Missing Family and Meeting Family

This is an odd Christmas.  It is the first Christmas in my life where I will not be spending Christmas Eve over at my grandparents house.  Furthermore, it is the first Christmas without my granddad who went to be with Jesus earlier this year.  I got to see some family last week which was great.  My brother and sister in law came to Eugene then we all went up to Seattle to spend some time with my dad and his wife and her daughters.  Again, it was great.  But there is something hard about it every time they come out here to Oregon or I find myself back in Alabama.  It's like you kind of forget how amazing those times with family are and then when they take place it makes it even harder to go back to the reality of them being thousands of miles away.  I loved getting to hug my dad and talking with my brother about things that didn't even matter.  I admire both of these men so much.  It's hard not to have them around.  A day doesn't seem to pass when I'm not reflecting on how these two men would handle the situation I find myself in.  These feelings led to me and Audrey having a conversation that created a thought that has been flickering like a sketchy Halloween porch light ever since my wife verbalized it.

She said she wanted to make sure we didn't do all this for nothing.  If we were going to just live life it would be much better to do around the people we love the most.  If we are going to be here in one of the most lost and unchristian cultures in America then lets spend it all for the Glory of God and for the Gospel.  I love my wife.  (you can check out her blog on quintonandaudrey.blogspot.com)  Our family here and our team want to pour our lives out for the Gospel.  And what's awesome is that it is happening here.  This Christmas season it has happened when the guys have changed tires on bikes for the homeless, through lock in for homeless teenagers, bought donuts for people on the street, had coffee with lonely people, gave gifts to struggling families, played basketball with a group of homeless guys, went caroling in Eugene, had Bible Studies with coworkers, encouraged atheist coworkers to play drums for Christmas music at the mission, invited neighbors with no family over for Christmas, and loving people in every opportunity.  God is good.  His grace is amazing and we are honored to share his love with the world.

As I got back from the trip to Seattle and got in the weekly grind I also began to understand that I have new family that is arising here.  It is our team, neighbors, fellow ministers and local churches, and random people that God has crossed our paths.  I also have began to realize how much the homeless population is becoming part of my family.  One homeless guy came up to me this last week and gave me a fifty dollar bill to help some family that was struggling during the holidays.  Yesterday I got to pass the gift of grace own to a family where the father has been very sick.  One of the men gave me some apple butter which I'm super excited about trying on some biscuits.  I played bingo with a bunch of homeless guys all last week and we laughed and enjoyed life together.  I'm beginning to see that these guys are an integral part of the family that God has given me here and I am thankful for them.  Tomorrow will be Christmas.  I am looking forward to letting the girls open the gifts and to eat with our team for lunch, but I'm also looking forward to getting to the homeless mission tomorrow evening.  There I get to preach on Jesus and how he was the greatest gift ever imagined.  I get to tell these guys that Simeon waited his whole life just to see Jesus and even though they may not know it, Jesus is the very thing these guys need too.

If your reading this you are probably part of my family in some way.  I love you.  I miss you.  I can't wait to hang out again.

Merry Christmas.


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