Fall 2013-dark leaves

Friday, December 9, 2011

Happy Anniverserary!

Today is our 11th anniverserary.  We totally forgot until my mother-in-law called Brian this morning to wish us well.  I'd already left for work, so he sent me a text to say happy anniversary and that he loved me.  When I got to work, I realized I'd left the house without socks for me or a coat for Patrick (the windchill was in the 20s) or Catherine's lunch or a pillow for Sarah Frances's writer's workshop.

My dear husband brought it all, plus a card he picked up, to us on his way to class.  But not SF's pillow.  This is the second time she's forgotten, but I doubt now that there will be a third.

Then he came BACK toward the end of school with a GIFT!  A new pair of Marmot fuzzy wuzzy gloves for me!  I've needed those babies for about two years now.  He returned a shirt his mother sent him and bought me gloves instead.  Shhhhh--don't tell.  I don't think she reads this blog--do you Lilla?

I feel so loved.  And so.very.blessed.  Happy Anniverserary, Brian!  You will always be my most tangible gift of God's grace. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What to do??

To say our new renters are high maintenance is a great understatement.  Brian even offered before they moved in to let them out of the lease because we could tell it wasn't going well.  They declined.  Now we're getting calls about things that we can't do anything about and have nothing to do with the issue at hand.

I'm asking for prayer.  I'm personally not dealing with them at all, so ask the Lord to help Brian to be patient and long suffering.  That I would encourage him and help him as much as I can.  That the house as is would be enough for them.

And for some miraculous work to happen in their hearts too.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Feast and Friends

Spinach artichoke dip, cheese balls, sausage balls, chips and salsa, brined turkey, Honey Baked ham, gravy, raisin sauce, dressing, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, creamed corn, sweet potato souffle, pineapple casserole, green bean bundles, cranberry salad with cream cheese, biscuits, Sister rolls, hot spiced cider, red and white wines, good coffee, pumpkin pie, coconut creme pie, pecan pie, and chocolate torte with raspberry sauce.

It was a delicious Thanksgiving, but even better company.  We adults sat at the table for 4 hours.  The 7 kids fended for themselves beautifully.

I am abundantly blessed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gift Giving and Receiving

So Patrick gave away his favorite toy to a classmate.  I got a call the next week that the family was so touched by his gift that they wanted to bless him as well.  So they all showed up together to give him back what he's so freely given away.  We met in the parking lot after carpool pick-up, and Brock handed Patrick a wrapped gift.

Patrick wasn't sure how to react when he saw the double-sided light saber there in the package.  He listened to the mom tell him what a kind-hearted boy he is and how their family thanked God for his gift.  Patrick said thank you, gave Brock a hug, and we all agreed Brock should come over soon to get the other half of his light saber so they can have a big sword fight together.

I wasn't sure what Patrick thought of it all.  I mean, before the party when I asked him what he was going to tell Brock when he opened the present (like "It's so fun to play with" or "It's my favorite toy"), he looked at me blankly and said, "Happy Birthday."  I knew he loved playing with it, but I also wondered if he hadn't just gotten over it being a special toy to him.

Well, I got my answer, and I was completely wrong.  In a matter of minutes after pulling out of the parking lot, there were small pieces of cardboard box all over the back of the van, and a thrilled little boy saying, "Yes!  Yes!  Yes!" under his breath as he tore into the gift.

We were able to talk through how we don't need to be afraid to give when we can because God always provides what we need as we need it.  It doesn't always look like getting back exactly what we gave, but sometimes it does.  Like the light sabers.  Like the spring Brian gave away a huge chunk of money, and within six months, we'd saved that exact same amount twice (a big car part under warranty, and a professional favor from a friend) and then received that exact same amount back in an unexpected bonus just in time when we needed the cash.  Three return gifts to the penny?  It's hard to miss that it's provision from God, proof that we can trust he will provide when we need it.

Please don't hear me say that we can manipulate God in our giving.  We don't give in order to receive.  We love because he first loved us.  We give out of what was first given to us. 

Bottom line, God is good all the time.  Right?  All the time...

Monday, November 14, 2011

How Old Are You?

This afternoon I found Catherine playing in the corner behind a chair-and-a-half, having climbed over the folded laundry in the seat and the back cushion to get there.  I jumped on her--"You are too big to use furniture that way.  Do you treat anyone else's furniture this way?  How old are you?" 

"Seven."  She's seven. 

Yep, I'd say it's a very typical thing for a seven year old girl to play tucked away in the privacy of a corner behind a chair in the only quiet room in the house.  Actually when I stop to think about it, I'm very glad she'll do that.

I wish I were slow to speak and slower to anger.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Patrick's Heart

I asked Patrick this morning what he wanted to give to his friend, the fifth child of a very successful, former professional baseball player, at the birthday party at his house today.  Our go-to gift lately has been the glow sticks in the dollar section of Target.

Patrick excitedly replied, "I want to give him one side of my double light saver.  And I can give him the twisty thing too!"

I teared up instantly.  He'd waited over a year to get that light saber.  It's all he wanted for Christmas last year.  It is his favorite toy.  And yet he's eager to give it away to his friend whose family could buy him a gazillion light sabers.  Of course Patrick doesn't know that part.  He just wants to share what he loves with other people. 

This momma's heart was torn, so torn I had to call Brian to make sure that it was OK.  He wisely answered that it would hurt Patrick more to tell him no than for us to have to one day replace it.

So we're wrapping it up this morning.  I think I'll explain to his mom that it's a second-hand gift not because Patrick doesn't care about her son but because he loves to give others what he loves.

And that, my friends, really is priceless.  And a great lesson for me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Heavy Hearted

You may have noticed I've been busy lately.  This fall, Brian and I have 8 paying jobs between us, not to mention the wife and mom gig and husband/dad/seminary student thing.  We are juggling so many balls in the air, I don't have time to keep up with more than what's directly in front of me, not to mention ponder on what we've been doing.

There have also been some personal, relational struggles that have me very heavy-hearted.  Since I know we all struggle--if you're a believer, it's a guarantee that you are, so don't say you're "fine"--I thought I'd share this post about prayer.  It's real and honest and encouraging.  I need to read more of her posts; she's new to me.

Tell me what you think...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lice Are Not Nice

And that's all I can say about it right now.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Godliness in the Mundane

Margie Haack:

"When I was younger, I fantasized about doing something sensational and heroic, I can’t even think what right now. But I’ve learned that living a life pleasing to God and one that’s unexpectedly fulfilling is found in the ordinary days of waiting for the kitchen floor to dry in lemon-scented swaths on cleaning day, of scanning a cookbook for an apple cake recipe, reading a novel, reconciling the checking account, raising children, serving friends and strangers around a table where we share life stories. In the most foundational way learning to see Christ’s presence in the midst of the most common events not just for others, but for myself."

Thank you, Margie, for saying so well what I was trying to put to words (in my own head) this morning.  The Christian life is so much more an inner change of my own heart--learning to do everyday life or moments well--than my working to change everything outside of me to be more godly.  The life I live for Christ is what is attractive to others, and I can offer to them all that He is to me.  I guess that's not really what she's saying here.  But it kinda is.

Now off to do mundane...

I thought I was ready

I was wrong.  Our 6+month renters in Birmingham are officially leaving.  The insurance company has built them a new house, and they're moving into it Oct 26.  They've been month-to-month for a little while now, so I've known this was coming.

Somehow I'm still not handling this day as well as I expected to.  Mentally--and from prior experience--I know it's going to be fine.  Somehow.  No...the how is because the Lord has gone before us and had a good plan.

Yet I still want to throw up right now.  Please pray--really, please pray--for wisdom to know what to do (rent and/or sell) and that resolution will come quickly.  But my heart is my real problem.  Oh that I would trust God for real and have faith that brings peace beyond understanding.  After all, it's only a house and only money.  Stupid money.  Stupid anxiety and fear. 

Stupid shaking hands and dizzy head.  I mean, really, come on.  Really.  I suppose it's good at least that my visceral reactions won't let me fool myself into thinking I don't need God's help to handle this. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Communication via Email

In this new season of life (fall '11) where everyone in the entire family is going to school, the two adults have four jobs, and three kids and an adult have a sports practice weekly, as well as a weekend full of games and meetings to prep for/lead, I am not finding time to blog.  I'm not able to remember what I want to blog about.  I'm not even able to remember who I had what conversation with, whenever and wherever it was.  It's a trade-off I'm glad for so far, partly because I expect things to settle down sooner than later.  I expect to get my feet back under me hopefully in another week or so, even if I never do catch up on the sleep I'm missing.

I did just have an idea to share though, on how I keep up with Brian in all this in a way that doesn't tax my brain any further.

We share an email address.  We are able to watch communications between him and others, me and others, and even email between him and me.  I am made aware of meetings he has, needs he can fill, things he doesn't need to forget, etc. by watching our inbox.  He does the same for me.  And since neither of us have smart phones, it's helpful in case an urgent email comes in because the person currently in front of the computer can call the other and update him/her.

The only tricky part is being sure to "mark as unread" the email that is meant for the other so it doesn't get overlooked by the intended receiver.

So if you need me--or him--or want me--or him--to remind him--or me--of something, just shoot me--or him--an email at briandreb@gmail.com.  See, it's BriAndReb.  No, that's not BrianDReb, in case you were wondering. :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hey, guess what?

We're going to Auburn tomorrow!  WDE! 

No Going Back

Today they will have the memorial service for Dave Hudson, our dear friend and elder at Faith Pres in Birmingham, who died very suddenly early Monday morning.  I have no good words for how I feel other than heavy. 

I can not process what this means for the congregation at FPC to lose Bill White and Dave Hudson in 2 weeks time and have 2 other long-time, well-loved members on hospice for cancer.  What it means to Judy and Claire to lose their husbands, and the children/grandchildren their fathers/grandfathers, so quickly and unexpectedly.  For Mathern and Connie, who are in a holding pattern, waiting to meet their Savior any day? week? now. 

What I do know is that today I also mourn that we are not there to share intimately in their grief, to participate in all the emotions and hugging and loving and planning and serving and praising! that a congregation does when it loses one of its own.  Believe me, we are crying and praising! here too, but it's different from a distance.  And that is breaking my heart today too.

I've seen when people move away and long to return to the place and the way things were.  In their minds, the people they left are exactly the same, and so are they.  Well, I've known for a long time that I'm different than I was when we lived in Bham, but I've felt like I could walk right back into the congregation and not really miss a beat when we visit.

I don't think this is really possible anymore.  There have been too many babies birthed, life lived, and gentle and tragic losses.  There are so many Family events we know about, but so many struggles and joys we're completely unaware of.  I know it's not anything that anyone on either end of this relationship has intended or desired to happen.  Time and distance are the enemy here, and they make me feel like an outsider today.  I'm sure this has been happening gently over the last 2 years, but today this realization has hit me full force.

There is no one here for me to hug or love or plan with or serve related to this huge event.  There's nothing I can do to "help" or "participate."  Nothing.

But it's not, not, not about me.  I am sad today for many reasons, but especially and mostly for my friends who bury their husband and father today.  So, so sad.  Know the Browns love you all, and our prayers are with you especially today.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Truths about Heaven

Our dear friend and God's faithful servant, Dave Hudson, died suddenly this morning.  Other dear friends posted this as their response to the sad news, which they received in the Czech Republic.  It's from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening.  Stink if it isn't so hard to not be with our Birmingham church family right now, but these wise and true words are a great comfort.  Thank you, Annette, for sharing them.

"The glorified weep no more, for all outward causes of grief are gone. There are no broken friendships, nor blighted prospects in heaven. Poverty, famine, peril, persecution, and slander are unknown there. No pain distresses, no thought of death or bereavement saddens. They weep no more, for they are perfectly sanctified. No evil heart of unbelief prompts them to depart from the living God; they are without fault before His throne, and are fully conformed to His image. Well may they cease to mourn who have ceased to sin. They weep no more, because all fear of change is past. They know that they are eternally secure. Sin is shut out, and they are shut in. They dwell within a city which shall never be stormed; they bask in a sun which shall never set; they drink of a river which shall never dry; they pluck fruit from a tree which shall never wither. Countless cycles may revolve, but eternity shall not be exhausted, and while eternity endures, their immortality and blessedness shall co-extist with it. They are for ever with the Lord. They weep no more, because every desire is fulfilled. They cannot wish for anything which they have not in possession. Eye and ear, heart and hand, judgment, imagination, hope, desire, will, all the faculties, are completely satisfied; and imperfect as our present ideas are of the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him, yet we know enough, by the revelation of the Spirit, that the saints above are supremely blessed. The joy of Christ, which is an infinite fulness of delight, is in them. They bathe themselves in the bottomless, shoreless sea of infinite beatitude. That same joyful rest remains for us. It may not be far distant. Ere long the weeping willow shall be exchanged for the palm-branch of victory, and sorrow's dewdrops will be transformed into the pearls of everlasting bliss. 'Wherefore comfort one another with these words.'"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Grieve to Sobbing

Tonight Brian called four completely separate-crowd friends to touch base briefly, and every single one of them is dealing directly with a dear friend or family member who has or is dying of or just died of cancer.

Grief hurts so much.  And it seems like everywhere we turn, especially in the last hour, days, and weeks, people are mourning and grieving because of cancer.

Now here's a jump in my thoughts, kinda.  It will be good for me to cry, to sob, about it all.  Read what Margie Haack has to say about it in her blog, Toads Drink Coffee.  Here's a snippet:

"I’m still slowly reading a book called The Enigma of Anger by Garret Keizer.  ...A pastor friend, Steve F. from New York, sent me a few of his favorite quotes from the book.

"Here’s one that seemed significant and true to (me and Dennis), from our own and others’ lives we’ve observed:

“'Many of our angry outbursts are the result of grief that never comes to sobbing.' p.113

"As Steve says, 'What will bring our griefs to sobbing? Perhaps when those who have wept already will weep with us, a flow of grace washes away the anger. And having wept our griefs, perhaps we may have the joy of that grace flowing into the lives of others. "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." (Isaiah 53:4)'"

I'm not sure I understand exactly what he's saying.  See, sobbing--grieving for that matter-- is not my tendency.  I'm a tough girl who rests wholly on the truth that God is soverign and that this world is for his glory and my good even if I can't see that in the moment.  I'm a heavy thinker, reasoning my way out of emotion.  I say, "That's funny," instead of laughing out loud.

But tonight I want to cry.  I am angry that this world is so broken.  Sounds like it's a good thing for me to grieve to sobbing that it's not supposed to be this way.  Because it's damn sure not supposed to be this way.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Email Love

We periodically get email updates from our "Sunday School" class at our home church in Birmingham.  Sometimes there are prayer requests.  Sometimes it's the slides from that week's class.  It's always interesting though because we don't often know the context behind the email.  This is what came today.  The Lord used it to speak directly to my heart, so I thought I'd pass it on.  Thanks, friends, for keeping us on the email list and sharing the love. :)

Definition of self-love:  The instinct (an innate or inborn impulse, inclination or tendency) by which one's actions are directed to the promotion of one's own welfare or well-being, especially an excessive regard for one's own advantage.

Fenelon (The Seeking Heart):

You are too self-conscious.  You also let your feelings guide you too much.  As soon as prayer stops bringing you deep comfort, you become discouraged.  Do you want to find peace?  Be less infatuated with yourself, and more concerned with pleasing God.
                Self-love will let you become sentimental about yourself and overly concerned with your problems.  You will find yourself spending all your time worrying about your troubles.  Soon all this worry will cloud over the sense of God’s presence in your life, and then you will really be depressed.  Paul said, “I do not judge myself.”  Take his advice and you will do well.  Give God a free reign to work within you, and then don’t spend all your time being introspective.
                God will show you what displeases Him and all you have to do is simply turn away from what is unworthy of your Beloved.  Stop being so taken up with yourself!
                Your old nature wants to be perfect.  It will push you in every way to be an outstanding Christian.  Please avoid this trap.  Simply follow the Lord.  You do not need to see yourself as a wise, strong, and virtuous woman.  Just be a little child.

[Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus]

[23] And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. [24] For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (Luke 9:23-24 ESV)

Maybe I need to go find that book The Seeking Heart?  Sounds really good.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Oh, That's Why!

A while back--if I were a good blogger, I'd have the link here, but alas there is no time--probably over a year ago, I asked the question of myself, "WHY do I stay home with my kids?" There had to be a good reason. Why not send them off to school or daycare and go get an income? Isn't this why I got a degree? Isn't this the exact situation that was the reason I keep my licensure up? I didn't have an answer.

Well, as we approach the beginning of the school year where I will be working (though only p/t) at the school, as well as continuing writing workouts and instructing bootcamp, I feel my stress level rising. There is a gnawing feeling that I'm not going to be able to get all this done, because there will also be soccer practice, church activities, and homework. NOT to mention all the laundry, straightening and cleaning, and cooking for the family. NOT to mention, being able and willing to STOP WHAT I'M DOING and GO TO MY KIDS to help them learn how to love well. Hear my words coming faster and the pitch of my voice rising?

Yesterday was a "mom is pitching a fit and getting angry" day again. It was terrible. The kids picked up on the fun and started the yelling, whining, and griping at each other. But did I stop what I was doing, go to them calmly and kindly and walk them through the correct words and actions? Of course not! There's no time to be kind! There's no time to instruct. Just react.

It's not like I'm running around, working in the house like a maniac either. I'm an avoider and escaper. I took a nap yesterday. But here I am, again, overwhelmed this morning at the thought of all I have to do today.

THE KIDS ARE MY PRIORITY. Raising and training this family to love and serve is my number one job. Our school is definitely going to be super helpful in this. And working there is how they get to go there. And bootcamp pays most of our rent. There's no cutting back. 

All I'm saying is that now I see what the struggle will be this year. And I will appreciate (and mourn the loss of) what I was this summer--a stay-at-home-mom. (no homeschool or daytime work)

Now to find out how to do this well. And pray for mercy.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

To Run or Not To Run?

Fall of 1999 I began training for a half marathon. I'd begun running that spring with two friends in OT school, just 2 miles at a time...then 3...then at some point not long after that, it wasn't worth my time to run if it weren't for an entire hour or longer.  Crazy!  It was always hard, but it was fun to challenge myself to stick to the training schedule.

And that's about the time I met Brian.  If he misrepresented himself as a quick-decision kind of a guy (we met and married in 13 months), I misrepresented myself as a runner.  Because I am not. But at the time, I can see how seemed that I was.

Anyway, I said something the other day about how I'm tempted to take up running again since the weather is cooling off some here (for now) but not really because I hate running.  He sounded surprised; he thought I really liked being a runner.  Yes, I like the idea of being a runner, but don't be deceived: I hate running.  He said, basically, to get over it and run. 

So I am.  Twelve years and four full-term pregnancies later (like that's a real excuse--my baby's 3 1/2), I'm going to start training again.  Last year it snowed for the first time on Thanksgiving Day, so I thought I'd start this week and go till then.  Lo and behold, Hal Higdon has a 12-week schedule for novice runners training for a half, which is exactly the number of weeks between now and Nov. 6, the date of the St. Louis Half Marathon.

Anyone want to join me?  We don't have to run together, just talk about the running we're doing.  And if you're out of town, we have a guest room just waiting for you that weekend!

Yes, I know.  Crazy.  This is crazy.  More later on why I'm doing this.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Washed and Waiting

by Wesley Hill.  Brian is reading it for an ethics class.  I'm reading it so I can understand and love my neighbors well.  However, it's teaching me so much more than I expected when I apply its content to my own sin-tendencies.  Warning--it's wordy and kinda heady.  Work through it--it's worth it.

"Engaging with God and entering the transformative life of the church does not mean we get a kind of "free pass," and unconditional love that leaves us where we are.  Instead, we get a fiercely demanding love, a divine love that will never let us escape from its purifying, renovating, and ulitmately healing grip.

"And this means that our pain--the pain of having our deeply ingrained (sinful) inclinations and desires blocked and confronted by God's demand for purity in the gospel--far from being a sign of our failure to live the life God wants, may actually be the mark of our faithfulness.  We groan in frustration because of our fidelity to the gospel's call.  And though we may miss out in the short run on lives of personal fulfillment (by giving in to the sin), in the long run the cruelest thing that God could do would be to leave us alone with our desires, to spare us the affliction of his refining care.

"'Not only does God in Christ take people as they are: He takes them in order to transform them into what He wants them to be,' writes Andrew Walls.  In light of this, is it any surprise that we (sinners) must experience such a transformation...?"  p. 68

I find this very helpful to persevere and to find joy in a trial, namely that I'll be a sinner till I die.  There IS a point to the struggle.  And God is good to confront me in my sin, thereby bringing on the struggle.  And the fact that I'm struggling should encourage me that I'm fighting that sin.

There's more good stuff where this came from.  Maybe I'll post it.  Maybe you'll have to buy the book.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Then Again...

My epiphanies and initial changes in my parenting started off GREAT last week!  It turns out it was easy because I had half the kids at home, and they are my most compliant kids at that.

Today in the car (after I about snapped in frustration) Brian joked (kinda), "Yeah, forget this grace thing.  Just pop 'em for it all."  It seems twice the number of kids means twice the volume and twice the issues and squared number of relationships to be at odds, which halved the number of my "grace-based parenting" responses.  Or so it seems.

I've even said out loud to the kids, "It's different now!  We're loving each other differently!"  But I'm getting a lot of push-back from this "mom's not going to get angry and pitch a fit" approach.

Kill 'em with kindness.  Heap hot coals on their heads.  I am not responsible for their responses, just mine.  And my heart, not theirs.  I'm their encourager and model.  I can respond to their push-back well.  I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can.  Actually, only IN CHRIST I can.  And I will still pop 'em when they just have to have it.

And it IS worth it.  It is the kindness of God that leads to repentance.  The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.  So right now I'm chill.  Totally chill (as I sip on my amaretto sour :)).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"My Style"

So I was looking through Pinterest and admiring--more than admiring, actually pinning--some outfits I liked.  Guess what?  They all look the same.  See?  So I'm considering simplifying my wardrobe, especially now that I'll have to get dressed for work three days a week this school year. 

I have the jeans.  I have neutral shoes/sandals/boots.  It seems I need some fresh white tops and some colorful accessories and I'm set. 

Where to shop?  Target...Francesca's...make some of my own...reclaim some I've given to SFB...thrift stores...Steinmart...

I'm ready to look cute again, but not "I'm trying to be in my 20's" cute.  Cute, mom-of-four-wait-you-have-four!?, cute.

And since I'm pretty out of this game, any suggestions (or corrections if you see me out in something just wrong) are always appreciated!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ah-ha Moments and Mind Shifts

Last night at my book study we ended up talking a lot about parenting.  Here's what I wrote in the margin of the book we were supposed to be discussing, a book that's not directly about parenting. Most of these thoughts have a bigger back-story to them, so ask if they don't make sense to you.  It's good for me to have to remember.  There are also scriptures we brought up to back up these ideas, but I didn't write them down.  Seriously, Kelly Kennison should write a book so we'd have it all together.

If we live in the time after the cross, why do we put our kids through an Age of the Law?
Why are we so bent on "I will not make you happy.  I will make you good"? 
Let them be how old they are.
Instead of nipping it (the sin behavior), join her in the struggle of it.  Die to self (my agenda, control issues, need for self-fulfillment in the moment), come alongside her, and struggle with her, acknowledging with her the my heart has the same struggles.
Shift from "No, don't _____" to "Let's ______."  Role play a better way to say it.
Loving them as an overflow of the heart often looks like offering up to them play time vs. them having to extract it from me, just like their loving me as an overflow of the heart looks like joyful obedience vs. my having to extract it from them.
Do-overs are a grace-based tool to offer a willful child.  Back up the boundary a little though.  Do it with her, as in literally walk her through it.
It is sometimes worth it to tolerate a sin for a while to maintain relationship with the child.  I can't come alongside her if we're not in right relationship.  I'm cheering her on to obedience.  Making her happy is not giving in to her.  It changes me too, because it's all about heart issues, which don't vary that much anyway.

Grace-based parenting is HARD; a list of rules and lots of spankings would be much easier.  It's also the philosophy of the school where I'll be working next year.  I'm so thankful to have had last night to listen and glean and pick the brain of wise women who have done this well (and not so well) and are professionals at this (literally).  And that I'll have a year or two to practice it with other kids and watch others practice it with my kids at school.  I'll link the current Pelican Post where our headmaster, John Roberts, fleshes out how grace plays out in an elementary school as soon as I see it up on the website.  It came in my snail mailbox yesterday.  I need to chew on it some more.

I'm also thankful God is bigger than any messes I can make (of myself or my kids).  Praise Him for his perfect faithfulness and goodness!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Alabama Vacay at the Lake

Cruisin' on the Super Screamer--Sarah Frances, Catherine, Patrick and Madeline
Lillian and her bestest bud Andrew.

Sparklers are SO fun!

Cousins and friends all came for Sunday, July 3 to help the Browns celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Lake.

Madeline, Catherine, Corinne, and Sarah Frances had so much fun that day!

So did everyone else (this might be 25% of the people there)...

Granda, Grandpa, Lillian, Uncle Mike, Mamaw, and Gamma

 My parents with the kids and Peanut Butter (the dog)

 Daddy and his biggest girl.
One evening we made sheep out of Milano cookies, mini marshmallows, and white chocolate.

Turned out pretty cute!

The last full day, Lillian decided she wanted to try the Screamer too.

They were all pretty brave by the end of the ride.

Sarah Frances (and Catherine) did a great job knee boarding!

And Brian had a helper driving most of the time.

I just love this picture of her.  Love.

And that last afternoon, the Browns came and picked up the kids so Brian and I could enjoy a date-night at the lake.  It was the end of a perfect vacation!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We're Good

...by the way.  I know I've not updated the blog in a while.  I've been driving to swim practice 30min. one way and going to swim meets and unpacking and cleaning and straightening and swimming for fun and finding our new library and playing with neighborhood kids, etc.

But I met with MMA, our house-mate/room-mate/boarder/dear friend/newest-family-member, for coffee this morning and acknowledged how much "better" I am now than I've been in a long time.  Priorities are shifting and settling back down.  I'm as busy as ever but more able to enjoy the days.  I'm more out of control of my people and my circumstances, but more at peace with that.  Maybe that's it--I'm more at peace with my life than I have been for a while, also acknowledging that I didn't know I was so discontent to begin with. 

God is teaching me to be honest with myself about the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I'm learning a deeper humility and finding a deeper comfort and contentment in my circumstances and a greater freedom to be me.  The me He created me to be (this is the good!) in the places where I will most glorify Him.

Sorry so heady.  All this to say...I'm good.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Flying and Decorating

I've signed up for Flylady again.  It's been YEARS since I followed her, and honestly I can't remember why I stopped.  She's all about decluttering and deep cleaning (eventually).  But her mantra is Baby Steps!  And if you follow her instructions, in a few months the house is spit-spot.  Really.  All the emails (probably why I quit) can be overwhelming, but I've signed up this time for one big email a day.

Also, my friend Michelle came over this morning to help me unpack in an organized way.  Now that I've emptied and stored more boxes and hung some things on the walls that belong to us, this place is starting to look more like home.  I would actually like to spend time in the living room now, despite the burgundy red border that exactly matches the couch that won't fit through the basement door and which coordinates with the wallpaper in the dining room.  Lori will be here tomorrow.  I hope we can tackle the office.  Pics to come.  (I mean it.)  This affirmation-needy attempting-decorator is so grateful for their help!

Silent Words

Still no voice.  Going on day 5.  I thought I was getting better (eye and throat not as bad), but now it looks like I have an ulcer on my tonsil.  Painful!

My thoughts now are what the Lord is able to teach me in my required silence.  "Quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger" keeps coming to mind.  Also to "be still and know that I am God," since I can't pick up the phone and call whomever comes to mind.  To PRAY for them vs. talk with them.  To examine the words I'd like to say (too often critical and angry) and be thankful at least the hearer is spared.

It's also a new lesson that controlling the tongue = controlling your mind, that words are in my head even if they don't come out of my mouth.  And gratitude that words of praise are still heard by my Father.  Like I said, we've been talking more lately since I can't talk to anyone else...

But I start a new camp in about an hour.  I need my voice!  I need sleep too--maybe another 30, if I'm lucky!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Coffee Shakes

So it may not be the smartest thing to keep pouring iced coffees throughout the morning.  I'm so jittery that my hands won't stop shaking when I hold them out in front of me! 

Still Around

We were at the lake last Fri-this Thurs, w/o any internet and sketchy cell service to boot.  We saw almost all our AL family, good friends, and worshipped at FPC on Sunday.  And I took lots of pics, although I haven't downloaded them yet.  It was a wonderful get-away!

There are many stories to tell and thoughts to share.  Life is not allowing me to get to them though--you know, vacay plus that whole relocating thing.  And I have had a terrible sore throat, congested sinuses, and seriously gunky eye that started Tuesday.  And my voice is completely gone, a fact I forgot about when I ran  by Sonic yesterday on the way home from getting a(nother) "last" load from the Arlington house, lol.  Anyway, I'm considering going to the Walgreens clinic today.

All that to say, I have too many thoughts bouncing around in my head, a broken escape valve, and no opportunity to organize them right now anyway.  Like my friend Regan says, I feel like I haven't used all my words!

Here's a nugget for you--I've been reading How People Change by Timothy Somebody and Paul Tripp.  Soooooooo good.  It will (hopefully) make my top 5 influential books. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

So Long, Farewell

It's our last night at the Arlington house.  Tomorrow the truck comes to load up the beds, drawer-less dressers, piano, washer/dryer, dining room table and chairs, 2 sofas, 2 rockers, and a coffee table.  Otherwise, there might be 6-10 boxes of "stuff" left to move.  You know, the last 5% of stuff that you can't put in its place because its place is at the other house.  It's a miracle.

You can pray that the moving helpers are able to load those big furniture items quickly.  We're losing most of our help by 12noon tomorrow.  My hope is that they can load, move and unload by 1pm.  It's possible!  There's not much here, really, and there are 4 or 5 of them. 

Plus it's a crazy-busy day with swim practice, the littles' last swim lesson, and a meet at 5.  The last meet ran till 11.  I'm hoping this one will be more efficient.

But for now, it's time for a little Arrested Development with the hubby.  G'night, errybody!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Playing Secretary

Right now Brian and I are working together, tag-teaming the utility companies to disconnect services to our current address and establish services at our new one.  This is fun.  We're both on the phone, multi-tasking and trying to have a conversation over the hold music.

Gas? check.  Electric? check.  Water? check.  Trash pick up? check.  Cable? cancelled for good.  Change of address? check.

Wait--look!  It's 5:01.  Quittin' time. 

Who am I kidding?  This job never ends.  But it IS much more fun doing the work with Brian than by myself.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mercies Anew

My first thought this morning:  Praise the Lord it's not yesterday.

Praise the Lord for stormy weather that cancelled swim practice this morning.  Brian took the kids to get donuts and I made coffee (first time in over a week) and took a shower (yes, in the morning).  We can chill to cool coffeehouse music and pack for the lake (we leave Friday) and for the move (the big truck comes Thursday).

Snappy and Apathy have gone.  Laughter has returned. 

God is good.  All the time.  I'm so thankful his mercies are new every morning and that he doesn't wait for me to get my act together to save me from myself.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wouldn't You Like To Get Away?

My kids are at the pool with Brian so I could run to the grocery store for dinner.  I tried to get sushi for a treat for me, but there were no smaller packages.  So I bought Raisin Nut Bran instead, rushed home, and am watching Cheers on Netflix until the others get back while I enjoy a bowl before dinner.

Brian and I have agreed that this is the worst day ever.  Maybe really ever.  For both of us.  Prayers are appreciated.  This is going to be a crazy week.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Apologies and Thanks

I will have the MBR packed this afternoon if it kills me.  That means it has to be done before 4:30, because there's a swim meet we need to leave for then.

And can I just apologize to anyone who has been to my house in the last year or so for the level of filth I have become numb to and unaware of?  I knew I wasn't getting to the deep cleaning, but I had no idea I'd let it get this bad.  So I'm sorry.  Really, really sorry.  And thank you for not reporting me to the health dept.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Helpful and Convenient

Ever lived far away from family but been so so so so thankful to be able to keep up via FB, blogs, and Skype?

Ever wondered what happened to old so-and-so from high school, googled her name, and found out she lives in your town now?  You touch base for fun and now you're best friends? (no, me either; but it could happen.)

Ever been overwhelmingly grateful to be able to keep up on FB with all the people you're blessed to know for just one or two years in person?

Ever realized that without the internet, all those goodbyes in May would really be so-long-for-goods, at least till heaven.

Ever wondered what it was like for Ma to leave her family in the Big Woods, not knowing if she'd ever see or hear from them again, and been grateful it's not that way for us?

Ever thought of how much paper is being saved because we blog online vs. writing in journals?

Ever considered how many hand-written letters, envelopes, and stamps it would take to replace one day's emails?

Ever been repeatedly amazed that there are always two sides to the same coin?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

False Community

Ever wanted to tell a story about what you were up to lately to a friend who reads your blog?  And you realize she already knows what you're going to say because you published it a few days ago?

Ever felt like you know someone when you don't really know them in person?  Like you follow them on FB so you know what's going on but don't ask in person so that you don't seem like a stalker?  Or seem like even more than just an aquaintance?

Ever realized you haven't had a real conversation with a real live friend in way too long because you can keep up with them online?  Or that a friend--a real friend whom you love--is moving but it's not going to affect your relationship much because it's mostly over the computer anyway?

Ever realize but not care that you're spending too much time on the computer when there are other much more needed things to be done around the house? or with people in the house?

Ever thought people think they know YOU because they read your blog?  That they think everything is honky-dory because you don't publish all the junk (edited for Mrs. Abernathy) that's going on in your mind and life?

Ever wish people would update their blog so that you'll know what's going on with them and you're tired of waiting for an update?  But not tired enough to call them because you don't have their number since you haven't actually spoken since high school?

Ever considered that blogging and following blogs are the new soap opera for at-home moms who need an escape from their small world often filled with small people?

Ever realized how ironically lonely it is to be a part of such a large and actively involved group of people?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Moving Madness

The kids are back.  The Browns leave tomorrow.  Many thanks to them and my parents for taking them so we can pack.  They had a really great time in both spots!

The kitchen is moved, spices and all.  Time for macky cheese, hot dogs, and frozen pizza.  Some of the hanging clothes are gone too.  And the see-saw, roller coaster, and most of the patio furniture.  The closets are mostly empty.  The basement has been cleared out.

I suppose it's time to reserve a big truck to get the last of whatever's here in a week and a half.

I suppose I should pack for the vacation we're taking the day after we move out so I know where all those necessities are when it's time to throw everything else on the truck.

It's 9:34pm, and I'm so wiped out I can't see straight.  I've taken a full van load over to the new house every day for well over a week; that means I loaded it and unloaded it.  But I'm SOOOOOOO craving a real Coke.  But I don't want the caffeine.  But I'd go chug from the 2L if I didn't think it'd keep me up till midnight.  But a sip couldn't hurt, I don't think...

The BIG and EXCITING Announcement

The BIG and EXCITING Announcement:

To win a FREE month of Boot Camp for you and a friend of your choice ($398 value- two 3-day/week camps) you need to already BE A MEMBER OF THIS FACEBOOK PAGE, https://www.facebook.com/stl.adventure.bootcamp, OR JOIN it for the vote to count. If you are already a member then you just post “St. Louis Adventure Boot Camp ROCKS and I want to join up for FREE!” on the page. Get your friends to like the page and vote for you by posting on the page "ST LOUIS ADVENTURE BOOT CAMP ROCKS, AND SO DOES ___________”(insert name of person they are voting for to win).

The person with the most votes by 11pm on Friday, June 24 wins! You have one week to tell your friends, ask them to be a member of this page, and then to VOTE for You!! They must be a member of the group for the vote to count. Only 1 vote per person. The free camps must be redeemed in 2011. Winner will be announced Saturday, June 25.

Let’s ROCK this facebook group!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Head 'Em Up...

...and move 'em out!

The gist of the last week is that I'm packing the house.  My parents came last weekend and left with Patrick and Lillian on Wednesday.  The kids went with Lilla and Jim (my in-laws) on Saturday and they will all come back this Wednesday.  So while I have just 2 kids, and big, helpful kids at that, I'm packing, loading the van, and unloading at the new house as much as possible.  Our final, big-furniture move date is the end of this month.  Until then, our landlord is being oh so gracious to let us take things over as we can.

This past Saturday some friends came and helped us mov their furniture (have I said it is a fully-furnished house?) around in the house to the places where we'd use or store it.  So now it's ready for our things to come.

Today though I am tired.  I need perseverance, but first swimteam!  I am still dressed from bootcamp this morning.  I thought I'd go walk the track during practice, but I'm reconsidering.  Maybe another hour of rest will help me work harder for the rest of the day?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Promotion Commotion

This Sunday was Promotion Sunday at our church.  Sarah Frances is in a 3rd and 4th grade class now, which seems strange because that's the age of Mary Claire Gurley, Joanna Hotten, Katie Hood, Laura Herren, Izzy Smoke, and all the other girls who were in the 3rd and 4th grade SS class that we taught at Faith just before we left Birmingham.  But those are BIG girls--I'm sure my child isn't old enough to be in that class.  But she is.

And Catherine is in the 1st and 2nd grade class.  Wow, I think she's a lot older than she is.  When I look at those kids, they seem like babies.  I really should remember she's not any bigger than they are.  Cause she's not.

(How can both of these things be true at the same time?  That one child seems too young and the other too old.  Something is wrong here.)

And Patrick?  Well, he went straight to his class and I didn't check on him so I don't know yet...

Lillian is in the 3yo class.  That means she's no longer in the nursery.  That means we are to pick her up after SS is over and she goes to worship with us.  That means I don't pick her up from the nursery after worship.

That means we are through with the church nursery.  Holy-moly!  It's been almost 9 years since we've not had a little one in the nursery.  I seriously wasn't sure what to do after worship.  Was I supposed to just go straight to my car and leave with all my brood since there was no necessary stopping along the way?  I guess we'll still be making a long stop at the playground for a while, so I can visit with other mommas there vs. in the hallway at pick-up...  Crazy, I tell ya.  Crazy.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Go Cards--Part Deux!

We had a great time tonight!  Our seats were among families with lots of younger kids, so it was easy for us to not worry about being wiggly or loud.  Thank you, Charla and Brent!

Some of Our Favorite Spots, 2011

Spring 2011 under the Arch

The bottom of Art Hill

At the top of Art Hill
St. Louis Zoo
The Science Center and Planetarium 

Cardinal's Stadium
Goofy girl shaking a bee-bee!
Some of the fountains at City Gardens

Go Cards!

This week is apparently the week of Cardinals games for us.  My parents gave Patrick some birthday money for he and Brian to go to a game together.  I asked some friends who would know about the best way to get tickets, and one of them gave us FOUR.  Four GREAT seats!

So we were able to call Patrick's friend, Alex, and his dad, Dan, to go with them.  They were about 20 rows behind the third base dugout, and Dan caught a foul ball!  Patrick ate a hot dog, nachos, a pretzel with honey mustard, had lemonade and Sprite to drink, and bought a souvenir mini-bat.  Oh, and they rode the Metro to and from the game. 
Albert Pujols
What a perfect night to celebrate a little boy turning five!  Thank you, Gamma and Mary Ann!

Then we got an email last night from a friend who wanted to give us 5 tix they couldn't use for tonight!  So off we go this evening too to cheer for our red birds!  This is turning out to be an amazing staycation!!

Sum, sum, summertime!

The girls started swimteam this week, and I'm so proud of them!  They're both the fastest in their lanes and often the first to the wall at their 8 and Under practice.  Although I really thought I wouldn't be "that mom," I find myself leaning toward the wall that they're swimming towards, even if it IS only practice!  And I'll confess I actually clapped in enthusiasm when the coach was pumping them up to kick hard enough to move the wall.  Then I got embarrassed, although I'm sure no one else noticed me.  And it was the first day.  I'm cool now.  Perfectly chill.

We joined our community pool, different than our swimteam pool, this week as well.  We've been a couple of times already; it's as fun as last year.  There's the lazy river, three-story twisty and straight slides, and fountains and baby slides in the zero-entry pool, plus the low and high springboards in the competition pool.  This year we also have friends we see from last year.  We added Mary Martha to our family membership too so that she can come play with us or babysit there. 

I got the littles signed up for swimming lessons that start next week.  Patrick is already swimming enough to go off the diving board, so he'll be improving his strokes.  My main focus is to get Lillian able to get to the side on her own.  My prayer is that we can do this before we leave for the lake July 1.

Can you tell we like the water??  It's going to be a wet, wet summer.  A great, great summer!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Friends of all Kinds

I think I need to clarify that in a previous post I was not speaking to specific friendships that might not be what I thought.  I am speaking to what it looks like to have friends who know you on different levels.  We can all agree that we know some friends better than others.  What I'm acknowledging is that a friendships can only go as deep as both parties desire.  I can only know you as much as you show me your heart AND I have eyes to see the real you.  You can only know me as much as I reveal myself to you AND you have eyes to see me.

I can be vulnerable and think my friend sees me, but unless she honestly "goes into my world," she can't know what it's like to be here.  If another friend shares her struggles with me, but I don't put in the work to really understand what that means, I am limited in my knowing her. 

It's a hard thing to do.  There are struggles and frustrations that friends share that I gloss over because I just can't take on more struggle and frustration.  And my circumstances are frustrating and hard to "get" too.

Which is why we find ourselves with different levels of friendships.  This is why we resonate with some people much more easily than with others--we already know them because they are so like us to begin with.  Others take more effort to know.  Not to mention that there is only so much time and energy we have to invest in really knowing the people we know.

Unfortunately, sometimes we think others see us when they don't.  And that can bring a lot of sadness and loneliness.  It doesn't mean you're not real friends.  And I mean REAL friends.  The sadness comes when it's just not at the depth you thought it was, or if you've worked to reach into the depths of that person but it's not reciprocated.

So, I'm still not talking about a specific friendship of mine; I'm simply reflecting a topic I've discussed with others over many, many years that was on my mind this last week.

So know I love all of you, my friends.  No matter if we're super deep, close friends or more acquaintances!  REALLY! :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Breakfast Epiphany

Brian went to get donuts this morning for breakfast since he and Patrick finished school yesterday.  Today I've decided I don't like donuts and coffee together.  The super sweetness of the donut makes the coffee way too bitter.  My coffee is already like dessert by the time I'm ready to drink it.  Maybe I can enjoy a cup later this morning?

It was a sweet time earlier when all 6 of us were on the front porch this morning enjoying our breakfast together.  The temp was just over 60, the birds were chirping, and we were able to watch about 3 or 4 people stroll by pushing a stroller or walking their dog.  We chatted about how we're going to have a great summer ahead!

Oh, they're getting so big!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Too Much to Process

I have some subjects I'd like to think through, but I haven't had the time to wrap my head around them and form a decent post about.  It's been a heavy week, and the tears are coming easily.  Here are a few of them, not all heavy though:

Steve's death and the ensuing conversations...
Friendships that aren't what I thought--or are they?
May-moving-season sucks.
I get to be only fun-mom soon and not their teacher too!
Leggos are fun for all ages!
We have a "house-mate" for next year!
Covenant Christian School's Field Day t-shirt says it all...
"Bootcamp is about to take off!" said Brian last night.

More later...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Last Week of School

Finishing math today.  Three more phonics lessons.  Returning the library books tomorrow.   Patrick's final chapel is Friday morning.  Brian will finish his summer class on Friday as well.  Icing on the cake?  This is also the last week of this month's bootcamp. 

Next week is our staycation.  There is nothing on the calendar but fun! :)  Yes...today I'm living for the future.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fighting Gives Way to Surrender

"We have not wanted to post much in the past week or so because our cancer fight has taken a turn from fighting to surrendering and much of what goes on seems too raw or even too sacred to bring to print."

From Steve's blog.  He's close, friends.  Pray for mercy.

And can I also ask that we remember Penny and their kids?  I know the Lord knows how to minister to her in this, and we can certainly ask on her behalf that he'd be faithful to tend to her heart well too. 

It's all so very tragic, and my heart is heavy.  But my knees are getting calloused over it.  So, to God be the glory!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pray Through the Nations

Part of Brian's next class is signing up for a daily email from Operation World that provides stats on a different country each day, including details on it's unreached people groups.  It has increased my awareness of needs around the world and guides me in specifics to pray for others.  Maybe I'm a nerd too, but it's been really interesting reading about different cultures.  And it reminds me more and more that it's not supposed to be this way.

Can't Sleep

Yesterday we helped some friends pack up to move, and now my mind is reeling with the work laid out before me to get this home ready to be transplanted in 2 months.  Our last move entailed having friends come throw all our stuff in boxes for us (for which I am still so grateful!), but this time I'm hoping I can be more organized.  And have less stuff to move.

Also, today is our baby boy's 5th birthday party!  His actual birthday is not until June 8, but his best friend is part of this family moving on Monday.  We couldn't have a party without Joshua Stephen Bean there!  But right now I can't remember if they provide paper plates and plasticware for cake...hmmmm...I guess I can stop at Target on the way home from coffee with MMA.  Anyway, I hope to post pics of the party soon.

Then there's all the "procedures" our family is having.  Yesterday, Brian's dad had cataract surgery.  Monday, my dad had and angiogram(?) but the blockage was so thick they couldn't do a stint or balloon.  He says now they'll just treat it with medicine.  (all this after a quadruple bypass...when??...)  Last week, Uncle Mike had bypass surgery following his heart attack in March.  Also last week, my Grandma was admitted to the hospital for a cough she's had for 2 months.  March and April brought thyroid cancer surgery.  Since January, another uncle has been in the hospital repeatedly for general but serious poor health related to obesity.  Over the last year and longer, there have been other stressful medical issues and procedures touching our family that we've been faithfully praying for.  There's lots to think and pray about, and this is just family! 

And so many, many of the families we love are moving, so it's also goodbye season.  We will really, really miss them!  Some are finishing seminary.  Others are moving for job changes.

Then it's the end of the school year craziness.  Teacher gifts, volunteering for field day and other class events...

Lots to think about and remember to not forget!  Thank goodness for a color-coded Google Calendar!  But I'm loving life right now too.  More on that later!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We're Moving!

I can't remember what I've shared on the blog, but here's the whole story:

We've been told our landlord is in jail for real estate corruption.  We know his company is bankrupt and we don't expect to be getting our depost back.  We've reported water damage for 19 months, and we're becoming concerned about mold that might be growing in the wall of our living room.  We though we'd stay here all 4 years, but we've decided it's best to move on.  Good news in all this?  I'm not worried about leaving the house pristine and clean. :)

One of Brian's professor's son's in-laws has a home 4.5 miles from the seminary and 2 miles from the Kirk, where Brian is an intern, and he's renting cheap to sem students.  We read about it on the sem website where people let them know about available off-campus housing.  We drove by it a few times, and it looks pretty unassuming for six bedrooms; we figured there are probably 2 down in the basement.  We did love that it's on a culdesac at the "corner" of a non-cut-through street.  (There is an island with grass and trees at this corner.) 

So a few weeks ago we were able to walk through it.  Have mercy--it's huge!  You walk into a foyer with a formal living room on the left and dining room on the right.  Walk ahead then turn left down a short hall beside the stairs on your right, and to your left (at the front of the house) is a bedroom, a full bath straight ahead, a big office with wall-to-wall bookshelves also ahead, and a master suite to the right.  The master suite has an enormous walk-in closet.  All the bedrooms have enormous closets.  It's there in the master that we notice double doors leading to the back patio and--A POOL!  Eek!

But, I digress.  Walk back toward the foyer and the stairs coming down on the left end up at the front left corner of a huge den.  This opens into a large eat-in kitchen (table on one side, U-shaped work-space on the other) that has ample cabinet and counter-top space!  (more than one drawer, yay!)  It also has sliding glass doors that lead ot the pool deck.  If you leave the kitchen going toward the front of the house, you walk first into a laundry/storage room then into a 2 car garage.  I'd be able to pull into the garage and basically unload groceries straight into the kitchen.  Now, that's been a dream of mine for years.

The upstairs has a large landing with 6 doors coming off of it.  Four of them are bedrooms; two are full baths.  The basement is entirely unfinished and has a 2nd fridge/freezer as well as a full-size deep freeze. 

So the lot is basically pie-shaped, and the back yard is wide.  The pool is right up against the house and fenced off from the rest of the yard.  It has lots of pretty vines, hostas, and sweet peas beginning to bloom.  The back side yard has a trampoline that stays with the house and the back-back of the lot is bordered by a creek that the kids can play in and that has vines hanging from the trees that are strong enough to swing on.  The wife in the house now told me the creek feezes over in the winter, and they took long walks on it exploring the area.

I'll admit all the water freaks me out.  Brian's not as worried.  The Baby Burgess story haunts me.  There's a bracelet alarm system that we're looking in to.  And I'll be praying every day for protection.

It really is the greatest hospitality house ever though, and that's apparently it's history as well.  We'll move in hopefully around mid-July, so give us a bit to settle in then come on over!  If you can get to us, we can house and feed you and even entertain you for free.  If you want to come early and help us move, even better! ;)

Thursday, May 12, 2011


I have been practicing not getting easily distracted.  I cleaned out under the kitchen sink the other day, and I promise it took all that was in me to not get up till the job was done.  At least 4 times.  If a child were bleeding or the washer was overflowing, I would have felt free to attend to it.  But there were FOUR TIMES I had to physically will myself to stay on my kitchen floor till the last bottle was back in its organized place. 

It's not like the four things were pressing or even interesting.  I just am so scatterbrained that I jump from one thing to the next so quickly and easily that I don't seem to actually finish anything.  Until the end.  Then it's ALL done.  But I never seem to reach the end.

I have the same problem in conversations.  The other day I was at a coffee shop in conversation with 2 girlfriends when I saw across the room a couple I know who has 8 kids.  So I interrupt whatever we were talking about to go on about how I'm so glad to see them out by themselves on a Saturday afternoon.  I was able to wrap it up pretty quickly (2min?) and turn the conversation back to pink eye.

But really, it's not necessary that every thought I have in my head come out of my mouth!  How rude!  It's not necessary that I run all over the house moving things from room to room instead of just finishing one corner.  Heavens!

I mean, God didn't create all things over seven days; he completely made different things on different days.  Maybe that should be a model for my housework...keep me focused.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Monumental Day

It is 8:04.  I have decided just now to let my 7yo and 8yo stay outside without me and play with a neighborhood friends in the dusk of the evening.  The police are also out, doing a meet-and-greet at the corner 2 houses down where we've been hanging out with our neighbors for an hour already, so I feel pretty good about it.  They have to come in when the popos leave, whether it's been 2 min or 20.

Brian is not here to affirm that this is the right decision.  They love this friend, Brooklyn, and she wanted them to stay out.  Usually it's the other way around.  So the girls are giddy on 2 fronts: that Brooklyn is eager to play with them (she's 11yo) and that I let them stay out by themselves and be responsible for when they come in.

Big points for me, right?  At least in their view.  I figure as long as the police are there they're safe, right?  Right?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

One Smart Feller

One Smart Feller is hilarious.  Watch it and try it for yourself.  We'll be doing this for days to come, I'm sure!

Odd Jobs

Yesterday I babysat for a friend, meaning there were 5 kids in the house.  Then there was a last-minute opportunity to do aftercare (3:15-5:30), which I jumped on.  Today there are 7 kids in the house.  Thursday and Friday I'm working aftercare again.

Yesterday, they guy I worked aftercare with asked how we're making it.  I laughed and said I'm pretty much whatever you need if you wave a few bucks in front of me.  I'll watch your kids, hem your pants, bake your meal, etc.  Brian will clean your man hole, mow your yard, cut your monkey grass back by hand (no kidding!) or move furniture, etc, if you need a worker.

It's going to be the summer of odd jobs, so give us a ring if you're in the STL area and need some hired help, especially in the yard-work arena.  We have at least one family who B will work for weekly, and we'd love more! 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Math Madness

At the risk of letting my pride sneak up on me, I have to tell you that we're going on 49 minutes of math drama, and I haven't lost my cool yet.  I'm not even frustrated.  It's mostly just a sad situation where math is not even the issue, but tears are flowing freely and in combination with a deeply pathetic moaning.  I suppose God is actually growing me in grace.  Suppose, ha.  I know this is not my doing! 

Mother's Day Madness

Wonderful madness, I tell you!  I woke up to a warm breakfast in bed: Sarah Frances made my coffee just the way I like it (she'd even asked specifics on Sat. so she'd know for Sunday), Catherine made her famous scrambled eggs for me (yes, all by herself), and I also had a slice of banana bread and half an orange on my plate.  It was all DELICIOUS!  And 8:00am to boot!

Then, once my eyes could focus, I saw hand-painted signs that said "Happy Mother's Day" on the bookshelf and streamers in the doorway.  The streamers were a fun and total surprise.  They're still up.

My gift is very meaningful to partly because of what it is but more because they've wanted to give it to me for months.  When they were shopping for Lillian's birthday in March, they found my favorite children's book, which I didn't own.  So for 2 months they've remembered and plotted and kept the secret until yesterday morning when I opened The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Dicamillo.  Everyone should read this.  Everyone.  Brian bought me Stargazer Lillies on Saturday.  The whole house smells rich!

It was my week for nursery duty, so I kept the big girls with me.  I'd requested the itty-bitties, but there was another couple slated for that room...that is until they couldn't handle it and needed our help.  I got to hold a 9month old little girl whose mother is from Huntsville and the baby was consequently (very Southern) dressed in her grandmother's white Feltman Brother's gown.  She needed bouncing until she fell asleep in my arms.  Our nursery doesn't have cribs (what?), so I was stuck holding her the rest of the time.  Oh, woe is me! ;)

We went to Hacienda to get Mexican for lunch, a big treat, even if it took 2 hours to get through.  Once we finally got home, Brian took off to do some school work, and the older 3 kids went out to wash the car.  What fun it is to wash the car!  I should have taken pictures; instead I read my new book.

At 6 Brian got home and I scooted out to meet some girlfriends for a belated Cinco de Mayo mini-celebration.  I got back about 9:30, and found a Happy Mother's Day sign moved to the outside of the front door, welcoming me home.  Sweet, sweet icing on the cake!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Cookbook Cleanout

I cleaned out the pantry this week.  Now I'm on to cabinets.  Cookbooks, specifically.  I'm considering sending on some that I haven't looked at in years.  I have my favorite recipes out of them already memorized or copied into my personal cookbook.  But isn't it almost sacreligious for a real Southern Lady to not have a copy of Southern Sideboards in her kitchen?  I'm in a quandry.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What a Gracious God!

We listed a table on Craigslist yesterday afternoon.  It was given to us years ago and has been in our basement, unused, for almost 2 years now.  God provided an eager buyer who offered us $150 more than the listed price so that we wouldn't sell it to the first responder interested.  He said he's been looking for this exact table for months for a mother's day gift.  Are you KIDDING me? 

I am blown away at God's imagination and abundant provision.  For us and for him.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hebrew Nerdiness

Did you know the Hebrew word for "know" is "yadah?"  Brian wants to know if Seinfeld's yadda-yadda-yadda is a phrase that's come out of the Jewish culture's knowledge of Hebrew.

Like when Elaine said something to the effect of, "So I met this guy, and we ended up back at his apartment, and yadda-yadda-yadda, and the next morning we..."  George calls her on it and says, "Wait a minute!  You can't yadda-yadda-yadda sex!"  In this context yadda-yadda-yadda means, "well, you know."  "We ended up back at his apartment, and well...you know...and the next morning..." 

Know.  Yadda.  Sounds like a lazy pronunciation of yadah to me.  It's at least interesting to consider.  I'm such a nerd.  But Brian started it!

Anyone know for sure?

Ironically Normal

Last week was the most normal I've felt since moving from Birmingham, ironically normal in light of the tornadoes that ripped through our home state, leaving so much devistation.  We are heartbroken at all the loss of lives and homes.  So I feel a little guilty to say I feel so good.  But I'm thankful to God, so I'll tell you about what he did for me last week.

I think it started with the Brian being out of school Th, F, and M for Easter.  And he took a real break.  It was WONDERFUL for all of us.  I mean, he was really home.  It was reminiscent of B'ham weekends, and very comforting to my soul.  It's been a long 21 months since we had a weekend like this.

Some contribution to normal was that I was able to follow the advice of Elizabeth Elliot--just do the next thing.  So I did laundry and straightened up most days.  And the kids have started helping with that--like wiping down the bathroom, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming and dusting.  It helps the feel of home so much when it's straight and clean(er).

Tuesday a friend needed an ear, so we played at the park for the afternoon before we took Brian dinner on campus.  Eating on campus means I get to see people and the kids get to play till dusk with friends.  Everyone's joyful!

Wednesday was our free concert.  Once again I enjoyed the opening act, Company of Thieves, better than the headliner.  It felt so good to FEEL the music pound my chest at this out-of-the-way music venue where Brian and I landed a table at the front of the loft to watch the show.  Thanks for the tix, KDHX.

Thursday morning was my regular coffee time with MMA, the girls had a friend to play most of the morning, and that afternoon I was able to get away to meet another dear friend, sans kids. 

Friday night we had a farewell double date with some precious friends who are graduating this month.  We hit McGurk's Irish Pub for dinner followed by drinks at Bailey's Chocolate Bar.  There was delicious food and delicious conversation.  John tutored Brian in Greek all last year, and Anna and I have been accused of being sisters more than once.  What a treat to get such a fun night in before they move to Virginia in a few weeks.

Saturday morning Brian, once again, opted for family over school and we went on a long bike ride.  I have a new bike from our neighbors, the Heeszels, who couldn't fit theirs in the truck when they moved last Monday.  So all 5 bikes and the trailer took off to DeMun park.  And the weather was LOVELY.

Oh, did I mention that this was my off-week for bootcamp?  I was really able to rest, not having to think in the evenings of what the workout should be or getting up at 4:50am for class every other day.  Now, I did take each older girl out for an early breakfast, but that was restful too.  I was reminded that I like my daughters.  Good to know that's still there.

Saturday afternoon we looked at a house we might rent for the rest of our time here.  It has a pool--eek!  The seminary picnic was dinner, and that was followed by a(nother girl's) night out.  Five of us stayed out till 11:30 (I got home at 12:30), sharing joys and struggles, laughing, admonishing, and encouraging each other.  Again, it's been months and months since I've done that (right? maybe I'm forgetting...), and God is gracious to provide real friends for me in his perfect timing.  We hope to make that a regular thing. 

And today is the last day of Classical Conversations.  No more prep for Monday morning tutoring!  And no more memory work for the girls--now to press on to finish math and phonics.

Today also brings with it bootcamp and the beginning of finals season.  But be assured my cup overflows!  I am (humbly) ready to do life in finals season.  It will be over in 2 1/2 weeks, and if I don't have another moment with friends until then, I feel (right now) that I'd be OK.

Last week also gives me hope that things will have a more normal feel after Brian finishes school and moves into a full-time job.  I'm not crazy enough to think it will ever be "like it was," but I'm so grateful for a glimpse of changes in a positive direction.  Glory to God!  So now you know.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


We're getting there.  We have begun the conversation that leads to a simpler life.  We see how we are burdened, literally and figuratively, by our stuff and we're beginning to do something about it.

We also are seeing where we are not using our time as best we could.  I mean, we have only so much time together; do we really want to be watching TV instead of, say, going to bed and getting some much-needed rest?  Or going to bed early and reading?  Or playing games with the kids after dinner? 

So we're cleaning out and paring down.  And today Brian suspended our Direct TV until football season.  Because, we while we are moving forward in this, it's not necessary to take it TOO far!

PS--no, I haven't read Radical.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Pic Rebellion

Happy Easter from the Browns!
 Just kidding--the best way to get a good pic is to promise them a silly one once I get the pretty one!  And here's the pretty one:
Sarah Frances (8 1/2), Lillian (3), Patrick (5 in June), Catherine (7)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Eggs All Around

Sarah Frances added monarch butterflies to the blue part of her Auburn egg (top half blue, bottom half orange) to look like they're flying in the sky.  She has a strong creative side and loves artsy things.


And, ta-dah! Our finished products!