Monday, July 28, 2008

Traveling Man...and Woman

Ok, all in all, it was a pretty good trip! I forgot to mention that our AC isn't working right now - yet another fun thing for the long drive. And if I EVER, EVER say that I'm going to Philly again, make sure that I do not EVER take I 95 again. Seriously.

I 95 - my arch enemy. I 81 - my best friend. LOVE 81. HATE 95.

Going up we were stupid and thought 95 being the most direct route would be best, and since we weren't driving in normal "rush hour" times, that it would be ok. So stupid. Anyway, that's enough of my venting. Oh, the only thing I liked about 95 was I swear Paris Hilton was at the toll beside us with her little Chihuahua in a midnight blue Lexus SUV. any of you star buffs know if she has one of those? or if she was headed back to NYC on Saturday afternoon? b/c I sooooo soooo know it was her. with her beautiful face, hair, and perfect eyeliner - even from a toll over i could tell. And other star search news, on the way home today on 81 we kept passing Rascal Flatt's 18 wheeler of equipment stuff. But I never saw them. Just their big ol semi.

But really, it ended up being very fun. We had a great time with the fam, and the shower was a blast. As River said on the way home, "My favorite part was all of it, except the long drive home." I concur. We let them stay up late and play with cousins and friends each night, just like we always did, and they thought it was great. We ate good food and talked with lots of family. And laughed at fun baby games, and teared up as we said goodbye. As always.

We had about a million pitstops, but these were my favs:

Eileen's Bakery (my personal favorite from the trip up) - Historic Fredericksburg
Picnic on the way back at a rest area in Southern PA
Starbucks across from James Madison University

And out of like 22 hours of being in the car, my kids, I'm proud to say, only watched about 3 hours of movies. Which proves to me that we definitely can do this roadtrip thing better than I expected. It was definitely NOT like our horrible last trip with screaming and crying and... ....well, there were still traffic jams, but the crying just makes it a lot worse. So thanks for all your prayers and support. And, yes, my husband is still glad he married me. ;)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ready to Go?

As I have mentioned here before, I love spending time with Randy's family.   They're so great, and we love getting together with them.   The only downside is...most of the extended family lives in Philadelphia.   The last time that we drove up to see them in Philly was Memorial Day Weekend, when Asher was 6 months old and River was 3.   Yeah, talk about wanting to jump out of a moving car.    On the freeway.     So, needless to say, in my rash and impatient mindset, I said, "We are NEVER doing this again."

What are we doing this weekend?  Driving to Philly.

I'm really looking forward to celebrating with Randy's sister as she's about to become a new mommy to a sweet little baby girl.   But I'm not looking forward to the drive.    I even went online to look at airplane tickets the other day.    Yeah, not happening.

So my attitude about the shower - great...I've been baking and making, and am very excited to be helping to host this fun event.    

Attitude about seeing family - so great.    Can't wait to be with them.   The last time we saw everyone was Christmas at the beach, so it will be really fun!

My attitude about the drive.   Not so great.   Here was my phone conversation with Randy yesterday.

Randy - "Hey sweetie!   How you doing?"

Me - "Fine.  How are you?"  (remember there are 3 children in the background)

Randy - "Good.  I'm excited about our trip tomorrow."

Me - "Well, that's good.  At least somebody is."

Randy - "I think stopping at a hotel will be fun."

Me - "I don't know why you think it will be fun.   We won't be able to do anything.   We'll get there late and the kids will have to go straight to be.  Then we'll get up and have to eat breakfast and leave immediately.   I don't know why you think it's gonna be fun.   We're not going to be able to go swimming or anything, or we won't even get to Philly until late afternoon."

Randy - "Ok, well, it's good talking to you sweetie."

Me - "Yeah, because I'm so uplifting to talk to right now?"

Randy - "Look forward to seeing you, baby."

Me - "I'm so sure."

Aren't you glad you're not married to me?    That was the extent of my temper tantrum.  I've got to have the sweetest husband known to mankind.   I'm sure you could argue with me, but I wouldn't believe you.    ;)     The thing that astounds me, is that he really meant what he said.   He was still looking forward to seeing me.   Which of course, as you can tell, I wouldn't believe.   'Wouldn't' is the word I choose, because I wasn't willing to choose to believe that he would still want to be with me after being such a....well, you know.     Because in my mind, who would want to see that person that was just acting like that?    I do that with the Lord, too.    When I've been stand-offish and angry about things, I do the same thing.   I say things like, "Oh, yeah, Lord, I'm so sure that You want to spend time with me right now.   Because I'm just living worship, aren't I?!    Yeah, I am so holy and blameless, huh?!"      I'm a bit of a piece of work.   Just ask Emily and Nester their favorite story about my earlier days of being married.    

We're leaving tonight sometime around dinner (which in our family means we'll probably be leaving about 8 o clock).   I'd appreciate prayers for our drive there and back.   That there would be lots of this going on.

But moreso for my attitude.   Who knows, maybe it will even be fun!    But before we can go anywhere, I need to get us packed up.    See where my priorities are - I'm blogging instead of packing.  Good start, Melissa.   Good start.    

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Choked Out

I went outside yesterday for a minute to take the dog out and to pick a few flowers for our table. I went around to the side of the house, and was going to pick a few flowers off the Rose of Sharon bushes that we have. They're the only flowers that I can see from my kitchen windows, so I love it when they bloom.

When I saw them, I realized that they had all this excess greenery all over them. At first I just thought that they were really overgrown (after all, I'm no master gardener). But as I looked closer, I realized that they were being totally taken over by a very thin, but very strong weed. It didn't even look like a weed. It disguised itself so well, that I actually thought it might be part of the Rose of Sharon. But it had carefully entangled it's pretty vine all around my friend, so much so, that the she was completely bent over and tangled up. She was being choked out. Even though the Rose of Sharon was a very vigilant healthy bush, it still had a weed that was just clever enough to grow up around it, and take over the plant completely.

I went inside got my scissors, and went back out, and diligently cut off every part of the vine that I could. As I snipped the vine away, the Rose of Sharon began to bounce upward to the sun, as to say, "Thank you! Thank you! I'm free!" Now, I know plants can't really talk, but if you had seen how trapped down and entangled it had been, you would have heard it singing for joy, too.

As I cut away like a warrior for this lady of mine, I thought about the parable where Jesus is describing the different kinds of seeds sown.

“Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.... "The one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. "

I know how easy it is to be totally rooted in truth and know the Lord is God, and yet still, have the cares, worries, and just normal distractions of life choke out my heart being free and in communion with the Lord. It doesn't just happen that I grow up in my faith and mature in my relationship with Him, without anything trying to come against me. And the sad thing is that we all have different kinds of discouragements, disappointments, fears, worries, and temptations that seek to keep us bent over and entangled. Unable to really stretch out and grow to be who God has us to be.

But the joy that I found in all of this, is that it's not just us fighting! He is fighting for us. Jesus wants to take those weeds off, and come to our rescue. I'm so glad that He doesn't just see us there struggling, and leave us as we are. He doesn't say, "You know, you really need to get yourself together, and get all that junk off you." No, He comes and cuts each vine and each weed away, until we're set free. He is our warrior, and He longs to fight for us and with us.

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Day in Numbers

Being back in town definitely has it's fair share of getting caught up. It's like vacation is paying you back. This week starts a fun new venture that we're beginning. We're going to be having a precious little girl named Madison come over each day and be a part of our lives. Our days will be fun and full!! River and Asher feel like they've gotten a new little baby sent down just for them to play with and love on. Even after Maddie left today, River played with her "Baby Maddie" late into the evening. This was my day in numbers.

2 cups of coffee to get me going

1 baby to snuggle

0 gallons of milk for cereal

4 bagels to fix

3 loads of laundry

2 heaping mounds of clean clothes still on the couch

3 bags to unpack from the beach

1 bag to repack for our upcoming trip

1 closet to straighten

3 things to hang in the bathroom

6 rooms to vacuum

1 gift to make

3 children to feed lunch to

2 babies napping

4 library books read

15 things put on the grocery list

4 butternut squash prepped for dinner

3 car seats in the car

4 windows down in our non AC car

3 scoops of ice cream

4 friends to see

9 kids playing in the fountain

2 grocery carts (mine and River's)

3 free cookies

2 balloons tied tightly

1 rotisserie chicken to have for dinner

and for the record...

0 phone calls (my phone has died)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Last Few Days

so, i didn't really make the whole "blogging every day" commitment.    big surprise, i'm sure! not having wireless at the condo didn't help either.    ;)   but i did have a wonderful time with our family on vacation.   we're completely blessed to have family that owns a place at the beach, so we don't have to go into debt anymore when we take our beach vacation!    we always go down to Ocean Isle, and then travel over to Sunset to see the rest of the family that stays over there.    here were our favorite parts of the latter days of the trip:

- beachin it every day - at Sunset or Ocean Isle, the weather was just about perfect.    we all had a blast building sand castles, splashing in the waves, body surfing, rafting, seeing family that we hadn't seen in a while, getting covered in sand, and even catching a couple naps.   (i don't think i had done that since high school!)    

- Calabash Creamery - the other ice cream places down there just don't even compete - if you EVER are in the area, please please go get this homemade ice cream!   It's sooo good - especially in July when they make their famous homemade peach ice cream.    We love getting whatever flavor we're in the mooooood for (haha) and then rocking on the rocking chairs until it either drips all over us (if you're too small to lick fast enough) or it's all gone, and you're happily stuffed with the best homemade ice cream ever!

- going out on the raft - my dad always gets his big raft blown up (like a heavy duty boat kind of raft) and then he takes all the grandkids out on the waves for rides.    it's so fun to see them loving every minute of their time out in the water with grandaddy!    oh, and river let us know that she wants a "pink raft for her 5 birthday".   so if anyone sees one, let me know!    ;)

- Seafood Hut - now here's the best kept secret (maybe not anymore) in Calabash.   I would hyperlink, but they're too old school to have a website.   It's been there forever, and it's this little hole in the wall place that only has about 20 tables, and the same waitresses that have been there for probably 20 years or more.    But every night you'll see the line of people (starting at about 4:45 pm) wrapped around the building waiting to get their turn to eat the best seafood in the area.    It's fun to eat there, but this year we did it as take out and enjoyed it back at our place.    Still just as yummy as ever!

- Ocean Isle Pier - ok, so blast from the past - I used to walk up to the pier and check out the surfers, and hang out with friends/family, act like i was cool, etc.     randy decided he wanted to have a date with the kids one morning before anyone else was up, so he and river and asher went down to the pier and walked out to the end.   they even got to see a sand shark that someone had caught!    so then before we left today, we stopped by and went out all together.   it was really fun, and there were lots of kids out surfing.    it was fun.    they have a little diner now, so we grabbed some lunch there before heading back home.    "this is a fun new tradition", said randy as we were walking out on the pier.    he knows how i love some traditions!

- Once - we're quite a bit behind with our movie watching, and have wanted to see Once for a while.   We had netflixed it, and finally got a chance to watch it!   We thoroughly enjoyed it, and loved the soundtrack.

- Playing games - this is a must do for me at the beach.     we really like games, and this year it was particularly fun because my nephews are old enough to learn adult games, and actually be good at them.    We taught them how to play Pictionary and Yahtzee, and they taught us how to play Rubis.   So we had a good time winning and losing!

- DiDi's Kitchen - my mom in law makes the best big breakfast, and she pulled out her pots and pans a couple mornings while we were down there.   we decided her "restaurant" should be called DiDi's Kitchen.    she loves making it for all of us, and we love eating all of it!

- Sunsets on the Deck - it's so nice to be able to go out at sunset with a drink in hand, and just enjoy rocking on the back deck.   we would head out around 8 most nights, and stay sometimes until 10:30 just talking and hanging out.   the frogs start up their chorus right about the time the sun goes to bed, and we just enjoy the music that they bring.    

We had a great time and are glad to have such a fun family!    

Monday, July 14, 2008

The First Couple Days

Well, we arrived at the beach at 1:30 am on Friday night (well, really Sat.), but we were very thankful to not have to deal with the beach traffic Sat.    But we did forget our camera - and Randy's bathing suits.   Thankfully, my dad went by and picked up the suits, but we didn't remember to tell him about the camera.   Oh well.   I guess I could walk around with the laptop and take pictures, but you know, somehow that doesn't really sound that fun.    So, I haven't been as inclined to blog, simply because trip highlights aren't really the same without the pics to go with the update. But, I will tell a few things that have been fun so far.

Pop Pop took us all crabbing on Saturday afternoon and while I pulled up the first crab, and Randy pulled up the next two (as a pair), our little first time crabber, River, caught 14 crabs and 2 fish in the net.    It was her first time, and like everything she does, she was exceptional at it.   She had so much fun, and stayed behind with Pop Pop another couple hours to crab and play "boat restaurant" where the pretend boats would come up to the dock and she would serve crabs and pretzels to all the boaters.

Randy and I had a fun date on Saturday night while the grandparents had the kids.   We went to Giggling Mackerel and had delicious food and fun atmosphere.   We chose to sit at the non-smoking bar instead of waiting 45 min. for a table, but it was still great.    We adopted my friend Kelly's scale of grading and decided we would give it an A for atmosphere, A for food, and A for service.   I got the yummy crab cake sandwich, and Randy got the delicious Blackened Tuna Sandwich.   I kind of wished that I had gotten his, but he let me have a couple bites.   ;)  

The weather has been beautiful, and the ocean perfect.  The water has been calm enough to go far out in the ocean while holding the kids and jump the waves.   I loved going way out when I was a kid.    We would have so much fun with my dad and my uncles and cousins.   My grandad would always swim under and come up from out of nowhere and tickle our legs and feet.   It was just a time every year that we had to be able to bond with family that we didn't usually get to see very often.   Last night at sunset, Randy and I sat out on the balcony and watched another family playing a fun game of wiffle ball, and thought how fun it will be to play games like that as the kids get older and have more cousins and family around.   But for now, I love being able to snuggle them at bedtime, rock as I read them books, enjoy their new phrases, and treasure their first time experiences.    

There's just something about being on vacation with grandparents there, that make it more relaxing!    Hmmm...I wonder why - four adults to two young kids is a pretty good ratio!  We have a lot of fun with Randy's parents and always look forward to being down here with them.
We're all excited because my sister and her boys are on their way down as I type, and we can't wait to have everyone here!     

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Summer Halftime Report

I feel like I haven't done a very good job at narrating about our summer thus far.   And it's like halfway over already!    So even if it's only for my peace of mind to have it recorded somewhere, I figured now was a good time to catch up.

Well, we started out thinking this summer would be full of packing, raising support, and moving across the country.   However, the Lord definitely surprised us with a change of plans, and we have spent the last couple months adjusting mentally and emotionally to staying right where we are.     It still doesn't all make sense, but we're choosing to trust that where God leads we will follow.   And right now, His leading is to stay put.   So we've been working hard on the business, and having lots of fun not stressing about packing up our lives right now.

One thing in the beginning of the summer that we were doing was reading stories out on the front porch in the evenings.   It was really fun to be able to sit out there as a family and read together on our steps.   Sometimes we would rock, or have ice cream, or talk with passer-bys, but mainly it was just our storytime on the steps.   We only did it for a couple weeks, but I think we need to start up again.   We stopped when we got all the rain for like days on end. Which I'm not complaining about!

We had the chance to head down to the beach with my sweet mom-in-law and two of my closest friends.  One with her baby, and one with her baby on the way!    So it was full of good hang out time, yummy meal times, watching plenty of So You Think You Can Dance, and just being together on the beach.     The first day we were there, we decided to go visit the aquarium.    We even took the ferry over, which made for a fun but long day.   ;)

It was also the first time that Asher really took to the ocean.   He's always loved the beach, by walking all around, or playing in the sand, but the ocean was just more of the background.    This past time, he would go and lay down in the water, where it was coming up, and get it all over him.   Lay down in the tidal pools, splash in the surf, and even wade out to try to keep standing when the waves would start to crash on him.

Then we ventured back to the Boro, for Vacation Bible School.   It was the first year that River really got to do the whole VBS program.    She loved it.   And of course we finished the week up with the traditional shirt signing, 
and pictures with the favorite leader (you know how you always have a favorite camp counselor that you would get lots of pics with?  Well, this was River's crew leader, and she was definitely the chosen one!)   River had a great time learning new songs and stories.

I think one of my favorite things from this summer thus far has been seeing my 2 kids really begin to bond.    I had an older sister growing up, and then when I was 13 I was blessed to be a big sister myself to my twin brother and sister.   But I didn't really "grow up" with a brother.   I was practically out of the house by the time we could really play together.    So, in my mind, I've always wondered how close could a brother and sister really be?    I am so close to my older sister, that it almost seems impossible to be able to be that close with a brother.   But I'm wrong, right?    We probably won't have any more kids, and so I just really want them to have the closeness that I've been blessed with.    All that to say, I've begun to see this start to come out and I love it.   They've also been bickering a bit more, which always makes things nice and exciting around here.    He's always the chaser, and she's always being chased.   He hits....she screams.   You know, your typical boy girl relationship.     And she definitely wants to grow up and marry him. 
Or her favorite cousin, that you can see her sipping hot chocolate with.

This is from the Black Water Loft in Floyd, VA over the weekend of the fourth.   We had a great time camping up at my aunt's farm with my sister and her kids, and then a couple other families.    Floyd is such a fun town to visit, not to mention the exceptional family we get the priveledge of stopping in for blueberry muffins and coffee.   Not exactly roughing it.   But being out under the stars (or thunderstorms) was definitely a needed get away for our family.    Our camera wasn't out very much, so this is basically the only shot from the entire weekend.    Sad, I know.

And last week, I got to go and meet this cute little bundle of a boy named Logan.   Isn't he precious!?    When your baby is almost 2, it's always good to go and get your baby fix for a while.   He's just 8 weeks old, and simply adorable.   And he's practically sleeping through the night, those lucky dogs.   He belongs to my sweet friend, Heather, who I've known since 1st grade, so he will definitely know me as "Aunt Melissa"!     I've already bribed him with presents and lots of bottles.   ;)    It was really fun to see Heather and her husband doing such a great job with their first baby.   Not to mention how much fun I had just snuggling with this little angel!

Well, going from visit to visit, somewhere over the last couple weeks, I've managed to break the LCD on our camera, so hopefully, this next week at the beach, we'll get a few pictures.   Even if they're off center and blurry.    Maybe I'll even take on the commitment to blog every day next week, like my friend Kari has been doing this summer.      But mind you, IF I do, it will only be for the week.   ;)

Oh, and the other thing I've been doing this summer that I LOVE, is the Beth Moore Believing God study.   And if I don't stop typing right now, I'm going to be late to Bible study!!!

Monday, July 07, 2008

So How's Your Last Decade Been?

This wasn't one of the questions asked, but certainly could have been, as I gathered together with a bunch of sweet ladies this past week.      I hadn't seen most of them since high school, almost 12 years ago, but it was easy to pick back up where we left off.     

I think the thing that I loved the most, was that we were all still us.    I couldn't really remember going into our time together, what each of us had done over the last decade and more.   But I knew that most of us had gone to college, gotten married, moved at least once, had children, lost children, lost family, gained family, had struggles, had victories.   They still laugh the same, they still hug the same, they still cry the same, they still talk the same.   They might have a baby in their arms, and maybe shorter hair, a newer car, an important job, but they were still the friends I loved.

Even though I never see these women, and hardly ever talk to most of them, they all are still important people in my life.     And I was glad to be able to see them again....all grown up.    

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


I think that its hard to live by faith.
Even though it's the best way to live.
Faith is being sure of what we hope for,
And certain of what we do not see.

How can we be certain we do not see?
If we can't see it, than how can we trust it's there?

Living by faith is more painful, 
And more challenging,
But also the safest place that you can reside.

I've many times wanted to go back to Egypt.
Even though I know I don't want to live in the bondage that I'm fighting to be free from.
And I am free.
Free indeed.
For Christ has set me free.

The song playing, by Keith Green, always helps to remind me that just like the people of Israel, God is wanting to always take us on to something better.   To deepen our walk with Him.   To know His goodness more.   And to trust Him.   Even when we can't see the place He's leading us.   I was listening to a speaker the other day talking about how the Israelites were never "wandering", for the cloud was guiding them by day, and the pillar of fire by night.   He was always leading them.   Even if it felt like it was in circles.   He knew that He had a plan, even when it wasn't clear to them.

Only in Him do I have the power to have faith to follow.