Friday, December 9, 2011

4 Years in the Making

Emma Sanders Brady turned four on November 20, 2011. Her school does a great job of celebrating girls and their life and during the chapel program on Thursday she got to go up front and receive her birthday pencils. Two pencils, one blue, one white. Nothing special about them to the average human but to a St. Mary's girl they are magical. And we loved watching Emma light up with all the joy in the world to go tell the student body how old she was and to receive her pencils.

We had her birthday party on Friday night at Little Gym. A perfect place for a girl with more energy in her little finger than I have in my whole body. She loved it.

Emma Sanders you are a joy to our family. You have been such a gift to us. You are absolutely hilarious and we never know what is going to come out of your mouth. You are kind, curious, spunky and very smart. You like to play with your dolls and do their hair. You actually like to do everyone's hair, including your cousin Wyatt. Your smile can light up a room and your laughter is contagious. My favorite thing you say lately is when we laugh at something you do you say, "I know, right?"

We are grateful that the Lord chose us as your parents. We pray everyday that you will know the Lord's love and that you will follow with passion and zeal his plan for your life.

Not His Home

Mid October I chaperoned a field trip with Bennett's class to the zoo. It was a beautiful day and we had a great time learning about all the different animals. The class first started out in a room where a zoo keeper brought out snakes, iguanas, and a rat. She took them around to let the kids see up close and they could even pet them if they wanted. Bennett did not, that's my boy.

After the class we were split into groups and had a list of clues to read and then guess which animal the clues were about. It was really fun and we were even given an itouch to record the boys finding the answer to each clue.

Towards the end of the adventure we found ourselves in the polar bear exhibit, which at the Memphis zoo is incredible. Another mom and I noticed that this one particular bear was doing odd things. He would move towards the wall, slightly bump into it, shake his head, walk backwards about 10 steps and then repeat.

We watched him for a few minutes and then this mom said something that has stuck with me ever since. "This is not his home." She went on to talk about how nice his surroundings are, how well he is taken care of, how much food he gets, how the zoo vaccinates and takes amazing steps towards providing for him but it is still not his home. It is not the wild where he belongs. That maybe his captivity makes him behave strangely.

Last week I served on jury duty and was actually picked for a trial. It was a very interesting week to say the least. I actually enjoyed it and aside from having to juggle kids, carpool, basketball games and a guitar recital would love to do it again. During the week the other jurors and I were asked not to discuss the trial during our breaks. So the conversation turned toward our on personal lives and getting to know one another.

In the midst of those conversations I shared with several of my co-jurors where I live and why I live there. Their initial reaction was some very strange looks. Like, have you lost your mind? Why would you chose to live there? That is crazy.

And so my mind went back to the zoo. And I was reminded that this is not my home. That in 1992 my heart was captivated by Jesus and a love that has never let go and because of that sometimes my behavior seems strange.  And sometimes Braxton and I do what seems crazy in the eyes of the world and we make decisions that seem odd or go against what everyone else might be doing.

There is a reason for our craziness as it may seem. This is not our home.  And our hope and prayer is that our actions and behavior point to the One who has promised us an eternal home with him.

"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."
Philippians 3:20

Friday, September 30, 2011

I just wrote that

Bennett and Emma are our musical geniuses in the family. Bennett loves to play the guitar and Emma loves to sing and dance. She picks up on song lyrics pretty quickly and sometimes will even write her own version.

Braxton and I argue over which one of us they got it from. I mean Braxton might be able to sing but I've got Moves like Jagger. Ahem. seriously, I do. Or did at one point in my life when my hips had not been moved to other worlds from child birth. I digress.

On Wednesday nights our family sits down with Operation World and picks out a country to talk about and to learn more about what is going on there. We then stick a pin in that country on our world map in the playroom and pray for it.

Emma is still and quiet because she is so intent on listening and learning. Or....she knows that if she is still and patient her daddy will let her sing and dance for us afterwards. Kind of her own little version of America's Got Talent. For example the other night she wore a camouflage hat, pj's, and shook a blue and white pom pom while singing her rendition of This is the Day combined with Jesus is Lord. She is a prodigy.

This was practice time in the kitchen before. She wanted to warm up and asked me to tape her so she could watch. It was pre costume and there was a little bit of song change up from her final performance. My favorite part is when she sings, "he lives riiighhtt here" and puts her hand on her throat.

She has also coined the phrase recently "I just wrote that" in our home. Did you catch it in the song? Just in case anyone was wondering, this thing has been copy righted.

For example at lunch the other day she wanted to pray all by herself. She started out singing God our Father then took a hard left into Jesus loves me and ended with thanks for this day and my singing. Not sure she ever even mentioned the food, Nonetheless, at the end she looks up at all of us and says, "Did y'all like that?" Then says, "I just wrote that."

We are going to be rich people, rich. She also likes to cook. So we have got that as a back up plan if the singing/song writing thing doesn't pan out.

Friday night Braxton was out of town and it was just me and the kids. Emma wanted to make cup cakes. Red Velvet cup cakes. Don't ask why. But we did it. We had so much fun and Bennett helped as well. They were actually quite yummy. On Saturday we shared them with some kids in the neighborhood.

If you will look closely Bennett has huge black triangles on his face. Earlier he had ask me if he could paint his face. I said yes and he went upstairs and 10 minutes later I thought I was being visited from one of the band members from Kiss. I think he is getting jealous of his sister's talent and is worried she might one up him on the whole song writing thing, so he is going into costumes. I'm not sure.

Good times. The hits just keep coming at the Brady house. Never a dull moment.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Go Home Whitey and Other Advice from the Hood

About a year before Braxton and I moved into our neighborhood we had dinner with a friend that had moved in about 2 years prior. He was telling us about a time when he was walking down his street and a man called out "go home whitey." We laughed at the irony of the situation as this was our friend's home.  There is great advice given by neighbors here. Some warranted and some not so much.

A year later we found ourselves living in the same neighborhood and about six months later I found myself chasing a much younger and faster 10 year old who had just stolen Preston's scooter. About halfway around the block and completely out of breath, I was telling myself, "go home whitey." Good advice.

We have joked several times about how we should write a book on all the funny stories and things that people could not only enjoy but benefit from by our experience. I think I would title it Gunshots from the Lumber Yard. But that is another story albeit piece of advice for another day.

Definitely part of the book would have pictures. On several occasions we have seen things that you would not believe unless you could see it yourself. I recently told my friend Erin, "we will never be bored here."

For example:
This is a man on a horse. On our street. He lives here. In the middle of the city. The horse lives in his backyard. Our lots are roughly 50 X 150, not bad space for a swing set but maybe not so much for a full grown horse. You can't make this stuff up. I think this man's advice would be, "when gas is expensive, make the best of a bad situation. Buy a horse." No gas for a lawn mower, no gas for a car. I like to call him an economist.

Exhibit #2
Tuesday night as I arrived home from picking Bennett up from football practice this was the scene in our guest bathroom. Apparently Emma Sanders had emptied an entire bottle of her shampoo into the upstairs bathtub. And when a catalyst such as this is added to previously stopped up plumbing, well this is the result. I guess if you are going to have a toilet overflow, bubbles is better than the alternative.

Braxton was in the front yard with a flashlight and a wrench for the better part of an hour. Then because my husband is acutely aware of his strengths and weaknesses, he called a plumber.

Only in our neighborhood can you make enough noise with a plumber's snake to wake the dead at 9:30 at night and no one complains. Around here things are just getting crankin' about that time.

Turns out we were clogged up with close to an entire box of baby wipes. I like to call us multi-taskers. We clogged a toilet, provided free entertainment in the hood, and cleaned a bathroom floor all at the same time.

I think I am already working on my 2nd book, What you can't do in your neighborhood, you can definitely do in mine.

Friday, August 19, 2011

An Eagle, Crusader and a Turkey

An Eagle, crusader and a turkey all walked into a bar. Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, doesn't it? 
Well the bar is not exactly right. More like all walked into a school.

Yesterday marked the first day of the 2011-2012 school year where all 3 of our children were in school for a full day. They were all excited and I was too. It was time. I love the summer and spending time in our PJ's watching movies, staying up late playing games but I also enjoy the serenity of everyone being in a routine and having a little schedule up in here. 
Preston is 13 and in 7th grade this year at ECS and they are the Eagles. He is proud to be an eagle. This is a new school for him and after being there a week and a half he is doing great. He told me last Friday night that he felt like he had known these guys all his life. Such an answer to prayer. He is playing football and is loving going to a co-ed school. I have not once had to ask him to brush his teeth or put on deodorant.

Each year Braxton gives our kids a word for the school year. We talk about the word throughout the year at dinner or different times. It starts great conversations with them and we are able to talk about how they used their word or how they saw their word in action for that day or week. Braxton does a great job on his blog explaining it

Preston's word for this year is example. We want him to be an example to others in his words and actions.

Bennett is 8 and in the 2nd grade this year. He is at PDS and they are the Crusaders. He moved to the upstairs hallway this year which is where his dad is. He is so excited and told Braxton the other day, "dad, I will just be able to drop by your office anytime." I love it, like they are co-workers and he can just pop in his office for coffee or lunch. I'm sure Braxton will have a conversation with him about the frequency of just "dropping in." Bennett is playing flag football this year and loves it. 

Bennett's word for the year is respect. We want him to be respectful to authority and to learn a respect for others as he puts others ahead of himself.

Emma is starting school for the first time this year. She is 3 and in Pre K at SMS. They are the Turkeys. She so far loves school. She is only going 3 days a week, and LOVES it. She was hilarious the first day. Emma how was your day? "Mom, it was like 5 minutes and that girl with the orange hair and blue dress pushed me." Emma how did you respond? "I asked her to please not push me again." That was great Emma, did you use your word that daddy gave you, kind? "Yes." "Mom, can I change my word?"

She has now decided she wants to have the word polite. I think we will stick with kind and hopefully by the end of the year she will have grown into it. :)

We are excited about a great new school year. Braxton received a new title at PDS. He is now the Director of the Building Boys Making Men Institute, he will remain as the Chaplain and Bible teacher as well. I am so proud of him. He works really hard and is a great teacher, father and husband. 

An Eagle, Crusader and a Turkey walked into a school. And behind them stood a momma with a tear on her cheek and a smile on her face. It was going to be a good year.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer's End

The summer is winding down here at the Brady house. School supply shopping, buying new shoes, kids arguing on a constant basis, going to orientations at schools, football practice starting, kids arguing on a constant basis, filling out my new August to August calendar, going over schedules for the fall, did I mention kids arguing on constant basis?

It has been a great summer. And my kids have all really gotten along well until this last week. A sign that it is time, time for everyone to go back to their corners and start school!

Here are a few highlights from the Brady '11 Summer:

Preston traveled with two friends to Chattanooga for a Lacrosse camp. First time to go to camp that far away. He had a great time and learned a lot about Lacrosse.

Bennett went to Victory Ranch for a week, this was his 3rd summer to go to camp there but the first time to go without his big brother being there.

4th of July party in our neighborhood. So fun, thanks to the Parkinsons for hosting this year. We really enjoyed the fellowship and pray that it will continue to grow! 

Braxton and Preston traveled to Honduras for a week. A father son missions trip with our church. It was an amazing experience and they both came back changed forever.

Me, Bennett, Emma and my mom traveled to Starkville to visit my brother and his wife for a few days. It was fun to see their new apartment and spend sometime with them there!

Our entire family traveled to Santa Rosa Beach, FL at the end of July. All 5 of us, my mom (Nanach), my sister Lauren, her husband Andy, the best nephew ever Wyatt or Super Wy, and my brother Ross and his wife Anne Todd. It was so fun! The first time we have ever done this. What a great time, lots of great memories of eating great food, playing fun games and watching hilarious Youtube videos. We hope to do it again next year.

Oh and I can't forget one of the greatest memories of the summer was going with two of our greatest friends and neighbors in the world, Brian and Erin to see Back Street Boys and New Kids on the Block. Awesome memory I will never forget.

We look forward to a great fall. Preston and Bennett are playing football and Emma Sanders is starting PreK!

Thank you Lord for a great summer, we are grateful for the rest, playing and traveling. And Dear Lord we now especially thank you for the schedules, routines and schools. Momma loves her some routine!

Friday, July 15, 2011

So Big

When our kids were about 11 months old we could say "so big" and they would reach their arms into the sky and just grin. Truth is they were really so big to us then but little did we know that within the blink of an eye "so big"  turns into standing eye level with you with a size 9 shoe and weighing in at 103 lbs. 

July 14,2011 Preston turned 13.  It is hard to believe. One of his favorite t.v. shows is Man vs. Food so for his birthday he wanted to go to Kooky Canuck where he had seen a recent episode of the show filmed. If you have never seen Man vs. Food it is this guy who goes around the country and does food challenges. Kooky Canuck has just one of those challenges. The burger pictured above is called the King Kookamanuga and if you and a friend eat the 6lbs of beef with bread and side in under 60 min you get it for free. 

It didn't happen. 6 people split the burger and still could not finish it. It was crazy big, but to wash it all down we also ordered the Birthday Avalanche which consist of 18 scoops of ice cream with all the toppings. 

They even give you these cool glasses to wear and take your picture to be put on their website. It really was fun. 

This morning Braxton and Preston left for Honduras on a missions trip. They are going to spend a week with POI ministries in Honduras doing everything from playing with kids at an Orphanage to building a home for a widow and her children. I am excited for them and truthfully a little bit jealous. I know it is going to be an awesome trip and God is going to use it in mighty ways. 

Preston is kind, thoughtful, hard working and funny. He brings much joy to our family. We are so proud of the young man he is becoming. Yesterday he told me he was a little nervous about the trip, mainly his fears were in the plane ride. We talked about the story in the Bible where the disciples go across with Jesus in a boat and a huge storm comes up. The disciples are fearful and wake a sleeping Jesus for help. Jesus calms the storm and then talks to the disciples about their faith. 

Preston looked at me and said, "I get it, Jesus is in control." Exactly. 

Preston, you are a joy and delight as a son. We love you and have loved watching you grow over these past 13 years. You really are "so big."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Where's the Love?

This morning I sat down for a few minutes to watch the news. This past Sunday while our family was at a redbirds game there was a tragedy across the street at a hotel. A Memphis police officer and another man were shot and killed. In my opinion part of the reason this is such a great tragedy is that the people of Memphis have become numb to this type of situation. I heard several comments from fans at the baseball game, "typical Memphis," "it figures another Memphis murder," or even "this isn't even breaking news anymore, it is just Memphis news."

At some level and with a repentant heart I say I am guilty of feeling some of these things myself. I have thought a lot about it the past couple of days and have watched the news off and on to find out the latest details. Partly due to just plain curiosity and partly due to my heart feeling heavy for everyone concerned.

It seems that officer Timothy Warren was a Christian man who loved his Savior, family and this city. I am grateful for men like him in our city and sad for the loss of his life. I pray that somehow through this some good will be found and God will be glorified.

As I flipped on the news this morning there was an interview with a Memphis woman who is a singer/songwriter. She was singing a song called "Wears the Love" As I listened to the words it made me think about the past few days and where my heart is.

I strongly believe that if you are a believer in Jesus it is our call to "wear the love." This city is hard and sometimes hard to love but if you put on the love of Jesus it becomes much easier. I think Timothy Warren understood this and lived his life as a testimony to it.

Where's the love? Something I am going to start asking myself more often. Where's the love for this city, my fellow neighbor and the world?

Jill Dyson is the artist of this song and if you download on itunes today part of the proceeds go to a ministry that she supports to bring young children from other countries to LeBonheur in Memphis for life saving surgeries. You can read more about it here

Great song with a great reminder. Thank you Jill Dyson for the reminder and thank you officer Timothy Warren for wearing the love so much that you gave your life to protect our city.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Smiles like this

Last week started the first of three weeks of May craziness. Just that busy time that is jammed packed with recitals, school programs, sports banquets, end of year parties....the list goes on. It is an exciting time as we end the school year of 2010-2011. Especially for us this year because Preston is graduating from 6th grade and from PDS. We are so proud of him. He has worked hard and had a great work ethic with a grateful heart during his PDS career. We are excited about what the future holds for him as he enters Jr High and High School.  His Sports Banquet was last week. He has played Football, Basketball and Soccer as a PDS Crusader. He received a medal for playing all 3 sports, plus he received an award for best offensive player on the basketball team. You are an incredible young man Preston, we love you. And for the record when you are looking back on these pictures you chose that haircut not us.


We also had our first musical recital in the Brady household this past week. Bennett started taking guitar lessons in January and has done great! We are not sure where his musical ability comes from but he definitely has it. He is really doing well. He did tell me on the way to the recital that he was nervous he might "freeze up." Luckily for him there was a well placed piano and lectern right in front and unless you were 6 ft tall no one could see you playing. So no freezing up. He played Ode to Joy, and though no one could see his face or body during the actual song, I was able to snap this shot before he performed. Bennett you are such a blessing to our family. You are kind and sensitive. Great qualities in a young man. We love you and can't wait to see you live out your dream of being the next American Idol. 

We spent Saturday at Madji's soccer game. Madji is a great soccer player and we enjoyed getting to see him play. Our doorbell was ringing bright and early on Saturday morning with him telling us the time and location of his game. I naturally grabbed my camera just like I do for my kids events and we headed to the fields. Madji lit up with that bright grin the minute he saw us. We cheered him on and even though his team lost he never lost that winning smile. He is so sweet and cheerful.

This is Madji's brother Amour cheering with Bennett. Amour is one of the brothers that Braxton takes to the bus stop each morning. He is shy and quiet most of the time. Until he gets around my boys and they just laugh and laugh together. Amour is quite the soccer player as well.

After the game my kids rushed the field to hug Madji and tell him good game. Madji plays goalie and he wanted my boys to try to get one past him. It was fun to watch. I was telling one of my aunts yesterday that my kids have no idea how different life is for Madji and his family. I think they are starting to slowly understand but what warms my heart the most is to watch my kids treat Amour, Madji, Lerah, Imelda, Pulcherie, Leraeni, Laureen, and Larissa just like family.

For me to bring my camera to a sporting event, for people to be cheering my kids on, for Braxton to have a pep talk with one of them after the game, that is just our normal. My prayer as we live and love on our neighbors is that it can become part of their normal as well.

If you look closely at the picture below you can see Madji's grin as Braxton tells him what an great athlete he is what, what a smart boy he is and how proud we are of him. And nothing in the world can compare to smiles like this.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Shattered Glass

This past week was a little bit of a trying one in our neighborhood. It was also one full of lessons and reminders of exactly why we live here. One of our new next door neighbors Madji has become fast friends with our kids. He is 11 and plays outside with our boys almost everyday. This past week Madji along with our boys learned a valuable lesson on grace.

Wednesday afternoon Bennett, Preston and Madji were playing in our front yard. At some point they,  being boys, decided it might be a fun idea to hit rocks with tennis rackets. Bad decision. Madji hit a couple of rocks up and they went perfectly into our other neighbors car window. Picture above :(.

Braxton and I went outside to talk to Madji and the car owner. Madji was visibly shaken and was worried about what his mom would do. Madji's mom came outside and we explained what happened. My boys were watching from the front door and then without us knowing they ran upstairs and emptied both of their piggy banks. Preston and Bennett ran outside holding a ziplock full of money saying, "Mom, here take our money, please pay for the window. We don't want Madji to get in trouble.

Braxton then tells Madji's mom that we will pay for the window we will take the punishment for Madji. Madji then collapsed into Braxton's arms crying. In fact we were all crying. Even the car owner.

It was a beautiful picture of grace. Paying a debt we did not owe. My boys giving without being asked. The car owner even took a very minimal amount of money saying he would go get a piece of glass and fix the window himself.

That night as we tucked the boys in we talked about grace and how that is exactly what Jesus did for us.

I'm glad it happened. I'm glad my boys and Madji got a true picture of grace. Of what it looks like when Jesus takes the shattered glass in our lives and makes it whole again.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Parched Soul

My soul was feeling parched this morning and so I spent some quiet time praying and asking the Lord to refresh and renew my spirit. To empty me out of myself and fill me up with Him.

Two hours later a sweet friend (not knowing my prayer) sent me this devotional by Max Lucado in an email. It was a waterfall of refreshment. Thank you Lord, thank you for your loving kindness that comes through even in emails.

Jesus’ final act on earth was intended to win your trust.

This is the final act of Jesus’ life. In the concluding measure of his earthly composition, we hear the sounds of a thirsty man.

And through his thirst—through a sponge and a jar of cheap wine—he leaves a final appeal.

“You can trust me.”

Jesus. Lips cracked and mouth of cotton. Throat so dry he couldn’t swallow, and voice so hoarse he could scarcely speak. He is thirsty. To find the last time moisture touched these lips you need to rewind a dozen hours to the meal in the upper room. Since tasting that cup of wine, Jesus has been beaten, spat upon, bruised, and cut. He has been a cross-carrier and sin-bearer, and no liquid has salved his throat. He is thirsty.

Why doesn’t he do something about it? Couldn’t he? Did he not cause jugs of water to be jugs of wine? Did he not make a wall out of the Jordan River and two walls out of the Red Sea? Didn’t he, with one word, banish the rain and calm the waves? Doesn’t Scripture say that he “turned the desert into pools” (PSALM 107:35 NIV) and “the hard rock into springs” (PSALM 114:8 NIV)?

Did God not say, “I will pour water on him who is thirsty” (ISAIAH. 44:3NKJV)?

If so, why does Jesus endure thirst?

While we are asking this question, add a few more. Why did he grow weary in Samaria (John 4:6), disturbed in Nazareth (Mark 6:6), and angry in the Temple (John 2:15)? Why was he sleepy in the boat on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:38), sad at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35), and hungry in the wilderness (Matt. 4:2)?

Why? And why did he grow thirsty on the cross?

He didn’t have to suffer thirst. At least, not to the level he did. Six hours earlier he’d been offered drink, but he refused it.

They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but *he did not take it.* And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. (Mark 15:22–24 NIV, *emphasis mine*)

Before the nail was pounded, a drink was offered. Mark says the wine was mixed with myrrh. Matthew described it as wine mixed with gall. Both myrrh and gall contain sedative properties that numb the senses. But Jesus refused them. He refused to be stupefied by the drugs, opting instead to feel the full force of his suffering.

Why? Why did he endure all these feelings? Because he knew you would feel them too.

He knew you would be weary, disturbed, and angry. He knew you’d be sleepy, grief-stricken, and hungry. He knew you’d face pain. If not the pain of the body, the pain of the soul … pain too sharp for any drug. He knew you’d face thirst. If not a thirst for water, at least a thirst for truth, and the truth we glean from the image of a thirsty Christ is—he understands.

And because he understands, we can come to him.
-Max Lucado

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Face Lift

A couple of weeks ago UPS delivered a package to our house. No, it was not this precious baby in above picture. It was something for work but during the delivery the UPS man started a conversation with me. He was new on the route and completely confused at why I was living in this neighborhood. We have had these conversations with other delivery men in the past but during this particular talk he said something that has stuck with me.

The conversations usually go something like this, "Umm...(as they look around the neighorhood) nice house?" Yes, it is in the form of a question. Like, "are you Dorothy and did you know that your house is not in Kansas anymore?" I then reply, "Do you want the long answer or the short answer?" Then I go on to explain why we live here and yes I knew about this neighborhood before I chose to move here.

He listens and smiles and then says, "I get it, you're giving this place a face lift." I kind of laughed and as he turned to walk away I heard laughter coming from our nine neighbors, I saw our across the street neighbor Caleb walking towards my house to quiz Braxton on the latest Grizzlie scoop, I saw a cute young couple who were just married in December and that we have come to know well walking down the street smiling, and I thought yes, that is exactly what we are helping, praying, hoping to do here.

It was not to my surprise a couple of days later I read this in scripture: "And now my head shall be lifted up above all my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy, I will sing and make melody to the Lord." Psalm 27:6

Thankful that the Lord has called our family here to watch Him give this place a face lift!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Limited Vision

When I was in third grade I had to start wearing glasses. At first it was just for reading but before long I was wearing them non stop. I had limited vision.  Looking back on pictures I realize how big those glasses were back then. Good grief! My sister says it looks like I had a scuba mask for glasses. So pretty.

Last night we had an SOS group come over for an exposure visit. This is where a college group that is doing work with SOS for Spring break comes to hear about the neighborhood. They ask us about our story, how we came to live here, what it is like to parent in this atmosphere, what others think, etc... We always enjoy these visits and the opportunity to share what God has done and is doing here. What an amazing privilege.

After they left last night I started thinking about being limited in our vision. You see when I was younger I had completely different sight than I do now. And not just in a literal sense. It was not until my mid twenties that I truly believe God started clearing up my vision and showing me some things. Things about His heart, His plan for my life, etc... I looked at those young college kids last night and thought there is a whole world for them to digest, they are eager, excited and I believe God is just now starting to peel back the scales from their eyes and show them His perfect vision.

And as much as I look back and see more clearly now I still believe we all have some limited vision. And this side of heaven we always will. Because of that there will always be things that don't make sense to us, like why young kids get cancer, why earthquakes and tsunamis happen, why sometimes our plan doesn't work out.

But at the beginning of each day I put on contacts (not so ugly glasses anymore) and take the hand of the one that has perfect vision and trust he sees more clearly than I can and in that I find rest.

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." I Corinthians 13:11-12

Sunday, February 27, 2011

And Then There Were Nine

A few blog post ago I wrote about getting new neighbors. Well, one of the houses that was for rent is now occupied. We have 9 new neighbors. One mom and eight children. They are refugees from Cameroon. We are still getting to know them and learn their names. Their ages range from 16 to 2. We have already had some great conversations with our kids about being intentional with them. And the fact that our kids are seeing 9 people live in a 2 bedroom 1 bath home is a great lesson in itself on being grateful, selfless, humble, etc...Starting tomorrow morning Braxton will be driving the two oldest to the bus stop at 6am to catch the MATA (Memphis public transportation system) to ride to school. I am praying for some great conversation time and for God to use that ride each morning to show those kids His love.

One of the ladies from our church who helped this family move in and get situated was telling me how thankful she was for this family to have great neighbors and thanking us for our time. She said she hoped we didn't get overwhelmed. I told her it is a large part of why we live here and that we were glad we could help. We were excited for the opportunity to love, teach and neighbor.

I hope to get the opportunity soon to photograph them. Maybe blow some of them up for them to have in frames. They are beautiful children on the outside and I can't wait to share with them about how they can become beautiful on the inside as well. A beauty that never fades.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Name Dropper

So I just watched this music video and have to share it. Never was a huge MTV fan back in the day but I love me a good YouTube video at least once every other week. Ahem..especially when it is someone I know. Or maybe don't know directly but know their mom or dad. Or at least see their mom and dad in church every Sunday.

Anyway, just watch and listen. Great song. Great Video. Worth your time. Then you can say, I read a blog of a girl, who goes to church with the mom and dad of Drew Holcomb from Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors. Go ahead drop that name, drop it like it's hot.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We're Getting New Neighbors!

One of my struggles I constantly battle living in this neighborhood is pessimism. You hear gun shots and you assume someone is dealing drugs, you hear a police car and you assume domestic violence, you see an ambulance and you assume the worst. It is a battle to keep your attitude in check and remember that there are rainbows and that our creator has put them there as a promise.

Over the weekend two "For Rent" signs went up on our street. One right across the street and one next door. The minute I saw them my mind went to pessimism. In general rental properties are not a positive in our neighborhood. Transient people who have just enough cash to get them through a month or two. People who are usually earning their money in not so positive ways. It is discouraging and frustrating.

As I was looking at the two signs and pondering who our next neighbors would be Bennett, our middle child, came into the room. Bennett is a rainbow in our life. A reminder of promises and hope. He is a positive child always seeing the silver lining. He can miss a wide open lay up in a basketball game and still be just grinning. He can miss the bonus on the spelling test and laugh at they way he thought it was spelled. So as I am drifting towards the negative about the future of the rental property Bennett lights up and says with all the excitement of winning the lottery, "We're getting new neighbors!"

Like the Lord himself was taking my shoulders and shaking them saying "Don't you get it?" "New neighbors, new opportunities to share the gospel, new people that I have created for you to be my hands and feet to." The very reason we moved here in the first place.

In Proverbs 4:23 it says "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." This is our family scripture this month and as I reflect on it I am reminded to guard my heart from pessimism. To look for the rainbows and the promises of God. And to have the pure joy that my 7 year old has even when negative assumptions rule our thoughts.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Here's a Story of a Girl...

It has taken me over a month to get my act enough together to write about the past 6 weeks of our life. On December 18,2010 my baby brother Ross got married to Anne Todd. She was a beautiful bride and he was a dashing and handsome groom and the wedding was breathtaking.

But this is not about them. This is the story of a girl, who cried a river and drowned the whole world....and when she smiles we absolutely love her. Well the morning started with donuts, the afternoon took off with no nap, and the wedding pictures started at 3. So being a 3 year old with no nap, not much lunch and lots of sugar for breakfast, she was quite disagreeable. To say the least.

She did have moments like the picture above where she would light up, I think it had something to do with the 150 hershey kisses we were giving her to make her cooperate, maybe. The problem is that she would crash from the sugar high and everyone would pay.

At one point I left her in the room (which was the nursery of the church) with Ross and the groomsmen. My only instruction was to not let her leave the room. (that would be my mistake) I went back to help with wedding details and when I came back in the room she had a Dr Pepper in one hand and a brownie in the other. She was fully dressed. How in the world she did not get any on her was by the grace of God.

She did walk down the aisle and looked beautiful. Hand in hand with me. Because as it was her turn to walk she looked back at me and said, not so quietly, "I'm not going without you." Who can argue with a 3 year old jacked up on caffeine and sugar?

When the wedding and pictures were over the tears began. She cried, and cried, and cried, and cried. I think it was due to extreme exhaustion and sugar withdrawals. I'm not sure. But she literally cried the rest of the night. She would stop, dance, fall down, and cry some more.

On the way home she was crying so hard that Braxton turned on the radio to help calm her...or drown her out and she said and I quote "Turn the radio down, I can't hear myself crying." Seriously?

We made it home and as I put her in her bed she said, "Mom, I don't feel good." I believe you baby. In two minutes she was out.

It was a beautiful wedding and we will forever look back and smile at the memories.