Monday, August 25, 2008

Dish Duty

I’ve mentioned before that most of my cousins are older than me ...

I have beautiful, stylish, smart cousins. They had (and have) interesting conversation, they had (and have) cool friends, and wore (and still wear) great clothes. Best of all, they didn’t totally ignore me. Well, most of the time, anyway. Once I got my fingers slammed in a door. Once I caused a 3-wheeler wreck into a railroad ditch. But more often I got to sit in the shadow of really great women. I couldn't wait to be them.

For several summers, English got stuck carting us from Grandma’s house to the pool when we were visiting. She probably didn’t choose that duty, but she shouldered it like a champ — letting us sing along in the car, not pretending she didn’t know us, introducing us to her friends. In fact, she acted like we were her friends And Angie had a job at some store or company that made bags. Cool bags, too. Once she spent the whole day at Grandma’s teaching us how to put on make-up. And then a few days later, we got a package in the mail. We were the first girls we knew who had great hippie bags — probably the first and only time in my life I was on top of a trend.

Some of my earliest memories of being at my Grandma’s house are of watching the older girls wash dishes together. They’d talk about school, boys they were dating or might date or would never date, shopping trips …. unimportant stuff, really. I dreamed of being part of that. I couldn’t wait for the day when I’d be old enough to be included in washing the dishes that our family generated when we were together. And one day, there I was. Towel in hand, ready to dry the forks, knives, spoons, glasses, plates. Being asked about school, boys … my opinion. I had arrived.

And just for Mike, because he loves this story …
My first trip to Clemson University happened when I was in second grade (thanks, Mrs. Banks). We checked out the Agriculture stuff, sciences building, Frank Howard Field at Memorial Stadium (a.k.a. Death Valley) … and then, the cafeteria. We were rolling along, the second graders in awe of the college students, the orange Tiger Paws on the streets and Danny Ford. And then I became the coolest of all second-graders because there, in an inside-out sweatshirt, was Krista, one of my cousins. Yes, you read that right. INSIDE OUT SWEATSHIRT. Did she run and hide? Pretend not to notice me? Nod and smile and go on about her business? No. She hugged us (me and my Mom - the best chaperone ever) and ditched her college friends to have lunch with us.

So … thanks to Tara, Angie, Krista, English, Shane and Ashley …for not being too annoyed with me, for driving me around, teaching me to draw lightning (Go Flashes!), letting me watch Top Gun with you, for lunch in Clemson, sharing your clothes (I will return them!!), for reading my blog … for being great women, great cousins, great friends. Love y’all.

Friday, August 22, 2008


As you may (or not) know, The West Wing is my favorite show (right up there with Buffy: the Vampire Slayer). Here's a little tale on wisdom & prayer & hearing the answers we think we should hear ...

Bartlet: I know it's hard to believe, but I prayed for wisdom.
Father Cavanaugh: And none came?
Bartlet: It never has. And I'm a little pissed off about that.
Father Cavanaugh:You know, you remind me of the man that lived by the river. He heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town. And that all the residents should evacuate their homes. But the man said, “I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.” The waters rose up. A guy in a row boat came along and he shouted, “Hey, hey you! You in there. The town is flooding. Let me take you to safety.” But the man shouted back, “I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.” A helicopter was hovering overhead. And a guy with a megaphone shouted, “Hey you, you down there. The town is flooding. Let me drop this ladder and I’ll take you to safety.” But the man shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed, that God loved him and that God will take him to safety. Well... the man drowned. And standing at the gates of St. Peter, he demanded an audience with God. “Lord,” he said, “I’m a religious man, I pray. I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?” God said, “I sent you a radio report, a helicopter, and a guy in a rowboat. What the hell are you doing here?” [pause] He sent you a priest, a rabbi, and a Quaker, Mr. President. Not to mention his son, Jesus Christ. What do you want from him?

Dream No. One

Dream No. 1: 62.9 Million Dollars
Caught your attention, didn’t I? Well, it sure caught mine. And in the spirit of Bob Dylan, I’ve decided to write down my dreams …

I had a dream that I won the lottery. No, I don’t “play” the lottery, so there’s virtually no chance that I will ever win the lottery. But still, the dream was so real, I woke up thinking how much people would love me now that I’d won the lottery. I woke up thinking about the new house we were about to build, about the trusts we’d set up for our children, the scholarships we could endow. About the good we could do with 62.9 million dollars.

And then I really woke up. I reached over and woke Mike up to tell him about my dream. He said, “62.9 million dollars. That’s kind of a weird amount. Pretty specific. Maybe you should go buy a lottery ticket.” That’s the kind of guy he is — one who doesn’t laugh at your dreams, even if they are of the laughable variety.

But we started talking and for some reason, we started “spending” the 62.9 million dollars.
Mike: You know, there are fees with winning the lottery. You’ll have to decide if you want it all at once or if you want to get it little bits at a time.
Me: I’ll take it all at once, that way it’s done (like a cookie, done).
Mike: OK, well, that means you’ll end up with about half.
Me: OK, so now I’ve got about 31 million dollars. What should I do first?

And so we came up with a spending plan. (No, we really don’t have this much free-time, but we’re both home during the day, so we talk about insane things like winning a 62.9 million dollars that I won in a dream).

Here’s what we came up with:
3.1 million to Young Life (yeah, our high school friends would really love us!)
1.5 million to the BS Church of God—my cousin’s husband Pastor’s this tiny church and they’d love to buy property to one day have room to grow.
1.5 million to BSFBC—our church. We would love to provide a new bus for our Children’s Ministry, we’d love to help the English as a Second Language program that our church historian, Evelyn Henderson has so tirelessly worked with for many, many years. And other programs that we love there.
1.5 million to Rice Bowls. Really, do I need to explain this further?
1.5 million to Inc (Involvement Through Newspapers and Civics)

At this point it’s important to note that we’d “spent” roughly 9.1 million dollars, leaving us with an imaginary 21.9 million dollars. And we had a pretty lengthy discussion about how really, disgustingly rich people go through life with insane amounts of money and find enough worthwhile ways to spend it. And I should mention that when we told my father-in-law about my dream, he suggested we invest wisely and live off the interest of our investments. So that was a factor. We went on to plan …
1.5 million — To buy property and build a new home (I won’t go in to the plans, but know that there was extensive talk of what our new home should have).
2 million — For both sets of parents to use as they saw fit (Even in my dreams I’m trying to trick my in-laws in to thinking I’m wonderful)
1.5 million — (each) Trusts for our children (Again, know that there were stipulations, but I can’t even begin to go there!)

We’re down to 15.4 million imaginary dollars — important to say since it’s possible we were getting a little carried away with our imaginary winnings.

So we thought that we’d provide for our nieces and nephews. So, a large chunk (about 3 million) would go in trust for them.

Now, we wanted to have a gardener who would bail our hay; my friend, Summer, suggested that I hire her to wash my hair everyday; I insisted that I’d need someone to clean my house so I’d have time to do good in the community, be a room-mother, and ride my horses (not necessarily in the order). Mike still wanted to work, but liked the idea of not having to work (therefore negating the fear that comes every time someone whispers layoffs). But outside of that, we were stumped. I mean, I’m sure we’d spend a lot on trips (the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Australia — for the zoo, of course — Greece … ), and we hoped to make some wise investments, but that was it. We were finished spending (although we would probably still end up giving $25 a year to the State Troopers).

So, how would you spend your 30.1 million dollars (after fees, of course)? And if you want to give to any of my favorites, just click on the name of the organization and find out more about them. And also, tell me about other non-profits or worthy causes that you love. Or check them out by following my link to the Charity Navigator to see how much of what you give goes to the cause (although some are still too small to make it to their list).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Have My Own River

My Daddy grew up in a tiny town in the Low Country of South Carolina called Gresham. My Grandma lived all of her married life in Gresham, and so every summer, every Thanksgiving and lots of times in between, we made the four hour car trip from the Upstate to Gresham.

On the way, my sister and I would mostly sleep, read, or argue. My Mom seemed to be forever painting her toenails. And Daddy drove. We'd leave on Friday afternoon when he got home from work, so it was usually pretty late when we got there. And as much as we couldn't wait to see Grandma, there was a great thing that had to happen before we got to Gresham. We had to cross the Great Pee Dee River.

My Papa died when I was in the third grade. I wish I could say that I have incredible, vivid memories of him, but I don't. I know that he walked with a limp - he was born with a club foot. I know that he drove an old green truck - I don't know the make or model. I know that as an adult I've learned a lot about the man who was my Daddy's Father, many things that hurt my heart and have changed the way I thought of my Papa. I know that as an old man he was proud of us - his grandchildren. Years after he passed away, I would sneak and go through the treasures he left behind. Pictures of my cousins (most of whom were in high school or college when he passed away), newspaper clippings, notes written on scraps of paper about one or the other of us, art work from school or church. I remember being jealous that my older cousins had more time to make him proud, that he'd made note of them.

But the memories I have of him are few. I remember the smell of his pipe, how he'd ask us to help him take off his shoes, that he put his contacts in at the kitchen table and that Grandma always spread newspaper under his plate at the kitchen because he was so messy. One thing that I recall vividly about my Papa was his love for the Great Pee Dee River. He loved the River so much - maybe more than he loved some of his own family. It was not something he could wrap up in a pretty bow or put away towards a college education, or put in a trust for our futures. But it was a gift that he gave each of us at some point.

Grandma and Papa had taken us to the Country Kitchen for a bottled Pepsi, then to the River to check Papa's traps. He was showing us things along the riverbank - what I don't recall now - but he told us (my sister and I) - that the River was his, and that he was giving it to us, to his "Grans". I don't remember him telling us what we were supposed to do with the River, and as a very little girl I remember wondering how I was supposed to hold on to it - it was, after all, a pretty big gift. I know now that the River is a part of my family, a friend who welcomes us each time we cross her bridge, an integral part of the story of my family's life. And I know that while the Great Pee Dee River is mine, it has also belonged to my Daddy, to his sisters and brother, to my cousins, and now to my children. But just like it can't be wrapped up in pretty paper, it can't be caught and held. It's ever-changing, shifting ... working its way to the sea.

stealing from Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides ...

"... the moon lifted a forehead of stunning gold above the horizon, lifted straight out of the filigreed, light-intoxicated clouds that lay on the skyline in attendant veils. Behind us, the sun was setting in a simultaneous congruent withdrawal and the river turned to flame in a quiet duel of gold ... The new gold of moon astonishing and ascendant, the depleted gold of sunset extinguishing itself in the long westward slide, it was the old dance of days in the Carolina marshes, the breathtaking death of days before the eyes of children, until the sun vanished, its final signature a ribbon of bullion strung across the tops of water oaks. The moon then rose quickly, rose like a bird from the water, from the trees, from the islands, and climbed straight up --gold, then yellow, then pale yellow, pale silver, silver-bright, then something miraculous, immaculate, and beyond the silver, a color native only to southern nights. "

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Catching UP

Well, while Mike has been busy blogging about BigFoot & Olympic Trampoline, I have not been busy blogging. At all. I have been busy getting prepared and through the first days of taking DJ to school, ironing clothes, folding clothes, avoiding cleaning the kitchen at all costs (I'd post a pic, but you'd call DHEC, and then where would we live?), I've been especially busy praying for friends who need/want/deserve/don't deserve (ha!)/don't want prayer, praying for my family & my children, first soccer practices, budgeting, and all manner of things that are required of me/us weekly/daily/hourly! So, here I am to catch up. So how are you guys? What's new? What's boring? Here's the recap for the last um ... month ...

Well, you know Mike is home. And as much as I'm so thankful that he's home, he ruined the schedule we'd finally adopted. El didn't remember him, DJ missed him so much he could hardly sleep for wanting to tell him all the great stuff we did (and didn't) do while he was gone. Then Caroline had surgery ... and on & on. And finally, we were back on a schedule, even if it did involve El screaming at Mike from around Noon until I got home around 3.

And let me just say, the whole house has suffered for it. No, I don't mean the people of the house - I literally mean the physical house. Mike & I are super, highly allergic (think shots, antibiotics, oatmeal baths - for up to 6 weeks the last time) to Poison Oak, Sumac, Ivy ... any thing with a rhyme reminding you not to touch it. So we can't weed-eat (not that either of us really want to), we can't weed the flower beds, we can't cut grass under the trees ... I hope you're getting the idea. Our yard is barely getting basic care until fall when all the "poisons" die down. And did I mention the kitchen? yuck.

But it's finally all coming back together, which is why you've not seen hide nor hair of me for, oh, a while.

Last week we registered DJ for 5K. WOW. This involved a trip to his school to meet the teacher, fill out endless paper work, check out the school (ie: see the cafeteria) and an almost unsuccessful search for the perfect lunchbox (ie: StarWars). And did I mention the school supplies? Notebooks, crayons, scissors, erasers, writing tablet, gluesticks, pencils ... But we got it all (thanks to my Mom, who searched tirelessly for the lunchbox that we were unsuccessful in finding) ... and then we got ready for school. 5K is an all day thing, if you didn't know. It involves having the right shoes for the right day (PE 2 days a week requires tennis shoes), it involves getting up early (6:10) and leaving an hour later to get there on time, it involves knowing your letters & numbers, who has the most & best video games (not us, since I'm actively boycotting the purchasing of any games or game systems), who has the best toys (possibly us since my mother & mother-in-law keep DJ stocked in all things Lego, Star Wars, Power Rangers, SpiderMan, Speedracer ... you get the idea).

And yesterday was the big day. Mike & El slept in while DJ & I got up at 6 for a leisurely breakfast (he requested chicken & rice, and so that's what he had) ... we headed out the door at 7:20 and after 10 minutes waiting in the carpool line, it was our turn. I was ready to park & walk him, but he said, "No, Mama. I remember where it is." And so, out he climbed, Star Wars lunchbox proudly clutched in his hand and off he went with a little wave. I laughed, and that kept me from crying.

And did I mention soccer? Yep. Soccer. I love volleyball, I know basketball; Mike loves baseball & football & Olympic Trampoline. But neither of us know soccer. So what, you ask, are the two of us doing coaching soccer? Well, I'll tell you. We're being laughed at by other parents, by children, by college athletes passing by. But by George, we're having fun. And really, that's what it's all about - or so the other parents laughingly tell us. Good thing no one actually expects their kids to learn anything this season. And if they do, thank goodness for Joe (one of the laughing parents) who not only has played soccer, has actually coached and taught us some drills. Thankfully, we expect him to be at every practice.

Okay ... so now it's time for prayer requests as I close out this post ... it's a long list, so bear with me ...
  • Pray for me. I covet your prayers & here's what I ask that you pray for: patience & a willing spirit to clean my house (that's not a joke), better budgeting of my time & self-control;
  • Pray for Mike. He loves his job and has so much integrity for journalistic endeavors, but it's a stressful world right now; pray for him as a Dad & a coach, for patience and gentleness in modeling Fatherhood to our children;
  • Pray for our children, DJ & El, that the favor of God & men will be on them, that they will know the Holy Spirit, that they will be friends & compassionate towards one another and others;
  • Pray for my Mom, Beth. She teaches 5k - need I say more? She's also a full-time parent to my 4 & 1/2 year old nephew;
  • Pray for my Dad, Jimmy. He's a banker, a golfer, a grandfather & father, and caretaker over our whole family, still. And did I mention the full-time parenting of a certain 4 & 1-2 year old? He lives and breathes stress;
  • Pray for my nephew, Brayson. He started 4k yesterday;
  • Pray for Emily, who began her teaching career today as a Christian Education teacher;
  • Pray for Bert & Bethany, who are trying to sell their home & get established in a new place;
  • Pray for Adrian & Lyn, who are parents to 4 precious children (triplets & an older sibling!) as they go back to work & start a new job;
  • Pray for Stacie, who began her teaching career yesterday, 4th grade;
  • Pray for Michelle & Jason as they seek God's place for them;
  • Pray for Angie, who is expecting in a sweet baby girl in Sept.;
  • Pray for Daniel, as he takes over the duties as Area Director of Young Life, Aiken, looking for a church, grown-up friends, and high school friends;
  • Pray for Tara, whose ankle is still sore from a nasty break & as she goes back to teaching this Fall;
  • Pray for Brittany, who started her Senior Year of high school;
  • Pray for rain as we endure a drought; pray for gentleness, kindness, wisdom for friends, family and those of you who stopped by to read this blog; Pray for people I may not always have warm thoughts toward & pray for leadership at all levels ...

And since you're so kind to pray for me & mine, will you let me pray for you? Be specific so that I can pray for you & yours (you can post your reqeusts in the comments section, or e-mail me at

And those are the things & people I can think of right now ... so, when you pray be reminded that "the Spririt helps us in in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" Romans 8:26 (NIV).

I'll post some pictures soooooooon ... XO!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

DJ showing his "I'm-not-getting-my-way" look ... don't worry, there was a haircut shortly after the pic was taken - now he's business in the front & party in the back ... we'll fix before school starts!!

Do you notice anything strange about this one? Yes,this is my sweet Elly Belly STANDING. Not quite 7 months and already crawling, pulling up & cruising. Baby gates are being erected as I type ...

And last, for now ... POPSICLE FACE. Ah, the joys of summer!