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    Archive for February 2015

    Community

    Friday, February 27, 2015

    We didn't even wait for the wake up call of the beautiful snow. We didn't have to.

    When the weatherman flashes a winter storm warning across the screen on the eve of a regular school night in east Tennessee, preparation begins before the first flake has fallen.

    While the women head to Kroger, the men venture out to the local hardware store to stock up on a fresh supply of sleds. Because, necessities people.

    Friends start calling friends and the invitation to come out and play is stronger than the urge to sit inside on the couch with a cup of coffee in hand.

    (Although that does sound inviting now that I think about it.)

    Just not on a day when there's a fresh six inches on the ground.


    So by the hour of nine am yesterday we were layered up and ready for round one. Let the games begin. 



    Friends come together on uncommon days to share joy.

    Real life happens on all of those ordinary days in between. You know the ones where you manage the household, run the errands, get the kids to school and back home again-and somewhere in between all those phone conversations and meet-up's you get to know the good, the bad and yes-even the ugly about those people investing time into your life.

    They cheer you on when you're overcoming, pick you up when you're in a slump, cry with you when your heart is broken, give you clarity when nothing makes sense and best of all a good friend will point you back to The One when your compass is off.


    So while I stood at the top of the hill yesterday watching the little children (and the big ones too) sled down and make their way back up again, I sort of felt what it must feel like to finally make  it to the top of a mountain after a long hike up.

    I felt like I belonged.

    Right here, right now,  in this town for whatever amount of time (or forever) we are right where God has planted us and called us to be. And it feels good.

    There's no pretense, no false image that we have to keep up, not that we'd be good at that anyway. By now, these people know us. They know our strengths and they know our weaknesses too. 

    They know where we struggle and what makes us cry.

    They know what we're good at and all of those weird little things that make us, well us.

    They know that Tim is a gym rat and a collector hoarder of sorts and that he would do anything for his kids.

    They know that I hardly ever make it to the gym, talk way too much and need to sit that ugly coffee mug of mine down and take a chill pill instead.

    They know that I struggle with things like a need to control and when I voiced some concerns out loud earlier this week, one of them literally hit me on the head and said, 

    "Girl God has got this! Why are you worrying so much?"

    That's a true friend right there.




    That's community. That's friendship. That is LOVE.

    For all of that time that Tim and I spent trying to seek God's will and figure out just where we were supposed to be and especially for every time that I wanted to assert my own way-

    ...well I stood at the top of a mountain yesterday and silently thanked the Lord for not answering that prayer in the way that I had wished.

    There have most certainly been times that I've missed His good and perfect will and barged forward with my own agenda. You could probably guess how those times have turned out.

    But this thing? This planting of one's life and putting down roots thing-well I'm sure that if we would have missed this we might have had a community, but it wouldn't have been one like this.

    It might not have been one that sharpened us (Psalm 27:17.) Heaven knows that I need that. In a big way.

    It might not have been one that loved us unconditionally either. I need a 1 John 4:18 kind of love that casts out fear in my life.



    Praise be to our God, that's what a real community gives you.

    I'm forever grateful.

    What kind of community does this season of your life find you in?

    To the Lady in Front of Me at Target

    Thursday, February 26, 2015

    I blame it all on the unexpected week at home.

    All of that break of snow fun left me a tad bit emotional I reckon, because on Monday when we got back into the swing of things well, I was not swingin'.

    I've been blessed with a job that allows me to work while the littles are away but, truth be told on Monday it really didn't take much time.

    And when I found myself finished early and the clock didn't read pick-up time yet, then what's a woman to do but go to Target? Because, of course.

    All the browsing of those aisles filled with pretty little things can do a woman about as much good as an hour at a counselor's office.

    Until you round the corner and run smack-dab into the woman you used to be.

    I didn't meet her until I was in the check out line.

    She wore a pony tail and a tired look on her face. Scurrying around like a busy squirrel, she was getting those groceries onto the check out counter as fast as possible.

    I know that feeling. That "Oh my goodness if I can just hurry up and pay and get out of here surely no one will notice the screaming."

    Or better yet, "Come on you've made it this far, do not leave that whole cart and give up now. Just make it through check out and get out. Focus girl, you can do this."

    Any mama knows that the wheels do tend to fall off the wagon right when you've made it to that  counter.

    What caught my attention most wasn't her worried face, the hurrying around or the annoyed (twenty years old at most) attendant at the register.

    It was those kids. Those ridiculously beautiful brown eyed little beauties....well, I just couldn't take my eyes off of them.

    "Mama I want a snack! I want a juice box PLEASE. Please mama, I'm hungry now!"

    In my minds eye those were two little blonde heads and that woman with her hair in a pony tail was me.

    I tried to stop the tears from coming-but it was no use.

    Embarrassed, I tried to quickly explain myself and I'm sure it was all a bit or much awkward.

    "Oh I'm so sorry, please excuse me. It's just that it all goes so fast and now mine are in school and oh how I wish I could have one more day like this when they were little."

    It's true. What they tell you about blinking and it's on to the next season? That's very true.

    Soon enough there comes a day when there is no need for a diaper, a sippy cup or a nap time.

    You suddenly go to the bathroom and no little person tries to follow you in there.

    No one wakes up in the middle of the night needing to be rocked back to sleep.

    And while healthy development and progression is a beautiful thing it can sometimes leave a mama wishing for yesterday.

    Like leaves blowing off of a tree in the fall, time blows swiftly and there's no gathering up those leaves. No putting them back on the trees again.

    A season passes and it's gone. You're left with the memories.

    So while it may be a frigid cold of a winter time in mothering for you dear friend, try your best to embrace it.

    Stop in the front of the grocery store, listen to those little cries for help and soak it in.

    All too soon those little people you're pushing will be running ahead of you and you'll be doing your best to keep up with them.

    So let's enjoy every moment and make the most of today. Don't let the little things rob you of the JOY of the current season.




    Life Lesson's Learned at the Circus

    Monday, February 23, 2015

    When there's an inch of ice on the ground, covered by an inch of snow and the power's been off and on all week....

    And when the littles are out of school and you've bundled up and headed out to play in said snow and ice 1, 2 or 587 times....

    Even though playing in all that said snow's been great and all, by the time Saturday rolls around and those big Barnum and Bailey trucks are making their way into town?

    Well, then one mama might decide she'd like to sit and watch an elephant entertain for a while, so she can you know, catch her breath and drink a cup of coffee. Or eat a bag of cotton candy or whatever (by herself.)


    Surely when the Apostle Paul wrote Phillipans 4:7 he had the lady of the twenty first century in mind.

    Because we all know that there's nothing like the roar of two or three dirt bikes or fifteen dancing performers, five galloping horses and two giant elephants to bring such peace that passes understanding. 

    Thank you Brother Paul.

    Y'all know that I kid.

    The truth of the matter actually is that I did thoroughly enjoy the snow and the ice and even the oddity of people and animals stacked mile high on objects flying through the air Saturday afternoon.

    Even if it wasn't my choice cup of tea, we would have went anyway.

    Because....this.


    Most of the choices we make as parents aren't about us anyway are they? Of course not.

    Many of my friends would tell you that (and this is the honest truth) half or three-quarters of what Tim and I do with the kids-we do it for ourselves too. While that really could mean that we are the most self-absorbed people on the planet, I like to think that we're just young at heart ourselves. 

    Now don't get me wrong, if I wasn't the mother of two small littles, there is no way I would have been at that circus on Saturday. No way.

    But that look on Quinley's face?!

    That's why we do the things we do as parents isn't it? 

    It isn't so we can say when they are older, "I was a great parent just so you know. I took you places and you saw things and looked oh so cute while doing it."

    No. That's not it at all. And if that's all we get out of the money we've spent then I'd have to venture to say that we've wasted it.

    We do these things because we take delight in enjoying our days with our families. 

    Just like the Father delights in us,  (Psalm 18:19, Zephaniah 3:17) and no doubt, does some wondrous things in our lives just because we are His creation, created to bring Him glory...

    We do the same things for our kids because well, we like to see that smile as wide as their face, those bright eyes and the wonder of joy in their expression. 

    You know what? I'd do it all again.

    I would pay an amount of money that I consider a bit too much, sit in an uncomfortable seat to say the least, listen to the roar and breathe in the smell (oh the smell) of the circus, just to see the joy and delight of those sweet little faces.

    I'm sure He would do the same for me.


    But The Lord

    Friday, February 20, 2015

    He's gone away again for a while now, only heaven knows when I will see him again.

    It's been that way for some time now. A few months here, a few there, never settled for too long.

    The way of the wanderer is hard. Unsure and unsettling, it's lonely and it's cold.

    Time makes accepting the way that things are now easier, yes. Yes it does. It doesn't however, make the reality of the situation less hard.

    Cold hard facts are just that; cold and hard.  While you can get used to some things as time passes, I tend to think you never fully recover from the loss of peace that comes through the disconnection of a loved one. You simply re-adjust.

    Here's something you don't learn in Wandering 101 of Real Life University: it's very hard on families. Because we all know that everybody's got to find their self sometime, right?

    But when you have to leave your intact group of core human beings to do so? That's hard. That's a good amount of sleepless nights and tears shed right there times the number of left said human beings.

    So while he wanders, while he drifts, I wait.

    Wait on the Lord and be of good courage, wait I say on the Lord (Psalm 27:14)

    One can learn a lot in a decade or so of desperately waiting. Actually there are some life lessons that can only be learned in a period of time like this.

    Hope is learned while waiting.

    You can go to church all of your life, go to Sunday School faithfully and be a part of the best small group ever. You can read all the verses and do the curriculum....but hope just doesn't come fully alive in your bones until it's the only thing you've got left in them.

    Hope let's you see sentences like "But the Lord," and go for days and weeks at a time just from the beauty of those three small words.

    But the Lord. That's it. Nothing fancy or earth shattering here. But such profoundly truer words have never been spoken.

    The fact that I never even prayed about the man that I would marry? And that I married one of the best men, THE BEST MAN that God had just for me?

    But the Lord.

    The eldest of my littles was born with a VSD (that's a hole in the heart otherwise known as a ventral septal defect) and at three days old we didn't know if we were facing open heart surgery or if this was a minor issue? Thankfully, over the period of about six months time the Lord closed that little hole in his heart and that very same child has since brought me to my knees more than once or twice with a few other health issues that haven't been terrifying but bothersome enough to keep a mama close in touch with Jesus.

    But the Lord.

    That time I was sinking further into depression with every single day and felt like I had somehow missed out on how exactly I was supposed to be happy and carefree-especially since I'd just recently brought two little people into the world?

    But the Lord.

    When Tim and I lived in Ohio and were having one or three or four hard years figuring out where we were supposed to be and what we were supposed to be doing and at times it all got oh so desperate and confusing?

    But the Lord.

    The mountain I'd love to see God move right now is not another hurdle we've stumbled upon, but in fact is the oldest request of my life. It is to see the wanderer come back to Jesus. To live in the gloriously full and abundantly rich life that our Savior offers.

    And when David Crowder sings "Come as you are, wanderer come home" and my heart feels like it might break right in two?

    But the Lord.

    I know that the hope that I've held onto for years is just as real now as it ever was. It never dies, it never fails and it never gives up on that one lost sheep even when, ESPECIALLY when the ninety nine are safe with the fold.

    But the Lord....thank you Lord, thank you Lord.




    Ten Blessings Found In Winter Weather

    Thursday, February 19, 2015

    Back a long time ago in the olden days of summer, one could not have imagined the white beauty that sits outside my window this morning.

    After living in the frigid north for the better part of my adult life, I assumed that we wouldn't be getting many snow days down here in Knoxville.

    Think again.

    I don't assume the children will be back to school at all this week seeing as how the power is touch and go at this point.

    And you know what? That is fine with me.


    I've quickly come to realize there's a great amount of blessing in this trapping in caused by the weather conditions. 

    1) Snow days. Because well, who doesn't? I was a kid once, I remember what that's like.

    2) Power outages. Yes, you read that right. The blessings of sitting by the fire, telling stories and reading books by flashlight....almost makes me wish we lived in the era before. Almost.

    3) Ice. Snow. It can be dangerous and slippery but there's hardly anything more beautiful.

    4) Late mornings. No schedule, no rushed breakfast, nobody's going anywhere so eat that cereal as slow as you'd like children.

    5) Sledding. Haven't done this yet but yes ma'am it's ON for later today.

    6) Appreciation. Sometimes you don't stop to think twice about how nice the common day conveniences like stocked pantries, electricity, warm water and such are until they're missing.

    7) Cancelled everything. I like to stack a calendar full just as well as the next person. But sometimes white space is underrated.

    8) Books. If you're like me, you love a good book but hardly ever take time to sit down and read. Well friend, there's been a lot of reading going on over here the past few days. Sophie Hudson, Beth Moore, the Holy Bible and I CAN READ by abeka curriculum in Kindergarten. Smile.

    9) De-Cluttering. A day inside is a good day to purge. I'm thinking we're going to come away from this snow storm a lot more clean.

    10)  (This one is unique to us, but I'm sure it could be applied to any family in a different way.) Rest time for Tanner. I think we pushed him a little too hard to go back to school at the end of the week last week, so this extra break is an added blessing of time to heal. 

    Be blessed in the cold sweet friends-it will be spring time soon!


    The Loom

    Tuesday, February 17, 2015

    So when you're handed number 18189 on a little business card at the information desk of the O.R. where your son is having surgery, the process goes a bit like this:

    1) You take said card and make your way to the fish tank. (Because everyone knows that a glimpse at a bright fish will always distract a mama's eyes and still a fast beating heart just a little.)

    2) Find the number on the card and match it with the number on the screen. See what color the number is highlighted by.

    3) Take a seat and get busy being still. Get busy being still....just waiting for the green of the O.R. to turn to the blue (recovery) and finally yellow and the little lady that walks over and says you are soon to be connected with that little piece of heart that beats outside of your chest in just a few minutes.

    Ahhh, sometimes  oftentimes it's in the stillness, in the quiet, in the sitting while-waiting-it-out that we realize the gravity of our situation.

    The realization that God is so very near or we would be so very overcome by the current state of events in our lives is made evident by many a fact at a time like this. I have literally sat and waited for my breath, my very next breath, sitting there in the grip of His grace waiting on number 18189.

    Last week, while I was sitting there waiting I joined my littlest little on a project she was working on.

    Before we left town and headed for another hopeful chance at a successful procedure on my boy, a friend of mine gave our sweet children some crafts to keep them busy on the long trip ahead.

    Little did anyone know, the loom was for mama-and the Lord was about to show his glorious Self through the weaving of the threads on that loom.

    As the hour of 4 turned into 5 and 5 into 6-my fidgety heart took the loom that my little Quinley had already created quite a few masterpieces on and got to work.


    I would weave a few rows, look up and see where 18189 was, look down to weave again, wipe some tears and realize I'd mis-stitched a few rows.

    Frustration would get the best of me and I'd hand the loom to my sweet other half sitting by me on that couch. He'd fix my mistakes and hand me back the loom again. 

    That process repeated itself for the better part of the evening until I'd finally finished a potholder or two myself.

    When the surgeon walked through the doors to greet us at a little past 7 I was finally able to breathe a little better and felt like Mt. Everest had been lifted off my shoulders.

    As we were gathering up our things to head to Tanner's room a few nurses commented on our potholders. 

    "Oh how beautiful," they would say. I heard a lot about how many of them used to do the same thing back in the day. 

    As they talked I looked down and I saw the missed stitches. I saw one orange row where three lines in a row were missed. 

    One was tightly woven in the middle and so loose on the edges.

    I thought about my mistakes and the fact that my potholders weren't perfect.

    I didn't care. 

    Because to me, the grace in the fixing was worth more than my perfection ever would have been. 

    No one looked at my little piece of art and said, "Oh that's cute but it would have been so much better if you wouldn't have messed up here."

    No-when the world looks at our lives friends let me tell you a little nugget of truth here: they aren't looking for perfection. We all know that perfection is unattainable anyway and the strife to get there can drive one to misery in the process.

    What they are looking for someone who is real. Someone living in the trenches and doing their best along the way with a joy that marks the life of a believer.

    That is what makes the web of our lives so beautiful. And that is when Christ really shines through. What is the meaning of our salvation if we're so put together on our own that we don't need the blood of our Savior anyway?

    It isn't the beautiful perfect rows so much as the redeeming ones with more than a missed stitch or two or three-caught and woven together by the surrounding support of a web that catches all.

    It catches all our good days and bad days and the good thing is that even the bad days are worth something!

    We don't just throw them away never to be remembered again, we redeem them and weave them into our story. Our story for His glory.

    That's how the Saviors love makes us known. As His broken but beautifully pieced together and  brightly shining masterpiece.

    Isn't that so much better than perfect?!




    Deep Calls to Deep

    Monday, February 2, 2015

    I'm no bible scholar, that much is for sure.

    I'm not a preacher or even a teacher for that matter.

    I'm just a woman who's trying to live life. I have a lot of good days and some bad days too.  But it's on those nasty old unfortunate bad days that almost always, the Light of God shines the brightest.

    I had one of those bad, unfortunate, messed up days not too long ago. You know the kind where you hit snooze more than once and are therefore behind even before you get started. You burn the oatmeal. You're out of creamer for your morning cup of MUST HAVE coffee. Yeah, it was one of those days.

    So all day long I was in a hurry. If there's one thing I've learned about time in my span of thirty two years-it's that rushing it never works. It just never works.

    Nevertheless I was rushing it. Because in my head maybe, just maybe I could squeeze an extra minute or two out of that day if I tried hard enough. Or so I thought to myself. I had a couple jobs to do, a grocery run to make and had to pick up my littlest from pre-K before getting into the pick up line for my big Kindergartner at three.

    And all along the way I was so busy focusing on the list of things I had to do that I missed what I should have done.

    I had a chance to share the good news and I missed it. The gospel of Jesus Christ that I so desperately chase after without abandon was reaching, beckoning to be shared and I missed it.

    All because of busy schedules and pick up lines and fear of missed appointments.

    There's a passage in Psalms 42 that says, "Deep calls to deep." And as I mentioned before, I'm no bible scholar but in my mind I think theres a deep calling from the Holy Spirit living inside of us to the deep things of God that we can not even understand ourselves. That deep calling makes intercession for us when we do not even know what we have need of ourselves.

    But on that day? On that day I was a bit too shallow and I missed it. I didn't even realize it until it was late in the evening, too late to go back and make a change. It was too late to recover the lost opportunity.

    Deeply saddened as I told a friend about this I said, "What if she missed her chance at hearing the good news because I was too busy?"

    "Oh no. She wouldn't. That's not how Go works." She was animated and fervent about her point (which is one of the many reasons that I love her). "Don't be too hard on yourself. If you missed it," she told me, "then God will send someone else to do the work."

    I came home and thought about it and flipped through my bible. There had to be some scripture to back that up somewhere right?

    Because I don't know about you, but sometimes I cant just take somebody's word for it. I have to read that truth, lay a finger on it in the sacred pages of scripture and speak it out loud before I can digest the truth of it fully.

    Here's what I found.

    2 Timothy 2:13 says that if we are faithless, He remains faithful. For He an not deny HIMSELF.

    Relief flooded over my soul as I realized that God will always, always accomplish His will. Even if I do not.

    That was a hard lesson learned. I'm so grateful that unbeknownst to me-somewhere someone fulfilled God's calling in my place.

    The next time, my ears and my heart will be listening for the Deep.