Tuesday, May 26, 2009

finding the treasure at the end of the story

When i was in the 7th grade, my bff was addicted to JRR Tolkien...the Hobbit and all the rest .
I tried. I really did. I wanted to be a bookworm like her. But i was much more of a Judy Blume girl--sneakily reading through 'Forever' in the girls bathroom....trying to discover the secret of sexuality. much more of a , shall we say, short story kinda girl.

As i got older, the lure of dating, teaching aerobics, school, marriage, babies...blah blah blah...i seldom read, much less finished any books.
A couple of years ago i basically stopped watching tv, pretty much cold turkey. Having been a former night owl, i wanted to make a change in how i started my day. I don't know that i'd call myself a morning girl yet, but i'm trying. I use those early hours, while everyone ( sans my hubby who leaves for work at 6am) sleeps, to read scripture, journal, and then if there's time left i pick up a book. And proudly i'd like to admit that i've become quite the book worm...and not just short books either. I've read dozens of books during this time. I've talked about a few of them here. But I must admit, my favorite has been the Harry Potter series....all 4,100 collective pages. did you hear me? 4,100 collective pages.

Today i finished book 7. i sat back , teary eyed and relished that final moment that comes at the end of a well written story. savoring the moment when everything comes together. the treasure of understanding.

I love things neat & tidy. I love a happy ending. I love discovering why people do what they do and therefore understanding them better. I like my home that way, i like relationships that way, i like my sermons that way. all packaged up nice & pretty....with clarity and conceptualisation. while life rarely affords me that privilege, a good book usually does.

This isn't meant to be an endorsement of Harry Potter, well not necessarily anyway but rather an explanation of my devotion. I'm well aware of the controversy--the whole evil wizard issue. I'm fairly certain the books were even banned from the private christian school my girls formerly attended....so yes, there is a subdued rebel nature in me! But my eldest has always been a voracious reader and had whizzed through the books. A spiritual mentor of mine had read them to her boys--since i think she's nearly perfect i figured what was ok for her was surely ok for me. Judge me on that one...that's ok. My second daughter was not at all interested in reading. Her 4th grade ( now we're in public school thank you very much) had encouraged her to pick up the first book. There has been no turning back. She's read all of them, countless times, over & over again. She has since read many of Jane Austen's books ( so for those of you against HP, surely 'Pride and Predjudice' brings some redemption,right? )and hundreds more.

I decided a great way to connect with my teens would be that i i too needed the literary challenge of a 7 book series. They mocked me and called me 'not a true fan' because i would break between every one and read a half dozen or so other books, regain my strength and plow through another one. Surely crying at the end of the series constitutes real devotion, does it not?
The books blow my mind.

How JK Rowling weaved the plethora of characters seamlessly through all 7 books is nothing short of spectacular.
Good vs Evil
the power of friendship
genuine love
conquering fear
weaving through adolescence
and my favorite...the last hundred pages explaining the secrets, explaining the basis of many of the relationships, explaining how unselfish love wins over all....i found the treasure at the end of the story ~choosing that which is right not that which is easy.
I'm sure there's many a sermon there. But I'll leave it at that.

Here's hoping to finding more treasures this summer....
whether it be in a new relationship or the healing of an old one,
whether it be sitting poolside with your children
or sipping lemonade beside an aging grandparent
or in finding seashells along the shore
with a little one who is amazed at each of them, whether broken or perfect

each of us are that too aren't we?
not perfect
what a priceless gift to be someone's treasure

I probably won't post quite as frequently. With everyone home I don't want to spend too much time seated in front of the computer, while hours at a time disappear.
I'll try to keep up with ya'll though.

Happy summer

Go find your treasures!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

first day of summer vacation

I love summer
I really do
but truth be told.....come late July, I'm ready for a little routine

I know you think I'm a bad mom, but let me explain

if i lived in some precious coastal cottage, driving my light blue convertible bug,
sportin' my perpetual tan, my havaianas & i would be loving this first day of summer break
but as reality would have it
we have no neighborhood pool
and sadly i live hours from the white sanded crystal blue water that i love

so at 8:00 am when Caroline asks me , for what I'm certain will be the first of hundreds
"can we go to the pool today"
"no sweetie, its supposed to rain"
I begin to wonder how my compulsive self who loves a clean tidy white house (insert this confession= i honestly feel if my home were on the beach I'd be completely contented having sand on my hardwood floors and perpetual smudges on my white slip covered furniture) but since i have neither the hardwoods nor the white slipcovers, i exist in this conflicted state of wanting to enjoy having kids and teenagers constantly in my home and my insatiable desire to have order! ha!

then my witty hubby emails me this morning to ask how my first day of summer vacation is going
he very cutely asks~
What is your plan for the day?
Since the girls are all home, I guess its something like.........
1. make a hot breakfast for all
2. have a 'family clean the house' morning
3. help Caroline set up a kool-aid stand to raise money for the missionaries
4. eat lunch consisting of grilled chicken ceasar salads and homemade lemonade
( from the said lemonade stand)
5. take a trip to the park
such a funny boy
I'm sure he'll enjoy his leftovers tonight

So here's to summer~~
I promise to try to let things go
play cards and games at the drop of a hat
not vacuum every day
enjoy pbj's
welcome any and every teenager
count down the sleeps until i get my 7 sacred days on the gulf shore
and come September when I'm knee deep in carpool commitments and football games,
I'll be wishing it was the 'first day of summer vacation'

a few of my belated April showers bringing may showers post
cracking up at caroline's buff -horsing around self during my attempted photoshoot

ps-- i'm so proud of how all you girlies finished up your school year.
SMK-- GPA 96.17--all advanced , honors and gifted classes
CEK--excelled in reading and being a teacher's helper
EAK-- honor roll & class award in math
MGK--honor roll & highest gpa for language arts
ya'll rock!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

so glad i found YOU!

A couple of years ago I decided to start blogging. I had followed a few of my favorites artists and loved the connection found through the internet. I decided to give it a whirl. I think I'm a pretty open book kinda person, so sharing my little thoughts combined with snapshots of my world has proved to be very therapeutic for me. I don't ever want to come across as someone I'm not. I want to be as authentic online as I am in person....I hope I'm that.

Some writers use their blogs as an outlet for their professional talents--photography, decorating, mixed media, etc. I love those blogs. They have helped fill the void left by the closure of all four of my favorite magazines. Now not only can I peruse their sites and be visually stimulated, I can contact them and feel connected....magazines don't do that!

I have found blogs written by women who have an amazing gift for transferring their thoughts into eloquent entries that inspire me in my walk with the Lord. Many times I've printed their words to carry in my bible or my devotional notebook. I know I won't have the pleasure of meeting them on this side, but one day in Heaven, I'll run up and squeeze their neck . I'll tell them how much those words touched my heart.

But I think one of the priceless benefits to blogging is the friendships that are formed. Friendships that might never have blossomed otherwise. I've loved reading about some of those.....kindred spirits hooking up at Silver Bella, friendships formed at artfests, bloggers connecting at the farm chicks shows, the list goes on.

Many of you have become real friends to me. Private emails sent sharing your own personal thoughts or struggles. Sometimes just a quick note sent asking what you're cooking for dinner or who has the latest great cd , advice on raising teens, sale scoop at Anthro, or even just an encouraging word. I love that.

I can loose hours just cruising between Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, blogs & typepads. I can look up and wonder "did i just waste an entire hour"...i should have been cleaning bathrooms for crying out loud! But those times when we find someone that really gets us, who desires to be an authentic friend-even from the other end of the world, someone who takes the time to write a heart felt comment...can I really see that as a waste of time? I surely don't.

I want to thank you. I want to thank those of you who have come along beside me and connected. I wish I had a $200 giveaway to send you but know I'm sending you a heart full of gratitude. And maybe if I never meet you on this side....one day I'll see you in Heaven and squeeze your neck....it'll probably be really hard....and you can laugh at my southern accent and we'll call each other friends there too.

I want to share four ladies with you....

Last week I hooked up with Heather. My hubby had known her a lifetime ago when he taught at her school. I'm not exactly sure how we got connected in the blogworld, but she has become a precious friend to me. We met for the first time last week. Over a diet coke in Chickfila she poured out her heart. I hadn't plopped down in that booth for more than 5 minutes before she , with tear filled eyes, shared her life with me. What a privilege to meet someone you have an instant connection with ....and who so easily opens up and is vulnerable....that's a high honor in the world of friendships. I love you sweetie Heather and I look forward to more diet coke days....teary ones or not!

I've spoken about Cathy before. From the other side of the world, my sweet friend Cathy has become one of my favorite friends. She lives in an amazing cottage in Australia making the most gorgeous silver charms I've ever seen. I have several and each time I wear one , I think of my kindred spirit that lives over the pond and how she pours so much love into everything she does. Our girls have formed a great instant messaging connection too. I can't wait to squeeze her neck one day & hear her accent!! A tender hearted mommy who has shown me much about the unconditional love of a mother's heart.

Lissa....gorgeous lissa who's entire family looks like something right out of Hollywood. Lissa has the biggest heart, always a kind encouraging word, and shares the same OCD passions and love of the color white as I do! (ha!) I love just chit chatting with her usually a few times a week...either about shopping scores, new clothes, marriage , or even deeper spiritual thoughts. Her desire to be real and authentic is something I highly admire in a friend. I'm gonna get out there one day girlie...just you wait....we'll be sitting on your porch over looking the ocean!

Kasey...the rockstar blogger ( who incidentally usually does have a great giveaway!) who I'm so glad I can say " i know her" when she makes her magazine debut this summer. I love Kasey's tongue in cheek humor, I love her home and feel certain one day my heavenly beach cottage will look quite similar. I love Kasey's style and spunk. If that girl lived any closer I'd road trip just to hang with her...of course, I'd have to leave my " i copied kasey" anthro wardrobe pieces behind. I love receiving one of her funny emails from which always gets a laugh out loud outta me.

Tara, Kim, Rebecca, Courtney....there are so many more of you that I think are just wonderful. and I am all the better for knowing YOU!!
I'm so glad i found YOU!!

no...my pictures don't really relate ~~but oh well

Monday, May 11, 2009

watching her fly

My sweet Madison Grace
I have to tell you how very very proud you make me
six months ago you came to me and told me you wanted to stop dance
you wanted time to explore other loves
you wanted time to develop friendships
dance was an every day commitment & while you were a beautiful ballerina you were beginning to feel a little hemmed in

i prayed how i could best encourage you
should i encourage you to 'work it out'
or should i encourage you to spread your wings and fly
you have never looked back
you have never mentioned you thought you made a bad decision
you've made new friends and been able to spend time just hanging out...something you seldom had time for

i respect your brave decision to try something new

now after 11 years of wearing these shoes

you'll pick these up

congratulations on making the squad!!!
you will be an awesome cheerleader

you've signed up for tennis lessons --which you loved when you were little--with your 2 best friends
& are wanting to go back to oil painting lessons

while i never want you girls to feel that 'what you do' is what defines 'who you are'....its so fun to watch a new path unfold for you while you discover new adventures

by the way
the words you wrote me for mothers day are some of the most beautiful i've ever received

thank you for being my little bird...

what a joy it is to watch you fly
i love you

Friday, May 08, 2009

this one's for you mom

Dear Mom

I pray you have a very Happy Mother's Day

that you feel loved & appreciated

that you know how much i respect and honor you

that i loved growing up in a happy home

that it warmed my heart and taught me greatly about the importance of spiritual things, to wake each day and find you down stairs praying and spending time with the Lord

that it made me feel secure knowing you loved dad and that i would never have to worry about having divorced parents

thank you for always being proud of me and Corey

thank you for making homecooked meals....all the time

& for taking me to the beach and sharing my love for collecting seashells

i watched you care for your parents in your own home, sacrificing much for them

thank you for helping me when gregg died and i felt all alone

thank you for all the special little things you do for my girls....you are a wonderful Mimi

for all the times when i didn't say it enough, please know you were never taken for granted

for everything...i thank YOU

And to Lil....
this is our first mother's day without you
oh how you are missed
especially by little Caroline
she talks about you all the time
she uses a laminated copy of your obituary as a book mark
& she's taped a picture of you holding her on her night table
we've been watching after pop pop
he's been so sick these last several months
i wonder sometimes, if that's his soul's way of longing for you
he kisses your picture each night before bed
can you see that from Heaven?
oh, i hope you can
i think you'd still be so proud of your son
you taught him well
he loves me and the girls more than i ever dreamed of being loved
he's loyal, tender, and kind
but he's strong and protective too
he's officially an Assistant Principal now too
you obviously were a great mom to him and now
5 girls get to reap those blessings
thank you's never seem enough do they?
we love you
god speed grammy

Monday, May 04, 2009

raising cinderella

This last week my heart has been focused on a couple of important issues. Over on my sidebar i had a widget linking to several bloggers who traveled to Calcutta India with Compassion International. I was almost obsessed with their testimonies and so touched by the faces of these children. Children living in such poverty my mind can't even get around it. More on this later.

Secondly, my heart was focused on my relationship with my teenage girls. Three of them, each so different in temperaments and personalities, with different strengths and weaknesses. I feel like this is such a crucial time in our home. When they were little, if I blew it as their mom, lost my cool, said the wrong thing....they were so resilient, so quick to forget my mistakes. Now that they are older I feel such a sense of urgency to "get it right".

When they mess up, when they are caught making bad choices, when they disappointment me ~how i respond and what I choose to say are so very critical. My words carry the power to tear them down , make them feel unworthy of my love, or to make them feel like failures--this world probably does a good enough job in that arena. Or my words can let them know I'm always on their team, I always have their back, I love them not only when and if they make all A's, never drink alcohol, and marry as a virgin......but that I love them, unconditionally. My words have the power to heal and to bridge the gap in our generations. At this time in their life , my words can stick with them for ages. They can play over and over in their minds, affecting choices they make, men they might one day love, and most importantly how they will parent one day too.

Yet as their mom, I need to instill a sense of right and wrong, let them know what behaviors will not be tolerated. To let them know I expect the best from them, yet not be shocked when they deliver far less.

Our home needs to be the safe place. A place where they can be honest and still loved at the same time. That's even hard for adults. So many of us hide who we really are, what we really think. Hiding behind superficial chit chat because what's really in our hearts is more than we think someone can handle. Or even worse, living in denial of true thoughts and emotions. I want to raise emotionally healthy girls. Girls who have a solid base and have their own convictions and faith, not just following what mom and dad do.

Sometimes I wonder if I expect too much from my girls, especially my oldest. She was only 3 years old when her daddy died, yet she seemed so much older. I never had to 'count to 10' to make her obey, she just did. When my youngest was born, at the young age of 8 she was already a huge maternal helper. I would have adult friends come over...I'd observe how they interacted with the baby. I vividly remember thinking Savannah was even more of a natural then some of them. I've written posts about her before....straight A's--all the way from kindergarten to currently in her sophomore year, a natural leader, varsity athlete...the list goes on. She's been a breeze to raise, but she's not perfect.

This weekend we had our first real issue. How I chose to handle her 'first offense' was going to be monumental in both our relationship and in her own maturity. I spent my free time reading several parenting teenagers and mom/daughter books -a parenting crash course if you will. I spent several hours trying to share my heart with her, acknowledge and apologize in areas where i clearly blew it. I wanted to spend time listening to her. You know, when they are younger I think we really do so much talking and teaching, yet when they cross over into adolescence its so important to make the decision to hush and really listen to them. If i respond to quickly in accusation and anger or even passive aggressiveness, i ( me, not her) i shut the door. I end the opportunity to connect with her, to hear her heart, to hear what might have happened before she made a bad choice.

16 years old...such a fun age. Such a great time to watch this baby of yours become an adult. She has a million friends. She doesn't' need me to be another friend. I need to be a solid, consistent mom to her. I feel like parenting is a waltz...trying to look graceful yet fearful i'll step on their toes and we'll crash to the ground. I'm walking a type rope, trying to balance being there but not hovering. To encourage, but not patronize. To show my support yet instilling punishment or consequences when there needs to be. "Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight......and she'll be gone." I only have a few short years and I want desperately to be the best mom I can be to these girls. What good is it to have a wonderfully decorated home, volunteer at every event, have my hair colored every 6 weeks, count weight watchers points, or even have dozens of blog followers--what good is it to be a success in those things, if i fail at my most important call in life?

Many of you are familiar with Steven Curtis Chapman. I have a link to his wife, Marybeth's blog over in my blogroll. They lost their adopted baby girl in a horrific event when their teenage son accidentally ran over her in the family driveway. I have respected and followed them for as long as i can remember. Their faith and their raw walk with the Lord during this unimaginable time is such an inspiration to me.

This year Steven was awarded Artist of the Year and Song Writer of the year in the christian music awards , the Dove Awards. The song I've linked is a beautiful song about raising daughters. Its from the perspective of a daddy, but I tear up every time I hear this.

May it bless you....

Because all too soon, the clock will strike midnight.....

(don't forget to pause my playlist first)