Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Mission Field At Home

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When you think about the term “missions” or “missionaries” what is the first picture that comes to your mind?  What do you think of?  If you’re like me, and I’d surmise like many people in the world, the scenario that plays in your head goes a little something like this.  A missionary is someone who sells all they have, lives in poverty, and takes the gospel to a third world country – probably not with the best hygiene, living conditions or comforts of home.  You wonder what kind of person leaves all they know to be true and good, and voluntarily puts themselves in such a situation – with the possibility of getting hurt, sick, living in terrible conditions, or ever persecuted for their faith.  Really, who does that!?

Now, let’s talk short term.  What comes to mind when you think of a short term mission trip?  Do you think of a team of crazy people who put themselves in harms way to just share the gospel with a few people for a few days or maybe even a week or two?  Do you wonder what they’re thinking – or how they could possibly make a difference in that short of a time?

Our church recently sent a team on a medical mission trip to Honduras.  The reports that came in were nothing short of amazing, and all God in action.  Just hearing the testimonials of those who went, about the lives that were changed instilled in me the desire to be on the next team that goes. However, I’m getting ahead of myself here.  What really stood out to me was how much they all went for whatever reason(s) they set out to go on this trip – but all came back with their own lives having been touched as a result.  God worked through them in some pretty powerful ways.  However, he also worked through the Honduran people to see life change happen amongst the team as well.  Many prayed a prayer that God would break their hearts for what breaks his.  What a powerful prayer.  God’s love knows no boundaries.

With all of this in mind regarding missions, I’d like to urge you to take a step out in your own back yard.  Look around.  Drive through your community – observe.  My point is this – you do not need to travel to the far ends of the earth to make an impact, to be a missionary in your own community.  I’ve been praying the same or similar prayer. God, break  my heart for what breaks yours.  I want His heart for people.  That can sometimes be a dangerous thing to pray – because He’ll do it…and suddenly you’ll find yourself loving people and making a difference in ways that at one time seem foreign to you.  Don’t be afraid to reach out.  Don’t be afraid to be that living testimony of and for who He is.  Remember that you have the power (through Him) to make a difference and a lasting impact in our world, in your community, and in the lives of those you have the potential to reach out and touch.

The entire message behind this post is to just illuminate the fact that yes, there ARE those called to be long and short term missionaries across the world.  There are, however, many more of us (every human being alive) called to be missionaries right here at home.  Your city may very well be your mission field.  You may very well be the only Jesus some people see.

Someday When They Are Older – Because I Love Them

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The following is a poem that I found particular touching. The words are not my own, and I do not take credit for them. I have no idea who the author is. I will not say any more about this, as I believe the words will speak for themselves:

Someday when my children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates a parent, I will tell them:

I loved you enough to ask where you were going, with whom, and what time you would be home.
I loved you enough to insist that you save ……your money and buy a bike for yourself even though we could afford to buy one for you.
I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover that your new best friend was a creep.
I loved you enough to make you go pay for the bubble gum you had taken and tell the clerk, “I stole this yesterday and want to pay for it”.
I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your room, a job that should have taken 15 minutes.
I loved you enough to let you see anger, disappointment and tears in my eyes. Children must learn that their parents are not perfect.
I love u enough to let you assume the responsibility for your actions even when the penalties were so harsh they almost broke my heart.
But most of all, I loved you enough to say NO when I knew you would hate me for it.
Those were the most difficult battles

Sharing Love – People Need People

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Something that has been on my heart a great deal is love. As I have experienced even a glimpse at or a fraction of the crazy love God offers us, I am finding myself experiencing an inward transformation. I am finding that the more I personally know of and feel loved, the more I want to share that very same love with people. I am finding a burning desire to reach out to people in love. I want to help people – people I know, but also those I do not yet know. All in all, it all boils down to the fact that people need people. People need to know love. Love brings hope. People need to realize that all hope is not lost. I cannot explain why or how things have changed within me.

It is a hard concept for me to understand, much less put into words. However, what I can tell you is this. As I have said time and time again, my life has been changed directly and indirectly by the actions / love / encouragement from others. It has now become a passion, my life’s mission to love others, and share that same love and hope with them. I think people need to know that they are not alone. People need to know that they matter, and that someone believes in them.

Did you know that sometimes just a smile might make the difference in a good or a bad day in another persons life? It’s true. Simple acts of love / kindness can often make more of a difference in a persons life than you might ever know. I know because I have been the recipient. I know because I am human, and have felt many of these same emotions over the course of time.

I pray that God’s love shines through me like never before. I also pray that He keeps this fire burning bright – that my heart’s cry continues to be for His people – that somehow, He can use me to bring hope to a hurting, thirsty and hungry world. May I, even in small part, be able to let them know they are not alone. There is hope. They are loved.

Having a Vision – Nothing is Too Big!

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Do you have any areas of your life that you just do not know how to deal with? (Raises hand) Yeah, me. I know I do! As I was thinking about a few things in my life that have caused a great deal of stress for me over the course of time, I was realizing many things. One issue I often have is knowing how to tackle a larger project / chore, etc. Sometimes there can be just so many things that need doing, it is hard to even comprehend a starting point – let alone how to accomplish the entire task. I realize many things need doing – just have not had the foggiest clue how to set about actually accomplishing them all.

Well, I had a very minor (but huge to me) revelation. What I have been asking God to show me is HOW to do these things. Show me, God – how to tackle things that seem unsurmountable. I know you know, God – cause you are God. Help! Slowly, but surely, I have been getting ideas. But, one thing that came to mind today is having a vision. I need a vision of what I want the end result to be. If I want a clean house, I need to actually get a mental image of exactly what I want it to look like when I am done. Do NOT look at the current situation, so much as the future outcome.

Also, it is all in baby steps. Using the analogy of cleaning up my house – get an overall vision. But, along with that, I also need a room by room (or even section by section) vision. I see what is there now, but ask God to give me that vision. Then, ask for His direction to accomplish the tasks at hand.

It is the same with my spiritual life. I know that I MUST have a vision of where I want to be, how I want to get there, etc – or I will wander a road of the status-quo forever, and get nowhere. I am getting to a point in my life that I cannot stand sitting back and doing nothing. Forward motion, progress, or whatever you may call it – is paramount to a healthy life – physical, mental, spiritual, etc. If I sit around and just wait on God to show up, sure, He is faithful. He will show up. However, imagine the blessing that awaits by being proactive, seeking His face, and shining His light out to a hurting and thirsty world. God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t love everyone with a passion. It doesn’t mean He doesn’t want a genuine encounter with every single person on this planet. However, he WILL reward His children – those who seek Him.

God is a God of love. I cannot say that enough. He is also a God of grace. His grace is sufficient to cover all my needs. All of them. Not just some of them. ALL! He is a faithful God. When I lose track of my vision, and I need that direction, all I have to do is ask. Often, that is the hardest part – actually remembering that we serve such a loving God, that we just need to ASK for His help. He is ready and willing to help us. It just requires action (asking) on our part.

No matter where you are, no matter what your situation – God CAN reach you. Pray for his guidance and his light. Just as an earthly parent would take care of his/her child, He will take care of you. He will not let you fall by the wayside, unnoticed. You matter to Him. He cares deeply for you. He is a faithful God, and will touch you right where you are. Pray and ask Him to be your comorter. He is faithful, and will hold you. Tell Him that you want an encounter with Him. Ask Him to be real in your life. Learn to live and breath Him. God loves you with a passion, and wants a personal love relationship with Him. Just talk to Him. That is all prayer is. It is talking to God. Tell Him about your day, your hopes, your fears, your goals, your dreams, and anything else you can think of. He will listen. He hears. Open your heart to Him. He will fill it with His joy and His love. All you have to do is ask. Trust Him today.

Okay, so some of that just came purely out of no where. Well, I take that back. God is NOT nowhere! I know that I personally need to hear much of what I just wrote. However, what I can say is this – someone out there needs to know that God thinks you are important. God loves you right where you are. I, literally, did not feel as if I could stop writing until His message was broadcast. Know that you are not alone, and that you are loved. May God be with you today, and as you walk through the future that is your life. Let God hold you. He loves and cares about you.

What Has Your Focus, Has You!

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As I was collecting my thoughts, I started jotting down thoughts, or “little life’s lessons” if you will.

Whatever has your attention and focus has you. Plain and simple. This relates to either the positive or negative things. Whatever it is that you pour your attention towards will ultimately shape your destiny.

To achieve true success, you must get rid of wrong thinking. Learn to think and dream big.  Don’t think you can’t do something because….and fill in the blank.

You must do away with wrong attitudes. Attitude truly is everything. A good attitude promotes success whereas a bad attitude will bring failure.

You also need to check your words. The words that come out of your mouth have the power to bring pain and hurt or the ability to heal. Which do you choose?

Wrong habits need to be elimated also. Your success or failures come from what habits you form.

You need to surround yourself with friendships that promote success. Who you keep as a friend defines who you are.

Be cautious to not harbor unforgiveness. It will suck the life right out of you!

One very important idea is to also get rid of self condemnation. Know that you are forgiven. It’s over – don’t spend another minute dwelling on it.

Clearly, I have been taking a great deal of time to reflect here lately. I realized the need to evaluate my own thoughts, as well as the fact that how I talk, the things I say, the company I keep, etc – are all a witness of who I am. If I choose words that are not glorifying Him, I believe am in direct disobedience of Him and His word for me. As a Christian, I have to conduct myself in a manner that sets me apart from the rest of the world. This does not, by any means, make me better than the next person – it just makes me striving to live a life with God at the center. As Christians, we need to let our actions be a witness for who God IS, not who He is NOT. It is my resolve to be a living testimony of His great love for each and every one of us.

Tomorrow Is Not a Guarantee

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I wrote this on the evening of September 21, 2012
 
Do you have hope for tomorrow?
Do you have faith in something greater than yourself?
Are you one who thinks you are responsible
for all the good or bad situations you walk through?
Do you understand how precious you are,
and how precious life is?
Life is short,
Life is long,
Life is not a guarantee.
No matter who you are,
No matter what you’ve done,
You haven’t gone too far,
and not all hope is lost.
 
For your life is precious,
don’t waste another minute.
 
My greatest prayer for you
is that you give your life today.
For, after all, tomorrow is not a guarantee.
I just pray that you have tomorrow.
I pray your tomorrow comes.
Would you listen to His voice today?
I am praying for your heart and soul.
I pray you put it in His capable hands.
I thank God for His mercy,
 and that he is faitful to give us chance after chance –
time and time again.
Give your life to Jesus,
put it in His hands.
Trust Him with today,
Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
 
For your life is precious,
don’t waste another minute.
 
My only concern is that,
while His grace is unending,
He also gives us free will.
It is a choice only you can make.
I pray you make it while there is still time.
Thankfully, you may have a long plentiful life
full of many years left on this earth.
However, that is not a guarantee.
Should your life not follow the mold you have envisioned,
I pray you trust Him with it.
Now is the time.
My sincere prayers are with and for you.
Do not put off until tomorrow what needs doing today.
Trust Him with today,
Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

 

An Inward Look – Love and Passion

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Right now, I sit and ponder many things. Above all else, I ask myself a question that burns with a passion. Why in the world did I wait THIS long to get real with myself, and before God. Of course He knows all things – everything I went through over the course of my life, leading up to present. But, I ask myself – why now? How come I waited this long to seek Him in a more real way? Having been in and around church growing up, I was that girl who know all the right answers. I knew to do right, and generally did. I had even asked Jesus to be a part of my life at a very early age. However, decisions I made personally allowed me to drift further and further away from my destiny in Him. He never, not once, left me. He was and is still the same God of all creation. He is constant. Me? I allowed myself to drift. Though I cannot really second guess myself, asking why I waited so long – I can not help but wonder how my life and the lives of others would be different. But, I cannot and will not dwell on the past. What I have learned is that I simply must live today with the potential it has. I must look forward to tomorrow and beyond with expectancy – in anticipation of what God is not only capable of, but what He is planning on doing.

My heart is just filled, to what seems to be nearly overflowing. I cannot comprehend or contain how truly amazing God is. More than that, I am finding – as I have mentioned recently – that there is an undescribable love I have for other people. This has not always been the case. There have been many times in my life that my life revolved around me, and what happened in my direct spehere of influence. But, what I am finding – now more than ever before, is that I genuinely care about people. I have asked God to birth in me a passion and love for the people He calls His children – all people. It has been my sincere honor and blessing to be able to reach out to people who are hurting, or who may just need to know that someone cares – and that God is there for them, no matter what. I believe that prayer is a mighty tool in the hands of those who believe in and trust God with their lives. Do not ever doubt the validity or necessity of prayer. From the family who is believing God for specific test results, to the family who has a family member battling disease, to the person who has lost all hope, to pretty much everyone alive – prayer matters. Prayer not only works, it is a necessity.

There have been times in my life that I wondered what life was really all about. I questioned my own worth and usefullness. It was not a matter of planning something drastic, so much as just pondering. However, now – I want my life to mean something. I want my life’s experiences to mean something. If just one person has hope, smiles, or is made to feel like they are not alone, it will have all been worth it. The more I live my life in the light of who God is, how He loves me, and what He has done for me, the more I know my life has meaning. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am loved unconditionally. That, right there, is sometimes hard to even comprehend.

I know I have said this before, and will likely say it many times again, but to experience even a fraction of His very real love is truly life-changing. Did I just never get that real glimpse before? Did I never have that true life experience before? I don’t know. I can’t really say. However, what I can say is that I have felt His love in such a powerful way, that my life has changed, and is changing before my eyes. Are there still things in my life that I don’t like, and in need of change? Absolutely, without question! However, I firmly believe in both taking baby steps and giant leaps of faith. No matter which is the right season at the moment, know that it is not wrong. If you can only do little things – baby steps, know that you are moving forward. If you feel required to make giant leaps of faith, know again that you are moving forward – progressing towards the things in your heart to do. I see and feel things in my life that are changing all the time. Change is a process. It takes time – sometimes more than others.

Ultimately, I am just grateful to be where I am right now, at this moment – and looking forward to the future. Though I cannot say with certainty what the future holds, I know it will be full of His love, and ways to share that same love with hurting, thirsty and hungry people in this world. His love heals hurts. It mends broken hearts. It brings hope to the hopeless. It brings life. It sustains life. His love is very real, and I am grateful to experience it time and time again.

The Restless Soul

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Today’s church service was powerful – in pretty much every sense of the word. First, however, I should rewind.  When I got to church this morning, I was not at ease.  I was frustrated, and feeling pulled in about a thousand different directions.  I was not depressed, angry or even happy really.  I was just there, seemingly going through the motions.  I was frustrated about a particular situation, and was letting that get in my head.  I was allowing it to take my focus off of Him.  Each time a friend spoke to me, I was fairly noncommittal, and probably seemed uninterested.  Simply put, I was just not at peace. That, however, would soon change.

Our praise and worship team started the service beautifully.  Unfortunately, my heart just wasn’t in it at first.  Then, as I stood there, I made a conscious decision to forgive some people involved in the situation that had been frustrating me.  I asked God to help me.  Right then and there, it was as if God’s presence dropped right into the room.  He was already there, but became real to me as I was standing there.  As I was listening to the music, and letting the words speak to my heart and bring peace.  As I stood there, in full surrender to Him, I began to pray.  I prayed for the upcoming service, our pastor, the praise team, as well as every person in the service – and all those not in attendance even.  I had a sense of urgency for people, all of the sudden.  Had I not made the conscious decision to get my heart in the right place, and to forgive a situation I didn’t feel needed forgiving, I would not have followed His direction to pray.  I would have remained not at peace.

Today, we started a new series, Soul Detox – which is loosely based on Pastor Craig Groeschel’s book “Soul Detox.”  Today our pastor spoke about the restless soul.  We do not take the time to simply rest – to be still before God.  It is paramount that we learn to just be still before God.  Pastor Lance spoke about having been challenged to take five minutes to just rest his thoughts, and to just focus on God, and Him alone.  At the initial glance, it looks like that would be so easy.  However, think about it.  If I’m being honest, I’d have to realize that it’s harder than you’d imagine to just sit and be still.  I realize that I’d likely approach the five minute challenge with the best of intentions.  However, when it came down to it, I think I’d be like many people.  I’d start, then think about all those other things I should, could or would be doing if not sitting right there, right then.  Just to sit and think about God shouldn’t be difficult.  You (and by you, I mean me) should allow yourself to just think on His goodness.  Dwell on Him, and listen for anything He might put on your heart.  God loves us with a crazy, and passionate love. I’m going to try this challenge (later, because of course I have something to do right now! Ironic, isn’t it!?) and just allow my focus to be on Him – to just spend time in His presence.  At the end of today’s church service, we took a moment of silence to just allow our hearts and minds to focus on Him.  What a sweet presence filled the room.  His love was real, and was with each and every person in there.  Talk about life change becoming possible for so many people – week after week.

Whatever you do, just don’t allow life to get you so busy, that you are unable to make God a priority, and take any time for Him.  He is the best friend you’ll ever have, and the most loving father you’ll ever know.  Make it a priority to just be still in His presence, and to rest in Him. Just as so many things in life are the result of a conscious decision, so is this.  You have to take the time, make it a priority or it won’t get done.  I have been living proof of this in action — or rather NOT in action sometimes!  Take the time – your life will be blessed as a result.

Disappointment Happens

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Let’s have a down to earth conversation for a moment.  Most everything I’ve written about has had a positive thought process behind it.  However, I’d like to take a moment and just be personal with a couple things.  First, I will echo something I’ve touched on before. Life isn’t always going to be perfect. There will be ups, and there will be downs.  It’s how we react to those ups and downs that define our character.

Something happened yesterday afternoon that really bothered me. A decision was made, and a situation brought to light that was/is completely out of my hands. Even still, I walked away very disappointed. I had several thoughts about being heard – about my opinion and/or thoughts being taken into consideration in the equation. I felt as if what I had to say didn’t really matter, and ultimately wasn’t important. With tears in my eyes, I made it clear how I felt, and that I was upset. I am not great at making my thoughts known, much less fighting for them. When something doesn’t go my way, I tend to just let it slide and go on about life. This time, I chose to be honest, and just explain how the situation made me feel.  Ultimately, it still didn’t matter, but I know I did what I could.

Having said all that – let’s put this in a practical example to draw a parallel to a situation in life and how people react to disappointment. Let’s say you are a member of a church, and something happens with another member, or a message is taught that you do not agree with.  You have three choices.  1) You walk away and decide to leave the church, 2) You decide to stay, but remain unhappy about the situation, or 3) You make a conscious decision to forgive those responsible.  How would you respond? As I sit here pondering this hypothetical situation, I realize it would somewhat depend on what the “crime” in question is. In thinking, if I’m being honest, I think I’d be somewhere between 2 and 3 at first.

The point I’d like to explore is this. I was talking to a friend about a similar situation that happened in her organization. She chose to stay, but lost a friend when they got offended and chose to leave. I can’t tell you how much this happens in places all around us. Take the church situation, for example. Many people would not hesitate to leave a church, knowing they can find a new one “just as good” as where they are leaving. I challenge this, though. If you are in a place that you know God has led you to be a part of, leaving over a disagreement would be foolish – plain and simple.

Think of it this way. Assuming you live in the United States (if not, here’s a shout out to all my non-US friends!!) there is likely something you disagree with from our government. Maybe you don’t agree with our President, or another person in leadership. Would you decide that it’s just too offensive, and pack your bags – moving to the next best country…and when this happens again, your human nature insists you pick up and move again, and again.  Do you see a pattern here?

I realize it may be a silly analogy to some, but is it really?  Think about it. In this “all about me” consumer driven society we live in, it’s far to easy to give up and move on when things don’t go as planned.  I say all that to say this – figure out the things in life that are important to you.  Stand by them, and stand behind them. Don’t, however, give up on them at the hint of trouble.  Be willing to look at things from all sides, and just remain flexible.

Time for a Joke: Everyday Life in Atlanta, GA

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I got this via email, and found it too good to not pass along!
This is for anyone who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, has ever lived in Atlanta, has ever visited Atlanta, ever plans to visit Atlanta, knows anyone who already lives in Atlanta, or knows anyone who has ever heard of Atlanta.

Atlanta is composed mostly of one-way streets. The only way to get out of downtown Atlanta, is to turnaround and start over when you reach Greenville, South Carolina.

All directions start with, “Go down Peachtree” and include the phrase, “When you get to the Waffle House.” except if you happen to be in Cobb County, where all directions begin with, “Keep going until you get to the Big Chicken.”

Peachtree Street has no beginning, and no end, and is not to be confused with:
Peachtree Circle
Peachtree Place
Peachtree Lane
Peachtree Road
Peachtree Parkway
Peachtree Run
Peachtree Terrace
Peachtree Avenue
Peachtree Commons
Peachtree Battle
Peachtree Corners
New Peachtree
Old Peachtree
West Peachtree
Peachtree-Dunwoody
Peachtree-Chamblee
Peachtree Industrial Boulevard
[46 streets have Peachtree in their name]

Atlantans only know their way to work and their way home. If you ask anyone for directions, they will always send you down Peachtree.

Atlanta is the home of Coca-Cola. Coke is all they drink there so don’t ask for any other soft drink unless it’s made by Coca-Cola. Even if you want something other than a Coca-Cola, it’s still called Coke.

The gates at Atlanta ‘s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport are about 32 miles away from the Main Concourse, so wear sneakers and pack a lunch.

The 8 a.m. rush hour is from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

The 5 p.m. rush hour is from 3:00 p.m. to 7:30 pm. (Don’t forget the lunch time rush hour!)

Friday’s rush hour starts Thursday afternoon and lasts through 2 a.m. Saturday.

Only a native can pronounce Ponce De Leon Avenue, so do not attempt the Spanish pronunciation. People will simply tilt their heads to the right and stare at you. The Atlanta pronunciation is ” pawntz duh LEE-awn.”

And yes, they have a street named simply, “Boulevard.”

The falling of one raindrop causes all drivers to immediately forget all traffic rules. If a single snowflake falls, the city is paralyzed for three days
and it’s on all the channels as a news flash every 15 minutes for a week. Overnight, all grocery stores will be sold out of milk, bread, bottled
water, toilet paper, and beer.

I-285, is the interstate loop that encircles Atlanta. It has a posted speed limit of 55 mph, but you have to maintain 80 mph just to keep from getting run over, and is known to truckers as “The Watermelon 500.”

Don’t believe the directional markers on highways: I-285 is marked “East” and “West” but you may actually be going North or South at any given time. The locals identify the direction by referring to the “Inner Loop” and the “Outer Loop .”

If you travel on Hwy 92 North, you will actually be going southeast.

Never buy a ladder or mattress in Atlanta. Just go to one of the interstates and you will soon find one in the middle of the road.

The last thing you want to do is give another driver the finger, unless your car is armored, your trigger finger is itchy and your AK-47 has a full clip.

Possums sleep in the middle of the road with their feet in the air.

There are 5,000 types of snakes and 4,998 live in Georgia .

There are 10,000 types of spiders. All 10,000 live in Georgia, plus a couple no one has seen before.

If it grows, it will scratch or stick you. If it crawls, it will bite you. If you are standing outdoors and notice a vine trying to wrap itself around
your leg, you have about 20 seconds to escape, before you are completely captured and covered with Kudzu.

It’s not a shopping cart, it’s a buggy.

“Fixinto” is one word (I’m fixinto go to the store) – also can be pronounced “Fixinta”.

Sweet Tea is appropriate for all meals and you start drinking it when you’re 2 years old.

“Jeet?” is actually a phrase meaning “Did you eat?”

“How’s Momma-nem” means: “How’s Mother and all of the other children and other members of the family doing?”

Now if you understand these jokes, forward them to your friends from Atlanta, Georgia, and those who just wish they were.