May 8 2014

It’s the End of an Era……

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Today was another award-winning homeschooling day.  I am tired at a time when I cannot afford to be.  I am a bottom-line kind of mom.  And the bottom line is that my philosophy regarding education does not lie in the final grade made in a class or the year but the absorption of thought, new ideas, potential and pursuit of knowledge and ultimately, the application.

I’m sure it sounds superfluous or pompous, but I really do mean that.  I get so annoyed watching days tick by as the kids cram assignments in for the sake of completion and totally side-line any joy or excitement that learning a new concept, idea or facts could and should rouse in them.

I asked Emily and Bear, again this morning, what do you want?  What’s your point in this process?  They just want to get it done.  Picture me pulling my hair out……here.  REALLY?????  This is why we are homeschooling????  To just get through the year?  If these ideas and concepts fail to be absorbed into your psyche down to the marrow of your DNA, not only will you not remember ANYTHING you are reading or completing, it’s ultimately, bottom line, a huge waste of your time.

The entire point for us to homeschool is for the children to love what they are doing, learning and pursuing.  That’s not happening and hasn’t been for a long while.  So, good or bad, Bear will be going back to traditional public high school next year.  He plays baseball and wants to experience it in a high school setting.   I not only understand where he is coming from, I fully support him.  Emily is graduating in a month, so she will be starting her collegiate journey this fall.  We are VERY excited for her and proud of the young woman she has matured into.  Bryson is adamant about staying in public school for another year and starting middle school.  He is over the moon he is graduating on to the sixth grade.  We’re happy he is happy.

So that leaves me, for the first time in 20 years, alone in the house with just Kevin and the animals.  Cue anxiety attack……


May 1 2014

I am My Father’s Daughter

April 30, 2014

I loved my dad.  He was an extremely intelligent man with a huge capacity for wit and lacked ALL tolerance for fools.  I am not highly intelligent, that would be my husband, I’m not sure about having a huge capacity for wit, but I do possess some, and like my dad,  I lack ALL tolerance for fools.  This is usually how I entertain my husband.  I then spend the next five minutes yelling, “what?…….WHAT?!  Don’t act like you don’t know what I am talking about.”  He only pauses to breathe through his laughter.

Bear came into my office yesterday and asked me what I thought about Donald Sterling being a racist. I don’t think I gave him the answer he was looking for.  To begin with, we need to have a very clear understanding that this is not an issue regarding race.  It’s an issue regarding the sanctity of our First Amendment.  Donald Sterling is an ass.  He is, believe it or not,  allowed to be an ass.  However it came about, Donald Sterling has lived a life that taught him to not like black people.  He’s allowed to not like black people.  Growing up as a white kid in suburbia Delaware 35 years ago, all my neighbors were white, my classmates were white, my church was white, my entire life was white.  Living white didn’t mean my parents raised me to not like black people, I just didn’t know any.  Then forced bussing happened and my white school closed down and we were bussed into the city to go to a black school that was eight stories high and had elevators.  I had never been in a school that had elevators before, didn’t mean I didn’t like schools with elevators, I just never experienced it.  So life changed.  Not just for me and my all white community, but for millions of children in the United States.  I can not speak for anyone’s experience except my own.  During this transition, my parents never once, NEVER, spoke poorly of integration in front of my brothers and I.  We were just little kids doing what the grown ups told us to.  So, we went to our new schools and had a few bad experiences, but for the most part, we made a ton of new friends.  Friends that had beautiful light and dark skin, dark, soulful eyes and joyful, laughing faces.  We played with our new friends, learned with them and that was our new normal.  Nothing bad…….just new.  And it was exciting.

Because of the influences of my parents, my brothers and I were raised to like and include everyone, unless the person in question was unkind, mean-spirited or a cheat.  I never thought about skin color, only the content of their heart.  So, when Donald Sterling says something utterly stupid in the privacy of his own home, not to the media, in an interview or to the team, which by the way, is financially solvent and has never had a history of discrimination against black players, he’s allowed to do that.  The difference, I told my son, is that 35 years ago, unknown and completely oblivious to me and our gang of friends, there were a lot MORE white adults that had a real black/white issue.  Now, all those people have aged and are in there 70′s or 80′s and we, the kids of integration that were not weaned on the tit of hatefulness, we’re the adults and there is WAY MORE of us not discriminating than those few people that do.  But, whether we like what Donald Sterling had to say or not, he has the RIGHT protected by the laws of this great land, written into the Constitution of the United States under the First Amendment for free speech.  Oh, and by the way, there was a guy by the name of Martin Luther King that had a dream and a whole lot of really good quotes.  One of my favorites has always been, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” That dream has been realized.  To drive that point home, 51 years after that speech was delivered, we have a black president in his SECOND term.

Listen, Donald Sterling is an ass.  So, if you don’t like the fact that he doesn’t want black people going to the Clipper’s games, then stop financially supporting him or the sponsors for that team.  Donald Sterling is a dumb ass.  But abdicating YOUR rights to free speech because you think he shouldn’t be allowed to say stupid things, makes you even a bigger dumb ass.

There will always be a Donald Sterling out there.  Whether he is talking trash about black people, white people, Hispanics, Catholics, the Tea-Party, or Autistic kids, people have the right to be stupid.  So be smarter and don’t give them a platform, your money or your attention.  Focus on what is good and see through the initial wave of garbage peddled to you by the media.  Our freedoms are being stripped away and the American people are mutely and submissively allowing it in the name of Homeland Security, safety, fear-mongering, or whatever.  Donald Sterling is a dumb ass.  And he was a dumb ass in the privacy of his own home.  This is NOT a media story.

On another note…..Major Homeschool Education Day for BEAR….

There are four seasons in the year.  They occur every year in the exact same order, changing every three months, so it really is something that should be anticipated.  Spring is the season that comes AFTER winter.  Winter is cold and the grass does NOT grow.  SPRING is the season that it rains….. A LOT.  Which makes the grass grow tall.  TALL.  So, instead of waiting until our property looks like it’s about to go into foreclosure or is a registered HUD home, MOW it.  Otherwise, the job that should take no more than 45 minutes will stretch out to over FIVE hours.  And guess what????  I’m not paying you by the hour, which really sucked for you today.  But every time the lawn mower choked, died and you threw the f-bomb at it, your sister and I laughed until I couldn’t handle it any more and I had grab my camera.

I love you, son.  Let’s hope this was a learning experience for you.  Otherwise, it’s going to be a really long spring for you.

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Apr 29 2014

Storms, Faith and Some Really Poor Phrasing

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April 29, 2014

We had storms blow through Georgia last night.  Nothing like Arkansas, they lost 16 people two nights ago and Oklahoma lost one, not to mention the devastation they suffered structurally.  We had wind, rain, some hail……branches and leaves strewn about, minor things, truly, but when I don’t have Kevin by my side, everything just seems more.  More scary, more threatening, more overwhelming, just….more.  We really live independently, for a married couple that works, lives and schools in the same house.  He has his roles and I have mine.  The two don’t really rub each other wrong unless something out of the ordinary crops up or our plates become overflowing.  When he travels, forget it.  The kids are off, the dogs are off, I’m off, my nerves are shorter and I snap more.  Bear walks around either trying to sneak up and scare me (which I just LOVE…..not) or he says, 100 times a day, “you’re a cranky mom.”  I absolutely glow each and every time he utters this…..like a nuclear reactor.

However, the storms last night also pulled us closer together.  We had assigned jobs, in case the tornado sirens went off,  Atlanta was under tornado watch throughout the night.  Bear was to collect the cats and kennel them, I would leash the dogs and grab specific items that needed to go downstairs with us, Emily would wake up Bryson and make sure he and a pile of blankets and pillows would get down the stairs.  We kept the windows open, but I don’t think anyone really slept well, except for Bryson.  He is still young enough to really fall into a deep sleep and not have worry bother him.

The night was uneventful and completely not restful.  But our lawns are watered, the flowers look beautiful, the greens are greener and baseball is cancelled tonight because our fields are under water.  All in all, win for us!

But I am sorrowful for all the families that lost loved ones and those that are completely displaced.  I wonder at the phrase people say when they hear someone was spared, “God was protecting you.”  Was God not protecting the neighbor next door that lost a two year old or an entire family?  Why do we say that God protects some but not all?

I love God.  Jesus is my Lord, my Savior.  He is my Redeemer and my Sanctuary.  He is my Mercy and my Grace.  But He is not the Wizard that works behind a green curtain in the land of Oz.  His ways are not my ways and it is not for me to have perfect understanding or sometimes, any understanding at all.  I just have my faith.  And my faith tells me that I am never far from Him nor does He ever leave me.  He was with the neighbor that was spared and He held the ones that died in the palm of His hands.

I don’t understand much, really.  I am so perfectly imperfect.  I snap at the kids, dropped an f-bomb at my husband right before he left for the airport, loud enough for our neighbors, who really ARE awesome Christians, to hear me and wonder at the luck they had when we moved in next door.  I don’t know why Emily and Bear’s friends mom died Sunday night of a heart attack, weeks before the oldest was to graduate high school and the youngest was to complete 7th grade.  I don’t understand the storms life wrecks upon our lives and our hearts, but I do rejoice in the dawning of a new day, sunsets and rebirth.  I know nothing comes from easy or smooth.  Growth, change and success are all wrought from hardship, strife and failure.  The Lord forges us in fire in order for us to become the people He wants us to be.  Empathy and compassion are born solely in the shared life experiences we have.

So, do I have understanding?  No.  But I do have faith.  I know, without question, that in ALL things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28.  We may never know the why of things or maybe we will receive a glimmer of understanding years later.  Sometimes God has things happen to us that really aren’t about us at all…..but for those around us and in our lives at that time.  The picture is bigger than we are.  We are but a pinhole in the canvas.  The difficulty is that in all of us, we are our most important…it’s the classic narcissist.  Us being perfectly imperfect.


Apr 28 2014

So, really, what we are talking about here is PRACTICE.

April 28, 2014

I love my Canon 5D Mark III.  I am still unable to wrap my brain around the fact that I actually own one, courtesy of my amazing and awesome husband.  I am studying the mechanics of the machine and there are several areas that before were very confusing for me, but by slowly chipping away through some really great photography books, I feel like I am gaining some knowledge ground.  Can I hear an ‘Amen’?  AMEN!

I am working on my exposure values and what scenario dictates which criteria.  The one thing that I am really noticing that when shooting in AV, if the subject is moving AT ALL……the photo more than likely will not have the crisp lines I like so much.  But when shooting in TV, I am not able to get the bokeh I crave in my photos.  So that leaves me shooting more and more in Manual.  Yikes.

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Jan 10 2014

For all Things, There is a Season.

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For all things, there is a season.  Well, for many things, or most things…..but not ALL things.  Some things will never come to pass and for those, we need to let go and accept.  However, for the things that DO come to pass, understanding timing and seasons necessitates the importance of having and perfecting patience but most importantly, the ability of perfecting patience comes from an unwavering foundation of faith.

I gave birth to Emily when I was 26 years old.  That doesn’t sound very young, but by today’s standards when many women are waiting until they are in their 30′s to start having a family, I felt completely unprepared emotionally to navigate relationships with other women that had children at that time.  Due to my immaturity, while listening to the accolades of a rival tiny tot, I knew on some level you needed to step up your infant game.  I watched you lay there, in the safety of our home surrounded by soft blankets and adorable stuffed animals, cooing and pulling on your toes.  Drool dripping down your perfect chin, poo filling your diaper,  soft smiles rounding your face and I knew you were not taking your job of excelling and blowing these other tiny tots out of the water with your innate awesomeness seriously enough.  I struggled with the challenge of imparting to you the importance sleeping through the night before Charlotte’s baby (oh, I couldn’t STAND her…..), walking before 9 months let alone running, peeing on command at 11 months and reciting your alphabet in mandarin at 12 months.  I can not count the times we had conversations late into the night regarding these issues and more, but you simply did not care.  You were going to wake up four times every night for the next four years, babble until you were almost three years old and you decided that pooping in your diaper was way more entertaining than using some dumb plastic throne with rhinestones that sang songs to you every time you’d sit on it.  I tried to tell you you were lagging behind, but you kept telling me you didn’t care.  You see, Emily, even as a tot, you were smarter than your old mom.  Because innately, you understood that there was a time for everything.  It just took me longer to figure out.  That, and I clearly was not resting in the faith that the Lord had it all in hand and all I needed to do was love you.  Argh.

So, with the lesson you taught me, I understood that although other people do and accomplish things at certain times, you and the boys will accomplish things that are perfectly timed for you, in your season, whenever that may be.  No one can rush the process, in fact, it is in the rushing of that process that we are made to feel stupid, less than and unaccomplished.  Someone once told me that every flower blooms in its own time.  How surprising that the most beautiful truths can be told with the utmost simplicity.  So, my darling children, do not measure yourself by whatever anyone else may be doing, for you are not them and they are not you.  Your flower is blooming in its most perfect time, and God has a specific time and season for everything in your life.  Read these words and hear their truth.  Your timing, your season is YOURS, not be confused or competed with anyone else.

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3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

Sometimes, the letters I write to you children are actually meant as reminders to myself.  I love you all, my precious ones.  I am sorry for the thousand times I pushed you when what you needed was patience and faith.

Love always,

Mom


Jan 9 2014

If This Was My Last Message to You…..

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When your dad and I started dating, exactly one million years ago, I remember telling him that for my entire young life, I had always had the overwhelming sense that I would not live a long life.  I don’t know why I felt that way, but it was a fairly clear impression and the fact that I am 45 years old and have had the privilege of watching you grow up to the ripe ages of 19, 15 and 11, I am so very grateful because it is more than I thought I would ever have.  So, as morbid as this topic is, I have wanted to write to you about the things that I think are important should one day I know longer have the opportunity.  I started writing a section of this blog called, Letters to my Kids a while back.  This year, I really want to focus more on this and hopefully send it out and have it bound in book form for the three of you.

If this were my last message to you……..there are SO many things that are important, but the MOST important thing?  I would want to imprint upon your heart and soul 1 Corinthians 13:13.  But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

So many times when we read a biblical verse, or see it painted on a canvas, we simply pass over the words without truly giving them an opportunity to sink in and resonate within us.  Without the resonation, there will be no absorption.   No absorption, no change will take place in our thoughts or behaviors.

Children, consider the words carefully.  “Now” is not pertaining to a period of time, but more in the logical sense.  “Abideth” means fundamental and permanent, not coming and going on the whim of emotion or well-being.  P-E-R-M-A-N-E-N-T.  And the greatest of these is love.  Why?  Because love is the only way we can overlook another person’s inadequacies or short-comings.  Love blinds us and protects us from harsh realities.  Because love frees us from the bondage of unforgiveness, hurt and betrayal.  And pure love is the answered prayer that is given to you only by God.  It doesn’t come from us, because as imperfect people, we are unable to love in that way.

Real world application:  Your grandparents decided years ago to cut us from their lives.  I am sure that in their minds and hearts they are completely justified in doing so.  I am not here to qualify their reasons or defend our position, only to say that in the fallout since, your father has been deeply hurt.  It is impossible for us to get over their rejection on our own, to let go of the anger we hold inside.  Righteous or not, that anger and unforgiveness only serves to continue to hurt us and keep us from truly being the spouses, parents, and friends God intends for us to be.  Only if we love your grandparents, truly love them, will we be free.  Loving them doesn’t mean call or see them.  It doesn’t mean we will exchange Christmas or birthday cards.  Loving them means that whatever they are doing in their lives, with whomever they are doing it with, we want only the very best for them and we rejoice in all their successes and morn for their losses.  We are freed from the chains that bound in anger and hurt.  The truth is, we can’t change your grandparents hearts, we can’t convince them we are not bad people and it is not possible for us to make someone love us when they don’t have love in their hearts.

World view will teach you to hate and hold grudges.  World view will ingrain upon you to demand what “you deserve”.  Do NOT prescribe to world view EVER.  Always go to the Lord, seek the wise counsel of God.  The path is not easier, in fact it most probably is harder, but the Lord paid your wage of slavery through the sacrifice of His life, in an effort to keep you free, not to place you back into the bonds of slavery through anger, hurt and unforgiveness.  The ticket to freedom is found in the verse of 1 Corinthians 13:13.  But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is LOVE.

Your parents have and will fail you, your siblings will fail you, your friends will fail you, your spouse will fail you, your job and boss will fail you…..this I promise you.  We are all imperfect therefore bound to failure, but love, the love that comes directly from the hand of God, will give you the ability to free you from chokehold of anger.  Ponder this, you only have hope in what you love and you will only find faith in what you believe and you believe in only that which you love.

Be free from the bonds of unforgiveness and anger, children.  Loving someone does NOT mean they have to be in your life, it means they will not have the ability to control it.  Pray.  God will answer you.

Love you always,

Mom


Jan 5 2014

2014

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January 5th, 2014

A new year. A new beginning. A new opportunity. A new start.

I don’t want to create a list of resolutions, I consistently break those and eventually feel like a loser having failed at something I know I ought to be doing. I just want to do differently so I can be different and have different outcomes…..otherwise it is all more of the same.

I want God to be more of a presence in my life. What can I do to make that happen? I can get up each morning at 5:00 a.m. and read devotionals, pray and listen to podcasts of Andy Stanley, Johnny Hunt, etc. We can go to church together as a family on Sundays. I can go to Women’s Fellowship Studies on Wednesday nights.

I need to take care of my body, physically. What can I do to make that happen? I can be more responsible in choosing the foods that I eat. I need to exercise and incorporate yoga and ti chi, daily. I can walk the dogs.

I need to be a better mom to my kids. How can I do that? I will spend time daily with each child. Actively listen, not to respond to what they are saying, but to hear their voices and validate their worth. I will prepare family dinner four times a week and breakfast daily.

I will invest in the person God wants me to be. I will read the books, take the classes and volunteer where called. I will make it a priority because I am one.

I will love my husband like no one else can. Because he is my soul, my friend and my foundation. He is my best friend.

This is my new year, my new beginning, a new opportunity and a new start.


Jan 6 2013

Don’t Be Just Another Christian……

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Dear Kids,

It is my desire for you to live a Christ-centered life. Your father is the spiritual head of our home and he prays over us and for us each night. We speak about Christ in our daily lives and I actively encourage you to pursue Christ in all aspects of your lives.   But there is something that is happening in the Christian sect that deeply disturbs me.  It’s the judgment that seems to pour out of Christians like water pouring from a vase or foul language from your mother’s lips.   Neither are going to change, I’m afraid. I try to not cuss, but since I don’t smoke, do drugs, eat, drink consistently or run around on your dad, sailor-talk is my vice.

Let me be clear…..YOU’RE not allowed to have foul language. Hypocritical?  Probably. But this is one of those times I get to pull the parental trump card. Just because I do it, it DOES NOT give you license. Accept it. That rule isn’t ever going to change. But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.

There is a large population of “church-going”, Sunday-best wearin’, Bible reading, and judgment-preaching Christians that seem to have a fairly loud voice. They attend the homeschool academy you attend, they are in our small groups, they write on blogs and feverishly post on Facebook and in editorials. And they seem to thrive on making sure we are clear on what sin looks like and who’s doing it. Homosexuals seem to be the current punching bag, but nothing is really off limits. I just read several responses in regards to the Le Mis. film that just came out and how the main character’s descent into prostitution was so foul that they could not EVER imagine allowing their children to watch that movie.

I’m not sure how to tell you this, so I am going to just come out with it. You are a sinner. Yep. Every day, no matter how much you pray or how hard you try, you my little miscreants…..are sinners. It’s kind of a past, present, future type thing. You HAVE sinned, you ARE sinning and you WILL BE sinning. It’s how God made us. Imperfect. And do you know why? Because GOD is perfect and if WE were perfect, would we need him? Nope, we wouldn’t. But as sinners, created to imperfect and to fail, we are to look to God for ways to be better, to do better, to love better, to be kind, to show mercy and grace, to have compassion. But Christians, not all but many, seem to find cold comfort in pointing out and highlighting the sin and failure of others. Because somehow, when they point out the sin in others, their own sin seems somehow diminished or less consequential.  But what it really elevates is the hateful, petty, small-mindedness of humanity.

Just because someone is sinning differently than you, their sin is not bigger or worse than yours. Be VERY careful to not sit in judgment of others. It makes you mean and as unChrist-like as you can get.

There is a quote that says “To love is to see the face of God.” Meditate on that. Look deeply within yourselves. Be the person that Christ compels you to be, not the petty Christian who feels the need to walk on the backs of the down-trodden. Remember, the righteous always feel righteous…..even when they are wrong. But hold this truth in your heart and guard it well, it is NEVER wrong to show love, mercy and compassion. Leave the judgment to Christ. He knows way more than we ever will.

I love you,

Mom


Dec 11 2012

Did You Just Say that with a Straight Face?

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October, November and December are usually my busiest times during the year in terms of scheduling family photo shoots.  It’s one of those things we generally put off until we have to have “that” photo of our family for our Christmas cards.

Last Sunday, I was doing a mini-sessions at a historical home in Roswell with an 18 month old, when low and behold…..guess who shows up????  Santa Claus and his lovely wife, Mrs. Claus.  I couldn’t have planned it better.  As the elderly couple were making their way of the front stairs that led to the veranda, baby’s mommy and I were cooing and making a fuss over our unexpected guests.  They graciously allowed us to quickly take a couple of photos with them and the toddler when a woman came up behind them out of nowhere.

“I have 35 little girls waiting to see Santa.”  She said as she glared at my client and me.  Santa turned to her and said, “Oh, I’m sorry, dear.  I didn’t realize I was late.”

I stared at the ballsy woman thinking I didn’t realize that Santa was only for some people and if you weren’t on that list, forget about seeing him.

Merry Christmas, Scrooge.  I hope you receive a LOT more Christmas cheer than you are handing out.


Oct 11 2012

Enough with the Attitude Already.

Really?  Did you not get the memo?  You are nine.  NINE. I am the grown up, the adult, the big cheese, the one IN CHARGE. Not you.  You are short, you tend to be lazy and your attitude SUCKS. And all this together time is really starting to annoy me.  So, I suggest that you QUIT arguing with me (just assume you are wrong so don’t even start) and get focused on your schoolwork.  Because my level of patience has OFFICIALLY run out and I am STARING RIGHT AT YOU. As Daddy would tell you, “Nothing good is going to come from this.”

I am writing this down because I clearly need to vent and I don’t want to hurt your feelings by actually saying some of this stuff out loud.

But if you keep pushing me, all bets are off.  Homeschooling is NOT for pansies.