Saturday, August 30, 2008

Spring Hill Place and my friend Robin

Last night I did what I do so many nights...taxied Kaleigh and a few of her friends to a party. We were running late (which is amazingly typical of me!!) and in our rush, I never once considered where I was going. They told me that Shelby lived in Spring Hill Place, so to Spring Hill Place we went. They told me it was a pool party, but when we got to the pool, there wasn't a soul there. "Oh yea, we're going to eat pizza and cake at her house before we go to the pool!" My party animals informed me.

So, "where's her house?"

"Uh, we dunno."

"Does anyone have her address?"

Brad happened to bring his invitation and YES, we had an address...34## Round Hill Lane. So, armed with information we proceeded. Round Hill Lane we were on, so we drove forward, only when the addresses got to 3054 they stopped, no 3100's, 3200's and certainly no 3400's. The road ended into a construction trail (we have lots of those in our community, hard packed dirt and gravel with dump trucks and bulldozers parked at the end). Hmmmm. So what were we to do next?

That's when I got all excited about going to TSC. When we turned onto Round Hill Lane earlier (before we remembered the pizza/cake part of the party plan), we saw two of our TSC preschool teachers getting out of their cars and carrying casserole dishes with them. I mentioned that some of our church members must be having a party that night in that house. I didn't know which of them lived there--but I recognized the party guests. So...we turned around and headed back to the house when I saw my friend Robin. She's actually one of only two people I know personally that live in Spring Hill Place. Robin was headed to the house, casserole dish in hand when we caught up with her.

"Robin! Wow, am I glad to see you." I explained our dilemma, and she knew exactly where the "other" Round Hill Lane would be found. Here's how it worked, eventually Spring Hill Place neighborhood plans are to connect Round Hill Lane from the front to the north side of the neighborhood. But right now they are unconnected. If we would take a left then a right then another right we'd find a round about, vear to the right and there we'd find the rest of Round Hill Lane.

Go figure. The only way we could have found Shelby's house would have been if we'd gone online and mapquested it--OR we could have called her, OR we could ask someone who knew (Robin!). But since we didn't have the foresight to mapquest, we were at the mercy of someone else telling us how to get there.

I got to thinking about that. How many times do I start out on a trip certain of my destination, only to find myself confused along the way? How willing am I to ask for help? How often does God intervene and take care of me with an expert! (Like He did with Robin.) How often am I someone else's "expert?"

We followed Robin's directions, found Shelby's house (it was the one with the pink sweet 16 balloons tied to the mailbox). Everyone had a great time, and my backseat is only a little bit soggy from their wet bodies on the way home. (Did anyone think to take a towel to a pool party??? I don't THINK so!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I made applesauce this morning

We have one apple tree in our yard. The first year it produced 3 apples. We stretched them to make one pie. The next year was last year, we had that late frost in April and it killed all the blooms so we had no apples last year. But this year! Oh my did our little tree produce! We've been picking apples for a month, and I still have a few hanging on!

And these are not your typical backyard apple tree apples. They look like the ones you purchase at Kroger! I kid you not, when I get a little more time than I've had these past few days, I'm gonna download the pictures I took and put them on here so you can see what I'm talking about.

We've given away bookoodles of apples--I furnished my neighbor Lisa's entire school. She's a teacher and she took some with her to share with the others! They were so well received she came back for seconds (which we were more than happy to give.)

I've made two pies and three cakes, and today...I made applesauce.

That's a first for me, and when you get to be my age, "firsts" are red letter days on the calendar! I took the bag of apples my other neighbor shared with me (on Saturday her two little grandsons came over lugging a sack filled with apples between them. They explained that their grandma sent them over--we smiled, said "thank you" even though we didn't need anymore apples and thought they were incredible cute until the little one said, "I'm a Alabama BAMA!" Still kinda cute, even for a bama fan.) When they went home we did the taste test. Her apples were more the backyard variety. But still good for making applesauce.

Now this you need to know about me. I can't stand for anything to go to waste! (That's why I've gained the typical 20 in my 20 plus years of marriage and 16 plus years of parenting.) I HATE IT! I either freeze or make muffins out of brown bananas. I just can't toss them out. So, with apples piling up and all my friends supplied, I just thought, why not make some applesauce?!

As soon as the girls left for school, I started peeling apples. It was 7AM, I was in my nightclothes, knife in hand, apples rinsing in the sink, peeling and coring 24 cups of apples. (I'm sure I lost count) That's when it hit me...memories of Grandma Smith. I spent a week of each summer at her house, and she was always doing something. Shelling peas, stringing beans, blanching apples, soaking pickles--always something. She had a pantry that was really a closet in her kitchen (a very dark closet). And her closet was stacked with Mason Jars. Jellies, Jams, Preserves, Relishes, Pickles (sweet, dill, even watermelon rind!)...such amazing memories. I could almost see her wrinkled hands holding wormy apples, peeling them with ease (I must tell you that I've yet to find one worm in my apples--they are amazing!!).

If made me kinda sad remembering her and Papa like that. They got up so early in the morning that they'd already worked two hours before serving breakfast. I waited to rise to the smell of bacon frying for the breakfast. My papa always ate breakfast with us, and he read the daily Bible reading from his little devotional booklet--I think it might have been "My Daily Bread." Grandma would fiddle with the napkin as he read, then we'd all bow our heads for his prayer. I can't remember all of his prayer but this is how it always ended, "Lord, bless the bereaved, the poor and the less fortunate than we. Amen."

Sweet memories. I don't ever remember seeing my Grandma sit still--unless she was showing me how to crochet, or showing my mother the quilt she was working on. As my apples boiled, I could almost close my eyes and imagine I was in her kitchen. She'll be 95 next week. We're almost exactly 50 years apart in age. (Hmmm, I'm almost to where she was when I was born!) She never wanted this to happen, but it happened anyway. Tiny little strokes and dementia robbed her of our mind and today she sits in a nursing home still fiddling with her napkins. If only she could know that I made applesauce this morning...she'd be proud.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'm Gonna Blog About That

Every day I haul kids around in my toyota highlander, we talk--they say something profound (usually profoundly funny) and I say, "I'm gonna blog about that!" They say, "Mom, you always say that. You'd be a better blogger if you just would rather than talking about it!" So...Kaleigh and TJ here you go...(not that they are reading, blogging is for "old people" did you know that?)

Yesterday on the way to church TJ said, "Mom, here's the thing. Mikel just got to go to Zion. You're paying her tuition to a private school and that's gotta be a lot--but it's a Christian school and I understand and everything and it's good. (then before I could interrupt, he put his hand up and continued) AND, Kaleigh--she goes on mission trips and stuff, and you and Dad always make sure she has enough money to do that after she raises her support. So, I was just thinking...from here on out, I'm just going to ask for things from you and Dad like this--Can I play basketball and get some training for that IN JESUS' NAME?!"

There you have it. I've blogged about that!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The First Week of School

Okay, so Tom's home--all is well with that, AND we survived the "First Week of School." If you want the spiritual version of this, go to my website and check out my devotion at

But, for the "real" scoop, you're in the right place.

Day 1 was great. Mikel and Kaleigh came home excited about their classes, seeing friends again and basically getting back into the groove of things. Kaleigh hosted a "back to school" pool party and TJ hardly noticed he was in class (isn't school about the friends???).

Day 2-pretty good as well. Kaleigh and her friends had yet to realize school had begun, and once again they were in my pool. Mikel was invited to eat outside with the seniors at lunch and after school she and TJ went shopping. The evening was spent organizing notebooks, relocating calculators and talking about the teachers.

Day 3--not so good. Kaleigh and her friends started pulling together their summer homework (but still found time to be by my pool); TJ realized classes had actually begun; and Mikel couldn't find anyone to sit with at lunch.

Day 4--good and bad. Kaleigh and friends--oh yes they were still in my backyard now picking apples (the pool was getting old). TJ--totally in his element. And Mikel begged off suffering from allergies she took her first sick day.

Day 5--the best of times and the worst of times. TJ-he's fine! Kaleigh--I'm thinking we STILL had friends over after school! But, Mikel...text I received at 10:40AM--"Mom, can I please go to another school? I'm miserable here."

What's a mom to do when she gets a message like that? High School's supposed to be fun. By the time you're in the 11th grade you should be running with your friends, ruling the hallways and juggling parties. But Mikel's friends were scattered out, and hardly any of them in her lunch period (those 20 minutes can make or break your day. I thank God for her friend Kaitlyn who ate with her when they found one another Wednesday), and she was one of about 35 in her classes, had already had to change her schedule because they'd given her two study halls--and she told me the "schedule changer" was in a terrible bad's tough.

Mikel has several good friends who attend Zion Christian Academy. It's a small Christian college preparatory school about 30 miles from us. For the past two years Mikel's begged to go there. But with our schedules 3 hours on the road daily (to take and pick her up) was out of the question. So, we never entertained the thought. However, Mikel's driving now. Last year she attended many of Zion's sports events, and this summer she visited back and forth often. So when she asked to change schools I had no doubt where she wanted to go.

However, another school invites another entire community into our lives. And we already share many communities in our home. There's Thompson Station Church (which is really several communities in one--the youth group for the kids, women's ministry for me and all of it for Tom); then we have Tom serving the TN Baptist Convention as president this year, Mikel playing travel softball, TJ playing basketball, Kaleigh PLAYING, and me traveling most weekends to the far corners of the world speaking. Then...we have Independence High School and Heritage Middle School. There's quite enough juggling going on already!

But here's the deal. I'm learning that as my children grow up--my parenting shifts a bit. When they were young, they were an extension of Tom and me. I chose who they played with, where they went--even what they were involved in. But as they grow, they start choosing some of those things for themselves. And thus, we find ourselves now carefully meandering through five individual lives that come together for support--mostly financial and maybe a little emotional, eating and sleeping. As I study my individuals (and wonder at the way God is growing them), I reluctantly realize that they (not me) will determine the course of their lives! So, the tricky part is knowing when to expand the boundaries and when to draw them in. With teenagers it's an ebb and flow kind of thing.

Tom and I listened to Mikel's pain. I took her shopping when she got home from school Friday afternoon so I could spend time with her and hear her hurt. We didn't find much to buy, but I did give validity to her by hearing her out. When Tom got home I tried my best to translate what was going on (remember, he was fresh off the boat!). Our hearts broke over what she was experiencing and we prayed. Sunday at church we prayed--I LOVE HOW WE CAN PRAY IN THE SETTING OF OUR WORSHIP SERVICES!! God meets us there in powerful ways!

Then Tom suggested that we go to Zion and talk with the headmaster. So, on Monday we went--just the two of us, praying as we drove down and asking God to give us total peace if we should let Mikel enroll. He gave us peace! Tuesday she "shadowed" one of her friends so that she could see how different Zion would be from IHS, then today she enrolled.

Is this going to be easy? NO!
Do I like her driving 40 minutes one way to school each morning and returning those same miles home in the afternoon? NO!
Would it be easier for her to stay where she was? YES!
Is public school fine for my kids? YES!
Do we love Mikel and want the very best for her? YES.

And we have determined that this just might be it for her. No more arguing with us over spending time with her friends down there to the detriment of developing better friends here. No more juggling her time between school, church and her "Zion connection." Now, she simply has two worlds--school and church! It's a little larger perimeter we've allowed her. A little more "letting go" in preparation for the life she'll be facing a few years from now. And I'm thinking a little more of God's plan unfolding for her.

I am incredibly blessed to be Tom's wife (and Mikel is even more blessed to be his daughter!). Tom's normal response to all this would have been, "Mikel, you just need to get with the program!" And, in time she would have--but this time, through his leadership he said, "maybe Mikel's program is different than what I thought." What a powerful lesson for us as parents to learn!

I hope your first week of school was all that God had in mind for you too!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Want to know where Tom is really???

The last time I saw him he was here.

Says he's sleeping here.

He traded us for these guys.

But I'm sure ready to have him home!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I think the women at TSC are amazing!

I know, I should be writing about the first day of school (and I will--hopefully before the last), or I should tell you all about my trip to Spanish Wells, Bahamas and swimming with the dolphins (and I will because it was one of the most incredible things I've ever done) but right now I want to talk about the most amazing women in the world.
They go to my church. But that's not what makes them amazing. It's what they do when they're not at church that amazes me. Kari's the wife of a soldier who's serving in Iraq. He responsible for over 300 Iraqi soldiers. Kari's suffered multiple losses in her family this year (grandfather, aunt, more...) and she's had to be here while he's there--he's had to travel two hours to get 30 minutes on the phone just to talk to her! And Kari praises God. She praises Him for holding her, for watching over her, for leading her husband as he baptizes men in Iraq, for teaching her more than she ever knew she needed to know...Kari amazes me.
Melissa amazes me. I'm not going to say another word about it--just go to her blogspot and read for yourself!(She's on my list)
Angela amazes me. She leads the preschool ministry at our church, but a long time ago she kept the resource room in order when I led the preschool ministry at our church. To see how Angela has yielded her life to God, and allowed Him to work through her-you'll just have to come to our church, put your baby in one of our classes and see for yourself! But what I love about Angela is that she hasn't met an obstacle she's not prepared to conquer (including skis behind my boat).
Mendy amazes me. She serves faithfully and thoroughly!! This summer she coordinated one of the greatest gatherings of women we've ever experienced at our summer Bible study! She covered every detail and begged us to never mention a word of this to anyone. That amazes me...
Kathleen and Alicia and Jill amaze me. They took off to Africa and wrapped their arms around those African children and loved them and got covered with dirt and came home exhausted and cry when you ask them to talk about their experience.
Then, the women who shared their testimonies at our Bible study this summer amaze me, my dear friend Kate, my new friend Lisa, my fun friend Kimberly, the list goes on and on--everyone's still talking about it and I just can't get over how God is working in the lives of these women!!Truly I am most blessed--to live, work, and share the building of this piece of the kingdom with such amazing women!

I know, they are the women in my very own church. And many pastors wives are terrified of that group--but not me. They simply amaze me. I LOVE the fact that they're my sisters, that they're my friends and that they display JESUS in such a beautiful way.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

We WON!! Middle TN Thunderbolts, World Series CHAMPS!

We Won!! Sunday afternoon we beat the same team we had to beat Saturday to stay in the play-offs. It was HOT, we were HOT! And the girls got to win a trophy bigger than us. I'm just here to say that watching your daughter play ball is the hardest and perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences in all the world! I can go into more detail later. I'll download a pic soon.