God Works

Not that this is news, of course. But He has been doing a work in this family for months years now. You may recall the dramatic events of our move from New Orleans to Lafayette. Well, as I'm never one to have an ordinary life, let me summarize the months since our move.

We moved. We rented a cute little house right down the street from the kids school. Little did we know that the homeowner had not been paying her taxes nor her mortgage for something like eight months. We were greeted by a sheriff's deputy one fine August morning with papers declaring the property seized and orders to move ASAP. Thankyouverymuch.

So we look and we look and just when nothing seems to be turning up, we go drive by a house that I'd seen online. It was a lovely Sunday afternoon and we were on a post-church, post-lunch, let's-get-the-kids-sleepy sort of drive. There, caddy-corner from the house I had seen online was a cute white house with blue shutters, a for sale sign firmly planted in the yard (complete with waving red balloon), and a big old "OPEN HOUSE" sign.

"You wanna stop?"

"Why not? Nothin' better to do."

We really do speak in complete sentences. Occasionally.

So in we go, complete with 3 carb-loaded, tired, heathen children who acted as if they'd never been in public before. I mean, Griffin immediately used the bathroom and didn't even bother to flush. How's that for open house manners? The realtor, Pat, was (and is) a doll. Very down to earth, very likable, and very funny. We adored her instantly.

We didn't just like the house, we loved it.


Knowing there was NO way we could purchase it (with our post-seminary-crap-for-credit), we lamented with Miss Pat, who urged us to "just check it out" and gave us the names of a few lendors she knew, always saying, "don't worry guys, you'll get this house...." (to which we only could say "Poor delusional Miss Pat. She really is a sweetie, but she's pretty darn clueless." Did I mention we had ca-ca for credit?)

Now I'm not really sure how it all happened, but the next thing I knew, a friend offered to help with our down payment. And one of those lendors that Pat knows? Well, she said it looked like we could work a deal. So the next thing I knew, I was furiously copying tax returns and paycheck stubs and bank statements like a woman gone mad.

And so the days of wondering why on earth we moved to house A, only to be kicked out via sheriff, came to an end when we moved into this absolutely precious little house B, which had been on the market only one month, and which we never would have found had we not moved into house A first. The timing was not mine by any stretch of the imagination. This was down to the wire timing, moment by moment and day by day. In other words, it was God's impeccable timing.

We are now sitting in the house that we have all proclaimed our favorite of allllllllll the houses we've had. It has character. It is unique. It is warm and cozy. It has family written all over it.

And it is ours.


As a lactation consultant in a hospital, I talk with new moms every day. And every day,  I find myself saying the same things over and over again:
  • "This is such a small chunk of time in your baby's life."
  • "Don't be in such a hurry to get on to the next thing. Time goes too quickly."
  • "This is God's way of making you just sit down and rest while you nurse your baby."
  • :"Just enjoy your baby. Enjoy this time. It only comes once."
  • "Don't think about _____ now. Just nurse your baby." (fill in the blank with cleaning your house, going back to work, going out of town, having people over, etc....)
I remember sitting down on the sofa to nurse a newborn Tucker. I distinctly recall the feeling of unbelievable sleepiness that would overcome me as my prolactin level soared and I felt the distinct effect of the "mothering hormone". I tell all my new moms that it is God's way of ensuring that you actually sit down, or better yet, lay down, with your newborn and just savor the quietness and peace of those minutes.

Today's moms are so stinking busy it frustrates me. It begins in the hospital when they can't even get a few undisturbed minutes with their new babies. It's nothing unusual to walk into a room full of visitors -- sometimes 10 or more - and have mom postpone feeding their baby because their oftentimes dense visitors don't take the hint and offer to step out while mom and baby learn to nurse. (Note to the public: when a mom has a baby, limit your visit to 10 minutes, call first, and graciously step out when the nurse or others come into the room to care for mom and/or baby. Especially if it's feeding time.)

Moms worry about pumping because they have to go back to work. They worry about making enough milk. Every other phone call I get from moms are questions regarding how to increase their milk supply because they are pumping and not producing enough to keep up with their babies. (Dear Mr. President, we are the only industrialized country that does not offer all moms 12 months of paid maternity leave so that these women can breastfeed their babies for at least one year.)

As I considered writing this, I realized I hadn't written it yet because....you guessed it. I was too busy.

Working full time with 3 kids is, well, sort of a nightmare. I feel like I never get a "day off" and haven't felt really rested since I went full time. I rush to pick them up, rush them to practice, rush to dinner, rush to get baths and bedtimes.....and then I collapse into bed without seeing my husband most days. Without reading my Bible or a good book. Without doing anything that remotely resembles "taking care of myself".

And then I think....time is going so quickly. I am missing so much of the joy of the days by complaining about how busy I am. And I realize that I'm just in the next step of motherhood....the step after nursing babies and chasing toddlers.

I am reminded often of one of the best verses penned by David: "Be still and know that I am God..."

So tonight I'm going to forego doing another load of laundry or mopping the dirty floor. I'm going to pile all the kids into my bed and we're going to watch "Hannah Montana" and I'm going to enjoy every second of it.

Be still...


Oh. My. Goodness.

Just when I had forgotten how much I truly, honestly, really detested moving, we moved. So, to save you the trouble and the back/shoulder/leg/feet/head/arm/stomach/fingernail pain that I am presently enduring, here are a few tips:

*Take some time off when you move. Don't go directly from job A to orientation at job B within one week. Especially if you aren't finished packing. Double especially if job B is 144 miles away and you will have to actually begin job B while still living in city A. Follow?

*When debating whether or not to either find money to hire movers vs having a group of drug addicted homeless men pack load your truck, go with the paid workers. Get it?

*Refill your Xanax prior to leaving your town. Seriously. I can guarantee you'll need it.

*Ask for adult help. Don't ask a 6 and 8 year old to help. I put way too much responsibility on them because I needed the help and now I feel a lot of guilt for it. I totally suck at asking for help, but really am realizing that I need it.

*When the nervous breakdown comes -- and it will -- call a friend. Don't take it out on your husband. It just really sort of screws up the whole mood of the move experience.

*When packing clothing, make sure you keep track of where your good stuff is. It is not easy to finally get moved in on Monday evening and have to be at work Tuesday at 7:00 a.m. and have absolutely no clue where anything remotely "business casual" is located.

*And along those same lines, make sure you know where the blow dryer and flat iron are. Otherwise, you'll show up at your new job and sit for your ID badge that will look something like this:

*Prepare to spend way too much money on takeout food and hotel rooms. This will be necessary if you arrive at your destination (in south Louisiana, in June, for goodness sake) and find the a/c in your house is broken and it's 95 degrees inside the house.

*Don't move until baseball season is completely over. This will save everyone angst. Especially when it appears that one of your child's teams is likely going into the playoffs.

*Keep in touch with your friends, your family, and God. When you are already suffering from loneliness, nothing hurts worse than moving 144 miles from familiarity.

*Above all, know that time will make it all easier.


Missing Bibles

My children.

They are not always the most respectful, obedient, or humble creatures I've ever met. Actually, they are pretty far from it. And as a mother, I have struggled with how to teach them what Jesus says about these topics, as well as so many others.

Growing up, I learned that the Bible was a guidebook for life. And it truly is. I've always known it to be true, and I live with it at my side, knowing if I'm ever in doubt or troubled, this one book has the answer to it.

Yet somehow I've failed to teach my own children that incredibly important truth.

When they talk back I say, "what would Jesus think of that?" and I tend to get blank stares.

When they fight, I say, "do you think God likes when you treat each other like that?"

Again with the deer in the headlights look.

When I asked one of them to get their Bible and look up what Jesus said about obedience, I was told "I don't know where my Bible is."


We live at seminary, kids. You have to know where your Bible is, don't you?

I got a (complimentary) copy of What Did Jesus Say? from Tyndale House about a month ago to review and read through it while sitting in carpool line. I love the simplicity of it and how it speaks to young people in their language. In ways that they understand and can appreciate. Take, for instance, the intro to the section on "humility":
Here's a news flash: life is not all about you....Jesus had a lot to say about that.
What follows is 2 pages of scripture teachings about humility.  It teaches it better than I ever could, and the reason is that it is straight from the Bible. You can't go wrong.

So while I feel as if I've failed my kids on so many levels, I am still (thank you Jesus) a work in progress. It isn't too late to start over today. With God's help, I know my children can be all He created them to be.

Now...off to find those Bibles....

Oh, Lucille...

I recently reviewed this book for Thomas Nelson Publishers and all I could say throughout the book was "Oh, Lucille..."

Bless her heart, she had a troubled upbringing. She had her superstar son when she was a teenager, she married young, and she had difficult relationships with the grandparents who raised her.

Not so different from millions of girls today, right? (Well, except for the superstar son part.)

But instead of serving up godly wisdom and advice, Ms. O'Neal dishes up a lot of bad excuses, rationales, and a sense-of-entitlement-gone-wrong.

She went from poverty to extravagant wealth, thanks to her son Shaquille. She writes arrogantly about the opulent lifestyle and excessive drinking she and her husband indulged in with other wealthy celebrities and celebrity moms.

I have always wished that people with money and privilege would recognize their ability to inspire and help others in a positive, God-inspired way.  Not saying that Ms. O'Neal doesn't help -- she writes often of giving charitably. 

But where does lifestyle evangelism come in? Where does practicing what you preach come into play?

Lucille, getting a divorce just because you feel you've outgrown your marriage is not a Biblical or reasonable reason. If it were, I tend to think that everyone who had ever married would be somewhere in the throes of divorce proceedings.

Marriage is tough enough in the real world without seeing bad marriages played out in the news and in books (like this one). With Al and Tipper, John and Elizabeth, Sandra and Jesse, Jennifer and Brad (yes, I'm still bitter that Brad left Jen for Angelina).....what we all need --- especially what young women need --- are true life stories of marriages gone right.

What is your best example of a "marriage gone right"?

It's summer. Where did my patience go?

Holy this-is-gonna-be-a-long-summer, Batman!

They've officially been out of school, what? 2 weeks? And already I'm losing my cool.

Maybe it's because we're stuck in this itty bitty, teensy weensy apartment. They've no room to "roam".

Maybe it's because they're used to being around a big group of other same aged kids for 7 hours per day with scheduled non stop activity and fun-ness.

Maybe it's because _____________ (insert whatever excuse you can conjure here).

Whatever the reason, school doesn't start for another 71 days.

Yes, I've counted.

In the meantime, we have to move. I have exactly 23 days until I start my new job and I have not even packed a single box. Nor have I secured a house for us.

And here I sit at 11am sipping my 3rd cup of coffee, still in my pj's.

While the kids run amok.


Thanks to my friend Gretchen, I am going to post my very first...

1. I am gladitudinally glad to have met Gretchen during my safari through Daniel. I am convinced we are sisters from another life.
2. I am glad that my kids had a fantabulous school year and finished off their first year of out-of-home-schooling better than either Pablo or I could have expected, imagined, or envisioned.
3. I am glad that we signed the boys up for baseball. They love it, have made great friends, have awesome coaches, and are actually pretty darn good at it.
4. I am gladaciously glad that I have a new job. It will be different for me to be working full time, but I think it will be a great opportunity for me.
5. I am glad that in all this, I am really learning to cast my cares on Him. Even though my first instinct is to panic and worry and try to come up with a "plan B", I really can see progress in my faith-growth. I find myself thinking "if it's His will, He will take care of the details." And I know He will.
6. I'm glad for friends near and far. Really glad.
7. I'm oh-so-glad for my husband. Pablo rocks.
8. I'm usually glad for my kids. (kidding, people! of course I'm glad for the little heathens that are presently acting like they belong in a locked down ward of a psych hospital.)
9. I'm glad for the AMF Kids Bowl Free program for the summer. Not that we've used it yet, but I printed off my coupons today.
10. I'm glad for Sudafed. Summer colds suck.

So....what are you glad for today?

The pool is open.

And I have 3 kids begging me to go.

Whereas last year I vowed to myself that I would look like this when the 2010 season started:

I am sad to report that this is instead what I look like:
Happy Summer!

about our waiting on God....

Lest I leave you all with the impression that our waiting on the Lord involves only 24 hours of "waiting time", let me rephrase: we go through years (honestly... years, folks) of praying, crying, wondering, studying, seeking wisdom....each time that we've waited on God for direction, our wait has been years in the making.
But then He blesses us with signs of affirmation and a even a big old heavenly thumbs up to assure us we are indeed on the right track. So I should say that our waiting is long and drawn out, but once we make a decision based solely on obedience to God and the desire to honor Him, He gives us the 24 hours or less nod of approval. That's where the "24 hours" comes in. He affirms us quickly. He knows Paul and I so well. He knows that we are not the sharpest tools in the shed and that we really need that heavenly wink to let us know we're getting warmer.

For instance, this move we are making has been something we've been praying about for well over a year....we've just been waiting on clear direction. I just haven't mentioned the hundreds of resumes sent, the dead end interviews, the wrong turns every other week, the unanswered (seemingly) prayers, the times we were angry and thought God just flat out didn't hear us....there's been a lot going on in the background that has kept us on the edge of our seats, and more importantly, on our knees.

It all boils down to obedience for us. It's like a tug-of-war; we love New Orleans, we love the boys school, we love our jobs. But God is on the other end of the rope saying "But you aren't serving me in the way I want you to. You aren't where I want you to be. You have to leave your comfort zone. Leave your safety net. Leave it all. Pick up your cross and ....F.O.L.L.O.W. M.E. (and He probably threw in there "you big dorks").

So that is what we are doing. We are picking it all up and heading west because that is where God has affirmed us to be. He is already setting us up there. We just don't know the details yet. And prayerfully, this will be our final move. But if He says "Go to Djibouti" then we will do it.

Of course it will take us several years to comprehend what He's telling us, and then we'll spend another several years telling Him (and each other) why that will never work, but eventually we'll go.

And He'll just be up there thinking "You big dorks....y'all sure are slow...."

Changes, part quatre

Less than 24 hours later. Yes, that is how quickly God affirmed our decision.

Which is ironic because it took less than 24 hours for Him to affirm our decision to come to seminary.

24 hours is a big trend in the "God dealing with the Souths" saga. Which I appreciate, as patience is not my strong suit. Patients, yes. Patience, no.

Big D came home from work, sat on the sofa, and announced, "Guess what I saw today? The Advertiser needs a managing editor."

Gulp. Swallow. Remember to breathe. Am I having a hot flash or am I about to pass out?

For those that don't know, Paul was the managing editor of The Mississippi Press before we came to New Orleans. Managing Editor is sort of his "thing". He had been hesitant to go back to a newsroom, but I kept thinking it was sort of goofballish in a slow learner sort of way not to do what God has tremendously gifted him to do.

Let me take a moment to brag. My husband has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He has won too many awards to even begin to list. His column writing is second to none. Seriously. He can make you laugh and then cry all in the same sentence. In a word, he is a writing rock star. He can take a piece of work and make it better in his role as editor. He knows a good story and he knows how to get it. He has a gift. I've always known it. Those that know him and have worked with him and for him know it as well.

So I sat on the sofa, taking slow, cleansing, Lamaze style breaths in an effort not to be over-zealous and scare him by screaming "SAY WHAAAAAA?!!" When I did speak, it was to softly say, "Wow. That is quite a coincidence, isn't it?"

Not that I believe in co-inky-dinks. I don't. I believe God orchestrates everything.  

So I sort of calmly, but with a smidge of anxiety lacing my words, said, "Are you going to send in your resume?"

"Yeah, I'll throw in for it."

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for affirming that we are on the right track. Thank you for this sign telling me that you really are right here, paving the way. Showing us the path. Thank you.

Paul's resume went out, and when do you think the Executive Editor wrote him a note saying, "Let's get together and talk?"

24 hours later.

Changes, part trois

Are you enjoying my little bit of French? Tucker would be proud. He has taken French this year in school. We're excited that most of the schools in Lafayette offer French to 4th graders. His only problem now is that he was all psyched to take trumpet in 4th grade band and become the next Irvin Mayfield. We'll have to find the boy some horn lessons. He's into jazz. 

But I digress.

My week long panic attack subsided and we discussed some more pros and cons. What it all kept coming back to was really an obedience thing, though. We really felt God was urging us to move, if for no other reason than to find a church where we could serve and be served, where the kids could plug in, and where we could worship as a family every single week without me having to work.

Sometimes I feel like my entire life's testimony boils down to one word: obedience. God has tested me and tried me ...and then blessed me. Over and over and over again. I am so stubborn and ridiculously stupid when it comes to learning my lessons. I'm one of those who reads Exodus and gets all frustrated with the Israelites, yelling "Can't y'all see that if you just DO what God commands you'll get to the Promised Land a heck of a lot quicker than if you continue to disobey and do your own thing??!" --- and then it occurs to me that I do the exact.same.thing. Sigh.

Paul kept thinking about that scene from "Chariots of Fire" when the American runner comes up to Eric Liddell before a race and hands him a note. It reads: "In the Old Book it says 'He that honors me, I will honor.' Good luck." He felt that we needed to honor God by sacrificing our comfort and security (after all, there is security in the known) for Him. For family worship. For serving Him in a place we felt called to belong.

And so, with some trepidation, but pure faith, we stepped out, just like the priests did when they crossed the Jordan. They had to actually step out and put their toes on the water's edge before God parted the sea.

I called and accepted the job. Yes, I did.

And then went to pick up the boys and sat in the carpool line and cried and couldn't catch my breath and was totally swept up in the whole "known vs unknown" thing and how even if we were stuck in a tiny apartment on a campus full of Pharisees at least we had jobs (both of us) and we loved the school and there was baseball, and....

I'm a slow learner. Seriously.

But then, less than 24 hours later...

Changes, Part Deux

When I last left off, I was getting ready to recount how God had finally spoken. Well, to be factual, He is still in the process, but I will tell you about it anyway.

Somewhere along the way I had, in a moment of frustration, decided that I would look for a job for me. In my head, I envisioned taking all the pressure off of Big Daddy and getting a job that would pay enough for us to live until he found the job that was *just right*.

Thanks to a wonderful invention  called Simply Hired I was able to get a listing sent to me every day of every lactation consultant job in the country. Knowing we wanted to stay around here, I just skimmed it daily, occasionally dreaming of a cross country move or something exciting like it, but just waiting for the right time and the right job. We have grown to love south Louisiana, though. I don't think we will ever leave. It's just "home" to us!

In April, a job popped up from Lafayette. Lafayette is a sweet town that we'd visited before when Paul was managing editor of The Mississippi Press and the APME  held their awards ceremony there. We had eaten some good food and enjoyed the smaller town atmosphere. I mentioned the job to Pablo, who suggested that I send my resume in.

I got an interview and was very impressed with the hospital right away. I interviewed with the Director of Women's Services, along with the Managers of L&D, NICU, and Mother/Baby. It went very well. I was excited about the opportunity but continued to have that whole "What about Newman?" vibe. My boys are in the most incredible school ever. I couldn't take them out of it. Not only that, but I was still dealing with some crappish feelings about the whole lactation thing. I know in my heart that I know what I'm doing, but working with  a group of backbiting gossipers women who'd rather talk about you than to you sort of did me in. What if it's like that everywhere?

Could I do any of this?

We prayed and cried and prayed and asked others to pray for us. In the meantime, we kept looking at Pablo-esque jobs, but nothing. Nada. It was beyond frustrating. For both of us. I kept wanting to take the burden off of him. I wanted to give him a break. As a man, he had a very difficult time even hearing that. I'm not a feminist by any means, but I gotta admit, when the chick in the family is capable of handling the job situation for a season, it seems silly to not go for it. But that's just me.

I was offered the job and proceeded to have a week long panic attack. No, I'm being serious. It was not pretty. Thank you, Jesus, for Xanax.

But then a few things happened.

First an email from my sweet Robin. I appreciate and heed this woman's advice because she is one of the godliest chicas I know. Perfect she is not. That is another reason I simply adore her. She said of my "what if's":
But seriously, you don't like where you live (housing), school financial situation is stressful, Sissy doesn't have a good peer group in NO, there is the issue of your working difficult hours for your family life, P doesn't have a job he a)loves and b) can advance in, and you are working in a less than ideal situation with some of your coworkers and peers. What about Lafayette could be worse than all that? What if this is God's answer to you all being able to worship together as a family? What if this is the beginning of P finding a ministry position that fits him perfectly?

She also said this:
Remember God doesn't try to trick us into making a bad or wrong decision. He wants the best for you.
That Robin. She's got the wize.

Oh, and then she had to throw this little story in:
 A cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. "Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please!"

Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face. "A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from grandma."

As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.

Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere--Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a
bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"

"Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess-- the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She's my favorite."

"That's okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"

" Daddy, you know I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my babydoll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."

"That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?"

Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And, when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, "Here, Daddy. It's for you."

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of beautiful genuine pearls. He had had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure.

Question- what imitations are we holding onto that stops us from receiving God's genuine treasures?

Author Unknown
That and her the fact that her husband, the ever lovable Timbo, offered to take the blame if it all went belly up.

Thanks, Tim. I may need to call on you in a few weeks.

And then my friend Heather, another pastor's wife who is now working full time while her husband stays home (for now) and is going back to school had this bit of encouragement for me:
Carl had a hard time at first with that emotional nature that he was failing the family. It only took the first week of my working for him to be over-the-top appreciative and happy. Seriously, I love my job so much, so it relieved that guilt for him. And he's so appreciative that I was willing to take on full-time work, when he couldn't find a job, that our marriage is even stronger. KWIM? We were good before. But it's amazingly awesome now. It's been 6 months, and we're really in our groove.
So with all that encouragement, we......


Why is change so intimidating? When I was young(er), I welcomed change. I would be giddy with the planning and anticipation. Now, as an old lady more mature woman, I tend to get a bit hand-over-the-xanax anxious.

Maybe it's because I have children now and I am thinking of them. I moved so much as a child. I always longed for stability and security. I switched schools and churches more than most kids changed their underwear. In my 13 years of public education, I attended 9 different schools. I can't even count how many churches we went to. I never understood why we were always church-hopping. (note to self: you could always ask now...after all, you are 44.)

When Paul and I got married, one of the things I told him was that I didn't want for my children what I went through as a child. We made a lot of moves initially searching for "the right place" or "the perfect job"....of course we never found it because such a thing doesn't exist.

What I do believe, however, is that God has a plan for our lives and He has a method to what oftentimes seems like His madness. I don't regret or doubt any of the moves we've made. I know that each move brought us a little bit closer to our destination. I think each step of the way taught us something that we would need to know further down the way.

We have been in New Orleans for 4 years and while our seminary dwelling situation has been less than favorable (most of the time), the city experience has been absolutely one of tremendous personal growth and blessing. My job rocks. The boys school is second to none and they have flourished in every way imaginable in the past year. Through the people of New Orleans, I have learned what it means to be resilient, tough as nails,  and proud of your community. I have learned what good food really is. I have learned a new way of talking. I have learned a culture that has touched my heart and blessed my soul.

We have spent the last year praying and asking God to show us where He wants us to go. We have cried, prayed, traveled, and prayed some more. God seemed to be silent for most of the time. He closed doors. A lot of them.

And then...

Baseball and Mother's Day

Last night was opening night for the Carrollton Twins, coached by the amazing and ever-patient Peter Koeppel. The group of 7-8 year olds rocked the stadium and smoked the competition, 10-0 (though by rule, you cannot score higher than 8 pts so the official score is 8-0. Whatever. The Twins were on FIRE, baby!)

Lest I sound like one of those "team moms" that curses umpires and shames my child into doing better, I (not so proudly) would like to confess that when asked by another mom what # Tucker was wearing, I had no idea.

"All I know is it's Mickey Mantle's number. But I don't know what that is."
"Oh, he's #7."
"Wow, you're really good."
"No, it was on a Seinfeld episode. Remember the one where George wanted to name his first kid 'Seven'?"
"Oh, yeah, that was a good one!! What number is Robert?"
"I thought he was #8, but there's #8 and that isn't him."
"We're really good moms, huh?"

Speaking of moms, it's Mother's Day this weekend and I am blessed to work. Really, I mean it. I will get the opportunity to hopefully make a few mamas of NICU babies feel special on a day that otherwise may go unnoticed. The day to day roller coaster ride that is the NICU wears many a mom down, and especially on holidays, when they dream of having their babies at home with them, it is difficult. They may go to church where mothers are recognized and honored but no one acknowledges them because they don't have their baby with them. Or people don't know what to say, so they say nothing. These brave women will soldier through, pump ounces upon ounces of breast milk for their babies, and sit at their bedsides reading, journaling, or just talking to their babies. All mothers are amazing, but NICU moms are doubly amazing.

For my MD gift, I've been told by a little birdie that I'm getting tickets to Michael Buble'. This is huge news, because not only is it a superb gift, it is also the thought that really does count here. This means that Pablo will actually be sitting through a Michael Buble' concert. I would imagine that is a difficult undertaking for any heterosexual male. But he loves me, and so he will escort me.  (Muchas gracias Pablo! Te amo!)

Do you know what you're getting for Mother's Day? Do you have any traditions or customs? Do tell!

Growing Pains

My kids are growing. Right before my very eyes. And it seems there is nothing I can do to stop them.

Tucker seems huge to me all of a sudden. He outgrew shoes that I bought him only 3 months ago. Seriously, if you want to take stock in something, consider Nike. We've paid someones salary just in the past year of shoe-ing boys. Shodding boys?

Griffin jumped about 3 sizes in the past couple of months. He's lost 2 teeth and has those big obnoxious adult ones coming in. He's even starting to pronounce his "R's" correctly. Thank the Lord. Do you have any idea how expensive speech language pathologists charge?

Anne Claire has had the mother lode of all growth spurts. She totally bypassed size 3's and went from 2T straight into a 4. It is overwhelming. People that haven't seen her in a while marvel at how much she's grown.

Yes, I know. She doesn't look like a baby anymore. Thanks for being the 684th person to tell me.
Tucker informed me that I'm "halfway to dead." He explained that if the average person lives to be 90, I am at the halfway mark.

Gee, thanks, kid. Practical math my behind. Can't we just stick to having them memorize math facts?

And he wanted to vote on American Idol last week. Since when is he interested in Idol?

Don't get me started on the deodorant that he was wearing (because Stephen told him he does) or the fact that he turns red and gets a little anxious if you mention the name "Anajae" around him. Or the fact that he shyly asked me if he could buy a book about boys and growing up.

My silent inner scream nearly shook my gallbladder out.

Since there seems to be no realistic way to freeze my children in the time - space continuum, I decided that we were going to take this summer and spend some amazing time together. We'll swim, bike, go on walks, cook, grill, and take a vacation or two. I have sort of a sinking feeling that my babies are growing up on me and I don't want to miss one second.

I waited long enough to have them....I'm going to savor every.single.moment that I have with them.

Yep, every. single. moment...


Who doesn't need peace?

Elaine over at "peace for the journey" just had her first book published! The video trailer for it is beautiful and will calm your soul.

It calmed mine, and that was with 3 cups of coffee circulating in my bloodstream.

And a whole lot of upheaval in my mind.

Elaine says that peace is not a thing, it's a person. The person of Jesus.

I thought about this for a while and realized that yes, He *is* peace. 

  • He is the balm that heals everything
  • He is in the warmth in the coffee that I  drink.
  • He is the reason for the smile that comes to my face when I feel grouchy. 
  • He is the ray of sunshine that feels oh, so right - even when it's remarkably hot and humid.
  • He made the sweetness in a glass of tea. 
  • He is the cooling sound of ice tinkling in a glass.
  • He is in the sound of a giggling child.
  • He is love.
I even love the sound of the word peace. 

Have a peace-filled day.


My children love to read. We have more books than we have room to put them, and yet the kids still yearn for even more books. The words "Scholastic order" makes them giddy with delight.

Tucker's class is a big-time reading class. Everyone in his grade completes 3-4 chapter books per WEEK. They read for an hour during the school day and then are required to read for 30 minutes in the evening as well. They participate each week in a Reader's Workshop where they break into groups of 5 or 6 and read parts of a play together.

This year, Griffin's reading has taken off. He jumped several grade levels in reading recently and was chosen to participate in the Kindergarten's first Reader's Workshop. He and 3 of the other best readers in his class did a reading of "Beauty and the Beast". Griffin read the part of the merchant (Belle's father), and as you can tell by the pictures, had a good time doing it!

And might I interject...how adorable is it that the girls are so much taller than the boys? (FYI - I heard both these girls read at the Author's Tea and they read aloud better than me. Seriously. Anita and Megan, you girls ROCK!)

Not to say that Griffin and Miles didn't totally smoke the reading. They were on FIRE!

This just may be one of my favorites of Griffin. I love the casual-ness of the Reader's Workshop. It's this way in Tucker's class as well. The kids are invited to sit or lay wherever they are comfortable. All the classrooms have mats, bean bags, sofas and chairs for the kids to sit in while they read.

Bravo, Bird Class Readers!! (That was a tough play to read. We read through it with Griffin a few times and it had some challenging words in it!)

I am so glad that their school emphasizes the importance of just simply reading. I have so many wonderful memories of reading books as a child and I often am amazed at the little details I remember about some of my favorites. (Like the fact that Harriet from Harriet the Spy always had cake and milk when she came home from school. I read that book in 2nd or 3rd grade and still remember wanting to come home and have cake and milk because of Harriet. Of course I still want to come home and have cake and milk, but now that has nothing to do with Harriet. I just like cake. And milk.)

Signing off now to read a book to Sissy.

And maybe have some cake and milk.

God's bigger

I mean really, when it comes right down to it, life is just one great big Veggie Tales lesson.

We've listened to a Veggie tales CD in the car a gazillion times recently (thank you Chick-fil-A) and I'm always impressed with Junior Asparagus singing about how Goliath is "big, but God's bigger...."

It makes me realize that no matter how monumental a situation, problem, or crisis may seem to us, God is bigger than it.


Nothing profound or witty today. Just that.

Being a helpmate, version 2010

Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."  Genesis 2:18

Help meet. Help mate. Helper. No matter how you word it, it all comes up to the same thing: submission.


Nobody really likes that word. But it is what it is, and it is something I have to contemplate every once in a while. You know, to make myself slightly miserable uncomfortable, in a convicting sort of way.

Around my house we joke about it. 

Pablo: "I'll do the dishes."
Me: "No, that's ok. Thanks for offering. I'll get them."
Pablo: "No, really, I'll do them. You rest."
Me: "No, I'll feel guilty"
Pablo: "Submit, woman!"

And we laugh and Pab does the dishes and I go ahead and feel a touch guilty. (Though I do go ahead and put on my pj's and watch American Idol. While laying down in bed. And maybe having a snack.)

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:24)

In my mind, I want to be a submissive wife whose husband is the designated spiritual head of the household. I mean, I like to say that at least. If I were honest, though, I'd tell you that I'm a bit of a OCD nightmare control freak.

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Colossians 3:18

I have a very difficult time trusting that anyone (not just sweet Pablo, but co-workers, family, friends...) can do anything the right way the way that I do things. This would include every arena of life, be it job seeking, finding a home, paying the bills, doing housework, homework. (Major AHA moment: I wonder if this is where Tucker gets it...)

...and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:4-5

I know that God made marriage the way He did for a reason. I know that the man is the "head" of the wife. I know this. (Did I mention that I know this?) I can read through the Bible and see example after example of women who were just like me just didn't get it. Eve, for example.

...she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6 (bolding mine)

Ummm......did you notice that Adam was right there with Eve when all this went down?  And did you realize that back in Genesis 2:15-17, God instructs Adam, saying:

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (bolding mine)

So what I'm getting at is that maybe if our boy Adam had been obedient to God, he maybe would have taken control of the whole garden shakedown and said, "Whoa, Evie. God told me we can NOT eat of this tree. And by the way, you're switching up what God said in the first place. Maybe I didn't tell you or maybe you're just mistaken, whatever. But the deal  is I'm the boss of you and we will not eat this because God commanded it and I will have to stand before  Him in a few minutes and answer for all this crap (ok, he probably wouldn't have said crap), and just cause you are nice to look at and all doesn't mean I'm gonna stand by and allow this!

I guess my point (which is aimed solely at moi) is that God knows what He's doing. So when He instructs us wives to submit, He says it for a reason. He knows better than me, right? He knows the deal, and He promises that He has good plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11). So maybe if I'd just let go.....just really, truly let go, then Paul could do his God-appointed thing and God could do His sovereign thing and maybe, just maybe....it'll all work out just fine.

Without my intervention.

Is it Friday already?

It can't be. Because that would mean that my time off is over. You know, my time off to be a stay at home mom.  My time off cleaning house, cooking meals, shuttling kids back and forth. 

Yeah, that time off.

I took the boys to school this morning and was amazed to realize they only have 4 more weeks left of the year. 4 weeks! It's gone incredibly fast. Our bank account is very excited for the summer break. One month's reprieve from the "Newman payment" is enough cause for celebration to throw a parade, in my opinion.

When I think back to last fall, I never could have imagined everything that the boys would do, see, hear, and learn this year. I am stunned at what they've been given the opportunity to do. I thought we were just sending them to a good school. God had so much more in mind. They have grown as Christians, as young men, as members of a community, as sons and brothers.

In short, they've grown.

And that is bittersweet.

Bitter = because I want them to stay my babies forever. I want them to cuddle with me and I want to sniff their hair and feel their warm smooshy bodies snuggled up against me.  They are all arms and legs now. Nothing smooshy about either of the boys. Even Sissy is getting sort of gangly. And they are so smart. They read voraciously (both of them), they know things about science and history and art that I don't even know, and they know people that I wish I knew (can you say Grammy-award-winning Irvin Mayfield?)

Sweet = because they are really becoming the people that Paul and I have been praying for them to become. Warm, compassionate, empathetic, and genuinely kind.

I thought we'd homeschool forever. I never imagined this time in my wildest dreams. In other words, never say never. God has a plan, and that plan may or may not include your plans. Ask me how I know.

I keep reminding myself that God is sovereign. That He has plans for all of us. He knows better than me. I have to trust in that every.single.day.

Even on the days that I don't feel like it.

Sayonara, Daniel-son

It's officially over. I traded my jeep back in for my minivan and my hiking boots for flip flops. I turned the last pages of the book of Daniel over a week ago. It was sort of bittersweet. But I am choosing to view it not as an end, but a beginning.

The beginning of a new friendships.

The beginning of a new way of studying the Bible.

The beginning of me really, truly living for God.

As I've said so many times during this journey, I had no real desire to do this study. I signed up because, well, because I needed to sign up to do a Bible study. It's what I do. I do Bible studies. I'm a good Christian girl that lives on a seminary campus, for goodness sake. Of course I do Bible studies!

What I didn't count on was God getting my attention with this one.

I didn't count on becoming so enthralled with Daniel, the man, that I couldn't even *wait* to see what happened next. I was so convicted and humbled from the very.first.day that I spent the good part of 12 weeks in prayer, asking for forgiveness and mercy and grace.

I cannot say enough about how cool it was to see Amber pull these big ole chunks of everyday life-truths out of a book that is mostly well known for its prophecy. Every week I would read the chapter before I read her notes and try to guess what she'd have us focus on. It was so evident from the very first week that God was using His Girl to lead us to Him. I loved studying each chapter over a week of time. It gave me plenty of time to read and re-read the Word and have those truths just sink in.

And my new friends.  Like they say in the movies, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." 

What can I say about these wonderful, amazing women that opened their hearts and souls to me over these past 3 months? I've learned so much about them, and in turn, myself, that I cannot even begin to thank God enough for them. My life is forever changed by learning from them, praying for them, and having them pray for me.  

So...thank you first and foremost to God, for bringing the whole deal together. Thank you Amber, for your obedience when God called you to write and lead this study. Thank you Robin, for drawing my attention to it. And thank you to my new girlfriends....Gretchen, Lisa, Karen, and Tiffani. Y'all are rockstars!

So....when's the next study? (wink, wink...)

Sleep....or lack thereof

Sleep is a constant issue around our house. I tend to wake up tired and waste half of my time thinking to myself, "When can I go to sleep?" I am usually in my pj's by 7pm and cannot wait to go lay down with Sissy at 8. We try to get the boys to bed at 8 as well, but more often than not, it's 8:30 or even going on 9 by the time Big Daddy gets them actually *in* their beds.

So imagine my delight when I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House:

Dr. Hart discusses what common sleep robbers today's families face. Robbers like caffeine and stress. Being over-scheduled. Having too much homework. Typical, everyday stuff. The author offers several suggestions to battle back: avoid caffeine after 3pm (please tell me he isn't serious), meditating in the evening, darkening the house when it's time for sleep, and having kids tackle their toughest homework subjects first. I loved his recommendation of spending at least 30 minutes in the evening as a family reading, praying, or doing some sort of calming evening ritual. This is something that my family has done off and on but we are not consistent.

Consistency. Isn't that the key to everything? Parenting, dieting, Bible study..... Dictionary.com defines consistency as "steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc."

I am a dreamer. I dream multiple times per night and I remember many, if not most, of my dreams. And most of them are funky. According to Dr. Hart, everyone that is getting a good night's sleep is dreaming. We sleep in 80-90 minute cycles, the deepest of which is the dream state. So, doing the math, one would see that we have multiple dreams per night. Research shows that when we begin a new dream, the brain erases the old one. What?!! Mine are doozies, let me tell you. Just ask Pablo or my co-workers who have to hear all about them. (Natalie, are you there?)

When I was pregnant with my 3 children, I suffered from terrible nighttime anxiety and insomnia. I found these verses incredibly comforting, and still repeat them often to myself at night when I'm having trouble falling asleep. I also say them to my children to help them rest easy:
  • I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8
  • when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24
So tell me....do you sleep well? Do you remember your dreams? What helps you go to sleep at night?

Anne Claire

As I sat at a blank screen today, I asked Sissy, my ever-present companion, what I should write about. "ME!" she exclaimed, very excited to be the focus of a blog post.

So. Anne Claire. My 3rd born. My only girl. My post uterine rupture, delivering @ age 41, daddy-didn't-make-the-vasectomy appointment baby.

Also known as one of the best things that's ever happened to me. And to our entire family.

Annie was born on October 9th at 36 weeks. The doctors wanted her delivered before I had even a remote chance of going into labor. We traveled to Mississippi the Friday before her birthday for an amniocentesis to check for lung maturity. We got the "ok" on Sunday, and Monday had us driving back across state lines to have a baby. A scheduled c-section. We were 1st on the list that day. I remember exactly how I felt and how anxious I was to meet her.

Though I have to admit I really thought "she" would come out with a penis.

I had the spinal anesthesia from hell, thankyouverymuch Mr. Anesthesia Man who placed the spinal too high, causing my diaphragm to become numb and I couldn't feel myself breathing, sending my brain into a nosedive spin of "YOU AREN'T BREATHING" thoughts which made me start hyperventilating and sweating rather profusely. Mr. I Ain't Winnin' No Anesthesiology Contests Anytime Soon assured me that I was fine, that he had accidentally anesthetized my diaphragm and so I couldn't feel myself breathing but look, see you are breathing fine.

Whatever. Just shoot some sort of benzodiazapine into my IV now. Hear me?

A few minutes later Dr. Sams announced we had a pretty blonde girl.




And then I saw her and immediately started crying. She was drop dead gorgeous, even though she was on the bluish side and covered in a thick coat of cheesy vernix. She was PRECIOUS! I'd have licked her face if they'd have let her get a bit closer.

She is still precious, 3.5 years later. She is incredibly funny and pretty and smart. She is very bossy and very diva-esque, don't get me wrong. She bosses the boys around like she owns them, and can turn tears off and on faster than a light switch. It's quite impressive to watch.

She is dying to go to school. She wants to go to Newman with the boys, but can't until next year after she makes 4. She loves to dance and sing and color. She loves princesses and Max & Ruby and Lelli Kelly shoes. Her favorite color is pink and she would eat spaghetti for every meal if I let her.

She is letting her still-blonde hair grow out. She wants it to be long. She wanted me to write that.

She does a great impression of Charlotte from "Princess and the Frog".

Though she says *she* does not kiss frogs.

This is for you, Annie.

I'd kiss a hundred frogs if I could have a daughter like you and be your mama!

Insanely Fabulous Friday

Today is fabulous. The weather is beautiful outside. Beeee-yoooo-teeee-FULL! And it is Friday, which means I have to work the weekend, but it's okay. I sorta like my job anyway. :)

  • This week, I got a new (to me) camera (thank you Nicole!!), a new Bible (thank you, Pablo!), and a new (to me) purse (thank you, Joy!).
  • Tucker went to a birthday party at Rock-n-Bowl and we had a po' boy at Ye Olde College Inn. Spectacular!
  • Today was the K Author's Tea at Newman. Read more about it below.
  • The peach milkshakes are the BOMB at Chick-fil-a. I mean...the freaking BOMB.

So...the author's tea.

Each month of this school year, the students have studied a different author. It's quite precious to hear Griffin talk about a particular author and art methods he or she uses and other biographical information about the them. So all of us mommies assumed that they kids were going to do a little thingy on the author's they've studied this year.

Instead, we were treated to a marvelous surprise! All of the kids had written a book about their moms and the teachers had them typed up and bound! Very sweet!! They even have a "dedication" page and an "about the author" page. After our child read us our book, we were asked to go around to the other kids and have them read their books to us and we were able to write a little comment in the back of their books....it was so much fun! I loved hearing about how many other mommies like to "rest and sleep" and was curious if the others who were noted to "love to do laundry" really did, in fact, enjoy it....or were they just doing it so much that their kids assumed they loved it?

I love the school  my kids go to. We have struggled financially to afford it, but it is such a stellar place. I am constantly astounded at how much my kids have learned and grown this past year. Tucker ran into the car yesterday waving a book at me, shouting, "Look what Miss Williams gave us in Science!!! We can keep it until 6th grade! And mom, listen to this about the wetlands...." He has developed an irresistible love of science and reading. All thanks to his teachers. They have nurtured each child so intimately....I am absolutely amazed how they can inspire these kids to go beyond what they think they can do.

Our future at Newman is uncertain. We really cannot afford it. We would love to be able to get out of this tiny seminary apartment and get a house again (after 4 very long years). We'd love to be able to take a vacation. We'd love to breathe and not sweat the "Newman payment" every. single. month. It's up in the air whether or not we can make it happen. We've prayed and prayed and prayed some more. We have a small glimmer of hope, but it's small. I have cried more than I care to admit about the kids going somewhere else. It's in God's hands, though.

If you have a spare prayer to offer, we'd appreciate it right now. And be sure to leave me a comment and let me know how I can be praying for you! And....let me know what made YOUR week so fabulous!

"Mother of the Year" candidate...EPIC FAIL

As I may have mentioned before, I have a son, Griffin, who is 6. He is in Kindergarten. He does not do mornings. At all.

Typical early morning Griff-isms are:
  • "you hate me! you never loved me! if you loved me, you wouldn't make me get up!!"
  • "get out of here!" (usually accompanied by the stink eye)
  • "I'm not going to school! I'm never going to school again!!"
In other words, we are used to this reception by our middle born. He isn't exactly  a morning kind of guy. I can accept that. I can even appreciate it. We channel our best inner Jim Bob and Michelle and speak gently, lovingly, and quietly to him.

  • "Griffie, honey, let's get up. We have to leave in 15 minutes."
  • "I know you're tired, baby. Just 4 more days till the weekend, sweetie."
  • "C'mon honey, let me help you with your clothes."
  • "Please, sweetie, let's get up. We really have to leave in 6 minutes."
  • "Griffin, baby, if you don't GET UP right NOW, we're going to call the POLICE" -- well, you get the idea....We sort of move into our Jon and Kate channeling for this part....I'll spare you the ugly details.
So on Monday, the kids first day of school since Spring Break, it was obvious that we were fighting a battle of inhuman proportions as we tried to get the G-Man up for school. In short, he claimed he had a sore throat and his ears hurt.....but  he blamed that on Big Daddy and me because, in his words, "It was all that yelling at me. Your yelling made my throat and ears hurt. It's all your fault."

Ummm, ok, yeah, buddy. Whatevah. However, I cunningly mentioned, "if you stay home, you are going to go see Dr. Capone. I mean, really, if you're sick and all....."

I honestly thought that would clinch the deal. This kid is not into seeing pediatricians. Or dentists. Or pretty much anyone with a post graduate degree...



So off to school go me, Tucker, and Sissy. While I was gone, Big Daddy, in all his wisdom and fatherly, spiritual guru-ness, added in, for good measure, "You realize that you can lie to me and mommy, but God knows the truth."

Take that, well-known oft bender of truth 6 year old!

So off we go to see Dr. Capone's partner, Dr. Garaudy. She is a sweet little thing, mama of twins, and very gentle and kind with the kids.

For proof that there ain't nothin' wrong with this kid, take a peek at this:

Evidence Photo #1

So in comes Dr. Garaudy, who immediately declares, "Oh, Griffin, you look AWFUL, baby!" -- to which I can only agree, I mean, after all, look at that hair!! (Or was she referring to the chocolate milk stain on the Phineas & Ferb tee shirt?)

A quick exam has the kid cracking up because he is so ticklish that she can't even feel his lymph nodes without him falling into a ball of uncontrollable giggles. Really, the kid ain't sick.

"I"m gonna do a strep test. I probably don't have to because his throat is raw. His glands on the right side are really swollen. And his nose is a MESS. How long has he been sick?"

Ummm......since this morning?

Dr. G, Pediatric Examiner leaves the room with a fresh swab of Griffoni's throat mucus and Griff announces, "When Dr. Garaudy comes back in, I'm gonna freak her out by turning my eyelids inside out!!" hahahahahahaaha. More hysterical laughter. I'm beginning to wonder if another type of physician is needed. Say, perhaps a psychiatrist?

Evidence Photo #2

Fast forward 10 minutes of more cracking up as I read Anne Claire the book about Prudence and her potty (which really is hysterical, I mean I had to laugh when I read "Prudence had a head for thinking, eyes for seeing, ears for hearing, and a small hole in her bottom for making poo-poo.")

In comes Dr. G with the verdict.

"Strep throat. And I'm pretty sure he has a sinus infection."

4 prescriptions and a $20 co-pay later, we were heading out the door, but not before G hit up the receptionist for stickers.

Needless to say, the kid earned lunch out and a trip to Target for whatever toy he wanted. I had to assuage my massive case of parent guilt  do what I could for the little guy to make him feel better.

After all, that's what being a mama is all about...

The end of an adventure....

Week 12 -- the last week -- of the Daniel safari. It is unbelievable that we've finished a full 12 week tour of the book of Daniel!  (Mad props to self: I studied the entire book of Daniel!! Yes, I did!!*pats self on back* ) My jeep is filthy, my boots have a few holes in them, and I'm ready for a real shower! Frankly, though, I am a little sad, like at the end of a great vacation when it's time to get back to the "real world" and you just don't wanna go....especially when I've had such amazing safari sisters along the way! I've grown to know and love these gals who have opened up their lives, their thoughts, and their blogs to me!

So we finish with a real BANG. Daniel 12:3 was our key verse: "Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who turn many to righteousness will shine like stars forever."   

Did you catch the phrase "those who turn many to righteousness"?

Yeah, I did too.

Witnessing. Sharing the gospel. Sharing your faith. Giving a testimony. Telling others about Jesus. Proselytizing.

No matter how you phrase it, it all comes down to talking. Something I'm very, very good at. You could even call it a gift. (Once, when I was 9, my aunt offered me $10 if I could not talk for one hour. I lasted for 45 minutes and then fell into a perpetually talking heap.) But when it comes to talking about my faith, something that I claim is my most prized possession, I fail. Alarmingly so. Ashamedly so.

Every year, I vow to myself and to God that I will do better. I make what I think are reasonable goals. "I will share my faith with one person per month." I am embarrassed to even write that. People all over the world give their lives to share the gospel. I can't even summon the courage to tell the cashier at Target.

My children *so* don't have the same problem as me. They are bold witnesses. They go to a Jewish school with children of all faiths. Both boys have shared their faith with schoolmates on more than one occasion. To them, it is imperative. Griffin came home alarmed one day, telling me we must pray for Kartik, who does not believe in God. Tucker has offered to his Jewish classmates a simple solution to their not believing in Jesus: just read the New Testament.

And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 18:3

To my children, it is elementary. There are people they care about that do not know Jesus as their Savior. They feel an urgency to share with them life changing information.

So....if I care about others, wouldn't I feel an urgency to share this same information?

You betcha.

When I assess the "why" in my reasons, it all comes down to rejection. I don't want to be rejected or made fun of. I don't want others to see me coming and say "Oh, there's the crazy lady talking about Jesus again." I don't want unsaved family members to un-invite us to family functions because they don't want me to go prattling on about God. I don't want my co-workers to say, "Oh, crap, I have to work with her again." Rejection. Embarrassment.

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes..." Romans 1:16


When I think of what Jesus did for me, I am beyond ashamed of my fears. I am rather mortified.

If I truly cared about others, then I would not want them to be separated eternally from God. More than the eternal separation, which is enough punishment as it is, there is the reality of hell.

Hell. A place of torment, burning, and punishment. For eternity.

So next time I go to Wal Mart and am checking out, I'm going to make a conscious effort to look at the woman (or man) in the eye and think of those words. Hell. Torment. Burning. My prayer is that out of a heart of love, I will ask her if she knows Jesus.

If she laughs at me or just shuts me out, I will consider it what it is.

A mere splinter on the cross.

Learning by Example

Every day, our travels in the city take us past group upon group of homeless individuals. After nearly 4 years, we are used to the sights and sounds of the inner city, but we never get used to the plight of these people who have no place to go, no place to sleep, no food to eat, no clean water to drink. It is a sad fact of New Orleans. There are over 10,000 homeless. There are over 60,000 homes that sit untouched, continuing to grow toxic mold, infested with every kind of rodent, insect, and disease imaginable. People, in an attempt to get out of the cold and rain, sleep in these abandoned homes, schools, and buildings.

It is difficult for a small family of 5 to swallow the hard fact that there is not a lot we can do to solve the enormous problem. It is even more difficult for us to understand how we can give out of our pockets and our hearts every. single. day, whereas others can blindly drive by and not bat an eye.

It is incredibly frustrating to me that we (our family) live on the campus of a tree lined, gated seminary that is populated with people that have come to this place to learn to minister. To learn to preach. To learn to serve.

And yet....very few actually serve.

Well, let me rephrase that. Very few actually serve others.

Perhaps they are learning by example.

Last month, a group of people toured Greece. They were on a trip that many had been on before. The seminary funded a good deal of it, although details are sketchy. I'm told that since this is considered a private institution that accepts no public funding, details are unavailable. But it is no secret here that only a chosen few go on these trips that are not publicized to the rest of the community.

And while they feasted on gyros and took scenic pictures with their new cameras, there were (and still are) needs here that go unnoticed, unaddressed, and uncared for. The man laying on a blanket in a puddle of rain and mud right across the street. The elderly woman waiting for the bus right outside our gate that hasn't eaten in 3 days because she had to buy her prescription. The children that have no heat in their homes who get cold at night.

One round trip ticket from New Orleans to Athens, Greece costs  around $1400, according to Expedia. Just one ticket. $1400 would pay for a heck of a lot of food, water, and blankets. It would pay someone's Entergy bill and allow their children to stay warm. It would pay for someone's prescriptions. It would pay for a taxi to take someone to the doctor.

My children have grown hearts that are as big as the superdome itself. They have turned down after school snacks in order to give food or money to someone that needed it. They recognize certain groups of homeless people and have asked aloud where I think someone is if they don't see him or her in their usual spot.

I'm so thankful for the journey God has brought our family on. I'm thankful that our love for others seems to have become ingrained in our children's hearts as well. I have seen glimpses of Jesus in the faces of my children each time they reach out to someone less fortunate. Every time they pray for "that man with the dog". Each time they say, "Mom, put your window down. I think that woman needs us."

One of my prayers for my children is that they will never, ever walk past someone in need. I pray that they will never not give their last $10 to someone. I pray that they will recognize the value and worth in every individual on the face of this planet. I pray that they would have the strength of character to do the right thing, no matter what.

No matter what.

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." Matthew 10:42
I'm entering this post into the Service Soapbox contest ~ check out this amazing group of bloggers!

make a difference

I posted this back in November of 2007 but entered into the Service Soapbox Writing Contest which is being held by an amazing group of bloggers who "work together to use our blogs as a force for good in the world" -- don't you love that?!

Here's the post:
Thoughts From the Minivan: make a difference

Fabulous Friday

The boys were out of school for spring break this past week, so we took a couple of days and drove over to Orange Beach for some fun in the sunshine.

Instead of a list of what has made this (and every other day) such a fabulous day, I'm going to just show you:

I have three of the most fabulous children on the planet.

Griffin asked me the other day how a baby gets in a mama's tummy. I said that God planted a seed in a mama's tummy. He said, "how on EARTH does a seed get in your tummy??" Tucker replied, "I think that's where the daddy comes into the picture."

Say whhaaaaa????

Umm, Pablo, time to have that talk....

So...what's making *your* Friday so fabulous?? Tell me!

God....is that you???

Week 11 of our Daniel safari has us thinking about false prophets. It was a difficult chapter to read -- all that prophecy mumbo jumbo tends to go over my head. But Amber kept us focused. She has a way of doing that. (big puffy heart to you, His Girl!!)

Recognizing God's voice. It is the only way to steer clear of the false prophets of our day, who promise health, wealth, and prosperity. These are the men and women who are good at tickling our ears and making us feel all warm and fuzzy. They welcome everyone with open arms (as they should) and tell them that what they do is their own business and only bigots and hate mongers would dare call their lifestyles sin (which is a lie, direct from the father of lies..."there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44)

How do I know if what I'm hearing is God's voice? What if it's just my own little selfish desires manifesting themselves in my subconscious? What if it's the devil himself making me think it's God?

Dang. This is hard work.

I recently read Pricilla Shirer's book "He Speaks to Me." In it, she uses the example of God speaking to Samuel when he is sleeping. He keeps getting up and going in to Eli, thinking it was Eli calling him. Finally Eli says, "If you hear a voice again, say 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening'".  Interesting to note that God chose to speak to a young boy instead of a seasoned priest....but then Shirer points out that it is the condition of the hearer's heart that primes it for hearing from God.

Ah. The condition of the heart.  


So here sits Big Daddy and I, waiting to hear from God. Waiting to hear where we should go and what we should do.  And you know what we've heard?


Whoever said "silence is golden" obviously wasn't waiting on a word.

So I did what any self respecting Baptist girl would do in a case like this.

I asked a preacher's wife.

Well, she's more than that. She's one of  my best friends. But desperate times call for desperate measures and I had to call on her mad pastor's wife skillz.

She wrote me a long email. It was long. It was humbling. It was convicting. It was *not* easy to read. But it was truth, and that's what I needed. I didn't need (though I wanted) to hear warm smooshy good thoughts and vibes. I needed hard hitting Biblical truth, and she delivered.

God was waiting on me to get my heart right. He was waiting on some repentance. He was waiting on me to stop sinning and making excuses for my sin. Now, lest you think I'm over here smokin', drinkin' and sleepin' around, my sin list is not that exciting, but it is disgusting in God's eyes. I have put work above worship. I have served man more than I've served God. I am not the wife God wants me to be. I'm not the mother He called me to be. My heart is downright hard towards many people right now. I'm having a difficult time forgiving and moving forward.

So, as I say so often, I'm working on it. I've a long, long way to go, and in the meantime, I will keep on listening....

"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 31:21

Fabulous Friday

Today is indeed the most fabulous Friday of them all. Today is Good Friday. As I posted last year, this is the day that we remember Christ's crucifixion and all that it means.

I think we tend to gloss over the physical aspects of the actual crucifixion. It is too bloody, too gory, and too painful to think about. But my prayer is that today you will read this and really, honestly thank Him for what He did....for you. For your children. For your husband or wife. For all of humanity.

First he was scourged.

The prisoner was stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. The Roman legionnaire stepped forward with the flagrum, or flagellum, in his hand. This was a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip was brought down with full force again and again across Jesus' shoulders, back, and legs. At first the weighted thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continued, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles.
The small balls of lead first produced large deep bruises that were broken open by subsequent blows. Finally, the skin of the back was hanging in long ribbons, and the entire area was an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue.

So, if that isn't enough to turn your stomach and make you shout "STOP!!!".....there's more.

Then there was the crown of thorns:
The Roman soldiers saw a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be a king. They threw a robe across His shoulders and placed a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still needed a crown to make their travesty complete. Small flexible branches covered with long thorns, commonly used for kindling fires in the charcoal braziers in the courtyard, were plaited into the shape of a crude crown. The crown was pressed into his scalp and again there was copious bleeding as the thorns pierced the very vascular tissue. After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers took the stick from His hand and struck Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp.

And then, of course, the crucifixion begins after the long walk, carrying the weight of his cross on his back. After all that he had endured, it was no wonder he fell down along the way. Simon of Cyrene carried the cross the rest of the way for Jesus.

The crucifixion began. Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild analgesic, pain-reliving mixture. He refused the drink. Simon was ordered to place the patibulum on the ground, and Jesus was quickly thrown backward, with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire felt for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drove a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moved to the other side and repeated the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum was then lifted into place at the top of the stipes, and the titulus reading "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" was nailed into place.
The left foot was pressed backward against the right foot. With both feet extended, toes down, a nail was driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The victim was now crucified. 
As Jesus slowly sagged down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shot along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain. The nails in the wrists were putting pressure on the median nerve, large nerve trunks which traverse the mid-wrist and hand. As He pushed himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He placed His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there was searing agony as the nail tore through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of this feet. At this point, another phenomenon occurred. As the arms fatigued, great waves of cramps swept over the muscles, knotting them in deep relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps came the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by the arm, the pectoral muscles, the large muscles of the chest, were paralyzed and the intercostal muscles, the small muscles between the ribs, were unable to act. Air could be drawn into the lungs, but could not be exhaled. Jesus fought to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, the carbon dioxide level increased in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subsided. 
Spasmodically, He was able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences that are recorded. The first - looking down at the Roman soldiers throwing dice for His seamless garment: "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do."
The second - to the penitent thief: "Today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise."
The third - looking down at Mary His mother, He said: "Woman, behold your son." Then turning to the terrified, grief-stricken adolescent John, the beloved apostle, He said: "Behold your mother."
The fourth cry is from the beginning of Psalm 22: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
He suffered hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, and searing pain as tissue was torn from His lacerated back from His movement up and down against the rough timbers of the cross. Then another agony began: a deep crushing pain in the chest as the pericardium, the sac surrounding the heart, slowly filled with serum and began to compress the heart.
The prophecy in Psalm 22:14 was being fulfilled: "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels."
The end was rapidly approaching. The loss of tissue fluids had reached a critical level; the compressed heart was struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood to the tissues, and the tortured lungs were making a frantic effort to inhale small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues sent their flood of stimuli to the brain. Jesus gasped His fifth cry: "I thirst." Again we read in the prophetic psalm: "My strength is dried up like a potsherd; my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou has brought me into the dust of death" (Psalm 22:15 KJV).
A sponge soaked in posca, the cheap, sour wine that was the staple drink of the Roman legionnaires, was lifted to Jesus' lips. His body was now in extremis, and He could feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. This realization brought forth His sixth word, possibly little more than a tortured whisper: "It is finished." His mission of atonement had been completed. Finally, He could allow His body to die. With one last surge of strength, He once again pressed His torn feet against the nail, straightened His legs, took a deeper breath, and uttered His seventh and last cry: "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." 
 The common method of ending a crucifixion was by crurifracture, the breaking of the bones of the leg. This prevented the victim from pushing himself upward; the tension could not be relieved from the muscles of the chest, and rapid suffocation occurred. The legs of the two thieves were broken, but when the soldiers approached Jesus, they saw that this was unnecessary.
Apparently, to make doubly sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. John 19:34 states, "And immediately there came out blood and water." Thus there was an escape of watery fluid from the sac surrounding the heart and the blood of the interior of the heart. This is rather conclusive post-mortem evidence that Jesus died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.
And that, my friends, is what Jesus did for you. For me. For Paul, and Tucker, Griffin, and Anne Claire. For my mom and dad, for Nathan, Josh, Melissa, Polly, Jan....I could go on and on and on. If you are human, He did this for you.

Think about it.

*all quotes from "A medical explanation of what Jesus endured on the day He died" by Dr. C. Truman Davis.