You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of JOY; in your right hand, there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11

Monday, November 28, 2016

Word Games

A friend posted this on FB as her daily update and I thought it made a FUN, easy, fluffy sort of post.  It will be short (like me) and to the point (I'm more squishy than pointy), but who says every YB entry has to be in competition for the next, great, Southern novel?  Short, is good...like me :)


"Every answer must start with the last letter of your previous answer."

Last Name- Morris (My maiden name and a common name around this neck of the woods...folks find that out and want to know if my kinfolk are here...no, no...only the people in my house.)

Animal - Snake (My very first thought.  I tried to come up with something more pleasant, but that just stuck there.  For the record, NOT A FAN!  You can't change my mind about them...don't waste your breath.  You're more likely to get me to eat coconut crusted eggplant...NOT!)

Girl's name - Esther (She's my favorite biblical character.  It means "star."  Such a great story and full of so much solid truth.  Beth Moore's study on Esther is my absolute favorite!)

Color - Red (cranberry, firecracker, candy apple, Rah-Rah.  Rah-Rah Red...my go to color for polishing my tootsie nails)

Movie -  Dead Poets Society (Captain, o my Captain!)

Something you wear- Yellow rain boots (I've always wanted a pair, but when I wear full on boots, I feel like my legs are suffocating!)

Drink - Sweet tea (No explanation necessary.)

Food - Artichokes (Specifically, the hearts...in the spinach dip that my Littlest Friend's mama makes!)

Item in bathroom - Spiders (Daddy long legs, so I don't get particularly freaked out, but they still meet their watery demise.)

Place - Sevierville, TN (Gateway to the hullaballoo that is Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and on up into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The wildfires are burning in that direction and it BREAKS my heart.  Rain is needed so very badly.  Say a prayer or two for my mountains, ok?)

Reason to be late - Every one of my tires is flat! (This dear friends, is not only a reason to be late, but would also be a reason for a good, old fashioned, mascara ruining come apart!  Cars only come with one spare!)

You try.  Have fun! 

Friday, November 18, 2016

ABC's of Thankfulness

It is the thankful time of year!  Do not take that to mean that November is THE only time that we need to be grateful for the blessings of our lives.  Oh, no, my darlings!  Gratitude and thankfulness are necessary to daily life.  Like coffee.  This is the time of year, however, that we tend to be more vocal and mindful of our gratitude.  I thought it might be fun to use the alphabet and do a little blessing counting...or listing?  You don't count with letters, right?  Well, Mr. Snark and his engineer people can.  Back to the blessings.

A...Amy, also known as Sister.  She's the spicy to my sweet.  She's the rebel to my goody-goody.  She has a black belt in sarcasm.  She is gaw-juss!  She is so very fashionable.  She makes me laugh like no one else can.  She is so very brave and so very courageous.  Underneath what might seem like a prickly outer shell is a splendid heart of gold.  That outer shell comes from our childhood days.  If you're lucky enough to see that heart, you'll understand the compassion and tenderness that lives within her.  I luff her!

B....babies!  There are two in B'ham...born this summer...who I am DYING to meet.  I cannot say when that will happen.  Hopefully, before they start shaving, so for now, I am content to stalk their mothers' FB pages for pictures.  And when a new picture gets posted, you'd think I just won the sweepstake! 

C...comfy clothes.  Y'all, I have this red sweater that is no longer fit for public viewing.  I bought it in 2001, into the fall just after Y2 was born.  Sort of cable knit, with a full zipper.  It's a combination of a cardigan and a jacket.  So, it's a cardiket!  Maybe a jackigan!  I have worn that thing and worn that thing and I cannot bear to part with it.  When I am puny, I grab my red sweater.  When I get a little cool in the evenings, just lounging around the house, I grab that sweater. 

D...my daddy.  Right now, I am especially thankful for him and my sweet step-mama because they are providing room and board to Mr. Snark.  They are standing in between us and fourth relocation in eleven years.  A move after a move that isn't quite three years old.  Daddy and Mom Jean have opened their home to him and made him so very welcomed.  I cannot tell you how much better that makes this whole thing.  I sleep better because I know he's not alone in some dumpy trailer or sad little hovel of an apartment.  It has been a battle with my pride to come to this point.  We have never had to ask our parents for any kind of monetary or material help.  Hearing my daddy say it filled him with joy to be able to bless us in this fashion made my pride sit down and shaddup.  Who am I to stand in the way of his joy?

E...Eric.  He's my true dear heart.  The years he's been in my life outnumber the years without him.  This summer will make twenty-five years of wedded bliss.  I can truthfully say that that they have been joyful years.  Some more joyful than others, but I honestly think the joy outweighs the sorrow.  My circuits get a little jammed thinking about the next twenty-five.  Boyos becoming "grown and gone."  Boyos becoming fianc├ęs and husbands...and fathers.  My hairdresser having to work a little harder to cover the silver that is infiltrating at a greater rate. 

F...the friends like family.  The frie-mily.  They don't take the place of blood kin, but when the blood kin is across many state lines, the frie-mily is important for survival. 

G...God.  Sunday school answer?  Perhaps.  I have been learning so much about Him in these last few years. He is faithful and good.  He loves me.  He understands my hurts and my fears.  He doesn't see the warts and bumps and bruises because I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ.  This is no small thing and it tends to warp my "holy imagination." (Thanks, Bro. Ricky!) I can pin all of my hope on Him and bank on His goodwill for my life.  I don't understand how people get through this life, with all of it's hurts and chuck-holes, without Him! 

H...hummingbirds.  They are amazing!  And while completely real, there is something rather fantastical and fictional about them. 

I...Ireland.  One day, I hope to visit this beautiful island.  Maybe my sweet red-headed Q will take me with her to visit her daddy's homeland and give me the insider's view.  I cannot tell you why, but this place has held a part of my heart captive since I was a child.  I am drawn to photographs of her rolling hills.  I want to rest against one of the numerous rock walls.  I want to visit a neighborhood pub and learn the songs they sing.  Don't even get me started on that accent!!  Di-vine!

J...jasmine.  We have a couple of vines, here at YOHOS.  When it blooms and the breeze blows just right, the smell of it wraps around my brain.  It's magical and earthy at the same time.  It's a very feminine smell.  Like a feminine on a mission...if you know what I mean!  And if you don't, you're probably too young for me to explain.

K...kindness.  There is a shocking and decided lack of kindness in the world.  I'm not talking about the grand gestures.  People will write a check (the ones who still do) or click the e-give option in a heartbeat.  But for whatever reason, a simple thing like a smile or a kind word is difficult.  We have all felt the sting of kindness lacking.  The moments where no kindness is found are sad and lonely.  During this most thankful time of year, go the extra mile and spread a little more kindness.  It will come back to you, I promise.

L...lemons!  Feeling blue?  Feeling glum?  Grab a lemon, roll it on the counter top to soften it just a bit and then grate a bit of the peel...sniff!  Carefully, though, because you don't want to inhale the lemon zest.  I find the smell to be mood altering in the most pleasant sense.

M...memories.  In my almost forty-six (gulp!!) years, I have accumulated a good many.  Praise Jesus, the good far outnumber the bad.  I have known sorrow, but the joy eclipses the heartache with very little effort. 

N...nesting dolls.  Whenever I see a set, I remember my three mission trips to Ukraine.  I think about my team members and how they all used their gifts and talents to do kingdom work.  I think about our friends, our Christian brothers and sisters who lovingly cared for us while we were there.  I think about the brothers and sisters who opened their homes to us and treated us like honored guests.  I think about the hospitality that was lavished upon us...without reservation or hesitation.  I think about the devastation and desperation that the war has caused.  I pray that God would end the war.  I pray that the peace that passes all understanding would prevail.  I pray that our friends who remain in the east of Ukraine will be safe and that their needs would be met.  I pray that they will continue to remain steadfast in their faith.

O...olives.  I can't explain why they are good, but they are.  I think olives are one of those things that you either like...or you don't.  There's not really a middle ground.  I like!  You don't?  Pass me your share...they will not be wasted!

P...purple eyeliner.  I admit the following:  I am a bit marmish.  I am not very adventurous when it comes to fashion.  Never really have been.  I think being adventurous clashes with my practicality and the practicality wins...just nearly every time.  There are the rare moments when I just need...room to stretch and it is in those moments that I pull out my purple eyeliner.  It's a silly thing, I know, but it makes me feel edgy and super cool.  And it brings out the green in my eyes, which I REALLY like. 

Q...quilts.  One in particular.  My granny made it.  It's a navy blue calico that has pink roses and there is solid  navy and there is white.  When I run my fingers over the stitches, I see her in her little sewing room.  I see the button caddy that Papa made her and I see the little rack for her scissors.  He made that, too.  When I'm puny, I grab that (and the red sweater) and pile up under it.  It's not offered for everyday use to just anyone.  Should you ever come to visit and that quilt is offered to you, understand that to mean you are dearly loved.

R...recipes.  The tried and true ones...nothing else will do.  Maybe it's biscuits.  Maybe it's chicken salad.  Maybe it's meatloaf.  We all have them and they are treasures.  I like trying new recipes, too.  Along the way, I have run into a few duds.  Some of them easily forgettable.  Some of them not.  Mr. Snark still talks about the spinach-sun dried tomato stuffed chicken leg quarters.  They were just that bad.  Mostly because I didn't realize you had to soak the tomatoes in oil to rehydrate them...since I failed to purchase the ones in oil.  We'll never know, though, because that recipe went the way of the dinosaurs!

S...Stinnetts. They have loved me from the get go. They are, hands down, some of the most fun loving human beings I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  I look forward to loving the Stinnetts of the future and the reunion with those who've gone ahead of us.

T...tomatoes!  Red, green, orange, yellow, almost purple!  In a salad, as a garnish to a sammich...as the star of a sammich (all my Southern people just said, "AMEN!")...breaded and fried.  Glory!  What would life be without home grown tomatoes.

U...umbrellas.  For the utility of them but for a more sentimental reason.  When they were little, The Boyos used to call them "underbrellas."  It makes me think of little boys.  Sniff...I do miss my little boys.

V...vacations.  Moments to get away from the normal routine.  Escaping to a place where you are a little more anonymous.  Retreating to a place free from the hassles of normal life.  Enjoying a place where P*blix, Wh*le F*ods and Fr*sh M*rket all exist in the same zip code!!!

W...wishes.  Wishes and dreams are free.  And they are good to have.  They don't have to be rational or logical.  They are a means of coping with the harshness of reality. 

X...xylophones.  What, I like the sound that they make...it's pretty.  I really like the little F*sher Pr*ce ones with the rainbow colored keyboard. 

Y...The Younglings, for reasons that are so obvious it would be criminal to discuss beyond what you already understand about my love for these young men.  YOU...I'm thankful for you!  I do not take it lightly that you give up irretrievable moments of your life to read my ramblings and rantings.  Your encouragement and support is precious to me.

Z...Zatarain's.  It's a Cajun seasoning mix.  One of my college best friend introduced me to it.  I think about her...and the crazy times we had at Eastern Michigan.  GO HURONS!  I think about the many pots of red beans and rice that Mr. Snark and I ate during our first married years.  It was easy, cheap and made leftovers that were better the next day.  The leftovers never went to waste.

I hope you weren't expecting something lofty or high minded.  It's easy to see the "big" blessings.  The ones that aren't so visible are just as important.  All of our blessings are important.  And they are connected.  I see that reading through this list.  If I didn't have one, it means that something that brought it to my life is missing and what a hole that creates!  My darlings, I pray for you a Thanksgiving time full of moments where the often hidden blessings of this life come into view.  I pray that you have opportunities to walk out your attitude of gratitude by blessing someone who needs it. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Don't Let Go Of the Rope

Our local association of Southern Baptist churches recently met for the annual fall meeting.  At the end of the evening, I walked out of the church feeling so full and so challenged.  The sermon was EXACTLY what I needed to hear, almost like it was written just for me.  The only thing better would have been for the guest preacher to say, "Michelle Stinnett?  This one's for you!"  He didn't have to, though, because I got the message loud and clear.  Almost a month later, it is still rattling around in my brain and I guess I need to share it...someone else must need to hear it.

The text was Acts 9:25, which is the story of Saul's conversion to Christianity and his rebirth as the Apostle Paul.  The focus was on that last verse.  Basically, things were heating up in Damascus.  It was getting more and more dangerous for Paul to stay with his new found friends and brethren.  So, the unnamed, unnumbered brethren put Paul in a basket and lowered him over the city walls, in order for him to escape.  Escape he did and proceeded to light the world on fire with his preaching of the Gospel of Christ. 

At some point or another, all of us become the basket holders.  My mind started a slide show of patients from the clinic.  Many of them are so beaten down by the circumstances of life and the results of poor choices.  Brokenness and dysfunction run rampant and it is no small wonder that they look at us like we have three heads when we tell them that we believe they are divinely created and that their lives have purpose.  Do you think those Damascene believers had any idea of God's plan for Paul's life?   Do you think they had any idea of how he would impact the world for the cause of Christ?  I doubt it.  I have a hard time getting a grip on God's purpose for my life, let alone truly understanding His plan for anyone else.  It's enough for me to know that He has a plan...and it's good and it's for His glory.  We may have some world shakers leaving our clinic.  We may not. Reason #1 for NOT letting go of the rope:  You don't know who's in the basket.

How high do you think that city wall was?  Twenty feet...thirty feet...forty feet?  The text in Acts is not specific.  The purpose of a city wall is to protect the one behind it.  It's not going to be easily mounted.  It's not going to be easily scaled.  As my new preacher says, "use your holy imagination" and picture the gathered Damascenes, with Paul in the basket.  They keep advancing the rope.  They keep advancing the rope.  They keep advancing the rope.  Oh, and it's dark...did I mention that?  Dark enough to conceal the basket from plain view...and dark enough to obscure the ground below them.    Reason #2 for NOT letting go of the rope:  You don't know where the bottom is.  Going back to my clinic, some of our patients move from crisis to crisis.  We aren't privy to when it will happen or what shape it might take.  We also aren't privy to when the next breakthrough might happen or what shape it might take.  The only thing we can do is keep hold of the rope.  Arms burning, forehead sweating, palms begging for mercy, it is ours to hold fast.

Reason #3:  You might be the only one holding the rope.  We don't know how many Damascene Christians aided in this escape plan.  My "holy imagination" puts a couple of them at look out...maybe four on the ropes...maybe a few more standing near to encourage...maybe one on the ground to help Paul out of the basket and point him in the right direction.  I don't know.  It wasn't a solo operation, by any means.  They had a plan and it took everyone of them to work the plan to it's completion.  In the throes of a ministerial effort, we don't let go because we don't know who else is holding the rope.  Some of our patients have told us that we have been the only source of encouragement in their lives. Others have said they felt more love in the hour or so that they spend with us, strangers, than they have from their families and friends.  It is humbling to read those kind of things on their exit surveys. 

We have just come through one of the most horrifying election seasons I can ever remember.  It was like one of those B-horror movies that ends up as fodder for "Mystery Science Theatre."  I have tried REALLY hard to keep my political opinions to myself...meaning, off of social media.  I have no desire to spark any kind of riotous outrage.  There may have been one or two thinly veiled posts, but for the most part, I confined myself to conversations with those closest to me.  None of the candidates matched me or the values that I hold dear.  To be quite frank, up until the moment that I stepped into the voting booth, I didn't know what I was going to do.  I did not vote for any of the proffered presidential candidates.  I wrote in my vote.  You can tell me that I wasted it and you are free to hold that opinion...and we will still be friends.  My friendships and relationships are so much more important to me than to let them dissolve over something like this.  We have so much to do.  Look around!  There are ropes that need to be held and plenty of baskets for everyone!  The contents of those baskets will be different, because of who we are and what is important to each of us.  If you want to change things, don't wait for a mandate from Washington DC...get in there and grab a rope.

You run the risk of rope burn, but it's worth it.  I promise.

 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mr. Choir

Y2 is trying something new this year, and I couldn't be more thrilled!  He auditioned for Show Choir and made it!  As an incoming Freshman, no less.  As my mama would say, "Pin a rose on his nose!"  Alas, when schedules were distributed, we found out that Honors Geometry and Show Choir were slated for the same time period!  So, he dropped out of Show Choir and was able to get into the general choir class.  The parent preview was held a couple of weeks ago and it did not disappoint.  Their choir teacher is so very talented and so very, very kind.  He has been eager for Luke to embrace the talent and gift that God has given him in a beautiful voice and musical abilities.  These students will probably be old and gray before they realize just how fortunate we are to have a teacher of this caliber...to even have choir at all.
 
 
 
 
 It was Homecoming Week and there were prop frames hanging in the hallway.  The boy actually wanted to pose for a picture...and actually wanted to show those expensively and beautifully straight teeth!
 
video
"Make Them Hear You."  My apologies if you have to crank the volume up to hear them.  I am new to the 21st century and the fact that I had the presence of mind to record a video is saying something!
 
video
"Wade In The Water."  Y2 and his friend are the only boys in the general choir, but if you'll pardon me for saying so, I think they do a FINE job of making themselves heard.  Y2 was slightly chagrined to realize how much he actually could hear his own voice.  He said that it was probably because the microphone was right in front of him.  Could be OR it's just because he's partly from my side and we don't really know how to sing softly.  I am thankful for the spiritual songs that the children are able to sing.  They have such depth to them and their cultural significance makes them almost untouchable by the powers of political correctness.
 
video
Every choir has their closing song, the musical benediction.  My high school choir did.  We always sang "The Lord Bless You and Keep You."  My FAVORITE part was the overlapping "amens" at the end.  Gives me shivers just to think about it!  This choir sings "May The Road Rise Up to Meet You."  Former choir members are invited to sing.  Y1 was hesitant to join in until he saw other male choir graduates.  So there were my two boys...two of my greatest joys...two of my favorite blessings standing side by side, singing a beautiful song.  At that moment, my heart was near to bursting and through my head ran the following thoughts..."O Father in Heaven...you have been SO good to me.  In this particular moment, I don't know that I could withstand any more joy!"  True story, people.  True story.

Perspective

Perspective is a funny thing.  I am pretty comfortable inside my own perspective and am content to stay there.  Anyone else?  Life, however, has a way of forcing me outside of my contentment.  Coming at this with a biblical world view, let me rephrase that.  Jesus has a way of forcing me outside of my contentment, which causes me to count my blessings and shift my focus back to him...which is where it belongs, but as the old hymn so beautifully states, "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.  Prone to leave the God I love."  Most often, it is the tragedies and hard-core struggles of others that cause me to take a hard look at my priorities.  What I realize, after taking the genuine problems of others into consideration, I realize that I have a habit of making mountains out of molehills.  I get so easily caught up in me and mine.  Just before I become COMPLETELY and obnoxiously out of hand, here comes a hot shot of perspective to bring me to my knees and back to my alleged senses. 

A culmination of occurrences has me in the deep end of the pool.  It's hard to point to one thing as the muse for this entry. 
  • Since August, and within a few weeks of each other, two men from our small town took their own lives.
  • A friend is being pulled and stretched by the failing health of parents on both sides of her family, all the while dealing with her own chronic health issues.
  • Another friend just received the diagnosis of a disease that has no cure.
  • Two different friends (and their families)have taken on the responsibility of raising children because the parents of these children are not currently fit to do so. 
  • Within a few days of the long awaited birth of a long awaited and prayed for grandchild, a friend found herself on the liver transplant list and seemingly, very close to Death's Door.
  • Yet another friend has received the dreaded words..."You have a mass.  We need to do surgery."
  • We just came through a MONSTER of a reorganization at the local power plant.  Monster is putting it lightly.  There are other words I could use, but I must be cautious and remember not to bite the had that still feeds us, all the while maintaining the family friendly atmosphere around this blog.
  • A young mother, of my distant acquaintance,  recently received the diagnosis that the unborn child she is carrying has a fatal deformity.
  • Hurricane Matthew...'nuff said.
Lessons learned?
  • No one can truly know the deepest, unspoken thoughts of our hearts and minds, save for God and God, alone.  We have an enemy and he is relentless.  He would like us all to think that our mistakes are unforgivable.  He would like us to believe that we are unlovable, unworthy, unimportant and alone.  He wants us to believe that needing help, asking for help is a sign of weakness.  Dear heart, if this is where you are, listen to me:  THESE ARE LIES!  Don't you give in, don't you believe them!  You are so very loved and so very important, to such a high degree that God the Father sacrificed the life of His only Son for you!  For YOU!  And because of that sacrifice, you are made worthy and clothed in His righteousness.  He doesn't hold your mistakes against you and NOTHING, let me repeat that, NOTHING is beyond His forgiveness.  Realizing you need help and asking for it is anything BUT weakness.  It is so very, very brave!  It takes great courage to come to the end of yourself and not give up.  Call me, text me, knock on my door...find me at WalMart!  You are not alone!  I will listen.  I will pray.  I will love you through it.
  • This life is full of trials.  No one is immune.  Handling them with grace and honesty is a far better witness than holding a never ending pity party.
  • My children don't know the struggles and hardships that so many have endured in what should be the sweetest, most carefree time of life.  I am so thankful.  I am humbled by the courage and obedience that my friends have shown.  Taking in these children requires sacrifice but I am confident that my friends have carefully weighed the sacrifice and count it worthy of the cost. 
  • I serve a mighty God!  What seems impossible, is anything but beyond His reach.  My friend received the liver she needed...a perfect match!  Slowly but surely, she has set out on her road to recovery.  The mischief and zest for life has returned to her face.  Everyday, she praises God for what she saw Him do. Even in the midst of her crisis, her family remained steadfast in their faith, trust and hope.
  • No surgery date has been set to remove the mass from my friend's body.  When she called to tell me about it, she told me that she has peace and knows that the LORD will take care of her and of her family.  She is resting in that.  She's the friend that I so want to be like when I finally decide to grow up.  If she is going to rest in the faithfulness of our God, so will I.
  • Mr. Snark is still employed and at this point, we don't have to move.  I know, you're right.  We JUST moved.  December will make three years since our SMALLtown relocation.  He had a tricky decision to make.  It was unclear, unknown if his position at the local plant was safe.  Positions at other company holdings were made available.  He put his name in the hat and has accepted an offer with the plant that's about ninety miles northeast of our current residence.  The blessing that keeps us from having to move, is the fact that my dad and dear step-mom live about twenty-five miles from the new job.  He lives with them, in the newly christened "Son In Love Suite" and pretty much has all the comforts of home.  Well except for me and the Boyos.  His work schedule is such that he has long weekends and can come home to us.  There is plenty of room at Daddy's house for us to travel that way and keep him from being absolutely road weary every weekend.  Not ideal, but I refuse...REFUSE...to get caught up in all of that.  We know families who have only been around for about eighteen months and they are being relocated.  We know families that came out of this with no job.  We are THANKFUL!
  • Our boys are healthy and whole.  I never experienced miscarriage or having to carry a child afflicted with a condition deemed incompatible with life.  I cannot begin to know what this young mother is thinking...what her mother is thinking.  They are a family of great faith and know beyond any shadow of doubt that God has a purpose and plan for their lives and that it is perfect...for their good and His glory.  This is so courageous and it humbles me to see such faith in action.
  • A nursing home was relocated to SMALLtown.  Along with the patients came their care providers, the families of some of the providers and some of the patients' families also sought refuge within our borders.  This little town....for all the shortcomings and frustrating idiosyncrasies...went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure needs were met.  Meals, extra nursing volunteers, pillows, blankets, laundry facilities, activities for the children, childcare, transportation...even a community wide birthday party for a little boy's first birthday....NOTHING was too much for us to do.  Y2 and I delivered a box of brownies to help with snack time.  I also spent a couple of hours doing simple arts and crafts with any of the children who wanted to participate.  We had received word that the nursing home was completely flooded and would be shut down until proper repairs could be made.  The residents would be absorbed into other facilities.  Their care providers left without jobs.  As if this wasn't enough, some of the evacuated staff found out that their homes had been looted!  Friends of mine were in this relief effort up to their eyeballs, weary to the bone but blessed beyond measure to have the opportunity to care for those in need.  All of us ever mindful that it could have been so much worse (pray for Haiti and Jamaica) and that one day, it could be us in need of the kindness from strangers.
Maybe this will hold my perspective where it needs to be for the time being.  Maybe, by the power of God within me, I can maintain my focus on the things that really matter.  If not, I feel certain He will find a way to rein me back in....He always does.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Summer Break

Hello!  Have you missed me?  I cannot offer any true reason for the summer's hiatus.  It was a busy summer, but not THAT busy.  I had down time...I could have written.  I just didn't.  And it was rather rude of me.  I just clammed up, without warning, and walked away.  Rather rude of me, wasn't it?  It's okay...I think it was rude, so don't worry if you do.  Forgive me.  The next time I decide to take a break, I'll give notice. 

Now that we've taken care of that, how about a little catch up?

So...Y1 graduated in May and the event was well celebrated by family and friends.  We were blown away by the generosity of friends and family who sent cards and gifts to mark the occasion.  He's still working on his "thank you" notes.  Be patient.  One will show up in your mailbox very soon.  He flew to Los Angeles the week after graduation, as part of our church's high school mission trip.  He enjoyed himself.  The boy loves a mission trip.  Life is different for people in LA.  Things that just seem second nature to life in this part of Dixie are missing and sorely missed in LA.  When the team gave their report about the trip, many of the students commented about the darkness and brokenness and hopelessness that seemed so ingrained into daily life.  Folks go to LA chasing dreams and when the dream dies, sounds like it all but stomps the life right out of a body.  When people lose hope, what's left?  I prayed that week that our students would be sources of joy and hope and that if just one person was encouraged by their presence, it was a week well spent.

We took vacation with the paternal side of Mr. Snark's family in June.  The family has it's roots in the mountains of eastern Tennessee, so that's where we went.  It was wonderful. There was hiking and fishing and shopping and eating and visiting and sleeping and lounging and tubing and lazing and picture taking and sketching and laughing and cat-napping and scenic viewing and laughing and teasing and loving.
 Y1 and Sunshine.  She came with us.  Pretty cool having extra female reinforcements.  Being only thirty minutes away from K'ville and being that Sunshine had never been and on account that she has wrapped us around her pretty little fingers,
we took a Sunday jaunt. 
 
Beautiful children...young people...young folks...but definitely NOT babies.  I was chastised for using "babies" when I spoke to them.
 

Our old stomping grounds!
 

Get it?  Peyton Manning Pass...'cause that's what quarterbacks do...they pass??!! 
 

The Torchbearer...ever watchful over the flame of knowledge.
 

Ayers Hall
 

Shady road...sooo green!
 

Love the play of colors.
 


Where one was, the other one was sure to follow...all summer long.  It's like they couldn't breathe if the other one wasn't around.
 

Those sandals doing what they're meant to do...leave oddball tan lines!
 

Super cool tree roots!
 

Little fish minding his own business.
 

Cousin Sandspur takes notice of the little fish...
 

and snatches him right out of the water...with his hands!
 

It's like she's miffed about the shirtless guy photo bombing their picture!
 

Oh, yes...that makes it all better!
 

Hello and thank you for sharing your home with us!
 

Do you see the rainbow?  This was looking out the back of our cabin.
 


 

The mist rising up...to illustrate why they are known as The Smoky Mountains.
 

 
We weren't home but a couple of weeks before Y1 left for a two week mission trip to Puerto Rico.  We sent him off with the couple who were our youth pastors in B'ham.  His other parents...the ones that he loves almost as much as he loves us...true story!  Light construction, vacation bible school and community ministry kept him busy in the 90% or more humidity every day.
 The cool hat doesn't change the fact that the young man is a gringo!!
 
 Luis got stuck between the shutters and the screen.  Y1 thought I needed to meet Luis.
 
 In Puerto Rico, they my Fr*sties with N*tella...you know, that chocolate hazelnut spread that is beyond delicious!  AND, they sell churros with a dipping cup of N*tella!  Good thing he was sweating like he was...those calories are no joke!
 
 Y1 with Teo and Cher...barreling down some Puerto Rican highway, looking for the right street.  They are our people.  Like pieces of us we didn't know were missing until we met them.  They've had a profound influence on our hearts and on our lives.


Trumpet vine
 
video
Sometimes, you have to make a late night run (and if you're rolling with Teo and Cher, it's a near definite)to the local big box to buy air mattresses for the second week's mission team to use.  And when you make those late night runs, you're liable to be a bit slap happy.  And when you're a little slap happy, you might not be able to resist the coin operated kiddie ride.
 
 
 
Y2 had his own mission excursions.  First up, the church's annual trip to St. Simons.  He LOVES this trip.  We picked him up from his first go, in 2014 and he was hoarse!  From all the laughing and hooting and hollering that one is prone to do at that age. 
 Helping with the Bingo game at the nursing home.  Don't know what it is, but those folks get a kick out of having the whippersnappers come visit.
 
 Shooting hoops at The Boys and Girls Club.  I was told that he didn't hesitate for a moment when it was time to socialize and mingle. 
 
 Controller in hand...establishing his dominance, I'm sure.  He's logged enough hours, he could teach a college level class on the finer points of Sm*sh Brothers!
 
 Working with the Georgia DNR...bagging oyster shells to throw out into the water, to create stronger oyster beds.  Look very carefully at this picture.  That's him, on the left...in the orange ball hat.  Ball hat, t-shirt firmly tucked into brand new cargo pants (because the boy-child had grown out of every pair of blue jeans he wore last school year), belt cinched, gloves and his water bottle attached to his belt loop with a carabineer!  I rolled out of my chair when I saw this picture.  Marked by mission trips and jobs with his dear old daddy!
 
 As all good youth ministers know, the daily afternoon break for a cold, icy treat is a MUST!
 
 
Home for just a couple of days and then on to the next adventure.  D-Now...discipleship now.  Local mission projects during the day, and worship/Bible study and all manner of harmless hijinks at night.  The boys stayed at the youth building and the girls were housed elsewhere. 
 
 Back to school supplies given to local children
 
 Evidence of the aforementioned hijinks.  I didn't ask.  But Y2 said it was the best night EVER!
 
 Spreading mulch on one of the church's playgrounds.  Y1 played there when he was in preschool.  Sigh.
 Tote that barge!  Lift that bale!
 
 Raking the algae off of one of the ponds at Brewton Parker College.  I was told that he was quick to step in when one of the girls ended up on this detail.  I was also told that the girl were glad to relinquish their spot..it was yucky work.
 
Summer marches on for another month...according to the calendar.  In this part of Dixie, we don't really see the changing of the seasons until late into October.  Their summer break has ended...back to school.  A subject for another blog, which means, dearly beloved, that mine has, too.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Reasons to Love Summer

It's summertime.  I know, I know!  Summer doesn't officially start until June 20, but for those of us Way Down in Dixie, summer is here!  Some mark summer's arrival with the last day of school.  The ink is barely dry on the final report cards (Don't even get me started on the State of Georgia's foul up in releasing scores from the mandatory End of Course Testing so final grades can be tabulated and recorded.  Trust me, the tests were administered and returned to the State's DOE in plenty of time.  It's two weeks post-graduation...no report cards.  Like I said, don't get me started!)  and some folks have already packed up and left town!  I think it's safe to call "SUMMER!" when you start seeing days where the mercury consistently hits 90F or better.   That would be us, in this part of Dixie...so, all together, children..."SUMMER!  SUMMER!  SUMMER!" 

There all sorts of reasons to love summer and these are mine...in no particular order.

THE BEACH:  There is something about the sound of the ocean's roar that is comforting to me.  Do you agree?  I LOVE the sound of the waves making contact with the shore.  I love the smell of the salt water...and the taste.  Just stop...don't tell me in all the times you've ever gone ocean swimming that you've never licked your lips and got goose bumps or some kind of little zing from the taste!  I love how I can feel the ocean's rhythm in my bones when I go to sleep.  My first encounter with the ocean was when I was very young...six or seven.  We arrived in Charleston, SC deep into the night.  I was asleep, but my daddy woke me to tell me we were there.  It was so dark and I seem to recall very little moonlight...maybe just enough to discern the movement of the waves.  What I do remember, with great clarity, is how the wet sand felt.  "It feels like pudding!"  Besides Charleston, I have beach memories from Kiawah Island, SC; St. Simons Island, GA; the Florida Gulf Coast islands of St. George, Sanibel and Anna Maria; Ft. Morgan, AL; and various spots around Oahu.  And I do love the ocean, but etched into my soul is my love for Lake Huron.  Not much surfing on Lake Huron...but there are no jelly fish or sharks, either! 

LEMONADE:  Good lemonade...just the right mix of tart and sweet...that beautiful yellow color.  It refreshes and relieves my soul.

POPSICLES:  The fancy ones from places like Steel City Pops...outlandish and unusually flavored and OH, SO GOOD!  I like the old fashioned red, white and blue rocket pops, too.  Those bring back great childhood memories.

BLACKBERRIES:  We like them so much, I made two cobblers in one weekend.  Cobbler was eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

SPRINKLERS:  When we were kids, we thought we were living large if Granny let us hook up the sprinkler for the sheer, hedonistic pleasure of our amusement.  She and Papa had one of those sprinklers that nearly had a range of 180°.  It might have been slightly short of that mark, but it made a beautiful, rainbow like arc and it was some kind of F-U-N!  Better than playing in the sprinkler at Granny's, was playing in Aunt Jewell's sprinkler.  She had a huge side yard that had plenty of room for us to cartwheel through the spray.  I even think she'd put it out on the driveway...she had a GREAT driveway...and let us drive our bikes through it.  Of course, we weren't sprinkler snobs...the garden hose with the nozzle attachment worked just as well.

SUN KISSED BABIES:  Love, love, LOVE chubby little arms and legs poking out of little sun suits.  My favorite are the little butterfly tops and bloomers that they make for little girls.  So sweet to see them paddling about in their little wading pools in just their swim diapers...when they are too little for their near state of nakedness to matter a great deal.  I always got a good chuckle out of the "Coppertone Kid" tan lines that the boyos sported in their baby days.

GRILLING:  In my part of Dixie, we can pretty much grill all year 'round.  But it's really the best in the summer...something about the smell of charcoal wafting on the breeze...AND, not heating up the whole house with the oven!

TOMATOES:  Good, old fashioned, grown in the dirt tomatoes!  For hamburgers, for sammiches...for Caprese salad, for bruschetta....for just by themselves.  As the song asks, "What would life be without home grown tomatoes?"  And the green ones are just as prized as the full ripened ones!  Fried green tomatoes...anyone????

FLIP-FLOPS/SANDALS:  Of course, in my part of the world, we can almost get away with this choice of footwear all year long.  But, it's best in the summer.  And it's best of feet are given the proper attention.  If your heels look more like hooves, you need to intervene.  The general public thanks you.

FIREFLIES/LIGHTNING BUGS:  Something kind of magical about the little critters.  Even if their light show is all part of their mating ritual.

BUTTERFLIES/DRAGONFLIES/HUMMING BIRDS:  They hold the same kind of whimsy and fascination as the fireflies do. 

AIR CONDITIONING:  My husband works for the power company.  They make money when the AC's run.  So, I try really hard not to complain about the heat, because it helps generate the revenue that pays Mr. Snark's salary.  I am thankful for my AC and for the money to pay the electric bill.  I might choke a bit doing it...but it's worth every penny. 

I'm sure there are more things that could go on the list...but those are the ones off the top of my head.  What's on your "Best of Summer" list?