Archive for 2012

Looking back on 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

It's time for my 20 Questions for 2012. It was a good year of growth, celebration and making memories.  I love looking back and seeing how God has stretched me, provided for me and never stopped challenging me  to trust, love and embrace this life he has blessed me with.  Here's to 2013!!

1.) What did you do in 2012 that you had never done before?
Drove Hwy 101 through Northern California

2.) Did you keep any New Year's resolutions and will you make more this year?
Yes, to let go of the past and focus on the future. For the coming year it is to be kind to myself.

3.) Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes, Emily Miley and her husband welcomed Henri in February.  I babysat Emily when I was in high school and their family lived next door.  We have stayed in touch all these years. Also, my cousin Natalie and her husband Todd welcomed their daughter, Phoebe Lynn on December 15th.

4.) Did anyone close to you die?

5.) What places did you visit?
Alta Lake, WA; Greenville, SC; Charlotte, NC;  Crescent City, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz & San Francisco, CA; Denver & Boulder, CO

6.) What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

7.) What date from 2012 will remain etched in your memory and why?
Two dates: August 1st-our 20th anniversary & September 16th-moving day

8.) What was your biggest achievement this year and why?
Surviving spring quarter: 16 credits, 3 kids in 3 schools in 3 sports and a traveling husband.

9.) Did you suffer illness or injury?
A little bout with stomach pain in August that resulted in no diagnosis.

10.) What was the best thing you bought?
Our new old home.

11.) Where did most of your money go?
Car repairs!

12.) What song will always remind you of 2011?
Steady My Heart by Kari Jobe

13.) What do you wish you would have done more of?
All of those ideas I posted on Pinterest.

14.) What do you wish you would have done less of?
Stewed over stupid stuff.

15.) What was your favorite TV program?
Dancing with the Stars

16.) What was the best book you read?
Loving by Karen Kingsbury

17.) What was your favorite film of the year?
Trouble with the Curve—Clint Eastwood & Amy Adams. I love baseball movies.

18.) What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
Had 8 of my wonderful girlfriends over who make me laugh and celebrated together with food, drink and a super fun board game.  I turned 45.

19.) What national/world event stirred you the most?
Presidential election—and not in a good way.

20.) Who was the best new person you met?
Tracy Olney.  A football mom who I spent a lot of time with in the fall making team dinners.  I enjoyed her company immensely and was impressed with her organization skills and passion and dedication to our high school community.


A Snowy Escape

Thursday, December 27, 2012

As December was closing in on us and the pressure of Christmas began ramping up, we decided that instead of checking off items on the never-ending "to do list", we would run away from it all with just 10 shopping days left. Our family was in desperate need of unplugging from the demands of the world and reconnect with each other and nature.  Fortunately, we have some friends who were generous enough to let us escape to their cozy cabin in the mountains for 3 days.  It was absolute heaven and just what the doctor ordered.  Although their "cabin" was really a house--and one I would gladly live in. 

We had no cell reception, no computers, no cable and no contact with the outside world:  a mother's dream and a teenager's worst nightmare. After the teenagers pushed through their initial withdrawal, they realized that they really did enjoy spending time with each other after all.  We played games, watched Christmas movies, took long naps, read books and magazines, sipped coffee and hot chocolate beside the fireplace and played in the snow. Every morning we woke to at least another foot of the white fluffy stuff on the ground.  Because of the record snowfall, the day after we left, the highway was closed down for 3 days due to 100 fallen trees. We were kind of wishing we had been stranded up there in our own little paradise for 72 more hours.  But the  72 hours we had were heavenly and gave us the extra energy we needed to power through the last week.   

I never grew tired of this view.

Love seeing my husband relaxed.  He is reading a book on his phone not texting.

The first morning.

Getting ready to hit the mountain on our last day.

So happy to be in the snow.


The road in.  Thankful for our trusty old Landcruiser.

The view from above was so inviting too.

Wishing this "cabin" was ours.

Last picture before we returned to reality.  Don't we look relaxed?


The choice is theirs

Sunday, December 2, 2012

When writing my last post, I was in a place of disappointment and sadness over the choices made by my children that directly opposed what they have been taught.  As I've had time to reflect and process, my emotions have gone from shock to sadness to anger to grief to acceptance.  Although it isn't the path I had hoped to walk as part of my parenting days, I've realized it certainly isn't the end of the world.  And I've also been convicted that, in many ways, I expected close to perfection from my children.  I think that subconsciously I felt that if given all the right tools, they would stay on the straight and narrow and have a way better head start in life than I had at their age. They would be honor roll, law abiding, God-fearing, example setting individuals.  This has proven to be not only a naive outlook but one filled with pride too.  Obviously one can never have too much humility.

Last week I dug out a book I remember reading a couple years ago that addressed some of the issues I am facing right now: "5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Son" by Vicki Courtney.  The author gave a beautiful example of how to not live in condemnation over your kids' choices. "As mothers, we like to think there is a tried and true formula that if applied consistently will bear out a positive end result.  The truth is, we can apply a formula or effective principles but in the end we can not control the outcome."  This was good for me to hear/read.  She goes on to say that no matter what path her sons choose, she will have fulfilled her assigned role."I have taken advantage of teachable moments when we sit at home, walk along the road, lie down, and get up. (Deut 6:7). Should they decide to forgo God's best in spite of my teaching and instruction, I will not shrug my shoulders and say, "Where did I go wrong?"  I will rest knowing I did all I could and continue to pray that their hearts would be sensitive and ripe to God's teaching." Although there is always room for improvement, as an older and wiser mom once told me, "Don't be so quick to take credit for their accomplishments nor blame for their failures."

Another reality that God showed me when I was in a place of anger was that I have no idea what it is like to be an American high school teenage boy in today's world. And I happen to have one who is in "the pressure cooker" as I call it.  The circle with the most influence but the one that rarely uses it the way you hope.   The enormous amount of pressure these boys endure everyday to do the right thing requires an excessive amount of self-control.  Everything that can cause them to take a wrong path is in front of them at every turn.  Pondering this gave me an immense amount of compassion for all of my sons and the battles they are faced with in a typical day. My expectations are really unrealistic if viewed through this lens.  And if we are honest with ourselves about our parenting culture, is it really any wonder our kids consider engaging in risky behavior?  Not only are they living in the pressure cooker at school, they are living under the microscope everywhere else.  Parents put their kids on pedestal and cater to their every whim. Their daily lives are so micromanaged and parents' lives revolve around their children to the point that life becomes all about the children.  There is no balance.  The kids instinctively can feel that they have the power to make or break their parents by their grades, their athletic performance and social skills.  This is way too much power for any adolescent to carry and many of them snap to cope with the pressure.  I'm not saying I haven't been guilty of this by any means just that it might do all of us well to take an inventory of this parenting trend that has now become a commonly accepted lifestyle.  I know that I don't want to give my kids that power or that vibe and I'm re-evaluating how I have caved to the culture myself.

So the 3-week social restriction has been lifted and a new chapter begins.  Praying that the lessons learned in this past chapter with serve all of us well in the new one.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Before I was a parent, I filed away all the advice and words of wisdom I had heard and read over the years.  I took note of those who walked the path before me and decided what I would and wouldn't repeat when it was my turn.  After this week, I have come to terms with the fact (again) that I have a strong legalistic bend and still believe there is a formula that will result in a life of ease and comfort. Even though this has proved itself wrong over and over again, I still lean toward these patterns.  I have most recently been humbled by the judgmental attitude that exists in my heart toward others and their parenting styles. When I see kids make bad choices I always want to find a reason and the reason I find usually points back to the parents.  I have thought to myself "Well, what do they expect when they ___________________ (fill in the blank)??" Then how to I fill in that blank when the tables are turned???

What I have learned this week is that, as parents, we can give our kids all the right tools: setting boundaries and rules; knowing their friends and their friends' parents; keeping tabs on where they are and who they are with; training them in a spiritual faith and the knowledge of a Heavenly Father who loves them; praying for them daily; and keeping the lines of communication open.  Yet, in spite of all this, there are no guarantees because ultimately they need to decide who they want to be.  And even though the goal is independence and their faith and values have to become their own, it doesn't make it any less painful when they choose the opposite of what you have modeled.

One of the little tidbits I carried in the back of my mind was: "children who come from a broken home are twice as likely to engage in risky behavior."  I naively thought that since our two parent family is intact, my child would have no desire to make stupid decisions.  And yet he did.  Immediately, I went to "where did we go wrong?"  which is the most natural reaction, but I also needed to consider this crazy, mixed-up culture we are living in.  Yes, we can always improve our parenting and it is in constant need for readjustment. But when our kids are bombarded with these messages: "You can have whatever you want."  "You don't have to wait for anything."  "There are no consequences." "You don't have to feel pain." These are pretty tough lies to compete with on a daily basis.  We are fighting them ourselves and we have almost 30+ years on them.

 I don't think there is a mom or dad out there who didn't start their parenting journey without wanting their child/children not to repeat their story--more specifically the painful chapters of it. It is certainly with good intentions but, as I have found with my own story, that one big thing I don't want to see repeated ends up becoming my biggest fear.  And, in turn, I preach against it while I live in fear of it.  And 9 times out of 10, it still happens.  The war for our kids' hearts has definitely turned up a notch and it's time to re-evaluate our game plan.

We are definitely culpable in a lot of this current reality of ours and have acknowledged that to ourselves and to our son.  Our natural reaction, like his, is to hide and shrink back.  To live in denial and pretend that we don't have any issues.  But, as we said to him when he begged us not to go to the friends' parents, "we don't hide in this family.  We live in the truth and the light."  As painful and embarrassing as it is, it's always better to be authentic than pretend.  As he is seeing, there is a cost to that but one that ultimately will pay off in the future.

So you might be wondering why I'm not divulging details or identities if I am so committed to living in the light.  Believe me, I have thought and prayed about that.  But the details and identities don't matter because God knows what needs to be shared and with whom.  Much of it is not our right or role to play but our son's. And we need to be wise in protecting our family's privacy while we regroup.  One thing I hope this post does convey is that we are broken people living in a broken world in desperate need of a Savior. And it's always good to be reminded of that.  


Eleven years of Ben

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I remember once sitting in my moms' prayer group when one of my friends said: "Aww, c'mon admit it: the baby is always our favorite." She was dead serious.  Her youngest child is the one she is the most compatible with but it's part of the mom code that none of us ever utter the word "favorite."  That's reserved for the children when they are fighting with each other or trying to manipulate their parents with guilt and shame.  ("He's your favorite."  "I always knew she was your favorite.")

As kids we always remember using those phrases but they took on a different meaning when I became a parent. I think I can speak for most mothers when I say that we love all our children equally but we have a different relationship and a separate affinity with each individual child.  Being the middle child, I always thought my mom favored my younger sister because she gave in to her more often and the rules my parents were such sticklers about seemed to turn lax by the time the youngest was a teenager.  I now fully understand that you're just too tired by the third time around the mountain.  And you do react to situations differently because you know this child is your last.  You want to savor and hold onto every last moment of parenting. I have definitely experienced this firsthand with Ben.

To his brothers, Ben has the most coveted position in the family.  To Ben, it's the worst.  Being the youngest of three boys means being picked on, teased and tortured while watching your competitive siblings experience every rite of passage as you wait on the sidelines for your turn.  When your turn finally comes, it feels like forever has passed and your brothers respond with a "been there, done that."  What Ben probably won't realize until he's a father is that,  in addition to the above, he'll also get more patient, mature and easy going parents.  He'll have three years of being the only child with more resources to go around.  After watching his big brothers make their mistakes, he'll have the benefit of learning from his observations causing himself and his parents less heartache.  I'd say he won the lottery in the birth order gamble even though there may not be as many pictures of him in the scrapbook.

Aside from all the "favorite" talk, Ben is a pretty special guy and I'm so glad we get to celebrate 11 years of him being in our family.  He is conscientious, considerate, affectionate and kind.  I truly can't imagine life without his sweet disposition and giving heart.

You are a blessing to so many, Benjamin Davis and on October 28th you are definitely everyone's favorite birthday boy!  Especially mine.  P.S.: Don't tell your brothers.


It's a cowgirl thing

Sunday, October 21, 2012

When October rolls around, inevitably the questions come: "What do you want for your birthday?"  "What do you want to do for your birthday?"  I hate being fussed over, I know how busy everyone is with their own lives and I never want to add one more chore to their to-do lists.  Not that celebrating a friend's birthday is a chore but you know what I mean.

This year I thought I'd beat everyone to the punch and host my own birthday gathering.  In this season of life, time, energy and resources seem to be in short supply.  It feels like during the chance meetings in the grocery store, on the field or at the school the conversation always ends with: "we should get together."  And then it never happens.  Next thing you know, another year has passed by.  So what better excuse to connect than a birthday?

I sat at the computer with the Evite site in front of me and made a list of the women in my life who make me laugh the most.  I love serious, deep conversation but my absolute favorite thing to do is laugh out loud.  This is what I wanted for my 45th birthday.  And with the craziness of fall, I knew this was just what we all needed on a stormy Saturday night.  I asked for no gifts, no one to bring food or drink but just to come with a funny card and their delightful selves and let ME celebrate THEM.  Seven out of nine ladies braved the elements and even my BFF from college drove two hours to be here--and brought her husband to play with Trey.

We had the best time eating, drinking and, of course, LAUGHING.  I  looked around the house at one point and saw many different spontaneous conversations happening and felt so grateful for the gift of these women and their faithful friendship to me. Being the good friends that they are, they indulged me in leaving their comfort zone to play a board game (another one of my loves)  full of semi-personal questions.  Knowing they could refuse to answer any question, we donned our bandanas, saddled up and spent the next 2 hours playing "Cowgirls Ride the Trail of Truth."  Everyone was a good sport and many times we had to regroup after ending up in tears of laughter.

This definitely lands on my Top Ten of the last 45 birthdays.

The Cowgirl Rules

Janelle, Lacey & Laurie

Brenda had us all in stitches

Bring on 45! Giddy up!

Maria and Ann are a dangerous duo.

Jennie stole the camera for some self portraits--these two are so photogenic

From left to right everyone is seated by the length of our friendship.  2 years on the left and 23 years on the right.


Homecoming: The Dance

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Now, you really must think I am living vicariously through my children with yet another post about Homecoming.  But I couldn't end without sharing the best pictures of all.  I love these young couples.  They were so sophisticated and mature that evening and patient with me as I snapped what was probably the 50th photo of them.  They had already met at one of the girlls' houses for pictures but we showed up at the restaurant as they arrived and coaxed them into one more. I am particularly crazy about the last couple on the right. 


Homecoming: Round Two

Friday, October 19, 2012

Since we had so many family members in town for the big occasion, the occasion was begging for a tailgate party.  It was a perfect fall evening and we had a blast--and finally put that portable grill that we "just had to have" to use.  What a fun crowd!

Trey is grilling up the brats and hotdogs--Devin likes to supervise.
Lori & Makenna
Auntie Care and Brenda hit it off.
My mom and her BFF
Parker gives our tailgate party a Thumbs Up!
Our good friend Steve stopped by for some fun.
Parker personalized his finger for his cousin.
Mimi & Papa Jim's first high school football game.  
We won!!

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Royalty Runs in the Family

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What a month it has been!  When I logged on and saw that it has been almost 30 days since my last post, it really hit home that my life has not been my own.  Instead of trying to fit in all the happenings of the last few weeks, I thought I'd spread it out and hit the highlights one post at a time--and start with my favorite.

As with many circumstances when you have a high school boy, you find out what is going on via 
Facebook.  They pick and choose what to tell you and as of late.....the lips have been sealed more often than they are moving.  Thank goodness for my mom friends who have girls that still dish when they come home from school.  This was how I found out my son had been nominated as a sophomore class prince for the Homecoming royalty.  When I asked him about it, he said: "I didn't think you'd care."  What?  "Of course I care son.  Did you know that me and your Auntie Lori were both Homecoming princesses our senior year?"  Him: "Oh yeah, I kind of remember hearing about that."  Lest you think I peaked in high school, let me assure you this was exciting but not my five minutes of fame.  It was a special time and a huge honor but unfortunately it was marred by jealous classmates who thought I didn't deserve the nomination much less the vote and spread the news.  Oh, high school.  What was really special though was that my sister was a princess the following year and I got to come back from college for the day to "hand down my crown."  My mom and grandma were there to witness the occasion and you'd think we were at Westminster Abbey.  

It's funny how some things come back full circle.  Since I don't have a daughter, I figured I'd miss out on all those events because those things just don't matter to boys in the same way.  But the school does such a good job of making it special and really honoring those students who are nominated and voted to represent their class.  The cutest part was that Quinn won and his grandparents, aunt and cousin were all on hand to watch history repeat itself.  He brushed it off as no big deal but I love what my mentor said when she heard the news:  "That says so much about how highly Quinn is thought of by his classmates and how you and Trey have raised him.  What an honor. I rejoice with you!" I hadn't thought of it this way--nor am I looking for parenting accolades because we have done plenty wrong--but her words completely warmed my heart.  And so did my prince. 

 1987--handing down the crown to my little sis.

 Senior Homecoming assembly

 Grandma and her royal grandson

The former princesses and the current prince.  We look a little different.


Our Journey to the Promised Land

Thursday, September 20, 2012

WARNING: This is the longest post I have ever written but I'd be honored if you took the time to read it.

If you have been following my blog and/or have known me more for more than 5 years, then you also know the journey I/we have been on.  You know that the major player in our story has been a legacy of job changes and moves that began the moment our first child was born 15 years ago.  Stability and security have been elusive.  For me as a woman it was a painful, weary place and a mountain I grew so tired of climbing.  The questions and judgments from others who have not walked this path have oftentimes rendered me bitter, resentful and envious.  I am not proud of this but I want to be honest.  In our culture, it’s the natural order of things: college, job, marriage, children and a house.  The first time we had to sell our house, I felt shame to be known as a “renter.”  Without exaggeration, I was asked at least once a month: "Are you guys still renting?"  as if I had a communicable disease.  I always made excuses as to why our situation was temporary. Yet every time we thought we'd be in a rental for a short period, the days turned into a year, two years, and most recently three years. But by whose standards was I judging us?  Certainly not God's. Even though I was weary of not having a place to nest and call our own I knew God had a bigger plan and I could trust Him with our future.  I just got tired of always having to defend our lot in life.

Last November I felt God calling me to re-enter this space and begin dreaming again.  In 2004, when I was in a similar place after renting for 5 years, we made a "house wish list".  God gave us almost every single wish--at least the ones that really mattered. That home fit our needs beautifully for the next 5 years and we made wonderful memories there.  But, once again, we were left with no choice but to move on as many circumstances created a perfect storm that warranted downsizing and renting again.  As I sat with my prayer journal open and began thinking about what a home for our family would look like, it took a substantial amount of courage to even write one item.  That's when I heard in my heart, "to Him who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine........." (Ephesians 3:20) Over the next week I probably heard or saw that verse at least once a day.  I love how God confirms himself over and over.  We are so stinkin' stubborn!!

Little did I know that at about the same time Trey had been eyeing a house just 2 blocks down the road.  He didn't share this discovery with me until he did some research--actually a lot of research.  In March, he gingerly approached me with an offer to come with him and take a look at this house that had caught his attention.  I had passed the property on my normal driving route hundreds of times but rarely gave it much thought.  As we drove up the long driveway, there was not a stitch of curb appeal.  Built in 1984 and abandoned and neglected for close to a year, I wasn't particularly drawn to the house but was willing to look around and peek in the windows.  From what we could see, it didn't appear half bad on the inside. With 2.2 acres surrounding it and 11 acres adjoining it, this offered something for each of the boys.  A huge front yard for Ben to kick the soccer ball around, bike jumps galore for Ian to indulge to his heart's content; and within walking distance to the high school.   Trey told me the story of how the lots surrounding the house were recently purchased by someone we knew and he could contact the owner for us.  We sat in the driveway and offered the possibility up to God and moved on.  The next day we heard from our acquaintance saying he got a call out of the blue from the owner asking if he wanted to buy the house.  (He had downsized and moved to a different town) He told him, "I don't but I know someone who does."  Unfortunately, we didn't hear from anyone again for the next couple months.

In May we received a phone call from our landlords letting us know that they needed to sell the house and would be sending a realtor over that Friday to take pictures.  My anxiety went through the roof when I heard the news.  These are the same people whose house we had sold for them 2 years earlier.  And this would be the fourth house we have rented with a for sale sign in the yard while not knowing where we were heading.  After my freak out, my very patient husband completely went to bat for me, promising this would not be a repeat of being at the mercy of real estate agents and buyers.  He refused to let me be in the meeting with the realtor and laid some firm ground rules with her about showings, etc.  She was very amicable and the next couple weeks as the phone calls came, she made sure our time was respected. But then the questions started coming from every direction: "I saw your house is for sale, where are you going?  What do you mean you don't know?  Aren't you worried?  Are you guys going to rent again? "  This is when I can get "spun out" and start to question the peace I have had.  Yet, in spite of the old familiar feelings and fears, I sensed that this time was going to be different.  We had until the end of September before our lease expired and, even if the house did sell, our contract would have to be honored.

After I finished spring quarter, I met one of my college friends from Seattle for the day.  Through my tears, I was bringing her up on the latest when she said: “As you’ve been sharing, a scripture keeps coming to mind and I don’t remember where it is in the bible but it’s ‘to Him who is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine…” I cried even harder when I told her the story behind that verse.  Confirmation once again.  Even though the outlook appeared bleak at this point, I could sense God was working out all the details behind the scenes.

Fortunately, by God's grace, there were very few showings of the house as the school year came to a close and our summer began.  In the meantime, Ian had been spending a lot of time biking up on the 11 acres above the coveted house.  The owner's son had built a bunch of bike jumps with his friends while he was growing up here and told Ian he was welcome anytime.  Ian came home and excitedly announced that he had met "Joe", Mr. X's son.  Little did we know, that chance meeting would soon serve us well.

In late June, while on a camping trip I took a long walk one morning and talked with God about this circumstance.  September felt closer and closer and not having any future plans was starting to drive me a little crazy. God prompted me with a thought: "Write him a letter.  Tell him your story.  Tell him about your family and why you want to buy his house."  After wrestling with this idea for a week or so, I finally sat down one night, penned that letter and sent it registered mail the next day.  Two weeks went by with nary a word. Finally, I did get the return receipt showing " Mr. X.". received the letter but only silence ensued from his end.  

A few days after the confirmation that the letter was received, Ian got involved once again. In his "git ir done" way, he informed "Joe" (23) that our family was interested in hisdad's house but couldn't get in touch with him.  Utterly pleased with himself, Ian came home and announced  "I got Mr. X's phone number, do you want to call him?" I burst his bubble and told him that I was waiting for a reply to my letter and would continue to wait.  Apparently, Ian was not happy with my answer and took matters into his own hands.  The second week of August came and all our summer adventures were behind us.  We were ready to move forward but there was still silence on the other end.  Ian couldn't stand it any longer.  One afternoon I heard him downstairs talking on the phone.  I hadn't heard any phones ring so I went downstairs assuming he had picked up my phone (teenagers don't actually talk on their phones) when I heard: "Ian.  Yeah.  13.  I'm Trey's middle son.  My mom sent you a letter, did you get it?  We were hoping we could work out a deal with you to buy or rent your house."  I just about had a stroke on the spot.  I immediately thought about the verse. "And a little child shall lead them...."  When this kid gets focused, there is no stopping him.  He hung up from his 10 minute conversation and informed us that "Mr. X. is going to answer your letter tonight and call Dad tomorrow."  I just love how naive children are to the stupid games us adults play with each other.  They take everything at face value.  I was hoping he was right.

Another week went by with silence and we were in full on back-to-school mode.  We had resigned ourselves to the fact that the kids would be starting the school year at the same house. Our landlords sent a message asking if they would need to be looking for new tenants at the end of September.  That same night Trey's phone rang and it was none other than "Mr. X."  After a long conversation that I tried to piece together through eavesdropping, it was decided that we would meet at the property the next evening at 5:00.  Worried he wasn't going to show, I busied myself all day and as I made my way down the drive, there he was  to greet me.  (Trey was having crazy car troubles and got there late.)  We all went through the house together and our whole family fell in love with it.  Judging from the exterior, I would have NEVER guessed what was waiting inside. It had everything on my wish list: huge kitchen; tons of natural light; a separate office for Trey; a sitting area off the master for me to study; a room for each of the boys. We discussed the terms of a purchase versus a lease option and agreed to meet on Saturday to finalize the details.  He gave us a key and went on his merry way.  We all stood there shaking our heads and pinching ourselves.  Only God could orchestrate something this crazy and miraculous.

But of course, the enemy couldn't let us get too excited before he wreaked havoc on our hearts once again.  I've said this before and I stand by it: when God says "no," the doors are slammed shut and it's obvious.  When God is about to get a lot of glory for blessing his children, the enemy turns up the heat so we will doubt God and his goodness. We knew this entire process was spiritual because the attacks kept coming day after day.  Trey's ignition switch immobilized and his car wouldn't start; my transmission started slipping, my laptop hard drive crashed; Ian's bike needed a hefty repair.......all major distractions set against us to take our eyes off God.  Saturday at noon came and Mr. X. was a "no-show"  My heart dropped but I still had an amazing sense of peace.  God would not bring us this far with no other options a month before we had to find a new place to live.  I knew I could trust Him but I sure didn't like it.  Mr. X. sent a text apologizing with a promise to be in touch.  After a week of phone tag and promised emails, he rang our doorbell at 8:00 a.m. on August 31st with the paperwork.  In just enough time to give our landlord a 30-day notice.

One last hurdle was to get the water turned back on and make sure there were no broken pipes or leaks.  Mr. X. was going to take care of this but another week came and went and still no water.  Another verse God gave me when I asked for a scripture for 2012 was from Isaiah 43:18-19: "Forget the former things: do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." As tempting and natural as it was for me to want to return to my old ways of thinking and believe that "this is our lot in life" I knew God was saying to forget the past.  As we entered the second week of September, I couldn't sleep one night so I got up and started reading the whole chapter of Isaiah 43 and it was all about WATER--the one thing we were waiting for so that we could move--literally.

The water was restored on the  September 11th (hmmmm...)  and there were a few more minor glitches that took us down to the wire and gave our friends just 2 days of warning before our request for moving help came.  In spite of that, they rallied and we were almost entirely moved in 4 days ago. I stood humbled, amazed and grateful as I watched these men and women love on us.

As I sit here and write this, I am still pinching myself that our family gets to live in this house.  I want to share two very key anecdotes about this process that became clearer and clearer as moving day approached.  First, my friend, Joy, had such great insight when she told me: "I was thinking about how for the last 10 years you have been living so close to this property and it reminded me of the Israelites and how close they were to The Promised Land but God had to deal with their disobedience before they could go there."  She assured me she wasn't saying she thought we had been suffering for disobedience but I definitely see the parallels.  Maybe we weren't living in rebellion to God but there were definitely a lot of areas we had to work on individually, as a couple, and as a family before we could ever be ready for a blessing like this.  Second, I have thought about how unattractive this house is on the outside but how beautiful it is when you walk inside.  God had to seriously show us how much time we spend on our outside appearance when He wants to work on who we are becoming internally.

So here we are settling into our own little "Promised Land."  It has been quite a journey filled with heartache, longing and pain but I never would have dreamed or imagined this kind of ending.  Only God.  To Him be the glory forever and ever.

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Ian is 14

Saturday, September 15, 2012

These are by far my favorite posts to write.  I so enjoy writing about two things I love the most in life: my boys and birthdays.  Even better when one my boys has a birthday.  Today, we celebrate birthday #14 of boy #2.  This has been a big year for Ian and the theme I have seen over and over in him for the past 12 months is: "Problem Solver."  He is a "git ir done" kind of kid in every sense of the word (or stupid redneck phrase).  

One of my favorite stories about Ian not only showcases his problem solving skills but probably will go down in history as our most embarrassing moment--ever.  When he was 8 years old, our neighbors (who often made comments about their finances, mostly on the frugal side of things) did a major landscaping project that had many of us wondering why they would suddenly drop a load of cash on something that wasn't a great return on investment?  My husband happened to wonder out loud where the cash came from.  Unbeknownst to us, Ian's little ears overheard the conversation and decided to take matters into his own hands.  After riding his bike around the cul-de-sac, he came in the kitchen and announced that he knew the answer to our earlier question.  Ian: "Mom and Dad, I know where the "Smiths" got the money to do all that work."  Us: "You do?  How?"   Ian: "I asked 'em!"  Us: "WHAT?"  Ian: "Yeah.  I said my mom and dad were wondering where you got the money to do all this work.  They said they saved it up!!"  Trey immediately lit into him and he defended himself with "you said you were wondering so I thought I'd find out for you."  Like I said: a problem solver.  So maybe that wouldn't have been my first choice for how to get the info (that was none of our business to begin with) but he was honestly just trying to help.  

At the end of last summer, he decided to build a bike from scratch.  The kid made a list of every single part, knew the manufacturer he needed to buy them from and what the estimated cost range was.  Little by little he chipped away at earning money and ordering each part as he could afford it.  Within 6 months that bike was built and even the 20-somethings admire his handiwork which is always a nice perk when you're 13.  

The best, and final story I will share has all come to fruition just this week.  Almost a year ago we began trying to buy a house that was brought to our attention just around the corner.  Ian builds bike jumps above the property which was how we learned about it.  The house had been empty for almost a year and the owner was not returning phone calls from us or anyone else.  I ended up writing the guy a letter back in July but as of early August I had no reply.  Ian met the man's son biking and came home with the dad's phone number programmed into his phone.  He proudly walked in that day announcing how his problem solving skills were going to help us get in this house.  I told him we were waiting for him to respond to my letter or Trey's phone calls.  A couple weeks later I hear him downstairs talking on the phone.  As I eavesdropped, I heard:  "Yeah, Ian.  Trey's middle son.  13.  My mom and dad want to work out a deal with you to buy your house. Did you get my mom's letter?" I couldn't believe my ears!  He was tired of waiting around, had heard numerous conversations about it, he wanted to live there too so once again, he took matters into his own hands--and we are moving in tomorrow.  Man, I love that kid!

Happy 14th Birthday, Ian Joseph!  You are confidence, kindness and sassiness all rolled into one and I'm so glad God chose me to be your mom.  I adore you!

 Didn't his mother tell him his eyes would stay crossed if he did that?

 Doing what he does best.

 The finished product.

 Showing his swag.

Almost as tall as mama. 


Back to the Books

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

 No smiles at 7:00 a.m. for this sophomore.

 At the top of the class-8th grade!

The "senior year" of elementary school-5th grade!

Last night as the boys were scurrying about getting their binders and backpacks fully stocked with new pencils, notebooks, highlighters and pens, I found myself feeling quite melancholy.  I have ALWAYS looked forward to the first day of the school year.  If you asked me what my favorite day of the year was, without hesitation I would answer: the day after Labor Day aka the first day of school.  I love new beginnings. I love high expectations and excitement.  I love Fall.  I love plugging practices and games into my calendar.  I love Friday Night Lights and Saturday morning soccer matches.  But this time around it feels like the inevitable is one step closer.  The calendar keeps turning to a new month faster than I ever imagined it would. Today it's September and before I know it, Christmas will be here.  (sorry)

I think what makes this adjustment even harder is how fleeting the summer felt.  Aside from our road trip-which is now even more special to me than ever before--we spent very little time together as a family.  With two teenagers, their social lives and independence seemed to be in overdrive.  There was rarely a day where someone wasn't doing a lawn mowing job, heading to the lake or mountain biking.  I have always fought for our family time when our culture screams for over-scheduling, over-committing and over-everything.  But even when I did insist on sharing a movie night, pizza or ice cream, everyone's minds seemed to be elsewhere.  I remember those days myself so I can't begrudge them.  It's the natural order of things.  It's all part of the plan.  I just wish one part of the plan included making time stand still.

For nostalgia's sake, I had to post this photo from 2007-the one year all three of them were at the same school: Kindergarten, 3rd grade and 5th grade.