Friday, September 24, 2010

Our Family Stories: How It All Began

Today is a day that is not traditionally recognized.  There's not a card for it at the Hallmark store or a day off from work or even a special sticker for my make-your-own calendar.  But it is a day that makes me smile as I remember what began about 20 years ago....

As regular readers already know, I met my husband at the BSU at Memphis State University (now The University of Memphis).  He was a senior; I was a freshman. 

After a year of being friends and starting to fall in love, he graduated, and we spent a year apart waiting for a time that we could be together again- the beginning of an on-going theme for us.

When he returned to MSU to begin work on his master's degree a year later, I was thrilled to have my best friend back on campus, and we spent the year hanging out at the BSU again.  By the end of that year, my junior year, I knew he was the man for me.

I hoped he would propose on my birthday in April.  He had asked one of my best friends to go shopping with him to help pick out my a jewelry store.  I just knew he had asked her to help pick out a ring. 

But I didn't receive a diamond ring.  To my disappointment, he gave me a jewelry box.  It was nice, but I wanted a ring to put in it.  Alas, I would have to continue to wait, knowing that I wasn't really waiting for him but on the Lord.

At the end of that school year, he left for Costa Rica for a month of intensive Spanish instruction/immersion.  He called me weekly and told me that being away from me was the most grueling experience of his life.  He never wanted to be without me again.  Finally, I thought, he'll step off the plane and bend down on one knee.

But he didn't, and the waiting continued.

A month later, we attended a wedding together.  While talking with the male members of the wedding party, they asked him when they would get to attend his wedding.  He admitted that he had wanted to propose for months but had not thought of the "perfect" way to ask yet.  Their response was something like, "Dude! Just ask her!!" 

On the way home from the wedding, he told me what the guys had said in a way that let me know he was testing the waters.  So I told him that if he were to ask me, I would say yes.  I just knew that would open the door for him and he would ask me while we were driving back to campus.  I envisioned him pulling the car over, taking my hand, and asking me the question I longed to hear on the side of I-40.

But still... no proposal. 

A month later, he talked to my father who gave his consent.  Then he came to me and told me that he was going to propose soon, but not without a ring.  He wanted me to go to a jeweler with him and point out what kind of ring I liked.  I wanted to say, "Any ring will do... JUST ASK ME!" 

But I didn't.  I knew that wouldn't be proper or kind or submissive, so I went shopping with him.  Once we found the ring, I hoped he would drop to one knee and ask me right there in the store.  But, you guessed it....

About a month after that, there had still been no proposal.  I was about to give up on it ever happening when it was time for our annual church picnic at a local Christian campground.  There were hot air balloon rides scheduled for the day, and Michael went on and on the entire week before about how fun that would be and how much he wanted to go ballooning with me.

However, on the day of the picnic, I woke up with a cold.  It was in my ears, and I was terribly dizzy.  I called Michael and told him I couldn't make the picnic.  He insisted I reconsider, reminding me of the hot air balloon and the fun we would have.

I insisted that I would topple over the basket and fall to my death should I try to ride in my dizzy condition but I would do my best to be there for his sake.

With a fever of 101 and enough cold medicine in me to give me the shakes, I managed to swipe a little foundation, powder, and blush over my flush, sweaty face.  I dared not try lipstick or eye shadow.  My hands were so unsteady that it would have ended up all over my face. 

Pleasant fall temperatures had set in, but I was chilling and then sweating and then chilling again, so I threw on a pair of jeans with a t-shirt and hoodie.  I drove very slowly and had to switch back and forth between air conditioning and heat. I had to pull over at least four times to remove or put back on my hoodie.  Eventually, I made it to Camp Cordova just as the balloon was landing for the last time of the day. 

I approached a downtrodden Michael and noticed people were consoling him.  I could not figure out why the hot air balloon ride was so important to him but I apologized for missing it and explained that I had done my best to get there as quickly as possible.  He could see I didn't feel well and understood, and we tried our best to enjoy the picnic and concert that followed. 

At some point, my fever broke, and I regained some energy.  We headed out to the Frisbee golf course where we laughed at my inability to throw in a straight line.  He ran off to retrieve my misguided Frisbee and then disappeared.

As I bounced from tree to tree, looking for my love and not giving engagement rings or proposals the slightest thought, I found him behind a tree trunk on one knee with an open ring case in hand. 

I quickly realized why he had wanted me on that hot air balloon so badly.  He had finally found the perfect way to propose, and I had ruined it.  I was touched by his kindness and told him that anywhere was the perfect spot.  I didn't want a spectacular event or a fancy ring.  I wanted him, his love and commitment, and as long as we could be together, any old spot would do.

Although I think it came out a little more like this-


It was sixteen years ago today that I played a rather poor game of Frisbee golf and came out the winner of an engagement ring.  I still love that young man who was hiding behind a tree with ring in hand and I remember him fondly.  I like who he has grown up to be, too.  I could not have asked for anything nicer than the sweet moment God appointed and am thankful that it is His timing that is perfect.

I wait for the Lord,
my soul doth wait,
and in his word do I hope.  
Psalm 130:5

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm Back

Hello bloggy world!  I'm back!!

It's been over 3 weeks since I announced my need for a break.  Though I managed to post 2 of my golden oldies and visit a few of your blogs here and there, I have been otherwise out-of-touch.  Thank you to those who continued to visit and read and who have kept your subscriptions.  Even though I'm not the most popular blog on the block, I worried about my readership dropping as I stepped away.  I appreciate all of you who stuck with me even though there are cobwebs in the corners and tumbleweed rolling across the screen.  Thank you, and I missed your comments and emails!

I want to give praise to God who has heard the prayers of many people on behalf of my mother and given her the strength to accomplish many difficult things over the past few weeks.  She "walked" three hours after her surgery.  We were told that if she was unable to do this, she would have to be admitted to a nursing home until she rehabilitated.

There's something motivating about the words "nursing home".  At age 101 and a half, my great grandfather signed the papers to be admitted to a nursing facility.  It was something we never wanted for him, but he had become so weak that none of us could properly care for him.  It was something he never wanted either...he died two hours later.

Well, Momma heard those dreadful words, and thankfully, she didn't keel over.  Instead she grabbed her walker, pulled herself up and "walked" across the room.  With one leg paralyzed and the other healing from surgery, this was no easy task.  We know God has heard our prayers and answered with kindness and huge measures of grace.  We give him praise.

Poor Orville, on the other hand, didn't fare as well.  When he saw Mom as they rolled her from recovery to her hospital room, tears started streaming down his face.  He had to slump down in the hallway outside her door, bury his head in his hands, and sob.  Forty-five minutes and a whole bunch of stickers, juice boxes, and toys (provided by the kind nursing staff) later, he managed to tip toe to her bedside where he burried his face in her chest and sobbed some more.

The boy loves his Nohnie.

Wilbur loves her too, but when the nurse handed him a gummy man to throw on the wall and watch slide to the floor, all was well in his world.

Two days later, she was home, not in a nursing facility, with visits from home health care.  The boys and I arrived at her house each morning as my dad left for work and remained with her until after dinner.  PT came to the house.  Our church sent lots of food.  Orville recovered emotionally and read her exercise instructions to her each day.  We set up a temporary schoolroom in their home office and worked on lessons when not directly helping Mom.

The first week was rough, but after that, she regained her strength.  Each day she was able to do a little more than the previous one.  Yesterday she was released from home health care, and we returned to our home.  She is able to care for herself again, as long as she remains in her wheelchair.

Thank you for your prayers.  I know many people have been praying for Mom, and our time together was blessed as was her recovery.  Please continue to pray for her as it will be a few weeks until she reaches a full recovery. 

I'm glad to be back among my bloggy friends and have a few things for Olive Plants in the works.  I hope to see you back here soon!

So do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed,
for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 
Isaiah 41:10

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Consolation Prize?

I wrote this post 2 years ago, and little has changed in that time.  The house is still up for sale and in need of some repairs.  The car needs fixing every time we turn around.  There are cavities to be filled, new glasses to buy, and achy backs to treat.

In other words, there is nothing new under the sun*, and all our inventions, contraptions, and medicines do not provide the relief, help, and cure that we need.

By God's kind Providence, there is a season for all things, and He has made everything beautiful in its time.**  Though present circumstances don't always seem lovely, God has ordained all things for His glory and the advancement of His Kingdom.  Why should the Christian ever doubt or complain...?

The recent economic crisis has had me thinking a lot about money lately, much more than I like. It is difficult not to think and wonder, even worry, when those things which we have worked hard to build up are being torn down.

In the midst of real estate values crumbling, we have been trying to sell our house. It has been on the market for almost three years now (um, make that 5). We bought our current home just before the real estate bubble burst. Now, selling without a loss seems impossible.

We also recently learned that our house is in need of some repairs. We have an old home with some problems that did not show up on the pre-purchase inspection. As much as I hate to admit it, we are stuck with a lemon and have to remedy these problems before we can sell, only driving the cost of our home up further.

On top of all that, we have incurred several unexpected bills this month… car repairs, dental work, medical exams, etc. All together it adds up to almost $2500 in extra expenses.

I know I am not the only one facing these types of issues right now. We are all feeling the effects of a troubled economy. But, even more troubling for me is the lack of Godly leadership in America. I long to see our nation run by men who are not led by greed and motivated by political or personal gain but who are led by the Spirit and motivated by the Gospel.

I have spent a good portion of my quiet time this past week asking the Lord to forgive me for and to ease my worries. I often turn to Matt 6: 19-21, "Do not store treasures for yourselves here on earth. Moths and rust will destroy treasures here on earth. And thieves can break into your house and steal the things you have. So store your treasure in heaven. The treasures in heaven cannot be destroyed by moths or rust. And thieves cannot break in and steal that treasure. Your heart will be where your treasure is."

I have to admit that sometimes I treat my treasure in heaven as if it were a consolation prize. My thinking goes, "Oh well, I don't have much here on earth, but at least I have that treasure in heaven." How backwards my thinking can be. Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever, not to obtain the American dream. My motivations should be Kingdom-driven. I know that my Heavenly Father always cares for my needs and that whatever He chooses to bless me with on this earth is for His glory. My treasure in heaven is not an insurance policy but my reason for living.  Jesus is my treasure.

So recently I have been challenged. Challenged to pray for the Lord's will for our nation, for revival in the church, and for my faith to be increased.

Is it possible that my earthly treasures are diminishing in order for me to realize where my heart truly is? As I face loss or enjoy gain, can I truthfully say that I would give whatever I have away in order to take up my cross and follow Christ?

In accordance with Eph 1:18, "I pray that I will have greater understanding in my heart. That I will know the hope that God has chosen to give me. I pray that I will know that the blessings God has promised his holy people are rich and glorious." May I, instead of worrying, be the "jar of clay" spoken of in 2 Cor 4:7, holding the treasure of the Gospel in highest esteem.

*Ecc 1
** Ecc 3

Friday, September 3, 2010


Two of my dearest bloggy friends, Kathleen @ South Forte Farms and Kellie @ Blue House Academy, suggested that I repost some of my favorite "golden oldies" during my blogging hiatus. Great idea, ladies! Thank you!!

I first posted Legacy in December, 2008. I thought it appropriate to pull from the archives and post today since my mom made it through her knee surgery successfully this morning. Thank you for your prayers.

She now faces rehab from surgery and has to begin walking again with the aid of a walker today. Just hearing the word rehab is hard for her. This post can help you understand why. Please continue to lift her in prayer as she regains the use of her "good" leg and works to rehabilitate through the added difficulty of her disability....

Orville began piano lessons recently. My mom, his Nohnie, teaches him. The piano has so much significance to her, and it is a joy to watch them together. I hope one day he will grasp just how special this instrument has been to her and the beauty of the legacy she is passing to him.

Just before her seventh birthday, my mother wanted to learn to play the piano. Her neighbors owned a piano and offered to let her visit their house daily and practice. They even gave her a few "lessons." She truly loved playing and went to their house as often as she could. Soon, everyone saw that she had a remarkable ability. She could play by ear but was learning to read music and play by the rules, too. It was not long before she could play like a pro.

A few months later, my grandmother and she went downtown to shop for a new dress, a common practice of theirs. There were no malls at the time, so they would park where they could find a spot and walk from specialty store to specialty store. However, this shopping trip would be different.

Mamaw (that's what I called my grandma) got out of the car and walked around to help her seven-year-old baby girl out. Mom took two steps and fell to the ground. Mamaw thought she was joking at first and prompted her to get up before she soiled her clothes. However, Mom could not get up. She was rushed to the hospital and after a long series of tests was diagnosed with infantile paralysis or polio.

The good news was the paralysis was isolated to her left leg. The bad news was she would have to relearn some very basic motor skills, including how to walk. For the next year, she could not go to school, go outside to play or do many of the activities that a "normal" seven-year-old girl would do.

My dear Papaw was not a rich man but he had a heart of gold. He painted houses for a living and money was often tight, but he knew my mom needed something special to help her through such a difficult season. She needed something that she could call her own, that could occupy her days and give her joy as she worked so hard to rehabilitate. He worked extra hours and saved the extra pay until he had enough to buy her a piano of her own.

Her hands and arms worked just fine as did her right leg. She could play and work the foot pedals and forget all about her troubled left leg. She played and played, and her abilities grew. Soon, everyone recognized that she had a very special talent given and blessed by the Lord.

She did eventually walk again but only with the aid of a large, stiff metal brace that ran from her hip to her ankle. She could only move her left leg by swinging it way out to the side. To the kids at school, she was laughable. She was mimicked and teased. They called her "Chester" after the disabled character on the t.v. show Gunsmoke. To her teachers, she was little more than a nuisance. She was behind in her studies from being out of school during the year of rehab. Most thought of her as slow, a poor, little, crippled girl who would never learn anything.

But, she had her piano. It was a comfort to her, a reminder that the Lord had made her exactly whom He wanted, that He was all-loving and ever-present. Her remarkable gift grew and grew as she poured herself into her studies and practice. It was the one thing she could do well and she did it with gusto. By the time she was ten, she was her church's pianist.

Just before Mom's sixteenth birthday, a family moved to Knoxville from St. Louis and visited the church where she played piano. The family's eldest son had just graduated from high school and wanted very little to do with the South. He had protested the move, feeling sure there would be no indoor plumbing and that everyone would eat "possum" like on the Beverly Hillbillies. He intended to endure life in Appalachia for a couple of mandatory months and then take off for college- back to the Midwest where he belonged.

However, at church that morning, his plans were derailed. He liked what he heard coming from the piano. When he noticed that the pianist was a pretty teen-aged girl, he liked what he saw, too. After the service, he complimented Mamaw on how well her daughter played. She told him that he should tell her daughter himself. He did, and, as you have probably guessed by now, the pianist and the Midwestern boy soon fell in love and married.

My dad would not be the only fellow to fall in love with my mom and her piano playing. Nine years ago, the pianist became "Nohnie". Her first grandson, Orville, loves to hear her play. He has since he was born, and it was the one thing that soothed his colicky spells as a newborn. He wanted to start lessons this year so he could learn to play like Nohnie and spend time with her. What a wonderful time they have together as his precious hands follow hers!

Hers is a legacy of faith and of love. I pray the Lord will continue to bless her life as she passes that legacy to the next generation of our family.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back Burner

I haven't had much time for blogging lately and feel like I must take a short break from it.

I have posted before that I planned to take a break from blogging, and then, almost instantly, new material presented itself.  This summer for instance....  I intended not to post anything during June and most of July.  Then my dh had the brilliant idea of turning our vacation photos into the Summer School segments.  I dedicated one day to getting all those posts put together and scheduled to publish.  The blog ended up running on auto-pilot all summer while I went about other things.

But now my camera is dead, and my brain is fried.  I hesitate to say "I'm taking a break" because I just know the minute I click "publish" on that statement the synapses will start firing again and then I'll feel like I have no choice but to make the time to write so my brain won't explode from all the ideas bouncing around. 

So instead, I will say that I know the Lord has placed this blog on the back burner for a season and the obedient thing to do is step away for a little while.

Firing synapses and bouncing ideas will just have to get over it.

Here's why....

I have started tutoring Korean children again, and God is blessing it in such a way that I am having to turn away students.  Which I don't want to do, so Michael and I are re-evaluating our priorities, inlcuding where this blog fits into God's plan for our family.  Do I need to make more time for teaching?  Could reducing my blog time make that needed time?  We're not sure and are praying.

My term as hsa president is in full bloom, too.  Lots of emails.  Lots of phone calls.  It's not just the events to plan and the meetings to lead, but the ladies who want my help.  The Lord has opened the door for me to serve our community and our fellow homeschoolers, and it is my privilege to work as unto the Lord each time the phone rings or the inbox fills.  I love these women and I love serving the Lord in this way.

Another consideration is that Olive Plants Academy is changing shape.  My kids are growing up, and the way they are learning is changing with it.  I feel like we have found our groove this year, and even though there are obstacles and headaches, they just don't seem to be disrupting the flow of things.  Maybe I'm growing up alongside my boys....   Whatever the case, each day seems a lot like the one before it, and I have less to write about this year.  Or, perhaps, there's something new to write about, and I haven't quite figured out what that "something" is.

My mom will have surgery Friday, too.  For those of you who don't know the story, a torn meniscus and ligaments in her right knee need repairing.  Her left leg is paralyzed, so this surgery is going to render her immobile for at least a few days, if not longer.  I will spend next week at her house.  I will have to be her legs and am praying for the strength to serve her well.  I appreciate your prayers for her and me as she recovers.

So, it really will be a couple of weeks before you will see me around the blogosphere again.  When I return, I plan to share the devotion I am preparing for the first hsa mom's meeting.  In fact, the one plan I do have for this blog is to share with you the resources, devotions, talks, etc. that are presented at each monthly meeting.  I want to invite you to be a part of our group, even if you don't live in my neck of the woods.

I will miss you and see you soon....