September 29, 2009

a tiny gift


I don't know if she suddenly released her grasp from the tangled carpet fringe while I was vacuuming, or if it had just taken years for her to make her way down through the inner workings of the la-z-boy chair... but regardless of the how, there she tumbled... at my feet. To another, she might appear to be just a bit of plastic, her expression worn off with time, but to me, a mother... this little Polly is so much more. She is a glimpse back... to laughter and little clam shell cases. She brings me back... to stretched out days of playing, with the sun streaming through the windows. She reminds me... of that little blond wisp of a girl with a smile as bright as the sun. She is... a gift to this heart... a tiny piece of yesterday I thought was long forgotten.

Unwrapping this tiny Tuesday... at Chatting at the Sky.

September 28, 2009

ordinary starts with o


Sea shells, broken or whole... a stray feather that has fluttered its way into the wet sand... tiny pebbles that poke at the undersides of your feet as you are exploring. Ordinary beach finds, or extraordinary treasure? It depends how you look at them...

It's the simple joys, the simple pleasures the heart remembers and dearly treasures. -Hadin Marshall

Working our way from Z to A with Jen @ Unglazed... Happy Monday!

September 24, 2009

rewinding the week, part 2


another real-life Africa picture taken by my Mom...

This African safari skidded from a gentle might be to a hearty maybe... and then it was booked. Somewhere between maybe and that elated We're going to Africa phone call, I stared to really feel the excitement and the tears often rested on the edge of a dream coming true.
It wasn't really my dream... not from the start. My own dreams have never stretched beyond the borders of my own country, except maybe to skip over to Hawaii or up to Alaska. I have been so content to live through the pages of my Mom's scrapbooks and hear her stories. And I have been comfortable seeing the world on my TV screen... and occasionally being able to shout Mom & Bob did that! when teams were racing through Australia or Europe. I have loved every minute of my parent's travels... their memories, the trinkets that adorn their house and ours, and especially that they have had the opportunity at all. In fact, that is where those tears slipped out over the edge and fell onto my heart. In one excited phone call, talking about passports, my Mom told me that she has to renew hers... and in the next wonder-filled breath said I never even thought I'd ever have a passport at all... and now I am renewing it!
To think about it makes me tear up all over again. How much I love this woman... and want the world for her. She teaches me to dream beyond my little corner of the world... and when I'm uncertain, she shares her dream with me, and little by little it is becoming mine...

September 23, 2009

rewinding the week, part 1


photo courtesy of my mom... yep... she took this in real life.

The conversation began after seeing my Mom's newly decorated guest room and bathroom... appropriately called the Africa Room. We were the last ones to see it, due to my ER visit a few weeks ago, and although she was thrilled that she was finally going to share it with me, I was the last person... and there would be no one else new to ooo and ahhh over it. Really... it is beautiful. Breathtaking. Earthy paint, dark floors, and poster-sized photographs that started as vacation photos, and so many little touches that are just... my Mom. After lunch, sitting and talking... enjoying time, she turned to me and asked When the time comes that we could book a trip to Africa, would you be able to take the time off from work.... schedule it around summer activities? I didn't think too much of it... because we were barely to the half-way point in the five year plan, and to me, Africa was a someday kind of thing. Quietly, she whispered that she was hoping to go in the summer. My smile was wide... and my heart skipped a beat... maybe two. Wow.

Traveling home that evening, I felt overcome by a sense of disappointment. Africa? Already? But then what will I look forward to?
I had placed the adventure so far out of my reach that the possibility was too much, too soon, I guess. I should have just been thrilled. I was ashamed at my feelings... and I shoved the thoughts aside with a fair amount of guilt. Heading towards home, still mulling it all over, I realized how quickly time flies. And how many summers remained between now and college. And a smile rushed across my face once again. Next summer would be really wonderful.

a secret revealed

The time has come...
All day, I could feel the butterflies in my stomach... and the adrenaline rushing through my veins. I could not get home quick enough. We couldn't get down to my Mom's house fast enough. But then there we were... rushing into the house with the thunder crashing and the lightening crackling... surrounded by candle light. No power? I asked my Mom. And she just glowed... and said How perfect. We'll be dining by candlelight most nights. Gathered around their table, eating leftover spaghetti warmed on the grill, my daughter wondered why I had the camera at the table. But soon... she realized. After just a few bites of her dinner, she saw the message. And her smile lit up the room as she was now in on the secret. Cam was a slow eater. We urged him on... and while he knew there was something up, he couldn't quite grasp onto our hints. Eat faster. Do you want some bread to lap up the sauce? Gramma will take your extra sauce... And his eyes opened wide.

So... what is the secret?

Can you read it?

Yes. We are going to Africa. Ever since my Mom first set her feet down on the African soil, she has dreamed of sharing it with her kids. And soon she will.
I'm sure I'll have more to say...
and more to share once my head catches up with my heart...

September 21, 2009

the little things...


My calendar tells me that Autumn begins today. The air tells me another story... but I will be patient. My calendar also tells me that the end of my secret keeping is just hours away (come back tomorrow if the curiosity is killing you as much as the anticipation is killing me!) But while I sit and wait... there are a few little things that keep popping into my head... and making me smile.

...my Friday night spot up in the bleachers... watching my girl march her heart out. A surprise visit from friends just added to the fun of the already friend-filled evening. Gosh... I love marching band, and all that comes with it.

...a little girl alternating between riding her rip-stick and hanging out in the stands with her dad while they watch her brother play football. How I wish their Mom was siting there... right beside them. But just seeing Abby smile makes my heart smile. And knowing that Jacob has found his passion with football gives my soul a little contentment. Lisa would be thrilled.

...my son- who has grown three inches since the end of July. Yes... three. No wonder he needs new clothes.

...a man baking pumpkin bread in my kitchen. What is not to smile about?!

...friendships. Old. New. Renewed.

...the way my nice-as-pie smile eventually turned the Verizon lady's attitude around to my advantage.

It was only a sunny smile, and it cost little in the giving. But like morning light, it scattered the night, and it made the day worth living. -anonymous

Something else that makes me smile? Unwrapping a Tuesday at Chatting at the Sky. Well, not just Tuesdays...

pelican starts with p




These pictures are courtesy of my son... the CAMera Guy. He took them a few years ago with his Gramma... and I love them. Of course, I do love pelicans anyway. They are part of my first Florida experience... and when Florida comes to mind I automatically think pelicans and palm trees. I never thought that I would actually live here though... and that those pelicans and palm trees would be a part of my everyday life. Yes, I am a lucky girl.

I fell in love with pelicans on the pier in St. Petersburg. The was this ramshackle bait shop... selling bait, of course, but also trying to make the most of his hungry pelican situation by selling fish as "Pelican Food" and offering the opportunity to feed the pelicans. We did buy a little bag of fish... and those hungry birds flocked to our feet... beaks open and ready for their snack. I don't think I had the guts to touch one of those fish, but my parents fed the pelicans and we laughed outrageously at the pelican who stole the plastic bag that had once contained the fish. (Suz, I'm sure he was just going to recycle that baggie... no hate mail, please!)

Last summer on the beach we watched them fly so close to the water that their wings would just skim the surface... or we'd laugh as they spotted a fish in the depths of the ocean and dive straight down. Bombers! Cam would yell... and he dubbed it the the summer of peace, love and pelicans.

Pelican starts with P... and they make me happy.

I was so sorry to miss a couple more weeks of Jen's Z to A game... hopefully I am right back on track. I'm headed there now... to see what other things start with P!

September 17, 2009

honestly...

Once and a while I stop to look at my life... and realize that I am not the person that I dreamed I would be. Like most other young women, I dreamed I would be that perfect Mom. The Mom who changes d├ęcor with the seasons. The Mom who never yells. The Mom who teaches her kids how to cook, then lets them have free reign in the kitchen. The Mom who has all of the kids over to her house. The Mom that keeps everything nice and tidy... and puts on a fabulous spread at dinner time. Are there Moms out there like this? Yes... I suppose there are.

Often... I wonder how people look at me and think I am this woman. Sure, it is a compliment that someone might think I have it all together... but is it reality? Not for me. Sure... I can pull off some extraordinary things. The best red velvet cupcakes you ever ate. A Mexican feast fit for a rowdy group of friends. Beautifully decorated cakes. Creative Halloween costumes. There are people who refer to me as “Martha Stewart.” A compliment? I suppose. But reality? Nope. Because anything extraordinary takes a great deal of effort to pull off... and I seriously do not have the motivation or the stamina to keep it up on a daily basis.

I am the Mom who has a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. I am the Mom who doesn’t keep her dust bunnies in the corner, but lets them race across the floor. I am the Mom who can’t seem to finish a Bible study that I really wanted to complete… and the Mom who hardly ever just sits with God. I am certainly thankful that He is gracious enough to put up with this... and He lets me talk to Him all day long. Lately I think... I am the Mom who needs a really good cry.

I am who I am. The girl God designed me to be… and while I am accepting her here and now, I am hoping that He isn’t quite finished with me yet. So... I am not the person I dreamed I would be… and I’m okay with that. God has a better plan that I could ever dream anyway. And He is at work in me… everyday. He makes me real. Honestly… who could ask for more?

Still wonerin' why I'm here. Still wrestling with my fear
But oh... He's up to something,
And the farther out I go, I've seen enough to know that I'm not here for nothin'
He's up to somethin'

There is hope, for me yet, because God won't forget, all the plans he's made for me
I have to wait and see, he's not finished with me yet, he's not finished with me yet

-Lyrics from Brandon Heath's Wait and See


Thanks, Kat...
for this award. That I inspire you is a gift... to my heart.

September 15, 2009

friendship and a tiara


It was a long week (why does it seem that the short ones always are?), and a day that stretched on without much motivation, try as I might. But I let her half-drag me out to a movie that I didn’t care about, because she is my friend, and I really wanted to spend some time with her. No time for dinner, we slipped through the drive-thru at Chik-fil-a... and I noticed the pink balloons, proclaiming Princess Night. I almost wished to be eating inside... but the very polite young man managed to find me a spare tiara, and that, with the Polynesian sauce, sweetened my mood... just enough to make it over to the movie theatre.
The movie was not great... and that, combined with a large group loud pre-teen girls scurrying in and out of the show (I really didn’t blame them, I just wished they hadn’t bumped my seat so often) was only made worse by my sweater not keeping me warm enough. But even bad movies do end... and when we finally left the theatre, the sky was pouring down sheets of rain into the dark night. Not a great scenario for driving… and as she was clutching the steering wheel, I offered to drive her car… because that is what friends are for.
Back at her house… safe from the pouring rain and the pre-teen chatterboxes… we peeked into the fridge, and discovered just enough wine for two friends to share. With a clink of glasses, we were able to sit on the couch and visit… and with my feet tucked up under me, and a tiara on my head, I was finally right where I wanted to be. The rest of day faded out as we sat there and visited… laughing and listening. And I am ever thankful for just such a friend.

Emily, thanks for letting me share my Tuesday (on a Saturday) Moment...
Tuesdays Unwrapped

September 11, 2009

remembering

Everyone has a story to tell... a remembrance of that sorrow-filled day. We remember where we were and what we were doing... and it is as vivid to us today as it was eight years ago. That day stopped life in its tracks... and the joyful memories of the days just prior were all but forgotten. Leafing through my album... I saw the smiles. My daughter had finally learned to ride her two-wheeler... both Laura & Camden had bright smiling faces as they headed back to school... and we celebrated a dear friend's birthday, with smiles and laughter and the biggest piece of red velvet cake I had ever seen. But all of those things... those beautiful, life-filled memories, were forgotten in a single day. If I didn't have the photographs, I might not have recalled these moments at all.
But forgetting doesn't seem quite so important as remembering. And in the days after those towers came crashing to the ground, and airplanes left gaping holes in the Pentagon and a wide open field... we began to remember. We began to remember what we stood for... and who we stood before. Neighbors dug through their garages, remembering that they had folded up Old Glory... and they unfurled her and let her fly. Friends remembered who to place their hope in... and they were drawn to church and held hands as they prayed. Day after day, we saw those towers crumble... and day after day, we held out our hands to give strength to another.
I needed those hands to hold. I needed to see America joining together, once again, with a love for God & Country that seemed to have been forgotten. It gave my heart a sense of peace. As a camera-toting-kind-of-girl, I began snapping pictures... so that I would always remember this sense of kindness... this unity brought on by terror. My favorite thing was taking pictures of the signs around town... most of them a quick shot while I was sitting at a stop light, or pulling into a parking lot. I wanted to remember. I wanted to remember that Walgreens proudly proclaimed In God We Trust, United We Stand! and that the movie theater wanted all to know that Our Thoughts And Prayers Are With New York And Washington DC. God Bless America! USA is #1. I wanted to remember that my corner gas station wanted me to Stand Up For The Red White & Blue and that the people at the local rib joint believed that the Land of the Brave Means To Live Without Fear. As citizens of this great country... we stood by our flags poles... and clung to the cross. I remember... feeling proud of my country... because instead of hiding under the covers, we dusted off our American Spirit and displayed it boldly.
And it is that... that I never want to forget.

Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of the American resolve.
-President George W. Bush, September 11, 2001

September 10, 2009

music and laughter


Those flying fingers make me smile. A lot. And the smile usually turns to laughter within a few beats of the metronome. Ms. Julie knows just what Camden needs... and ratcheting it up a notch is just the thing. That boy of mine certainly loves a challenge.
And I love piano lessons.
Wednesday afternoons just wouldn't be the same without them.
When Camden first started taking lessons, Ms. Julie invited me to sit in on the first few. I grew quite comfortable on her spare piano bench... and I told her that she should kick me out... but in three years, she never has. And either has Camden. Truthfully, I'm not sure I could stand to be sitting in the waiting room... listening to the laughter and wondering what could be so much fun on the other side of the wall. And so there I am, week after week, a part of that laughter: smirking at Kooka-burro (the stuffed donkey who is not a Democrat)as he sits atop the piano... arching my eyebrows at the twinkies (those little mistakes that are inevitable)... chatting about the new studio and marvelling at the fact that even when she is talking, she never misses a beat or a wrong note and encourages the correction... and watching their fingers fly together as they play as fast as they can without making a mistake, which is apparently a great way to learn.
I never leave that lesson without wanting to throw my arms around Ms. Julie and thank her... for the lesson, of course... but also for knowing my son and knowing just how to teach him.
As for the music... it is coming right along. He gets better and better each week... ready to learn something new or take a song to the next level. And never once... has he ever not wanted to go to his lesson.
I love piano lessons... the music, the laughter... and the love.

September 09, 2009

maybe i should stop to think...

When it comes to painting, or hair, I am not necessarily… careful. I do not lament over the perfect color sample… or even paint those little splotches on the wall, to see what looks best in the light. Nope… I dive in, hold my breath and tell myself that it’s only paint, and I can just paint over it. Or in the case of hair, which it was this morning, that it’ll grow back. It has been ages since I decided to let Anna cut in the bangs… and once she did, I was thrilled. I could see! And that one chunk of hair that kept separating itself from the rest finally seemed to stay in place. For a while at least. Over the past couple of weeks I have noticed that the same little chunk has decided that it needs to set itself apart again. And it has been driving me crazy. As I took the scissors (that I keep in my make-up drawer for just such a time) to my hair, I did recall that I have a hair appointment this Friday… only two days away… but I let those scissors snip away, regardless. It was only an inch or so that I added to my bangs… but holding the three inches of length, in my hand rather than on my head, stopped me in my tracks.
What did I do?
Maybe it was just the thing I needed. Or, if not, I'll just wait for it to grow back.
What bothers me more is that I am going to have to fess up on Friday…

September 08, 2009

tears on sunday

We have our fair share of scuffles… but usually nothing that the Crooked-Mom-Eye look won’t stop. And it is fairly rare that one of our children just downright disobeys. But it happens. Or… it happened. This weekend. Somehow… I was able to keep my cool.
Over the years I have learned that it is most effective to let them stew and wonder what I’m thinking… but really, my heart was broken. Not necessarily about what was done… but about the lie that followed. I suppose that over the years I have also learned that a flash of anger is easier to set aside than lingering disappointment. So I sat in the living room and waited it out. I sat, with my broken heart… while he was in his room doing who knows what. And then I sat some more… until I couldn’t stand it for another minute.
He was tucked under his blanket in his bed, reading. Sitting myself down on the side of his bed, I sighed. He curled around and sat looking at me… with red-rimmed eyes that looked ready to spill. I’m sorry. Can you forgive me? And in that moment I was thankful for the misstep. Thankful… for the chance to remind him that I will always forgive him. Thankful... for the love that God placed in my heart and the certainty in knowing that there isn’t a thing in this world that either of my children could do that would stop me from loving them. Thankful… that my son, closer now to thirteen than twelve, could throw himself into my arms and hang on...letting relief wash over him.
I am hopeful... that it will be a long while before we sit in disappointment again and that the lesson has been learned. But God does have a way of working good into the bad, and since I am trying to see the brighter side, I will say that I surely love seeing His work.

September 04, 2009

let there be light


It happens gradually... so much so that you hardly notice... until one day, you are standing in the dark. I let it last about four days... this standing in the dark... before I actually even began to seek light. But it was time... and after about five minutes of very simple labor, I was thrilled to flip the switch and let the light of those four bulbs do their job. My kitchen was once again filled with light!

I suppose I could make a list of excuses for not tackling this very simple, less than five minute job... the trouble of getting out the step ladder, actually having to walk all the way to the laundry room to find the light bulbs, wanting to wait to change them until it was really worth my while... or just waiting for someone else to do it for me. But I finally just gave in and pushed all of the reasons to the side... because I was tired of working in the dark. Of course... the darkness hides a lot. Once my room was awash with light, the crumbs, the dust... the ketchup splashed on the cabinets all showed their ugly faces. I knew they were there all along... but it was easy to ignore them when the light was dim. Holding things up in the light? It means no excuses. It means showing everything... good, or bad. It means showing... me.

I think I've been sitting in the dark for a while. Hiding from the world. Sitting still... and not reaching out. Letting my life mark time, instead of marching boldly ahead. Light has a funny way of showing off the good the bad and the ugly... but I am reminded that when I stand in the light of Jesus, the bad and the ugly are pushed to the shadows and then swept up under that glorious carpet of forgiveness. Easier than changing a light bulb or flipping a switch...

September 03, 2009

can i ask a favor?

It has been quite a week... words are swirling through my head and my heart... and can't seem to find their way out. But can I ask you to pray?
For Kathy, who is doing her best to recover.
For Joyce, who is beginning on a journey I wouldn't wish on anyone.
For Deb, who is on that same journey... for the second time.
For Chris, who is grieving a loss so close to his heart.
For a young man... waiting for test results.
For Suz' Grandma... and Suz herself.
For all of the families and friends who love these people...
Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.