Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Favorite Places

down a country mile in Eastern NC

Montreat, NC

Seattle skyline at sunset

Ocean Isle Beach, NC

my house at Christmastime

Charleston, SC

It's taken me a few days, but I wanted to link up with Gypsy Mama's "favorite place" party. These are some close to my heart and definite favorites of mine.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Piece Me Together

When my husband and I were married 10 years ago, I remember how we received a ton of serving platters. And ten years ago, I could have cared less about serving platters. I remember thinking, "Seriously? Another one??" And struggling with coveting the fun accessories from Pier One and Pottery Barn that my other newly married friends were getting. I wanted candles, frames, and cutesy apartment decor...not platters.

Little did I know, that I was receiving some of the best gifts I could have asked for. I had no idea that I would absolutely LOVE hosting events, and even become an event planner, of all things. Now granted, that comes in last place after family, nannying, friends, and so on...but still...I never saw it coming. I had no idea then, that in 10 years, I would be thanking God for blessing me with so many things to entertain with.

Speaking of events, I decided on very short notice to host a Hallelujah Party for my children and a few of their good friends, so that the true meaning of Easter would be able to be celebrated. This tissue paper cross was our craft, to show that even though Christ died, the darkness and sadness of death all around Him, couldn't hold back God's love from raising Him from the dead. And furthermore from shining through us, each in our beautiful, colorful way, as we walk with Him in our lives. The 3 yr. olds probably didn't get all of that symbolism, but still, they make really pretty window decoration!

Even though it doesn't compare in weight, the picture of not getting what we want in life, or even what we pray and ask for, still very much applies. We cannot see with God's infinite wisdom, the tapestry He's weaving. Or the piece of pottery He's throwing, as one of my dear friends wrote about so eloquently. We don't know how the pieces will connect together, yet somehow, He uses our broken, torn, and otherwise "thrown out" bits of life to create a beautiful piece of work.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Take Heart

So much of life, we're dealing with the unknown, the hardship, or the trials of life. I was able to sit by a stone this weekend. It wasn't the stone in front of Jesus' tomb. Or a stone placed on the altar of Isaac or in the Jordan River. But it was a sacred stone none the less. A stone that is in an ordinary picnic area, that most people don't even notice. But a stone placed as a memorial for my sweet Mamma. A stone with her sweet name on it. A stone spelling out the woman I knew and loved so well. Not a famous stone, but a beautiful one none the less.

There are a lot of things in the life that we face. Pain, suffering, disappointment, fear, and on and on. It always surprises us, though I'm not sure why. Jesus told us we would have trouble in this world. Then he said, "But take heart. For I have overcome the world." These were words he said not long before he would face more evil and suffering than we could ever fathom.

I don't think "take heart" means that the trouble will easily go away. Or that the trouble won't be painful and difficult to weather. Or maybe if we live a "good" enough life, than none at all. If you've lived at all, you've seen that it most certainly is. But we do know that our friend, our Creator, our God, has overcome the world. That in the midst of our trial, though our bodies face pain, though our minds are tormented at times, though our strife seems to persist to no end, our hope is not in a perfect world. Our hope is in a God who has overcome the world.

When I have the chance to remember that, it helps me to see that even though the days can be long at times, and the trials unending, it really is for only a brief moment. We really will be rescued from this world and sat with our Savior at the right hand of God Almighty.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Just a Moment

In the moments of the days, there are not many moments to sit. To think. To be quiet. To dive into the Word of God or take time to reflect. As the little ones start to wake from their naps, there is just a moment. This weekend, I'm excited to be able to many of those moments as I join other women from our church at our annual women's retreat. Each year is different, and each theme is it's own. However, what is consistent is that it's time. Time to be with my sisters in Christ. Time to be with my God. I'm so thankful for brief times away, to be refreshed with my Father's love, held in His embrace, and grateful to be His child.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Beautiful Mess

I could sum up my son in this little picture. I could actually write an entire essay on how these four items could describe his personality. I won't...but I could.

I was cleaning up the other day, and when I came to this "mess" to pick up, I couldn't help stop. It was as if he decided to place all of his favorite things together in just the right position. I'm sure he only left it for a moment to go look for "The King" to add to the mix! In 6 months, these things will be old news, and I'll be cleaning up a Bat Mobile or something else that has caught his undying love.

You never know who your children will be, or what their favorite things will be. However, I do know that I could not have asked for a more precious son to love. And, no, I'm not biased at all.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Flora's Crowning Beauty

Our home is a little old cottage. There's a lot about our house that we have changed, and a lot that we have kept. But the thing that sold me on our sweet bungalow, was this mantle. I knew from the moment I walked in the very first time, that even if I changed everything else in the house, this would always be my favorite spot in the house. It is the very first thing you see when you walk through the door, like a familiar smile welcoming you in.

From season to season, this mantle changes very little. Maybe some different foliage, or an additional candle every now and then, but for the most part, she stays set. In fall, she warms us with her candlelit glow, and in the spring she welcomes us with new buds starting to bloom.

I've always wondered about what our house's name was. In the past I've toyed around with Ethel, or Ella, or Myrtle...I knew it needed to be a name that sounded like a little old lady who had beauty beyond her years, and wisdom from her age. However, I never settled on anything. That is, until just the other day.

I happened to meet a man who grew up right across the street from my house. He told me all about the sweet lady who lived here, raised her children here, and even held a neighborhood Bible study for all the neighborhood children (fitting, don't you think?). Where do you suppose she had her Bible study? Yes, just to the right of that very mantle. In that moment, I realized that "Flora's" crowning beauty would always be that very spot.

Now go and get all warm and cozy visiting Emily's glimpses of home tour. It's a sure fire way to make you fall in love with home all over again.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Always Watching

She twirled and her beautiful pink skirt made a floating cloud-like circle around her. She ran. She leaped. She giggled. She looked toward him, and giggled. Then she twirled again...and again...and again. She desperately wanted him to watch, though she never would have admitted it.

How could a little boy of six years be interested in twirling skirts or pretty girls? He would have rather wrestled her or gone and climbed a tree in the yard. Still he watched, but only for a second. He would glance her way, but then quickly look away. He would watch the cars speeding past, but then he would look back again, just to watch for a second...but hopefully without her knowing. I enjoyed how remiss he was trying to be, however, as I could tell he really just wanted to watch her twirl. It was as if he was entranced by how happy she was just to twirl, and run, and leap, and giggle.

It was cute as I stood there, an unexpected spy, as these two played their game. It reminded me of how often I try to spin in circles for the attention of others. How much I try to gain the focus of my husband, or my friends, or my family, or even my kids. I will spin and spin, with the most beautiful of tactics and strategies, to make sure that I'm the most loved and accepted by everyone...all the time. And yet, it grows so tiring. And even more convicting, I've seen how it's not really what God has asked me to do. I could actually rename my "efforts to please" as "worry", "selfishness", "anxiety", "busyness", "striving"....even, are you ready..."sin".

God doesn't want my focus to be on gaining the attention or love of others. He simply wants me to be, and to let Him live through me. To allow Him to love me, and then allow His love to flow out to others.

I remember being so thankful when I learned (and am still having to learn) how accepted and lovely I always am to God. That He is always waiting to watch me twirl. That he loves to just sit and wait for me to spin or sit...giggle or cry. He is always watching, and I never have to convince Him to pay attention to me. He already is.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Shifting Sand

You would think, just by looking at a simple sand castle, that it would be an easy accomplishment. Something fun to do to pass the time spent on the shore. For some that might be true. For others, not so much.

My older sister had kids before me, and her first was a premie. He just barely made it, and had to fight with everything he had as a little two pounder to make it. He learned early that if you're going to make it in this life, you have to be a fighter, and that doesn't come easy.

Almost four years ago, when we lost my sister's husband, my sweet nephew of only 8 at the time, lost not only his daddy...he lost his best friend, his biggest fan, his closest confidant, his hero, his life. Much of their days together were spent on the beach. Exploring the rugged outer banks, learning to surf, playing in the water, building sand castles with extreme attention to detail.

We love to take them back down to the beach whenever we can, and this past weekend happened to be one of those times. It's funny, when we're getting ready to go down to the beach, all we hear from this particular nephew is...

"I don't want to go. How long are we going to be down there? I'll get all sandy, and it's gonna be cold."

fight fight fight....argue argue argue.

After he gets all that out of his system, he quietly shuffles his big almost man sized feet down the steps and over to the shore.

I think just getting to the sand is the hardest part.

Then for the next hour, or two, or three, he sits immersed in the sand, using whatever "tools" he can find to craft a most beautiful creation. One with great detail and that his father would be proud of. And once again, I marvel at how this boy of only 12 years, is choosing to fight to live life. How he has to choose to be a part of the rest of our lives, even just to build a sand castle that won't be there tomorrow.

Monday, March 08, 2010

"Reality" TV

Last night, we arrived back home after a fabulous weekend at the beach, to a house with needs, a full week ahead of us, and tired bodies from all fun. However, rather than jumping in with two feet to all the chores beckoning my attention, I got the kids in bed, and then plopped down on the couch to watch the Oscars.

Yes, I absolutely love to see all the amazing dresses, but what I really love is seeing them just be themselves. Seeing them get nervous when they have to go up on that big stage. Watching as they get choked up as they receive the affirmation of another. Getting to see that behind the scenes artist whose name I've never heard before, but is quite definitely brilliant beyond measure. Celebrating with the star who did what "was unpopular to do what was right".

Most of the time we see them on the cover of tabloids in the checkout line at the grocery store, or in the news having their name smeared for something they've done wrong, or an action everyone has to know about. For me, though, I'd rather watch them as they are. I'd much rather see them be mothers, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, sons, friends, and see them simply as people.

Monday, March 01, 2010

The Birthday Girl

Yesterday my little girl became a girl. I know it sounds ridiculous, but there's a BIG difference between a little girl and a girl. Five just seems so much younger than six!! Or is it just me!? Just like there's a big difference from a newborn to an older baby...or a big baby to a toddler...or a toddler to a little girl (or boy). And I feel like she'll be a preteen tomorrow. I can't shop for her at all in the little kids section...I used to be able to squeeze her into a 4T/5T, but not anymore.

We had a great weekend celebrating. Had a frilly, girly sleepover with just a few friends, and then woke up and went roller skating...or roller shuffling is more like what it was. Then we enjoyed being with family the next part of the weekend, thoroughly enjoying ourselves with a tea party at the O'Henry! But I think my favorite part of the weekend was playing paper dolls with her. It's reassuring that she still wants me to play with least for today! Truly a gift!