Friday, October 28, 2011


This week was exceptionally busy. (Do I say that every week?) But I felt such peace and joy in it. I told my friend I was a cheerleader this week, cheering to myself and my family, "Life is a gift!". And it felt like one, even when it didn't look that way. Our activities made our life fast-paced and busting at the seams, but still peaceful. I decided on Sunday to surrender to Jesus everything that I wanted to do that couldn't get done. No fretting. It makes for a happier Mom/wife and a more faithful servant of Christ. There was A LOT that I had hoped to do that I couldn't this week, just like all other weeks. But I enjoyed my time and a lot was accomplished. That's good enough for me! (Why do I have to learn this lesson over and over again? Just being content with what the day can hold? Appreciating the assignments given from God?)

I keep trying to capture what our farm looks like right now, as the colors have peaked for fall. But I can not come close to capturing it with a camera. Maybe there will be time to paint. And our drive to town, under the canopy of colored leaves with pastures full of animals, is so amazing. It's hard not to praise God when you have this 20 minute drive. I often see it as a barrier between myself and my destination. But that is foolish. It's a gift, and I know it as I look around and am forced to be thankful for the beautiful creation God has given me to enjoy. It is nearly impossible to rush past and ignore.

**A few highlights from the week**

My niece turned six last weekend. She had a costume/hayride party. Her snaggle-tooth-smile makes me want to squish her with hugs. She looks like she jumped out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

My sweet friend invited us over, along with her neighbors, to a pumpkin carving party. We had a great night meeting new people, roasting marshmallows, playing with other kids, eating, and carving our pumpkin. Thanks, Laura Beth and Harris!

The boys went squirrel hunting this morning. Hello, we live in the country! Andy says squirrels are good "target practice". I wanted to argue. But squirrels are just too creepy for me to defend. Look at my boys. How is it possible to look this cute with Andy's fishing hats on? (They would be mortified that I used the word "cute" to describe them here.) And Jackson's Ghost Busters shirt is awesome. :)

So many of you have emailed me lately. Thank you! I appreciate your prayers for my Mom. She starts chemo on Monday. She had a port inserted this past Monday. I feel like Lydie and I are all too familiar with her hospital now! Please pray for Mom as she starts this very grueling treatment. I don't look forward to her beautiful, thick hair falling out. And I am really praying that her petite, well-manicured finger nails don't fall out as well. After a mastectomy, I imagine it is hard for a lady to give up those things. But she is facing it all bravely and doesn't seem upset yet. Pray for me as I manage my time. I want to be with her during her treatments but I am not sure what to do with my Lydie during that time. Happy fall! I hope whoever is reading is enjoy this beautiful season!!

"Parenting is not so much about instructing people as it is about inviting into Presence."

~Ann Voskamp

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chief sinner

Humility can be so painful. Today I felt it, deeply. I was sitting with a new friend at church talking between Sunday school and the church service. This friend's name is Beth and she is probably about 15 years ahead of me in life. She is wise, honest, and so lovely. (The name Beth must have that effect on people, because I have never met a "Beth" whom I didn't love immediately.) So there we were, sharing about our lives, and my eleven year old walks up and sits by us. I introduce him, he smiles quietly, and sits and listens. Then she says, "This move to the farm seems so effortless for you. We're all amazed at how little you seem effected." As I smile and ponder how to share with her just how much of a difficult, life-changing, struggle it is, my son speaks. He says, and I quote, "She's pretty much been grumpy for months." He doesn't look up from his drink at her or me. He just mumbles it and sits and waits for me to digest it. So I confess, "Yes, he's probably right. It's been a really big struggle. Maybe if it doesn't look that way it's because being around you is such a pick me up!" And I look back over at the eleven year old, still sulking and not looking up. I am not concerned about what Beth thinks about me at this moment, but I am crushed by what my boy thinks.

Once the opening hymn begins, I decide to go ahead and have a talk with my little man. I motion towards the back door and ask him to follow me. We sit in the foyer and he says, "Am I in trouble? Did I say something wrong?" He's obviously shaking in his boots at this point. I take a deep breath. And I ask the question I am so afraid to hear answered, "Son, are you mad at me? Do you feel anger towards me...even hatred?" He mumbles. I say, "You have to tell me the truth. We have to talk this out right now." And he crumbles, crying, head in hands. He says, "You blame me for things that aren't my fault. And you don't like living at the farm. Dad and I are the only ones who really like it. And I just want things to be good again. If we could have just bought a farm in Atlanta you wouldn't feel this way and everything would be like it used to be." Sigh.

I wrap my arm around him and we take a walk out in the grass. I tell him (but mostly myself) that he is right, I have been grumpy often. It is impossible to hide even a hint of a negative emotion from this kiddo. He is like a walking lie detector- intensely intuitive. I tell him I have struggled to trust that this move is good. I have lacked faith. And I have often not run to God to receive all He has for me, so I failed to pass that love and grace on to him. I reassure him God loves us and will eventually give us peace, as we seek Him. I reminded him (and myself) that I will be okay, it just takes me a while to lament. I do not apologize for my feelings, but I do ask for forgiveness for the times when my difficult feelings have led me to be distant or grumpy. (*I wish I would have thought to tell him that he can not feel responsible for making me feel better. I know he wants me to feel happy, but he can not make me happy. But I didn't think of that until now. I did, however, ask him to pray for me.) I reminded him that even when he is angry, hurtful, distant, or sulky I will always, always love him. Then I tell him the next time he says something disrespectful to me there will be SERIOUS repercussions...but he is welcome to come to me respectfully when he is hurt, confused, or angry. We hug and cry and join the others just in time for a sermon...on trusting God. And we nudge, and write notes, and smile at God's provision in every word the pastor delivered.

My heart resonates with Paul when he claimed, "I am the chief sinner!" I am often selfish, stubborn, and cold when I do not get my way. But because of God's lavish grace, I am humbled and broken. And I thank God that a Momma sinner and a boy sinner can come together in all their sulky anger and find rest and love in a heavenly Father who uses our weakness for good. I am weak, He is strong. I am feeble, inconsistent, and unfaithful. And He gave us Jesus. I am completely consumed with His love for us! And I am reminded of the consequences I face when I grip too tightly my own desires.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fall break trip: The Smoky Mountains

Mimi and Papa took our family, along with my brother-in-law's family, to the mountains for a week. They were so generous to spoil us with fun outings and meals! I think we made the trip at the perfect time, just as the leaves were beginning to pop with color. Our adventures included:


A trip to our favorite mountain restaurant: The Apple Barn A glorious hike (This was Lydie's first time to hike the whole way without riding in a back pack!) Wonder Works MuseumAnother favorite restaurant: The Peddler The men took the kids fishing...and we went shoppingArts and Crafts festival

The aquarium

This break came at a great time in our school year. We are officially 1/4 of the way through the year! Thanks to having a plush condo with a washer/dryer, I don't even feel overwhelmed with dirty clothes to clean! We came home yesterday, and little by little we unpacked today (while mourning the Auburn football game). It feels great to have a day of rest tomorrow before getting back in the fast lane on Monday. Thanks, Mimi and Papa, for spoiling us and giving us great memories!

Moments I want to remember: Getting the "Tawanda!" in the parking lot, kareoke (even if just one night), making Papa mad when I rejected his radio channel (bluegrass gospel), feeling violated after reading the shirts in a discount store with my sister-in-law (and understanding why the clerk's car had the message- in shoe polish on the windshield, no less- "If you don't like what I saying, you damn sure don't want to know what I am thinking!" Yikes!!), hearing "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" & "Rocky Top" at every corner, Papa's astonishment when the clerk charged $50 for the kids' bags of candy, & Lydie's face after her first roller coaster ride. But mostly, just a restful, fun week. Good stuff!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Stroll around the farm

This morning I had the pleasure of exercising outside. Normally, I get the kids started on chores and sneak away in my room for an exercise video. But today Andy was wrapping up a consulting report and suggested I take a walk.

Our house is on the "forest" side of our property. The farm land is across the street. I went around the back of the house, down the hills, and into the forest side. Among the woods are a lot of green fields for deer hunting. But we don't grow any produce over here except for a small fruit orchard.

As I left, I waved to the boys who were done with their chores and waiting on school to start. It was 8:00, or was it closer to 9? While many of their friends were starting school, they were jumping on their trampoline. It's a good perk, they say.

Here are a few of the buildings on the property. I call this the Chester house.

As in, Chester the Molester. Seriously, when I read The Room, I imagined the kidnapped girl locked up in a building like this. It's so creepy. But that silver door on the left opens to a huge refrigerated room, which is so useful for our summer produce. And behind the refrigerated room is a huge sink, great for cleaning the veggies. And that really creepy door that used to be red is a big storage room with freezers and picking baskets, as well as my Christmas decorations. Some time I will post the "China" story of how my attic has no steps. It's just a big square in the ceiling, like the door to no where. Except it goes somewhere...the attic! And we can't get in without a ladder. So guess what? It's empty. This creepy building is about a quarter of a mile from our house. I am very glad.
Moving along, this building is an old double wide trailer.
It is beside Chester. A very unfriendly man lived there who really made me uncomfortable. By God's grace, that man was willing to sell his little parcel of land to us and he moved away. And this little building came with the land. So my Dad has stuff in there for he and his buddies when hunting season rolls around. All the hand-me-down furniture in the family is given to my Dad. He can not stand to waste. Any way, his living room has a huge, ornate brass mirror above a pastel sofa that used to be in a beach condo, with an old burgundy plaque with a quote about joy on it hanging beside the mirror. This is just a sample of the unique furnishings he has brought together. My Dad is so easy to please. He could care less. He could afford to tear it all down and build a mansion, but he is perfectly comfortable with it, as is. I love that man!
And lastly, our new barn. I am at the top of a hill looking across the street on to the farm land. This building is brand new. That little house to the right of the barn holds a new well. This baby will pull 15 gallons of water from underground per minute. If you knew the method my husband used last summer to irrigate you would understand why this news is blog worthy. Summer for a farmer with a poor irrigation system in central Alabama=LONG days.

On my way home, the signs of fall around the property were breath taking. I wanted to freeze time. Loved the cool breeze, chirping birds, and beautiful colors. The balmy summer is so palpable here. So much so that the gentleness of fall feels and looks like a miracle to me after the harsh heat! I wanted to chant, "We made it!"

I question whether there was any elevation of my heart rate on this walk. With all these photos, did this walk even qualify as exercise? Oh well, sometimes it is good to actually SEE what I am walking past every day. Carpe diem!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fancy horses

Every week, sometimes even daily, my girl amazes me with her resourcefulness. She finds random things around the house and takes them to her little art table. Then she reinvents their purpose and makes beautiful art. She made me a bird yesterday out of tissues. She once used kabob sticks out of the kitchen to support a paper butterfly whose wings would flutter by moving the stick. She feeds her stuffed animals beads from her jewelry drawer. She's such a creative little thing!
Right now Lydie is all about horses. Why is it that only girls go through this stage? And I can't blame her. Any time we leave our house, even to go to the nearest gas station or grocery store, she sees many beautiful pastures like this one along the road:

**Side note: The nearest actual gas station is always out of gas. The first time I discovered this it was a "China" moment. Seriously, I have stopped numerous times and it always says, "SORRY, EMPTY." When I approached our neighbor about it he said, "Yes. The owner is a good guy. He just hadn't got a lot of money." I guess he replenishes his gas station with gasoline as he can afford to. Bummer. And incidentally, I go inside the gas station store occasionally to give him some friendly business. Would you believe that the last time I went in there he was out of snacks?! All the empty boxes where the snacks used to be were still lining the shelves. I couldn't believe it either. So I bought 2 Diet Cokes and a few packs of gum. There is always a group of three elderly men sitting on the painted bench outside. It really is like a scene from Mayberry.

Back to the horses...about a week ago I saw Lydie staring at her rocking horse, Carrots, with a puzzled, frustrated look. She shared that Carrots needed a "...what's that called that goes on his back?". "Carrots needs a saddle", I clarified. And she had scoured the house, and couldn't find the right stuff to make him one. She was finally stumped.

So while the boys were in classes we took a trip to Hobby Lobby. I liked playing her game with her. After perusing every aisle in the store...

Here's how we made a saddle for a stuffed rocking horse (no sewing involved):

Poly Foam

brown fabric

suede string (hot pink is Lydie's preference)

fabric scissors and safety pins
Drape the foam around the horse's body and cut off the excess.

Wrap the foam in the fabric, like gift wrapping, except pin with safety pins as opposed to scotch tape (only on the bottom side).

Drape the foam on the horse again. Cut two long strips of suede lace and tie the saddle on the horse (I just knotted the string on the belly side of the horse). Then tie two extra pieces of suede lace to the harnesses to act as reigns.

Afterwards, she was so thrilled that she "rode" Carrots to the refrigerator and got out a bag of carrots to share with him. Squeals abounded!
Happy trails!

**This was my 1,000th post!**