August 31, 2008

showing her spirit

My Laura is a quiet young lady... even in the midst of a group of friends, she is quite content to sit with her book... or just listen. She is definitely not into a lot of the things that most teens her age are into... dancing, boys, the telephone, even texting. She is just Laura... in her own little world, that, for her, is a perfect fit. Quiet contentment. I think there are people all over the world who seek just that, for their own, everyday life. Friday night I saw a side of my daughter that I loved more than I love her quiet nature- I saw her in the midst of great team spirit. She was tentative at first... having sparingly applied her black and green war paint... ready for her first high school football game... ready to march out on the field and show off the hard work the band had put in.
In the stands, she played her clarinet, clapped her hands and bobbed her head as the band cheered on the football team. She seemed to enjoy it. And then... half-time. They marched their hearts out, played for the fans... it was fantastic. Fantastic. Our eyes followed Laura around the field, knowing next week they'd be in their uniforms and hats, and it would be difficult to pick her out. Back in the stands, I continued to glance over at my daughter. Something had changed. The energy level? The enjoyment? Her spirit? She was smiling brightly, raising her clarinet just as high as everyone else was raising their instrument... she no longer bobbed her head to the music, she was actually dancing. She was shouting and cheering... caught up in all that was going on around her... right up to the last seconds of the game. I loved seeing her in those moments. I was cheering just as loudly on the outside, but my heart? My heart... it soared with quiet contentment.

August 28, 2008

on the road again

After quite a long hiatus, my friend and I have returned to our early morning walks... and I am thrilled. I have missed her- our chatting, our advice for each other, just sharing in general. Of course, none of that could be shared here, because what is said in the wee small hours of the morning, stays there! I do love the fresh start to the morning, especially the stars so bright up in the still dark sky. When I am walking down the street to meet my walking buddy, the same words sing praise in my mind...
I can't even imagine
How He made it happen
To see the silver moon from afar
It's almost unbelievable
It's truly inconceivable
To think of all the billions of stars

Every time. Those beautiful heavenly stars... they humble me. And I realize that it's not just my body that is getting that fresh start to the day... Sometimes that alarm buzzes, and we are off running, forgetting that the best way to start our day is with a heartfelt prayer- even a short one. So I am thankful... for this block of my day that is just for me... to share with a friend. It's not taking time away from any member of my family... and it is providing me with the fuel I need to be me.
lyrics from You're My God... Jaci Velasquez.

August 25, 2008

christian hit radio

Our family has been listening to the same radio station for ten years. Yes, ten... and all of us love it. Yes, even the kids! It started out as a challenge we put out for our youth group- try to listen to Way FM for 30 minutes a day, and see what happens. I can't even remember if any of them took on the challenge, but Eric & I did. And what happened? I didn't have to change the channel if a morning show got a little raunchy... and there were little voices in the backseat singing along to praise and worship music... and it seemed we were hooked to what our little kiddos called "Christian Hit Radio!" Even now, all these years later, this is what they choose to listen to. Someone once made a comment that it was all we allowed them to listen to, but no... it is what they know and what they choose. I consider it a powerful tool in our kids upbringing- clean lyrics, music that lifts our hearts to God, artists who care more about Jesus than the money they can make being famous, and most of all- some of the best teachable moments we've shared. One of Laura's favorite singers has all but disappeared from the radio- Stacy Orrico. Her message to young girls was "Don't look at me, look at Him." She had a few great hits, and her songs became popular in the mainstream music, too. And that was when she said she'd had enough. I loved that. She was not willing to compromise what she believed in for fame and fortune. One of the radio personalities ws speaking about her the other day... said she walked away from it- and is waitressing somewhere. What amazing faith... Cam & I were listening Saturday morning to Toby Mac... and we were singing along. I took the opportunity to talk about what his words meant. "I don't want to gain the whole world and lose my soul." Wow. There really are people out there who just want to sing for Jesus. People who are doing what they love, for who they love... and it is enough. It makes an impact on us every day... as we listen, learn... and sing our praises.

August 22, 2008

a little joy

It's finally here- Friday! It should feel like a short week, with the storm on Tuesday, but somehow it just made the week weird... and long. But now it's the weekend, and I feel free! So, what will I do today? I'm going over to the elementary school to volunteer. It seems almost like a sickness, but I need to do be there. I've thought about it (there I go again!) and wondered why I feel the need to go back and volunteer somewhere that I used to work. Suddenly it came to me-I have been volunteering over there for eight years. For the past two years, I just happen to have been also collecting a paycheck, for something that I love. I do love that school... it is part of my heart. And so I will go and help where I can, visit with my friends... and that little part of my heart that belongs to CES will swell with joy.

because i am me

It is out of character for me to need to have that Mommy moment, as I did, sending my children off to school this year. For me, those moments just come at different times... smaller situations... and of course, we are all entitled to moments such as those. But I have been dwelling on it! As I have been trying to wrap my head around my heart, this is what I have come up with.
1. It was a big day. It was a brand new situation... one I had been anticipating with much glee, for both Laura and Cam. So, of course, something that I have placed such importance on would effect me in an important way.
2. It was a first for me... dropping them both off and driving away to work. For so many years I have been so close to the school (or in it!) and the focus has been on what would be going on in school after the kids headed off.
3. This is the biggest one, I think. Since beginning this blog, my emotions have run closer to the surface... just itching to get out. But that is only part of it, because I think, at the same time, my emotions are running much deeper into my heart. Through writing, I am able to recognize these feeling and actually experience them in a new way... in a new light. It may make me softer in a way... but maybe stronger at the same time.
I have decided that these are not excuses... because who would want to excuse such tender tuggings at heartstrings... they are just justifications to myself. And, because I am me, I feel the need to justify everything...

August 21, 2008


My nephew started kindergarten Wednesday... a huge step for him, and Tina! When he went to Kindergarten Round Up back in April, he decided that he wanted no part of going to kindergarten- but after going to the Meet and Greet last week, and finding out that he would have dinosaurs in his classroom, he decided it would probably be okay. Thankfully, Oakley had a great day! After school, Tina visited my blog, with Oakley, to show him the pictures of when his cousins went to kindergarten. His reaction? Laura is the most beautifulest. Tina replied that Yes, she is so cute. Apparently that was not what Oakley meant, so he told her No. She is not the cutest. I said she is the most beautiful to me. And what is more beautiful than that?

a great day

I guess I kind of set myself up for it... pulling out those sweet kindergarten photos may just have been my downfall. After I dropped Cam off, and was on my way to work, it hit me... hard. Both of my babies, growing up so quickly! Remember, I am the Mom who drops her kids off at camp, or the airport, and hardly gives them a second thought until they are home again... the Mom who loves how independent her kids are. Well, they may be independent, but yesterday, I could have used a hug... or two. I am always happy when Laura & Cam head off for a new adventure with only excitement... I don't want them to look back at me and be be the slightest bit sad or unsure... that means I have accomplished what I set out to do. It makes me happy! Yesterday, I let myself have my Mommy moment... and then left work early so I could be home to find out how it all went! Both Laura and Cam had great days. They navigated the walkways of their new schools without incident... and enjoyed seeing friends along the way. It is going to be a great year.

August 20, 2008

today is the day

After a one day reprieve (thanks, Tropical Storm Fay!) Laura & Cam will head off to begin the new school year. This is a big day for me emotionally. I clearly remember Laura heading off to kindergarten, wondering where the time had gone...
And then Camden's first day of kindergarten arrived before I could blink.
And now? Elementary school is over. And off they go...
My beautiful girl is heading off to high school. We've been excited for this... and the marching band, but now that the day is here, it is slightly heart stopping. She's not nervous... just ready. I am in awe of her confidence and I am loving her sweet, funky hair.
And Camden is starting middle school. He told me yesterday that he changed his mind about middle school since the summer began. Now he's excited to go, and he's bound and determined to make a new friend today. I don't doubt that he will. His personality is so bright and he is such a good friend... I can't imagine his day will be any less than he hopes it will be.
So I'm sending them off with a kiss and a hug... and a prayer in their pocket. I can't wait to hear all of the details of their days... when they are home safe and sound after a day of bright adventure.
(it has never, in 10 years of first days of school, rained as they were heading off! Thanks, Tropical Storm Fay!)

August 18, 2008

be prepared

A storm is coming... oh, how I love a good storm! It has now passed over Cuba- so I know it's really coming, in some capacity, at least! And tomorrow, which was the first day of school, is now a "snow day!" Eric, my hurricane man, has been ready for months... we just needed to do some last minute stocking up- a few more batteries, more soup! Now that it's near, I am tracking its course. See, I can skip out of denial... and into excitement! I know... it's weird... but I'm looking forward to a day of nothing but reading and playing games with my kids. There may not be any snow, but it's close enogh!


It seems there is nothing more precious than time... it flies by... it gets eaten up by unimportant stuff... it escapes us. Some never seem to have time to do the things they want to do, or the things they find are important - but I have learned. Several years ago, someone I respected very much told me- Everyone has the exact same amount of time. It's not how much time you have, it's how you use it. And I realized how truly he spoke. We all have the same seven days- all with the same 24 hours... and so I began to pay attention to where I spent my time... and my energy. So often I think about how quickly the time has passed... that our children are now 14 and 10- wow! Yes... time flies... and no matter how much we wish it, we cannot freeze time. So we have to do the next best thing... carve out little bits of time here and there, push aside the must-do list, and just play. And so this weekend, Eric & I ran away. Just one night- but we needed it. We needed to just make the time for each other, so that we could come home and be the Mom & Dad God wants us to be. It is amazing what 24 hours of freedom can do for your soul... for your heart... for your family. Talking, laughing, resting, loving, smiling... time well spent.

August 15, 2008

the best husband ever

We were young and in love... excited about a wedding I had dreamed about... and maybe blind to what marriage was all about. But in we jumped with blind faith and commitment- and here we are, sixteen years later... thankful for all we have learned and thankful for each other- and for God. He has blessed us with his love, He has given us strength when we fell short, He has reminded us time and again that the love we share can overcome so much, and He has held our hands through the ups and downs of life that can be so incredible, and so disheartening. As we spoke our vows, I felt as if we belonged to another time, another place in the world... The old language spoke to our hearts and bound us together with lost generations.

Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.

There are milestone years in marriage- one, five, ten, and so on... those numbers have not meant as much to us, as we were separated on a lot of those anniversaries. One... he was out to sea; We celebrated our second together as our first. Ten... he was in Guantanamo; We celebrated eleven at a marriage conference. It was maybe the biggest milestone for me- knowing that we had been married for longer than my parents had been married. It just felt... big. And almost sad. And very important. We usually don't even celebrate our anniversary on the 15th... we have learned to make the most of each other every day. We have learned that the actual day is not as important as the life that happens around the date.

I am so thankful for the years and the miles and the memories of our marriage. I do think I have the best husband ever- and I make sure I tell him. There is no one who can touch my heart the way he does...

You're still the one I run to
The one that I belong to
You're still the one I want for life
You're still the one that I love
The only one I dream of
You're still the one I kiss good night.


Marching band has begun... and Laura is now part of the Marching Pride at her high school. Wow. Off she went to band camp, excited and unsure... and she came home excited and happy. I expected exhaustion. I expected mild complaining. I expected frustration. (Why? Because it is pretty vivdly imprinted in my mind- those memories from my own band camp days.) I was pleasantly surprised though... she just came home happy. The first day she showed us how they have to stand at attention- clasped hands with a shout of "pride!" And I could see, in that moment, the pride she felt in her accomplishment of day one. I could see that she knew what it really meant to stand with pride and feel it. I have thought, and worried, that I have not taught my children well enough what it means to work hard... what it means to give your all and really mean it. And now, maybe she is starting to understand. I feel hopeful.

Tonight, after a week and a half of camp, we were treated to a mini performance by the Marching Pride. We invited our family to come along- because we have all been so excited about this adventure and full of anticipation! Just hearing the cadence of the drum line was enough to put my heart in my throat, and the tears behind my eyes. And then there they were, the band... and there she was, our daughter... marching... in time. It was so much more that I expected to feel... it is going to be an awesome adventure.

August 12, 2008

prized possession

Little Scout just lights up our life... she purrs, she snuggles and she chases her tail. Sometimes we think she is part dog- she loves to play fetch and is quite often seen carrying a toy around in her mouth! Camden has a little green Neopet guy that he has graciously passed on to Scout. She bats it around, chases it, and then carries it around for a while. But her favorite toy, by far, is any chenille stem (that's the fancy name for pipe cleaners!) she can get her paws on! This afternoon, I noticed she was playing with one- batting it across the room, chasing and sliding after it. After a while, I saw the she was carrying it around the living room. I closed my eyes for a quick nap, and when I opened my eyes, she was still playing. Still toting it around the house... I think she played with that chenille stem longer than either of my children ever played with any one toy at one sitting. It just made me laugh... and wish that I could be amused for so long by something so silly.

August 10, 2008

wishy-washy day

I left for church this morning under a beautiful blue sky... half-way there, I noticed the dark sky and then, there I was, driving right into an unexpected rainstorm... And then- a spectacular rainbow right over the road! From one side to the other! It's been raining off and on all day- from blue skies to gray... but nothing can dim the pleasure of driving right under a rainbow!

August 09, 2008

my all in all

Driving along the other day, I noticed that the canals and waterways are really starting to fill up again... no longer are they surrounded by several feet of dry cracked mud or dusty sand. The rain has come, and they are once again pretty- refilled and refreshed. Thinking about it further, I realized that we never really notice the water evaporating away- one day we just realize the water has become a puddle, where there was once an abundance... and the weeds are growing wildly along the edges- and it looks... bleak. And even when the rain begins to do its job, it doesn't make an impact until weeks later... It seemed like such a profound thought at the time- and I wanted to know, how do I make it work for me? What is it He says? Ask and you shall see? How often do we just truck along in our little life, just getting by, day by day, doing all of what has to be done- go, go, go, go? And then suddenly, here we are- dry, and empty, and in need of... something. It happens to me... more than I care to admit, I suppose. And when I realize how dry I really am, I look to try to quench my thirst- eating... shopping... sleeping... like craving chocolate when all you have is chips. You eat them anyway, hoping they will hit the spot- but only chocolate will do, you realize after you've consumed six other unsatisfying treats. When I am dry, I have learned, the only thing that refreshes me is Jesus. Living water. And why did it take me so long to remember that? So I sit in my quiet spot and ask for forgiveness, and for refreshment... and what do you know? He has already filled my cup. Already... before I asked. Time and time again... He never fails me. This time though, I think I realized that my cup was never empty at all... I was never really all that dry... I simply forgot to peek over the brim of my life and see that the blessings were there just waiting to refresh me. I neglected that part of my life and let all of the little things get in the way... get between me and my refreshment. I am so thankful that Jesus knows me... that He knows my heart and knows how much I love Him- even when I let the weeds start pushing up around the shore...

When I am down You pick me up...
When I am dry You fill my cup...
You are my All in all.

August 08, 2008

a week lost

True friendship means not trying to out-do each other... and I am thankful that I do not have relationships that encourage me to try to out-do someone else. That being said- we all have things in our lives that out-do others without the tiniest bit of effort! For example, no one could ever out-do my friend Becky's water emergencies- no one! And really, who would want to! I think that everything they own has at one time gushed water onto their floor or out their walls. It's almost laughable. If she called me tonight and told me she had a geyser coming out of her microwave, I would not be surprised. Really. Yesterday I called her, to chat, and told her I had my own "water emergency" type of story! She was shocked, until I told her- remember, water is not our thing, our thing is more... medical maladies. Oh yes- hole in your heart, scarlet fever times two, oozy ear, emergency appendectomy, passing out... that's more our style! And so... here goes:
Saturday, around noon, I picked up my lovely daughter from her sleepover party (remember- books at midnight!), and I was starving... starving! So I decided to fly through the McD's drive though and get a Happy Meal. Waiting our turn, Laura decided that she was not hungry, but could she have a bottle of water? Before I could say yes, she was trying to roll down the window and was throwing up (darn those backseat-I-only-go-down-half-way-windows!) We pulled out of line to clean up- thankfully, Laura had not eaten anything yet and so there was not much to actually clean up... so I was not grossed out and proceeded to buy my "Happy Meal." We went home, she slept and I read and enjoyed my Saturday afternoon... until I started feeling queasy myself! Before I knew it, I was making myself quite comfortable in the bathroom... pillow on the hamper so that I could rest my nauseous head while I sat... and sat... and sat. Sunday morning was worse- and I didn't really think it could get any worse. Laura woke up feeling great though and took good care of me until the boys arrived home from their camping trip. When I was finally able to lift my head a little, Eric showed me this weird rash he had on his hand... great. At least it wasn't itchy. My saga continued... not much changed for me... but, having a long time to contemplate it, I decided that I really do like the shade in the master bath... and I think we really need to paint in there! When Eric got home from work Monday night, he tried to take me to the doctor, but we had to cancel because I could not get to the car, never mind make it all the way into town. It turned out to be a good thing though, because moments later we got a call from Gran- Laura had just passed out at Publix! (I know, the week just keeps getting better and better!) Luckily, there was an off duty paramedic buying his groceries, and he took good care of my girl... and Gran! So, now it's Tuesday, and Eric was determined to get me to the doctor. With a little help from Pepto, I did make it... and told Eric that since we were going, he should get his hand looked at- the rash was getting bumpy. They put us in a room together, where we had the slowest nurse ever look after us. She was nice- just slow. Finally, the nurse practitioner took over and she started asking questions: when did it start? what did you eat? have you had abdominal surgery? have you had your gall bladder out? Oh my- gall bladder??? I started picturing how lovely my matching scars would look- I looked at Eric and we just laughed. If this was my gall bladder, it would certainly be par for the course! And she looked at Eric's hand- more questions, and then she dragged a doctor in for show and tell! After blood work for both of us (the same nurse took our blood... slowly) we left with a diagnosis of food poisoning for me (she thinks it was my "Happy Meal!"), and a puzzled look for Eric, along with a prescription (that seems to be working pretty nicely!) Home to rest... and move on from being sick! But wait- there's more! One more frantic phone call... Camden just threw up! Thankfully, it was just once (like Laura) and by Wednesday morning, we were all on the mend. Thank goodness. It does feel like we have lost a week though, thanks to that "Happy Meal" that was not exactly... happy. But sometimes, you just gotta laugh... it's better than the alternative!!

August 02, 2008

no sleep tonight

There is nothing like the excitement of teenage girls... the screaming, squealing screeching and bouncing. It is unique to that group- and although it embarrasses me to admit it, I remember it all too clearly. Of course, there is a time and place for this excitement to be shown- a cute boy passing by... meeting your girlfriends at the mall...finding the perfect shirt to go with your earrings... catching a glimpse of your favorite movie star... and finally having a long awaited book in your hands at midnight. I love that there is such excitement over a book- pages of twists and turns, emotions and characters woven together. I know eight young ladies who will not sleep tonight. They will be turning page after page- sighing and giggling and gasping. It is a beautiful thing- to be in love with books.