Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yesterday was "Some Day"

Okay, I do have two other children and a husband, but I've got to do one more post on Kaleigh. Yesterday was "Some Day" for her--you know what I mean: Some day I'll give up my bottle, some day I'll learn the alphabet, some day I'll start school, some day I'll lose my first tooth...the some days come and go.

Some day...I'll get my learner's permit.

That's what happened yesterday. I got Kaleigh from school later than usual. They get out at 2:30something but I don't dream of being in that line waiting--why should I get out in all that traffic when if I wait just 20 minutes I can avoid it all together?! I've always believed this--to the point that TJ was picked up last almost every day when he went to elementary school. He thought that my not being in the front of the line 45 minutes before school let out meant that I didn't love him. What is up with that anyway? Why do those mothers have to do that? It only makes the rest of us look bad. I knew one woman in our church who led a Bible study for the early liners!!! Not me, I could hardly make it before the flashing light stopped flashing! Anyway, to let TJ know that I did truly LOVE him! I flip flopped his way of thinking. I promised that each time he was last being picked up I'd give him $5. From then on he saw my tardiness as his reward (and I made a greater effort not to be the very last mother there).

Kaleigh still pouts a little when I'm well past 3 getting her. And tomorrow was no different. We rushed home to pick up a birth certificate, a utility bill (that needs paying), her social security card and her school attendance form. And off we went to the Franklin Driver's License office. We almost drove to Columbia for her to take her test because the people are nicer down there and the wait is a whole lot shorter. Not only that, but I just sent a complaint to the office of complaints regarding the people at the Franklin station not being very friendly--and I was afraid they might know I'd done that and take it out on Kaleigh. BUT---we decided on going there anyway--it's closer.

An hour later Kaleigh went into the room to take her test. She was excited to miss only as many questions as her sister missed (we live in a very competitive family)--she made a GREAT picture, and came out a licensed learner.

It was some day.

I took her right away to Starbucks to celebrate (we celebrate everything!! I still remember the $10 march we took around the kitchen when she kept her pull-ups dry 10 days). After that I took her to the church parking lot for her first driving lesson. Do we ever have a great place to learn to drive! It's like a city of possibility outside that church!!! We drove, parked, turned on the blinkers and I got bored after about 10 minutes and talked her into driving to the Tucker's. Off we went--maybe the scariest ride down TS road that I've ever had! But she did great. When the Tucker's were not home to help us celebrate we decided to take off to TJ's house (our student pastor)--it was another 4 miles or so away.

They were having their own celebration inside when we got there! TJ and his son were singing at the top of their lungs and didn't hear us at the door until we knocked and rang the bell 3 times!! But, it was definitely the right place to celebrate--after Kaleigh was duly rewarded with "way to go!" from her student pastor, his wife, son and daughter--we headed home. (I drove.)

It was Kaleigh's "some day." She showed her Dad her license, we all oohed and ahhed over how pretty she is in the picture--and she settled back into real life with her Euro history "friend."

It was my some day too--only I didn't "settle." Instead, I cried a little and remembered a lot. The some day I discovered she was on her way...the some day I thought I miscarried her...the some day she finally arrived...the some day she took her first step...the some day she learned to ride her many some days.....

Monday, October 27, 2008

Kaleigh's essay on Nicaragua

Kaleigh McCoy
English II H, 4th period
Mr. Keathley
7 October 2008

A Journey Much Further Than Nicaragua

Going to Nicaragua in my seventh grade year changed my life forever. After seeing the poverty-stricken people that still readily embraced joy and love, my life, and the very fiber of my being was transformed. Never again would I go a day in my life without thinking about those people, and so many others that consistently love and serve their God and one another, while struggling simply to survive. However, even more that that, my heart goes out to those who do not have faith in Jesus Christ to hold onto; day after day they have no hope and no purpose, but only to continue to exist.

When I stepped off the plane, though I did not know it at the time, my life would never be the same again. The ride to the mission house was seemingly endless. As the rain pounded on the windows, and the lightning lit the sky, my eyes were opened to a world different than anything I’d ever seen. At every stoplight, children would be banging on the windows, shouting, trying to sell everything from food to watches to birds and turtles. These little children had been driven by desperation to earn what little money they could to avoid the shame of having to return to their parents empty-handed, and, here I am, complaining if my parents give me too many chores. The streets were full of people simply walking around in the chaos of their everyday lives. When we finally arrived at the mission house, we quickly unloaded and had a brief orientation from Guillermo. The room that I was staying in had no air conditioning, but we did have the luxury of fans unlike some of the men. It was there, in the hot humid bedroom, that my eyes first began to overflow. How could a child, younger than me, be forced to go and sell tings on the street, just so that their families can afford a meal? Why couldn’t they just be kids? Why were there countless people in the streets that appeared to be homeless? I could not understand how this was not even that traumatic, and these people were blessed compared to millions of others around the world, but I had only barely had a glimpse.

The following day, after a church service in Managua, we embarked on a journey to Juigalpa. On this three hour trip, I saw many average Nicaraguan homes. Most consisted of about a 12x12 building made out of scrap metal. I stared in astonishment when a boy, who could not have been more than six years old, was outside wielding a machete in order to “mow the lawn.” Just like the kids in the city, this boy had much more responsibility than any child I’d ever met. Not thirty minutes later, I noticed a group of boys playing baseball with a piece of wood and a rolled up pair of socks. They appeared to be having the most fun ever. I could not understand how anyone could be aware of this kind of poverty, where little boys could not even have a real ball and bat, and not do anything about it.

The most influential experience I had while in Nicaragua was on the fifth day when we visited a rural village. As we drove through the dirt roads, towards the local church, my heart grew heavy and my eyes filled with tears. As far as I could see, small, concrete, two-roomed homes lined the streets. Children with inadequate clothing, some too small, most too big, were running after the bus playing. After we arrived at the open air church building, our team split up into groups and filled the streets. We each had an interpreter with us. We went from one doorless house to the next, inviting their residents to a service that evening at the local church. Many people invited us into their homes. All of the houses were the same: two 10x10 rooms, a bedroom, and a sitting room. All the cooking and, in reality, living, was done outside. Families as large as seven or eight would share a single bedroom. The image was almost embarrassing to me. The thought that these people lived like this their whole lives, not even thinking twice, and I, in my lavish American lifestyle, always seem to find something to complain about. I realized how self-centered, selfish, and materialistic I was.

The few weeks I have spent in Nicaragua have made a massive impact on my life. I can not be satisfied living my comfortable life, after seeing firsthand what so many people live through. The fact that I had so much, and wanted even more, while there are children, that cannot even afford clothes that fit them and are lucky if they get a meal, are all over this world, put me to shame. Ever since that trip, I cannot stop thinking about the poor in this word, physically and spiritually. I pray that I never let myself forget them, but even more than that, I pray that I allow my life to be used by God, now and in the future, to help change. Knowing about that pain in the world and ignoring it or doing nothing but talk about it is far worse that not knowing at all.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kaleigh's Mission Trip to Nicaragua

Okay, Betty just reminded (comment on last post) that Kaleigh went to Nicaragua this past week. OH MY!! This week is always the longest week of the year for me. Ever since Kaleigh first started visiting Nicaragua when she was 12! I am so proud of her--and so pondering what God has in mind for her life.

She wrote a paper for school the other week about a life changing event. Her life changing event was her first trip to Nicaragua. I'm going to get that paper from her and print some of it here one of these days. But this was the part that really got me...she said, "now that I've seen poverty. I cannot NOT do something about it."

Wow--how many of us should be so pro-active. The past 3 years Kaleigh's earned her own money for this trip. She wants nothing all year except to raise her funds to go again just so she can hold the children, renew friendships with the people she's met before and work to share God's love in tangible ways. Every year she comes back different. More grateful, sometimes almost feeling guilty (this year she asked me to make her only a half a sandwhich because she'd been tossing the other half in the trash and she said, "I can't do that anymore.").

I saw something new in her this time--it's confidence and a real passion to get her friends to go back with her. She's right now planning another trip for June of next summer. I am so excited to see her embrace God's love for people through this trip!!

Of course Kaleigh couldn't have this experience without Mrs. Donna (our preschool minister who coordinates the Nicaragua mission trip) and the other adults who always fill in as Nicaraguan Moms and Dads for her during this week. THANK YOU EVERYONE who love my Kaleigh and pour into her!!

I'll get some pictures and post soon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pictures from our weekend

Thought you might enjoy some pictures.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Sister's Wedding

My sister got married this weekend so I went to celebrate with her. Mikel went with me--It was quite the trip.

Here are the things I liked:

Mikel and I actually got to hang out together all weekend! She didn't drive off in the car to text me 3 hours later asking for another 30 minutes to be tacked on to her curfew. I like the fact that she still likes hanging out with me (when she doesn't have a choice).

My parents made the trip down, bringing with them the chifferobe (not sure at all if I spelled that correctly-but it's a large piece of furniture that my grandma used for a closet). I like the fact that a parent's love never stops giving no matter how old you get to be.

My sister has her own house! She bought it with her own money and has decorated it beautifully. I liked that they have 3 "Dans" surrounding them--how fun is that? Three men named Dan. One on the right, one across the cul-de-sac and one behind them.

My new brother-in-law Steve. He helped my sister put the pieces back together, and loves her enough to say "I do." What kind of sister wouldn't like the man who loves her sister!

My neices. They are simply precious. Fun, behavin', honest and incredible survivors. I like them a whole lot!

Here are the things I pondered:

Making vows to one another in front of a very few friends and family members is much more serious it seemed to me than making them in front of a church full of strangers.

My neices stood with their mother, and their step-grandmother, their step-cousin, their step-uncle and their step/step-cousin. (At least that's the way they described him to Mikel. When she asked what that was supposed to mean, Kes said, "Well, it means he's hardly related to us at all!") Hmmm...

I sat next to my (old) brother-in-law at dinner (yes, he came to the wedding and the dinner after--special guest of the groom) and he made me a hang man's noose out of the straw wrapper (with a working knot!). He told me it was his only dinner table trick and that he gave it to me because his girlfriend had already seen it before. That was in response to me asking if it was some kind of wedding party favor. Hmmmm....

And these are the things I observed:

Love really does conquer all--all sorrow, all pain, all broken promises and regrets. Love believes and receives, tries again and one more time.

Life is full of regrets. And we're all broken people. But children bounce back. I think they have Tigger in them. They take life in stride, trust their parents and simply love the people put in their paths. They don't judge, they don't criticize and they don't try to figure it all out.

The more I learn, the more I realize I will never know. And the more I think I know, the more I realize I simply have not yet learned.

Only those who don't have a clue would dare pass judgement on others--for unless you've been where they've been, walked in their shoes, and collected their tears--you just don't have a right to go there.

"til death do us part..."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I met some more amazing women yesterday

I was in Grundy, Virginia this weekend. It's a tiny coal mining community with a great big vision and the power of move mountains! (literally--they have moved a mountain, and I met the wife of the mountain-moving man who did the deed!) I was in Grundy (or Maxie, or Harman) to partner with the women at Harman Memorial Baptist Church who were hosting their first ever women's conference. And...

I met some amazing women. One was Dee Dee. She is a physical therapist who told me right off that she met her husband in a nursing home. No, he wasn't a patient--but rather an optometrist. His office is in "town" (I couldn't ever quite figure out where 'town' was, but evidently neither can those who live there. For when they moved their mountain, they also opened a discussion as to where they want to move their town! The final decision is still up in the air).
Dee Dee called me several weeks ago--said she found me on the internet, and wondered if I might be interested in leading their conference. As I listened to her tell me what the Lord put on her heart, my mind wandered back to the early years at TSC. Something kindled inside of me (I learned this weekend it was the power of the Holy Spirit responding to the prayers on their end of the phone). And I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Grundy, Virginia (where ever that was) was where I needed to be on October 10 and 11.

Another amazing woman was Belinda. She's the pastor's wife. She grew up in a pastor's home (which is always encouraging to me when I see beautiful women embracing the ministry even after growing up in a pastor's home! There is HOPE for my three!!). She tole me that because her father was a pastor, she told the Lord that when she got married, she would NOT marry a pastor. However she did marry a Gideon and that Gideon later became a pastor! When she told me this story she laughed (with genuine joy) and said, "God tricked me into being a pastor's wife!" Isn't that funny???

Then I also met the former pastor's wife, Billie Joyce Owens. Her husband died in a car accident four years ago, and although I detected an undeniable loss --it was resting safely beneath a fountain of joy that bubbled over with faith, peace and abundance. She spoke of God as if He were her very BEST FRIEND (I've no doubt He is) --and told me of the amazing gift He gave her in her grandson.

And I can't remember the names of everyone I met--but I will remember the face and the testimony of an elderly woman who sat on the front row Saturday morning. She caught me in the break and shared how her husband of nearly 60 years (would have been 60 years October 23) died this past June. She shared how much she missed him. I exclaimed "what a gift to have a marriage for that many years!" and she responded, "there's not ever been another woman who was loved as good as me." She went on to say that she married him when she was 13, and had 5 beautiful children. She told me that her firstborn was married this past August, and he told his mother that he wanted what she and his Dad had. She told him "then do what your father did. Listen when she tells you what you need to hear!" I thought this was some of the best marriage advice I'd ever heard!! When she told me that her husband was 81 when he died, I said, "you must have taken great care of him." to which she responded, "we took care of one another." Isn't that sweet? I pray I can have a testimony like that when I use a walker to go to church.

I had a traveling companion this weekend. My friend Kim. She too amazes me. Kim is a single mother who has done an amazing job of raising her daughters. As we talked (and talked and talked) during the 8 hour drive from here to there and back home again, she became a hero in my eyes. But everytime I said, "wow, Kim you are amazing!" She would respond, "no, not me. I'm nothing! I would've crashed and burned a long time ago had it not been for the Lord."

So---maybe it's not the women that are so amazing, but rather their God. I learned this weekend that some people MOVE MOUNTAINS~ I learned this weekend that others conquer the storms, and I learned this weekend that women in the backwoods of Virginia are changing the world.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Textbooks are like siblings

My AP European History taking sophomore informed me yesterday that textbooks are like siblings. She and her classmates have pet names for their textbooks. Their teacher (whom they love all except for the massive amounts of homework he assigns) encouraged them to have an amiable relationship with these books--he said, "they need to be your best friends."

That's what spurred Kaleigh on to tell me that her textbooks are definitely NOT her best friends. She said, "my Euro textbooks are like a siblings. I have to spend a whole lot of time with them and I don't like them at all. In fact, the more time I spend with them the less I like 'em!"

There you have it.

My eldest (the daughter that has deserted us on her march to ZION)...told me several years ago that she didn't have issues, she had siblings. She said, "if you'd never had Kaleigh and TJ I never would've had any problems."

Well then...

TJ doesn't even engage the matter in conversation. Now that we've moved him up to the attic he slips in and out trying hard not to say the wrong thing or look the wrong way. Honestly I think he's got it best...two older sisters that have tried to direct his life from day 1, and a great understanding of what he'll be getting into if he decides one day to marry. Come to think of it, no wonder he's immersed in basketball!!

I have to agree with my 3. Textbooks ARE like siblings--siblings ARE problems--and basketball sure beats being nanny-goated by a couple of older sisters.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Prayer meeting in the Equipping Center

I thought I was going to stay home last night and work on my book-- "Learning to Love the 'S' Words: Surrender." But, Kaleigh had another plan. She invited me to join her at the prayer meeting for the Nicaragua mission team. They leave this coming Saturday--and Kaleigh's going for the 4th year in a row!

We had the prayer meeting in the new Equipping center. We met in the preschool worship room. There were between 25 and 30 of us there to pray for the 12 members of the mission team. We circled up our chairs, and when Donna asked me to open the prayer time I was suddenly overwhelmed by the moment.

I have moments like that...right out of nowhere I'm bombarded by the irony of where I am, where I've been and where I'm going! Here I was on the Sunday evening of the first Sunday we opened this new building for ministry. I was sitting next to my 15 year old daughter who was sitting between me and one of her best friends--inviting God to pour His safety, leadership and love on the mission team. That was my present.

But then came my past.
  1. I was sitting in another room (one that no longer exists due to the renovation going on in the old building for our new youth center) and I was leading our first mission team (first ever for TSC) as we were preparing to go to Nicaragua.
  2. Then I was standing in the kitchen area outside the Venue (which was then the worship center), posing for a picture with Kaleigh (age 5) and her friend Will (also 5) and his mother--the two of them dressed in those little white baptism robes; Terra and me beaming from ear to ear-- YES LORD! YOU SAVED MY CHILD!
  3. I was in the "Red Brick" garage talking with the Vision team and our construction company about our vision for this next building. We passionately said that if we were going to spend this much money to build this kind of building smack dab in the middle of the belt buckle of the Bible belt--then we would be intentional about sending people out from this place!

And in my present, God let me see that the past was all coming together. Our church is sending 3 groups out this week. One to Mexico, another to east Asia and this one to Nicaragua (these 3 are part of many we've sent already this year). It all began many years ago--with that one little group I took to Nicaragua. My daughter and Will are walking in their faith! Both of them growing--he committed to pray for her during her trip--and she eagerly anticipating another great week serving the people she loves--sharing Jesus with those who have so little. And only God would put me in a prayer service (for the sole purpose of sending missionaries out) on the very day we opened our Equipping Center.

As I prayed I almost choked on the teeny little glimpse of what is yet to come. Kaleigh will continue to grow. She'll keep seeking after the Lord and He will continue to guide her into the very work He had in mind that she would do. The 3 women who've never been on a mission trip before will never be the same again. And this brand new building we just opened Sunday will send out hundreds, yes...even thousands of missionaries, preachers, lay leaders, counselors, teachers, mighty men and women of God in the years to come.

To God be the glory great things He has done!

Great things He is doing!

And Great things He will continue to do!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

We won, we lost, we won, we lost, we won, we won

We WON!! Our sophomore class of '11 beat all the others. Our float blew the judges away and we took first place!! I was so proud of these students. They had a great time, worked hard and worked together! This week is rapidly becoming a highlight of my year. Way to go guys!!

We lost...both our high schools had their homecoming games last night. Tom and I went to Zion first (their game started at 7 while IHS started their game at 7:30). Unfortunately the Zion eagles were playing the number 1 ranked team in their division. We lost...but we had a great time watching! The homecoming court was beautiful. I loved the way the attendants all wore black dresses and the queen wore white. They all rode in convertible classics. Very classy. Mikel's boyfriend plays center--and he did great. Not a single "hike" was missed. :)

We won!! Tom and I left Zion Christian Academy's game at half time and arrived at IHS right as the 3rd quarter began. The score board wasn't working so I never really new what the score was. But, we won!! I love IHS football games, the fans are so TOTALLY into it!! This was also a big night because Kaleigh found her own ride to the game. If you know my Kaleigh you know this is HUGE!!

We lost...if you know have more than one child, you know what it's like to have the best of times and the worst of times at the same time. Today--after a week of hosting the float building at my house, Kaleigh ended up at home alone during the homecoming dance. She was a little bit down so I made a pan of brownies. :)

We won...Meanwhile, Mikel rushed in at 3:45PM and dressed in record time to go to her homecoming dance with her very good-lookin', FINE boyfriend. Tom and I have to be careful not to be too excited over him!! He's great for her as far as we can tell-but we can't like him too much or that will work against him in her book.

And, we won...TJ had 3 friends over to make a simple machine today--I think it's a project for his science class. There was one very smart boy and two very pretty girls. Way to go TJ! All I know is they used the saw quite a bit, ate a pepperoni pizza, and the boy left TJ with the two pretty girls. He left with both girls to go watch HMS play in the Independence Bowl. Then, TJ came back home just in time to shower and prepare for his "not date" with a beautiful little girl and her Dad. :) TJ--what a boy!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A picture speaks a thousand words...

Class of '11 Float Construction. Tissue paper flowers in my living room, snacks, sloppy joes, chili and lemonade in the kitchen, a plywood and chicken wired trailer in my garage and lots of teenagers EVERYWHERE!

This was TJ's gift from the women who work the 5AM shift at the rec center. They wanted to congratulate him for making the basketball team. :)

And...Kaleigh's surprise birthday party!