Saturday, May 31, 2008

Today at the yard sale, I...

Spent some good ol' fashion'd quality time with friends and family.

Met some new neighbors.

Got a little sun and a LOT of fresh air.

...which was a perfect excuse for a Sonic Ocean Water with lime (which spilled in my lap and turned my legs blue).

Made some mOOlah.

Rejuvenated my once-cluttered house.

Simply couldn't think of a better way to spend a Saturday.

Now I'm off to cook dinner for some friends who are coming in a couple hours.

In the meantime, what's your favorite way to spend a Saturday morning?

Toodle Pip!

Friday, May 30, 2008


I have a particular friend. She's pretty awesome. And now, she's in the blogosphere. Check her out here. Oh yeeeah.

The Yard Sale

In celebration of tomorrow's yard sale, and in recognition of the blessing that is being a stay-at-home-mom (and since I don't have time to write a real entry)... I would like to present an old diary entry, written a couple years ago while I was still "working". Enjoy...

It's one of those days I wish I could just take off work and do what I want.

Those days are few and far between because I do like my job, and 99.9% of the time, I'm very grateful to have it.

But today is a day of wishful thinking and staring off into space.

Honestly, I wish I were at my grandmother's house right now.

You see, every year in late spring/early summer, my grandmother and granddaddy, my mom and her two sisters, and whoever else decides to join them... have a HUGE family yard sale. It's known quite well in the county, and they always have a good turn-out with lots of bargain-hunting people.

But the money is not even what really matters to me.

Here is the breakdown of what happens every year:

The Thursday night before, just as it's getting dark and beginning to cool down, everybody shows up with car loads of junk... errr... ummm... stuff. We put out the tables and the larger items that we will be selling - furniture and what not - and cover it all with a tarp to keep the evening dew off of it.

Then we all sit outside and talk for a while - if there are kids, they chase fireflies. My grandaddy gets his mason jars, emptied during the winter of their green beans and cream corn. He pokes holes in the top "so the lightning bugs can breathe." And each little kid, with his or her new clean jar runs around the pecan grove seeing who can catch the most, and whose glows the brightest. A few of the girls pinch off the backside of the bug because that side, as every good firefly-catcher knows, continues to glow for several minutes after it has been separated from the body of the bug. These girls (and sometimes boys) will squeeze off the backside and put it on their ears, their ring fingers, and anywhere else they deem necessary; then pretending all the while that they are wearing top-of-the-line diamonds that are so brilliant they glow in the dark. (Yes, we realize how disgusting this is, but since we all did it as children ourselves, we just don't feel we have the right to deprive them of this gross little joy.) Those who deem it too inhumane to dissect the little creatures for fun, will continue to fill their jars until until it becomes impossible to open the lid and insert the latest catch without letting three others escape. These children will undoubtedly put the jars in their room to use as a night light, only to wake up the next morning with a jar full of dead bugs. Dead, all except for one, which had mysteriously escaped during the night and will continue to cast random, and rather eerie flashes of light across the room for several evenings to come.

But I digress.

After the adults have thoroughly discussed the most recent weather forecast, and deemed the next day's weather to be hot, muggy, but a perfect day for the yard sale, and after the children have thoroughly tired of bug-chasing and are beginning to whine and argue with each other out of boredom or tiredness or both, each family ambles its way to its respective car, with plans to meet around 7:00 the next morning.


At around 6:45 that morning, cars passing by on the highway might see Aunt Martha pulling her items out of boxes, or removing tarp from her tables. Over the next half hour, more cars will pull in - some of them family members, here to set up their own tables, and some of them early-bird shoppers wanting to get the "good stuff" before heading in to work for the day.

Granddaddy inevitably takes food orders from everybody before heading down the road for buttery, greasy, delicious Hardee's biscuits.

Around 7:30am, while chowing down on their warm biscuits, the adults begin to discuss the best position for the "check-out table" and lawn chairs. They must place themselves in the area of the grove that will remain shaded for the longest period of time. After thoroughly discussing all their options, the deem the best place to be the very place they have deemed best for the past ten years - under the big pecan tree outside Grandmother's kitchen window, and in front of the now-fading Azalea bushes.

Once everybody is full and in position for the soon-to-be ravage of the front yard, the men, having completed their assigned tasks of setting up tables and carrying heavy furniture, begin to grunt and mumble something about heading off to work.

By 8:30am, all that are left are Grandmother, Grandaddy, the three aunts, and an occasional granddaughter. Soon after settling in, they usually deem it too cool to sit in the shade, and slowly shift their seats into the morning sunlight. They generally return to the shade within the hour.

And that is how the day begins. Other family members stop by on their lunch breaks, or when they get out of school. Around noon, somebody runs somewhere - usually a local bar-b-q place - for lunch. They talk about the weather, the family gossip, and, primarily, the customers. That's the fun part. We discuss, quite in depth, their hair, their clothes, their accents, their skin, and anything else that might set one shopper apart from another. It's not a cruel thing - nobody is picked on or made fun of - it's more like, "Ooo...look at her shoes! I wonder where she got those!"

Aunt Mary, always one to consider the needs of others, usually ends up giving a lot of her stuff away to those who really seem to need it. Grandmother and Granddaddy like to hold the babies and coo while the infant's parents shop. Aunt Martha usually discusses how she should have priced that recently sold item a little higher. She also talks with the many Hispanics who stop by, being as how she spent time in Texas and Costa Rica as a Spanish-speaking missionary. My mom usually flits around from conversation to conversation, enjoying the gossip especially (though she pretends she doesn't). During slower parts of the day, my mom especially loves pretending she is a shopper by walking around from table to table and pretending that she, herself, is a shopper. "That way the people driving by will see a 'shopper' holding stuff, and they will think that they are missing a good deal." At least, that's what she claims to all of us who sit and harmlessly giggle at her efforts.

Each lady takes her turn to answer questions or take money, all the while talking about the muggy Georgia weather.

And I sit there - listening and watching. I join in on the conversation here and there. I do my part, mainly bagging up the items that people buy. But mostly I sit - listening and watching... and loving every moment of it.

Around 5:30pm, the men begin to arrive, one by one, and everybody begins to slowly pack up their smaller items and cover the rest with tarps. Once they are satisfied that everything is protected from the moisture, somebody goes out to get dinner, while the rest of them amble into the house to cool off.

Around 7:00pm, the last of them leaves, with one final confirmation that there is no need to be there quite so early the next morning. 7:30am or 8:00 should be fine for a Saturday. Nobody gets up that early anyway.

6:45am on Saturday morning, Aunt Martha begins to unpack her things, and the day begins all over again for everybody - including me.

But not this year. This year I work. This year I am one of the relatives that stops by for 20 minutes on a lunch break. I will arrive tomorrow just in time to see the last of the items boxed up and loaded into the cars. I'll catch the last of the conversation about how perfect the weather was and how this year's turn-out compares to last year's.

I will have missed everything.

And that, my friends, is why I really wish I could skip work today.

It has nothing to do with my happiness or unhappiness here at my job. It has everything to do with another year slipping by, and another family memory missed.

Okay. I'm off to work now. I'll try not to think about it any more.

Woo hoo! I don't have to go to work any more! Yard Sale... here we come!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

So, what do you do?

Last week in a Gymboree class (free trial, but so much fun) another parent asked me, "So, what do you do?"

Oh my.

I always struggle to find a way to answer this question. Usually, I just say, "I'm just being a mom right now" (all the while, wincing at my poor choice of the word "just" in that sentence).

However, I am, what I would call, a semi-stay-at-home mom. My entire married life, with the exception of 3 months right after the wedding, I have worked 40+ hours per week (including a "job" and school). After Chloe was born, I cut my "work" hours back to 25 hours per week, with no school.

I had always considered myself a career girl. My goal was to run my own business in the field in which I was working, and I had already worked myself into a prime position for that to happen within the next five years. But the Lord began to change my heart. I began to yearn for home and for a life of home-made dinners and hand-made dresses. I saw myself in khaki shorts and flip flops instead of business suits and heels.

Then, in August of last year, everything shifted. A way was provided for me to, in essence, receive a salary for finishing my degree. I was THRILLED! Still, the salary was not quite enough, and so I set out in search of another part-time job. It was at this point, through a series of very fortunate events, that I found myself accepting the position as Children's Pastor in a local church.

Suddenly, I was swept up in a whirlwind of class registration, campus buses, crayon purchases, play dough how-to books, and LOTS of midnight prayers. I was excited and overwhelmed all at the same time. And when the dust settled, I found myself as a semi-stay-at-home mom.

My "job" still requires about 15 hours of my week. College takes another 15. Still, I am home most days by noon, and most of my work can be done from my living room while my little one is napping.

I simply can't go another sentence further without mentioning my husband who, while finishing his degree in Math Education, has taken on more hours at work to help make ends meet so that I can be home.

He is also a fabulous gardener and compost-maker... which shall be discussed in a future post (look for "Super Hubby").

So here I am, a semi-stay-at-home mom who can whip up a scrumptious baked chicken and make some cutie-puh-tootie dresses for her daughter. (Applause here is appropriate.)

Still, after almost nine months at the semi-stay-home status, my house is not much cleaner; my meals, while increasing in quality, have remained at status quo in frequency; and my life feels just as hectic.

I have to admit to you folks that this does more than frustrate me. It makes me doubt my ability to BE a stay-at-home-er because, frankly, I performed much better as a payroll employee than I am doing as a housewife.

But I also recognize that there is no training for us housewives. No degree. No certification. Nobody who shows up at our door the first couple weeks to show us the ropes.

I can't pick up the phone and call the regional office when my oven won't turn on. I can't tell my boss that I need some on-the-job training when my whites come out all dingy. I can't look in my manual to find the formula I need when I have more dirty dishes than will fit in my dishwasher.

We're thrown into a messy house, with kids, and a husband. We're told to cook and clean. But sometimes the recipes don't look like the picture, and sometimes those darn stains just won't come out.

I don't mean to complain. I am SINCERELY THRILLED to be able to join the ranks of the keepers of the home. I feel SO BLESSED that I was able to be home for my daughter's first steps, and her first word, and her daily smiles. I also feel, more strongly than ever, that I am CALLED to be where I am... and to bloom here.

I just need some direction. Some pointers. Some guidance.

So. Here I am. Asking.

How do you do it? Do you have a schedule? Are you on your feet all day? Or do you have "down time" too? What chores do you ask your hubby to do? Or do you do it all yourself? Are meals planned out in advance? How far in advance?

Any professional homemakers out there? This is your time to shine! I really want to know... what are your secrets? Your tricks of the trade? Your manual(s)?

'Cause I'm in SERIOUS need of some on-the-job training.

Why, oh, why?

Why, oh, why must I ALWAYS procrastinate? I'm heading into another LOOOONG night of reading and studying. Update to come soon... though I'm not sure of the topic yet.

Any requests?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Jon & Kate... my heros!

Can I just say that I LOVE me some Jon and Kate Plus 8

Today there was a (wait for it...) TWELVE-HOUR marathon! Now, normally the thought of watching more than an hour (or so) of television makes my head hurt. But when it comes to Cara, Mady, Alexis, Aaden (my personal favorite), Collin, Leah, Hannah, Joel, Kate, and Jon - I just can't get enough!

Chloe loves them too. She calls the entire show "Kate," which may be more accurate than she realizes.

I love Kate. Honestly, I do. And I pray for her often. Because I see so much of myself in her.

Really, I think the main reason I love this show is because Kate is a reminder to me that, even though we moms aren't always perfect, as long as there is love in our homes (and food on the table) our kids are going to be okay.

Sometimes I think we need to be reminded of that. I don't know about you, but I am my own worst critic when it comes to parenting and wife-dom. At the end of each day, I FIGHT with myself, trying NOT to think about all the things I did wrong - or could have done better - that day.

And sometimes it's a lonely place for us moms, because we think that maybe we're the only ones with these concerns, short-comings, and full-out failures.

Perhaps that's why I love bloggy-land so very much. I absolutely LOVE reading the daily activities and lessons of other moms with small children, because it reminds me that I'm not alone in my worries and concerns. It reminds me that we all struggle with the feeling of inadequacy in our looks, our homes, our relationships, and our parenting skills... at least every now and then.

I think, too, that might be why I love Jon and Kate so much. I SO identify with Kate. And I'm SO blessed by the fact that, even though she's a *bit* controlling, and a *little* obsessive-compulsive (not unlike myself), she is still able to love her children the way they need to be loved.

Still, over the past few weeks, I have realized that blogs and television shows aren't good enough substitutes for real-life mom-to-mom interaction. I NEED to be around other moms my age with small children.

Because sometimes, honestly, I feel like I'm the ONLY.ONE.IN.THE.WORLD.

So, to all you moms out there, do you ever feel the need to "fellowship" with other moms in your area? Where/how have you found such moms? What do you like/dislike about being around those moms and/or their children?

Aww, c'mon, don't be shy! Us moms need to stick together, yo!

Friday, May 23, 2008

My "favorite" Kind of Love

"They become even more beautiful with age."

She was talking about the sound of the wind chimes on her back porch.

She could have just as easily been talking about herself.

My grandmother is one of those women who inspires me more than I will ever be able to say.

She has been married to my granddaddy, a minister and gentle man of God, for over 50 years.

Minister's wife, music director, children's pastor, women's ministries director, mother of five, grandmother, great-grandmother, chauffeur, cook, housekeeper, gardener, counselor, confidant, friend, and woman of God - at one point or another, she has fulfilled each of these roles with graceful ease and with prayerful effort. For years, she sat on the front row, or on the piano bench, of the church, while her husband preached and ministered and stood in the spotlight.

She taught all of her children to sing and harmonize together. Her house is always clean enough for company because her door is always open for anyone who happens to "stop by" her home.

It's not only open to the occasional visitor, but also to her family members in need of a home.

This was the case for my mom, my brother, and I.

I was six. Nick was 4. Mom was left alone.

And in less than a month, my grandmother had prepared more than half of her house for us to move into.

My brother and I shared the room down the hallway with the new A/C window unit bought just for us. My mom took the large bedroom in the back, which also doubled as our own private entrance and living room.

My granddaddy built a deck off that back door, so the three of us could have a private place to sit and deal with all the changes happening in our lives.

Furniture was moved in. Decorations were put up.

Her home became our home.

While my mom was working 40 hours a week so that Nick and I could go to a good school; Grandmother's face greeted us at the door when we got home from school.

The smell of crowder peas and cornbread still reminds me of walking through her door on those afternoons.

During those years of transition and healing, she was the one who sat with us, talked with us, cried with us, and prayed with us.

She taught me how to cross-stitch and how to draw. She taught me about flowers and about making strawberry shortcake.

During those years in her home, as we were all searching for answers, she showed me how to be a strong woman of God. I watched as she kept a stable home and clean clothes so my granddaddy could go and minister. She prepared meals and washed dishes so that my mom could come home and spend time with her children. She sat and cross-stitched for hours so my brother and I could come in and talk and talk... knowing that she would listen while stitching. And though she lived every day with a servants heart, she also had the heart of a warrior - a prayer warrior.

My mom once wrote a song - "Don't worry 'bout the Devil; Here Comes my Mama!"

And as funny as that sounds, it is also the perfect description of my grandmother's prayer life.

During times when we were afraid, it was her powerful prayers that brought us peace. When we were hurting, her firm faith in the healing power of God brought us through. And when we doubted ourselves, she reminded us who we were and where we came from.

This is why I have always felt like her "favorite." I know this sounds silly, but she spent so much of her time caring for me, loving me, listening to me.

And so I KNEW that I was her favorite... at least, that is what I thought until this past Christmas...

Our family of 30-some people had finished eating the large pot-luck dinner and had moved into the family room to hear my granddaddy read the Christmas story.

This past Christmas, rather than sitting behind them (in my usual spot) I sat across the room from them, next to the Christmas tree, in preparation to pass out the gifts.

But what I saw from that viewpoint is a picture that flashes through my mind on a daily basis.

I saw my grandmother, older and more frail than I remember from my childhood - but also more beautiful than I had ever seen her. Her right arm was around her husband's, and her left arm rested on her lap, holding a tissue. At her feet, were eight or nine great-grandchildren, listening to the story. To her back and side, her children and grandchildren, cuddling with their own spouses or babies. Across the room, next to me, even more children and grandchildren, all intently listening to what granddaddy was saying.

But as for me - I was watching her. Because she wasn't reading along with granddaddy. I would venture to say she might not have been listening.

She was looking around the room, at the faces of each child, grandchild, and great-grandchild individually. She was watching the expressions of the ones who didn't notice her watching, and nodding - in the knowing, loving way that only she can -at the ones who did catch her eye.

And it was then that I realized, I was not her only favorite. He was. And she was. And her, and him, and him, and her. Each one of her five children, twelve grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren is her favorite, and they know it. She has so much love in her heart, that each one of us knows that we know that "I am her favorite."

As I sat and watched her, sitting next to her life-long partner, surrounded by a family that loves her, I realized that, more than ever, she was showing me an example of God's perfect love.

Because, I am not ashamed to say: I am God's favorite. Really. I am. He told me so.

What's that?! He told you that too? You're His favorite also?!

It's because He can do that. He has so much love, that, even though I am His favorite, so are you...and you... and him... and her...and YOU...

And so, the prayer that has been in my heart today is that my love will be that big! Towards my daughter, towards my husband, towards my friends, and toward my NCWC Kids. I want each of them to feel like they are my favorite... the most important person... my #1 priority.

Oh, that I could show a love like that to the people around me.

Because, in my life, that kind of love from one stay-at-home wife and mom, it has made all the difference.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

#4... oh yeeeeah

It's 1:30am on. the. dot. And I am on my third reading assignment... of 18.


So, please forgive me in the absence of a decent update in the near future.

In OTHER news, I just found out that I FOR SURE have another reader. That makes four! We're moving up the world, people... movin' on up!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In the past few weeks, it has come to my attention that my attitude about life seems to ebb and flow like the waves. Well, to be more accurate, this attitudes seems to rise and fall like the craziest mind-blowing stomach-churching breath-taking higher-than-mount-everest lower-than-the-bottom-of-the-grand-canyon roller coaster.

I find myself, at times, completely content with where I am. I am happy to be a wife, a mom, a pastor. My home is perfectly cozy and my body is curvaceously full.

Then there are times that I look at my life (or, more often someone else's life) and long for something else. During this times, every mothering skill I employ is called into question. My husband finds it difficult to do anything right. My house is small and cluttered. And I'm fat.

I realize how silly this sounds. But it's just us girls here(I assume), so lets get it all out there...

I would even venture to say that, while maybe some aren't as extreme as what I described above, most of us gals tend to waiver from time to time.

For me, most of the time, my pendulum of contentment swings the worst when I compare myself to someone else.

Why can't I have hair like her?

I would kill for those legs.

Her house is SO beautiful!

Her kids are always so well-behaved!

How DOES she keep her house so clean AND find time to cook dinner, work out, take the kids to the park, etc.?

I find the times that I am the most dissatisfied with my life, I am usually looking at others and wondering why I can't be more like them... or have what they have... or look like they look.

But it's not just an envy of other people. This discontentment (is that a word?) also comes from my desire for the future to come faster.

My entire life has been spent in waiting: I can't wait until I graduate highschool... until I go to college... until I get married... until I get a job... until I have a baby... until I have a house... until I get a degree... ... ...

I feel that I have been constantly in "waiting" for that next bend in the road.

These are the thoughts that have been on my mind for a couple weeks now. Then a few nights ago, as I was cleaning out the dust bunny haven that is under my bed, I came across a CD that a friend gave me a while ago.

From time to time, friends will give me copies of good sermons they have on CD since, due to my job as children's pastor, I very rarely get to actually sit in an adult service and listen.

Somehow, this particular CD had been overlooked (probably because it had been swiped by the Dust Bunny Queen who has also been known to steal shoes, books, and even little girls named Chloe).

It was a Jason Upton sermon called, "Satisfied by God." So I popped it into my alarm clock CD player (fancy, no?), and continued fighting the Dust Bunny soldiers (especially the ones that kept charging at my face and making my eyes water and nose itch).

Almost immediately, as I began to listen to the sermon, I felt that ever-so-subtle tug of the Holy Spirit. This was for me - now.

Jason talked about the fact that God is always able to satisfy, if we come to him. But our dissatisfaction in life comes from the fact that we choose to seek our satisfaction elsewhere.

Even Adam and Eve in the Garden! They had EVERYTHING they could ever need or want - including an intimate and sin-free relationship with the Creator of the universe!

Yet they sought their satisfaction in - of all places - food.

How many times have I sought my satisfaction in food? In the television? In human relationships? In material things? How many times have I turned to these things and said, "Satisfy me"?

How many times have I turned to God and said, "Satisfy me"?

And as I lay sprawled out, on my stomach, under the bed, with just me, the Dust Bunnies, and God, I prayed that simple prayer: "Satisfy me."

This is the prayer that has been in my heart and on my tongue since then.

Because I don't want my joy - my satisfaction - to change like the waves of my circumstances. I want to get out of this roller coaster cart and into the lap of my Daddy-God, because He is my joy. My contentment. My satisfaction.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Strawberry Patch

Oh, the things I could tell!

This has been one jam-packed week of fun and excitement. We went to the zoo with Hubby's family. I got a FABULOUS gift for Mother's Day (not to mention a day off!). I've been learning all about the Grace of the Lord. Classes started again. The list goes on and on...

So, since I couldn't decide which thing to write about first, and since CY asked that I talk about it... I shall tell you aaaallll about our trip to the strawberry patch.

Just outside of Athens, there's a little patch of farmland called Washington Farms. In the fall, they grow pumpkins and corn. In the Winter, they do Christmas Trees. And in the summer - Berries! The strawberries come first, usually towards the end of April. Later in the summer will come blueberries and blackberries.

The weather was warm and breezy yesterday, but mostly overcast. Chloe and I had gone to lunch with my mom and my mom's mom.

It just seemed like the perfect day for berry-pickin'.

So after a leisurely lunch, "Grandma" (my mom), Chloe and I headed for the Farm.

We arrived at the farm, picked out our baskets, and headed into the field.

At first, Chloe was a little bit put off by all the "dirty" berries. She would pick one off the plant, scrutinize every side, and show me all the dirt by saying "Eewwww, mommy, eewww! Dirrrrrty!"

It took a few tries, but she finally took a HUGE bite of the "dirty" strawberry...

And the rest is history...

We all had a fabulous time picking berries... and SMOOCHING on the SWEETEST little girl with strawberries on her face...

It really was one of those memories I think I will cherish forever...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Updates to come...

Per usual, my week "off" has been busier than my week "on." However, I have not forgotten you fabulous (three) faithful readers...

Updates to come:
1.) Going to Zoo Atlanta with Chloe (complete with pictures).
2.) My first (and second) apron - and the new home they have given me.
3.) Amazing Grace!
4.) Mother's Day and Picking Strawberries

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Questions on dirty laundry...

Ok... second blog for the night... I've just been thinking....

Exactly WHAT is one supposed to write in a public blog? There are so many things that run through my head - and through my life - on a daily basis, that I wonder, what EXACTLY is appropriate to write about here in the blogosphere?

Do I write about troubles raising my child? Or teaching in children's church?

Do I discuss deep conversations with my husband or personal revelations from the Lord?

Do I talk about medical stuff? In how much detail?

PMS? Poopy diapers? Bad dreams?

This is the reason I ask. And this. And this.

I have been reading these blogger-gals for a very short time, and already they have caused me to laugh out loud, hold back tears, and nod in complete understanding. Their entries have changed my viewpoints in a lot of areas, and solidified my decisions in other areas.

They are so honest with themselves and with the world (via the wide web).

This honesty begs the question: how much is too much in an open blog?

Because I have also read other blogs: blogs where houses are always clean and meals are always on the table by 6pm. In these blogs, children are "precious" and never disobedient. These women never have a hair out of place or a (gasp!) a zit. Their marriages are little contracts from Heaven where everyone always agrees and no one ever argues. And don't get me STARTED on their *ahem* private relations!

I enjoy reading those blogs... for about 2.7 days. Then I'm done. Because it just doesn't seem legit to me. NO ONE's life can be THAT perfect. Am I right?

But I LOVE reading the blogs of women who are REAL. The ones who know that life isn't perfect - and that sometimes it's even hard - but they're doing their best and trusting their Maker to guide them. THESE are the women who are close to my heart... even if they are on the other side of the country.

Still, I am left with my original question: how much is too much?

Because I want to tell you about the one random time that my 18-month-old pooped in the potty...

I want to tell you about the first time I ever baked (read: hardened like a baseballs) homemade biscuits...

I want to tell you about the journey of discoveries I have made in my relationship with my hubby during our first four years of marriage...

I want to tell you about my last doctor's visit and about the journey I am embarking upon to find the answers...

I want to tell you how the Lord is walking me through this life as a mom, a wife, a pastor, a student, and a patient...

I want to tell you this stuff...

But how much is too much? At what point does it become too personal? When does it stop looking like a life, and start looking like dirty laundry?

I don't want to be all daisies and sunshine... but I don't want to use this blog as a dump for all my garbage either...

So, for any and all of you "experienced" bloggers out there, as well as any (of my 4) readers... I'm truly interested.. . where is the line? What do you want to hear about? How much is too much?

What do YOU think?

From Pizza to Chicken... oh! the flavors!

It's 1:45am... you read that right...AM...and I'm about to head to bed... for a second time.

9pm coffee and an 11pm power-nap do NOT make for a 12am bedtime.

We had two of our dearest friends over tonight, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It's such a nice (and rare) treat when everyone is okay with delivery pizza and salad-in-a-bag for dinner and a movie for entertainment. Those kind of friends are like family. And since all of our lives are so hectic, it's always comforting to have a few hours to just be with them.

Along those lines, we are having ANOTHER couple of close friends over on Friday night (I think). I just got the text right before my FIRST bedtime (which may have also triggered the lack of sleep).

But I think for this couple I will cook. Not because they are any less comfortable to be around, but simply because I FINALLY have a week off, and I'm in the RARE mood to cook. So, why not?

And since I don't have anything better to blog about, here is what I think I will make Friday night:

Old-fashioned slow-roasted chicken with carrots and potatoes.
Garlic-Roasted Asparagus
Old-fashion macaroni and cheese (my mom's recipe)
And Rhubarb Pie for dessert.

Anybody out there have any good recipes for a "home cookin'" meal? I love trying new stuff, especially the "classics" that only our grandmothers know how to make.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Hi there, folks! No time for a "real" post today, and since I've neglected you for so many days in a row, I decided to post something from my hand-written journal. This entry is dated 2/7/2008:

Thursdays are such wonderful days for me right now. Chloe and I spend every Thursday (mostly in our PJ's) together playing at home.

Her favorite activity this week is playing dress-up. The game goes something like this:

I am sitting on the couch reading/doing homework/emailing/watching TV. Chloe, who at that moment is sitting next to me reading, hops down off the couch and disappears into her room. My mommy-ears perk up as I hear her drawers (the very ones I just organized yesterday) opening and closing, opening and closing, opening and closing.

Finally, she walks out with a purple jeweled hat on her head.

She comes into the room and stands quietly - smiling with anticipation. I can feel her eyes watching me, waiting until I finally look up.

The following moments are filled with "Oh! Chloe that hat is so pretty! You look so pretty in that hat! What a good job you did picking that out!" and Chloe's delighted squeals that alternate between "AAAT! and AAAW!" (Chloe's version of "Hat" and "Aww, how pretty.")

She then promptly removes the hat to show me her hair (all three of them). At this, I act shocked and say, "Well! What pretty hair you have under that hat!"

She then proceeds to (my favorite part) tucking her chin down to touch her right shoulder, dramatically lifting her left hand into the air, wiggling her fingers, and "dancing" around the living room while saying "Awww!"

As soon as this pageantry is complete, she once again disappears into her room to find yet another hat or headband. This process is repeated about fifty ga-jillion times before she tires of the activity (or I distract her with some other activity because - lets face it - there are only so many ways to compliment a hat).

And each time we play this game, I am reminded of two statements that have completely changed my interactions with Chloe.

One of them was by, of course, Oprah. She was talking about children's sense of self-worth and self-value, and she says there is one thing that every child asks to determine their value, "Do your eyes light up when I walk in the room?"

She goes on to say that so many moms look at their children when they walk into a room, and glance them over to make sure they look OK:

Is his nose clean?

Did she wash behind her ears?

Did he brush his teeth?

Are there any stains on her shirt?

Us mothers do this, not with a critical spirit, but with a spirit of love. We want our child to feel (and look) taken care of.

But from the child's perspective, all they see is: "When I walk into the room, they will be pointing out all my flaws."

And so I think about this statement almost every time Chloe walks into a room where I am: "Do your eyes light up when I walk into the room?"

The second statement is from "Captivating" by John and Staci Eldridge. Staci says (and I'm paraphrasing): Every little girl loves to be delighted in. This is a reflection and likeness of God, who also loves when His beloved delights in Him.

It is these two statements that pound in my conscience as my little girl's tiny fingers wave through the air while she dances and shows off her pretty hair.

I want her to see that my eyes light up when she walks in the room.

I want to touch the place in her heart that is so much like God.

I want her to be delighted in.

These are the thoughts that I revel in each day as we play this dress-up game.

But today, in the midst of all this procession, another thought hit me that brought me to tears:

There is an overwhelming joy in my heart, as a mother, when I am able to delight in her beauty. Greater than any joy I have ever known is this feeling that I get when I watch her dance.

I LOVE that she feels loved enough and secure enough to show off her beauty without inhibitions.

She is confident in my love - ABSOLUTELY CONFIDENT that I will not mock her or reject her or... ignore her. As a matter of fact, I can almost guarantee that those thoughts have never crossed her mind.

I'm sure that when she walks through that bedroom door and marches down that long hallway with the hat on her head, her only thought is that I will be pleased with her and that I will delight in her beauty.

But how often do I approach my Heavenly Daddy with fear that He will mock me or reject me... or ignore me? When all He really wants is to delight in me. How much joy it must bring to His heart when I am able to come before Him with the uninhibited knowledge that He will think I am perfectly beautiful!

And how freeing for me... to know that no matter how ridiculous my hat or how uncoordinated my dance, His eyes light up when I walk in the room.

Now doesn't that just make you want to change the way you pray? The way you present yourself to Him? The way you dance before Him?

If you were completely and utterly confident in the the fact that HE WILL DELIGHT IN YOU, how would that change the way you go before Him?

I want to be just like Chloe.

Monday, May 5, 2008

This shouldn't even COUNT as an entry...

Nothing spectacular going on today.

Finished my last exam (for this semester).

Getting very excited about an ENTIRE WEEK of no school work.

Put on my first apron EVER, thanks to inspiration from eric's wife.

About to go kick some dirty-house bOOty!

Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Hats in the News!

No time for a decent post today. So, for now, check out these celebrity hats at the Kentucky Derby. Toodle Pip!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Ahhh... Silence....

I have never been a huge fan of silence. In my home and in my life there is almost always some "noise" in the background - be it a movie, a radio program, my favorite CD, or just some local news chatter - there is always something noisy to "fill in the empty spaces."

In the last few days, however, this addiction to mental "static" has been waning, and I find myself more and more just sitting... and listening... to silence.

The first time this happened, I was driving in the car by myself and passionately adding "flavor" (read: screechy, out-of-tune incorrect lyrics) to the Kelly Clarkson mix that Hubby made for me. Then right there, in the middle of "Beautiful Disaster," my sneaky pointer finger found its way to the radio button - without my consent, mind you - and turned the whole system OFF! At first, as you can imagine, I was a bit startled by the fact that the finger was able to step outside of the normal order of brain-to-finger-to-brain function and move on its own. But it only took a couple seconds for me to recognize the immediate change in my environment. Suddenly, life was still... peaceful... calm. And seeing as how those are three words that have NEVER found their way into the description of my life, the fact that this little bit of silence brought all three of them at once, delivered revelation into my little mental life. I decided in that moment of clarity to find a little bit of time each day to just sit in silence.

Yesterday, I found that little bit of time during Chloe's bath time. Usually, when Chloe is gettin' her suds on, I sit in my rocking chair in the living room where I can see straight down the hallway into the bathroom. This allows me to watch her while still giving her some "private time" in the tub, playing with her toys and splashing 2.7 gallons of water onto my bathroom floor. This also provides me with some "down" time to watch TV or catch up on the latest telephone gossip while simultaneously keeping an eye on the Little Mermaid in my tub.

Last night was no exceptions to this routine. I made sure she was nestled into a mountain range of glistening bubbles, complete with bathtub baby and rubber ducky, before I bee-lined to my favorite rocking chair to watch some Everybody-Loves-King-of-the-Friends-of-Seinfeld sitcom. But somewhere between Raymond confessing is love to Rachel's husband who couldn't find a cab to the coffee shop, and the 25.3 million commercials showing no less than 346 billion shots of fast food... it suddenly became very noisy in my little living room. I realized that I wasn't enjoying all the flashing advertisements as much as I was tolerating them, and before I could even think about turning down the volume, that sneaky pointer finger swiftly directed itself to the "off" button on my already-in-hand remote.


It was then that I realized... silence isn't really that silent. There was the whirring and swooshing of my dishwasher, the bark of the Jack Russel Terrier from two doors down, the tic-a-tic-a-tic of the children's bicycle spokes as they rode past my open window, and the gurgle of the soup simmering on the stove.

As I slowly rocked back and forth in my little wooden rocker, I closed my eyes and just listened to the noise of my home and the warm spring evening. And in those few moments of silence, a small sound tickled my ears and (I swear) made them perk up like a puppy's.

It was the sound of my little girl's voice. She was holding her baby, and singing ever-so-softly: "Yeeeesss, Jesus loves meeeeeee.... Yeeeesss, Jesus loves meeeeee...."

I found myself in tears as I realized that this picture-perfect moment would have been completely drowned out by the noise and chaos of the rerun-sitcom world had my sneaky pointer finger not found the "off" button. And I wondered... how many other moments have been missed because of the noise that fills my life?

In that moment, with only my little girl's voice singing sweets songs of Jesus' love in the background, I decided to turn it all off.

Sure, there will still be times when I'll sit with Hubby and watch a movie. There will still be music in the car rides and news on the radio... but it will not be the background noise of my life. Because, who would choose "Beautiful Disaster" by Kelly Clarkson over "Jesus loves me" by Chloe Jane?

Not me.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Picture Status

So... just read a message posted on April 22 that google bloggers are having issues loading pictures... apparently that's me... soooooo... I'll wait a couple days and try again w/ Chloe's post. Yup Yup Yup.

Character Introduction: Chloe Jane, a.k.a. Joy of my Life

There are few things in life more fulfilling than spending time with my 19-month-old daughter. I love watching her discover the world for the first... second... and third time. Because that leaf that was there yesterday receives just the same "Ooooo..." as she picks it up today. I love watching her personality unfold as she runs head-first into the world (at least... into our backyard). I love to see "my" stubbornness come out in her. And while, seeing how strong-willed she is at this age, I am slightly fearful of the teenage years, I also recognize that the Lord has created her to stand where others may fall and to hold fast where others may give up. I can only pray that she will learn wisdom to know when to be "stubborn" and when to submit.

But I think she may have an easier time learning that than I have had, because she has her father's kindness. My husband is the most compassionate person I know. I cannot tell you how many times I have stood beside him, absolutely amazed by his ability to diffuse a situation with a loving compassionate response. When I would have told that person what-for and that Idontcarewhoyouthinkyouare,nobodycantalktomelikethat, his responses are loving, compassionate, and firm. Chloe has that compassion. I can see it in her everyday.

Yesterday was no exception to the joy that is raising this little girl. So just for all (3 of) you folks out there, here is a peek into the Life of Chloe...

With blankey in hand, and thumb in mouth (both essential for a good night's sleep)...

Wake up in the morning....

To daddy's smiling face...

Humor him because he thinks he's funny (and mommy thinks he's hilarious)....

East breakfast (usually cheerios and a piece of fruit...)

Talk on the phone... even if nobody is on the other end...

Talk on the phone some more....

Can I help you?

Go outside and play in the yard.

Pick up lots of rocks and obey mommy when she says leave them outside. Still, sometimes they end up in the washing machine... not sure how that happens.

Back inside for a tickle fight with mommy...

... and a little game of hide and seek.

Here I am, mommy!

Play guitar and sing! She's so talented!

Sit in time-out (see paragraph on stubbornness above).

Go outside again, and play until dark.

Finally, we read a book (or 5), say our prayers, and head for bed. I should note that, if the prayer goes too long, Chloe Jane says "Aaaaaamen" right in the middle of it.

But I don't have pictures of any of that because - hello? - it's bedtime. And, well, would YOU want me to take pictures of YOU when YOU're trying to go to sleep?

So, that's a normal day in the life of Chloe Jane. Of course, very few days are "normal" with a toddler, and everyday is filled with new surprises, both good and bad. Still, I wouldn't trade one day with Chloe Jane for a million days without her. If only I could figure out a way to keep her from growing up so fast...

I hope you enjoyed this little character introduction... stay tuned for more....

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood