Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Finally Home

Home (n.) An environment offering security and happiness; a valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin.

I'm finally home. Not of the eternal variety, but the closest I can get while still constrained by this earthly body. And this earthly body is completely enjoying all the good food and even better company of my family.

We left Oklahoma Friday evening around 6:30 pm and arrived in Louisiana at 5:30 am, waking most of the house and doing our best to stretch our stiff legs after the 11 hour journey. The kids slept for a good bit of the trip and were ready to play, but Trevor and went to bed for a few hours. In retrospect, I think that we do the overnight thing again. Trevor and I just exhausted ourselves and the kids were too excited to sleep until after midnight at the prospect of going to Nannie and Papa's house so they didn't really benefit the way we had hoped.

The first few days of our visit have not gone exactly according to plan, because Nathan came down with one of his viral fevers (which is gone now and he's feeling much better) and what I thought was allergies turned out to be an upper respiratory infection. But a steroid shot, a Z-pack, a prescription for Allegra and a smallish bottle of codeine cough syrup later, I am feeling like a million bucks.

Ronna, Aunt Gail and I threw Amber a family baby shower, and she received so many nice things for baby Travis. It was good to see some of the extended family that we don't normally get to visit with when we visit, and Ronna gave a beautiful short devotional on the importance of putting God first, then her husband and finally her children. It was a good reminder for all of us that God has purposed this order for our good, and that our family life is far more pleasant and God honoring when we remember it.

It was halfway through the shower that I realized that my "allergies" were not allergies and I left the shower without helping with cleanup and went directly to bed. I slept for pretty much the rest of the afternoon and the next day until my doctors appointment, where I received the awesome arsenal of drugs that brought me back to my normal state.

We had Mama's surprise 60th birthday party last night, combined with Patrick's 40th birthday at a really cool restaurant called Tapitini's in Covington. The food was really good, and we had fun eating (of course) and visiting with everyone. Mama received a notebook written by Gramps in his hand detailing memories from his childhood and life, which was a priceless gift. Granny put a condition on the gift that Mama had to make copies for the rest of the family.

So I'm sitting here now (feeling 100% better) and enjoying a leisurely morning with the family, drinking coffee and watching Star Trek. We have nothing planned for today except going to visit the Grannies and a little shopping. Mama spent the weeks preceding our visit preparing and freezing most of the main meals, so we don't have to spend half of our day cooking for such a large group of people. We just pull it out in the morning to defrost and then heat it in the evening. It's been really wonderful to enjoy the tasty food without having to prepare it!

I'm looking forward to a day with no boundaries and the promise of more good company and remembering when.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It Was Bound to Happen

I received a phone call from the school nurse this morning around 9:30am. Nathan was in her office, and the following is the conversation that ensued:

Nurse: What's the matter Nathan?

Nathan: My tongue hurts.

Nurse: Well, let me see. Hmmmm, it looks really red and blistered. What happened?

Nathan: Well, I had a little bit of trouble with the mailbox.

That's right. But instead of a flagpole like in A Christmas Story, it was a mailbox. Nathan was dared to stick his tongue on it, and he did. Being from such a warm climate, it never occurred to me that I should instruct him on the do's and don'ts of winter living. His poor tongue has seen better days, but I'll bet cash money that it never touches another frozen object again!

Just as an aside, this is my 500th post. It feels like a milestone of some sort, but of what kind I'm not sure. The real news is that I'm still blogging after all this time! I tend to get really excited about new projects and then get bored with them fairly easily. (Hmmm...I wonder if that's where Grace gets it from?) But blogging never seems to lose it's attraction for me. I may go through dry spells and only post a few times a month, but then I'll write for several days at a time. It's like a comfortable pair of jeans that always feel good, even when it's been a while since you've worn them.
So here's to 500 posts and to winter lessons learned!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Giving Thanks Challenge Wrap Up


I'm finding it hard to believe that another November has come and gone, but here we are. The leftovers are gone and the Christmas decorations are up. I am eagerly anticipating the Christmas season this year, because we are going home to see family and there is nothing better than family during this time of year. But before I wrap up another Thanksgiving season, I want to reflect on all the things that I recorded daily in the Giving Thanks Challenge that was hosted by Leah at South Breeze Farm.

This was my third year to participate, and it served as a reminder of all the ways that God has blessed me. I so often cry out to Him in pain, frustration and fear, on my knees begging for mercy and for the things I think I need. I'm quick to intercede for my family and friends, praying for healing, grace and comfort but I all too often forget to thank Him for His daily mercies. The rising of the sun. The health of my children. The roof over my head.

If my prayer life was what it should be, I would spend my days in joyful thanksgiving for the pleasure and the pain in my life. Thankfulness would not be an afterthought, but the focus of my conversations with Him. So here is my list from this November, and I hope that seeing all that I have to be thankful for will inspire you to count your blessings as well.

1. New beginnings
2. The opportunity to work
3. The ability to play the piano
4. My job interview
5. Quiet days off
6. A pantry full of food.
7. My brother-in-law David
8. Readily available cold medicine
9. My church family
10. Bedtime stories
11. Our veterans
12. Thursday night television
13. My Kindle
14. Weekends
15. Our warm, dry house
16. Guitar Hero
17. Impromptu dinner with friends
18. Pumpkin bread
19. Beef stew
20. My family
21. A clean house
22. Frequent flyer miles
23. Joy in death
24. Homecomings
25. Cooking with my mom
26. Christmas decorations
27. Singing around the piano
28. Fresh garland
29. My Sunday school class
30. My salvation in Christ

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It Was Totally Worth All the Prep

The worst thing about moving so far away from family, is moving so far away from family. Every milestone, birthday and holiday leaves us wishing that we lived closer to them, in spite of the fact that we have made such good friends here. So when I discovered that Mama and Daddy were planning to drive up for Thanksgiving this year I was understandably excited. It just got better when she called a few days later to tell me that they were bringing Granny Traylor with them.

Since we had to leave town unexpectedly for the funeral in the days preceding their visit, I made sure that the refrigerator was stocked and the house was spotless before I flew down to Texas. There are few things that I love more than coming home to a perfectly clean house, and I knew that I would have enough to do without cleaning when I got home. We flew home Tuesday, and I hit the ground running when we landed. I rushed to get all the clothes from the trip washed, dried and put away and I made a last minute trip to the grocery store for things like eggs, ice cream and additional drinks. My good friend Tracy kept the kids for us while we were out of town, and went the extra mile and left a delicious meal in the crock pot for us, so we were greeted with an appetizing aroma when we arrived home and I didn't have to cook dinner.

I made sure that my dad had plenty of his favorite snacks and that we had a surplus of k-cups for the coffee maker. Having a one cup at a time maker is really handy when guests are in the house, because essentially there is always a fresh pot of coffee available, as well as instant hot water for tea and hot chocolate. I did a last minute check of the bedrooms, turned on the porch light and then we waited. When the headlights finally turned into our driveway, the kids bolted out to the car to bestow hugs and kisses. There was a flurry of greetings and laughter as they made their way into the house, and then we spent the evening catching up and watching Star Trek.
The next day was spent preparing for the Thanksgiving meal and making food for the get together we were planning for Friday. By the time Wednesday evening rolled around, I was exhausted from standing in the kitchen, but it was well worth the time spent when we sat down Thursday to a beautiful meal and gave thanks for our many blessings. As I watched the faces of my family around the table, I gave silent thanks for each one of them. As we say in the South, these are my people. The ones for which I would give up my very life. The ones that I love.

As soon as the dishes were washed and put away, Mama and I began decorating for Christmas. We got the tree up and the kids decorated most of it, while we hung garland and draped lights. After the decorating was completed and the leftovers had been pulled out, we went for a drive to see the Christmas lights in Tulsa. They were really beautiful and well worth the drive.

I had to work Friday, but as soon as got home I began preparing for the arrival of our friends Paul and Tracy with their family for an evening of food and singing. I baked a quick loaf of banana nut bread, and began pulling out all of the snacks and food I had prepared beforehand. Mama and I set the buffet and put the finishing touches on everything just as they arrived. We invited Paul's mom Ann as well, and enjoyed our time together as we ate and my family got to know our new friends.
After we were finished with the first round of eating, we all grabbed hymnals and began calling out songs that we wanted to sing. Mama played the piano, and we sang until our voices needed and break and we began round two of eating and drinking. After we were rested, we sang again and finished up the evening with Christmas carols. It was a blessing to hear the voices of my family and my friends blending together in praise to God and in thanksgiving for all with which we have been blessed.

We were sad to see the evening come to an end, but made promises to do it again the next time we were together. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

Tonight, Trevor and I are preparing for a trip to Texas. The last time we made this trip together, we were newlyweds and it was our first Thanksgiving as a married couple. We drove down to the valley to a little town called Weslaco to spend the holiday with his paternal grandmother. I had never met her because at the time of our wedding, she was sick and unable to make the 7 hour trip, so I was excited about meeting the matriarch of his father's family. His grandfather passed away when he was a child, and Grandma was the one who was a pillar for the six men she called her sons.

I sat at her kitchen table and visited with her, still slightly in awe of this little Czech lady. We talked about quilting, and she showed me a pattern that in the coming months I worked on, hoping to complete the quilt and impress her with my sewing skills. I witnessed the freezer full of homemade kolaches she had on hand to serve to visitors and to send home with family. I walked under the beautiful pecan tree that dominated the backyard, and picked the nuts up off the ground to be shelled later.

Trevor and I were inducted into a very exclusive club on that trip. As the most recently married couple, we had the honor of sleeping in the "pink room", where one of Grandma's prized yo-yo quilts adorned the bed. His parents slept in a large room with Grandma, but we were afforded the privacy of our own room. Apparently this was a tradition that had been going on for many years, and I felt thrilled to be part of a family ritual.

On the trip down, I was introduced to a country store called Prasek's, and the heaven on earth that is their beef jerky. We went across the border to Mexico so we could shop and enjoy our time together. The entire trip was full of firsts for me, and I was made to feel like part of the family.

But this trip is for an entirely different reason as we make our way south one last time to pay our respects to a beautiful soul who lived a long and fulfilling life. She was married to the love of her life, had six sons who went on to provide her with the blessing of daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. When she passed away Friday morning, she left behind many who love her and who will never forget all the things that made her special to us. She was a player of Canasta, a drinker of highballs, and a lover of God. Our lives will not be the same without her, and although she is not with us this Thanksgiving, I'm giving thanks for her all the same.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Then Shall Live

I heard this song today, and it really touched my heart. So many of the things that I hold dear about my salvation and my God are summed up in these verses. I am forgiven therefore I forgive; I obey the law of love through Christ; I will be compassionate and relational so that I can see beyond myself; I want to Christ to be glorified through me and to share Him with the world.

Even if you don't have time to watch the video of the Gaither Vocal Band and Ernie Haase and Signature Sound performing it, read the words with a prayer on your lips. I promise you will be blessed.

I then shall live as one who's been forgiven.
I'll walk with joy to know my debts are paid.
I know my name is clear before my Father;
I am His child and I am not afraid.
So, greatly pardoned, I'll forgive my brother;
The law of love I gladly will obey.

I then shall live as one who's learned compassion.
I've been so loved, that I'll risk loving too.
I know how fear builds walls instead of bridges;
I'll dare to see another's point of view.
And when relationships demand commitment,
Then I'll be there to care and follow through.

Your Kingdom come around and through and in me;
Your power and glory, let them shine through me.
Your Hallowed Name, O may I bear with honor,
And may Your living Kingdom come in me.
The Bread of Life, O may I share with honor,
And may You feed a hungry world through me.

Amen, Amen, Amen

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A New Way to Shop

I was driving Gracie to a birthday party Saturday morning, and I realized that she had no idea what I had purchased as a gift. I told her that I went shopping last week and bought a Play-Dough Magic Swirl Ice Cream Shoppe for her friend. Gracie loves hers, and I figured it would be a hit.

There was a short pause, and Gracie asked in a slightly suspicious tone:
"Did you go shopping at the store or in my room?"
Well, I never thought of just shopping in her room! I'll have to remember that next time we need a gift!

Monday, November 9, 2009


When you join a new community, the first year or so is spent discovering the traditions and activities that are specific to that area. This encompasses a wide variety of events, and it takes time to figure out which things are important (or interesting) enough to attend and which things are not. It's usually most apparent around major holidays when you begin to wonder, "Is there a fall festival/Easter egg hunt/Christmas tree lighting ceremony/(fill in the blank) around here?"

There have been several events that I have heard about just a little too late, but was assured that I would have an opportunity to attend next year. It's all a part of the learning curve in a new town, and by this time next year we will be part of all the festivities.

Our new church has so many opportunities for fellowship and outreach, and I've been blessed to be included in some of them. I've met some of the most amazing men and women who have hearts for Christ and who genuinely lead lives that strive to be pleasing to Him. It's a great encouragement to me as a wife, mother and as someone who is only saved by the grace of God. I am building relationships with like-minded Christians, but at the same time am encouraged to take that energy and love out into our community and share the gospel. It's a good balance of being accountable and relational with other believers without living in a bubble in our church.

Our church purpose statement is to "Follow Christ, Love God, Love Others and Serve the World" and we don't take that lightly. We get out nourishment from frequent contact with fellow believers, and solid Biblical teaching from the pulpit, but we understand that being a Christ-follower is more that just sitting in church on Sunday and Wednesday. It's a life filled with service to others, especially those who have not come to know Christ in a personal way. It's a life marked by making ourselves small so that God's glory can be seen more clearly. It's a life made of daily sacrifices so that we might bring glory and honor to Him. It's a life that truly believes that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

I want to live that life more fully, and I can't think of a better place to grow and be fed than at Bethel Baptist Church. I thank God daily that He led Trevor and me to this place of worship before we even moved to the area, because He already knew the plans He had for us. Plans to prosper us and not harm us. Plans to give us a hope and a future. Plans that are revealed daily to cause us to praise Him for His providence and grace towards us.

In spite of our inner turmoil about jobs, money and selling our house He is always steadfast and true. He is the rock that we cling to when the world seems to be spinning out of control.

He is always faithful.

AWANA Grand Prix 2009

We had such a wonderful time last night at our church's annual AWANA Grand Prix! We had never made pine wood cars before, and there were some really awesome designs at the event. After seeing all of the cars, Trevor had some really good ideas for how we can help the kids make their cars better next year.

When we first heard about the Grand Prix, we were sort of lukewarm about the whole thing. Then the kids started making and painting the cars, and I got a little more excited. When we arrived last night in the gym, I was not expecting the incredible turnout and energy in that place! It was so awesome to see the church turn out to support the kids and to just have a great time together.

Neither Nathan or Grace won any of the heats they were in, but still had a good time watching the races and gorging themselves on hot dogs, popcorn and lemonade. On the way home, we were already plotting car design and paint schemes for next year. This was just one more reason that I love our new church!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Halloween 2009

I know that this is a few days late, but here are the pictures of the kids this Halloween. We had their costumes all worked out weeks before the big day, and they were both excited about them. My mom bought Gracie's entire costume and brought it with her when she came to visit and Nathan has been talking all year about being a clone trooper from Star Wars. When we discovered that our church was doing a western themed fall festival, I knew that the kids would stick out like a sore thumb if they wore these costumes.

Our solution was to take them trick-or-treating in our neighborhood first, and then we came home for a costume change (basically plaid shirts, jeans and bandannas) before heading off to the festival. We were in such a hurry to get changed and out the door that I completely forgot to get pictures of them in their cowboy gear, but they were really cute.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I have been praying for a really long time to have the opportunity to be a stay at home mom, and be available for my children and my husband. Trevor and I have looked at the budget, discussed the topic ad nauseum and made some financial decisions that would point us down that road.

When we moved to the Tulsa area we knew that my staying home hinged on selling our house in Texas and paring back some of our debt. It also depended on my working full time hours through the summer and fall so that we could save most of my paycheck against the time when I would not be needed to work. We knew that the full time hours would come to an end once I was trained, but we planned for a huge chunk of savings to be built out of those hours worked.

Funny how things don't work out the way we plan them.

We still haven't sold the house in Dayton, and as a result, all of the money we would have saved has gone towards that mortgage and now we are in a bind because we still need my full time income to meet our bills. I have been living in a dream with my abbreviated hours at work and being able to be at home when the kids stepped off the school bus in the afternoons. I have been blessed with the ability to take time off when the kids are out of school and it's been wonderful.

But now, it seems the dream is over. Although I am keeping my ECB (emergency call back) position with my current employer, I am now in need of a full time position. The hospital where I work had a full time position available, but I kept hoping the house would sell and I kept delaying making a move to apply and the position was filled. I put my name in the hat at the last minute, but for whatever reason the staff did not want me to work full time and chose another candidate.

So here I am with no work until the hospital needs me again to cover vacations in a week or two. I'm not complaining because that's what I signed up for when I took this job, but I really need to be working. I found another full time position posted at another hospital and was contacted yesterday to come in for an interview tomorrow morning. Do I need this job? Absolutely. Do I want this job? Not really. What I really want is to stay home, but in this case the need outweighs the desire.

I'm torn, because I really feel like my current job was answered prayer in terms of being more available to my family. If I pursue this new job am I effectively telling God that I don't trust Him to handle our finances and provide for us, or am I pursuing an opportunity that God has opened up for me? It's times like this that I feel like I'm adrift in the sea of spiritual discernment and I don't have clue which way to go. What is the right decision when both make sense?

Monday, November 2, 2009

$4 Project for the IMB

I posted recently about the International Mission Board's $32 million deficit this year. The IMB is such an important part of modern day evangelism, and I am asking all of my blogger friends to grab this button from my sidebar and post it on your blog and/or Facebook wall so that we can reach as many people as possible by November 22.
Even if you are not affiliated with a church that supports the IMB, I would love it if you would post the button or a link to http://www.only4dollars.blogspot.com/ so that others who would like to participate will be aware of the special offering on November 22.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I'm Giving Thanks


Here we are again at the beginning of November, eagerly anticipating the holidays and looking with not a small amount of horror at how quickly the past year has flown by. For the past few years I have participated in a challenge hosted by Leah at South Breeze Farm that has been such a reality check for me. The idea is to create a list in your sidebar, and each day add a new thing that you thankful for throughout the month of November.

It's amazing how easy it is to see your blessings when you take a minute to think about it. From the small to the large, everyone has something for which they can be thankful. I posted my lists here and here from previous years if you are interested, and I hope that you will go to Leah's blog, grab the button and jump in feet first with a thankful heart!

For all of you Facebookers, this works for you too. Just update your status each day with something for which you are thankful. God has blessed me so richly that my heart overflows with thanksgiving for who He is, and for what He has done for me!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

They Make Me Laugh

We've spent this weekend just being together and relaxing at the house. We had my mom in town last weekend for a much needed visit, and the kids started back to school after the fall break so it's been nice taking it easy. I haven't seen my mom since June and I'm pretty sure that's the longest I've gone without seeing her since 1998 when we lived in Carlsbad, NM. It was fun going shopping and catching up with her.

She was here during fall break, so I took advantage of her being here and scheduled an appointment for Nathan to have a check up at the pediatrician for his ADHD, knowing that Mama would stay home with Grace. I took him Thursday and after the nurse weighed him and checked his height, he needed to go to the bathroom. I waited outside the door for him so I could show him to the correct exam room. As he opened the door, I realized that I had not heard either one of the following:
  • a toilet flushing
  • water running in the sink

I think my exact words were, "Seriously son? You didn't flush OR wash your hands?", but we'll just say for the sake of argument that I gently reminded him to return to the bathroom and finish up properly. He turned to me and said, "But the sign says not to." I followed him into the bathroom and he pointed to the sign and read, "Please do not flush tampons." I almost choked as I tried to hold in my laughter, because not only was the situation funny, but he mispronounced it as tam-puns. I just told him to go ahead and wash his hands and I would flush for him.

The very next day I brought Gracie in to the doctor because of a cough she had been fighting for a few weeks, and she had her chance to make me choke back my laughter. The nurse had finished taking her vitals and recording it all in the computer, and she was leaving the room to get the doctor. Gracie called out, "Excuse me. Could you please tell the doctor that I don't need any shots?" The nurse and I just looked at each other, our laughter threatening to burst out as she promised to tell the MD.

It turns out that she had a sinus infection that required an antibiotic, but no shots.

The laughs? They just keep on coming here at the crazy house.

We also went up to Skiatook Lake the Sunday before Mama left to see the changing leaves and to let the kids get in some tree climbing time. It was just beautiful and we had a great time walking around and enjoying the view. When I see such beauty in nature I can't help but see God in creation. How can anyone see the leaves change, the stillness of a lake or the grandeur of the mountains and not see God? The Bible says we can't.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.
Psalm 19:1-6

The next time you see a sunset or a stunning vista, or just the simple beauty of rain falling on your yard, thank God for His providence and for showing His glory to us every day.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Life As We Know It

The shortcut icon on my homepage that leads to my blog has been glaring at me for days now. Click me! Click me! Be creative and witty! Record your life! Update your family and friends!


I would briefly consider it and then click on the icon for Facebook and then forget all about the fact that actually have a blog and that I used to love visiting it every day. Then I would catch up there and click on over to check the news (Nobel Peace Prize??? Really?), then end up chasing links for an obscene length of time. (Google "where is Chuck Norris" and click "I'm feeling lucky"). All of this to say that a great deal has happened between now and the last time I posted, but I've basically wasted all my internet time doing other stuff.

Despite moments of homesickness, I am really beginning to feel like this is my real life. My job is going well, and I'm more at ease with the people there. I don't feel like an outsider looking in anymore, although I still miss my old friends at Northeast. We are involved in our church with Awanas, children's choir, adult choir and Sunday school. People are starting to look familiar and I can say hello to them by name instead of just vaguely waving at them and smiling. Facebook has actually helped with this since I am a tactile/visual learner and seeing their names next to a picture really helps me to remember them.

Trevor is very busy at work these days, and is increasingly more and more thankful for his short commute. He gets the kids off to school in the morning, and then is able to work until 5:30 and still be home before six. It really makes our days seem longer (in a good way), because we are not spending hours of it in our cars between work and home. I am here when the kids get home from school, and they have plenty of time to unwind, complete homework and play before it's time to start getting ready for bed.

Nathan is doing exceptionally well in third grade. He has straight As, and is making so many friends. He comes home from school each afternoon excited about his day, and eager to show me his work. His love of reading has really taken off in the last few months, and he is consuming books at an alarming rate. I need to make a trip to the bookstore and stock up for him so we won't run out. He has hundreds of books, but they are for the most part not chapter books, and that's what he wants to read. He's started reading the Harry Potter series, and blew through Charlie and the Chocolate Factory so I think it's time to expand our children's library!

Grace is having a harder time in school. This is the first time in her life that she is not surrounded by people that she knows, and it's clear from her behavior that she's uncomfortable. Her teacher reports that she doesn't seem to want to make friends, and that she pushes other children away. Her schoolwork is fine and she enjoys learning, but socially she is not behaving the way that she normally does. It's unusual, because Gracie is the one who normally jumps right in to whatever is going on and plays with whoever happens to be there. She has become prone to cry when things don't go her way, and she is much more sensitive to perceived offenses. We do see improvement at church, and are thankful for her teachers who continue to show her love when she is sometimes a little bit unlovable. We know that this will pass as she becomes more comfortable in her new environment.

I am over the top excited because Mama is coming to visit this Wednesday. The kids are on fall break next Thursday through Monday, and she decided to come up and see us while we had some time off. I can't remember the last time I went this long without seeing her, and I really miss her. We talk on the phone and occasionally Skype, but it's not the same as having her here. We plan to go home for Christmas, but I am glad for this interim visit. We don't really have any plans, but I'm sure it will involve doing something fun with the kids.

Amber had her 20 week ultrasound this past Monday and received the news that she and David are having a boy! His name is Travis Cole, and he is due on February 18. I am so excited to have a new nephew and although I did wish that Gracie would have a girl cousin, I am really happy for them. My hope is that we can spend all of spring break in Louisiana so I can spend some time with all of them!

So here we are on Saturday morning, enjoying the cool temperatures (it's 37--whoo hoo!), and looking forward to a weekend of rest and relaxation. I was home sick from work week before last with a killer sinus infection, and am exhausted from this past week back at work. The idea of doing nothing this weekend sounds just right to me!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Every Little Bit Counts!

From the time that I was a little girl, I was taught about missions. I went to Mission Friends in preschool and Kindergarten, and then to GA's (Girls in Action) when I entered grade school. When I finally made it to Junior High, I was promoted to Acteens. I can't remember a time when I wasn't aware of foreign missions through the Southern Baptist Convention. The Lottie Moon Christmas offering was just part of going to my church.

But even with all of the teaching, activities and participating in mission projects as a child and young adult, I still feel like my money doesn't really make a difference. Over the years I stopped giving to missions, partially because I wasn't really plugged in to a church and partially because of the mistaken belief that the little bit I could give wouldn't make a difference. I mean, seriously. How much difference would my $20, $50 even $100 make in the grand scheme of things?

If I am completely honest with myself, I was selfish with my money. I could have afforded to give much more if had I planned ahead and sacrificed just a few of my superfluous weekly purchases. I could have done more. I can do more.

Because of people like me, the International Mission Board has a deficit of $32 million this year, and as a result are unable to send willing people into the mission field. There is a movement that is being started to take a collective offering on November 22 at local churches to overcome this deficit. If each member gives only four dollars, the IMB could continue it's work of spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth.

I am ashamed of my non-participation in the past. The church that we currently attend is very missions minded, and during our short time here I have been convicted of my responsibility to support mission work, foreign and domestic. It may not be in the cards for me to move my family to Indonesia or Kenya, but I can be a part of supporting those who are called to go.

Most importantly, every single dollar counts. Was the deficit caused because others like me felt like their small amount wouldn't matter anyway? If so, we can fix this problem! Get the word out to your local body of believers. If you would like more information, click here. Post this video and link on your blog, Facebook wall and web page. Join with me in giving $4 on November 22 and get the IMB back where they should be.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Let Them Be Little

Today is the first Sunday after Labor Day. If you are a woman (or well-bred man for that matter) from the South, you know what this means. The white shoes have been polished, winterized and put away until Easter and the dark shoes come out of the closet for a season. No matter that it is still 90 degrees outside and you are still wearing summer dresses. No matter that the current fashion mavens say it's okay to wear white after Labor Day. We know better.

So, in the time honored tradition of my southern belle fore bearers, I went in search of black patent dress shoes for Grace yesterday. And I searched. And searched. And searched some more. I hit the usual places...Target, Walmart, Kohl's and Belks. I went to Shoe Carnival, Famous Footwear and Rack Room Shoes. I found a pair of ballet style shoes at Payless, but they weren't the dressy shoes I was looking for.

I think what disturbed me the most was the type of shoe that I was finding on the shelves for little girls. Now don't forget that Gracie is five years old. The shoes I was finding in her size were covered in sequins, sporting cheap flowers and/or being supported by a heel tall enough to make me uncomfortable. Then there were the strappy heels for preschoolers that were a pedophile's dream come true. I seem to have this problem every time I search for dress shoes.

I don't want my little girl to look like she's wearing footwear more suitable for a teenager or adult woman. I want her to look like she is five years old, because she is. I realize that I am not exactly the most fashion conscious person, and I'm okay with that. I don't usually like the new styles that come out for women. I'm more of a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, with the occasional pair of dress Capri's and nice blouse thrown in for good measure. I typically wear dresses on Sunday morning to church, and never wear white after Labor Day or before Easter.

I'm a little old fashioned, but I think that is a good thing when it comes to children's clothing. When I finally found a pair of shoes at Dillard's, I was talking to the salesperson about my difficulty finding shoes. Our conversation turned to the types of dresses and clothing available for little girls these days, and we were in agreement that much of what is out there is entirely inappropriate for them. The skirts are too short and the shirts are too tight. As a matter of fact, I usually have to buy Gracie's t-shirts a size too big because they are intended to be skin tight.

Who wants to see a five year old child's body in skin tight clothes? For that matter, who wants to see a little girl in hoochie mama wedge flip flops (on which she is precariously balancing, trying not to break an ankle), short shorts and a halter top? Children are not little adults. They are children and we are taking away a bit of their childhood by dressing them that way.

So as I made my way home with my black patent leather shoes, I looked forward to seeing Gracie in her new shoes and sweet (age appropriate) linen dress. She's already growing up too fast...I'm not going to speed her along!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Humorous Alternative

We were sitting in church this morning, waiting for the service to start. Gracie was thumbing through her Bible, looking at the pictures and asking questions. She came across a picture of Adam and Eve being banished from the garden, with the angels and their burning swords barring re-entrance.

She asked me to read the story to her, and when I was finished we asked her why Adam and Eve had been banished. She said it was because they disobeyed God. Then, in true Grace fashion (and I'm sure based on her own experience with discipline associated with disobedience), she said,

"God could have just spanked them or something."

Hmmm. I wonder how that would have felt?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Morning Routine Interrupted

When I woke up this morning, I was so glad that it was the end of the work week. Although I work an abbreviated schedule to be able to get home for the kids in the afternoon, my job is essentially unchanged. I look forward to Friday just like the next person. As I showered, I thought about the end of the day, and what we might do with the kids in the evening.

I got dressed and made it to the kitchen to begin making an egg sandwich and a fresh cup of coffee to go. Nathan was already at the table eating his cereal, and Trevor was shouting down the hall for Gracie to GET UP RIGHT NOW THIS IS THE THIRD TIME I'VE CALLED YOU WHAT IS TAKING SO LONG?? This is pretty much our standard morning procedure around here. Nathan hops out of bed (actually he's often awake and playing in his room by the time I fall out of bed after the 8th snooze) and is ready to take on the world.

Grace? Well, she takes after her mother (and her grandfather, aunt and uncle) in that she needs to be awakened gently. Soft words and strokes on her back to bridge the gap between sleep and wakefulness. Low murmurs in her ear about getting up and reminders of what the day holds for her. If protocol is not strictly followed, we will have a cranky bear child roaming the halls unable to find her clothes or eat breakfast without spilling something.

That sort of procedure works great on the weekends when we have endless amounts of time to waste spend, but not so much during the week when everyone is trying to get out of the house on time. We do a sort of abbreviated version of the wake-up program, but the results are often less than satisfactory. For instance, she's not really cranky with the abbreviated version, but she is as slow as molasses in January. It requires a minimum of three reminders for every task set before her. Getting dressed. Brushing her teeth. Putting on her shoes. Eating her breakfast. Making her bed. It's painful really.

Anyway, it was no surprise that Gracie was not at the breakfast table with her brother, so I continued to cook my egg with one eye on the clock to be sure I wouldn't be late. Gracie finally came stumbling into the kitchen with Medusa hair and a sweet sleepy look on her face, and sat down at the table. I went back to her bedroom to lay out her clothes (Trevor lives in mortal fear of putting outfits together for her), and to retrieve her hairbrush and bow.

As I came into the kitchen, Trevor was leaning over her with the thermometer. She had a low-grade fever and said that her throat was burning. When Gracie complains of anything, I usually take it pretty seriously. This is the same child who had strep throat and a) never complained of any pain, and b) ate crackers in the doctors office as they told me that the strep had caused scarlet fever. She has a very high pain tolerance, so any time she admits to pain I listen.

So now I have the day off so I can take her to the doctor before the weekend gets started in case she needs a prescription for an antibiotic. Not an altogether unpleasant thought because I always enjoy time alone with Grace. As an added bonus, there is no vomiting involved with this illness so we'll get to spend the day watching girly princess movies and slurping down Popsicles.

Good times.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

First Day of School

Here we are. The first day of school in a new town. This is a new experience for me because up to this point, Nathan has attended school in my hometown. Did I mention it was a small town? So no matter who his teacher was, I knew them either directly or in a roundabout way. My mom taught school in the district for almost 30 years, so she knew many of the teachers and my mother in law works for the district as well, so there were never any surprises.

It was comfortable. It was well within my comfort zone. It was as natural as breathing to send him to the school where I once played on the monkey bars and chased friends under the trees. The classrooms still smelled exactly the same and the halls were like old friends welcoming me back. (Except that I felt like Andre the giant...were the desks really that small?)

Moving to Tulsa and anticipating a new school that was a total unknown was scary for me. I knew that Nathan would be missing his old friends, and that Gracie would be surrounded by strangers. I was afraid that they would not want to go into their classrooms and had visions of bullies picking on them and making them miserable.

The first inkling I had that everything was going to be all right was when Nathan's friend Savannah from next door came over to walk the kids down to the bus stop. She didn't have to do that. She could have just walked down alone, but she took the time to include Nathan and Grace. We thanked her for coming over, but told her that we were driving the kids to school today.

When we made it to school and down to Gracie's Kindergarten class, I barely had a chance to snap a picture of her with the teacher before she ran in the room without a second glance in our direction. She was completely at ease and ready to start her day. It was bittersweet because for a fleeting moment I wished for a tear or at least a clinging hug, but then I came to my senses and was ecstatic that she was so well-adjusted.

It was time to walk with Nathan to his third grade class and strangely enough, that's when I got a little teary. He walked well ahead of us with a purpose. He knew where his classroom was, and he was excited to get there. He didn't need (or want) to hold a hand, and he looked so big. The lump in my throat went away when I snapped a picture of him with his teacher and he waved goodbye.

As Trevor and I walked out of the building together, I realized that we had just begun another season in our lives. Both children are in school now, and they are growing up more quickly that I like to think about. Time marches on and there is nothing we can do to stop it, so it's better to just embrace the moments as they come and thank God for the blessings that we have been given.