Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wendell Berry

On Monday night I gave Andy an early birthday present. We went out to dinner and then to hear Wendell Berry speak at a university nearby. Andy is a big fan of Mr. Berry's books. If you have read them you know that many are set on farms or in rural settings. He writes essays, short stories, and poems and they are very unique, simple, and beautiful. These words could be used to describe Andy, as well: unique, simple, beautiful.

I did not take any pictures that night. We were really doing well to do the daily stuff at home, get the kids to grandparents (with packed suitcases) an hour away from home, and make it to dinner and then the university by 7:00. The afternoon was a bit of a whirlwind. And I do not recall ever having a date night on Monday before. But it was a lovely night. So worth the effort!

Mr. Berry spoke of his passion for reading, writing, the outdoors, and sustainable farming. It was quite interesting to hear his simple, but articulate, opinions on the future of our country, big-scale farms, and even religion. I was struck by the way his no-frills life has touched so many.

"We learn from our gardens how to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?"

~Wendell Berry

I want that type of success, too. One that gives more than takes. One that gets ahead in life not by stepping on others, but by being servant-leaders. One that values what God has created and is a good steward of those things. I pray that each of us here in our home will use the gifts and talents that God has given us to do, be, and say for the glory to God (and not ourselves).

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Love and Greyce

On Sunday we went to church with my brother's family. His youngest daughter accepted Jesus as her Savior in November and got baptized on Sunday. Although it happens occasionally, my children do not often see children and adults get baptized at our church. (Presbyterians administer infant baptism, holding to the concepts of covenant theology.) Lydie especially was asking questions about the baptismal, etc.
It was a special day. My brother baptized my niece, which was SO sweet! The church made a short video where our niece told of the story of how she came to know Christ- her testimony. And the video was so HER. Smiley, giggley. "Could my three nieces and three nephews be any cuter?", I kept rhetorically asking myself. (The answer is a resounding NO! They are absolutely THE CUTEST.)
I am a crier. (I am a hugger, too.) Regardless, I try to keep my tears and touchy-feelyness under wraps. But I cannot help myself on days like this one. I hugged and cried profusely (and kissed, too). Because these sweet children-their hearts, souls, and minds being under the Lordship of Christ-this is what we long for. I cried until my lip quivered. Sweet little Greyce. What a blessing!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Auburn love

After Joshua's basketball game on Saturday we went to spend the day at Auburn. Joshua has been asking to go to an Auburn basketball game and we finally found the time to take him. We had a wonderful day together at the game, and walking around campus and downtown. The new Arena is wonderful. The kids especially loved the old pictures and little museum there. The basketball games are a lot of fun with lots of entertainment for families. It was a good time. I am so thrilled that we only live an hour away!

The Auburn Creed etched into the outside wall of the Arena

We have moved around a lot in our fifteen years of marriage. And if I ever feel misplaced I can always find that "home sweet home" feeling as I walk the streets of our Alma Mater. I met and fell in love with my husband there. I became an adult there. And I went from a new, baby Christian to a married woman, all on in this town. And now my own children are dreaming of going to college there, too. We love sweet Auburn!

Did anyone hear Octavia Spencer give a "War Eagle!" on the red carpet at the Oscar's last night. When she won the Oscar for her amazing acting in The Help I almost flipped out. Three cheers for Alabama natives/Auburn alums!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Motivation, or lack thereof

We are lacking in motivation these days. Last week I let my exercise regimen slip. I also finished a book mid-week and can not seem to pick up another one that interests me at night. Valentine's day ruined my "only one dessert a week" policy last week. And my weekend travels threw off my "8 glasses of water a day" habit. I'm lost without my habits!

The children have had a hard time with school work this week too, wishing their fun weekend could continue on forever. Math itself has taken nearly 2 hours each day if you include our drill time. The more difficult they are, the more I want to choose sweet tea over water and sleep over exercise. It's amazing, as a tightly knit family, how our moods play off of one another.

Yes, we are in need of a little energy, motivation, and drive. But until we find it, I will drag the kids across the finish line of each school day. Even if it takes ALL day to get there! This is where my strong-willed personality comes in handy! Anyone want to come and make me exercise and drink water? No? I guess I need to put on my big girl panties and buck up!

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit."


Monday, February 20, 2012

Fun in the ATL

This past weekend we took a break from country life and went to the big city. Our life is so similar to Green Acres (that would make me Zsa Zsa) and sometimes I need to break free!! :) So I called my friend-that-is-like-a-sister Liz and invited myself (and 3 kids and husband) over for the weekend. I'm very polite, let me tell you.
I didn't get out my camara that often. I was too relaxed. But we had a great weekend. Shopping in downtown Roswell...antique markets and cafes...beautiful! We also chatted, played games, and watched a movie by the fire. Our husbands actually cornered us into watched Red Dawn. Oh my goodness. Worst movie ever. Period. But good for some laughs. Sweet Liz invited two other families over for dinner on Saturday night. How many people do you know who can throw together an impromptu dinner party like that? There were 20 of us, including kids, and she fed us all without a lot of fuss! She's pretty amazing. And she loves us...a lot.

We enjoyed so much seeing our friends at our old church on Sunday, too. It was really a great weekend from start to finish. The kids' love tanks are all filled this morning after three days with their BEST friends! Joshua said last night on the way home, "If my Georgia friends and my Alabama friends were in a competition, my Georgia friends would win." I am sure this statement had nothing to do with which friends he enjoys more. It was simply a nine year old boy's way of saying his Georgia friends are awesome and he loves them like family. We all agree.

Today I am thankful for generous friends, a church who loved us so well for eight years through many joys and trials, friends whom I will know into eternity, and a heart full of hope. And I feel refreshed and ready to be ALL HERE! Thank you, Lizzie and Matthew, for a great weekend!

"We are not responsible for writing our own stories. Rest and hope do not come from understanding. They are found in the person who is writing our story! Rest comes as we focus on God." ~Rick Holmes, our wonderful pastor from Atlanta

Beginning a new week with these wise words. Not looking to the left at "her life", or to the right at "his life", but casting my gaze on Jesus and trusting Him with my life right here- not because it is always filled with what I want, but because it is rooted in knowing and loving Him! "The things of this earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace!"

*LOVE*ly Valentines day

Lovely breakfast. Heart cinnamon rolls, bacon (sort of heart shaped) and eggs.Little love note on our new chalkboard in the kitchen.
Of course, Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown. Poor little Charlie!
In the mix of the fun, much of the ordinary, too. Brothers reading Cheaper by the Dozen together. I bought this new print for the kitchen a few weeks ago. It was perfect on Valentines.
Sweet flowers and a message from my husband. Isn't it thrilling when the doorbell rings and there is a delivery man holding a long flower box? We don't really celebrate with a big date and all the romance. I think that would be fun, but it's not feasible to do during the middle of the week with our schedule. But he always sends me flowers or a simple gift. It's a fun treat!
And pink carnations from Andy to his little sweetie- Lydia Joy. She almost burst with excitement! I picked up some heart stickers and paper for Lydie to have her way with.

Sweet, simple day together. The day before, a fun party with friends. (No pictures taken!) Good fun! I love these holidays!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

No Mo Chemo Party

The kids and I dropped by the chemotherapy center for a little surprise visit. We took Mom a party hat and donuts. (Her blue glittery hat says, "It's time to party!) :) We sang and cheered, and made all manner of fools out of ourselves. "No mo' chemo!", we chanted. It was so much fun.My Mom has been amazing! I have not seen her get sad or down in spirit once. She has really been a trooper! And chemo is no joke. She has had dry skin and mouth (extremely), loss of hair, loss of appetite, achy bones and body, upset stomach, numbness, swollen feet, and severe fatigue. But it's almost ALL OVER!! In a couple of weeks she will begin waking up every day feeling a little bit better each day. It may take a full year to feel 100% back to normal, but she is very excited about daily progress. Cancer is a beast. I am so proud of her fighting spirit! Way to go, Mom!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A little pink and red

The kids and I decided to decorate the house for Valentine's day a couple of weeks ago. We always find ourselves more motivated when we have something to look forward to. Just a touch of festive fun, and the kids are excited. We also made Valentine's shirts for the boys with iron-on letters and a Valentine outfit for Lydie. The boys came up with silly phrases for the shirts. Candy dog?? I have no idea.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sweet, "crowded" hours

Today was supposed to be a day to go on a field trip with friends. We have studied both George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington recently in history. It just so happens that we are not far from Tuskegee Institute, a marvelous place to walk the places where these great men lived and worked. But, as God would have it, Jack got sick yesterday. So we have been at home all day instead.
We were a little disappointed at first,especially since we were the ones to invite a group of friends to go with US! But, it has been so refreshing to just be here. Andy has been gone all day to a grower's conference. It has been so quiet. I managed to do all the basic subjects with the kids, just a little at a time, over the course of the morning and afternoon. And I kept the lessons short, requiring less than usual.
I moved our tv/dvd combo into Jack's room. He felt so special. I've managed to keep him secluded all day, in hopes that the strep throat will not spread! It's really such an honor to take this opportunity to pamper my oldest son. He always is so thoughtful to help me and his brother and sister. It's nice to serve this little sweet heart. I've been taking food in on trays, fluffing his pillows, the works. I heard him whisper when I left the room earlier, "Wow. This is kinda fun!" I still remember how sweetly I was treated by Mom, Nana, or Grandmom when I was sick. I hope he will remember with fondness, too!!
Funny thing. My Mom used to talk to me in third person when I was sick. And now, without meaning to, I do it, too! Here are some phrases I echo from my childhood when my kids are sick, "Is she sick?" "That baby needs some hot chocolate!" "How is my boy?" "Does he need some extra love?" They eat it up, just like I did.
Our house is a full blown wreck. Lydie and Josh have pulled out loads of legos, butcher paper for art, and all manner of toys. Junk is everywhere. It's only 2:30, and Andy won't be home until 6:00. So there is hope that we can spend some time restoring order again. But for today, all the little piles of chaos aren't a big concern. I am so thankful for three darling children and a day at home to enjoy them, lots of laughter even when there is sickness, this hot steamy mug of coffee beside me, and the anticipation of a lasagna dinner around the table together. Despite all the feminists' arguments, it's a very sweet, complicated, busy, and fulfilling occupation, this Mother/home-maker gig.
"What do you do? You're a housewife, aren't you? Nursemaid to a bunch of kids?" "No, I have a fantastic job, a terrific career. I am curator of a museum- a museum of memories."

~Edith Schaeffer

**Thank you so much for the sweet comments on my last post! What an encouragement!!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Dreams for 2012

"We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." ~C. S. Lewis

Lewis was so amazing at articulating the hidden places of the heart. This last year has been one of the most painful in my life, only topped by 2005. Have you seen or read the Harry Potter series? If so, you remember that the evil character was often not spoken by name, but simply referred to as "He Who Must Not Be Named". He was so horrific that people feared the sound of his name. Well, 2005 is like that for me. Death, loss, marital problems, painful family issues, all mixed together to make it really dark. And I am still learning from all that happened. I shouldn't forget it all, and I couldn't if I wanted to. But I wouldn't want to live through it all again either.
"My child, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves the one he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights."

Proverbs 3

Last year has been the rival of 2005. This move, the leaving behind and the trying to belong here, has been so difficult. Add in Mom's cancer and other extended family issues and it has been...full. Of trials. I expected it would be. But I never could have imagined the tears, loneliness, heart ache, heaviness, dark spiritual warfare, and variety of emotions and challenges that I would face. There has hardly been a day with out one or more of these. I am so thankful for this journal because it has forced me to seek the good and kind ways that Lord has blessed us and record them here. I have enjoyed the challenge of recording good things that have given me hope and joy. It has been a blessing to me. Because who can keep getting out of bed when only focusing on the hard stuff of life?

"Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it- the Lord is his name- Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." Jeremiah 33:2-3

I have been desperate in asking God to reveal himself to me and help me to settle in. Why am I here? Why did you take so much away from me? Why do I feel like such an outsider? Where do we belong? I have tried to just live day by day, when possible, striving to accomplish more than mere survival. Waiting is hard. And it can be excruciating when you know, as Lewis points out, that what the Lord knows is best for us is often really hard. Some days I feel overwhelmed with the joy of knowing Jesus, regardless of my circumstances. And other days I can not get my heart and mind to feel what I know to be true. I don't feel like God is at work in my life at all. Those days build my faith if I press through them (sometimes Andy drags me through them, actually), in hope that God will show Himself in His own time, and that He is always loving me. I hope if you are reading these words and really struggling through a difficult season that you have someone who will drag you towards Christ, or just literally out of bed, too.
Funny thing, on the topic of Andy dragging me through the tough days. One week recently I was really feeling hopeless. He went to the barn and grabbed this wood that Josh nailed together and put it in his wing-tip tuxedo shoes. He told me to try (and this is a stretch) to look at it as a cross. When I am really struggling, write down what makes me sad or anxious and put those prayers at the "foot of the cross" (in the shoe). He checks there several times a day and prays with me. And, as I am sure he intended, I often find myself laughing, at least a little, at the sight of this place in our room. It looks hilarious.
Right now we are waiting on some answers. I cannot be specific, but opportunities (2 of them) could be opening that would be a dream come true for me. We could experience gospel community, I could use my gifts/talents, and the children could be involved in ways that I would not have even dared to dream months ago. I am really hopeful and excited. If you think of us, could you pray with us, even beg God along with us, to align our hearts with His and fulfill our longings? Is it wrong that I find myself begging, "Please Jesus. Please Jesus."? I think not, because this is the crux of the whole book of Psalms. David is begging...and God is revealing himself.
The good thing about 2005 is that is was followed by 2006. God blessed us as we mourned, turned to him, and found so much comfort and love in our family and church body. We conceived and gave birth to our only daughter, and it felt like I was living a dream that I didn't deserve for years afterward, just waking up to two sweet boys and a GIRL. Our marriage was broken and put back together in the most beautiful way, never to be the same again. We learned how to pour ourselves out in service and experience deep, gospel community. It was, by far, the best year of my life! Remembering how God brought beauty out of those ashes, I have big dreams and great hope for 2012.

Psalm 22:8

"Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver- let him rescue the one in whom he delights!"

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Mommy, the competitive non-athlete

I consider myself a competitive person. My husband often reminds me I am competitive, so it must be true. I took ballet, or other forms of dance, from age 3-18. This meant at the very soonest that it became possible, I opted out of p.e. for a dance elective. This also meant that I never, ever, not one single time played on a sports team. I can hold my own at board games, Wii games, and ping pong (is that a sport?). On the other hand, if we play softball, don't pick me to be on your team. Trust me. And my sister-in-law can attest to the fact that I am no superstar on the ice skating rink, either. BUT, if there is a wedding, cruise, or any other event with a dance floor, I'm your girl!

Case in point...last weekend we took the kids to play bowling. It was really a good time. Family nights away from home always are. But, I got the worst score. Remember, I have a 5 year old daughter. In my defense, she did use the gutter guards. But still. I think my highest score was 60 points in a game. It's just crazy how bad I am. And here's the really sad part. Yes, I was excited for my 11 year old who won a game. And I was thrilled when all three kids got a strike or a spare. But, although I mostly had a happy demeanor, it really bothered me to lose- against my own children. I'm that competitive. In fact, when I got in bed that night I asked myself, "What's wrong with me? I feel really grumpy and angry." Then I remembered the loss, and that's what it was. How ridiculous!

Ironically, with two sons and a daughter, my daughter seems to be the only one with this supecrazy competitive spirit. (Although she keeps it in check SO much better than I did at her age!) My husband, my daughter, and I were all trying to WIN. Meanwhile, the boys are just wondering what's for dinner. And they got the highest scores! Makes me laugh.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Psycho Mom

On Tuesday when my boy got braces I felt a little panicked. I spent three hours in a waiting room reading magazines and blogs, wondering if he was okay. Meanwhile, he sat in the dental chair calmly while they put wires and all manner of things in his mouth, without a complaint. And then he stepped out, looking like a teenager. And I almost cried. He just patted my back and smiled for my camera, and acted completely mature.

On the way home I took him to lunch and the bookstore. In his usual, sweet way he was so thankful and humbled that I was buying him lunch and a book. He never ceases to be amazed when I surprise him with even a treat as small as lunch and a book. "Wow, Mom. Thanks!! Really!" I had to go to the bathroom and wipe a few more tears because he is growing up BEFORE MY EYES. And then I said it, the really goofy Mom thing. "You know, next thing we know you'll get arm pit hair. Then you'll be driving, choosing colleges, getting a job and a wife, and then I'll be a Grandmom!" He looked at me half mortified because I brought up arm pit hair and half genuinely concerned for my mental health and calmly said, "Remember Mom. I'm just eleven." I grinned as if I was only kidding and replied with a nudge on his shoulder, "I know! You're only eleven." Seriously, how did I let those words fall out of my mouth?? Goofball.

The good thing, really good thing is, I really like the young man he is becoming. What a blessing. And I like this stage when he can talk about politics in one breath and legos in the next breath. We can enjoy boyhood a little longer. But in the near future his boy days will be over and will be a living, breathing, young man.

Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't want to be psycho Mom who holds him back . Even if I have to cry in the bathroom, I will relish his growing up. I will encourage him to depend more on God and less on me, little by little and with hugs, treats, and lots of talks. Heaven forbid, we hold on too tightly! Growing up is good, it's just hard to let go. I guess for now, I will put the arm pit hair out of my mind (what a funny statement). And I probably shouldn't bring it up in conversation again. Ever. Reminds me of the day I started my period and my Dad came home crying, with flowers for me. I was beyond mortified and gave my Mom the glare of death knowing she let my secret my DAD! So yes, no more talk of pit hair. My lips are sealed.