard sticks instead of staffs and herded the “sheep”, played strategically by my younger cousins. Baby Jesus was played by whichever child was newest to our family.
This family tradition was not short lived. For years we celebrated the birth of Christ with bathrobes and yardsticks, always ending with Joy to the World.
Now we are all older, spending Christmas’ farther from home. Like many of you this Christmas, I too am mourning the loss of loved ones. If we were to reinact that live nativity this year, my family would be missing a few key roles. Wise men, a donkey, and a few precious Angels would be absent. Although, I would rather have them here with me, I remember them every time the Christmas story is read. That is what tradition is all about. Remembering. Every time I make grandma’s homemade stuffing, I remember her. Every time we set out that certain set of dishes, I’m transported back to all of those Thanksgivings and Christmas’ that my family spent together. Traditions keep our loved ones alive in our mind and our heart. So this Christmas, as we reflect on Christ and all that His birth meant for us, let’s also celebrate those that the Lord has put in our lives today and the precious people that are no longer with us, but helped shape us into the people we’ve become.


November 14, 2008

A Bone to Pick...

Earlier today I was reading a web article that stirred me. Yesterday, a large fire started in Montecito, CA (it's fire season), and the article was on Following the article, random people can post comments on the story, about the story. Often, those who comment get a little off topic about the story that was posted and this one was no exception. As I read the comments that several had posted, I got frustrated. People began commenting about how California deserved to burn. They referred to the Liberal attitudes of the people and how many of the homes that had burned so far, belonged to wealthy people who could afford to lose everything. What's more, almost exclusively, those hurling judgemental accusations were doing so in the name of God. Ignorance. These posts disturbed me greatly. I could rant about the fact that many "non-West Coasters" don't realize that California is a rather large state and contains more than pot-smoking hippies & celebrity drama. Or I could mention that most people that I have met during my time here are more genuine and kind-hearted than the people that I have met in so many other places. Including places that claim southern hospitality. I could talk about the fact that in general, I have found that those who love Jesus, truly serve Him. It seems that they haven't known Him long enough to let religion get in their way. I could EVEN write about how it doesn't matter if you are rich or poor, losing possessions in a fire is devestating. Family albums, keepsakes, grandmother's rocking chair, even the perfect dining room set; cannot be replaced so easily with a hefty insurance check.
But instead, I will just remain frustrated. The fact is, California may not be the promised land, but it is not Sodom and Gomorrah, either. There are good people everywhere. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

October 27, 2008


My precious grandmother passed away one week ago today. I was very close to her, I loved her very much. Even so, I realize that it was her time. Life and death go hand in hand. Sad day for me, a very wonderful one for her. She is with Jesus now.
I went home last week for the funeral and my family asked me to share at the service. I was so pleased. My grandma was a brilliant and compassionate woman, this was my oppurtunity to share with her family and friends how much she meant to me.
This is my story.

     I have been richly blessed to have Mary Ida McClintock as my grandmother. It's hard to stand in front of an audience of people who have as many incredible memories of Mary as I do, but I would like to take a moment to remember the incredible woman that we all knew.

     The greatest lesson I learned from my grandmother was that life is lived to be celebrated. I have never met anyone who was so genuinely optimistic. She embraced life's gifts with enthusiasm and its hardships with grace. Mary's smile could light up any room, her laughter was fully contagious. She enjoyed every piece of her life. I can list the times on one hand, that I heard her complain. In fact I was with her one day about ten years ago when she had just come home from the doctor. She laid her purse and medicine down on the dining room table, she looked at me and said, "Well, the dr says I have congenital heart failure." I said, "well, what does that mean?" She replied, "It means my heart is too big and I could die of a heart attack at any time. Isn't that something?", and then she laughed. And how she said it was so funny, that I laughed too. This woman got some of the worst news possible, and she thought it was humorous. She lived her life as someone who was fulfilled, because she was.
     Mary Ida McClintock believed that life was lived for people, not things. She was generous with time, money, and compassion. Most of her free time was spent volunteering, with her family or at her church. She was passionate about her friendships. It was always amazing to me how well she kept in contact with people. How many people have you known to have the same best friend for 60 years? She was also very proud of her family. Chances are, not many people knew Mary, without also knowing about Mary's children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was proud that each member of her family was unique; had different goals, gifts, interests, and nothing pleased her more than seeing all of us together, peacefully enjoying one another. Although my grandmother loved people in general, there was one love that stood high above the rest. The late Tom McClintock, my beloved grandfather. They were married over 50 years and she truly cherished the time they shared. They were shining examples to me of a couple who learns to stay friends for life. She often told me, "The most important decision you make is who to marry. You must find someone who you can laugh with, someone who you can enjoy life with." I always loved listening to stories of adventures they faced together in life. The Depression, WWII, Grocery store fires, Cuban Missile Crisis, the list could go on. Perhaps my favorite, was a story she told me about, that took place right before Grandpa Tom was drafted in WWII. At that time, Men were being sent all over the world and they weren't allowed to tell their families where they were being sent to. Tom and Mary devised a system so that she would always know where he was stationed at. Each letter that Tom wrote had certain emphasis on alphabetical letters. Their cleverness gave Mary McClintock peace in a time that few were experiencing peace.
     I recognize that at the heart of my grandmother, was a woman who had nearly perfected strength. She did not allow life's hardships to make her bitter, instead, she learned deep lessons from sad circumstances. I often think back to a picture I have of her. It was taken 13 years ago, 3 weeks after my grandfather, Tom McClintock passed away. On that particular year, the American Cancer Society had chosen to hold their annual Walk-a-thon in honor of Tom. Within a few weeks of the event his life was taken by cancer, so instead, the organization held their event in memory of him. That day, the Neosho High School Football Stadium was packed with people. The announcer shared about Tom's honorable life to a hushed crowd. At the end, He asked Mary to stand and at that moment, as a 14 year-old girl, I saw a woman who I had never quite seen in this light before. She was truly a woman of strength, dignity, and grace. She had just lost her husband days earlier, but she was beaming. She understood what an incredible impact their lives had made on a community of people. I, as a young girl, was fighting feelings of unfairness, anger, and sadness. It was at this moment that I learned from my grandmother, that life is about more than living and dying, it's about loving and serving. They did exactly what they set out to do, they made a lasting mark on each person who was lucky enough to be in their lives. I'm proud to be a part of Tom and Mary McClintock's lineage.
I miss her already.

July 16, 2008

Kayaking, Sharks, and Romance

Yesterday was Adam and I's 2nd Anniversary! Hooray for 2 whole years. Only like a hundred to go. To celebrate, we took the afternoon off and went kayaking at La Jolla Shores. It was such a blast. We were in the ocean, battling the waves, checking out the sea life (we got super close to Sea Lions). We were on a private tour, so the guide took us in a couple of caves , taught us how to surf the waves in our kayak, and let us get out at a couple of places and check out the underwater creatures using his goggles. I literally got out and swam with sharks. They were Leopard Sharks which are supposed to be very calm and passive, but it was still pretty intense for me. I was the only one in the water (Adam and the guide were on their kayaks) and there is just something psychologically disturbing about being in the water alone and hearing people above the water saying "look at that shark!" , "oh there is a big shark right there!" , and "wow, there is a huge school of sharks, look down, Amanda, they are coming towards you now!". I was ok until I looked down into the water one time and there was a 5 foot (approx) Leopard Shark that swam right underneath me! I was done! I jumped back into my kayak immediately! As we were continueing on, I asked our guide if there were any other sharks in these waters, he grinned and said in his thick French accent "maybe a few Thresher." I know for a fact that Thresher are not calm or mild.After our exciting adventure at sea, Adam and I got dressed up and went to George's at the Cove for dinner. It was awesome. We had reservations for the Ocean Terrace, so we were able to look out over La Jolla Cove while we dined. I don't say this lightly, but I think the dinner I had there was one of the top ten meals I have ever eaten. I had the Chef's Special: Alaskan Halibut. After our delicious meal, we stopped by The Yogurt Mill. Oh yeah, I love it.We had such a great day. I love going on adventures with Adam. Everything is more fun when we are together!


June 23, 2008

Thunder Storm

Hmm. I'm sitting on the front porch at my in-laws in Texas. It's pouring rain, there is lightning and thunder. The rain is pounding on the roof so hard, I can't hear anything else. Its funny how much you miss life's simple gifts when you don't have them anymore. Its really sunny where I live now. I mean REALLY sunny. You don't have to check the forcast to plan an outdoor event. It's nice, but there is something about the rain that is refreshing, soothing, inviting. Especially Texas rain, it rains hard, like the clouds are angry.
Have you ever gone back to the place your from and felt like you never left? I moved away from Missouri almost 6 years ago and still, when I drive into Neosho, I feel like the rest of my life has been a dream. Like I never left the city. Now that I haved moved again, I am finding the same. This is my first time back to Dallas since we moved about 2and a half months ago. Everything is extrememly familiar and it feels like we never left. Our home in Alpine is just a dream. Fortunately its not, we live there.
Alpine already feels like home to me. When I moved to Texas, I planned on it being a temporary adventure, so it always felt like it was. I never felt settled like I could put down roots. But I do feel like that now. I plan to live in CA for a long time. As long as the Lord allows. I like it there. I do wish it rained more.

June 6, 2008

The Great Reward

I know when I'm on the right path. There is this peace in my heart that beats to the tune of "this is what I was made for." I may not feel good everyday. I'm not ALWAYS miss "happy-go-lucky". Sometimes I still want to sleep all day instead of getting out of bed. Occassionally I get madly homesick. Yada-yada. My life is so not about that. Jesus saved my life and I have to share it. That's where I'm at. You know what's funny? Ministry can be tough (is tough), but there are so many rewards. Yeah, there is Heaven. But, fortunately before death, there are so many more rewarding moments that are hidden in the "OMG"s and the "Are you for real?"s. I've gotten many of these lately. The blinks that say "I didn't know." The written words "I learned it at Church." The stories of the quiet ones being not-so-quiet. I am glad to be a part of this ministry team. The team of Chozen Leadership, the team of Pastors at Bethel Christian Assembly, the team of A/G ministers, the team of Christians who are spreading the Words of Jesus. Yeah, the greatest pre-death rewards come when we are right where He wants us.

May 1, 2008

Like a Child.

Do you ever feel like a child trapped in an adult's body? Sometimes I think I have way too much responsibility. When I have a bad day, I wish my mom was here...she always makes me feel better. I don't have all of the answers, in fact sometimes I feel like I have none of the answers. I foolishly think ice cream will make me feel better. I laugh at most jokes. I like video games. I'm scared in the dark. I like hugs, especially from real adults. I like snow cones, butterflies, wild flowers, funny shaped rocks, crayons, to sing, sundresses, ponytails, barstools, and puppies. Maybe these things will keep me young at heart.

April 18, 2008

Settling in

This has been the busiest week I have had in a long time. About a week and a half ago, Adam and I left Texas and headed for Alpine, CA. We drove all day Wednesday, all day Thursday, and most of the day on Friday - in those 3 days we brushed off the blood, sweat, and tears of the last 8 or 9 months. So far, we are loving California. 1. We have found that in this area, people are very genuine and their honesty is refreshing. 2. The weather is absolutely unbelievable. Warm, but not hot. The other day it was 90 degrees, but Adam and I were neither one hot...I could have sat outside all day(we are going to buy a hammock for our backyard). Next Wednesday night, we are having a pool party instead of Youth Service and it is only April. 3. We already love our students. Last night in Service we had an Air band competition and everyone participated! It was a blast, I think a love affair has already begun between us and them.
All of this to say, things are going very well. We are almost completely moved in to our lovely apartment and are getting settled in nicely. I miss all of you. Please stay in touch!

March 30, 2008

Moving to Cali!

Adam and I are moving to Califonia! We’ve accepted a position at Bethel Christian assembly in Alpine, CA, a suburb of San Diego. We will be Associate Pastors of Student Ministries. We are extremely excited! After months of searching, we have found a place that we will fit in better than we could have imagined. Our first Sunday in Alpine will be on April 13th, therefore we will be leaving Dallas on April 9th. As always, this move will be bittersweet. It will definately be difficult to leave our family and close friends. Thank goodness for the internet! :)

March 24, 2008

Mirror, Mirror

Last July, I took a photo of myself and as I loaded it onto my laptop, I noticed something very distinct about the photo. As I studied it closer, I realized what the strange familiarity about this picture mother. The picture of me looked just like a picture of my mother at my age, that I saw once. I was very suprised to say the least. I laughed it off as a fluke. Until this weekend when it happened again. Another photo with that same look in my eyes, curve of the mouth, tilt of the head. Folks, I’m turning into my mother. Sigh. Luckily, It’s not looking like my mother that bothers me. I mean, I am my mother’s daughter and this happens to most women eventually, rather, it’s the fact that my mother is old. Let me explain, My mom is 50-something, which isn’t terribly old, but in my eyes she has always been sooo much older than me. You know how it is when you are ten and your parents are in their 30s and you are like "oh my gaw, they are so old and out of touch". Well, that gap is closing (not literally, she will always be 27 years older than me). In about a month and a half I’ll be the big 25. I don’t think of 25 as "so old", nor do I feel super old, but the fact remains that time is flying by. Anyway, all of this to say its an odd feeling when it happens to you. No longer do I just see Amanda in the mirror, I see a little bit of Yvonne too.

February 1, 2008


Thank you God. This time in my life has been challenging. Instead of becoming less hard, things seem to be building. But this blog is not about things being hard, this is about God's great relief. It never ceases to amaze me how precious God's mercy is and how perfect His timing. It doesn't matter the amount or type of challenge, my Lord always comes through. Right when I think I can't take it anymore, he brings me a piece of relief. My problems are not solved, but I have a new-found hope. Thank you God that you have not forgotten me. :) You give me such strength and peace. Please don't ever allow me to become bitter or hard because of my circumstance, but allow me to always recognize the greatness of your mercy!

January 11, 2008

I'm a Sap.

I went to see PS I Love You tonight with my dear friends Andrea Smith and Lesli Deer (see Andrea's blog for more.). It was a good movie and I had a great time, but I cried during the whole movie. Ok, I am so serious, I did not cry during one scene or one particular part of the movie...I cried for the whole hour and a half! It was sad, but more than that, I am a total sap. I cry at most movies. I've seen You've Got Mail over 100 times, but I still shed a tear when she says "I hoped it would be you, oh I so hoped." War movies when the men with families bravely die in battle...I'm normally sobbing by the end. I can barely turn on Gladiator or The Last Samari without turning on the water works! But oh no, it doesn't stop there-three little letters-TLC. I cry every time I watch a baby story. EVERY time. The woman is giving birth and the dr says "ok...its a girl! This is your daughter!" And you know how it is the mother is crying, the father is crying, I'm crying. Its beautiful. Every episode is the same except sometimes its a boy. At least when I'm watching TLC, I'm in the comfort of my own home. Anyway, all of that to say, I'm a complete sap. It's not something that I'm proud of, but its the simple truth.