Archives for October 2011

Go ahead and be happy

I pray this weekend brings you joy, laughter and some much needed rest.

Get outside and enjoy the beautiful fall weather.

Eat, drink and be merry.

And if you haven’t yet seen The Dolphin Tale, I highly recommend you go.

We’ve been coming to visit Winter for years and she is truly a delight.  She’s adorable, sweet and loaded with personality.

If, for some reason, you are unable to feel happiness, just take a look at this face and try not to smile.


This Week

– This week I refinished Tia’s furniture with the help of my St. Louis neighbor turned Florida bestie, Carol.  It was brown, now it’s white.  I’ll share pictures once I have her room all put together.  All I can say is I had tons of fun decorating a little girl’s room for the very first time.

– This week I began a strict eating regiment in an effort to finally kick those last ten baby pounds to the curb.

– This week I drank lots of green tea.  Lots and lots of green tea.

– This week I spent less time on the computer and more time just being still.

– This week I prayed some very specific prayers and love the expectation as I await the outcome.

– This week I missed my friends in St. Louis.  A lot.

– This week I had dinner with new friends here in Tampa.

– This week I wrote a new post for 5 Minutes for Mom on parenting.

– This week I’ve fallen into more than one of the traps I wrote about in the aforementioned 5 Minutes for Mom post.  *sigh*

– This week I got really, really lost.

– This week I was grateful for the GPS on my fancy pants phone.

– This week I was glad I got lost because I passed some really lovely areas that I’d like to go back and visit…if I can find them.

– This week I got my 4 frillion pictures and frame semi-organized.  They’re not on the walls, yet, but at least they’re not in the middle of the floor, right?

– This week I realized just how much I love my CoffeeMate Peppermint Mocha creamer when I couldn’t use it in my coffee.

– This week I did not paint Landon’s room like I said I would.  It’s still just primed.  Poor kid.  Has a Mama who’s a craptastic painter.

– This week I cried once.

– This week I laughed a lot.

– This week I took pictures of the moon.

– This week I wished I was a better photographer so I could capture just how awesome the moon was as it rose over the trees.

– This week I also got a quick shot of a half moon.

– This week I wrote more on my novel.

– This week I asked for humility.  Less of me, more of Him.

– This week I have been really tired.

– This week I say good-bye to my parents as they fly off to London for another month.  Methinks they enjoy being empty-nesters.

– This week has been a good week.

And how is your week going?

He Is Dad: A Repost

Today is my Dad’s birthday and while I’d like to write up a lovely tribute in his honor, I’m not sure I can top what I wrote last year.  So I am going to repost it with a great big, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD attached to it.

Many of you already read this, so don’t feel like you need to read it again.  But, if you’d like to leave my Dad a Happy Birthday comment, I’m sure it would make his day…and maybe embarrass him just a little bit.  Which given the fact that he thrived on embarrassing me in high school, I’d say that would  be a fitting gift.

I love you, Dad.

Originally posted October 10, 2010


I am two or three years old*. I’m on stage at our church singing my first solo – Away in a Manger. My hair is curled and I have on a lacy dress. Is it blue? I can’t remember. I am standing in front of the mic singing and he is below, at the bottom of the steps, with a camera in his hand. He is skinny and has thick brown hair that sits atop his head like a football helmet. He has a mustache that looks like it needs to be combed every day.

He is Daddy.

I am six year old. I am wobbling down our Wisconsin driveway on two wheels. He is running along beside me. “Pedal faster!” “You’re doing great!” “Keep your head up!” “You can do it!” He lets go and I take off, thrilled at my accomplishment.

He is encourager.

I am seven years old. We are driving in the car and the tape deck is blaring Paul Simon. He is singing loudly, drumming the steering wheel. “I can call you Betty and Betty when you call me, you can caaaallll meee Al. Call me Al.” He laughs and I laugh too. And together we sing.

He is fun.

I am nine years old. It’s Christmas morning and my brother and I are sitting at the top of the steps waiting for our parents to let us come down to open presents. It’s 4:00 am. I hear mom stumbling through the kitchen making coffee. She comments about the ungodly hour of our awaking and I hear him laugh. The he comes around the corner singing “We wish you a Merry Christmas” and we know it’s safe to come down. We tear into the living room to see the tree lit and him dancing around it.

He loves Christmas morning.

I am ten years old and we are at Busch Gardens water park in Tampa. I want to go down the big, plunging water slide but I’m nervous. He tells me that if I do it he will do it. Never one to back down from a challenge, I go down the water slide and he follows suit, shaking his head the whole time. “I didn’t think you’d do it,” he admits sheepishly as he climbs the stairs.

He keeps his promises.

I am eleven. He brings us into the living room and sits us down. He tells us that he got a new job and we’re going to move to a place I’ve never heard of – St. Louis. I cry and react with prepubescent flair. “I don’t care if it’s a neat city. I don’t know anyone there. I don’t waaannnna go.” He is probably hurt by my reaction, but he doesn’t let on.

He is understanding.

I am twelve years old. The neighbor boy is taunting and pushing me so I take a swing at him. He swings back and a full blown fight breaks loose. I land a punch and he takes off running. Later that night his mom calls to inform us that I gave her son a black eye. After I get the obligatory “you can’t get into fist fights” lecture he looks at me and grins, winks and says, “Way to go, slugger.”

He is awesome.

I am twelve years old. My mom received a call in the middle of the night that her sister was in a coma after having a severe reaction to a surgery. I get home from school and he is there, standing in the kitchen – waiting. “Where’s mom?” I ask. “She left on a flight to South Carolina,” he answered softly. “How’s Aunt Joy?” I ask, dread settling in. He pulls me close. “She passed away,” he whispered. This is my first encounter with death. And he holds me.

He is comforting.

I’m in eighth grade. My parents have temporary custody of my three cousins. The house is filled with emotionally confused children. We fight incessantly. He is in the middle of Washington University’s MBA program. Life is hard. I walk into his room one night to see him sitting at the desk staring blankly at the wall. I give him a hug.

He is stressed.

I’m a high school sophomore and I play saxophone for my high school Jazz Band. We are in Columbia for the All State competition. We are playing a difficult piece that I struggled to learn. We win first place. As a former Jazz Bander I know he is excited. I see him clapping his hands raw.

He is proud.

I am sixteen and I’ve had my driver’s license for all of 48 hours when I go to a school football game. While pulling into a parking space I hit another car, denting my car all the way down the side. Let me say that again for effect…I hit a parked car! I call him from a post-game party at a friend’s house after deciding that I shouldn’t let my guy friends try to bang out the dents with a hammer.

He is angry.

I’m a high school junior and I’m sitting on the floor of my room trying for the life of me to figure out the sum of x divided by y multiplied by 4,899. Algebra…the bane of my existence. He comes in and sits beside me. He takes a halting breath and tells me he lost his job. Then he cries and apologizes. He is out of work for several months before getting a pretty interesting and lucrative offer in Seattle. It would be a great career move. But he ultimately declines and accepts a job here in St. Louis that is a 25% pay decrease so he doesn’t have to uproot us.

He is self sacrificing.

It’s the summer before my senior year and he takes me on a trip to Colorado for a week. We challenge each other to climb mountains, we white water raft and we spend a week exploring. He lets me vent and complain about all my teenagery problems. I am angsty and hormonal and not always pleasant, but he pushes forward and we make memories – just the two of us.

He is involved.

I’m a senior in high school and preparing to graduate. Our church has a Sunday morning dedication to graduating seniors and he blubbers in the microphone about how I “better not bring home some snot nosed little Texas boy asking to marry me.”

He is a softie.

I am a sophomore in college performing in my first dinner theater. He stands in the back and video tapes the whole thing. I can hear him whistling and shouting on the tape.

He is supportive.

It’s 1998 and I’m studying in Ukraine for a semester. He calls and says he’ll be in London over Thanksgiving and asks if I’d like to meet him there. He picks me up from the airport on Thanksgiving night and we go to a Pizza Hut in London for dinner.

He is a great date.

I’m a junior in college and the family comes for a long weekend. I introduce them to a “friend” named Lee who spends an odd amount of time talking with them. Later when they drive home he tells mom that “that boy was awfully interested for someone who is just a friend.”

He is discerning.

I am twenty two and we are preparing to walk down the aisle. I have tears in my eyes as I look at him. He looks back with tear filled eyes. I am grateful for him and I know our relationship is going to change….I didn’t know it would change for the better. In that moment I was so flooded with love for him that I turned into a weepy, blubbery mess.

He is Father of the Bride.

I’m twenty five, lying in a hospital bed, and I hand him a squirming little bundle. He picks up his first grandchild and smiles gently. Even though I know that hospitals make him uncomfortable and he’s worried about how I’m doing, I see his face light up.

He is Grandpa Boss.

I am thirty *ahem* and I need business advice. I call him and he spends time he doesn’t have talking with me, giving me guidance, editing contracts and developing my professionalism. I call, email, text him multiple times and despite the fact that he is wicked busy, he takes the time to help me out.

He is advisor.

He is wise, discerning, strong, tender-hearted and giving. He loses his temper easily but is even quicker to ask for forgiveness. He is humble and I can almost guarantee he’ll tell me I’m giving him much more credit than he deserves. He is gracious and funny and has a wicked sense of humor. He works hard (too hard) but also knows how to relax.

He is Dad.

And who am I? I am that proud and grateful daughter who kind of adores him.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you!

*There is a great likelihood that I did not get all of the details of the early memories exactly right. They often appear to me as small snippets, like a technicolor film (never black and white…I’m not that old). I did the best I could to list accurate details. 🙂

The Cheesecake Factory Girls

We sat outside, the twinkle of the white lights giving the night sky a blissful glow.  There were five of us, four young ones…and me.

They call me their favorite mom-friend and I take it as a great compliment. Each one of those girls holds a unique and special place in my heart.  Each one has impacted me in ways they will never fully understand.  Each one has challenged me and given me both a hope and a dream for what my daughter could someday look like.

In a world that tells you teenagers are selfish and obnoxious, these girls are proving that the world is wrong.  They are smart and funny and sensitive and sweet.  They are aware of the world around them and possess maturity beyond their years.  Come to think of it, most of the teenagers at our old church possess these qualities.  It is why we had such an amazing body of believers.  Because where there are amazing teenagers, there are more often than not amazing parents standing behind them.

This was a parting dessert.  I wanted to gather the four of them together at one time, and in one place, to tell them just how much they meant to me and just how proud I was of them.  I fumbled with my words.  I’m better with a keyboard than I am in person.  I’m all awkward and Gen X that way…

You don’t find young people like these four girls often. They are kind, considerate, thoughtful, sweet, witty, smart and they are all drop dead gorgeous on the inside and the out.  One of the four asked if she could go to China for her sixteenth birthday so that she could serve little ones in an orphanage.  And she did it.  The others have served in Haiti, in Mexico and in downtown St. Louis.  Not because they had to, but because they wanted to.

These girls have impacted my life by giving me the encouragement I needed on the hard days of parenting.  Because I know their parents.  I know that the Cheesecake Factory girls are merely a product of God’s grace and firm, loving parenting.  And the three couples who parented these four girls are some of the people we most dearly miss.  They are the three couples who were at the top of the list of reasons we should not move away.

It’s not that these are abnormal teenagers by any stretch of the imagination.  We spent a portion of our evening at the Cheesecake Factory looking for the hunky Australian waiter who worked there.  We never found him, unfortunately.  But in the looking, I fell in love with the Cheesecake Factory girls even more.

They are regular teenage girls who exhibit grace in extraordinary ways. The Cheesecake Factory girls are a picture of true beauty.

When the world says that teenagers are out of control, I always remember the Cheesecake Factory girls and I take heart.  There is hope for me and there is hope for those of you who are currently in the trenches of raising young children.

Why do people say these elementary years are the easy part of parenting?  Because they’re not!  They are fun years and I am going to miss the young years desperately, but they are not easy.  These are the years when all the battles must be won.  These years of childhood are the years when it’s the hardest.


If we win the battles now, what delight awaits us!  We will raise our own Cheesecake Factory girls…and boys.  Teenagers that are fun and delightful and a joy to spend time with.  The fun years await us if we’re willing to fight the fight right now.  Join with me as we battle for the deepest parts of the souls of our children, won’t you?

This weekend I am thankful for grace, for godly examples and for the Cheesecake Factory girls.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”  1 Timothy 4:12

Image credit

Swirling life in a cup of tea

When I made this decision, I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  Staying at home with your children full time is hard.  It’s a different kind of hard when you choose to not only be their mother, but also their full time educator.  I knew it would be hard going into this.

And I was right.

Evenings are my refuge and my respite.  They are the brief moments when all the world stills and my tea cup sings (or…you know…sometimes it’s a wine glass singin’).  Evenings are for the dishwasher humming and the stars twinkling and the melodic breathing of settled youth.  I only wish the evening lasted a little longer.

I’ve tried to make evening last too long, lately.  I’ve tried stretching it past the point of grace and peace and into fatigue.  When the tea cup cools and the dishwasher quiets and my brain forgets how to weave words into paragraphs, the evening has long since passed.

This is not wise.

Because, you see, mornings come all too quickly.  They are loud and bright and full of boisterous energy.  There once was a time when I was a morning person.  I adored the quiet sounds of the day breaking – the applause of heaven as sunlight streaked the darkened sky – the grass that stood tall beneath the drops of dew delicately placed on her blades – the birds that chirped good morning as the heat pushed the cool night air away with the moon.

I loved this time of day.

I still do.  I just can’t seem to get up early enough to meet it.  This is because I’m too busy flirting with night.  And because I spawned three who love the morning more than I and who make it their life’s mission to get up before the sun each. and every. day.

So I continue to befriend the night sky – my tea and I snuggled up inside the quiet.  And it’s here that I am trying to find the time to do…everything.

Everything, unfortunately, except the most important thing.  The thing that really does need to have its place in the morning, when my mind is most fresh and most willing to hear.  There are pictures to hang and walls to paint, books to write and boxes to move, clothes to fold and floors to mop, and all the while three little voices yelling, “Mom!”

There’s a story that my mom tells about my grandmother when she was a young mother living on the mission field with four little ones to care for and more work to do than could possibly be done.  When the moment came that she had finally reached her breaking point, she would turn to her demanding little brood and wag her finger.  “My name isn’t ‘Mom’ anymore,” she’d say.  “My name is ‘Horse’s Butt’ and you’re not aloud to say that so you can’t call me.”  And off she’d go, her silenced bunch contemplating the weight of her words.

That is the best. line. ever. Am I right?

I totally get it now. And don’t think I haven’t been tempted to bust that gem out a time or two these last few weeks.

Sometimes all the work needs to wait.

I have a friend who knows me well.  She’s one of the Ribbons. And she was knit with me in a special way long ago when we were both newly married and full of love and wonder at God and life.  Her mind, like mine, teams with creative energy.  Her heart overflows with endless desires.  Her children need her fully and her husband craves her attention, as do mine.  She knows the pull and the strain of wanting, wishing, trying…to do it all.

And failing.

We are on opposite coasts and yet she still manages to speak Truth and encouragement to me on a regular basis.  Through texts, emails and phone calls she reminds me that there is One who craves me above all others.  And that One deserves my attention first.

Her text to me today spoke grace completely:

“Take courage today and do the work God has laid before you…What does God desire from you in your heart and in your actions today?  Just a thought.”

Swirling hot tea steams before me and my Bible lays open, the magic of the Word waiting for me to dive in.  Tonight, I will.  Tomorrow, I will try again.  I’m thankful for friends from coast to coast who love me enough to keep pushing me forward to better things.

I’m thankful for the Ribbons and for the Ribbon Maker who keeps weaving my life into something grand.  I’m thankful for tea and the stillness in which to savor it.

Grant me the ears to hear.

Unexpected Blessings

When we began our house search in sunny Florida, we initially told our Realtor we did NOT want a pool.  Neither one of us grew up with a pool, therefore the idea of keeping and maintaining one was desperately daunting.

Then we started looking at houses and we realized two things: 1.) Finding a house without a pool in Florida is almost as difficult as finding a house without a basement in St. Louis.  They’re almost standard.  And 2.) Of the few houses we saw without pools, none were desirable enough for us to get excited.

So we ended up in a house with a pool.  And we were nervous.  But no need to fear!  The owner of our local pool store came out free of charge and gave us a “Pool School,” telling us anything and everything we need to know about pool maintenance.  In exchange we plan to give him our business.  And that’s the way you run a successful business, folks!

For our part, we are officially glad we got a house with a pool.  We have used it every single day and will continue to do so until it gets too cold (we don’t have a heater).  The pool has been enjoyable both day and night.

Warning to Grandparents! The following photos contain images of your grandchildren being flung to precarious heights.  View at your own discretion…

This child of mine is insane. She is going to send me to an early grave.

He's crazy too. But he had sense enough to know his limits. "Dat's too high, Daddy."

She, on the other hand, came out of the water screeching, "Higher next time, Dad! HIGHER!"

This one has, unfortunately, gotten a little too big for maximum flinging...much to his chagrin.

This week has been full of unexpected blessings.  Walking the dog last night, I looked up and the sky took my breath away.  Our neighborhood is far enough outside of the city that we get an unpolluted view of the night sky.


Our neighbors are fun, friendly and have boys who love to play football.

Our house, minor quirks aside, is really coming together and feeling like home.

Home Schooling is going really, really well.

Today were the Powerboat races at Clearwater Beach.  With temps in the upper ’70’s it made for the perfect ending to a lovely weekend.

So many blessings.

Front row seats to the race. It's kind of difficult to get a photo of Landon in the water because he's always upside down. I'm pretty sure the kid's got gills...

I pray you all have a blessed October week!

Is anyone else totally freaked out by the fact that it’s October?! The holiday season is upon us, folks.  How did it get here so fast?!