Saturday, May 31, 2008

Happy Trails

I absolutely love Colorado in the Summer and have amazing memories of my trips there with youth groups pre-children. My husband has equally fond memories of his Summer camping experience out West with Young Life. As a matter of fact, he was spending a month in Colorado volunteering at Frontier Ranch when he received his call to medicine.

We have never been together. The last time I went was June 2001. I was a counselor with a cabin full of twelve 10th grade girls. They have all graduated from college now. My man & I were dating and a few weeks away from being engaged. I'll never forget calling him from a pay phone at camp with a gaggle of 'my girls' giggling in the background. One of them got on the phone and told my him that I was "so cool because she is just like us!"
When I got back on the phone my grouchy, exhausted, post-call man said, "Do they really think that is a compliment? Please don't come home acting like a 10th grader."

It is such an amazing 'coming of age' to be going back to a place that has been so meaningful for both of us together and with our children. Quality time is my love language, so time with those I love most is a gift I treasure. I am beside myself with excitement.
We leave early in the morning and will be offline and unplugged until late Saturday.
I am taking a good old fashioned paper journal along (and my camera, of course). Until we meet again, have a great week!
P.S. I think we have rid ourselves of the rodent. After various unsuccessful attempts with sticky traps, kill free traps, old fashioned traps, I finally broke down and laced the oregano with poison last Sunday, since he was sleeping there every single night. The first morning after the lacing I found the soil disturbed--and now it has been 4 days and I have seen no signs of his return. I feel bad, but mice carry disease and I cannot have them frolicking in my kitchen. Not to worry, the herbs will all be disposed of when I return and am sure he is gone!
Here's hoping he hasn't just faked me out and moved his whole family in while we are away.


This morning Daddy decided to teach the kiddos about the Wii. It started with making their Miis. As R and Daddy worked together on the facial characteristics they got to eye color and R insisted he wanted green eyes.
"Buddy, your eyes aren't green. Your eyes are brown."
"But Daddy," he cried, "I weally want gween eyes. I want to look just like you."
You can imagine the look on Daddy's face. Sweetness!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Just Breathe

This morning I realized that the snappy, whiny, yucky tone of voice bug had bitten our family. (Daddy is exempt from this. I am speaking of those of us who spend so much time together on these long Summer days.) The children's tone has been driving me crazy..and this morning I stepped back and listened to myself and realized I was an equally guilty party. I am trying to let them work things out on their own, when possible. I am also following my 'I don't hear that tone of voice' rule. Unfortunately, listening to what must take place in order to be consistent in these two areas really rattles my nerves and makes my insides feel like frustration is slowly boiling inside. Unfortunately, I like a teapot, sometimes boil over and send everyone to their rooms or remove a privilege. I am not proud of this AT ALL.

I was chatting about all this with God in the shower this morning and heard one word calm my Spirit...breathe.

It is the very advice I give to my children when they are frustrated. Take a deep breath. Don't just react...pause and breathe. It is so simple, so primal and so effective.

A friend of mine once passed along a trick her mother taught her. When things are particularly stressful with her children and she feels she is about to lose it, she does a breathing exercise using the fruit of the Spirit,
"Breathe in the Lord, Breathe at love.
Breathe in the Lord, Breathe out joy.
Breathe in the Lord, Breathe out peace."
She continues until she has covered them all...patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self control."
I love this exercise and confess I don't do this often enough.

I think it is so important to remember how frequently we are the mood setters in our home. When things are stressful and I am able to find something to laugh about, it has amazing power to shift the whole crew sometimes. If only I can step out of the moment for a millisecond to remember that...I just need to breathe.

Thank you, God, for your reminder this morning that my whole family could benefit from a little more gentleness and patience from me.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:4 (NIV)

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Colossians 3:12-14 (The Message)

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I have so many things going on, there is no way to write a cohesive post with a point to cover them all. So rather than attempting creative, meaningful or inspiring writing, tonight's post is a list. Prepare yourself for mind-numbing randomness:

1. In the next 48 hours I have to pack enough for our family of five for 7 days in Colorado, where the temps are projected to range from 77 to 42. It is a family camp, so they are sure to get messy, requiring more than one outfit per day. That's going to be A LOT of clothes! I am already dreading the laundry upon our return. It may take until the end of the Summer to finish the job.

I am about 65% packed for the kids and I have completed their 'activity backpacks' for the plane. Still, I fear there is going to be a lot of last minute scrambling.

It is very important that we try to pack as compactly as possible since we have to get a double stroller, a single stroller, 3 car seats, 3 kids, carry-ons and our luggage from baggage claim to our rental car. Each time we fly as a family, I know that we seriously look like the Clampetts!

2. The children had their 4 year old check ups today. Small exam room. Eye tests. Hearing tests. Three shots each! Whew! For posterity, their heights and weights are as follows:
K 37" tall (18th percentile) 30lbs (5th percentile)
P 38" tall (23rd percentile) 27lbs (1st percentile)
R 39" tall (25th percentile) 28lbs (2nd percentile)

3. I have 18 thank you notes to write for the kids birthday gifts before we leave. The plan is to write them tonight so the children can sign them tomorrow. We'll see...

4. KP has been calling me from jail collect this week. I have missed every call. This is complicated, as it is in response to a letter I wrote her a week or so ago. I am anxious about what to say to her. I want to serve and love. I don't want to be manipulated.

5. Tonight we went to a little league playoff game in support of a team several of my friends' children play on. They kindly let my boys sit in the dugout. P complained that he couldn't 'see da field berry well.' R, on the other hand, was in HEAVEN. The players are 5-6 year olds, but they may as well have been playing in the majors. Several of them high fived R and his grin beamed for miles. When they all took the field, R said, "Mom, all my team left to play ball. I'm stayin' in here for them to come back." Precious!

6. P is having a hard time getting his Crocs on the right feet. Today I pointed out that they should be switched and he replied, "I am making a new rule, Mom. Whatever foot I put them on is the right foot."

7. We got Daddy a Wii for Father's Day, but I am unable to keep gifts secret, so I gave it to him yesterday. Needless to say, the last two nights have been spent watching him try to raise his Wii fitness score. Good times! (The kids don't even realize we have it yet.)

Enough list making, I'm off to be productive!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More on Faith

Since the rain disrupted my plan this morning, I decided to spend a bit more time at home before heading out for for the day. I let the children watch a second episode of Backyardigans while I tackled the absolute mountain of clean laundry waiting to be put away. To pass the time, I decided to listen to a sermon from Buckhead Church I had downloaded. I am so blessed by Andy Stanley's words each time I have a chance to hear them, and today was no exception.

I have been pondering the issue of faith recently. I am type A. I like to have a plan, a schedule, a goal...but faith requires that I relinquish all that and simply trust. As I posted Monday night, the safety and security of my family is THE issue I have the hardest time truly releasing. It is foolish, really. I know I cannot keep my husband and children safe 24/7 for their lifetime. I must trust. But I have lived long enough to know that God will do what He wills to do...and while it will always ultimately be for good, it won't always be for my immediate good. Sometimes it will hurt. I know that and it frightens me. I know in the end we will be victorious for eternity, but I don't look forward to the pain of going through troubles one bit.

With all that in mind, I loved these quotes from Andy, "Faith is not about moving God to embrace our agendas. It is about being moved to embrace his agenda. As Jesus demonstrates for us, great faith is reflected in great surrender."

and this "Faith isn't about escaping the pain of life...Faith is simply waking up and saying, 'God, you're great and I trust You. My great faith is going to be manifested in this world as extraordinary and great surrender in Your direction.'"

So good.

There is no direct link to the specific sermon I am referencing, but if you are interested, start here. Scroll over to the Faith, Hope and Luck series. I am sure they are all great, but the specific one I am referencing is "All In."

Baseball with the Grands

Yesterday 'Gwandaddy' and 'Gwanmuver' came in town for a few hours of quality time. We had a terrific time at the library's Summer reading kickoff (with a magician), followed by lunch and some playtime in our yard.It was hard to tell which generation was having more fun.

R assumed his usual role as coach..and gave everyone a position.Although I had hoped to take the role of photographer, he promptly informed me to 'put down all dose things and cheer for me!'
So I did.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ebb & Flow

So, here's the thing I am noticing about parenting...there is an incredible ebb and flow to 'how it is going.' I seem to have a hard time getting into an rhythm. Just when I think things are 'getting easier' we have a really tough day. Likewise, the moment I think we are finally mastering something we experience a humbling setback.

For example, just yesterday my husband remarked at how appreciative and well-mannered the children are, considering their age. He went so far as to say, 'I am so glad we are raising grateful children.' Uh-oh. Words of doom. Pride always comes before the fall.

This morning the children and I were in a doctor's office, which is a stressful situation in and of itself. As we were leaving, the nurse at the check out desk offered each of the children a brightly colored sticker. Two of my three politely thanked the nurse. I prompted the third saying, "What do you say?"
To my shock an horror, his reply was, "MORE! I want three. GIVE ME MORE!"
Oh, yes, what a grateful brood we are raising. Yikes!

I am also finding the sibling squabbles on the rise and my voice seems to carry far less weight unless I am using a yucky tone. Yet, just when I am completely exasperated, a little person will sense my mood and shower me with kisses and 'I love you's.

I decided tonight to reclaim Summer. I am working on a loose daily schedule and have posted our Summer calendar on the refrigerator so the children have something (even if it is just 'the pool') to look forward to each day. I have also allowed each of the children to pick a Summer activity they want to do 'all alone.' K chose dance, P chose tennis and R chose baseball. Now I have the joy of trying to work out the crazy scheduling of it all! We have also instituted solo play time each morning in addition to quiet time in the afternoon. Anything to keep the peace.

So, what great Summer ideas do you mamas of little ones have to share?

Updated to Add: In the spirit of keeping it really simple, I thought I'd share my attempt today. This morning, over breakfast, I took a piece of note paper and a marker and talked the children through our day. Today's activity is swimming.
8am-Leader selects video (while Mommy dresses)
9am-Gym (I just started this last week...trying to get in a good habit)
10am-Change for the Pool
10:30 Pool
1-If behavior is good, more pool
4-Snack, then outdoor play
I tried to use simple words and little drawings, then taped it at their level on the fridge. Obviously, this leaves out a lot, like making beds, laundry, cleaning up, etc...but by hitting the high points they seemed excited to know what was in store for the day. Maybe this will even help us work on telling time. We'll see how this method works...

Updated 20 minutes later: This was such a great plan until I looked outside and saw rain, then looked at the forecast and saw that it is going to rain all day. Off to come up with a plan B...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Costly Errors

This afternoon the pool was packed, especially in the shallow end. My husband and I spent most of the time sitting in chairs, chatting with friends while keeping an eye on the children. Towards the end of our time, I finally stepped into the ice cold water and almost immediately noticed a little boy, about 18 months old floating face down a few feet to my left. He was not splashing or swimming, just floating motionlessly. He had apparently followed his father and big sister into the pool without their knowledge. He wasn't flailing or making any sounds amidst the chaos of a crowded pool, so no one had noticed. I'll spare you the details, but it all ended well. He was fine. But as I watched his father react with a mixture of regret, humiliation, relief and terror, I couldn't help but think of the close calls in life.

The beginning of Summer, the activities around water and the death of Maria Chapman have all had me on edge regarding the safety of our children. Then tonight, I watched an Oprah episode on Tivo about horrible mistakes that had led to tragic deaths of children. My husband and I were riveted at the heartbreak these families were experiencing as a result of split second decisions that wound up being terrible mistakes. One of the points made over and over was how often we, as human being on this earth, make mistakes--yet most result in close calls and a few leave our lives (or the lives of others) drastically changed.

I think about this a lot in regards to my husband's occupation. He is an excellent, well-trained surgeon. He is careful, thoughtful, serious, deliberate and skilled. He is also human. He is not perfect, yet his profession demands that he be.

As Moms charged with the safety and well-being of little lives, I think of the cost of an ill-placed mistake, distraction or lack of judgment on our part. Then I think about my belief in the Sovereignty of God and the advisement in Scripture that we will have trouble and heartache in this world. It is all too much for me to ponder for too long.

So, I take a deep breath. I place my trust in my God, not myself. I pray for wisdom, discernment, patience and care...This world is a scary place for mortals who love deeply. Be careful out there.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Races

There are certain stereotypical activities of true Southerners. As a lifelong resident of the deep South (except for one year spent in Virginia), I have engaged in most of them: Eating collard greens with pepper sauce, attending a Baptist revival, dressing my children in smocked clothing, believing that a hand-delivered casserole will solve anything, preferring to be barefoot all Summer long, catching lightening bugs in a jar, tying a string to a June bug's leg to watch him fly in a circle... I even (unfortunately) once wound up at a chicken fight by virtue of spending the night at someone's house as a child.

But tonight, I experienced a rite of passage for true redneck Southerners for the first time in my 33.5 years: I attended a race. This was nothing like Nascar. This was half mile mud oval track with souped up cars that looked like they had been salvaged from a junkyard. No windows, no headlights, some of the numbers on the sides were made out of electrical tape. The noise was incredible. These cars were flying, slipping, sliding, spinning.

And guess what? We had an absolute blast. Especially the boys (little and big)! They thanked us over and over for taking them to see the real race cars. Their excited chatter and twinkling eyes were such sweet balm for this Mama's soul.

Little R, who can be hard to please, was especially appreciative. As I was tucking him in tonight he said, "Mama, I love you even mucher than I can show you."

Culture comes in many different forms. This was definitely a new experience...but I have a sneaking suspicion this 'first' time, will not be the last.

And as for marking Southern traditions off my list, I think I'll stop here and skip chitlins and pickled pigs feet.

4th Birthday Party

We had a wonderful time celebrating with the children yesterday. Because we are going to Young Life family camp in Colorado next Sunday, we decided on a wild west theme. Everyone got into it with hats and boots, even my grandmother!

What fun we had with family and friends. I didn't take a single picture, but my father-in-law and our sitter (and friend), Storey, took hundreds. Here are a few of my favorites from Grandaddy Scott.

The kid quote of the day went to P, who told Cabell, "This was a nice party. I weally enjoyed myself."

We were so exhausted that the entire family went to bed at 8pm! (That was a birthday gift for Mom & Dad!)
There are now new toys and books strewn all over the house, as we enjoy the birthday hangover today.

Friday, May 23, 2008

He is Faithful

In 13 hours there will be over 2 dozen children (and their parents) here to celebrate 4 years of life with my kiddos. I am strangely peaceful and excited. Surprisingly, I am not wistful or emotional. I feel ready...and thankful.

As I was considering this tonight I had a flashback of the long drives back and forth to Atlanta 4 1/2 years ago to see specialists. I hated those drives because I was normally alone and full of anxiety. Generally I would get on the phone and call Randi and cry. Then I'd get off the phone and spend the rest of the time praying and/or singing loudly to pass the time. My favorite CD for those drives was Jennifer Knapp. Specifically, I loved "You Answer Me." I used to sing it almost as a prayer of faith and release. I wanted desperately to believe it all would turn out OK...the fertility treatments, then the high risk pregnancy...but there were no guarantees. All I had was faith--and just a tiny bit of that! It hurt to believe, but it hurt more not to.

I could have never imagined then that I would be sitting here today.

To know You are I Am
Confidence of lion lying with the lamb
In greener fields, with all my zeal,
Is hard to comprehend

I can hear You cry out loud
When You answer me
When You answer me
Once again I am revived
When You answer me You answer
When You answer me You answer me with...

(With) love so understanding
I can hardly catch my breath
Seeing this I wonder how You have any love left
(Left) me not alone
When I did not believe
Through the darkness, through the darkness You answer me
You answer me with love.

-Jennifer Knapp, You Answer Me

Thank you, Lord. You did answer me with love. Lots and lots of love.

Once again I'll go over what God has done,
lay out on the table the ancient wonders;
I'll ponder all the things you've accomplished,
and give a long, loving look at your acts.
Psalm 77:11-12 The Message

"Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!"
-Great is Thy Faithfulness, Hymn

To Tell the Truth

I play imaginative games with the children all day long. We pretend we are cats, dogs, race cars, pirates, princesses, name it. We have birthday parties for imaginary friends, for heaven's sake! I love encouraging their creativity and story telling. We have recently reached an age where this imaginative play is starting to spill over into the need for real life truth.

One of my sons, in particular, has a tendency to lie to me to avoid punishment. Thankfully, he has a quirky thing he does with his eyelids when he is lying, so I can bust him with a fair bit of certainty. (May it always be so!)

Anyway, as I have lectured them and emphasized the absolute importance of speaking truth, I have found myself conflicted over some of the acceptable stories we tell our children. Each time I am tempted to tell a white lie like 'so and so is closed tonight' when the truth is that I just don't want to go there, I am reminded that I must model what I want them to be.

I follow a parenting strategy that my own parents used, which was always telling us the truth about things--even when the subjects were tough. Don't misunderstand me, I don't tell them more than they are equipped to process, but I don't make up cutesie stories to avoid real life either. My husband and I have chosen to tell them a simplified truth, on their level. For example, when someone dies, we talk about it. They know the word cancer. They understand that my friend KP was in jail. They understand that the children in the group home I am involved in are there because their parents are sick or have made bad choices. So far, I am pleased with the results of parenting this way.

But yesterday I started thinking about the mythical characters that we perpetuate in the interest of creating a fun childhood for our children. I am not anti-Santa, Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. I think of them as fun traditions--much like a game. But now that the children are starting to ask deeper questions about the world around them, I am feeling just a little convicted and frankly, having a hard time breaking my basic parenting strategy of truth telling. When they ask me directly, how am I supposed to fudge truth?

Specifically, yesterday, when K & I were putting together a puzzle she received for her birthday. The subject of the puzzle was fairies, princesses, castles and a unicorn.
"Mom, are there princesses in real life?"
"Yes. In other countries, there are. Princesses are real. Fairies are not."
Suddenly all 3 children swarmed me with concerned faces, 'Yes they are!!! There is the Tooth Fairy and the Potty Fairy..."
Oops! I wasn't thinking....
"Oh, yeah," I replied.

I don't want to rob them of this part of childhood. It is so fun! We all turned out Ok and have forgiven our parents for misleading us on this. But, I'd love to hear some of your thoughts. Let's discuss!


I am sure many of you, like me, have been affected by the death of Maria Sue Chapman. As I watched this today with a lump in my throat I was reminded again how fleeting this life is...and these days with our little people are even moreso.

I could totally identify with his 'rush' to get them cared for. As a matter of fact, I admit I have said, "Pray fast!" more than once.

We have no idea what God has in store for our lives, or those of our children. Many days or few? It is not ours to know. We must be purposeful and we must savor them.

“For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” ~ James 4:14

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Birthday Cookies

We received a great personalized cookie bouquet in the mail today. Thanks, Taylor family. It was adorable. I planned to take a picture, but I wasn't quick enough.
But it was definitely enjoyed!

Stuart Little or Ratatouille?

I have to tell you, this little mouse is driving me crazy! They call them pests for a reason.

My sticky traps have gone untouched, so last night I installed the ultrasonic repellents to keep our visitor from returning. This morning everything was undisturbed, but when the children & I returned from running a couple of errands around lunch time I spotted a large pile of soil between my herb pots...And right in the midst of my oregano was a nice snuggly hole just right for a mouse nap. UGH! Is he gourmet or what?
And if you were even wondering about the ultrasonic repellents...Mine was less than 2 feet away and did not seem to be effective! Back to Home Depot we go!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


For some reason the Spring is an unbelievably busy time for us socially. As a result, I was at events 5 out of the last 8 nights which is WAY more social than I normally am. I made an observation about myself in this environment: I am still sometimes as insecure as a middle school girl. (Okay, maybe not that bad, but close.)

It defies explanation. I am loved by my family. I am living my dream life. Most importantly, I am secure in my eternal salvation and my identity in Christ. I am striving to love and serve my Heavenly Father as an expression of my love for Him, even when it means going against the crowd. I don't spend my days trying to be someone I am not. Yet, while I am out in social situations I spend a portion of my time analyzing my personality: Am I obnoxious and talking too much or withdrawn and boring, talking too little? Should I be circulating more or is this in-depth conversation more important? I hate small talk, so I tend to go deep quickly which can catch some folks off guard. I used to be so much more fun. When did I get so intense?

This afternoon we went to our neighborhood pool for the first time. Donning a swimsuit with pasty skin brought up all the body image issues women who have delivered babies know all too well: cushy, saggy, squishy, victims of slowing metabolism and gravity... What is happening to my body? As I was talking to a friend about the nightmare of swimsuit shopping, we laughed that no one was paying attention to what we looked like, they were all too preoccupied with their own insecurities. What a sad observation.

And what do we make of confident women? I observed a few of those this week, and watched the negative reception they often received from other females.

As I thought about how to model the appropriate balance for my daughter, I was overwhelmed. Why on Earth can't we be comfortable in our skin, as the people God made us? I am not suggesting we 'let ourselves go,' but where is the line where we stop obsessing and just accept ourselves (and each other)?

I don't have the answer, but tonight I was still mulling all this as I was putting the children to bed. Then an amazing thing happened, P spoke up out of the blue:
"I weally like your pony tail, Mommy."
"Thanks, P."
"I love you just the way you are."
As I silently thanked God (with a chuckle) for using my little love bug to encourage me when I needed it most, P spoke up again.
"I love myself just the way I am, too."

I can really learn a lot from these children!

1 Peter 3:3-4: "Let not your adornment be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God"


I was never been remotely interested in gardening or planting, until recently. In the last couple of years I have ventured out into live plants in my home (that sometimes don't live as long as I'd like) arranging several mixed pots for my back patio and even planting a mini-garden this Spring with the children.

Is it motherhood that has awakened this nurturing in me? What is it about the smell of soil and managing the delicate greenery that is so satisfying? I think, for me, it is the beauty of these little pieces of creation...watching them grow and bloom. Supplying their needs, but realizing their individuality is predetermined. They cannot be man-handled; they must be protected and treated with care. Occasionally, the best thing for them is to be pruned. It is a lot like parenting!

Yesterday afternoon as I was transplanting herbs, I noticed the label on the oregano which said "deep roots." It really resonated with me. I want to be marked as one with deep roots. It seems to be a great goal in my parenting to help my children develop deep roots as well.

I was reminded of a passage that has meant a lot to our family. My friend, Stephanie, read this at our wedding as a prayer for our union. The final two verses were our proclamation after I was healed and the children were released from the NICU. This morning I am meditating on 17-20 as my desire for my children. Isn't it amazing how the same Word can speak freshly to you in different seasons of your life?

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)

And because I can never resist a comparison in The Message, here's that version:

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

I love that last line. Couldn't our children benefit from a renewed commitment to working deeply and gently with their hearts rather than demanding my way because I am the Mommy? I'm going to concentrate on that today.

God's Word is good.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Mouse in the House

Sunday morning I was making a cup of coffee when I noticed something strange about my little pots that sit under my kitchen window. It appeared as if someone (or something) had been digging in them. Two of the three pots were slightly disturbed, but the third one had a golf ball sized hole.
As a mother of 3 curious almost-four-year-olds you would think they would be my immediate suspects...but these pots are in a place they would have a difficult time reaching, and frankly, the digging had been done so neatly I disqualified the children as the culprits.

Since I was trying to grow some wildflowers in those pots, I snapped a couple of pictures then replaced the soil. I mentioned it to my husband, who assured me that house mice don't dig in potting soil, it was probably just a beetle. (If so, I do not want to see how large he is!)

This morning I was again going for my cup of coffee when I noticed that there was another hole, it a different pot among that same group. My first thought was that my husband was fooling with me, but he leaves too early and in too much of a rush for that. Could this really be a little rodent who likes to sleep in my moist potting soil?

This afternoon as the children and I were getting some things from the pantry I noticed a peanut on the floor. I just bought that bag yesterday afternoon and we haven't opened it, I thought. Surely it wasn't opened when I bought it... Then I saw this:The children, rather than being terrified are elated at the propect of a 'pet' rodent. Remember what chapter book they have been reading with our sitter? Stuart Little!
"Maybe Stuart came to visit us!"
"Mommy, are you going to trap him so we can see him and play with him?"

I set off to Home Depot today for sticky traps to attempt to catch the little intruder(s). God help me when/if I find him/them! (Especially since I was informed this afternoon that they sometimes just drag the sticky traps along with them through your house. Ack!)

Tonight I set the traps up, baited with peanuts on either side of the herbs I bought to replace those fledgling seedlings! (I had to make sure something beautiful can come out of this. :-)
And now I am, quite unfortunately, on my way to becoming the Mommy that murdered Stuart Little.

Self Portrait

This is for those of you who wanted a picture of me in the sidebar. :-) I tried to take one of myself in the mirror after dinner tonight. It didn't work out very well because of the flash. But I thought I'd post my effort to prove that 1- I tried and 2- I am a complete dork with no shame.
Next time I should just get one of the children to do it.
Can you tell I am loopy from my husband being on call all weekend and the children being out of school?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lifting my Family in Prayer

Now that Summer is upon us, I have been looking for something structured to keep me on track with Bible Study & prayer until my schedule gets back to 'normal.' This week, my sweet friend Emily sent me a special treat that appears to be a terrific resource, laminated prayer cards from Family Life. There are three themed cards, specifically related to lifting members of the family in prayer. The website doesn't show the great content (probably so they won't be plagiarized without purchase). Each card contains 10-14 specific prayer requests and 3-4 Scripture verses related to each. I have tucked them in my calendar so I can pull them out as time allows. This is a great way to keep the Word fresh and alive on a daily basis--which does wonders for my perspective (and therefore attitude) as a wife and Mommy.

On the back of the parenting card there is a prayer excerpted from John Yates' book, How A Man Prays for His Family. I love the way it starts and the truth of how it applies to my family:
"Help me today, Lord, to be observant of them and sensitive to them. Give me unusual insight into their lives. Help me to be secure in your love and care, Father, for I need Your help as much as they do."

Isn't that the truth?

Here's to the transforming power of prayer!

A Change is Coming

Within the next 48 hours, the blog will have a new template. I love the current one, but am ready for something light, clean and new that expresses more about me than just the children. (And did I mention since I don't know html & have to outsource, it also needed to be inexpensive.) I think I found something from Mod Melon.

If you stop by and things are out of whack be patient. I'll be trying to spruce it up in my 'free time.'

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Are We There Yet?

Our sermon this morning was about keeping an eternal perspective. It resonated with me, because I long to keep my eyes on the prize, but get distracted constantly by the tyranny of the urgent. And with small children there is always plenty of urgent (trips to the potty, skinned knees, wet pants, bottoms to wipe, lost toys, hungry tummies, missing shoes, groceries to buy, bills to pay, laundry to know the drill.)

Bill really illustrated his point this morning with the simple analogy of riding long distances in the car with small children. As he described the familiar strains from the backseat of "Are we there yet? How much longer?" I couldn't help but think about how similarly whiny I can be amidst difficult days ("Is it bedtime yet?") Or difficult periods of my life. ("How much longer?")

I was thinking this afternoon about how we can get so caught up in the 'not being there yet' that we miss the beauty of the journey. The journey, for people of faith, is the process God uses to refine us and sanctify us. It is often full of pain, trial, hardship, disappointment...but it is also sprinkled with love, joy, laughter and beauty. We just have to look for those things.

Most importantly, however, is the hope we have of what the destination will be like. Ultimately, we will have eternity in Heaven...and like the fact that my 9 weeks in the hospital now feel a bit more like 1...our pain and struggles here will be incredibly insignificant in light of what is to come. Not because they aren't true and real and difficult, but because Heaven will be amazing and forever.

I have to admit that there is a part of me that worries sometimes about being "so Heavenly minded that I am no Earthly good." I don't want to be of the world, but I do live in it. This part of my flesh appreciated Bill's reminder that the point is not to neglect or make light of our present circumstances but to refocus attention on and even boast of our future.

This is helpful as we think eternally, but it is beneficial in the milestones along the way as well. We teach our children consequences in the small things now, because the stakes will only get higher. We strive to make good daily choices, because line upon line they are building our character and reputation.

I have said it before, but I need the reminder. This is not a sprint. It is a marathon. We have a prize that has been marked for us...but we must remain focused.

I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.

So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it."

Philippians 3:12-16 (The Message)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

All About R

All of my children have had fairly consistent temperments and personalities since they were in the womb. I seriously have a pregnancy journal entry where I describe things about my children that hold true to this day. R, however, has probably been the most consistently inconsistent. What I mean by that is that my little guy is a bit on the moody side. He is exceedingly proper and polite, but he doesn't hand out his love or attention easily. He makes you work for it.R always seems to have a sense of purpose to whatever he is doing. He loves to feel capable and independent. He absolutely beams when I ask for his help with something. He is truly a boy's boy that loves crashing cars, Batman, rough play, his Daddy and above all things...BASEBALL!
And in baseball, like anything else R is involved in, he is very serious and methodical. He practices constantly. He has even been known to sleep with his baseball bat.
R, like his mama, is quite a talker. He provides his own commentary as he plays sports...and also serves as coach to his siblings, telling them with great specificity where to go and what to do, play-by-play. People always assume K, by virtue of being female, is the boss. Not true.And he insists that K and I cheer for him in virtually everything that he does. My competitive little guy likes applause and adulation. A lot.
One of my recent discoveries about R is that he is quite the prayer warrior. From school choices to prisoners working on the side of the road, or even troubled runaways, R can be counted on to pipe up from the backseat with a suggestion that we stop and pray. And he generally insists on doing so RIGHT THEN, even if it means pulling the car over. And as long as R is at the table, the family blessing will never be forgotten.

He asks deep and challenging questions about God and faith. It is easy to forget his little mind is only 4 years old.

This precious mini-man with his deep dimples and long eyelashes always has a plan and will forever have his mama's heart.

Friday, May 16, 2008


If you have little boys, you must show them this video of the song, "Superhero." R watched it AT LEAST 6 times after breakfast this morning...and as cheesy as it sounds, it was a great conversation starter about the power of God, in cool superhero words that he was very interested in.

Speaking of superheroes ;-), my husband is on call, so I spent tonight catching up on Tivo. Even though I knew the outcome of this week's American Idol, I wanted to watch the hometown visits. As I watched each of the final three contestants overcome with emotion as they revisited their friends, families and neighbors, I couldn't help but think about that experience. 

These three finalists are the same people they were a few months ago, yet everything has changed. Why? These three people had their gifts, personalities, talents, appearance back then, just as they do now, but they were 'unknown,' ordinary citizens. How is it that in the course of a few months they now have thousands lining the streets, waving signs, screaming and crying, pushing to get a chance to see them? It was too much for these contestants to take in. 

I tried to put myself in their shoes, then giggled because it was such a stretch. Then, I was reminded that each of us have our own unique talents, gifts, abilities and life experiences. It may never result in worldwide fame and a recording contract, but we are told in Scripture that God causes it to all come together for His ultimate good. 

For most of us it will not be on a stage like American Idol, but none of us know the plans God has for our unique lives. I think of Esther and all the other people throughout history who had no idea how God would use them and their stories to change the course of history. 

It can be hard to think seriously about significantly impacting the world from the trenches of motherhood, but never forget that we serve a mighty, incredible, creative Lord. His definition of true greatness often differs from ours, as His is centered on love and service rather than fame and fortune. There is no limit to what He can do with your life. Our job is to draw near to Him, hide His Word in our hearts, be watchful, prayerful and willing. 

He'll take care of the rest. Believe it.


Three kids and a Mommy really enjoyed a velcro wall today. The pictures are terrible because they were taken from my cell phone (and hence none of me on the wall, either!)Now I am wondering if I can get one on these in my house for crazy afternoons. It beats time out!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Laugh at the Days to Come

Periodically people ask how I manage to get all three of my wild ones in a picture, facing the camera and smiling. I have shared a couple of my tricks in the past (playing Simon Says, telling them someone is in my lens winking at them, bribes and/or idle threats ;-). But today I discovered the greatest trick of all. Look at the pure joy and real laughter.
How on Earth did I accomplish capturing these expressions early this morning before our last day of school? Well, here's the secret: Our dog, Haley, walked up behind me and let out a really loud, random YAWN. My children thought it was hysterical.The new question is how to teach Haley to do that on command.

Today was our last day of preschool--EVER. We have enrolled the children in Montessori for the Fall. This will be a whole new adventure for us, which intimidates me. We have absolutely adored their sweet church preschool, but my husband and I are more convinced than ever that it is the right thing. They will each be in their own class--and they will be going 5 days a week.

My job over the next three months is to soak them up--and I am looking quite forward to it!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

P Love

Speaking of loving well, my P Doodle is going through the sweetest lovie stage. He loves to hold my hand or tell me that he loves me. His latest trick when he hugs Daddy or me is to say, "Um-um. I'll neva let go!" Yesterday he remarked out of the blue, "Mommy, I love lots and lots of people." And he does. He truly seems to delight in others. He has been known to greet his classmates with loud, 'I Love You's as they arrive at preschool in the mornings.
P is gifted with a sweet spirit and a tenderness that seems to really be in tune to the feelings of others. If one of his siblings is crying about something, P will frequently scrunch his face into a fake cry and say, "I'm so sad they are sad because I love K/R. They are my best fwiend."
He is also quite the encourager and exhorter. Yesterday he told our sitter that she was "good like Annie (our former sitter) and God."
As she was retelling the story to me I remarked, "Wow! That is quote a compliment to Storey and Annie."
P replied, "AND to God!"

The downside to all this precious love and affection, is that it is also his M.O. when he is busted for mischief and disobedience. He responds to my disciplinary tone by lowering his head, looking up with that precious face and saying, "I am sorry. You still love me even when I do the wrong things, right Mommy?"
Boy, do I ever!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Love Well

Today was our final Tuesday morning Bible Study until the Fall. As we were wrapping up a discussion on Philippians, we were asked to share with the group what we would like our epitaph to say (in 3-4 words). I was immediately reminded of a recent conversation with my friend Cabell about something written by Ken Gire. A portion from his book, The Reflective Life: Becoming More Spiritually Sensitive to the Everyday Moments of Life, is truly the best I have heard the passion of my life expressed. In many ways it is my heart's cry as I seek to live an intentional life. More of the essay can be found in the sidebar of Kelly's blog (it's her passion as well). Here are a few thought-provoking portions:

"Is the life I am living pleasing to God? The question will keep you up nights. And it should. As we pull the covers to our chin and settle into our pillows, that's the question that should bring our day into the presence of God for His scrutiny. Did the life I lived today please you, God?

St. John of the Cross once said that "at the evening of our day we shall be judged by our loving." As we look back over our day, what we have done is not as important as how we have done it. Better to do little with much love than much with little love. For without love, whatever we do will be dismissed with a judicial wave of heaven's hand as just so many trivial pursuits (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

So it's the end of the day, and each of us is lying in our bed, reflecting. Have I loved well? Has love been the beating heart pulsing through all my activities? Can it be heard in all my conversations? Seen in my eyes? Felt when other people are in my presence? Was the truth I spoke today spoken in love? Were the decisions I made today based in love? Were my reactions? My devotions?

Have I loved well? If we can answer yes to that question, it is enough.It may not be enough for our employer. It may not be enough for our fellow workers. It may not be enough for all the carpools and committees and other things on our calendar. It may not even be enough for us. But it is enough for God."

- Ken Gire, "The Reflective Life: Becoming More Spiritually Sensitive to the Everyday Moments of Life"

There is not much I can add to that.

Capturing Moments

For Mother's Day, I received an awesome new lens for my camera. I know VERY little about photography, but I have learned that the right equipment can make anybody look like a better photographer. I should probably go take some classes, but I think the science of doing it right would take away my joy in the art of stumbling into good shots.

Yesterday as I was downloading pictures I had taken, I kept pausing at the photos of my man. He takes my breath away. He really is far more than I could have ever asked for or imagined. He is a godly man that truly adores our family and treats us with love, respect and dignity.

It was then that I realized what I love most about photography is that it requires me to pause and focus on the people I love--to sear those moments into my heart and mind. My eye zooms in on their expressions and notices the composition of the moment.

These are definitely moments I don't want to forget.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tug of War

I once had a great idea about using a rope to get across a parking lot when we were first venturing out without strollers. Turns out it was not really effective for us.Yesterday while Daddy was working on getting our new horsie tire swing (Thanks, Nana!) ready to hang, I discovered that we still have many of the same issues with rope.

Thankfully there were far more smiles and giggles than 2 years ago.
Have I mentioned that I LOVE this age?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Earning Our Honor

This morning we traveled to Atlanta for a lovely Mother's Day Brunch with Grandmother, Granddaddy, Nana and Scott. My father-in-law took a few snapshots, which I have included in order to effectively set the stage for how it all ended. :-)

The food was fantastic. The company was wonderful. Live jazz was being performed by very talented musicians. The children behaved beautifully. I was able to relax and really enjoy our meal...reveling in how much I am loving 4 years old. The children even managed to drink from open glasses without any spills and enjoy chocolate mousse without staining their clothes. 

As we finished brunch K paired up with Granddaddy and the boys accompanied Grandmother and me for a brief dance to "You Make Me Feel So Young." It was all way too good to be true.

We stopped by another table to speak to some friends of the family and the children started playing baseball with the long stemmed roses we had received. But, truly, that was not a big deal in the grand scheme.

We made a brief stop at the restroom on our way back to the car. I took K & R while Daddy took P to the men's room. There were 3 stalls, so K & R each went in their own and closed the doors 'for pwivacy.' Grandmother came in behind us and commented on the events of the morning. As she observed them even independently using the restroom, she remarked at how grown up they were becoming. Just about that time, R said, "Mommy! I think I am stuck."
And he meant it. He had locked the stall and was unable to get it unlatched. 

So, I did what every self sacrificing mother would do...I sent K under the stall wall. After a few attempts, it became apparent that she was unable to unlock it.
There was no other choice but for me to go in. So, I with my disdain for public restrooms, wearing heels and a dress at a formal dining establishment, hiked it up and went under. The stall door was only about 18 inches off the ground, so I was literally sprawled out, fully prostrate on the bathroom floor with two of my children and my mother-in-law staring down at me. 

As I unlocked the stall, climbed back to an upright position, adjusted my dress and tried to regain my composure, my mother-in-law and I started laughing. The irony of this capping off our picture perfect Mother's Day was not lost on us. This ability to sacrifice our pride, face our fears, hike up our skirts and do what needs to be done--THIS is what motherhood is all about!

Hope you had a great day!