Totally Tubular

While the Georgia cousins were out visiting us this past weekend we took them up to Keystone for some Colorado winter fun.

They had a great time in the sun and snow.                                                                              It all began with the Gondola ride up the mountain.  For some of us it is just a means of transportation up the mountain with some nice views, but these girls did not need an excuse for giggling and mass hysteria the entire weekend, so being suspended above the snow was all the more exciting.

Next, Snow Tubing!

This is what the tubing course looked like.  It is actually steeper than we expected.  The funky hamster house/long cylinder thing on the left side is the conveyor to bring you back up the hill.

Check out these two cuties…                            

                                                                                                                                                           And this studly fellow…                                                                                                     

And, this little guy.  Too short to ride, but not too short to sit in the tube and look cool.

After tubing we got to have some fun in the Kidtopia castle. 

This thing is built entirely out of snow.  I wonder what lucky guy gets this job? I love this picture of Cat climbing the rope ladder…

and this one of Will sliding, and this one of Caroline watching a stranger getting kicked in the head by another stranger…

And this picture is here because I will never have enough pictures of me and my sister together.                  

                                                                                 Especially when we’re in the middle of an ice castle getting ready to be plundered by snowboarders.

Too precious for words…

This is the effect riding gondolas, snow tube spectating and playing in ice castles has on two year olds.  May I just say, my man is so good lookin’…

How many of you can get along with another person for four solid days, giggling the whole time, and never argue once…

Neither can these two…although they’ve got nothin’ but love for each other, they just need a break every once in awhile to give their inner drama princesses some space.    

             On the other hand,

These two are totally inseparable.  It’s like they must share the same air to live.  I love this picture of them because the bouncy shuttle we were on made it blurry, but I think it looks kind of glowy around them.  That is how they look together.  Glowy.  Their friendship is a wondrous thing to behold.

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She can Laugh at the Days to Come

This past weekend I was honored and thrilled to have my sister, Elizabeth, visit from Atlanta, GA.  She journeyed out west with her two daughters, Anna and Catherine, and left behind her menfolk for some sister time.  We share an uncommon bond, we sisters.  For Elizabeth and me, not only are we both in the same season of raising our munchkins and walking through our faith, but we view much of life through the same lens because we share so many experiences from our youth.  We are also brought close by our common loves of family, bible study, Food Network, the beach, White House-Black Market, porch swings, bacon, Christmas, cheese, Southern Living magazine…the list is long and, well, to anyone who is not us, it is just long.  She knows me better than anyone except my husband.  I love this girl to pieces.

We had a blast getting to experience some Colorado together this weekend.  We took all the Greer girls to eat at our favorite spot in Boulder one night, took the kids up to the mountains for some snow adventures in Keystone, did some downtown time in Denver and introduced her to some of our good friends at church.  My VERY  generous husband offered to keep all four girls and William for us one day so that we could go skiing together at Copper Mountain, just us big girls.  I am so proud of my “Southern Fried” sister hitting the slopes after a 2 year

sabbatical, she looked great!  It was a day of enjoying God’s beautiful creation and each other.  I loved every minute of it. 

(I apologize for the close-up nature of many of the pics, I had to play photographer for us most of the time)       

Often when we are together people ask us who is older.  (I know they are being polite, but I love this!!)  Even though I am 20 months the senior, Elizabeth teaches me so much. One piece of wisdom she has reinforced lately is the importance of embracing the moment you

are in when you are in it, not dwelling in the past.  As the parent of a teenager she is also modelling an attitude that is committed to enjoying and taking advantage of the years to come instead of dreading them.  She shows joy in the moment and in what is to come from it.  This was particularly hard for me yesterday when I dropped her off at the airport.  As I was tearfully pulling away from the airport, the Rocky Mountains right in front of me, I couldn’t muster up any happiness at the beautiful sight that usually lifts my spirit.  For a little while I really didn’t like Colorado at all.  I was in an angry mood.  Angry about the meeting I needed to get ready for and the things at home calling for my attention because all of these distractions meant the visit was over, and I had to get back to life with my sister 2000 miles away.  I wanted to be on a plane with my family going back to the place I was born.  A sweet, gentle place with soft manners and ma’ams and y’alls and drawls.  

When I am with Elizabeth I am inspired to be more like her.  More wise, more patient, more faithful than I usually am.  When I think of Proverbs 31 I am always reminded of her, but yesterday, while I was wallowing in the sadness of missing my family, verse 25 in particular kept running through my mind, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”  It is so hard to be far away from my family, but I am confident that this is where God would have us right now.  Perhaps someday I will get to be closer to my kin, perhaps not.  I can laugh and rejoice, though, because there will come a day when we will be together always.  Elizabeth, you are worth far more than rubies.  Thank you for having a heart that seeks the King.  I love you, sister.

To Be Marfy

Martha Claire aka Martha Lou aka Marfy

Little mouse.  Who would have thought so much joy and sunshine could come from such a tiny package? 

From the moment you pushed yourself into this world, literally, our lives have been filled with so much laughter.  With all that fun, your little pieces of wisdom often stun me they are so unexpected.  I get a glimpse of the power your passion can have when it is focused in a serious way.

 

Your language is in hugs and kisses, and you are so generous with sharing them.  Your sweet little heart is stretched to capacity.  You wear it vulnerable, on your sleeve, which leaves it open to being hurt.  And that happens sometimes, my sensitive one.  But, where would we be if you didn’t share your heart so openly?  Besides, you have a way of bouncing back.

Your joy is contagious.  When I am with you I can’t help but be just a little Marfy sometimes.  Full of giggles.  Full of hugs.  Sassy.  Affectionate.  One of a Kind, Bright, Freckled, Passionate, Beautiful you.

“let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Deep Thoughts

Often a deep thought will come to me in the middle of some brain-stimulating exercise like making peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and it is my habit to share it with the first living, breathing person I come into contact with.  Because most of my contact is with persons not yet double-digit in age, the response to my deep thought is usually filled with lots of cricket chirping, and fish faces…

“Have you ever thought of the vastness of the universe?….

Chirp, Chirp

Chirp, Chirp

And that, dear reader, is why you bear the brunt of my deep thought ramblings…

Here is one for today.  “Snow”cano lives!  The current mound is a much shorter version than the original.  It has endured a month and a half of snow and sunshine and still it remains, a monument to persistence.  The other day William was outside messing around with the mini mound, trying to dig it out with none other than a butterfly net.  Which got me to thinking, because sometimes I do that…how often do I try to move my mountain-sized problems with a butterfly net?  Let me assure you, when I stick to my own resources, that is exactly what I am doing.  I am so often trying to solve my dilemmas on my own, instead of seeking God’s truth and wisdom in the matter.  I don’t know whether to blame the streak of independence that I possess or maybe just my control freak nature.  I am chipping away at the mountain with my butterfly net instead of turning to the Almighty Bulldozer.  Now granted, surrendering the net often means the mountain moves in a different direction than the one I intended.  Luckily, God knows more about what’s best than I do.  A good friend helped to put this in proper perspective the other day with a verse she has been learning, “May the God of peace…equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him” (Hebrews 13:21)

Reformulating Valentine’s Day

My husband has his own personal philosophy about Valentine’s.  His feeling is that once you are married, you don’t have to celebrate Valentine’s Day anymore because married couples get anniversaries to celebrate.  As horrified as I was that he felt that way when we were newlyweds, I have really come to the point of agreeing with him about 90% on this.  It has been a process for me to get to this place of compromise, though.  Take for instance the year my hubby sent me an e-card. 

And,    that was it. 

And,    it came 2 days before Valentine’s. 

Sadly, I got all excited because I thought that this was like his Valentine’s appetizer for me, and he was going way beyond his normal effort for the holiday-o-love.  Nope.  To make matters worse, when I got upset (and this was pretty upset because I was prego with Caroline at the time) he tried to “make-up” for it with a past-its-bloom Camellia from our front yard and a lame-o homemade card.  Don’t get me wrong, homemade cards rock, but not when they are scribbled by a grown-up man in the space of a minute.  Lame-o.  After he emerged from the doghouse, we came to an agreement.  We did not have to do all the flowers and hooplah.  I would settle for a Richard-made dinner and a Hallmark card.  Homemade cards would be acceptable if they showed considerable effort and thought.  Shakespearean love sonnets, diamond dust glued to the edges, you get the idea…Not to have you thinking ill of my man, let me just share with you that two years ago Chef Ricardo prepared for me cornish hens with an orange glaze, and this year he sent me a tower of chocolates because he was going to be out of town on business.  Funny enough, the less emphasis we have put on this holiday, the more we tend to celebrate it.  Maybe it was just too much pressure to perform amazing feats of romance that had my husband stalled in the gate.  (I doubt that, he really thinks it’s just plain silly)

Gross Kissing Picture!

 Seriously, I think we embrace it more now because instead of being told to celebrate love because it’s a specific day of the year, we just do it because we want to!  Of course, since he was out-of-town this year my February 14th celebration consisted of chopping 10 pounds of fruit and serving it to my kindergartener’s and then my 4th grader’s classes.  And, teaching them the hand jive and freeze-dancing to Justin Bieber and the BeeGees.  It’s a different kind of love, but love just the same.  And, trust me, if Justin Bieber is involved, it is some sacrificial love.  (please take no offense, Bieber fans, it’s just that the 1000th time of “Baby, Baby, Baby, ooohhh” is, well, the 1000th time!) 

 Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which way we prefer to celebrate the special people in our lives on Valentine’s, we are called to demonstrate love to all people everyday.  Showing the world the heart of Christ everyday by putting hands and feet to His love in us.  “This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers…Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18)

Everything Beautiful In Its Time

Lately I have been led to reflect on circumstances that I have witnessed in the lives of some of my friends.  Lives that have been a continuous battle against pain that I cannot even imagine.  Stories that break my heart.  In my own life I have known some hardship, but my own troubles pale in comparison to these that are characterized sometimes by material poverty, but mostly by a lack of family love, comfort, and security.  It gives me pause to say, “Why me?”  Why did I get such a “charmed” life, while others are led down such a hard path.  Even though I’ve experienced my share of difficult seasons, and will likely go through more down the road, my season right now includes a lot of laughing and dancing.  Whereas my life is easily identified by Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, for some people I wonder when they will ever have a time to heal and to dance.  These verses are known to many, made popular in “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds.  “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  A time to be born , and a time to die…” (KJV)  I loved that song when I was a teenager, but it took me a long time to find the jewel at the end. 

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

(Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The word everything in the beginning of the verse is just that…everything.  This concept is hard for me to grasp sometimes.  But, this verse tells me that I have to alter my perspective to understand that I am not the judge of what is beautiful.  It is in God’s plan and perfect timing that all things are made beautiful.  He has given us just a glimpse of His immensity,  as much as our humanness can handle.  We still cannot come close to comprehending the big picture.  Yet, in His goodness and mercy He did give us a glimpse.  I call this my explanation for that weird, “itchin’ to get out of my skin” kind of feeling I get sometimes.  The reason I have a constant yearning for something bigger, something better, something I can’t explain.  I want to say it’s not discontentment, but that is what it is – that taste of eternity that is in my heart and that I long to seek, but that I won’t find in this world.  I want to encourage my friends walking through a dark season.  All of this ugliness will be beautiful in its time because that is how God has intended it.  Someday we will understand the master plan.  For now, we trust and have faith.  We love and encourage each other, and hopefully open our hearts to being encouraged by others.  I pray this truth would fall fresh on you, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Rom8:28)

Sweet Caroline

My sweet Caroline,

One decade ago we were preparing for our lives to change.  In a few months we would be having a baby.  We never could have guessed what a delightful and darling little girl you would be.  A good sleeper, a good eater, from the very beginning.  At naptime you always slept, whether in the crib, the car, the grocery store, or the best place, cuddled up on our chest.  You were so patient and easy going.  Before your little sister was born, I remember holding you on my lap and savoring the last taste of the time we had alone with you.  And yet, so thrilled at your new name – big sister. 

You are growing into such a responsible and nurturing young lady.  Your mind has endless potential.  You have recently discovered your love for reading, and it is awesome to watch you dive into a book with your newfound passion.  I agonize over your bouts with insecurity, and pray you would be filled with confidence.  Be confident, sweet one.  You are God’s precious creation.  He made you amazing.  Blue eyes so deep you can’t fathom their bottom. 

Chicken legs, getting so long you’ll soon smile down at your mommy.  Smooth olive complexion, born for the sun.  A heart and a life surrendered to God.  It will be a privilege to witness your journey, your race.  It will bring many laughs, too, my goofy girl.

Somehow we captured the exact expression you get when you are about to break out into one of your funny accents.  My oldest, I pray you would embrace the path that God has chosen for you, that the love you already have for those around you would grow until it just bursts from you, and that you would know as surely as you can how wonderful God made you.

I am so grateful for the gift of you.  Thank you for every “I love you.”  For some it is so easily said, but for you it is always thoughtful and calculated, which makes it especially precious.  My simple prayer for you, dear one,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

With all  my love and most honored to be called,

Your Mom