Friday, December 31, 2010

So Long, Farewell!

2010 is almost at an end.  Can I get an "Amen" or two for that fact??  The last two weeks have felt like I've been trying to get a drink of water from a fire hose aimed straight at my mouth.  But I am happy to say that things do appear to be improving.  My mom is now out of the hospital and at a rehab facility to try and get her strength back.  Unless there is an unexpected setback, she'll likely be out of there in a week or so.  We may be moving her into a one bedroom apartment so she won't have as much to keep up with and also to save her some money.  So while there are aspects of life that will be easier, a new adventure is most definitely on the horizon.  And guess who lives only five minutes away from her mother?  Yep, that would be me....and the things God has been teaching me are so many and so profound that it's going to take the rest of my life probably to process them all.  If and when I ever get some uninterrupted time, I'll attempt to share with you some of what that has been.

Today I am getting things back in a somewhat orderly state in our own apartment before I go see mom and then head downtown to Atlanta.  Yes, I know that sounds crazy, but a while back Hamp and I had volunteered to work at Passion 2011.  I had to back off from my original commitment, but with mom's move to rehab, I'm going to get to join Hamp for some of the conference and we will get to spend New Year's Eve together.  I know it will be tiring, but I'm ready for a different kind of exhaustion and I think this will be a refreshing time for both of us.

One last thing before I put things in high gear.  At the beginning of November I started another blog called Pixy Prose.  For years I've wanted to create a line of greeting cards but haven't had either the time, resources, knowledge, or equipment to do so.  I discovered I could satisfy that creative part of me by simply using the internet and a new blog.  Of course, millions of others have discovered that blogs can be an expression for lots of things as well, and I never really got many looks on it.  That humbling reality combined with my mom's health issues have forced me to stop it for now because I don't really have the time to invest in it.  While I don't have a ton of people who read this one either, there are more views of it probably because it's been around a while.  Once I have time to remove the Christmas background, don't be surprised if this becomes a combination of the two.  I'm not sure it's a good idea to squelch something that surprisingly met a need for creativity I didn't realize I had.

So as a beginning to the new year and a goodbye to the old, here's to discovering what God has placed within us!

"What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us."
~Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What Does This Make Possible?

I am sitting in a hospital room in the middle of the night listening to my mother mutter unintelligible words as she reaches for things only she sees.  I know I'm not the first person to deal with tough issues like this, but the part that makes this hard is that the majority of her problems are a result of choices she's made throughout her life.  What began as a medical situation that required surgery to be corrected has become the least of the issues threatening her life in every way.  I truly believe that as long as a person has breath they have value not only in God's eyes but in the world they live in.  But I'm not gonna lie; dark thoughts come unbidden especially when it's dark outside.

A few weeks back some friends of ours were telling us about the difficult time they'd been through recently.  They've been involved in ministry for the last 30+ years and as victims of deception and ultimately betrayal, they had to uproot their lives and begin again.  One thing they shared with us that they had taken from the experience was instead of asking the question, "Why?" to ask the question "What does this make possible?"  I've thought a lot about that question and how it's a much more productive one to ponder when life doesn't go the way we thought it would or should.  It's somewhat helpful to think about as Tiffany will now be spending Christmas alone due to our inability to travel because of my mom's health.  And as Matthew recovers from his 7th surgery on the same knee, the hope is that the answer is "a lot!".  But as I think about the many possible ways this scenario could play out with my mom, all I really know is what is no longer possible for her.

At some point I'll get some pictures up from our time together as a family a couple of weeks ago.  Sadly, my mom wasn't feeling well even then and left before we could get any pictures of her that day.  But I do have one from her birthday that we took at Publix where she was working that day and it's one of my favorites of her.  So I'll close with that and hope that memories will eventually erase the scene in front of me as I type.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December Madness

Welcome to the pre-dawn creation of today's post. I am up because my poor body can no longer digest all of the food I'm putting in it in a timely manner and so sleep has become the thing to go. I remember now why I began Weight Watchers online last year on January 1st - I was simply tired of eating and feeling terrible. I have reached that point again and will gladly stop the holiday feeding frenzy most of us succumb to each year. Why we do that in our country could be a fascinating thing to ponder when there is time someday...

As I type, two of our children, the cold-fighting, sweet spirited spouse of one son, the cat, and the hubby are all sleeping in our relatively small apartment. Such is life in our new normal of recent years. It might be fun to actually create a game to predict where we will be living next Christmas and how we'll celebrate as a family. The rest of my side of the family will be here in about six hours and we visited with some of Hamp's family yesterday in Newnan at Sprayberry's Barbeque. (The onion rings with their accompanying grease are last night's prime suspect in the stomach distress that awakened me an hour ago.) Then tomorrow brings not only predicted zero-degree wind chills, but the departure of the Disney daughter and the Great White North couple to warmer temperatures than they will leave. The local coaching son will be counting down the hours before his Christmas break and also probable knee surgery once again. His poor knee just gets messy inside about once every couple of years as little cartilage fragments splinter off and get stuck under his knee causing lots of pain.

I left you with my upcoming trip to Baltimore pending and I did have a good visit. The meeting that needed to happen went fine and I got to see several friends for short visits and eat a crab cake lunch. While southern crab cakes can be good, there is nothing like a Maryland crab cake and anyone who has discovered them will agree.

It was mostly cold and gray while I was there so I didn't get many pictures. But I do have these which make me smile every time I see them.

Aren't those faces the cutest?? And the guinea pigs are pretty cute too.

Hamp and I got our tree up last weekend and Kit has enjoyed hanging out underneath it as usual. Tiffany got her as a gift on Christmas morning 15 years ago; my, how time flies!

As Christmas Day rapidly approaches, we find ourselves actually thinking beyond it. We're volunteering to help with Passion 2011 which will be held in Atlanta from January 1-4. Hamp took a couple of days off so we could help the whole time and we're excited about it. We may or may not get to hear some of the speakers and/or music, but it's not about that for us. The heart of the volunteer staff is to be a door-holder in the Kingdom so that the college students coming will be able to focus whole-heartedly on what God might have for them. There are still volunteers needed and the only requirement is that you are at least 26 years old and have a willing heart. Being able to function with little sleep might be helpful too. :) If you want to learn more about the conference, click on this link and it should have a place where you could volunteer if you're interested in doing so.

I should probably "officially" begin my day as our little household will begin to awaken soon. Have a good Sunday and bundle up - the weather is not going to be our friend in the next three days or so. My only consolation in the upcoming forecast is that the extremes don't last as long as they did when we lived several hundred miles further north.

Hopefully this calendar page I turned to the other day won't be your experience in the coming days, but if it is, make sure you get a picture!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Coming and Going

I don't have long but wanted to say hello...or maybe it's goodbye? I've been home a day from our Thanksgiving travels and I leave in a few hours to fly to Baltimore for a quick visit. As I'm listening to the wind pick up outside and as I watch the massive rain coverage that soaked us today move northeast, I have to confess I'm a little nervous about flying in the morning. I'm fully prepared to be delayed and truthfully expect to be. Oh, well, it will make for a good story, right?

The leaves will be gone and so our little cove that was beside our apartment building won't look quite like this, but I'm excited to go back and see some of the sights and especially the people we left behind.

The good news is that it won't look like this either!

Sometimes it's hard to believe that we ever lived there, because the time went by so fast, but then I think of the friendships we left behind and I'm reminded again that home really is where the heart is. Sometimes quotes can be a little cheesy and we don't stop and think that maybe they've survived the test of time for a reason. Not to keep bringing this up, but that's one of the reasons I've loved creating Pixy Prose. Not only am I learning more about photography, but I really enjoy researching quotes on various topics and finding the perfect fit. I'd love for you to check it out and maybe become a regular follower or reader. It's a challenge sometimes to have it ready each day but I discovered that you can schedule a post to be published when you want it to be and that's helped a lot. Should you want to see if it's something you'd be interested in, click here for a link to the page. Who knows, maybe someday if I really do get a card line created, you can say you saw it here first!

Time to try to sleep for a little while. You'd think I'd have the preparing to leave/packing thing down to an art, but I think of too many things at the last minute and end up staying up too late every time. Maybe one day I'll figure it out......

Think of me as I head out tomorrow. Hopefully flying the friendly skies will be just that!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas With Mickey

Hopefully this entry finds everyone recovering from gluttony and looking back over the Thanksgiving holiday with.....well, thanksgiving.  I know it's a hard time for a lot of people as memories are stirred because of empty seats at the table.  For others, like us, everything looked totally different than usual as we made adjustments to life as it is for now.  With rumblings of international unrest being heard even as I type this, there are always reasons to be thankful as long as we have breath and I'm hoping that's where you are this afternoon.

Speaking of afternoon, at the risk of alienating pretty much everyone we know, I probably shouldn't tell you that the cold front that dropped temperatures like a brick all across the nation lowered them here in the Sunshine State to the low 70's.  It's a gorgeous day outside - low humidity, mostly sunny skies, and a gentle breeze is blowing.  In a couple of hours, we're heading to Disney World for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party which is a must see extravaganza according to Tiffany.  There's a special ticket price and you're allowed in the park from 4:00 to midnight.  They limit the number of people so there's pretty much no waiting in line.  There's free hot chocolate and cookies set up all over the park, the parade and fireworks display are unique to these days, and it even "snows" on Main Street.  We're quite excited and it's the reason we're still here instead of sitting in traffic trying to drive north on I-75.  Hopefully we'll have lots of fun pictures to share once I'm back home and can get them downloaded.

We are jump starting the holiday madness as soon as we hit home tomorrow beginning with me flying to Baltimore on Wednesday for a few days.  I still help out with Gallery Church administratively just a little and it became necessary to gather everyone together for some cyber paperwork.  I'm not complaining, though, because I'm quite excited to see lots of people we've missed since moving back south.  I'll be dusting off the wool coat and scarf, however, because the highs are only supposed to be in the 40's.  Moving back south should be proof that I'm not quite as dumb as I appear sometimes.  :)

I hope re-entry back into the real world goes smoothly tomorrow for everyone and as we head into the official holiday season, my prayer is that we all remember that people are what really matter.  Yes, even those who cheer for UGA every Thanksgiving when they play Georgia Tech.  Sigh.....maybe before I'm too old to care, Tech will have a run that will cause the emotional upheaval we've had to endure for way too long.  One can always hope, right?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Orlando Style

Hamp and I are doing a little bit of work on our respective computers and then heading out to the mall where Tiffany works to say hello and do some pre-Black Friday scouting. For those of you who read this in various places of the country, I just had to share this.

We are in shorts and capris respectively, we are wearing flip-flops, the AC is on in the car and the homes we go in and out of, and the thermometer won't stop moving upward until it reaches 80+ degrees today. The forecast for tomorrow is 85. We might not be going over the river and through the woods in a horse-driven sleigh, but we will be together (well, most of us) and for that we are thankful.

Along that line, Tiffany updated her blog last night with a reflection on where she finds herself as the holidays approach. It made me realize yet again what amazing beauty comes out of the ashes of life and I thought you might enjoy reading it for yourself. If so, click on this link and it will take you to it.

Ellis has just wandered back into where we are, so I'm going to go play with her. She's quite lonely with Tiffany working as much as she is right now, so we're trying to be extra sensitive to our grandkitty. Yes, we have issues....and that's OK!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Disney Daze

Happy Thanksgiving week! We will be heading to Orlando tomorrow to spend the week with Tiffany and Matthew for part of it. In keeping with a Disney theme, I am beginning the week as one of his more beloved characters.

Yes, I am sleepy. That tends to happen when one sleeps for two hours, is awake for the next three, then sleeps for a couple more before being awakened for the busy day ahead. My hope is that I resemble only this endearing dwarf for the rest of the day and don't morph into another one that's just as recognizable. I'm not holding my breath, though.....

I'm already planning my newest addiction for later in the day to keep me awake. Have any of you tried the Starbuck's Peppermint Hot Chocolate? It is yummy!!

We're quite excited about heading to Orlando for several reasons. Of course, getting to spend time with Tiffany and Nikki and Jenn and her family are at the top of the list. After much enthusiasm on Tiffany's part, she's convinced us that going to Disney's Christmas Party is worth the effort, so on Sunday we'll be doing that. Between now and then, she has to endure preparing for, working, and surviving Black Friday at one of the busiest malls in Orlando. Hamp and I will be entertaining ourselves a couple of days while Tiffany will probably not be wishing that people would "eat mor chikin". The reward will be snow on Main Street as Christmas music plays and the whole park is decorated for the holidays. Lots of fun pictures will be forthcoming, I'm sure.

I'll let Walt Disney himself close us out today along with a recent picture of Tiffany from a trip to Disney. Part of the fun I'm having with Pixy Prose is all the quotes I'm discovering, even if they never make it to the new blog.

"All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Giving Thanks

With Thanksgiving travel ahead of us and since I had the time this morning, I decided to decorate my blog to greet what I consider the onset of the holiday season. We won't get to see Michael and Bekah until December, but the rest of the family is heading to Florida this week to share turkey day with Tiffany. Her Chick-Fil-A schedule at one of the busiest malls in Orlando prevents her from going anywhere. Such is the life of a grad student.

The following sentence might not seem like a connected thought, but hang with me and you'll see that it is. Chris Tomlin had a new CD released this week and I've been listening to it. As usual, all of the songs are worshipful reminders of who God is, but there's one in particular that has captured my heart. It's titled "I Lift My Hands" and the words to the chorus are what have impacted me the most. (For a link to the song, click here)

"I lift my hands to believe again
You are my refuge, You are my strength
As I pour out my heart, these things I remember
You are faithful, God, forever"
Quite simply, this is what thanksgiving is all about. Recognizing that God has been and will always be faithful. Does life look like we thought it would? No. Will there be loved ones missing at family tables this holiday season for various reasons? Yes. But while both of these are true, it doesn't preclude the fact that God is and that God loves. Even if there is no other reason, we can be thankful for that life-sustaining truth.

That being said, be alert for those around you that might be hurting as the holidays approach. For every instance of peace on earth and good will to men there's a broken heart to be comforted, a hungry mouth to feed, or a lonely soul that simply needs to be seen. We are God's hands and feet here on earth for now and it's a sacred privilege we've been given. Sadly, we usually don't have to look any further than our own family and friends to find the greatest need. Wherever we find ourselves this week, may God grant us the ability to see with His eyes and to love with His heart. And may God bless us, every one.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Afternoon

Greetings on this waning stretch of perfect fall weather we've been experiencing. Rain and cooler temps are heading our way for a couple of days, but we need the rain, so no complaints. I've had a couple of outings this week where I took some pictures of the gorgeous color around us, so I thought I'd share a few with you.

All of these were taken near our apartment building and aside from a little editing, this is what we see right now when we go outside. Very soon, however, the limbs will be bare and our little corner of the world will pull in for a necessary time of rest before it blooms again. I don't think it's an accident that our lives reflect the cycles of nature. We have seasons of growth, periods of letting go that usually involves decay, and times of being dormant. Then one day there's a bud of hope and new life appears.

I feel like our lives right now are mirroring the world outside our window and I'm actually looking forward to a time of forced stillness as we wait for what God has next. Is our time back in GA temporary or will we put deeper roots down again in the next year? As Passion City Church continues to move toward a permanent building, will new friendships begin and grow? Most of the time, I'm OK to just wait and see, but I confess to occasional impatience too.

For those who might be visiting for the first time in a while, here's a link to a new adventure I've begun titled, "Pixy Prose". Right now, it's just a blog with a daily photograph that either I or someone I know has taken along with what is hopefully a thought provoking quote. I've had fun creating it and have enjoyed the research and editing required to keep adding entries. Who knows what it might lead to, but for now, I hope you'll stop by and check it out.

I have to get ready to head out for church soon, so for now I must depart. If any of you might ever be interested in checking out Passion City Church, click on this link and you'll be able to keep up with what's happening. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Condensed Life

Wow - it's been a while, hasn't it? It's been busy, but not so busy that I couldn't have stopped to write. So why haven't I? I actually have an answer and I'll give it to you at the end of this post. (Don't you hate it when people do that??)

Before I share that, however, I'll catch you up on the happenings of the GA Joneses. Most of the month of October was filled with perfect fall weather. I love the change of seasons because each one brings something special with it. The cooler days (finally!), crisper air, bright sunshine, and changing leaves have always been invigorating to me. One of the things our family used to do was make an annual visit to Burt's Pumpkin Farm in the north Georgia mountains but that wasn't possible for several reasons this year. One, half of us don't live here anymore. Two, if you don't go on a weekday in the fall, you have to sit in traffic and fight large crowds. Three, Hamp had already taken a day off so we could go to Savannah and he couldn't miss work again. So, I did what any enterprising pumpkin seeker would do - I went by myself. As I've mentioned before, the last couple of years have taught me that being alone is not a bad thing and there's lots to learn in times of solitude. I knew that if I took my camera that I would enjoy the day....and I was right!

I remembered that Amicalola Falls State Park was right down the street, so I decided to go there also and hike up to the waterfall where I got some more great pictures.

It was a good day, but not without emotional consequences. There can be a price to pay for sharing places you love with those you love on the off chance that they'll leave you one day, but after time to consider the alternative, to me it's worth the cost.

So, what else have I been doing with my time? Well, after looking at my pictures from my day in the mountains, I decided to try and do some editing using the very limited resources I have at hand along with my very limited knowledge. I ended up being pleasantly surprised with the results and in the process discovered that I had tapped a creative vein I've been neglecting for too long. Accepting the limitations at hand, I realized that my ultimate dream of creating a greeting card line would still have to wait. However, using what I did have available, I created the next best thing - a blog that has one entry a day complete with a picture and thought provoking (hopefully!) quote. I started it on November 1st but didn't want to make it public until I was sure everything was working okay. I won't have anything personal on it, but you can still leave comments if you want to or become a follower. I think if you do that, then you're updated for each new entry. For those of you that use Google Reader, you can add the blog site as a new subscription and get the update from there.

The name of the new blog is Pixy Prose. The word "pix" is plural for "pic", which is an abbreviation for "picture" and the word "prose" just means an ordinary form of the spoken or written word. It's not world peace, but it's a way I can pull together several creative ways to express myself and it's free. :)

So welcome to those who want to check it out and you can do so by clicking on this link. It will take you to the latest entry, so to see all of them you'll have to scroll down. When you get to November 1st, you'll know you've reached the last (first?) one.

I plan to keep up with this blog too and hopefully more often for those few of you that seem to want to keep up with our little family. And if you get a chance, you'll have to let me know what you think of Pixy Prose.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Going to State!

I only have a minute because I must get some sleep, but I wanted to let you know that I'm heading to south Georgia in the morning for the fast pitch softball state tournament. I know, I'm a wild one, aren't I? :) But Matthew is the assistant coach and we live close enough to go, so I am. It used to be a yearly trip for the team but like all dynasties, things change and it's been a while since they've been. On paper, they shouldn't get very far, but the Braves showed us what teamwork and chemistry and heart can do when talent might not be evenly matched. So we'll see what happens. But as we all go to bed tonight, there are 8 teams hoping to become the state champion and at this moment, we're all on equal footing. Go Hoyas!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Birthday Blog

It's official - I have lived to see another year begin in my life! Most of the time I'm glad about that, but I have to admit that the older I get, the more I long for the day when everything will be made right.  There's so much sadness and pain in the world that sometimes it makes my heart hurt.  That's when I realize that God's patience with us is greater than I'll ever be able to comprehend.

I know I haven't been updating my blog regularly and I really do hope to get better at it again.  To catch you up, I'll hit some of the highlights of the last month. 

~ I last left you with the Braves making the playoffs. Alas, we didn't make it out of the first round and we had to officially say goodbye to Bobby Cox as manager of our Atlanta Braves. Tiffany wrote a really good blog about the season ending, so I'm going to be lazy and just put a link to it here and then I won't say anymore about it. Well, except that it's only about four months until Spring Training and I live close enough now that I can drive there for a couple of games next year. :)

~ In September, our friend Annie came to visit from Baltimore. We had a lot of fun having her here and enjoyed showing her some of the nearby sights. Even though Maryland is pretty far north, it is still south (barely) of the Mason-Dixon line thus keeping them from officially being Yankees. But I never saw any magnolia trees while living there, so we had to show Annie what the true south was like.

Of course, one cannot visit Atlanta without being introduced to the Varsity.

If it's baseball season, then a Braves game is a must also. Brooke got to join us so we had a mini Baltimore reunion even though she's back in GA too.

We also went to Stone Mountain to show her the giant rock east of Atlanta. (Did you know that it was formed by a volcano that never quite erupted and that most of it is still underground? You learn something new every day.....)

Thanks for visiting, Annie! We'll see you at Passion 2011!

~ Moving back to Georgia reunited us with Matthew who still teaches and coaches at Harrison. Being the supportive parents that we are, we've been to several fast-pitch softball games and helped cheer the Lady Hoyas to victory as region champs this year. They're currently in the second round of the state playoffs and if they win that, then I'll get to visit my friend Liz in Columbus next weekend.

This was what was left of the water cooler contents after they were poured over Matthew. He's one of the assistants, but I guess the girls figured dumping ice water over their pregnant coach wasn't a good idea, so he was chosen.

~ Even though we're back "home" in GA, life is very different than it was before we moved. All of my friends are now grandparents and at different places in life than we are. Two of our kids are in different states and with the economic downturn, our income has decreased which makes traveling more infrequent. I'm still pondering what to do with my free time - do I look for a job? Do I take a class or two? If I'm not careful, I can get discouraged by what I see, forgetting that the unseen is where life is really being lived. But the extra time is allowing me a lot of solitude which I just learned from Tiffany is a spiritual discipline. (Side note - I've been learning a lot of interesting things from her as she shares some of what she's studying!) Being comfortable with yourself and with God in the quiet is something we miss in our age of information and instant everything. So I'm trying to receive this time and quiet as the gift that it is knowing that seasons pass and there is growth in all of them. I took some time last week to just walk around the apartment complex on a perfect fall day and take some pictures. These were some of my favorites.

This is the evil goldenrod, better known as ragweed, that tries to kill us every fall.

~ Time to get busy! If you're able to, give your kids (or parents) a hug today. You never know when you'll live too far away to do so.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Greetings on this fun numerical day of 10/10/10. It's been a while since I've posted.....sorry! I only have a minute today but will catch back up in the next couple of days. For now, I want to just say that THE BRAVES ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is what the excitement looked like on the field a week ago when the Giants beat the Padres to guarantee the wild card spot for the Braves.

And this was what it looked like in the clubhouse with the players and coaches. (photos courtesy of

There's just something about pulling for the underdog in life no matter what the situation is. Even Cinderella's rise out of the ashes was coined into its own term of "Cinderella Story". But even Cindy probably didn't expect it to apply to a baseball team many decades down the road.

Anyway, we're about to leave so I must go. I just wanted to say hello on this beautiful fall day and wish you all a very happy Sunday. Oh, and go Braves!!