Monthly Archives: October 2009

Lessons I’m Learning in the Pothole

1. Even though sometimes I’m afraid that if I start crying I’ll never stop, so far, I’ve always stopped.

2. It is possible to go from crying so hard that I feel I may never stop to snort laughing in the span of a second.

3. Emotions are weird and sadness has many more layers than I ever realized (See #1 & #2).

4. Every time I’ve felt like I couldn’t live through one more minute of this, the next minute has come to find me still breathing.

5. Hearts can be broken and still work.

6. I’m stronger than I thought I was (See #4).

7. My family is stronger than I even knew.

8. Never underestimate the power of a good friend.

9. I have the best friends in the world.

10. I am greatly loved by my family, my friends, and my God (even when I don’t understand what He’s doing).

11. I don’t want to go through this anymore, but I know that somehow, some way, somewhere we’ll be okay eventually because….

12. God is in the pothole.

13. Potholes have a way of refocusing priorities. Stuff that seemed important really isn’t.

14. I can’t get 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 out of my head. Even though we aren’t being tortured because of our faith, I think I can still the truth of those verses to our present circumstances.

15. This list isn’t finished. I have a feeling I have more lessons to learn here.

We’re hoping that my dad will get to go home today. I’ve made a few new friends here over the last few weeks who may not know what’s going on with my dad. I’ve written about it here more times that I’ve wanted to. This post and this post are just two that tell about my dad’s cancer and will at least give you a little bit of background information. Thanks for your prayers. I appreciate them more than you know (See #9.).

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Fasten Your Seatbelts

I’m glad I made a Gladi/GratiTuesday list this week. I needed to start off my week on a thankful theme because it’s been a rough road ever since. I feel like I’ve run into, over, and through a lot of these characters:

I laugh to keep from screaming and pulling every single highlighted and lowlighted hair out of my head. My dad’s in the hospital. We spent the entire day, which stretched into the evening, waiting for answers and a doctor’s visit that never came.  We’re supposed to have a meeting this morning with the doctor and will hopefully get some answers. But last night, I went to bed exhausted, frustrated, anxious, scared, sad, and mad as fire.

Yet everything on my list from Tuesday is still true even on this cloudy, 100%-chance-of-rain Thursday. So as I get ready for a new day with new challenges, I’m holding fast to the truths that do not change. I’m resting in the assurance that God’s already been through this day so nothing about it will catch Him the least bit off guard.

Maybe you’re facing a rocky road (without the marshmallows) today, too. What do you say, we cowgirl/cowboy up, get ready for the fight of our lives, and then hide behind our Daddy and let him lead us into the battle? I’m saying a prayer for you and the potholes on your path today as click “publish” on this post. Feel free to offer one on my behalf as you read it.

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Living: LaVida Coffee Gal

*I wanted to make the post a play on words based on that snappy little Ricky Martin song.  Hey, I tried.

Today is Kellie from La Vida Dulce’s birthday.

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We’re real-life friends, you know.

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Sus introduced us when I was visiting North Carolina this summer.

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If I were asked to  describe Kellie in three words, first I would panic. I hate those kind of questions. But then I’d probably say: wise, graceful, and classy. I forget that I’m older than she is, not because I look younger than Kellie, because I don’t, but because she’s wise beyond her years. She has the best quotes that she finds in places like books of Puritan prayers and by people like Kempis. Southern Living has great recipes but it’s lacking in the blogworthy quote department. Maybe I should step up my reading game. She’s one of those Proverbs 15:23, “right word at the right time” kind of friends that I’m blessed to have in my life. She’s very crafty (the Martha Stewart kind, not the deceptive kind) and makes the most beautiful aprons, plus she’s a “recipe sharer“, which I find to be a very endearing quality for a friend to have. You really should meet her. She’s the kind of friend with whom you want to share secrets over coffee, someone you want as your tutor to become a better keeper of home and hearth, and really the kind of woman other women want to be when they grow up.

Go visit her blog and leave birthday greetings. I’m sure that if you’ve never visited before, you’ll want to go back again. While you’re there, encourage her to open that etsy shop she’s been talking about lately.

Have a wonderful day, LaVida Coffee Gal! I’m so very blessed to know you!

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Gladituesday…Because There’s Always Something to Be Glad About

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The title only works if you read it in your best British, Hayley Mills as Pollyanna accent. Try it again. See what I mean?

On the Tuesdays that she blogs, my friend Gretchen usually makes a list of reasons she’s glad and grateful, her gladitudes for the week. It’s been awhile since I joined her so I thought I’d make my own list today.

1. I’m glad for my friend Gretchen who came up with this fun idea.  I could say a lot more about my friend Gretchen (I’ve had her name legally changed in my mind to add “my friend” as a permanent attachment.) but there’s no crying in baseball or Gladituesday, so I’ll just say that I forget that we’ve never actually been in the same room at the same time. She has become a very real and very dear friend and I love that she reminds me that, yes, Pollyanna, there’s always something to be glad about.

2. I’m glad Aunt Darlene and Ashley are here for a visit. Yes, THAT Aunt Darlene and her daughter flew in yesterday and fun is sure to ensue.

3. I’m glad that while they are here we will eat good food. I have my stack of fun recipes to try and they brought some of their own. In my family, food and fun are Siamese twins who must never be separated.

4. I’m glad that at last night’s soccer game, my daughter made four or five saves when it was her turn to be the goalie!  I think maybe she’s starting to get the hang of this game!

5. I’m glad that even though her brother with the same birthday is not enthusiastic about soccer, he doesn’t let that stop him from enjoying the game. He spent most of last night’s game on the sidelines chasing his girl teammates around the flag and lying on his back doing leg stretches. At halftime I asked him what the score was and he said, “Zero.” To be fair, maybe he really was paying attention. Zero was indeed the number of goals his team had scored and unfortunately, that score held for the second half as well.  But again, a good time was had by all.

6. I’m glad that my state is participating in fall this year. In the past we’ve been known to boycott and stubbornly hold on to temperatures in the 80s through the autumn months. I’ve worn shorts on Thanksgiving more than once. I can’t say that we won’t have a few more summer-like days, but it’s been nice to enjoy some cool mornings and beautiful sunny afternoons.

7. I’m glad that I had a good catch-up conversation with one of my Massachusetts friends last week. Life’s been so busy and calling to check in has been on my To Do list for some time. Thankfully, my friend took the initiative and we were able to catch up on several months’ worth of news in a reasonably short time. It was just as I suspected it would be. Fifteen seconds into the conversation and it felt as if we’d talked every single day since I left. I’m so thankful that I have so many friendships that have been strong enough to stand the test of time and distance.

8. I’m glad for fiction. That may sound crazy, but I’m so glad that people make up stories and write them down so that I can have a place to escape from time to time.  Right now, I’m especially grateful for Jan Karon and her little town of Mitford.  My brain’s default mode is very thinky. I’ve discovered that if I spend a few minutes in another story before I go to sleep, I can usually turn off some of the thoughts that try to keep me awake. The Mitford series has been wonderful for me.  The characters are sweet and quirky and I can relax in Mitford. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I finish the series.

9. I’m glad for my family. I’m glad all my birds are back in the nest.  I’m glad I have the three most precious baby birds God ever created. I’m glad for a husband who has been very understanding of the many moods I’ve had over the last few days weeks months. We’ve both had to make sacrifices for each other this year. His job requires a great deal of patience on my part. My current life situations and family drama require a great deal of understanding on his. That we are leaning on each other rather than shoving each other under our respective oncoming buses is a testimony to the power of a God who can do marriage miracles. We’re still a work in progress, but I’m so glad we chose to gut out those hard days and let God do major surgery on both of our hearts. It is an unbelievable feeling to be able to reap just a few benefits of the hard work that our marriage has been.

10. I’m glad that God never changes. I do. My emotions were all over the map last week. I did not feel very stable. I am taking great comfort in the fact that God’s not moody and that He is the safest place for me to be. I’m so glad that it’s okay for me to be honest with Him. I’m so glad that He is honest with me. I can trust Him and it’s very reassuring to know that He is consistently Who He is.

So, I’m glad today. For these ten things and for many, many more. I hope you’re glad today, too. Want to tell me one reason you’re glad today? Or ten. I have time.

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He’s Back

IMG_0480He came back. That’s his head peeking out the side of the bus door. See the orange between him and the boy with the cap and the red shirt? That’s his little brother who couldn’t wait until Big B was completely off the bus before he gave him the hug he’d been saving all weekend.

Yes, he’s back safe and sound. He was wearing the same shirt that he had on when he left…and the same socks….and the same underwear, Only the pants had changed. His towel and washcloth were bone dry and neatly folded and packed in his suitcase just as I’d placed them there, along with the empty garbage bag that I’d sent for his dirty clothes. His neck was covered with black streaks, leftover “war paint” from a game they’d played the night before.

He was dirty, but happy and full of memories of a “super fun” weekend. We haven’t heard many of his stories yet. He fell asleep the minute his leaf-covered backside hit the seat of the car. Over the course of the evening he gave us bits and  pieces of the adventures he had this weekend, but for the first time in the almost nine years that he’s been on this earth, he was actually looking forward to bedtime.

Last night he was back in the nest with the other baby birds. When I went in his room for one last look before I went to bed, I watched my sleeping boy and breathed a prayer of thanks to his Protector. And another deep heartfelt prayer of gratitude for the opportunity to love and even miss this sweet gift from God.

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Fear Not

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I’ve never thought of myself as fearful. I enjoy a good adventure. I’m a certified scuba diver, I’ve bungee jumped several times, I have made over ninety skydives, and I’ve traveled to Africa. I’ve really never been much of a worrier. I think I tend to take the path of least resistance and since worrying takes a great deal of mental energy, I’ve just tended not to do it and sometimes get annoyed with people who fret over every little thing. I’ve always thought that my carefree existence was because I have a strong faith. Sure, I’ve been through difficult times, but God has always seen me through to His best plan for me.

So why did my internal “freakout alarm clock” go off this week when my son was given the opportunity to go on a fall retreat with third through fifth graders from our church? Instead of being excited for him, my mind was filled with mental pictures of every possible thing that could go wrong and a million excuses of why he shouldn’t go. Plus I was sad that he would get to experience some very fun “firsts” and I wouldn’t be there to share them with him. K’s out-of-town and I have some other commitments so I couldn’t go along to chaperone. Several of my friends are going as leaders and they’ve promised they’d watch out for him, but I want to be the one to be with him.

How did he get old enough to go to a spend away retreat away from his mom, for crying out loud? When did this happen and who let it?

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The retreat center sounds like so much fun. They have hiking trails, and a zip line, and horses. Good grief, this sounds like a dangerous place! What am I thinking let him do this? What if he gets hurt? What if he gets homesick? He’s still my little boy who needs to sleep with his Kitty.

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My friends have been laughing at my apprehension this week and I’ve wondered where all this angst is coming from. And then last night on the way to the mandatory parents’ meeting everything became clear. I think I’m more fearful about everything right now because after several months of having my life turned upside down and inside out, I’ve realized how very vulnerable I am. Even though I knew that difficult times were always a possibility, and even though I’ve had bad times, I’ve never had to deal with as many scary monsters as I’ve had to face this past year. My security has been shaken to its core and I’ve learned that what I thought was faith in God may partly have been faith that God wasn’t going to demand too much from me. But now it feels like all bets are off. I see now that God can love me and still allow me to experience loss and pain beyond what I’ve ever imagined. And so when I think about sending this goofy little face away from my line of sight, I feel afraid.IMG_1762Tonight I was thinking about those first nights as a new mom. I would watch him sleep in his bassinet beside my bed. I would watch for the rise and fall of his little chest and would sometimes hold my fingers close to his nose and mouth just to make sure he was still breathing. I felt like if I took my eyes off of him for just one second, something terrible could happen. The weight of bearing the responsibility of another life was overwhelming at times. But I was so very tired. I remember praying, “Dear God, I need to close my eyes. Please watch Him for me and make sure that He keeps breathing so I can sleep for just a few minutes.” As if my wakefulness caused the air to go in and out of his little lungs! Before too long, I was able to relax and realize that these little people don’t belong to me. They are just gifts God’s let me love for a little while.

IMG_1955I think I’m beginning to understand why God put so many “Fear not” verses in the Bible. This world is a scary, scary place. If I let my thoughts wander too far these days, the fear could take my breath away. In the middle of my hyperventilations, I hear Him whisper, “Fear not, Amy” (I’m not sure if He calls me Whimzie or not). Don’t be afraid. Cast all your cares on Me, because I care for you.”

So tonight, once again, I resign as the Keeper and Controller of the Universe. I recognize that I never really was in control anyway and I rest in the knowledge that I do not have to be afraid, because God is with me. And he will be with my blessing of a baby boy this weekend and with my precious daddy and my wonderful mama and my sweet brother and my incredible husband and my amazing daughter and her unbelievable twin brother…and with you, sitting there at your computer. I don’t know what’s scaring you right now, but I know there’s a “Fear not” with your name on it. No matter what happens to us, He will see us through it. Believe and be brave.

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10 on the (10+5)th

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I hate to be late. I used to have a bad habit of being late but I’ve worked extremely hard the last few years to do a better job at being punctual and for the most part, I’m a reformed latester. And yet I couldn’t get my act together this month to be on time for Meredith’s monthly 10 on the 10th party. However, comma, I hate to miss a party so I hope everyone hasn’t gone home yet.

I haven’t had much time to blog lately so I thought that this month I’d tell you Ten Things I’ve Been Doing Other Than Writing Stuff for This Blog:

1. Going on field trips.

I promised to tell you about the day of “doughnuts” and “ducks” that were brought to us by the letter “K.” My youngest two are learning phonograms in kindergarten and last week they learned “K” which says “kuh” as in Krispy Kreme. To celebrate the learning of the phonogram “K” both kindergarten classes took a field trip to Krispy Kreme to see how doughnuts are made. You know what’s crazy? Taking 20-something kindergarten kids to Krispy Kreme to see how doughnuts are made. They were excited and loud. And then we gave them sugar. But it was fun.

Here we are getting ready to go on our big sugar-coated adventure. These pictures weren’t posed. Sometimes they really, truly like each other.

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I feel funny about including the pictures of the kids’ classmates without their parents’ permission so I’m not going to post many more pictures from the day. How about this one of my two and some kid from the Witness Protection Program? (Guess who loves http://www.picknik.com?) Oh, look! The hot light is on!

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After we had doughnuts, we went to the duck pond, which has nothing to do with the phonogram “K” but is an excellent place to run off excess sugar stores. Here’s a picture of a wild-haired cowgirl:

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And here’s her trusty sidekick, the he-man mountain climber:

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2. Cooking.

It has been crazy rainy here. The dark, dreary days make me want to stay home and nest. We like to eat good food in the nest, so I’ve been cooking and trying new recipes. Sus posted this recipe for Black Bean & Pork chili several months ago. Apparently I’m the only person who hadn’t tried it yet. Someone around Twitter was singing its praises last week so I decided it was time to give it a try. I posted the recipe in the SnoodleSnacks blog if you haven’t already copied it from Carpoolqueen’s. I have a hard time finding crockpot recipes that I truly love, which is a shame because the crockpot makes life easier. This, however, is a crockpot recipe that I will definitely be making again. It’s a great cooler weather meal.

3. Baking.

I made two batches of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins yesterday. Meredith shared the link to this recipe last fall.  But beware, several Tweeps have reported pumpkin shortages in their area. Hopefully you’re safe wherever you are. These are easy to make and great to share. I sent a few to the kids’ teachers today. Parent-teacher conferences and report cards are next week, so let the buttering up begin!

4. Nesting.

Since we’ve had to spend more time inside, I’ve wanted the inside to be a fun place to be. I’ve been rearranging and adding some decorating touches here and there. I’m embarrassed to say that big chunk of  our house still look like we just moved here. It’s very difficult to be enthusiastic about making a house into a home when you move frequently, but I know that it’s important for my family and me to live in a house that feels like we belong. So I’m fighting through the “don’t wannas” to put our mark on this place. I haven’t made a lot of progress but every little bit helps.

5. Adding family members.

Meet Colonel.

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That was his name when we got him but we like it so we’re keeping it…and him.

6.  Finding books written by people I know.

I saw this in Book-A-Million today and had to send Meredith this picture:

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This is the book her husband wrote. It’s a published book in a real bookstore! How cool is that? In case you can’t read the title, the name of the book is Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas. Her husband’s name is John Blase. If you want a chance to win this book along with other cool prizes, John is doing weekly giveaways on his blog, The Dirty Shame.

7. Babysitting.

The lady who normally keeps one of my best friend’s baby has been sick. I’m very sorry that she’s been ill, but I’m very happy that I got to spend a couple of days with this cuddle muffin:

IMG_0479Could you die from the preciousness? And he’s the best baby. It almost makes me want to think about…..Let’s not even go there, okay?

8. Being present.

This blog is fun. I still marvel on a daily basis at the incredible, real-life friendships that have developed through my computer. I have friends that I’ve met here who are so precious to me that I have to remind myself that we’ve never met. What started as random comments here and there have, in some cases, morphed into actual friendships. We text, email, and talk on the phone, and have become important parts of each other’s lives. I also have friendships outside of this computer. I’ve had the opportunity over the past couple of weeks to have lunch with some girlfriends and spent time sharing my heart and listening to my friends’ hearts. I am so blessed to have such incredible women in my life, both inside my computer and out.

I’ve also tried to be more conscious of the time I spend with my family: with my husband and children, with my brother and parents. Every minute is precious and I don’t want to miss anything because I was busy trying to get a blog post written.

9. Talking to God.

My heart is heavy. I have friends who are hurting tonight. Over the past few weeks, several friends have shared prayer requests with me. I never want to take lightly the opportunity to intercede for someone in prayer. If I say I’ll pray for them, I want to be disciplined enough to be a woman of my word. That takes time and effort on my part, but I think that if I call myself a friend, the least I can do is stand in the gap when my friends need prayer.  My heart is also heavy for my family’s concerns. Does anyone else find that sometimes it’s easier to pray for others than it is for yourself?

10. Listening to God.

In the past few weeks, even months, God has been reshaping my faith. My time with Him, although painful at time, has become so very precious. I don’t want to miss one thing that He has to say to me. That means I have to be still and listen. I have to take time to be in His presence….And for the first time in a long time, I honestly want to spend more and more time with Him. I don’t know what He’s doing, but I know He’s working and I want to be available and ready for what He has for me.

So that’s what’s been happening outside the walls of Snoodlings. Sorry this was so long, but I’ve been saving up words. I have plenty to say, but just not as much time to say it. Speaking of time, it’s flying so I should go. As always, thank you, Meredith, for hostessing another month of 10 on the 10th!

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