Friday, June 25, 2010

Not So Extreme Home Makeover

Before I get to what I wanted to share today, I'll repeat the obvious. As you can see, I decided it was time for a change in the design of my blog. I really wasn't actually planning to be quite so drastic, but my limited knowledge of designing forced me into it when I couldn't undo my experimenting. Oh well, it's summertime and a season of bright colors, right??

I've spent the last week or so continuing to sort, reorganize, and unpack so we could finally be settled. It's amazing to me how attached we can get to stuff and when you have to make decisions, you realize how little is really needed to live. If nothing else, the moves of the last two years have been worth it to simplify life.

One of those items we've been waiting for "someday" to deal with was a painting that Tiffany gave Jeff as a wedding gift. The one she chose was named "Stillwater Cottage" by Thomas Kinkade and this is what it looks like.

While she like the actual painting, it was his description of why he painted it that drew her toward it. This is what it said:

"Still waters run deep; the waters of this crystal pool offer balm to the soul. Here, in this tranquil glade, God's perfect peace reigns....I wanted Stillwater Cottage to come alive for you as a place of refuge. The light pouring from the widows suggests that a family dwells at peace within....In this place, God is surely present; we feel the comfort and protection we can only know when we are in His hands."

If you know her story, it turned out that the painting ended up being almost a mockery of her hopes and dreams and while she didn't necessarily want to keep it, leaving it with the house was not an option when she had to move out. For the past 3+ years, it has hung on a wall in our house or been propped up against a wall in an unused room waiting for "someday".

Fast forward to the present and we realized it was time to see if the gallery would work with us on some kind of exchange for something Tiffany wanted. After a couple of phone calls and an amazingly gracious visit, not only did they exchange it, but they gave us credit for the leftover amount and we were able to get something for our living room as well.

God has used where we've all lived in the past 3 years to be part of our healing. From the north shore of the New England coastline to Baltimore, to Cinderella's castle in Disney World, He has been faithful to not only heal, but restore our hearts so we can fully be who He created us to be. As I leave you with our latest reminders of His love and grace, I hope you take a moment today to look for them in your life.

A New Day At The Cinderella Castle - "Two of the dream-memories we take from childhood on our life's journey, if we are fortunate, are the wonder and excitement of Disney World and the soaring majesty of castles. Perhaps that is why the Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World, Orlando, is such an enchanting inspiration to young and old."

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."
~Walt Disney

"The Sea of Tranquility - How true it is that we often sail to distant shores seeking that which lies hidden in our own heart, our own home. The Sea of Tranquility is not a place; it is all places, for it is buried deep within all people. Inside each heart is a private refuge; a place of serene rest which Christ referred to as "the peace which passes understanding."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Not to overstate the obvious, but I'm working on tweaking my blog design. It is a far more complicated task than I envisioned and I am out of time for now to keep at it. So if you've wandered here today to see what's been happening lately, I apologize for the blueness. If nothing else, this will be a fun experiment don't you think?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pieces of May

With sincere apologies to Three Dog Night for tweaking their song title, "Pieces of April", I have returned to the world of blogging. I know I've been very inconsistent in recent weeks and I'm expecting that to change as we're FINALLY starting to feel somewhat settled again. I don't think I'll ask if my ramblings were actually missed, but even if they weren't, I still enjoy this 21st century way of recording life as I know it so I'll keep it up for now.

I just looked at my calendar and it was seven weeks ago today that we were packing a too small truck in Baltimore getting ready to drive away from what had become life for us. Then I think about what has transpired in those 7 weeks and I no longer wonder why I haven't had time to do much of anything except survive.

So, the month of May, huh? You know a little bit of it already. We arrived in GA and unloaded into apartment number one which is now not-so-lovingly referred to as the smoke apartment. (It's a new addition in our family history to a house that we lived in for a brief stay and was appropriately dubbed the "pee house". Maybe someday I'll share that story...)

After being here less than two weeks, we went to Boston and celebrated Michael's graduation from seminary. When we returned home, we moved from the smoke apartment into a different apartment and met the emergency room staff of the local hospital as they stitched my head from a nasty fall in the parking lot during the move. A little over a week later, we celebrated Michael and Bekah's marriage with family and friends here in GA. Since that time, we've slowly begun to relax some, continued the unpacking of stuff that you never know what to do with, visited with friends, and sweated...a lot. I moved to Baltimore while it was still winter and we came to the south right before summer. Something's wrong with that picture.

Speaking of pictures, I've realized that I am beginning to see life more and more as a series of snapshots. I have always enjoyed photography and like Julia Ormond's character in the movie "Sabrina", I think I've been taking pictures in my head all my life. So for the rest of this entry, I'll share a few of those with you and by the end, you should be current in your quest to keep up with the Joneses.

Snapshot #1 - Reading

I have always loved to read. My mom made sure books were in the house from the time we were little and it has remained one of my favorite ways of relaxing. In recent months, I haven't read much and I think that contributed to the desert state of my soul. From light and whimsical to classics to inspirational to romantic - somehow the world is a little brighter when a book is closed with a satisfied sigh. And since God chose the written word as a significant means of communicating with His people, I think He understands. With summer here and perhaps some beach or pool time available to you, I highly recommend Robin Jones Gunn's SisterChicks series. While easy to read, be prepared for thought provoking truths along with lots of laughs.

Snapshot #2 - God's world

We had some impressive sights surrounding us while we lived in Baltimore and you've seen a lot of them if you've been keeping up with us for a while. This view from our living room window was a favorite picture of mine, even though we had to look over the parking lot first.

But as time went on, I realized I really missed the color green. Sure there were snippets of it here and there, but when you live in the city, you're just not going to have wide open spaces or unencumbered views of a tree framed sky. This is what I look at when I sit on our very small porch and I've been amazed at the peace that permeates my soul as I just absorb the well...greenness.

Snapshot #3 - Pet smiles

A lot of people are pet owners and for those that are, there's no need for explanation. For those that aren't (and for those who think that cats have no personality) I just have to say that you're missing out on many smiles that are available to you through them. I'm starting to think more often about Kit's life ending because she'll be 15 years old this November. But she's still very healthy and while she does sleep a lot now, she adds much joy to our household and is patiently tolerated by my faithful friends who are allergic to her. I have been enlightened on more than one occasion by the wisdom she possesses as she quietly lives out her days. Here are a few examples of that.

Naps are always a good idea, especially when you get to sleep on a princess blanket covering your favorite person.

It's OK to be cute.

Sometimes the best place to weather a storm is hiding in the closet.

Taking time out of your day to rest recharges your soul.

Snapshot #4 - Braves baseball

I love baseball and I've finally decided that it's OK if no one else understands that about me. I grew up in a sports filled family due to my dad's career and because I grew up in Atlanta, the Braves have always been a part of my life. Until the 1990's, I should have been embarrassed to admit that, but when they combined winning with America's favorite past time, they validated an entire generation's loyalty.

Our move back to Georgia has coincided with Bobby Cox's decision to retire at the end of this season. Not that I needed it, but that has added extra incentive to be at some of the chosen games honoring him, former players, or just because. It also helps that they are currently in first place! My dream is to celebrate my birthday as the Braves win the World Series and you'll be the first to know if that becomes a reality this year.

Snapshot #5 - Home

The last three years have taught me that home really is where your heart is. They have also taught me that our hearts can be spread in more places than one thought was humanly possible. But moving away from all that is known and familiar and then returning has also verified the age old truth that there really is no place like home. And yet, even as I type those words, I know deep down that while Atlanta will always and forever be home for me, should God move us elsewhere again, I would be OK.

As I've driven the roads and been to places that hold memories of people and times forever gone, I've come to the realization that what happened in the past really is in the past. I don't feel sadness anymore at what no longer is. Instead, there is a quiet reassurance that God will make all things right someday and meanwhile He's completing what He's begun in me and those I love...just like He said He would. I've spent a lot of time in the recent years fretting over my lack of extreme emotion about anything. But lately I've wondered if maybe what I've thought was unhealthy detachment might actually be a greater understanding of the reality that life and therefore God, just is. After all, that's how He described Himself to Moses - as the great I Am.

That's probably enough for now. My goal is to have shorter entries more often which will be easier on all of us. :) Hamp and I will be heading soon to a hot and stuffy gym to watch Matthew as he coaches his summer basketball team. I missed not being able to support him that way when we lived so far away, so I'm looking forward to being able to do that again.

Stay cool and check back soon!