Another year

It's almost the end of the year. Seems like 2009 just came in and it's time to usher it out while 2010 enters the scene. Some years, I've not even given the passing year a glance as it ended with not so much a bang. Other times, I'd enjoyed the year so much that I was sad to see it go.
Change is always an anxiety producing time for me. I long for it, while at the same time I am afraid of it. I've moved a LOT in my life, and childhood fears and memories add a lot to my anxiety. As an adult, I've found myself moving by choice an awful lot as well. While part of me longs for a place to call home, another part always thinks of what might be somewhere else. A new job, a new church, a new neighborhood and house. It thrills me to think of it.
As we sit here in New Orleans trying to figure out what our next step is, I find it exciting to think of moving one more time. I had told Paul when we moved to Mississippi that he had better plan to die there. I added in that if he ever mentioned moving after that move, he had better plan to die a little sooner than originally expected. But then God came calling and we moved to seminary.
We've looked at Boone, NC and a job with Samaritan's Purse. There is a job in Georgia with Habitat for Humanity. There is a newspaper job in Dallas. So many things to think about....
and then I drive the boys to school every morning in uptown New Orleans and go to their conferences and hear how spectacularly they are doing, all the friends they've made, and how much they are learning....and a part of me yearns to stay right here in the Crescent City. And don't get me started on the Touro. I love it there, even though things have been difficult for me in some ways. The people are one of a kind. I love them, I love the culture, I love the fact that when I'm in a predominantly white group of people I feel out of place. LOL. That absolutely cracks me up, but it's true. I went to the Wal Mart in Slidell one day and kept feeling like something was "off". Then it occurred to me that the majority of shoppers that day were white.
We don't fit in at the seminary any more, that is for certain. I get aggravated when students who don't work outside the gates or go to church with anyone other than other seminary students think that they can make a difference in a city they know nothing about. I actually witnessed a student telling a local woman that Katrina was a long time ago and it was time to move on. I have never been so embarrassed. What made it worse was that he identified himself as a Christian and as a NOBTS student. This woman knew that I was a Christian and that I lived at NOBTS. It horrified me. For over a year I had built a relationship with this woman and in one fell idiotic swoop, I lost credibility because of one person that didn't know anything about what he was talking about. I wish the seminary would require all the students to take a class on tactuful communication. Is there such a thing?
I've taken more than my share of deriding comments about my return to work and placing the boys in school instead of homeschooling them. And Paul has got to be the most underpaid, undervalued writer ever to grace the campus of NOBTS. We've really gone through the ringer while we've been here. Sometimes I think of things that have happened here and get angry and upset and wonder why we stayed...but I know why we did. God didn't give us the okay to move on. And so we've bit our tongues, sat on our hands, and gone on.
I feel like change is coming. As the Gaither song says, "I just feel like something good is about to happen..."
I sure hope so....stay tuned!


I shouldn't be surprised by how God works, but after 38 years of walking with Christ, I am consistently amazed that He is so present in my life. When I feel so badly about myself, or my parenting skills, or whatever it is that has me down, He never leaves me. He is right there with me, just where he promised to be. "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20.
I have a friend named Robin. We have made an agreement in recent months to hold one another accountable and to pray for one another. In the midst of my no good, very bad day yesterday I texted her to ask her how she was doing and to let her know I had just prayed for her. She replied briefly that she was fine and we'd chat later.
Today she sent me a long note detailing how I must've been praying at precisely the right time. She needed to feel God's presence and I was able to reassure her that in that moment I was lifting her up to our Father in heaven, who loves her (and me!) so much more than we can think or even imagine. It's such a simple testimony to His love for us and His faithfulness. He is with us always. Always!
I shared with Robin some of the struggles we'd been facing lately, and asked her to pray for us.
First I had a huge problem at work. It was a blow to me personally as well as professionally. But I dealt with it. We prayed our way through it and hung in there.
Then I started getting traffic tickets. I know that sounds unusual. It is. I am 44 and had never been in an accident up to this point. I'd only gotten a few traffic tickets in my driving career, and then they were very few and far between. In a span of 2 weeks, I was looking at 3 citations, 1 accident, and a total fine of nearly $500 for all combined.
OK....I admit I was getting a bit skeptical. If this is Satan trying to drag me down, it's working. I know that he cannot do anything to a believer without getting permission from God. So I tell myself that God is allowing all this. OK, fine. Not sure what the message is, but I'm a bit ticked. I don't get it. I'm working as much as I can, our family barely gets to go to church due to my work schedule and 2 piece o'crap vehicles, and now this. Right before Christmas. I admit --- I thought that God was NOWHERE in sight in the midst of all this. He's off helping Franklin Graham raise millions for orphans in Uganda, or helping Beth Moore write another best selling Bible study. But here in New Orleans with the South family, who'd given up everything, moved to a violent city, and now sat here nearly broke with Christmas approaching.....I didn't see Him in this picture. And then the final straw? The van died. On the way home from school, it died. I admit I had a moment (more like an entire evening) where I could totally identify with Job's wife. I just did NOT get it.
This morning, Robin pointed me to a message from a missions conference she'd just attended with her husband. I watched the entire thing, tears in my eyes through most of it, as God gently and lovingly reminded me of the call that He placed on our lives in January of 2005. Paul and I knew that God had spoken to us, He had laid His hand on our hearts and told us in no uncertain terms that we were to go. Not knowing what that meant, we surrendered. We sold our house, packed our belongings, and moved to a still shaky and uncertain post-Katrina New Orleans for seminary. It seemed the logical place to start.
4 years later, with multiple changes that have taken place in our family, we were quite honestly beginning to question that call. I was back to work, we'd added a 3rd child to our family, we'd quit homeschooling and put the boys in school....our lives looked dramatically different than it did when we came here. "How could this be what God wanted for us", we'd ask one another often. We didn't have the answer. No one did.
And then Robin sent me that link. Walker Moore. He may have spoken to a group of pastors in Arkansas before Thanksgiving, but today he spoke to a skeptical woman sitting in her 800 square foot seminary apartment, ready to throw in the towel and quit.
No, I correct that: it wasn't Walker Moore. It was our Almighty God speaking through a man who had himself surrendered his life to God's work. And it's all it took to reignite the passion that God placed in *me* some 15 years ago. And it reminded me of the feeling of complete peace that Paul and I had as we walked to the front of our church in Biloxi, on January 1, 2006, and told Chip Stevens and our entire church family that we would go where God wanted us to go, and we would do what God wanted us to do. We believed that with all our hearts then, and I believe it now.
And then, from way back in the portion of my brain that stores all those Scriptures I've memorized over the years came a familiar, loved verse....
"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." (Isaiah 30:21)
Perhaps I'd gotten too busy. Maybe I've tuned him out with children, TV, radio, washing machines and dishwashers. I've gone to work and listened to monitors and babies cry and IV pumps....but I didn't listen for Him. The noise of the world had drowned Him out. But He hasn't budged. Hasn't gone anywhere. He is right here, speaking to me and to Paul, and even to Tucker, Griffin, and Anne Claire; He's getting them prepared for the job that is marked for our family---the one for eternal purposes with our name on it.
No, He hasn't gone anywhere. "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20.


Do you ever feel like things are just falling apart all around you?
Just when I think that things can't possibly go more awry, they do. I find myself so overwhelmed that I am not sure what the proper response I laugh, because the calamity has just gotten too out of control? Do I cry, because I don't see a light at the end of the tunnel?
My wise husband says to just pray. And so I do, and I'll continue to do so, until God makes some sort of sense out of a very senseless world....


Six years, 2 months, and 12 days. That's how old Griffin was yesterday. And it's how old he was when he made a decision that millions of people all over the globe will never make. He decided to follow Jesus.
He'd been asking questions for weeks now. Sometimes we'd have deep discussions about Heaven and sin and God. Sometimes he'd just ask a quick question, as if it were an afterthought. He is, after all, six.
But last night he said he wanted to pray. To say the prayer. The prayer that would make him forever a Christian. So in the simple language of a little boy, he admitted that he was a sinner, he said he believed that Jesus was God's son and that Jesus died on the cross for his every sin, and he asked Jesus to live in his heart forever, promising to live for Jesus.
Today, he woke up a new boy. No, his behavior is no different. He is still fighting with his brother and teasing his sister. He still wants to eat brownies for breakfast and pretend to be a ninja. But his heart has changed. If he (God forbid) took his last breath tonight, he would be immediately in the presence of Jesus, safe in His arms for eternity.
What a sweet, sweet thought. What relief as a mother to know that the most important decision he ever had to make has been made.


Anne Claire made 3 this past week. I cannot believe that my baby is 3. She is speaking in more complete sentences. She is potty trained. For the first time in more than 8 years the South family no longer has to purchase diapers, pull ups, or wipes. That in itself is reason to celebrate! This year we spent way too much on the kids birthdays, but I think I've come to a conclusion: birthdays ARE a day to celebrate big. We have, in the past, made a smaller deal of birthdays but a wise person I know mentioned to me one day that birthdays are the day that God ordained for this little person to come into the world. When He created light and stars and rivers and every little thing that moves, He knew when my babies would be conceived and born, just as He already knows when they will take their last breath. His word says that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" and calls us "blessed" to have children. I think our purpose in having children is to further the plans and the kingdom of God. So why not celebrate BIG when birthdays come around?
After all, we really are blessed.

Changing times....

How fast time flies, and how quickly things change! So much has happened in our family since Easter of this year. Our family went through some difficult --downright traumatic-- events which has left me still a bit mind-numb and a little depressed, but I am determined to march onward. The boys have started school (!!!) which has left me and Anne Claire alone during the day. We are still struggling to find our way without them, but we are enjoying the girl time. So far we have only managed to snuggle a lot and watch a lot of movies, but hopefully with time we'll figure out a schedule that will have me actually cleaning the house, which is in massive need of attention.
Tucker is in 3rd grade this year. He just turned 8 and is too smart for his own good. We are proud of him -- incredibly proud. He loves school. LOVES it. He is awake before anyone else, is always dressed and on most days, you'll find him urging the rest of us to hurry up so he isn't late.

Griffin turned 6 and is a kindergartner this year. He wasn't fond of the idea of not home schooling, and for the first month was often overheard saying "but we've been going to school FOREVER" when told that yes, he had school today and no, it wasn't time for school to be finished for the year. However, a few friends and 2 really wonderful teachers (props to Mrs. Summitt and Mrs. Ralston!!) have made the difference for our little Chi-Chi.

We chose to send them to Isidore Newman. It is a Jewish private school here in New Orleans. We did a lot of searching prior to making our decision. We were looking at academics, of course. Tucker read the brochure and was sold as soon as he read that Peyton and Eli Manning were among the list of distinguished alumni. It is an amazing place. Both Paul and I said the same thing the first time we went on campus...."I'd have LOVED to have gone to school here." The only Newman complaint comes from Anne Claire, who cries every time we pull away from the curb every morning...."I go to Newman, too!!!"

Paul is still in seminary. Another year left and he will be finished with another degree and prayerfully a new job! We plan to stay right here in the Crescent City and make New Orleans our home (unless of course God shows us a different path).
So yes, times have changed, but we are still here, still laughing (and crying), still eating beignets (and seafood and gumbo and red beans...), and still chasing after whatever it is that God has put us here for. Please continue to pray for us!

What's so good about Friday?

Tucker was looking at my calendar and asked me what Good Friday was. I told him that it is the day that Jesus died. As I said it, I was prepared for his next question....."why is it called 'good' when something so sad happened?"
When I think of Jesus in Gethsemane, my heart practically aches. The Bible records Jesus' words as "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." Luke says that Jesus prayed so hard that his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Jesus asked His father to "take this cup from me", knowing what was to come. Yet he added "not as I will, but as you will." He knew what he had come for, and was willing to do whatever was required.
As Jesus endured the humiliation and the pain of the beating, the scourging, and the brutal, horrific act of crucifixion, his sinless soul took on the sins of every human being. Past, present, and future. And not just the "big stuff." Little things like ingratitude, prayerlessness, unconcern for the lost, a critical spirit, hypocrisy, envy, anger, jealousy, gossip, pride.
So what is so "good" about that?
Because it should have been me. It should have been you. But he loved us *so* much that he didn't want us to endure it. So he made a way for us. An "out", if you will. That kind of love is difficult to comprehend. As a parent, I can see a glimpse of that love. I would do anything in my power to spare my children from pain or heartache. But if my children hated me, despised me and turned their back on me and called me names, denied my very existence....would I still be willing to suffer and die for them?
I think of people that choose not to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, sent from heaven above to offer us peace, direction, purpose, and a plan. (Not to mention the unspeakable gift of life forevermore!) I wonder if they deny him because they simply cannot fathom that kind of love?
On Friday I will reflect back on that day that Jesus endured the cross for me. And I will undoubtedly cry tears of thankfulness that it didn't have to be me. Tears of sorrow that Jesus had to take it all on himself.
That, my friend, is what is so good about Friday.

What do you get when you leave a 2 year old alone with chocolate ice cream?

Afternoon coffee...

Coffee is perfect first thing in the morning. I, like many others, can barely start my day without a steaming hot cup of the dark brew. But many people, I've found, only consider coffee a morning drink. They wouldn't dare to drink it after, say, noon, for fear of it keeping them awake.
After I had my third child, my sweet little Pumpkin, I started daydreaming about coffee around 3pm every day. I had never indulged in afternoon coffee, as it seemed almost a waste of money. Coffee, after all, isn't cheap.
But then one day I thought....I really *need* a cup o' joe. So I made it and have never looked back. Every afternoon, you can bet I'll have a pot of fresh dark roasted goodness on.
Unfortunately, I don't have any coffee buddies around here. Coffee, I've found, is best when shared with a good friend. My friend Stefanie moved last year, but before she left, most days you'd find us sharing a cup of the dreamy black liquid. If Stef was serving, we'd be sipping out of beautiful purple mugs. If I were serving, we would be enjoying our java out of mismatched mugs that sported the names or logos of places I've visited. We'd sit and chat and watch our children play on the playground. Sigh. Those are good memories.
I love having coffee with my husband, who loves the stuff as much as I do (although I admit I worried when he began to stray with someone named Earl Gray. Despite his unfaithfulness, I know in my heart he still will take coffee over tea. Especially if I'm drinking with him). We recently celebrated our anniversary at a very upscale restaurant and finished off our $161 dinner with a cup of coffee. It was nothing short of delightful.
So do yourself a favor. Indulge in one of the most sinfully delicious vices I know. Put on a pot of coffee around 3 o'clock. I promise it will thrill your soul.
Don't bother thanking me. You're quite welcome.

To everything there is a season...

And our season of homeschooling is coming to a close. It's bittersweet, really. I always envisioned myself homeschooling all my children through high school. So this transition has been more difficult on me than on anyone else... but you know how it is, you'll do just about anything for your kids.
Our sweet Griffin is the middle child, and with that, he has inherited a sort of middle child angst that does nothing short of break our hearts. He lives a great majority of his life in his brothers shadow. Tucker is a born leader. One of my friends likened Tucker to Bill Clinton...charisma and charm that could sweet talk just about anyone. Kids flock to Tucker. Not a day goes by that someone knocks at the door and I'm greeted with a little boy asking, "Can Tucker come play?" Kids actually seem to fight over who can have Tucker to themselves. It's quite ridiculous.
And then there's my little Griff. Griffin is quiet, funny, and introverted. He tends to fall into the shadows and get left out more times than is right or fair. (Yes, I know that life is not fair. But for a 5 year old boy, that shouldn't be his reality.)
We spent the winter thinking of how Griffin needed to do something for himself. Something that didn't include Tucker. He needed to let other children see his quick wit, his quick arm, his Star Wars moves. He needed to get OUT of the shadow of his brother.
And then we would be such a good fit for him. So the investigation began and after narrowing down the list and getting evaluations by child psychologists (who agreed with our assessment)`we pored over school websites and catalogs, prayed until we felt a calm and peace about our decision, and then jumped in the deep end with both feet.
Today as we dropped off a hefty tuition deposit and the boys enrollment agreements, I was so proud and yet at the same time, sad. Proud that my boys got into a very competitive school. Sad that it wouldn't be *me* next year when the light comes on and they "get" it a new word, a new idea, or even a new Star Wars move.
I know that I know that I know that God planned this. He opened the doors and made it possible. The boys are thrilled. Even my little Griffin.
So I take comfort in the fact that "to everything there is a season...". For a season I was privileged to be a homeschooling mom. Now it's time for me to turn the educational reins to someone else. I've already started praying for their teachers next year. I'm praying for the friends they have yet to meet and for the tests they have yet to take.
And I'm praying for me....that I'll adjust to this transition and our family will do what it was created to do... "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven."

Please pray...

...For a sweet little girl named Lexi.

Lexi was just diagnosed with cancer, and she is in critical condition right now. We know Lexi and her precious family from Biloxi. She has been transferred to a hospital here in New Orleans. Lexi is Tucker's age and he remembers her well. We have prayed several times for her so far today and are imploring all of our friends and family to pray as well.

Vessels of Honor

I desperately need to declutter.
We are literally crammed into this small seminary apartment, and are overflowing with "stuff". It is a constant battle to decide what is useful and what is not. What to keep and what to toss aside.
Today in my quiet time (which is a total misnomer, as while I read my Bible I had a 2 year old jabbering in my left ear while in my right I could not tune out an argument between the brothers), I read 2 Timothy 2:21 about being a "vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work."
I so don't feel useful to anyone lately, especially the Master. But that last part...prepared for every good work....hmmm; isn't that what I've been doing the past 30 or so years? Preparing for the good work that God has called me to? Being here at seminary is a moot point. God has used my life circumstances, my work, my family to prepare me for the work that He has called me to do. I can learn a few pointers and tips from other seminary wives, but the real work comes when I'm all alone. When no one else is looking.
It is a constant, day to day struggle for me to "take every thought captive" (2 Cor. 10:5), but it is something that I'm aware of and am working on. I want to be useful to my Master, not something worthy of being tossed aside, like something that is just taking up space in a very cluttered world.
Fortunately for me, He isn't finished with me quite yet.

Los Tres Grandes

Happy Holidays!

Ok, let's just admit it. I'm lazy. I have yet to get our holiday letters out in the mail, or to even get our families packages out. But with 3 kids and a plethora of snot issues (hey, I'm being honest here), I'm doing the absolute best I can.

So in the spirit of the post holiday season, here is our holiday letter.

Dear Family and Friends:

This marks our third seminary Christmas. For all of its triumphs, toils and tears, three things have remained constant: First, God is forever faithful. Second, we are reminded, almost daily, by classroom professors and our precocious kids, how little we know. And last, we are constantly encouraged by your love, affection and support. Thank you.

This has been a year of change. As the days roll by, it seems that every New Year is a time for change. Our new president –who regardless of our party deserves our prayers and support – made change his mantra. The South family saw more than its share.

The biggest event of the year was Tucker’s decision to accept Christ as his Savior and Lord. His simple, childlike faith was a blessing to us all. To be sure, Tucker is a little boy, all about Star Wars and the PlayStation and Indiana Jones, but when it came to understanding the simple, yet powerful truth of the Gospel, Tucker soaked it up like a sponge. And God transformed his life. For all the wonder of this season of giving, Tucker’s acceptance of God’s free gift of grace was the greatest of 2008.

Meanwhile, he continues his good work as a home school third grader, wrestling with Latin and multiplication, history and more. He is a wonderful big brother, especially to his little sister. Tucker had a big year last winter playing Upward Basketball, the vehicle that God in fact used to bring him to Christ. For a 7-year-old, Tucker is one busy fellow. We are so proud of him.

Jenny experienced change this year, too. After seven years, she returned to work part-time as a NICU nurse at Touro Infirmary, New Orleans’ oldest hospital. There, God has granted her the opportunity to minister to co-workers and patients alike. One of Jenny’s great gifts is encouragement, and she’s been able to encourage folks at work and on campus, ministering to new Moms.

She has continued homeschooling the boys, and it has been a successful year. I have often said she has the hardest job in our family. That remains true today.

Griffin is now a kindergartener. Like his brother, superheroes, Indiana Jones, the Play Station and sports consume much of his attention. He’s making great progress in reading and math. When he takes time to put down his light saber, he makes us laugh daily. He is a joy.

Then there is Anne Claire. Between princesses and playhouses and “Monk” and “Smoochie” (her bedtime pals) Anne Claire brings us joy every day. She loves Dora and commercials (Her favorite phrase is “I want that.”). But on the upside, she loves books, snuggling with her Mom and Dad and mixing it up with her brothers. Like her brothers, she is a gift to us.

Dad spent another year working in the seminary public relations office, writing and editing and taking care of local media. Highlights of the year included a mission trip to Maine and volunteer media work for Operation Christmas Child. (Check out this great ministry to the poor around the globe at

All in all even with trials and tears, it has been a marvelous year. We thank God for His blessings to us, notably the gift of His son and the gift of your love and friendship. In this year of change, we humbly ask that you will continue to keep us in your prayers. But more than that, in this year of trials and triumph, that this glorious season would cause you to pause and consider Christ, the original change candidate.

May God hold you in His heart and Happy Holidays.

The Souths
Paul, Jenny, Tucker, Griffin and Anne Claire