Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Tonight I have an hour. I have a beautiful, rarely seen hour to myself. I have fourteen unfinished blog posts I could finish. I have a multitude of books I could begin reading...even a new one sitting on my nightstand begging to be opened. But tonight, I just cannot seem to focus on all the things that I would love to do with this hour. I am grieved. I am grieved for the death of a young man....for his parents who undoubtedly hurt beyond comprehension. I am grieved for a police officer who's life will never again resemble his former life. I am grieved for the citizens of Ferguson who watch as their city becomes a shell of what it once was from riots, looting and fire. I am grieved that race is a primary theme in this painful ordeal for so many people. I am grieved that we have not come as far as we thought we had in this country. We are not unified. There is so much division within us. There is still so much hurt in the hearts of people. Last night the grand jury chose not to indict the police officer who shot and killed an unarmed young man. No one is completely clear on the circumstances. Different stories are swirling around the internet. It is so easy to get caught up in what justice should look like and to form opinions. It is so easy when it is not you. I still have a social media account. Today my feed was filled with whys, rights and wrongs. My conclusion to it all? Justification does not make the heart hurt less. I purposefully did not hang on every uncovered fact or speculation surrounding this case. And even so, I know there is pain. I can see it on every image on television. I also know that it is not healthy when pain dictates behavior. We cannot grieve in a way that creates danger and fuels hate. If there is to ever be true equality, there must be change. Change must come from within. We cannot change others. We can only change ourselves. We are still responsible for our individual reactions. We need to act not react. Where are our great black leaders screaming that this behavior is not acceptable among the black community? A standard must be set and that standard must be kept. This was not Martin Luther King Jr's dream. My black brothers and sisters, you did not come this far to throw it all away like this. You are better than this! And to my white brothers and sisters, stop pointing fingers and embrace those who mourn this tragedy. Change will come when we no longer make excuses, stand accountable for our choices and love one another through the struggle. And the real kicker? Sometimes it calls for us to accept a verdict for which we were never prepared. We cannot "burn this bitch to the ground" every time we feel like justice did not prevail. We just cannot. Standing tall when you feel like dying is never an easy road to walk, but maybe we do not have to walk it alone. Even when we do not agree, we can tame our tongues and just stand beside those with wounded hearts. We can hold their hand. We can tell them with faith that it will be all right. Our government, this country, we the people...we are flawed. Right is not always seen, but glory can come through when all is said and done. God can bring glory through any situation. We must believe. Love does not have to agree. Love needs not utter a word. Love just has to act. 


Tonight, if you are reflecting on the reactions in Ferguson, could you bring yourself to pray? Pray for those who live in Ferguson, pray for peace to be restored. Pray for forgiveness in the hearts of those who feel betrayed and alone regardless of how they may have gotten to that place. Pray for comfort for those who are mourning loss. Pray for unification and equality. Pray for strength and  steadfastness for our nation in times such as these.  There are bound to be more among broken people. And we are all broken a little.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Jude: 3 Months

Jude is three months old! Our big boy Jude weighs over 17lbs now...maybe even 18 at this point. We took him to the pediatrician two weeks ago to treat a stubborn case of thrush. He weighed in at 17 lbs 8 oz!!!!! His 3-6 month clothes (that he has been wearing for a month now) are becoming capris on him. He was proportionately off of the growth charts in all areas (weight, length, and head circumference). He is sleeping a 5-6 hours stretch at night now! I feel renewed!! He exclusively nurses 7-8 times each day. He smiles at Mom, Dad and all of his siblings. He has discovered his fingers, chewing on them 80% of the time. He still does not love the binkey, but on occasions when he is tired and overstimulated, he will take it to fall asleep, then lets it go. He does not love his daily tummy time, but is holding his head up very well at this point. He is such a good baby with a very pleasant disposition. Big fan of meal time, though. Bet you would not have guessed that one, huh! He goes by the following monikers: Joodle Doodle, our dude Jude, Judah Man, Chubby Checker, Biggie Smalls...and yes, even occasionally Notorious B-I-G!Had to keep it real, yo!


Nathan Bedford/Johnsonville State Parks

Our family took one last opportunity to go camp while the fall weather still cooperated. It was very pleasant during the day and our sleeping bags kept us warm from the chilly night. We love to get away from our busy lives (which have become super consumed with Nell, home school and life in general. We love the outdoors and want to instill that same love in our children. With such a media driven world, we have to be very intentional with the family activities that we choose. We have such fun and lively conversations around a campfire. and, we get to teach our children to "rough" it a bit. We cook everything (that needs cooking) over the fire. No need for plates!! We listen to the sound of wildlife rustling in the woods around us. It is so good to get away! This trip included two parks in one. We camped at Nathan Bedford Forest State Park. We basically had the entire park to ourselves. It was only us and an RV in the entire park. Freedom and serenity simultaneously.

It would not be a camping trip without some type of critter.

We had to get a picture to remember a quick trip through Eva, TN!!!

After packing up camp, we traveled about 45 minutes to Johnsonville State Park. They were having some Civil War activities this weekend. We have studied the Civil War in history at the beginning of our school, so this was perfect timing for us. We visited the sights that were home to the Union military supply base at Johnsonville. We toured the camp, learned what meals were like, what soldiers carried, toured their bunks and even listen to an authentic letter written by a Union soldier. This is where one of the many raids on Union camps occurred, by the Confederate army under the leadership of Nathan Bedford Forest.

The kids were able to decorate a hiking stick just after a picnic lunch. Each took their appropriately sized stick on our hike to end the afternoon.

The scenery was brilliant.

Memories made.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Operation Christmas Child

We ushered in the Christmas season by continuing one of our Christmas traditions. Operation Christmas Child is a very well known endeavor taken on by The Samaritan's Purse. This organization, founded in 1970, is an evangelical Christian organization "...providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world." Operation Christmas Child is a projects where shoeboxes are packed with toiletries, toys and candies for needy children worldwide. These shoes boxes, for many, are the only gift they may receive for Christmas. More importantly, they may be the only signs pointing to a Savior in their world....the only thing pointing to the One True Savior, Jesus Christ. Our family has chosen to make it part of our traditions because, for us, Christmas is a season of giving. This year we elected to pack two boxes, one for a boy and one for a girl. We also chose the oldest age bracket, for we felt that the older children could be somewhat overlooked. We hope older children are impacted by the boxes and the Gospel, in part due to their more mature mind set. We let our children pick and choose what they thought each child would need and love. They enjoyed playing a very personal role in this activity. They love to shop!!! We then gather around as a family and intricately pack the boxes with these tokens of affection. When we have packed, unpacked, repacked and managed to get all of our gifts to fit inside these boxes, we lay our hands on these boxes and pray over them. Each of us gets to lift up the box, those that will transports them and the child who will receive them. We also get to track our boxes after they are shipped internationally. What a joy it is to give generously!! 

Each person should give as he has decided in his heart--not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fall First



Life in Nell has brought more ground, more trees and more responsibility. We are beginning a new tradition with our new home. We have deemed the first weekend in November, fall clean up day. We have tons of leaves from the many trees. Raking is new for our little ones, and our big ones for that matter. Each person is given a section of yard to rake (some larger than others) and a big pile of leaves to create. They are proud of their contribution. We are proud of their developing work ethic. We believe hard work is important. But, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Our task would not be complete with taking turns diving in the huge piles. Laughter is such good medicine for the heart. Then we resume until the job is done, completing as the day ends. As all of the piles are loaded into Dad's truck, few by few, and the yard is cleared, they are taken to one big massive pile in the middle of the lower ground.

Our treat after a long day of needed yard work, is lighting the huge pile on fire and watching it burn. We love a good fire, complete with smores!!! The children dance around and we are warm, contented with our day. We love taking care of our Big Nell.