Tuesday, March 31, 2009


The paint has been applied and put away. The miter saw and the leftover lumber has been neatly stored in the shed again. The closets have been cleaned, organized and gleaned of all superfluous items in anticipation of strangers gazing into their depths. The bookshelf inventories have been reduced by 2/3 so as to not intimidate prospective buyers, and the empty space has been filled with vases and other neutral items. The (temporary) housekeeper has made all surfaces shine.

Our house goes on the market tomorrow, and we are finally ready. With each passing day, I am reminded of how many memories I have of this house. It's been my home since I was four years old. A lifetime of memories tied up in this one place, and I'm already finding it difficult to let go. From sleepovers, parties, graduations and weddings to my first date, kiss and prom, they were all here. I have raised my children here for the last 4 years and have those memories to take with me as well.

I was baking a buttermilk pound cake last Saturday, and suddenly began to cry. How many of these cakes had been made in this very kitchen over the years? Every thing that I do reminds me that it's coming to an end. There will eventually be a last meal, a last evening, a last night to sleep under the roof that has sheltered me for most of my life. Then I will have to walk out the front door where I waited so many times for friends and family to walk through, and not look back. I will begin a new stage of my life that doesn't include this small town or the hundreds of things that I love about it.

Am I excited? Of course. I can't wait to get to Tulsa and carve out a new life there. I have new friends to make and relationships to forge, but I can't help but feel a sense of loss at what I'm leaving behind. I know it's just a building, but it's been mine for so long that I can't imagine anyone else occupying it's space. Each room is dear to me, full of laughter, tears and the day to day living that we all experience. It's home and I am sad to be leaving it behind.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Eight Years and Counting

I had to be at the hospital before dawn eight years ago to be prepped for a planned Cesarean. Our families gathered in the waiting room in the early morning hours, anxiously awaiting the birth of the first grandchild on both sides. Trevor held my hand and stroked my hair as they wheeled me into the OR, but was left behind until it was actually time.

Nurses bustled around me as the epidural was placed in my back, and I was laid down on the table in preparation for the doctor. He came barreling through the door and after a quick greeting, went to the task at hand. Trevor came in just as he began and we waited in eager anticipation to meet our son.

Then, like a wild bird whose call disturbs the quiet solitude of the early dawn, we heard the sound of his cry. Loud and lusty; the sound of life. I began to cry and Trevor hurried over to see what he looked like. "He has red hair!" he exclaimed as I strained to see him. The doctor held him up for a moment before they whisked him away to the warming table to clean and weigh him.

We knew that he was going to be a big baby, which is why I was having the section to begin with. Well, his size and the fact that I had not even begun to efface or dilate by my due date. So when they called out 9 lbs and 13 oz I shouldn't have been surprised but I was. I had given birth to a toddler!

Over the last eight years that baby has grown into an intelligent, imaginative sweet boy. He has blessed Trevor and me in ways that cannot be given words, and our lives will never be the same because of him. In eight more years he will be driving, and then eight beyond that a man with a family of his own. The years slip by like water through a sieve and I grasp at the drops trying fill my memory and my mind with their sweetness.

I can see glimpses of the man he will be...he so much like his father. But there is much of myself in him as well, and it pleases me to see him empathize with others and give of himself. His character is one of honesty and trustworthiness, and he stands by his friends. He has a mischievous smile that cracks me up when I see it, and a sweetness about his spirit that is beautiful to behold.

But no matter how old he gets or how far up I have to crane my neck to look at his face, there will always be a part of me that sees him as that perfect, soft baby who showed me for the first time how to love unconditionally.

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Heart of Service

If you are a parent, then you know how brutally honest kids can be. In their innocence, they simply say the things that we would never dream because we have learned the social niceties that allow us to make and keep friends. For instance, I can't imagine being invited a second time for dinner if I announced that the main course was "yucky" and threw down my fork. Or for that matter being taken into a confidence again if I announced midway through a soul baring moment that "your breath stinks".

Our children reveal the very worst sides of our character (and personal hygiene), and early on we have to develop thick skin to endure the constant barrage of skin flaying honesty. My children have often pointed a spotlight on my most deep seated insecurities and flaws, and caused me to evaluate myself more carefully. But because of their honesty, their compliments mean so much more to me. They don't compliment to get things from me (yet!), and they haven't learned the art of manipulation (at least not to that degree!).

Trevor relayed a conversation that he had with Nathan the other day that did my heart a world of good.

Nathan: What is your favorite thing to do?

Trevor: I don't know...(thinking)

Nathan: Well, Mommy's favorite thing to do is help people, so what's yours?
He thinks my favorite thing to do is help people. In spite of the red-faced mad woman into which I transform when bathwater is splashed on the floor, homework is not completed in a timely manner and barked commands are not obeyed immediately he still thinks my favorite thing to do is help people.

I just love that little boy!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Livin' On Tulsa Time

Change. That little word can strike such fear in my heart. From the small things to the life altering, I resist change. I worry over it, spend sleepless nights thinking about it and generally work myself into a frenzy of stress holding on to it. So when Trevor came home 4 months ago with the news that we might be moving to Tulsa, my response was not what you would call open minded. As a matter of fact, I had a good sized boulder in the pit of my stomach when I allowed myself to think about it too much.

But over time I came to accept the idea, even embrace it. We began looking at real estate and discussing our finances. We were still waiting for official word from his company before we made any real decisions, but we felt fairly confident that we would be leaving Texas. Then he was told that the move was off due to the economy, and I breathed a little sigh of relief. I had gotten used to the idea, but I was glad that I didn't have to think about the actual move anymore. Finding a new job, childcare, a church...things that seemed so scary when I thought about them too long and too hard. The boulder dissolved and life went on.

I told my boss that I was staying, and informed the Sunday school class that I teach that they would have to put up with me for a least a little bit longer. I started thinking ahead to summertime childcare for Nathan and making plans for having family here in July. I felt a little bit wistful that we would not be moving, but on the whole glad we were staying with what was known and comfortable.

Then two weeks ago Trevor came home with the news that his company wanted him in Tulsa no later than August. We could pretty much move any time between now and then, but it was really happening. The boulder reappeared and suddenly I was back to contemplating when we would make the move, how we would sell the house in the current market and a myriad of other issues. I began to feel overwhelmed with the enormity of moving our family to another state and establishing new roots there.

Then I stopped in my tracks and said a quick prayer. My prayer was simple: "Lord, take this anxiety from my heart and remind me that you are in control and totally sovereign over all things. You are in both the details and the big picture and I can trust that all things will work for our good. It may not seem like it at the time, but I know that the end game has already been predetermined by You in Your wisdom and love. Please make the path broad and easy to see as we make plans for this move and give us wisdom and discernment to make choices that are pleasing to You. Amen."

This is the prayer that say every time I feel that boulder starting to weigh me down, and it's the one I pray every morning and night. There are so many plans to make and dreams to build, but the change seems less menacing when filtered though the knowledge that God is on our side and He will see us through to the end of this season in our lives. This time next year we will be wondering what all the fuss was about.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Better Late Than Never!

I'm usually pretty good about remembering birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions. I try to send a card or at least make a phone call so that the person celebrating knows that I am thinking of them. Every year when I get a new calendar to hang in the kitchen, I carefully transfer all the names written each month to the new one so I don't forget. Of course, these days I have them all in my iPhone as well, but I can't seem to let go of my paper calendar!

In recent months, I have been blogging less and and less. Partly a function of being busy with my life, but partly because I find myself with not much to say. Trevor (and my entire family)would laugh out loud at that statement, but I don't always feel as though I have anything worth writing down for posterity. Maybe that's why I completely missed by blogoversary this year. Or maybe it's because I've spent more time reading other blogs and not so much writing on mine, and so March 7 came and went without fanfare. Of course, it might have more to do with the fact that I was in Louisiana visiting family at the time.

I'm excited about reaching this 2 year milestone, because it means that I can have year two published in a book. I already have Volume 1 on my bookshelf, and I can't wait to add Volume 2. I use a service called Blurb and it is the coolest thing ever. It basically "slurps" your blog into the software and then you edit your book page by page. The final product is a book full of pictures and memories that can be read by my children when they are older, which is the whole point of my blog.

I decided to make a short list of some of my favorite posts from the last two years in honor of my belated blogoversary.

So, Happy Blogoversary to me and here's to another year of memories.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Waving Me Home

The first house that I remember from my childhood is the one where my grandparents lived. The front living room where the Christmas tree was proudly displayed. The huckleberry bushes in the backyard where we chased one another in circles until we were dizzy, and picked berries for muffins. The swing set where I would swing and sing to my Pillsbury Dough Boy doll. The little green bowls from which Granny would serve us ice cream that she had mashed up to make it easier to eat. Watching Gramps make Coke floats by scooping up the ice cream and then hitting the handle to make the ice cream pop in the air and land in the blender.

Squealing with glee when Gramps would trap us in his legs and tickle us. Laying on their bed and staring at the picture of Granny on the wall, dreaming of being that beautiful. The smell of Gramps' van with it's mixture of paint and turpentine, and the splatters of paint on his clothes. Sweeping the front porch with Granny. The Christmas I got my Curious George stuffed animal. Falling asleep on the couch listening to the gospel quartet practice. Being more than slightly afraid of Uncle Chuck when he threatened to skin me alive, because he was in college and I never knew if he was serious or not.

Hundreds of memories fill my mind when I think of that old house. Then they moved when I was about 6, and I made more memories. Courtney and I pulling up the grass by the new house thinking we were helping, when in fact it was grass Gramps had planted to sod the area. Playing with Granny's old hats in the back bedroom with my cousins, and sleeping under the old, heavy quilts in the winter. Playing hide and seek outside in the dark. Running through the rows and rows of corn stalks in the garden, then hiding from Gramps because we were afraid to admit we had fallen on some of them. Picking buckets and buckets of blackberries for cobbler.

Riding Gramps' lawn mower with the deck pulled up and then running it into a tree. Playing in Gramps' wood shop for hours and the smell of fresh cut lumber. The sound of the men watching football in the living room, their voices loud and masculine as they rose and fell along with the game. The smell of good cooking coming from the kitchen, the feminine voices trading secrets and enjoying time together. The feel of Granny's cool hand on my forehead when I had a fever.

So many memories made there, but the one that brought me to my knees when I was home this last time was so simple. For as long as I can remember, I've been saying goodbye to Granny and Gramps. We would drive over from Texas for a visit, but eventually it had to end and we had to leave. Granny and Gramps would stand at the end of the sidewalk (at the first house) or driveway (at the second) as we left. I can see them in my mind's eye even now...Gramps' arm around Granny, and both of them waving us off. I remember crying as little girl when we had to leave, and kneeling in the back seat so that I could keep them in my line of sight as long as possible. They never went inside before I lost sight of them.

As I got older, it became a bit of a joke and we would wave to them like Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies, holding one arm up with the other as we waved goodbye. But they still waved us on until we were gone. All through my childhood, teenage years and young adulthood, Granny and Gramps always waved me home when our visit came to an end. It was so much a part of the trip home, that I never really though much about it and how much it meant to me.

I stopped at Granny and Gramps' house (I can't stop calling it that, even though Gramps has been gone for 2 and half years) to see Granny as we left town to drive back to Texas. She had started a fern from a cutting taken from a plant that belonged to her mother, and it was big enough for me to take it. The kids and I said our goodbyes and began to buckle up. Without even looking up I said, "Wave goodbye to Granny" and put the Tahoe in reverse. I looked up and saw that there was no one there. Granny had gone inside without waving us down the driveway.

Now I don't mean that as a complaint against Granny. She is 81 years old and she doesn't have any business standing out in the driveway, waving her arthritic shoulder out of place just to satisfy an old memory of mine. But as the tears pricked hotly behind my eyes, I couldn't help but feel as though a chapter of my childhood was finally coming to a close. My heart was heavy with a sense of loss that was almost tangible because I would never see my grandparents standing shoulder to shoulder again, smiling at me as I drove away.

But as I mulled over my feelings from that morning, I was comforted by one thought. One day, Granny and Gramps will be among the many people that I hold dear who will be waving me on to the throne room in heaven. They will be looking at me with love shining in their eyes, standing shoulder to shoulder and welcoming me to a home that will be eternal, where there will be no more tears and no more sorrow. Just an eternity of glorifying God and praising Him alongside all the ones who have gone before me, and I can't wait.

Friday, March 6, 2009

We're Going Home!

Nathan and Grace are on spring break next week, so we are going to Louisiana this weekend. Since Trevor and I both work full-time, child care tends to be an issue during holidays and breaks. We decided that I would take vacation on Monday and Tuesday and he would take it the rest of the week to stay home with the kids. Since I'm going to have an extra long weekend, I decided to go home for a visit.

The kids are so excited about seeing Nannie and Papa, Aunt Rose and Uncle Dave, and all the other people that we love. I'm hoping to arrive around 8 o'clock this evening so the kids will still be awake enough to see Mama and Daddy for a little while. I plan to sleep late tomorrow and then enjoy a hot cup of coffee at the kitchen table with my mom as we catch up. Mama and I talk all the time, so there is usually not much to actually "catch up" on, but we always enjoy the company.

Amber and David have invited us over to their house for lunch, and we are going to spend the afternoon and night with them. They have been in their new home less than a year, and I am excited about seeing it again. My sister has incredible taste, and her house is just beautiful. I am bringing our Wii since they have never played with one, and it will be a great way to hurt entertain ourselves. Aside from the fact that I want to see Amber and David, I would never hear the end of it if we didn't go over to their house, because Nathan and Grace are in love with Jackson. He is the sweetest border collie ever, and I'm sure that all I will hear on the 5 hour trip over there, are questions about Jackson.

What day are we going to see him?
Do you think he has gotten bigger?
Will he want to play?
Can he sleep with us?
Can I throw him a ball?

Oh yes. It's going to be a long trip without Trevor. Thank goodness for the portable DVD players for the backseat!

Sunday we going to Amber and David's church, since we've never attended there before. They just love their new pastor, and were delighted to find a Nine Marks church in their area. I'm excited about hearing him preach, and to meet some of their friends. After church it will be back to Mama and Daddy's for lunch, and I'm sure that Uncle Chuck and Granny will be there. We'll just spend the afternoon relaxing and visiting, which is perfectly fine with me. Aunt Gail will be there in the evening to hang out and see the kids, so it will be a wonderful ending to the day.

Monday, while everyone is at work, I plan to take the kids out to see my grandmothers. Probably Granny E in the morning, and then Granny T in the afternoon. The only real plan I have is to bring all the ingredients for a lemon icebox pie to Granny T, and take pictures of her making it. This dessert is her specialty and it is incredible! I made one the other day, but it just wasn't quite the same so I want to see her make it.

Tuesday will be spent travelling back to Texas. We'll leave midday so that we're not fighting traffic, and so that I'll have a few minutes to catch my breath before I have to go back to work on Wednesday. I'm already anticipating my reunion with Trevor. It's going to be a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Brand New Day

It's day six on the ADHD medicine for Nathan, and I am pleased to report that he is doing splendidly! I've been keeping a journal of his ups and downs so that I can show it to his pediatrician at the end of the 30 day trial period. My mom suggested doing this, and for the 328 billionth time in my life, I'm so glad I took her advice! It's helped me to keep track of his behavior, and to be more aware of his progress because I know that I need to write it all down. I tend to notice things better when I know it's going on a list. (Thank you OCD, thank you.)

The first day, we did not see much of a change in terms of his behavior, but we expected it to take a few days for the medication to build up in his system. Day two brought more focus, less distractability and less superfluous movement, but his personality was completely intact and was not at all "zombie-like" or depressed.

Day three was a Saturday, and he had great success working on a school project for about two hours. Not only did he focus on the work at hand, he was not distracted by the normal sounds of the household going on around him. Trevor was cooking dinner and I was playing with Grace rather loudly, and he still sat there and completed his work. The old Nathan would have taken any opportunity to leap off the chair and into the fray until he had escalated it to inappropriate levels of jubilant yelling and laughing. That was always part of his problem...not knowing when to stop. We would lecture, discipline, encourage, threaten and talk until we were blue in the face and he still was unable (we thought unwilling) to calm down. I can see now that his exuberance was linked to his inability to control impulsive behavior.

He was able to sit still during dinner without fidgeting (any more than a normal 71/2 year old, that is!) and jumping up and down in his seat. This has been an ongoing battle with him for years. He could not sit still to save his life, and now we are able to have interesting conversations at dinner without constantly telling him to sit down and eat!

His teachers have noticed a marked improvement in his behavior and focus as well. They have been sending me updates by email that have been a Godsend for me. I was so worried about this medication and it's potential side effects, and it was such a blessing to know that his teachers were looking out for him and keeping us informed.

The very best part of the medication is that we haven't lost Nathan. He is still the sweet, intelligent, kind child that I know and love and his personality is completely intact. He still wants to run around and play with Grace, but it's not out of control. He still laughs loudly and appreciatively at things only a seven year old finds amusing, and he still asks me crazy questions and makes insanely astute observations about the world around him. He's still Nathan, just a little more under control. To be honest, he seems happier to me as though he is finally comfortable with himself. He's proud that he can do his best at school.

The other day he said, "I'm not always thinking about the next thing I'm gonna do." This was huge for him, because that was the very heart of his focus issue. His brain was always flitting to and fro to the next thing he wanted to do, no matter how much he was enjoying the current activity. Now he is able to appreciate what he is doing and do his best.

The only side effect that we have noticed so far is difficulty falling asleep, and even this seems to be easing up a bit. He's always been a good sleeper, and instead of sleeping 10 hours a night, he's sleeping 8.5. Not too much of a change, but enough to make me keep track of his waking and sleeping schedule. We give him his pill around 5:45am to try and offset the sleeplessness a bit, and I think that as his body gets used to the medicine this side effect will lessen.

The thirty days aren't nearly finished yet, and we still have a journey ahead of us but I am greatly encouraged by what we've seen so far.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Spectacular Sins (Chapter 6)

We have arrived at week seven of the book club and with it comes one of my favorite stories in the bible, the tale of Joseph and his brothers. A tale of jealousy, betrayal, deception and murderous intent, but at the same time a tale of love, faithfulness and restoration. Probably one of the most compelling stories in the bible for God's complete and total sovereignty over all things, good and evil.

Lisa gave us a series of questions to answer, based on a personal experience:

Looking back, describe an event that was both intended as evil and good. Are you allowing God's purposes to prevail or have you been content in accepting the evil consequences? Explain. I am going to direct everyone to something I posted last year. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you will recall this story. It was an emotionally draining situation, and it could have turned out so differently. In that particular case, I was able to see how God used the situation to grow me spiritually. I think that so many events in our lives are simply vehicles for God to teach us something about His character...just, holy, loving, faithful, jealous, righteous. In my case, He used something that only affected me indirectly to show me my own sinful behavior. It could have gone either way. I could have become even more bitter towards the people who had wronged my husband, or I could have taken the chance to reflect on the state of my own heart. Thankfully, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit I was able to accept the chastening for what it was...an opportunity to grow.

One thing that really resonated with me was Joseph's faithfulness no matter what was perpetrated against him. Are we being faithful in less than desirable situations so that God can make the most of them? How are lives being preserved as a result of your experience? When I read this question, I thought immediately of my children. My example in times of great trouble or difficulty goes beyond what I am learning, but has a permanent and lasting effect on the lives of my children. Do I want them to face adversity with a willing spirit, leaning on the strength of Jesus Christ, or do I want them to face it with bitterness and anger? I think they learn so much more about real faithfulness when they see me react once with grace and mercy in a difficult situation, than if I were to be gracious and merciful 10 times over during the good times. I pray that my faithfulness will preserve their lives in an eternal way, by being the example that leads them to a relationship with Christ.