/> Raising Angels: September 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Another Hairy Situation

Dawson awoke this morning with hair even more smashed and spiked than usual. "Come here and let me comb your hair," I commanded as a normal part of the morning routine.

"Why do you have to comb my hair every day?" he wanted to know.

"Dawson, do you want to go to school and have all of your friends see you like this?"

"Y-E-S!" he said with way more enthusiasm than I dreamed.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Waiting for Inspiration

I am procrastinating. I am weird about this. In general I am a fairly organized list maker and task accomplisher. There are a few things however, when it comes to doing, in which I am a procrastinator extraordinaire. Ironing...need I say more?

In this case I am avoiding writing a talk Nelson and I are supposed to be giving tomorrow night at and Engaged Encounter weekend at our church. Why can't I make myself do this?

Here are a few reasons: 1) Nelson and I are supposed to give the talk together. How do you do that? Nelson's solution went something like, "Hey, have you written our talk yet?" 2) The topic is 'problem solving'. Can you get any more generic? 3) We are not to talk about finances, sex or anything else covered in the other talks. Are there problems about anything else in a marriage?

I am a teacher and I love it. I am a well-seasoned public speaker and enjoy that as well. I am a practiced writer and love putting my thoughts on paper. So what's up?

I've been mulling this over for a few weeks now but honestly, I am totally uninspired as to how to fill up and hour and keep the attention of a bunch of young folks on a Friday night who are dying to be anywhere but where we will be.

I'm sure it will come to me. It always does. I just wish in this case it would come a little quicker. I don't do last minute very well.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


So I did it. I finished. I have more to say but first I have to get over how sore my legs are. I love this photo Nelson got of me. This was around mile 8, the first time I saw my family. Dawson had just run out to slap me five. I look happy and fast.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Today This Is My Name....

with a "WO" right in the middle of it!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The (Purpose of the) Big Race

The big race is Sunday. I did mention I'm on a relay team for the Half Ironman right? The race is a totally crazy amount of moving - 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and then a little 13.1 mile run. All I'm doing is the run. I've done that before. In fact this will be my fifth half and the third in a year's time. Who would have ever thought?

Well, I say I've done this run before, but perhaps a more accurate statement is I've run this distance before. I've never run as a part of a team. I've never run in an event this big (over 3,000 registered participants...the largest Half Ironman in the world). I've never, ever started a run this long in the middle of the day (swimmer goes off at 9:08 which will probably mean I'll start running around 1 PM).

I've been doing my usual amount of nervous worrying this week. Nervous about my start time, not to mention it's the latest start time so I'm also kind of worried I might be last. I'm worried about what to eat and when. I usually do long runs before the sun is up and fuel on a banana before and some gels along the way. Don't think that will work this time. I’m scared knowing that the day of the race will be precisely the day that my painful varicose veins will be at their absolute worst. So much to worry about, so little time.

I was thinking about this while I was praying tonight, asking the Lord to help me get some perspective. He reminded me of this little lesson. Sunday, He let me know, should be looked at as an opportunity to let my light shine. There are so many ways to do this in a race. I can encourage any runners I pass (still dreaming). I can thank the volunteers at the aid stations and the crowds cheering us on. I can stay at the finish line to cheer on the one or two who come in behind me (yes, hoping too). I can be positive and encouraging to the people waiting to run like me.

Yes, I can do all of these things...as long as I keep a positive outlook and a smile on my face. If I forget about times, and the people passing me by, I have the opportunity to make a difference in that race. With this knowledge in hand, I felt a joy overcome me. I agreed with God on this one. I can let go of all this worrying and remember why I'm running in the first place.

Um...why am I running in the first place? Oh yeah, to stay fit, keep my sanity, and maybe even have a little fun. "Run with me," I heard God tell me. "We'll have a good race. Besides," He reminded me, "I'm a lot faster than you." Don't ya just love His sense of humor? But dude, He is totally right. If I can keep pace with God, I'll do just fine.

To make things even better, I got a very clear sense that I needed to offer this race up for my dad. I haven't talked about him much here since his surgery, but it has not been easy going. Even though his heart is doing fine, one of the medications he was on caused the tissue around his lungs to swell and he's currently working with only 54% of his lung capacity. Not good.

Suffering, when done in the right way, can be used as a prayer. I've done this one other significant time in my life and it was for my mom, who was diagnosed with a rare and serious kidney disease when I was pregnant with Aiden. I'm a legend in the hospital for my fast and furious labors. I had a feeling that Aiden's birth would be no different than Mackenzie's during which no doctor was present, nor was the anesthesiologist ever called. I figured if I was going to have to suffer the pains of natural child-birth for the second time, the least I could do was to offer it up for my mom's healing.

As I was panting my way through my final contractions I remember clutching her shirt and pulling her down to my ear and telling her, rather sternly, "You better get healed!" Well I'll be if God didn't heal her. I'm not claiming that I performed a miracle or was even the cause of this, but I think you see my point.

So Dad, Sunday's race is for you and your complete healing. Every time I choose not to complain, I will pray for you. Every time I feel like I'm out of breath, I will pray for you. Every time I feel pain, I will pray for you. And Dad, I'm going to tell you exactly what I told Mom, "You better get healed! You hear me?"

In the span of an hour or so of prayer this evening, God gave me a whole new perspective on Sunday's race. I now have a purpose and a mission and by golly, it's going to be a good race after all.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thinking of the Beach

As usual, this comes a little late. It's been so long since I've done one of these I had forgotten how much time they take to put together (probably the reason I haven't done one in awhile). But then, when I see the finished product, I always wish I would do it more often.

In another week and a half we're going back to the same beach with my folks (I might have those pictures uploaded after Christmas ;)). I can't wait. There's something about vacation that is so freeing. Everything slows down and you get the chance to just enjoy each other.

*A note about the first song on this video. For many years I considered myself a hater of country music (I still don't really enjoy the stuff with a real twang in it). However in the past several years, I have crossed over. I think what I love most about the country genre is the story telling that happens in the songs...that and you can actually understand all of the words. That being said, listen to the words of the first song. You'll see exactly what I mean and precisely why I chose the song.

I hope you find some time in your busy week to enjoy the ones you love the most.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Just Thinking

Every time I think I have it hard or that I'm really busy, I seem to run into someone who totally tops me.

For instance I have a good friend who, because of financial necessity, is going back to school...full time...with four young kids, while she still attends every sporting event, drama rehearsal, not to mention having to hitch rides everywhere because, yes, they only have one car. I think she's absolutely amazing.

I have another friend with more kids than me who is going through a divorce, having to sell the house they renovated together and now will also be going back to school because she is the sole wage-earner for her large brood. I have the greatest respect for her ability to rise like the Phoenix from the ashes. She will be stronger.

I think of another sweet friend of mine every time I start feeling bad for Max about his little weaknesses. She almost lost her first child before he was even born. He has Cerebral Palsy and requires daily therapy and numerous doctors and surgeries over the years. She not only cares for him with the grace and patience of a saint, she does it with a beauty that is beyond compare. And to top it off, she has had two more children since him. She is a genuine hero.

Most of the time I look at women like these with admiration and gratitude. I am grateful for their examples as well as the fact that I don't have their crosses to carry. Other times, I look at them and wonder what in the world I’m doing. What kind of impact am I making, oh me with a Master's Degree who is a stay-at-home mom?

There in lies the rub. Inspiration or reevaluation? Or maybe...both.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Melt My Heart

I came into the kitchen this morning and Max said, "Good morning beautiful."

I met with the teacher I shared the fourth grade with last year today. She's teaching them again full time in the fifth grade and was looking for some help. When my former students returned from P.E., they were excited and asked, "When are you going to come and teach us art? You were like, totally awesome."

After reading a lengthy story to Dawson and Max tonight, Dawson snuggled up and said, "Thank you for reading that story."

Doesn't take much.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Fast Before I Try to Get to Bed Earlier Than Midnight

1. Left the house at 8:15 this morning and returned an hour ago. I do not know how moms work full time. Seriously...how?

2. Taught art to the third grade which was totally fun. Have I ever mentioned how much I love teaching? Well, I do. Seems it doesn't really matter what the subject is either. What you may not know is that I love art...the arts...all of them. I wanted to be a musician, artist, actress, writer when I grew up. Teaching seemed to be the practical way to do them all. Dude, in an elementary class, when you're teaching art, you are a rock star!

3. Volunteered for several hours at a children's consignment sale today. I never cease to be amazed at the amount of stuff people get for their kids nor how much they spend to get it. Granted, a consignment sale offers many bargains too good to be passed up, but seriously, some people need to do just that.

4. Ran into an old running buddy at the sale and hugged her so tightly. She was the one who ran back to find me and run me in on my first ever 10 mile run...the one that ended in tears. She is a hero to me and always will be. She's now expecting baby number two and was positively glowing. I hugged her again before she left. So glad she shopped today.

5. Today the temperatures never rose past 68 and it was gorgeous. Grey skies, crisp air, and even a few reddening leaves. Boy, oh boy do I love fall. I'm praying like crazy that this is exactly the weather we have next Sunday when I run in the Half Ironman, since I think I'll be starting my run sometime after noon. Wouldn't that be amazing?

6. We watched Mackenzie play in her third volleyball game this afternoon. It's kind of painful to watch them at this stage. All I can say is thank God for rally scoring, and hopefully, they'll be better next year.

7. We have a busy weekend on the books and as fun and good as everything that we have going on is, after a busy week, a busy weekend is not the best medicine. And next Saturday Mackenzie is going to take a babysitter's course. Did I just say that? Is it really possible that my baby might soon be watching other people's babies? Gulp.

Next weekend is also the Half Ironman...double gulp. I think I'd be ok about this race if I didn't have real teammates connected to my running times. You know what though; they can't say I didn't warn them. And, who knows, maybe I'll have the race of my life. Probably not, but maybe. (I'm trying the whole positive thinking thing before the race this go around.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How the Ball Starts Rolling

I've spent several hours over the last few days preparing to teach third grade art tomorrow. This, of all the things I'm doing now, is the only one I actually volunteered for. It was one of my favorite things about teaching last year so I figured once a month in one of my own children's classes would be a great opportunity to stay connected.

Want to hear something funny? The more art projects I consider, the more I'm thinking that once a month is just not enough time for all the fun things I have in mind. Then my mind jumped to how I could reproduce some of the lessons and give them to the other teachers to use. Suddenly I envisioned myself heading up elementary art. See where this is heading?

As much as I say I'd be happy sitting around doing nothing for a very long time, my mind and heart won't let me do that. I'm crazy, I know, but I come by it very naturally and have had plenty examples of good servants in my life. Seems it's just who I am.

Don't worry though, in my old age I've learned (at least partially) that there is a limit to what I can actually do with four kids and a husband in my care. I didn't volunteer for heading up elementary art....yet.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

And So It Begins...Again

A very large part of my life has revolved around sports. My dad was the athletic director at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and also coached their women's basketball team. We spent hours shivering under blankets watching soccer games, months sitting in the bleachers at basketball games and many exciting times watching knock-down, drag-out fights…I mean hockey.

When we moved to Augusta, Dad took a teaching and coaching job at a Catholic high school. Even though the school was thirty minutes from our house, I spent a lot of time in that gym as well.

In the midst of all of this my brothers entered the world of sports themselves and yes, we went to their games too. Once I got into high school, I joined the crowd. If my family does one thing great, it is that we are there for each other. Whether it was an under 8 soccer game or the league championship varsity basketball game, someone was there to watch us. No matter the distance, frequency, timing or sacrifices involved, someone from the family was in the stands.

When my dad started coaching my brothers, I sat on the bench with him to keep stats (which actually meant trying to keep my dad from getting kicked out of the game - college coach in high school leagues doesn't always work well). Even when my baby brother, Kevin played in high school after I had Mackenzie, I dragged her along with me to all of his games.

When he graduated, I took a long-needed break from the sports' world. I went to some homecoming games here and there but for the most part I was happy not to have my time revolve around the game schedules.

I have been rather happily sitting at home watching my neighbors pile into school buses and leave town for games. As my own kids have grown up, we've ventured into backyard soccer, elementary league basketball and Y flag football. All have been positive and fun experiences. The games happen once a week and practice is as often. All of it happens in the comfort of our neighborhood. All of them have had seasons no longer than a month or two.

That is, until now. Now we have a daughter in middle school and she's playing volleyball on the school's team. They practice almost daily at school and have games about twice a week. Friday was the first game and when I walked into that gym all I could think was, "And so it begins again." Suddenly I saw the next 15 or 16 years of my life: hours on the phone figuring out schedules, carpools, and game times; dinners thrown together quickly or eaten in the gym; homework completed in the wee hours after all day games; miles and miles in the car traveling to the games; kids on three different teams all with games on the same day. This is not divination, it's a fact. I know it because I've lived it all of my life.

What I also know are all the benefits gained from playing team sports. I know how much it means to know your parents were there to see your game winning shot as well as the missed goal that let the victory slip out of your hands. You love knowing they're there, even when you think you're too cool to tell them that.

And you know what, when you're in it for the long haul you don't think about all the time you spend on it. Actually, it’s really fun. I love cheering for my kids. I'm kind of loud and don't care.

So yes, I'll be at all those games (and I’m guessing my mom and dad will be there too) because, well, that's how I roll.

Monday, September 12, 2011

So Many Clothes, So Little Time

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

It's a tradition around our house to go on a media fast of sorts during the month of September.

On the way to school today Max asked, "Mama, can you please play that song...you know, da da dunt dunt dunt, another one bites the dust?"

"Sorry buddy but we're not listening to that today."


"It's September. Remember?"

"But why can't we listen to it in September?"

"We're trying to focus more on Jesus," I explained.

"But Mama, Jesus sings Another One Bites the Dust," he said with a great deal of confidence.

I began to laugh. Can't you just see Him at the Judgment Day with a line of souls in front of him? "Sorry dude. You didn't make it in." Cue music, "Another one bites the dust."

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Jumping Into Cooler Waters

Oh the adjustment back to schedules...is killing us. Gone are the lazy days (come to think of it, did I have any of those?) and relaxed evenings. In is the 3 to 8 PM mad rush of homework, chores, lunch packing, dinner cooking, cleaning, showers, games, practices and a whole lot of voice raising on my end. The kids don't do so well with "hurry up".

On top of all that I currently have three boys who are taking turns getting up in the middle of the night. Last night when the second one came down at 3 AM, I told Nelson it’s like having a newborn with all the sleep interruptions we're experiencing. I don't know where it came from. My kids have always been great sleepers but suddenly one doesn't like his room, one is having nightmares and another just prefers my bed. We're working to nip this in the bud but it's wearing me out. I need sleep.

I'm telling myself that all of this is due to re-entry. Kind of like when you jump in the pool without testing the waters and it takes your breath away. Eventually you catch your breath, your body adjusts and you realize it's actually a very comfortable temperature for swimming. You get used to it and move on.

That's what I'm telling myself, while I'm breathless and shivering from the cold.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Survival Humor

I forgot that the adjustment of going back to school includes all of us...even when not all of us are in school. Let me just say that doing homework with three kids at once only adds to the craziness around here. I'm wondering at what point in their lives I get to just watch them do it and offer a, "I'll be praying for you." Somehow I think that's a very long way down the road.

So I don't get depressed about how long that road is going to be, I'll leave you with the following:

Disclaimer: There is absolutely no reason that I'm posting this other than I came across it and it made me laugh...just in case any of you get any crazy ideas.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Differing Opinions

This morning we took the kids to school. It was a quiet walk back to the car with just Max and me.

"What are we going to do today Mama?"

"Well we're going to do some laundry and then we're meeting some friends for lunch."

"McDonalds?" he asked excitedly.

"No buddy we're going to Vera Cruz."


"That's the restaurant they chose."

"Well," he said with such earnestness, "do they know that I like McDonalds?"

Monday, September 05, 2011

Change of Plans

All the lunches are packed and the bags are bursting at the seams with labeled supplies. The kids have been sleeping soundly for hours now and for some reason my stomach is still turning.

This was supposed to be my year “off”. I turned down numerous teaching offers in order to spend more time with my little guy while he's still at home as well as to try a big project I've had on the back-burner for three years now. I thought this moment would find me elated and feeling free.

Except I now am the mother of a middle-schooler and I'm not quite sure what to expect. I also agreed to teach art to the third grade once a month. Once a month should be a piece of cake. It will be fun and it will get me in the classroom of the kid who spent last year complaining that I NEVER go on any field trips with him.

But then my wonderful husband got himself out of a seriously big commitment by suggesting that I would be perfect for the position (you know I love ya babe!). Ooh...I don't know about that I said to his, "Doll, you're going to be great at this!” The next day I got another call wanting me to sign on to an ever bigger project.

Now I have some big decisions to make because, believe it or not, I'm not going to say yes to everyone (at least not intentionally). There will be prayer involved and hopefully God will show me what's right.

The only sense I've gotten so far is that God has no intention of giving me the year off. Well, it was a nice thought, even briefly.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Max and His Moves

There’s been a lot going on this week, not the least of which was that I've been without a computer since Saturday. I hate it when I go so long without writing. No chance to record. No opportunity to process. And there's also that whole issue of having to catch up (mostly for that awesome birthday girl).

Since I'm up too late already (but hey, the ironing is finished!), I'll leave you with the following videos. My dad made Mackenzie some new CDs for her birthday and yesterday I caught Max working on his moves.

At first we were all just enjoying the show but once he moved on to the second song, we also realized he's got rhythm. Where he learned the moves, I'm not sure (ok, So You Think You Can Dance probably contributed).

Since he's started back to "school" we've been working on walking up the two flights of stairs to his classroom. He's great with his left leg but that right one still has him struggling. He's slow and it's obvious that he has to work really hard to use that one. It's the one thing he does that reminds me there's something not quite right.

As I watched him dance in this next video, for a split second I was sad when he fell. I actually thought about editing that spill out. Then I listened to the words of the song. "When I am older, I will be stronger." I was reminded how far he has come. I appreciated the fact that a little over a year ago, I never dreamed he'd be able to move like this.

The amazing thing is that he has no idea there's any problem at all. Almost every time I pray over him at night, I add a prayer for Jesus to strengthen or heal his legs. He's so used to prayers that I don't think he always listens. But the other night he asked, "Mama, why did you pray for my legs? They don't hurt."

I love that. So Max, wave your flag buddy. You do it with such style!