Saturday, November 28, 2009


It's Saturday morning and I have a few minutes before I need to start our last full day here in FL. It promises to be a fun one! The guys are playing golf, the girls are going to the Magic Kingdom, and then we'll all gather together to watch Tech beat Georgia. :) Actually, Matthew's decided to drive back tonight to beat the madness that will be I-75 tomorrow heading north from Florida. Even though he's done it before, I'm sure I won't sleep great until I know he's home safely. It's a mom thing...

I'm already sad knowing that our time together is drawing to a close. It's been a while since we've had an extended time in the same place without packing and moving someone and we've been blessed in that we actually like being with each other.

I wanted to share a few pictures from the week so far, but I'll have many more after today. When we first arrived, we went to the rehearsal for the singing trees that Tiffany and Nikki are singing in for the holiday season. The pictures are blurry but it was still fun to get to see part of what they've been involved with for the last couple of months.

On Wednesday it rained all day so we just relaxed and enjoyed staying inside. Then Thursday was Thanksgiving Day and we had a yummy meal that Tiffany cooked. Ellie was quite happy with our family tradition of sharing the turkey with the family cat after the meat has been removed that the humans will be eating. Poor Kit missed out since she stayed in Baltimore.

We didn't have a fancy table set since the girls don't have one in their apartment, but the food was excellent and we were together which was all we needed.

Much to her dad's delight, Tiffany made a banana pudding from scratch (the Vanilla Wafer box recipe) and it was not only amazing to look at but tasted that way too.

We went to see "The Blind Side" that evening and it is an excellent movie that I think everyone should see. Then yesterday we spent the day outside going to downtown Disney for a while, taking some family pictures, and playing putt putt. Nikki took most of our family pictures and she hasn't finished editing them yet, so I'll have to share those later.

Hamp was the putt putt champion, but my favorite picture was of Nikki and her hole in one dance.

As you might imagine, there was a lot of laughter as we played but time doesn't allow me to show you all the pictures. Here are a couple to give you an idea.

I'm out of time for now - Disney beckons! We head back to Baltimore tomorrow and God is having mercy on us by giving us 60 degree sunshine there before snow is predicted for later in the week. Enjoy the rest of your weekend...and go Jackets!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Before We Leave

Yes, I'm up much later than I should be getting things finished up so we can leave tomorrow for Orlando. But I just had to show you this cute little face.

Little does she know that we're about to leave her for several days AND let strangers stay in the apartment while we're gone. I hope all goes well....

I also wanted to show my decorating friends that I finally found something to put on the wall by the desk. It's a little random, but the colors blended everything together in the room and I liked it enough that I would use it again if/when we move again.

I must go retrieve the last load from the dryer downstairs. The washer and dryer in the apartment are only about half-size, so when I have to wash sheets and other larger loads, I get to pay $1.25 to do so. I thought I was through saving quarters for laundry when Tiffany and Michael moved out of their Gloucester apartment, but alas, I am not.

Check back soon as I'm sure there will be lots of pictures and stories to entertain you with from our family time together. And I have to say it...while I'm truly sorry that UGA lost their bulldog mascot this week to a sudden heart attack, I think it might have been an omen for the game this weekend. Yeah, I went there! I know Tech could lose, but it's just fun talking a little trash while I can. It's not near as much fun without those who enjoyed many years of Dawg dominance in our presence, but I know the misery is there and I can be content with that.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Giving of Thanks

Thanksgiving Week is upon us. In honor of this occasion, I would first like to present my revised rendition of a classic favorite that all of us at one time or another have sung enthusiastically in a classroom or in front of smiling parents.

Over the harbor and through the air
To Mickey's house we go
The plane will obey
What the pilots say
And we will not see any snow-o!

No, I'm not quitting my day job...

Anyway, I think I've about decided that Norman Rockwell is not my friend. I guess he really couldn't be because he's no longer living, but that's beside the point. I have realized that his artistic portrayal of life in America doesn't always look like reality. Or maybe it's just my reality that doesn't always stay in the lines and has colors that run together.

While most of us will be able to spend part of this week with family and friends, for some there will be empty seats at the table. Whether through tragic circumstances, personal choice, or just the passing of time, our hearts will miss those who mattered to us and are not present.

To all of you who journey with me these days, know that I am thankful for each one of you. I have been very blessed and often don't take the time to remember that. We are very excited to be gathering with our children in Orlando for most of this week and I'm sure we will have lots of pictures to share in the coming days.

As we enter this week of giving thanks, let's remember that it's more than turkey and pilgrims and football. It's a time to intentionally remember who the Founder of our feast really is.

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." ~Psalm 100

Monday, November 16, 2009

Words and Pictures

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. ~Cyril Connolly

I saw this quote last week and decided it explained better than I ever could why I keep up my blog. I started it a little over a year ago because we were moving away from friends and family after 47 years and I thought it would be a good way for them to keep up with our new life. That has happened somewhat, but for the most part my readers seem to be made up of either casual drop ins or total strangers with a few connections from my former life that grows more distant every day. I've contemplated ending my foray into cyberspace, but this quote gave a little clarity to my journey, so for now I will continue.

God has been very gracious to give us two magnificent days in a row so my soul could expand again. The sky has been blue, the breeze gentle, the temperature warm, and the clouds have been absent, leaving the sun visible for the first time in almost a week. The rain returns soon but I am thankful for the respite we were given.

I worked a little while today and then spent part of the day walking and taking pictures and also absorbing more of the music and lyrics from Steven Curtis Chapman's new CD, Beauty Will Rise. While most of us might never experience the loss of a child, grief is a universal experience and the hope expressed from God's Spirit through Steven's words and music has left me mostly speechless. So I'm going to combine some of his words with pictures I took today in a feeble attempt to encourage you to purchase this treasure for yourself.

"But in my mind's eye I can SEE a place, where Your glory fills every empty space."

"Out of these ashes, beauty will rise and we will dance among the ruins. We will SEE it with our own eyes. Out of these ashes, beauty will rise, for we know joy is coming in the morning. In the morning, beauty will rise."

"And I'm counting down the days until I SEE, it's everything He said that it would be and even better than we would believe. And I'm counting down the days 'til He says, 'Come with me' and finally, we'll SEE."

"And I can't wait to watch your brother's face when he can finally SEE with his own eyes that everything's okay. But I, oh, I just have to wait 'cause I know that day is coming."

"You are faithful, You are faithful, when You give and when You take away; even then still Your name is faithful. You are faithful."

"Who are You God? 'Cause You are turning out to be so much different than I imagined. And where are You God? 'Cause I am finding life to be so much harder than I had planned."

"This is not where we planned to be when we started this journey, but this is where we are. And our God is in control."

"I did my best to explain how it is that we all will be with God; how it was the Savior came."

"God is it true that You're thinking of me at this moment? God is it true that You hear every prayer that I pray? God is it true every time my heart beats You know it? Well if it's all true, then that must be You I hear saying, 'Trust Me'."

"And I will trust You, I'll trust You. Trust You God, I will. Even when I don't understand, even then I will say again, You are my God and I will trust You."

"Jesus will meet you there."

"Spring is coming, Spring is coming. And all we've been hoping and longing for soon will appear. Spring is coming, spring is coming. It won't be long now, it's just about here."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week's End

A new week is almost upon us, so I thought I'd take a quick minute and just let you know that our weather ended up being fine from the storm. I want to be a woman of my word, so I did take a picture for you Thursday night of the street in front of our apartment building.

Are you wondering what that's a picture of? Well, it's...the street. No water, no flooding, just the street. In the background you can see the water and closer to the street is the wall where the pipes for the overflow drain into the street. The wind and surf moved enough east and north that we we ended up not being affected. Today, however, the street has been fairly full at high tide and the weather was perfect. Go figure...

Kit pretty much sums up our excitement for the weekend around here.

Oh, to be a cat...although I'm pretty sure Ellie might argue that point. I found a Santa hat for cats at Petsmart and after laughing when I saw it, I bought it and mailed it to Tiffany for Ellie. She was not amused, but Tiffany definitely was!!

Hopefully Ellie will have forgiven both of us by the time I get to Orlando for Thanksgiving and try to hold her and pat her.

While it's been a fairly quiet week, there are enough things going on with family, friends, and Hamp's job to keep life unsettled. As Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself ready for the trip to Orlando and a change of scenery and focus. I'm also really looking forward to our family being together and getting to catch up in person. Being thankful - I think I need to practice.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Weather Watching

This is the weather headline making the news today and it's keeping life a little interesting for us here. While I've lamented over and over about moving north, I have learned that Marylanders do not like to be called northerners. Still south of the Mason Dixon line, this area is officially known as the mid-Atlantic. So with the words Atlantic and Assault being used together, we're paying attention.

In 2003, Hurricane Isabel flooded the area where we live and we've seen pictures of the water up to the tops of cars. This storm won't be a direct hit, but our street floods when wind, higher waves, and tide levels converge just right and that looks to happen tomorrow and tomorrow night. I probably won't be able to get my car through the water on our street, but Hamp's truck should be OK. I'll definitely be taking pictures so I can keep you updated.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the temperature is only 43 today. Sigh...But two weeks from today, Hamp and I will be spending Thanksgiving with all of our kids in Orlando. I'm very excited and on the day the guys go play golf, I will be heading to Disney with Tiffany and Nikki. They've been having a "cold" spell with highs only in the low 70's. I think I can adjust!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Taste and SEE

This has been a hard week for me. I have missed family and friends and the familiar. I've looked back and wondered why and I have questions with no answers. And I haven't like it...not one little bit. Then it came - the CD I've known would bring a balm to my heart. "Beauty Will Rise", sings Steven Curtis Chapman, along with many other reminders of God's goodness and faithfulness and truth. But the word that captured my attention today is the word, SEE.

I'll let him explain: "The day after Maria went to Heaven, Mary Beth and I went to our house with friends to get some clothes for the next few days...As I walked through the dining room I noticed a piece of paper on Maria's little art table where she and her sister would spend hours coloring and drawing and cutting and gluing...On that piece of paper of Maria's signature flowers that she loved to draw...Then I noticed something was written with marker on the back side of the paper...I turned the page over and was completely stunned to find a word written on the back in Maria's handwriting. To any of our knowledge she knew only 6 words that she could write. But there on the back of the paper she had written in all capital letters the word, "SEE". Even as one who is usually careful not to attach more meaning to something than it deserves, I was and still am completely convinced that this was a precious "gift" from the broken heart of our Father in Heaven delivered through our daughter's own hand the very morning before she left us for Heaven...I could picture the face of our little girl smiling at us and saying, "SEE mom and dad, SEE everybody, it's just like you said, only so much better...and I really am okay!" And it was our Father's way of saying, "SEE with eternal faith My promise of the day that's coming very soon when I will make everything new and wipe every last one of these tears from your eyes."...The rest of us are still waiting for that coming day when finally we will clearly and completely SEE!"

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." ~2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sometimes There's Just Not Enough Words

My apologies to Forrest Gump and Jenny. I tweaked the title of this post from a line in the movie that's talking about rocks, but that's how I feel today as I've thought about what to say. I was actually surprised to see how long it's been since my last entry because I've written many in my head that just never made it to the computer.

Anyway, where to begin? I guess I can try and review the last week and see if anything pulls together that might make sense. We spent last weekend working several hours on a coat and shoe distribution with Gallery Church. A couple of our partner churches had collected lots of coats and shoes and then drove them to Baltimore. We set up locations in two different communities to make it easier for people to reach. To see people grateful, humble, excited, and sometimes even selfish over something I take for granted every day I get dressed doesn't have a place to go in my sheltered, suburban level of understanding.

The first of the week brought sickness to several of our church families and while Hamp and I have mostly fought it off, I had a few days of not feeling well and without much energy. Our kids all got sick in their respective states and that was hard to not be nearby to help them. So much for a happy Halloween this year.

Wedding plans are well underway for Michael and Bekah and this past weekend she found her dress while her mom was visiting. She was so sweet to send me pictures so I could see what it looked like and it's been fun to see details begin to fall into place for them. Being involved with a wedding again has reminded me that while wounded places in our hearts can be healed, if a scar is poked in the right spot, it will still hurt. And I think that's all I have to say about that.

As you know, daylight savings time ended this past weekend. I don't like the time change and wish we just left it alone.

It gets dark in Baltimore about 30 minutes earlier than in Atlanta and I don't need any help being reminded that it will also be colder in this darkness. I think I can be brave....

I still haven't made it to a pumpkin farm or a place to go on a hayride, but I haven't completely given up on that yet. The leaves are beautiful here as you head out of the city and get more in the mountains. They won't last much longer, so I'm hoping sometime this week to be able to go somewhere and have an official fall visit. There's another tree in our parking lot that is beautiful now so I took a couple of pictures this afternoon.

Sometimes the little fish in the harbor come to the surface and when they do, the sea gulls go crazy. As I was taking the tree picture, I heard them making all kinds of noise and realized they were going fishing. This gives you an idea of what the area near our apartment looked like for a while this afternoon.

One more thing before I end this. Tomorrow is when "Beauty Will Rise", Steven Curtis Chapman's new album, will be available for purchase. I've heard snippets of most of the songs and read some reviews and heard some interviews that he has done to get ready for its release. Here's an excerpt from the New York Times review of the album:

Near the midpoint of “Beauty Will Rise,” Steven Curtis Chapman’s stirring new album, there comes a song called “Questions,” with a premise far less innocuous than its title. “Who are you, God?” Mr. Chapman begins, with quiet purpose. “ ’Cause you are turning out to be so much different than I imagined.” He takes a breath. “And where are you, God?/ ’Cause I am finding life to be so much harder than I had planned.”

Sometimes there just aren't enough words, but sometimes God gives them to others.