The back story of my Family Dollar car incident

So we got ourselves a brand spankin’ new Family Dollar in town. And the kids and I went the first day they opened and were so excited to drop in. BUT we couldn’t find a parking space so we had to circle around and leave.

Well there was a car in front of us and she was waiting to pull out. So we just waited behind her. With all the time we had I decided to roll down my window, hang my head out and proceed the tell the 5 managers that were all circled up slightly behind our van talking that I was so excited they were opened but they could use more parking.

I was pretty sure they hadn’t thought about this and I was just trying to help out. As if they could just address the issue of adding more parking places so easily. Not sure what I was thinking. So I’m in the middle of sharing my feelings – yes, with perfect strangers – when all of a sudden I hear every single one of them start yelling very loud. They’re shouting and pointing, “Hey, NO, STOP!! STOP!”

I immediately felt bad and it shut me up on the parking advice for sure. Apparently I had crossed a line and offended them by my words.

And then we felt it.

And heard it.

*Crash. Bang. Crunch.

The car in front of us – that I never saw coming because my head was literally hanging out the window and looking back – was unknowingly in reverse and gunned it and rammed into our van.

And then took off and left.

Thankfully all 5 of the people saw everything. In detail. As in wrote down the description of the car and tag number. So when I called the police they got all the important information – down to the side of the car the donut was on.

I really didn’t know what to do at that point.

Do I apologize for talking about the lack of parking?

Or do I thank them for getting all the information to hopefully catch the chic that hit us?

So what did I do?

Well, I just verbally threw up and rehashed the entire story that THEY had just lived through right back to them like a pyscho-nut-job.

They just stared at me.

And this is how we roll in this family.

This is why we’re so messed up.

This. Right here.

 

 

Christmas Happenings 2016

Christmas in pictures and a few words…..

Chess, movies, chilling, special dinner at home, opening stockings were all part of Christmas Eve at home in NC.

Christmas morning we read the account of Jesus’s birth and tried real hard to remember that it’s not about the presents and gifts but about our King Jesus being born into this world to rescue us from ourselves. And we did dig into some presents too.

I opened a cozy blanket from my sweet girl and a pillow from my man-child. The pillow has background meaning because this conversation always goes down at night at his bunkbeds.

Me:  Love you Mitchell.

Mitchell:  Love you more.

Mom: Not possible.

Mitchell: Well it’s happening.

Then we went to church to celebrate with our church family. I loved our service this year. It was actually really neat being ON Christmas this year. And I love how Randy addressed in his message the fact that it was kind of inconvenient because let’s be honest we’ve probably all thought it but not said it out loud. Christmas on Sunday morning means some people just don’t come to church at all because of Christmas traditions but other people move things around and it’s kind of inconvenient. But what a beautiful reminder to use that  tension of inconvenience to remember that God interrupted our world with the devastatingly beautiful plan of sending his son Jesus to save us from our sin. This is Christmas.

And then we drove to GA to celebrate with our families. The first few days at my Mom’s house with my side of the family and then we’ll go to Randy’s parents for the other half of our time with his family.

And so Mitchell got a big ole airsoft gun and Sophie got a wardrobe organizer for her American Girl Doll accessories and some American Girl doll pajama’s.

And then a surprise gift showed up for Sophie from a woman she’s never met before but that Randy and I know very well from our GA church days. And this is what she gave her:

A reborn baby doll. Sophie named her Hope Bella. And she was shocked and thrilled to receive such a nice gift. She looks so real – incredible. I won’t even go into how Randy and Mitchell make fun of the doll because it’s just so wrong on all accounts. But Sophie can hold her own and it doesn’t bother her one bit. And actually I warned the boys before hand because…..well, because I just know them….and told them NOT to make fun of the doll in any way shape or form. Did it do any good? No, it didn’t. But oh well. She’s a girl who knows what she’s likes and it hasn’t bothered her.

For 30 plus years we headed downtown Atlanta to eat dinner at the Varsity and sit on Santa’s lap and ride the Pink Pig on top of the old Macy’s. But we lost that tradition over the years due to different things – like Macy’s closing and the Pink Pig moving to a different location, etc. So now we just go to the Varsity and it’s still a lot of fun.

This year we saw an artist selling his sketches of downtown Atlanta and other key places around the South and we bought some to frame up and put in our den. So fun. The Fox theatre picture, The Varsity and Helen, GA since many of our years were spent in the North GA mountains.

And we wore this little girl slap out!

Today we go dress shopping with Sophie’s Grandmother and then we head over to Randy’s parents for family celebrations there. We are looking forward to it!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year friends!

 

3 Back2School Tools that Make a HUGE Difference

So school is here and you’re either crying, shouting Hallelujah or just chill about the whole deal. I’m somewhere between crying and chilling. During the preschool days I was getting all pentecostal and shouting Whoop-dee-doo all the way to school but now as the kids are getting older I view it differently. I see that the days are going by fast and long for more time with them.

Either way I have learned there are 3 things that help our back to school transition and school year.

A week in advance start bed time and morning routines that resemble your school schedule. Notice I didn’t say exact same unless you just really want to get them up at 5:30am if you don’t have to. Instead of later nights get them in bed just an hour earlier to be preparing for that first week of school. Transitions are HARD in our household. It takes a few weeks to fully get in a groove. Summer and Christmas break are awesome but the transition can be extremely hard. Talking about the upcoming routine and expectations is healthy.

Find a verse in scripture to pray over your kids for the school year. Write it on a notecard with his/her name on it and pray that powerful word of God over your children. Not sure where to start? Pray about it. And maybe check these verses out: Psalm 119:14; Is. 40:29Proverbs 3:5-6; Romans 5:4; Col. 1:11 they are great ones to be holding as a banner over your kids as they walk out that door into a crazy world.

Join a Mom’s In Prayer Group and spend one hour a week praying for your children with other Moms. All kinds of groups are out there and they meet at different times and places. My schedule works around my MIP group because it’s one of the best things I can do for my kids and their school. For some reason I can’t link to the Mom’s in Prayer page but you can google it for more information. You can enter your zip code on their site and find a group that already meets in your area. Feel free to message me for more information if you’d like.

What about you? What helps make for a great school year in your home? 

 

Front Porch Tales

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Summer nights are the best. They land us on the front porch eating dessert and telling stories. Just the other night we somehow found ourselves in the middle of a conversation that began with, “Things to never tell the future boyfriend/girlfriend when you bring them over.”

We covered all kinds of hilarity – like the time one of them escaped from their bath and just randomly started hula hooping buck-nekked in the living room.  Yeah, we decided that would be a story NOT to tell when the new friend comes over to meet the family. Of course there were a lot more stories we exchanged. And it was fun. We laughed and cried and we’re enjoying this story telling time on the front porch.

Tonight’s question was, “What was the scariest day of your life?” 

I was shocked by Sophie’s answer and I felt so.bad. It was the April Fool’s day when we woke the kids up at 3am and told them a tornado was coming and we had to hide in the basement. You don’t even have to slap me to tell me that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. This was her scariest day. Oh my word my heart hurts so bad. And just for the record we were only down there like 2 minutes before we told them it was April Fool’s Day.

And I was surprised by Randy’s answer to this question as well. It was a day I came close to seeing Jesus face to face before an emergency surgery – I didn’t realize how serious this was until later – but it was his scariest day of his life. I had no clue.

I shared a story that my kids didn’t know – a scary time when a man tried to lure me and a friend by offering candy to us in a burlap bag from inside his truck. CREEPY!!!! A great short conversation followed about safety and what to do. What I did – rode my white Huffy home so fast the chain almost flew off. And prayed the entire way never looking back.

So it’s good these times of sitting on the porch and sharing stories. Story is good. If truth be known it’s what our ancestors did more of on their front porches back in the day.

Whether it’s the back porch, stoop, grassy backyard or your dinner table – tell more stories. They bring a family together.

A few prompters to get you going……

Talk about a time you tried something new. What was it? What happened?

Talk about a person you admire, famous or otherwise, who has fought or fights for the freedom of others.

Talk about a time something changed for you, something beyond your control. Have your feelings about this event evolved over time?

Tell about the best day of your life.

Ministry hurts

I’m heavy hearted with the conversations I’ve had with ministry families whose families are falling apart. Families who on the outside seem like everything is wonderful and fine. But on the inside they are crumbling.

Ministry can suck the life out of an individual and it can wipe out a family all while satan sits back with arms crossed shaking his head in accomplished approval. I know he’s at the root of it. Tearing families apart who are striving to follow Jesus while leading others.

It’s a fierce battle. One that must be intentionally fought daily. With the Word. With prayer. With forgiveness. With grace.

There are many approaches to ministry and we must be careful in casting judgement on others when they do things differently. But this we can know – God never calls a man or woman with a family to put a church or ministry over his family. God designed the family and calls a man to lead his home. Even pastors. Especially pastors. If a ministry leader is gone the majority of the week – missing dinners at home, missing kids games, important events and clueless about his/her children’s lives and clueless to his wife’s needs they are sadly missing the mark. Sometimes we equate God with ministry. “God is first” and so ministry is the same thing as God so I’m justified in putting my family after the ministry because God called me to the ministry. And this is where families start to crumble. Men and women who think the ministry depends on them solely. It’s a scary slippery slope and before they know it they have lost their family to the ministry.

So how can we as ministry families protect against this?

A great book is Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins when Family and Work Collide? by Andy Stanley. Not just for the pastor or ministry leader but anyone struggling with balancing work and family. And don’t we all? My pastor husband read this ten years ago and it had a foundational influence on him. It laid the groundwork for how he approaches ministry and family. Randy fights hard – I think it will always be an intentional struggle – to keep his family a priority. He has no idea how much we, as his family, appreciate it. I try to communicate to him how much but I don’t think he’ll ever truly understand just how much it means to me that he fights for his family time. When I say “fight” I mean he leaves work undone at the office so he can eat dinner with his family. I mean he misses an occasional meeting because he’s on a family trip. He actually takes his day off. And so on. And the fact that we have a very supportive church for these things is huge. Of course he said it up front before we ever came to our church this was his philosophy of ministry and family so they knew what they were getting when they got Randy as a pastor. He was and is a pastor who is a family man. And that’s a gift to his family and his church.

Including kids in ministry but not forcing them. And not holding labels over their head.

Randy includes our kids in ministry activities but doesn’t force them. Hospital visits, praying for people, etc. are optional. Never a “you’re a pastor’s kid so you need to…….” Church people will put that kind of pressure on the kids. Ministry parents don’t need to. And surprisingly they are open and willing to come along and even pray over people at times. And that warms my heart. Of course there are times when these things are not optional and there are times when they’d rather stay home and watch TV. Not saying we’re always primed and ready for ministry. Ha! Nope, not what I’m saying here. But we are careful not to hold “you’re a preacher’s kid so you……” over their heads. They don’t need that.

Letting your kids see how awesome ministry is.

Not only involving our kids in ministry but pointing out the beautiful things in ministry is helpful in keeping a ministry family loving and serving God in their context. If they hear us saying, “Did you see how God worked here……and look how God provided here……and how cool that your Youth Pastor took time to take you here……..” It’s not manipulation. It’s helping our kids see the hand of God at work in their church. Our kids need us to do that sometimes for them. And soon enough we can teach them how to look for and observe the hand of God at work in the ministry they’re involved in.

Pray. Pray. And pray some more. 

Ministry family, know this one thing: satan wants your family to fail. He wants any Christian family to fall apart but he really wants the pastor’s family to crumble because of the overall fall out. A ministry family is no more important than a Christian family. I pray I’m not coming across that way in this post. But there’s a target on your family, dear ministry family. Pray every day. Don’t live in fear. But pray every single day for God’s glory to be revealed through your family.

 

 

 

 

 

Our first pastoral retreat

We’ve never been on a Pastoral retreat weekend before and so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But it was really a neat time of praying, planning, vision casting, laughing and sharing with the church pastoral staff and a couple training in ministry.

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A family in our church opened up their lake home for us to stay for the weekend with our families. The men went up early on Friday and the wives and kids came up Friday night and we stayed through Sunday afternoon.

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The kids had a blast on Saturday afternoon because it warmed up enough for them to play outside. A huge help was having a young married couple in our church watch the kids while we had our sessions on Saturday. There were six kids in all ranging from ages 2 – 14 so it was loud at times but it worked and we wanted the families to be together.

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At meal breaks we all pitched in and grabbed our food. I have to brag on my man because he did the food planning and buying for this retreat. And he did so good. Good with the amount of food, choices, etc.

We are blessed to be among a pastoral staff who genuinely love God with all their hearts. They love their families and they love the work of the church and what God has called them to.

Ministry is a heavy weight. It’s heavy because you are loving and leading people through incredibly joyous times and also through incredibly painful times. It’s heavy because there are huge decisions to be made that can shape and direct the course of the church. Much prayer and seeking God goes into it and honestly that can be quite draining at times. There are unique burdens and responsibilites that come with it but there are amazingly rich joys and rewards. It is an honor and gift to be called into ministry. We don’t take it lightly. This weekend we were able to seek God on matters, talk with each other and pray together about the things we love most.  And we wait in expectation to see what all God has in store for our church community the next 12-18 months. We even planned out 10 years loosely knowing God has the complete right and control to trump every single thing on the “planned agenda”. It is his work not ours.

Friends, please pray for your pastor’s and their families. I can’t tell you how much it thrills my heart when someone comes up to me and tells me, “I am praying for your family. I know marriage is hard and I’m praying for your marriage and your family.” Ladies, don’t ever take it offensively when someone says they’re praying for your marriage or think in your head, “OMGosh why does she think my marriage is in need of prayer?!! I need to give off a better impression of a stronger marriage.”  No, not at all. The truth is we all stand in desperate need of prayer for our marriages, in our parenting, in our family needs. And your pastor’s home is no different. Cover them in prayer as you cover your own family in prayer.

 

 

 

 

When the preacher’s family gets bored at dinner – this is what happens

So it started out as just a normal dinner but somehow this is where we landed between dinner and Upwards Basketball Practice.

Mind you this balloon was a Star Wars birthday balloon for Randy the second week of December. This is what was leftover.

And now for Mitchell……

And the Daddy-O

And the Helium Mom

The Makings of a Waffle House Christmas

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Hello family that is addicted to Waffle House! That’s most of us right there. My Mom has a neighbor who is a photographer and he took a family shot and did some candid Waffle House pictures for us. He was wonderful. If you’re in the Atlanta area and need a good photographer check Gibbs Frazeur out.

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This was the sight at our family Christmas party a few days before Christmas. The Waffle House crashed our party!

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This great WH team served all 22 of us our Christmas dinner. Certainly a memory we’ll have forever. I grew up going to the Waffle House and most all my friends remember coming along. We would end up skating in the parking lot and have our own booth and made up games to kill time while Mom and Dad had their coffee. We dropped more quarters into the juke box than they ever cared for. I’m pretty sure the WH staff hated to hear “Special Lady at the Waffle House” just one more time. One time I pretended to be blind and read the waffle house menu with my finger. How weird is that? Another weird fact: My Mom somehow got a Waffle House waitress uniform and wore it to a church Christmas party. We were still sort of new at the church so some people weren’t sure if she was for real or not. She had a big wad of gum in her mouth and long dangly earrings and told everyone she had just gotten off work. OH.MY.Gosh. This is my family.

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That’s my sweet Mom (with umbrella) and my nephew getting their food. My Mom is so cool you guys. She’s pushing 80 and can still rock a party like nobody I know.

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We all got a grand slam breakfast and had chicken or steak with it.

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And even though we’re eating on paper plates and greasy Waffle House food we are most definitely still eating on nice linens. Thank you Mom for always making it nice for us.

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The only thing we lacked was some good ole Waffle House music and so I shall provide it here…..

Happy New Year friends! Go have some hash browns scattered, covered and smothered.

Belly Laughter

Usually family formed belly laughter is just that – for the family – and just like pulling out old home videos is boring to other people so are their family belly laughter stories. But one reason this blog exists is for family memory preservation so I’ll share it anyways.

The weekly belly laugher comes in the form of a mispronounced Science term. I’m explaining to my son how this Science stuff works while trying to be all brainy like until I get to the term “Stratigraphy”  (\strə-ˈti-grə-fē\) and murder it completely and cannot with all my might say it the correct way after multiple attempts.

My 8th grader is beside himself laughing hysterically at me, not with me, with each mispronunciation of the word. I admit, it really is funny. It sounds so redneck and uneducated the way I say it. The wrong way. We laugh and for the last two weeks all I’ve heard about is the word Stratigraphy! At bedtime. At breakfast. On the way out the door to school – “Hey Mom, remember “Stratigraphy?”

As if to follow in this new pattern of mispronouncing words I get to the word Potomac River while studying with our third grader and once again say it totally wrong – short o and added a “t” in the middle making it sound like an automatic Pontiac car or something just completely off.

There’s no hiding anything with Sophie. You don’t get by with anything with her. No saying it correctly real fast like in hopes she didn’t catch it the first time. Nope. You’re doomed with this child.

Eyes roll in the back of her head and she says, “Mom, that is NOT how you say that word. Bahahahaha!”

Oh dear. One can hope for better days of pronunciation I guess.

 

When the unexpected hops into your life

Two Saturdays ago Randy was working in the yard and found a white and black bunny. Not a tiny little bunny but more like a gigantic Easter bunny – bunny.

We spent all morning trying to catch the thing. The kids set a trap and the bunny would come so close to getting the carrot but then it was like he knew he was being tricked. I think he was playing us more than we were him! Ha! Sophie was so patient and stood behind this tree with the cord to pull down the storage container for over an hour. Soon we all realized that wasn’t going to work. So we moved on to good ole’ fashion chasing.

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Finally the kids cornered him in the neighbor’s yard and Mitchell picked him up. Randy and I were inside and we could hear Sophie squealing with delight all the way inside. We ran outside and then all four of us were yelling with excitement. Poor bunny had to be terrified!

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The kids begged to let the bunny come inside so like a sucker we let them bring him in. This was the coolest looking bunny I’ve ever seen. It clearly was somebody’s pet because he was pretty calm and well groomed. The kids loved playing with him inside and we were debating keeping him if we couldn’t find the owner. We realized though that with all the shedding he was doing and with Sophie’s allergies we just couldn’t do it. A rabbit was not a good fit for our family.

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But it was an experience we’ll never forget! It was funny because our entire family needed the release this crazy oversized bunny brought us. We were screaming, yelling, planning how to capture and running around the yard like a bunch of crazies. I think God knew it had been a really uptight few weeks leading up to “Mr. Stanley, the bunny” coming into our lives. We all needed something totally random and crazy to loosen us up. And it worked.

I love how our God knows what we need when we need it. And how cool that he uses his creation to intersect with those needs. Who woulda thought.