6.29.2013

Wild Child


 Today is Serena Marie Beverly's Birthday. She has officially made it to 14 and daddy and I say, "Thank you, Jesus!" I think I should have known when I was pregnant with her and she would kick me with a fierceness that the others had lacked and when she was born at 10 lbs. 4 oz. and I felt like I had been dragged by a team of mules and then run over by a Mack truck that our name for her was gonna have to be prophetic.


 Serena=calm


Ha! Little did we know that we were calling those things that are not as though they are.



My lactose intolerant, cholicky baby who never wanted my snuggles or my lullabies. My 90 miles an hour, seat of my pants, if you say I can't I'm gonna see how far I can, kid. My father in law saw it when she was a toddler and told me she was going to be a whirlwind and my job was gonna be to corral all that energy. Almost everyday I feel I'm losing that one.


She is our warrior child. She has been fighting since before she was born to stay in the battle. Challenging as she is I wouldn't trade her for all that she has brought to us and still has to give. Every life needs a little bit of wildness to keep it interesting. Bring it on!




6.23.2013

Book Review: The Wishing Tree by Marybeth Whalen

Ivy Marshall's life has been making a slow decline recently and then suddenly within one week everything goes wrong. Her father closes the business she has been running, her husband reveals that he has been having an affair and her estranged sister gets engaged on television. Trying to get away from it all she runs back to the only home she has ever known hoping to find the way that she lost so long ago.


The Wishing Tree presents its readers with a story of second chances and forgiveness long overdue. It reminds us of the beauty of the love of God and the love of family. The story is charged with the idea that we all must seek forgiveness and in turn must give the gift of forgiveness as well.


I enjoyed this story because the setting was an all too familiar one for me, ranging from the lush mountains to the sandy beaches of North Carolina. In addition, the author brings a realistic perspective to the task of forgiving. Too often we are told to forgive and forget, but how often can we carry that out? Marriage and forgiveness work hand in hand and they are just that, work. Yet, with God's help a person can find true joy in this life.

I received a free copy of this book for review from Booksneeze.

Vision Correction

I have been wearing glasses since the eighth grade and one of the most exasperating parts of the annual exam is always those subtle lens choices they give you. You're in the dark with this big metal mask covering your face and the doctor is flipping choices in front of each eye. "Which is better....one...or...two?" Sometimes its easy, one being blurry and the other clear. But then it gets hard. I ask them to show me one again. Man, which one is better? I don't want less than the best, can you help me choose? If you don't wear glasses and don't in the foggiest understand this analogy I'm so sorry, but here's where it comes into real life.


My family is on the church/school campus most days of the week. My husband is the pastor, my father in law is a pastor, the home I grew up in was a Christian one. I have been immersed in the culture of Christ. The distinction between the world and Christ is clear. But sometimes it just feels like my vision becomes a little blurry over the day in day out. Like my eyes get too adjusted and don't seek to gain clarity anymore.

Over the past two weeks I did two things that really brought to my attention my need for those subtle adjustments the optometrist offers: we took the kids camping and went to a conference. Seems weird since neither of those are life shaking events, but hold on.

Camping was so awesome. My in laws graciously allowed this crazy bunch of travelers to borrow their trailer and so the trip was a little more cushy than it would have been. We had a stove, beds with real linens, and a bathroom with hot water. There we were smack dab in the middle of God's creation and we were missing our separate rooms where we could escape the noise of our big family, our air conditioning, and the fact the that our house is protected from all manner of insect intruders. We had an awesome time but we really had to push through those "inconveniences" and it really bothered me that we had become so soft as to be susceptible to them at all.

Then Joshua and I went to a conference this week in Atlanta. It was great and I gained so much from being there. The thing that immediately struck me is that I was surrounded by educators. They are a different breed of people and this particular group is uber smart too. Now I love teaching but I have never really considered it a calling on my life. These ones were called. You could feel it. They love what they do and they are oh so good at it. My conviction was startling, I had to step up my game.

With both of these examples I became aware of the need for me to "get out more." My perspective had gotten off and I didn't even notice because I hadn't allowed myself any comparisons. It was just some little adjustments that now allow my vision to be clarified. I cannot assess my own perspective. It has become too familiar to me and I must have an outside authority to point out the corrections that must be made.

6.16.2013

My Baby Daddy

I write a lot about my kids on this blog, and about my feelings and the things that go running through my head, and there is one person who has had a front row seat at that event for the past 19 years, my Joshua. You know that when you’re a young girl and you’re imagining what your knight in shining armor is gonna be like you have grand aspirations for that poor guy. He’s gonna write you poetry, buy you flowers, provide for your every need and want. Plus he’s got to be drop dead gorgeous and never, ever, ever be anything other than perfect. Well, my big thing growing up was I wanted my guy to be a good daddy. Daddies meet needs you don’t even know you have until you grow up.

 Joshua and I jumped into parenthood together at the exact same time we entered into adulthood. He went from living in his own dad’s house to being a daddy in a matter of seconds when we took our vows. The crazy thing is that this guy knew somewhat what he was doing, embarking on raising up another guy’s son and Rebecca came along quicker than we expected and that first year definitely held some culture shock. Two kids, a rented trailer in Raeford, and a wife that cried herself to sleep most nights because she wanted “to do something with her life.”

 Before we knew it we were expecting a third and then came Haiti and missionary life with three kids and a wife in a third world country. In 2000, Josh adopted my son and made him a Goodman.  A legal process that put on paper what we had known all along. A year later we were back home and things got really rough. We made it through in one piece and learned so much about each other and about God. Something we’re still doing by the way. Emari and Zion came along and now we are one big happy family.



In all of those years, Joshua has proven over and over again to be the daddy I dreamed of for my kids. He disciplines with tough love, encourages them to reach for the best that God has for them, and reminds them all that he believes in their dreams.  So today on this day to honor our fathers, I commend this guy, so much more than I could have ever asked for.

6.15.2013

Book Review: Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax

Chris Walker seemingly had it all: fresh out of college, engaged to the perfect girl, business opportunity lined up, team member of a church plant, then some family secrets came out at his beloved grandmother's funeral and everything fell down around him. He had been entertaining some doubts already about his faith in God and the religious culture he had been raised up in, but when his foundation crumbled beneath him he knew he had some serious thinking to do. At the same time, his grandfather needs his help for a few days and the opportunity to have some time away from things looks like a great idea. Little does Chris know that as much as he needs some uplifting during this time of his life, so does his grandfather who is recovering from a recent stroke.


Having grown up in church and being raised by a Christian mom and Grandmother, I completely relate to Chris' crisis of faith. My husband and I were also youth leaders in our local church and walked many teens and their parents through this rite of passage time and time again. Growing up means looking at things through your own eyes, and more often than not things aren't as pretty as you thought they were. There is nothing wrong with asking questions for yourself.  Wax states, "You're asking big questions and wrestling with important things, and there's no shame in that. You want to own your own faith, not satisfied to go through the motions of a faith you've inherited."

In this book, Chris' grandfather has his own issues that he is working through and I enjoyed his point of view as well. As young people, we somehow buy into the misconception that our elders are supposed to have it all together. This book provided an accurate glimpse into the battle that every Christian wages with in his or her own mind and provides hope that answers can be obtained.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Listen to a podcast from the author here.

6.09.2013

Book Review: Walk With Me by Annie Wald


Walk With Me is a fresh retelling of the classic allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress, but this time its for married couples. The two travellers, Peter and Celeste, start off their journeys with differing backgrounds, meet, fall in love and start on their journey to the King’s City together. Everything begins tranquil and full of beauty and promise, but quickly the road is revealed to be even more difficult with a partner along. Before they know it they are joined by a couple of little travelers and things get even tougher. As they travel along together through the ups and downs, the detours and obstacles, they find that things aren’t always what they seem to be, but the journey is worth the trouble.

 
This story was such a great picture of what marriage really is: a journey not a destination. It is a beautiful depiction of the struggles, triumphs and ultimate reward that married life provides. I absolutely loved the narrative and highly recommend it to all married couples and those planning to be married.

I received this free copy for review from Moody Publishers.

6.08.2013

Rebecca Lynn Grew Up in Carolina

When I was pregnant back in 1995, that song came on the radio every hour I promise you. Brian White inspired us with our unborn daughter's middle name. I had known from the first time I ever heard the Goodman family's tragic story that I wanted to name my daughter after Rebecca Faith, the sister they had lost. But the middle name had us all hung up until we heard it in lyrics, then it all became quite clear.


My Rebecca Lynn came to us early one morning in a hospital room at Cape Fear Valley with the sun just peeking up over the trees. I took it as a sign. She has always been the sunrise for us, the promise of new and wonderful things. Joshua and I have needed to see her smiling face, framed by curls and accented by the most amazing dimples you've ever seen, on many occasions through life. They remind us that in the midst of dark times there is always beauty to be found.


 BooBoo, as we like to call her, came to our family quickly and joined her brother in the first year of our marriage. You can say the four of us grew up together because we did. Learning to care for two little people and one big one really forced Joshua and I to grow up fast. The honeymoon was over before it started and there we were with two tiny persons who were looking to us to take care of them. And the two were complete opposites. Where Tony was clean, Rebecca liked to be messy. Tony was shy, Rebecca outgoing. It was like God gave us a miniature set of ourselves to watch over.


She has moved with us to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, all over Fayetteville, planting churches, attending every youth event possible, and basically gone along for the ride. Trips around the country, and around the world. Flying with her brother to visit her aunts in Texas and Colorado. Where her brother thrived in home school, Rebecca couldn't get enough of people and wanted to go to school. So we put her in public school and she excelled: Spelling Bee champ and Battle of the Books! Then there was the 6th grade where everything changed and we were quite sure our kid might never come back to us. Before we knew it she was in high school and the same girl who would fly back to us breathless to grab a belt so she wouldn't get in trouble at school was in ISS due to uniform infractions. Ironically the same dress code would work for her benefit where in 10th grade she did time for a black hoodie, her senior class had hoodies made that could be worn with the uniform the entire senior year. We bought one and she wore it out!


Aspirations to become an animator drive her forward towards the future that God has for her in the coming years of her life. It seems to me like only yesterday I was trying to tame her crazy curls into an appropriate hairstyle, and she goes out and colors those same curls magenta and turquoise today. Some things I really should learn.


Here's to the girl who teaches me more about myself everyday! Love you boo.

6.04.2013

Book Review: For a Glory and a Covering by Douglas Wilson



God’s intention for marriage was for it to be a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the church. However, how many Christian marriages are true reflections? In this book, Douglas Wilson delves into the intricacies of the marriage union as set forth in the word of God. Subjects such as headship, submission and forgiveness are explained with sound doctrine, not merely opinion. Wilson states:
The chief end of marriage is the same as the chief end of man-to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The chief end of marriage is not to have “your needs met.” The chief end of marriage is not to get your husband “to finally see.” It is not to get your wife to be more responsive. The chief end of marriage is to glorify God and enjoy Him (on His terms) forever.
There is no illusion given that marriage is an easy task, only the gentle reminder that it is work but it can be accomplished with God’s help. I highly recommend this book to anyone whether newlywed or a veteran of married life who is seeking to find a better theology of marriage. I received this book free to review from Canon Press.

Fun in Fayetteville: Summer Reading Clubs @ the Library

Let me get something straight with everybody right now: I don't love Fayetteville. It has its redeeming qualities like being the city in which five of my six children were born, and also the place where I met, dated and fell in love with my husband. If God gave me the choice I would live somewhere else, somewhere elegant and with tons of awesome stuff to do all the time for free. However, with all of that off my chest let me say that this is the place that God has called us to and its where so many of my favorite memories were made and many many of my favorite people live. So here is where I am and here is where I choose to be happy and content.
Now, with summer upon us I decided to add a new regular item to my blog postings. As I find them I will share with all of you wonderful readers the fun things my family finds to do in Fayetteville, NC. If you don't live here maybe our adventures will cause you to get out there and see if you have similar things in your city.

With all of that said, here goes. This week I signed my little guys up for the Summer Reading Clubs at our local library. There are clubs for kids, teens and adults. Mommies and daddies can read to their little guys and log in the minutes on a super cool website.


I'm super excited to start logging our reading times together. Join us!
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