Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Comfort in numbers

In seasons of sadness,
there's temptation to retreat. 
To hide in the dark. 
Keeping secret the private struggles and pain we're feeling. 

It takes time to heal, yes. 
But our instincts aren't always correct-
especially when emotions fog up our glasses. 
We can't see things objectively.

At Christmas time,
being with those friends and family who know you
and remember the loved ones you miss,
may just be what you need.

I pray
that loneliness
will not be
your only companion
this year.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Empty Chair

In all my thirty-one years, I have never walked up the front steps, entered the porch, and opened the door to the house my grandfather built and expected to find her missing.  When she wasn't cooking or tidying up, she watched The Andy Griffith Show, peeled potatoes, ate her meals, read the paper, crocheted, and waited for me to arrive.  Right there.  In the front den.

Now there is only an empty chair.
Maw-Maw is not there.

I will never insist again, "You didn't have to wait up for me!"  And she will never again reply, "Well, what else am I gonna do?"

There's something to be said for following your intuition- that tug on your heart, the random thought seemingly out of the blue, telling you to make a call, make a visit, make amends.  I decided weeks ago that I'd try to visit my grandma before Christmas, if I could squeeze it in.  But right up until I packed the kids in my mini-van, I doubted the plan.  So many inconveniences tried to persuade me to stay.  I went anyways, and for two days I sat with her.  Made small talk.  Helped her.   And then she left.  There would not be another Christmas.

We didn't say goodbye.  It would've been unbearably hard.  I cried every day that I was with her.  I dreaded her going.  Even that very morning.  Minutes before, I kept a brave face and forced brighter conversation topics, but the tears were exploding from the depths of me. Quickly, I'd wipe my face and watch her get sicker.

My strong, tough, uncomplaining Maw-Maw.  Sick.  It was difficult to see.
She wouldn't admit it.  Hated us to fuss over her.  Hated being waited on.  Loathed lying around past early morning hours.

So she went away.  Where she would be better.  Be herself.  Be free of all this nonsense.  The absurdity of your body rebelling against your spirit.  The craziness of your mind forgetting small things and knowing that you should've remembered that.  Not letting anyone think she was weak.

What a fighter.
She finished well.

And now it's just me here- a product of her care and example.  My heart must heal, and I will learn to do life without her.  Without that constant.  The white-haired woman in the chair, waiting for the door to open.  Another temporary life.

I learned that being there is enough
Making time for someone matters. 
What you don't say is just as important as what you do. 
Important people leave a space in the air that doesn't shrink for ages.

I still look through the curtained window and expect to find Maw-Maw sitting in that chair.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What I'm leaving

Just as I hope my reading audience will take away some inspiration or encouragement from this blog at some second in their rapid pace, I too draw revelations from the written ponderings of others- the beauty of reflection.  I have to make myself do it- sit down when it's quiet and think.  When I do, I can hear flashes of importance like this:

Time is like thin ice. Our days are spent living like ants in a mound, collecting our substance to survive the winter; to retire in comfortable plaid pants, blue socks, and golf shoes. All the while, the ice is melting, thin and slick. We don’t notice it until struck with tragedy. We or a friend are mangled in a car wreck, and we reflect on how fragile the whole thing is. Our wives and our children become beautiful again. Our priorities change as we realize we are temporary beings.  -An excerpt from Donald Miller's blog selected from his book, Through Painted Deserts.

Life is swiftly giving and taking away breaths, minutes, and years from us.  We must remember to take care of the important things people, before we slip through the frozen pond, cracked with unexpected events.  

Give yourself away and love doing it!  We've all heard the warning, "You can't take it with you."  So then, isn't it more essential to pay attention to what you'll be leaving

What I hope to leave to my kids is the memory of a mom who made time to take care of them, to teach them, to listen to them, and love them- even when it wasn't easy.  To my husband, I leave my true commitment, lots of laughter, mutual love, and a fulfilled promise.  And I want to leave my friends and family with the joy of knowing someone thought of them, prayed for them, and never forgot them.

Bottom line: Live your best, without regrets.  It makes the going easier.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Have you ever been sitting at the dinner table, minding your own business, enjoying your plate of mashed potatoes...only to see your glass of sweet tea jiggling as a minor earthquake disrupts your occupation?  That tapping is my feet. That shaking is my fidgeting legs underneath your meal.  I'm anxious!  I apologize for the interruption.

I'm not a loud person, or even a hyper one- on the outside.  However, my mind is racing to the next idea, the next task, the next story.  I take rabbit trails in conversations.  That's why my legs can't be still.  I'm chomping at the bit to be somewhere else or get started on something!

It's really frustrating right now in this season of life, to have that feeling of wanting so much to race out of the gate, only to be reigned back by my current responsibilities. 

I have to remind myself DAILY that I will have time to sew, to create, to write, to read books in coffee shops.  My kids will be older.  They will be learning in other buildings.  I won't always be scheduling their entertainment for hours each day.  I won't always get to sit down and eat lunch with them in the kitchen.  One day, this house will get quieter.

When that happens, I'll probably miss it.  When I'm sitting at the sewing machine.  When I'm updating my blogs.  When I'm hanging picture frames, I'll check the time and try to pass the time doing other things I love until they come home again.

Looking forward gives me perspective.  It calms me down.  My knees won't bump the dinner table as much, because I'll rest in these moments.

So...I'm going to have to let God hold me back until He decides it's time to let me stretch my legs...

...just a little bit longer...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

139 days

It's been a long time.  A whole season...of caring for a newborn, homeschooling, and trying to keep up with the normal time-filler-uppers.
  • At the beginning of the day, I'm gathering courage and making lists.  
  • In the middle, I'm finishing up lessons and fixing lunches.  
  • And at the end of the day, I have just enough energy to lie on the couch.

But I've got to keep doing what brings me joy, in addition to the things that keep me busy.
I've got to slow down.
Laugh at myself.
Take in the view.

I would like to finally give myself permission to blog again (...and to finally join pinterest)!

It's time to be a little more like me again.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


My favorite Mother's Day gift from my husband (besides spending the day at the beach), was The Happy Book:
I love writing.  I love journaling.  And when I get around to it, I love blogging :-)  This book provides writing cues to "practice happiness so it gets easier to find" (Kempster, Leder viii). 

Still in the thick of nursing a newborn, finishing my first year of homeschooling, and potty-training my son, I am hormonal, impatient, discouraged, and whipped.  I NEED to exercise my happy thoughts!  When the baby is wailing in the car, and I've been driving lost for 30 minutes with two other hungry kids in the van, I have chanted the mantra, "Happy, happy, happy, happy, HAPPY!" as I white-knuckle the steering wheel.  Yes, I have questioned my sanity in those moments.  Then I step out into the sunshine at our intended destination and exhale.  I made it- frazzled but with brain still in tact. 

It doesn't seem such an easy thing to make yourself happy in the middle of shoulder stress up to your ears.  Maybe it takes just a smidgeon of effort.  But effort towards happiness has got to be fun, right?

This books gives me permission to let myself BE happy.  Finding joy in the silly things that make me happy, like the color red, or glitter, or the saying the name, "Penelope." 
Baby laughs and gummy smiles
Coloring with crayons
I need to paint polka dots on our fingernails NOW, Bella!  Pronto!

What makes you happy?
Try this happy exercise: log every single thing that makes you happy throughout the day (i.e. stealing a nap, guzzling an ice cold glass of water, finishing a project, meeting someone for lunch, wearing your favorite shirt, finding a dollar in your coat pocket...).

This picture?

My return to blogging turns up the corners of my mouth and soul too. 
Happy Thursday!  :-)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Four months

Four months ago, I was awaiting the arrival of our third child.  I was worrying about when and if I should schedule an induction after a false alarm sent us to the hospital then back home again.  Worry, worry, worry.  Who will watch the kids?  Will Jason make it home from work in time?  What doctor will be on call?

Two days after my last post, Boone Jameson was born.  One week after my first hospital stay, I delivered in the same room with the same nursing staff.  I opted for a wonderful epidural this time, and I couldn't have asked for a better doctor or labor story.

Here he is at 7 lbs. 4 oz.

Overwhelmed by tears.  Thankful for undeserved blessings.  God gave me another child to raise, despite my typical human errors. 

Big sister has been dubbed my assistant mommy.  She fetches diapers and has even changed a few wet ones!  She locates the lost pacifiers and holds him whenever she can.

Big brother is so sweet to the little guy too.  I am always impressed by his gentleness.

So many changes have occurred since January. 
Boone aged one month:
Then two months:
Three months:

And tomorrow, Baby Boone will turn four months old:

He sleeps for about 9 hours at night and is on a fairly predictable schedule during the day.  Slowly growing out of the cat-nap stage, he's snoozing for longer periods of time 2-3 times per day.  Boone has been experimenting with those baby vocal chords for a few weeks, but now he's testing the volume levels!  He likes to squeal LOUDLY, and I suspect it's because his siblings are regularly breaking the "inside voice" rule around the house. 

My family of five spent Mother's Day weekend at the beach, and I felt myself finally awaking from that newborn coma.  I think it took longer with the third one.  My brain has been short-circuting with the added responsibilities and schedules, but I still enjoy kissing those fresh cheeks dozens of times each day. 

There are several moments throughout my days when prayers for patience and grace float up through our rooftop. So far, I'm surviving.  I can't believe God has given me this much- a whole, healthy family.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

For the Big Sibs

I like to make my older kids feel special when we introduce a new baby to the family.  It's kind of a big deal, afterall!  You shed your baby status and are suddenly big enough to become Mommy's or Daddy's helper around the house (whether you like it or not)!

I think it also helps them feel important, especially when all of our friends and family come around to oooh and aaaah over the littlest one.  For several weeks, big brother and big sister will not be the center of attention.  That's got to be a hard pill to swallow.

So far, here's the surprises I've prepared for the kids:

Bella & Brody will each have their own babies to take care of, complete with diaper changes!

I made them proud sibling shirts to wear to the hospital when the baby is born:

I'm currently working on picture frames that will have their birth details, name meanings, and a newborn photo of each of them to hang in their rooms.

I also let each child pick out one toy to give their new little brother.  I love how excited they get about being a part of all the excitement :-)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Third One

Photo by Squeezebox Photography
So after a brief visit to the hospital when I thought I was in labor, I learned that the third baby doesn't have a reputation of following the trends of the first two.

Bella came just over 7 hrs. after my water breaking- and after eating a meal of Swedish meatballs at my friend's house (This same meal put another one of her friends into labor. No joke). Of course, the epidural could've been to blame for it taking that long, because I was having heavy contractions early on. My doctor thought I'd deliver by midnight. My due date was August 15th, but she joined our family on the 6th, instead.

After an early miscarriage, the following pregnancy brought gestational diabetes and group b strep. Needless to say, the doctors worried and worried that I would have a gigantic baby and need to be induced. Brody woke me up at 11:30pm, five days before his due date, and met us 2 1/2 hrs. later. No pain meds. No time for antibiotics. And an average 7lb. baby. The doctors can only give their best guess, right?

Now, baby #3 is teasing us. Since big sister was born at 38 weeks and big brother at 39, I just assumed this little guy would come early and grant me a quick-like labor/delivery. Not so. Not so.

Photo by Squeezebox Photography

I've felt those Braxton Hicks contractions a lot more often in this pregnancy, so I've been disregarding them for the most part. I've even had fairly consistent contractions for an hour without calling the hospital. But 4 days ago, I started feeling more uncomfortable, and by dinnertime the contractions were still not going away. I went to bed, thinking I just need to sleep it off, but woke Jason up around midnight. I was a basket full of nerves. Was I in labor or not? We started timing contractions. They were continually less than 5 minutes apart. Even though my water hadn't broken, I was sure that if I didn't get to the hospital, this baby would come quickly.

I know my mom appreciated that middle of the night call, waking her up to come over and keep the kids while we went to the hospital. Honestly, I was full of worries: Would someone be available to watch the kids? Would I make it to the hospital in time? Was I ready to cope with the pain of labor again? Was this all a false alarm? Will everyone be annoyed if this isn't the real deal? Am I forgetting something?

Photo by Squeezebox Photography

After a long night of little sleep, those contractions kept coming, but there was no proof that I was in active labor- 9 hours in the hospital and only 2 cm to show for my efforts. I was a bit emotional coming home, but I'm glad we did. I was able to nap and get to bed early that night. Since then, I've had a brand new perspective. Getting more done around the house feels fabulous, and getting some labor jitters out of my system is a relief.

So there's no baby yet.  We'll just wait like the rest of the pregnant mommies and not expect a whole lot. I suppose I'll be even more excited when his time actually arrives. We'll keep you posted :-)

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. -Matthew 6:34

Do you have a similar third baby labor story?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When it Snows

It doesn't happen often where we live, but when it does, we, Southerners, all act like a bunch of hyped-up crazies.  When it snows, we flood the grocery stores and hoard unnecessary amounts of food staples so the rest of the city is left savoring every last drop of milk and bread crumb.  Though the power rarely falters, nor the cable t.v., we prepare for "Snowmageddon" or "Snowpocalypse" in the worst way.  Thank goodness Walmart had plenty of food to share, because my family was actually out of milk before the snow came.

Then we waited.  While the weather men & women grasped at their 15 minutes, we searched the skies for the white stuff.  We had to send the kids off to bed with not a flake in sight, so we prayed that it would come.  And while they slept, it finally did. 

My husband gets as excited as the kids when snow comes to Georgia.  We stayed up, pretending to watch t.v., but really kept checking out the windows.  Then the wind blew in thousands of snowflakes.  The exclamations began, "Oh my gosh!  Look how much it's snowing!"  "Wow, I wonder if it'll stick!"  "Well, I guess they were right, afterall."  And within the hour, the scooter in our front yard was covered in white.  Soon after, it was completely buried.  We went to bed in a happy stupor, knowing that God had given us a free family day.  It was like Christmas morning.

When the family awoke, we all ran to the windows in wonder.  We measured 5 1/2" on the back porch, so my husband encouraged us to just say "6."  He likes a good story :-) 
For breakfast, we whipped up homemade pancakes and fried bacon in the skillet (we don't eat bacon often anymore, but this day called for the good stuff).  We kept the firewood stocked and blew smoke out of our chimney all day.  We met some friends to sled down their backyard hill.  We took lots of pictures.  We drank hot chocolate...twice.  We ate potato soup.

Because when it snows here, we celebrate.  We stress the importance of being safe on the roads, but I think what we really want (and need) is a good excuse to stop and enjoy ourselves.  Let the Scrooges work.  We have some snowman building to do!

When it snows, we bundle up in whatever warmish clothes we can layer, along with plastic Walmart bags to keep our feet dry.  When it snows, we pull out our summer pool floats, because sled sales are rather hard to come by in the south.  Then we become adrenaline junkies and the kids play until we make them come inside. 

It's funny how snow makes kids of us all.  I loved watching the grownups build snow ramps to sled over, and we cheered with every stunt. 

Now that the roads are clearing, and we all dive back into our routines, let's share a collective and contented sigh.  Now, wasn't that fun?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Feeling better

Clearly my absence from the blogosphere and my outdated fall header is proof of my busy mind.  Hosting the holidays with visiting family, getting ready for baby, and just a general lack of inspiration (writer's block?) lead to these momentary lapses.  I apologize for my inconsistencies.  I haven't even put away my Christmas decorations yet :-/

By the way,

At this point, the family Christmas picture would be just as belated, so I think I'll wait to change that photo header when we add our new member to the family...

So now, here's what I really have to say:

After three days and nights of nursing a feverish little boy, I found relief when the doctor made her diagnosis and supplied us with a cure.  To celebrate, I took the most blessed nap after lunch- since I've been on sick duty and haven't slept that soundly in a while.  With a mixture of both joy and disappointment I awoke- I could've slept for hours.  Refreshed, I resumed my parenting duties: homeschooling, laundry, disinfecting germs.

When dad arrived, he took his turn meeting the sick patient's needs.  So my daughter and I shared the couch to watch A Little Princess (her reward for reading the book).  We laughed at each other, because we're both movie criers.  Then, we baked a cake together.  I couldn't have asked for a better evening to take off the edge of the past few days.

 To top it off, as I put her to bed, I was able to be vulnerable with Bella.  We've been trying to read devotions with the kids at bedtime, which is what led to tonight's conversation with my daughter.  The subject was about how God wants us to talk with him about everything- the big and little things.  I shared with Bella about how there were many times in my adolescence when I only had God to go to- when I was sad, lonely, frustrated.  It gave me the opportunity to reveal how different our lives are- how I was always missing my mom, how I didn't have very many friends to play with, or how I couldn't go to many parties or sleepovers growing up.  She was surprised and empathized with me and listened and told me that she loved me- "the best mom [she] ever had."

Once again, I'm amazed at the grace our children give us- even when we snap at them in impatience or push them away for other distractions.  They just want to love us.  It's so humbling to know that my kids will seek my attention and affection for most of their lives, and I hope I'm always available to meet those needs.  It's so rewarding when they give it back.

I'm so glad I didn't let my exhaustion steal that moment away.  I'm so thankful that I didn't rush through bedtime so that I could have time to myself.

I'd do these past 3 days over again if I knew they would end exactly like this.

Of course, I am looking forward to getting out of the house again, socializing without fear of spreading germs, and not having to check on a sick child all night long.

That's good too:-)