Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity - A book review

Mark Batterson has done it again. This is the third book that Mark has put out (In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and Wild Goose Chase were the other two) and each has been very effective at challenging me in new fresh ways. In “Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity” Mark takes us back to the very root of our faith, “The Great Commandment” in a humorous, simple, yet incredibly deep way. The book is dived into four main sections; the heart, soul, mind, and strength of Christianity. As you read through Primal Mark creatively makes you rethink the great commandment in new fresh ways in a plea for us to return to this basic truth and rediscover the excitement of being a follower of Christ. He takes you into the catacombs where Christians secretly worshiped in ancient times, to the door at the Wittenberg, Germany church where Martin Luther began the reformation, to present day challenging us to be the catalyst for this generation’s reformation. I highly recommend Primal be on the very top of your reading list this year, and together we can gain a renewed passion for the Primal things of Christianity.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009

Our Dear Friends and Family, December, 2009

What a year. Can you believe 2009 is almost over? As I sit here writing this letter I can close my eyes and flash back to writing our 2008 Christmas letter as if it was yesterday. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said that there is a time and a season for everything. For the McDuffie household this rang very true this year.

It was about this time last year I began to sense that God might be calling me to college. I was scared at the thought; could this uneducated young man make it, where would I go, how would I provide for my family? It was while leading the study “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby that my wife and I became sure that God was calling us to make this next step. I applied for information from five or six schools, all Baptist except for one. It is amazing how God works. I received a phone call, an e-mail, and a letter from Toccoa Falls College all on the same day within an hour of each other. My wife was sure God was speaking to us, but I was not as sure. As we began to talk to the Falls I was looking for something, anything from the other schools. I did not hear anything from anyone until I had been fully accepted and had everything worked out with the Falls; by then I knew God was leading us there. My feelings were very mixed as we had many friends in Toccoa, but my pride was afraid to go back to where I came from. I overcame my pride and in August of this year we moved from Tucson, AZ to Toccoa Falls, GA.

The trip across country was CRAZY! We had saved up air miles through our credit card so Stacy and Aurora flew while I drove cross country. I drove to the middle of TX in one day, stayed with my sister for a day, and then made the rest of the drive the third day. It was the second day that everything went nuts. While I was in TX Stacy called me and said that the credit card was not working; I had forgotten to call them to tell them we would be moving so they put a security freeze on the account. Stacy called them, and with some miss information the card was accidentally canceled while she was on the phone, no big deal just use cash right? Wrong! All of our cash was tied up in a special account that can’t be accessed without a three days notice. So Stacy is on the east coast, I am in the middle of TX, and we are both stuck! After HOURS on the phone with the credit card company they finally agreed to send me some cash western union style and I was able to get on the road again. LOL…The story is funny to tell, but it was insane to go through.

While still in Tucson we did have some adventures too. We successfully merged the church plant with our parent church Central Baptist leaving an overall better situation, or at least I felt that way. I then co-pastored the church from December of last year until we left. We also celebrated Aurora’s fifth birthday, I finished out my time with Starbucks, I lost 75 pounds and Stacy lost 60, but the biggest adventure came in our marriage. It is amazing what God can bring you though. While in Tucson we learned what it was to fight for something worth fighting for, and for a good bit of time that we were there we were in a knock down drag out fight to save our marriage. We learned what it meant to walk through the pit, the muck and the mire, and then have God pull you out. I can honestly say that we came out the other side loving each other more than we ever had. I went to Tucson thinking I was going to change the world, but as I was leaving I realized God needed to do a transforming work in me before I could do anything for him.

School has been a grand adventure indeed. I got to live out a lifelong dream and run cross country on the colligate level and ran a personal record of a 30.31 8k (5 miles) at the national meet. Through God’s grace I earned two A’s, an A- and a B+ in my first semester, which I was more than happy with. God provided an amazing job for Stacy at the North Georgia Credit Union, and she is really beginning to excel there. God’s provision has been so awesome; not just in Stacy’s job, but in scholarships and grants, and unexpected gifts from people who love and support us. A testament to God’s provision is that we needed to pay off our car to make college work and in three month’s we somehow paid $8,000; I still have no idea how we did it! Aurora also started school this year and is already in the advanced readers program. She has also been awarded student of the month. After a few month break from leading anything I was approached about starting a married student Bible study and am really enjoying it, and hopefully they are too…LOL.

It has truly been an amazing year, a blessed year. We have not seen ourselves grow financially, but actually scale back quite a bit. Blessing is so much more than money though. What we have been privileged to be part of this year, the things we have seen God do in our marriage, in our individual lives, His provision; words cannot express my gratitude towards Him and His goodness. I do not know what the future holds, but I’m not really thinking about it, as it is in His hands. Right now I’m trying to focus on the now, and keeping my priorities straight; God, husband, father, student, and then the rest. I have learned if I keep those things straight, no matter what happens, I will make it through. 2010…HERE WE COME!

Merry Christmas,
Jeremiah, Stacy, and Aurora Rose McDuffie

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Christmas Memory

As I sit with my eyes closed I can still remember the anticipation for Christmas morning that I had as a child; that child like anticipation has stayed with me my entire life. I have always loved everything about the Christmas season, even the commercialization of Christmas. I guess that’s why I have always loved “The Christmas Song;” it talks about some the parts of the Christmas season that I love the most.
The Christmas song gained a whole new meaning for me though in 2003; that was the year I married my wife, Stacy. When I close my eyes, I remember that first Christmas we celebrated together the best. The heat is on, the soft glow of Christmas lights are shimmering from the tree, our fiber optic snowman is glowing in the corner, and then right before we went to bed “The Christmas Song” played on the radio. Sitting there listening to “The Christmas Song” we were fully living the magic of every line, it being our first Christmas together, the magic of Christmas truly seemed to be in the very air we breathed.
I still remember the little nuances of the room, the warmth that we created as we snuggled close together, and those closing words to the song “Merry Christmas to you.” We leaned towards each other and gave each other a gentle kiss as we whispered “Merry Christmas.” It was a magical night that inspires a flood of memories; I’ll never forget that last song, “The Christmas Song,” and the deep feelings it aroused within me that first Christmas with my wife.
That was our last Christmas with just the two of us; as the next year our daughter was born. Although every Christmas with our daughter has provided its own magic, that first Christmas with my wife will be a memory I always hold dear. Every time I hear “The Christmas Song” I flash back a little, and experience the magic of that Christmas all over again.