Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

Girlfriend, 2, 1, 3, & 4

Many blessings and answered prayers this Christmas! My second son and his girlfriend spent Christmas eve and day with us, which included attending church. She seemed relaxed around us and to be enjoying herself. The two of them also celebrated my oldest son's 22nd (!!!?!!!) birthday with us. My husband and I both agreed that it's a "good" Christmas when our children are with us. I felt the presence of my savior; His love and mercy for me and for us as a family. So welcome to the New Year and it's opportunities to have faith, trust, and hope in Him.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Waiting for the shoe

A few weeks ago, the second son and his girlfriend went to my husband's office party. Then, my son called my husband and asked if he and his girlfriend could have lunch with him. My hubby said yes and they went out for sushi. During lunch, my son told his dad they were looking for a new place to live; he's considering going to the Art Institute and he and his girl need new jobs. They asked if he had a job for either of them, which he doesn't.
These were bold words for the two of them, but reality soon checked in: my son stopped cold on the Art Institute when he realized he had to contact his high school for his transcripts. The job search consisted of asking dad for a job. They can't afford housing in our town, let alone the larger, more expensive city where they were looking.
I think we're being courted for something. A few days ago, my son called and asked to bring over some laundry. When he brought it over, in walked his girlfriend with him who began chatting away as if she'd never considered avoiding me. I asked them to meet us all for Thai food later and they joined us. They are coming over for Christmas eve service, party and present opening and then the girlfriend asked if she could come over Christmas morning. I told her she could stay over in the guest room if she wanted and she agreed.
I accept the girlfriend coming around as a blessing but somehow it feels as if there's something more to come. On the one hand, they are saying good things but on the other, they are doing what they've been doing.
We'll just wait and see. And watch out the shoe doesn't knock one of us out.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

First Date

My daughter is out on her first date. I'm very grateful for this date as most teens at her school don't go on formal dates. They just sort of "hook up". I like this guy. He works at a local hamburger place we go to frequently and always comes up and talks to us. He's also, by my daughter's estimation, a Christian. HOORAY! He's been her friend for some time and this date is to determine if there might be a spark of something more. She isn't very optimistic about the outcome as she has liked another boy for some time. This other boy sends her lots of mixed signals and she's grown tired of waiting on him. In her words: "When I'm with him, I know that I really like him, but when I'm not he frustrates the heck out of me."
I have hopes for her. Although, this date got off to a rocky start. Seconds before he arrived to pick her up, my oldest son came rushing past him, through the door and up the stairs. My son was coming in from a party and running off to an appointment. As my husband and I were greeting the date, the oldest son came downstairs and introduced himself. My second son and his girlfriend came in the door and said "Hi! Who are you?" So there we all stood: my daughter and her date, my husband, me, her two older brothers and the girlfriend. The poor fella was beet red and so was my daughter. I turned to him and said "Looks like we've decided to hold a family reunion in the entry way."
They're going to see Alvin and the Chipmunks and then get ice cream.

She had a good time but she thinks they'll just remain good friends.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas blurr

Oh me. My life is doing the spinning out of my control thing! I typically start the Christmas season the day after Thanksgiving. Not doing anything ABOUT starting the season-just thinking about how I ought to be starting. And then I let the pressure mount. Not really meaning for the Christmas season to be a pressure situation. It just happens that way. So here I am at I don't know how many days until Christmas? A WEEK! The tree is up, the presents bought, the cards addressed, the cookies made. Why do I feel swept up in some kind of whirlwind?
My family keeps asking me what I want for Christmas. I say anything they choose will be nice, even though I have too much stuff cluttering up my life as it is. Honestly, there is nothing I want that they can give me. What I want, I want from Him-to be overwhelmed, changed by, deliriously alive in His Holy Spirit. Come into focus sweet Christmas!

Monday, December 3, 2007

The weekend

Whoa, what a weekend. I was under the weather this week and my Christmas decorating got put off. The girls got the tree up. We bought a new, smaller tree because the boys couldn't find a time to help us. I knew that day was coming...
Friday I got a call from my youngest's school. She just fainted sitting in her chair. Fell over and out. I picked her up and took her to the doctor who said what I expected: "If it happens again, we'll do tests." She was wearing her formal uniform which consists of a sweater over a long sleeved shirt and then she had worn a tank top as well underneath it all. I'm praying she just got overheated.
My older daughter had a friend over and we all went to C-ville to see my oldest son's girlfriend sing with her accapella group. We also met and had dinner with her parents and brother. It was a fun evening but a long one. The girls all loved the singing, especially the men's group that sang a few songs with them.

Saturday was the city parade. Both my girls were in it. The oldest marched with her dance company and had to dress up as a Disney character. My youngest marched with her cheer leading squad. I had to miss it as I had a volunteers brunch. Several more girls joined my older daughter for lunch, a movie and a sleepover. My hubby took on the girls and the outdoor Christmas lights while I took my prodigal son shopping for some clothes that fit. I bought him lunch and had the opportunity for a good heart to heart, at least on my end of it. I also got to hug him, kiss him, and pray over him.

Sunday My husband took the dancer girls to rehearsal and I met a friend for lunch. I haven't seen her in a while so we had a lot of catching up to do. I got home just in time to do nursery duty with the hubby and older daughter for the evening ministries.
I think it's just the beginning of the holiday madness, rushing from one event to the next. Every year I think I'm going to get a better handle on it but I don't think that's possible with young people still at home. So I'm going to put on my party hat and just go with it!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I've been so busy lately with just life that I haven't had time to write in my blog at all. It's what happens to my journals, too. Lots of entries one month and then the next one is made a year later.
Hopefully, I won't get that far behind.
Thanksgiving weekend was pleasant. No company to cook for, which, I confess, is a blessing for me because I stress over the preparations. My oldest son brought his girlfriend. She's from Houston and couldn't go home for the holiday. (I discovered that her family goes to the same church as Beth Moore.) Wednesday night, we played Beyond Balderdash, a family favorite. My second son wouldn't join us as his girlfriend refuses to come to our home. After the game, the older and his girl visited with the younger and his girl at the younger's place. To make his mama happy, they came home when I asked them to.
Thursday morning I was the first one up and had my coffee and quiet time before sticking the turkey in the oven. My hubby came down about 10 and we didn't see anyone else until 12:30 pm. I cooked at a leisurely pace for dinner at 3. It was nice. My prodigal showed up right at 3 and stayed until his girlfriend called and told him to come home. The rest of us played pictionary and went to the movies. My hubby, the girls and I went to see Enchanted. We enjoyed it.
God has given my family so much to be thankful for and all those things were at the fore on Thanksgiving. The most important blessing is His presence in our lives and the confidence we can have that He is working it all for good.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I've been away visiting my mama. Looks like I got tagged while I was gone.

Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs. Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Seven Random Facts:

1. I wanted to be a ballerina and tried to teach myself ballet from a book because my parents couldn't afford dance lessons.
2. Dogs do not like me.
3. I stink at housework and am always trying to figure out a way to be proficient at it.
4. I'm very good at buying art supplies that I never get around to actually using.
5. I always choose the chocolate dessert.
6. I was a breach birth.
7. I have a mini-American girl doll, Kit, because she makes me think of my chatty Cathy doll I had when I was a kid. Plus, I was blonde and freckle faced so she looks like me when I was a kid. Ok, I just like her.
I've got to figure out how to do the tagging part!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Driver Number Three

My 16 year old daughter just arrived home from her driving test and now has her paper driver's license which is good for 6 months or until she goes to court and gets the real deal. She's going to drive us to the Cold Stone Creamery to celebrate. (We go get ice cream to celebrate pretty much anything but-hey, you only go round once.) Anyway, she wanted us to let her drive ALONE to get ice cream and I am soooo not ready for that. She wanted to know why we won't let her and I said I'm not ready for you to be in any accidents and she said "Mom, you're not in charge of that." I had to laugh because, knowing she was taking her test tonight, I've been trying to give her to the Lord all day, telling Him that I know He's in charge. I think He knew I needed to hear it out loud.

I'm getting the "love it" size with some kind of serious chocolate brownie chunks.

My girl at her 16th birthday breakfast

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Suddenly better

I went shopping Friday (is this ALL I do?) with my neighbor whose also my good friend. We had a great time talking and shopping- until the ride home. I suppose she meant well. She began asking me questions about my second son.
He has not suddenly gotten better. Wednesday I talked with another friend who asked me how he was and when I told her she said "I guess I thought because you don't mention him that he'd gotten better." And I think my neighbor thought the same thing. So on the ride home she picked and picked at the wound until I felt overwhelmed about it.
It's been a particularly hard week when it comes to my boy. I discovered he'd spent the night in jail for public drunkenness back in September. He stopped showing up for work at Chick-fil-A and subsequently, was fired. He's working for a caterer who doesn't actually have him on the payroll so as soon as the busy season is over, he'll be jobless. It's hard, dealing with this grief for the living. Sometimes it's even too painful to allow myself to hope. I think I am, at those times, like my friends; if I don't look too closely or think of him too often, I'll discover that he's suddenly gotten better.
But there is nothing about his recovery that will be sudden. Each moment that he comes to my mind, and that is constant, I give him to the Lord. I remind myself that Jesus is already at work in him and I am thankful knowing that however low my son falls, Jesus is there with him. When I feel that I am powerless to help my son, I remember that I have power in my faith in the Author of Life, the redeemer who died for us all.

After dinner, many came up to speak and to thank her (Ruth Bell Graham) for her honest, open sharing. I (Gigi Graham Tchividiian) noticed one distinguished, well-dressed woman who hung back, waiting for a chance to speak. Tension was evident and she struggled to hold back the tears. When the crowd cleared, she approached mother timidly, hesitantly.
"My son died of an overdose of drugs," she said with difficulty, "Do you think I will see him again in heaven?"
Mother, although not knowing any of the details, saw before her a mother with a heavy heart. She answered, "If you heard a timid knock on your door one day, and you answered the knock only to find your child standing there, bruised, wounded, bleeding, dirty, and tattered, what would you do? Slam the door in his face? Or would you throw open the door and welcome him into your arms?"
Suddenly, this mother's face registered relief. I saw the load lift from her shoulders as the tears flowed down her cheeks, because she knew she was hearing from a mother who knew what it was to have a prodigal. They hugged each other, and the woman turned and disappeared into the crowd. From the foreword by Gigi Graham Tchividiian to Ruth Bell Graham's book Prodigals (and Those Who Love Them)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fun day

What a fun day! My oldest daughter was out of school because of elections. We went shopping at the outlet mall and had chili dogs for lunch.
I had to laugh because she bought a jacket from, what she calls, my "old lady" store. I do not have to identify the store as anyone who shops there and has a teenager knows what stores those are. I told her she has to wear it whether anyone laughs at her or not. And then we went to another "old lady" store and she actually bought a pair of corduroy pants in the color I wanted but they did not have in my size. Never fear, I found a skirt and a scarf and some boots (I have a boot thing that is probably unhealthy) all in old lady stores so that I can rest assured that I am appropriately dressed and not looking like I'm dressing like a teenager.
My hubby is going to stop at the store and bring home the stuff to make chili AND he's going to make it. I don't have to cook and I don't have to go out. I am a blessed woman today.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

My dear friend's oldest daughter is getting married in August to a young man in the Navy. She fell in love with him when he was a Senior and she was a Junior in high school. We have prayed mightily over the two of them because they have wanted to marry ever since they met.
She is 19 now and her fiancee is 20. He's out on his first tour of duty and when he returns, they plan to wed.
We've been friends for 15 + years. I have so many memories of her precious girl. For a brief period in elementary school she and my second son were best buddies. They were two little odd ducks with big hearts and quirky senses of humor. Their family moved away to Georgia for 18 months and when they returned, the two were strangers.

My friend told me the other day that she felt she was born ready for motherhood (absolutely true!) and had not yet encountered a situation that had her stuck-until this engagement. She said that while talking with the hostess at a prospective reception sight, she was overcome with the feeling that she didn't know what questions to ask. She was 19 when she married, yet unprepared for her daughter to do the same.
Sometimes it seems as if I've been living underwater; life going by in sweet slow motion and only now have I surfaced to find the future in the present snapping into sharp focus.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Beauty after the rain

We had our first real beautiful fall day today. The air was so clean and crisp after our rain last week. I took Friday "off" and wrapped up in my blanket, listened to the rain, dozed and watched TV all afternoon. It was a blessed day.
The Lord finished up our conversation on Sunday. Oh! He is too good to me! Our pastor spoke on forgiveness and handed out red ribbons to represent 1) something we wanted forgiveness for or 2) someone we needed to forgive. Then he had placed white ribbons on the alter and before we went to partake of communion, he had us exchange the red for the white. The pastor asked the men as the head of the home to come first. Next, he asked the women as the nurturers and last, the children. What a precious time with the Savior! As Beth Moore often says Hang on until the blessing.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Official movie review

It's a lovely rainy day today. We need it so badly. I have my cup of starbucks and was glancing through the Post when I spied the review for Dan in Real Life. The review said the movie was awful and sugar coated and not "real" at all. Actually, I could see where the reviewer was coming from-but didn't I say it was like an old movie?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Help my unbelief

God had a conversation with me this week that I wasn't much wanting to have. He introduced the topic last week at church when a friend, who has lost her son to a drug overdose, asked me if I had forgiven my troubled son. Our class was discussing giving our baggage to Jesus and I had commented that I give it to Him but I take it back every time my boy comes by the house.
Anyway, I thought to myself at the time that, yes, I've done that.
Then God showed me something about my son that brought up just plain hot, bitter anger. My husband invited him over for dinner on Sunday night to talk with him about his plans for the future. My son first called and said he'd be late and then he called and said he was eating pizza at his friends and then he just didn't show up. I should have known already what God was trying to tell me because my son has told me himself but I didn't believe it until now: he likes how he lives. He doesn't want the future we hope for him.
I admit that I was mad at God, too. Praise Him, our sweet Lord, because He knew I was angry and He wanted to talk to me about it. Yesterday in our bible study Beth Moore taught on prayer. Especially the power of it and the never giving up on it and how He is right there just beyond the veil of heaven. I was just overwhelmed with how He spoke right to me: Don't give up on prayer. Don't give up on ME.
I keep looking at my son and what he has done to himself and somewhere in my heart I think I've believed that he's unreachable. Jesus will do the best He can but the boy is not going to cooperate so how much can He affect him? And why doesn't God do something right now?
"If you can?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:23-24
Beth also talked about going to the Wailing Wall and how she pondered what prayers she would offer at this once in a lifetime opportunity. I thought about it and I realized that I would pray the same prayers that I pray everyday for these four children and husband that He has blessed me with. Only perhaps I would pray with more conviction, more hope, more faith.
I think that God wanted to remind me that Jesus intercedes for me; that Jesus prays for me when I don't know the words to pray. He hears His son and He answers Him. I am only waiting to see how God will answer.

Alison Krauss-A Living Prayer

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A short lived victory

I found a way to send Youtube videos to my blog and I found one of my son and his girlfriend and I was sooooo proud of myself. But, alas, I discovered they also uploaded a lot of other videos I didn't want on my blog. I had to delete it.
I will keep trying.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dan in Real Life

I love a good movie. I generally watch TCM because older movies seem to have so much more substance and not so much trashy reality.
Tonight, both my girls are sleeping away and so my beloved and I went to a sneak preview of Dan in Real Life. This movie stars Steve Carell from The Office. We were unsure what to expect as some of his movies are a tad bizarre and have more than a little ugly language. But this movie had a good love story, family values, no bad language, comedic moments and a satisfying ending. We enjoyed it. I give it my highest compliment: This how they used to make a movie.
We also liked the music which is original to the picture. I may get the soundtrack.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Trio Performance in China

My daughter and her two friends had the opportunity to perform their trio for the Beijing Polytechnic Institute. She said it was "terrible" but I am very proud of them!

Prodigal me

Today was lesson 5 in A Woman's Heart. I could hardly take it all in, Beth taught so fast and furious. At some point she said that we want to have "a long obedience in the same direction" and that is just what I needed to hear. Somehow the lesson for me became centered around that statement because I am so short in the obedience and sometimes just off center in the direction.
When I look at my life in retrospect I realize I have lived with a secret sin in my life. It's so secret that I kept it from myself and Jesus has decided now is the time for me to deal with it. My life reflects that I doubt God and His love for me. I despise myself enough for it that I pretend to myself that I don't.
The funny thing is, He's shown me over and over in a million ways. Even during the recent years of a dark depression I knew He was leading me through it and for some reason that I cannot fathom, He decided to bring me past it. Yet, at the first sign of trouble I fret and worry and drive myself to distraction...doubting my wondrous savior.
He isn't working an instant miracle in my sons' lives. The truth is, I was only self-righteous in my mothering and not the obedient mother to them I pretended to be. I know He forgives me yet I am doubting He will look beyond my failure and do a wondrous work in their lives.
Ruth Graham said in her book on Prodigals that she realized at some point that she was wanting God to do something in the lives of her sons that she had neglected to ask God to do in her own life. I think I understand what she meant. Beth Moore said in today's lesson that WE ARE IT. We can't sit around and hope that "someone" will be the lamp-WE are to be the light. I think God is saying to me that my hope should not only be for my children; it should be for myself, too.
I love what Beth said on page 107 of A Woman's Heart: Our hearts are prone to wander and tempted to squander our Father's inheritance on the world's cheap amusements. But when our eyes awaken to reality, when we lift our heads above the compromise, and when our stomachs ace for the food of home, a certain Father will always be standing at the gate, ready to prepare a feast for us, waiting anxiously for His prodigal to come home.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Psalm 32

I watched lesson 4 of A woman's Heart on my computer tonight. I took my oldest son back to college last week on my bible study day and missed it and tomorrow is lesson 5. I was stunned when one of Beth's scripture references was Psalm 32. She talked about forgiveness and believing that Jesus has done the work and how we are doubting Him when we keep re-confessing the same old same old. The stunning part was that our pastor preached on the very same scripture on Sunday. I've lived enough to know He's trying to tell me something. Maybe He just sees me leaning over the pit peaking in.
I've spent more time than usual lately with my wayward son. I've confessed all my failure and junk around that relationship to God. But when I'm around my boy and hear his take on his messed up life, I start beating myself up again.
Okay, so maybe I know exactly what He's telling me.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


I was tagged by Darla. Thanks to her for explaining this to me!

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. tobacco cropper
2. employee at a salad buffet
3. Parent's morning out teacher
4. teacher for the autistic
Four movies I can watch over and over and over:
1. Young Frankenstein
2. Groundhog Day
3. To Kill a Mocking Bird
4. Princess Bride
Four tv shows I like to watch:
1. Law and Order
2. Everybody Loves Raymond
3. Wednesdays with Beth on Life Today
Four places I have vacationed:
1. Capon Springs, WVa
2. Lake Winapasakee(?), New Hampshire
3. Germany
4. LA, California
Four of my favorite dishes:
1. Pasta primavera
2. carnitas crunchy tacos
3. fried shrimp
4. eastern NC pork barbecue
Four websites I visit daily
1. LProof
2. my friend’s blogs
3. email
4. I should visit my own blog daily, but alas, I don't.
Four places I would rather be
1. Heaven
2. the Mountains by a river
3. Capon Springs
4. my mama's house
Four bloggers I am tagging
1. Profbaugh
2. Not that Girl, This Girl
3. Three Men and a Mom
4. Jesus Girl
It is all about your hubby/man! (HUBS)
1. Who is your man? Doug
2. How long and you been together? 26 years
3. How long did you date? 6 weeks before he proposed. 11 months until we married.
4. How old is your man? 52
5. Who eats more? I try to let him.
6. Who said I love you first? He did.
7. Who is taller? He is.
8. Who sings better? He does!
9. Who is smarter? He is.
10. Whose temper is worse? mine
11. Who does the laundry? Me. I need to contribute to the relationship!
12. Who takes out the trash? Mostly me but sometimes he does.
13. Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? He does.
14. Who pays the bills? Me
15. Who is better with the computer? He is.
16. Who mows the lawn? The lawn service.
17. Who cooks dinner? Me or the restaurant.
18. Who drives when you are together? He does.
19. Who is the most stubborn? Me
20. Whose parents do you like the most? Well, I like everyone the same. HAHAHA
21. Who kissed who first? We mutually decided we wanted to kiss. Our first joint decision.
22. Who asked out who? Doug asked me.
23. Who proposed? He did.
24. Who has more friends? We're about equal;each with a few close friends.
25. Who has more siblings? He does, with 4. I only have 2 brothers.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Oh, I am SO GLAD to be HOME! It has taken a good week and a half to get myself back together after our China trip. I was in lala land the first few days back, falling asleep at inoportune moments during the day. My house is a mess with suitcases blown open all over the bedrooms and I had all kinds of errands last week that kept me out of the house. But today I cleaned like a fiend and now our bedroom is serene again and our suitcases are stowed for later adventures. Tomorrow I tackle the girls' rooms-but today I had success as a homemaker.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


So many things seem to be piling up. I need to get on my knees and stay there so that I don't fall back into that dark hole called depression. Jet lag and that woman's time have me emotionally zapped. My 16 year old daughter pulled a wear one thing to school and come home wearing another less appropriate item on me.
What really has me by the heart is my 19 year old son. I spent the morning with him. He lost his car keys and couldn't get his car home from the parking lot of his job. He'd left the car there all night which didn't make my husband happy. Since my son doesn't have a phone, I had to drive over with the spare. In the meantime my son found his keys. We went and made more copies of his keys; I bought him some food. He came home to get his laundry and then he dumped all his troubles with his girl on me. They each have a drug and alcohol problem but his story is that she's the one with the problem. I tried to say the right things but I don't want to just say the right thing. I want to say the thing that will change his heart and God isn't giving me those words. And then at the end of the conversation he told me he was worried about his boss thinking he was taking money from the safe. I wish more than anything I believed him when he said he wasn't. But I don't. I'm asking God to reveal the truth to his boss and I'm asking Him to help me accept whatever that is.
For the first time in ages, we are all six going away as a family this weekend to Capon Springs. I want to be glad that my 19 year old son is coming with us but I know it means that all the heartache will be there too. This burden makes me so weary. I keep giving it to the Lord; it just keeps coming back.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Packed, but not quite ready

We had a packing frenzy today-me, the girls and hubby. It's finally here, the final hour before "the China trip". I can't tell if I'm getting a little excited or just feeling a little sick. We leave in the morning for the airport at 8:15 am- even though the flight doesn't leave until 12:30.
I'm taking my bible study with me to work on during the flight. I also bought Amy Tan's novel Saving Fish from Drowning to read. And, my husband surprised me with an ipod. It's an awesome little thing; I understand why my kids like listening to one. It's like the music is just in your head. I'm as ready as I'm going to be for my grand adventure. We'll be gone 10 days and I'm going to try and keep a travel log so I can turn it into a travel blog. Ugh, my mind is going in a hundred directions. Better get to bed.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Me Time

I love this week. It's like starting back to school for grown-ups. Tomorrow our Beth Moore bible study starts. We are doing A Woman's Heart, God's Dwelling Place.
And then on Friday, the watercolor class I've been taking for about a year starts up. God sent me the class at the peak of depression over my second son's problems. It was the only place I could put him out of my mind and do something for me. Since then, my son has moved out and we painted his room and made it a guest room. I moved my easel in there and now I sit and work on class projects in front of the window he used to throw his bedsheets out and climbed down into the night to do who knows what. I've framed and hung my first successful watercolor in this room, along with photos of my children from through the years. Once, I grieved each time I stepped into the chaos that was my son's room. Now, I feel comforted by God here, surrounded by physical reminders of His love and provision for me.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Accepting Adventure

Last fall, my daughters' dance studio was asked to represent the US in a cultural dance festival in China in September of 2007. They were asked to participate by Onstage America, a dance competition their studio participates in. I have gone through the motions of paying fees, turning in information, informing their schools of their upcoming absence, all without allowing myself to think too much about it. It is a 14 hour direct flight to Beijing and once we are there and they have participated in the festival, we will travel overnight on a 10 hour train ride to a city called Luoyang where they will perform for a another local festival. And then we have to repeat the travel to return home, a total of 44 hours in transit.
As the girls' anticipation builds, dread builds in me. I have difficulty flying; I have a fear of heights and get claustrophobic in confined spaces. I feel panicked and stressed in large crowds and some Chinese friends of ours have told us that we have never seen crowds of people like there will be in Beijing. Thankfully, my husband is going with us. I've told him his one mission while we are there is to keep up with me; his tendency is to go off in any direction that appeals to him leaving me to keep up. He doesn't think there's going to be a problem as we will be traveling around with 150 other people from the studio.
In several of her bible studies, Beth Moore has told stories about how God has blessed her with wonder and awe when she has pushed past her fears and accepted the adventure. I'm praying that I haven't let her talk me into something I'm going to regret!
We leave September 19 and return September 30. This is our hotel in Beijing:

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Tightening the Circle

My kitchen table was at one time our family's dining room table. I remember vividly when we were at a point in our married life when we could afford a townhouse with a dining area and the table that would go in it. We looked for something large and sturdy that would one day be laden with food and family. We seldom ate at it in our early days preferring our tiny kitchen table for the three, then four, then five, then six of us.
When our fourth child arrived and we placed her high chair at the kitchen table we realized two things: we needed a bigger table and a bigger house. So we moved across town to our current home which has a dining room and an area for a big kitchen table. Initially, we hunted for kitchen tables for the kitchen and a china cabinet to match our dining table but nothing seemed quite right. After fruitless searches and too many meals with six at a table for four, my husband suggested we use the dining table in the kitchen. (We're a bit slow on the uptake!) We liked it; it fit. For the eleven years we've lived here it has hosted breakfast, lunch and dinner; two children on one side, two on the other, my husband and I at either end. Studious students- and some not so studious -have completed countless homework assignments at it as I prepared dinner. Many games of Balderdash, Rummikub, Yahtzee and Monopoly have been played there into the wee hours of the night.
And then the exodus began; my little chickens began to huddle at the door ready to fly the coop. Our hands reached across the vacant spot of the oldest to bless the meal, always aware that someone was missing. Our second one graduated and abruptly exited leaving those remaining unsure of their spots; one on one side, one on the other. With my daughters dancing alternate days of the week at the dinner hour, there was frequently only three of us huddled at one end of what now seemed like an expansive amount of space on which to eat.
I contemplated the necessity of such a big kitchen table all last year, but could not bring myself to act. I half hoped that the second son would come to his senses and return home filling his space at the table once again. But as the days have turned into months, I've begun to see that he won't, and probably shouldn't, come home.
School begins on Tuesday. My third child starts her junior year. She's reminded me many times (as if I need reminding) that she has only two years left at home and then she'll be gone. My kitchen table had grown larger and larger in my mind until I couldn't stand the thought of the constant reminder of my shrinking family. I removed the leaf, tightening the circle to accommodate four. When she saw what I had done, my daughter stretched her arms across it and said "No! No! Mom, what have you done to our table?" I laughed at her and told her I only removed the leaf-it can be put back when everyone is home. "But our family has six, mom, and this looks there's only four!"
My husband's reaction was much the same. I made my case by reminding him that we would only have three most nights eating dinner at home. He was unimpressed until I said that I needed to prepare my heart for our girl's departure. Already when she isn't here for a meal I feel the ache of her dwindling presence in our lives. He agreed to the leafless table.
We four have had several meals at our smaller table. Our hands all reach easily for the blessing of food and family; blessings for those present and those not with us.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Verizon has come through and we have DSL! So far, it's working as well as cable did before it went completely out. I can see pictures and slideshows and stuff. Haha-it's a whole new on-line world.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007

Back to school, finally

There was a time when sending my oldest son back to school was met with a big sigh of relief. He was a bright boy with a fierce independent streak that kept me constantly, relentlessly, on my toes. He was a boy in constant motion, both physically and mentally. "Back to school-Finally!" I would think, as I ran behind him trying to keep him in sight on our way to school.
Today, my daughters and I drove him to school and helped him move his stuff into the house where he'll be staying this fourth year at UVA. It was hot-105 degrees-which is what I attributed my sour mood to. We arrived to find a huge jumble of dirty clothes, old papers and miscellaneous oddities dumped in the middle of his supposedly vacant room. The girls and I spent half an hour tossing the mess in bags and boxes and carting it out so we could cart his stuff in. My mood darkened. After lunch, where we cooled down considerably, we made the trek to Target and Wal-mart for the amenities needed for non-dorm living.
Waiting in line at the grocery store, he turned to me and said, "Mom, I feel as anxious as I did my first year here. Why do you think that is?" I felt my chest clutch and with sudden clarity, I realized that this year was his last back-to-school in my care. " It's your last year of college. Endings can be as stressful as beginnings," I said. He nodded and said, "Yeah, I think that's it." He hugged me, right in the grocery store check-out line.
A thunderstorm had begun when we returned to his house to deliver the stuff we had bought. We all grabbed things and ran from van to house, house to van. I offered to help him set things up, but he was anxious for us to go. His girlfriend was arriving later tonight and she would help him get his room set up. "Well, thanks for everything guys," he said as he stood at the door ushering us out. Quick hugs and the girls and I ran from the house to the van. I was glad to have the rain running down my face to camouflage the tears; my girls would think I'm nuts. I felt silly, ambushed by the unexpected momentousness of this seemingly routine event. Back to school, finally.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Who Knew?!

Who knew that when I traipsed off for vacation I would return to no Internet connection AT ALL? Who knew I would even care? I feel like I'm stealing even this moment to write out this rant.
For 3 weeks the cable connection has been nonexistent. We call; they send someone out; nothing happens. My husband called the phone company to get DSL and the modem doesn't work. We now have two methods that don't work. So, because I was letting myself get all flustered and aggravated, my husband hooked us up to dial-up from his office... but it is REALLY slow and I can forget looking at the pictures on other sites. But, I'm hoping to look in at some of my favorite blogs and I got through the 346 e-mails (mostly junk mail) in my mailbox.

Friday, July 27, 2007

It's the end of a busy week and we four are packing up to go on vacation. My brother and his partner have a cabin in Maggie Valley, NC and have rented it to us for the week. I can't wait! Sweet solitude. Peace and quiet.

Monday, July 23, 2007

His Mysterious Ways

I have been reading some of the other blogs today. My husband is out of town for 3 days. He's in San Antonio, Texas on business and so in what is generally my time with him in the evening I've been reading others' blogs.
I am totally blown away by the passion and honesty so many women display in their writing. I guess I'm guilty of thinking that it's not the norm to be open with people you've never met and so I've been shocked by how many actually are. I find their words inspiring, encouraging, challenging. I need to be challenged out of my tiny little view of myself and my God.
I can say that I'm loyal. I have a few friends but those friends are very dear to me and our friendships have been forged over many years. I think that's why I relate to Beth Moore's teaching style and her books; she understands about trust issues. Anyway, in this last year all my friends have gone from being at home moms to jobs elsewhere because their kids have grown-up. I have the youngest child, even though I'm not the youngest mom (as the one who is the youngest will be happy to tell you) so I am still at home while they are busy with their new work. I admit that I have felt quite sorry for myself at times. It's lonely work to be at home and half your kids grown, the other half in school and your friends moved on. But the Lord has provided me with a volunteer job and an art class and a Beth Moore bible study group and activities with my girls to keep me busy. And then He led me to this blog thing where women are so totally honest about their lives and their faith. He says to me "Hey, you big baby, you are not alone in the world. We all have challenges. And I'm in there with you!" He is so awesome. He provides for my every need when I come home from the pity party long enough to let Him. Thank you, Lord!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

a glimpse

My husband and I took our birthday girl and two of her friends shopping all day Saturday. Actually, they shopped around together and my husband, younger daughter, and I went around shopping together. We all had a fabulous dinner at an Italian place called Margianno's and then stayed over at a hotel and had brunch this morning before returning home.
After my afternoon nap, son number two gave me a call. The first thing he asked me was Why weren't we at church? He had gone with a friend and looked for us. I'm thanking the Lord in my heart the entire conversation because he hasn't been to church since he moved out. He was inspired enough to discuss the sermon with me and seemed genuinely moved by the missions reports that came after. He made chocolate bananas and brought them over for our family birthday party and had a present for his sister, a stuffed toy white tiger, that he said was to keep an eye on her. Thank you Lord, for a glimpse of the constant hand You have on his life.

Friday, July 20, 2007


My girl will be sixteen on Sunday. I was doing okay with this, I thought, until I went in the grocery store to order a picture cake. I had made a sweet sixteen page with this baby picture and one of her from homecoming with absolutely no tears. I pranced right to the bakery department to order my cake. The bakery lady said she had to make sure the picture cake machine was working and after a few moments she came over and said "This is what it will look like." It was as if I saw the thing for the very first time and tears jumped totally unbiddened to my eyes. I could only nod as the bakery lady smiled knowingly at me. "She's lovely." she said. I just smiled and nodded feeling like a doddering old woman.

This baby girl was totally unexpected. I had two boys and fully expected a third son, although my heart ached for girlness and shared womanhood. The ob told me that if I was a having a third child just to have a girl I was making a terrible mistake. I thought I would explode from anticipation until in my 19th week of pregnancy, the day after seeing my baby spin and spin on the ultrasound, my doctor called and said he had gotten back some test results that could indicate the baby had downs syndrome. He wanted to know what I wanted to do: have an amnio right away and rule out any doubt or have further tests that would be inconclusive but would give a better indication of the risks. He said there were risks with an amnio and unless we would want to end the pregnancy he advised against it. We decided to wait.

One morning a few weeks later I lay in bed talking to God about this baby. I knew I loved him/her no matter what. I felt the Lord's presence so intensely. He told me that everything would be okay; my baby would be fine. I felt at peace, although I didn't advertise the baby would be fine part. I wasn't sure what He meant by fine. I just knew we would handle it.

When she was born, my doctor said "It's perfectly healthy and it's the right sex, too!" And he laid her on my chest. I looked down at my new baby and thought "Somethings wrong with my little son" as my husband's words began to sink into my bleary brain: "She's a girl!"

And what a girl she is. A little firecracker not big as a minute for most of her life always trying to hang with her two older brothers. She's a friend to her cranky mama and has taught me unconditional love when it comes to her older brother. She loves with her whole heart and has a big laugh that she busts out with regularly. God blessed me with her and she blesses me every single day.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Today my husband forwarded me an e-mail from the Art Institute of Washington. It's located in Arlington, Virginia where my husband works. We've tried several times in the past to interest our 2nd born in their video production program. This new bulletin says that they now have housing options available.

I get so frustrated with myself. I feel my heart leap with expectation that THIS will be the opportunity that pulls my son from the pit. There has been so many opportunities that he has let pass by.

Steady, girl. Wait on the Lord.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Three toughest things about being a woman

As I was without my computer for several days (it still is "iffy") I didn't get to respond to the LPM blog. I was telling my husband about it this morning as we were dressing for church. Actually, the conversation began with a discussion about our 15 year old daughter. She gets periodic breakouts and every time she does we have the same exchange:
Her: I don't know why I get these bumps!
Me: It's hormonal.
Her: No, it isn't. It's my face wash. I want something different.
Me: (Big sigh) Okay, I guess you can try something different but it's only going to work a few months and then your hormones are going to do something wacky and your face will break out.
Her: You think everything is about hormones.
I remarked to my husband that she just doesn't want to accept the unpleasant reality of being a woman and beginning the battle with her body. I told him about the survey and commented that it was so comforting to read others' comments and see that they struggle with the same things. For instance, I told him, hormones are at the top of the list for almost all of the 4oo plus women. And then he messed up. He began to tell me how men and women are essentially the same. I, predictably, lost it and said "You're absolutely right. I don't know why I thought that me and 400 other women struggling with our hormones was uniquely female!" He backtracked and said that that wasn't what he meant at all and I said that I thought this was a conversation we shouldn't have.
Three toughest things about being a woman:
1. The bible tells me to have self-control. Being obedient to that is a tremendous struggle for me as I try to cope with my ever changing emotions. (I'd say hormones but I don't want it to seem like I think everything is about that.)
2. Submission to my husband.
3. Having my passionate feelings about something being written off as "hormonal".
Having said all that, I must add that through those toughest things my Jesus has drawn me closer to Him, held me close, strengthened me.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Family time

I've been so frustrated this week with our ding dang computer. The internet is not working reliably and I haven't been able to get to my e-mail. I feel so behind in everything!

For the last few days my oldest son has been home from NYC. I made spaghetti my daddy's way (per his request) for dinner but the girls were at dance so there was just me, my husband and my son. The night before that, the 19 year old came for dinner but again, the girls were at dance and the oldest wasn't home yet so there was me, my husband and my son. It was nice in a way to have each one to ourselves-something that didn't happen often when everybody lived at home.

Actually, we've had a nice couple of days. Everyone was home last night to watch a movie outside. My husband brought a projector home from the office and we set it up outside with a screen and sat on the deck in the dark, eating popcorn and whoppers. When the movie was over all my chickens went downstairs and played video games together. I think they're into Super Mario 3 these days. I watched an old doctor movie on TCM while my husband read the paper and dozed in his chair.

The 19 year old went with me and the girls to the movies this week. He actually hung out with them beforehand. My 15 year old daughter told me he tried to convince her that "he had it made" while she is stuck with our rules. She said she just laughed. Still, he was willing to come around some this week-I think because he's broken up with the girlfriend and is lonely for the most part. I find that hopeful because maybe that means he still feels somewhere in there that he can turn to us when he's hurting.

The oldest goes back to NYC in the morning. I'll miss him.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Under control

Two notable things happened yesterday that reminded me how much Jesus loves me.
First, we received a postcard from London where my oldest son's girlfriend is traveling for the summer. Initially, I found the girlfriend disrespectful and obnoxious and I didn't much like how my son acted when he was around her. I voiced my concerns-not too delicately I'm afraid-and wonder of wonders, after a little pouting the two came to accept the rules of visitation. As a cautionary trial, we allowed her to stay here for a few days before leaving for London because she couldn't afford to fly home. I discovered how much she seems to care about my son (always a plus for the mom) and actually enjoyed having her around. The whole son -having- a- girlfriend thing has been complicated for me and I've had to pray about my attitude a lot. Her postcard was warm, quirky and thoughtful and I guess a reminder to me that God has my son's life under control no matter how it looks to me.
Secondly, son number two came by the house after work and sat outside with his dad. After joining them briefly, I went upstairs to bed and left the bulk of the conversation to the two of them. My husband reported that the conversation went pretty well. My son hasn't had the prayed for breakthrough over his destructive behavior but there were inklings that he's beginning to get a clue. He's looking for a better paying job; he's looking for a cheaper place to stay. I guess most importantly, he acknowledged and apologized for the lying he did to us when he was still living at home. His girlfriend had consistently lied to him and because of that they've broken up. He said " I know how much it hurts to have someone you love lie to you all the time." My husband told him "Yes, it does. But we still love you." My son replied "Yeah, you guys are better than a girlfriend because you do still love me." God's reminder to me that He has my son's life under control no matter how it looks to me.
This week in my bible study (Beth Moore's The Beloved Disciple) the author asked: "If I am never greatly used by God in a way that I deem significant, can I still believe that I am loved like the apple of His eye? Do we believe that He proves His love by His blatant use of us?" I realized that I have measured my success as a mom by my sons' behaviors and felt I had failed my family and my God. How could He love me when I've failed so miserably at the one job He gave me to do? I'm beginning to hear Him say that He does love me-He loves them-no matter how circumstances look. I'm learning to trust Him more and more with my life and with theirs.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

4th of July

What a wonderful fourth. My husband, two girls and myself went to a little resort in West Virginia for five days that's like going back in time to the 1950's. There is a flag raising each morning; breakfast, lunch and dinner bells where we gather to eat family style in the dining hall; no air conditioning; game rooms for family games; rooms to do puzzles. We sit around with friends and chat, take long walks and longer naps. On the fourth there was a fireworks show over the mountains and watermelon afterwards. All in all, just a wonderful time.
The best news was our friend, who has a rare bone marrow cancer, was able to be with us and is improving slowly but steadily from his bone marrow transplant. My girls and theirs are reconnecting and enjoying each other-a real blessing.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Psych 101

For the last few days I've awakened in the midst of odd dreams. The dreams are not bad, but they are unpleasant and often pick at some inner issue I thought was long resolved. This morning, I was back in high school (for cryin' out loud) and some of those old yucky feelings were in the dream with me. I read somewhere that if you have children, when they are at stages you had difficulty with, you relive the emotions you experienced at their age. I suspect there's some truth to that but the whole dream experience is so underground. During my waking hours I'm cruising along just fine enjoying 48 and then I wake up in the morning with a quirky feeling in my head about when I was 15.
I think the Lord is trying to tell me something. I don't have a handle on exactly what it is just yet but I'm forming a hypothesis. I'm not so good with change and since 2004 our family has been losing numbers to the big wide world-6,5,4. And even now most times there's 2 or 3 at dinner or doing the family activity. I think maybe He's telling me I haven't let go as completely He'd like. Maybe I'm decorating a pit of regrets when He wants me to live today with Him.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Golf and marriage

My husband and his business partner, me and my friend played golf last week on perhaps one of the hottest most humid days in recent record. I'm new to golf and I stink at it and as I swayed in the sunshine trying not to pass out from heat exhaustion I asked myself "WHY do I play this game?" And then later, I visited the LPM blog and read the results of the men's survey. It all came back to me. I play golf because my husband asked me to. Because during one of the more difficult days with our second son, my husband and I went out to the golf course where the trees were orange and red and a gentle breeze was blowing and we talked about our golf shots and not our son. We felt like we were on the same side again instead of the conflicted pair we were. Going out to the golf course was a step towards submitting to my husband's desires instead of my own. We've come a long way since that October day two years ago. I only wish my golf game would!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Bloggedy blog blog

I'm stepping out in the blog world and reading other peoples blogs. It may sound pitiful to the more computer savy but just figuring out how to find blogs to read has been a challenge. Some are so awesome-funny, illustrated-with links to other interesting blogs- I feel sort of mmmm-like what the heck do I think I'm doing here?

My third child and eldest daughter, 15, went on a "road trip" with our close friends' 18 year old daughter to Cornell to visit the 20 year old big sister of the 18 year old. (whew!) Anyway, they were gone for three days and during that time I felt the beginnings of heartache that in just two years she will be gone from home on a more permanent basis. Not realizing how swiftly the current of time flows, the youngest chimed in with "You will still have me for four years!"
I knew when the oldest son left that my four were all standing in line at the door, waiting their turn to exit out. I didn't let myself grasp the reality that we were just cresting the waterfall.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A rainy day

I've been out of sorts today. It's so hot and humid here. All week the weather people called for thunderstorms but it wasn't until this evening that the rain finally came. My mood, however, has been having a rainy day all day.
It started in the early hours of the morning when I dreamed a dream about my second son. I woke up upset, and in talking to God about him, I just cried and cried. I feel so much guilt over his wrong turn because I know I am to blame somewhat. I know God forgives me. I just hate to watch my son spiral down into the abyss of hopelessness and despair. I couldn't shake the feeling that he's lost his job and probably his room and what is he going to do?.
My bible study today asked the question: Am I ready to follow Jesus even when it looks like He has lost? I believe I am. I'm holding on ever so tightly to the truth that Jesus has a plan. He works everything to God's purpose.
In an odd way, I'm looking forward to ending my rainy day listening to the sound of the rain on my roof.

Cleaning the Shower

I finally got around to cleaning my shower today and I was doing so, it struck me that my life is a whole lot like my shower stall. I hate cleaning the thing and so I keep putting it off until it's such a chore it takes me what seems like forever to get it looking okay. It's got a glass enclosure with tracks that are just a bear to clean well and of course, the build up on the glass is SUCH a treat! Anyway, as I am to give everything to the Lord, I decided to give him my distaste of this particular task and that was when He revealed to me that my approach to shower cleaning is very much like my approach to the "stuff" in my life. I hate dealing with it and I put it off until it's such a chore it takes me forever to give it all up.
I'm old enough to know better on both these cleanings. I've gone around and around on the "Okay, it's clean and now I'm going to keep it that way-oops I'm just not wanting to do it today" wheel for most of my adult life.
I want off the wheel.

Monday, June 25, 2007

What dreams may come

In the last few years since my two sons have moved out and on, I have begun having interesting dreams. In these dreams my oldest son is at various stages of his babyhood and my heart remembers him with such love and joy. He is exactly as he was, not changed a bit in the remembering. My other three children are at various ages of childhood. One is five, another is three, and the youngest one two. My oldest son is always the baby.
Last night in my dream, he started out as the baby but then the next in line-who was three or four in the dream, came up to me and said "You love him more." I said "No." and put down the baby. The baby then ran out the door and came back in as the 21 year old he is.

I'm not a dream interpreter but I'm thinking I'm working through the kids growing up and leaving the home thing.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Hope deferred

My 19 year old prodigal son is outside in the cul-de-sac playing street hockey with the neighbor boy he's played with since he was 8. He came to the door in his loud yellow plaid shorts and his long dirty hair. For a moment, my heart lept within me that maybe he was coming home. But then quickly settled at the impossibility of his admitting to his mistakes. That's what he has to do now. We have done all we could for him and now we must love him; keep loving him. Let him experience the consequences of his mistakes.
In her book Get Out of That Pit, Beth Moore says that generally when we go leaping into pits we have a problem with authority and that perhaps we've had authority figures that were overbearing or wimps. I certainly see that my son has a problem with authority but where in the authority figure department did I go wrong? I think most often that we were wimps. He was such an easy kid up until his mid teens that when rebellion reared its ugly head we were too shocked to respond properly. I hold to the power of the Lord who has gotten me this far; pulled me out of my own self dug pits. The bible doesn't tell the stories of good parents. It tells of the awesome power of God.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A gift

God is so sweet to me when I just listen and do what I hear Him telling me to. He gave me a gift today that was so unexpected it made me cry. I feel so insignificant sometimes and He just lets me know now and then that He doesn't think so. And of course, none of us are. His son Jesus has died for us. Why do I marvel that God gifts me in small ways when He has given me so much more in the sacrifice of His son than I ever could deserve?

summer promise

It's quiet in the house but it's the kind of quiet that says it's summer. The air is hot with the sound of birds outside and even though I can't hear them, I know my two girls are deep in slumber. I like the summer quiet as opposed to the silence of an empty house.
For me, summer holds the promise of time: the time to get everything in order, establish a routine of work and play. I have been "at home" for 21 years now and have yet to end the summer with those routines established. Maybe it's because by September everyone has subtilely been changed by the warmth of the sun and freedom from time constraints. Whatever the reason, the school year will start and I will traditionally feel unprepared. Even so, my mind is turning with things to accomplish that will launch me into the controlled, ordered life that I long for.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My husband says we need to get a darn clue. I'm not sure about what exactly. I think he's referring to the stuff that's crammed into the refrigerator that we neglect to remove before cramming in some more.
My life is sometimes like that refrigerator. All sorts of things that were good when I put them in there but when left they stagnate, or worse, grow something disgusting I don't want to deal with.
I really need to clean out my refrigerator.