Thursday, January 29, 2009

What Will You Celebrate?

That's the question asked by Disney World's marketing campaign going on right now and of course, they have the resources to try and convince you that whatever it is you're celebrating should be done with them. worked!! Next Tuesday I'm leaving with Tiffany to go to Orlando and to Disney World. At this moment as my hands are freezing while typing this, I'm not sure what I'm the most excited about - going to the parks or the warm sunshine.

And for now, that's really all I wanted to say.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sights and Sounds from Baltimore

Greetings to everyone! I am back from my weekend trip to Baltimore. The time went by quickly and it was definitely hard to leave Hamp. While there are lots of things rattling around in my brain as a result from this past weekend, one thing is certain - I am ready to move to Baltimore and get busy living life there. I know there will be a lot of adjustments to make, cold weather to tolerate, and lonely times to get through, but all of that will be better than living life on hold. This is the door God has opened for us at this time and I'm finally ready to walk through it...I think.

The night before I left, I heard owls hooting in the trees behind our house and I realized that city living was going to bring a whole new world of sounds and sights. I thought I'd share some of the ones I experienced this weekend.

Upon my arrival, I was greeted with proof that it is definitely colder in Baltimore than it is in Georgia. Here's a picture I took of the harbor next to the parking lot of our apartment the first time I visited in October.

And here's the one I took last Friday afternoon.

Yes, that's ice in the water. It's not totally frozen, but enough so that when snow was falling this morning as Hamp left for work, it stuck to the top of the water in places.

(A side note here - modern technology is amazing to me. Hamp took this picture with his blackberry earlier today, e-mailed it to me, and now I'm sharing it with you. I'm actually quite proud of both of us and the fact that we can even do this!!)

Another sight that is new to me is the wearing of hats and scarves by everyone. I'm not talking about cute little decorative things - I'm talking about keep your neck and ears from freezing necessities! We did find Hamp a hat that does both so he will look very dapper as he travels to and from work on really cold days.

I, on the other hand, just stayed cold the whole time and will need longer for my body to adjust. Tiffany promises me it will happen, so for now I just have to take her word for it.

One of the mornings while in the apartment, I heard a sound that I don't think I'll get tired of. As the wind blew, the boats anchored in the harbor rocked back and forth and created a melody like a giant wind chime. I also discovered that sea gulls stick around even when it's cold and they were seen and heard most everywhere we went. The view from our living room window is nice all the time, but I thought this little flurry of snow was an extra bonus.

Probably the best sounds of the weekend were heard at the Chris Tomlin concert. If you have the chance to go hear him when he's in town near you, you need to do so. We've been listening to his music for years now, so I've taken for granted the impact he's had on worship music in the church in the last decade. The arena held around 7000 people and most of them had never heard of Louie Giglio or Passion, which is how his music gained such a wide audience. Yet, most of those 7000 voices knew the words to every song. Often the music faded away and all you could hear was the joined harmony of God's people telling Him how great He is. There were different skin colors, nationalities, and languages, yet in the end we were all brothers and sisters united in love for our same Father.

There is a lot still ahead for me in this story we've fallen into, but I'm grateful for the reminder God gave me this weekend that His grace is enough!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Old and New

As promised in the last entry, here's the link to Charlie Hall's song "New Year". He and his band were backstage somewhere on New Year's Eve and did this informal performance that was put on You Tube.

By definition, the word "new" brings thoughts of hope and freshness to our lives, both individually and as part of a bigger picture. Yet, I have been reminded of "old" this year also, as plans for my 35th high school reunion are underway. Through the advent of the internet and social networking sites such as Facebook, people I haven't been in touch with in 35 years are suddenly part of my life again.

Some of my peers don't share the same enthusiasm for getting reacquainted and I must admit I've felt that way before. Maybe it's the passage of time and in some cases, the lives of former classmates, that has made me more aware of the circle of life and the importance of all who have made me the person I am today. In pondering this, I came across the following poem that most of us have only heard in part. I thought it was worth reading, so here you go!

New Friends and Old Friends
by Joseph Parry

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine,
Age will mellow and refine.

Friendships that have stood the test -
Time and change - are surely best;
Brow may wrinkle, hair grow gray,
Friendship never knows decay.

For 'mid old friends, tried and true,
Once more we our youth renew.
But old friends, alas! may die,
New friends must their place supply.

Cherish friendship in your breast -
New is good, but old is best;
Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.

So, to celebrate some of those gold friendships, here is a picture of our reunion committe that met in Smyrna last weekend. Among us we were at one time a football player, Mr. CHS, a cheerleader, an early graduate, a drill team member, honor graduates, home ec award winner, a drum major and mall cop, homecoming escorts, members of Who's Who, and an inspirational Senior English teacher who convinced us we could do anything we wanted to do.

This is me and my friend, Debbie. We met at Nash Junior High School in 7th grade and have stayed in touch all these years. We're in charge of finding our classmates which would be a bigger challenge than it is if Debbie wasn't already well into the process.

And yes, we're still trying to sell the house. We've had two people come look at it already, but no offers yet. A different realtor is bringing someone tomorrow, so I'm hoping Kit does a really good job convincing them this is a great house to buy!

Tomorrow, I'm off to Baltimore for a weekend of bonding with my "new" city, hanging out with my "old" husband, and going to see Chris Tomlin in concert only 3 miles from where our apartment is. I'll get another blog up as soon as I can. Until then, any prayers for safe travel would be greatly appreciated!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The State of Things

Since we're about to inaugurate a new president, I thought it only fitting to share the state of things here with you.

It is wintertime - in our country and in my soul. There is life peeking out here and there, but for the most part, it is covered in a blanket of cold and quiet. I have joined the living things that are dormant...just being...and waiting for the release of life that Spring brings when there will be blooms again.

We've shown the house once and were actually one of two final choices. We have another realtor coming tomorrow so we'll see what happens. After having Hamp home for a very short weekend and having to say goodbye again, I realized I am ready for this part of the adventure to be over. It's time for us to be together and make a home wherever we are. The stuff isn't what home is about - it really is where your heart is. So after a weekend jaunt to Baltimore later this week and a birthday celebration to Disney World with Tiffany, I think we'll be figuring out how to get me more in Baltimore than in Georgia.

I'll keep you posted on the house showings and if anything happens. For now, I'd like to leave you with a link to a Charlie Hall song called "New Year", but can't remember how to do it and it's too late to call Tiffany. Guess that will have to wait 'til next time. To get prepared, here are the words to the chorus:

"This is a new year, this is a new day to rise, shine, lift up your eyes. This is a new year, this is a new day to rise, shine, and point the way to God's great life".

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Glory Of It All

Three years ago on this date, Hamp and I willingly and we believe, obediently, gave our daughter to be married to a man who had won her heart and ours. Almost two years ago, we struggled with her to make sense of his abandonment and subsequent divorce from her. A year ago, we were living fully in the reality that life hadn't turned out the way we thought it would and all that we held secure was gone...even our understanding of God.

Today, the facts haven't changed and yet everything has. My heart knows less about God, but what I do know, I know for sure. Sometimes I'm still sad at the loss of all we had dreamed about experiencing with Tiffany as a married woman with her own family. And sometimes I'm still angry at how the self-centeredness of another person could hurt so many lives. But mostly, I am in awe of God's faithfulness to us all and the beauty He is bringing out of the ashes of pain.

Tiffany has her own story to tell of God's faithfulness to her specifically and I encourage you to check it out here.

As her mother, and as one who loved her husband like he was my own, I have fought different battles than she has. Betrayal, rejection, pain, anger, and questions have been my frequent companions these last two years. But just as with Pilgrim on his journey, Hope has come along in recent months and begun to overpower her enemies.

I am humbled at the arrogance I had as I viewed God and how I kept Him in a box that made me feel safe. Along with Lucy as she first met Aslan the Lion, I know now that He is most certainly not safe, but He is good.

As cliche' as this might sound, it's really not about me at all. God has a far bigger story He is writing and only by His doing am I given the grace to be a part of it. I don't know why He allowed our dreams to be shattered, but those pieces have led us to just a tiny bit of understanding that He will be glorified in whatever He allows. His will, and His will alone, is what matters and peace can only come through a yielded heart and bowed head.

So while the marriage that Tiffany waited expectantly for didn't last, she is still a radiant bride waiting for her faithful Bridegroom who truly will never leave or forsake her...or us.

For that, we rejoice and thank God for the "The Glory of it All".

Friday, January 9, 2009

It's a New Year!

Even as I wrote the title, it's hard to believe it's 2009. I don't really make resolutions because for me personally they just become a measuring stick for performance that will never be perfect. As a first born, I don't need any help in that area. Instead, my goal is to give each day back to the One who gave it to me in the first place and ask what He's got planned for it and how He'd like me to fit in.

This year marks the 35th year since I graduated from high school. Because of Facebook, I've had a flurry of "new" friend requests from people everywhere that were once a part of my life. I'm helping a group that will be organizing a reunion and it's been fun to get reacquainted with old "new" friends.

It's been a busy week and one that saw a for sale sign placed in our front yard.

I'm not gonna lie - it's a weird sight and one I still can't believe is real yet. After all the painting, carpet replacing, sorting, donating, trashing, and scrubbing that's gone on to prepare for this day, you'd think I'd be more ready for it. And in some ways I am. But there's also been grieving in the preparation and my body, soul, and spirit are a bit weary. The family has all returned to their respective homes and while the quiet is much needed, it's hard feeling like I don't really belong anywhere right now.

Speaking of family, I never posted any pictures from the few we managed to take during the brief time we are all under the same roof, so here we are now.

So what's next? Hamp will be home next weekend for a doctor's appointment already scheduled. Then I'm flying to Baltimore so we can go to the Chris Tomlin concert on the 24th. Tiffany's birthday is the first week in February and it's looking like she and I may be heading to Orlando to stay with friends there and spend several days in Disney World. That one trip would provide some fun soul time in the warm sun, allow us to visit Jenn's new house, and redeem some heart moments lost at Disney while new memories are being made. Not too bad for just one visit, huh?

Hopefully, we'll get some potential buyers in the house and it will sell sooner rather than later. Regardless, I will probably head to Baltimore sometime in February with some furniture that can be spared so I can start building home there with Hamp. Between all the babies being born and people getting married, we'll be back and forth a lot in the next few months whether the house sells or not. I know people get tired of us not knowing exactly what we're doing, but we really are just kinda making it up as we go along. It's part of that daily non-resolution thing!

I'll leave you with a picture of Kit that made me smile. As I was boxing up things to mail to Hamp and the kids that they didn't have room to take on the plane, Kit decided to "help". Little does she know that she may be wishing she could travel in the same way when it's time to go.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Kit the cat

Our family has had a variety of pets down through the years, but none have lasted as long as Kit, our current cat. She joined the family 13 years ago as Tiffany's Christmas gift from her boyfriend (with permission), but she grudgingly shifted her affections to me when Tiffany went away to college.

Kit is the feline matriarch of the family and wants to be sure you know that.

Ellie the wondercat, who belongs to Tiffany, is also a part of the family but it works best when she and Kit live in separate locations.

If you've been keeping up with our family in recent weeks, you know that life has been very busy lately. To say that Kit has not been a happy cat is the understatement of the year. Yet as I looked over pictures I took through the holidays, I realized Kit is much wiser than I give her credit for sometimes and that I had some things to learn from her. I thought you might enjoy them too.

When you're not sure those around you are safe to be near yet, lay low for a while but still take time to appreciate their effort.

Relax in the peace of the season and know that the Braves will figure something out if not this year, then the next.

Taking time to "be still and know" will always bring us back to the beauty of the season of Christmas.

When there are boxes everywhere, just remember that everything will get where it needs to go eventually, so you may as well have a little fun in the process.

Don't forget there's a bigger world and story out there and it's worth taking time to notice.

When you have to get back to the work at hand, take a minute to absorb what you saw as you were still.

Never forget that ordinary moments can become a thing of beauty if we're looking through the lens at the right time.

Taking the extra time to get up close to life will bring results not possible any other way.

Find ways to enjoy the work surrounding you.

Feeling safe and protected can only come when you trust the one providing them.

Never turn down the chance to share a milkshake with someone you love.

When God brings unexpected pleasures in a day, stop what you're doing and enjoy them.

And last, but certainly not least, never underestimate the rejuvenating power of a good nap.