Sunday, July 29, 2007

Conversations From the Backseat

Nathan: "Nothing smells worse than wet dog."
**pause **
Nathan: "I wonder what wet cat smells like? Or wet gerbil?"
**(we have 2)**
Grace: "Gerbils poop."
Nathan: "Yes, gerbils pee and poop."
Grace: "That's yucky."
**short pause**
Grace: "Look! There's a cloud!"

Yes, Trevor and I were about to have aneurysms trying to hold in our laughter. It may not sound as funny in print, but if you could have been there to hear it, you would have burst out laughing. Sometimes I wish I had a hidden microphone so I could catch all of these interactions.

We were on the way home from Trevor's parent's house on Friday night, where we had spent the evening with his aunt and uncle who were in town from San Antonio. It was good to see them and we had a great time just watching the "grown-ups" talk and interact around the dining room table. I wonder at what age I will stop feeling like the "kid"? I'm 35 with two children of my own, yet I still don't feel like the grown-up yet, particularly when we have a family get together.

We spent Saturday visiting with Mama and Daddy and trying to get some chores done before our "Days of Freedom" begin. I don't want to waste one single moment of our time together doing housework or grocery shopping! The parental units left around noon to drive to Temple for the wedding they were attending, and we got a call from our friends Kenneth and Kellye inviting us over for impromptu burgers. We accepted gladly, because we haven't spent any time with them in so long. Kellye and I were lamenting last week that we couldn't wait for school to start so that everyone's schedule would firm up again and we could see each other more regularly.

They just moved into their new house and they officially have the nicest house in our group of friends. I don't say this with a bit of jealousy...their place is awesome! They have so much room for entertaining, a kitchen that I would love to cook in and a fenced in backyard. We spent the evening catching up and playing spades. (In between responding to cries from the 3 and almost 2 year old, that is) I watched Kellye play an entire hand of spades AND pop popcorn for the kids, get them set-up in the living room for a movie, and get drinks. Talk about multi-tasking! I should add that we won the was quite amazing!

Anyway, I need to get off this computer and pack the kid's bags for the trip to Louisiana. I haven't even started and I need to get dressed for church too. Sounds like the beginning of a typical Sunday morning!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Good Day

It's been a good day. No particular reason, it's just been a good day. Just like Tuesday was a not so good day for no particular reason. Work has gone smoothly and I've been indulging in a little daydreaming about the upcoming weekend.

My mom and dad are coming to town tomorrow morning and plan to get the kids from Heather's so they can spend some time together. They have a wedding to attend on Saturday evening, and then they are returning to Louisiana Sunday with the kids! Now you see why I have been doing a little daydreaming. They will be keeping bringing them back to us Thursday afternoon, so we have a lot of scheming and planning to do.

I realized (with a little thrill in my chest) that we can go to church Sunday evening for our small group and not have Nathan and Grace in tow. We can stay after and visit for as long as we want to without worrying about getting Gracie out of the nursery, or constantly keeping Nathan in check as we try to have an adult conversation. When you have kids, it's the little things that make such a difference!

We are actually planning to take Wednesday off together so we can go see a movie and maybe spend some well-deserved time at Barnes and Noble. It will be nice to have some one-on-one alone time. We were able to get away together when we went to Florida, but most of our time was spent with family. This time, we can just hole up together and do whatever we want.

Oh, the joy! the bliss!

Of course, I will be missing Nathan's questions and Gracie's little face by the time I go to bed Sunday evening, but not enough to have them brought home early. I intend to enjoy every moment of peace and quiet as long as it lasts.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Little Miss Crankypants

I am so cranky. Just ask my husband. Or my kids. Or my...well, you get the picture. I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that I have cut my food intake by more than half. (Insert me grumbling, Homer Simpson style...."stupid diet") Or maybe it's because I can't find four or five items of Gracie's clothing anywhere, and it is eating away at the edge of my brain like an overly ambitious mouse. Or maybe it's because I'm working full, 8 hour days now instead of the 6 or 7 that I had become accustomed to.

Who am I kidding? It's all of those things, plus a dozen more that can't even be vocalized much less written down. I have recently felt like my life is a little out of control. I can't even put my finger on it to give it a name, but I feel like my entire life is an unorganized, chaotic mess. Nothing seems to please me like it used to and although I have had so many little victories with regard to my temper and my marriage, everything still feels odd.

It's as if I'm standing at the edge of an abyss just waiting to be pushed in. There is this lingering sensation that there is change coming, but I can't figure out why. Nothing has changed life is the same. No warning bells or whistles, no impending life changes and everyone is enjoying pretty good health. So why the heavy feeling in my chest and the sensation that my life is careening down a darkened highway sans headlights and seatbelts? Your guess is as good as mine.

The things that keep me from jumping from the car in a panic are simple. For instance, I was playing the piano the other night and Gracie came and sat down next to me. She said that she wanted to sing, and when I asked her what song, she said, "Welcome Me". That is Graciespeak for the hymn "He Keeps Me Singing". This is a reference to the last verse that starts with the words "Soon He's coming back to welcome me". She sang along with gusto and then said, "Now, very soft", so we sang it through again in whispers. How could that sort of interaction not brighten my day?

Then there is Nathan. He is six and so full of questions (and interesting answers, I might add) that I think my head might explode sometimes. If nothing else, he keep me on my toes and is the kid equivalent to a lie detector test. If you've ever had a six year old, then you know what I mean. Everything is black and white, and his ability to (selectively) remember every thing that I have ever said is uncanny. To be honest, it's a little creepy. He remembers things that I can't.

Oh, and apparently I don't have a functioning brain based on the things that he tells me. He uses that voice reserved for the severely mentally handicapped when he explains that he is not wearing clogs, he is wearing Crocs. What is really funny is that he confidently engages in argumentative conversation with the absolute certainty that he is right, even when he's wrong.

Strangely enough, I feel better after getting some of this out on virtual paper. The abyss doesn't seem to be looming and the little victories and joys that I have enjoyed seem more significant.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Positive Direction

I was a little shocked when I realized that it has been a week since I posted. I guess my break last weekend really went to my head and I just neglected blogging just as obsessively as I had been doing it before! This is not to say that I have not been reading my friends' blogs or checking my email, but I just didn't have much to say this week.

Well, ok....maybe that's not entirely true. I always have something to say, but I couldn't seem to get my thoughts together long enough for the past few days to create any sort of understandable missive. Anyhoo, here I am and hopefully my thoughts will be more organized this week.

This past week has been a strange one for me. To begin with, I started The Diet again and that always puts me in a wonderful mood. I am encouraged, however, because the pounds seem to be melting off and I'm not as hungry as I thought I would be. I am praying for perseverance because that is always my problem. The first few months of Dieting (yes, I intend to capitalize that word every time) are usually pretty easy for me because I am motivated and excited about what I am doing. Then the newness wears off, and I start having those thoughts. If you have ever seriously Dieted, then you know what I'm talking about.

"I'm not going to worry about this meal/dessert because I have done so well that it won't matter if I gorge myself this time."


My problem is that that one meal/dessert turns into 2 and then 6 and then I am spiralling out of control and slowly gaining back all of the weight I fought so hard to lose to begin with. The funny thing about it, is that I am always genuinely surprised when I put on my pants (that I bought because of the new, slimmer me) and they are tight and then, later, horrified because they will no longer go on at all. So, I am starting over again this week and I have a partner in crime at work, so there is someone to hold me accountable every day. And that's all I have to say about that.

On a more positive note, I really feel like I am improving in the "control my temper/submit to my husband" areas of my life. I have made a real effort to speak to Nathan and Grace in a reasonable tone of voice even when the voice in my head is screaming, "What's the matter with you! The furniture is not a jungle gym!!!" I have noticed that they are both responding to me differently as well. I think they are starting to realize that my first reaction is no longer yelling, and they have been doing what I say the first time more frequently. It's amazing what the tone of your voice can do.

I have also been praying and striving to be more submissive to Trevor. I have tried to hold my tongue (with limited success) and remember that my job is to respect my husband and do everything I can to make our home a comfortable environment for him. This behavior is definitely a work in progress and I can't claim that I am a model of submission and respect, but I am praying daily that the Spirit will fill me so that I can overcome all the rebellious behaviors that have become such a habit for me.

So, all in all I have had a good week and I am looking forward to the next with the expectation that I will continue in a positive direction with all of the areas in my life on which I am actively working.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Cone of Silence is Lifted

I have recently been accused by the spousal unit of spending too much time online in the evenings. Actually, he thinks I spend too much time on the internet period. So, in the interest of Godly submission and less time on the computer I have not blogged all weekend, including Friday. It was surprisingly liberating, because I have become rather obsessive about blogging every day, and sometimes I really have to stretch to find something to talk about.

The weekend was remarkably uneventful and I spent most of it relaxing or sleeping. We were supposed to attend the VBS parent's night on Friday, but Nathan didn't seem particularly excited about going so we bailed. We ordered Mexican food and after eating and relaxing for a few hours, I mustered up enough energy to cut the grass before the thunderstorms promised by the weatherman materialized.

Nathan spent the night with Kaben and Saturday morning I went to get the boys to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I thought it was awesome, but Nathan and Kaben were picking their noses and wishing that they had thought to bring their Gameboys about half-way through the movie. Nathan really likes the first few Harry Potter movies, but I think that the new ones are just too far beyond his scope of experience. The older the character gets (he's 15 in the new movie) the less that Nathan can relate to him. Harry and his friends deal with more adult issues as they get older and the movie is less action and more dialogue, which bores my 6 year old to tears.

Case in point: Harry kisses a girl on the lips. Now, this was a rather chaste craziness, no groping...but Nathan and Kaben (in unison) said, "Ewwwwwww" when it happened. I almost laughed out loud at the stereo gross-out, but was secretly happy that the boys are still little boys and not truly interested in the opposite sex in spite of random comments by Nathan about "hot" girls and the like. When I hear him say things like that (after I close my gaping jaw), I just use it as an opportunity to teach him how to regard girls not as objects, but as smart people with diverse personalities and talents.

Our neighbors had a birthday party that lasted for approximately 12 hours. They must have a lot of friends, because there were cars parked all up and down our street. Now we don't mind large parties and loud music when it is conducted at a reasonable time of the day. But (and this is true to form from what we've seen) their parties last beyond what most people would consider to be a normal length of time. Their guests start arriving at noon or one, and they are still going strong at 11 pm with no signs of stopping. When we walk out on our deck, all we can smell is alcohol and cigarettes and it goes on for hours.

When I woke up Sunday morning, the first thing I did was peek over the fence to see the aftermath and I was not disappointed. Trash and beer cans littered their yard and all I could think was that the mess would not be cleaned up for at least a week. Then again, it's not my yard or my family, so it's really none of my business.

After teaching Sunday School, it was my week to lead children's church during morning worship. Every time that I work with children, it reinforces my belief that I was not cut out for children's ministry. I love my own children and the children of my friends and family, but I am completely and totally uncomfortable with any other children. They make me nervous and I always feel on the verge of losing control when they are in large groups. I've always been this way, and I'd hoped that being a mother would have changed some of that for me, but clearly it has not. I volunteer to help with the kids at church because my own children participate in the program and I feel that parents should be involved, but that is the only reason.

We all have spiritual gifts, and working with kids is most definitely not mine. My prayer is that I can just get through the time that I have committed to work with a cheerful spirit and a gracious attitude.

When I got home from church, I ate lunch and then went directly to bed for a nap. I slept for about 2 hours and woke up in a much better frame of mind, and feeling 100% refreshed. We finished the day with fajitas and homemade tortillas, and now I am looking forward to a new week. Praise God for restful weekends and productive work weeks.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's Almost Here...

This has been such a crazy, upside down week! I've spent so much time at work and at church that I feel like I've been out of town. Home seems a little foreign to me and I'm all out of sync with the rhythm of my life. I have been rushing since last Tuesday when we left for our trip and so I'm seriously looking forward to this weekend.

There are so many things that we could do. We've thrown around getting together an impromptu game night with our friends, there is a crop (scrapbooking get-together for all of you non-scrappers out there) at church this Saturday night and there is always the possibility of inviting family over for dinner or whatever. But the closer the weekend gets, the less I want to do anything other than lay around the house in my oldest, rattiest clothes and do absolutely nothing.

Of course, "nothing" when you have kids turns out to be a whole lot of something, but at least there will be no outside interference. Nowhere to be, no reason to get dressed, no worries. The most taxing thing that I want to do this weekend is maybe see a movie. The new Harry Potter movie came out Wednesday and I can't wait to see it. Nathan is excited about it too, so maybe we'll do a matinee Saturday. For those of you who have strong feelings about Harry Potter and Christianity, I would refer you to the book "What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter?"

So, one more day of work to get through and then the weekend is mine. Maybe I'll do some light shopping tomorrow since I get off at noon on Fridays. It will be nice to just browse without the kids pulling me in 20 directions at once or worrying if Trevor has had enough. I'm a firm believer in "me" time, and I think that taking some time to be alone and to rejuvenate in whatever capacity makes you happy, makes you a better wife and mother. You can't care for others if you can't care for yourself every once in a while.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Antidote to My Stress

I would like to take a minute and give a shout- out to my awesome husband today. Our church is in the midst of the craziness we like to call Vacation Bible School. I am helping with the refreshments this year (I did not want a repeat of last year's near heat stroke from being a "walker"), which means that I get to work in the comfortable, air conditioned kitchen and den. All in all a really cushy job and I am working with some truly wonderful women that I am getting to know better.

However, in order to participate in said VBS, I have to go directly to church after work with no time for dinner or winding down before hitting the floor running to get snacks ready for the kids. Our census is climbing back up at work and as a result, I am not leaving until right at five (or six, like last night) which really rushes me for getting to church on time.

Anyway, for the last two evenings when I have walked through the front door, Trevor has been so attentive and wonderful. It's like he knew that I would need extra love and attention this week and has really stepped up to the plate. He made sure my Vanilla Coke Zero was frosty cold on Monday night, and took care of getting the kids fed and into bed. Last night he brought me a cold drink (not realizing that I already had one), but he still gets huge points for the thought. It's not as though he has cooked 7 course meals every night and lavished me with gifts, but it's the little gestures that mean so much.

When he does things that make me more comfortable, it makes me feel more secure and loved and I want to do things for him in return. Isn't that what our marriages are all about, really? When you give cheerfully and with a loving heart, it always comes back to you tenfold. He doesn't do things for me to keep me quiet (I don't think) or to trick me in some way. He does things for me because he loves and cherishes me. I, in turn, am more motivated to submit to him willingly and gladly because I know he genuinely has my best interests at heart. It's beautiful the way God intended our marriages to be, the giving and taking is so circular and it just feeds on itself.

Thank you God. Thank you for a loving, devoted, faithful husband that I can count on day in and day out. Help me to love him better and to meet his needs the way he meets mine.

And rock my face off!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

But the Greatest of These is Love

I have mentioned before that we are studying Ephesians in Sunday School, and I was convicted today as I prepared for the lesson this week. The text is Ephesians 4:1-17, and within these verses is contained one of the greatest things we can do to fulfill our calling as Christians. What is this thing, you ask? Paul instructs us in verses 1-3 to "walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Sounds simple, doesn't it?

That's what I thought until I started digging deeper in my commentary and study guide. We are not just to tolerate one another until we can get out of Sunday morning worship. We are not supposed to simply roll our eyes and ignore that person (you know exactly who I'm talking about here) who tells the same lame joke over and over and thinks it's hilarious every, single time. This doesn't mean that we can smile to the faces of those who annoy us and then talk about them over lunch after church.

What this passage talks about is a real affection for brothers and sisters in Christ, and that being enabled by the Holy Spirit we embrace and love each other in the spirit of unity and peace. We put aside our selfish pride and we rebuke (and apologize, as the case may be) with an attitude of love and patience. I love that scripture in Proverbs! "Wounds from a friend are trustworthy"! We should love and trust each other enough as children of the living God to be honest with each other. A loving rebuke from a friend can be trusted...I would much rather be lovingly critiqued by my friend than to be talked about by my enemies and never change the problem. It might hurt a little to hear it, but the joy of growing in Christ and strengthening those bonds with a fellow Christian are incomparable.

What this means is that we filter all those idiosyncrasies and annoying habits through the mind of Christ. Do your children's annoying habits make you love them less? What about your spouse? Parents? Of course not. We love them in spite of their faults and sometimes we love them more because of them.

If we are to be a spiritually mature church and unified in Christ, then we need to start seeing our fellow siblings in Christ in a much different light. I love this quote from Dr. D.G. Barnhouse: "Love is the key. Joy is love singing. Peace is love resting. Long-suffering is love enduring. Kindness is love's touch. Goodness is love's character. Faithfulness is love's habit. Gentleness is love's self-forgetfulness. Self-control is love holding the reins."

Lord, help me!!!!

Anyone who knows me is aware of my tendency to me judgemental and impatient in nature. I don't like frivolous people who tell stupid, predictable jokes. I don't like people who are superficial and those who have an insatiable need for attention and approval. I know how I like my people, and if you don't fit my bill I will more often than not just write you off as not worth my time or energy. But all the while I am silently pleading to not be judged myself. Please don't judge me by my weight or by my clothing. Please don't judge me because of my sometimes tactless mouth and watchful eyes.

Lord, help me.

This is one of many areas in my life that need an Extreme Makeover. I know what I need to do, but my heart is rebellious and I slip right back into those old, comfortable habits. I need to pray for a broken and repentant heart about this behavior. The only way that I am going to overcome this sin is through the working of the Holy Spirit, and I make a vow today: I will overcome. I will open myself fully to the Spirit and strive for spiritual maturity and unity within my own church. Lord, help me.

Monday, July 9, 2007

I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

I decided to write out some of the lyrics to the hymns that are dear to my heart. These are in no particular order, but they all have special meaning to me. Some are fraught with theology, some with encouragement, still others with promise and I love them all. This is by no means an all inclusive list of my favorite snippets, but it's a good start.

There are random lines from about 13 different hymns here, and I hope that you will read each of them and allow the words to speak to your heart as well...

For I know, whate'er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.

This my song, thro' endless ages, Jesus led me all the way.
---All the Way My Saviour Leads Me

Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love.

Let they grace, Lord, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal for Thy courts above.
---Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

And the path that be my portion, may be through flame or flood
But His presence goes before me, and I'm covered by His blood.
Many things about tomorrow, I don't seem to understand
But I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know Who holds my hand.
---I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

My sin--oh, the bliss of this glorious thought--my sin,not in part, but the whole;
Is nailed to the cross so I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
---It Is Well With My Soul

I may have doubts and fears, my eyes be filled with tears
But Jesus is a Friend Who watches day and night;
I go to Him in prayer, He knows my every care
And just a little talk with Jesus makes it right.
---Just a Little Talk With Jesus

I've got a mansion, just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we'll never grow old;
And some day yonder, we will never more wander
But walk the streets that are purest gold.
---Mansion Over the Hilltop

In the cross, in the cross be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find, rest beyond the river.
---Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross

God shall wipe away all tears, there's no death, no pain, nor fears;
And they count not time by years, for there is no night there.
---No Night There

To our bountiful Father above, we will offer the tribute of praise;
For the glorious gift of His love, and the blessings that hallow our days.

---In the Sweet By and By

So tender and precious is He, contented with Jesus I'll be;
The way that He loves, is so thrilling because His love reaches even me.
---The Way That He Loves

E'er since by faith, I saw the stream that flowing wounds supply;
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.
---There is a Fountain

I heard about a mansion He has built for me in glory
And I heard about the streets of gold beyond the crystal sea
About the angels singing and the old redemption story
And some sweet day I'll sing up there the song of victory!

O victory in Jesus! My Saviour forever,
He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory, beneath the cleansing flood.
---Victory in Jesus

Sunday, July 8, 2007

I've Been Tagged!

I've been tagged by Tammie Fay at His Word is Life to Me to tell 5 things I "dig" about I really feel special! Actually, I had to Google the word meme after I read it a dozen times with all of the blog reading that I do! But now I'm in the know, and this is my first time to participate in blogland. Thanks Tammie Fay!!!

Here are the rules:

1. those tagged will share 5 things they dig about Jesus…
2. those tagged will tag 5 other bloggers
3. those tagged will post a comment here with their name and a link to their “dig” Jesus list…

Here's my list:

  1. He is sovereign. Period. (Isaiah 45)
  2. He created me to be happy in Him. (Psalm 73:25-28)
  3. When I am at my most unlovable, He loves me anyway. (Romans 8:38-39)
  4. He chose me. (Romans 8:29-30)
  5. I get to spend all of eternity praising Him because of His work on the cross. (John 14:1-3)

Now it's your turn girls!

  1. Kellye My View With Mustard No Mayo
  2. Christine Fruit in Season
  3. Karen Over the Backyard Fence
  4. Faraja The Girl With a 'Fro
  5. sad is this. I only know one person personally who blogs, and the rest of the people I might tag are known only to me because I visit their websites. I don't want anyone to think I'm a cyber-stalker or anything! I guess I'll just leave this at 4 people and hope that none of them think I'm crazy!

As an aside, I was browsing through the websites on the Christian Women Online ring and came across this one. This is a must read. Seriously. You will nod your head in agreement. You will laugh so hard that you might need a Depend undergarment. Seriously.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Travel Day

Well, Trevor and I made the trek back home to Hammond today and aside from a slow down in Mobile it was a smooth trip. We left Inverness around 7 am EST and got to Mama and Daddy's at 4 pm CST...I'll let you do the math. The GPS that Trevor received (read bought himself) for Father's Day came in really handy when the traffic got slow. I-10 was backed up as far as we could see, so Trevor had the GPS calculate a detour route and we skirted the traffic and rejoined the interstate 5 miles down the road. It was awesome!!

It was so good to see the kids again, and they were full of stories and energy. Nathan had gone to the park with Aunt Gail and met a little girl. She had fallen and Nathan went over to where she and her dad were standing and asked if she was alright. Her dad said she was, but that she was a little embarrassed. Nathan went on with his playing, but eventually went back to where she was and asked her name. Then he asked her, "How many years are you?" When she replied that she was 7, he smacked his hand to his forehead very dramatically and exclaimed, "I'm talking to a 7 year old girl and I'm only 6!" You can be sure that there will be drama if Nathan is around!

Gracie had drawn a picture of our family, rain, thunder and birds. She was very particular in describing each element of the artwork and it was funny trying to get her riled up by calling things by the wrong name. She had gotten Silly Putty stuck in her hair during our absence, and Aunt Gail had to use peanut butter to get it out. Needless to say, the offending putty was put directly in the trash.

We spent the remainder of our evening going out for dinner at Middendorf's in Manchac. They have the most wonderful, melt-in-your-mouth, thin-fried catfish and we try to get down there as often as we can when we go home. The kids always enjoy going down to the edge of the water along Lake Maurepas and making me nervous with how close they get. They have a pier now and I was almost apoplectic watching Nathan walk backwards and get so close to the edge!

Trevor and I are happy that the longest portion of our driving is over, and that we will only be on the road for 4 hours tomorrow. Here's to a good night's rest and an uneventful trip home.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Wedding

The phone rang at 8:30 am. It was Trevor's mom letting us know that they would be picking us up at 9:00 am for our visit to the cemetery, interrupting my dreamless slumber.


After a few terse words with my husband, he called her back and explained that we needed until at least 10:00 am to get dressed and eat breakfast. Thankfully, she agreed and we were able to wake up completely (after copious amounts of coffee) before embarking on our first outing of the day.

Trevor's Grandpa Reeder was killed in an accident long before Trevor was ever born, and the only grandfather he ever knew was his grandmother's 3rd husband, Grandpa Cunningham. This was the grave we went to visit at the Florida National Cemetery. It was awe inspiring to see the neat rows of headstones aligned perfectly no matter what angle you looked at them. It was very reminiscent of Arlington, and the atmosphere was dignified and reverent.

Using the map that his grandmother was given when he was buried, we found the marker indicating where his ashes were buried. I was proud to see that he had earned the Purple Heart during his service in WWII. He was wounded in North Africa by a piece of shrapnel, that almost severed his left thumb.

After we had seen his marker, we wandered around for a little while looking at other sections of the cemetery. We came upon a section labeled "MD" and as we read the headstones we realized that they were all erected in memory of soldiers who were either MIA or fought in wars so far out of memory that the bodies no longer exist. The "MD" stood for "Missing Dead" (we assume), and we found a marker from the Revolutionary War as well as one from the Civil War.

Once we were finished at the cemetery, we headed back to Inverness to finish up some errands and to rest for a little while before the wedding. Trevor took me out for a pedicure and then we ate a late lunch. We went back to the hotel, and I laid down for a 15 minute power nap before I needed to get up and start getting dressed. It turns out that we miscalculated how long it would take us to get to Plantation Inn and we arrived just as the ceremony was starting. They had just brought in the mother of the groom, so we didn't miss anything.

It was a lovely service and Nick was perfect as the ring bearer. He looked so sweet in his little tux with shorts and knee high socks. Trevor's cousins are just beautiful and Kristin just glowed (and not just from the heat!) as she said her vows. After the ceremony, we headed back inside for the reception. The room was beautiful and the wedding cake was incredible! I lamented for the hundredth time that I had forgotten to bring my camera.

The entire evening went smoothly and it was fun visiting with family and seeing Dwain and Susan relax after the stress of planning a wedding. I wish that we knew them better because I always enjoy visiting with them (albeit briefly) when we see them. Trevor and I would really like to take a trip to Florida with the kids and spend some time with them alone. I want Nathan and Grace to know their Uncle Dwain and Aunt Susan the way they know my aunts and uncles. Family is the most important thing that we have and I covet those relationships above all others.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Road Trip Continues

We arrived in Florida today with two hours to spare before the wedding rehearsal. It took us about 9 hours from Hammond to Inverness. After checking into the hotel and getting a quick shower and change of clothes, we were off to Grandma Cunningham’s house to meet up with his parents. From there we drove to Crystal River where the wedding will be held tomorrow, and watched as the final details for the ceremony were worked out.

The venue is a beautiful golf resort called Plantation Inn. The gazebo where Kristin and Travis will be married is right on the edge of the river, and is the stuff of which bridal dreams are made. The Spanish moss hanging from the trees, the sound of the water lapping against the land, the intimate setting for affirming vows of love and faithfulness…all perfect. There was some concern about the outdoor wedding in July, but the breeze off of the water was quite nice and we aren’t going to be outside very long anyway. I can’t wait to see Kristin walk down the aisle on the arm of Uncle Dwain.

After the rehearsal, we went to this really quaint tea house for the dinner. It had a well-appointed gift shop that I seriously wanted to peruse, but it wasn’t really the time or place! We started outside on the screened in porch with tea, raspberry champagne and a beautiful assortment of hors d'oeuvres which were quite tasty. Once the staff was ready for us, we went inside for dinner. The food was delicious (Trevor and I had the mahi mahi instead of the roasted chicken), and I even tried the mango salsa and found it to be very good.

A hummingbird cake slice approximately the size of a compact car was served with coffee and we boxed up the remains to have for breakfast tomorrow. It was so moist and good…just like Mama makes. I don’t think Trevor’s mom and dad had ever had it, but they really enjoyed it.

After the dinner, we went back to the hotel to change into something more comfortable and then we went out to Uncle Dwain and Aunt Susan’s for fireworks. They have a beautiful home and yard, and we enjoyed spending time with the family and with the wedding party. They have a pool, so of course there was much splashing, and threatening to throw clothed individuals into the water. Actually, Will did throw Caitlin in fully dressed and then Nick quickly followed suit. He was so cute in his little water wings.

We didn’t get back to the hotel until close to midnight, and that 4:15 am wake up call from this morning was really dragging me down! We have no real plans except for visiting Grandpa Cunningham’s grave at the Florida National Cemetery, and of course the wedding tomorrow evening. For now, I am going to crawl into a nice warm bed and sleep as late as possible. There will be no alarm clocks (mechanical or human) and no agenda. It’s good to be on a road trip!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Free Indeed

Then Jesus said... “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free....Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." John 8:31-32, 34-36

We are privileged to live in a country where we are able to profess and practice our faith. We can meet to worship at any time and anywhere that we choose. So many brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world are unable to say that and are literally dying for their beliefs.

I believe in patriotism. I am proud to be an American and I am deeply moved by the men and women who have sacrificed their very lives so that I can live mine in freedom and safety. I am proud to salute our flag and say the words "One nation under God". I teach my children to respect and honor our flag and the ideals on which our country was founded.

But as deeply as I believe in patriotism, it doesn't even come close to the depth of belief that I have in the Word of God and in the promise that I will be victorious through Jesus Christ. As I gather with my family today and we celebrate our personal freedoms and our independence as a country, I will feel doubly blessed as I praise God for my freedom in Christ.

Mine eyes have seen the glory
Of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage
Where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning
Of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watchfires
Of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar
In the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence
By the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ
In burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with My contemners,
So with you My grace shall deal":
Let the Hero born of woman
Crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet
That shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men
Before His judgement seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him;
Be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies
Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom
That transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy,
Let us die to make men free;
While God is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

---The Battle Hymn of the Republic

Amen and Amen!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Poster Child for Crankiness

I am sad to report that I have not been the model of a Godly wife or mother today. It started badly when I was awakened at 5am by the town fire alarm, which was roughly 3 hours before I was planning on opening my eyes. I tried to go back to sleep but it turned out to be an impossible task, so I got up and logged on to the computer for a little blog browsing and email checking.

Once I finished with the computer, I turned on the television and promptly fell asleep watching "Planet Earth". The next thing I know, the kids are bouncing around the couch clamoring for breakfast. And so it began. I was a poster child for how to not be a nurturing loving wife and mother. I was tired and I was cranky, and I didn't care who knew it. I stomped around for a little while doing some last minute packing and fussing at the kids every time they looked like they might be thinking of getting in my way.

Trevor did his best to fly under my radar, but even he became something of a target for the fiery darts that were coming out of my mouth. So much for the marriage challenge! So much for my plans and lists of things that I was going to do better. The sad part was that the meaner and more spiteful that I was, the less I cared. I was like a child who knows they are wrong, but have gone so far that they refuse to turn back out of sheer stubbornness. That was me today....completely rebellious and stubborn. Knowing what I needed to do to correct the situation, but simply unwilling to do it.

I hate days like that. I wish I could say that I never have them and that I always treat my family with nurturing love and affection, but I don't. I nag my husband and I yell at my children. I stomp around and slam doors when I should be falling on my knees and praying for a change of heart and to be filled with the Spirit. It was 3:48pm before I did that, and I was exhausted. I had tired myself out with all of the negativity and strife. It's much harder to maintain a bad attitude than you might think, and when I finally responded to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and asked for forgiveness and a clean heart, the day suddenly seemed so much better.

I followed that prayer with a long nap and when I got up, I was refreshed and ready to treat my family with a little more respect and patience. I was still far from the model I was trying to be, but by the grace of God I was better. And who knows? In the words of Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler, "Tomorrow is another day" and hopefully I'll remember to start the day with prayer instead of just ending it that way!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Two By Two

Well, I finally got in to have that root canal done and I am pleased to report that it went smoothly and I can eat on the left side of my mouth again! I've never had a root canal before and I have to say that it was like getting a cavity filled, except that it took a little longer. I looked (and spoke) like a stroke victim for a few hours after the procedure, which made for an interesting lunch but all in all it was a positive experience. I am ready for the trip to Louisiana and Florida now that I don't have to worry about my tooth anymore.

We are finishing up the laundry so we can pack for this trip every last stitch of clothing that we own. OK, so maybe that's not entirely accurate but it sure feels like it when you are packing for a family of four. I really shouldn't complain because at least I'm done with the years of packing diapers, formula, bottles, sterilizing equipment, pacifiers, burp cloths, etc. It was quite a shock the first time we went home to Louisiana after Nathan was born. I am not a girly girl, so my packing was almost as sparse as Trevor, and suddenly we were loading one bag for Trevor and me, and 14 for the baby. It bordered on the ridiculous, but we were soon used to this mode of travel.

Now we only need two suitcases, two bikes, two pillows, two stuffed animals, two blankets and a partridge in a pear tree. Maybe this is why I frequently feel like Noah's wife....I run a zoo and everything comes in pairs! Don't forget the DVD player for the car, the lunch bag with cold drinks and snacks and the collection of DVDs. We bought a Tahoe to accommodate all the junk we take with us on trips, and sometimes it doesn't seem big enough to hold the stuff and people.

In spite of all the preparation required for our family to take a trip, we always enjoy ourselves. Trevor and I are especially looking forward to the leg of the trip after we drop the kids off at Mama and Daddy's and can have a conversation without answering questions from the backseat, opening juice containers and doling out snacks. Most importantly, we don't have to listen to Nemo, Curious George or Cars playing in the background. I can read my book, or work on my needlepoint or *gasp* sleep! we come!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

God is in Control

The lesson for Sunday School was a really good one this week. I should probably clarify that by saying that God's Word is always good, but sometimes it speaks to my heart more directly than others. We are studying the book of Ephesians, and this lesson focused on 3:14-21 which is one of Paul's prayers for the believers at Ephesus. It is an incredible model of how we are supposed to approach the Lord in prayer and for the things we should ask for when we pray.

As I taught the lesson to my group of ladies this morning, I really felt like the Spirit was speaking through me as an encouragement to them. I saw heads nodding (I don't think it was from sleepiness!) as I spoke and I really felt like I presented this scripture in a way that they had not thought of before. Knowing that God was using me was such an encouragement to me and made me mentally redouble my efforts to be the best Sunday School leader that I can be. I encouraged each person to use their spiritual gifts for the edification of the church and prayed that God would open up opportunities for me to be used as well.

At the end of morning worship, our friends Kenneth and Kellye walked down the aisle with their son Kaben. He made a profession of faith this morning and my heart was so full of joy for him and for our friends. As I watched him lean his head against the pastor's chest and say that prayer, I was struck once again at the power and might of our God. Without disclosing any unnecessary details, the circumstances surrounding Kaben's conception and birth were not ideal to say the least. But looking back at that and seeing how differently Kaben's life could have turned out, I was moved to tears at the way God uses every single circumstance in our lives to change and shape us into what He wants.

There was no way for Kellye to know 7 years ago when she took inventory of her life and then fell on her knees before God and allowed Him to turn her life completely around that it would have a lasting effect on my walk with God. But that is how God works. We are not meant to see the big picture, we just need to be willing to paint our little part of it. Seeing Kaben give his heart and life over to Jesus Christ strengthened my own conviction that God sends heartache and pain as well as joy and happiness to us, and it is all a part of the bigger plan. Praise God that He is in control of all things!

God’s grace is sufficient for me, for me
God’s grace is sufficient for me
When it seems all hope is gone,
He is high upon His throne
Working out the plan He started in me
Even when the way is dark, and I can’t see very far
He the Bright and Shining Light will be
I will worship and proclaim and give glory to His name
For His grace is sufficient for me.
---Greater Vision