Look What Crap I Found Under Henry’s Bed This Time

I have an 11-year-old boy. Anyone else out there have boys? Yes? Then this photo will not scare you at all. In fact, you will probably roll your eyes while thinking to yourself, “That’s all you’ve got?” No? Then look away! You don’t want to see what goes on here in these posts.

Actually, this is my first post in what will be a weekly series of photos I’d like to call “Look What Crap I Found Under Henry’s Bed This Time.”

We’ll start off with a relatively tame collection of said crap. But next week, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Now, for scale, this week’s crap is presented to you in a full-size Halloween bucket.

What did I find? I’m glad you asked!

The haul included: half a sleeve of Ritz crackers, an empty theater-sized box of Dots candy, half a 16 oz. bottle of Dr. Pepper, a Halloween card, a bottle cap, a Nerf dart, about seven mini candy bar wrappers, a cat-sized bunch of dust/cat hair/dog hair, a fabric flower from a lei, a granola bar wrapper and a small handful of pebbles.

And before you ask, NO, our house does not look like it belongs in an episode of “Hoarders.”

Stay tuned to see what’s hiding under there next week!



Cheese and Rice

Cheese and rice! It’s been over a year since I posted anything. That’s just not cool. The problem is, every time I think of something to write about I get distracted by some mundane daily task and then…well…here we are. LOTS has happened since we last spoke. Let’s see..in order:

  1. I got hired on at Lincoln full-time. WooHoo! Great job, but even greater colleagues.
  2. In August, my husband got a job..in Huntsville, Alabama..and moved in with my parents, who happen to live there, while the kids and I stayed home in Fort Wayne to get the house ready to sell.
  3. The house in Fort Wayne.. well..it still hasn’t sold! I’ll get back to that in a bit.
  4. We went ahead and put an offer on a house in Cullman, AL- my hometown. We got it, and he moved in solo in January.
  5. Lincoln…well, good old Lincoln…new VP..re-org..position eliminated..blah blah…(sad face)…no, we’re sorry, your job is NOT going to transfer to Alabama like we said…so there was that.
  6. House still not sold, job coming to an end..the perfect time to make the official move south and get the family back together again.
  7. April 19 we said good-bye to our Fort Wayne house and friends, with lots of emotional farewells and nostalgia.

So here I sit, in Cullman, in my new house which just happens to be RIGHT NEXT DOOR to the house that I lived in in high school, the house where we stood in the drive-way and said our good-byes to my parents 14 years ago when Graehm drove me off in a big U-Haul to our house in Fort Wayne.

fort wayne fort wayne 2

There is a word for this. I wouldn’t call it full-circle. That doesn’t capture its essence. I’ll have to think on that some more and get back to you…

Another School Year, Another Milestone

Image Credit: sheknows.com

Image Credit: sheknows.com

Re-posted from my blog over at christlinkd.com:

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”.” (Isaiah 30:21)

“Before you know it, they’ll be graduating and getting married.”

That thought has been banging around in my head all evening. Those words were spoken by my mom earlier tonight as we chatted about my kids.

Whoa. Slow down. I’m not ready for all of that!

On Monday, my daughter and son will start fifth and fourth grades, respectively. I know everyone always opines, “Where did the time go?!” or some other variation of the same lament, but it is SO TRUE. I believe as adults our own recollections of our childhoods make those precious years seem so vast, like an eternity. And as parents, we’re struck with the cold hard truth that childhood isn’t really that long at all. If we’re lucky, we get 18 short years to have our kids at home, to watch them grow and to help shape them into the young men and women that God wants them to become.

Eighteen years. We’re gifted with eighteen years before our kids are adults in the world’s eyes. As we grow older we realize just how short eighteen years are.

Yes, I’m feeling a little sappy, a little melancholy about this. If you’ve read my earlier posts, you know a little about my kiddos- my daughter the gentle spirit and my son who is perpetually set on warp-speed, both in action and words. I want to wrap them both in a gigantic bear hug and not ever let them go. But we all know that can’t happen.

And so, we will faithfully pack their backpacks on Sunday night and we’ll prepare for the start of a brand new school year. I’ll fawn over them, and they’ll let me hug them and still think it’s cool to hang out with Mom for their last official night of summer vacation. And time will march along.

But all along I am praying. Praying for God to keep them close and for them to keep Him close in their hearts.

Tonight, as I was searching for scripture to help me, I found an amazing blog post over at The Hill Hangout.  I’ve excerpted a portion below:

 Philippians 4:6-7 – Lord, I pray that my children will not be anxious for anything as they go back to school. Call them to Yourself in prayer so that they will submit their requests to You with thanksgiving. Grant them Your peace in their hearts and minds in such great measure that they are blown away.

Colossians 3:23 – Father, help my children to understand that whatever work they do is not to please teachers or even to please their parents, but it is ultimately to please You, their Heavenly Father. They work for You and not for anyone else.

2 Corinthians 12:9 – Lord, grant that my children may rest in the fact that Your grace is sufficient to carry them through whatever comes their way. When challenges arise that are too much for them, You are carrying them by Your great strength.

Philippians 4:8 – Jesus, when we compare ourselves to others, it is easy to focus on ways we don’t measure up instead of focusing on what You have made us to be. In those moments, remind my children to focus on what is true, what is noble, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and of good report. Lord, if there is anything good or praiseworthy, help her to meditate on those things.

Isaiah 43:2 – Lord, school can be overwhelming. Turn my children’s attention to the fact that when they pass through the waters, You are with them. When they go through rivers, they will not be overtaken. When they must walk through fire, You will be with them and will protect them from being scorched.

Isaiah 54:17 – Father, the Enemy is always on the hunt to harm us. I speak Your word over my child that says no weapon formed against them shall prosper and every tongue that rises against them in judgment shall be condemned. It is their heritage as Your servants and Your righteousness will protect them.

Matthew 5:9 – Jesus, Your teach us that those who make peace in troublesome situations will be called Your sons. May my children be instruments of Your peace in situations full of strife and arguing.

Psalm 133:1 – Lord, according to Your word, it is good and pleasant when Your children live together in unity. Father, give them godly friends at school with whom they are united. Provide friends who share the same beliefs and interests so that they will have strength in numbers to stand against the schemes and temptations of the Enemy.

Matthew 5:6 – Jesus, You teach us that You will bless those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. In this world there are many distractions that my children could follow. Place in them such a hunger and thirst for Your ways that they aren’t interested in the ways of the world. Consume their thoughts, hearts, and minds with Yourself that they might be filled with You.

Proverbs 1:5 – Father, Your word tells us that a wise man will hear and increase learning and that a man of understanding will attain wise counsel. Lord, give my children godly teachers who can provide wise counsel and inspire them to search after learning. And one they have learned, give them understanding in how to apply what they know. Make them wise.

Matthew 12:35 – Jesus, You tell us that a good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, while an evil man out of the evil in his heart brings forth evil things. I have tried to store up good in my child’s heart. Help them to be ministers of good so that they reap goodness from others. Quickly show them ways in which they might be sowing evil so that they can correct their ways. Give them wisdom in dealing with other children whose ways aren’t full of goodness.

Romans 12:2 – Father, this world is not our final home. Help my children not to be conformed to this world. Help them to set their minds on the fact that we live this life for a greater purpose than entertaining ourselves. Grant that they could be so gospel-minded that they aren’t swayed by the ways of the ungodly, but that they would always live with a crystal clear focus on winning this world to Your kingdom.




Parenting a Strong-Willed Child

courtesy of The Christian Pundit

courtesy of The Christian Pundit

Re-blogged from christlinkd.com

When my daughter was a toddler, I went out and bought myself a copy of The NEW Strong-Willed Child. I thought for sure that I had a SWC on my hands. Little did I know what her sweet, quiet baby brother had in store for me! Turns out my daughter, although she can be a handful at times, is mostly a kind, well-behaved kid who would rather hide behind me than get into trouble of any kind.

My son, only 15 months younger, turned nine just a couple of weeks ago. He is, without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges in my life. He is quick to talk back, argue with his sister and perhaps most challenging- he is quick to anger. He tests my patience like nothing else on this earth, but I know that God gave him to me for a reason.

It is indeed a fact that dealing with my son’s behavior caused it to take a day longer than normal to get this week’s blog post together. God must have known I needed the extra inspiration! We have to laugh, right? Otherwise, we’d go insane!

So what exactly is a SWC? Here are some of my observations:

  1. A SWC will challenge any rule. From bedtime, to hygiene, to all disciplinary guidelines. For example, here are some exchanges we’ve had recently:
  • “H, wash your hands.”
  • “Why?!”
  • “We’ve talked about this. You always wash your hands after you use the restroom to get rid of germs.”
  • “No. Germs don’t hurt anything. It doesn’t matter.”
  • “Mom, do we have to do homework right when we get home?” (He asks me this EVERY day when I pick him up from school)
  • “Yes, H, right away. It doesn’t change. You do your homework before anything else.”
  • “WHY?! We shouldn’t have to do it your way!” <anger>
  • “Mom, can we set up a lemonade stand when we get home?” (He asked me this today when I picked him up from school)
  • “No, H, I told you that you can do that on Saturday when we have our garage sale.”
  •  “Aaaagghhh!!!!” <anger, kicking the back of my seat>
  • “H, you can’t go past the rope to get closer to the animals.” (at the zoo)
  •  “Oh, really? Why not? Their arms aren’t long enough to reach the rope.”
  1. A SWC is stubborn beyond what a parent would think is humanly possible. I’m telling you, this kid could wear down the toughest interrogator. I am convinced he could sit through 48 hours of intense questioning and not break a sweat, all with a smug look on his face.
  1. Dealing with a SWC, you are in a constant battle of wills. No matter what you say, what punishments you dole out, they are unflinchingly defiant, because they don’t want to ever be the one not in control.


Believe me; I go back and forth internally all the time about whether H is strong-willed or just misbehaved. But having two children, it’s pretty apparent that he has an iron will. Yes, some of it IS behavioral, but most of it is about control, pure and simple.

So, each morning I get up and put on my invisible armor, because raising a SWC is like going into battle each and every day. We are in this battle together, H and I, and each day we have the scars to prove it.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love my son! I wouldn’t trade him for a million ‘easy’ kids. God made him this way for a reason, and chose me to be his mom for a reason. I have no doubt that H will go on to great things in his life. I love that I know he’ll have a strong character when he’s a man and that he’ll have great passion for whatever he chooses to do.

These are some excellent observations from The Christian Pundit:

– It’s easier to guide and mold a strong will in a child than it is to try and put will into a child that has none.

– Strong willed children are the ones who become leaders in their field. Know of any weak willed presidents? Colonels? Martyrs? God can use this strong will for mighty good.

– Strong willed children are usually very open, even in their sin. You know what they are thinking and you can deal with it. When sin is hidden, it is hard to deal with. When it’s in your face, you are able to confront it immediately. Hypocrisy is rarely an issue.

– You will pray more raising a strong willed child simply because they bring you to the end of yourself so quickly. More prayer is always a good thing, for you and your child.

God will give you the grace you need to raise this child. He gave you the child, and He will give you everything you need to glorify Him in parenting the child. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Parenting H has definitely brought me closer to God. I spend more time in prayer for him than for anything else, and maybe that is one of the reasons I was blessed to be called his mom.

Whatever the reasons, I wouldn’t have him any other way.


Wallowing in Summer

cucumber-slicesYou know how there are certain smells, flavors and sounds that trigger your thirst for summer? It’s always this time of year, right near the end of May/ beginning of June, when I start craving cucumbers. And tomatoes. And homemade vanilla ice cream!

There’s just something about summertime indulgences that is so pure and untouched by any of life’s miscellaneous anxieties. I can close my eyes and listen to the sound of a lawnmower and literally smell my dad mowing the backyard when I was a kid. Same with the smell of a charcoal grill or the taste of a baked potato with sour cream.

Here are my top 10 summer triggers:

  1. Coppertone suntan oil- that smell is like heaven!
  2. Cucumbers- taste and smell
  3. Tomatoes- taste
  4. Lawnmowers and fresh-cut grass- sound and smell
  5. Homemade vanilla ice cream- taste
  6. Peaches- taste and smell
  7. Charcoal grill- smell
  8. Chlorine- smell
  9. Cicadas- sound
  10. Honeysuckle- taste and smell8600511771_224aab4817_z

What are yours?

What got me really going on this topic tonight was an ad I saw for EDY’s Outshine Fruit Bars on Facebook. Their marketing guys and gals are clearly brand sense pros! I literally wanted to lick my monitor. But don’t tell anyone. That would make me weird, right?


Nostalgia is a seductive mistress, and I always give in. Don’t you?

Cheeseburgers and Dr. Pepper

Aunt Vinie

Aunt Vinie

Growing up, did you have a friend who was always there for you? Whom you could talk to about anything? Be silly with?

I did. Her name was Vinie, and she was my great aunt. She passed when she was 87 and I was 22, and I miss her every day.

I don’t know why we bonded the way we did. Perhaps because she didn’t have any children of her own. In fact, my mom was close to her growing up as well. But I think it went beyond me simply filling in something that was ‘missing’ in her life. She and I were kindred spirits. Sisters in heart.

My sisters and I used to stay with Aunt Vinie during the summers. There are so many things that remind me of her and those times:



Glass Coke Bottles

Glass Coke Bottles

Real Buttermilk Cornbread

Real Buttermilk Cornbread





It is from my Aunt Vinie that I got my love of trees. We used to sit in her swing, underneath her sycamore tree, and just talk the afternoons away. We’d sit side-by-side and watch the clouds, pointing out shapes and anything else our imaginations cooked up. As a kid, I was afraid of storms, but she used to tell me that thunder was just the sound of God and the angels bowling. Ha!

I spent a lot of time on Ann Street. Searching for four-leaf clovers, working in her vegetable garden, shelling peas, picking apples from the trees in the back, rolling down the big grassy hill, learning about June Bugs. She taught us to catch one and tie a thread to its leg. Thinking of it now, probably not the nicest thing to do, but as a kid it was great fun. She had had to give up her driver’s license due to age and vision problems, so when she needed to go the store, my older sister and I would walk with her the 1/2 mile to Food World. We (my sister and I) never wore shoes in the summertime, so by the time we got back, the bottoms of our feet would be black. To this day, we grin and throw around the term ‘Food World Feet’.

large_Food World

Food World

As I got older, my Aunt Vinie was always a big part of my life. When I started driving, I would drive over and just hang out with her. I had a convertible in high school, and I used to go pick her up and we’d go for a ride. Ann Street was my second home for as long as I could remember. We spent so many hours sitting in her matching rocking chairs on her front porch, chatting and telling stories. We’d go through the Sears and JCPenney catalogs and she’d joke that she wanted to order the men who were modeling the clothes.

Vinie’s health began to decline when she was in her 80s. She moved in with us when I was a junior. She took the bedroom next to mine, and life was good. She had some diet restrictions, but on several occasions, I smuggled in a Dr. Pepper and a cheeseburger for her from Burger King. It was the simple things, and we enjoyed them together.

I left for college in 1994, so I didn’t get to see her as much. In July 1996, I was home for the Fourth, and my grandpa, her brother, passed away. I sat with her while she cried. Thanksgiving 1997, she had been in the hospital, and was in a nursing home for two weeks while she recuperated so she could come home. I was home for the holiday, and went to see her. I promised her I’d come back by before I went back to school. I was running late leaving, as usual, and I didn’t go see her. She passed away in December 1997, before I got to see her again.

I keep the details of 1994-1997 short, because I still have a heavy heart about not keeping my word. My mom told me that Vinie had wanted to come home for the Thanksgiving holiday, but they thought it would be better to keep her at the nursing home. My mom broke down and brought her home before she was supposed to be released. Mom wanted her to die in the comfort of home. She passed slowly over a day or so, and I still hold on to bitterness that I wasn’t told in time to get home to kiss her goodbye.

It’s been over 15 years now that she’s been gone, and I still miss her all the time. My daughter is a little spitfire, like her mom, like her Great Great Aunt Vinie. I know if they had been able to meet, they would have been kindred spirits as well.

To end on a funny note, here’s one of my favorite Aunt Vinie sayings: “Dale Murphy couldn’t hit a bull in the butt with a barn door!” HA! She was a huge Atlanta Braves fan. I just watched an old video on YouTube, and the sound of Skip Caray’s voice transported me back in time.

I know she’s in Heaven; I just hope they have a soda fountain.

Dale Murphy

Dale Murphy