Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Home.  I see it differently every time I visit.  It’s a beautiful place all in its own South Georgia way.  Afternoon shadows seem longer because of the tall steady pines.  Gardens need to be picked and on a really good day, you can get wet in the sprinkler in the same trip.  Empty green space woos you to just sit awhile and read.  Julia, of course, was the only one who listened.  If you know where to look, Catawba worms can be found for fishing bait and in the right patch of sunlight, blackberries can be picked so cobblers can be made.  And eaten.  And the bowl licked clean.  {Thank you, Hunter. You made it easy to wash.}

And a preview of some really fun photos we made........  more next time!

My niece, Hunter, that I am more and more proud of every time I get to spend time with her
{Hunter, you are a sweet cousin to Julia.  We LOVE you.}

This little love had a ball “making pictures” with the big girls. 
 {Julia, your heart makes me proud.}

{Brighton did make this trip with us, but he wasn’t still long enough for many pictures.  Wherever RJ was, Brighton was either ON him, squished up next to him or right behind him.  He didn’t have time for many of mom’s pictures.  We’ll make up for it next time. And Julia really did take more than one set of clothes!}

{gifts 1251-1264}

that South Georgia trumps Santa

my Mom’s new knee and how well she’s doing

small town hospitality in the form of meals and desserts

{and what Momma did with the blackberries Julia found in the woods}

hearing Daddy plan meals and then getting to eat them

his enthusiasm in cooking for others

RJ letting Brighton be his shadow

how Hunter laughs with her whole body

Mike and Molly ~ their love for Soperton and the people of it

fresh corn, fresh broccoli, fresh everything!

Julia getting to experience the garden with Papa

big brother who still gets a kick out doing insanely crazy things to me!

RJ and Hunter ~ the gobs of time they spent with my children

bird watching with Julia


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What I Want for Julia

Backstage with Julia at her ballet recital on Mother’s Day, I was taken with her and her friends.  They are growing up.  Even just last year, the once-a-year make up still looked like a little girl playing dress up.  This year, well, I began to see what’s waiting around the bend of just a few more years.   Giddy with lipstick and eyeshadow, I saw lingering looks in the mirror and second, third glances.  And I know she saw what I saw~  the appearance of a young lady.  And she lives in my house.  And that makes me responsible for planting some big thoughts within her.

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”   ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

There is no need for me to say a whole lot because there have been some amazing books/posts/articles written on the subject ~this one being one of my favorites by Jeff Lawrence, a friend of a friend~ especially the lovely paragraph at the end to his daughter.  However, my thoughts are resting on how often I comment on her physical traits versus her inward substance and what I am modeling/communicating to her in regards to my own appearance.

“The greatest treasures are those invisible to the eye but found by the heart."

Mrs. Summey was in town over the weekend and one cannot spend time with this woman without having your whole pot of thoughts stirred up ~ in the best kind of way.  She knows when to challenge you when you are simply talking and making conversation.  There is no shame or guilt in her counsel. Perfectly placed, each exhortation is lined with love, wisdom and grace.   This physical beauty topic seemed to pop in and out of our times together over the weekend.  Her words were simple but she told me how her mother would remind her time and again that, “Pretty is as pretty does.”    I think we all remind our children of this in different ways, but how often?  Do I do it as often as I comment on their appearance?  What are they hearing me say most often?

"It's beauty that captures your attention; personality which captures your heart.”

As sheltered as Julia is at 10 years old, she is inundated with images of what our world values in women.  Even the Sunday paper ads are covered with faces that exude attitude and sensuality.  There are images plastered all over town that she sees on a daily basis so why wouldn’t the importance of the loveliness she can carry within be something I stress on a daily basis?  This is worth planning.  This is worth thinking through.  I should come up with some things I can say as she comes and asks how she looks, or if what she has on looks okay, or if I like her hair?  Or when she has done something sacrificial for her brother or for a friend or when she responds well when Jeff or I have to tell her “no” to something.  Do I comment on her heart as often as I do her physical traits or the outfit she chose?

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart” ~ Kahlil Gibran

Another theme that ran through conversations with Mrs. Summey was modeling.  What am I modeling to my children in regards to my outward appearance?  Do they see me spending gobs of time in front of the mirror?  Exercising excessively?  Primping constantly?  Complaining about this trait or that one?  What about when someone shows up at the door and my face or hair is not “ready” for company?  How do I respond?  I know some of this is just normal but I need to be keenly aware of the seeds I am planting into the heart of my children.  Especially my daughter.

The quotes interspersed are just some I admire~ not necessarily the people but their thoughts on this thing called beauty.  People from all walks of life realize it and understand the depth of it.  Whether they recognize it or not, God made it and we really can’t see beauty without His revelation of it.  And only His Presence enhances it.

And so from the Truth....
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
 but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Proverbs 31:30

Yes, our physical beauty evaporates, but we have the invitation for our fear of the Lord to grow and deepen.  Here is the deepest beauty.  This is what we should model.  This is what we want.  This is what we want for our girls.

And this is praise worthy.

{gifts 1233-1250}

8 month old baby in pink smocked onesie in my lap

a sane, manageable Wednesday at work

Mom’s week old text still making me laugh

last day of school

the Book It Reading Program

black and white movies that make B belly laugh

their excitement over summer history course {??}

Mrs. Summey three days in a row

that B got to work hard outside {at least that is what he said} and that he was enjoyed by others

 fiances that seem awfully special

anticipation of a Saturday morning....sometimes better than the reality

great plays at 2nd base and home

friends around my table

seeing Julia risk something

learning something new

laundry with friends

piano recitals and proud smiles to follow

that God created beauty

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How Sweet It Is {Part 5} “Through My Mistakes"

let me be all he ever dreamed
of loveliness and laughter.
Veil his eyes a bit
there are so many little flaws;
somehow, God,
please let him see
only the bride I long to be,
remembering ever after - 
I was all he ever dreamed
of loveliness and laughter.

~Ruth Bell Graham

It’s framed and tucked in a personal spot in his closet.  Denise walked it down the hall of the church in which I grew up and gave it to him minutes before our wedding.  Our hopes were high, barely into our twenties.  We had not missed a session of our pre-marital counseling, completed all the assignments from our beloved friend and pastor and read every book he had recommended. I had many lengthy discussions with two dear friends who were in wonderful marriages.  These women were transparent with me, teaching me, living in front of me what the Bible says about marriage. I felt so prepared for this natural progression of my life.  I would finish pharmacy school our first year of marriage while he would serve his second church as a youth minister and then we’d make the long drive down I-20 for Jeff to finish seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. It was a great plan and it’s exactly what we did.

But in the months to follow our wedding, those words “loveliness and laughter” began to mock me and I wanted to take that framed poem and hide it until I could become that bride “I long[ed] to be” because, by golly, I’d get there.  I’d figure it out.  I’d be “all he ever dreamed”.  I’d be her.  One day.

But I found out all too quickly “veil[ing]” wasn’t going to be enough coverage for all my flaws.  Nor for his.  We needed black out shades.  We were two sinful people choosing to live in the closest, most intimate, most I’m-all-in-your-business relationship on earth.  How could I have thought I was prepared?  How could anyone?  Two pasts, a zillion ingrained thought patterns, habits, preferences, insecurities, expectations-- all colliding together in a 45 minute ceremony???  Only the supernatural power of God can make it work, make it full of laughter, make it valuable, make it powerful, make it all loveliness, make it glory giving.  Only Him.

I feel very inadequate to write even just a few paragraphs on marriage but I do feel there are some critical things I am learning through the LOADS of mistakes I have made.  And that’s how I share.... through my mistakes.  Read this as humbly as I have tried to write it.

Learn, study and devote yourself to what it means to respect your husband.  You’ll need to ask him what that means to him.  He might be a little embarrassed at first and he may not know right off, but give him some time to think and ask him again later.  These aren’t the kinds of things you want to find out after a dinner party or after a weekend with his family.  How would I know that?  Just a really good guess.  Ask your spouse.  It’s crucial.  It’s at the top of my list. {Though nothing is in any particular order after this.}

Meet his vulnerability with your own.  If your husband goes out on a limb, scooch out there with him.  Don’t leave him there alone having taken the risk with his heart.  If it’s important enough to him to share with you what on his mind and heart {being transparent and vulnerable}, you must treat it as such ~ important.  Share your heart, too and hold his vulnerability as valuable and respect it.  NEVER take advantage of it, especially in conflict.  That’s a cheap shot.  As my wise friend and mentor, Mrs. Summey told me,  "YOU KNOW EACH OTHER'S EASY TARGETS, but you must protect the other's most fragile areas.”  You must.

Pray with each other.  This is not “rank-able”.  It’s in a category all its own.  Find a time to pray and stick with it.  I believe we should have extended prayer with our spouses from time to time but just as powerful is the few minutes in the morning or the short prayer lifted up for one situation during a conversation after the kids are in bed.  Just pray.  It is the road less traveled in marriages and it can make all the difference.  And that’s not just a sweet poem.  Try it.

Figure out ways to show him that you are “in the game” with him.  Yes, that means going out on the limb with him at times and if the limb breaks, you go down together.  There is absolutely no joy in being the one alone-- on the ground or still in the tree. But also try to think of how to do this on a daily basis.  Ask him what he needs.  Put yourself in a position to say “yes” to him.  If we can’t say “yes”, we need to re-evaluate those little white squares on the calendar. Whatever the Lord has called your husband to do, figure it out, learn about it and do what you can to help.  He may only need your cheering from the sidelines.  In some cases, your best assistance may be taking such good care of the home front, he does not feel the pressure of all the duties there.  Ask him how he feels supported by you.  Only he can answer that.

In conflict, pray for a soft heart and that both of you would be committed to the Truth, not to your being right. God’s Truth works.  It’s the ONLY place we have to come back to.  You can pick something else if you want to, but look at all your choices.  How would you ever choose?  The research to pick one is enough to send your head spinning.  Just save yourself the trouble and settle in with His Truth.    If we aren’t pursuing God’s Truth in our marriages, we are going to chase our tail all our married days.  That’s exhausting and frustrating as all get out.  We have found in our own marriage and others, that if both spouses are committed to seeking after God’s Truth, they can get through anything. I am dumbfounded how clouded my mind can get in conflict.  My desire to be right overpowers all reason.  I HAVE to let go of being “right” and instead, be committed to landing on the side Truth.  It always wins anyway.  Oh, it sounds so simple but you know as well as I do, we can get our words so tangled up in a mangled heap over hours and nights and days, we don’t even know where it all began.  That’s why the Truth is so comforting.  It’s always in the same place.  It doesn’t change with the decade.  It’s constant.  It’s easily found.  Be committed to His Truth, not to being right.  Tail chasing isn’t attractive.  Just ask Jeff. 

So, those are my first five on my “what I am learning through my mistakes” list.  I’ll add to this in June for the countdown to our twenty years of marriage.  I am not naive enough to think that everyone can relate to my “list”.  I understand there are real hurts, real wounds, and real loss in many marriages and the needs of your heart can be great.  But still, true healing comes from the Truth of God’s Word.  Find someone who will help you and your spouse hang on to that, who will point you to His Truth and as Tim and Kathy Keller say “roll up your sleeves and get to work.”  It’s the most important work you can do.  

{gifts 1214-1232}

that she asks me those embarrassing questions

RJ and Hunter’s texts to Julia

that I have friends who do great research.. and pass it on to me

yummy lunch on Magnolia with Alyssa, my grace friend

4 hour dress rehearsal with Jessica

the way Jeff celebrates~ Thank You.

gift of Saturday

by myself at the Kimbell

Salsa Fuego

Breakfast in bed

a gift from Em and her note

cards covered in their handwriting, their drawings

gift from Julia, made by her friend, Isabella

my ballerina

Sara’s words, the blessing and the release

that Mom is doing so well post surgery

last days of school

learning from my mistakes

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

We Can’t Forget

Mom, what’s that verse God gave you when I was born?  You know, the one while you were waiting on me?

Appearing in the narrow opening, she caught me off guard while I was reading in our teeny reading nook, in another century.  “That verse.”  There were so many.  One verse must have caught her attention in all the times she’s heard my story, her story, our story.  
I reminded her there were a few and asked her could she remember pieces of the verse.  “Bad news” was all she could recall, but that was plenty.  It was a big one for me.  It was the one that let me sleep the night before her birthmother was to sign the papers.  The night her birthmother kept Julia in the room with her.......... all night.  God gave me sleep in a hotel a few miles away by giving me that verse.  

If you’ve read much here before, you’ve heard this story... written in meticulous detail.  We don’t want to forget.  Forgetting our desperation, forgetting His faithfulness, forgetting his personal care and encouragement.  We cannot have that. So I write.  And this particular afternoon in the turquoise chair, I got to remind her. 

I pulled out my rebound Bible, the book that has fit most comfortably in my lap for the last 25 years and my copy of Streams of the Desert.  For the period of my life I waited on babies, the two books belonged together.  Not on equal shelving, of course, but companions. God used them together and gave me customized encouragement.  He kept me coming back for more.  I laid both books on the ottoman in front of me and rubbed my palms together and said, 

Let me show you!

When your due date was just a couple of days away, I turned to this Psalm because I loved it so and that particular day, I needed some encouragement.

“He settles the childless woman in her home
  as a happy mother of children.
Praise the Lord.”  {Psalm 113:9}

Her eyes looked closer at the page.  Focusing, she saw her and Brighton’s birthdays written in the margin by the verse.  She smiled as her finger lingered.  

And something pulled my eyes over here to this side of the page.  God did.  He wanted me to read this verse.

They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. 
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;  {Psalm 112:7-8}

You know I’ve told you, your birthmother could have changed her mind.  We felt confident that God had always planned to get you to us through her but we knew it would be hard for her.  Because of this verse, I felt the Lord specifically telling me that I would have no "bad news" to fear.  I carried the verse in my back pocket.
Your birth was beautiful and we didn’t miss a thing.  The next day was “the day in between”-- between your birth and the signing of the papers making what we already knew official.  We knew many couples who had received “bad news” on this particular day.  Before we left to spend the day with you at the hospital, I had a little time with the Lord and through the January 25th entry in Streams He gave me that verse AGAIN-- in case I decided to waver during the long, long “day in between”.

They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. 
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; 

He was freeing up my heart to absolutely enjoy you, little thing you were.  He did not want my enjoyment of you to be dulled by any fear.  That day was one of the best days of my life but He wasn’t finished letting me know He was all in my business.  Look at what He had for me the next day!  The day we got to take you home!!

I turned the page to January 26th.  The day the papers would be signed.  The day I could celebrate.  Fully.  

She bends over on her knees to see where my finger stopped.

“I have begun to GIVE; begin to POSSESS.” {Deut. 2:31}

Her head turned to me with those big, brown, almond eyes, the ones I have loved since that first day.  She needed no explanation.  I could see the excitement, wide and lovely brown.

 That’s amazing, Mom.  How does He do that?

I honestly don’t know, Julia, but you can bet I walked in peace.  He gave me everything I needed.  And I want you to remember all this is part of your story and even right now, He’s adding to yours.  Write it down and don’t forget.  We cannot forget.

Momma, that’s why I wanted to know the verse.  I am writing it down.

How easily I forget.  Just like an Israelite on this side of Egypt. 

Jeff and I are waiting on a few things right now.  Oh, we’ve been in this waiting room before.  We know how the chairs feel, the patterns on the wallpaper, the pictures on the walls.  We’ve almost stared a hole in that closed door before God came to open it up.......... just in time, in extraordinary ways.  We’ve celebrated His giving many, many times.  So, why does waiting not get any easier, as familiar as it is?  

Yes, the waiting is familiar but what I seem to forget is-- His coming through for me is MORE FAMILIAR.  He’s done it over and over and over.  It seems easier for me to lament over what He’s NOT doing for me right now instead of recalling His track record of faith-ful-ness towards me.  And what stories we have!  Get a pen, some paper, a computer and Write. Them. Down.  Write down the anguish and impatience of waiting but then, in bold, write the delight, the freedom and the blessing of His showing up.  And know that you are building up the faith of your children.  We have no idea how God will use these stories of faithfulness born from these uncomfortable waiting rooms but we know it will be a unique, beautiful and intentional tale available to us and to our children.  Remind yourself.  Tell them enduring the annoying wallpaper of the waiting room is nothing compared to His perfect deliverance.  God will place the faith in just the right chapter of their story.  And ours.

But they soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for His counsel.  {Psalm 106:13}

We must not forget.  

We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.  {Psalm 78:4}

gifts {1199-1213}

that they replaced our piano

yellow butterflies---everywhere!

books for a dollar

Sonic date

old, small books of poetry and the thought of one day maybe getting to read them all

eating Nik’s creative delicious food {Wow, girl.}

nephew’s text that made my day.... my week?

young ladies like Melissa and Skylar, giving me the vision of how I’d like Julia to respond to Jesus at their age

Mom’s blazing a new trail for their kid’s education {So excited for you, friends!}

napping with Julia

B’s repentant heart

that her hair still curls on humid days

making room for new books {something I don’t think I will ever tire of doing}

the dishwasher man is coming tomorrow!!!!!!!!  Yippppeeeeee!!

eating outside with new friends

that she is writing down her story

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pericope III {Home}

These homes we make are funny things.  Well, they can be.  I manage to squelch the fun on a regular basis but I’m working on it.  I told Jeff the other night as sleep was creeping in on both of us, “I am not the mother I thought I’d be.”  He managed to ask why and I simply said, “I am way too serious.”  He was kind to remind me of the "great things" my “seriousness” accomplished in our home.  But I know these accomplishments would be a lot more fun if I’d just loosen up in the moment.  I look at pictures I snap mostly because what I saw made me grin-- on the inside.  Too much to do to really take the time and let the grin turn into an actual laugh.  Oh, how my kids love to see me laugh.  Sunday, Brighton ran over to me with the funny papers wanting to read to me one of the cartoons.  It was genuinely funny to me because it reminded him of something that happens all the time in our home~ at MY expense.  I laughed fully and proceeded to cut out For Better or For Worse.  He was so proud-- to have made me laugh and that I wanted to keep the cartoon.  I need to do more of that~ laughing out loud.

So here are some of my inside grins from the last couple of months.

Not Me

This caused me to open the refrigerator door again.  Were those pens I saw?  Yep.  With the ongoing pencil hunt at our house, pencils wouldn’t have surprised me as much, but pens? Someone just might get a hankering to write on the milk carton.  The butter box?

 And, of course, no one knows how they got there.


I’ve been doing a lot of standing at my sink lately.  Our dishwasher is on the blink.  How long, you ask?  Oh, I’m not sure......

25 days, 12 hours and 17 minutes.  18 minutes.  {I answered the phone-  a wrong number.}  I have proof.  Here is my family dyeing eggs on the Saturday of Easter weekend~ without me~ because I was washing 2 loads of dishes.

But here is why I tell you of my time at the sink.

That’s where he sits so he is sure I can see him.  Right in between the limited view.  And that face says, “Why don’t you let me in?”  or “Why don’t you play with me more?”  or “Why did you bring me home but you just leave me out here all the time?” or “At the very least, would you just come out a minute and pet me?”  Yes, that face says ALL of that.  I hear him every time I spend time at the sink and he settles himself in that spot.  He NEVER rests there.........unless I am standing at the sink.


I bought the children a notebook to write the things for which they are thankful.  Great intentions.  They do it sometimes.  Julia has picked it up recently and I just got tickled reading hers.
Of course, what drew my attention were the last two words, “brother’s face” and I thought how sweet is that, her brother’s face, until I read a little more closely.  “DRAWING on my brother’s face”.


I have a sweet tooth.  I can appreciate a fancy dessert and even want to have it again, but I have never met a brownie I didn’t like, unless it’s overcooked and I don’t consider that a real brownie.  When I make my favorite recipe- the Barefoot Contessa’s Outrageous Brownies- I always freeze a few for emergencies.  I simply label them....

Everyone needs some “Yum” in their freezer.


If you are a Mom, you’ve seen this.  You may never have been lucky enough to have your phone with you in order to catch the delivery on camera, but you’ve gotten one, for sure.

It’s the notorious “note under the bathroom door”.  Kids have an internal tracking system for Momma and there are days it seems they cannot breathe unless you are in the room.  I’ve received many things under that door- math sheets with large question marks, completed grammar worksheets, picture books with a request of reading {yes!}, sticks of gum for me paired with requests of pieces for themselves, but my favorite are these notes.  This one seemed sort of desperate but I heard no yelling, no blood rushed under the door and I didn’t smell smoke.  All was well.  We moms have great filters for these types of things.

Now, 25 days, 13 hours and 26 minutes

gifts {1183-1198}

the stuffed animal in his bat bag for a really sad friend

women gathered in hopes of improving literacy in our schools

having Ash Walker on my hip (link)

night at home

the Kimball’s student programs

the lovely paintings we still get to see

homemade K-cups {Yes, he did.}

that my kids appreciate and get excited about a library sale

$0.69 cones!

eating around the Kelley table

being a part of friend’s 25 years of pastoring one church and celebrating their long faithfulness there

for the couple who secretly picked up the lunch bill

that there is such a thing as a fake hair bun

how God brings back sweet memories { a little boy just walked passed my table doing just this}

friend’s prayers answered

laughing out loud with B