Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And I Read (2013 Edition)

In January

I looked forward to my theme: "That's What He Said."
I started writing a "just for fun" kids' novel.
Haydn's retests showed him having made HUGE progress.
Incredible homesickness plagued me.
David came home to start his homeschool journey.
I started Project Life.
I turned 31.
A set of my photos was published in Lunch Ticket.

And I Read

1000 Gifts by Anne Voskamp^
True by Katherine Hannigan
Crazy English by Richard Lederer*
Peeled by Joan Bauer
Hero by Mike Lupica**
Sources of Light by Margaret McMullan

In February

I began moderating Thursdays on Middle Places' Facebook community.
1-2 mile walks became a daily habit.
There was dental work.
I began daily turning my "writing career" over to Jesus.
We studied Henry VIII in our history book.

And I Read

Quit It by Marcia Byalick*
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot*
Incendiary by Chris Cleave
The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister
Dave Dravecky by Dave Dravecky*

In March

We had snow.
Tara Mock kept me sane via text.
We took a field trip to the Brooks Museum in Memphis.
I stretched my daily walk to three miles.
I was a guest blogger at Middle Places.
Haydn turned 11 and got his Hogwarts letter.
We started the PEERs program at the Autism Center.
We visited SC and had an awful family-wide stomach virus

And I Read

A Haydn biography*
Love Songs by Sara Teasdale
Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock
What Was She Thinking by Zoe Heller**
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Extra Credit by Andrew Clements**
The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman

In April

Corey sent Rosie and I to see Chonda Pierce.
Dana mailed me books. Yay!
We began sponsoring Nathali through Compassion International.
I took a novel-writing class.
I fell in love with Scrivener.
My gelato habit was, at least, cheaper than a flight to Seattle.
Haydn started baseball practice for the season.
I went gluten free, temporarily.
David helped my friend, Desi, with graduate school work.
My story was part of Josh's World's End project.

And I Read

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling**^
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Room One by Andrew Clements**
William Shakespeare: Poetry for Young People*
Chomp by Carl Hiaasen*
The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
The Gone and the Going Away by Maurice Manning
The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg**
Story of the World: Volume II by Susan Wise Bauer*
Strip Tease by Carl Hiaasen
Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott
I Am Not Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos**

In May

David had a choir performance at church.
I lost 5 lbs.
There was a med switch.
I went shopping with my friend, Suzanna.
Haydn finished 5th grade.
David finished 3rd grade.

And I Read

Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller*
Red Letter Revolution by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo
Who Was Leonardo Da Vinci by Roberta Edwards*
Absent a Miracle by Christine Lehner
No Talking by Andrew Clements**
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech**
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket**
Who Was Queen Elizabeth by June Eding*
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

In June

We remembered Nattie on the 6-yr anniversary of her death.
Corey was commissioned as an elder in the United Methodist Church.
We were "flocked."
I dealt with some unexplained extreme arm pain.
The boys went to VBS (Haydn's last year).
I fell in love with Firefly.
I spent an entire week with Leila.
Haydn played an All-Star baseball tournament.
I hit 16 lbs lost.
We did a nature walk on the Natchez Trace.
Mandy bought her wedding dress.

And I Read

The Glass Wives by Amy Sue Nathan
The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis**
Holy Ghost Girl by Donna Johnson
We End in Joy by Angela Fordice Jordan
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor**
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen*
The Gunslinger by Stephen King
Poemcrazy by Susan G Wooldridge^
American Thighs by Jill Conner Browne**
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling**
Nootka Rose by Sam Hamill
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donal Miller

In July

Corey took the youth on a mission trip to Epworth Children's Home.
The boys and I stayed with my parents in SC.
I ate the most delicious miniature wedding cake ever in the history of the world.
I went shopping with Kimmi, saw a movie with Ashley and spent time with Rebecca.
There was a lot of rewriting.
I put new flowers on Lynn's grave.
The boys and I were paused in a drive by a horse loose on the Interstate.
Rhonda took me to work for Take Your Poet to Work Day.
We introduced the youth to Mr. Bunky's.
The boys went to Camp Lake Stephens.

And I Read

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson**^
A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans
The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma**
Nation by Terry Pratchett**
Lost and Found by Andrew Clements**
Troublemaker by Andrew Clements**
The Sky Beneath my Feet by Lisa Samson
First Light by Rebecca Stead**
Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi
Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

In August

I was still revising and rewriting Tornado.
We started back to homeschool.
I created a couple of handwritten poetry volumes.
Peyton completed sketches for Tornado.
I reviewed a handful of books for NetGalley.com.
There were Starbucks dates with Rachel.
A notebook was filled with a handwritten story.
I started teaching myself to speak Spanish.
I fit into a pair of size 6 jeans.

And I Read

Miss Anne in Harlem by Carla Kaplan
The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
100 Best Loved Poems by Philip Smith*^
The Pentrals by Crystal Mack
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams**^
Bitter Like Orange Peel by Jessica Bell
Jim Thorpe by Carrie Golus*
The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli*
Hero Tales by Dave Jackson*
Still Writing by Dani Shapiro
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

In September

I turned in my manuscript and FORGOT PAGE NUMBERS.
There was a massive need for cough medicine in my life.
I wrote an author bio I actually like.
With my passport application process complete, Israel started feeling real.
I returned to the labyrinth and fed my soul.
My mornings began with cuddling my neighbor's baby girl.

And I Read

Highway Cats by Janet Taylor Lisle**
The Anatomy of Wings by Karen Foxlee
Ketchup is a Vegetable by Robin O'Bryant
In the Woods by Tana French
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Rules by Cynthia Lord**
The Likeness by Tana French
Coming Into Eighty by May Sarton
Faithful Place by Tana French
How Did You Get This Number by Sloan Crosley**

In October

Haydn spent a week with his grandparents in TN.
Our cat was diagnosed with cancer.
I spent a lot of time on Pinterest, pinning scenes from Israel.
Our government closed the Grand Canyon.
I got my first pair of prescription sunglasses.
The boys and I made butter beer.
I began working to break my youngest kid's video game addiction.
Cymbalta withdrawal kicked my tail.
The boys and I chose Doctor Who themed Halloween costumes.
My new MC wouldn't talk to me.

And I Read

Sappho's Leap by Erica Jong
Broken Harbor by Tana French
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume**^
The Bread of Angels by Stephanie SaldaƱa
Memories of my Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Perfect Game by Fred Bowen
The #1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Feed by M.T. Anderson
My Own Miraculous by Joshilyn Jackson

In November

I got a new definition for "Abundance."
I got to pick some Christmas happies for a friend in Cambodia.
Parenting was especially difficult.
We visited schools and made a decision about Haydn's 7th grade year.
Dad had a successful gallbladder surgery.
Corey bought me 1/2 lb Reese's cups.
I taught youth Bible study.
We drove to Huntsville for a delightful Thanksgiving.

And I Read

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf
No Easy Answers by Brooks Brown
Second April by Edna St. Vincent Millay
A Few Figs from Thistles by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Renascence and Other Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli^
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume**

In December

We painted a banner at Family Advent Night.
I got rid of almost half of my clothing.
Sapada invited me to Invitation planning meetings.
I watched all of Game of Thrones: Season 1.
There was a lot of praying over my kids.
Christmas wrapping galore was completed.
I fell down the stairs. Ouch.
I worked out a major plot issue.
My friend's husband was shot and killed near my home.

And I Read

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

Total: 117
Kindle: 31
Audio: 27
Paper: 59
Rereads: 9

*Read-alouds with my boys
**Audio Books

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gale Stauffer, Thank You.

My friend's husband died yesterday. He was a police officer. He was shot and killed a few blocks from my house. I heard the sirens. I stood at my window, watching for who knows what, thinking about what might be happening out there.

Later, I stood at the command center where the Sheriff's Department and the FBI and the Highway Patrol and, I believe, some US Marshalls, were gathering. The huge FBI bus was parked outside. A friend and I were arranging food and opening doors and just trying to offer hospitality to these men who had lost one of their own and were still there, doing their best to keep us safe. 

I opened Twitter while leaning on a wall during a quiet moment. A friend had tweeted, asking a question that made me angry. At first. It made me angry, but it also made me think. All evening, I thought about it. All night, I thought about it. This morning, my answer hit me hard with the words of Scripture. 

The question was, paraphrased: why do we elevate the death of an officer over that of a civilian?

My gut response was, as I said, anger. Gale*, my friend's husband, died defending my neighborhood. I could almost see his last stand from my upstairs window. 

My gut response was correct, but I had to let the emotion ease off before I could coherently express what I meant by that… how that relates to all officers, not just this one who died so near my home. Is an officer's life more important than someone else's?

And there it is.

Everyday, when a police officer puts on that uniform and slides behind the wheel of that car, they make a decision. They consciously decide that MY life is more important than theirs. They rush to respond to tragedy and fear, because they believe YOUR life is more important than their own. 

And that is why 
we elevate 
their deaths. 

The first shall be last and the last shall be first.

Everyday, Gale Stauffer decided to be last so we could be first. And he died for us. 

That sounds a bit familiar to me. Wasn't there another man who thought His own life less important than ours?

We elevate them in death, because they humbled themselves in life.

And that, my Twitter friend, is Jesus with skin on.


So the last will be first, and the first will be last. (Matthew 20:16)

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:7-14)

*Another officer was injured and is in critical condition. I do not know his name, but we are praying for he and his family. Thank you also, sir. Thank you.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Poem: Only Me, Only Mary

Sometimes I watch him
this child of mine,
a son nailed high
by the demons inside
us all, skin
bloody shredded
by his own
people, by his own
by his own
by his own

I watch him bleed
the salty drops
of blood and metal
rust in the palms
of his hands, and I
only want
to save him.
I want to be
his savior.

But I am only me,
only mother,
only Mary
at the foot
of his cross.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mary's Lap, His Throne

If you know me very well, you know I'm not a jolly Christmas elf. I grumble about the tree starting before Thanksgiving. I love giving gifts (it's my love language) but I hate stressing over them at a certain time when we are "supposed" to give gifts. I overthink them when they are semi-required. I pressure myself - no one else's fault at all. People shop on Thanksgiving and I want to maim them, because it means my mama has to work. Over all, you would not think me a fan of the holiday.

You would be wrong.

Eventually, Corey will bring the boxes up from the garage and we will put together the tree. That's been done now. Yay! And every year, I think, "That wasn't so hard." But, more importantly, among the blue Rubbermaid storage containers, there is a brown box labeled Willow Tree. It is not the Willow Tree nativity most of my friends have, though that is a beautiful nativity for sure. I'm not much for wee knick knacks. They read as clutter to my brain. Pieces disappear. I forget them. So, this is not that.

Instead, I have this set. According to the site, it is only $45, but it used to cost quite a bit more. It also features a stable-like piece that can be purchased separately. The part of me that is a minimalist skipped that. There's a story here.

I worked for Cokesbury for a while, and we sold Willow Tree pieces. I liked them, the simplicity of the art. When you stick to simple, you actually cover more ground. I could find symbols that spoke to me in many of the little statues. Then came Advent. The Holy Family was displayed. It cost a lot of money. I am frugal (ahem, cheap) so I chose to admire it in our window and leave it be. But I kept coming back to it, and one day it was on sale. Willow Tree was NEVER on sale, so there was some mistake somewhere, but it was indeed on sale.

90% off.

That was that. The Holy Family journeyed home with me.

The stark quality of the set is what drew me. No anachronistic wise men cluttering up the scene, no shepherds interrupting a tired mother postpartum. No animals. No hay. No nothing.

Just a tiny family, a new family, a seed planted in hope.

Mary, holding God in her arms, kissing God's cheeks, smelling God's sweet baby scalp, cradling God to her breast. This is what I ache for at Christmas. Joseph beside her, protecting her, guarding his most precious treasures, following a dream and a mercy. 

I have my own Joseph. I didn't earn him in the fashion of Mary, no virgin births for me, but he is my Joseph nonetheless. He is the man who stood beside me, protected me, guarded me as his treasure when the world and the enemy and my own mind sought to tear me apart. He guarded first one son and then another. He became a wall around us all, to hold us in, to keep fear out. 

I love Advent. I love this side of Christmas, the quiet side, the little cove of divinity formed by Mary and Joseph, their bodies the only palace my King needed here on earth, Mary's lap His throne, Joseph's pride His crown.

I slide the Holy Family from the brown box, remove the Styrofoam that shrouds them 11 months each year, and I clear a space for them in my kitchen.

I clear a space for them inside my heart.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Felicities: Dec 6, 2013

My blue binder from Target
Written prayers
Kindle library books
Knocking items off the Christmas list
Our Emmanuel banner on the wall
The sound of the boys laughing
Phone calls from Leila
Cheri made it home
My fab boots

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Currently: The Crazy Stable Close at Hand

Current Books: I just finished Game of Thrones and have book #2 on hold. I am anxious to get it. I didn't even think I was that into the story until I had to wait to start the second book. Now I'm a crazy person. Just give me my book already. Aigh! In the meantime, I am reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker and the boys and I are still working our way through The Book Thief (a reread for me). In the car, we are listening to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (also a reread for me).

Current Playlist: My Corinne Bailey Rae station on Pandora

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Daily browsing on Zulily

Current Colors: Kentucky Blue

Current Fetish: Coloring my Praying in Color Advent calendar

Current Food: My tastebuds are all messed up on this med, but I made some amazing black bean chicken wraps this week. Hubby is still raving over them.

Current Drink: Starbucks Refreshers. Pomegranate is my favorite.

Current Favorite Favorite: Being an INFP and learning more about myself and others like me.

Current Wishlist: Here ya go: Amazon Wishlist, mostly books, but also a pretty new Otterbox and a Hobo purse. I want to get a few new blouses and scarves too. I am doing a HUGE clean out and analyzing what I have in my closet, getting rid of a lot and deciding what I actually need.

Current Needs: Quiet. Solitude.

Current Triumph: Completing my jail visit and getting so much good information.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Whining and complaining in my children

Current Indulgence: Procrastinating on the Christmas tree. I know I need to deal with it, put it up, etc… I just don't enjoy it in the least and it feels like a waste of time and energy. But, the kids and the husband want a tree. Gr.

Current Mood: Mostly good. I tend to feed on the moods of those around me, however, and my kids are grouches today. I am trying to hide from them and keep my happy but they like to drag their grumps up the stairs and deposit them at my feet.

Current #1 Blessing: My husband, my kids mostly getting along (today not included), and, yeah, not breaking anything when I fell down the stairs.

Current Outfit: Dark wash jeans, light pink Camp Lake Stephens tee, silver studded black boots

Current Quote: “Be patient. Do the best with what you know. When you know more, adjust the trajectory.” ― Jen Hatmaker, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

Current Photo:   This is a giant burlap banner our family painted together on Family Advent Night at church. It will hang by our tree.

Title taken from: The House of Christmas by G. K. Chesterton

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Poem: Name Me

Emmanuel, God with us,
What would You
Name me?
My mother called me
For flowers, for
The musical sound
Of letters linked
And lyrical. 
She named me precious
In her heart. 
Do You
Name me
The same?
Emmanuel, God with us,
Name me Bountiful
And Beautiful. 
Name me Fallen,
Mostly, Jesus,
When my days grow short
And my road closes in
On You,
Name me Beloved. 
Name me Hoped For. 
Name me


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