Monday, July 21, 2008


We took the kids (and a couple of friends) garage sale-ing last weekend. Pre-kids, Jeff and I used to enjoy this Saturday morning outing, so we thought it was time to give Julia and Brighton the experience of rummaging through someone else's junk. It was Brighton who had the hardest time grasping the idea of a "garage sale". Since he is not afraid to end a sentence with a question mark, the inquisition started Friday afternoon after his daily question of, "Where are we going in the morning?" and it did not stop until he walked up to his first table of junk. Then it all clicked. His questions paid off because he definitely got the most for his money throughout the morning. Unfortunately, his first purchase of a miniature porcelain Christmas boot was dropped on the pavement just as he was pulling his hand back from handing the man his quarter. He dropped his head and shoulders simultaneously but before I could start the whole "maybe we can glue it" speech, he lifted his head with eyes wide and said, "I know where 'nother one is." Sure enough, he marched me down the short driveway to the back of the stranger's garage and pointed to another red boot on the table. How about that? Happy again with little red boot in hand, he handed the man another quarter and promptly asked me to carry it. Julia had hit the Christmas table as well and now was the proud owner of a ceramic box with two cardinals perched on top. First dollar spent. Brighton's second purchase at another sale was an electric train set that works (and whistles!)for a dollar. I have a feeling the price was influenced by the time of day and the July heat beginning to bounce off the pavement.

Last stop. It’s getting close to noon. Buyers and sellers are ready for the morning to be over. This particular seller still had a little bit of “rah, rah” in her, so she asked Jeff if he needed a zip line. (Needed?) So while I sorted through books with Julia, Jeff got roped into buying a zip line for $4. By the way, Brighton had found his dream come true in a brown New Balance shoe box: 101 things that communicated caution, danger, do not enter – every road work, construction paraphernalia imaginable, all for the low price of $2.00 and all to be found under his bed for the next 5 years. Back to the zip line- I tried not to get anyone too excited about this garage sale find. Yes, it sounded like great fun, but how many garage sale purchases really deliver? Once we were home, Jeff got to work while I made lunch. He mounted it between two trees with great success. (Looked just like a regular clothes line) The kids easily climbed up on a chair to reach the handle, jumped off and LOVED it. However, moments later, a wave of testosterone rolled into our backyard and sent Jeff to Lowe’s for a longer cable, so the kids could “zip” longer turning our $4 garage sale purchase into a $24 enhanced garage sale purchase. When he was finished with all the enhancing, it looked like a telephone wire or maybe a clothesline for a slew of squirrels. (Notice our roof line.) This time the kids had to put on their bike helmets, climb our tallest ladder with Jeff’s help, tentatively grab the handle, close their eyes, confess all their sins and jump. Absolute fun! Take a look.



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Seventeen Sounds

WARNING: The following words are extremely family infused- stretching even to extended family. (Yawn -- and keep in mind, I have trouble with "short".) In other words, it may only interest those who are mentioned and maybe not even them.

As I sat in the turquoise kitchen of the house on St. George Island down-
loading pictures I had taken of my cousin’s family, I realized all 17 of us were in the same room. I didn’t notice it because of lack of space, but because of the sounds. No particular person was making that much racket, it was just that there were, well, 17 people. Six were at the dining table playing cards (and 5 of them were waiting-not patiently- for Daddy to finish his turn-- AGAIN). One was standing in front of the open refrigerator, tapping fingers on the handle, with that familiar blank-really-not-hungry stare. Three little boys were putting blue plastic train tracks together, each with their own brilliant idea. Julia was opening all the lids of the homemade goodies deciding which one she would like to enjoy next. Two were reclined in the adjoining den watching ESPN. Another was napping, though I am not sure how. One was doing laundry and the 2 ½ year old was singing, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. I thought, now, THIS is fun. So as the week slipped by, I realized there were lots of little things I was able to learn about my family because of this opportunity to live together for a week. So here goes.......

My Dad- Because he doesn’t care for the beach, I think he likes this trip for the 6 days out of the year he gets to have oyster omelets for breakfast. (It is almost hard to sit at the table with him.) However, it is easy to overlook his morning eating habit after tasting the dinner he prepares!
My Mom- She just basks in the notion that all of her family is together and that there is usually someone around that wants to play cards. Every time I see her, she has a grin on her friendly face except maybe when she is losing at cards or there is no ice in the freezer for her glass of tea.
Blake- Being the A/C lover he is, I can’t figure out exactly why he comes, but we are glad he does because we all benefit from his ability to cook seafood. He unashamedly loves my kids to a fault which endears him to me even more.
Adele- Even at the beach, she has a thing for doing laundry and taking extremely good care of her children. The most I saw her eat all week was when a pie made with Pa Paw-grown blueberries was served.
RJ- For a boy on the brink of his driver’s license, he loves hanging out and helping with the children, even when it comes to answering Brighton’s questions about the pool lights at 2 in the morning or flying Thomas the Train kites. As we like to say in south Georgia, “He’s a fine young man.”
Hunter- What 13 year old goes to the beach without her Coach purse and her Costa del Mar sunglasses? She is super helpful and, on this trip, she endured a 6 year old sleeping partner and a blonde headed snorer almost every night. I see glimpses of my own childhood in hers—minus the purse and sunglasses.

Uncle George—We found out that this “man’s man” has been reading romance novels under the guise of “historical fiction”. When he doesn’t have a fishing pole in his hand or when he's not rubbing his wife's back, he is our amazing fry cook.
Aunt Patsy- This little 5 foot woman has irrepressible energy, a knack for making things fun and a reputation for getting stains out. The fact that she has her husband reading romance novels with her says all the rest.
Bill and Patty- Every bone in their bodies were fashioned to be helpful except for a couple, maybe, and those were reserved for being fun and “smart alecky”. Jeff and I enjoyed beating them in cards every night--- or was it the coffee drinking ritual? Or maybe the whipped cream?
Brayden and Barrett- During the day, they reminded me of the sand crabs that scurried about the beach—small and fast-- but at night, when tiredness would descend, it didn’t matter where they were. Like Mr. McGoo, their eyes would begin to droop and they would give in to sleep, though not without a noble fight.
Ivey- Her adorable face produces a smile that has at least 1000 watts and she loves to play “get me!”
Jeff- He values my love for the ocean and encourages me to get my fill. With much fervor, he plays cards like he has been doing it as long as I have! (Of course, I taught him well.) And even on vacation, he can’t sleep past 7.
Julia- Just like me, she likes to find treasures (shells) and appreciates a yummy Georgia peach, eating one with each pass through the kitchen. One night, she proved herself relentless when it came to catching sand crabs in her net but squealed as loud as I did when the crab mistook our feet as part of his escape route.
Brighton- His love of building/constructing followed him to the beach, as well as his need for goggles. His capability of amassing great quantities of sand in his swim suit lining was stunning.
I learned that both of my kids can function on VERY little sleep, happily watch the same “Tweety Bird” cartoon over and over and maneuver a boogie board surprisingly well.
As for me, I never get my fill of the ocean, though I think it would be a dream come true to try! However, now that I am home, I could go a few more days without squeezing sunscreen out of a tube and tackling the thankless job of sand maintenance 24/7! So, what AM I missing now that I am home? Without hesitation, my answer would be the sounds of 17 people.
Here they are!

Mom and Dad, fortunately, the week lasted longer the caramel cakes, but still slipped by quicker than seemed possible. Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to make these memories in such a lovely house on such a beautiful stretch of deserted beach. The people you invite are okay too. Lots of love to EACH of you.

( Bill, cool necklace you've got there. If you don't remember which one you chose for the picture, click on the picture to enlarge it. And Mom, can this be my "thank you note?)

Friday, July 11, 2008


"The sea is His for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land." Psalm 95:5

Going to the beach has always been my first choice for a “get away”. Unfortunately, my Dad was never one to schedule a coastal destination for our family vacation. While spending a year away from his young wife and brand new baby boy, he got his fill of the ocean on the South China Sea in Vietnam. He never cared to feel sand between his toes again. Part of me understands that now, but I let my opinion be known more than once in high school. You could say grandkids changed all that, as they change many things I don’t get yet. Every summer they rent a wonderful yellow house on St. George Island off the coast of Florida and invite us all to join them. So far, the result has been a few extra pounds, kids who love the beach, gobs of card playing time, tolerance for sand in places you can’t imagine, cousins becoming friends, too many fishing stories and a boat-load of memories.

On our first day in the sand, Brighton sat still with shovel in hand, his bucket half full by his side and looked out towards the ocean. A question was brewing like a good pot of coffee, so I waited. “Do the waves still come even in the dark when we are sleeping?” While planning and thinking through our beach vacation, I wondered how I might make our stay somewhat spiritually significant for the children without gathering them up every night for some stilted family devotional. It came to me that we could talk about all the ways that the big blue sea reminded us of God as we played, walked and rode in the car. Not original. Not amazing. Just do-able. There is really no true comparison between the two, the ocean and God—just reminders, as He so carefully designed all of creation to do. Without even telling them my thoughts, Brighton’s observation on day one opened wide the door inviting Jeff, Julia and me to come in. Here are some of our reminders.

The rolling, and sometimes crashing, waves are mighty, in size and strength, but the persistency is mind boggling, like a magical machine with no off switch.

Depending on where you are standing, the movement of the ocean can be rough or gentle.

The sea is also teeming with life, living and active, able to provide abundantly for all that lives in it and around it.

Some mornings the ocean’s water is crystal clear, leaving no guess work as I walk out, but other mornings, each step is an unknown because of the cloudy water.

A frustrating observation is that you don’t tell the ocean what to do either. B’s carefully constructed sand castles were no match for the incoming tide. No matter how hard he shook his finger or how many barriers of sand he put in front of them, the constant rolls of the ocean could not be held back. It did what it pleased, for the good of the shoreline.

For the last, my favorite…..if you seek them out, the ocean unveils its treasures on a consistent basis. And it seems like the harder the waves crash, the more beauty lands on its shores waiting for someone to come along, pick it up and enjoy it. And every now and then, you find a rare and beautiful thing when you aren’t even looking.

That’s the God I know --powerful, mighty and faithful-even as we slumber, a life giver and a perfect provider. Depending on your personal view of God or your perspective in a certain situation, He can seem at times harsh and other times like a “mother with a weaned child”. He acts harshly, yet lovingly, when necessary. God’s Word is a lamp that shines on my feet and a light that illuminates my path, but sometimes I walk in faith listening for His voice behind me saying, “This is the way. Walk in it”. And thankfully, our God does as He pleases for the good of His children whether it seems good at the time or not. He is faithful to reveal Himself as we seek Him out, faithful to lavish us with gifts- some tangible, some not, eager to give us “grace gifts” when we least expect them, fully capable of bringing beauty from situations that may seem like a series of crashing, deafening waves. His treasures are our highest aspirations besides the Giver Himself.

The ocean has no trouble fulfilling its part in creation of bringing glory to its Maker. Effortlessly, really. The reminders of His character, His work, His Person are many. May I, as His creation, fulfill the same

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Beach

This is what we are doing- beaching with Jeff's family and mine. Happy 4th!
(I decided to include this one since a couple of people thought it was a snake! This one was completely different than the one I found on a walk earlier that day.)