Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Post of 2011

Whew. Another year is done. It seems it ended in a crazy rush! That's just how life is when you're at my stage. Two high schoolers and a middle schooler, a great church with lots going on, family nearby, not to mention a dissertation that I've been working on for many hours. That's where I've been spending my time. I have gone hunting only once this fall! There has been very little time for personal reflection. Not good, really.
There is much good for which to be thankful. A godly wife who I don't deserve, who is excellent in every way. Great kids who all seem to be moving toward Jesus (I pray). A church family that keeps growing spiritually and numerically. Indeed, a lot for which to thank God!
Tomorrow is the beginning of a New Year--on Sunday--when we as a church will begin the much anticipated "Journey." I pray with all my heart that God will move people toward him and toward each other this year. I pray that people will be transformed through his Word, prayer, belonging, serving, giving and going. 2012 is going to be great.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Tree Time!

Wow, Christmas is a busy season! It seems every night between now and Christmas there's something festive going on. We usually get a Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend, but this time we couldn't make it happen. So I did the thing that bad (or "cool," depending on your perspective) parents do: got one of our kids out of school and went on a smaller-than-usual version of the annual Sparks Christmas tree adventure! You gotta know, Clark Griswald has nothing on me--just ask Darla (poor thing)! We've had some doozies and have come home with some epic trees!!

For the past several years, we've been going to Green Cove, VA (just past Damascus) to get our tree for $25. I know, I know--I spend more than that in gas! But we get a big, beautiful 9-10 ft. tree that is super fresh (in fact, I cut it down myself)! And, as every true sportsman knows, it's the HUNT, not the kill that matters.

Besides, that place is one gorgeous part of God's creation! We love the Creeper Trail, Grayson Highlands, and the whole area.
So I talked Dara into skipping school Wednesday and we dashed away. Wouldn't you know it--we got there and SNOW! Oh man, we were so excited! We had Relient K's Christmas album was INCREDIBLE!

The tree farm we went to probably wasn't even supposed to be open for business.

I went to the little old house next to the barn there and knocked. A really nice old guy came out and told us to go pick and cut a tree and call him when we were ready to go. There were thousands of flawless trees! The only difficulty was being able to make a judgment with all the snow on them.

We didn't have to go far to find the perfect tree. Good thing, really. The snow on top of the mud made for some treacherous stuff. I had forgotten to bring a saw so I had to borrow one from the man in the house. After we dragged the tree back and knocked on the door to pay, he was kind enough to crank up the old machine and bundle the tree up for us. Pretty cool!

There are lots of Christmas tree farms around there. We went to the one right next to the Whitetop Market. It is a cool little place with lots of old-timey soft drinks (like Nehi Peach and Red Rock Ginger Ale, which Dara and I got, respectively) in glass bottles. They also have a real grill where they serve a big menu of sandwiches and other food. Our family loves going there to look at the stuff and eat.

What a way to start the Christmas season! Dara and I were "baptized" into winter on November 30th!
After getting the tree we drove home and had a decorating party! I love Christmas.