Tuesday, August 30, 2011


A tragedy happened in our home last week. Our laptop died. In lieu of flowers feel free to donate to the "Laptop   Recovery Foundation". Just kidding. We are currently borrowing one from the church so Josh can work on sermons (and so I can blog) :).  I won't lie. I've had to get used to it. It's different. The keyboard is a different size. The picture uploader is different. It's just different. And sometimes, different is hard, isn't it? Never mind that our laptop, which I felt was so superior, had two of the letters missing off the keyboard or that the screen had suffered an almost near decapitation and was hanging on by a thread. I would literally have to hold the screen up while I typed. But, it was what I was used to, so it's what I preferred.

As I've thought about how "uncomfortable" I was with the new laptop, I've realized that I am kind of feeling uncomfortable in my life right now. Maybe I should clarify: in my spiritual life.But, for me, everything in my life is a direct reflection of what is going on spiritually and so when God starts doing things spiritually it usually starts affecting everything. The truth is, there have been quite a few times in my life when God has made me uncomfortable. When He's asked me to leave the familiar, that was uncomfortable. When He's asked me to leave my job with no idea how we would pay our bills-uncomfortable. When I've experienced loss and trials-uncomfortable. I grew up in a youth group where we often talked about getting outside of our "comfort zone" so I feel like it is something I've always thought a lot about. I just don't think I realized there would be so many ways I would build security blankets around myself and how many times God would ask me to take them off so that I was left bare and exposed and totally dependent-on HIM. 

If there is one thing I've learned it is that as soon as I think I have this whole Christianity thing figured out, I'm gonna learn something new. I'm going to be challenged in a new way that excites me beyond belief and makes me want to cry like a baby all at the same time. Without fail, I'm going to be reminded that I am in desperate need of a Savior and that I am absolutely incapable of serving Him without His strength. 

A few weeks back I read two books that pushed me to think and examine my beliefs in a deeper way. Those were "Same Kind of Different as Me" by Ron Hall and "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. Both of them led me to question the way that I love people. In addition to reading those books I also, in various situations, had this verse brought up to me : "Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. "  Luke 6:31-32

Now, I have been in countless Sunday School classes where we have debated these verses and shared a million and a half exceptions to the rule or stories of how we've been hurt. It's amazing how we will take certain verses and claim them as the absolute truth with no room for interpretation, but then Jesus tells us to love people we don't want to and we find a dozen reasons to debate what these verses say. And we can debate it all we want, but to me it's become clear. I'm supposed to love people who aren't lovely. People who society finds vile. People who make you sick at your stomach. People who don't appear to have a single redeeming quality about them. And by love, it doesn't mean to just think happy thoughts about them or force yourself to wave and smile at them. I am supposed to treat them the same way I want to be treated. People talk about the "golden rule" all the time, but how many of us really live it? How many of us think, "If I were addicted to drugs and couldn't take care of my kids, I would hope someone would bring them food or make sure they get home safe"? Or, "If I were a person released from jail and became an invalid, I hope someone would check on me and run to the store for me" ?  Yeah, I hadn't thought about those things before either. But lately, I have. It's made me real uncomfortable. I've wanted to tell God that those people got themselves in those situations. He told me it doesn't matter. I'm supposed to love them anyway. I've told Him it could get messy or even dangerous. He told me I'm supposed to love them anyway. 

I have the feeling He's going to keep telling me that until the thought of ignoring that those people exists makes me really uncomfortable.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Today She Turns 4

It seems like just yesterday I picked her up from the hospital. And today she turns 4.
She had to spend 7 days in the NICU, which was 2 days longer than I had to stay in the hospital. They were the longest 2 days  of my life. Leaving the hospital without her was only made better by the assurance that we would get to go pick her up, an assurance some other parents we met in the NICU didn't have. I still remember sitting in the church parking lot on a Sunday morning. That was the day we went to get her. Josh ran in to let our church members know the exciting news. Forty-five minutes later we arrived at the hospital and the nurses had her already dressed in the outfit I left for her, with even her headband and shoes. They treated her like she was the most important baby in there (as they did all the babies) and they will never know what that meant to me. I couldn't help but cry when I looked at her and knew that finally, I would hold her with no tubes or wires or other people to supervise. She was mine and she got to go home with me.

Four years have flown and they've been full of fun, laughter and peanut butter. With Kate, the world is a sweeter, happier place. My day is made when she says, "Wanna hug" or she tells me "Shrack (scratch) my back". She looks at her Daddy and asks, "Why's yous gots hair on shures faces?" She tells me she's not a baby, she's a big girl. She LOVES school, church, dance and Barbie dolls. She always wants a "shamwich" and "somfin" to drink. Her curls make complete strangers stop and comment and she has finally decided it is bearable to wash and brush them. :)  She changes clothes hourly, and they never match. And it's usually something  I JUST washed for her to wear the next day. I am slightly more patient with this phase after raising her sister who has the same habit. :) She tells me about the "stories in her eyes" (dreams) and thankfully, they aren't bad ones anymore, just good ones. I adore her chubby cheeks and fat little hands all dimpled and soft. I will miss them immensely   next year when I  know she will completely look like a big girl and not a baby. I won't lie, this birthday is tough for me. Reality is setting in that I truly don't have "babies" anymore. I found a book at Target last night that almost caused me to be carried out in a sobbing fit of hysterics. So I bought it. It's called, "If I Could Keep You Little..." by Marianne Richmond. My favorite parts say, 
"If I could keep you little, I'd decide on matching clothes. But then I'd miss you choosing dots on top and stripes below."
"If I could keep you little, I'd pick for you a friend or two. But then I'd miss you finding friends you like who like you, too!"
 "If I could keep you little, I'd keep you close to me. But then I'd miss you growing into who you're meant to be!"
                  Somedays, I just really want to keep her little. But I can't. Today she turns 4.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Whatnot Wednesday

* I am so hungry this week. I just can't get full. I must be going through a growth spurt.

* This week kicked off our first week back at dance and our first year with our new studio owner. Monday I got there to sit at the desk and answer questions, help with registration and to fill in for Barbie in case she needed to run out of class to talk with parents. I got there and it was 97 degrees. NINETY SEVEN DEGREES. The power had gone off during the day when no one was there and the a/c was struggling to get going. On top of that the doorknob messed up and we couldn't get the door open. Thank goodness there was another one we could use. I ran across the street to a friend's store to see if he had a big fan we could use and he did. And it was big. And dusty. He picked that thing up and toted it across the street like it weighed mere ounces. He asked if there would be somebody to help me get it inside once I cleaned it off. I told him there would be thinking I would just carry it in myself. WRONG. After cleaning it I went to pick it up and realized it weighed 1500 pounds and I marveled at the strength I had witnessed as he carried it across the street. I was beyond ecstatic when one of the dads offered to carry it in. Because had he not, it would have stayed outside. It was a hot, sweaty miserable night. I went in to teach tumbling and the girls were slipping on the mats in their own sweat. Gross. It got so humid that the floor started buckling. We finally just ended up cancelling the last two classes because we could not risk something happening to the floor or the girls tripping on it. As we got ready to leave, the door was stuck again. Barbie said we could just use the other door and it dawned on me to ask if our keys worked for that door. Nope, they don't. So, let's just say the night ended with me having Josh bring a butter knife to break us out of there. I actually LOL when I sent Josh a text asking him for a butter knife. It was just one of those days!

* My favorite shows right now are Rizzoli and Isles and DropDead Diva. What are yours?

* Saturday was Josh's birthday. That means we will be the same age for a month. Then, I will be old again.

* Yesterday I found a baby lizard in the washing machine. I mean, it was just hanging out on the spinner thing. Guess he got the ride of his life! I asked Josh how he could have got there and Kate said, "I think Jesus put him there."  Divine appointment?

* Eli's little girlfriend is over here now. She came over yesterday, too. Right now they are doing handstands. See, I knew me being a dance teacher was going to pay off for him.

* Kate told me, "I know how to make the E sound. I. "  Glad pre-school is paying off.   :)

* That's about all the excitement going on around  here. What are you up to? Head on over to Everyday the Wonderful Happens and link up!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

He Didn't See Me

We are on day 7 of the new school year and I am proud to announce that I have a routine. Anyone who knows me knows that is like stating I have the cure for all the world's problems or something equally crazy. In the past a routine has been something I could only dream of. The only constant in our lives was change. Can anybody relate? Well, the main part of my routine revolves around dropping the kids off at school. Kate is going everyday from 7:55 until 11:00 and I have to sign her in every morning. That means no more pajama pant, hair pulled back drop offs in the kiss and go lane. I have to GET OUT of the car and appear in public. That means I have to make sure I am up not only in time give my kids breakfast and round up shoes, I have to actually make myself presentable for public viewing. Well, the good part of that is that once I put on make-up and fix my hair, I'm up. No temptation to crawl back in bed as soon as I get home. (Not yet.) So, I decided that I no longer have any excuses for puny quiet times with God. I won't lie, it's been rough in the past. I've always heard how valuable it is for your kids to see you reading your Bible and praying and I agree. But I had reached a point where I DESPERATELY needed "quiet" time with God. No cartoons in the background. No trips to the fridge in between verses. No tugs on my arm and "Mommy, mommy, mommy" while I pray.

The thing is, I know that even with the kids out of the house for a few hours, I could still find plenty of things to distract me. The TV. FB. I've even been guilty of sitting at the dining room table and constantly thinking I needed to load the dishwasher or wipe down the counters. But, I cannot do those things first or I will get totally distracted and never sit down. I'm tellin' ya, I'm a hnadful. So, I came to the conclusion that I needed to go somewhere to have my quiet time. Preferably somewhere quiet that would not remind me of household chores. Last week, I found my spot.
I know the Bible talks about mansions in Heaven, but I would be content with a swing hanging from a tree branch. That's just me. I discovered this little spot and decided it was for me. I've started heading there every morning as soon as I drop the kids off at school. I never knew I could feel so comfortable sitting and praying in a public place. I've read more of my Bible in the last week than I had probably read in the last month. It has become the highlight of my day. This is my view.

Well, I don't share this to make you think I'm super spiritual or to frustrate you if you are a Mom of little ones who only gets quiet time if you wear earplugs. I've been there. And I survived. :)  But the truth is that having this time to spend with God has shown me just how much I've missed that time with Him. Lately I've just had such a yearning to be in His presence. I went through a season (or 5) that I felt like He was really humbling me and teaching me about serving others. But I realized that I had reached a point of just trying to serve Him, but not necessarily seek Him the way I once had. It has become my mission to seek to spend quality time with Him, not just feel like I'm checking off another chore on my checklist.

Well, my spot has turned out to not be as quiet and isolated as I thought. There are usually at least 3 or 4 boaters taking off at the marina. And recently a prison work crew has started coming through. I've been able to press on. Then, today a guy was cutting the grass. Even that didn't bother me until he got close enough with the riding lawn mower to kick dirt on me. He stopped and said, "I'm sorry, I didn't see you there." I wanted to say, "Seriously?" I was sure my poof of frizzy hair could be seen from across the bay. But I just smiled and told him it was fine. And even though I ended up leaving because I felt like I was holding him up from finishing, that moment spoke to me. It dawned on me that ultimately my goal as a Christian is to know God and then for other to see Him in me. How many times do people not see God in my life because they can't get past me? My faults, my shortcomings, my insecurities. How many times do I strive for people to see MY  accomplishments, MY personality or MY talents? 

Thanks to the lawn mower guy, I have a new prayer. Lord, please don't let them see me. Just you.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:6

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Meaningful Beauty

A dear friend of mine recently gave me a month's supply of Cindy Crawford's Meaningful Beauty. Have you seen the infomercial for it? I have and it is ridiculous how bad I wanted to try it, but I would never break down and order it. Anyway, my sweet friend did not even know that I was secretly pining for some Meaningful Beauty (although it is a safe bet as I think I need EVERYTHING that every infomercial has to offer) and she gave it to me anyway. Awesome! I LOVE the way it makes my skin feel and I'm hoping it is starting to look different, too. I ask Josh everyday if I am starting to look like Cindy Crawford and he always says, "You're prettier than Cindy Crawford" because he is a sweet, well trained husband and because we both know I could use a 545 day supply of Meaningful Beauty and never look like Cindy Crawford. Oh well.

As I have religiously cleansed, moisturized and deep wrinkle treated my face I've started thinking about beauty. I guess because the name is "Meaningful Beauty". As I rinsed my face last night I began to wonder, 'Is this meaningful?'  I mean really, does my skincare routine bring meaning into the world? Yes, it makes me feel better and I do believe there is something to be said for feeling better about yourself, whether it is your skin or your hair or your wardrobe. I heart a make-over show like nobody's business and I know that it really can make a huge difference in your life when you feel better about your appearance. But still, I don't know that "meaningful" is the word I would choose for skincare. No offense Cindy Crawford.

So, that got me to thinking about what IS meaningful beauty? Is there such a thing?  Wikipedia defines beauty as " a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning, or satisfaction."  A characteristic is defined by Merriam-Webster as, "A feature or quality belonging typically to a person, place, or thing and serving to identify it."  So, beauty is something that identifies a person that provides pleasure, meaning or satisfaction. I have to say that is very different from the definition I feel like society gives us of beauty. Like tall, skinny, white teeth, shiny hair, tan and whatever else you want to add to the list. I've come to realize that trying to keep up with all of the latest beauty trends can become a full-time job and you need a full-time job to pay for all of the lotions and hair products and tanning beds and newest make-up. I'm as guilty as the next woman of believing that a new lipstick can change my life, or at least plump up my puny, little, non-Angelina Jolie lips. But at the end of the day, does it matter?

Again, I think it is important to take care of yourself and to present yourself in a way that  makes you feel good about yourself. But lately, I've begun to long for a different kind of beauty. When Josh and I stood before our friends and family and said our wedding vows our pastor prayed over us. He said lots of wonderful, spiritual things that I was way too nervous and excited to remember. But one part of his prayer has always stuck with me. He prayed over me, "Lord, give Emily the kind of beauty that never fades." I think those particular words stuck with me 1. Because I'm a girl and addicted to all things beauty related and 2. Because ten years later I would look at myself in the mirror and want more than smooth skin and shiny hair. I want that beauty that never fades.

The truth is, I'm not getting younger. And in our society, youth is beauty. My wrinkles will get worse (unless Cindy Crawford really comes through for me), my skin will grow increasingly saggier, and I'm guessing I can only whiten my teeth so many times before they fall out. But even if I could find the secret product to miraculously make me beautiful on the outside, this longing I have is for that different kind of beauty. The kind that is discussed in 1 Peter 3:3-4, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight."  Some people take this very literally and don't wear jewelry or make-up. I personally don't think that is what this verse means. I think it is saying that the heart God creates in us should be so beautiful that people don't even notice the outward appearance. What would a beautiful heart look like? It would be full of  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22). It would willingly serve others and put their needs and wants first. It would not complain or dispute. It would rejoice always.(Philippians 2)

Wikipedia goes on to say,
" The classical Greek noun for "beauty" was κάλλος, kallos, and the adjective for "beautiful" was καλός, kalos. The Koine Greek word for beautiful was ὡραῖος, hōraios,[2] an adjective etymologically coming from the word ὥρα, hōra, meaning "hour." In Koine Greek, beauty was thus associated with "being of one's hour."[3]

A ripe fruit (of its time) was considered beautiful, whereas a young woman trying to appear older or an older woman trying to appear younger would not be considered beautiful."
When it described "being of one's hour" I immediately thought of someone who was known for her beauty in the Bible. Her name was Esther, and not only was she known for her beauty, but one of the most well-known verses from the book of Esther says, "Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14. I'm no Bible scholar (I'll leave that up to Josh), so I don't know that when Esther's beauty was described it was referring to her being "a ripe fruit", but I just love the idea of our beauty coming from being in our time. From knowing who we are in Christ and where we are in life. That our beauty comes not from our outward appearance or  adornment, but from being where God would have us to be and fulfilling the purpose He has given us at such a time as this.

It is no easy task in the world we live to redefine our idea of beauty. I won't even let you think for a second that these thoughts have led me to throw out  my hair straightener or my eyeliner. I'm not there yet. I just pray desperately for God to continually work to change my heart and grow in me that "beauty that never fades". What a different world it would be if we all spent more time cultivating that beauty!

"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within."

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Whatnot Wednesday: Back to School

* I have been to the office at school everyday since school started 3 days ago. Somedays twice. I promised the secretary today that I would try to stay away the rest of the week.

* Last night the kids put cups of water in the freezer. I thought they were just letting them cool. Then, they went to bed and forgot about them. This morning Sarah was running around yelling "It froze! It made ice!"  My kids were fascinated. I was pretty sure we had covered the whole water freezing thing, but apparently not. :)

* I just read two books "Same Kind of Different As Me" and "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. Wow. They rocked my world.

* A little, first grade girl showed up on my doorstep this afternoon. Turns out, Eli invited her over. According to Sarah she's liked Eli since kindergarten. Lord help us all.

* Today was Kate's first day of Pre-K and she was some kind of excited. She's been waiting for her turn to go to school since the kids first day LAST year!

* Last night we took the kids to have a picnic at the park. We were watching some couples play tennis and Josh said we needed another couple to play with. I thought he meant for social reasons, but then he said, "Then we wouldn't have to run as much."  Isn't that great? The world has never seen athletes like the two of us. :)

* My kids are obsessed with Randy Travis. Seriously, his greatest hits CD plays non-stop. Sarah's favorite is "3Wooden Crosses". Who needs Justin Beiber when you have Randy Travis, right?

* I was at the Pig today and "Hit the Road Jack" started playing. A guy in another aisle started singing along. I love a grown man who will sing Ray Charles in the grocery store. Made me smile. :)

* Just want to say thanks to all of you who have mentioned that you like the new look of the blog! Blog design and layout is definitely not my forte, and this one is just one of the basic ones offered on blogger. But, I feel like it looks the most like me out of all the layouts I've had since I started blogging. So, I'm glad you like it. :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Full Moon Memories

Today was the first day of school and I was so proud of my big kids. I woke up 15 minutes before the alarm went off (can you believe that?) and I excitedly thought I would have a few minutes of quiet for my quiet time. WRONG! Eli was on my heels as soon as I stepped in the kitchen. He was SO excited. Sarah soon followed. Kate, who obviously got all of my DNA had to have Sarah wake her up. They were ready to leave 30 minutes early! I just couldn't believe it went so smooth. But praise the Lord it did!! They went right to their lines at school and Sarah didn't even bother to tell me bye. I would've been upset but I was too stinkin' proud of that girl walking up in there like she knew exactly what she was doing.

There has been lots of talk of full moons lately and just the other day it reminded me of the last time a full moon was a big deal to me. It happened around the start of school as well. It was about this time 4 years ago. I was extremely pregnant. Hugely pregnant. I'm tellin' y'all, I looked like I could give birth to twin elephants. There wasn't a time I was pregnant that people didn't ask me if I was having twins. In fact, I had quite a few people argue with me and insist that I was having twins, despite ultrasound pics and dr. reports otherwise. Anyway, what I'm saying is, I was miserably pregnant. I was also embarking on the journey of having a student. Sarah was preparing to enter kindergarten. It was an intense experience. I was 35 weeks pregnant and beginning to fear I was having pre-term labor. I prayed desperately that God would let me make it through Sarah's first day of kindgergarten before I needed to go to the hospital. God heard that prayer very specifically. I literally made it until Sarah got home from her first day.  Here's a stroll down memory lane...

Sarah's first day of kindergarten

Diary of A Crazy Pregnant Woman Part 2
August 19, 2007

Well, it's official. I truly am a crazy pregnant woman. I am now 35 weeks pregnant and have begun obsessively googling every pregnancy issue imaginable. How did people have babies before google? And is it possible that I have developed every pregnancy problem possible in the last two weeks? Like I said, I'm crazy.

It all started last Friday. Sarah had orientation for school so we went and met her teacher and saw her classroom. She picked out a desk ( the last one in the row) and put her little apple with her name on it there. Then the teacher asked if we had her nap mat and I told her we did. She asked if we had someone who could make a cover for it. Now for anyone else, this would have been a simple question. But for me, an extremely hormonal, stressed out, pregnant woman with working mom guilt what this meant was, could I make the cover? Was I a good enough mom to do this? Of course not. I have no domestic skills. I hadn't sewed since my Mimi taught me how to make pillows for my Barbies when I was 6.

We left the school and I resolved that I would indeed make that cover if it was the last thing I did. We went on to the mall and had lunch and got haircuts and looked for shoes. We must have walked 40 miles inside the mall. Then we had to go to Wal-Mart for more supplies. These supplies included fabric and a mini-sewing machine for the dreaded nap mat. We walked at least another 40 miles.

That night we discussed all of the people we know who can sew who would probably make the mat for us. Again, for reasons only a hormonal pregnant mama can understand, I felt that I had to be the one to make the cover. That somehow I was less of a mom if I didn't. After the kids went to bed Josh and I pulled out our handy new sewing machine. Not that either of us know how to work a sewing machine either. So, it didn't take long before we had broken our new little toy. We gave up for the night. It had been a long day.

After a therapy session on the phone with Karen I decided that I was going to just sew that cover by hand. By golly, I had refloored a house in a week, surely I could sew a stinkin' pillow case! So that night I sat in my rocking chair and sewed not only a cover for Sarah's mat but a pillowcase too. Yes, I took pictures.

You would think that with the stress of my job that I would be able to handle kindergarten, but I'll tell you, it about did me in. I started feeling bad Saturday morning, but I was really feeling bad Sunday. I stayed home from church and I was pretty sure I was having signs of pre-term labor. That really stressed me out. I kep thinking ' I can't go into labor and miss Sarah's first day of school!' Then I was trying to figure out what we would do with the kids, how we would make sure all of her school supplies got to school with her, who would make her lunch, and on and on.... I kept praying that I could at least make it long enough to get Sarah to school and pick her up on her first day. I shouldn't have prayed so specifically.

We hadn't been home 2 hours when I really started feeling bad. I took my temp. and it was 101.3. You have to understand, I NEVER run a fever. My mom will tell you, I've never run a fever my whole life. So, I kind of panicked. We got the kids and their stuff to Mrs. Lavern's house and headed to the hospital.

Let me tell you, if you want quick service in the ER, go in looking like you might possibly have a baby at any second. They sent me to the OB floor and hooked me up to all of the machines. Turns out I had a bladder infection, I was dehydrated, and I was having contractions. They gave me some antibiotics, 2 1/2 bags of fluid, and 3 shots to stop the contractions. For a brief moment I was enjoying getting to lay in the bed and watch T.V. (We don't have cable.) Then, Josh changed the channel while they were giving me a shot to some truck show. Then my back started hurting worse than any pain I've ever experienced. I asked the nurse for something and I meant like Tylenol. She brought in some Demerol and that was all she wrote for me!!! That was the best sleep I've had in 5 years!!!!

So, they let me go once the contractions stopped. I spent the next few days buzzed. Once the demerol wore off I was totally restless from the other medicine they gave me. I was supposed to stay off of my feet as much as possible.

That's what has happened this last week. Luckily I had a shower at work on Fri. and one at church today. When we were on our way to the hospital on Mon. all I could think was that we were so not prepared. We didn't even have a car seat! I was induced with Sarah and Eli and I've said that this time I just want to be suprised and have the whole experience. I realized that I wanted to be more prepared for the suprise!!

Now we're back to the waiting game and I'm experiencing great anxiety about when I might go into labor. Josh keeps asking me "Are you ok?" in that "you really need mental counseling" kind of way.

{UPDATE: Kate hung in there for one more week. The nap mat didn't last much longer. :) }

Sunday, August 14, 2011

EmFid and the Not So Bummer Summer

So, today is the day before the day. The day that lazy mornings and donuts are replaced with early rising and healthy, get your  morning started right breakfasts. The day that flip flops are replaced with brand new sneakers and brushing your hair is mandatory. The day that cartoons are replaced with reading assignments and bike riding is traded for running laps on the track. Yep, it's the day before school starts. I don't know how it happened. I have no idea where this summer went. I mean, it.flew.by. I promise I JUST picked the kids up on their last day and took them to a movie to celebrate. And yet, here we are on the eve of a new school year. Ready or not.

The truth is, we're ready. With the exception of some paperwork we needed for Kate to start Pre-K (it was printing when the power went out in the building and they ended up mailing it rather than waiting for us to come pick it up), we are ready. Outfits have been chosen, papers have been signed, supplies have been placed in cubbies, teachers have been met. The last hurdle, of course, will be the actual getting everybody up and dressed. Have I mentioned I'm not a morning person?

I don't want to be one of the Moms who is doing cartwheels and cheering as her kids go back to school. Honestly, I do miss my kids when they're at school. But, we are in desperate need of a routine that does not include trashing the house or asking for 15 pb&j sandwiches a day. It's time. I am eager for this new year and what it will hold. I'm also a tad bit tempted to grieve summer days and count down the days until the next holiday.

Our summer did not go as planned. It started with Josh and I having to cancel our cruise and I spent a full month bummed about that. We also stayed much busier than I had anticipated and it really cut into the lazy days I had planned. :)  But in reality, we had a great summer. Was our summer filled with exotic trips and cool souveniers? Nope. It was filled with people. And fun. And love. And joy. It was filled with the kind of memories you can't necessarily take pictures of, but that make your heart smile years later when they cross your mind.

We started the summer off by sending Josh to Alabama for a week to help with tornado clean-up. I'm so proud that he sacrificed the time to make that trip. I know it made a difference in people's lives. We spent most of June at the dance studio. Summer classes and camps were in full swing. I spent a week playing and dancing with 2-4 year olds and had the best time. Also in these summer months, Sarah grew a watermelon.
Can you believe that? Okay, so the truth is, we got really excited the day Sarah found this in the backyard because months earlier she had thrown some seeds in the flower bed that she had gotten from the Dollar Tree and then she found this! Later though, we realized our neighbor behind us was growing watermelons and this most likely is one of his that ended up in our yard somehow. Please don't tell Sarah though. We were some kinda proud of that piece of fruit!!!!

Eli also had his very first sleepover with one of his friends. Finally, a break from all of the girl stuff. Or so you would think....

We had the opportunity to have Luke and Lyla spend the weekend with us and my heart (and my house) was full....

We had a great VBS and also had lots of fun on the bus everynight....

Josh and I celebrated 10 years of marriage and had the best date night of our lives.

We enjoyed the 4th and determined our family is not cut out for camping or any activity that involves bugs or being more than 5 feet from a fridge :)

We had a fabulous revival and are beginning to see some of the fruit from that week.

We got to visit with some of our special friends, the Rogers family and meet Kate from Kansas in real life. Sarah and I had the chance to attend my friend, Kim's birthday party.

Sarah turned 9 and our house turned into party central....

We welcomed a new family member, sweet Layla!

The kids got some special times with the grands!

I had the opportunity to teach a theatre class that left me doubled over in laughter and gave my family the chance to be creative together.

I got to have lunch with my uncle (my Dad's twin brother) and his family. It was a special visit for me and made me feel close to my Dad being close to him. I also got to hear a great story about how he and my Dad wanted my grandma to marry the man who fixed their TV. That is sooo my Dad. :)  If we had gone on our cruise, we would have left to go out of town that day and I would've missed that meal.

Josh and I did get a weekend away that was exactly what we needed. Quiet, relaxing and peaceful. It occurred to me that I am incredibly blessed to be married to my best friend and to be perfectly content to spend every second of my life with him, whether we are raising  youngins, crusin' the high seas or watching movies and eating take-out. 10 years of marriage and we still like each other. I don't think I could ask for more. :)

Finally, I ended the summer with two of my favorite people. Again, we had originally planned a much more involved, exciting trip. In the end we just got a hotel room and hung out and ate. And again it occured to me how truly blessed I am that I have people in my life that I enjoy so much we don't need any special anything. We're content to just be in each other's presence.

So, as I wrap up this summer I am extremely thankful. Thankful that God changed the plan. Thankful that He used what I thought was going to be a bummer summer and reminded me that the best things in life truly are free.

I dislike this quote
I Like this quote

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's All I've Got

“I am afraid to show you who I really am, because if I show you who I really am, you might not like it--and that's all I got.”
                Sabrina Ward Harrison

I don't know who Sabrina Ward Harrison is, but she took these words straight from my brain. If you only knew that everytime I hit "publish post" it runs through my brain, "Did I say too much?" "How will that come across?" "Will people think this is the stupidest, most pointless thing they've ever read?"  Why? Because I need people to like me. It's a terrible problem I've had for as long as I can remember. Some people need fame or fortune. I'm good without either. But, I need you to like me.

For most of my life I've based my decisions on what will keep the greatest number of people happy with me. I still remember my first semester of debate in college and learning the word, "Utilitarianism"-An ethical philosophy in which the happiness of the greatest number of people in the society is considered the greatest good. According to this philosophy, an action is morally right if its consequences lead to happiness (absence of pain), and wrong if it ends in unhappiness (pain). (BusinessDictionary.com) Who knew there was such a big word for my self-esteem issues?

Of course, with age comes wisdom and I have learned it is true what Bill Cosby says. "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." True dat. FAIL. Epic fail. Failure. F Plus. I've experienced it. I beat myself up with it. And weeks like this week I like to hold it's hand and drag it around with  me.  And I realize that sometimes it is easier to call myself a failure and wallow in it than to learn from it and move on. Know what I  mean?
Even as I write this I'm questioning if I will actually post it. Because I remember that I have the opportunity to only tell you things that will make you LIKE me. But, I just feel like I need to put this out there. Because I feel like this is a work God is doing in me now. I think He has been trying to do it for a long time, but is just now getting through to me. The fact that that pleasing Him is more important than making sure everyobody likes me. The fact that I can trust Him to put people in my life who will love and accept me even though I have the attention span of a 3 year old, the sleeping and eating habits of a 14 year old boy,  procrastination is my middle name, and I don't play the piano. The fact that He has already chosen to love me despite my weaknesses and the fact that it His strength I need to be depending on anyway. The fact that wallowing in self-pity or self-loathing is JUST as bad as being overly prideful or conceited. Either way, I'm still totally focused on myself. Ouch. Mostly what I'm learning is that at the end of the day, regardless of how anyone else feels about me, I have to face who I really I am. And sometimes what others value, isn't valuable to God at all.

"He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight."

Luke 16:15

And when I take off my make-up, and don't feel like smiling, and you strip away my responsibilities and activities, I have a Savior. That's all I've got.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Caffeinated Awake-a-thon

This last weekend I met two of my most favoritest people Karen and Lori for a girl's weekend. And let me tell you, I've never been more in need of a girl's weekend. In the two days between my last blog post and the time that I met them at the hotel, I took 3 kids grocery shopping (they were actually really good), got home, fixed supper, put supper in the oven, got a call that the brakes were going out in the church van so Josh needed me to pick him up in Panama City. So, I turned OFF the oven, loaded up the kids and we headed back to PC. On the way we came to a complete stop on the highway. I thought there had been an accident. I could've asked the 50 tourist who totally got out of their cars and were standing in the middle of the road checking things out, but they got back in their cars when some crazy person almost ran them over driving down the wrong side of the road to get ahead of all the rest of us. I guess so they could WAIT at the front of the line. Anyway, we later found out we were stopped waiting for some Drones to fly in. Those would be unmanned planes flown by radio control. I was having a total panic attack because it was 4:30 and my theatre class was supposed to be meeting at 6:30 and I had no way to get in touch with any of them to tell them it was cancelled if I didn't get back in time. And I really couldn't cancel it because we really needed to practice even if it was at 10:00 that night! Thankfully we got moving and was able to get Josh and get back in time for class. That was an hour of pure chaos and then I got home to help Josh paint some more on the set. Yes, the set. We were still working on the set.

Friday  morning I met with our director to discuss the space we needed for our set. The gallery where we would be performing had been rearranged from when we originally measured for our set design! I left there stressed out and headed to Goodwill to hunt for ugly dresses because I still needed costumes for my evil stepmother and ugly stepsisters. Thankfully, they had just what I needed. Back at home we were finishing up the set. Something I had really planned to have done, like, 3 days before this. I won't lie, I was really feeling stressed. And I kept telling myself how blessed I am if a set made out of cardboard boxes is the most stressful thing in my life. It just felt like it was never going to be finished and since the church van was at the shop it was going to take multiple trips in both of our vehicles to get it where it needed to be and I really needed my class to have a chance to practice with us changing the set behind them. Ahhh!!!!!!

Finally, I had to leave to meet my class so I took the first set of boxes. I got to the gallery and they had rearranged again!!!! We had designed a 12 ft. set and we ended up only being able to use half of it. I really just felt bad for Josh because he had worked so hard on it. Anyway, I was just pretty ready for it to all be over. We met 2 and a half hours before the show to practice and get costumes and  make-up on. And, to actually practice at the gallery. Which turned into them just wanting to walk around and scare me by touching artwork and begging for the food that the caterers were just beginning to set out. I was also really nervous that our audience might not get our sense of humor, but there was one guy who laughed at everything so I just focused on him. :)  After all was said and done I was very proud of my kids and they told me they had lots of fun and that's what matters, right?

It was finally time for me to leave for my girl's weekend. All 3 of us had just gotten back from other trips so we decided to just meet in Dothan, Al. We realized after our last trip that all we really wanted to do was sit around and eat and talk anyway. It was a very nice drive for me, including many opportunities to sing great songs at the top of my lungs with no one to be embarrassed or disturbed. I missed my turn once I got into Dothan and ended up in a part of town with a lot of tattoo parlors and psychics. I was already living wild. I forgot to pack my vitamins, I might as well go ahead and get a tattoo, right? :)

I was kind of bummed it was already about 10:00 when I got there and so I figured most of my Friday with the girls was gone. I was wrong! We stayed up until 5am (6:00 my time) talking! It was so fabulous. That was how the rest of the weekend went. We ate and talked and slept for a few minutes in between. So far we've only been able to do this once a year, so we have a lot to talk about when we all get together. :) I consider my friendship with these girls one of the greatest gifts I've been given. I've really realized what a blessing it is to have people in your life who you can just be 100% yourself  with. Do you know what I mean? I feel totally free to say exactly what is on  my mind, no editing needed. I feel free to laugh and make jokes that a lot of people wouldn't get or would think were the cheesiest things they've ever heard. I feel free to cry and don't worry that I'm being a debby downer. I feel free to listen and not have to provide perfect advice. I feel free to drink 15 Diet Cokes and eat candy bars and not be judged. :) Basically, I just feel free to be me. And that is a gift.

Thank you, Lori and Karen, for being a safe place for me. A place of refreshing. A place of encouragement. A place of fun! And a place of rest, even when there is no sleeping going on!!!!

Me and my friends who are beautiful, inside and out!!

I have to add this picture and tell you that we never made it poolside until about ten o'clock Saturday night. No bikinis and umbrella drinks for us.  More like jeans and double chocolate chip blended cremes from Barnes and Nobles. And very serious conversations. At one point a guy came out by himself and was texting the whole time. I'm pretty sure he was updating his FB to say, "Sitting poolside with some crazy women who are discussing church business meetings. Not my idea of a wild Saturday  night!"

Oh well. At least he finally left. And if only he knew. If only he knew I left my vitamins at home and we stayed up ALL night. We are wild!!!!!! :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Whatnot Wednesday: Vacation Edition

Disclaimer: This may be ridiculously long.

* Our vacation week started last Thursday (sort of). Josh had not gone a Sunday without preaching since December of 2009. I've decided I'm just going to cherish our weekend together and not blog about it, but I will tell you, it was bliss. I came back feeling so relaxed that I was a danger to myself. I had no motor control. I kept hurting myself. I will also tell you that last week at church when I was discussing our plans with some of our church members and told them where we were going one of them said, "Be careful! That's where our son was conceived." Ha! Well, at least there was no pretense that we were going on a spiritual retreat or anything like that! :)

* We took the kids bowling last night and had the best time. We were going to take them to see Cars 2, but we decided to go in somewhere to eat instead of getting fast food. Beef o' Brady's was having kid's night. Score! But, that made us end up running late, then we got stuck in a traffic jam AND stopped by a train. So, that's how we ended up bowling. Kate won the first game. Eli won the second. Poor Sarah, she threw her ball and it flew off into the employee area!! I had turned away and missed how it happened. I just looked to see it flying and couldn't help but burst out laughing. Then, I happened to look back where the rest of the alley was leagues playing and they were not laughing. They looked like we were going to be in so much trouble. Or like we were the worst thing that could have ever happened to their league night. I tried to hide my laughter, but I just couldn't. It made me laugh more that the whole bowling alley was staring at as, mouths agape like we were aliens who had just landed on lane 16. We take so much pride in our social outcastness....

* Speaking of that, guess what we ended up driving last night? Yep, the church van. We learned on our weekend away that the jeep needed new rotors and calipers. That's stuff for the brakes. Are you impressed I know that? Well, I feel like I could pretty much be a certified mechanic by this point with all of the car issues we are forever having. Anyway, Josh was working on them yesterday and realized he needed another part (he actually realized that like, 45 times during the whole process and asked me to hit him in the head if he had to go get one more thing) so he couldn't fiinish it. Soooo, that put us rollin' in the church van. The radio is broken in the van so Sarah brought her MP3 player and Josh had hooked up some little speakers to it. We stopped for Josh to run in the auto part store and I found myself singing Taylor Swift's "Today Was a Fairytale" at the top of my lungs. As I sang I thought, 'It's getting really warm in here'. Then I remembered, JOSH HAD ROLLED THE WINDOW DOWN!!! Oops! The good news is, my kids are still too young to be completely mortified by my presence.
Rollin' in the church van

* During this week of vacation, I've still been teaching my theatre classes. That job came up at the last minute so we just had to plan around it. Friday will be our big performance and I am anticipating it either being a smashing success or that I will be sneaking out the backdoor with a bag over my head. You just never know how these things will go. For one thing, half of my class has band camp this week and any of you who've been in band know you have to have a body part amputated or something to get out of it. So, we're having an extra practice tomorrow and I'm PRAYING everybody will be there, because so far, I haven't had all the cast together at the same time to practice. Yeah.  I also had to pick a new Cinderella today. Don't worry, in our version, she doesn't have any lines. But still, I'm pretty much a nervous wreck. Today one of my 11 year olds asked me if her character could be carrying a bottle of wine. I yelled "NO!!! I am a preacher's wife!!" And even if I weren't, I am pretty sure that even the most non-religious people in the community would not be cool with alcoholic 11 year olds in Cinderella. What do you think? 

* BTW, I have two new stage names. The girls in my theatre class have named me Snow White. I think that is their nice way of telling me I need a tan. And, in the local paper they listed me as Emily Fid, so Barbie has given me the hip hop name EmFid. I'm so cool.

* In other dance news, our studio owner and her girls moved last weekend. Josh had just come to pick me up from class to leave on our getaway when she and her girls were walking out the door. We all held it together and then the door closed and we all fell apart. There was some big time ugly crying going on up in there. 

* Tonight, we went to the beach for the second time this summer. Can you believe that? We took some food and had a picnic.Josh got on to Eli for throwing food to the seagulls and then he turned around and started doing it!! We were surrounded! Before I knew what was happening we were under full fledged attack. So much for a peaceful evening on the beach! Eventually they moved on. The kids played in the sand and Josh and I laid on the blanket and it was awesome. We strolled down the shore as the sun set. I've decided we should definitely do that more. Even after bath time, I still think we should do that more.

* I hate bath time. Am I the only Mom that feels that way? I hear a lot of moms talk about what a special bonding time it is, but that just is not the case around here. I have never been able to teach any of my children how to look up. No matter how many times I tell them to look up while I wash their hair, they always look down and get shampoo in their eyes. Is there a mom shampoo secret I've never learned? Please share it if you know it. Sarah and Eli was their own hair now (Praise the Lord!), but now Kate and I are fighting the hairwashing drama. And that child has some hair!!

* Finally, in very exciting news, my niece, Layla, was born yesterday! We are so excited. Congrats to Brad and Leah! And all the grandparents! And prayers for them, too, as Brad is serving our country in Afghanistan right now. What a brave Mommy and Daddy Layla has!