Sunday, July 3, 2016

Lake Weekend

This post will be mostly pics, but I wanted to share a little recap of last weekend, what we decided to call the Women's Dental Convention, Lake Edition.  

My boys LOVED "frimmin in da boat". Also known as swimming in the lake. 



Sweetest crew of kids ever: 

Amos was in heaven the entire time: 


This was right after the TEN mile run Susan Ruth convinced Misty and me to try. It was hard but not impossible. I'm so glad we did it. 

I will say that I could not feel my legs at the end. But who needs that when you've got endorphins?

Me, Kristy, Susan Ruth, and Misty:

Beautiful lake sunset: 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

What I'm Reading

  As I think I have similarly written here before...I feel about books much like I feel about shades of lipstick. Why only have one when you can layer multiple in at a time and get a much better result? 

  I am never reading only one book at a time. Here are my most recent reads: 



  This one was recommended to me, and though I sometimes find biographies a bit tedious, I am always glad after having read them. I actually used Audible--or as I like to call it, books on tape--for this one. I listen as I clean or fold clothes or drive. It was an interesting insight into the life of this president whom I honestly did not previously know a whole lot about, other than the major events of his presidency. 
 


I'm still in the middle of this one. But I wanted to include it here because it has been excellent thus far. This author does a great job at explaining motherhood's position as squarely on the front lines of going and making disciples, or "mothering disciples" as she calls it. She skillfully writes of how motherhood fits in to the grand plan of God and the grand narrative of scripture. I have read multiple books on mothering from a gospel-centered perspective, but this one comes from a slightly different angle, and I've found it very instructive and helpful. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this one. 



The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, is my favorite place, in my favorite town. That is a whole post unto itself. But after I got the opportunity to sing recently with our choir at this wonderful venue, I decided I had better get a little more detailed in my knowledge about it. I don't like to do things halfway! If I'm going to love something, I want to know all the details!  This little historical book was a really fun read for me. If you love Nashville or music, I would recommend it. 

And just for fun, my feelings on the Ryman are best summed up in a song I love by Old Crow Medicine Show, called "Mother Church": 

"Well we've gathered here down through the years, and we've seen with our own eyes
That the faces change but the song remains 
And the music never dies
At the mother church
On a Saturday night.

Ooo does the singin' soothe your soul?
Ooo can you hear it call you home?"


 I have always been a Baptist, "to the bone", as some like to say. I was born into it. But I am now much more a Baptist by conviction than anything else.  This book was a treasure. An inspiring read that helped me sharpen my theological and ecclesiological convictions. And though my denominational affiliation is secondary to the fact that I am a Christian, generally speaking, I feel about my Southern Baptist identity much as my mother likes to say about our home church, "You couldn't blow me out of there with a blowtorch!" 



 This one was particularly impactful for me. It has the perfect blend of philosophy and practicality in applying the gospel to homemaking. A needed help for a semi-domestically challenged, time crunched working mama like me who wants 1) Christ reflected and praised in her home and 2) her one-day grown-up boys to come home from college as often as possible to see their mama!! One of my favorite parts was simple but so valuable. The concept of teaching children when they meet someone to stop, look, and listen. Stop, and consider that person. He or she is made in the image of God. It is our job to honor that person as someone who has value in God's eyes. Look. Observe that person and consider any needs they might have. Companionship, food, rest? How can I serve this person? And finally, Listen. Most people have a deep desire to be known and affirmed. Find a way to listen and encourage each person who comes into your life. 

I am so very thankful for books. What have you been reading lately? 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Strength and Dignity

She is clothed with strength and dignity.  She can laugh at the days to come.

Proverbs, Chapter 31.  To be honest, though I hold this passage of Scripture in reverence as I do any of God's Word, I actually have shied away from it a bit over the years.  I grew weary of hearing the tired though well-meaning compliment, "She's a P31 wo-man, that's for sure."  I don't know why, but I did. Maybe it was a deep-down sense of knowing I'd never measure up.  Or on the flip side, an irritation at the tendency of (I'm sure usually well-intended) Christian men to hold women to the impossible picture of perfection.

Like a self-righteous Pharisee, I sometimes see these beautiful words from the Lord as a checklist.  I go down the list, and I make my little marks.  Ok, God, yep I watch over the affairs of my household.  I do a pretty good job on that, I think.  I fear You, Lord.  Eating the bread of idleness, nope not me.  I set about my work vigorously.  I try to be resourceful, and make wise investments.  I wake up before dawn to make sure my family has what they need.  Check, check check. Yep, I think I'm doing pretty well on all of the above.

And then there they are.  In black and white.  Strength.  Dignity.  Laughter at the days to come.  And my little house of Pharisaical cards comes-a-tumblin' down.  'Cause Lord knows those words rarely are accurate descriptors for me.  When faced with fears that paralyze, I crumble into an emotional, self-centered, myopic mess.  The thought of living life without someone I love.  Tragedy.  Illness of a child.  Fear that I am neither special, nor chosen, but instead easily cast away.  If you're not careful, these kinds of fears will consume you, rendering you ineffective, not to mention miserable. But there is another choice.  We can allow those fears to point us to the Savior who delivers us from ALL fear.

It's ironic how the Enemy will take even scripture and twist it to accuse, and to shame.  And though it is a battle, I refuse to let him use the Lord's words for that purpose, and I refuse to let him win.  Yes, I am weak instead of clothed in strength.  That is certain.  But my God says that His power is made perfect in weakness.  Yes, I am sinful, disgraced, ignominious.  But my God says that He will clothe me in a robe of righteousness, through Christ's sacrifice.  Yes, I too often operate out of a spirit of fear, rather than an ability for carefree laughter borne from a knowledge of Who is in control.  Yet even so, my God assures me that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and what's more, that He does not give me a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.

Sometimes I don't like that self-discipline part.  I'd rather, sometimes, just kinda leave that word off.  Because that's where it gets difficult, and I have to do things I don't want to do, things that may not be easy. But He also tells us that he has given us everything we need for life and godliness in Him.  He doesn't leave us alone.  Or unequipped.  Or without hope.

I am praising Him for that today.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Important Questions

  This morning as T.Mark, Amos and I were riding to school, we were listening to the song Our God by Chris Tomlin. I was talking to them about the lyrics: our God is greater, our God is stronger, our God is higher than any other. And about what that means.  I was trying to find words to put it into context for little hearts and minds.  I told them that even if they got hurt, or something scared them, that the Lord was bigger and stronger than any of those things.  That He is the Healer, who can kiss and heal bo-bos way better than Mama or anyone else.

   I was watching T.Mark's face in the rearview mirror.  I could see the furrow in his little brow as he listened to what I was saying.  He looked out the window quizzically and asked, "So was God sorry that I fell yesterday and had blood all over my knee?  Was God sad about that?"

   I always want to make sure I answer his questions thoughtfully, weighing carefully my responsibility to explain the character of the Lord to my children.  I know I will never do it perfectly, but I also know I am called to talk about it with them when we "sit at home, when we walk along the road, when we lie down, and when we get up."

    I told him that yes, God cares very much about when his children get hurt.  That He is right there with him all the time.  That He cares about if T.Mark is sad, and that He wants to hold and comfort him.  T.Mark then asked, "What does God say when I have a bad bo-bo?"  I told him that the Bible tells us that He is the God of all comfort and the Father of compassion, so I think that God probably says something like, "Come here and let me hold you, T.Mark.  I'm so sorry you're sad. I will heal up your bo-bo, because I can heal anything."

    I glanced back in the mirror at him.  The furrow was gone, and he had started to smile a little bit.  Then he shyly asked, "What does God say when I make silly faces?  Does He think it's funny? Does He laugh?"  I said, "Yes I think He probably does.  He takes great delight in His children.  So I'm pretty sure that yep, He laughs a lot with you when you are silly.  He is where happiness and joy come from."

    A realization was dawning right across his face.  There was an obvious change in his countenance.  A big smile had emerged, and his little eyes looked content.  Happy.  Secure.  Like a child who rests in the unconditional love of a parent.  T.Mark asks lots of questions about the Lord, and I often see the fruits of those conversations at a later time.  But this was the first time that I saw a light come on right in the middle of our discussion.  I am so thankful for my little boy and for the Lord giving him a desire to know more.  I know that on my own I will never be adequate in how I explain things to him, but I also know that the Lord will continue to equip me if I continue to ask Him to do so.

    I am thankful to have a God who is about the business of restoring broken things to be whole again.  He is the ultimate Restorer, Redeemer, and Healer. And who loves little children enough to call them to Himself, and to even proclaim that the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

 


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Mama Down

It is absolutely, positively, one of the worst things in the world when one of your babies is sick and you cannot do anything about it. It may be a close second to be a sick mama who cannot play with her children. I would take that any day over them being sick--but it is still no fun! 

To make a long story short, what started out as I thought some shortness of breath and a bad headache turned into a debilitating episode in which I could not walk, I had trouble talking, and it was excruciating to open my eyes or move my head faster than a snail's pace. I ended up in the ER with a CT scan, lumbar puncture (which was not as bad as you'd think), and a diagnosis of viral meningitis. Plus a heaping tablespoon of acute sinusitis on the side, just for funsies.

Now if you know me, you know I don't really "do" sick very well. I just pretend like it's not there and push through. 

Ain't nobody got time for that. 

But this was not push through-able. In comparison to many hours of unmedicated labor with my second child, I'd put this right up there on the pain scale. 

So needless to say I've been home recuperating for a couple of days. I've had some excellent nurses: 



Dr. Amos kept checking on me. At one point he wanted his toy thermometer in my mouth constantly. He got upset when I would take it out. Ha! 



This precious child keeps kissing me and hugging me and bringing me his most prized possessions to hold. "Here's Lightning McQueen and 'Mater, Mama. They'll make you feel better."
"Here's my bunny, mama. Hug him. He'll make you feel better."
"Here's a green gummy bear Mama. Green is your favorite color so I saved it for you." 


Goodness gracious. Melt my heart.

Taylor has been great, getting home early and making sure I can lie down during the most physically demanding part of the day (suppertime, bathtime and bedtime). And Dad has manned the ship at the office and made sure I didn't have to worry about anything there. 

I am thankful for good nurses, medicine, and for the many prayers that have been lifted for me. 

This has been no fun, but has opened my eyes in the teensiest, most miniscule way to what it must be like for mamas who are really and truly sick, with illnesses like cancer or long term chronic issues. I know how hard it was for me to tell my little ones over and over that Mama couldn't play right now, or Mama couldn't get up to come and build this, or read that. And that was only for a couple of days. To have a continual battle with an illness when you have little ones must be an emotional burden of immense proportions. I am thankful to have had this brief little experience so that I can better care and pray for those I know who experience that kind of situation.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sick Days

My poor boys had a rough couple of days at the end of last week. RSV for both (basically viral pneumonia if you're not familiar with RSV) and a double whammy ear infection for poor Amos knocked them both out. I am thankful for medicine and access to great doctors. 

It was a sad, pitiful fight for Mama's lap as we waited for the doctor, until one poor sick boy fell slap out :


After getting a diagnosis and some meds, home to quarantine we did go. Over the next two days we experienced exciting activities such as:

Dropping a toy in a boot and retrieving it over and over:

Various and sundry lego creations:

Reading lots of books: 

Demolishing the living room: 

Snuggling for little one and cartoons for big one: 

Finally learning to peacefully coexist on the same lap: 

But at the end of sick day number two, Amos was so over it: 

I am so very thankful that Saturday things started looking up, and both boys are now on the mend. I do not take for granted the health of these precious little ones, and brief illnesses like this make me all the more grateful for it. Also-I certainly do not ever wish sickness on them, but this working mama doesn't mind too terribly much when she gets to stay home with sick babies and get lots of love and snuggles! 

We got to go to church this morning as a family, and tonight I got to go back and sing There is Nothing Greater than Grace with these two sweet girls. A great end to the weekend. 


 I hope your weekend was good, and that you are staying healthy and warm! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Amos-isms

I've got to record a few of this baby's funny little sayings! People are always telling me to write them down, lest I forget them one day when his precious baby babbles have turned into a deep, booming baritone.

Overall observations--all words are spoken with an exclamation point. No exceptions.

"Bruddy!": meaning- brother 
"Me-Mauk!": meaning- T.Mark

He loves to pat his belly, which he calls his "Money!". I have no idea why this is, but I think it's pretty hilarious. 

"'Nack!": meaning- snack. This can refer to any meal, at any time of day. In fact, usually his first communication in the morning is "Mama! 'NACK!!"
"Appa": meaning- supper. This can also refer to any meal, at any time. 

Can you tell the boy likes food? I'm telling you, he eats as much or more than a grown man. A typical breakfast for this guy is a whole banana, some Cheerios, and three fried eggs. No, that was not a typo. Yes, I said three. 

"Pay! Bock!": meaning- Play! Blocks! Commonly spoken immediately upon finishing his "'nack", when he wants to get down and play blocks with his brother.

"Tud! Oo-bee!": meaning- Ted and Ruby. These are our dogs. Amos is OBSESSED with them, more than T.Mark ever was at this age. 

"Weee!": meaning- the slide in the playroom. He loves to try to escape unnoticed from whatever we are doing downstairs to try to sneak up the stairs to go "weee!" 

"Da-doo": meaning-thank you. He's got "peas!" down too. Polite little gentleman.

"Uhh-dooo": meaning- I love you. Sweetest little syllables in the world. 

These are just a few of this boy's precious little words. I know they won't mean much to anyone but me and maybe one or two others reading, but they are music to my ears and a delight to my heart. I love you, sweet Amos! 


Friday, January 8, 2016

Wrestling Match

   "And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok.  He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had.  Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.  Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.  And He said, 'Let Me go, for the day breaks.'
    But he said, 'I will not let You go unless You bless me!'
    So He said to him, 'What is your name?'
    He said, 'Jacob.'
    And He said, 'Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.'
    Then Jacob asked, saying, 'Tell me your name, I pray.'
    And he said, 'Why is it that thou ask about My name?' And He blessed him there.
    So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: 'For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.'  Just as he crossed over Peniel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.
    Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob's hip in the muscle that shrank."
 Genesis 32: 22-32

  I've always been curious about this passage, and have not completely understood it.  I couldn't sleep last night, and the Lord brought it to my mind. I read it over and over in the wee hours of the morning, trying to make sense of it.  I googled some commentaries, and I prayed through it.  What I came to is this:  that just as Jesus would humble himself and become a servant, God humbled himself in this situation as well and allowed Jacob to wrestle with him, in the flesh.  He humbled himself so much, in fact, that he even allowed Jacob to feel as if he could have a "real" wrestling match, with Him.  God Himself.  If you believe God is who He says He is, then he holds the earth and the heavens and the mountains and the waters and not to mention all power in his hands...and I don't know about you, but I'm just not sure I want to get into a wrestling match with this guy. And yet, I do. And amazingly, he allows it.

  Have you ever wrestled with a child?  A loving parent or grandparent does so tenderly, with a "pretend" toughness borne out of love and kindness.  A desire to touch the beloved child, come down to their level, and allow them to feel a realness in the tussle.  But the reality is that with one flexure of a muscle, the adult could snap a tiny arm in two, if he wanted. But of course that would never happen.  The love and protection of the child by the parent or grandparent is far too great.  To me, that is a picture of what is going on here.  God demonstrates his ability to overcome Jacob with a single touch in verse 25 when he simply touches Jacob's hip socket, and Jacob is immediately debilitated.

 Jacob quickly realizes at that point that he is in the hands of Someone who is much more powerful than he.  Who has not only incredible power, but also the ability to bless.  And in typical Jacob fashion, determined and overly confident, he tells the Man that he will not let Him go unless He gives a blessing.  Jacob acknowledges the Man's power and ability to bless. His weakness moves to (slightly stubborn!) submission, and through submission, strength comes.  

   Have you ever wrestled with God over something?

   One of the most beautiful, too-lovely-for-words, absolutely breathtaking attributes of my God's character is this:  His tender kindness and compassion to us even in the midst of our own mess.  A picture of this that the Lord impressed upon me a few weeks ago is the tenderness and care he showed Adam and Eve in the garden, after they had sinned.  They had hurt Him, and were faced with shame and disgrace because of their own actions, not God's, and yet the Bible says that "The Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them." What a precious picture of the Lord's compassion for us.  Another example of this is the prophet Jonah.  He was swallowed by that fish--and yet the greater miracle is that despite his disobedience, and in all his fear, worry, and wrecked emotions--he was already provided for.  He was providentially not swallowed up or consumed.  In his darkest moment, there was provision.  Romans 5:8 says "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."  Sometimes I can't wrap my mind around this concept.  Sometimes I think that there's no way it really means me.  There's no way God can really feel that way about me.  But Scripture says that He does.  

I am grateful.