Change on the horizon

I should have seen it coming. 

And I suppose I did see it coming, eventually.

But the day the girls requested their own rooms, which would inevitably mean not having a school room anymore, was the day the shift happened.

No longer did we have a whole room dedictated to school work. The big table with four chairs in the center of the room, the large map of the world on the wall, the chalkboard laden with words and numbers, the timeline taped around the room, the pencils in a jar and also scattered all over the room, and books absolutely everywhere.

Where would we put all of this stuff?? How would we learn if we didn’t have a space dedicated to the learning hours?

Ruby and Molly got their wish, as much as it pained me to have them not in the same room. {I have been slow to accept that maybe there is such a thing as “too much togetherness.”} And all the school stuff somehow got maneuvered into an oversized closet at the top of the stairs. It could best be described as a total disaster. I would only open the door when I had to get something off the printer or maybe to retrieve our next read-aloud book. But this room frustrated me, overwhelmed me and made me feel like a terrible home school mom.

We schooled at the kitchen table. Ruby stayed at her desk in her room; she is in 9th grade and quite self-sufficient in her learning. Besides, time alone is one of her favorite things. 

Mack and Molly would spread papers and books and pens and pencils all across the kitchen table, and I would direct them and help them as they needed it. And I would loathe the chaos that it all was. We have two ottomans that double as storage, and you can imagine how much junk from school got crammed into these two ottomans. 

About four months into this past year of homeschooling, Molly asked me if I would look into enrolling her into a local christian school. Molly is definitely the most independent and social one of my kids, so I wasn’t surprised and was immediately open to the idea. I looked online and made an appointment for a tour of the school. Just her and me. 

Well, when the other two realized what I had done, they said that they wanted to go, too. They were also ready to try something different. 

I can tell you that many times in the past I have looked into private schools or other schooling options out of pure frustration and a “get these kids out of here” kind of an attitude. But this time was different. It was not on my radar, yet it made total sense to me at that moment. All three kids were becoming more and more independent and ready to spread their wings. I was developing other interests and, quite honestly, I didn’t enjoy homeschooling anymore. 

Their differences were more pronouced than ever. And I was overwhelmed with schooling three very different kids effectively. I know many families who have many more kids than I do who are also very different. I have friends who say that highschool is the easy part…don’t send them to school now! You’ve done all the hard work, now let them do their work, get a job, enroll in college early, etc.! And all of this sounds great. It was the plan, yet over time I began to change my thinking about taking this route. I am ok with letting my kids be what age they are, doing things appropriate for that age without necessarily moving farther ahead. Key words in that last sentence: My kids.  I think it works beautifully for other kids in other families. 

So, after a little bit of a process, all three kids are now enrolled at Carmel Christian School. We are all excited and looking forward to the changes. I am also reminding myself to prepare for an adjustment period. This will be so different for all of us. Up and out of the house early every morning, empty house during the day, and work to be done in the late afternoon. Time managment will be developed in new ways. Organizational skills will likely improve. And my kids will learn how to test and quiz much more frequently than ever. I will get to experience some freedom. Some quiet. What is it like to not be THE teacher of all the things? To no longer carry the weight that somehow you aren’t quite getting through to them? To now be the cheerleader and helper instead of the heavy handed teacher constantly giving a lesson—-whether how to divide polynomials or identifying prepositional phrases or the correct way to clean a toilet, how to wash clothes, etc. Always talking at them about every part of our day is exhausting. And, like I mentioned before, I know families that homeschool much more gracefully than we do. “Kudos” to them. And “Let’s do something different” for us.

Even this beautiful April morning I woke everyone up and told them we were going to start the day with a walk around the neighborhood. 

Molly says she wants to run.

Mack and Ruby say they want to each take a scooter. 

Then, Ruby changes her mind to walk and hold the leash for Rolo.

Then, Molly decides she should take the leash because Rolo likes to be ahead.

Then, Molly can’t run well while holding the leash, so she gives it to Mack. 

Mack tries to ride the scooter while holding Rolo’s leash.

Rolo is scared of the noise the scooter makes, so she doesn’t want him to hold her leash.

Ruby takes the leash since she is walking.

Ruby decides she is tired of walking and wants to head home.

I take the leash, Ruby takes Mack’s scooter home because Mack is tired of riding it.

Then, Mack wants the leash.

Then, Molly is tired from running and wants the leash. She teaches Rolo how to stay with her instead of going ahead.

Mack thinks Molly is hurting Rolo by pulling on her leash.

They argue.

I referee.

Molly gives in and gives Mack the leash, and he runs home with Rolo.

Molly decides to run the rest of the way home.

I walk from behind, reminded that this new path is quite fitting for each child.

It’s time. And we are all ready.

Couples Getaway

Last weekend Josh and I were asked to come speak to about 36 couples in Rome, Ga. We got to see many familiar faces from our Woodstock years, and I was so happy to spend time with such sweet people.

Josh spoke the first night about personal reflection on the scriptures and how that is the catalyst for spiritual growth. If you aren’t prioritizing time with the Lord, then your time with your spouse is not reaching its full potential.

The next day we both taught through John 2. And we share some of our own struggles and “stuff” that we need to invite God in to for help and for hope and for the health of our marriage! It was a fun day.

Josh closed out the weekend Sunday morning with a continuation of the importance of walking with God in every season. He touched on ministry and being sure we don’t think that ministry only happens at church or behind a pulpit. Everyone, no matter what they do, if they are a believer, they are in ministry. It’s being used by God wherever you are!

He took the liberty to talk about Coca-Cola during each session in some way, shape or form. Quite impressive. ha!

Sure am thankful for 18 years of marriage. Hopeful for many, many more with Josh. He is the best for me.

Mack is 12!

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Mack turned 12 today! Wow! Twelve years went by in a flash. He has been a ball of laughter ever since he entered our family. Something about the baby of the family— they always have an audience ready to laugh at them and give them constant attention–they are just funny!! We love laughing at and with Mack.

He requested lunch at Chick-fil-a and then a day at home playing outside and ending with me cooking hamburgers and French fries and baked beans for dinner. He threw some baseball with Josh using his new glove. He had some Reeces Ice Cream cake and is now watching the University of Georgia baseball team on television. He’s had phone calls and text messages and even a visit from our favorite 20 year old intern.It’s just a been a great day all around as we’ve celebrated Mack.

I hope Mack has an amazing year being 12 years old. He is a fun kid, and he is growing up so fast {and let’s me know he is isn’t a baby anymore in many, many ways!}. I love being his mom.

I’d be happier if….

There’s no life in “stuff.”

This is a statement I have heard Josh make many, many times throughout the last 10 years or so of our marriage. We came to realize that there is no life in stuff only after trying to find some life in some stuff. And from time to time the lie tries to weasel its way back into my everyday thinking. Sometimes I am at the mall when it happens, but mostly it happens when I am driving down the quaint streets just outside of the Queen City’s sky rise buildings. These southern Charlotte homes are large and situated on immaculately landscaped lots—lush and quite perfect. The front doors seem so welcoming. Sitting in the driveway is usually a Land Rover or a Benz (or both!). These people clearly have it made. 

One evening several months ago I was driving through an area of gorgeous homes with my kids in the car. Feeling the desire to have one of these houses rise up within me, I said to my kids, “Isn’t it funny that sometimes I ride past these amazing homes and think that I would be happier if I lived in one of them? I know that is not true at all. I realize there is no life in stuff, and even if you have one of these houses your life does not consist of your stuff, but MAN these houses are soooooo gorgeous.”

Then, I asked them, “What, in your mind, would make you happier?” 

Ruby said if it was summer all the time then she would be happier. {In my opinion, that was a great answer that I could relate to easily.}

Molly mentioned that having another dog would make her life better. {In my opinion, that was clearly a silly, untrue answer that I couldn’t understand at all.} 

Mack was fairly quiet, so I jumped in and said, “Like, the SEC Championship, Mack. If UGA had beaten Alabama, your life wouldn’t be better.”

He quickly said, “Oh yes it would.”

“No, Mack. You would not have real happiness just because Georgia beat Alabama. It wouldn’t make life truly better.”

Again, the reply from Mack came quickly and confidently, “Mom. Yes it would. I would totally be happier if UGA had beaten Alabama.”

He was clearly not tracking with my whole “real joy isn’t dependent on circumstances” talk.

I tried several more times to re-phrase my point or help him get what I was saying, but it never got through to him. I suppose I chose a bad example for an 11 year old football-loving boy.

He is still 11. And on Sunday the pastor had us write down five things that bring joy to our lives. He even told us that since we were in church we should write Jesus in our number one spot. So let me share the rest of Mack’s list:

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I told the girls we made it in at number five as “Fam,” but it’s super heavy on the Josh side. 

This boy cracks me up. He’s honest, I’ll give him that. But what must a mother do to make it on his top five joy-giving list? Josh even makes the ribs and mashed potatoes he loves. And Josh watches the most football with him! 

Mack clearly has plenty to learn about where real joy and life that is truly life comes from. But don’t we all?

Luke 12:15 “Beware and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”

First-time Mom

There’s nothing quite like a first-time mom. 

I tried to read the list entitled, “Ruby’s Schedule,” outloud to my family when I found it in the mail just last week. But I could barely speak for laughing. At myself. Ruby, now almost 15 years old, just looked at me, confused.

Evidently, my mother was coming to watch Ruby when she was a baby so Josh and I could get away for a night. A night. One single night. I left instructions for my mom and 14 years later she found them and sent them to me in the mail.

I carefully positioned dashes next to what should happen every 10 minutes or less. I suppose I intended my mom to check off each “event” as it happened. And I included many clarifying details in case my mom was still confused after reading the basic command.

“________ Ruby wakes up

(Go downstairs with her and she will play on her blanket with her toys or standing at her table while you fix her bottle)

  _________ Feed Ruby her bottle”

Yes, mom, don’t let baby Ruby who cannot even walk yet go downstairs alone. And also, duh, she made a bottle. Ruby is the only baby in the house. Probably a safe bet that she would feed that bottle she just made to Ruby. But thanks for the clarification, Kristy.

“________ Ruby will take a bath

(Dry off, diaper, lotion, brush hair, etc and dress in whatever you want)”

Because obviously this woman I call mother wouldn’t know to DRY OFF the wet baby?!? Again, what in the world was I thinking? She successfully raised three kids of her own. Someone should have reminded me of this fact before I printed this hilariousness.

I take some solace in the last part though, “dress in whatever you want.” I didn’t have Ruby’s clothes pre-picked out for my mother, so I must have been a teeny-tiny bit laid back…maybe?

Maybe not. 

But what got me rolling in laughter was the second page of directions under “BATH TIME.” 

  “This is a fun time for her especially if you are giving her constant attention.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! This is code for : Please, mother, pay close attention to Ruby while she is in the tub of water lest she drowns on your watch.

In my defense (really, there is none), my mom came to stay with Molly when she was only 7 weeks old because Ruby was in the hospital for four days due to septic knee. Miraculously, when I returned home, Molly was sleeping through the night. I was totally surprised! 

“So, you never had to get up in the night with Molly crying for a bottle??” I had asked my mom.  

“No, I never heard her cry one bit,” she confidently replied.

Molly probably realized pretty quick that Sweety is near-deaf and wasn’t gonna hear her crying, so she might as well sleep through the night.

My point being that my mom is pretty laid back or maybe can be easily distracted, so the extra details were just for my peace of mind in case Sweety had forgotten anything about taking care of a baby.

What a text book “first time mom” I was!!!

We tend to think “first time mom” refers only to that first year or two when your whole world is rocked and you start to come to terms with how very little sleep you will be getting and how this little person has shaken up every part of your life. I was the shocked young mom waking up in the middle of the night to feed my new baby. Yes, I survived the toddler years and even taught her how to read and tie her shoes. But I am still a “first time mom” to a 14 year old girl that has emotions and opinions and a mouth and face to express them. I am still “first time mom” as I am signing her up for Drivers Ed classes. Still wanting to make all the right decisions, give her opportunities to grow and develop her interests, still wanting the absolute best for her. I still worry—not that she will drown in the tub if my mom isn’t paying attention—but if she will make good friends, find her true identity in Christ, and live for Him instead of herself. As my first born enters each new phase, I go there with her as a “first time mom.” 

What’s a “first time mom” to do with all this potential for worry? 

Crawl onto her heavenly Father’s lap and remember that she is His child.

Psalm 131 gives us a beautiful picture of a weaned child resting against his mother.  The weaned child no longer needs milk, but is growing and advancing and gaining strength. The child no longer is in hysterics for milk, wondering if he is going to get what he needs, but has come to trust and relax that his mom is taking care of his needs and that child has a composed and quieted soul. And all of us moms {and dads!} are invited to remember Whose child we are. 

God is the One that cares for each of my kids more than I do. He is the One who never takes His eyes off of each one of them. He is the One who knows what they need and when they need it. He is the One who hears and understands their cries. He is able to take care of it all. And He is able to take care of me in these same ways! What an encouragement. 

O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;

Nor do I involve myself in great matters,

Or in things too difficult for me.

Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;

Like a weaned child rests against his mother,

My soul is like a weaned child within me.

O Israel {first time mom}, hope in the Lord

From this time forth and forever. (Psalm 131)

February {how I loathe you}

I suppose I should post something about this longest shortest month. Gah! I am sooooo ready for some sunshine and warm temps. These cold, dark, rainy, days are just not fun. We have had such randomness going on around here that I don’t have the chunk of time I would like to sit and write. I think about things I am learning in my Bible, funny stories from around our house, and other stuff we have going on, but I have yet to take the time to devote to putting words together to communicate any of it.

But I would like to one day!!

Instead, I looked through my phone and thought I should upload some photos to keep things somewhat up to date. It turns out I take a lot of photos of my dog.

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We had a fun Valentine’s Day! We went to see a couple of widows from our church, and we really enjoyed getting to know them. I only snapped a photo of one of the ladies…I forgot at the second house. But Ms. Charlotte was so kind and so appreciative of having some folks to talk with.

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Can you believe she is 94?! She was amazingly sharp and offered some sweet advice about marriage. She said, “Just love each other. My husband and I loved each other and did everything together.” I definitely love Josh, but we have not mastered that doing everything together part. Maybe that comes later in life. I don’t know….

She also told us that she loves talking to God, even out loud sometimes because He is always with her. I loved that. I have learned that truth in new ways since our move, but it was a reminder that it will always be true. God is always with me and listens to my prayers.

Mack sent Josh a text Valentine.

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And we got the kids some Valentine treats.

Each kid got a framed verse, which I thought was a great gift. Mack, however, took his verse out and put in a drawing of a UGA player. I was like, “Mack! What happened to your verse??” He said it looked way too girly in his room, but that I could have it.  Well, thanks.

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This past weekend our city hosted the NBA Allstar Weekend. Josh and I were Uptown Saturday night and enjoyed our beautiful city–and there weren’t any major crowds either! When I see the skyline and notice how pretty it is, I am reminded that God has developed a love for our new city in my heart. And I am thankful.

 

18 years

Josh and I celebrated 18 years of marriage yesterday! We have grown so much as husband and wife. I love the life we share so very much, and I cannot imagine life without him.

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This photo above was in 1997 when we started dating in Cochran, Ga at Middle Georgia College. We were actually out and about (mudding) in Newkirk’s gold chevy SUV.

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This is a photo from our honeymoon that I created in the Waterlogue app. Life was so simple during these days. Wow.

IMG_2009.jpgAnd here is a little 2001/2019 photogrid. We have changed, for sure. Time has a way of doing that…and moves and three kids in less than three years, and more moves, job changes, loss, and just life in a broken world. But who we are as a couple today is so much better than who we were as a couple on day one.  No doubt, this statement would have fired me up in my younger years. “I love him so much, even on our wedding day!!!” And I did. But love grows and matures over time.

Not automatically. Not naturally. It takes hard work, effort, commitment, purity, selflessness, compromise, understanding, forgiveness, humility, laughter, wisdom, prayer, and did I mention hard work?

Josh has been gone for almost two weeks, so he sent me flowers for our anniversary. They are gorgeous!

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The other night the kids wanted Bojangles. I don’t usually eat it, so I was having hot tea by the fire while they ate and talked and acted silly. {that is what all kids do at dinner when dad is away, right?} As I looked in there at the huge, beautiful flowers, I was overwhelmed with what the love between Josh and me has produced in our lives. Three of which are these kids. They are some blessed children. They have parents that live under the same roof, love each other completely, love them completely, and provide for them above their needs. We seek God and honor Him as the head of our family.

I am beyond grateful for the 18 years of being ONE with Josh. He is simply the best.