Thursday, August 30, 2012

Memories of a 4th grader

Time goes by so fast. 

My children off to 4th and 7th grade…it seemed like yesterday I was either going to Mrs. Batts in 4th grade or Mr… Coach Hunter and Mrs. Slate for 7th grade. 

I was probably wearing an add-a-bead necklace and a Swatch watch. I still remember how much I loved that vest I wore for my school picture in 7th grade.  I loved it!  I’m surprised the collar on the shirt underneath it wasn’t pulled up with my Dorothy Hamill hairstyle. 


I remember how hard 4th grade was for me.  Being at the beginning of “tween life” and starting to go through changes, having a teacher that scared me didn’t help the matter.  I remember Mrs. Batts.  She was an older lady (at least was to me then) and had a big boof hairstyle and a big smile.  But I was intimidated by her.  One of her arms and hand were smaller than the other and didn’t have much use.   Her voice was a little slow and for me hard to understand. 

She was a survivor. A survivor of polio.

(I run upstairs to my closet and found the storage box that holds my childhood yearbooks…there’s Mrs. Batts).


But as the 9 and 10 year old I was, I didn’t know what polio was and what it did.  I just remember I was a little scared of her and I thought she was a hard teacher.  I remember she had to raise her voice some, but I don’t think it’s because she was a mean person, but just because 4th grade kids can test nerves.   But I remember I’d come home almost every day and cry.  Homework was difficult and I thought it was because couldn’t understand her… but maybe it was simply because 4th grade had a harder curriculum.   Probably it was some of both.

I think back now and wonder about Mrs. Batts.  She’d probably be in her 70s or 80s.  I think what an inspiration she’s probably been for so many children and doesn’t know it.  I didn’t know it until many years later…

I’m sure she had to have fears and struggles but I didn’t see them in her.  I saw how she could be very firm when she had to be….but never nervous or intimidated by a class of  25 ragamuffins.   It was me that had fears and struggles in that classroom…like we all do at some time.

I can see now her determination and faith and believed she could do all things through Christ.   She didn’t allow her handicap to make her quit.  She chose to use her sharp mind yet crippled body to teach young kids like me.  And she taught me a lot more than division, vocabulary and North Carolina history. 

After Christmas break all was well.  I liked her.  It ended up being a good year.

But she taught me more than the facts.  She taught me to not give up.  She lived by hope…hope that defeated handicaps and fears.  She taught me that beauty is more important on the inside than the outside.

Now our children are at these “growing years”.  Growing in so many ways.  There are people and teachers and peer and friends in their lives whom they learn from.  I pray that they will, at an early age, learn not to give up, to live by faith, and see the beauty of people from the inside more than outside.  That God will continue to put people in their lives, besides us, their mom and dad, that will give them godly influence and guidance.  I know they’ve already been given that gift of some other special people in their lives…of whom I’m so grateful.

I love those kids…


#852  Kids excitement of first day of school for 4th and 7th grades


#853  unexpected card from a sweet friend

#854  close friends who got their first picture of their new daughter they’re adopting in Haiti…Ellie!  Beautiful!!

#855  confirmation from another writer’s blogpost

#856  husband took me out for a lunch date

#857  dance music blaring upstairs and hearing thumps on ceiling of kids dancing

#858  surprise gift from our favorite babysitter whom we miss

#859  box full of Christian CD’s given to all our small group kiddos


#860  the spotless ladybug that landed on my arm

#861  the teeny-tiny rollie pollie daughter found that made her smile…like little bugs always do.

#862   the lessons I learned from Mrs. Batts

#863  childhood yearbooks

#864  celebrating my niece’s 8th birthday

Monday, August 27, 2012

the joy of slime in-between your toes


Off in the distance the sound of the bagpipes beckoned us to come to the water.



The sky was bright blue filled with big white clouds…the kind that make you wish you could lie on or jump up and down on and roll all around in.   The bright sun was reflecting on the water and the Only Son was reflecting in that same place where anticipation and joy encompassed each person there.




This was a holy day…or as our church leaders call it…the Super Bowl Sunday for our church…the last Sunday in August where people who were lost and now found walk into that water to experience what it feels like to be washed clean and gain a new understanding of true forgiveness and grace.


One by one, people young and old and in-between step foot into what seems to be murky water…yet water that cleanses white as snow.  Stepping in with anticipation, nerve, wonder, the question…“am I really doing this?”   I AM gives a gentle push to walk in further.

There were ripples in the water closer to the shore where people were baptizing and being baptized.  But seeing out a little farther, it looked like a piece of glass.  Close to the shore dirt and murk were being jostled and disturbed…and being taken away.  And yet, right there just a few feet away in that same lake, the water became as smooth and clear as glass.  Hearts moved from  grime into spotlessness…became cleansed and unbroken.  Pure and whole.  No cracks or blemish but instead calm and stillness.  Rest and restoration.  Peace…the peace that transcends all understanding.


I felt blessed to have the opportunity to take photographs of these holy moment experiences for the people who wanted to be baptized.  I thank God for the chance to put my feet in the dirty, slimy sand at the edge of the lake.  I thank God for the opportunity to capture a holy moment on a camera with pictures of the people being redeemed…so it can be a way for them to remember this experience.  I thank God to get the chance to hear some of the stories of how Jesus is now real. 

Being at a distance from the baptism and from the cheers and clapping from others in the water, I couldn’t hear much from the people I was photographing but what a joy just to witness them soaking in the Water that surrounded them and absorbing the pastor’s words of renewal and hope…. 

“Jesus… ‘blood’, Jesus… ‘the cross’, Jesus… ‘water;, Jesus, ‘cleansed’, Jesus…

Love, love, love’.



As I stood there in the water with my camera, memories of the day I was baptized flooded in…encircling me…wanting to absorb it all in again.  August 28, 2005.   To remember that oh, so hot and humid day and yet that oh, so cool and cleansing water that flowed off my face as I came back out of the water.  I can still feel it.  A feeling I don’t ever want to forget.  I never want to forget that Christ had taken my fear and failures and lost them to the deepest part of that lake and resurrected me with perfect grace and love. 


I was remembering that as the young girl told her story while standing in the water and was surrounded by loved ones, when all of a sudden my husband standing beside me whispered, “Look!  An eagle!”


There gliding over the water behind the people being baptized was a bald head eagle.   Breathtaking because instantly these words soared in my mind…

“…but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”

This afternoon, down a long, country road of Alamance County, where there were picnic baskets, bagpipes, people laughing, crying, clapping and cheering, a bald head eagle and osprey bird, rocks, slime, water, immersion and purity… 

Strength was renewed. 

Strength was renewed…whether it be a needed reminder or an experience for the first time…

I will never grow weary of reminders of immersion.




Oh to thank God for….

#844  the chance to put my feet in the dirty, slimy sand at the edge of the lake.

# 845  the opportunity to capture a holy moment on camera with pictures of the people being redeemed…so it can be a way for them to remember this experience.

#846   being part of our close friends' baptism and seeing how deep this holy moment was for him in his young eyes. 

#847   to get the chance to hear stories of how Jesus is now real to that person.

#848  seeing a bald head eagle fly over the water as people were being baptized

#849  the joy of slime in-between your toes

#850  making new friends from son’s team

#851  wearing jeans and sweatshirt at home in the middle of August!


Friday, August 24, 2012

Reasons to Rejoice


As this past week ends and the weekend arrives, cling to this grace and hope and remember all of these reasons to rejoice!

“…we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”  Romans 5:2 NKJV

We are loved unconditionally.  We have been chosen.  We have been granted mercy.  We receive good gifts.   We are given encouragement.  We find hidden stores of patience.  We have peace that passes understanding.  We are never alone.  We know abundance.  We witness God’s miraculous working in our lives.  We have been awed by God’s majesty.  God’s Word is trustworthy.  God provides for our every need.  God’s Spirit abides in us.  God is always faithful.  God keeps His promises.  Prayers have been answered.  Faith has been strengthened.  Yes, there are reasons to rejoice!                                                (written in Women of Faith “Hope: The Anchor for Your Soul”)



#839  seeing son moving lawn mower back and forth in the back yard…listening to Christian music…and singing along



#840  Driving through Elon University as freshmen students are moving in for a new year…what memories from that same experience in that exact space 21 years ago!  It seems just like yesterday…

#841  opportunity to take our new Spanish teacher assistants to the grocery

#842  opening out home and serving dinner to the 4 teacher assistants….chicken pie…a first experience for all of these South Americans

#843  Learning about Columbia, Chile and El Salvador cultures

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

So delicate, risky and creative

As I sit here in the car on this teasing-fall-like evening in August, it’s already dark at 8:30pm.  Stars are appearing a little earlier each night.  The cicadas chirp loud and muffle the sound of boys calling out instructions to their teammates under bright white lights that make the field look like day time.  I sit here in the shadow of the tree for a moment of just being waiting until soccer practice is over.
It has begun.
Even though school hasn’t started yet (just 5 days away), it might as well have. 
Already going to school to help with PTO, going to soccer practice, reviewing multiplication facts gearing up for math.  Looking at my planner and it already has little space to add much else.
What a difference from lounging on the back porch with family after filling our stomachs with food and our hearts with conversations that could linger, from relaxing at the neighborhood pool while hearing laughter and splashes…from looking and seeing a lot of white, empty space on my day planner.
But it’s filling back up full and I need balance.   I’ve seen how lack of balance can easily cause brokenness or damage to the heart (of self and others) and makes it hard to see God moments and joy gifts He so freely gives.
God, I want balance…I need balance.  I don’t want to get so caught up in whirlwinds of business to the point of dizziness and can’t focus.  Focus on what You desire of me.
Ester de Waal wrote,
“What I am looking for is some sort of balance in my life – a balance “so delicate, so risky, so creative…”
So delicate because it needs to be handled with care and attention.
So risky because it’s not “normal” or looked down upon in today’s world to balance stillness with to-do’s.
So creative because the Provider provides opportunities daily to balance to-do’s and time to hide away with Him… we just need to trust it is doable and diligently make the effort…and completely depend on Him. 
Today I opened the Word to Isaiah 30:15  “Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.  Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me…the very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.”  (The Message)
or  “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” (NIV)
I think God wanted me to read that at the beginning of this new season.  To be mindful.  
For my mind to be full of His Presence all day long… and the days short that fly by too.  To be mind-full of knowing how to balance and make priorities.  To be mind-full of His promises.  To be mind-full of his extravagant grace and mercies every day especially the days I fall short. 
This I pray…
You have taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence we shall be strengthened.  By Your Spirit lift us to Your Presence where we may be still and know that You.are.God.” 
(prayer from the Book of Common Prayer adapted in Living Prayer by Robert Benson) emphasis added

Joys found
#830  cloudy morning for walk but when sat down in chair on porch and opened God’s Word, the sun broke through clouds and shined on my book and face.
#831  taking bag of cherry tomatoes to a friend at work
#832  the beautiful array of clouds on the morning walk
#833  gift curved – cookies on plate ready to go in oven
#834  gift straight – index card lines with Mamaw’s writing of the recipe for Snickerdoodle cookies
#835  gift turned – page to a new chapter
#836  gift of light – light shining on tomatoes in window
#837  kids no cavities at dentist!
#838  desire for balance

Monday, August 20, 2012

Don’t Postpone Joy


Don’t put it off.  Don’t put it on the back burner.  Don’t put it on the back corner of your closet.  Don’t stuff it in your pocket.  Don’t hide it!

Sometimes it can be as easy to postpone joy as it is easy to postpone a dentist appointment, postpone cleaning the bathroom or even postpone a tough conversation you need to have.

“Don’t postpone joy.”


Those words hang on our wall and look at me, with intent, as I walk by them many times every day.  Some days they remind me to keep on counting joys.  Some days they bring hope and a smile to my face.  Some days I forget to look at them when I’m too focused on the things on my to-do list.  Some days I purposely ignore them…I choose to worry about “what if’s”, or choose to sulk in self pity, or choose to allow petty things to get on my nerves instead of  choosing joy. 

Why would I choose those over joy? 

I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives.” (Ecc. 3:12  NKJV)  

In other words, “Don't postpone joy. Enjoy what God has given you today!”   Not to wait until we’re in a better mood, not to wait until tomorrow, not to wait until things turn around… today…now!


I need to remind myself daily it’s not worth postponing

When joy is postponed, anger is chosen.  When joy is postponed, frustration grows.  When joy is postponed, worry consumes. 

There’s no need to wait until heaven to experience joy…no need to wait to laugh on glory’s side.  God created us to experience enjoyment…now…today. 

So, why postpone joy?



When we give thanks, we gain joy”  (Ann Voskamp)

Weekend joys

#823  the Don’t Postpone Joy sign on our wall

#824  the gift of joy on this side of heaven

#825  unexpected “both-kids-spend-night-with-friend” night

#826  worshipping God to the music of an organ and ukulele…together.

#827  sermon given today spoken with Truth, boldness and love…and also for our son to hear

#828  reminder how “we were knit together in our mother’s womb…fearfully and wonderfully made…the days of our lives were all prepared before we’d even lived one day.” Psalm 139

#829  only through Christ can I

Friday, August 17, 2012



Have you ever played the game Bananagrams? 

It’s a newer game similar to Scrabble, and with that being said, it’s not my best game.  Maybe because the few times I played it as a child, I didn’t like it as much as Life and Candy Land (they’re games of luck where I didn’t have to really think!).

But there’s only a week left until school and we’re all getting a little stir crazy and my kids (and me) need some brain stimulation.  They’ve been in hibernation when it comes to “educational enrichment”.  I admit, there’s not been summer school here!

But because I was desperate, I thought, we’ll try Bananagrams but I’m sure I’ll get some reluctance.  I did but I insisted, so we got to work.  It was a slow start but I became amazed at the words they came up with and they really got into it.

Now we bent the rules a little bit…because the first word our son found in his pile of letters was “Jesus”.  Well, I instantly threw away the rule of not being able to use proper nouns.  It made me think how Jesus’ desire is to be central in our lives and for all other things to grow from there…He is the vine.  We are the branches.  And then from there on, son didn’t even realize it, but he wrote a prayer…

I started looking at the words he came up with and I could see how most of them could be used to glorify God!  So, I had him and my daughter (and me too) write a prayer to Jesus using as many words as possible that he came up with in that round of Bananagrams!


(Ok…I know the idea may be a little cheesy but I think God still gets a smile out of it!)

My son, this post’s guest writer, wrote:

Jesus saved me from sins.

Thank you, God for the redbirds that look so pretty at my birdfeeder.

Please help me never quit and give me strength to get up on my feet.

Help me not forget You any date of the year.

Help me live like you planned and by Your Word.

If I get out of line, you “tug” me the right way.

Thank you for the food that we sometimes forget how fortunate we are.

Thank you for dogs.

Thank you for being the was, and is, and will be.

In God I trust.

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

We put our strength in the Lord.

I am awed at Your creation.

Please help me to say yes to live by Your Word.

There isn’t a day where I don’t think of you.

His strength is the greatest!


We hope you have a weekend filled with rest, game times, preparation and hope!


Still counting

#818  gift in morning…early morning walk

#819  gift in morning…read a quote by Edward Farrell from his book Free to Be Nothing.

“Perhaps our most hidden sin is that we have so little time for one another.  We need so much more than television (and electronic devices) has to offer.  We need to relearn how to relate eye to eye, hand to hand, heart to heart.  We have to encourage one another to keep walking toward Jesus, toward joy, toward truth.”

#820  just what I needed to hear

#821  news neighbor has no more cancer!

#822  long day at pool with friends…probably last one before school starts!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Frustrations growing like a pumpkin vine


I don’t know if I’ve ever seen something grow as fast as the pumpkin vines in our little square garden with a little fence around it in the corner of our back yard.  They’ve taken over the garden having grown over our strawberry bush, green pepper plant, surrounding our sunflower.  It’s been a little frustrating!  Every day I have to go and redirect the vines from taking over the tomato bushes. 



I think it’ll be nice in the fall to have some pumpkins but they’ve become a little out of hand, almost uncontrollable and a little bit of a nuisance because I had no idea this would happen!  

And the reason we have the pumpkin vines like this is because back in the early winter, when we started decorating for Christmas, we used our then barren garden as a compost to help “fertilize” the soil and threw our fall pumpkins in our garden patch and left to rot all winter.


In the spring, my husband tilled the garden and I planted cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and green pepper.  A few weeks later we saw three little spouts shoot out from the soil in our garden where I had not planted anything.  It took me a while to figure out what was beginning to grow there.  I finally recognized the leaves as they got larger and realized they were pumpkin leaves having remembered that’s the spot we left the pumpkin to rot.

Well, I do not have much of a green thumb when it comes to gardening…especially vegetables.  For some reason I haven’t had much success with it.  Maybe because it’s becoming more shady every year as the tree nearby grow taller.  Maybe it’s the soil.  Maybe because I don’t talk to the plants, encouraging them to grow.  Maybe because I’ve just been a city girl all my life.



I’d love to have a green thumb though and have my kitchen filled with the fruits of my labor.  How nice to have a blueberry bush in the backyard and be able to pull off a few ripe berries in the morning to put in our cereal. (We did plant one this year but it’s been a flop because some little wild creature eats the berries right before they’re ripe!  I then heard we should go buy some special net to protect it…good grief!) 

I’d love to be able to make a salad for dinner with all the vegetables from our garden. All the vegetables I planted in the spring produced one delicious first batch in the late spring but that was it!  All our big tomatoes had a yucky fungus, the green peppers were taken over by the pumpkins and the zucchini and cucumbers sizzled up and died from many 99-104 degree dry days after that…EXCEPT  the cherry tomatoes survived and I’m so thankful for that!

If there was anything I tended to the most were the cherry tomatoes.  I tried to water them in the morning when there had not been rain the day before.  Those tiny tomatoes are our children’s favorites.  They will go in the backyard and pull them ripe off the vine and pop them in their mouths like candy.

But this pumpkin vine wants to take over those tomatoes, too.  That vine smothers all the other things growing in the garden.  It spreads like the wildfire out west.  It’s weighed down the little wire gate surrounding the garden and is slithering like a snake away from the garden boundaries out into our yard.



However, I haven’t had to do a thing to help them grow. They’re almost like a weed!  That vine has needed no help what-so-ever. I’ve purposely not watered them hoping a little bit of it would sizzle up from the heat and die leaving me just a few pretty ones in the corner of the garden…controlled.

I thought… guilt, fear, worry, frustrations swept under the rug and sin can grow rapidly like that pumpkin vine if I let the seed that I thought was thrown away and put to death sit in the soil in the darkness of my soul and secretly reproduce again.  Then when exposed to the heat of matters, those sins sprout again and grow and can become out of control. 

And many times they do.

I then have to try to re-direct and keep them in their “little white-picket fence” in my heart where I can tend to them there and not let others see them creeping and slithering out and exposing my self-filled sins for my world to see.

Instead I want to be like those tomato plants.  They took their time growing from the time they were new sprouts and continued to grow little baby tomatoes that became beautiful, full size, ripe cherry red tomatoes to enjoy. 


As the gardener, I’ve watered them.  Pulled out the weeds around them.  And maybe they heard me say, “Oh look!  You’ve really grown!  I’ve tended and cared for you and now you glisten pretty there in the sunshine.  I’m excited I can use you…and enjoy you.”

Can you hear God say that about us, too?  He takes delight in being our Gardener, nurturing and showering us with his grace and love so we can grow steady and strong to not only be able to survive storms but also bask in His Light as He enjoys us.

Grow your good grace in me, O God.  Make me receptive to the ways that you water and tend this garden of my heart.  Prune me when I need pruning, nurture me where I need nurturing, weed me where I need weeding, and care for me tenderly when I need your tender care.  I love you, O Gardener of my soul.  In the tenderness of Jesus.  Amen”               (Jim Branch)

Thankful for…

#813  our cherry tomatoes

# 814  interest daughter had in voice over the phone telling me what she learned about screech owls

#815  sitting on the porch into the night with my laptop writing

#816  sound of crickets

#817  ugly beautiful…the pumpkins taking over the garden

Monday, August 13, 2012

When your heart swells with joy


This is one of our favorite places to retreat. It is a treat to come here by the invitation and open door hearts of dear friends and their parents. We love to come to the lake and be quiet.  To get away from normal craziness.  To commune with each other. To laugh until your stomach hurts and tears roll down your eyes. To make memories.  To have fun in the water.  To make a campfire and roast marshmallows.  To watch meteors fly by in the black sky filled with millions of stars…stars I can only see when I’m at the lake away from the city lights.  To watch sunrises.


One of the priceless gifts there is the opportunity to wake up with the sun and just be outside on the porch overlooking the cove.  Still half asleep the sound of all the birds and ducks calling out to each other wake me up, along with the gentle laps of water that roll into the little beach shore, the faint sound of a boat out in the water, the chimes performing beautiful music conducted by the breeze.


Won’t heaven be something like this some day?


God you are the breeze I feel gently brushing against my cheek and hands as I type. You are the sunrise. You are majesty like the mountains I see. You are the Living Water as I watch it dance in the lake with a gentle and steady pulse. You are Beauty. You are yet… the Peace the passes all understanding. You are my All in All.  You are I AM.

You are Present here.

Weekend get-away Joys….

#795   retreat

#796   No thunderstorm while on the boat

#797  “…when your heart throbs and swells with joy” (Isaiah 60:5)


#798  sun reaching and radiant through dark clouds

#799  lake sunsets and sunrises


#800   laughter from stories

#801  songs friend sang all weekend (Do you love Jesus?)

#802  sound of chimes on porch

#803  waking up early to see sun rise over lake

#804  son’s boldness to be adventurous

#805  safe with water toys




#806 campfires on the shore



#807  s’mores


#808  seeing a shooting meteor

#809  listening to friends’ stories

#810  cloudless Sunday morning

#811   swimming in the lake

#812  Peaks of Otter mountain view


Thank you to this special family for the weekend!!!! 

Saturday, August 11, 2012



The water looked like there were floating jewels glimmering as the sun held onto the opportunity to shine until it couldn’t any more.  The clouds moved fast yet even when they started rolling in, the sun continued to reach and be radiant. 


The clouds opened to heaven.

Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy Isaiah 60:5 


Retreating with family and dear friends this weekend at one of our most favorite places to be…a joy.