Monday, May 31, 2010

I've done a lot of talking about her,

but not much showing, and that is because my pictures of her are few, and none of them are digital. But my uncle showed me his high school yearbook and flipped to the senior section- and there she was; younger, sure, but with the same smile I see when I close my eyes and see her. And so, I snapped a picture of a picture, and did a little cropping, and here it is, albeit grainy:
She was 18 years old here, in 1977.
Beautiful, huh?

Just for kicks, here's one of my senior pictures:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The THIRD week.

In a not-so-surprisingly way, before this week, there was week one and there was week two

This week was the start of something(s) new (although I fought the urge and did not sing about it).

On the Sunday of this week, I packed up my most loved t-shirts and Blanka the purple blanket and a few more important things (like a blue dress, for example), and headed north to the ATL. I drove on 7-lane interstates to get there. And then, I parked my car and I hopped out and I looked around, because, for the most part, I was there to stay. And the day after that (Monday, if you're not keeping up), I started hanging with these pretty awesome kids. And also their pretty awesome parents, who happen to be related to me.

So this week, I've done some neat things, things I'm proud of, even if they don't seem like much. For example, I:

  • FINALLY bought new tennis shoes. I've been trying to get around to doing that since September. They are lime green. I think they're the best thing ever, but that could be because I've been running the grey New Balances that were all the rage in middle school. And I've had mine since then. It was the equivalent of running in bunny slippers. 
  • taught a first-grader how to borrow when subtracting.
  • made at least six peanut butter sandwiches.
  • made a photobook of my freshman year. (Make one at .)
  • did not eat any of the soft sugar cookies that sat on the counter all week long. Even when I was begged to.
  • have stuck to my healthy eating habits. Even when I went to McDonald's today with the boys. Even when they left the table and their french fries were still there. 
  • lost four pounds (in all.)
So I count this third week good. The next week holds a fam vacation and taking little kids to tennis and maybe- just maybe- seeing one or two of my best friends. And maybe I'll teach the first-grader some calculus.  

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I forgot to post the very thing that made me a happier person today since I woke up at 8 a.m. again...

I know I can't be the only person out there who truly believes that God made coffee with me in mind, for mornings when all I can think is sleep, sleep, sleep...but I really, really think He did.
And man- I appreciate it!

A day in the life...

"You are worried about seeing him spend his early years in doing nothing.  What!  Is it nothing to be happy?  Nothing to skip, play, and run around all day long?  Never in his life will he be so busy again."
-Jean Jacques Rousseau 

This is what fills our days.
We eat popsicles. 
We swing on tire swings.
We catch bugs and the cat and beanbags (don't ask.)
Sometimes we have to read and do math.
But mostly, once the iPad and the tv and the computer is off, we just hang together.
How awesome is that?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Week two.

A summer documentary, starting with Week One.

This was the last week of absolutely-nothing-to-do-ness before the stuff-to-do-ness starts on Monday. "Absolutely-nothing-to-do-ness" is super; I like it, but I like for a few hours, maybe a Sunday afternoon- NOT for a whole week. And so, by Wednesday I was all nothing-to-doed out. I'd organized the pantry and cleaned the house and folded laundry and read some books and shopped for a bathing suit and OH MY GOODNESS I HAVE TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. The problem is that the kids and the adults go to school and work and so they would leave me alone all day. It didn't bode well for my sanity. And so, after a little plea from my best friend, I headed to the lake a day early.

It was there that I remembered how wonderful do-nothing-ness is when you're with people you really love being with. And so we went out on the boat and played four rounds of Liverpool Rummy and worked out and laughed and watched a movie and relished being with each other because come Saturday morning I gathered my belongings and hit the road.

I think this next stretch might be the longest we've gone without seeing other since we met, back in August:
(This is back when everything was new and exciting and we couldn't believe how lucky we were that everything had turned out so spectacularly. 
We still can't.)

And this same week, Gracie came home from China, but we haven't gotten to see her yet, and it feels like it's been weeks and weeks when I know it's only been days and days.

Tomorrow, I head to the ATL to hang out with some super cool kids and take them to the pool and fingerpaint with them and get to know them, which I think is going to be super cool. 

But I will miss the people who aren't with me. Oh man, I will. Mainly these:

Also, about the healthyness: I've worked out every day for a week. Moreover, I've followed the diet I'm setting for myself which involves NO SWEETS and that in itself deserves an oh-my-goodness-NO-WAY-DID-I-DO-THAT! I haven't cheated once. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New hopes, new dreams.

I used believe, wholeheartedly, that I once I made in journalism- once I was editor-in-chief of Glamour magazine, with an assistant and an apartment and high heels that went clackety-clack-clack down important hallways, that that's when I'd be successful. Luckily, it only took a year for me to change my mind.

I really did believe that small time, small town anything was not for me, and I really did want to be editor-in-chief of Glamour. But then I went through my first year of college and I was told the statistics and the stories about how journalism is going down in flames, and I still think I could do it. And then I got in way too deep with the Lord and I realized that nothing about Glamour magazine glorifies Him, and how could His child put out a magazine that gives women 75 new ways to pleasure their boyfriends in bed each month? So I began to turn my sights, and honestly, I have no clue to where; all I know is that if I'm glorifying Him and I'm happy, I'll be just fine, and if I'm not happy, I'll glorify Him anyway, and I'll find my joy there. Not in some job, although I'd like to do something I love to do. I'm just not sure what that is right now, and if I don't know in three years when I graduate, that's okay. I'll go where He leads me, and I'll go with a cheerful heart. I'd still like to live in a big city, but if I end up in some little town, so be it.

Moreover, I've amped up the things I want in life. I'm just a kid, and I know that, but I'm slowly uncovering all of the important things that make you happy- things that never seemed like they would except you know they do, because all of the elderly people tell you that one day you'll see, and then you do. And so I want a family. I have a family, and I love my family, but I want my own, one day. I want a husband who loves the Lord and who loves me, and that's all I need him to be. Sure, I'd like him to be outrageously hilarious and I'd love it if he knew how to make and serve coffee and it would be really, really nice if he could write poems and actually liked doing that sort of thing, but if he's none of that, I'm sure he could still be mine, if he's who God has for me. And I'm certain he's out there, but I trust the Lord's timing, so until he's given to me, I'm just praying for him. But I am excited for our life together.

I used to think that maybe I shouldn't have children because I firmly believe that once you have kids, they should be your priority because, well, they didn't ask to be here. I just wasn't sure if I was cut out for that, especially given my genetic predisposition for all things bad parenting. I've been number 13 or 14 or my parents' list of important things and let me tell you- it doesn't feel good. And chances aren't high, if you're down that low, that you'll be moving up. But people, I want kids. And because of Christ in me, I am positive that I can be a wonderful mother. I can break the cycle of carelessness and abandonment; I can flatten statistics that swear addiction will thrive in me. I have hopes and dreams for my children that have nothing to do with their careers or their salaries; I want to raise them to wholeheartedly strive to follow this verse:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  -Colossians 3:12-17                               
I want them to be better people than I am. I want to have a big family and I want us to love and respect each other, to be each other's closest companions and most honest friends. I want to have children who treat their family- and the world- with compassion, kindness, and gentleness. I want to show them what humility and patience is all about.  For goodness sakes, I want to cook them dinner and fold their towels and if that means I don't have a job for awhile, I think that's okay. I never thought that would be me, but as I spend more time with the kids around me and as I see all of the potential that my family has and throws away to be all of that and more, I know what I want.

And it isn't to be editor-in-chief of Glamour.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I got troubles, but not today.

Here I am completely and totally stress-free with absolutely nothing to do.

And I don't know what to do with that.

I like the go. I like having plans and things to do and I like getting them done, being proud of myself, and tackling the next list. I just do. But I have to say, these last few days- minus the stir-craziness- have been pretty sweet.

Let me put it into bullets for you:

  • I bought two new Joe Purdy songs on iTunes. That's enough to make my day.
  • I've been cleaning; nothing major, just folding laundry here and loading the dishwasher there. And mostly I've been doing it because I'm bored and I have nothing to do and I'm missing some sort of productivity. (I might be the only person who can turn cleaning up someone else's mess into selfishness.) But regardless, while we were going around the dinner table talking about things that made us happy today, Lori said the fact that I'd done these things- because she wouldn't have to. And really, unloading the dishwasher takes me three minutes in between Gilmore Girls and Full House. Why wouldn't I, when she's so busy? It made me happy to make her happy.
  • I exercised three days in a row! And I've been sticking to this don't-eat-five-cookies-a-day thing and maybe just maybe I'm knocking out that lose-10-pounds goal. Or at least on my way to losing one. That would be good, too. 
  • I get to see my best friend on Wednesday instead of Thursday and Gracie comes home on Friday!   My little heart jumps for joy.
  • Tonight, Taylor said to me, "Let's go look at the stars." And a year ago, because I was stressed and busy and oblivious to how much of my heart that little boy owns, I would probably have brushed him off. I would have taken a rain check or pointed out that it was still daylight out. But because I know how it feels to want to hold him in my arms and be hours away from him, to want to watch as he runs the bases and learns to read, but to instead hear his little voice on the phone telling me about it because I couldn't make it- because of that, I took his warm, sticky little hand and let him lead me to the trampoline. We climbed up and we looked at the stars and when we couldn't find them, we looked at the clouds. We talked about the man on the moon. 
And for a moment, there with him and his imagination and his faith that is stronger than mine, I believed.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Week one.

That's how I'm going to document this summer: week by week. And today marks one week since I packed up my life and brought it back home.

But oh! What a spiffy week it has been! This is almost entirely because I spent five days at the beach with my best friends, and people, all the stress of the last few weeks of school, the stuff that gives you knots (literally, knots) and makes you nauseous and offers sleep deprivation equal to that of bringing home triplets- it just washed away in the ocean. I slept like I hadn't slept in weeks (because I sort of hadn't), and ate tomatoes all the time, and stood in the ocean and frolicked in the waves. And when I've been home, I've been helping with the dishes and the laundry and the kid-wrangling, and that goes a long way in the eyes of your mother, or so it seems. We've been eating my favorite homemade meals and making brownies and having nice conversation. Week one? A success.

And then just like that, it was over. We'd been clinging to the idea that we didn't have to say goodbye yet because we had five days at the beach together, but then, just like that, it was over. We hugged goodbye with intention, but, try as we might, we didn't fully appreciate those last hugs because we've been with each other for the last year; the idea that we won't be for the next three months is still foreign and strange and impossibly difficult to wrap our minds around. And so, we sort of did our best and headed away in different directions and hoped that memories and text messages and phone calls would be enough to link us in the next months and bring us back; we looked at each other and tried our best to will our hearts to remain the same.
Please don't change, our eyes pleaded.

Maybe there are miles and different families and summer plans between us, but just promise me that when you see me in August, you'll love me as much as you do right now.

And might I point out that although Gracie was in CHINA, she was also with us. We thought of her, we prayed for her, we wished for her, we missed her. So, here's this:

I'm excited for summer; I'm excited for ice cream sandwiches and I'm excited about spending time with all this family that has been put on the bac burner and I'm excited for a great tan and stress-free(er) days. But man, Internet, I am so excited to live with these beautiful girls.
Here's to week two.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." - Abraham Lincoln

My Mother
            My hero is my mother. I am certain that I am not the first, the only, or the last to declare that her mother is the one she admires, the one who models everything she would like to be in her everyday beauty, in the way that she can keep you rolling in laughter or soothe away the deepest of wounds. However, when I think of my mother, it is not one, but two individuals who infiltrate my thoughts and give my eyes that shiny glaze of another place and time, because, well, neither of them is here with me now, at the University of Alabama.
            My mother- my real, true, biological mother- is like a dream to me. I had her for eleven years of my life, and I remain adamant that all of my redeeming qualities, anything that makes me good and true and generous and fierce, came from her. She had the extraordinary ability to create contagious laughter, whether she was trying to induce it or not. I have her high forehead, her chestnut locks, and her shine of mischievousness in my eyes.  She taught me that you have two options when life starts throwing things at you: you can laugh, or you can cry. And, so, quite frequently, my mother would laugh off the disasters of her world, from the Christmas tree that collapsed in the middle of the night to my father’s alcoholism. She was certain that as long as she remained upbeat, she could overcome these calamities, and her laughter gave her the determination to stand back up. And then, one sunny Saturday morning in May, my mother would not wake up. It took a long time, a strong will, and another mother before I could laugh again.
            I was utterly heartbroken in the years following the loss of my mom. I was angry at God for taking her and her for leaving. My relationship with my father deteriorated to the point of no return, it seemed, and I sank into depression. And then, my mother lifted me out. When I was 13 and my father was in jail for driving under the influence, and my stepmother had abandoned my little sister and me, my brother offered a beacon of hope: I could move in with him, his wife, Lori, and their children. They were fresh out of the teenage years at the ripe age of 25, but they took in a dejected teenager, and they refused to give up on me. More importantly, Lori gave me what I was sure I would never experience again: a real mother. Lori was not my mother; she was not even biologically connected to me. However, she loved me in a way that blurred all of those lines. She performed the mundane tasks of mothering, from folding my laundry to taking me to the orthodontist, and these things never seemed trivial to me. I marveled in her love as she insisted on taking pictures before the first day of school and included me in the family Christmas card. Most importantly, she helped me climb out of the canyon I had fallen into. She encouraged me to build a relationship with my father, and held me as he disappointed me again and again. I accredit everything good that I became this mother of mine, who never really had to be mine at all.
            My mom holds my past: black and white fleeting images of my childhood that still occasionally make me ache to my core with missing. Lori holds my present, and my future, and the most beautiful part is that she never even had to take that on: she just did. And although there are bittersweet days, like my birthday, my graduation, or simply a beautiful day when my mom would have said, “Let’s go driving!” that I think “I wish my mama was here, I can turn, and see Lori, and realize that she is- I believe Lori is the mother my own mom would have picked for me.
And after all, my mother is my hero.


I wrote that essay back in September, for a scholarship application, and here, writing a "Mother's Day" post, I felt it said everything I needed to say. I've talked about my mom a lot here, and maybe that's because talking about it to real people with real faces brings out real emotions that aren't so easy to handle, but I like to think it's just because writing it down is the easiest way for me to even begin to sort through all of it in the first place. But my point is, you guys are not strangers to the reality that is my heart for my mother- both of them.

You should know, then, that while I tend to let my emotions run when I start typing, I promise I really am a happy, adjusted, laughing girl who's accepted most everything that's come my way- even if it has taken time. And I'm here to say that the old "time heals" adage is true; this Mother's Day is the first I can remember that didn't bring any rain with it. I certainly remembered my mother; I definitely missed her. I wished she was here, absolutely. But I wasn't sad. I didn't keep glancing at the clocking, waiting for Monday to roll around so people would stop giving me those sentimental looks. I didn't consider crying three times during the church service. I was absolutely a-ok, and it took me by surprise. I wasn't used to that free feeling, the one that escapes the clutches of grief and longing and jealousy. It was a beautiful day, and I soaked up every moment of it. 

Let me tell you, people: The sunshine felt good.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Easier done than said.

And after all that worrying about it, it really wasn't that difficult to walk away.

It might have had something to do with the fact that I had been moving boxes since 8 a.m.., and it was 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Or maybe it was that I hadn't slept more than five consecutive hours in about ten days. It could have been that I hadn't seen my family for more than five consecutive hours in about a month, and suddenly, there they were, ready to take me home. It was possibly because I hadn't had much lunch and I was starving.

Regardless, when I handed over that key, I didn't look back.

And it still hasn't hit me very much. It could be because when I close my eyes, I'm easily back there again, in my tiny little box of a stake on this Earth. Moreover, my blanket still smells like Tuscaloosa and I'll see Janie tomorrow and I hugged Gracie goodbye only 36 hours ago. And maybe it won't. After all, I've got a summer full of family and strawberry shortcake and tanned legs and so on, and I'm excited. A break is needed and appreciated. And if I start to miss it, if I start to long for them, I hold on to the fact that I'll see them soon. Soon. I'll have my own apartment with my own coffee pot and shower curtain and Oreos and, most importantly, my favorite people will be right down the very short hallway.

For now, I'll soak this up. This, which I have missed, even though I try my very hardest to act like I haven't. This, which promises to give me bck things I've been missing- things I've gotten used to remembering instead of having. This is homecooked meals and laundry that's done for me and hanging out in the living room or at the kitchen table or in the car. I'll take what these months have to offer because before I know it, they'll be hours away and I'll have this longing in my heart to be with them.

After all, it's been there all along.

Just because this is neat and every post is better with pictures:
August 9th, 2009

April 4, 2010*

*Mother's Day Post soon, of course.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Buckets of joy.

Alright, alright. I know I've been whining about leaving and so no more of that (actually, I can't promise anything; I still have to pack things up and say goodbye to friends and walk out of my room knowing I won't be back. But that's not until Friday, so take heart!) Now that I'm finished with classes (I just took my last final! I'm officially finished with classes! Except for the magazine coding! I forgot about that.), I'm turning my attention to summer. I've been hesitant to see it for what it is and can be; I've merely been looking at it for what it isn't and won't have. But I think it has potential to be really spectacular if I soften my heart and my grip and just let it. It's turning out differently than I'd planned and I'm learning to say, hey, that's okay. I know that there's a reason that I'm going to Atlanta (you're thinking, "Yeah, cause you said yes."). My reason for saying I'd go is simply that I felt like I was supposed to; it is a sweet job, and even more, I felt a peace about it. God has plans for me, and this summer, I'm supposed to be impacting Kennesaw, Georgia, and then, I'm supposed to drive home and impact Prattville, Alabama. In what ways, I don't know, and you know what? I keep thinking, Maybe not. Maybe I'll just stay home and let Kennesaw take care of itself, because it's not like it's some sort of ministry field.

 Except it is. This is my chance to show off all of the wonderfulness of Christ in me. It's a brand-new way to make him famous among brand-new people. And so I'm taking it.

And, just for kicks, besides all that, I've got some other plans for summer:

Things I Want to Do During the Time that I am Forced to Leave Tuscaloosa and Take up Residence Elsewhere*
  • Read Lord of the Flies and A Farewell to Arms and The Joy Luck Club
  • Lose 10 pounds
  • Learn how to do something new (maybe ride a bike! or bake something awesome from scratch! or how to make a yo-yo walk a dog! Sheesh. So many possiblities.)
  • Build a better relationship with my grandparents, and
  • my nieces and nephew. I want to carve out time for each of them specifically. (A really cool fact is that I'm getting a brand-new niece in August. I'm very, very excited for Gracie Laine.)
  • Find out more about my mom's childhood and young adult life from her brother, my Uncle Darrell
  • Get a great tan
  • Write several times a week, and
  • continue writing poetry.
*This list is subject to changes and editorial review.

Moreover, I want to start productivity and proaction this week. I really, really need to
  • get my computer fixed
  • buy new headphones
  • buy a phone charger
  • paint my toenails
  • get my eyebrows waxed
  • lose 10 pounds
You know what they say...Well, I can't exactly remember, but something about lots of goals make for lots of accomplishments...No? That's not a bible verse? Are you sure? It's probably in Habukkuk, alright.  Anyway, here's to getting things done with a cheerful heart!

And here's a photo lineup of my week (just for your enjoyment, of course):

This was actually a few weeks ago, but it makes me laugh.

We did Kate's hair for her night out. I'm not sure how much fun Katie had, but WE had tons!

Snowcones. Mat Kearney. Best Friends.

She's coordinated, she really is. The problem is her coordination does not make up for my lack of it.

Happy May!