The Sweet Life

I'm sitting here in a totally quiet house. This has, like, never happened in the past ten years. Someone pinch me.

Paul and the boys have gone camping with the Boy Scouts somewhere in the wilds of south Louisiana. Sissy has gone into an M&M induced coma. Heidi, the world's laziest canine companion, has stretched her enormous basset hound body the length of the sofa and is snoring. Loudly.

I miss my posse. I miss trying to find a sliver of bedspace after half the family has invaded the bed. I miss Paul coming out to say "You ok, honey?" if he wakes up and I'm not holding onto my edge of the mattress for dear life sleeping over on my side of the bed. (Though I suspect a few times he has mistaken me for Heidi. I won't take it personally.)

Life is hard. With bills piling up and a poor economy, illnesses from kids and dogs that cost a small fortune, car problems that eat up hundreds of dollars at a time, and extended family that requires more emotional and financial energy than I can sometimes muster, it is just flat out hard.


I was reminded tonight of the true value of good friends. Of selflessness. Of giving spirits. Of true agape love. I was actually reminded of the first church in Acts when a friend reminded me "We weren't meant to go this road alone."

I am blessed beyond measure to have a husband that loves me more than I deserve. I have three children that are the absolute joy of my heart. I have friends that love me just because. Most of all, I am loved and cherished by God, who created me, who knows me {You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.}, and just like Hagar said in Genesis 16:13, a God who sees me.

Life is sweet. Like buttercream icing on a piece of birthday cake. Like a really good coffee with fresh vanilla and heavy cream. Like a caramel Milky Way (I mean, seriously, have you had one of those?) Like a salted caramel yogurt from Pinkberry. (I'm fairly certain there is a Pinkberry in Heaven's Food Court.)

So even though I can barely keep my eyes open, I'm going to just sit here for a while longer, savoring the sweetness of my life, and thanking God for looking down on me with absolute favor and grace. I am so undeserving, and yet....

Yet here I am.

Homeschooling....Part Deaux

It looks like the Souths have painlessly slid right back into the groove of homeschooling. The boys haven't missed a beat, remembering (and seeming to enjoy) the learning at home schedule (or lack of it) and way of life (read: living in our pj's and taking multiple learning breaks to play in the pool, read, watch a tv show, or play a game).

Together we are strolling through Ancient History with Story of the World and the kids are excited for our Apologia Zoology study to arrive so they can start their study of land animals. We are also doing Bible study together, as we continue to work on a self control unit. We are also concentrating on one character trait per month (this month: self control), memorizing one scripture per week and one hymn per month (this month: He Leadeth Me).

Sissy has already mastered all the short vowels and consonants and is starting to read short vowel words. She has breezed through a math workbook (I cannot stop her -- she wants to do 10-15 pgs a day) and we are waiting on the next installment of Singapore math to make its way here. She is learning to write with Handwriting without tears - the same program Griffin used. She actively participates in Bible and history, and I have a feeling she will be upset when she realizes I didn't buy her a zoology journal to keep along with the boys. Sis has requested to take gymnastics. She is a muscular little thing, so I think she'll do well. We'll keep you posted!

Tucker is flying through math (of course) so I added in a Life of Fred book for extra practice. We are doing Writing With Ease and First Language Lessons level 4 to get him back on track after a wasted year in public school. He is also doing Rod & Staff Spelling (we used to use Spelling Power but after reading multiple reviews over at The Well Trained Mind, I decided to switch). He wants to study Spanish this year. I would prefer Latin or have him continue French (he took it the last 2 years in school) -- so we haven't made a language decision yet. He is gearing up (literally) to play tackle football in a few weeks.

Griffin doesn't seem to have missed anything from his year at public school (thank you, Mrs. Babineaux), so he is motoring right along with Singapore math, Writing with Ease level 2 and First Language Lessons level 2. He is also trying out the new (to us) Rod & Staff spelling. He has the best penmanship in the entire family (no joke) so we will continue with Handwriting Without Tears for him. He will start writing in cursive this year. He is stoked! Griffin has requested to take tennis lessons. With his temper, he will no doubt be the John McEnroe of his generation.

The biggest adjustment is with me working full time. Time is very limited, but so far we get everything done that we need to do. We may have to get creative and do a little school on the weekends, or in the evenings. Who says it has to be done by lunchtime?!

It has been nice having the kids home. While everyone around me can't wait to get their kids back to school, I can honestly say I have missed those huge chunks of time that they are away, learning about whatever it is that their teachers decide to teach them. It's nice to incorporate character lessons and Bible stories and verses throughout the day.

This is, of course, not to say I don't occasionally think about how nice it would be to come home after working a 12 hour night shift and think how pleasant it would be to go to sleep in a quiet house while the offspring are off at school.

But, it is what it is. God has given us this time and has directed us to homeschool for this year. My entire life seems to revolve around issues of obedience. I am learning (admittedly, I am a slow learner) to -- just obey the first time God directs me. Ok, not the first time. I mulled over the homeschooling thing for about 3 months. Or more. But you get the point.

One thing I know. It may not be easy, and it may be difficult for others to understand. But it is the best thing for *my* family at this time. And I know, above all, that God will honor and bless our efforts.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates,
so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. Deuteronomy 11:18-21

Humble Pie

I get "Daily Success" emails from "The Institute in Basic Life Principles" and today I was reading about the character quality of "humility". Now, honestly, prior to this slap in the face "personal evaluation", I would have considered myself humble. Definitely with room for improvement, but overall, humble.


Not so.
•When people disagree with you, do you argue to defend your position?
•Are you hurt when those whom you dislike are honored?
•Do you find it difficult to admit you are wrong?
•Do you inwardly react to criticism?
•Do you give your opinions before being asked for them?
•Do you enjoy sharing about your accomplishments?
•Do you talk more than you listen?
•Are you more concerned about your reputation or God’s?

•Do you seek ways to humble yourself?
•Do you do things for praise and compliments?
•Do you accept praise rather than deflecting it?
•Are you quick to correct others when they make mistakes?
•Do you react when you do not receive credit you are due?
•Do you compare yourself with others rather than God?


Character traits can be taught, yes, but the best way to teach them is through example, right?

I have always taught my children "JOY" -- you know, Jesus first, Others next, Yourself last. But I'm sitting here *I* really live that way? Do I really put Jesus first in my life....(not so when I was recently pondering working on Sundays), put others next (did I wake up early to spend time with my kids instead of lingering in bed?), and myself last (the list of examples is too long to write).

The Bible tells me that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. And I've been asking God for a whole boatload of grace lately. Grace to work night shift. Grace to deal with the kids. Grace to homeschool.

Today, when Tucker asked for grace in his grounding from the computer, I reminded him why he was grounded and explained that if he would get it through his head that he absolutely canNOT hit his brother, I thought of God, hearing me beg for grace over and over and realized that He extends it to me every.single.time with love. He doesn't remind me of my sins or shortcomings. He just generously grants me grace. Even though my humility score is so stinkin' low.

God's example of parenting is perfection. He quietly, gently, mercifully shows me how to parent my children, how to love my husband, how to respect my co-workers.

Now, in return, I am determined to focus on humility, remembering that everything I have is from God. Every talent and gift I possess originates from Him. My paycheck from Touro? By the strength and abilities He has given me, I am able to collect it every 2 weeks. My family? Gifts. My health? By His grace, I can breathe easily unless I'm going up stairs and my heart beats steadily.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
"If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand." Psalm 37:23-24

Do you ever wonder if you are doing what delights the Lord? I do all.the.time. It is what drives my husband nuts endears me to my husband.

Lately, the object of my "am I doing the right thing?" obsession revolves around the children's school. I feel like I have a multiple personality disorder when I think about it. My opinion changes hourly. Literally.

A little background: we homeschooled Tucker until he went into 3rd grade; Griffin went into Kindergarten after a little preschooling at home, and Anne Claire went straight to preschool at age 3.

The problem: Isidore Newman. You see, Newman spoiled us *rotten*. It is the school that everyone wishes they could have gone to. It is the school we were blessed to be able to send the kids to in 2009-2010. Through some satanic act, we turned down our opportunity to go back in '10-'11 and moved to Lafayette to send the kids to what was reportedly one of the better schools in the parish.

Bwahahaha. The joke was on us when we realized how crappish the school was and the kids, while making all A's all year, lost ground in math and LA. Tucker moreso than Griffin. Upon reflection, he reports that "last year was all review."


We made the trek back to the Big Easy to get our lives back on some sort of even keel -- living in a city we adore, doing jobs we feel appreciated and valued at, and getting the kids back into the sort of diverse social environment that we want -- not only for the kids, but for us.

Now we have a year before we can get the kids back to Newman. We could send them and pay full price, but that would come to a total of $50,996. For one year. Of tuition.

I'll wait while your resuscitate yourself.


So needless to say, we don't have an extra $51K lying around, so we are looking at other alternatives to pass the time for Pre-K (Sissy), 2nd grade (Griffin), and 5th grade (Tucker). My first response was "I'll homeschool them."

Then I started working nights.

Have you ever worked a 12 hour night shift as a nurse?

So my next response was "We can find a good school to send them to for a year."

Then I started looking at schools.

Have you ever seen the school situation in New Orleans? It wasn't good before Katrina. Now it's just pathetic. You have to pay big money to go to a mediocre school. Or else apply to Lusher 42 years in advance.

So I sit here, day after day, obsessing. Praying. Reading. Talking.

I woke up this morning and read today's entry from "Jesus Calling" -- my favorite ever devotional by Sarah Young. And I'm greeted with "Keep walking with Me along the path I have chosen for you.....the journey is arduous at times, and you are weak.....all I require of you is to take the next step, clinging to My hand for strength and direction...."

I am able to breathe deeply and close my eyes and know that Jesus is with me, guiding me, leading me. I have to remind myself that He loves Tucker, Griffin, and Anne Claire even more than I can think or imagine. He wants the very best for them. Jeremiah 29:11 tells me He has amazing plans for them.

He knows the perfect way to school them for the next year. He has *chosen* the path for them.

All I have to do is keep walking with Him.

We will know the answer when it comes. Half of the fun of a Jesus filled life is the not knowing one day to the next. It is all about the mystery and adventure of doing what He leads us to do.


Choosing Self Control

That is the title of our new family Bible study. I bought it thinking how badly my boys needed to grasp the concept of self control being one of the fruits of the spirit. Our first memory verse was Proverbs 25:28. Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control. We discussed as a family how the ancient cities built walls for protection against their enemies. Without these walls, they were unsafe. Without hesitation, the boys were able to explain the parallel to our lives -- without self control, we are without protection from our enemy, Satan.

As I sat there with open Bibles all around, I was was convicted of my own lack of self control when it came to a few things. Like my temper. Like the words I choose to use at times. Like overeating. Just because it tastes good, sounds good, or looks good.

Sigh. Once again, God moved me to choose something for the sake of my children that I needed desperately.

Fortunately for all of us, there is an amazing promise in 2 Timothy 1:7: for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

That same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to Griffin when he wants to kick Tucker's teeth in. It's available to Anne Claire when she wants to claim her tired legs won't permit her to throw away a paper towel. Those times Tucker would love nothing more than to toss Griffin off a roof? Yep, the power of the Holy Spirit is available to him if only he will stop and ask.

And for me? Well, instead of succumbing to a loaf of French bread with real butter, I can know that I am created for more than this. I can know that I know that I know that God has given me a spirit of power and self control.

"For this is the will of God....that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor." 1 Thessalonians 4:3,4

Heading Home


I am so glad that my career at Lafayette General is history. Over. Never to be repeated. It was, without a doubt, the strangest experience that I have ever had. And I've had a few strange work experiences in my life.

Since May of 1988, I have worked all over the U.S. -- literally. Phoenix Children's, Tampa General, All Children's in St. Pete, UNC Chapel Hill, Dayton Children's, Sacred Heart name a few. Huge Level III NICUs. I remember when our hospital was one of the trial sites for Exosurf (anyone remember that?); I worked in the olden days when we still used THAM. I remember a trial with a negative pressure box for PFC. Nitric oxide, jet vents, name it, I've done it.

Once my family started to grow, I kind of relaxed into a slower pace and became certified as a lactation consultant. Definitely different, but very rewarding. I learned that I loved to teach more than I thought. I took my passion for breastfeeding and for ministering to new moms and realized how fortunate I was that I could actually get paid -- well -- for it!

And through it all, I have gotten along with nearly everyone I've ever worked with. As I've gotten older, I've gotten too impatient to put up with drama and rumors and all that ridiculous stuff. I also have gotten vocal when I see someone doing something that is just wrong. I have always been able to stand my ground, and maybe that is because I truly always believed that if I was in the right, my manager would have my back. And they always have. Truth has always prevailed. Good has always won.

Until now.

The fact is, I gave up and quit a job I loved. I loved the clinical aspect of it. I loved the mother baby and pediatric nurses that I worked with every day. Loved the patients so stinking much. Paul didn't love his job, but he came to love the community he served. He is good at what he does and people recognized that. The kids didn't care for their school, yet they made friends and finished well. Despite the fact that we all longed for New Orleans ---the sights, the sounds, the smells, and that sense of home.....we had planned on staying right here.

But. The bottom line is that liars and bullies win here. And the managers allow it. Not just allow it -- acknowledge it. In a conversation recently, I was told "I'm sorry I didn't put a stop to all that. I should have intervened."


I was gracious. I was kind. I was immensely disappointed.

When I called my old manager and asked if I could have my old job back, we were catching up and she told me about some staffing changes she'd made. She said, "You can't lie and stay at the Touro. We don't put up with that."

Sigh. If only everyone operated that way.

Life goes one. And one day I will forgive and get over the hurt. In the meantime, however, our family is heading home. I get to go back to the best.job.ever and start IV's, go to deliveries, help moms breastfeed, minister to families, and laugh with the Touro girls until my sides hurt. My kids can go to Audubon Zoo and the aquarium and play ball at Carrollton. They can swim at the JCC. They can hang with their Newman posse and seminary crew. We can get beignets and snoballs and wander through the French Market. Eat at Dickie Brennan's. Or Jacque Imo's. Or Mother's. Or Crabby Jack's. Crazy Johnny's. Court of Two Sisters.

Life is good. It comes full circle. I remember years ago, the first time we came to New Orleans as visitors.

"Wouldn't it be cool to live here?" we said.

Yes. Yes it is cool to live here, in what can only be described as the best city on the planet.

Thank you, Jesus....we are heading home.


According to, "karma" is "action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation".

There are times in my life where all I can think, amidst the frustration and downright anger at someone, is "Better watch it. Karma is a b$#*&".

Not that I find this Buddhist/Hindu belief to be theologically true, but it does seem sometimes like what goes around really does come around. And boy, in my human, broken, finite mind, it sounds good.

I realize that many don't share that view. I learned quickly after Osama bin Laden died that I was one of the few that actually rejoiced in his death. Many of my friends posted things on facebook and in blogs about how we, as Christians, should never rejoice that someone died without Christ, that it is morbid to view anyone's death as a happy occasion, and that by being happy about OBL's death I was no better than him.

Well, I am a sinner, for sure, but I can say without a doubt that I have not masterminded anything in my life....least of all the deaths of thousands of men, women and children. I believe that today OBL and Adolf are burning their patooties off amidst unbearable torment and torture and really thinking "Dang, I should have listened. What I did was totally not cool."

But, back in my world, I have been struggling with feelings of anger and resentment since someone accused me of lying. I don't take that accusation lightly -- no one wants to have their integrity questioned, of course, but I have not taken the multiple accusations well. I've tried talking directly to the accuser (word to the wise: don't ever talk to people like this without a witness)....but all it got me was the feeling that I was losing my mind. (Ever see the movie Gaslight?) I tried talking to other people that could have helped but chose, for whatever reason, not to.

Today I learned that this person, bless her heart, is getting to help select my replacement. Dear God in Heaven, I felt like someone kicked me in the stomach. Seriously, God?

OK, I know God didn't necessarily orchestrate the whole deal, but...really?

So I'm trying to take the high road and let it go and all that really good stuff that I'm supposed to think and say because, you know, I'm a Christian.

But inside, I'm really angry. I feel like the writer of Psalms must have felt when he'd write things about his enemies being victorious. Because, truly, that (and this) stinks.

And I *would* be lying if I didn't say that deep down, I hope karma does find this person. I kinda hope that she can catch a glimpse of what she has put me (and my family) through. No, that isn't the mature, Jesus-like way of feeling (one friend suggested that I pray and consider fasting for her. In retaliation, I ate a Milky Way.)

But I know that God uses all things.....ALL things, for His glory. And so, in the midst of all the turmoil and sadness and anger, I have grown closer to Him while I search His Word for answers, for comfort, for truth. I have felt that peace that He talks about -- you know, the one that passes all understanding. I have developed a new love for the story of Joseph and how that young man handled his downright sucky circumstances.

And while I'm not going to be Pharoah's right hand gal (or even Mitch Landrieu's), I am going back to what I know and love. I am being given a gift that many people will never experience, and that is the joy of friends, family, and a job I adore.

As I grow and mature in Christ, I hope that one day I do begin to really pray for this person and maybe even fast for her one day.

Until then, pass me a Twix, ok?


Today I sat, as I have so many times, at Griffin's baseball game. To my right was a familiar mom with her toddler, watching his older brother play. With her today was her parents and her husbands parents. They intermittently, all 4 of them, played with the toddler, cheered on the team, and planned what they were going to cook for dinner.

And I found myself envying them.

My kids don't have 2 complete sets of grandparents. They will never know a grandpa's hug or be able to tell tall tales of fishing with grand-dad or their uncles. Our mother's live far away and can't visit more than a few times a year. Paul and I have family not too far away, but the reality is, they have their own families, friends and grandchildren and so we always feel a little like refried beans in a Mexican combo dinner -- like we belong there, but no one is ever going to call us their favorites. And who doesn't want to be somebody's favorite?

I'm sad for our kids, but to be honest, I'm really sadder for me and Paul. For the logistical and practical help that nearby family can be. For the emotional support and the holiday celebrations. For feeling like an important part of something bigger.

Lest you think that I am feeling like a total orphan today, let me say that of course we do have family in our everyday lives.

They are friends. We have friends from seminary who have seen us through the hardest, most difficult times of our lives. We have friends at work. Friends at the ballpark. Friends at our kids school. Friends that are the #1 reason that we are moving back home to New Orleans. These are the people that brought us meals after each of our children were born. They took care of my kids and my house when Paul was hospitalized for several days a few years ago. They have loved us, prayed for us, laughed with us, and given a face to God's command to "love one another".

Do I still feel sorry for myself? I'd be lying if I said I didn't. I still wish that we had family that lived closer to us, that kept our kids overnight, that knew about all the goofy things we did when we were little and relished in telling our kids what mom or dad did when we were their age.

I have sat in the rooms of women who have had new babies and watched and listened as their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles passed around the new baby, talking on and on about how she looks just like Aunt Libby or how he has Earl's ears, doesn't he? I've heard new daddies on the phone telling their mother in laws where to find the blue nightgown that Susie wants to put on after her shower. I want to cry and say "Cherish this. You are so lucky."

I know that I have plenty to cherish. I am one of the most blessed women on the planet. I have a husband that would do anything for me and three of the most beautiful, intelligent, and funniest children around.

So I will try to make the most of the limited bigger family celebrations and in the meantime, try to cultivate deeper bonds with our friends.

And I will know that in God's kingdom, my family -- and my children's family -- is so big, and so perfect, that these fleeting days are just preparation for what lies ahead....enormous family celebrations where we all belong and are all loved and those minute feelings of insignificance and loneliness are faint memories of this broken old world.


As long as I can remember, I recall feeling the need to put down roots. I don't know if it was because we moved a lot when I was young - we changed schools and churches a lot - or if there is some odd "homebody" gene in me, but it has been a constant desire of mine. I wanted for my kids to grow up in one house, go to one school, make lifetime friends, and have amazing traditions and memories.

Tucker, age 9, has lived in 4 states and 7 homes. Griffin, 7, has called 2 states and 4 houses home. Sissy, only 4, has lived in only one state, but 3 houses.

Somewhere in my impassioned plea for rootage, I realized something. I wasn't listening to my kids. I wasn't looking around at our lives and seeing what was right in front of me.

My kids first real memories are of New Orleans. Prior to that, they were young (Sis not even born), and while Tucker recalls Biloxi and some of his friends, homeschool co-op, and our church, I think New Orleans was the first place he knows as "home".

The Audubon Zoo.

The French Market.

Cafe du Monde.

Jacque Imo's.

Carrollton baseball.


Mardi Gras.

King Cakes.

The library on St. Charles.

The streetcars.

The New Orleans Saints!

Memories. Traditions. We started a few years ago going to Cafe du Monde on Christmas Eve morning and then we'd stroll around, shopping. This past year the kids kept telling me how much they missed that. And Mardi Gras -- there is just no other place to be than in The Crescent City than on Fat Tuesday. And the weeks leading up to it -- the kids know the parades by name and Tucker has the routes mapped out...Bacchus, Endymion, Muses...."Bacchus rolls on Sunday, mom!" -- what other kids speak like that, other than those growing up in The Big Easy?!

So all along, we were putting down roots. We were making traditions. My kids felt grounded.

I just didn't know it.

One of my favorite verses is "Be still, and know I am God."

I have always had such trouble being still. Listening. Really hearing what is around me, until it has passed and it is too late. I feel sometimes like my kids grew up so quickly -- I wish that I had savored more of their infancy and toddlerhood. I wish I had nursed them just one.more.time. Or held them a little tighter. Danced with them more. Sang to them (because Lord knows now they critique my singing!)

Which is why I don't mind when they find their way into my bed in the night, or when they need a little extra snuggle after a bad day.

And my root issues? Well, I'm going to pray that I will be smart enough from now on to pay attention when the roots are already there -- even if I can't see them. I may not see them with my eyes, but I can hear them in the voices of my children when I hear their conversations. I can feel them when I'm driving a familiar route, seeing a familiar scene, and hearing a familiar sound.

The sneaky thing about roots is that they are underground, so you can't see them. You just have to have faith that they are there, deep and strong.

I guess you could say you just have to be still, and know...

The Pink Ribbon Paradox

My boys' school is participating in the local Susan G. Komen "Race for the Cure". In years past, we have not even given it a second thought -- we have donated, raced, purchased, and collected money blindly assuming that the money we were contributing was going towards Komen's mission of finding a cure to breast cancer.

Call it getting older, call it getting more frugal, or call it simply trying to assess how we are spending the money God blesses us with, Paul and I have looked into where our money goes -- who is getting it, and what they are doing with it. Whether tithing to our local church or feeding the homeless, it only makes sense to us to be wise and discerning.

So imagine our surprise (and actually our shame for not having noticed before) when we started seeing links from the Komen Foundation to Planned Parenthood. Millions of dollars donated to Komen are given to PP via grants. Nancy Brinker, CEO and founder of The Susan G. Komen Foundation (and sister of the late Susan G. Komen) claims that they oversee all their grant monies and they can assure donors that the money they give to PP goes only to serve underprivileged women with breast cancer detection and treatment services.

If Brinker really is being honest and Komen really does ensure that 100% of their grants to PP pay only for select services, it still makes me think about my role as a Christian. My role is to model, to the very limited extent that I am able, the life of Jesus. And I'm sorry, Mrs. Brinker, but I can't for the life of me see Jesus shaking hands with the Planned Parenthood folks, you know, the biggest provider of abortions in the U.S. I'm pretty certain He would help those poor, under-served women in need of a mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy, or surgery find another provider. You know, someone who gave a hoot about what His Father said: "I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19) I think it goes to say that if you want to save the lives of millions of women, you would not abide granting money to an organization whose main purpose is to prevent and/or end life.

A little more research shows that Brinker sat on the board of PP. And that Komen's nephew owns property with PP. And when I came across this, I really did have to reach for the Pepto-Bismol. Then I read this, which has nothing to do with Planned Parenthood but everything to do with how incredibly wrong society has become. Suddenly Pepto wasn't nearly enough.

So today, when my 7 year old asked for the 16th time if he and Tucker could participate, I had to tell them why we didn't support the Susan G. Komen Foundation. I told them that they gave a lot of money to an organization that helps mommies keep from having babies. Tucker, 9, said, "you mean when a baby dies in his mom's tummy?" -- "no, sweetie, when a baby is alive but his mommy doesn't want to have a baby. This organization helps the mommy to kill the baby. "

He's 9. He'll figure it out.

And it makes my heart ache that he has to.

Memories (light the corners of my mind)

I adore my family.

Every once in a while, something happens that makes me stop and realize how incredibly blessed I am. It happened yesterday, as a matter of fact.

I ran into my office mid-day to get something out of my purse. I pulled out a piece of paper on which Tucker had written directions. I stopped and looked at it and nearly cried.

I don't know what it was about it; it was the not-nearly-as-childlike handwriting that I seem to recall him having. It was the fact that he wrote down directions because he is so type-A that he cannot bear to think I don't know exactly where I'm going. Was it the fact that it was a young man's crayon?

Whatever it was, I thought about Tucker. I remember the day he was born like it was just yesterday. I remember sitting on my sofa in Manteo nursing him for the gazillionth time and crying because I was 35 and yet had no clue what I was doing. And then as he grew....I grew too. Not only as a mother, but as a human being. I began to see the world through his eyes.

Then along came Griffin, and I got the privilege of nursing TWO babies at a time, for an entire year. I jokingly tell people that I only did it because I was too lazy to wean the first before having the second, but the truth is...I didn't want to miss a single moment. I didn't want to take something so special away until they were ready. Was it easy? Abso-freaking-lutely not. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. But looking back, even from the day it ended, it was oh-so-worth-it. Seeing Tucker, who was ripe with jealousy, reach over and stroke his brothers face while they both nursed, and seeing the baby smile, with milk dripping down his chubby face....well, those memories are priceless.

Then the girl arrived. The boys were in love from day one. Well, today, not so much, but up until about a year ago, the girl could do no wrong in their eyes. Now, of course, she is too much of a diva to warrant a whole lotta devotion from her elder brothers. But nevertheless, she is precious and she totally completes our family, and all I can say is that I am 100% thrilled that that urologist's business card hung, undisturbed, on our refrigerator for 2 years.

I cannot believe how fast time goes. I looked at my family today as we sat in the audience to watch Tucker compete in the regional spelling bee and I was just stunned. How did it come to this, that my baby with reflux and adorable cloth diapers who nursed until he was 3, is now standing in front of a room full of people showing off his spelling prowess?

So yes, what I'm saying is that a simple page with hand written directions has the capability to reduce me to a big ole ball of tears these days. Who knows why. I could speculate all day, but at the end of it, I'm really glad that it happened, because it makes me not take my family for granted. It makes me stop and listen to them -- really listen. It makes me converse with them and cuddle with them and kiss them (when they'll let me). It makes me speak a little more gently. It makes me love a little more deeply.

It makes me the mom I hope they love to have.

Because you're worth it

I love helping women meet their breastfeeding goals. It's one thing that makes me feel incredibly lucky to do the job I do every day.

Yes, I said "the job". Because, after all, it is what it is. It's a career. A profession. As in, I have a degree in nursing and 23 years of experience and I spent oodles of money and time in order to sit for the IBCLE exam and become certified and I spend oodles of time and money to maintain my certification.....well, you get the picture.

So why is it that I get calls from women, many in tears, needing help with breastfeeding, and yet refusing to actually get the help.....because they don't want to pay for it.


Why do we place such little value in breastfeeding? In getting professional help to keep breastfeeding going? Why is it ok to spend hundreds of dollars at Babies-R-Us on gadgets and clothing and all that jazz (when all you really need is a pair of breasts and a some diapers) but the mention of paying for a lactation consult is something that you'll have to "think about" or "check with my husband first"?

Meanwhile, baby loses weight and your nipples become ragged and you start looking at that can of powdered artificial stuff and think that perhaps THAT is the way to go. Because breastfeeding was too hard.


You'd rather pay thousands of dollars to buy artificial baby milk, bottles, and nipples (and don't forget pacifiers), not to mention added doctor visits and medications (higher incidence of ear infection, respiratory infections, including RSV) and extra diapers and wipes (higher incidence of diarrhea in artifically fed babies). And that's just in your first year. If you want to think about the higher chances of childhood cancers (especially leukemia), diabetes, heart disease, and a higher rate of obesity....

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

It pains me to hear moms belittle breastfeeding. We wouldn't settle for second best for ourselves.....why should we settle for fourth best for our babies?

We are blessed to have La Leche League groups all over the world, and IBCLC's like me spend a lot of time referring moms to these volunteers who have spent time in the trenches with all manner of lactation scenarios. No doubt about it, LLL rocks.

But when it comes down to needing professional help, well, you need.....a professional. According to the IBCLE, IBCLC's are the professional standard for excellence in breastfeeding care.

I love being able to offer my expertise on a pro bono basis to moms. And I do it often. But the reality is that I have a family. Three children. A dog. A house. A minivan. And I often think, "would you go to a nurse practitioner or a nurse midwife and expect a complimentary visit each time?"

No, of course not.

I think it all goes back to breastfeeding. We don't value it as a society. We see companies like Medela backing away from the Code and looking to the dollar instead of at the relationship between a mom and her baby. We see companies lying in marketing campaigns to promote their breast milk substitutes and sucking in the consumers without a care in the world.

You might say they are laughing all the way to the bank.

My prayer is that with breastfeeding in the spotlight recently, it will empower women to be assertive in asking for help. Insisting on changes in insurance so that lactation services are covered.

Get the help you need.

To quote L''re worth it!

Medela.....shame on you.

Nearly 10 years ago when I had my first child, I thought I had to have a pump just in case. What the "in case" was I wasn't sure, but everyone I knew had a Medela Pump in Style, so I figured I had to have one, too.

Did I even need to be pumping? I was a stay at home mom at the time, and eventually realized that my fat, roly-poly boy was getting enough milk even though he wanted to nurse every hour for something like the first six months of his life, even though he had wicked reflux that scared us to death and necessitated him to take meds for a year...even though this top of the line pump would not yield more than 30cc at a time.

Fortunately for me, I was living on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and we had an amazing La Leche League group that taught me all I know about breastfeeding. (I still maintain this point, even years -- and even an IBCLC credential later!) This wonderful group of women taught me what breastfeeding was all about. I am forever indebted to them -- to Ashley (now a midwife and mother of five, who introduced me to cloth diapering as well), to Allison, to Janet, Kathy, and Pam. Thank you for answering my questions, but mostly for modeling what mothering is all about.

Now I work 5 days a week as a lactation consultant and see women day in and day out question their ability to produce enough milk for their babies. It pains me to hear them ask -- first thing -- about pumping, as if they have to pump. My answer is always "Just breastfeed. If you are going back to work or school, let's talk about pumping closer to that time. Right now just relax and enjoy your baby. Build your milk supply. Build your relationship. Just let your baby have the breast. Keep him skin to skin. Give him unlimited access to your breasts."

I say this so often that I want to have it tattooed to my forehead.


So imagine how I felt when Medela (already a breaker of the WHO Code) launched it's new bottle, the Calma. On their site they have something called a "Breastfeeding Video" -- though I caution you, it does not talk about breastfeeding. It talks about how brilliant Medela is because, you know, actual feeding at the breast doesn't always happen.

This video infuriates me on so many levels I can't even begin to put into words how I feel.

Aw, heck, let me try.

Medela feeds into the fears of women everywhere. You know:
"I'm not good enough."
"I can't tell how much he's getting."
"I don't think I'm making enough milk."
"He seems hungry all the time."
"Daddy won't be able to bond if he doesn't give a bottle."
"At least he's still getting breastmilk, right?"

When Medela was busted on the whole WHO Code violation, they admitted that they were in violation but did promise to never use their products to promote artificial milk feedings in any way.

How nice.

Medela, what about insinuating that breastfeeding is too hard?

What about making women feel anxious because there is perhaps a minute chance that they won't be able to do what their bodies were created to do?

What about giving the subtle message that breastfeeding is white, middle class, and educated? (Really. Look at the video. Could they have picked prettier people or more attractive homes? If you want to see authentic beauty, Medela, look here.)

I know that some women cannot put their babies to breast. I know that some women cannot produce enough milk. I know all about inverted and flat nipples. I know that women go back to work and have to provide milk for when they're gone. For these moms, we need pumps and bottles and supplementers, shields and shells and all manner of tools.

Medela, if you really want to promote, support, and protect breastfeeding....if you really believe it is the norm, then do the right thing. Go ahead and produce all the devices that us lactation consultants resort to when things aren't going so smoothly. Which would be the exception to the rule. Not the norm. Go ahead and make what we need, market it to us, and leave the average new mama alone. Oh wait, that would be going along with the Code, which states, "The code stipulates that there should be absolutely no promotion of breastmilk substitutes, bottles and teats to the general public."

What's wrong with that picture?

Oh, right.

Medela wouldn't be making the millions of dollars it is if they did that.

My kids recently learned the verse in the Bible that says "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Guess we know where Medela's heart is.


I've been thinking about this word a lot lately.

When I tell a new mom that a formula fed baby is 100% more likely to get ear infections and 26% more likely to get childhood leukemia, I would expect an "Oh my Lord, I have to protect my child" type response. Instead, I get "no. I don't want to do that." When I say "formula feeding causes diarrhea, allergies, obesity, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease" I still get a "I'll use formula anyway."

When I say, "If you breast feed, you will have less bleeding, a lower incidence of osteoporosis, heart disease, breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer", I am most often times met with a fake smile and a "get the heck out of my room" stare.

It's their choice, I tell myself as I leave the room.

This thinking makes no sense to me. Mothers the world over (but mostly in this, our wealthiest country) make this "choice" everyday. They are saying, blatantly, to their children "I don't care enough about you to give you what is 1000% scientifically known to protect you. Sorry."

Before I get hate mail, let me say that of course I know there are instances when a woman is unable to breastfeed. Those instances, though, are very rare. In the grand scheme of things, it is an incredibly small percentage of women. Women who are HIV+, women who are HTLV+, women with active, untreated TB, infants with galactosemia, women with untreated hypothyroidism, and some women with PCOS (though 1/3 of those women over-produce). Surgical techniques are getting better, but still a few breast reduction patients are unable to produce enough milk if the ducts have been severed. Women with insufficient mammarian glandular tissue.

So why do so many women make this "choice"?

Because they feel entitled. "It's my body", they cry. "It's my choice."

While their baby takes whatever nourishment it is offered, trusting...yes, trusting that of course mama will give me what is best for me.

Doesn't this all sound hauntingly familiar?

Ohio is presenting a new law for consideration this week. In it, it will make abortion illegal once the heartbeat of the fetus is obtainable.

This is huge. Finally, a law that will say what we have known for years.

If it has a heartbeat, it must be alive.

The pro-abortion side is up in arms, screaming about the "choice" being taken from women.

"I don't want a baby right now because I'm in school."

"I don't want to breastfeed because it will tie me down to my baby."

"I can't have a baby now. We are saving for a house."

"I can't breastfeed. I want to be able to eat and drink what I want."

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit", the Bible warns us. And yet, it's done every day.

In the name of Choice.

My Jordan Stones

As we wrap up our fourth week of backpacking through Joshua, I am getting a little tired. I find myself falling behind. Not that in my head I'm not keeping up. It's like how you lay in bed in the morning and think about getting up and running...but you never actually do it, as if by thinking about it it will make a difference.

Or am I the only one that does that?

I love Joshua chapter 4. I love the actual crossing of the Jordan, I love that God wanted each tribe to grab a stone from the Jordan and keep it for a reminder. I love how God says they hurried over. Which cracked me up because back in Chapter 3 I thought about crossing and how I'd probably be one to rush on ovah. You know, just in case.

Our pastor has been doing a six week study on Sunday mornings about the family. One of the things he has challenged us to do is begin a structured Bible study or family worship time. Last week, he asked us to share our testimonies with our kids, and have our kids (where applicable) share their testimonies with us. It was enlightening and fun! The kids had actually never heard our testimonies, and it was so cool hearing the boys tell about their salvation experience from their own perspectives. I think it was a great way to establish a habit of sharing spiritual things and thoughts with one another. Sometimes we don't actually get Jesus from our kids perspectives. We may ask them about Sunday school or Bible drill or AWANAs, but how often do we ask them what Jesus is doing in their lives, or what they've been praying about lately (or how about "ARE you praying?"). In sharing prayer requests, I am always amazed at what my 7 year old offers -- God has given him a gift of compassion for others. It is so precious to see.

Recently, our family went through a very trying time as the home we were renting was being foreclosed on. We tried to explain it to the children in simple terms: We were paying Miss Michelle but Miss Michelle wasn't paying her mortgage and so we have to move.

Tucker had apparently been pondering this for some time. He asked how long Michelle didn't pay.
Me: Well the sheriff says 8 months.
T: It sure did mess everything up for us.
Me: In a way it did, but think about it like this -- we never would have found the house we are in now if we didn't have to move out of the other one. And we love our new house!
T: yeah, I guess you're right, but still, it stinks that she didn't tell us the truth.
Me: But God planned the whole thing out for us. Isn't that cool?
T: what do you mean?
Me: we needed a house in Lafayette. The house we are in now wasn't available when we were moving. So we only needed one for a few months. God knew what was happening with Miss Michelle and put us in the place to take her house for those few months until our new house was ready for us. And remember, we to drive by our new house on accident. God planned the whole darn thing just for us!
T: Wow! That is cool!

Paul and I are pretty open about what God has done in our lives. We are both talkers, and so we tend to talk to anyone who will listen lots of people. I even find myself at work praising Jesus when a sleepy baby finally breastfeeds or a mom declares her sore nipples are feeling better! (Hey, I'm a lactation consultant, whadddya expect?)

I think by being transparent in our faith and in our lives we give others the true picture of what living a Jesus filled life is like. It isn't always pretty, and it certainly ain't never perfect, but it's real, and it's honest. Jordan stones? I carry most of 'em with me each day. My character, my conduct and my conversations are living stones that I lug around, displaying to a watching world.

Crossing My Jordan

I hate being late to anything. Ask my family. I call out the time when we're getting ready for church on Sunday or rushing to get ready for school every morning. So imagine how much I hate being late for my week 3 post from my backpacking adventure. I feel like I'm running down the trail yelling "Wait up, guys!" to my other hiking chicas, while lugging my pack on my back and being, well, slightly incredibly out of breath.

Joshua 3 finds the group ready to cross the Jordan, into the Promised Land. Finally! God gives Joshua orders, and the priests carry the ark right to the waters edge. And then they step in.

While the water, at flood stage, is still, well, there. And deep. And wet.

God says that the water stood still when they stepped in.

Can you imagine that first step? I wonder if they looked at each other quizzically? I wonder if one of them finally shrugged his shoulders and said, "Here goes!"

It took a tremendous amount of faith for those priests to step on out. And frankly, all the people following. While walking (or maybe running) across the dry land, I wonder if any of them looked to either side at the water standing high over the priests heads and thought "Dang, Susie, run a little faster!! You know, just in case..."

   /ˈfeɪθfəl/ Show Spelled[feyth-fuhl]
strict or thorough in the performance of duty: a faithful worker.
true to one's word, promises, vows, etc.
steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant: faithful friends.
reliable, trusted, or believed.
adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate: a faithful account; a faithful copy.
Obsolete . full of faith; believing.

Is God faithful? Abso-freaking-lutely. The Israelites learned that (sadly, it took them a while.) I've learned it (sadly, it's taken me just about as long as them).

So why is it so hard for me to follow Him in some areas of my life?

I'm going to be honest. I have no trouble asking Him for direction in everything. I want to know HIS way, HIS path, HIS plan. In nearly everything.

My Jordan? It's called my checkbook. My bank account. Yes, my finances.

Gulp. *hanging head in shame and disbelief that I'm writing this down*

I know all the verses. I know His promises. I know that He is faithful and will do what He promises. I know it all. I do!

But that's where my humanity kicks in. The selfishness. The worry. The doubt. The "but I am looking at my bank statement and just can't see it" type of flat out disbelief.

I know it pains God to hear me say that. It pains me to write it, to think it, to say it. If I heard my children say that they didn't know if I'd really come through for them, that I'd really take care of them.....ouch! That would break my heart.

So there it is. It is an area I'm working on. I could rationalize and justify all day long, but really, it's just a blatant case of disobedience and not trusting God for everything. Even though He has been 100% faithful to me. Even though He is the great I AM. My Savior. My All In All.

So I'm standing on the banks of my very own Jordan, and I'm working really hard to muster up the courage to step in.

God tells me to just dip my toes in.

With house notes and school payments and baseball registration and a massive utility bill and the kids need new shoes and.....

If I just take my first step, I know in my heart He will be there, holding my hand, making sure I don't drown. Heck, I probably won't even get wet. He's that good.

So why....why is it so hard?

By their fruits you will know them...

Week 2 of our backpacking adventure has us studying Joshua as he sends spies into Jericho to sniff out the situation. God seems to direct the secret agents directly to Rahab.

I would love to know how the fellas ended up in a prostitutes house. Makes me thort of thmell a rat. But I digress.

Rahab may have had a reputation as being a bad girl, but she had a heart of gold and just so happened to have a handy scarlet cord that would be a lifesaver to herself, her family, and the spies that she was playing host to.

Rahab had heard of God's deeds. She had heard about the whole parting of the Red Sea thing and believed. And she was ready to lay her very life on the line. She knew, by faith, that God could --and would-- save her. No matter her past. No matter her circumstances.

Not only that, but Sistah Rahab's faith earns her a place in the very genealogy of Jesus himself. That, my friend, is a God-thing.

God loves us, every one. We are so not worth it. We may not be living inside a city wall and we may never have need of a scarlet cord. But our lives and our testimonies are relevant. I may never save the lives of spies looking for information, but I may well be the one that shows my neighbor who Jesus is.

How important is it that I show the world Jesus? I tell my kids all the time that we have to give a good testimony. I remind them that if we call ourselves Christians, others will look at us and expect to see something different. Not different in a "Oh look at the Souths, what a bunch o' weirdos" kind of way, but in a "Wow, look at the South kids. They're pretty neat kids!" kind of way.

But it's not just the kids. It's me. If I gossip and complain, how does that bear fruit? If I lose my temper, who does that edify? If I'm a poor steward of my finances, what does that say? I *say* I have faith, but do I? Do my actions show that?

Rahab has so much to teach me.

I would like to think that if I were in the same position I would do exactly the same thing. But would I? C'mon, who am I kidding? Hide spies in flax on my roof while I lie to government officials about their whereabouts? I get all choked up when it's time to go to the DMV.

I am so not the girl Rahab was.

I can't say this about me, but I can say this about our gal Rahab. She totally exemplifies that great verse in Matthew:

"You can detect them by the way they act." Matt. 7:16 NLT or the NIV version: "By their fruit you will recognize them."

Rahab, you rock. I wanna be like you when I grow up.

Well, sort of like you. Wink, wink...

Gettin' my pack ready-

An entire year has passed since I went on safari. I had so much fun on that trip that I couldn't resist taking a backpacking adventure when I was invited by Amber and all my old safari compadres.

This time our challenge is Joshua. I've actually read this book several times and Joshua is one of my favorites, so I proudly stupidly had little fear when embarking on this study. So imagine the irony when I read through Joshua 1 and realize that God told Joshua four times --4 times!-- "be strong and courageous".

Adjective: Not deterred by danger or pain; brave.


I've backpacked before. Actually, I love it. I love hiking. I love the outdoors. Some trails are easy -- with even trails, a steady incline, and nice scenery. Others are rocky,with uneven terrain, overgrown bush and steep hills. Some come fraught with danger, like snakes and bears. Others are so tame you're lucky to see a chipmunk.

I've a sneaking suspicion that God called me to this study because something downright skeery is fixin' to happen. I'm certain He's got a plan, and in my life, He has a distinct pattern of revealing His plans through the wise words of godly women. Women like Amber, and Gretchen, Kellie and Lisa. There are others, of course, but these are a few of the friends that shared their hearts so honestly, so openly, and so transparently as we journeyed through the book of Daniel one year ago.

God is faithful. If you haven't heard my story about how we came to move twice in six months, scroll down a bit and read. God is amazingly, unwaveringly, incessantly, eternally, incredibly faithful. My entire life is one example after another of His love and faithfulness.

Wanna find out what God's up to?

Stay tuned.

Lacing up my hiking boots and donning my cutest khaki shorts,


Because, of course, we're supposed to make them. Right?

I should make a list like my 9 year old did. Things he really wanted to do, not what others wanted him to do. Things like "stay up all night more often" and "eat more sugar".

So, in the spirit of Tucker, here is my list:
  • nap more often
  • drink more coffee
  • perfect my Wii tennis game
  • beat Pablo at Jeopardy
  • take my kids camping
  • teach the boys to fish
  • make one fabulous gourmet meal per month
  • have more backyard campfires
  • memorize an entire book of the Bible
  • finish a NY times Sunday crossword in one day, in pen
So if you ask me what I'm doing in 2011, there you have it. Yes, I'm going to go back to Weight Watchers. And yes, I'm going to lace up my old running shoes. And I'll still bug the heck out of anyone who knows me by asking if I should let my hair go gray. But my prayer is that in 365 days, I'll look back at this list and be able to report that I accomplished some, if not all, of the items on my list. 

Happy New Year!