Thursday, May 29, 2008

Today is special!

I cannot believe that son is 16. It seems amazingly surreal to me. He looks more like a man every day. Leaving that little boy behind more and more as he grows. But still, there are times when he just seems to be a boy that needs his mama. Don't tell him I said that! And Nick, if you are reading so know its true!

I remember this day - 16 years ago. I remember Kevin and I waking early to go to the hospital and my dad helping us get everything ready for our hospital trip! We were so excited. After I got the hospital, we put on my James Taylor CD and we just waited for Nick to come out! My mom waited for hours with us. Anxiously awaiting that little boy, wondering what we would do with a boy. I too wondered that same thing. Thank goodness we had my mother in law. She came for the birth and stayed with me for 2 weeks. Being a boy mom was somewhat intimidating. I had never been around boy babies. Seriously! I had one sister..and a girl house. Now, I can't imagine NOT being a boy mom. THAT is my calling, and I love it!

I loved my doctor that delivered Nick. I am sad that he passed away just a month ago. He was an amazing Christian man that prayed with us the moment Nick was born. Dr. Perry prayed and thanked God for our baby and prayed that he would be used for His glory. Amazing huh??? Dr. Perry liked James Taylor too. We all enjoyed it in between various pushing and breathing exercises.

When Nick was born, I remember the feeling I had when I looked as his little face. I thought he was the most beautiful thing I had EVER seen. I still feel that way sometimes when I look at him. I am so blessed to be his mom. Kevin and I are blessed to share in the joy of raising such an awesome son. (He has two great brothers too) We seriously enjoy Nick.

He'll be driving soon on his own in his 1992 Ford Ranger Truck. He is getting very excited about that. We'll go next week and get his license. I wonder what he'll want to do first.

Being 16, do you remember it? I do and it was awesome. I had the time of my life. I have incredible memories of being a teenager and I pray my boys have wonderful memories too. I am praying that the Lord protects Nick and uses him to His Glory. Sometimes I think that as our kids get older and reach those milestone ages, like 16 - we consider them mature and grown. And though they are, they still have much growing to do. Even though I may see a young man on the outside of Nick, the inside is a 16 year old boy that still needs guidance (with some room to make mistakes of his own) and protection (with soft boundaries sometimes to allow him to fall and get hurt at times too). I feel I've reached a part of parenting that can be so hard. Allowing them to live their own life. That means not controlling every action or fixing every problem they encounter. Wow!!! So hard!!!

But I know, that my FAVORITE verse is true for my son too. The Lord KNOWS the plans He has for Nick. He knows the successes he'll have and the falls he'll take. And he weaves everything together for HIS good because HE loves Nick and Nick is called to his purpose. I know this. I remind myself of this sometimes (like now) when I get a bit fearful of letting go. I have to let go a bit more every year. You will too if you haven't already. If you are still enjoying the K5 - 5th grade years.....enjoy every minute. If you are in middle school years....find something to keep you sane and tell yourself its just 3 years! And if you are 9th - 12th grade...I bet you are finding lots of fun again right? Seasons.....they change and keep us growing as parents. I love that. Nothing boring about this job!

As I write this...there are two teenagers filling water balloons in my bathroom and throwing them at Max and his friends.(out of the windows thank goodness) My doorbell is being pushed (just for fun) a million times a second just because they want to see what our dog will do. That is obviously fun. Did I say highschool age was fun??? I have a headache now...but still thankful for my crazy, loud, awesome house of boys!! But I do need Advil.

Happy Birthday Nick! You are a treasure!

The Message has an awesome version of Psalm 139 - Share this with your kids today if you have a few minutes. Children truly are a gift from God.

Psalm 139

A David Psalm

1-6 God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
I'm an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I'm never out of your sight.
You know everything I'm going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you're there,
then up ahead and you're there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can't take it all in!

7-12 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings
to the far western horizon,
You'd find me in a minute—
you're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!"
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.

17-22 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
God, I'll never comprehend them!
I couldn't even begin to count them—
any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!
And you murderers—out of here!—
all the men and women who belittle you, God,
infatuated with cheap god-imitations.
See how I hate those who hate you, God,
see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;
I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred.
Your enemies are my enemies!

23-24 Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I'm about;
See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Just can't get enough!!!

Ya'll...this is totally just because I want to show her off. This is my niece Peighton Bayleigh. I know what you are thinking.....yes, her mom (my sister) found the longest way to spell those two names! But, sweet name just the same. This little baby girl is amazing!!! She has captivated not only me, but EVERY member of my family. We can't get enough of her. She is perfectly formed....beautiful!!!! I look at her and I thank God for creating her just for us. My three boys were the only grandchildren for my parents up until May 12. Then...they (we) received our first baby girl since my sister and I were born. How amazingly special Peighton is to all of us. Enjoy these pictures!!! And as you look at them, pray for our sweet girl and the plans that the Lord has for her. I truly believe God has something special for her. Good Plans!!!

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Indiana Jones - Is he still all that we thought he was back then??

That is a big question. Many of you probably saw the long awaited Indi movie over Memorial Day weekend. We did! We couldn't wait. Friday night, we took Max - our 9 year old to see the movie. Some friends of ours decided to join us without their children. They have a 9 year old girl and a 3 year old boy. They weren't quite sure if the movie would be right for them. Good move, because its not. There are a few scenes that would scare younger children and most girls probably.

But Max....walked out saying that it was THE BEST MOVIE EVER! He also randomly sings the theme know...da da da daaaaaa, da da daaaaa (you can sing it) He loves it!

I will tell you that I totally enjoyed sitting next to him. It was a total flashback of my childhood and watching the Indiana Jones movies in the theaters. I was a bit older than 9, but I still remember the magic.

My husband sat next to me and he had a somewhat different experience. He sat through most of the movie thinking, that can't happen, that was crazy, who would believe that...and so on. Though he enjoyed the movie, and had a good time, he left somewhat disappointed in the movie. I guess you could say it did not live up to his expectations.

Later that evening as we were discussing the movie, I told him that maybe my experience was different (because I loved the movie) because I went with a Max view. Meaning - I went and enjoyed the movie through my 9 year old. Not my 30 something mind. You know what I mean? Its like when we were kids, Indiana Jones was amazingly awesome and we never considered how he could really swing on his whip, get out of crazy situations and beat up all the bad guys. It just was. In a sense, it was childlike faith we had in Indiana Jones. That may be a stretch for some of you....but I hope some can understand where I am going. It was easy for me to get lost in the film because I had Max beside me wide eyed, flinching at the dangerous scenes and getting excited at just the right times when Indy went in to save the day. It was awesome!

From this experience...I find that I am reminded that there was a reason that Jesus encouraged us to have faith like a child. He was telling us to just believe...not try and figure out the why, ifs and hows. The older we get...the harder it becomes to just believe. You know? Kids...they believe. They trust and they just know. Its only as they get older that they learn to not believe everything they see and hear. How I envy Max.

But, as adults, the more we see God move and the closer we walk with Him, that is how our faith is grown. And that is how we learn not to doubt and how to drive out the thoughts that have begun to enter our minds as teenagers and adults. Just a thought you have childlike faith or do you exercise the type of faith where you are the one figuring out the possibilities? That has me thinking today.

Matthew 17:20 He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Mark 9:23 Jesus said, "If? There are no 'ifs' among believers. Anything can happen."

There are many examples of Jesus talking about faith in the bible. Just look in your concordance and you can find plenty!!!

And, in case you were wondering, we do recommend this movie for your family especially if you have boys. But, look it up on or another movie review if you have questions. There are aliens and some other things that you might not want your kids exposed to...just saying. But, overall I think it was a winner for us.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Easy like a Sunday afternoon.....

I know the song from the 70's was Easy Like a Sunday Morning, but today - we were Easy Like a Sunday Afternoon. It was awesome. We've been traveling here and there and it seems that lately, we never sit and enjoy our home! That really bothers me. Do you ever feel that you spend so much time getting your house to a point where each room is completed or decorated....then you never get to just sit and enjoy it??? I feel that way alot. I've tried to be better about finding time to be at just be. You know? Today was one of those days.

Nick went to visit a friend, but Max and Scout truly shared the same vibe Kev and I had. We just laid around for most of the day. Enjoyed each time on the couch.... a nap here and there. When we were hungry, there was always crackers and cheese. It was that kind of day. GLORIOUS. It was all about being with family and spending some time talking too. It was much needed.

We'll end the night soon with a fireworks show. Compliments of Scout Johnson! I brought back some fun fireworks for the boys driving back from my last Atlanta trip. They love that.

I guess this blog is simply for me. To journal a good day and thank God for this Sunday. I feel very blessed. I feel content and for that, I praise the one who placed me in this very spot. His plan for me was good...and I feel very prosperous!

Psalm 105

1-4 Hallelujah! Thank God! Pray to him by name!
Tell everyone you meet what he has done!
Sing him songs, belt out hymns,
translate his wonders into music!
Honor his holy name with Hallelujahs,
you who seek God. Live a happy life!
Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works;
be alert for signs of his presence.
Remember the world of wonders he has made,
his miracles, and the verdicts he's rendered

Thank the Lord today for your good life. Your happy life! And since tomorrow is Memorial Day...find some time to take a break and enjoy your home and your family. Look around at what the Lord has done, just for you.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Last Day of School

Wow! I cannot believe that when my boys wake up tomorrow morning....they will be getting ready for their last day of school. Where in the world did this year go? Where have I been? I feel like I've lost some time somewhere. Really!!!

I remember some fun times from this school year. I need to journal them before I forget. Maybe I'll take my journals to the beach next weekend and jot some thoughts down. I have much to catch up on. I keep a journal for each of my boys. Funny things they've said, life lessons learned...that kind of thing. At first, I thought that I was starting them for their future wives. Seriously. I had planned on giving them as wedding gifts to my son's brides. My way of giving them a look into the life of the man they are marrying. Now...I can't imagine parting with them. I'll revisit my first thought in the years to never know.

What stands out for me when I think about this past school year is Max's teacher. She is an amazing third grade teacher. She takes pictures of the kids during the day completing assignments or leading the class in some way and then she sends them via email to the parents. She allows us to peek into their days. I love that! Max loves her too. She is a Christian too. She prays for her students and truly loves them. We have been blessed.

One day, Max came home from school with a big announcement. He said that in school, they had taken a vote and he was elected the ambassador of the class. "Ambassador???" I asked. He then said, " Ambassador. Um.... what do you call it when you go to other places and talk to people about stuff??" I was at a loss. He then exclaimed, "Missionary. That's it! I was voted the Missionary". For some reason (though a good idea) Kevin and I knew that couldn't be true. Even with our praying Christian teacher! The next day I emailed Ms. Thompson and got the straight story. Max had been elected to a position of service within his class. But, it was the Student Council Representative for Third Grade. Ha! Missionary. I love that story. There are more too, but that one is my favorite.

Scout had a great year too. 7th Grade was awesome for Football, friends and parties. If Kevin and I drove Scout and his friends to the Country Club once.....we drove him at least 10 times this year for various birthday parties. Kids party big these days. Full DJ set up too. He would come home so sweaty and talk about how much they danced. He lived it to the fullest. He also had a few girlfriends. But that is a blog for another day!! He made amazing grades this year. AB Honor Roll for both semesters. He tries very hard and it shows. Scout has had a big commitment with football this year and though he sometimes felt challenged for time and rest...he kept with it! I am so proud of him. He is gearing up for yet another summer of practice. He'll have a great 8Th grade year I am sure!!!

Nick had an awesome Sophomore year. We had some growing pains too. I definately spent some time in prayer. Cried some tears too. Nothing horrible....just the realization of a child that needs to walk his own journey. Walk his own spiritual walk. That...I learned, is hard, but doable with God! I remember praying to God one time and just praying Lord...what if he makes the wrong decision and then God reminded me, He would be there for him. Just like He was for me. I'll never forget that! Thank you Lord. You keep reminding me too. Going to State with the Football Team at Spain Park is something he'll never forget. I am so glad for him. He's made a million memories with that team. I can't wait to see what his junior year holds. We've already looked at class rings and in just one week, he'll turn 16. It seems like just last year Nick was leaving his 3rd grade teacher and I was thinking how blessed we were to have had Ms. Mannering. She really did bless us and our son. Where did the time go?

I can't wait to spend some time with my boys this next week! I love summer time and free schedules...though they don't stay free for long. There is always football, youth camps, mission trips, kids camp, sports camps, friends and parties. But...this too is but a season and it will pass. To think I may only have 2 more summers with Nick, 5 more with Scout and 9 more with Max....whew...In 10 years, I won't be wondering where I'll find the time to run those summer schedules everywhere.

Wow! So how has your school year been? I pray it was a good one for you and that we all have a blessed summer with lots of time for friends and family and the making of memories that keep us laughing for years to come!

Oh, Tonight was Night of Power for Nick at school. My almost 16 year old benched 195 for his max tonight. He now sports a beard most days..... Yeah....3rd grade was a while ago wasn't it?????

Friday, May 16, 2008

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!

Well, this week was the Regions Tour of Champions at the resort. It was to be a week of fun and excitement. Well, that is if you don't work at the resort. Don't get me wrong, it can be fun and exciting too at times. But when you have rain during a well attended golf longer fun!

Thursday was the Celebrity Golf Tournament and is typically one of the highlights. We had all the Golf Pros and their Celebrity Partners ready to go....and then came the rain. At first, we thought it would pass and all would go on as planned. As the morning went on, and we talked to the tournament directors....the day was called a 'no go'. The celebrities were almost held hostage by the media. Tommy Tubberville, Nick Saban, Bobby Bowden,Joe Namath, Charles Barkley, Steve Spurrier...and I could go on were all in our Clubhouse laughing and making their exit plans. I will add that they were MOST gracious to their fans. They signed more autographs than they usually do I am sure. Though this is fun for guests of the tournament, as hotel managers, we are not allowed to approach anyone for an autograph. Ever. We tell our hotel associates that they cannot do this so we are held to a strict rule as well. Sad...because if I had been able to do that, I might have been able to get Scout his much desired Joe Namath autograph!

Kevin had the plan of checking Scout out of school that day. By the time the called the tournament, the logistics of getting Scout to the resort in time to see Joe before he left was a bit unrealistic. He and my dad had planned to attend the tournament with Scout and get another...yes another...Joe Namath autograph. Scout has been a collector for years now. It all started in the third grade when he did his 'living book report' on Joe. He had to dress up like his character and talk about his life. #12 for The JETS. He was hooked. My mom works closely with one of Joe's college roomates that still keeps close ties to him. She has surprised Scout with signed cards and for his 13th birthday...a Signed New York Jets Jersey. That now hangs on his bedroom wall! Well, needless to say, I knew Scout would be disappointed. Truly I worried that it would cause such a disruption that we would be the recipients of a less than wonderful attitude when he came home from school that day.

When Scout came home, he was a bit sad. He rather calmly asked if they cancelled the whole thing and would Joe Namath be there over the weekend. When I told him that Joe left for good - but would most likely be back next year, I held my breath. To my surprise, he said, "Man. Well I guess there is always next year right? I guess I'm lucky to have the things signed that I already have. Right mom?" I agreed and guess I should have given him more credit than I did. He is growing up. And understands that the rain was not just a sabbotage on his plans for the day.

He chose Joy. Maybe not conciously, but he chose to look on the bright side. I find at times that is one of the hardest things to teach my kids. Do you agree? I find at times I too struggle with my attitude when it comes to disappointment....or struggle. Finding contentment is going to be a lifelong journey. We'll always be faced with being let down and having our plans changed. But in all things....if we find joy and keep pressing on, we'll learn contentment and to be happy with the things that we already have!

Let's just keep putting those positive thoughts in our children.

James 1:2-4 tells us
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Though this may have been a small test for Scout, it was still a test for him. A trial of how he was going to manage his situation. His attitude. He's not there yet, but he is maturingand I am very proud of him. Seriously....I've been on the other side...and something I look forward to him growing out of. I guess my heavenly father is looking forward to me growing out of that stage too. Hmmmmm

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Facebook Vs. Myspace, THAT is the question!

Ok...seriously, what do you think? I've looked at both for the last several years. I think I've found an online networking tool that fits the needs for my children. Now I know they don't have to have a networking page on line....but their generation communicates this way. It is not going away. Facebook and networks like Myspace are replacing the ways of Instant Messenger and Email. Kids just don't email anymore - they Facebook. Their profiles are en extension of 'who they are' and some are really great. I've seen many that display a wonderful Christian testimony....and others that quite honestly aren't that great - I'm sure you've seen them too. At church last night, one of our college kids told me that she had been looking at Nick's Facebook and knew one of the girls he was posting messages with from his school. She told me she didn't care too much for that girl...and told Nick and basically told him she would be watching him, even if they are just friends. Her words to me were 'you have someone helping you look out for Nick on Facebook'. Wow...that is nice. In fact...every time an adult or good Christian friend becomes a 'friend' of his...that is more help. That, I like!

Anyway, like I've said we've done both and I see far LESS of a problem with Facebook. Myspace seems to get random SPAM mail far too often and it is typically junk and something I don't want my kids to see. I feel like I have to discuss something all the time with my kids regarding Myspace. It does not feel as secure. Also, I feel my kids are more vulnerable with this site too.

Facebook, seems more secure and less skanky to be honest with you. I personally have an active Facebook page now and totally appreciate the usefulness in keeping up with people I've not seen in a long time. And..enjoying the pictures of their sweet families.

In regards to allowing your kids access to social networking sites, that is a huge decision and is also one of commitment. Just because I feel better about Facebook over Myspace - I still have to monitor their pages and be sure they are posting things that are appropriate. I still go through their friends list (and ask about their friends) and I still visit their friends site every now and then just to see the vibe that's out there. And ok. It's not spying, it's being an informed and responsible parent. Just another tip - because I have a facebook page - I am updated each time my teenage posts a picture or joins a group through the news feed of my 'friends' section. Quite helpful. This allows me a window into his account and an opportunity to talk with him and bring it up in another way rather than always saying "I was in your account today". This can sometimes get less of that defensive attitude we sometimes know the one our kids can give us!

We have a window to teach our children principals and life management while they are still in our home. My oldest will possibly be leaving in just two years. I feel it's part of my job to help him learn how to live in this world...and still not be of this world. Facebook, Myspace and other networking sites are active and a part of their culture. He'll either learn how to manage now....with Kevin and I as his guides, or he'll find his own way when he leaves. I'll choose the teaching him at home way.

Kevin also has a Facebook page. He reluctantly created one after I told him about the friends I was reconnecting with online. Two were former pastors at our church and that is when he thought...Ok...I'm getting in on this too! He also connects with some of Nick's friends this way and now has an opportunity to speak into their lives as well. He can now look into their lives a bit...and maybe help them make some better decisions during these high school years.

A book I've recommended before is Logged In and Tuned Out by Vicky Courtney. This book is fabulous! It's a discussion on bringing your kids up in a godly way regarding Internet, cell phone, social networking name it. If you have middle school or high school age kids - READ IT!

You may also want to pick up a copy of the latest Birmingham Parent magazine. It's the free one in the grocery store. They have an article entitled Facebook Faceoff that is really good this month. It really encouraged me to write this blog actually.

We can teach them while in our homes how they can use these tools in a Christian, responsible way. Something to think about - if we don't guide them through these tools when they are within our home....what will they do when the leave???? Do you think they'll get it right the first time on their own?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My niece is here!!!

Peighton Bailey LaShun was born yesterday around 4:20pm. Her mom and dad, Jennifer and Vince are doing great. I was honored and privileged to be in the room to see her enter this world. I am forever grateful for that!! It was awesome and she is amazingly beautiful. I'm reminded again that James 1:17 tells us,
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows

Kevin and took the boys to meet their new cousin last night. They all loved her!!! I was surprised by the tenderness they showed as well as their eagerness to touch and hold her. Max looked at me while he was holding her and said "She's even better than a puppy". Maybe I should have reminded him that my preference would be to get him another case he was suggesting something to me.

I am blessed to be placed in the plan of Peighton's life. We are each here to give and pour into someone elses life. Who looks to you? Who has the Lord put in your path that you might love, encourage and help along their journey? It is a privilege to be part of someones life. I'm reminded of that with the birth of Peighton. I am so thankful for her health, her life and God's plan for her life. He knows why she is here. He created her tiny little nose, beautiful eyes and those long fingers and toes! Wow...they are quite long. Please pray for my niece and speak these words over her life with me;

Numbers 6:24 - 26

' "The LORD bless you
and keep you;

the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;

the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day Mom!!!!

I have had a great Mother's Day! I hope all of you moms out there have too!! Mine started with just me and my 15 year old son. He got up and told me that if the power had not gone off...his alarm would have gone off....and then he would have made pancakes. But now, he is up after me, and we don't have eggs to make the pancakes and even if we did, would he really know how to make the pancakes anyway????? Ah....but isn't it the thought that counts anyway? YES - it is!

Though I didn't get the original pancake breakfast I did get a great card, handmade at that. It was very special and said all the things we want to hear as moms. He also sat with me in church. That was great too! Kevin and the boys got home today mid afternoon and we enjoyed some much needed, lay on the couch together, watch movies family time. I love having everybody home. That is the most wonderful mother's day gift. I love those days. I long for them!

I was able to see my mom today too. She and my dad took my grandmother to lunch for Mother's Day. My house was the second stop - and I provided dessert. Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake. My mom has been taking care of her mom for the last couple of years. She has Alzheimers and now needs more care than ever. My mom works during the day and then comes home to care for her mom. The roles are almost reversed now aren't they? The parent becomes the child again. I've heard other people talk about this and I've read articles in magazines before - but not until now did I truly 'get' what it means to become a caregiver for your parent.

What I see in my mom right now is someone who exudes patience and love. Someone who finds joy in every place she can with her mom because they are becoming fewer with each month that passes. I am also in awe of her strength. When my 'Nana' asks my mom the same question in front of me 5 times, my mom answers her each time with a dignified answer. She still shows respect for her mom. My mom is blessed to have my dad with her to help in the care of Nana. He also shows great love for her as he is with her each day. I truly believe both of my parents are who they are because they had loving mothers pouring their lives into them when they were growing up.

My mom is able to be this kind of person because her mom, my Nana brought her up to be a loving, empathetic, caring, wonderful person. She has those attributes because of her mom's care during her growing up years. I love and respect my mom and would do ANYTHING for her, because of my respect and love toward her. She raised me to be that way. She instilled respect and love for my parents inside the core of my being while she was 'training me in the way I should go'. As I get older that verse in the Bible means so much more to me. Not just spiritual matters, but also in the character of my children. If we train up our children to be good to others and to always think of others first, to respect their elders, talk encouraging and uplifting to others - that is the kind of people they will be. Now I don't mean they'll be perfect, but they'll have those ideals at the core of the person they become. Then, when they grow into situations that require much of them - like taking care of an elderly or sick parent, they will be able to walk that road with empathy and understanding. They will desire to give back.

I am beginning (at times) to see some of this 'pay back', if you will, in my sons. What I mean is experiencing them wanting to help me, appreciate me and love me in different ways. For example, when we were driving back from Winter Haven, Florida this past week we were both so tired! After 8 hours of driving it was well past midnight, and you know how driving is when you are tired and it is way late! Nick had been sleeping for a while in the back. Hearing the rain (STORM) he woke up and came toward the front. He off offerred to drive because he was worried about me being sleepy and wanted me to be able to rest. Ok...I didn't say what you are thinking!!! You are possibly thinking that I should have said, "Are you crazy??? You drive at midnight in the rain????". Although my thoughts were close to that, I was so touched that he offered and his concern for me was genuine - I told him I wanted him to get some sleep since he would take a test shortly after we got home. Promised him I was good and then he asked me to please at least get another cup of coffee. I did and we got home safe. But the point was, I've tried my best to raise him to think of others before himself. Sometimes I he gonna get it??? Just being honest with you. Then,things happen like that example I just shared and I think.....he gets it. I am so thankful.

It's a journey of teaching and a life's journey of various seasons where we see the influence of a loving mother. Thank you mom, for loving and teaching me. For not accepting bad manners, meanness and hurtful attitudes within me as I was growing up. Because of your constant 'mothering' when I was a child, I've grown into a caring mom myself, raising boys to be caring dads one day. Happy Mother's Day!

Proverbs 22:6
Point your kids in the right direction—
when they're old they won't be lost. (The Message Translation)

LOST - defined by Meriam Websters dictionary by the following definitions;

1: not made use of, won, or claimed
2 a: no longer possessed b: no longer known

Let us not EVER give up as mothers taking the time to teach, love and go beyond the basics while we are raising our kids. Those traits are things that will take them into adult life and will eventually....come back to shower us with many blessings as well!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Grandpa Duncanson's Life Celebration

Well, I'm back from another week of being away. This time it was to attend Grandpa Duncanson's funeral. This may sound odd...but if you were there, it won't - The service and funeral were both just beautiful. It truly was a celebration and recognition of a life lived to the fullest!!! I am so glad I was able to be there with my entire family. Most everyone was there, even all the way from Alaska. In some ways, it was like a reunion week. For both Grandpa and all of us. Wow. I wish I had a few pics and I would post them for you. We got several of the family, his flowers, the church....and so on. But, Kevin still has the camera and I want to update you on what our boys experienced. I also want to thank you - those who shared ideas with me on talking to my boys about death and heaven. That's what its all about, helping each other when we are at a loss right??? Well, it helped and encouraged me that just being open and available in talking to my kids and letting them talk - would be the perfect way to help them get through this.

I blogged about Max having some mixed feelings about the passing of Grandpa Duncanson and the funeral. Well, he was just great and handled each situation with maturity. My sister inlaw Kelly swears he is an 80 year old man in a 9 year olds body. It does seem that way some times. This week was definitely an experience that I am sure he'll never forget and I am glad. When we approached the casket, he was nervous. After a moment, he reached his 9 year old hand into the casket to touch his Grandpa Duncanson. He just wanted to feel his skin. It made it real for him. And....quite honestly he just wanted to know what he felt like. ok too. He made a few trips to view Grandpa's body. Each time, his hand would reach in and gently stroke his Grandpa's arm, hand or hair. For him, that was closure. You know, sometimes the odd things our kids feel a need to do are the very things that help them understand the most. Even if we don't understand it right? I asked him afterwards what he thought. He just said, "Its ok. He's in heaven and this was just a speech to talk about his life and all the things he did". There you go...I could not have said that any better!

The service included Grandpa's favorite songs, a sermon by his beloved pastor, two son in-laws and special readings from his son, granddaughter and close friend. His granddaughter is just graduating from high school at the end of this month. She spoke so sweetly and fondly of Grandpa Duncanson. Great memories and stories. She told everyone that if they saw the family crying, it wasn't because he has died, it was merely because we are going to miss him greatly. Again, we all knew he was in a much better place.

My middle son Scout, was quiet and is still a bit quiet on the happenings of this week. He is a thinker, and it will take him some time to break down what he's seen, experienced and how he feels. I have to take note of that some days. You know, to not be frustrated because he won't talk to me. It's not about that. Its just the way he works. Maybe on the way home, or even at Grandma's this week - he'll think of something that he wants to talk about regarding the funeral and that will be the right time. Sometimes, its about us letting go of that control and allowing our kids to experience things at their own pace and way, right? Is that hard for anyone else out there???

Right after the service, my oldest son and I hopped in the car so that we could be back into Birmingham on Friday. Nick had a math test and a football scrimmage he could not miss. So, late Thursday afternoon we started out on our 12 hour drive home. Keep in mind, we had just survived the first 12 hour drive 1 day earlier.

Because Nick is 15, I was glad to share some of the driving with him. More than glad actually. And though the drive was not easy, it was a great experience. We had plenty of time to talk. We talked about school, his football, girls and yes....Grandpa's Funeral. He said that it was not as weird as he thought it would be to see Grandpa in the casket. He said that his body really looked empty and that he is glad he saw it. What I found most interesting is that he asked about the hymn we sang during the funeral, 'I'll Fly Away'. You see, he doesn't ever remember hearing that before. So, I explained to Nick that long before Chris Tomlin arrived on our worship scene at church - we had something called a hymnal. He told me that he actually liked that song as well as the other we sang which was 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus'. I have to admit, I always liked that hymn too. Kevin can tell you that I also Love 'Trust and Obey'. I hummed and sung that to each of my boys as I rocked them. It just seemed to be the most soothing to them when they were babies. That conversation ended with him telling me that he wished we sang more of those songs....and then asked if we even had hymnals in our church. I think the answer is no...haven't seen one in a while! And he mentioned the sermons at the funeral. He espcially liked the way one of his uncles talked. He said he felt like he could relate to his Uncle John in way that he rarely finds. That his words were just like he thinks. Now, to be honest with you, I am not sure what that means. But...I liked that he said it. I'll tell Uncle John that too! He's doing something really cool if he can relate to a 15 year old at a funeral! He's one cool pastor.

We talked about a lot of things, and truly this will be one of those things I remember for a long time to come. Our time in the car with just conversation for HOURS. Laughing about stupid stuff - like the people we saw at Sonic totally causing a disturbance at the walk up order speaker. We probably shouldn't have laughed....but it was funny.

Well, we are back to our normal routine now and soon, Kevin and the boys will come home. Grandma Duncanson will soon say goodbye to her other house guests and it will be quiet after much family time, reminiscing and laughing. Pray for her that she will have the peace that only Christ can bring us.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I forget he's only 9 sometimes....

Today was filled with teachable moments. For me, and my children. Two weeks ago, I wrote about my husband's grandfather and his fight with cancer. Since that blog, we've talked with Grandma Duncanson and other family members as we all began to make our hearts ready for his 'Homecoming'. We knew it was coming, but it still doesn't make it easy. On Friday, we learned that hospice had come in for 24 hour care. When that happens, it is a matter of a couple of days at best typically.

Today, was the day for our family. He went to be with the Lord around 2pm Birmingham time. When we got the call, we were quiet and sad. We told the kids - and they too had been expecting this for a few days. For the next few hours, we talked about Grandma and how she must feel. Not just because her husband died. But the fact that she celebrated her 64th wedding anniversary just a few weeks ago. Tonight, for the first time in 64 years, she is sleeping in her home alone. How blessed she was to share her life with him. How she must surely miss him tonight. We also spent hours talking about details. When will the funeral be? How will we get there? Where will we stay? What other details do we need to take care of in just a couple of days to prepare for a special day in honor of Grandpa Duncanson??

Tonight, as my youngest son Max was getting ready for bed, it hit me that I had not asked him specifically how he felt and if he had any questions about death or funerals...or even about Grandpa Duncanson. As his eyes filled with tears and his face flushed...I could tell that the answer was yes.

I hugged him and held him for the next couple of minutes while he cried. He wanted to know how many times he had been with Grandpa Duncanson. He told me he wished there could be more times and memories with him. So I asked him, "what is your favorite Grandpa Duncanson story". He quickly answered that question with, "Oh! That's easy. It's when Grandpa Duncanson wrestled the water moccasin when he was fishing". Ok, I've been married into this family for 17 years now, and I have never heard this story. Seriously. But, Max promises me that it's true. He told me that is the story behind the stuffed (taxidermy) water moccasin in Grandpa Duncanson's study. Ok, that's proof enough for me. The picture at the top of this blog - with all the dead stuff...those are a few of the trophies from his Grandpa Duncanson. It's true! And please, if you are with PETA, please don't comment for me. My plate is a little full this week and I'm quite frankly...just not in the mood to talk about your love for rattlesnakes or bobcats...whatever. Back to my blog - Max went on to tell me that Grandpa also told him that he had wrestled a couple of Alligators too. I'm smiling now, thinking either Grandpa had a really good time with Max...or Max has built up his Great Grandpa in a bigger than life way. Either way, it's Max's memory and that is just fine. I'm glad he has that to keep with him. That's pretty cool. His special part of Grandpa that will help get him through this next week of family time, tears, funeral and maybe some first time scary experiences. This is Max's first funeral. It won't be his last I know, but my mama heart worries for him and what he'll feel this week.

If you have never had a child experience loss (like me) you feel a bit a lost yourself as to how you lead them through it. Kevin and I have two teenagers in front of Max that don't need as much explaining sometimes. I'm kicking myself that it took me all day to have a quiet moment with my very sensitive 9 year old. I should have known. When I asked him about his feelings tonight....the tears just fell. As if he had been waiting all day for somebody to he felt. But I remember....I'm not perfect. No parent is, and we do the best we can right?? Thank you Lord for helping us!!! I've explained to Max that Grandpa is in heaven and that is where everyone who knows the Lord will be. We will surely see Grandpa again. I've told him that the body that he will see at the funeral is merely a shell and Grandpa Duncanson is not there, he is walking with the Lord and all the many people we've learned about in the Bible. I will hold his hand as he walks through this next week and answer any question he has. I think one of the most important things I've shared today is that it is ok to be sad and cry sometimes. That's normal. Get the tears REALLY makes us feel better when we do!!! He suggested that we take a box of Kleenex to the funeral. I think I'll take his advice on that. I also shared with him that not only does the Lord form us in our mother's belly, but he also knows the story of each of our lives. He knows each and every day we have lived and are going to live. God is not surprised by death - it is his invitation to an everlasting life with him, and he has an amazing ever after for all of those who believe in Him. That is what John 3:16 is all about. I am not certain he 'got' everything tonight. But, he will eventually. Talking about death is not fun, but it's something at one time or another we will have to do with our children. I want to be sure I'm allowing them opportunities to share what is on their heart. I found that I had to ask Max directly today. I wonder if he was scared to ask earlier. Maybe he thought that was something he shouldn't do because we all looked so sad. I don't know....sometimes you just don't know. But something I do know;

Psalm 139: 13 - 16

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

He knows our days even before we are born. They are ordained and he is a good God. Let us learn to be wise in living our life since our days are numbered. Making the most of every one.

We will miss you Grandpa Duncanson, but we have been so blessed by you!! Thank you for sharing with my boys your stories of wrestling with those snakes and alligators....they'll be in their minds forever I am sure.