Sunday, December 31, 2006

On the Market

Twenty-six years of living, laughing, crying and loving. Together. In one place.

2712 Englewood.

The front door. My Mom loved the front door on this house when we looked at it for the first time. So I loved it too. She has now painted it red. I think we love it more.
I’ve been brought back from many dates to that front door. It witnessed my first kiss. It also was audience to several awkward moments with boys I was just getting to know as well as the more relaxed good nights with those I knew well.
I have forgotten my keys more times than I can count…and left my keys in the door all night…I even had my keys stolen at school leading to the purchase of a new lock for that door. The deadbolt makes a certain sound when it is locked. I heard it every night when Dad or Mom was securing things for the evening. It was a comforting sound.

The entry room is painted a salmon color. For years it had a mural, wallpapered on the wall. The mural was one of the last bits of “green splendor” that we removed from the home’s décor. I remember Mom and Dad on the ladder as I went out with Kay, Paige and Mary. Mom and Dad were painting the room. My friends and I were cruising in Kay’s new car. I think of that moment with my friends every time I see that front room.
This is the room of reunion. Where we welcome each other from a day of work or school…or from two year terms in Africa.
It is also the place where we hug goodbye. And grieve the separation that is ahead of us.

The large family room with its mammoth fireplace. The fireplace has brought Santa to our tree for many, many years! He never failed to find us. One year he even dropped my sisters gifts outside the chimney (we “found” them on the grass ☺). This big room was the reason we purchased the house. We’ve had Christmases, birthdays, New Years Eve parties, Youth group devotionals, movie nights, and many long heart to heart chats here. The couches have been the convalescing center for stomach bugs, the flu, colds, strep, and wisdom teeth surgery. We’ve sung songs, laughed at jokes, and welcomed friends into the warmth of these walls. My parents have counseled youth and adults through crisis and life struggles. My sister and I have memorized our favorite movies in this setting. We watched them over and over until Mom and Dad were going nuts!
This is the room where Jeff first said he loved me. The room where we prayed over Cherise the night before she married Wade. The room where we’ve watched our children toddle, fuss and play.

The large walk in closet. This closet holds some of our memories. Old school annuals. Toys. It also holds extra blankets and everyone’s coats. If you look closely you can see the patch in the ceiling where Dad fell through while storing the Christmas tree in the attic. A memory best kept in the closet. ☺

Laundry room: Somewhere in this nook is an unbelievably large stash of missing socks. This is the place where our family pets have dined. First, Ginger then Katy. And Outlaw and CJ on occasion. Also home to the computer desk. A computer that began as a TINY Apple word processor when I was in high school, but grew to the wonderful piece of equipment my parents use now. Since we moved to Africa this tiny cubicle has become our link to my family. Where we share good news, heartache and, most importantly… pictures of the grandkids!

The kitchen: When we bought the house it was green with brown cabinets but has morphed into a lovely haven with white cabinets and Tuscan décor. Home to many wonderful meals: baked chicken, swiss steak, spaghetti, stew, Spaghetti-Oh’s, …and take out meals from our favorite places! I made my first efforts at baking in this kitchen. I learned how to mix, clean and season--all tasks that I have depended on in this far off place.

The dining room: I told my Mom & Dad I wanted to be baptized in this room. And planned my wedding around the table. I debriefed high school and college drama, elders meetings, and heartbreaks here. We’ve fed friends, welcomed our brothers from Africa and served every grandchild in the same high chair that was mine and my sister’s.

The hallway records our history. Each wall is loaded with the pictures of our heritage. Grandparents… Mom and Dad as children… My sister and myself through the years…Our husbands and our children.

The master bedroom with walk in closet: The closet that housed 1/3 of my wardrobe and shoe collection. (“Mom can I borrow your shoes?”-- The price she pays for having a marvelous sense of style!) The full length mirror that was the scene of many indecisive moments…”Do I look okay?”. “What should I wear?!?!?” “Do these shoes match?”

This is the room where we went when we were afraid at night. It is the place where Mom and Dad have communicated and shared for years to build the marriage that is the foundation of our home…of our lives. I’m not aware of all the struggles, but I know that whatever challenged the sanctity of their marriage, it was conquered within the walls of this room. Our parents are still loving and living life together…encouraging us to do the same.

Small bedroom: the home to another 1/3 of my wardrobe. Reese’s room… Packed full of purses and dolls… My sister’s treasures… Also where my sister played and shared with her friends for years. Many Cabbage Patch dolls where fed, nurtured and blessed in the room where Cherise was in charge!
It became my room during summer breaks from college. (Cherise moved to my original room.) And now, it’s the grandkids’ room. Where my children find rest and peace during the frantic days of furlough.

Hall bathroom: My Mom, my sister and I have had amazing discussions here, while getting ready for school and work. Chats about school, people, issues, church and God… Mom taught us a lot in front of that huge mirror. Also the room where we….ahem…learned to do our own hair. Which is monumental in the life of a girl. Seriously.

My bedroom: I have prayed, dreamed,rejoiced, grieved, cried, rested & recuperated within those walls. I have hung billions of posters…first of puppies and kittens, then Ralph Macchio (remember Karate Kid?) In ninth grade, I ditched the posters and we chose soft green wallpaper that made me feel more refined. ☺ I have shared secrets with my friends, talked for hours on the phone and remarkably stuffed more into one closet than should be humanly possible. So much of who I am and what I believe, processed in that room.

Twenty-six years of life…flourishing in the space of this abode.

This week, the house goes up for sale. The memories…the home…will move with my parents.

2712 Englewood. We have loved inhabiting you these 26 years. Thank you for sheltering us. Protecting us. Being a refuge.

There really is no market value for that, now is there?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Gifts of Christmas

How long can I play Christmas music without driving everyone crazy? :-)

The days immediately after Christmas are always a little bit sad. The days preceding Christmas are so busy with preparations and plans that they fly by in a blur. Christmas day arrives with great joy and celebration...and then the next morning... Reality. PIles of dishes. More toys to sort. And the ready knowledge that our families in America DID have the holiday without us, again.

As I worked my way through the dishes yesterday morning, I cried a little. Jim Brinkman played in the background. My Christmas lights twinkled merrily. And my heart was full to bursting.

Full of thanks....for our children and their joy; for the friends who shared the Christmas meal with us: the laughter, the sweet fellowship, the brotherhood; for family memories and tradititons from childhood that bless me even now; for Jesus...

Full of that certain feeling you get when the time has been REALLY good, but now its over.
And you feel such LOVE for friends and family...but you can't quite reach them because they don't live down the street.
And your thankful for the memories made for your children...but your so tired you can hardly stand :-).

Contrasts that bring such bittersweet pain...

Contrasts that make the sweet...sweeter.

The feelings...more deep.

My Christmas music will play for awhile longer. My "revelry" is not yet complete. The memories, the magic, the traditions, the joy....they are what Christmas gives to me. And I'm not quite finished enjoying those gifts.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Alex's Day

Seven. He rides his bike without training wheels. Reads everything he gets his hands on. Loves to watch movies almost as much as he loves RE-TELLING the movie to me after he has seen it. Has become Cub Scout Extroidinaire. Still believes he COULD turn into Shark Boy. And remains the hero and best friend of his sister and brothers.

All boy---with a deeply sensitive soul to boot. We wouldn't be the same without him. I thank God for him everyday.

Here are some pictures from the celebration and festivities. Thanks family for sending him fun stuff...he felt your love across the miles...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

In a Quiet Moment in Nazareth...

"Greetings! You who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!"

A troubled heart.

"Do not be afraid."

I don't understand.

"You have found favor with God."


"You will be with child and give birth to a son."

I am still a virgin.

"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you..."

Will my parents...or my fiancee understand that?

"Even Elizabeth, your relative, ...who was said to be barren is in her sixth month."

I could be killed if I am pregnant before my marriage night.

"For nothing is impossible with God."

Deep breath. (and all of Creation waits...with anticipation...for her repsonse...)

I am the Lord's servant.

May it be to me as you have said.

One Quiet Moment.
Fear. Confusion.
An unbelievable call.


It was really a decision...
She had made a long time before...

"I am the Lord's servant"
"May it be to me as you have said."

(complete story found in Luke 1:26-38

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Getting into the Spirit of Things...

This is a fun Meme I picked up from several friends. After I perused their delightful comments AND looked up the word Meme in my dictionary (pronounced Meem..."to imitate" paraphrase...)
I decided to participate...

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Hot chocolate...definitely.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
Sets them under the tree. Until I married my husband. Who knew a different Santa. Who was a glutton for punishment. And wrapped every gift. So we compromise. Santa sets some gifts out unwrapped. And some wrapped. There you go.

3. Colored lights or white?
Oh man~I love them all. If they are on. Because that means there is power. We typically put colored lights on the tree and decorate windows, greenery and doors with white lights. White lights are classy and romantic. Colored lights are festive and fun.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Nope. Because we don't have any. And public displays of affection are...ahem...frowned upon in this culture. So we would have to participate in the mistletoe tradition on the sly. Which we have become pretty adept at anyway...I must say.

5. When do you decorate for Christmas? The day after Thanksgiving. I LOVE it. And the kids do too. For us it is a day of memories, good feelings and...
Oh who am I kidding?... It is a day of MOSTLY good feelings accompanied by a few stressful cries of "Silas Ryan! If you touch that I'm gonna spank your bottom!" and "Quit asking me when you can hang your ornament...I have to string these stinkin' lights!" Good times...good times. Despite all the fuss...I still love the decorating day.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish, excluding dessert? This is a very tough one. I'll go with corn bread dressing and cranberry sauce. MUST have them together. (A VERY strong second would be turkey,bacon and cranberry sauce sandwiches on Christmas night at the Cashes. Scrumdillyumpcious!)

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? The games. I loved it when the formal meals were done, dishes were done, presents were done, and everyone was relaxed. And out came the games. Skip bo. Nertz. Chicken foot. Dominos. Boggle. It didn't matter...It was fun. Everyone laughed...Mam-ma complained that she never won...she very often did...

8. When and how, did you learn the truth about Santa? Shelli Braddock told me. In the second grade. It made me cry. Which wasn't he first time Shelli and I made each other cry. Girls! We do the silliest things. I didn't ask Mom about it until the third grade. At which time Mom verified Shelli's information, MUCH to my dismay.
(FYI...Shelli grew up to be an AMAZING woman who I love and adore... I've always loved her...And I'm not just saying that because I know her Mom and sister-in-law read my blog!) :-)

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? This is in fact a very touchy issue. My husband and I are from different camps. My family always opened gifts on Christmas Eve. His family always opened gifts on Christmas Day.
We battled it out for whining until we actually opened some gifts on the Eve...ignoring his strong protests that we were dangling dangerously over a very dark chasm of evil because we did so. :-)

Everything changed in 1999. I "opened" a present on Christmas Eve for the last time. I delivered a son on December 24th. Making it for always and forever...Alex's day. He opens presents alone as we celebrate his life. Christmas gifts wait for Christmas morning. My husband was victorious afterall. I don't mind though. The gift of our precious boy would be impossible to top.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? With many different types of ornaments...all with memories or occasions to remember. Some of my Best Friends gave me a Christmas ornament shower in Germany. We were there to lead a camp for youth and to tour around to different churches. While in Germany we visited an adorable village with the most amazing Christmas market. (The town's name has left me...) My friends each bought me an ornament for a wedding gift. It was such a great idea and to this day, I can remember who gave me what...which is a Christmas miracle considering my muddled, tired Mommy brain! We have ornaments from parents, grandparents, friends, from vacations. our states and Africa. There is no rhyme or reason...just wonderful memories of wonderful moments. All deposited on our tree.

11. Snow. Love it or hate it? Love it. Miss it.

12. Can you ice skate? I'm no Kristi Yamaguchi but I pretend to be as I stumble and slip over the icy surfaces. I can do it. But it isn't always pretty. Unless you can see the images in my head. Where I look like a pro! Wearing a gorgeous sequined outfit. And I'm skinny.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Alex. Hands down. Best Christmas gift.

Other favorites would include: my Baby Alive Doll (age 3), my kickin' stereo with huge speakers (8th grade!) Love knot earrings from Jeff...(on Christmas Eve!)...the day Alex was born.

14. What is the most important thing about the holidays to you? Jesus. Family. Singing. Laughter.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Pumpkin anything---pie, muffins, bread, cookies. Mam-ma's German Chocolate Cake. Iced Christmas sugar cookies.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Caroling. I just love that! Christmas Eve festivities. Decorating the Christmas tree with Alvin and the Chipmunks singing in the background. Watching the Sound of Music. Quoting funny lines from Christmas Vacation. Decorating cookies.

17. What tops your tree? A Santa Clause that moves...or used to. Now he just sits there and looks cute. Jeff and I bought him together for our very first Christmas.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? I LOVE giving the perfect gift. LOVE IT! (I won't mention in much detail how very stressful it is to shop in this land we live in. Jeff's gifts are...sad...which makes me sad...Thankfully, I bought him a video ipod on furlough this summer so I'm hoping the joy of that will carry over for a few occasions!)

19. What is your favorite Christmas song? "The Hat I Got for Christmas is Too Big". :-) At least, that is one that always makes me laugh!
Seriously, I don't think I could pick a favorite song. Oh Holy Night, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Winter Wonderland...
I LOVE them all. ALL!

20. Candy canes. Yuck or yum? Definitely YUM!!! I love candy canes. Something I really miss over here.

Happy Holidays, dear friends! Feel free to grab this meme for your blog...(or put your answers in my comments). Let me know if you I can visit and read your memories!

Sunday, December 10, 2006


A white Christmas.

An electrician that can repair one thing without breaking another.

A bowl of Blue Bell Ice Cream.


A Barn Door Prime Rib.

Birthday gathering at Granddaddy's for cake and presents.

MANY,MANY more years for Mom.

Happiest of birthdays Mom! WISH we could be together! So THANKFUL for every year He's given you so far. I love you!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sousa and the Bride

Last Saturday, we attended a wedding in town. Jeff was the minister, I was the "send 'em down the aisle" lady and Kinley and Alex were the CUTEST members of the wedding party!

There are many interesting tid-bits about a Ugandan wedding...

1. Weddings are expected to last up to 4 hours---the church ceremony folks. Exactly what is there to say in 4 hours that you can't say in 30 minutes? I do not know. Jeff's ceremony on Saturday lasted one hour and a half. Everyone was amazed and said it was the best wedding EVER!

2. The bride gets her hair done in a Saloon. That's how they pronounce it. Saloon. I wonder if they drink out of shot glasses and play poker while their hair is done?

3. The bride is, on average, over an hour late for the wedding ceremony. At least.

4. Everything and everyone MUST move SLOOOOWWWWLLLLYYYY. There is no real way to give you a clear picture. It almost defies nature. The flower girls were going so slow down the aisle...they almost weren't going. The bride walked in slow military fashion ALL DAY. When she went down the aisle, when she entered the photo shoot, when she entered the reception, when she walked to the bathroom... SLOW.

5. The music for the wedding was Pachebel Cannon off of one of our CD's AND various selections played by the St Leo's Secondary School Marching Band. Yep. You heard me. Marching Band. Complete with bass drums. Cymbals. And a brass section that would send Charles Nail's moustache into MANY convulsive twitches. (FYI Mr Nail was my beloved band director at Permian High School. We didn't only do football, ya'll.)

The most amazing moment of a very full cultural experience of a day...was the MOMENT when I thought..."Wow. This marching band is a nice touch."

Culture stress can send your brain into upside down logic. Even after 11 years.

Friday, December 01, 2006

To Your Corners!

Okay. I’ll admit it. (again)

I do not know what to do.

The fighting will not cease. “He has my toy.” “I had that first.” “He hit me again.” “MOMMMMM!!!!”

The wailing begins. And my kids cry too.

There are clever ideas. Wise advice. I listen and I seek.

But in the midst of the chaos…my mind blanks.

And I get sucked in. I begin asking myself, “Who DID have that first?” “Why did you let him have it?” “Didn’t we JUST have this conversation?” “Who won last time?”

My closet isn’t full of black and white striped shirts. And I do not even own a whistle. But I would surely benefit from a rule book and instant replay. (“Rule #22 –He who has the toy IN HIS HAND is in possession of the toy. If the toy is on the carpet, table or any surface other than the HAND…possession is up for grabs…literally.”)
(“Mom has called for an instant reply…please pause in your family life while we cue the tape to replay the fight in the toy room.”)

What has worked for you in staving off or halting sibling fusses? Or do you have any stories that would make us laugh? ☺

Do share, friends… you may bless many folks in Blogland with your wit and wisdom…and you may pull me back from toppling over the brink of insanity...which I hear is a quiet place ☺….