Saturday, August 1, 2015

What I've Learned This Summer


It is simply hard to believe that it's already August!  I knew this summer would fly by, but now that we're on the count down to school, the reality is hitting me.  I've spent a lot of time reflecting, processing life in general, and looking ahead, seeing a new season with the middle school years approaching.

Blogger and writer Emily Freeman, from Chatting at the Sky, blogs at the end of each month different and often random things she's learned.  Since I fell off the "goal" bandwagon for a while and didn't even get our summer desires blogged, I thought I'd share a few things I've learned over the summer.



1.  Charleston is an amazing city!  We've loved visiting it for over ten years now, but this was the first time I've stayed there alone with my girls (since Marty was in North Charleston at camp). I literally drove past the church affected by the shooting rampage only thirty minutes before the shots were fired.  Fear, questions, apprehension immediately filled my mind after hearing about it. But to watch the city continue to move with such grace and love was a testimony to the many churches and the people within that city.  I learned a lot in those few days.



2.  Blueberries always taste better straight from the bush.  While Chloe and I continued to pick that hot Saturday morning, my younger two literally sat under the bushes and ate to their hearts content.




3.  My baby is growing up!  I know I didn't learn this over the summer, but it's becoming even more real as she's learning to swim and ride a bike without training wheels.  Shhh!  Don't remind me that she's almost ready for kindergarten.  Thank goodness I finally finished her baby book!




4.  Even though it's easier now that our girls are older, I learned that I still really miss my hubbie when he's gone on mission trips.  I just really like having him around! 



5.  Having a dog can really cramp my traveling style!  This was our first summer having Samson (whom we love very much!), but it's tough when you want to travel and you have to make pet arrangements.  Oh well!  First world problems!


6.  Focus on the blessings, rather than succumbing to the loneliness. This is an area that God is still teaching me.  There will always be a measure of loneliness in ministry, but I felt it more than ever when Marty left on July 4th.  Family being so far away and memories flooding back from the previous summer with my sisters and their families brought me to tears more than once.  But my girls can make any day interesting and we embraced the sprinkler and the sparklers, making the day memorable in our own way.




7.  Family is important and worth the effort.  Since Samson cramped my traveling style, we enjoyed #campcousins week instead!  My sister graciously took my girls for a few days.  Then, we enjoyed a day at the zoo, and a few more days with them at our house.  It was a fun full week!



8.  I "need" inspiration!  I love a good pen, a comfortable notebook, the perfect lighting, clean surroundings.  I think it's why I love Instagram so much!  The pictures, colors, inspiring words fill me up.


9.  The show, When Calls the Heart, on Netflix took me back to my teenage years.  That same, "I've just got to read one more chapter..." feeling consumed me, but in the form of Netflix.  I watched show after show while exercising on the elliptical, folding laundry, cooking supper... until the last show, and I didn't know it was the last show!  So I have now learned that when watching a series on Netflix or Amazon Prime, look and see how many episodes there are before diving in headlong, fully engrossed in the flowing plot, only to discover you just watched the last one!


10.  It is important to label homemade sprays.  Otherwise your daughters may mistaken your cellulite spray for bug repellent.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

When being a mama hurts...


You never realize till you're in the middle of it all how amazing and yet painful, being a mother can be.  When you hear another child tell yours she's stupid, that her reading is terrible, your heart hurts so badly and you just want to take it all away and reassure her how special she is.  

You read of other mothers on the other side of the world whose daughters, the ages of my girls, are being taken from them and made into slaves, forced to do horrifying things.  It hurts...  

A mama is told her sweet baby, born from another mother, will be taken back to his family.  Months of sleepless nights and precious smiles...  It hurts.  

Month after month the answer is no. You know you should be thankful, and you are, for those beautiful children God has already blessed you with.  But when there still seems to be one missing and you long for just one more baby to hold in your arms, it hurts...

"Even if we dreamed of having babies of our own, there is nothing that prepares us for the way that moment cracks open our hearts and pours in the type of pure love we never knew existed.  A love that isn't about us but is just about wanting to love and protect this little, helpless person who will emit all manner of bodily fluids on us if given half the chance.  You can't fathom it until you experience it." - Melanie Shankle from Sparkly Green Earrings

I've prayed this over my high school girls Sunday School class in the past, over my sister leaving for Africa, and constantly over my own girls...

"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we having not stopped praying for you. and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way:  bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light."  
Colossians 1:9-12


Being a mother is the hardest job I've ever had and I don't see it getting any easier, but I'm so glad that I'm not walking this journey alone.  God has blessed me with the most amazing husband, who encourages and comforts me.  God has given me a mother who has not only been the perfect example to follow, but also a friend to walk alongside me, even if she's on the other side of the world. God has given me three precious girls who show continual grace and forgiveness for their mama who lets them down again and again. But most of all, God has given me and continues to pour out Himself.  When I am weak, He is strong.  

Monday, June 22, 2015

Our Trip to Japan - Part 3



It's been a month since our trip and the memories still cause me to smile.  After spending a week on mainland Japan, we traveled again from Tokyo to Okinawa with the expectations of exploring Papa's sea glass beach, eating at all their favorite restaurants, and seeing a little of the way that Nana and Papa live.




Needless to say, our expectations were exceeded above and beyond!  The first day was spent traveling to a little Baptist Camp on the island and exploring every sea creature possible on the beach just down the path from our cabin.



Someone attempted making a sand angel...



The beaches of Okinawa (when there is not a storm) are so peaceful.  Water shoes are a must as much of the shores consist primarily of coral.  But where there is coral, there are sea creatures...  my Naomi's paradise.





Our "cabins" were connected, allowing separate sleeping areas as well as bathrooms and kitchenettes.  We really enjoyed the outdoor eating area which expanded our living space and provided shelter from the occasional rain.



Rainy day activities included making shell creatures with Nana, jump roping indoors, watching movies and eating popcorn (thanks to Papa's laptop).


 

Our excursions were plentiful and amazing!  Visiting the pineapple park, seeing all those baby pineapples, the pineapple factory, and then tasting everything pineapple-infused was almost more than my pineapple-loving taste buds could take!  (I think I still have some pineapple chocolate somewhere...) 







If you ask Chloe what her favorite part of the trip was, she'll say, "sea glass beach!"  She and Papa, with their eagle eyes, combed the beach and found a record amount of sea glass marbles.  



 

Our younger two made it their ambition to collect as many hermit crabs as possible.  You could just squat and look across the shells scattered along the beach and see dozens crawling on top of each other and a gamma of shells and sea glass.











Our day on Sea Glass beach could not have been better. Hours walking along the shore, a picnic on the beach, discoveries gallore, snorkeling in still clear blue waters, and sitting... taking literal and mental pictures so as not to forget our time in Okinawa.

 






One of our rainy days provided the perfect opportunity to visit one of the largest aquarium tanks in the world.  We had seen pictures and episodes from Netflix describing this incredible place, but nothing could prepare us for the magnitude of the fish and that tank!









Mura Saki Mura, a hidden gem on the island...  What once was a TV set for a six month Japanese show is now filled with crafts and exhibits centered around the culture and art of Okinawa.  Since Marty and I stayed in the hotel on the premises, we were able to tour the grounds for free and each of our girls chose one craft to try their hand at.
  


Marty trying out the shamisan.



Naomi drying the paint on her bengata.


Sophie's process of Ryukyu dyeing.


Chloe's marble wrapping with Papa & Daddy.
  





 


Eating at a Sushi go-around was a highlight for me!  No, I did not use all of those plates.  I was so impressed with my family for trying sushi (not the raw fish kind) and soba noodles.  



A very special kind of sake.  (No thank you!)





When my mom told us about a park with a really cool slide, we had no idea how amazing this slide would be!  After retrieving some cardboard at a local store, we spent the afternoon walking up and sliding down the rolling slide that looked over the city.




One of favorite pictures... two peas in a pod.








One of Dad & Mom's favorite places to eat (and ours too!)






We knew it would be a once in a lifetime kind of trip and it was... Our girls did amazingly well.  They were at perfect ages to take care of themselves for the most part, yet find joy in even the littlest of things.  Japan will always have a piece of my heart and now I think it has piece of theirs too.