Feel the Rain

Feel the Rain

I am so thankful that the Lord has not given up on me over the years.  He keeps refining me and taking me through situations I would never have asked for or wanted to experience…oh, but the Lord has plans for good!

One day in the middle of a lengthy wet spell, we were all getting a little stir crazy, some more than others in our home.  So when the rain let up a bit and someone asked to go outside, I said, “Yes!”

I figured a little wetness would not hurt…it could be a prelude to a real shower upon re-entrance to our dry abode!

When I looked outside, this is what I saw:

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I watched.   Stunned.  What was this child of mine doing?  Dressed in a pink and blue beret, a cute skirt, the smelliest sparkly Toms any child has ever worn and a beautiful wool coat with faux fur collar, just three sizes too small.

I just watched…wondering if I should make her come inside, but she was enjoying her time outdoors so much.  And honestly, I could tell she needed this freedom from our own four walls.

I snuck outside to get a picture of her in the rain, walking around with her hands held out, just happy as a clam.  So I joined her in the great (wet) outdoors, took her picture (unbeknownst to her) and asked her, “Lee, what are you doing?”

“I am feeling the rain.”

And such is life with her – she feels the rain in every situation.  When life is sad, her eyes fill with tears. When life is funny, she rolls with laughter.  When she sees an injustice, she burns with anger.  When she sees a need, she does her best to meet it.  When someone is sad, she gives them warm hugs.  She is not afraid to feel every emotion and to love every person she meets.

Before the Lord gave me Lee, I would steer clear of all these emotions and feelings…

God gave me Lee because He knew I needed her.  I needed to learn to feel the rain.  To live my life to the fullest and to enjoy every minute of it…whether rain or shine.

And I have learned to thank the Lord for both.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts, See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Psalm 139:23-24

Christmas, Cookies and Carols

Christmas, Cookies and Carols

(Sorry for the sideways picture…WordPress and I just could not work together on this one…)

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Like I said earlier this holiday season, my favorite part of Christmas is the Christmas plays – not the baking.

And in full disclosure, I have to tell you that I thought I had found a fool-proof sugar cookie recipe this year.  I decided to make it this year for our neighbors when we went caroling.  The only problem was that when I went to gather the ingredients, I realized that I was out of vegetable oil…

But I was not out of olive oil and in my book an oil is an oil is an oil.

So I made these fool-proof sugar cookies with two sticks of butter and one cup of vegetable oil, except I used olive oil.

Those of you who can bake are already laughing, but I really thought my oil substitution would make no difference.

Of course, when they came out of the oven, I sampled a cookie or ten and they had a little different taste than I had remembered, but I figured it was all good.  They looked the same.

However, when my husband came home and tried one, he gave me a cordial response…these are, um, edible.

But when I started to package them up to take with us caroling, he interrupted my efforts with a hearty “Don’t give those to the neighbors!”

They were that bad.

I threw over 50 cookies in the trash.

Not to be deterred.  I tried again a few days later with the correct ingredients and I am happy to report that the recipe is indeed fool-proof, if the fool doesn’t try to substitute ingredients.  (ha!)

In other Christmasy news, the kids did a great job this holiday season!  They shared at Hebron Colony on Christmas Eve and then did a little play for our families later that evening.  Their dramatic abilities just get better and better each year.  I am so thankful to get to do Christmas dramas with them.

And I am thankful when my baking is edible.  As are all the folks in my family!

Merry (Two Days After) Christmas!

I Done Went There

I Done Went There

I have thought and thought how to tell you this…and this title kept coming to mind.

I know it is grammatically incorrect.

I know the title is painful to read…but it just makes me laugh and smile and see the brighter side of things…now that I am on this side of things.  Let me explain where I went recently.

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(Ha!  It wasn’t anywhere like this.)

Almost two weeks ago my middle daughter began complaining of neck pain.  I felt of her neck after more complaints than normal and felt that her lymph nodes were swollen behind one ear.  Dustin wasn’t available that night, so I googled swollen lymph nodes and was relieved to understand that this was a good sign…a sign of the body fighting off some sickness.

So I put on my game face and started giving more fluids than normal and other natural remedies for sicknesses.

Her neck pain got worse so I took her to see my ex-roommate, now Physician’s Assistant, friend. (God bless her especially after all the text message exchanges we had last week!)   She administered a strep test (which was negative) and said the lymph nodes were doing their job and we just needed to give it time.

Oh, time…I love you so much.

By Thursday night, these nodes were still super swollen (and painful) and a low grade fever began.  I am typically not “that parent” who runs to the pediatricians office, but this was day four of my daughter being in constant pain and now she had a fever, I honestly thought maybe we had a negative on the strep test and we could get an antibiotic and all would be well in the world.

Hallelujah and Amen.

And Dustin even offered to take her to the Pediatrician’s office…so bless his heart, he went and sat among all the sick people and all their germs and their germs’ germs.

And he held our little gal’s hand while she had another strep test and a blood test for mono.  He gives the girls strength in situations that involve needles.  I just tend to be extremely quiet and sweaty which does not yield any assistance from Mommy when needles are around.  I just can’t.

I am sweating now just thinking of the needles.

Anyway, all tests were negative and again we were told there are SO MANY viruses that look like mono and act like it…give it a few more days.

So long story short…we ended up having 72+ hours of me administering ibuprofen or tylenol every three hours around the clock to keep her temperature between 101 and 102 (with medicine).  She could not eat ANYTHING for almost that entire time because of her swollen throat (you almost could not see her hangy down thing in the back of her throat…the uvula?).

And one steroid shot on Wednesday afternoon, made the world a better place.  By Thursday morning, we had no fever and our appetite began to come back.
And today when she requested Bojangles for lunch, I did not think twice about its fat or grease content.  If she wanted to eat it, I would oblige.

But here’s where I went.  Until we had this steroid shot, I would look at her suffering, unable to turn her neck, crying from the pain in her throat, trying to sleep but burning with fever and think, “Oh God, please don’t take another child from me!  I cannot lose another child.  I just can’t.”

That’s where I went.

I remembered those feelings of handing my deceased child to the doctors.  Of never seeing a chest rise and fall again.   Of coming home empty-handed and staring out the window in stunned thoughtlessness.

And I let fear take me over.

And I was scared.  Scared for her life and scared for mine without her.

I realize that I was tired and I had never experienced such sickness for myself or any of our children before this.  And I know that some people pull out the “OVERREACTING” card on me.

But to me, it is real.  Loss is a real thing.  And I can relive it very easily even ten years later.

It happens when I hear of someone else losing a baby or a child.  I am so overwhelmed with sadness and brokenhearted that I can hardly function.

And evidently it happens when I am faced with extreme sickness in my own family.  Sigh.

Just for the record, I have learned that when I recognize myself “going there”with my thoughts, I try to take them captive.  Using Philippians 4:8, I can ask myself, “What is true?”  (In this case, my daughter was sick, doctors were not concerned and she would more than likely make a full recovery – even google told me so!)  “What is right?”  And so forth and so on.  ( This is wonderful advice I got from Elizabeth George’s book, Loving God with All Your Mind.)  

Then I try to find verses to cling to in the current situation.

I hope by sharing this, you too, will realize when your mind starts taking you “there.”  Be careful of “What if” thinking and to focus on what is true…and trust the One who is carrying you each step of the way.  And praise Him even in life’s storms.

” Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

“Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
    Be their shepherd and carry them forever.” Psalm 28:9

 

Beach or Bust

Beach or Bust

So every May we take a girls’ trip to the beach.  Dustin’s grandmother and sister go with us when they can.  It is much fun for all…

Last year was the first time that my little ladies were tall enough to swim in the shallow end so Mommy (me) did not have to get in the water all day (every day).  I had forgotten what it was like to read a book by the pool…aah.

I went to the beach this year with two goals in mind:  to write and to swim laps.  It is hard to swim laps in a pool not designed for laps, but I got a brilliant idea:  I will swim in the lazy river…backwards!

My goal was two laps and I made it for three laps going against the current and then I decided to do a lap the right way doing the butterfly (I can use all the help I can get with that stroke).  It was wonderful.

Then about 3 hours later, I commented to Molly that the muscles above my hips were hurting…oh boy, I am definitely out of shape.

I got some writing done, but I quickly remembered that my first priority is not writing…though I am enjoying it greatly.  But my first priority after the Lord is my people. So I have backed off on the writing for now, but will  work on it as I have time.

But the girls had a wonderful time.  They had new bathing suits and goggles thanks to Mamaw and Mama Scotti.

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I walked a few miles here and there on the beach and it was wonderful.  I even talked our youngest into joining us one morning.  During the walk, I asked, “Aren’t you enjoying this walk on the beach?”

To which she responded, “Mommy, this is not fun…we are still walking.”

My littlest lady would rather be doing this:imageor this:

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There are always things we can wish we were doing differently, but honestly, there is always something to be thankful for even if you are still having to “walk” instead of doing what you find enjoyable.  Life is just like that!

But no matter where we walk, we have a God who goes before us and leads and guides us while we keep our eyes on Him…for that I am eternally grateful!

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”   Ephesians 5:1-2

 

Everyone Has Good Hair, But Me!!!

Everyone Has Good Hair, But Me!!!

While scrambling eggs one morning, I overheard the following proclamations coming from the bathroom.

“Daddy has good hair.  Ruthie has good hair.  Julee has good hair.  Izzie Lou has good hair.  Molly Beagle has good hair.  Mommy has good hair.  Everyone has good hair but me!”

(Izzie Lou and Molly Beagle were two dogs we had at the time.)  

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Then the tears began to fall on my three-year old’s face.

She thought that her hair was not good.  

At the age of three.  

I stood there thinking….”Why does she even care?  I have tried so hard to not emphasize beauty on the outside.  I’ve been lenient about looks.  I let the girls wear mismatched clothes out in public.  And plastic high heel shoes to the local bagelry for breakfast.  I’ve even been known to take a tiara or two out to lunch.  Why does she care about beauty?”  

LeeAnne saw in the mirror that morning what she was not.  She could not see that she had the most beautiful big blue eyes and was the only one in our family with blond, curly hair.

LeeAnne could only see what she wasn’t instead of what she is.  

I can’t get upset with her – I have the same problem.  

After Daniel died, I remember thinking about how much I wanted to hold him in my arms.  I wanted to his sister to be able to love on him.  I wanted two car seats in my back seat.  I wanted diapers to fill my shopping cart.  

But that was not to be.  At least not at that time in my life.  

Daniel was not meant to live in my house or to be loved on by us here on earth.  Years later, the Lord gave me two other daughters for whom I am most grateful.  I had to buy pull-ups and diapers at the same time!  I had to have three car seats in my car at one time.  And I never complained about it!  It was wonderful to have life in my home after such a tremendous loss.  


But when I was walking the days and weeks after Daniel’s death, I could not see the future.  I could not know for certain that I would ever have another healthy child.  I saw other families having healthy babies.  I saw families full of life and joy and I seemed to have none.  I had allowed my joy to be taken from me by the loss I was enduring.  

I am by no means saying you need to be full of joy and that you need to be happy with whatever God gives to you.  Sometimes that is humanly impossible – we cannot do it in our own strength.  

What I am saying is that when you find yourself uncertain of your circumstances and not thankful for what is going on in your life, take those concerns and frustrations to the Lord.  Ask Him to take those burdens from you.  Ask Him to show you how He is working.  


Sometimes you may need to beg the Lord to show you how He is going to use your circumstances for good, but I promise you that He will never leave you and you can cling to Him during your difficult seasons of life.  

And He will show you that your blond curly hair is beautiful – even if it is different from the others in your life.  He will use all things for His glory if we trust in Him.  

 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

“Cast your burdens on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”  Psalm 55:22

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and bounding in steadfast love.  The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.”  Psalm 145:8-9

Reading to Mamaw & a Giveaway

Reading to Mamaw & a Giveaway

 

By the time you read this, we will be home so I can tell you that we have had a wonderful time at the beach this week with Dustin’s Mamaw and his sister, Molly.  They are both so much fun!!!image

But being the practical mom that I am, I brought plenty of books for the girls to read while we were here.  I might have even offered some incentive for reading in the form of “Hot Now” Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

My girls don’t always appreciate my dedication to their reading and learning, but it is for their own good.  They will appreciate their ability to read later but now I occasionally hear complaints about the need to read.

Sometimes I can complain about things that are good for me.  Like exercising or eating healthily.  Or I cannot see the good in something until further down the road.

Today, I want to host a giveaway for a $10 Chick-Fil-A gift card.  I know it doesn’t seem like much, but it will get  your whole family some ice dreams…or two gallons of sweet tea.  Or a quiet dinner for one.  Or just $10 off your meal 🙂

To enter, simply comment on this post with something that is good.  It can be something you didn’t realize was good at the time or something that  is good all of the time (like Chick-Fil-A Sweet Tea).

I will use the random number generator from random.org.  I will close the giveaway on Sunday at 9pm.  Check your inbox on Monday to see if you won!

CONGRATULATIONS TO TIFANYO, OUR WINNER IN THIS GIVEAWAY!  SHE WILL RECEIVE A $10 GIFT CARD TO CHICK-FIL-A LATER THIS WEEK!

Music Shops, Martin Guitars and Pink Violins

Music Shops, Martin Guitars and Pink Violins

Friday my husband, the Music Man, had the day off so we did what every family does when the daddy is home….we headed to the local music shop.

Upon entering the music shop, our youngest daughter, produced from her pocket a peppermint which the Music Man unwrapped for her.  Happily she slipped away among the electric guitars with the strict order to NOT TOUCH ANYTHING!!!!

I took my place in a wooden chair in the acoustic instrument section while the Music Man tried out various instruments and the daughters asked if the pink violin would sound better than their plain, old, brown ones at home… Read more