Sunday, December 30, 2007

Book Update

Several of you have sent emails asking what the "heaven" book I mentioned in the last posting is. So, I thought it might be time to go ahead and do another book update. With all that's been happening, my reading has slowed substantially, but it still hasn't come to a halt. Two of the books on this list I haven't actually finished reading, but here we go:

Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter: This was my selection for our book club. It is a kid's book, really, but it is wonderful. I actually retold the entire book to Mom on our last trip to the beach... It's the story of a little Irish orphan boy, filled with valor, a hard work ethic, and love for his "Swamp Angel." The book opens as he is running away from his first job out of the orphanage. He was abused because the plantation owner who hired him didn't know that he was missing an arm. The rest of the story is about how he overcomes his disability, finds "family," falls in love with an unobtainable beauty, and earns the respect of all he meets. It is very touching and has a surprise ending. Porter was also an avid nature lover and this colors the entire novel.

by George Eliot: This is one of the books that I haven't actually finished. I bought an antique copy, and it actually came with two of Eliot's books in one. For this reason, it is HUGE, and I had people at the doctor's office ask me if it was an antique Bible I was reading :) Perhaps it's the daunting size, or maybe the problem is that I watched my BBC movie and ruined all the surprises, but I have had a hard time getting into it. I have never started a book and not finished it, so I will get around to it eventually, but right now I've been too pre-occupied to read a book that isn't going to drag me along with it.

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster: Florence in springtime, English countryside, charming little community...this book has a great back-drop. The story, however, is a little on the strange side. This books shows the difference between loving someone from your mind and loving someone from your heart. Unfortunately, my heart never did fall in love with the "hero" of this novel...He was just a little flighty. I would recommend the movie over the book in this case, which is something I rarely would say.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: I LOVE THIS BOOK! My love for reading started as a young girl reading my Mom's old Nancy Drew books. Perhaps that's why there has always been a special place in my heart for the mystery...the twist. This book has all the elements I love: rags to riches love story, English estates, old-world setting, and SUSPENSE. The creepy house matron, Ms. Danvers, is sure to make an ever-lasting impression on your psyche, and there are twists that will make you gasp out loud. I should probably clarify that this is just a Gothic novel and not Stephen King or anything like that. If you've read Jane Eyre, you will see some definite parallels. Rebecca was my favorite book in high school, and re-reading it as a wife was even better.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger: First of all, can you tell me how I am supposed to pronounce that author's last name :) There was a very nice black man at Books-a-Million who looked up this book title for me so that I could locate the book by the author's last name. I asked him to repeat it three times, turning more red with each re-pronunciation, until he finally laughed and said, "That girl was one letter off from being really wrong."

I decided to forgo our book club selection of the month because I read the first page and it sounded depressing. I decided there was enough in my life bringing sadness, and I just wanted an easy-to-read page turner to take me into some other fascinating world. I remembered this unusual title being mentioned by one of our book club members, so I decided to give it a go. It was a page-turner, the story line was very clever and must have taken a LOT of planning for the author. I have just still yet to find a book written in the last 15 years, about present-day society, that I would place on a level playing field with the old stuff. This, like most other new stuff I've read, seems to need to use crude language, or sex, or some convention like time traveling, to keep the reader's attention. Something about that just seems plastic to me.

Saying all that, I couldn't put this book down. It may have seemed a little plastic and a little raunchy at times, but the plot was intriguing. Unfortunately, I ran from a book that I thought had a depressing tone, straight into this book where a mother dies of cancer and other death that I hate to give away.

Heaven by Randy Alcorn: I haven't finished this one yet either, but it is fascinating. There is so much that I never knew! Alcorn does a good job of showing different opinions, and then stating his own. Everything (at least so far) has been based on Scripture. Did you know that the heaven that exists now is not the same heaven that we will live in for eternity? Did you know that the verse everyone quotes about there being no more tears or sorrow in heaven is referring to the New Jerusalem, not the intermediate heaven that exists now? Alcorn believes that the Saints (those in heaven now) can see those of us on earth, and they even pray for us. I won't give any more away, but I would highly recommend this book.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Where to Now?

Last night I dreamed Mom came back. We said we were going to believe with her until her last breath, and even then we would believe God could raise her from the dead like Lazarus if He wanted. I guess that's why last night I dreamed she was suddenly just hanging out in the house. She was wearing her white beach cover-up, blond hair, smiling, holding Pace and rallying us all to go to the pool and lay out with her. We were all looking at each other like, "Is she serious?" and I asked her if she was sure the sun wouldn't zap her energy too much. We were talking in whispers, not wanting to freak her out because she obviously didn't know that we'd been to her graveside a few days before. I even remember pulling Dad into the garage and asking him if it was really OK to let her lay out. He said, "If that's what she wants, but take her by the doctor first and get her kidneys checked." :) Pretty vivid, huh.

Dreams aside, I realized yesterday that I really do think about her constantly. I woke up, made the bed, walked downstairs, and had part of a conversation before I was jolted by the realization that I hadn't re-remembered that Mom is gone for that 10 minute span. It isn't like I walk around heavy with memories, but everything is tinged by her or the lack thereof. How then am I not depressed? How have I lost my mom, my best friend, my #1 fan (as she proudly named herself), my confidante and not thrown myself into a dark room and locked the door as I would have imagined? The only answers I have been able to come up with are God and your prayers. We all have dark moments... I actually told my aunt at our family Christmas that I just didn't have it in me to smile at everybody...but the moments pass. I tell myself that she's finally WITH Jesus and no memory we could create for her here can compare with the ecstasy of where she is now.

We are all reading a book on heaven, and I think that's helping me too. I've always been big on wanting to SEE where people are so that I can "see" them when I think about them. Is that crazy? I'm pretty sure Jeremiah thinks it is. I had a breakdown a couple of years ago when he told me A) It would be inappropriate for me to be-bop up to the ER so that I could accurately imagine where he was 90% of our life (and watching him do a surgery was even more out of the question) and B) He didn't feel the need to make the hour-long drive out to my work in Wilsonville so that he could "see" what I do (he did drive out there anyway though :)). Anyway, being able to accurately imagine the surroundings of those I care about has always been big to me, and this book is helping me to do that. It's one thing to say she's happy, it's another thing to imagine what she's really DOING up there.

There is one other problem that we all seem to be having and that is being around groups of people again. We don't sit around in the house and mope or anything like that, but there is something hard about seeing people laughing and being "normal" when nothing about our existence is normal anymore. It may not be bad, but it certainly is different...and will never be the same again. I have found myself feeling distant and alone when I am surrounded by people. However, I went to dinner at a friends house tonight and it hardly bothered me at all. I am just praying it will keep getting better.

This is hard to admit, but there is also a kind of relief in my heart. Taylor really hit it when she said that she doesn't know what to do with herself now that there is no worry in the back of her mind. There's been 13 years that we've all been unable to be completely without the fear that God may NOT chose to heal Mom. Now that what we always thought to be the worst has happened, and we've seen that God still more than sustains us, that fear is no more. Even though it makes me feel a little guilty, there is relief in that.

Finally, I want to say that I have been overwhelmed by the posts on this blog. Your love and prayers are so GENUINE and we feel it. OH, how we feel it! The thought that there are "Anonymous" friends out there who have been moved by Mom's life fills my insides with overflowing hope. It helps me to see how much bigger God's plan is than my own.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

FROM Glory TO Glory

The picture you are looking at is the last physical vision my Mom had on this earth. A host of people flooding our front yard (and down a side street that you can't see), holding candles, singing carols, and praying for her. After smiling and waving down to these friends, she walked to her bed, laid down, closed her eyes and slipped into another state of consciousness. The next vision she saw was heaven. Mom was permanently healed yesterday morning around 5:45. I was praying and believing that I would be writing on this blog to report an earthly healing to you all. However, that was not God's plan. All I know to say is that we misunderstood, because I know that God is not a man that He could lie (Numbers 23:19).

I have been through many stages over the past weeks. Extreme hope, blindingly painful sadness, numbness, joy, and dream walking. However, yesterday morning I was consumed with an all-encompassing peace. I crept up into Mom and Dad's room around 4:30 yesterday morning (after feeding Mary Aplin). I watched Mom's strained breathing and held Dad's hand for about 30 minutes. Then, I kissed her cheek and whispered, "I love you so bad" (a term that Pace has coined) into her ear. I went downstairs and spent another half hour weeping bitterly to Jeremiah about all of the "last times", and then God wrapped me in peace. We had both been lying there quietly for about 5 minutes when Dad walked in and said, "Your Mom's gone on to glory."

The next hour seems like a dream now, but at the time it was the first moment I had felt real in a long time. I believe God brought that peace to me at the same time he was wrapping her into His arms. I held her hand, because I wanted to feel warmth from her one last time, and we sang "Our God is an Awesome God," because He is. We prayed, and we read from her favorite devotional "Streams in the Desert." It was a message delivered directly to us (if you have it, then check out Dec. 19th). Dr. Edwin came to pronounce her and he prayed with us as well. He shared several words with us, but one thing that really stuck out was him saying that God did not take her until ALL of us were ready. I had really struggled with that issue. Why, if He was going to take her home, had he tarried and left her in pain? I had thought a lot about the cross--the fact that he had allowed his own son to suffer so why did I expect my Mom to be treated differently. I had thought about Him helping me to realize just what suffering was, and what my sins had cost. I had not, however, thought of her suffering as an act of mercy for me. He slowly brought us all to a place where we wanted her to go. Unless He was going to heal her to wholeness instantly, we didn't want her to stay here any longer. For me, I don't think I got there until the moment she left.

So, as we sat there on her bed I looked at my husband, my Dad, my sisters, and I could fill my lungs with cool air and feel real again. The waiting was over. God had finally answered our question, and even though the answer wasn't what we expected, it is the best. I tentatively admitted my supernatural sense of peace to the group. Afraid it might seem callous. But everyone's faces lit up and they admitted feeling the same way. I know there are still going to be hard days. There have already been moments that made me painfully catch my breath...but they are just moments. My overall sense is peace, and I know it is from Him. I can't imagine a better send-off from this life than the one He gave her. And if that's how she left earth, I can only imagine the glory she was welcomed in to.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Candlelight Prayer Walk

I just wanted to share this with all of you. Some people at our church have gotten this together, and we are excited and humbled.

Join us as we come together for a
Candlelight Prayer Walk for Becky Clark

A Time for Faith and Friends
Community-Wide Invitation
Sunday, December 16
7:30 p.m.
Home of Becky & Ken Clark
206 Whatley Drive
Meet at the Westgate Tennis Complex.
Transportation will be provided by Southern Coaches, courtesy of John Adams.
Prayer Walk
Bring a white utility candle.
Upon arriving at the Clark home, we will begin, with candles lit, walking
the block around their home, praying as we circle around.
If you are unable to walk, please join us in prayer outside the Clark home.
Following the initial prayer walk, Dr. Johnny Fain will lead the group in a joint prayer.
Bro. Terry Taylor will then lead the group as we sing Christmas carols.
(In case of rain, please plan to meet Monday, December 17.)
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for
and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Still Waiting

This is the first time I have been back on the computer since the last posting. Things are pretty hectic around this house most of the time. I just wanted to thank you all for the overwhelming love and support through your emails and posts on this blog. It's amazing how God can hug and encourage you through His people. I have run into people I've never even met before, here in Dothan, who have told me they were waiting for an update on this blog :) It's humbling and exciting how quickly word spreads and how sincere people have been to love and encourage our family. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! You can't imagine how much it means.

Mom has good days and not so good days. She had a blood transfusion Tuesday, was still really weak and rested most of the day on Wednesday, and woke up this morning and asked if we all wanted to go to the Waffle House :)! She was even able to sit up in the front seat for the ride there. We are just trying to love on her during the bad days and thank God for every good day, while we wait to see the manifestation of the healing we feel like He has promised. There have been prayer warriors in this town, in other towns, in other countries even who have contacted us to share words of healing the Lord has given them as well. In our darkest moments, it seems like God is continually producing someone else to lift us up with their own word for us from Him.

On the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, another healer (a man who had actually been raised from the dead and has written a book about it) came to lay hands on Mom. Again, just like with Gene Hall, he wasn't someone that we sought out. A family friend called Dad and said this man was coming in town to spend Thanksgiving with their family, and they would like to bring him over to pray for Mom. I got to be in the room this time around, and it was a moving experience. He explained (with Scripture) a lot of the same things that Gene Hall had told Mom to be doing, that we had just taken on faith. For example, he told us that we need to thank God for His healing now...even though we don't see it yet. He reasoned that we have not seen physical evidence of our salvation, but we still say that we ARE saved. Even though we haven't gone to heaven yet, we still believe we have salvation NOW. In the same way, God has promised healing, so we need to thank Him for it NOW. That's part of faith. He, like Gene, expressed the power behind our words, and the importance of Mom being surrounded by people who encourage her with their words. Humans are the only other beings that God fashioned in His own image, and how did God create the world? speaking it into existence. Satan, and his demons, cannot read our thoughts, but they can hear our words. If we speak our fears aloud, then it gives him a foothold of something to use against us.

I didn't really plan on writing out all of that, but I have been learning so much since I've been here. I believe that there is more intimate fellowship with God, that we can have on this earth, that I have been missing out on. I don't feel like I've been wrong, but I do feel like I want to experience all of Him that I can. I heard this healer start to speak in tongues. It was BEAUTIFUL and so obviously of God. No man could make their voice do what his was doing. I was awestruck. He anointed her with oil and water from the Jordan River, while we all prayed. The Lord was almost palpable in that room. The healer said that he had seen people raised from the dead without feeling the anointing as much as he did when he was laying hands on Mom. Please keep praying with us, having faith with us. Thank you for your love and prayers!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Moving Mountains

I am really sorry that I haven't given an update on Mom in so long. You all prayed with us about Gene Hall and I have left you hanging with the results. Life has just been a whirlwind.

First the trip to Savannah: Mom and Dad went to Savannah and met with Gene Hall on Friday night. He told them that God had confirmed to him, and to some other people in his prayer team, throughout the day that He was going to heal her. He said that he had a churning in his stomach that always preceded God's anointing. On Saturday morning, the day of the healing service, Mom was so sick that she could hardly lift her head off of the pillow. When they arrived to meet Gene, he told Dad that he'd never asked a spouse to come in the room before, but God had given him a vision that morning of Dad being in the room as well. They praised God for 4 1/2 hours! and during that time Gene's hands became warm with God's healing power more than he had ever experienced before. He laid his hands on Mom (and Dad) several times and they both felt the great heat coming from them. At one point, he lied face down on the floor beside Mom and started weeping. She asked him if something was wrong and he said that God had given him a vision of Mom giving her testimony about her healing and fire coming from her mouth.

I think that we (our family and friends) were all expecting an immediate and total healing, and apparently that was not God's plan. Mom left the healing still feeling very weak and displaying all the physical symptoms of her cancer. However, Gene seemed happy with the day's result. He has said since that God has confirmed to him that the healing power is in her. I am telling you what happened, but I am afraid I can't tell you that I understand what God is doing. I only know that He is a mighty God and His ways are perfect. Gene told Mom and Dad that the last person he laid hands on, did not receive complete healing until two weeks later.

Now: I am in Dothan with both of our little girls. Mom has been really sick. Really sick. However, God has still shown us his great love through his people, and we are still waiting for His healing. As mom said so beautifully Sunday night as she pointed towards heaven and addressed God himself, "I know what you told me, you gave me Luke 5 and Matthew 8 (the passages about Jesus healing the leper), and you are not a man that you could lie."

So, I am planning on being here until God heals her. I do want to make clear here that God is not on trial... We are all just trying to follow Him as best we know how, but we are human--imperfect, and no matter what, God is Sovereign. I know that there are no two people I would rather be following into this battle than Mom and Dad, and now I would ask you to continue to pray for God's healing power to be released within her. Jesus told his disciples (when they had been unable to heal someone) that their faith had not been great enough. With faith as small as a mustard seed, they could move mountains. So all I know to do is to have faith/believe what God has told Mom, Dad, my Grandma (and many others) and wait for our powerful God to move the mountain

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Back to the Hospital

This past Thursday morning, I was undressing Mary Aplin for her first "post yucky belly button thingy is gone so you can finally have a real" bath, when I noticed that the little bald head resting against my cheek felt a warmer than normal. I took her temp, and it was 100.1. I went and checked my "Discharge Instructions" from the hospital, vaguely recalling seeing something in there about what temperature should lead you to call a doctor in a newborn. You see, I have this fear of seeming like a hypochondriac to medical people. I think it stems back to Dr. Lees making me feel like a big faker as a child in the pediatrician's office, but that's another story. I find what I'm looking for, and apparently, you aren't supposed to call unless the newborn's temp. is above 100.4. So, I go on about the day.

Later, I hear a little cry as she wakes up from her afternoon nap. I go into her room and scoop her up, and as soon as that little head touched my cheek, I knew we'd exceeded 100.4. Sure enough, her fever was 101.3, so I called the doctor's office. Mrs. Ohs, a dear family friend who Jeremiah lived with that year he was playing cowboy in Montana, happened to be at our house for a visit. I was trying to cook a fun dinner that night in her honor, so I asked if she would stay with Mary Aplin and Pace (since both were napping) while I ran to get a couple of things at the grocery store. Freedom!!! While I was shopping, the nurse called me back. I'm expecting her to tell me what dose of Tylenol you can give a 2 week old baby. Instead, she asks me if I can re-check the temperature immediately. "No, I'm at the grocery store..." I reply, and I feel a knot begin to form in my stomach as the condemnation comes roaring through the phone line. "Well Mrs. Maddox, a fever in a baby of Mary Aplin's age is very serious. You need to take her to Children's Hospital ER immediately. I'm calling ahead to let them know you're on your way." (Translation:Why, negligent mother, did you leave your infant and go to the grocery store when she is obviouly ill. Take her to the doctor, now, and not when you finish your ridiculous grocery shopping) I would also like to add that my phone is beeping and about to die while she is talking and putting me on hold to confirm things with my doctor. I was frantically asking the kind workers at Publix how I could get to a phone to call the evil nurse back if my phone did die--rendering me an even more neglectful mother who takes a semi-dead phone with her while she is abandoning her sick newborn. I am really nervous about going back to Publix after the scene I made. There were actually two people who tried to shove their cell phones on me, as I dashed to customer service with my full cart of groceries, to get to a phone.

I, thankfully, was able to leave Pace and all my groceries that needed to be put away, with Mrs. Ohs. I zipped to the ER telling myself that the nurse was just being precautious and that my sweet Mary Aplin just had a low grade fever and was going to be perfectly fine. In the meantime, that knot in my stomach was growing bigger by the minute, especially since my doctor husband wouldn't answer his phone OR my pages that I had typed 911 after. The knot got larger as I noticed all the horribly (honestly dirty) and sick children crouching in every orfice of the waiting room in the ER. I concluded that if Mary Aplin wasn't deathly ill when we came in, she certainly would be by the time we left. The knot grew larger when a nurse came in and told me that they would be performing a "lumbar puncture" (surely they could find some other phrase to use besides something that brings visions to a mother's mind of a poking holes in her tiny baby's spine), drawing blood, putting in a cathater to get a urine sample, and starting an IV for antibiotics. I was still holding onto the need to NOT be the dramatic, over-exaggerative mother until the doctor came in and added that we would also have to stay in the hospital for at least 48 hours. The dam broke. There was only so long I could hold it together on my own.

I soon found consolation in sweet Mary Halsey Maddox. She was in Jeremiah's medical school class, became one of our good friends, and is now doing her residency in the ER at Children's. She came in and assured me that every doctor and nurse who cared for us was the best. Then she assured me about all the prcoedures that were going on, and paged Jeremiah to let him know that he REALLY needed to come, and that I wasn't just being a hypochondriac this time :) While we waited for the test results to come back, we discovered that the hospital was at full capacity, so we would have to spend the night in the (dirty) ER. This turned out to be OK, since Jeremiah was on call at Children's that night. He would leave our room, see a consult, then come back. I actually saw him a lot more than I would have on a normal night on call.

All the tests came back, and Mary Aplin has a urinary tract infection, which is apparently pretty serious in babies as young as she is. They told us that we would have to stay in the hospital for 7 to 14 days to do intravenous antibiotics. Since they have virtually no immune systems, these infections could potentially spread to their blood streams and can even cause spinal meningitis if you don't catch it early enough or treat it properly. You also worry that something didn't "form right" (why does that sound so country as I type it?) when you see infections this early. They did an ultrasound, and Mary Aplin does have all of her organs in the right place. However, there was some fluid in one of her kidneys, so they are doing another test Thursday morning to make sure she does not have reflux. This would mean that when her bladder contracts, some of her urine is going back to her kidneys. Even if she does have reflux, they say it would probably resolve on its own as she grows.

SO, if I could end with a few more prayer requests for you :) Pray that Mary Aplin doesn't have to stay on long-term antibiotics or have surgery. Pray that Pace, who is staying with Mrs. Ohs at our house, will behave and not think that she has been abandoned by her parents since Mary Aplin has gotten here. Finally, Mom is definitely going to Savannah to meet with Gene Hall this weekend!!!!!! so keep praying for HEALING and to see God's glory through all of this. Love you all and greatly appreciate your encouraging notes and phone calls. Does anybody else feel like they have way too much drama in their life????

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mom Update

Finally, I have an update to give you on Mom... Saturday, Mom and Dad went to the AU game. Mom had put her purse in a closet during the game, and randomly decided to go get her purse. Mom isn't the type to reapply lipstick, so this desire to get her purse was not normal :) At the same time in Savannah, GA Gene Hall was praying for Mom on his back porch, when God told him to go and call Becky. So, just as Mom was opening the closet door, her phone began to ring. Isn't it sweet how God provides us with little signs that He is at work!

Gene said that God had placed the weekends of November 10th or December 1st on his heart. He asked that we pray for God's anointing and word to increase on him.

Another area we really need prayer for is spiritual warfare/attack. Ever since talking to Gene, it seems that Mom's pain has become worse and fear/doubt seem to be lurking around the corner. Satan is so cunning, and he knows just where our insecurities lie. Mom told Gene about the pain and her fears. He told her that it was just evidence that God was about to do a mighty work, and Satan was fighting against it.

So, pray for Mom to resist the temptation to succumb to fear and doubt. I'd also appreciate a prayer for our family. It hurts so bad to see her in pain. She is still such a positive light to us all, but I know it gets harder every day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Meet Mary Aplin!!

Our little Mary Aplin was born at 6:16 on Saturday night (October 13th)! She weighed 8lb 8oz and was 20 1/2 inches long. She has truly been an angel, and we are all feeling great! I want to write more soon, but for now, here are some pictures.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Stream in the Desert

I am really excited to share with you all some news about what God is doing in my Mom’s life! There are some specific prayer requests, that I will get to eventually, that I would greatly appreciate you all praying with our family. I believe God is about to do a mighty work, and I hope that as many as possible can feel like a vital part through your personal prayers and faith.

For the past couple of months, I have been studying Matthew. I felt like this was a random variation from studying Paul’s letters, but now I am reminded that nothing is ever random with God :) Through reading about Jesus’ ministry in Matthew, I have been overwhelmed by the amount of focus His work had toward spiritual and physical healing. He never met with a group of people without meeting their physical needs. I am not saying that he considered their bodies as important as their souls, but he definitely displayed infinite amounts of compassion for their physical maladies. Then, when He left earth, He left that gift of healing with His disciples. Finally, his disciples (namely Paul in 1 Corinthians 12) list healing as one of the spiritual gifts that Christ has left for his children. So why do we roll our eyes at the thought of a healer? Why do the only “healers” we find ourselves exposed to seem like little more than a freak show with flashy suits, purple hair, and fake eyelashes? I have been finding my heart softening to the thought of a gentle and quiet spirit, who God happened to bless with a special gift of healing. I brought this up to Mom and Dad several times over the past few months. Just a couple of weeks ago Mom laughingly said that it sounded great to her, but did I know any? :)

Now the story: A family friend in Dothan was meeting with a business associate from out of town. Somehow, he got on the subject of a man in Savannah, GA to whom God had given the gift of healing. He had just flown his mother-in-law out to see him, and he told several other stories of the healings this man had performed. It touched our family friend, and she asked if she could give him Mom’s name. The healer, whose name is Gene Hall, normally receives a name, prays over the name with his prayer team, and then contacts the person if God confirms His anointing for that person’s healing. On October 4, he contacted Mom.

He had several questions for her about the specifics of her disease, and she had several questions for him about his life and walk with the Lord. He is a born again believer who has spent 2-3 hours per day alone with the Lord for 19 years. He solicits no one for his healing ministry. He allows God to bring them to him, and he prays over the anointing. His ministry is funded by God’s blessing of his contracting business. Finally, he has a worship and prayer team that joins him in the ministry.

Mom (and Dad) were touched by what they perceived to be a humble and sweet spirit. Nothing about him seemed to imply a desire for acclaim; he only seemed concerned with using the gifts God had given him, to serve Him in the way He was directing. Gene also described the actual healing service and said that when the Holy Spirit is poured out on him for healing, his hands become as hot as fire. Doesn’t that give you chills?

He told Mom that he and his prayer team would be praying for God to reveal His perfect timing. In the meantime, here are some specifics that Gene asked us to pray:

1) That every thought will be taken captive to the obedience of Christ. Any thought that contradicts Jeremiah 29:11 we must resist.
2) Laughter, because God says we should be able to laugh at the future.
3) Thank God for healing.
4) For Becky to picture herself well and healthy.
5) For the wisdom and discipline to guard the words we speak.

Finally, at the end of the conversation, Gene said that he was so excited about what he felt God was doing that he just wanted to shout. Then, he asked if he could pray for mom over the phone. She humbly accepted, and he started just praying normally. Suddenly, he started speaking in tongues. He would pray a line in tongues, and then he would interpret what he’d said (This interpretation was a big deal to me, because the Bible warns against praying in tongues for show. If there is no interpretation, what good or purpose are you serving for those around you?). Mom couldn’t remember everything he said, but here are some of the things she jotted down after they got off of the phone:

  • Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (This is actually Isaiah 43:18-19)
  • Trust me. You are mine.
  • I chose you. You did not choose me.
  • This is not your battle. It is my battle, and I will fight it for you.
  • I love you. I will heal you. You will be a witness for me.

By the time he finished praying, Mom was shaking and crying. She said she felt like she didn’t want to move because she had just experienced God speaking to her. He is so awesome, and mighty, and powerful! My Dad wrote a letter to his friends where he said, “So many of you have been faithful to pray with us. Perhaps now we can focus our worship and prayers together for the glory of God, and we can all dance in the streets together and sing His praises. We have been holding on by faith to the healing of Becky, which He foretold 14 years ago. We must center our worship around the God we serve who is able.”

So, as Mom and Dad humbly move forward into this new territory, I ask you to all pray with us for the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit. I also pray that God will be glorified and your joy maximized as we watch the Lord “making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Is Your Husband REALLY your Best Friend?

Everybody says that their husband is their best friend. I am sure that at some point, I've said it too...because that's what you say. However, I'm not sure what kind of best friend most women are used to, but I know that my best friends and Jeremiah have brought very different joys to my life.

When I was younger, and I used to spend the night with my best friend, we would lay in bed with every intention of going to sleep. After hours of playing "Miss America Lost in the Woods" (this is a game we made up so don't Google it or anything) or watching a movie and replaying our favorite parts 10 times (I hope you all remember how long it took to find your favorite part of a movie when we still were using VHS) we would be sincerely exhausted. Then, when we climbed in bed, pledging to REALLY go to sleep this time, one little voice would pipe in with something that could not wait until morning. Silence. Another voice with something hilarious that they didn't want to forget to relay. Hysterical laughter. Silence. A bit of gossip that we'd heard and couldn't believe we hadn't told the other yet. Silence....on and on it would go for hours. Even though we went to school together and/or talked every afternoon on the phone, somehow there was always more that needed to be said.

Now, if I could contrast that with my nights with Jeremiah... We both climb into bed dead tired, not from playing Miss America (sadly enough), but just from the realities of life these days. Sometimes I get chatty, but I'm constantly telling myself that I better get it out as fast as I can because I know he needs his sleep. Then, mid-sentence I say, "Jeremiah? Jeremiah?" only to find that he has been asleep for who knows how long and my story has been a waste of breath. Sometimes he says, "Do you want to cuddle?" and I know that I'll get about 3 seconds of actual cuddling...

There are a lot of more obvious differences between Jeremiah and Whitney (my best friend that I don't guess I actually named until now), like the fact that I have never done Whitney's laundry, cooked her meals, picked up her messes--at least not on a consistent basis :). However, to me these duties aren't as applicable, because I'm pretty sure I WOULD do those things for her if she needed me to, the way that Jeremiah does. It's really this chattiness that makes our relationships so different to me.

So, what do you do? For me there are two saving graces. One is that I still have Whitney, my Mom, my neighbors, and several other girls in my daily life that are(thankfully) still willing to let me pour my chattiness all over them. I, in return, happily soak up their chattiness that (I assume) their husbands aren't able to fully absorb. Second, I am thankful for nights like last night when I climbed into bed with Jeremiah and he said, "Wanna talk?" At this stage in pregnancy, I can't roll over very fast (it's actually something like a five-point turn), but I whipped over as fast as my body would allow and we just chatted. He wasn't in a hurry, we talked about nothing for almost an hour, and I was reminded that despite all evidence to the contrary, he really can "just cuddle." So, while he is not Whitney every night, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like it if he were.

Monday, September 24, 2007


So, I'm uncomfortable physically. I am 2.5 weeks from my October 10th due date, and at my last doctor's appointment he said there were no signs that Mary Aplin is going to be making her debut anytime soon. Also, I'd gained 2.5 pounds in the past WEEK--to add to the 2 pounds I'd gained in the 2 weeks before that. Honestly, I had been pretty happy with my weight gain during this pregnancy, but now here I am in the home stretch and the weight is multiplying exponentially. This same thing happened last time. Most people either stop gaining or LOSE weight in their last month, but not this girl. Most people say, "I'm just so uncomfortable I can't eat." Obviously, "not eating" is not something that happens to me when I'm uncomfortable :) All in all, this is a very trivial problem. I would honestly rather be gaining too rapidly than losing too rapidly...there is no question that this little girl is thriving. I could gripe and list out all the different things that are aching and throbbing, or I could tell you that I put on my outfit to go to the gym this morning and looked so hideous that I couldn't bear to go, but I am trying not to be as big a whiner as I want to be.

I am also uncomfortable emotionally. I just feel like my life is changing rapidly, and I hate change. Maybe that isn't quite fair...I think my life has been changing at a normal pace, I think now I am just starting to notice all that happened while I wasn't paying attention. I went to Dothan this past weekend, and I saw that Mom really is sick. I haven't given an update on here in a while (and I don't think I'm up to it today), but right now between her chemo and the cancer she just can't go like I'm used to her going. That's hard to see. However, we are all still claiming God's physical healing ON THIS EARTH, and trying to wait patiently for its fruition. What a fun blog that will be to write :)

In Dothan there were also changes like my little sister, Kendall (I still slip up sometimes and call Pace Kendall if that gives you any idea of how I see her in my mind), being on the senior homecoming court. She cheers with little girls that I used to babysit. This big strong football player went up to the microphone to announce something or other about the upcoming game, and it turns out it was scrawny little Brian whose diapers I used to change. It was just bizarre.

Finally, I am emotionally uncomfortable with changes that are happening in my friendships. Maybe it's because I got married before I was finished with college, or maybe I just have the ability to stay blissfully blinded, but when I think about my best friends from college they, like Brian in his diapers, are still just the same in my mind...and heart. I don't talk to most of them very much, but somehow I assumed that we all felt the same towards each other as we did when I knew the details of every date they went on or what they liked to eat for lunch on Wednesdays. I think I have created a world where if I turn around and squint just so at the right time of day, I can still see everybody just as I left them when things were at their prime. I can see myself about 20 pounds lighter. I can see Mom, with a full head of hair, running Caroline to piano practice, Taylor to soccer, and Kendall to Kindermusik. I can see my friends from college scattered around our den in North Face jackets talking about how Whitney can get a medical excuse for the test she doesn't want to take that afternoon. But that's not where we all are anymore, is it? And that makes me uncomfortable.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Book Update

The book update is back. So, that was the warning for any of you who aren't interested in this stuff. The books of the past few months have been much more varied than what I was reading before.

Atonement by Ian McEwan: This was a book club selection by my friend and blogger Melissa. It (like Memoirs of a Geisha) was very shocking to me to find a male author who could so poignantly express the ideas inside of a girl/woman's head. I like to believe that men can't possibly understand our complexities-heck, I can't understand them-but then a book like this comes along that makes me think twice. It was set during one of the World Wars (II I think, but don't quote me on that), and tells the story of Briony, a young, wealthy little girl who aspires to be a writer. Her great sense of imagination creates a tragic situation in her family, and ultimately alters the course of everyone's life in the story. It was a novel concept! The ending will also throw you for a loop (or as one member of the book club said, "made me want to throw that book out of my house as fast as I could"). Mainly, it will effect you. However, in all honesty I just didn't love it. The last half of the book takes you into the midst of the war, and I just don't like reading about war...there you go...shallow as it seems. BTW, there's a movie coming out about this book with Keira Knightley as Briony's sister. It looks really good, and you can see a preview on YouTube.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas: Oh my goodness, I loved this book! I read The Three Musketeers way back in 8th grade and loved Dumas even then. Revisiting his work as a grown person was even more satisfying. I will warn you that it is LONG, and if you are as dumb as I am, then you'll need to stop at some point in your reading and create a character list with connection arrows all over the page. However, it reads like a soap opera. You will get so caught up in the detailed overlapping of these character's lives and fates that you won't be able to put it down. At its heart, it's the story of the ultimate revenge. At its soul, it's the story of love overcoming hate (at least I, in my idealistic view, interpreted it that way). It's awesome.

Ladies in Waiting by Kate Douglas Wiggin: My friend Lauren gave me this book as a birthday present, mainly because it is a beautiful copy of an antique book, and also because the author is the same as Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. It was a sweet collection of unrelated stories, all about different "ladies in waiting." It was a pleasant read, but not breathtaking.

Portrait of a Lady by Henry James: This was another book club selection, and I was very excited about it. I had never read anything by James and was eager to add him to my repertoire. The book commenced with these two sentences--

Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea. There are circumstances in which, whether you partake of the tea or not--some people of course never do--the situation is in itself delightful.

Then, James gives us a sweeping view of tea, set up on the lawn of an English manor, on a breezy summer afternoon, with lush carpets, books and chairs arranged under the open arms of ancient trees. I thought it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between woman and book...I was wrong. After 624 long pages of following Isabel Archer on her journeys through Europe, love, and friendships Henry James had the audacity to leave me with no definite ending. Maybe you are artistic, maybe this is the type of thing some of you find interesting, or maybe Henry James-the master of character formation-thinks that the plot is not nearly as important as helping you to know a character and thus infer your own ending. If any of that crap sounds good to you then, by all means, read away. I, however, like reading partly because it is a finite world. A world that has a beginning and a definite end. That's something we can't ever truly obtain in the "real world," because (unless you're dead) the story just keeps on developing. I consider it the responsibility of the author to take me through until the finish, and I think it's cowardly to do otherwise--I don't care if you call yourself an artist.

There were good parts of this book. The character description and development is truly brilliant. There is one character, who James never does anything but give positive qualities to, that you still find yourself uneasy about. You can't put your finger on it, but you just don't trust her. In the end, you discover that your feelings were justified, but I was fascinated by wondering how he managed to so subtlety create that ominous feeling.

There are some heart pounding declarations of love:

"I don't go off easily, but when I'm touched, it's for life. It's for life, Mrs. Archer, it's for life," Lord Warburton repeated in the kindest, tenderest, pleasantest voice Isabel had ever heard, and looking at her with eyes that shone with the light of a passion that had sifted itself clear of the baser parts of emotion--the heat, violence, the unreason--and which burned as steadily as a lamp in a windless place.

SO, I have written way too much on this one. In the beginning, it is great. Then, you will sink into despair and despondency as you wonder why anyone would ever get married when they could travel and have all sorts of men lying down to worship at their feet if they stay single. Your despair will only be deepened by the questionable ending unless you, like me, decide to believe beyond all other signs that Isabel Archer divorces her nasty husband and runs away with a man who has loved her from the start. Then, you can feel bad that you are one of those people who cheers for divorce. Enough.

The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling: I thought this was the best book of the series (except for maybe Book 3). So good. Couldn't put it down. Thank you J.K. for giving me a nice ending--even an epilogue to satisfy my extra need for closure. I'm going to miss you Harry...

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis: I call myself a great lover of C.S. Lewis, but recently I realized that I was saying that without even having read one of his most famous works. Oh my goodness, I could do an entire blog on this book alone. It must be read slowly--no more than a chapter or two at a time--because you have to give yourself time to absorb all the deep truth he throws at you. He has a way of taking the most complex issues and simplifying them down until you wonder how you ever could have missed it before. It has already changed the way I hear sermons. If you are like me, then there are phrases you use, as a Christian, which have some nebulous meaning to you, but you've probably never taken the time to really understand what you are saying: "sons of God", "becoming like Christ", "humility", "the Trinity", "one in the body of Christ", "begotten Son"... These phrases are filled with power and meaning, but I think most of us gloss right over them. Bottom line is you need to read this book. Not to mention that C.S. Lewis has such of fun, funny, and very British way of entertaining you while you learn.

God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it. :)

He himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

If You Could See Me Now

Guess what I'm doing. Sitting quietly in the library, after a morning of pumpkin spice latte and a good book at Starbucks, a little browsing at an antique linen and lace shop in Mountain Brook Village, and when I leave here...I'm meeting my parents for lunch. Thank you Jesus for "Mother's Morning Out!" I went back and forth about whether or not to send Pace to MMO: the money, she needs interaction with other kids, this is my JOB, it sure would be nice to have a little break, the MONEY, does this mean that I am lazy, she will learn things that I don't even know to teach her, THE MONEY, how will I even go to the grocery store once Mary Apline is born...on and on it went. I couldn't decide. Then, finally, a week after all the other kids had already started, I decided to sign her up.

Since this is the only morning before Mary Apline's arrival that I won't have a doctor's appointment (yes, it is already time to start going once a week--SCARY), I decided to soak it up. No guilt, I was going to do whatever I wanted to do, be out of the house, and not chide myself for all the things I could be getting done. Today was my fun day. The crazy thing was, that I couldn't decide what I wanted to do. Lauren kept asking me what my plans were, and I told her I just didn't know. I laid in bed last night (since I can't sleep anyway) just thinking of all the possibilities. Think about it, what would you do with 4 guilt-free hours to spend however you like? But keep in mind that they are the only solid 4 guilt free hours that you'll have for a long time. It was tough! You already know what I chose, and I feel like it has been pretty marvelous.

I have been telling Pace that she is going to school, and she's been excited. We went and met her teacher and part of the class last week, and I could hardly get her to leave with me because she was so enamored with all of the new toys. I was a little sad as I packed her lunch and snack, and I was even more sad after tentatively leading her to the table with all the other little girls. However, I fought back the quick crying surge that swept over me by reminding myself of the quiet corner of Starbucks that was waiting for me :)

Sorry about the delay in the picture of the new room. The transition went really well and she has been happily sleeping and napping in her big girl room. It is fun to be able to lay beside her in bed to read a story, and she has learned to ask, "Lay with you a minute, Mommy?", which I can rarely resist. Face to face on her pillow, we both close our eyes, and she has started this sweet gesture where she rubs my face absently with her little hand. It's almost like she is trying to reassure herself that I am still there.

The first night in her room we made a big deal out of our new ritual. I videoed her bouncing around in the bed and telling the camera about her room. Then, Jeremiah read her a story (I've still got the camera rolling) and said her prayers. She then starts telling us to, "Close the door!" So we both kissed her (several times) and then did as she asked. As soon as it closed, however, she began to cry.

"Jeremiah, I think I should go back in and get her. We don't want her to have a bad first experience in her new room," I pleaded. Then, Jeremiah graciously reminded me that it had only been 30 seconds and we should probably give it a minute or two. I conceded and suddenly the crying stopped...I burst into tears.

"Are we really doing this?" Jeremiah asked sarcastically.

"You only get one first baby, and she's not a baby anymore!" I wailed.

"Abby, she's the same age she was last night when she went to sleep, she's just in a different bed," he calmly reminded me. (But I will add here that I could tell he was reassuring himself as much as me.) I, however, continued to press my lips tightly together and could do no more than nod my head. I was fine as long as she was crying. Then, I could tell myself that she really wasn't old enough for this, and I could go tuck her back in her crib any second. The crying ending was something I was not prepared for.

"At least you know you've been there for every second," Jeremiah quietly added. "At least you're not crying because she is growing up and you feel like you've missed it. In fact, you've been here TOO much." Now I have given him a hard time in the past for being the world's worst comforter, but I must say that there was nothing he could have said to me that could have been more perfect.

"You're right," I sniffed as I bravely chucked myself into bed beside him. And I was so glad to be making a memory, that would seem silly and unnecessary to anyone else, with the only other person in the world who could love her as much as I do.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Throw me a twig if you've got it; I'm nesting. For anyone who is reading this and doesn't know a lot about those 40 weeks that lead up to having a baby, nesting is one of the symptoms. I'm big, tired, out of breath, and wake up 10-15 times a night but still I spend my days with this drive to get "things" in order. Most of my efforts have been vented towards turning our guest room into Pace's "Big Girl Room." I moved furniture, scraped, caulked, sanded, taped perfectly straight lines, and finally painted Pace's new room. I am no great painter, but I took my OCD and applied it with vigor to those four walls. That was my Thurs, Fri, Sat. Then, on Sunday my in-laws came to the rescue. We had six people all painting trim at one time. Do you know how long it would have taken me to paint that trim by myself (or actually paint it while constantly telling Pace, "No, no. Paint is yucky! Don't touch it. Did you hear me? I'm going to pop you...)?! At least 3 days (you see this old house has 3 doors, 1 closet, a huge window, crown molding, and base boards--if you've painted at all you can imagine what a headache all those straight lines would be).

So, I was saved by our family on the painting, but that doesn't mean that my nesting beast has been satisfied. Why can't I just sit the nick-knacks on the new dresser without scrubbing it clean first? Why can't I just hang the new blinds without Windexing the windows? Why can't I just put the bed-spread on the bed without first taking it to the dry cleaners? Why can't I just hang the curtains without ironing them first? I'll tell you why--I'm a crazy, hormonal, lady, who is growing a baby and feels like the world might fall to pieces if I don't get this room just right. The rest of my house is a shambles (at least it feels like it to me), but I have at least got this one room under my control.

I did this same thing with Pace's baby room 2 years ago. It also has 3 doors and a closet, but I decided I wanted to paint stripes on her walls. It was my parents who came to help last time, and I think that I drove my Dad so crazy that he finally sent my mom and I to bed and stayed up most of the night finishing the room himself. My other obsession was the base boards. I'm not sure why, but I thought if I brought Pace into the world without having our base-boards scrubbed, she would surely perish of some mysterious infection she would acquire by her contact with them. Now, think about the physics of crouching down to clean baseboards when you have a watermelon protruding from your gut and your'e toting an extra 20-something pounds. I fretted over it so much that Ashley finally showed up at my house one Saturday and asked me to give her a bucket. She is such a good cleaner and as we both scrubbed those base-boards she helped me to laugh at the permanent grime that wouldn't come off, but at least had been thoroughly Cloroxed.

Well, Thursday is going to be the grand opening of Pace's new room. She has some new pajamas for her new bed, and she acts pumped to move over into her "Big Girl" space. Jeremiah keeps saying, "Pace, where's your new room?" Then, she squeals and runs into it, with her pointer finger waving madly about, and screaming, "Pace's room!" through her squinted-eye grin. I've found myself lingering over her crib every morning since I started this project and trying to savor the last glimpses of her curled up in a sweet little ball with her head securely nestled in a corner of her crib. Why is change so hard? (Talk about a whole nother blog! as I sit here and weep) So, I'll post a picture of her in the new room on Fri morning. Until then, I'll be here cleaning something irrational.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Middlemarch Quote

I just wanted to share a quote with all of you that I haven't been able to get enough of. It's from the book Middlemarch by George Eliot (BTW Eliot was actually a woman who published under this pseudonym). I haven't read the book, but I watched my BBC movie of it and loved it so much that I can't wait to read it. At its heart, it's the story of a woman who has great plans to do something grand with her life. In the world's view she fails, but in another sense she is as successful as any of us could ever dream to be. I heard this quote at the end of the movie and immediately rushed to the internet to copy the exact wording. It's scribbled on a piece of white computer paper and has been laying at various spots in my house, where I find myself picking it up over and over throughout the day to reflect on its beautiful meaning. At first, I thought it expressed the ideal of what any stay-at-home mom was striving to accomplish. However, now I see that it could really express the goal just about of anyone's life... So, without further ado, I'll just let you read it for yourself.

Her finely touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

--George Eliot, Middlemarch

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I Couldn't Marry the Garbage Man After All

As a young girl, I remember saying to myself that I would marry for love and love matter what. That followed to reason that if I wanted to marry for love and also live a comfortable life, then I better be prepared to provide that comfortable life myself. So, I decided that I would be a doctor, and if I fell in love with the garbage man, then I would marry the garbage man because I would be able to support us. Nice, logical little life plan.

This plan was brought back to my memory by spending Wednesday through Friday of this past week with my sisters at the beach. I talked to them about their relationships (or lack thereof at present in one case), and it made me reminisce about my time when I was so anxiously waiting for that mysterious prince to come. While I was willing to marry the garbage man if that was what God had planned, I also was keeping a running list of all the traits I had in mind for a husband. The list was pretty particular and pretty exhaustive, but I had faith that God wouldn't bring me someone that I didn't think was perfectly created by Him for me. I won't say there weren't days when I had major doubts (especially in high school when all of my friends had "serious" boyfriends but me), but on the whole I believed he was out there.

So then, I go off to college. I think that I've lost my Prince Charming to the wilderness of Montana (and in particular a girl named Lisa Ashby from Bonners Ferry Idaho), and I decide to throw caution to the wind--to date with reckless abandon. Forget that list! There are so many more types of boys than I could have imagined as a young girl, and I wanted to get to know as many as possible. (As I re-read those last couple of sentences it sounds like I went a little crazier than I did. I did kiss a few, but that was about as crazy as it got if any of you are worried.)

There was one boy in particular, though, that hit a lot of the points on my list. One of my friends laughingly said I had managed to find a miniature Jeremiah, if that gives you an idea what he looked like physically. He was also a Christian, but then he had this laid back nature. This, "I'm majoring in Psychology but I really don't know what I want to do with my life right now" outlook on life, and a deep passion for U2 and motorcycles. Now here was a combination I hadn't dreamed up. Maybe, I thought, this is why I've been preparing myself to be able to support myself no matter who I marry. Maybe I need a free spirit to counterbalance all of my endless planning. After some crazy concerts, moonlit motorcycle rides, and vegging out on the couch I began to get restless. Then one morning he asked to take me to breakfast before one of my big ChemE tests so that I would be ready for it. When he asked me I thought it was a very sweet gesture, but I tried to explain to him how precious those last hours before the test were to me. That was when I memorized the sheet I'd been forming the night before of all the equations and constants I might possibly need for my test. He said he understood and promised to eat quietly while I did my cramming, but he couldn't help laughing at how diligent I was. "It is just a test," he said. Suddenly I knew! I knew why I couldn't ever really marry the garbage man, and it really wasn't shallow at all. As a lady, who was passionate about life in general and a career specifically, I simply couldn't marry someone who wasn't as passionate as I was. I couldn't imagine marrying someone, putting myself under their leadership, trusting him with the decisions of our family's future if he had no vigor for life.

I remembered all of this as I observed my sisters--who have all made similar choices in their boyfriends. I laughed as I recognized this pattern, this need for ambition and drive. I know that there have to be people out there who need an opposite, but I have found that I needed somebody different than me in a lot of areas...ambition was just not one of them.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mr. C

There is something about older people that really touches my heart. We go to a church that consists of a predominantly older crowd, and so I sometimes let my mind reflect on them when I am having a difficult day following one of Brother Jimmy's sermons :) One thing about them that makes me smile is the way that they are creatures of habit. When I look out from the choir loft, I can be pretty certain that Mrs. A and Mrs. B, the little widow ladies who sit by the aisle on the second row on the right, will be hunkered down together and ready to listen. Mrs. A always looks slightly more "together" than Mrs. B and, while she seems to really love her friend, she is always kind of patting her knowingly on the back and leading her around to their next destination when the service is over. I can't help but think that Mrs. A gives Mrs. B a talking to every morning about the disheveled state of her hair at church.

Then there's Mr. Harold, who sits with his new bride on the right side, fourth row, nearest the windows. He is one of the few older people who I have been able to actually keep up with their names. You would remember Mr. Harold too because he is a POWERHOUSE. He must be in his late 80's, but he is still the most active missionary in our church. Every year he makes a 2-3 week long sojourn to some remote 3rd world country. Every year I get teary before he leaves thinking that THIS must be the trip that will really take more out of him than he has to give. However, every year my heart leaps when he returns, more invigorated than before he left, to share with us about the hearts he saw open to Jesus' love. He's rumored to have oodles of money, and as I mentioned before, he just recently remarried. She is very pretty, always wearing a new tailored suit, with her blond hair sprayed into bob-perfection, her pink lipstick newly applied, and her pearls resting just below her collarbone. I must say I was leery of her at first--worried she was just out for his money. But I am willing to admit that my first impression was, I believe, wrong. She seems to really dote on him, in a sweet way. They hold hands during most of the service and she usually reaches over to straighten his collar before they stand up to leave. I am glad he found someone who realizes what a catch he is.

There is also Mr. Buddy Dortch, who sits with his wife at almost the back of the church, middle section. His wife is in charge of everything that has to do with food at our church. For this reason, when he, whose wife MUST know a lot about cooking, stopped me to tell me that the peanut butter pie I brought to "dinner on the grounds" was delicious, I found myself blushing with pride. He went on to say that peanut butter was his favorite thing in the world, and he never knew that there was such a thing as a peanut butter pie. In a flourish of new wife who is trying to learn how to cook and can't believe that somebody besides my husband (who is obligated) is actually saying I am doing something well, I made a big fat promise to bring him a whole pie without thinking that I might need to know his name, his address, or something about him besides the fact that his wife was in charge of the food. I have been married 4 years now, so that tells you how long it's been since I felt like a new bride. I have made it so far as to find out that his name was Buddy Dortch, but I still have not delivered that promised pie, and I therefore cringe every time I run into him at church. You see that's another thing I've learned about older people--they take your word seriously and they rarely forget an expected tribute (like a thank you note or a pie). I hate myself!

I could go on about the eclectic group at my church. I could tell you all my thoughts on the man with the oxygen machine that you hear clicking if you sit anywhere near the front middle or the mysterious hearing aid that sometimes buzzes at high pitches during the sermon... but I am sure you are all hoping that I'll wrap up this random, rambling post. I just can't do that, however, until I tell you about the man that inspired me to write this post at all. I don't know his name, but he sits in the middle section, to the left, fourth row--Mr. C. We are an old Southern Baptist congregation, and therefore feel like we're living on the edge when somebody sings with the accompaniment of a guitar instead of our normal piano/organ combo. Dancing is certainly not encouraged, and I feel like a rebel in the choir loft when I close my eyes while we're singing a hymn. So imagine my surprise during the "special music" one Sunday, when I looked out and noticed a certain Mr. C with his eyes closed behind his tinted glasses, bobbing his head with the music, with a huge smile spread across his face. Tears welled up in my eyes at the sight of this sweet man truly worshiping God through our music. Ever since that day, I've learned that I just can't look over at him when we're trying to sing unless I want to lose it. He's always there and always joyful during the music--even when I know it's bad :)
A few weeks ago there was an amp and several microphones set up on stage. I knew we were in for some really special "special music." As Brother Jimmy finished welcoming the guests and saying his prayer, he walked down the four steps leading up to the stage and offered his arm to sweet Mr. C who was making his way slowly towards the pulpit. The congregation became silent as he tried to refuse the help that he obviously needed and tottered up that daunting incline. He made it, however, and took his place in front of one of the microphones as he pulled a harmonica out of his breast pocket. Then, Bro. Jimmy sat down on the amp and picked up his base guitar, and Wade from the choir came down and picked up his acoustic guitar. As this sweet trio started to play an old hymn, I was mesmerized by Mr. C, who seemed to cast off old age like a heavy winter coat, and shine like a teenage boy, sitting on the front porch on a summer afternoon, making happy music for his family after supper. He blew into that harmonica with strength and assurance and his hands slid it nimbly from one note to the next. He purposefully fluttered his hand to create that bluegrass resonance that makes a harmonica seem like such a southern instrument to me. I wept like a baby. It was just so beautiful to see him be transformed by his music.

The song ended, he put the harmonica back in his pocket, and I felt like we were all jerked back to the present. As I watched him try to refuse Brother Jimmy's arm as he tottered back down the stairs, I felt like I understood why. We, as young people, have a tendency to think (without even realizing it) that old people must surely always have been old. I think our minds want to believe that we are so far removed from being feeble and dependant on others that we class the elderly into an entirely different race than our own. But in reality, Mrs. A and Mrs. B were once young teenage girls, who smiled demurely at young boys and worried about whether their hair-style made them look more mature. Mr. Harold was once a boyhood leader among his peers and may have even stirred up a little trouble. Mr. Buddy Dortch once had girls offering to bake him his favorite pie in hopes of a date for Saturday night. Finally, my beloved Mr. C, could bound listlessly up his front porch steps to kiss his mom on the cheek before he nimbly played her favorite hymn on the harmonica he kept safe in his breast pocket.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Then Some Mornings you Wake Up with a Meat Mallet in your Bed

Having a child makes your life so much funnier. I am not sure you can totally appreciate the humor of other people's children. Or maybe it takes having them to understand the innocence that makes them so inherently hilarious. I just know that before I had kids, I produced many a fake smile at the story of Little Tommy who said "poo poo" in front of special dinner guests, or Little Sally who threw away Daddy's important papers just because she was trying to help Mommy "Clwean Up!" Cute stories, sure, but certainly not enough to make me laugh out loud like their parents were. Now here I am, expecting all of you to think Pace is as funny as I do. If you don't, I suppose it's OK. There is just something too hard to pass up about telling your own child's funny stories.

This first picture was taken over a month ago now. I think you can see that Pace is fully clothed, shoes and all, and standing in the bath tub. I was on the phone and trying to fill the tub up for her bath. She was reaching her fingers out just as far as she could to try and splash herself with water. At some point her equilibrium was stretched past its limit and she went head first into the bath tub! Thank goodness I was sitting right there. She could have broken her neck, or passed out from hitting her head and drowned, or just been so surprised by the fall that she sucked up a lot of water and then drowned....Thankfully, she just scared herself enough to never (at least so far) try to reach down into the tub again. I couldn't resist getting a picture of my little drowned rat.

The second picture happened on a day when Pace was eating her lunch a bit too quietly to suit my taste. I went in to check on her, to find that she had reached up onto the breakfast table beside her, pulled down the brand new package of shredded cheese, and done some combination of eating handfuls and scattering it over herself and the floor like rice at a wedding. There was no poopy diaper for a good day or two after this little incident :)

A few weeks ago, I was having one of those "beyond any realm of normal tiredness because I am growing a life form" mornings. Pace bounced out of bed at 6:30, and I tried to bring her in bed with me. Maybe she'll snuggle quietly, I thought. WRONG. So, though I am not proud of it, I eased her onto the floor and asked her where her baby was. Ten more minutes is all I need, I thought. I'll just stay kind of half awake and I'll still hear if anything bad is happening. Thankfully nothing bad did happen, but Pace did bring me a continuous string of items for my approval. "Book!", "Baby," "Elephant," "Elmo,".... If I repeated the word back to her and followed it with a mumbled "Good girl," it seemed to keep her pretty satisfied. After 20 minutes of this bizarre game, I had been forced into a wakeful state that I could no longer deny. Later that morning, I went to make up our bed and found a meat mallet, lying in the sheets with a big red ribbon tied around it! For a moment I was horribly confused, and then I recognized it as a gift that Lauren had given me after I had borrowed her meat mallet on a couple of different occasions. It must have been one of Pace's little love offerings from the morning, that I had inadvertently laid beside me in the bed. It's days like this I am thankful we don't have a maid! Imagine what kind of kinky bedroom life she would have imagined we lead :)

Then there are all the things she says, that you really need to be able to hear her little voice saying them to get the full effect. Just imagine Pace, with her attempts at perfect pronunciation and exaggerated mouth movements as she forms each word saying things like:

Pace, where does Aunt Alex live?: "Aunt Alex?...Nashaville!"

What about Uncle Josh, where does he live?: "Uncle Josh?... York!"

Last night Jeremiah was gulping down water, post work-out, as he held Pace. About half of the water made it in his mouth, and the other half was on Pace and his shirt.: "Shoot, Daddy! Shoot!"

Pace, where's Daddy?: "Daddy work...hopital."

What do we learn about at church?: "Bible!" and whose the Bible about, "JESUS!"

Where's Bebe?: "Home." Where's home?: "Dofin."

Love you, Pace: "Love you, Mommy" (Oh, there is something crazy wonderful about the fact that she can tag your name on after she says "Love you")

Then there's cautious Pace, who approaches all "dangers" very slowly and expects those around her to do the same. Her friend Natalie has a much more adventurous spirit, and when they swing together on the tire swing sometimes Natalie likes to hold on with only ONE hand or maybe even stand up.: "No, no Natalie. Stop it! Stop it, Natalie."

One final thing I'll mention is Pace's new obsession with her babies. Nobody has taught her how to play "mommy," but it is mesmerizing for me to watch her act out things that I've done for her. She says she's "cookin" as she stirs an empty bowl with a "poon". She pushes her babies around in a stroller, but she never forgets to hang her purse on the handle and tuck a bottle away into her purse for the "baby snack." The babies go "night, night," have a "rash," need a "diaper" change, get to "eat dinner" out of what she's been "cookin," have a "spankin" when they've been bad, and most often get brought to me because "baby's cryin'!" There is something so beautiful about seeing her kiss and love her own little babies...right down to tucking their blankie around them so they can go "night, night."