Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer is upon us!

I love the summer and yet, it scares me!! There are so many plans and only ten weeks to do everything. I love the freedom of summer but by the time I'm done with it, it is imprisoned in schedules of things I must do. I am hoping this summer will be a little different.

Monday, March 21, 2011


I just returned from an overnight women's retreat. I haven't had this opportunity in years and was grateful to finally be available to attend.

I enjoyed getting to talk with some very special ladies and sharing insights. I also enjoyed the teaching and focus a lot. It was about community and what that means. Community is defined a lot of ways these days and it means something different to a lot of people depending on who you ask. We considered the Biblical definition and intent of the writers. It made me think about the community I live in and the great privilege it is to share in community with others. Not everyone is in a position to experience it this way and it seems it can be very hard depending on where you live, the kind of person you are, and what you are willing to sacrifice. Our life had to change a great deal and we had to make our own financial and comfort sacrifices in order to have it. Not to say we made all these changes for community, but great community has been a byproduct of a greater experience. As a byproduct, it has made my life richer! It is worth it to me as it can make for a very healthy marriage, well adjusted children and sincere fellowship that isn't always easy to find in other areas. One huge thing I learned is that my focus has to be to be intentional about having a positive time and leaving others feeling the same. I have not always focused on that. Typically my focus has been on how to get the maximum fun out of something... that's just not always positive. Depending on my mood, my focus has sometimes been to air my opinions but driving my point down someone's throat can hurt and something I try to avoid.

This weekend opened my eyes to the fact that I already live and experience a great community. My daily life includes interacting with the local schools and administration who I have grown to appreciate and respect a great deal. I have been blessed to have my children taught year after year by some loving and godly women who I am so grateful for as they are answers to my prayers. I also spend time at the local grocery stores where I am recognized (like most shoppers) and enjoy a back and forth conversation that stays pretty light but is still encouraging in it's familiarity. I attend meetings for work and am blessed to enjoy the people I work with who supervise me and work alongside me. I call on friends regularly to have coffee or lunch or cookout on a pretty day. These friends are typically the same people and really it is no different than any group of friends who have things in common and enjoy similar schedules, kids near the same ages and a desire to get along with others with similar beliefs. It is a huge blessing. I also attend different sports activities and have had the chance to get to know other parents at the Y and schools who my kids interact with. My weekends are filled with kids and friends or visiting family out of town. My Sundays are spent sharing in worship, eating out with friends and resting whenever possible.

All this to say I am grateful for the community God has blessed me with. I'm also grateful for the opportunities I'll have in the future to work on friendships and share in fellowship and community!! The biggest thing I learned was it is important to be intentional in the way I spend my time with others because time is valuable and so are people.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


What is petty? I remember hearing my mom use that word as a kid. "Don't be petty" was a phrase I heard usually referring to another adult. It seemed like a funny word but really, those are words to live by. I read one time that if we take offense too easily or we are too sensitive, then that is not Christ-like and has no place in a mature Christian. That doesn't mean us baby Christians couldn't wallow in our pitiful selves but as we grew to focus on God and quit focusing on others, believers or not, we would need to not be upset so easily. I like that a lot. I still let pettiness creep in sometimes and feel like I just have to have my say if something offends me but when I hold back, pray through it, and move on, I feel so much better.

As a believer I want to do right in the little stuff but I can't let the little stuff get me down. Especially, when it is other people's little stuff that is driving me crazy. I can't be easily offended and sensitive to think everything is about me. It is easy to do when you grow up being one half narcissist and one half insecure mess... but it makes for a foothold for Satan to steal my joy and make me paranoid.

I don't want to be petty. That means friendships, marriage, work, kids, school teachers... I have to keep focused on what really matters and for me that is studying God's word, spending time talking with Him, caring for those I can care for, serving where I can, being a good steward (of body, mind, finances and any other resource I have) and seeking the joy from life that God has blessed me with. Most days if I am focused, it seeks me!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Isabella and Elissa, November 2010
Mama Kitty, May 2010
Berkele Cottage July 2010

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's schmalentine's

I've never been that big of a fan of Valentine's Day... except back in 5th grade when Tim Vinson won the raffle for the big satin heart of chocolates and he came and sat them on my desk. That was cool.

The best Valentine's ever though was in 1996 when it was clear I needed to have a little DTR with my best friend, Adam. He and I went to see a ballet on that Friday night, 2/9, at the Koger Center in Columbia. It was the Rite of Spring and we both thought it seemed a little like R-rated ballet. From where we were sitting up in the balcony, all we could see was flesh (colored leotards) and lots of "animals" participating in the "rite of spring". It was quite artistic but a little awkward when you are hanging out with a friend and trying to help him earn "culture" points for some class. We went to IHOP after - who knew that would be recorded as our official first date??

The next day he helped me move over with some girls from church into a new apartment. They were really neat girls and even though we didn't have tons in common, I was excited to be firmly changing some of my old habits and choosing roommates who I knew wouldn't stumble because of me or let me pull them in to my junk. They were solid. Still, the reason Adam and I had grown so close over the last few months was because of my need to be around some decent people and get out of the party scene. I struggled knowing I wasn't perfect and most of my new friends were. Well, of course they weren't but compared to me, I thought they wore halos. Adam, on the other hand, had shared some of his struggles and helped me to see that even a good kid has issues and battles the same things as many kids in their first years of college. It made me feel good to know that he had puked a time or two on random people and not because of the flu. So after many times hanging out in groups and then ending the evening just hanging out together and laughing a lot... he helped me move furniture. The afternoon was spent in the park with all of the girls and all the movers. It was dreamy - a beautiful day (much like today might be) with some frisbee throwing and tackling :)

Sunday morning. We all headed to church and there was Adam in Sunday school. We sat beside each other and that was just normal but starting to be expected. Then we went into worship and this other girl that had sort of liked Adam (and he had definitely liked her) came up and sat on the other side of him. Church was over and I bolted. He stopped me at the door and I just said I would probably nap for the day and I would see him back for the "love one another" banquet that night, 2/11. I napped. Then I made it back for the banquet and he came up to me and said he was sitting with his parents. I told him me and the girls were having all of our friends over to celebrate our new apartment and he should come. He asked if I would ride to his parents house first to get some art work he needed to work on for a class. I said sure. We rode out and I met his family for the first time. I was still very prideful, insecure and rebellious so making a great first impression wasn't exactly something I was worried about. I was excited to meet the coolest dog ever, Davis. He was a beagle/choc lab mix and he was beautiful. His parents were very nice but parents made me uncomfortable. I could go into explaining all kinds of stupid things from my past that might explain this but I'll just say I had just accepted the Lord as my Savior and until then, my life had not been too smart or pretty and my level of insecurity was through the roof.
So we headed to my new apartment. We rode up to see the girl's car that Adam had liked sitting in the parking lot along with all of our other friends. She was a good friend to both us but at this point and time, I didn't want to deal with her. Adam mentioned something about her as we walked up and I told him I didn't want to be the person he talked to anymore about her. He kind of smiled and said okay. That night she showered him with attention like I had never seen. There was nothing inappropriate but I had watched boys like her for so long and had never seen this kind of reciprocation. Adam tried to get my attention a time or two but I was steaming and was better left alone. When everyone else finally left, he was still there and the DTR ensued... sort of. And a first kiss :)
Monday and Tuesday went by sort of busy and quiet between us. We weren't official and so my girl friends and I had planned a Valentine's dinner on Wednesday night 2/14/96, just for girls. We always went to FCA at USC on Wednesdays but this time we were just going to be a little late and cook a special dinner. We walked into FCA right as the last worship song ended and everyone sat down. You have to understand that this is a very large room that FCA was held in and all of these college kids are crammed in sitting on the floor. As we saw all of our friends right up front, Adam motioned for us. I shook my head and motioned for him (who happened to be sitting pretty close with the group which contained the other girl). He stood up and walked through the crowd of college students... "excuse me", "excuse me", "excuse me"... I don't think I could stop smiling. HE CHOSE ME. In front of everyone and with all of our friends witnessing it, he chose me. No one had ever really made me feel so special. Our wedding wouldn't happen until April 10,1999 but this day among witnesses has never left my heart!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"belief" blogs

Wow! I just finished reading CNN's belief blog. While I was reading it, I was getting so fired up to respond. It seemed so ridiculous and contradictory of itself that I was getting very annoyed with each word I read. Then, I got to the end and started reading through comments posted about it. Those were far more ridiculous than the original article. At least it was straightforward backwards (if that's possible). All of the following comments were circular arguments and ramblings... maybe not all but a lot of them. I opted not to post anything.

I like posting things online. I like responding to other people's writings as well. I can get angry and feel like I can make a logical argument. In the end, it doesn't feel worth it. It seems that people will talk to each other like "dogs" in their anonymity and opinions are KING!

I did this a few months ago with an article after the Chilean miners were rescued. I start off thinking it is a good article and the comments following turns it all into an argument of religion with some giving God the credit and others not.

I guess what I get from all of this is people LOVE to argue, especially anonymously :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

integer - literally "untouched", hence "whole"

Integrity is a great concept. It is something I desire and admire a lot. Still, it isn't something that we get to see a lot of. I guess that might be because of a definition I once heard "Integrity is who you are when no one is looking". It isn't something we can see easily at all, but we can see it's absence. The media fills our minds with every possibility of cheating, lying, deceiving and hurting others. There really aren't many reports on someone caught being honest or someone sacrificing themselves for the good of others. I guess the best positive examples we get are the people in our communities who serve in various ways. They are real and I can say those people get my respect all day long.

So what does integrity look like as a person? Someone who is kind unconditionally? Someone who steps up to tell the truth when it needs to be told? Someone who gives a hand when there is no reward or acclaim attached? Someone you can trust to be consistent and good in their responses and actions? Someone who doesn't force their stance upon you but who you know where they stand? I'm sure there is more but these are the parts that stand out to me right now.

I'm grateful for the people I know with integrity. I hope to be one of those people in the years to come and I trust the Lord is working that out in me. Not so I can get that public pat on the back, but in my heart, I just want to be that person... consistent, good, humbly righteous, loving, unbiased, unprejudiced, whole.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'm glad I only have 10 kids

:) Well... I CARE for 10 kids and that care IS shared. Still... I pray for and worry over 10 kids and that is enough for anyone.

My kids are incredible and they all have some amazing qualities that make me smile and appreciate their individuality. One of them has a funny accent. One has academic success that impresses me greatly. One has a quietness that I admire and appreciate. One has energy and drive. One has creativity and hope. One has a humble heart. One cleans up quickly after herself and others. One has a smile that makes you want to give her anything she wants. One has a dreamy hope that I want to see fulfilled. One has a neatness and desire for structure. These are just a few qualities they have but these are things that make me think of them. They also overlap into each other and each child. On a selfish level, each can make me feel special with their love and attention but I think even that comes from my love for them and recognition of how amazing they are.

Monday, January 31, 2011

gray day

so today was a bummer... not totally I guess. Here is how it went. We are on duty and we woke up with everyone being very cool. I hate rough mornings where I am a grump and I meet my match among one of my teenagers or from my six or eight year old. A very sweet moment was Elissa coming and looking up to me and asking with so much hope in her eyes "Mommy, can I wear a dress today?" I don't know why she asked as we put few limitations on their clothing choices (considering we provide the clothes/wardrobe and all). I smiled and said "sure, as long as you wear tights or leggings". She skipped off. It wasn't that big of a deal but I just appreciated the obedience of asking for something she wasn't sure about.

So once everyone headed out, Adam and I headed to the chiropractor and breakfast with my parents. The chiro is great and has helped me feel a lot better. Today, he had the report from my MRI. I went in with a smile and he said he wanted to really explain my MRI to me. After explaining problems in various vertebrae... he stopped and said this all basically says you have a bad lower back and you are sort of in a gray area with how things will play out. He really helped a lot to explain it all but it just wasn't easy to hear. I was ready to think that I was on my way to being all better. So there were a few things he pointed out and basically left me feeling like there is a great possibility that I will eventually have to have surgery... I appreciated his honesty and straightforward approach. I was grateful for clarity too but really I was just sad... more doctor visits, maybe surgery, no more picking up my little girls.

We left there and went on to see my parents. They are awesome. I mean don't get me wrong.... they are not superheros or anything, but in my eyes, I see them changing. I am just so overwhelmed with love for them for all they have done for me. We could all write volumes about our imperfections and failings but I would rather they forget mine and I forget theirs. So... I updated them on my health issues and saw their concern. That made me sad too because I don't want them to worry about me anymore, it's my turn to worry over them. Adam and I headed home and listened to good music and sat quietly. I felt very weepy and Adam just patted me a lot.

The rest of the day was a blurr of running around, running errands, doing paperwork, sending tons of emails and all that good stuff. Every once in a while some poor soul would ask me how I was doing (or just say "hi")and I probably overdid it with my answers. Once the kids got home, I was very distracted. My day was gray, as is my back condition. I can thank God that it isn't something horrible but man! it is disappointing to feel very healthy and in control of your body's condition and have to realize I am not in control of it at all... It is up to God to heal or not and to keep this in perspective here: all that is going on is not life threatening. There is just maybe the threat of pain and future problems that will not end in this life... I hate sounding so dramatic.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Spring is in the air...

...okay, not really :) But it was an amazing day!! I think it was in the low sixties and the sun was blazing. It was too beautiful not to get out a little and I was so glad I did. A friend and I walked all over our sweet little town and I saw parts of it I had never seen before. There was one house that looked like it was plucked right out of historic Savannah, Georgia! Gorgeous!! I just love all that our little town has to offer. Sadly, in the middle of this horrible economic time, the market is ripe and I couldn't help but wonder if we should buy a little house or two. I say that like we have all the money in the world and of course we don't... but who knows what the Lord has for our future!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The BIG snow of 2011!!


So... it is 2011... almost February... and I feel like doing a little blogging :) This is from the writer in me who thinks I have so much to say and people are dying to read it!! Not really, but maybe it is from some much less arrogant version of the same kind of mind that feels like I'll feel better and less burdened if I can share some of my own boring story with the world via internet.

I have a great life. If you know me (and I suspect you do... otherwise you might be a stalker or just really bored right now), then you know my life is humdrum. I like it that way. I used to crave the excitement. For what, I don't know but I craved it and found it easily enough... sort of. Now, I prefer to keep with a routine and care for my family without too much excitement at all if possible, thank you very much!! Give me a good squabble among siblings and I'll be content with that for a while.

This year has started off with a little excitement I guess - a different sort that I'd prefer not to have at all. I sort of ignored some pain (Adam would disagree that I ignored it since he heard about it all the time) I was having and put off caring for myself for a while (the way mothers tend to do) and finally after waiting months to get an MRI, had one done the first week of January (it's all about meeting the deductible really). Well, it confirmed what I dreaded most - I'm getting older and starting to fall apart :) in technical terms: a herniated disc. So I've been seeing a chiropractor about it for a bit and have an appointment with a neurologist in a few weeks. We'll see how it goes but I'm in a lot less pain than I was a month or two ago so I am grateful. I have lots of amazing people praying for me and God is still in control so it doesn't worry me... it's just something to lighten the wallet as well as the exercise regimen :) Prayers are always welcomed.

ABOUT THE GIRLS: The little girls are terrific. The big girls are too (yes, I still work at an amazing children's home) but I think I am at a place in my life where having 8 teenagers (well 7 teens and a 12 year old) is sort of sad for me. I know they have their own lives and interests. I want to be important to them but there are so many other parts to the dynamic that is my "big family" that I finally realized I can't cry every time they don't share things with me or treat me as if we just met. I rejoice in the moments when they share with me or show concern for my feelings. I love them with my prayers, my cooking, my time, my laughter, my planning and my gas money. I know there will come a day when the two little ones do the same thing... they'll be teens and it will hurt to realize "here we are again - we just lost A BAZILLION IQ points because all of a sudden they know everything". But for now, I'll value their 6 and 8 year old desire to snuggle, to read books to me, to share their day with me, to have talks about friends and teachers, to play board games (because at 6 and 8 it isn't too dorky yet) and to do just about anything as long as we do it together. Don't get me wrong, I value that from my big girls every chance I can... those chances just get less and less and the little ones have yet to label me as old-fashioned, unrealistic, or unimportant.
ADAM: Adam is as great as ever. He is getting handsomer all the time and takes such good care of me. I don't think he knew what to do with me for a few months there when I was in pain and slowed from my normal 90mph day. He didn't freak out but just babied me a lot and I sort of got used to it :) He knows I am doing much better now but he still babies me a lot... I guess he always has. I just didn't appreciate it like I should until I realized how much I needed it. I shouldn't be surprised - He comes from the most awesome family and I have no doubt I should thank his parents and sisters daily for their contributions to what I think must be the best man under heaven!

: My parents are getting older and I pray more for them than I used to. I don't know why since I know getting older is a part of life but 67 and 72 are big numbers and when I get there, I'll appreciate more prayers as well. My mom is a piece of work. I love that phrase. It covers everything from the cutest 18 year old fireball (which I'm sure my mom was at one time) to the most ornery 67 year old lady (which my mom definitely is now)! My dad has taught me more than I knew I needed to know about grace and unconditional love. Of course there is a long sweet and strange love story there but it really isn't mine to tell so I won't. I just admire and respect him with my whole heart and am so grateful for his love for me. My mom too... I just try not to make her mad :)
SIBLINGS: They are here and there. I used to think we grew up to be so different and as I get a little older, I realize we are a lot alike in the basic stuff. I'm just glad to know they are on the planet and they make me glad my girls have one another too.
GREAT FRIENDS: I forgot about some of them for a while but thank God for grace and the fact that everyone is busy so staying in touch is hard for us all. We have some precious friends from the past who just had a new baby boy - Praise God! and some that are due any day - Praise God! We have some that are pregnant in the months ahead... now that I think of it, we really know a lot of pregnant people :)) and we have other great old friends who are awesome without adding to their family in this moment... it is so fun to think about all the cool people we've been blessed to know!!
All that to say, God has blessed us with some great new friends too. I asked for them at some point and He delivered with a bang :) Thanks to God for people who have similar concerns, intentions and needs and who see something of value in me.

Okay so maybe I am not telling a story or having a regular blogging moment but maybe it just feels good to organize how I feel about my life. Maybe this should just be a journal... well, it would be if I was unhappy but my life is too good not to share!!