Tuesday, March 31, 2009

seeing the sunshine

My grandfather was like a magnet. Wherever he was, people were drawn to him in this crazy, inexplicable way. When I was little and we were on vacation or out to eat, this used to bother me. I thought, "Why can't we just go out like a normal family without people interrupting all the time?" I also remember that this was a sentiment completely unshared by him. He never was too busy to give his full attention to whoever stopped by. I have a feeling that most people, whether it was a five year old kid, a teenager, or adult always walked away feeling like my grandfather was truly delighted to have talked to them. And he was.

It's impossible to pinpoint one thing that gave him that magnetic quality because there wasn't just one thing. But for me, something that sticks out is his refusal to let go of his positive, optimistic attitude. He was virtually never negative or down, and like the sun, he brightened the moods of everyone around him. I remember him talking about the effect of a sour, negative person. He said that type of person drained the life out of those they were around. I guess that somewhere along the way, he made a choice to be just the opposite.

I can remember when I was a little girl my grandfather being a comforting presence when anything went wrong. I remember as a teenager going to him with the various and inevitably dramatic ups and downs of my high school experience and always walking away from him our talks with a bigger perspective that lightened the burden of my current trial. He could make me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry. He made it nearly impossible for me to remain mad, even when I wanted to be. He could enjoy life even in the midst of times that would send other people into depression.

I've realized that this is a quality I want in my life. I don't want to be sucked under by the tide of circumstances, allowing my emotions and attitude to be driven by the stuff going on around me. But how is it possible knowing that the reality is some days are going to be full of garbage?

Well, one thing I know is that my grandfather was a realist. He didn't live in la la land, willing positive thinking to change his reality. Nope. He just lived with perspective. He had his priorities solidly in order, so when a circumstance here or an obstacle there came around, it didn't rock his world. He knew to expect that unexpected things would happen. He believed firmly, come good or come bad, God was always in control. He also had discovered the secret that moaning and groaning, complaining and fretting, were sure paths to ulcers, but not necessarily happiness. He subscribed to the belief that in situations that we couldn't change, why not do everything possible to make the best of them? That's why I remember laughing with him in the hospital the week before he died as he told jokes, boating across a lake laughing until we cried as we sped across the waves while he had cancer, playing games with him when I was sad, and sharing his chocolate toffee when I was down.

My grandfather grieved when tragedy struck, he was sober when circumstances dictated, he shared the burdens of those around him every day of his life, yet he also lived with unrelenting joy. He was never inappropriately light hearted, but he chose to take the circumstances he was given, and do the best with them.

I've had some marked failures in this department in my 26 years. Like the time when Nathan dropped my new laptop on the ground resulting in $925.00 worth of repairs, and I exhibited some very unbecoming behavior. Or the time the transmission on the car went out after having taken the car into the dealer twice before in the same month, resulting in a less than even keel attitude on my part. Or the time when we were driving to Birmingham, took a wrong turn, and ended up driving an hour out of the way, and I acted like my world had crumbled right in front of my eyes. I think I might have even cried. Yes, this hasn't always been my strong suit, but with God's help, I believe it still might be!

I have lived long enough to know that terrible, tremendously painful things happen, and unfortunately, grieving is just as much a part of life as laughing. This post is not about trying to be an escapist and live in a world of my own making where everything gets a happy twist. Instead, it's about making a choice about how I will face the big and the small tragedies of life. I know I won't ever look back and regret moments where I chose not to worry. I won't look back and regret going without drama and tears when something unexpected (like termites!) strikes. I won't regret enjoying what I can from what life serves me, instead of focusing on the parts I wish were not my portion. I know it's not easy because there are so few people who truly live their lives in this pattern. But I also know it can be done. I've seen it for myself.

Friday, March 27, 2009

sew easy

I couldn't stand looking at the pictures of the termites anymore, so I found something a little easier on the eyes. I was looking on etsy this morning for a baby present when I came across something I thought was pretty neat. DIY. I had no idea what that meant before I came across this skirt.

Isn't that fun? I love the big animal print and the bright colors, but even better than that, I learned about DIY, aka do it yourself. The idea is that this seller will send you the skirt kit, complete with the pre-cut fabric, ruffle, and elastic. With the hard work already completed by the seller, all that's left for you the buyer to do is to apply a little needle and thread action and you're done!

I love sewing, and on a very basic level, I know what I'm doing. But even so, seeing the cute fabric combinations with the grunt work already done is a very tempting proposition! It's slightly more expensive than getting all the supplies and starting from scratch, but sometimes designer fabrics can be $10-15 a yard anyway, making this skirt quite reasonable.

After seeing the skirt, I looked around to see if any other sellers had DIY options available, and my search came up with this pillowcase dress

and this seller who has a collection of iron on appliques for t-shirts. This guitar was one of several she had available.

If you've been wanting to try your hand at sewing, and you haven't known where to start, this seems like as good a place as any. Or if you are too busy to invest the time it takes to do it all, why not start here?

A fun idea I think. I'm going to order the animal print skirt and give it a go.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

we are officially at war



An hour ago I saw a bug that bore a remarkable resemblance to a termite. I looked around and found another. I followed the trail into the dining room, and I found the mother load.

I considered grabbing Marianna (Adrienne was already at my mom's), and getting out of Dodge, but I opted instead to take matters into my own hands with the nearest thing I could find to do the trick. Ant spray. Here's a view of the carnage (and a few Marlee hairs as well).

Nathan told me shortly after the massacre took place that the termite man said that the creatures only live between 5 minutes to an hour in the air, meaning that all I did was shorten their already limited life span. But, if they swarm again before tomorrow (and I've been told they could) I am not going to let mother nature run her course and wait for a natural death. No siree. I am finding that I can breath easier, the ant spray smell not withstanding, with those little bugs dead on the ground instead of flying around my dining room, so if it happens any time in the next 18 hours, I will come out armed and ready once again.

What are these?

You guessed it. The tell-tale holes of escape, loaded up with my little home remedy (ant spray again) and blocked off by tape until tomorrow when the termite man can come. However, since talking with the termite man again, I have removed the tape because he told me if more are going to swarm, they might as well go through the same hole instead of boring new ones. Makes since to me, although any discussion of termites swarming is making my stomach do flips.

I am very sad to say that we do not have a termite contract, although we will from this day forward and forevermore, so we will have to wait til tomorrow to hear what damage has been done. Will this steal my joy? No. Thank you Jesus, termites are a very, very small inconvinience in the scheme of things. Will it make me cringe? It already has, and I'm sure tomorrow, I will again. But a lesson is learned. Termites happen, so make sure you're covered!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

parking lot etiquette 101

I wouldn't think we would need a manual on this subject, but experience today has proved me wrong. Parking lot etiquette is evidently not always a built in commodity, meaning that what strikes me as common sense doesn't ring true universally. Let me break down my experience in the Target parking lot to give you a visual on what I'm talking about.

Today I walked out of Target into a beautiful, 70 degree Memphis day. The parking lot was neither full nor crowded, and I had a decent parking spot about 6 or 7 aisles back. As I was walking out, two small girls and many shopping bags in tow, a minivan began following closely behind me. I think, "This person is probably just going very slowly to give me plenty of time to get my cart load of kids and purchases safely out of harms way." Umm, not quite. I reached my car and pushed the cart safely out of lane and began the process of transferring everything from cart to car, when it suddenly became clear this minivan was actually going to wait for my spot.

This took a second to process. I stole a quick glance at the rest of the parking lot to confirm that there were indeed parking spots EVERYWHERE, but there the van stayed, clearly seeing that I hadn't even begun to unload my considerable cargo, yet still making the choice not only to wait, but to block traffic in both directions in the process. It didn't take long to realize, right or wrong, the only choice I had was to launch into immediate action.

I grabbed Adrienne and locked her car seat into place, before lifting Marianna and her blue icee into the car with instructions to do her best to buckle the top car seat buckle, all the while using my peripheral vision to spot the backup extending out into the front of the store. I then rushed to the back and began throwing my bags in as quickly as I could grab them, slammed the back door shut, and ran (and I'm not using that as a figure of speech) to the nearest cart parking spot and back again, weaving in between the cars that were being forced to wait from the other direction. I jumped in the front seat only to discover that Marianna was unable to get herself and her icee situated successfully, forcing me to turn around and do the whole buckle in process from the driver's seat. I sat down, buckled my seat belt, wiped away a drop of sweat, and maneuvered my car out of my spot and into the now extensive parking lot jam. The minivan pulled calmly into my spot as I drove away, counting the empty spots as I passed them.

Was this malicious? I seriously doubt it. All I can think is that it was a serious breach of the unspoken parking lot rule that says never, under any circumstances, wait for the parking spot of someone who is single handedly loading up a full cart and two children into her car unless it is the day after Thanksgiving or the week before Christmas. There are no other exceptions =).

Monday, March 23, 2009

prayers for Stellan

I know many of you probably read MckMamma's blog, but if you don't, could you please visit there this morning and lift up her little Stellan? He was admitted to the hospital last night with an increased heart rate, and this sweet little 4 month boy needs our prayers. The doctors need to get his heart rate to slow from the dangerously high rate it has been at for most of the night. Please check on the updates and pray for this baby.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

dream big

“Follow your dreams.”

Heard that before? I know I’ve seen my share of Oprah’s featuring people who have followed their dreams and ____________. You fill in the blank. It’s something so common I’ve taken for granted the fact that as a culture we place a lot of value in chasing after the dream.

Is that bad? Of course not. The whole concept is something that helps define who we are as a nation, and I think the belief that anyone can pursue a dream engenders a lot of hope. It’s inspiring to see someone who has accomplished more than anyone could have thought possible because he or she never lost sight of the dream. Just think about the Olympics for goodness sake!

But even though the concept in and of itself is a good thing, I think it has turned into something that leaves us all vulnerable to falling victim to the trap of the pursuit of happiness. Does that sound like an oxymoron? At first glance, probably so. It makes sense to want to do things that make us happy, and I, for one, really enjoy being happy.

So what’s the problem? Well, one of the things I’ve come to see about God is that what makes sense to us is often exactly opposite of what makes sense to Him. For example, He uses the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong He tells us we gain our life by losing it, He says that those who are first, will be last and those who are last, will be first. So many things are backward from what seems logical and what comes so naturally to us, yet I have no trouble believing that God is the one who has it right.

Let me get to the point. I don’t think that God’s end result is our happiness. Am I saying God doesn’t want us to be happy? Absolutely not. I think that it would be impossible to deny that the very best things in this earth God made for us to enjoy. I think that God loves to give us the gift of happiness, and there is not one thing in the world wrong with enjoying the good parts of life as often as we can. In fact, I think it would a tragedy not to. But the key words back there were “end result.”

Happiness just isn’t what’s most important in this life. Instead, what God does say is important is loving others. Serving others. Putting others before ourselves. Living to bring God glory by being available to Him in whatever capacity He asks us, not living to try and do everything in our power to make ourselves happy. The fact is, happiness that we try and get by doing for ourselves is a shallow pool at best, and as soon as we take our first splash in it, it’s going to disappoint.

Enter disillusionment.

And unfortunately, the disillusionment just as often as not, sends us right back to the same old tricks, trying to manufacture happiness for ourselves by doing what we think is going to make us happy. The problem is, that’s not a part of God’s equation and eventually, everything that is outside of His best plan is inevitably going to leave us unsatisfied. When you really boil it down, isn't that the truth?

That’s why it suddenlty dawned on me that our obsession with following dreams is a potential pitfall we hazhard when the pursuit of those dreams is at the price of doing what it is that we were really called to do. I guess it all comes down to honesty, and being able to look yourself in the eyes and answer the question, "what's my motivation?" A dream that is born out of selfishness and achieved at the cost of the others in our life is never going to get us what we want. But a dream that God gives us that we pursue not just for our happiness but for His glory? That's where the true joy follows. And even though happiness can be more fun, when it comes down to it I'd rather have joy.

I wrote because I think it's something about our culture we need to be on the look out for, because otherwise, it's almost impossible to detect when it creeps into our own life. I don't want the happiness that the world pushes to ever become my end goal. Dreams are important, but lining those dreams up with the dreams God has dreamed for us, that’s what it’s really all about.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

lunch was good...

but those blue eyes take the cake!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

once upon a time

Once upon a time, in the Land of Luce, there was a girl who loved to tell stories. Her fair sister and two twin dolls were all the audience her heart could desire, and it was to these adoring three that she spun her princess fairy tales . The girl was long winded and her stories sometimes seemed as if they would never reach an end, so her kind and wise mother edited story hour to a more manageable three minutes.

Monday, March 9, 2009

all for nothing?

Do you remember how you first stumbled across this page of mine? I know some of you started reading because you actually know me and I sent out an email, nearly 18 months ago telling you that I was going to chronicle Poppy's journey on this page. But many, many more of you came across it some other way, and if I was a betting person I'd bet you came because you were following somebody's story of heartache, and you just happened to link over to my spot. I've noticed there is an interconnectedness between blogs of those who are going through similar types of suffering, and so it's no coincidence that many of you are well acquainted with other babies who have left this earth prematurely to be with Jesus.

But even if that net doesn't catch everyone, I feel pretty certain that no matter how you ended up here, you were able to connect on some level because you know what it means to go through a time of suffering, and I don't necessarily mean that you have lost a baby or know someone who has. Rather, I feel like most of you connect more generally to the fact that I've been through a time that was harder than anything I ever thought I could handle, and so have you. Months ago I wrote about the different "clubs" that we find ourselves in, whether it be divorce, cancer, death of a spouse or parent or loved one, illness, depression, infertility or any other number of heartaches. Nobody wants to be in their "club," but you are there none the less and the only real choice you have in the manner is how to respond.

That's what I want to talk about today. Maybe you've dealt with something hard recently or maybe you're living in an ongoing struggle. I also bet that some of you are just entering into a dark season, and you feel like the roof of your life is beginning to fall in on top of you, pinning you down under the weight of whatever it is you are dealing with. Maybe you have just lost your job. Maybe you are in the throes of fighting a losing battle with illness. Maybe your marriage is on the brink of cracking and you don't know what the answer is. Maybe you have tried every way imaginable to get pregnant, yet nothing works.

And as you are in the middle of your crisis, doing everything you can just to survive, you feel like all of the heart wrenching pain, all the anxiety, all of the frustration and anger, all of it is for nothing. A waste. Sometimes you probably feel like you are experiencing pain just for the sake of pain, and you wonder why God doesn't reach down and put an end to it. You wonder why He let it happen at all. Does any of that sound familiar?

I know when we first got Poppy's diagnosis, the weight of it seemed crushing. It seemed so senseless to me, and walking the road ahead of us seemed unbearable. I didn't want to do it, but I knew there wasn't a choice. All I could do was choose how to respond. I was going to suffer regardlessly, but what I realized was that I didn't have to suffer for nothing. That was so huge to me. To know that all of the loss and pain and heartache I went through wasn't profitless, that it could actually be used for something! I couldn't see what that "something" was right away, but I felt the promise deep in my soul that there would be things that came of Poppy's life that I really couldn't comprehend. Amazing things! God showed me that a trial given completely over to Him can be used for His glory. Did I want the trial? NO. But I didn't have a choice about that. So I did the only thing that made sense to me. I made the decision to lay everything about Poppy and her life at Jesus' feet. I decided to trust Him when my heart was breaking and to believe by faith that He would use this for His glory.

Now, over one year later, I see that God did not waste my suffering! Praise Jesus, I see that it is true. It is impossible for me to see my life apart from what happened, and it is just as impossible to miss the rich, amazing ways God used my heartache to bring about so many incredible things. My pain was not in vain. It was not for nothing! You want to know why? Because I know that I am stronger in my faith, more confident in my God, and more filled with joy than I have ever been before. Because I have been able to help people who are experiencing grief in a way I NEVER would have been able to otherwise. Because I have been able to share our amazing story of adoption, giving hope to people who long for a child. Because I am a better mom to my girls and a better wife to Nathan for having walked through the fire and survived. Because God is giving me avenues to share His story of how He worked in my life. Praise Jesus. God is so wonderful. He redeemed my pain.

Do you want to know how? My part all boiled down to a single choice, the choice to give my suffering to Him to allow Him to use it. You have the same choice in front of you. God can use your particular crisis if you let Him! He wants to do it. He wants you to use your grief to comfort others who going to follow after you. He wants to use your grief to make you stronger than you've ever been before. He does not want your grief to amount to nothing more than a broken life, filled with anger and bitterness. Don't ever think that God enjoys our pain, because He does not! He hurts as we we hurt. But knowing that pain is a part of our journey, He has given us a most beautiful promise that it can be redeemed. Grab hold of that promise, and don't let it go.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

grapefruit and chocolate

This afternoon Marianna and I sat down to enjoy a delicious, perfectly ripe, not too sweet not too tart grapefruit. I've been a grapefruit fanatic for years, and it seems Marianna has inherited the preference. We were both stingy about our half of the grapefruit, eating every bit until there was nothing left but the peel. As I was savoring each spoonful I felt as if I was actually eating health, as if each bite was making me more resistant to every type of disease, while at the same time reducing the effects of aging and giving me energy. I was filled with thoughts about how the grapefruit might be the ultimate food, and I decided that nothing could compare to the pure, unadulterated pleasure of eating something that is so enjoyable and good for you at the same time. I was so in the moment that I decided I definitely needed to sit down and dedicate a post to this perfect fruit.

It was with these grapefruity thoughts swirling in my head that Marianna and I sat down on the couch to do some reading. A few minutes later I noticed she had a glob of chocolate on her finger, a tell tale sign that she had sneaked a chocolate easter egg candy from the bowl that I had on the counter. I thought I'd be silly, so I grabbed the guilty finger and licked off the chocolate. Then I processed the taste.

"Marianna, what's on your finger?"


From a grapefruit high to the ultimate low in under five minutes.

My mental scream sounded, "AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!," as it sunk in that the most disgusting thing I have ever done as a parent had just happened. Of course hind sight is 20/20. Why did I think it would be funny to lick her finger? Looking back, especially with the current knowledge in hand, nothing about licking her finger, chocolate covered or not, seems like it could ever be funny. But I'm looking on the bright side. Today I have made a day that otherwise would have been indistinct and non-memorable, into a day that will live on immortally as long as this mind of mine is kicking.

I would like to end this confessional right here, but I realize some kind of explanation is necessary if (and I know that's a big if) there is an explanation for something like this. If you remember back to this post, I recently told Marianna she was no longer allowed to play with the magic foaming soap after I found her naked and lathered from head to foot. When I asked Marianna, "Why is there poop on your finger?!" she was quick to remind me of my ultimatum.

What can I say? You reap what you sow.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

getting to know you

Several weeks back I noticed the little followers icon that I could add to my blog- no doubt it has been available for awhile, but I'm not always at the top of the bell curve with blog technology. Anyway, I like it because you can see the little mini-profile picture of each person who joins, and a quick click will show you a little bio information as well as any links. Through that "followers" widget, I have had a chance to get to know each of you who have joined, and if you have a blog, I've visited. It has been so much fun for me to see the faces and families of people I might have just known by a screen name, to get a chance to read the stories of those of you who already know mine. So thanks for giving me the chance to get to know you better. It means a lot!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

snow! snow! snow!

We got TEN INCHES of snow yesterday. If you're from anywhere around here, you know that is a wild amount of snow for Memphis, and we are loving it. Well, I don't think Chum and Adrienne are loving it-they may be neutral at best-but the rest of us are having some clean, cold fun!

Chum, our long haired dachshund, proved to be quite the snow magnet.

Here are the girls with our friend Maggie right after the first 5 inches fell.

This is today after the second wave had come. Almost up to our knees!