Wrecked

You changed me.

From the first “positive” test to seeing the first heart beat to feeling the first kick.

As you grew so did I.

All 10lbs and 21 ½ inches of you came into my world two-weeks early and right on time.

I thought I knew what I was in for.

No lavish baby shower, or library book, or advice from experienced mothers could prepare me for what you would do to me.

How you would wreck my idea of motherhood and perfection. Jon Eric in diaper and boots

You changed everything.

My body, my heart, my life.

And you were just what I needed.

Today I celebrate that day and every. single. day. since.

Today I celebrate you, my firstborn.

Perfectly wonderful you.

Happy 20th Birthday, Jon Erichead shot.
“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” Thomas Merton

Promises, Promises

Sometimes I make promises I can’t keep. Sometimes I make promises I don’t keep.pampas grass copy

This morning He reminded me that He keeps His promises.baby's breath

He keeps His promises.tulips

Every. Single. One. Joshua

March Madness~Round 2~Sweet Sixteen

While I was counting down to 48 a very excited red-head was counting down to sixteen. Every day since January 1 she’s let me know exactly how many more days until she would turn 16. I tried to be excited with her. Most days, as she reminded me that she was one day closer, I smiled my best fake smile, gave her a big squeeze, and swallowed that lump in my throat.picture wall

She had it all planned out. She wanted to invite a few church friends and do the baking herself. Homemade chocolate chip cookies and coffee cupcakes with butter cream icing would be the sweet treats at Cafe Madeline. I helped out with some sandwiches and and the chocolate fountain.cafe madelinemaddie bakes 2 copyThere was lots of eating and talking and laughing among family and friends.friendssharon and julianaShe got her annual hug with her big brother. jon and maddie

There were candles and wishes…make a wish

And special handmade gifts by special people…jewelry fram

And a photo booth for cousins and special friends…group photo booth

Three-thirty p.m. on 3/30/98 was one of the best days of my life.stacy and maddie

3/30/14 was a little bittersweet.drivers

March Madness~Round 1

In the early 80′s I spent a lot of time practicing basketball, playing basketball, thinking about basketball, and talking about basketball. But even then I never watched basketball on t.v. I still don’t. But I do know that the Kentucky Wildcats made it to the final four and will be playing Saturday night. Go CATS! That’s for you, Cindy!

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While I haven’t been watching any basketball on t.v. this month I have been experiencing my own March madness. There’s been lots of celebrating and eating and working and playing this month. Here’s round 1:

Eric and I celebrated 27 years of wedded bliss on March 6. We started out at one of our favorite coffee shops and ended the day at one our favorite Italian restaurants.coffee shop 1
eric and stacy anniversary
We ended the month of March enjoying another date night at another one of our favorite Italian restaurants. They have THE BEST PIZZAS ever!! We had trouble deciding which one to get so we ordered three.
pizzapizza2pizza3At the end of the meal, every pan looked like the one above. We enjoyed our date night especially since we invited some of our favorite people along!

pizzagroupYou didn’t think Eric we ate all three pizzas did you?

Round 2 will be around soon. There’s more eating and working and playing to share!

Read my lips

I walked through the teenager-crowded kitchen recently on my way to laundry mountain. It’s a familiar well-worn path for me. Often I pass through–unnoticed–in the midst of conversations and cackles and crumbs. This day was different.sky

“Mom, do I move my lips when you’re talking?” she asked as an audience awaited an answer they already knew.

“Yes, oftentimes you do.” I replied. I had noticed it before but never thought much about it.

Until today.

They laughed and said, “Told you so,” as her freckles faded on red cheeks.maddie by window

I quickly added, “But you’re repeating my words to yourself. It is your way of listening and remembering. Perhaps it is why you have the memory you do—often recalling the exact words I have spoken. It’s a good thing.”

She smiled.

I continued with my task but that brief interaction, especially the words I spoke, have haunted me.

First, the reminder that she they all will remember my words. How often have you said, “I remember when my mom used to say…?”

Second, the reminder that they will repeat my words. How many times have you said, “I sound just like my mother?”

Are my words worth remembering? Even more, do I want what I have said to be repeated? Are my words worthy to be spoken one day to her husband or his wife. Are they life-giving love-living words that may one day be spoken to a child–my grandchild perhaps.

I am pierced by the memory of my own idle words. Words that should have never passed over my lips to be mouthed by hers.
Smiley face

I am in desperate need of:

Words worth remembering.

Words worth repeating.

I know where to find them.

God hands you lungs when He hands you His Word and says — These are not idle words to you, they. are. your. life. Ann Voskamp

These next forty days I’ll be reading His lips–His words. I’ll be repeating them to myself. It will be my way of listening and remembering.

Then my words may be…

Words worth remembering and…

Words worth repeating.sunset with kids with scripture copy

Countdown to 48–Inked

I said I’d never do it again. I didn’t want to. Didn’t think I’d need to. But I did.

I never imagined that my  countdown to 48 would include studying for a midterm in a course called Theory and Process. Never thought I’d be planning dentist appointments around evening classes. Never thought I’d have another student number to memorize. Never thought I’d have another student loan. But here I am.student id

And I am thankful.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s hard. It’s scary. I’m out of my comfort zone. Again.

But I am thankful.

I am thankful to have had the opportunity then grad stacyand now. Last year as I was enrolling at Jacksonville State University, I received an invitation to my 25 year reunion at Samford University. God must have laughed a little when he planned that.

Soon I’ll have another piece of paper to hang on my wall in the play/craft room also known as my office. But it’s just a piece of paper with some fancy writing that I’ll never look at and you’ll probably never see. So what’s my point in even bringing it up?

The point is the fancy writing that’s been inked on my heart through it all. The One True God who authored the story of my life penned life-changing, life-giving words. He repeats them through books, and The Book, through music, and testimonies, and tests.  He is cheering for me. He is cheering for us—those who are in hard places and doing the hard and scary and uncomfortable at 18 and 28 and 48. There have been some demons naysayers. Those who implied or just flat out said, “You don’t have what it takes to make it.” A few times I’ve almost believed them. I’ve spent many hours (a few this week), with head-in-hands-silent-weeping wondering how I’ll get through or how I’ll get it done. Feeling that this is all bigger than me. Wanting to run away. Knowing I am where I am because of choices I’ve made but wondering if it’s too late (or too soon) to quit.risk 1

My mistake has been thinking I can do it by myself.risk 2

Can you relate?

The point of this story is not “Hey everybody look at me!” The point of this story is “Hey everybody look at Him.” I am, and you are, at a place once again where we cannot do it without Him. We’re not smart enough, or strong enough, or brave enough, or connected enough, or wealthy enough to do anything in this life His way apart from Him. And His way is the best way. I pride myself on being a really resourceful, hard working, tough girl. I can get a lot done in a day. So can you. But His vision for my life is so much bigger than checking everything off my list as “done” and just “getting through” today. When I live there I inevitably find myself in desperate places having gotten it all done and gotten through—but empty still.

I am focused on making a better life for myself and my family or fixing what’s broken. He is more focused on making a better me in this life. A me that abides in Him.

In my weakness, He is made strong. In my weakness, I see who He really is and how desperately I need Him and how apart from Him I am nothing and can do nothing.

So whether its a university classroom, or a hospital waiting room, a busy nest, or an empty one, a fitness program, or a recovery program, the sunny side of the street, or the darkest of days He is cheering for you. He doesn’t want you to quit or run away. He wants you to run to Him.

Jesus sensed that his disciples were having a hard time with this and said, “Does this throw you completely? What would happen if you saw the Son of Man ascending to where he came from? The Spirit can make life. Sheer muscle and willpower don’t make anything happen. Every word I’ve spoken to you is a Spirit-word, and so it is life-making. But some of you are resisting, refusing to have any part in this.” (Jesus knew from the start that some weren’t going to risk themselves with him.) John 6:61-64

Will you risk yourself with Him?Lead me to the rock

 

 

Countdown to 48—27 days and counting.

I had it all planned out.

I’d go to college—where I’d probably meet the man I would marry—then to vet school. But under no circumstances would I get married until I was at least 26. It was a good plan—I thought.

I dated a few hometown guys. We went to movies and football games and school dances and church activities. I had several “crushes” but only one or two “boyfriends”. I wasn’t a very good girlfriend. I’d rather shoot basketball than go on a date, all my best friends were boys, and I was super competitive.

During my freshmen year of college, I was home for a few weeks during Christmas break and my sister invited me to cruise around town with her on the weekend. This was our ride. car

Like most small towns there’s not much to do so most people gathered at various parking lots around town. There was a lot of talking and flirting, some drinking and smoking, and 80′s music blaring from car stereos as we sat on tailgates and car hoods. I declined the offer especially when she started talking about this guy she had seen hanging around and thought I might be interested. That wasn’t part of my plan.

Eventually, curiosity cabin fever got the best of me and off we went with our big hair (thank you Aqua Net) and Rick Springfield cassette playing Jessie’s Girl.

She asked, “You remember Eric, don’t you?”

“You mean snaggle-toothed, skinny Eric from 2nd grade?”, I asked. (We had gone to different schools after 2nd grade).

“Well, yes but he doesn’t look like that anymore.”

“Well, I hope not.”1st grade0001
Now I think he’s really cute in that picture!

But, I still had all my teeth.
2nd grade

The first night I saw him in the parking lot he was still dressed in his camo from his day at the hunting club. Since it was a cold January night we walked into the fast food restaurant across the parking lot, ordered Cokes, and sat down in the back booth. As I sipped on my coke he pulled a half pint of whiskey out of his coat and poured some in his Coke. I sat there in shock and he just looked at me and smiled with his eyes…eric 1987 2
…just like he does today.
eric 2008

When I saw him the next night I wasn’t even sure he would remember me, but I needed a date for the upcoming Winter Formal so I asked him to go. He said,  “Sure”. During the next few months he attended church with me and gave his heart to Jesus. We’ve been together ever since. We were both eighteen. At twenty we got married during spring break my junior year at Samford.

I don’t ever remember praying for my future husband. As a young girl, I assumed I would marry one day but never thought much about it. I had a plan and it didn’t include a husband (for a while at least) until he came along. God knew just what I needed. We’ve been together all of our adult lives. I can’t imagine these 30 years (almost) without him. He is one of my greatest blessings.
Proverbs 19.21

We’ve moved around and changed jobs. We’ve had babies and lost babies. We’ve celebrated graduations and promotions and mourned disappointments. But we’ve done it all together. When I think about the list of things I still want to accomplish during the second half of my life my biggest hope is that whatever I do…he’ll be there.eric and stacy edit

 

Countdown to 48

One month from today I’ll be 48.
1990
Age has never been much more than a number for me but I’ve probably thought about this birthday more than any other. Here are a few reasons why I think this birthday feels different:

First, the awareness that my life is probably half-way over. I’m hoping to see 100, at least, but according to the statistics I have about a 17% chance of making it.

Second, I’m old enough to be everybody’s mother. My fellow graduate students at the University remind me of this and so do my children. When I started school last fall there were giggles and whispers around my house for a few days. Thanks, Napoleon Dynamite. “Your mom goes to college!” is more than just a meaningless random phrase around my house.

Third, my mother, Eric’s mother, and all our grandmothers have died. Makes a woman think.

Fourth, and maybe the single greatest reason this birthday feels different: I haven’t done everything I want to do in this life. I haven’t even done everything I thought I’d do by this age. It makes me kind of sad. I’ve started to feel like the window of opportunity has been boarded up in preparation for the storm of old age. Yeah I know. That’s a little dramatic but I’m almost 48. I can legitimately blame it on the hormones.trip around the sun

I’ve always been a “glass-half-full-look-on-the-bright-side-chin-up-buttercup” kind of girl. So in spite of a long unfinished bucket list I have been busy doing a lot of things in these last 48 years which leads me to the reason for this post. I want to spend the next month focusing on what I have done. Please don’t mistake it for bragging. It’s really my way of counting my blessings–focusing on what the Lord has done and has allowed me to do and experience in this great life. For the next month I’ll be celebrating my last days of being 47 and recounting here what’s made them great.

Comparison is a joy killer. My list will be different than yours. But I hope you will be encouraged (whatever your age) to make a list and count your blessings, too.count your blessings

Milk and Bread

We’ve had a little bit of snow around these parts this week.

Contrary to what some have implied we southerners do know how to drive in 2-1/2″ of snow. But when that dusting of snow becomes a sheet of ice while you’re driving on it, there’s not much you can do. Tuesday I grew more and more frustrated watching network news commentators mock the south and their “lack of preparedness” and  “poor driving skills”.toyota

At the same time I felt sick with worry for those who were stranded on the highways. One of those was my daddy returning home from a doctor’s appointment in Birmingham. Thankfully, my brother-in-law was able to get to him in his four-wheel drive truck and bring him safely home. Many others were not so fortunate.

quintard

So I decided to do what I often do when I’m mad or worried.

Eat.

Were you expecting me to say pray? Sorry.

cookbook

In order to eat I had to cook and to cook I had to get creative considering there wasn’t much to eat in the house (and no milk or bread because it wasn’t supposed to snow) Here’s how I found the recipe I’m about to share. I had 4 Gala apples that were past their “crunchy prime” (but still good for baking) so I looked in the index of my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook under “apples”. Several of the recipes called for items I didn’t have (like milk). But this one seemed perfect.

Apple Oatmeal Bars

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup butter, melted

Combine first four ingredients in bowl and add butter. Stir until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve a handful of the mixture for sprinkling on top of the fruit filling. Press mixture into an ungreased 9x9x2 (or similar size) pan.

The recipe also called for a fruit filling but I didn’t have the ingredients so I made my own. You could use any kind of fruit you choose in place of apples.
Apple Filling

4 apples, peeled and chopped

3/4 cup of water

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons of cornstarch

Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.

Pour over oatmeal mixture and spread. Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and cut into bars.

*I doubled the dry ingredients and it fit perfectly in a 10 x 15 cookie sheet pan.

These bars are the perfect “stress eating” snack (if you don’t have chocolate). They’re a nice combination of sweet-n-salty, chewy-n-crunchy. They didn’t last long. They were delicious.eric eating bars

kidsBut since man nor child can live by sweet-n-salty snacks alone we had a spinach and cheese frittata for lunch. Sounds fancy. It’s not. I used what I had.

Scramble some eggs in a bowl. Melt some butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Pour in the eggs. Don’t stir. Just let them cook until they “set” a bit. Throw in some fresh spinach leaves (even if they’re a little brown and wilty) or some frozen spinach (thawed with water squeezed out) and then sprinkle some shredded cheddar on top. Put the skillet under the oven broiler until cheese melts and eggs are done. If your skillet has a rubber handle just wrap with foil before placing under the broiler. Slide it out onto a cutting board and slice it up. Delicious. It’s great with toast….if you have bread.

The roads cleared a bit Wednesday afternoon and we made a Walmart run. Guess what everyone had in their cart?walmart

Supper rocked after the Walmart run but next time I might try to remember this…its gonna snow

How did you spend your snow days?

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