Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Can

My father-in-law had a fun tradition of giving the grand kids coins. He would come around the room with a plastic coffee container filled with loose change. He allowed each child (and ultimately each parent - yipee) to dip their hand in, and grab as much money as they could.

I remember one Christmas several years ago, when he brought the can to our house.

In those brief moments of house-wide grabbiness, I thought, "We are a greedy bunch, aren't we?"

Then I looked a little closer. Everyone was giggling and chanting.

My dear, "Freddie", by far, was the most enthusiastic of the lot.
"Git in there, kiddo! Git ya all you can!" he would cheer.

Friday, September 26, 2014

What's a Girl to Do?

Elizabeth Anne is five years old now. She knows her letters and writes her numbers. She can fold towels and help make supper. But she has a secret.

If you know her well, or if you've seen her when she lets her hair down - literally - then you already know.

She's done it her whole life. What started out as cute, has lingered into a challenging cause for concern.

Every day, throughout the day, she sucks two fingers of her right hand while she uses her left hand to twist her hair.

The finger-sucking provides satisfaction.
The hair-twisting is comfortable when she feels anxious or bored.

She sucks until her teeth are protruding and her fingers are wrinkled; she twists until her hair knots up and is pulled out. 
So with gapped teeth, she sports moist, calloused fingers on her right hand, and short, frizzy, frayed hair on her left side. And I love her to pieces!!

Every morning when I brush her hair, we discuss her dilemma.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Thou Shalt Have ...

Two stories.

Once upon a time, I was the mother to [merely] two preschool boys. One day I was helping them pick up their room and I quite literally stumbled upon a broken clothes pin - one wooden side with the now-meaningless spring still attached. Just as I was about to toss it in the trash, my son screamed, "Mom! Don't! That's my thingie!!"

Duly noted. Keep calm and tidy on.

Later at the lunch table, I noticed he was having trouble holding his cup. As I tried to help him, I realized he had that silly clothes pin lodged into the palm of his clinched fist. I pried it from his milky grip and assured him that his treasured thingie would be safe on the counter until lunch was over.

Fifteen years later - so like, last week - is the setting for our second story.

Several of us were relaxing in the living room when I began to smell something awful. (This in itself is not at all remarkable.) But, it was a suffocating stench ... thick and nauseating. Others began to gasp and react with eye-squinting puzzlement.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Wrap-up: LommoY Challenge

Well, it's day 30. And for some faithful folks, tomorrow morning will begin with a literal "break [the] fast" meal. 

(I won't mention the young, eager beavers sitting in a fast food parking lot right this second waiting to toast their various levels of victory with Mt Dew slushies and a big greasy plate of nachos as soon as the clock strikes 12. Seriously, not one word will I say ... except gross. Gross del Grande.)

On August first we started this 30 day challenge.

I trucked along another week or two. I have tons of excuses for bailing, and they are all pretty lame. I'm sure it can be traced back to a tiny slip, a small stretch of the rules, then perhaps a moderate amount of mis-guided stubbornness. I don't like losing, but if I can't absolutely win big, I am sadly prone to just give up.

I made it to day 19 with the 30 foods, then it became too easy to just give in and eat "whatever".

Honestly, I was never super solid on the daily exercise ... and I was so consumed with the food and movement portions, the Bible reading [for 30 whole minutes in a row each day] received even less attention.

So how do I unpack this? Chalk it up for the loser and move on?

Not just yet.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

LommoY: Day 6 Check-in

Last week, we were excited to begin THIS THING.

So, the honey moon is over now.

Polly Anna has left the building.

Day 5 was a bust.
These were my first conscious thoughts yesterday morning:

"Wow ... that was a good dream. What was it about exactly? I can't quiiiiiite remember ...
it was wonderfullll ... oh yes ... I believe I fell madly in love ... with an oatmeal cream pie."


And that would most accurately describe the rest of yesterday. I squandered every opportunity to exercise. And, when it came to reading Scripture, I found new and ridiculous ways to procrastinate with disturbing diligence.

Over the first five days, the family had collectively consumed every apple we owned. I asked the teenagers to grab some on their way home. They did not. I asked my handsome guy if he could hook us up with some fruit on his way home. He delivered with signature excessiveness: 3 bags of apples and half a tree of bananas.

Late last night as the fellas and I sat around the living room ...

Unnamed fella in a pitiful whine: "I really want something sweet." 
Dad: "Go get an apple."
Mournful Boys: "We don't have any."
Dad: "Yeah we do."
LP with guilt and sadness: "No, I forgot to get some."
(Luke shifts to lounge silently in despair.)
Dad: "I brought some home. They're on the --"

**POOF! SCRAM-ShaZamm!!**

Never have I seen two children driven so abruptly by an apparent love for fiber and pectin.

Thank You, God, for perspective and the chance to get in tune with our desires. You give good gifts! Thank You for forgiving us when we fail. And thank You for new mercies this morning. I loved our pre-breakfast walk together. Less of me - more of You. Let's do this thang!"

Sunday, August 03, 2014

LommoY: Thirty Day Challenge

Our family has accepted a challenge for the month of August.
"Less of me, more of You."
We are joining more than 30 of our friends who have agreed to the following daily routine:

30 minutes studying the Bible,
30 minutes exercising, and choosing to only eat from a list of 
30 whole foods ... for
30 days.

This was day 3 of 30 ... 10% is in the books!

I love the accountability for the exercise. Seven-year-olds can be relentless.

I am amazed at how easy it was to gather most of my kids around to "do our Bible reading together". Some wanted to switch to "30 verses" or a "whole" chapter ...because both options could be quickened and rushed through. Once I established that we would be spending 30 minutes, the atmosphere relaxed. We read a chapter, then each journaled for a minute or two. Then we moved on to the next chapter- taking turns reading aloud. We won't always be able to do that, but that sweet gathering was good for my soul. 

I am not thrilled with how much prep-work and actual "cooking" is involved in eating whole foods. It takes time. And planning. And patience. Everyone is adjusting now ... they know snack options are chopped veggies with hummus or apple slices. And I think we all feel better drinking only water. (I have coffee listed as one of my foods, and it's not nearly as lovable without sugar, but I like the treat in temperature and taste once per morning.)

Now, the LIST ...

Monday, July 28, 2014


Jamey and Cari - 1987

My baby brother turns 27 today. I can remember being on a youth mission trip in Mexico the day he was born. I called home to check on Mom about 9 pm and there was no answer...I knew my parents had no late-night social life, so I assumed they had gone to the hospital to give birth to my new Home-Ec project! I cried when I realized I missed his birth. I missed him...and I didn't even know him yet.

He was such a pretty baby. Dark, plump, and smiley. His first year of life was my first year with a driver's licence. One day I was running an errand in the "good times van" with James harnessed into his new, plush car seat. His seat faced forward, positioned on the captain's chair closest to the big sliding brown door. I say "positioned" because "secured" would be inaccurate.

As I came to an abrupt stop at a red light, the car seat tipped forward until it rested on the front passenger seat. I saw it lunge forward in my peripheral. I panicked, thinking James had been thrown to the floor. I quickly pulled into the next parking lot available. I threw open my door, darted around the van, and frantically opened the sliding door.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Honor and Blessing

My wedding was twenty years ago. 
My baby brother's was two weeks ago.
James' ceremony seemed to bridge old and new 
as we celebrated God's sustaining, redemptive love.

Though our weddings are decades apart, 
they share the same building, 
same pews, same aisles, and many of the same people ... even the same pianist. 

But, the old ring bearer the new groom.

The new groomsman ... is the old groom.

The old groomsman ...

... is the new pastor.

And the old pastor is ... missing ... and missed.

Dad died the year after he walked me down the aisle.
James was seven.
Life moved on from there ... 

... and then sort of returned again. 

Bits of dad's handsome character permeated the places of our togetherness:
All three of my brothers were in the same room with me 
several times over the course of the weekend. 

I could see traces of Dad.

Tim's individuality and passion for the Kingdom, 
and his ability to tell the perfect story - 
"enhanced" in just the right places to pique interest and produce laughter.

Josh's mannerisms - the way he looks through his glasses at you with kind sincerity; 
and his humility - 
he knows so much and is so very smart, 
but he is quick to listen and slow to speak, choosing to respond with more questions than answers.

James' confident smile that brightens rooms and lightens moods; 
and his love for people - 
he consistently chooses to put others first with generous grace and subtle style.

There were other reminders, too.
During the ceremony, my oldest son was an usher - and wore my dad's black Rockport dress shoes. 

The symbolism was sobering and sweet ... of filling shoes and walking paths ... legacy, heritage, and honor.

The day before the rehearsal, I looked in my closet and found my dad's black silk bow tie.
I rushed it through the dry cleaners, boxed it up, and sent it with the groomsmen on Saturday -
to offer James as he dressed for the big day.
James wore it so well! There were no big acknowledgements ... it was our quiet, happy secret. 
Dad's signature touch was sweetly in our midst.

As the service concluded, the minister blessed us with a wonderful gift. He said:

"James, twenty years ago I stood on this stage in your sister's wedding. 
In that ceremony your father shared some words that touched me so deeply. 
In fact, they had such an impact on my life,
 that I have shared his words in every wedding I've officiated over the last twenty years. 
I want to share his words with you now. 

In the few moments we've shared together tonight, 
you've made some very sincere and challenging promises to each other. 
But every day after today - you must choose to fill up your words with Christ-like actions. 
As you make your words come true each new day, in each new way, 
God will be honored and you will be blessed."

Mom couldn't have Dad by her side at James' wedding.
But how precious to have [almost] half of his grandkids on every side!

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.
Blessed be the Name of the Lord! 
I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
    with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
    through all generations.
Job 1:21, Psalm 89:1-2

God is with us and He is for us.
And He promises as we journey through happiness and sorrow,
that not a tear is wasted. In time we'll understand.
He's painting beauty with the ashes.
Our life is in His Hands.
Casting Crowns, THRIVE

*Photo credit:
Jeannie Walker Gaut

Monday, March 24, 2014

All Things New

Jenn's Grandma is cheerful and sweet. The few times I've seen her, she has greeted me with a gentle touch and a quiet, pre-existent giggle ... like she just knew we were about to enjoy ourselves.

Evidently, she is practical too, and not inclined to attach herself to material things with too many emotional ties. They tell me she has had many a happy garage sale over the years.

But now her oldest granddaughter is engaged to marry my youngest brother, and friends and family are helping the happy couple accumulate household goods and other gifts. With the wedding a dwindling number of days away, one might wish there were a few of those garage-sale items available for Grandma to pass along as heirlooms. Old, new, borrowed, blue?  

I'm not sure Grandma is overly concerned though.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Seek & Find

Psalm 27:4
"I am asking God for one thing ... the only thing I really want:
To live in His Presence every day of my life,
Gazing on His beauty and seeking Him ..."

Have you ever just blown up realtor(dot)com all the way? Don't lie.

I remember when we were considering the purchase of this house. Philip was working a hurricane in the gulf and before he left he had applied for a new job that would necessitate a move. We hadn't told the kids any of our plans, and there were so many unknowns. 

I really liked the "bones" of this house. The decor was outdated (and I've tried to remain faithful to that vibe lol), but the layout seemed timeless. I could fully imagine Thanksgiving 2035 happily happening on this property.

But just as I would conjure up a good whiff of pumpkin spice in my mind, apprehension would grip my nerves.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Safe and Secure

Thank the Lord for answered prayers! The following is a glimpse of my thoughts from four years ago. 

Reading through it ... giggling ... I sit in awe. Shaking my head. Humbled and overwhelmed by how foreign and powerless these fears seem to me today. (Not the physical stuff ... heights still scare me to death and back.) 

But I'm amazed at the courage He provides for the life adventures He designs. He is faithful to heal and help us grow. I look forward to reading this year's posts in a few years ... hoping for more evidence of His mercy and grace! 

July 2010
I finally opened "So Long Insecurity", my new book by Beth Moore. It may be noteworthy that I struggled with anxiety about even reading a book with "Insecurity" in the title.

Whisper it gently, "(head case)!"
Thirty-six pages have now entered my consciousness.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Vocation Vocation Vocation

vo·ca·tion   [voh-key-shuhn]
1. a particular occupation, business, or profession; calling.
2. a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career.
3. a divine call to God's service or to the Christian life.
4. a function or station in life to which one is called by God.

What are the three most important things to consider when choosing a career?

Calling. Calling. Calling.

Career is literally the "road" you follow. But it is your vocation that you are answering. For the believer, God has called you to life. Abundant life. So as you journey along, you are alive to the possibilities along your way.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Special Occasion: A Modesty Metaphor

As darling daughters begin to blossom toward womanhood, we have daily discussions on appearance and appropriateness.
Girls perceive not-so-subtle social signals that "less is more" when appealing to members of the opposite gender. This dangerous half-truth coupled with an emerging sense of style results in a resistance toward the truth we are trying to teach.

One day, I shared a word picture that hopefully shifted our parental position from being major parade-rainers, to being their most enthusiastic supporters in this honorable quest...

Sunday, January 05, 2014

A Whole Entire Blog Post About Brendan Luke

Happy Birthday Lukey:)

My tallest, blondest child turns 16 today!

I remember being SO geared up for his birth. Not like the other time, with that first baby, when I was kuh-loo-less.

I had two years of parenting experience, a precious little compliant child that followed my instructions and proved my sketchy theories perfectly, tons of nap times in which to read dozens of parenting books, and thanks to daily stroller walks, I was ending this second pregnancy lighter than I started the first, I was gonna be ALL kinds of ready for this child!

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Problem reSolved

I didn't even make one. 

I rebelled against the entire idea of New Year's resolutions.  From years past, we know the ONLY thing I'll be able to do without a doubt is FAIL. 

Even if I succeeded 3 or 12 or 30 or 62 days in a row, one day I'll eventually stumble or fall or crash.

All week I have sat quietly ... passive and purposefully non-pensive...while January 1st, 2nd, and 3rd have slipped into history. 

With caution, I have considered all the possible areas for resolute improvement.  The volume of opportunity staggers the imagination.

I could...