Dauphin Island and God's Favorite

p.s.  the titles for my posts won't let me capitalize them...and it's really bugging me...

"The sound of the waves crashing on the beach and receding again remind me what God's breath must sound like."

Sweet Rebecca's words made my skin tingle with awareness that first day we walked anxiously to the shore.  There's just something about the beach that makes you feel the vastness of God in ways your mind never could comprehend before.  His glory blazes:  in the perfectly orchestrated rhythm of the tides, in the never-ending horizon, in the wild force of the waves, and the unrestrained wind in your hair.

My God who holds the oceans in the palm of his hand, yet can still hold my heart in the safety of his arms;  whose breath is the ocean's roar, yet whose whispers are as gentle as soft rain.

My God takes my breath away.

And this is the God who pursues me:  heart and soul.  Who am I that He loves me so lavishly?

It was the purpose God had for this vacation I took the girls in my small group class on (but I knew it would be so much more than just a vacation--it is always more when God is the one planning it).

He lured us away to speak tenderly to us.  (Hosea 2:14)

We played, we laughed until our sides ached, we shared our hearts, and then the sun set and our lovely girl with a guitar and a heart in tune with heaven led us into more worship.  Not just songs sung from memory, requiring little thought, but instead the thoughts of heaven became the songs that night under the stars.  God's thoughts toward us being sung to our hearts.

God's words, his spirit words, his living words:  he gives them little by little as we are obedient to share them.  And we shared them as sisters, through song and through prayer.  For one daughter of his, he tells her that he smiles on her, that he's not disappointed with her, he's washed her sins away like footprints in the sand on the seashore, he's pleading with her to let him love her.  For another of his beloved's, he gently reminds her not to compare herself with anyone else--the gifts he's given her are important to him and he has entrusted them to her.  He says her smile lights up the room, like a glimpse of heaven he's given the earth.

And His word to us all:  that we are his favorite.  

YOU are God's favorite.  There is no one like you.  No one that touches his heart like you do, because you are matchless, unique, exclusively you.   The good news (and the news I especially need to hear often) is that he doesn't pick favorites based on performance, but on creation: you are created in His image and loved for who you are by a God whose breath is the ocean's roar.


a pool, a pig, a party....oh and blueberry cupcakes

On Monday....

we made fresh blueberry cupcakes from the blueberry bush in our backyard

On Tuesday....

we bought a pig

On Wednesday....

we went swimming in Mimi's pool

And tonight....

It's a party for the youth group!  Rap artist Tru Serva reelin' it out, a greased pig contest (don't worry--the cute little piggy will not be harmed in any way), and a game of capture the flag!

And on Friday....

Leavin' for a beach getaway with the girls in my small group Bible class.

What a way to kick off the summer.


my kinder grad and our journey to homeschool

Thad the Man
My Little Thaddeus graduated kindergarten on Wednesday. Bittersweet day!  He looked every part the little man in his striped tweed suit and zipper tie.  He thought his outfit was pretty cool stuff.  He insisted on wearing his tie outside his vest just he could zip it up and zip it down.  Really, whoever invented the zipper tie is genius.

I am so proud of my little boy.  I've watched him mature leaps and bounds this past year.  He's overcome a lot and  to see him standing ramrod straight completely at attention for the entire two hour kindergarten bridging ceremony was nothing short of a miracle!  My heart just about burst.  He was such a little gentlemen.

I think I'm just about as excited for school to be over as Thad is!  This year has not been without it's difficulties.  Kindergarten was a big transition for Thaddeus who had never been to daycare or preschool and had to adjust quickly to an accelerated program.  He loved school and loved his teacher, but there were a lot of immaturity issues (not being able to stand still, pay attention, making noises, etc.) and it was hard for him.  I'm just so thankful that he was surrounded by teachers and administrators that loved him and were praying for him.  I was certainly praying for him!  All day every day!  

I've had a couple conferences with Thad's teacher and she told me what I already knew:  Thad learns best one on one.  You know how there's some things you just "know"?  I've known for several years that I want to homeschool my kids.  With our busy schedule in the ministry and working part time, homeschooling just seems like the best option for keeping or family first.  This year, I noticed character traits that I want to help Thaddeus learn, but even more importantly than that, I want him to learn things through the truth of God's word.  I want to teach his heart AND his mind.  Moral excellence should always come before academic excellence.  And I'm not saying that's impossible if children are in public school.  I've just learned this year that it puts me on the defense (constantly having to refute the negative influences) instead of the offense.

I don't think homeschooling is for everyone.  I'll be the first to say that.  I went to public school and that worked for me.  It was the best decision for my family then.  Although I will say that I was the only person in my class from fifth to eighth grade--it was a small two room country school!  Joel attended private school and that was the best decision for him.  Every family is certainly different.  And every school district has its pros and cons.

It's been pretty amazing to witness how God has led us to this decision.  Even though I knew I wanted to homeschool, Joel was decidedly against it.  We shared our concerns on both sides and talked freely about it but we both felt very strongly about our differing opinions.  I was beginning to feel desperate and was convinced that I had to make Joel see things my way.  That only pushed him farther in the other direction.  I knew I needed to let him make the final decision and Joel rarely makes decisions that I don't agree with, we are always able to compromise and reach common ground.  But this time it was different.  He wasn't budging.  So I let it go-- I don't know how I did it, I can only say that God gave me the grace!  I handed it over to God.  I submitted myself to God's will and I respected my husband's decision.  I didn't hold it against him and nag him constantly about it.  I prayed about it instead.  I asked God to change my husband's heart if this was the direction He wanted our family to go.  

And you know what?  God did it!  A few months ago Joel came to me and told me, "Baby, I was wrong and you were right.  I think we should homeschool.  I'm 100% for it."  And now he is almost as excited as I am about homeschooling!  Wow.  Prayer works!  I've been looking at bible-based curriculum on the web and I've been so impressed.

I've never been so excited for school to start!

"yeah, I'm cool."

The Outtakes:


vintage thrift style slash granny chic

I remember when I was a kid, I used to hate being dragged by my mom from one thrift store to the next.
They always had that same smell: old, musty, and out-dated.  I would wrinkle up my nose and pretend not to be interested in the hordes of cast off junk.  But my mom was a second-hand queen.  She planned entire trips on how many thrift stores were on each route.  I don't remember when I finally surrendered my aloofness and started to anticipate the regular thrifting jaunts.  Maybe it was when I found my first pair of purple z cavarichis, or discovered shelves stacked to the ceiling with books.  These eclectic shops of 'once agains' grew on me and I fell in love with the treasure hunt.
It's a regular hobby of mine now,  scourging the second hand shelves for that one-of-a-kind beauty.  Lately, my eye has been drawn to the warm tones of vintage landscapes and oil prints.  They fit right in with my antlers, don't you think?  I think, perhaps, I'm a little homesick, too.  I noticed tonight while I was talking to my honey and he called my style "granny", that my pictures shared one common theme:  memories of my childhood home.  There's a little barn and a windmill in one picture, a bright red barn in another, and one more old barn in a prairie scene (fyi:  there are a lot of barns where I grew up and a really big one on my ranch).  You can take a girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl.  I'm looking forward to visiting my parents on our ranch up in Nebraska this summer.  It's all my kids can talk about and every night before Thad goes to sleep he asks me to tell him stories about growing up in the country.
I love to tell them.  And I can't wait for him to experience them.

Right now, though, I'm content just having a piece of my old home on these walls of a place so very home to me.


i like green eggs

Daddy made breakfast.

Green eggs
Pink eggs
Blue eggs
Purple eggs

It was totally eggtastic.

Thad said his looked like slime, but Legend didn't seem to mind.


the birthdays past in pictures

(disclaimer:  the bunting I added to this pic after the party--I didn't have time to make it for real but we can pretend, okay?)

The twins were born on leap day.  And Legend's birthday fell fifteen days later.  So when my mother told me she planned to visit us in late March I decided we'd celebrate all three birthdays while she was here.  One of the best ideas I've ever had.  

Yep, that was in March.  Two months ago.  I'm a little behind.

We celebrated at Mimi's house about an hour from our town.  It was a fun family affair.  The kids enjoyed their cousins and nothing was rushed.  Just savored.  

Legend celebrated his first year with fistfuls of chocolate cake.  And when all eyes were on him singing "Happy Birthday" his face lit up with the biggest, toothiest smiles.  Mmmm....he is so yummy.  I love that cheery little boy.

Boston ate up all the attention.  Those big blue eyes were sparkling.  For weeks before the party all he could talk about was a skateboard.  And sure enough, that was his favorite gift--a skateboard with a handle attachment--just perfect for a three-year-old-going-on-six.   He was pretty cool stuff.

We had asked the twins what they wanted for their birthday and Astair let us all know that she wanted "a pink one".  A pink one of what none of us knew...but pink is what she got.  And she was perfectly happy.  My gift to her was a pink princess dress for her to wear at her party and she didn't want to take it off.  She would've worn it till her next birthday.

(forget chocolate,  that smile is delicious)

(do I get to eat this whole cake all by myself??)

(it's a pink one!)

That's all folks!


jazz fest and hippie love

(this is us--not our parents)

It was a weekend of wonderful.
Bright and sunny and full of festival fun.

With four tickets in our pocket to Jazz Fest, we jumped in Joel's truck, just the two of us, and headed down the road arm in arm.
No bucket seats and interruptions.
We talked in complete sentences.  
(Not that we mind our kid's interjections, but it feels good to complete a thought every now and then).
We talked about what we always do--how happy we are to be married to each other.

And here is where I have to give an honorable mention to my dearest babysitter:
The capable and dependable, very loved and appreciated Miji.
She deserves an award.  We give her money instead.
She probably prefers the money.
(p.s. thanks Miji for taking crazy pics of us on our porch before we left)

(our hippie interpretive dance)

(pre Jazz Fest kiss--notice the trikes in the background)

(original street sounds of Jazz Fest)

Jazz Fest is an experience all its own.
Walking through an old residential district of New Orleans
with it's fragrant lawns and brightly colored homes,
the atmosphere was charged with friendliness and festivity.

And once we entered the fairgrounds, the food stands lured us with their savory smells:
Crawfish Monica, Cochon De Lait Po-boys, Sweet Potato Chips, Sushi rolls, and Shrimp Tacos.

Not to mention the music. 
Arcade Fire entertained us with a performance of musical prowess and Willie Nelsen surprised us with that old spiritual favorite "I Saw the Light".

The most enjoyable of all was the company.  
And the lack of diaper bags...and long bulky strollers.
It was funny, every time I got up to leave, I felt like I was forgetting something, my hands felt oddly empty.

But that meant I could hold my honey's hand.
It's amazing how good that feels.
Holding hands.

And it's amazing how good it feels to wander around.
Not in any rush at all.

We even took our friends to our favorite Italian Ice Cream Shoppe afterwards, Angelo Brocatos.
Mmmmmm....it was a good day.

(our friends Ben and Melanie)

The End



My Motherest,

I made fresh strawberry cupcakes yesterday.  I felt like celebrating.  And if you lived closer, you would have laughed at all the trouble I went through just to make them...and take pictures of them...because I had this need to share cupcakes with you and the only way I could was to post them here.  But you understand.

You always understand.  Thank you for being my mother.  The sound of your voice always comforts me.  You love and encourage me with every breath.  You have this amazing ability to empathize and show unending mercy and compassion.  You are love.  Thank you for being imperfect but for loving God with everything you are.  Thank you for teaching me how to pray, how to love, and how to be okay with my failures and praise God (and eat cupcakes) anyway.  

I love you so much and I'll always be your little girl.


Dear Mother-in-Love,

What an unceasing inspiration you are to me!  

Thank you for giving of yourself, your time, and your many many talents so tirelessly.  You have such spiritual gifts that I would aspire to have--the gifts of hospitality and homemaking, of wisdom and discernment, the gift of always having something delicious simmering on the stove (whether it's yours or the ones you are always blessing).  Your whole life is spent caring for others.  Thank you for the pillar of strength you are and the refreshing fountain of blessing that flows from your life!


I am blessed by mothers.
Surrounded by beautiful women that give of themselves. 
Over and over from hearts groomed in unselfishness.

God knew what He was doing when He created Eve and her daughters.  
Givers of life.
Bequeathers of love.

I am thankful for the gift motherhood is.

Have the Happiest Day all you lovely Mothers!


praises I will sing

happy Legend with his favorite man (and my favorite too)

all smiles after a ride in the swamp

the moments that make my heart sigh with love for my man

I am so blessed in love.

It seems like trials only make the gifts you've been given shine with more luster.

And they are shining.  Reminding me I have so much to praise my God for.

And I will praise Him!

When I'm tempted to withdraw and be silent, that is the moment when my soul can either sing and soar on strength that is not it's own, or sink and be overwhelmed.

It's something I struggle with.  This lesson of rising above my circumstances, of learning to give all my burdens to Jesus.  I don't like to give my burdens to anyone.  My biggest fear in life is being a burden.  I guess that's why I can never bring myself to ask for help.  I keep it inside.  I try to be strong in my own strength.  But one can only last so long under that much weight, and how many blessings do I deny others?  How many am I denying my Savior?  He asks me to "cast all [my] anxiety on him because he cares for [me]".  (1 Peter 5:7)

So, I'm learning, learning that singing is part of handing those burdens over, learning how to be vulnerable.  Praise in the midst of pain is more powerful than any antidote.  Opening my arms in love for my Jesus instead of holding them tight around myself in an effort to preserve my life.

I'm praising you, my Strong Tower that shelters me from every storm                    
                  My Abba Father, my El Shaddai.

Praising you for
......peace that settles over my heart like the soft whispers of dawn     
......tiny wobbling steps of my baby-child...and the way he feels in my arms
......kindness, such kindness from hearts close to yours         
......the trail of love letters you leave me to find in that leather bound book of         spirit and breath            
......gentle heart tugs and great big bear hugs and little heads close to mine    
......those cyan eyes of a man that loves me as deep as the ocean and as wide as a land
......one, two, three, four, five smiles I love most in this world
......young hearts intent on following you
......patience and prayer and the restful comfort of the Holy Spirt
......the sound of your voice, Lord, as you sing over me
......your name, Jesus, on the lips of my children
......a husband whose strong hands care for me 
......the wonder of marriage, such satisfaction in souls beating as one
......and again and again it's overflowing....this well of life and love

How can I not praise you, My Lord and My King? 


pedicures and post-op

The day before my d & c procedure at the hospital, I got a pedicure (and I would have posted the picture, but I think you've seen enough of my toes on this blog).

I wanted at least one thing to look nice and neat and "put together" because I was almost certain I would fall apart.

So even though I had to wear one of those backwards hospital gowns that make you look like a lumpy bed sheet and feel even worse--at least, at least-- I could stare at my perfectly manicured toes and feel comforted to know there is still a woman underneath all this drab.

And it wasn't all dreary.  The peace of God was there in that pre-op room with me.  In the gentle looks from my husband and his horribly bad jokes, and in the prayers of our dear friend Ruth who showed up at the hospital unexpectedly and whose presence was deeply, deeply appreciated.

It wasn't until after I woke up in the recovery room, still groggy from anesthesia and the nurse blew out a vein while she worked quickly to take my blood, that the tears started coming.  And I hate crying in front of people I don't know.  Especially over things they probably think to be silly. Which probably made me cry even more.

There's something that happens to us women whose wombs are filled with life only to lose it.  It's a lonely feeling.  A disconnect.  A body awash in hormones suddenly drained.  There's this need to find a a rock to crawl under and hide and nurse our wounds.  But life and time march on and we are needed in it's ranks.  

And even an empty vessel can now be filled afresh.

I see the bowl of heaven tipping, grace flowing slow and thick like honey.

I'm impatient to brim again with it's sweetness, but these drizzles of heaven's bounty won't be rushed.

I'm content just watching it flow, just tasting His Goodness again, one drop at a time.

For only you can fill me, Lord.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all of you beautiful women of God and friends that I love for all your prayers!  They have brought me so much comfort!


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