Tuesday, August 27, 2013

To Build....To Make

They delivered the wood for our floors yesterday.  All that wood, just sitting there overnight..... two nights, actually..... for the taking.... for anyone who wants to haul off a few hundred square feet of wood.  Jeff sunk into the couch last night after kids were tucked in--not very tightly, I might add.  We saw Brighton at least four more times because he pulled TWO teeth lying there in the dark. -- Anyway, Jeff communicated that while he is still loving the building process, the focus on the temporal is getting old, like thinking of wood sitting in our unlocked house, analyzing bids, deciding on this or that, trying to get contractors back to the house for this or that..... We’ve talked about this before and I have had friends express the same feelings.  Jeff is having to focus on things like that and I have been looking at all the “pretty stuff” for MONTHS.  THERE IS SO MUCH OUT THERE!!!  SO MUCH.  The emails alone from home decor companies are enough to make you second guess every decision you make.  Did I get the best deal?  Well, maybe I DO want to keep everything the same color?  Will that light fixture give enough light in the space?  Is this too trendy?  Will I really still like this in a few years?  Will my kids be comfortable on this-- or WILL I BE comfortable with my kids on this?  Do I recover what I have or purchase something new?  I never have trouble sleeping-- NE-VER, but there have been some nights when my mind wouldn’t settle on a decision that I have laid there staring at the ceiling rebuking myself for being so ridiculous.

To build a house is a gift.  A generous gift and a privilege.  I am grateful and I am really enjoying the process but I knew it would be easy to get caught up in the fabrics, the fixtures, the textures, the surfaces and the colors.

When we moved from our last home, it felt, to me, as though a lifeline had been cut.  For a personality like mine, my “space” is near and dear and also, we were leaving a place of many “firsts” for our children.  Bittersweet, definitely.  We set up home in the rental as fast as we could and Jeff and I left town for a few days and while we were away, he slipped this card to my side of the bed.

There are houses and there are homes and you are a home maker.  From 1005 Elm Street to 7628 Blossom Drive to 4100 Pershing to 2905 Park Arbor Court to now, Clover Lane, you have always used whatever canvas you were given to craft a home.  My prayer is that the kids will learn that a house is great but is a home that really matters.  Park Arbor was a beautiful house but you are the one who made it a home.  I was sad to leave that house on Friday but I am very glad that the artist is going with me. 

Sigh.  I have a bursting boxful of notes from him.  He learned I am a "words" girl early on.  My purpose here is to highlight Jeff and what he is saying-- so sweet of him to encourage and affirm me in this way when I was exhausted and a little wounded after leaving a place with such sweet memories.  When I read this card in the hotel almost a year ago, I remember a little lump forming in my throat and not having the energy to give my emotion to it, but I knew the card would be a treasure for me.  And it is.  Because, in just a few words,  he is affirming what I do, what I am passionate about, what I devote a tremendous amount of time towards... he is appreciating it and giving me permission to enjoy it.

Emily-- so glad you were there.  God orchestrated that. And you took from your memory one of my favorite verses.

To build a house is a gift but to make a home is a ministry.

So as I choose what will fill this next canvas, you bet his words weave their way through my thoughts.  “Home”-- I am making a “home”.  Yes, I have many decisions to make and yes, I want it to look pretty, but what matters most is what I do, what we do as a family, how we parent, how we do marriage, how we offer hospitality, how we worship, what memories we make, how we celebrate, and how we love each other.

My prayer is that as He establishes our home through understanding and knowledge the "rare and beautiful treasures" would only be those things that can be experienced, lived, treasured, pondered and passed on.  So be it.


In deep contemplative prayer in his new room................ or maybe he's really hot and tired of writing on the walls?  You pick.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bittersweet {first day of school and some musical suggestions}

I remember when I was little plundering through my Mom’s pantry looking for a treat.  To my dismay, she wasn’t much for packaged sweets.  She baked plenty but not near enough for my sweet tooth.  One time as I came across some baking chocolate, I thought I had hit the jack pot.  Huge chunks of chocolate and lots of them.  You guessed it.  Bittersweet chocolate.  Not happy chewing.  Bitter.  But she could take that same chocolate and make delicious things for me to put in my mouth.   Sweet.

Today.  Bittersweet.

Side note-- as this whole post seems to be--
We {B and I- since I am the driver and payer of bills} are vacillating between "great hair!" and "a bush" right about now.  When Julia was starting to make a comment, I am doing the "cut it" motion across my neck in the mirror.  If she had finished her thought out loud, he may not have come out of the car.

It was the kid’s first day back at school.  Oh, there are many things to be happy about.  Of course.  The kids were excited about new backpacks, new supplies, new shoes, seeing their friends.  And I could hardly sleep last night thinking of all that I could accomplish today only to sit down and realize I had saved WAY too much for one solitary day.  I spoke briefly with a mom at drop off that said she had a bit of a melt down last night just because of how ill prepared for the school year she felt and how brief she felt her summer had been.  Oh, yes.  My book stack on my nightstand is still a stinking STACK.  Here, I’ll just show you.

I had high hopes, friends.  So that makes me sad because I just find it hard to read for fun during the school year.  Maybe that’s just a quirk of mine but that’s how it goes for me.

I am happy about the routine and then I am not.  I thoroughly enjoyed the many days no alarm was needed and the kids could awaken at leisure or when the dog next door- or our own dog-  would start barking.  I liked late breakfasts and early dinners and just a snack in between.  I liked being irresponsible and staying up way too late--reading chapter after chapter ignoring the clock.  I never even got tired of packing the cooler to take to the pool.  I’d go after school today if B didn’t have football practice.

Yes, FOOTball practice!  Tackle.  Foot.  Ball.  Do you know that I have a thing for football?  Not like some of my die-hard friends {AJ and VB!!!} but I do love it.  I grew up watching my big brother play way before his voice changed through his dramatic last game his senior year in high school. {Can tell you about that ANY time you want to hear it.}  I got to watch Jeff play his senior year at Furman University-- totally smitten, I was, watching #75 trying to take down the quarterback play after play.  I graduated from an SEC school and so, there is just something wrong or misfiring entirely if you don’t love football coming from SEC territory.   Putting aside ANY thoughts of bad injuries, I am very excited about Brighton learning the game and having the team experience.  As I was doing laundry yesterday, I put his football pants aside because I wasn’t sure about washing the pads. Well, guess what?  Football pants have changed over the last, what, 25 years?  Imagine that.  The pads are SEWN IN.  You just throw the pants in the wash.  There was a mom around that idea table the day they were deciding whether to sew them in or not.  {Thank you, idea table Mom.}

Okay, so I’d go to the pool if it weren’t for practice.  I will also miss the Lego creations I have seen this summer but I won’t miss all the requests to play the Wii.  I will miss the play dates but I won’t miss the days someone gets invited and the other one doesn’t.  I will miss the free days but I won’t miss the “I am bored” days, which isn’t actually allowed to be said in my house but oh, can they say it with their ENTIRE BEING or what?

Absent of all thoughts of boredom, today, they will come home with a myriad of things to tell me. I am bracing for many "Hey, she/he interrupted me!!!" There will be a slew of papers for me to see, answer key books for grading and their week of assignments that we will need to organize right away.

Bittersweet.  Summer is over and school has started.

Can I just say how LOVELY their naked faces are?!  I just love this no make up-look and wonder why we all ever start it?  What sweet girls.  Radiant.

Wondering if this is by intelligent design?  His seat placement?  Note teacher stool.  To make it sting even worse, there  is a "Jane" placed to his left.  I am sure "Jane" is great but the fact she is of the female kind is the rub for him.

Sweet Atlee behind her.  Thankful for these girls.

Bush here, maybe.  B with Preston-- one of my favorite kids.  Their hair contrast is a bit much for me.  They hold the title of belly roll champions at the pool and yet his Mom gets him in these smart clothes for the school day.  I am guessing she bribes him with doughnuts every morning!

I filled the first part of my morning with answering emails that should have been answered weeks ago, putting a roast in the crock pot, a little laundry, searching for the kids SSN's, and possibly the highlight of my day-- it's not over yet.... downloading new music and listening to one I got last week.

Ben Rector -- pick and choose what you like.  There will be a couple I skip.  He reminds me a little of Mat Kearney.  I like his sound overall.
Ellie Holcomb-- This one came out yesterday.  Thankful for this girl, her Mom and Dad and her husband's music, Drew Holcomb. A gifted crew.
Christa Wells-- hers came out last week and I was only getting to listen to it today and I heard a familiar voice and here is what I saw on my player.....

Well, well!!!  Christa and Ellie together!!!  Really fun and really lovely.

Happy Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

But I Failed

“I wanted to _________________.  I wanted to______________________.  I wanted to _________________ so you would know I appreciated the time you spent on it.  


It makes me feel so miserable that I couldn’t do that.  I didn’t let you know.............  And my wish didn’t come true.  I want to be perfect........I want ______________but I fail at that too.  Mom, I want the thing none can give sometimes.  You could call it wanting the impossible but the impossible won’t come and I want it so bad.  I wish things were different but that won’t come true either.”

Close to midnight, I read the note on my pillow after a sweet and encouraging time with friends, old and new.  I read it so fast because it was almost like I knew the words that would follow the words I was reading.  I think I groaned, threw it on the bed at Jeff and walked out of the room.  I had conflict on the inside.  One part of me wanted to get her out of bed, hold her, sort all of this out with words into the wee hours of the morning, and the other part of me wanted to leave on a week long retreat so I could sort these same feelings I experience almost every day.  The other interesting thing is a book had just resurrected itself from the move stashing just a few days ago-- a book I never finished, Grace for the Good Girl:  Letting Go of the Try Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman.  Over the last couple of days, I had been reading it like I was in a race or something being so happy it had resurfaced.  The note on my pillow made me wonder if this was a trick or a test or something.

But no, I was holding her heart for the day in my hand.


But how had she failed?  Whom had she failed?  Had she failed at her agenda or had she failed to follow Christ?

She struggles at 11 and I struggle at 42.  How do I help her understand the “impossible” IS supposed to be impossible because it keeps us entirely dependent on Christ- a dependent cycle of releasing my will, responding to His holiness and restoring fellowship with Him?

Sweet daughter,
Is this how you felt?
“For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”
These are Paul’s words from Romans 7.  The whole chapter is full of treasure but these may be the words I relate to the most.  You, of all people, know that my intentions are good but you, quite possibly, most of all, know that I fail all the time.  Almost every day and am in need of forgiveness from you, your Daddy or Brighton and sometimes, on a humdinger of a day, all three.

I read your raw note and I want you to know that I hear your felt expectations from me and some real live ones too- the ones I have made all too clear.  What’s hardest to read is the pressure you feel from me, the disappointment with yourself, and the ugly cycle that I know can follow those feelings if we don’t cycle back to the Source of Truth and Grace.   If we don’t run-- as fast as we can- back to Him in the midst of failure, we will stay in the funk you wrote so well about.  And, in Christ, we are not to assume any position of condemnation.  Ever.  {Romans 8:1}

But I failed.

But the impossible won’t come and I want it so bad.

I say to you,

BUT Christ made all things possible.
BUT Christ can make things different.
BUT Christ never fails.
BUT Christ can give the thing none can give.


Honey, it’s your middle name.

We repent and we ask.  He gives. This is how Christ makes things--- people, marriages, families, churches-- different.  That simple exchange that cost the Father so much.

I hear your thoughts about perfection.....we all fall into that desire and I must tell you, you will continue to be disappointed if we place that standard on ourselves or anyone else.  Only HE is perfect and that it’s HIS breastplate of righteousness that we get to hold up.  Not ours.  Let yourself and anyone else off the hook.  All the times I come to you to ask for forgiveness for my sharp tongue or my thoughtless words, even just last night, it is the right thing to do but also because I want to make sure you know that I am on no pedestal of spirituality.  I desire to “keep in step with the Spirit” {Galatians 5:25} and that requires a lot of repentance, receiving His grace and moving on.  I am pressing on toward the goal {Philippians 3:14}  and working out my salvation {Philippians 2:12} day after day after day.  Just like you.

So, my sister in Christ, this life is impossible when we are trying it all out with our own might and our own power.  That's a life of frustration, failure and funk.  You get your marching orders in the morning from Him and you focus on that.  He may use me from time to time to assist in that but I commit to you that I will be getting my own marching orders from Him too.  Hopefully, what I require from you will be led by Him.  That's the goal, my dear.  No more, no less.

Remember, For [you] are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for [you] to do. Ephesians 2:10

I love you more than you'll ever know.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ten Years on St. George Island

 {I’ve used this caution before.}
WARNING:  MORE THAN USUAL FAMILY-INFUSED BLOG POST If you aren’t one of the 17 (or so), more than likely you’ll want to skip out on this one.

The beach trip is hard to write about because, to me, it’s so big, or maybe it's because there are so many pieces that come together that make the week the pinnacle of summer.  Just a few of the pieces...road trip-- and the road trip playlist {!!!}, extended family living in the same house, yummy food, card playing, Aunt Ebby’s, new books started and finished, sore stomach muscles from laughing, more yummy food, late nights and then there's the BEACH itself and all that comes with that!  Spending it with people you truly enjoy just makes it all the sweeter.  Even minimal housework seems fun with 16 other people around.

Julia with Brayden and Ivey

On this trip, there are four age groups:  Olders, Middles, Teeners, and the Littles
Our activities overlap somewhat and also, couldn’t be more different.  Some but not all of the Olders' activities are:  preparing breakfast, playing cards almost all day, fixing {yes, I said “fixing” and I am going to say it again later} food for the Littles if one- or five- venture through the kitchen during lunchtime when the Middles are MIA {beach maybe?} , reading books, staring at iPads, planning dinner and grocery shopping.  {The Middles help with this just a tad. A "tad" means very little so I can't put that on our list.}  A couple of them venture to the beach to read and/or play with the Littles or to watch the Littles in the ocean worried that the Middles aren’t watching close enough.

Proof that the Olders work really hard on dinner... we are SO thankful.
The Middles, six of us, are a diverse group.  For the most part, three or four of us are on the beach pretty much the whole time- some under a tent, some not and a couple of them steer clear as much as possible.  Fishing, napping, watching the Littles in the ocean, sunning, fixing food for the Littles, doing laundry, watching the weather radar, eating, watching ESPN, hunting shows and on one occasion this year HGTV because "there's nothing else to watch" announced quite defensively, and aggravating the Littles or a fellow Middle are just a few of the activities of the Middles.  The one thing at least five of us have in common is that we get LOTS of reading done.

How many Littles can fit into one chair?

Hard evidence of a Middle tormenting the Littles

The Teeners sleep late, get a cold breakfast if there is any left, shop, go through a lot of clothes, give pedis to the Littles, help with puzzles, stay up late, handle Really Awkward Situations really well, sunbathe, put on makeup and play Really Energetic Activities with the Littles on the beach.  Their list might not be long but that last one is worth paragraphs.

Scott and Brenda, you've made a lovely girl.  Inside and out.  Thank you for sharing her with us for the week!

Hunter brought her best friend this year, Bailee, who we enjoyed COMPLETELY.  Her Mom and Dad were in my graduating class so I spent my 8th-12th grade year with them every day and every class.  They NEVER dated until after we graduated.  It was my job to teach Bailee how to play our card game so I sat next to her all week {though she caught on after hand #1} so as I would catch her eye from the side all I could think about was her parents because I kept seeing her Daddy's eyes and her Momma's smile-- or maybe her Aunt Glenda's....  {She was also the “wrong person” Mr. Tooth Fairy freaked out in the Really Awkward Situation.  Bless her. I wonder how well she slept the rest of the week.}

The Littles devour yummy hot breakfasts, do “club” in the “clubhouse”, get in and out of the hot tub, ask for food other than what's for dinner {seafood}, play HARD on the beach, get sand in all the right places, lose beach towels, find treasures on the beach, squeal with delight when the Olders, Middles or Teeners play with them, play on DS’s, stay up later every year, go crabbing at least one night, ask to go to Aunt Ebby’s every night {ice cream} and watch movies while they fall asleep.

After the Middles try to clean up dinner before the Olders get to it {since the Olders prepared the bulk of dinner}, the Olders play cards on one end of the table and the Middles play on the other end.  THIS YEAR, the Teeners joined the Middles in playing cards and drinking coffee.  Definitely, a landmark year.  Big stuff.

Chasing parachutes.....

And B going up for the grab.....

And his instant replay if you missed his catch.
 Just a few memories from this year....Frisbee football, starfish under our toes, dolphins EVERY day ALL day, Instagram rookies and Bill with his SGI peeps, Mr. Tooth Fairy freaking out the wrong person, being on the same losing team EVERY night, missing RJ and Meghan, Bill catching a sting ray, puzzles, new recipes every night, favorite recipes every night, four turtle nests in front of the house, Brighton’s hole to Bejiing, Bezzerwizzer {we ALMOST won, Mom!}, can’t-eat-them-they-are-so-hot jalepeno appetizers and the faces that followed, hearing play by play of RJ's at bats in Baltimore from the computer, rain shut outs 2 1/2 days, amazing cooler weather, men drenched from rainy fishing trip, Bill’s bucket of water for Blake

It was on his pole first and then, well, Bill is such a show off. {Hardly.}

The beginning of B's hole-- That's Barrett in the middle
Ivey getting her play from her Daddy
It's serious, folks.
Bill blocking for Ivey

Me and my big mouth-- while taking pictures with my phone, I could not see that my camera had been switched around so I have a series of these pics of my big mouth wide open having a lot of fun thinking I was taking pictures of the frisbee football game.

Check out my Jeff's veritcal!
B celebrating after his winning touchdown-- football in plaid- love it.

A favorite bookstore

This was our first year of finding these.

Aunt Ebby's!!! 

I had several of dolphins-- groups of them, partial bodies, fins and tails-- but the reason for posting this one to show you how close they were.  See the wave breaking on the surf?  I love how everyone stops to watch them.  So mysterious.

Apalachicola is known for its oysters and no matter what amazing topping concoction they come up with to put on top, I canNOT let them slide down my throat.

And then there are the planned pictures...

And a few favorites of my kids...

Just keeping it honest

It was our tenth year on St. George Island and our seventh year in this lovely home.  We realized that RJ was Brighton's age when we first started coming.  Crazy.  Words cannot express what a blessing it is that we enjoy each other as much as we do as different as we are.  RJ was sorely missed and his absence was a big hole for each age group.  Meghan was missed too-- it was a lot quieter around the house without her.  Mom and Dad, thank you oh so very much!  It's a gift of grace.

Oh, and if you are a "Teener", you put your hand on your hip when you have your picture taken.

Until next year....