Thursday, December 3, 2009


I just noticed that there are other people's Twitter Updates on the sidebar. Not sure what that's about. I'll check into it later.

GROWTH SPURTS: A Tribute to Tradition

Here is my column in the December issue of Parents & Kids magazine.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Creativity in Education

My sister Laurie shared this wonderful video with me. Take the time to watch this talk given by Sir Ken Robinson on the importance of supporting creativity in education. It's also quite entertaining! You'll be glad you watched it.

Thanks, Laurie. :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Churchmouse Publications

I am now a producer for Churchmouse Publications! Here's how they describe themselves:

Creative features for
faith-based publications—priced right
and ready to download NOW!
With just a click of your mouse and ours . . .
  • Churches & Ministries produce a more creative bulletin, newsletter, presentation or report using excellent features from talented producers at an affordable cost!
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  • Periodicals & Newspapers meet editorial deadlines while satisfying subscribers' appetite for new and interesting material!
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We're excited to bring you a whole new way of getting your message out. Please take some time to browse through the site and see what Churchmouse Publications will do for you—and then tell a friend!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Letter to the Editor

Today The Clarion-Ledger ran a letter I wrote to the editor concerning the recent vote by the School Board to discontinue the strings program in Jackson public schools--a program that has been around for 42 years.

Several others (including students) have written similar letters to express their disappointment. Here is another related article that ran today:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I'm sitting in a used book store wondering why the original owners of these books decided they didn't want to own them anymore. It is somewhat intimidating to try to write in this environment. It's like I'm surrounded by hundreds of little voices reminding me that if I don't write something really meaningful, my books (futuristically speaking) will end up here one day--read once and then cleared off the shelf at home to make room for better books.

Of course, what is even more intimidating is to think that I might never even have a book in a new bookstore, since they have to have made a stop there first before landing in the used store. When I go into Barnes & Noble, I see the thousands and thousands of books that have been published, and I feel encouraged that surely I, too, can do this. (Have you seen some of those titles?!) But then when I actually start pursuing the publication process, I can get easily overwhelmed and discouraged. It's a tough market. And there are lots and lots and lots of other writers out there. Lots.

I shall press on, though. Even if I never end up with a published book, no one can stop me from writing for myself or on my blog--my own little publications.

I'm glad there's not a used blog store. I don't think I could handle that.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Venting and Confessing

I need to lose weight. There. I said it . . . again. I don't know how many Day Ones I've had. The problem is that there haven't been quite as many Day Twos. But here I am again.

To be perfectly honest, I get resentful when I start thinking about the fact that I need to lose weight. I never thought twice about the numbers on the scale until after I had my first baby. It was never an issue for me before then, and I was free to eat whatever I wanted. But I packed on the pounds in my first pregnancy, and those pounds hung around for the second and third pregnancies. Now my third baby is five years old, and I can no longer use the baby weight excuse.

But now I have another excuse. The medication I've been taking for a few years has caused me to gain considerable weight, and it causes the weight to be more difficult to lose. This is extremely frustrating and discouraging for me. I managed to lose 11 pounds on Weight Watchers last year, but I have since gained those 11 plus a few more back. AAARRRGH!

While I'm in the confession mode, I'll just go ahead and say that I get in the "It's not fair!" mindset when I look at my three sisters, who are all tiny. And, yes, two of them have had babies. Don't we have the same genes?! My guess is that whatever skinny genes skipped over me are the same genes that contained natural basketball ability, since I was the only one in the family who didn't excel in this. I'm a lot more okay with missing out on the basketball gene, though. But that skinny gene sure would be nice to have. (And by the way, I am not excited about skinny jeans coming back in style.)

So there's that frustration, which I know is really my own sinful battle with pride. I am not to compare myself with others. Sometimes I let myself fall into the flip side of that comparison, allowing myself to look around and say, "Well, I'm smaller than she is. And her and her and her . . . " (No, I don't say this out loud.) But this is equally wrong and very prideful. Plus, I live in Mississippi, which is known for its obesity, so it's not even a good comparison.

And then there's the very real battle against the overwhelming pressure in America to have a perfect body. TV, magazines, movies, spokesmodels, the internet, infomercials, etc., etc. all tell us that we can have the body we always dreamed of and that it is easy and that we can do it all in just three minutes a day. Riiiiiiiiight.

The truth is that it takes a lot of work. It takes discipline and dedication and motivation--three things that must also be included in that skinny/basketball gene I didn't get. So since I don't have it naturally, I'm going to have to come up with a test tube gene or something that I can inject myself with, because something has to happen. My doctor said so. Grrrrrr.

So here I am at Day One . . . again. My plan is to incorporate a lot more exercise into my daily life and also make better choices in my eating. I know myself well enough to know that if I set unrealistic expectations (like cutting out sweets altogether), I won't be successful. I would much rather make long-term lifestyle changes than be on a crazy strict short-term diet. I also have to reason with myself--my health is more important than my appearance. I need to make changes in my diet and exercise habits, even if I don't lose all the weight I'd like to lose (particularly due to the culprit known as my medication).

To sound very Nike about it--I have to just do it. I can't treat this like I treat the dirt in my house, which is to just stare at it and wonder why it doesn't go away on its own. But I can't let it become an obsession, either, because I think that that is sinful as well. I also can't let my reasons (having babies, being in my 30s, a slower metabolism, and all the others) become excuses. And no one else can lose the weight for me. (Darn it.)

So here's to Day One. May there only be one of you.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I Need to Write

I need to write.

For as long as I can remember, writing has been a huge outlet for me. Through writing, I am best able to express my thoughts and feelings and convictions and questions. I am braver when I write. And when I really get on a roll, I feel more energized. Oftentimes, I end up learning something new about my relationships with God and others through my own writing. And sometimes I learn something about my relationship with myself.

I need to write.

I enjoy writing. I used to feel that my writing was less personal if I didn't do it with pen and paper. But I've now given in to the fact that typing is much faster and easier on my aging hands. That and the fact that I have a laptop, so I can sit on the couch or at the kitchen table or at a coffee shop to work on my craft. I like mobility. It seems to help with writer's block when it hits me.

I need to write.

So often I feel that things are building up inside me. And though a good cry helps, I am most helped by being able to write down my thoughts. I am able to sort through everything and analyze what is really going on in my head. Most of the time, I find that things aren't really as overwhelming as they feel. It helps me to see it on paper, because I feel that I have a better handle on it all. I don't really think that that is a control issue; it's more of a coping mechanism for me. I understand this about myself--that I get easily overwhelmed. And if writing and list-making can help me calm down and cope, well, then I'm perfectly okay with that.

I need to write.

I absolutely love bringing joy to people through my words. I enjoy being able to tell them what they mean to me through cards and letters and e-mails. And I love that they can read it over and over again, if they like. This is also why I enjoy cards and letters and e-mails so much. I love to read things over and over again. I thrive on words of encouragement. (Confession: My favorite part about selling things on eBay is getting the positive feedback.)

I need to write.

If I can make someone laugh through my telling of a funny story or making an interesting observation or coming up with something clever or witty to say, that absolutely makes my day! I adore people who can make me laugh, and I know what good medicine it is for the soul. So if I can do that for someone else . . . Wow.

I need to write.

Somehow this need is just wired in me. I think it is at least somewhat genetic, as my grandfather, my mother, and now my daughter all seem to have it. I also think that this condition intensifies with each generation, as my eight-year-old daughter has poems, essays, novels, and other works in progress stashed all over the house.

I need to write.

One of my favorite college professors, Dr. Melinda Gann, once gave us some great advice. She said that when choosing a career, we should figure out what it is that we love to do . . . and then be happy that we get paid to do it. Truth be told, it was only a few short years ago that I even realized that you could actually make some money through writing. I always wanted to be published, but it was for the sheer honor of having someone believe I had written something worth sharing. So I was thrilled to know that money actually came with the gig! Granted, I don't make much right now, but I don't really care. I am doing something I love to do. Don't get me wrong--I would be more than happy to make a lot of money through my writing. But that's not what drives me. Of course, the fact that my husband brings home plenty of bacon for our family takes the pressure off of me, too.

I need to write.

More than anything, I want to use my writing to encourage others. "We read to know that we are not alone," C.S. Lewis once said (or at least Anthony Hopkins said it when he portrayed Lewis in the movie Shadowlands). I want to share my life, the lessons I am learning, and how my faith is impacted through the gift of the written word.

I need to write.

And I think I shall.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I just read the following words and was greatly struck by them. It is both convicting and enlightening. Something to ponder, pray about, and put into practice--

"It is impossible to risk your life to make others glad in God if you are an unforgiving person. If you are wired to see other people's faults and failures and offenses, and treat them roughly, you will not take risks for their joy. This wiring--and it is universal in all human beings--must be dismantled. We will not gladly risk to make people glad in God if we hate them, or hold grudges against them, or are repelled by their faults and foibles. We must become forgiving people.

Don't start raising objections about the hard cases. I am talking about a spirit, not a list of criteria for when we do this or that. Nor am I talking about wimpy grace that can't rebuke or discipline or fight. The question is, do we lean toward mercy? Do we default to grace? Do we have a forgiving spirit? Without it we will walk away from need and waste our lives . . .

Forgiveness is essentially God's way of removing the great obstacle to our fellowship with Him. By canceling our sin and paying for it with the death of His own Son, God opens the way for us to see Him and know Him and enjoy Him forever. Seeing and savoring Him is the goal of forgiveness. Soul-satisfying fellowship with our Father is the aim of the cross. If we love being forgiven for other reasons alone, we are not forgiven, and we will waste our lives . . .

. . . the motive for being a forgiving person is the joy of being freely and joyfully at home with God . . . Joy in God overflows in glad-hearted mercy to people, because joy in the merciful God cannot spurn being merciful. You cannot despise becoming what you enjoy about God."

--Taken from the chapter entitled "The Goal of Life--Gladly Making Others Glad in God" in the book Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper

Church and Small Groups

I really like and identify with the things Neil shares in this post . . .

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cozy Writing Spot

I have a new favorite place to write. It is Congress Street Coffee at Eudora Welty's Birthplace right here in Jackson, Mississippi. The two-story coffee shop/used book store (called Tattered Pages--such a great name for a used book store, in my opinion) is pretty empty on the Tuesday or Thursday mornings when I come and perch. I get my coffee from Kristen and climb the stairs to find my little nook. I sit at a little table in the corner, surrounded by tall bookcases filled with stories to be shared a second or third time. The hardwood floors are all scratched and worn. And it just has that old house smell that makes me think of historic times. I am also sitting near the glass doors that open up onto the balcony, which accommodates several white rocking chairs and a few planters with hot pink flowers in them. Down below I can see the bronze statue of Eudora Welty, which honestly looks prettier than she really was. I'm not trying to be mean; the woman just had a very distinct look about her!

I feel inspired when I come here, and I hope to write many, many pages in this place.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

One Man's Trash . . .

Today I spent a couple of hours browsing through a large flea market on Highway 49. I don't know why this is enjoyable to me, but it is. Part of the fun is the anticipation of finding a treasure that (hopefully) doesn't cost much money. It's people's old stuff, so I'm also contributing to the big global push to "reuse," which is nice. However, sometimes the older the stuff is, the more it costs. Or the more it's worth, I guess I should say.

I think that even more fun to me than the idea of finding a treasure at these second-hand places is the idea that I am not just browsing through other people's stuff; I am browsing through other people's stories. I think it is so interesting to imagine which little girl first played with the antique doll, what family sat around the giant oak table and discussed their days, what woman donned the mustard-colored hat with the black netting, whose baby slept in the old wooden cradle, who might have sat in the tattered yet still regal-looking arm chair, who actually listened to all those records, who dined on the once-shiny but now tarnished fine china, or how many people have studied their reflections in these mirrors. Of course, there is also more than a fair share of items that make you ask, "Really? Someone thought it was a good idea to buy this even when it was new?!" But those items have lots of stories behind them, too. Maybe even more.

In my opinion, it's much more interesting to shop in second-hand stores than in stores with all new stuff, although there is most certainly a time and place (and reason!) for that, too. But I somehow feel inspired by all the things and their history as well as feel connected to the people who once owned it all. And I didn't even buy anything.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Phase

Today my youngest is on her very first field trip, which is kind-of a milestone. This is her first year to go to Mother's Day Out or anything like it, and she is loving the experience. Five-year-old Katie tends to be my clingy child--my baby--so I was a bit uncertain about her confidence in taking on this new experience. Boy, was I wrong! She is so disappointed that "school" is only two days a week, and she jumps right out of bed, in a hurry to get dressed and ready, on those two days of the week. And when we walk into the building, she practically leaves me behind as she makes her way to her classroom. At least she gives me a good-bye hug and kiss.

Today her class was going to the Natural Science Museum, and Katie was pumped. We have been to this museum before, and she remembered it. Actually, what she remembered most was that they sell lollipops in the gift shop. "They have lollipops there! Don't you remember the lollipops?," she said to her Daddy this morning when he inquired about her excitement about the day's outing. Nevermind that there had been dinosaurs and two-headed snakes; there were LOLLIPOPS!

It makes me really happy that Katie is excited about this next phase of life. Being the youngest, she has been stuck at home with Mommy while the other two have been in school for a few years. So she's glad to have friends her own age to play with and an activity to call her own. It is helping her to be more independent, which is good for both of us.

To be honest, I was a little uncertain about my own readiness for this new phase. But I've managed to adjust really well, too. :) I have been a stay-at-home mom for eight and a half years (and changed diapers every day for six and a half of those years!), and this is the first time that I have designated hours every week where my children have somewhere to be, and I don't have to be there with them.

Let that sink in for a minute. I still am.

Don't take this the wrong way. I absolutely love and adore my children, and I love being with them. But . . . I also really benefit from time alone. I enjoy getting to choose whether I want to be in a quiet or noisy environment. I enjoy having time to run errands by myself. I enjoy getting out of the house. I enjoy getting to work on my hobbies or to-do list. I enjoy a lot fewer interruptions. I enjoy being productive. I enjoy having time to pursue my writing. And I even enjoy missing my children . . . and their missing me. It's good to have some time apart.

Motherhood is full of phases. Some are good; some are hard; many are both. Some seem to last forever (like potty training or teaching a newborn to sleep through the night); others go by in a flash (like the last eight and a half years of my life). A friend of ours recently pointed out that we are most likely at the half-way point in the time that we will have our eldest child at home with us. Sheesh.

I know a lot of parents (myself included) can get caught up in wanting things to stay the same and mourning our children's growing up. Personally, I would love to have frozen my children at the ages of three, five, and seven. But I can't. And that's okay. As my mother once told me, there are joys in every stage of your children's lives. It is so much fun to watch them develop and learn and become their own persons. I am so proud of Callie, Caleb, and Katie. I love their spirit and their growing independence. I love to watch them learn about life. I love to hear them share with me about their experiences at school. There are many more stories to come!

While I do still have my "I can't believe how fast they're growing" moments, I am just as excited about this next phase as they are.

Monday, September 21, 2009

One Another

Last Sunday my pastor, Stacy Andrews, talked a little bit about living according to the "one another" verses in the Bible. This really stuck with me, and so I set out to find them. There are a lot! Here are just some of them.

It's a very humbling and challenging way to live this life, but it is also the most fulfilling. I think I need to post this list in every room of my house. And in the van. And in my purse. And . . . .

" . . . love one another, even as I have loved you . . . " (John 13:34)

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor." (Romans 12:10)

"Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation." (Romans 12:16)

" . . . let us not judge one another anymore . . . " (Romans 14:13)

" . . . accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God." (Romans 15:7)

" . . . through love serve one another." (Galatians 5:13)

". . . with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love . . . " (Ephesians 4:2)

"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:32)

" . . . be subject to one another in the fear of Christ." (Ephesians 5:21)

"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves . . . " (Philippians 2:3)

" . . . bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." (Colossians 3:13)

" . . . comfort one another . . . " (I Thessalonians 4:18)

" . . . encourage one another and build up one another . . . " (I Thessalonians 5:11)

"Live in peace with one another." (I Thessalonians 5:13)

" . . . always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people." (I Thessalonians 5:15)

" . . . encourage one another day after day . . . " (Hebrews 3:13)

" . . . consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds . . . " (Hebrews 10:24)

"Do not speak against one another . . . " (James 4:11)

"Do not complain, brethren, against one another . . . " (James 5:9)

" . . . confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed . . . " (James 5:16)

"Be hospitable to one another without complaint . . . " (I Peter 4:9)

" . . . clothe yourselves with humility toward one another . . . " (I Peter 5:5)

Friday, September 4, 2009


I am excited to share with you the first article of my new column in Parents & Kids magazine! I am calling the column "Growth Spurts," because I will be sharing some of the lessons that I have learned . . . and am still learning . . . and the ways I am growing through the wild and wonderful world of motherhood.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Transportation Trauma

So the last few weeks have involved quite the drama in the realm of transportation in our family. Here's a synopsis. Try to keep up.

1. My mother's car died.

2. My mother borrowed my brother Joshua's car while he was out of town.

3. Joshua's car had a broken inside door handle, so Mama had to roll down the window and use the outside handle to open the door.

4. Mama had to wait a few minutes each time before the window "felt like" being rolled up again.

5. While in Joshua's car, Mama was sitting right next to a van that was rammed into from behind by an 18-wheeler. Glass shattered and rained all over Joshua's car. But that was nothing. The family of four in the van were all killed. (Please note: I am in no way writing this part flippantly. It was a horrific tragedy.)

6. Joshua came back in town and, therefore, needed his car.

7. Planning to let Mama use our 13-year-old Geo Prizm, Kevin took the car to get an oil change.

8. The Geo broke down on the way to get the oil changed.

9. After the Geo was repaired, we handed it over to Mama. We were now down to one vehicle--our van.

10. While driving in downtown Jackson, Kevin and Uncle Rico (our dog) were hit by a woman driving the wrong way on a one-way street.

11. The woman got out of her car crying, "Oh, Lord, why did I have to drive the wrong way?! Why did this have to happen?!," etc., to which the officer exclaimed, "Ma'am, God didn't make you drive the wrong way down a one-way street."

12. No one was hurt, but the van was totaled.

13. The woman didn't have insurance. Awesome. (To be read with sarcasm.)

14. We borrowed Kevin's brother's vehicle for a couple of days.

15. Then we borrowed Kevin's mother's car.

16. While driving to the bank one day, a bunch of lights came on on the dashboard of Kevin's mother's car.

17. One shop said it was the alternator. "$600, please."

18. We took it somewhere else.

19. "The alternator's fine. No charge." We took the car home. No more lights on the dashboard.

20. Meanwhile, we're shopping for a new-to-us van.

21. Kevin and I drove to Birmingham to look at a few. Randomly, a friend of ours loaned us his GPS for our trip.

22. First we drove a Mazda MPV, which is what we had and loved. We thought we'd probably buy this one but decided to look at another van before making our final decision.

23. We drove a Honda Odyssey and liked it better than the MPV.

24. Kevin and I talked about it over a Coke and chocolate chip cookies at McDonald's in Springville, Alabama.

25. The small-town car dealer, his dad, and his two young sons were sitting only a couple of tables away from us. They pretended not to see us.

26. We drove down the street and hijacked somebody's wireless internet service so that we could do some last-minute further research.

27. We decided we'd make an offer on the Odyssey. We stopped and prayed that God would keep us from making an unwise decision. But it would need to be a fast intervention, since we were only a few buildings away from the car dealership.

28. Thirty seconds later, Kevin's dad called.

29. Kevin's dad is notorious for the in-depth researching of cars.

30. We got nervous, even though we had asked for this divine intervention.

31. His dad said to go for it.

32. Our eyes got big, and we shrugged our shoulders.

33. We went for it.

34. We now own a Honda Odyssey!

35. Kevin started the drive home in the van; I started my drive to a destination in the opposite direction in Kevin's mom's car.

36. Thirty minutes later, the car I was driving shut down. Literally shut down.

37. I coasted into the parking lot of Robin Hill Memorial Baptist Church somewhere outside of Oneonta, Alabama. Basically the middle of nowhere.

38. Trying not to panic--particularly since I had not been able to get a phone signal in this area earlier that day--I attempted to call Kevin.

39. Kevin answered the phone. PRAISE GOD!!!

40. Kevin made a U-turn.

41. I sat on the front porch of this church building, made myself breathe, prayed, read a chapter in my book, and watched a shirtless 10-year-old boy drive past me on a four-wheeler several times. Not one person stopped to ask me why I was sitting there.

42. An hour later, my knight in shining armor (yes, Kevin) came to my rescue! He was able to jump-start the car.

43. The randomly-borrowed GPS gave us directions to the nearest Auto Zone, which thankfully stayed open till 9:00. It was already after 7:00.

44. The car needed a new alternator. (You might remember this from #16-19.)

45. Since it was after 7:00, and we were in Oneonta, Alabama, all mechanics had called it a night.

46. All but one, that is.

47. The guy at Auto Zone told us about Phillip, who has a big building next to his house and works on cars late into the night. We'd have to drive 15 minutes even further out into nothingness. But he'd take care of us.

48. Hmmmm . . .

49. We drove to Phillip's place.

50. Phillip is probably the kindest and most entertaining mechanic you'll ever meet. He and his assistant David worked for a long time to get the hard-to-reach alternator out of the Accord, all the while telling humorous stories and offering us a Dr. Pepper. It did take a while, but he got the job done. And he only wanted a little bit of money for his effort. The man had really helped us out, so we were glad to give him more than he asked for.

51. It's been a week since our last negative encounter with a vehicle.

52. Yes, I'm praying!

53. Since Kevin was at no fault for the wreck, our insurance company is covering everything, including our deductible!!! Definitely an answer to one of those prayers.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Fun Surprise

Last week my family enjoyed some vacation time at the beach with Kevin's parents and his brother's family. We were having such a great time together, but we knew we'd have to be leaving on Friday morning. So Thursday evening we were all lingering on the beach. Suddenly Katie announces that she has to use the bathroom, so I volunteered to take her. As she and I began to walk off, Kevin said, "Why don't you go ahead and take your shower and start getting yourself ready?"

"Okaaayy," I said with a puzzled look on my face.

"Do you trust me?," my husband grinned.

I did trust him. And I could tell it would be worth it to trust him. So Katie and I went up to the condo, and I found something for her to watch on TV while I took my shower. (Actually, the channel surfing took some time, because that was when Michael Jackson's sudden death was all over every station! So I watched that for a few minutes.) After I had gotten out of the shower, Kevin, Callie, and Caleb came up to the room, and Kevin started getting the kids dressed. I didn't say anything out loud, but secretly I was disappointed that the kids seemed to be a part of his plan for the evening. I had been hoping we were going out on a date. So then I was even more perplexed when he started packing up all our stuff!

"Are we leaving?!?!," I asked him with raised eyebrows.

"Yes," he grinned again. "Do you still trust me?"

I did, so I started helping him pack our stuff. I was pretty excited, even though I was completely in the dark about what was going on. You see, it seems to be a bit difficult to pull a complete surprise on me. It's not that I sneak around and try to find things out. I'm just perceptive.

So it's 8:45 at night, and we pull out of the parking lot in Destin, Florida. The kids asked if they could watch a movie on the portable player, and Kevin said they could. We're going to be driving long enough for them to watch a whole movie?, I thought to myself. Where in the world are we going?

Kevin turned on Finding Nemo for the kids. Katie fell asleep so fast, so I'm not even sure she saw Nemo get taken. Caleb and I both fell asleep somewhere between the EAC and Dory's discovery that she could speak whale. When I woke up, we were in Mobile, Alabama, but that was just a pit stop. Finally, at 1:45 in the morning, we pulled into our surprise destination, which was . . .

my in-laws' house.

I was so confused. And tired. And my in-laws were still at the beach! Still, I played along. Kevin and I proceeded to transfer our sleeping children from the van to the house, and then we went to sleep ourselves.

I did get to sleep in some the next morning, which was nice. As I got up and got myself ready for . . . something . . . , Kevin was again packing up our stuff and reloading the van. As we all piled back in, Katie asked if they could watch Finding Nemo, since she didn't get to see it the night before. Then Caleb asked Callie if they actually found Nemo. We laughed pretty hard at that, since they've all seen the movie dozens of times. But Kevin told them there wasn't enough time for a movie on this drive, which was kind-of disappointing to me, since we were in Magee, Mississippi. But I rode and kept quiet, when, to my astonishment, we pulled up to . . .


Yep, still surprising. We ate breakfast there, which was nice, I'll admit. But I was really having a hard time fighting the urge to ask probing questions. I knew Kevin was eating up the fact that I was in such suspense, so I didn't try to spoil it.

Here's where it gets better. We left McDonald's and started driving again. And this time, we pulled up to . . .

my mother's house.

She didn't act all that surprised to see us, so I figured she was in on it. Kevin and I didn't stay very long, but we did leave the kids with her. So I was going to get that date after all! The kids didn't seem very concerned. They just waved us off and started gathering all the stuffed animals in Cammie's house to play Pet School.

Alright, this is more like it!, I thought. It's just the two of us off on a surprise adventure together. So I settled back in the van and started browsing through a magazine. I figured we'd be on the road for a while. But we actually only drove about an hour. And much to my surprise, we pulled up to see . . .

our own house.

Okay, this is getting a bit ridiculous. Still, I played along.

We went into the house, and Kevin told me I had 45 minutes to put on a dress and grab anything else I might need for an overnight stay. "Oh, and get the passports!," he said. I was pretty sure that was just a crazy thing to throw me off and keep me in the dark, but I did it anyway. We got back in the van and proceeded to drive north.

Three and a half hours later, we finally reached our destination . . .


But I still didn't know why we were there. We parked downtown and walked to Majestic Grille, where we had reservations. The seating was for four, though, and Kevin told the waitress not to remove the other two place settings. Before the expected guests arrived, however, Kevin accidentally let their names slip . . .

Tiffiny and Richard!

It was a fun surprise, because Tiffiny and Richard are some of my favorite people! And since Tiffiny didn't know whom they were coming to meet, we got to hide behind our menus till they got to our table.

We enjoyed a nice meal and then walked over to The Orpheum Theater, where we got to see . . .


The play was so amazing and fun and full of surprises, and we had both been wanting to see it! I was so proud of my sweet husband for pulling off such an amazing surprise for me. I will never forget it. Thank you, Kevin!

Sidenote: Kevin told me later that he had gotten the dates wrong and had been thinking all along that the play was on Saturday night. So when Richard e-mailed him on Thursday morning and said, "See ya Friday night!," Kevin went into panic/Plan B mode, because we suddenly were having to leave the beach early. His family wondered how he was going to get me to go along with it without having to spoil the surprise. Haha! It just makes for an even better story, in my opinion.

To Everything, There is a Season

Here is the link to my article in Parents & Kids magazine:

Monday, June 29, 2009

"When I Read a Book" by Callie Partridge, Age 8

I open a book, I read the title, I see what the first chapter is like. It is good, I read number 2. I tell mom, "I've begun a new book." You say the book is good at school the next day. The afternoon is spent reading to chapter 4. In the bath I read chapter 5. I sneak chapter 6 when Caleb's getting ready for school. Chapter 7 is delightful, I read it under blankets. Number 8 I do when I go to Tyler and Tucker's house. 9 is something I set aside and read in April. May comes quickly, I read chapter 10, 11, 12, and 13. In June I read 14 and 15, on breaks from wading at the beach. In July I read 16. I read 17, 18, 19, and 20 in August. I finish in September, chapters 21 and 22. I put down the book, realizing that I finished another wonderful adventure.

To my books and my feelings about them.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

True Love

Eleven years ago today, I married Kevin Partridge. I love this man more than anyone else in the world, and I have never doubted that we should be spending the rest of our lives together. He is my best friend, and he understands my heart and my soul. He also tenderly cares for them, as no one else does. He loves me with such sincerity and devotion and fervor that I never question his heart.

Eleven years ago today, I didn't have butterflies in my stomach. I didn't feel nervous, just excited. I was certain of our commitment and anxious to make it public and permanent. It was a beautiful day, even with the Mississippi summer heat. We were surrounded by the love and support and presence of our family and friends. Many had even pitched in to help with our do-it-yourself-wedding-on-a-shoestring-budget. We had a friend take the pictures; a friend made the wedding cake; another friend made the groom's cake; a bunch of friends made food for the reception; a friend did the video; so many people helped make this day beautiful and unforgettable.

I'll never forget waking up on the morning of my wedding day--one of the very few days of my entire life when I actually didn't have trouble getting out of bed! I went to take my shower and eat breakfast and just felt like something should be different, like the normal morning routine should be something more elaborate. But it was actually quite nice. It may have even added to my feelings that what was going to happen that day was so good and so right and so . . . normal.

When I arrived in the church parking lot, I opened the trunk of my car to unload some of my things. As I did, I heard the screeching of tires behind me, and I turned around just in time to see a little red Acura Integra--Kevin's car--pull away. No, he didn't get cold feet. He just didn't want to see me before it was time!

When I was all ready--dressed in my white wedding gown and veil, my hair and make-up done "just so"--our wedding director delivered the message to Kevin that his bride was ready. (Kevin admits to feeling a few butterflies at that particular moment. After that, he was good.) We had decided that we would actually like to see and talk to each other before the wedding, so we did. They cleared out the sanctuary, and he waited for me down front. Someone opened the door for me, and I walked down the aisle to meet my groom. We both smiled as big as we ever have! It was an amazing moment, and we were able to laugh and talk and pray together--just the two of us--before the big celebration began.

The wedding ceremony itself was absolutely beautiful and perfect. It was full of music, which means a great deal to us. I can remember waiting out in the lobby before it was time for me to walk down the aisle and listening to the heartfelt worship songs being sung. I couldn't help singing with them. So I stood there holding my father's hand (He was a mess!) and sang "We Are an Offering" and "You Are Awesome in This Place." I would love to have sung along with every single song during the ceremony, but once I was in the sanctuary, I had to just listen. But my heart sang! It was so full and overflowing with love for my groom and worship for my Savior, who brought us together. Kevin and I did actually sing a song together during the ceremony. "Holy Father" was and still is the prayer of our hearts.

Holy Father,
As we stand before Your throne,
As we look upon Your face,
We confess Your matchless grace.
Lord and Savior,
We are nothing without You.
There is nothing we can do
But to serve and follow You.
And surrender
And surrender
To surrender
All our dreams,
All we are,
All that we are to become,
All our lives.

Eleven years ago today, I didn't marry the man of my dreams. He is actually so much more than I even knew to dream and hope for. He loves me, and he loves me well. Our time together so far has passed so quickly. We have three beautiful, amazing children who are reflections of both of us, and they are a testament to our love. We are richly blessed, and I do not take this for granted.

Eleven years ago today, I married Kevin Partridge! Happy anniversary, my love.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Two days ago my brother-in-law's mother died. His father died less than four years ago. Both endured long struggles with terminal illnesses, and now their two sons, Jeremy and Pete, are left in this world without their parents. Yes, they are grown men, but they are still too young to have lost both of their parents. When my sister Christy told her almost-six-year-old son that Grammy had died, he simply asked, "Already?"

Death is a strange and terrible creature, yet we are encouraged to view it with hopefulness, if the deceased was a Believer in Christ. I do believe this, but I don't think that necessarily makes it easier on us between here and Heaven. When someone we love dies, we miss them so very much. It hurts so much. And there's nothing at all in the world that we can do to bring them back. All we can do is relish the memories we have of and with them. And in Jeremy's and Pete's case, they can be thankful that their parents are no longer suffering in their earthly bodies that were so very sick.

But it still hurts.

Jeremy and Christy have two young boys. While the older son will have a few memories of his grandparents, the younger one won't have any, since he's only two years old. And Pete and his wife June haven't had any babies yet, which means that the paternal grandparents will never have held or known or even met their children. This breaks my heart, and I feel so spoiled that my children know and have relationships with all of their grandparents.

I didn't know Jeremy's and Pete's father very well, and I only knew their mother a little bit. She was a kind, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth kind of woman. She didn't want to be served or fussed over, but she'd be the first one to serve and fuss over others. She didn't believe in sitting still, so I can't imagine how hard it was for her when her body just wouldn't let her go and do anymore. I believe she loved her boys well, and I know how much they loved and admired her. I also know how much her grandsons loved going to Grammy's house.

In a couple of days, we'll have Barbara's funeral. It will be sad, and it will be hard. We just feel entitled to have our parents live to be really old and be able to see their grandchildren get married and provide them with great-grandchildren. But it doesn't always work that way. In fact, there are a whole lot of people who have lost both of their parents much earlier than this. And then again, there are plenty of people who have never even known so much as their parents' names. So I need to be thankful, even though there is death and grief. Even though it hurts.

I am praying tonight for Jeremy, Pete, and their families. I pray that God will comfort them in their sorrow and embrace them in their grief and pain. I pray that they will know and feel how much their mother/grandmother loved and cared for them and that, if she could, she would still be here for them.

There is no rhyme or reason in death. It simply is. But death is just as much God's creation as birth is. And that means that it is a beautiful thing, even if we can't understand it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Callie's Baptism

This past Sunday, Callie was baptized. She's been talking about wanting to be baptized for quite some time now, and her understanding about its significance was evident. She loves our God and desires to know and follow Him, and she was ready to make her statement of faith in front of her friends and family.

We were excited that so many of our family members were able to be there for the ceremony; it made the time even sweeter. Also there for the occasion were many members of our Small Group and other people from our church who have impacted Callie personally.

We met out at the Reservoir, uncertain about whether or not the rain would stop for us. Our good friends Josh and Katie were the first to arrive, and they (literally) ran to secure a picnic table for us! As more and more of us gathered, the clouds began to be blown away, and a beautiful blue sky was revealed. It was perfect.

My sister Julie and her husband Jay led us in a few worship songs that Callie personally requested. I knew it would happen--as soon as they began the first song, "Blessed Be Your Name," I could not hold back my tears. Music pierces my soul, and I get overwhelmed with love for my Savior, who is now also my daughter's Savior. These are my favorite tears.

Eventually I was able to join in the singing, and I loved watching Callie sing praises to her King! The second song we sang was "God of Wonders," which is a recurring favorite at our house, and then we sang "Thy Word." It was all so beautiful, especially being able to sing while overlooking the water.

Kevin then talked about our conversations with Callie about her salvation and baptism. One of my favorite images is the one in which he describes baptism as being like a wedding. When a couple gets married, they know long before the wedding that they love each other and are committed to one another, but the ceremony makes a statement to all who are there to witness it. In the same way, Callie has known of her love and commitment to Christ, but she wanted to make a public statement of her love and faith through baptism.

Earlier that day, Callie had sat down at her electric typewriter and pecked out these words on the keys, and she gladly read them aloud at her baptism. (Unfortunately, a boat was going by as she read it, so not everyone could hear.)

"I LOVE MY GOD, I know he is good. I want to follow him, and seek him only; for he is the king, the great I-am and I want to know who he is. But one thing is for sure-your love is everlasting. I know that you created everything-clouds to seas. You are the one I want to follow after, you are. Not mom, not dad, you. This is my decision, and I will always store in my heart that I have now showed everyone my choose. Follow or not? Follow. THAT'S MY DECISION."

If there has ever been a sincere and certain statement of faith--that's it! And it was totally unprompted. Simply what was in her eight-year-old heart. And it is beautiful.

After reading her statement, Callie followed her daddy into the water, and she was baptized in the muddy Reservoir as the rest of us watched from the shore. Such a glorious day!

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Wonderful Mother's Day!

Mother's Day began for me around 9:30 a.m. (This is already good!) with four-year-old Katie wishing me a "Happy Valentine's Day!" It was full of sweetness, and I didn't care that her days were confused. She gave me a big hug and kiss and then left the room. A couple of minutes later, all three of my children entered my bedroom singing "Happy Mother's Day to yoooooooouuu!" They carried in a tray with my breakfast on it (a very yummy bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit, made by all four of them), some pretty little purple and yellow flowers held in a glass Coca-Cola bottle, and hand-made cards. They smiled as big as they could and sang with great enthusiasm as I worked to open my eyes and make myself sit up in bed. Did I mention that Callie had her camera? Yes, those pictures will be lovely, for sure.

After eating my breakfast, I joined everyone in the kitchen, where Callie handed me a Mother's Day fun page that she created for me on her typewriter. First I was to complete a word find, and then I had to write an acrostic for "LOVE." Next we moved into the living room, where there were more festivities. I was given some beautiful potted pink flowers, which Katie picked out herself and was very proud of. Callie gave me a box of brownie mix. Perfect! Caleb gave me a hand-held fan that he made for me at school, and he was so excited about it--had been for a couple of weeks! And they had all worked together to create a coupon book for me with all sorts of wonderful things to redeem. However, there was a note at the beginning of the book letting me know that each coupon may only be used once. And as I redeemed them, Callie--my little rule-follower--was right there to check them off for me. I went ahead and redeemed one for a dance from Callie and a massage from Caleb. Both were quite nice.

After several minutes, I noticed that our dead palm in the corner of the living room had been replaced by a very large, very beautiful, and very living new palm! And then I noticed that Kevin had stained and put together two of our kitchen chairs (that we've had for FOUR years!), so that we no longer have to use random chairs around the table. YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!! Another wonderful gift from my husband is that he is going to let me hire a lady to come out and do some of the deep cleaning that I just really don't like to do and, therefore, don't do. I'm pretty pumped about this!

After the gift-giving, Callie wanted us to play some party games. She had prepared "Pin the Tail on the Donkey," but we didn't really play it. She also laid a broom across two of my newly-assembled chairs to play "Limbo." I pretty much just watched, because I don't think I would have even made it through the first round. Uncle Rico ended up winning. He's our dog.

When we were all dressed and ready to go, we set out for a picnic at Friendship Park. Kevin and Callie made sandwiches for all of us. The kids had fun on the playground, and we had fun pushing them in the swings. Then came our next treat--a little snowcone machine that Kevin and Caleb had purchased! We had three flavors to choose from, and Kevin really earned bonus points for remembering to bring along the sweetened condensed milk to pour on top of our snowcones. A wonderful treat!

From the park we went to the movie theatre and watched Earth. This was actually my request for the day, because I knew that we would all enjoy it. It is so beautifully done and so appropriate for Mother's Day, since all of the animal moms in the film are responsible for feeding, protecting, and teaching their young about just about everything. I could write a lot about my thoughts while watching this, but I'll save that for a later post. Each of us had our favorite moments in the film, but I think we all loved watching the baby birds take their first leap from the tree the most. So funny and so remarkable! The entire movie--observing the animals and their majestic surroundings--was a very worshipful experience for me. And Caleb thought it was cool that Darth Vader was the narrator.

Following the movie, we came back home, and Kevin grilled a delicious dinner of chicken, zucchini, squash, and potatoes, which we all enjoyed. He then asked the children to each say something that they love about me, and then we prayed together. As a last sweet treat for the day, Kevin and the kids surprised me with homemade vanilla ice cream from our new ice cream maker!

It was a really, really wonderful day. I am so spoiled by my family, who shower me with love and affection every day. These feelings are simply intensified on these designated holidays, and it means so much to me. Mother's Day is very special to me, because being the mother of Callie, Caleb, and Katie Partridge is so much of who I am. And I wouldn't want to be anyone else.

Teacher Appreciation??

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week at my children's school. So Callie and Caleb decided to make homemade cards for their teachers and their teachers' assistants. Callie's teacher actually just taught her class how to make pop-up cards, and Callie passed along this technique to Caleb as he made his own cards. They both enjoyed using the first letter of their teacher's last name as the three pop-ups in each of their cards, so Mrs. Russell would open hers up to find "RRR" jumping out at her. This was a great concept until it came time for Caleb to make a card for Mrs. Kennedy . . . who is black.

After Kevin and I spent a few minutes chuckling at our son's innocent mistake, Kevin took the time to explain to Caleb a little bit about the Ku Klux Klan. Horrified at the very idea of someone being mean to someone else because of the color of her skin, Caleb promptly changed one of the K's to a heart. Hopefully, Mrs. Kennedy likes her card. And if she doesn't, well, maybe she'll enjoy the PUPPY that Caleb is planning to bring her! (I really couldn't do that to the poor woman . . . )

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thoughts of a Benchwarmer

I have come across some of my writing from days gone by and thought it would be fun(ny?) to post some of it on my blog from time to time.

This poem was written as a journal entry in my 10th grade English class on September 30, 1990. It might explain why I'm not a poet. And why I quit basketball after 8th grade.

"Thoughts of a Benchwarmer"

Here I am once again
Sitting on the bench.
If he'd only put me out there,
I know it'd be a cinch!

Well, the game has started now,
And all the fans are yelling
For the players on the court;
You can see their heads just swelling!

C'mon, Coach, please put me out there
For just a little while.
I'll change that look upon your face
From rage into a smile!

Maybe he's waiting to put me in;
He's saving the best for last!
If he had put me in at the start,
The game would be over too fast!

Who am I kidding, besides myself?
I know I won't get to play.
Instead of sitting here warming the bench,
I could be watching "Happy Days"!

What's that I hear from the end of the bench?
Is Coach really talking to me?!
At last I'm getting to have a chance,
While the seconds are down to three.

Just give me the ball, and I'll win the game.
How hard can shooting be?!
I've got this thing all planned out,
And all the glory will come to me!

Now everyone is shouting again.
They seem to be shouting at me!
"Ball?! What ball?!", I ask the team;
It couldn't be coming to me!

But, alas, the ball is coming to me;
It's almost out of bounds!
And as I chase it out the door,
I hear the buzzer sound.

And as I return to the ball to Coach,
I look up at him in dread.
"I know, I know; I lost the game,
And I'll warm the bench till I'm dead!"

Friday, April 24, 2009


I wrote this for a publication, but they decided not to use it. So I thought I would publish it myself on here! It is geared toward female readers, but it works for guys, too . . .

By Carrie Bevell Partridge

Facebook. There are not many phenomena like it in the world. Where else can you view pictures of your college roommate's newborn baby, read a funny article posted by your co-worker, beat your best friend's score on an '80s movie quiz, wish your high school lab partner a happy birthday, watch a hilarious YouTube video posted by your cousin, find out what your girlfriends are doing or how they're feeling today through their Status Updates, and peruse messages written on your Wall by any number of your friends--all while enjoying your morning coffee?

For the first few years of Facebook's existence, which began in 2004, its use was limited to high school and college students. Then in 2006, the floodgates were opened, and millions of 20/30/40-somethings and beyond joined the network and began reconnecting with friends from all over the world. I personally joined the craze in 2007 and was amazed at how quickly and easily I was able to find and reconnect with people from places I had lived in the past, from churches, from college, from high school, and even from elementary school. Of course, I also found a plethora of people I was already currently connected to, but it's fun to be friends with them on Facebook, too.

There are plenty of skeptics who claim that Facebook is a waste of time. (Interestingly, some of those same skeptics became Facebook members anyway.) Others claim that the network merely fosters pseudo-relationships and a false sense of community. Admittedly, there is some truth to each of these claims. Many hours can certainly be wasted on the site--toying with the vast amounts of Applications that can be added to your account, browsing all the different Groups and Causes that can be joined, playing games and taking pointless (though fun) quizzes, etc. Also, the Facebook world certainly should not replace person-to-person interactions and conversations, nor should it keep you from being involved in your actual neighborhood.

On the same note, however, Facebook can serve as a means of adult interaction for women such as myself, who are stay-at-home moms or simply work from their homes and are not "out in the world" as much as others may be. It is faster than a phone call, and you can be connected at any time of the day to a number of different people simultaneously. Many women, in fact, are using Facebook to solicit advice and tips on anything from parenting to cooking to relationships to researching products. I was amazed at all the feedback I received when my husband and I were in the midst of deciding what kind of flooring to put down in our living room. It was really helpful, because I was hearing from people that I knew personally, about the different products that were actually in their homes. How's that for research? And speed!

When I was preparing to write this article, I posted on my Status Update: "Carrie Bevell Partridge is working on an article and needs to know why women (particularly) like Facebook. Feedback, please! " Within a very short while, I received 18 responses! Many of these women confessed that they are a bit nosy and enjoy reading about everybody's lives. (At least they're honest.) Others said that it's a time-saver, an easy way to feel connected to people, a great method for maintaining friendships after you've moved, an easy way to get advice from others, and a wonderful way to share pictures and updates of your children. The fact that it is free is also very appealing!

"It makes me feel I'm a part of the lives of my Facebook friends, even if they live on the other side of the country," says Julie Ingram Moody (who is married to one of my friends from college).

"I like it because it's any easy way to keep in touch with people, especially that I've lost contact with over the years. I also like it because I love sharing about my boys. It's also nice to be able to 'get away' even if it's just in cyberspace," observes Emily Burgess Carlew (a church friend from my childhood).

Ashlee (who is married to a church friend of mine from Maryland but whom I have never actually met in person) claims, "Facebook allows us to keep connections with others and get support and encouragement at the moment we need it because someone is always available. It's also fun to keep up with people that you probably would not have been able to do so otherwise. You can show off your kids and fun things they do and how they are growing, and people can come look when they have time, so it allows everyone to connect on their own time since we don't both have to be here at the same time to share a picture, thought, or something."

On the subject of why women are particularly drawn to Facebook, Kim Morgan Latkovic (a friend from high school) comments, "My guess is that women, in general, are more relationship oriented and naturally enjoy connecting with others."

If you have not yet joined the Facebook phenomenon, you really might want to give it a try. I've heard the excuse from some women that they are "too old" and that they would feel silly being on it. I can assure you, however, that age is not a factor here. Privacy concerns also cause some people to hesitate, but there are many settings options that will keep you as public or private as you would like to be. As a general rule, only those with whom you agree to be "friends" can see your profile anyway.

Once you decide to join Facebook, you will most likely be incredibly overwhelmed for the first little while, because you will start getting "Friend Requests" from all over the place. If you like, Facebook will go through your e-mail address book to see if any of those people have Facebook accounts. Other Facebookers will also be able to see that you are a new member through your high school or college information or through the "People You May Know" feature.

After the initial tidal wave of friends rolls through, your Facebook account will become as simple or as complex as you choose to make it. Just like e-mail (or any other communication), the more you put into it, the more you can expect in return. You can add every Application the network offers, or you can limit your page to simple messages. You don't have to be like me and check it three or four times a day! However you choose to manage it, I think that you will find it to be a very fun (okay, and addicting) social tool. Who knows? You might even reconnect with your long lost best friend from kindergarten.

As fun and funny as Facebook is, though, I have sincerely found it to be a means of ministry and Christian connection for me. I am able both to give and receive encouragement from other Christian mothers, in which case the element of SPEED that comes with the World Wide Web is particularly appreciated! (We've been able to talk each other through potty training frustrations, first days of school, and other emotional occurrances.) I have also been able to reach out to those who let it be known that they are hurting, by sending them messages of prayer and encouragement. In fact, as I was writing this very paragraph, I received an e-mail about a childhood friend whose sister died of cancer yesterday. Immediately I was able to send my friend a message through Facebook, telling him how sorry I was for his loss. That may sound too impersonal and informal to some people, but the fact is that I haven't seen this guy for many, many years and would not have been able to communicate with him at all otherwise.

This social network also provides easy ways for groups (such as Bible study groups, mission organizations, your circle of friends, etc.) to communicate with each other all at once. Many churches have their own pages, and I've recently seen magazine articles about the importance of pastors getting their own Facebook profile pages in order to be connected and communicate with their congregations. And to all you moms out there--if you have a teenager, you most definitely need to be on Facebook and become friends with your son or daughter and all of his or her friends, as well. (You can learn A LOT about a person through what is communicated Wall-to-Wall on Facebook!)

And as strange as this may sound, I believe that Facebook can even offer some chances for reconciliation between people. By that I mean that there may be a friend or acquaintance that you may have hurt in the past and have never apologized and made things right. If you have not been in communication with that person for a long time, you might be able to find him or her through Facebook and use that opportunity to do your part to mend that hurt, which could be healing for both of you. Not everything on Facebook has to be silly.

So whether you're 21 or 51, single or married, techy or technologically challenged, I would like to encourage you to get yourself a Facebook account. There are all sorts of great possibilities!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dealing with the Hard Stuff

I've been dealing with some pretty tough things lately. I read this article this afternoon in Today's Christian Woman, and it really spoke to me, so I wanted to share it. I need to read it a few more times!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Putting FEET to Your Faith?!

I wrote this a couple of years ago for an Easter week booklet that was created by my church, The Journey . . .

Personally I'm not all that fond of feet. Sure, they're very functional and necessary for things like walking and standing, but they aren't exactly lovely, in my opinion. In fact, they can be pretty gross at times--dirty, smelly, and adorned with a variety of lint and toe jam. And then there are the toenails. These can be pretty disgusting, too, especially if the nails are so long that they've started to curl over the ends of the toes.

Needless to say, I could never give anyone a pedicure, although I do enjoy being on the receiving end of one. Touching someone else's feet just isn't my gift. Of course, baby feet are a completely different thing. I've actually kissed the feet of all three of my babies many, many times! But that was when they were untouched, unworn. And I'm the one that washed them, so I knew they were clean! Washing an adult's feet, however, does not exactly get me excited. It seems to me to be among the lowliest of tasks. So when I read about Jesus voluntarily washing His disciples' feet, I am truly humbled.

Jesus said that He "did not come to be served, but to serve" (Matthew 20:28). Nothing was ever "beneath" Him; He was never "too good" to do something like wash someone else's dirty feet . . . and He was the Creator of the universe! Nothing was demanded of Him; everything was given by Him. And it was always given in love.

On this particular evening, which was to be His last here on earth, Jesus was having supper with His twelve disciples. He knew that He was going to be put to death in just a matter of hours, yet He continued to serve those around Him. For most of us, when asked the hypothetical question about how we would want to spend our final hours, the answer probably wouldn't be, "You know, I really think I'd like to wash a bunch of feet." But this is how Jesus showed His love for these guys. "He loved them to the end" (John 13:1).

When it was Peter's turn to have his feet washed, he tried to make himself look good by objecting. "Never shall You wash my feet!", he declared. But when Jesus answered, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me," Peter was quick to recant. "Lord, not my feet only," he said, "but also my hands and my head." (Can't you just picture Jesus trying hard not to roll His eyes at these guys sometimes?! Instead, He always gives them a calm explanation.) "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you," He said.

When Jesus made this statement, He was referring to Judas, one of the ones who was closest to Him but who was planning to betray Him. If it were me, I probably would have made a big scene about Judas' plot and certainly could not have washed his feet. But that's me, and I am full of sin and pride. Jesus, who is full of righteousness and love, wanted to make sure that even this man knew how much He loved him. He didn't snub him and skip over him; in fact, He probably took even more care when washing Judas' feet, because that's His character. Jesus did let Judas know that He was aware of his intention, but even this was done in humility.

At the end of this foot-washing ceremony, Jesus does give some more explanation. He challenges the disciples to follow His lead, saying, "If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you." At this point, they may have been wondering, "Does He mean for us to get up right now and do it, or are we supposed to do it later? . . . Are we just supposed to wash each other's feet or other people's, too? . . . He said we're supposed to do as He did, but I started daydreaming for a minute and didn't pay attention. I hope He does it again . . . "

I'm pretty sure that Jesus' example to His followers went beyond the washing of feet, though. As I said before, this practice just seems to be among the lowliest, so His challenge was for them to purposely place themselves in a position of humility, doing something that was not required of them, and doing it simply out of love for one another. I'm also pretty sure that Jesus' example was not merely for the twelve guys eating supper with Him that evening. It extends to all of us who call ourselves followers of Christ.

In our American society, it is not our nature to look first for ways to serve others before serving ourselves. (People usually only wash our feet if they are getting paid to do so!) We tend to reserve the "real" serving for week-long mission trips or special projects around Thanksgiving and Christmas. In between, it's all too easy to get caught up in self-service, making sure our own pedicures are flawless. All the while, there are people around us who desperately need their feet simply to be washed . . . or their hands to be held, their tears to be dried, their bodies to be clothed, their words to be heard, their feelings to be acknowledged, or their hearts to be encouraged. Service takes on many forms. Jesus is our ultimate example, and He did much, much more than just wash feet. And while we can't do everything He did, we can ask Him to show us how He wants us to serve those around us in daily, practical ways. And, yes, that might mean having to touch someone's feet . . . toe jam and all!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Get Your Portrait Done!

My brother-in-law, Jerrod Partridge, is now painting, drawing, and teaching full-time with a focus on portraiture. So if you or someone you know needs a portrait done, give him a call! You can find information on his website:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy Campers

We did it! The Partridge family went on our first just-the-five-of-us camping trip this past week. The kids and Kevin were the most excited about it, but I was excited, too. We ended up having to put the trip off a day because of all the rain, but the extra preparation time was good for us. We took a family trip to Target the night before we left to get some extra supplies and then rewarded ourselves with ice cream from Sonic.

Tuesday morning was spent gathering last-minute items and piling them all by the door for Kevin to pack in the van. By lunchtime we were all set. We made one last stop at McDonald's on our way out, and the kids got their coveted Happy Meals, and we sat out in the sunshine to enjoy our food and the start of our adventure. About an hour later, we arrived at Roosevelt State Park in Morton, MS, checked in, and found our site--#38.

The kids could hardly contain themselves. Callie was wanting to be all in charge and go blaze a trail or something. The pioneer woman in her really came out on this trip! Everyone was immediately--though happily--put to work. Everyone helped put up the tent; each child got to drive a stake into the ground. And we all helped gather firewood. We explored our site, made sure we knew where the bathroom was, and introduced ourselves to our "neighbors," who were just about the nicest people we've ever met. They were a middle-aged couple who were remembering bringing their own children on camping trips, and they loved that we were on our first big trip. They were also really helpful in letting us borrow a broom and some fishing supplies; they let the kids watch while they cleaned fish (ewww); they brought us some extra firewood; and they even brought us some homemade cake. Callie made a thank-you card for them, and the lady gave each of the kids a big hug before they left. The kids just loved our "neighbors"!

I'd have to say that I don't think the weather could have been any more perfect. It was in the 70s during the day, and it was just a little chilly at night--cool enough to sit pleasantly by the campfire and to snuggle up in sleeping bags to sleep. All five of us were snuggled together in our tent, which was fun. And we all slept pretty well, I'd say. As we were drifting off, we could look up through the mesh window in the roof of the tent and see the stars peeking through the towering pine trees. It was really beautiful. And I spent some of that drifting-off time pondering how big and wonderful and creative our God is.

Our food was pretty basic, but it was good. Hamburgers one night; hot dogs the next; and S'Mores both nights, of course. Kevin also cooked breakfast for us--scrambled eggs, sausage, grits. And we made my coffee right on the fire, which was fun. It tasted really good.

I think that Callie's favorite task was chopping firewood! All the kids really enjoyed using the hatchet, but Callie was the one who used it the most. I think she found great satisfaction in chopping wood; it gave her a sense of accomplishment and contribution, I think. She was really good at it, actually, and she has a blister to show for it.

Overall, we took it pretty easy. We walked around a lot, fed the ducks in the lake, played on the playground, played soccer (sort-of), did a little bit of fishing (didn't catch anything with our little Spider Man fishing pole, the line of which I managed to wrap around a tree in the water on my first try), did some reading, visited our friends who were there at the same time, saw some deer in a deer pen, and just kind-of observed things around us. One of the highlights for me was getting to take a nearly hour-long hike by myself around part of the lake. (I found someone's cell phone in the street and managed to find out where their campsite was to return it.)

Sitting together at night by the campfire was also delightful, as I knew it would be. We all sat really close together and laughed and ate S'Mores. And a few times we played what we call "Build a Story," where one person starts a story, and we all take turns adding a sentence or two until we feel like the story is complete. Everyone had great contributions, and our stories involved things like a raccoon that goes to Target and a marshmallow that gets put on a special "Don't Eat Me" stick (but gets turned into a S'More anyway). It was hard for the kids to stick to just one or two sentences when it was their turn.

So the first Partridge family all-out camping trip was a success. Two nights was just right, because it left us all (yes, even me) wanting more. That's a good note to leave on.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

An Unforgettable Trip

A year ago my husband Kevin and I celebrated our tenth anniversary by taking a trip to London and Paris! It was so exciting. We booked the trip right before Christmas and had between then and Spring Break to get ready for it. This involved getting our passports (They wouldn't let me use the one I got in tenth grade.), arranging for someone to take care of our three children for more than a week, finding someone to house-and-dog-sit, etc., etc.

Everything fell into place beautifully. The grandparents happily agreed to keep the kids for us; our friend Josh said he would watch the house and Uncle Rico (our dog) for us; and our passports came in plenty of time. We also did our research by asking all of our friends who had ever lived in or visited London or Paris to give us their lists of the "must-sees" in these places. Priorities were important, since time was of the essence--We would only have three days in each city.

We planned our course carefully and packed our bags lightly (in my opinion). We took all the necessary precautions, right down to making out our will (Gulp). We borrowed travel guides and money/ID holders to wear; we contacted our friends in London and knew exactly what to do once we landed; we arranged for our friends in Atlanta to take us to and from the airport and also keep our car for us while we were gone; and we made sure we knew what we could and could not pack in our carry-ons. We were taking care of every little detail in order to ensure an unforgettable trip.

So early that Sunday morning, we rose from our beds in Jackson and began our adventure. We made the six-hour drive to Atlanta, only stopping in Birmingham to eat lunch and use the copier at a Staples store to make copies of our passports. (I told you we were taking all precautions!) We arrived in Atlanta right on schedule and even had time to hang around with our friends Daniel and Angela before time to head to the airport.

Still right on schedule--and oh, so proud of ourselves--Angela dropped us off at the curb in front of the Atlanta airport. As we were getting out, we made sure we had all our bags, and I asked Kevin to get out the passports. To which he said, "I don't have them. You do." So I started digging around in my purse . . . then in my bags . . . then in Kevin's bags . . . then in the car . . . Eventually I was on my knees on the sidewalk--hopelessly, fruitlessly looking through all of our luggage for those passports. I had the black-and-white photocopies, mind you. But where were the actual passports??

Where were they? They were face-down . . . on the copy machine . . . at Staples . . . in Birmingham . . . two hours away.

Our hearts sunk to the bottoms of our feet. I have truly never experienced a feeling quite like it. We went from bubbly excitement to extreme despair in fifteen seconds flat. Without much hope of success, we decided to go inside anyway and talk to someone from the airline to see if there was anything at all we could do about our situation. After all, we DID have photocopies! Good grief.

After getting the answers we expected, we went ahead and rebooked our flight for the next day. Now out one-third of our time in London--and a hefty chunk of change for having to rebook--we dragged ourselves back out to the curb and got back into the car. What can you do? All we could do was laugh, sort-of, to keep from bursting into tears of disappointment.

The redemptive factor in it all? Well, it really was not the fault of just one of us, which was a huge blessing, really. Could you imagine starting out a big anniversary trip angry at your spouse for costing you a bunch of money and a day? No, we had both gone into Staples, both stood at the copier, and both walked away from the copier without those little blue books in our hands. So we were both to blame. But we didn't blame anyone.

Instead we enjoyed some extra time with our wonderful friends and got to eat some of our favorite food at Chipotle! We tried not to think about the "what ifs" and just concentrated on the time that was still ahead of us. We also called the manager at Staples to make sure our passports were still, in fact, on the copier. They were.

Early the next morning, we got back in our car, drove the two hours back to Birmingham, went into Staples, walked right back out (little blue books in hand this time), got back in our car, drove the two hours back to Atlanta, went back to the airport, and this time GOT ON THE PLANE!

At this point, there was no looking back. We had a very nice flight to London. Once we got there, we saw as many of the sights as we could, bowed and curtseyed in the general direction of the Queen, paid our respects to some royal dead guys, ate some fish and chips, rode the Tube ("Mind the gap!"), pointed to Big Ben, bought some souvenirs for the kids, slept a little, and moved along to Paris.

We enjoyed Paris more than London, actually. There seemed to be more color there, and the people didn't seem as rushed and stern. We ate some wonderful food, saw some beautiful art, did a lot of walking, and wished we spoke French. It was a great place, and we would love to visit there again some day.

All in all, our tenth anniversary trip was absolutely wonderful! When we got home, we couldn't wait to share our pictures and stories, save one. We just couldn't bring ourselves to confess our foul-up to anyone--especially our families, who probably would never let us live it down. But it's been a year now, and since the memory isn't quite as painful as it once was, we decided to tell the story. (I just might not allow any comments on this post.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Little Girl, Big Goals

In January, our little family had a discussion about setting goals for ourselves for this year. Things like learning to tie shoes, riding a bike without training wheels, working on swimming skills, and learning to blow a bubble with gum were mentioned by my 4, 6, and 8-year-old children. I thought these were great! What has been even greater to me, though, is the fact that every few days since then, one of them will exclaim, "I thought of another goal!" I just think that this is really wonderful and am pleased that they are giving it so much thought.

Today as Katie and I were riding in the car, she said, "Mommy, I thought of two more goals for me!"

"Really?," I said. "What are they?"

"I want to learn to be patient and to be nice to everybody."

"Wow, Katie! I think those are really wonderful goals!," I said, thinking that my four-year-old had wisdom beyond her years.

"And I don't even know what 'patient' means!," she said almost proudly.

Smiling to myself, I began to explain. "Well, being patient means that--"

"Hey! I can't get this unlocked!," she interrupted.

Case in point, I thought.