Friday, January 1, 2016


No matter how little I blog each year, somehow I feel that I should always begin the new year with a blog post.  I’ve written several that were philosophical in nature, like this one, this one, or this one.  But, today is not the day for that.  Today is the day for a little trip down memory lane as we remember that 2015 was a fun year …

we had drama ~
Anne of Green Gables


Two Dwarfs and Seven Whites

and Peter Pan (rehearsed, but not performed, so no pictures yet)

we had travels (some day trips, some vacations) ~

Disney World in February

Landrums in Laurel, MS

Day trip on the Natchez Trace

Atlanta for OCC

combined with a trip to Tennessee in November

we had church fun

and most importantly …


There is no doubt that 2015 was a good year and we are looking forward to new and exciting things in 2016.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

today, in 1995 ~ revisited

20 years ago - wow!  I don't want this day to drift by with no mention of its importance to the beginning of our family.  But, this is collection week for OCC, so what you get is this re-post from 5 years ago.

I remember the day very well. 

It was a Saturday ... I was 21, he was 28.

I spent most of the day trying to decide what to wear ...
and trying to calm my nerves.

Strangely, I don't really remember the conversation when he asked and I accepted the invitation for a date.  But, I know it happened and the rest, as they say, is history.

We had actually met a couple of months earlier, in September, through mutual friends at the Baptist Student Union.  Then, at the Mississippi College/Delta State football game, we ran into each other again ... I had been visiting with a friend of a friend on the MC side; he was over showing a little support for his alma mater and when I left, he decided to walk back around to the DSU side with me.

I don't have any idea what we talked about ... my school or his work, maybe ... or maybe we just talked about how the football season was going for the Fighting Okra ... I can't remember.  But, our friend (or his girlfriend) saw us talking and decided to give us a little push in the right direction by inviting us both over for lunch at his mom's house after church on Sunday.  And before I knew it, I had agreed to go out with him on the following Saturday, just a few days before I would be heading home for Thanksgiving.

On Saturday, he picked me up from my dorm and took me to one of the best restaurants in Cleveland (keep in mind there were only 2 or 3 really nice places to eat ... or 4 if you count both the Mexican place and the Western Sizzlin').  This is Ronnie's favorite part of our first date story ... he took me to a place that specialized in steak and I ordered grilled chicken, because my Mama always told me not to order the most expensive thing on the menu.  On top of that, I ordered a baked potato for my side, not realizing that the chicken was served with rice pilaf.  In my defense, I grew up in a large family ... we didn't eat out much, there were just too many of us.  In other words, I had very little experience ordering from a menu that wasn't printed on the wall ... not that I hadn't done it before, but this night my nerves got the better of me and I ended up feeling a little bit like a doofus.

After dinner, we went to the little movie theater in town and watched the James Bond movie GoldenEye.  I have never been a huge movie-goer, but there isn't much to do in Cleveland if there isn't a DSU sporting event to watch ... which is exactly where we would spend a large part of our dates over the next couple of years. 

Oddly, I don't remember many of the details of the date.  Odd because I have friends who marvel at the details I can remember from our childhood.  But, for this one, I couldn't even begin to tell you what we talked about, but I do remember that he was incredibly polite and did all the things that he was supposed to do (but that many guys don't do) like opening my car door ... which he would continue doing for the entire time we dated, and still does when we aren't trying to herd three kids into the car mini-van.

This date would prove to be the beginning of a beautiful thing.  Our second date came on the following Tuesday night before I left to go home for Thanksgiving, and by Christmas we were introducing each other to our families.  Again, the rest is history, and I am incredibly thankful for that history.  In a world where marriage is so fragile, I know how blessed we are to still be together and I hope to never take for granted the gift we have been given.

Friday, July 3, 2015

finding focus

I have watched events in our world unfold over the last couple of weeks and have found myself fighting to keep from getting overwhelmed … and fighting not to get caught up in the fray.  When I do think about it, the thing that bothers me most is the world that my children will inherit.  I believe it was Solomon who said that there is nothing new under the sun … this world is filled with evil and it isn’t likely to get any better.  You can take down flags and call sin a fundamental right, but that won’t change the truth.  The problem isn’t going to be fixed by a bullying news media or by government legislation … but that is a soapbox for another day.

As downright terrifying as the thought of what kind of world my kids will be forced to deal with can be, it isn’t the only thing that threatens to send my thoughts and my mood into a downward spiral.  Life in general can get pretty discouraging.  I have spent the better part of this week giving in to despair – partly due to things outside of my control and partly due to mistakes I have made - I could spend the next ten minutes (at least) outlining all the negative things in which I have allowed myself to get caught up. However, that wouldn’t do me, or anyone reading this, any good.

The fact is that no matter what is going on in life, the thing that matters most is where we find our focus.  When my focus is on myself, I find myself bogged down in self-pity and despair.  Fortunately for me, I have a Father who loves me enough to remind me that this is not who I am.  All week the story of Jesus and Peter walking on the Sea of Galilee keeps coming to my mind.  I know the story well; it is one of my favorites … and, not just as a holdover from my childhood.  I have loved this story as an adult who knows what it means to find myself drowning in my circumstances. 

The background of the story is that Jesus has just fed well over 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.  The disciples not only witnessed the miracle, they participated in the distribution of the food.  They saw thousands of hungry people fed with what should have satisfied only a small boy.  These men saw needs met in a way that could only be accomplished by Almighty God.  I’ve often wondered if the people in the crowd understood the miracle that occurred that day.

After the crowds dispersed, Jesus sent His disciples ahead on the Sea of Galilee as He went to pray. (This is, of course, an entire lesson unto itself, but it isn’t where I’m heading today.)  As the story goes, the disciples were on the sea, being “tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.”  Out of the night, in the midst of the wind and waves, “Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.”  I have tried to imagine what it must have been like to see this dark figure coming out of a dark night, when the waves were high and the wind was blowing; the disciples were understandably terrified … I would probably have fainted.  Immediately, Jesus spoke words of comfort to his disciples – His closest friends, the people who knew Him best – but they must not have been sure it was Him because Peter said: “Lord, if it be thou, bid me to come unto thee on the water.”

How many times have I done just that?  Times when I am beginning to feel overwhelmed and before I even ask, Jesus comes to me with words of comfort – a familiar scripture that “pops” into my head or the words of a hymn that I begin to sing without even knowing why – and yet I question, “Lord, is this you?”

While my questions are usually filled with questions, Peter’s question was filled with faith (or maybe it was impulsiveness).  He wasn’t sure if it was Jesus, but he desperately wanted to know, and he was willing to step out of the boat to find out.  This is one of the things I love about Peter … he didn’t play it safe.  He didn’t discuss it with a committee, he didn’t sit back to wait and see, no, he just said “Lord, give me the word and I’ll jump out of the boat!”  And that is just what he did.
But, straightway, Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.  And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me to come unto thee on the water.  And he said, Come.  And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, same me.  And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship, came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. Matthew 14:27-33
For those of us who have spent a lifetime in Sunday School, we may be tempted to see this story in the warm light of crafts and coloring pages.  In reality, there is so much truth that we need to embrace packed into these few verses.  The one word that keeps coming to my mind is FOCUS.  Peter had enough faith to step out of the boat – which is huge.  I want that kind of faith.  I don’t want to play it safe in my walk with Jesus.  But, even in his faith, Peter faltered when he was surrounded by the waves and the wind and suddenly he forgot where he was going.  His focus shifted to the storm around him rather than the peace he could find in the face of Jesus. 

The reason that I spent several days wallowing in doubt and fear earlier this week is because I took my eyes off of the Savior and focused on the situation.  This is never a good idea, no matter what is going on. There is no doubt that we are living in grave times as a nation.  However, as Christians, we have been commanded not to fear and promised that fear does not come from God (2 Timothy 1:7).  Jesus never promised us an easy life, as a matter of fact, He promised us just the opposite.  We shouldn’t be surprised when we face real hardship or when the world doesn’t like us.  All of the terrible things going on in the world can’t change who we are in Christ. 
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
Jesus didn’t call us to get caught up in the things of the world; He called us to be set apart and to point the world to Him.  We can’t do that if we are focusing on the storm around us.  This leads me to two final passages of scripture.  The first was one of my Mama’s favorites and the second is one of mine.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  Romans 8:18
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:35-39
I am so thankful that I serve a Savior who will not give up on me, even when I take my eyes off of Him and get caught up in the fray.   I am also thankful for a friend who will remind me of one very important point.  “He didn’t let Peter drown, did He?”

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

vbs 2015 ... #1

I’ve been scrolling through old blog posts tonight and oh, what fun it is to see what we were up to back in the good old days!  Among those old memories, I found this post about what may have been the first year my kids went to VBS with their homeschool friends.  I had completely forgotten about this post until tonight…

June 14, 2010 (full post here)
I have spent the last hour sitting at our church browsing the internet in peaceful quiet except for the music from my blog that I am enjoying.…..

Where are my little noisemakers kids, you may ask?  The answer to that question is why I am feeling a little guilty.

This morning, I dropped all three kids off at another local church for Vacation Bible School.  The older kids were invited by some of our homeschool friends who attend the church, so I don't feel too bad about them.  D, on the other hand, is just going because the older kids went and because I thought a week of mornings to myself might be nice.

Okay, that is a giant understatement!  As a matter of fact, when I told my Mama that D could go to VBS at a church where I am not teaching this year, I told her that I didn't know what I would do with myself, but it would probably include a few minutes of sitting somewhere just drinking in the silence!

I guess I feel guilty because I have never thought of using church as a babysitter before.  My children have been in VBS all their lives and they have even gone to VBS at a church where I wasn't teaching, but always because they have friends there.  Maybe I am just splitting hairs, I don't know.  I am just going to take consolation in the fact that my friends who are members there don't seem to be bothered.

Honestly, I find this post really funny now. 

We are again in the middle of VBS week at that same church and those kids who invited my older kids are all now in the youth group and they are still inviting my kids … only now Lora and James aren’t just going to VBS, they are helping.  This has become one of my kids’ favorite weeks each summer.  This is James’ first year to help, and I have to say that he has been looking forward to it since the end of last year.  Lora is spending this week helping in the same class that she will be teaching in our church’s VBS next month.  Thanks, Marie! 

I would be remiss in posting about this particular VBS without mentioning that Marie is an amazing VBS director … I won’t say that she makes it look easy, since I know how much time and passion she puts in to making this week a success, but she does make me want to be a better VBS director!

It is only Tuesday, but James has already learned a lesson that makes the entire week worthwhile … he told me on the way home that he now knows why we sometimes yell raise our voices when we say we aren’t mad … sometimes you have to raise your voice to get the attention of a child who is intent on NOT paying attention.  Nothing like a little bit of frustration to make an excellent teacher for my young man.

And yes, I am secretly gloating, but only a little!

I do have one confession, though.  I worried all those years ago about using another church’s VBS as a babysitter so that I could enjoy some peace and quiet.  I am over that.  But I did feel a twinge of guilt when I walked Daniel in on Monday morning and I saw the frazzled look on Marie’s face just moments before I walked out to enjoy my morning alone. 

Just a twinge … but, I got over it about the time I settled on the couch with a cup of coffee, my Bible, and complete silence ... ahhh!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

it isn't your story

For the past several months, our homeschool drama group has been working on the musical Pilgrim, which is an adaptation of the book Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan.  For those who may not have read this book, it is the story of “the man” who realizes the burden of his sin and begins a journey (at the impetus of the King) which leads him on the path, first to the Cross and eventually to the Celestial City.  The path is sometimes full of joy and sometimes full of struggle, but the man, who is called Christian, comes to realize that the King is always with him as he travels.  I read the book in my younger years and plan to read it again this summer with my kids, but even knowing the basic premise (I can’t remember all the details) I wasn’t prepared for how powerfully I would be moved as I watched these kids perform.

This production has been several years in the making – since our drama director found the play and has been waiting for her daughter to be old enough to play Christian.  I have no doubt that God has been, in her words, staying her hand, until our group gained the needed maturity to tackle such a huge project.  We have never done a musical and the majority of our soloists had never sung a solo in public.  Most of them were sure that they absolutely COULD NOT sing in public, but they did and it was beautiful. 

God reminded me of many things as we prepared for and performed this play.  From the very first time I watched the DVD of the original performance and then even more as I read the script, I began to see so many parallels to my own journey.  Even my kids began to notice things and would often mention how some detail of life resembled the play.  Then, as I watched Isabela (and her Mama) tackle the role of Christian and face the many trials along the way (both figurative and literal), it became even more clear that God was in the timing of this.  These kids (and their directors) were not just learning lines and blocking, we were learning the Truth of the Presence of God in every situation.  The kids faced the trials of parts outside of their comfort zones and the adults faced details of sets and sound systems (among other things) that seemed impossible to work out.  Everyone dealt with everyday life that seemed to crowd into (or crowd out) the time needed to prepare for the play.  But, we persevered and the play came together; as a result, we had the opportunity to see God bless our efforts.

I have been working through my emotions surrounding the play since our final scheduled performance this past Saturday and I want to record some of the things I would like for the cast to know about what they have just experienced.  These are the things that I want my own children to take away from this experience and the things that I want to remember as well.

This was more than just a play.  I think our students know that.  I have been amazed as I have watched the kids grow through this production, not just as performers, but as people.  I pray that the truth of this play has seeped into their very being and that they will never be the same.  Each one of our drama kids may have been to the Cross before this play started, but we all need to be reminded that the King is always with us and that He cares about every moment of our lives.  I hope that they never forget that a Christian can leave the path, but cannot step outside of the King’s care for His children. 

Any play has the potential to teach us something, but this one goes much deeper.  These children – many of whom are actually young adults – had the opportunity to step on to a stage and share the Gospel.  In order to do this, each one had to “become” a character.  Some of those characters “fit” the individual.  Some didn’t.  Many of them had to go back and forth between being good guys and bad guys.  Some kids had lots of lines, some had only a few.  But none of that matters.  I want these kids to know that it makes no difference what part they played, the number of lines they spoke, or even the amount of talent they have for acting.  Every one of those students participated in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ through this play.  Even those playing the “bad guys” set in motion a time when Christian learned something more from the King. 

And that is why this play was so very moving to me.  God using the good and the bad to show us HIS plan is a very real part of life.  As Christians, we often struggle to see the good in a situation that holds only grief and despair for us, but thankfully, God sees the bigger picture and He isn’t going to leave us in our despair.  Often, it is in our lowest moments - in the times of our greatest trials when our King uses the people around us to speak to our deepest needs and to point us to Him.  One of my favorite parts of the play is the Castle of Doubt scene (where Christian and Hopeful have left the path looking for an easier way and learn the hard way that the story isn’t about them).  I have been there and I am so thankful for the people who have filled the role of Hopeful in my life.  We all need to be reminded occasionally that this life isn’t about us.  This isn’t your story or my story, it is HIS story and that is infinitely better.

I realize that this most of this won’t make sense if you haven’t seen the play or read the book – so go do it!  Read the book that is.

I know that this is already long, but I can’t help but end with a few pictures of the play.

Lora in her role as Obstinate … she plays a pretty good bad guy.

James as Evangelist – my favorite of my kid’s roles.

Lora was our choreographer (she took the original dances and turned them into something our less experienced dancers could actually do). I think she learned that she would rather dance than choreograph.

The whole crew at Vanity Fair

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Daybook 5/7/15

For Today...
May 7, 2015

Outside my window…
another beautiful Spring day.
We are having an unusually long stretch of spring weather ~ it has been wonderful!

I am thinking about and praying for…
a couple of friends who are going through tough times right now.

I am thankful…
that Daniel chose not to play baseball this year.  I miss it (a lot!), but with the older kids in two plays, with rehearsal several nights a week, it would just be too much!

I am wearing…
gray shorts and 
an Operation Christmas Child t-shirt.

I am creating…
a schedule for our “summer school” … in my head at least.  I need to take time to get it down on paper.

I am going…
to do school work this morning,
to drama practice this afternoon while my Daddy takes Lora to dance, and to a meeting at church tonight while Ronnie takes the older two kids to their "other" drama rehearsal.
And today is a slow day!

I am hoping…
to make it to June 6th 
with my sanity intact!

I am wondering…
about lots of things … 
none really worth sharing.

I am reading…
The Voyage of the 'Dawn Treader ' 
by C.S. Lewis.
The kids are thoroughly enjoying reading the Chronicles of Narnia series for the first time.  I won’t let them watch the movies until we finish all of the books, which should happen in the next month, or so.

I am learning…
that everyone is going through something.

In my kitchen…
baked chicken and veggies for supper tonight. I have an ulterior motive…leftover chicken made into chicken salad for lunch tomorrow!

In the homeschool room…
Lora is working hard on her poetry project for her final in 9th grade literature.  I am very excited to see what she comes up with. The boys are just plugging along at normal stuff for today.  After today, we will officially be on hiatus until after the performances of Pilgrim next week.

A favorite quote for today…
“…When I was young, I would see all these people with blemishes but as I got closer, I saw they weren’t blemishes at all.  
They were scars.”

One of my favorite things…
taking pictures of flowers and bugs and other “nature” things.

A peek into one of my days…
a few of my spring bugs and things

Join Peggy at The Simple Woman's Blog for more daybooks.

Monday, May 4, 2015


It happens every year about this time. I realize that we are approaching the end of the school year and we haven't accomplished as much as I would have liked.  It doesn't matter that we school year-round, so the end of the school year simply means that there will be a change in our extra-curricular activities we go from drama and dance to Vacation Bible School preparation but that is another story in itself.

This year is different, though.  Now that I have my first high-school student, I am feeling the pressure to “keep up” with what her counterparts in public school, or even other homeschoolers, are doing.

But, that is not why I am educating my children at home.

All of this contemplation has led me to really search out what it means to be educated.  I looked up the definition and the word means exactly what I thought it meant, but what does that really mean for my kids?

Simply put, what is it that I want my children to know before they graduate?  More importantly, what do they need to know before they leave the safety of our home and make their way in the world?  Does my responsibility for my children's education end with a list of courses to finish and credits to list on a transcript?  Somehow, this seems to miss out on the whole point of what I have spent the last 10 years doing or at least aiming to do. I don’t want my kids to leave home thinking that their education has been limited to the time we have spent doing bookwork.

With that in mind, I am working on a list of the “things” I want the kids to know or understand before they leave the nest.  This list probably won't scratch the surface of everything that they really need, but I am just going to start and see how far I get.

To my children:
·        Each of you is loved unconditionally.  The love that your Daddy and I have for you is in no way tied to anything you might (or might not) accomplish ~ academically or otherwise.  But, never forget that we do not love you perfectly we dont have that ability.  We have made mistakes and we will continue to make mistakes.  Our mistakes don’t mean that we love you any less, they simply mean that we are human.

·        I want the three of you to learn to love each other unconditionally.  Someday you just might need each other dont wait for that day to come to become friends.

·        On the same train of thought as #1, you each need to understand that you are not the center of our world.  I don’t believe that God ever intended it to be that way.  Someday, you will step out of our home and make your own way in the world.  When you do, it will go easier for you if you already understand that you aren’t the center of the universe. This may not make sense to you now, but someday it will.

·        I want you to know the value of hard work.  Sometimes teaching you this seems like a losing battle to your daddy and me.  But we will continue plugging along.  You may not enjoy hard work now, but I pray that you learn to do it anyway. (See Colossians 3:17)

·        I also want you to know the beauty of serving others.  This is something that I already see each of you embracing, and I am extremely proud of you for it.  Just don’t lose the joy you now find in service. I don’t claim to have learned too many things in this life, but I do believe that you will never regret time spent serving others.  Oh, and don’t worry if they don’t seem to appreciate what you do.  Ultimately, what you do isn’t for them anyway.  (Again, see Colossians 3:17)

·        I want you to know the importance of being willing to step out of your comfort zones and try new things.  This was probably one of the hardest lessons I had to learn as an adult.  Don’t wait like I did. You will be amazed by the things you can accomplish if you are willing to try.

·        I want you to learn how to be a friend.  This is a tough one.  I am “full-grown” and I am still learning.  Learn to forgive, even when it is hard.  Learn that just when someone seems most un-lovable, this is most likely the time that they need someone to show them love.  Ask God to allow you to see people the way He sees them.

·        I want you to know how to think outside the box.  I don’t want you to buck the system just for the sake of being different, but I don’ t want you to follow the crowd either.  Think for yourself.  And more importantly, pray and seek God’s guidance and then follow Him!  (See Proverbs 3:5-6)

·        There is one final lesson that I want you to know before I type up that final transcript.  I want you to know HOW to learn.  In the immortal words of Ernest T. Bass, you will learn how to “read a little, write a little, and tote up yer ciphers” during the years we school together, but unless you walk away knowing how to learn things on your own, I will have failed you.  And what is probably more important, I want you to WANT to learn.  I hope that you will never forget the saying that hangs on our school room wall –
If you are not willing to learn,
 no one can help you.
If you are determined to learn,
 no one can stop you.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but maybe it is a good beginning.  I am thankful that I still have a few more years to be involved in my children's education, but I know that the time will fly and I will be typing that final transcript before I know it ... 

but I'm not going to dwell on that thought right now.