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.