My Girl, Button Girl

We sent Amanda off last night, first to my parent’s house in Birmingham so that they could make the rest of the trip to school with her. They wanted to celebrate a late Christmas with my brother and his family and also wanted to make sure that Amanda got to school safely. It’s convenient since my brother and SEU are in the same city.

She picked her car up yesterday, half finished, and it’s sort of a long story. The little caravan made it as far as Dothan, AL when her car started pouring transmission fluid. I got a call from her that went something like this

“(mumble, mumble, mumble,) been shot! Pouring fluid!”

As much as I appreciate my daughter’s dramatic side, I wasn’t appreciating it at that moment. The translation was that Babette, her car, looked like she’d been shot because transmission fluid was pouring out. No one had actually been shot.

Babette has now been towed and is in a repair shop in Dothan. It can’t be looked at until tomorrow and then they’ll determine whether or not it had anything to do with the damage from the raccoon. It will be at least Monday before it can be repaired so she and my parents are driving on to Lakeland. This whole thing seems so bizarre. It has been taken completely out of my hands and is in the hands of people I’ve never met before and my parents. I’m praying for wisdom for everyone involved and trust that 1. this didn’t take God by surprise and 2. that He has a plan. I’ll also say that I don’t like this feeling of being completely useless. I’m so thankful though that my parents are there, making the decisions and taking care of her so she’s not there by herself.

And now, I have a little announcement. I’ve started another little project where I’ll be posting  tutorials, recipes, homeschool ideas, etc. I’m not completely sure how much of that site will contain thoughts like this or what it looks like. I have a plan but I’m also trying to figure out what it’s all going to look like and how it’s going to come together. Probably the best way to figure it out is to actually commit to writing there and not so much over here. I’m a little sad because Button Girl is a cute title but is sort of unrealistic for me to keep forever. Which I outline in my first post at AmyButton.com. My goal is to post two days a week and I’ve done that for this week. I’ve got tons of ideas for posting fun, relevant things for people that have the same interests as I do. I envision myself as a faith-based DIY-stay-at-home-gluten-free-homeschooling-mom….that has a dog.

I hope you’ll follow along. I want to have a lot of fun in the process of making things pretty or delicious or crafty…whatever we’re doing that day.

Blessings (because I really don’t want to say adieu),

Amy

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The Year in Review Part 2

Our anniversary followed dropping Amanda off at school and at the very last minute my Dad suggested we meet at a resort in Florence, AL. While it may sound a little kooky to meet my parents at a resort, my Dad gets a ridiculously low rate because he works for a world class golf trail that’s associated with it. Seeing as how we weren’t planning on a fabulous resort retreat for that anniversary it sounded fabulous!

The girls loved the aquarium. Yes, the girls were with us. They kept my Mom and Dad company while Travis and I explored the area.

It had a swanky hallway and fabulous floors.

The view from our balcony to the left was the Tennessee River.

And to the right was the resort pool.

The decor is a bit rustic/outdoorsy…

They cater to golfers after all.

It was warm for the end of September and my Dad spent hours swimming with the girls. For them it was the best trip ever. The kid swimming like a fish? That’s Chloe.

This resort is in Muscle Shoals, AL and is close to the Rosenbaum House which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

This is the front of the house.

The most fantastic part of the whole house was the windows. The focal point of everything was the outdoors which is a big bonus because while I appreciate the design to an extent, the inside of the house was ugly and impractical. Frank Lloyd Wright was an egomaniac. In my humble opinion, of course.

He said of the Rosenbaums that they lived in the house “properly” and that’s because they never changed a thing. The floors were concrete, in Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorite color, brick red.

Sorry for the blurry pics. My camera had gotten increasingly unreliable…so it was replaced for Christmas. That wasn’t in time for this though.

This blurry shot (wink) is looking from the study into the living room and dining area.

And here’s the study, my favorite room in the house.

I think it’s because this room had carpet. It felt like the most comfortable room in the house. I could do the whole tour but I think that I might save that for better pictures and another day. I’d definitely see the house again. I couldn’t live in it but I really liked the tour. The tour guide was very personable, let me ask a lot of questions and he let me take pictures of the whole house once the tour was done. A lot of museums and tours like that won’t.

Travis and I also discovered Florence. It had a large, historic downtown. It’s not as nice as Franklin’s because a lot of stores were closed or hadn’t been refurbished. There were quite a few nice restaurants though. We ate at Rosie’s Cantina.

I loved it although I’m certain that something I ate had gluten in it. I got a little careless. I made up for it that night when we found a Demos‘ (the commercials pronounce it Demus), the only one outside of TN and they had a gluten free menu. I had steak and Jim’s famous spinach (love that stuff) and my tummy that had been aching a bit felt much better. I wish there was a Demo’s in Franklin.

We wanted to get to the Helen Keller house but it was closed on Sunday…bummer. I guess we’ll have to go back (insert sly grin here).

I loved everything about this trip and I really want to go back. For you Nashvillians, it’s only about 2 1/2 hours from Franklin so it could be a day trip although I highly recommend the Marriott Shoals, Rosie’s Cantina and downtown Florence for a fun mini vacation.

Happy Traveling,

Amy

You Might Have Noticed

So, you might have noticed that my last post is missing. It is and it’s not a computer glitch. See, Travis and I have vastly different views of what being discreet is. My view of being discreet is what I wrote and his is more something like this…

God is doing big stuff! Yay!

Only he wouldn’t say it like that. I suppose that’s the cheerleader version. He’d say it in a guy way. But I’m not a guy.

Anybody that knows us knows that we are really different. Different is good. As it applies to us, he keeps me from flying off into space, um scratch that, I don’t want to go into space. He keeps me from taking off on a cross-country road trip at the drop of a hat and I keep him from being too…I’m not sure that anything I could say here wouldn’t sound insulting. And that certainly isn’t my intent. Travis is just a really cautious guy. And in this case, it pertained directly to him so I pulled the post. It’s not the first time our ideas of what’s discreet and what isn’t haven’t lined up. And it won’t be the last.

I really do enjoy playing the part of the spit-fire in our relationship. It’s fun and it hasn’t made him crazy. Well, sometimes it does. But I find it very amusing and our life might be boring otherwise. I’m very thankful to be married to a guy that gets me, that doesn’t expect me to be perfect and tells me I’m beautiful about 100 times a day. I really like that about him.

Blessings,

Amy

Resurfacing

Yes, it’s been a while. It isn’t that I haven’t had time to write, it’s that I don’t need the distraction that comes with blogging. Every blogger *loves* comments. Whether one loves attention or not. Whether one is self confident or not. Everyone wants to know that someone is reading and likes what you wrote. I tend to get distracted by that. And I’ve needed to focus. To really focus on what my family needs rather than my own hobby (or hobbies), to give Chloe what she needs in this new, demanding school year, to focus on Halle, on my husband and our marriage.

See, the thing is, good kids don’t happen by accident. Marriages, friendships, school years, family relationships, etc. aren’t successful by accident. It takes focus.

And I’m a dreamer.

Focus doesn’t come easily to dreamers.

But I’m not content to just say, “That’s the way I am”. And leave it at that. I don’t think that my personal needs are the trump card in life. Yes, what I need is important (lest you think I’m a martyr, believe me, I am not) but the list of things I really, actually need is very small.

And what Chloe needs is for me to walk through 5th grade with her. I may not be her full-time teacher but it’s my job to set her up for success rather than failure (more on that later). Halle needs me to be fully present when we’re going through her lessons. Travis needs me to be his biggest supporter. And what do I get in return?

I get a husband and kids that adore me. They think I’m the best ever…even when I don’t think I’m the best ever.

And that is why I need to focus. It doesn’t mean I won’t write, I will. Maybe I always will. I can’t really seem to stop writing forever. I guess I can say that I’m a work in progress. I’ve seen homeschool moms that do outings and blog and own a business and all manner of craziness. I can’t imagine that’s the way it will be with me. But if I can do school and clean and cook and write and be very present in the lives of my family without being distracted…then I suppose I’m doing my job well.

Hugs, Amy

Finally

 

I’ve been back for 3 whole weeks now. Don’t fret though, I haven’t been crying into my coffee every morning. I’ve just been thinking and trying to find what normal is and the girls and I were enjoying our last little bit of summer.

Then last week hit us like a train.

School started for Chloe and Halle, I helped a friend that’s moving to India (I should/could maybe say more than that…later…maybe…they say it better), I helped a friend with her wedding reception and both of those friends needed more help than I realized so I did a bit more than I thought I would and school ended up just getting scrapped by the end of the week. I really tried, honest. But life happened and we’ll do better this week.

I want to write about our trip and all that happened and the amazing things that have happened since then but I got distracted by this last week…

We spent 3 days out at this place last week helping set up for a wedding reception. Oddly enough these are the only 3 pictures I took and I didn’t take any of the very cool barn or any of the decorations or flower arrangements… It’s a bit disappointing but I was busy and didn’t want to take a lot of time to take pictures. I wish I had. It was so beautiful and I  fell in love.

Today? Today is school for Halle, Chloe will likely do homework even though she has a cold. Then I will chauffeur some ferns to Columbia (south of here) so that the lovely couple can honeymoon and not worry about things like returning ferns.

Respite

My, my, my…these last few weeks have been a lot of things. The good, the bad, the ugly all somehow wrapped into something beautiful. A friend asked last week, “So what’s going on?” Basically, what huge thing is happening that’s turned everything upside down? And I really struggled to put into words things that are happening. And while a few things are external, things we can see, a lot more of it has been internal, a chipping away at so many things. It’s just a season of change for us and as much as I want change, as much as I want God’s will to be done in us, change is hard.

And it’s good. Really, really, really good. Again, mostly it’s internal. It’s not something you can stick in the bank. But I can see it and it’s amazing. I can honestly say that I have never been more excited about God’s timing than I am right now. His plans for us are good and rushing things (like I always try to do) isn’t helpful. He wants a completed work. And I’m really, truly excited about that.

Over the last couple of years I have been emptied of everything both good and bad and I’m being filled back up with so many good things. I’m really excited about painting again. It doesn’t have to be daily but painting at all is good. I’m writing for fun (besides blogging) and am really enjoying it. I bought a very girly, super-cute journal and I’m handwriting a story. Mostly because staring at a blank computer page seems like it would be soul-draining. Plus, at some point, it will give my girls something to read and it seems more special since it’s handwritten.

Music will still be part of my life because it’s just part of who I am. I’m not sure in what capacity. When I was a kid it was the only thing that I ever thought or dreamed of. Being a singer on stage was the greatest thing ever to me. But I’m coming to realize that there are many other things that I love to do and I don’t have to be completely one dimensional as far as interests. I am certain of one thing though. Whatever I do, it’s going to be artsy. I’ve tried to not be the artsy girl. I’ve tried to be more serious and it’s mostly because I’m not taken seriously. It just comes with the female, blond-ish haired, blue-eyed territory. Not by people that know me, but by those that don’t. I have a story I could illustrate with but I won’t. I could say that it doesn’t bug me but it does. I’ve just decided that I’m going to go with my strengths.

I’ve tried to be interested in the things that I thought were noble or academic or pleasing to other people. Or (and this is a big one) what I thought would be pleasing to God (“Surely if I do *this* it will make God happy!”) And while I do want to minister to people in whatever capacity the Lord gives me, I found that I’m really interested in flowers. And art. And cottages. And glass doorknobs. And I have to think that being what God made me to be instead of what I think that people want me to be  has to be okay with Him. He made me this way. And if I’m not Mother Theresa, He’s okay with that. Because He only called Mother Theresa to do what He asked of her.

I suppose it’s pretty obvious that I’ve really struggled with this.  Being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom that paints and writes and cooks and bakes is not how I saw myself. I wanted to do more. And “more” is a whole other subject. But for me, that’s a trap and a snare. The guilt of not “achieving” something tangible. But even when I was doing something “tangible” all I thought of was my kids, gardening, cottages, and glass doorknobs.

And for now I’ll leave it at that.

Count It All Joy?

I was going to write about pizza today. Really. But I think I’ll take a more serious route today, mostly because I’m thinking serious thoughts. And well, I like to think on paper, or computer screen, or whatever.

But on a not serious note, my car part is sitting on the front porch. It’s mostly mocking me because my car is in the shop. I’m not at the shop and Travis is at work, so there it sits. Laughing at me.

I am a firm believer in God speaking. To me or to you. And God speaks in many ways.  I don’t really have time to do all of the research necessary to line out my argument for God speaking to people. It’s found all throughout the Bible and some Christians believe in it and some don’t. I do and this is my blog. And this is the stuff I write about.

Testing. We’ve all been there. Our family is there now and I really didn’t see it coming. I have to say that at first I was really angry. It just seemed like we’d been through enough and I hadn’t had time to fully enjoy recovering from that. And then the Lord asked us to step out in faith. And we did. And it absolutely did not go the way we expected it to. I didn’t understand then and I don’t really understand now. But one day as I was walking outside I was thinking about everything that was happening and how I didn’t understand any of it and I heard the Lord whisper, “If you were supposed to understand, you would.” It’s amazing to me how something so simple can be so profound.

During that time of walking it out other things were happening too. Amanda and Brian broke up. And that’s not my story to tell but I shared with you all that they were together and it was serious so I should probably at least let you know that they aren’t together. And watching Amanda deal with all of that pain has been really hard. There have been several things in the last few months that I was hoping for or prayed for and I’d come out of a time of prayer only to find out the exact opposite of what I prayed for was happening. It happened time after time, one thing after another until I finally realized that God was speaking. Not in a voice but through my circumstances it became very apparent that God wanted me to learn how to deal with disappointment in a way that was healthy.

I’m a stuffer. Any other stuffers out there? What’s a stuffer? A stuffer is one who deals with disappointment or anger or frustration or anything else by not dealing with it but stuffing it inside and pretending it didn’t happen. Or by holding a grudge. Unfortunately, there’s only so much stuffing that one can do before it all starts spewing out like a volcano. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that’s a bad way to handle things.

So I had to deal with disappointment. I’ve hinted at it a bit in some of my previous posts but the crux of it is that I had to learn to deal with things. Putting it off until I was sobbing wasn’t going to be an option anymore. Okay, disappointment dealt with.

Then there came more and more things I realized that I needed to deal with. During a prayer time the Holy Spirit reminded me of some specific people that had done some really rotten things to me. I said that I’d forgiven them but I didn’t really do it the right way because I still held a grudge. I didn’t realize that I was but it was there. It wasn’t even terribly difficult to deal with, I just forgave them and let go of the grudge. I thought, “Wow, that was easy!”

And I realized that sure, I’ve dealt with a lot of things. Sin, attitudes (oh, how I could talk about my attitude!), actions, etc. And I found a level of freedom in Christ that I never thought possible. Coincidentally, freedom in Christ means real freedom in every day life. But there was residue. Things that were hanging on that I didn’t realize were there. And the Holy Spirit was chipping away at them nearly daily.

It really reminded me of the episode of Myth Busters with the cement truck. Have you ever seen that one? It ended up with the cement truck being blown to bits and I’m really glad the Holy Spirit doesn’t work that way.

So where are we now? Well, we’ve stepped out in faith again and again we’re getting clobbered. Did you know that your mortgage can go up because the FHA decides to charge more for PMI? I didn’t but now I do. Your mortgage company can also present you with a bill for $xxx because not enough money was put into escrow to cover the raise in PMI. On top of the car repairs, on top of homeschool supplies, on top of putting Chloe in the academy, oh and taxes that we have to pay this year. It’s actually starting to seem a little bit ridiculous.

So I was thinking about it the other night and I wondered if I could actually “count it all joy.”

2Count it all joy, my brothers,b when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Could I do it? Is it possible? How can I find joy when things are getting more and more difficult?

(I want to take a moment to say that what Travis and I are dealing with now is nothing like what we’ve dealt with in the past. There is a distinct difference between faith being tested and dealing with the effects of hidden sin. That is another thing for (maybe) another day but it’s different. It looks different. There is (as pastor Dale would say) a different aroma. There is no blanket of oppression hovering over our house. There isn’t a sense of impending doom. There is nothing here but hope in our creator. That God is absolutely in control of all of this and that he is working all of this for our good.)

So, can I count it all joy? As I was lying in bed, thinking about all of this I decided I’d give it a shot. I mean, in the past I’ve been depressed, frustrated, angry, fearful and pretty much any human emotion that one can experience. It couldn’t really hurt to give it a try, could it? I mean, I could think about it all constantly and crunch the numbers and constantly look at how impossible things are or I could lay it down and think, no, that I could know that God is in control of this and that He is perfecting the work that He started in me. I can know that it’s God’s will for Chloe to be at the Academy next year and that He will provide a way. I can know that this season is just that. It’s a season and it will pass. And it’s going to pass into a new day that I have longed for and looked for and have expected for years. What is it going to look like? I don’t know. But I know it’s good. Because my Father is good. He wastes nothing. And the years that I have seen as lost are going to result in a harvest for the Kingdom.

This isn’t robo-faith. What’s robo-faith? Well, I’ll tell you. A few years ago when Travis and I were still in a horrible state, I was going through Freedom in Christ with my dear friend and mentor. There was a part in the book that asked me to rate how happy I was with life, what I would change, etc. And I said that I was completely happy and that I would change nothing. Lori looked at my tiny little house and my furniture with the holes in it and was somewhat incredulous that I would say such a thing. The truth is that I was completely miserable. Everything in my life (with the exception of my kids) was nothing but misery. She challenged me and because I respect the people that God has place in my life, I prayed about it. And this is what God said, “Amy, you have tried so hard to be perfect in your faith that you’ve become a robot. I haven’t called you to be a robot.”

I didn’t know what to do with that. I took 5 semesters of theology, plus nearly every Bible class known to mankind and I knew the answers. I knew how I was supposed to respond. I knew the right words to say. But under that knowledge and the thought that I should, like Paul, be content in whatever my circumstances, was a seething anger that my circumstances were so miserable.And again, those were not circumstances where I was suffering for the gospel. It’s different.

So, robo-faith is not real faith. That’s my point. That’s the “stuffing” and lying to myself that I talked about a couple of posts ago.

How is this going to end? I’m really not sure. I’m not going to make any grand declarations of the specifics of what God is going to do. He hasn’t revealed the whole plan. He has given me some things to pray about. He is absolutely redeeming the past. And we are moving forward. Sometimes slowly, sometimes with tears. But today I will count it all joy. And tomorrow, by His grace, I will.

Another Trip

After we got home from B’ham and had Amanda’s birthday party we decided to go with my mom to see my grandpa. It had been several years since I visited and he’d never met Travis or the younger two girls. So, our life for the past couple of months has been:

Painting, de-cluttering, patching, repairing, bathroom remodel, trip to Birmingham, cleaning up the chaos from the bathroom remodel, 21st birthday party and a trip to Arkansas. I’m not including the day-to-day things like homeschool and such. So, I’ve been a bit frazzled.

We decided to take my mom with us so that dad could stay home and work. And the drive was uneventful until we hit a detour. We really, really should have checked the news first. I hadn’t paid much attention to the flooding in Memphis and Arkansas. I should have. We took the mother of all detours, it was miserable and our 9 hour drive took 12. Thankfully everybody stayed in good spirits until the end of the day. We’d been on back roads in Arkansas, there was flooding everywhere and there wasn’t a restaurant in sight. Just rice fields and flooding. So, we decided to stop at Ruby Tuesday’s to get some real food. That’s when Chloe completely lost it and had a total meltdown in the bathroom. I can’t say that I blame her, I felt like having a meltdown myself. We got it together and mac-n-cheese helped.

My grandpa is in a nursing home and his wife, Lucille was waiting for us at home. She’s my step-grandmother. I don’t like to use “step” because she’s been married to my grandpa for several years (my grandma died when I was 16) and she’s as sweet as she could possibly be. A friend of mine summed it up well when she said “Cinderella ruined it for everybody.” Anyway, we visited for a bit and then we crashed.

The next morning we visited with my grandpa for a while and then made the trip to Booneville (really) to visit my grandma and aunt’s graves. We took pictures and I was unexpectedly emotional about the whole thing. Then we took the kids to Sonic to blow off some steam. The restaurant was brand new and had a playground. The girls had been so patient to be in the car for so many hours and they really appreciated the time to play. They also appreciated the banana splits we got them.

Then we raced back to Paris to meet my Grandma Lucille, Mom and Uncle Paul for dinner at *the* local restaurant. Really, everybody goes there. And I see why. The food was great. Then it was back to see my grandpa, who really doesn’t stay awake for long, and then we raced to the top of Mt. Magazine to watch the sunset. Whew! Our trip up was so rewarding though. I was expecting it to be beautiful and I knew that a resort had been built in the last few years but I wasn’t really expecting it to be as beautiful as it was.

This was our little oasis in the midst of chaos. The week we left, Travis hadn’t gotten home before 1 am from work. He was so tired. But he was so sweet to take me to the places I wanted to see without a second of hesitation or complaining.

Trav and me…after hours of driving and visiting and…

The lodge. It’s actually a state owned resort. Tennessee has several lodges at several state parks but none of them look like this.

Um, the toads or frogs, I’m not sure. I should be sure but I’m not. They were *so* loud and they were everywhere on the front side of the resort. Not on the back side though. Weird.

I love my kids for so many reasons…and I’m just so surprised that they even thought to pick these guys up.

We left about 8:15 the next morning and the flood waters hadn’t receded enough for I-40 to be open yet. So we had to take a shorter but still really long detour. I had no idea that Arkansas grew so.much.rice. I really wish that I hadn’t missed my cousins by one week. I haven’t seen them since I was 17 and I’d really like to catch up with them. I’m not sure when we’ll go back again. But I’m really glad we went.

Content?

It was just a few short weeks ago that I told a friend and all of you that things were “calm”. I was happy with calm. I was content with calm. And now things are not calm.

I wasn’t ready for that.

There have been times that I haven’t been content but recently I have been. For the first time in my life I felt truly content with the way things were and I have to say, it was a really nice feeling. I had a sense that something was coming, I just didn’t think that overnight we’d come to the realization that in order to move forward, we’d have to sell our house.

The upside is that we’re doing things that have needed to be done for years now but I really wanted to just focus on homeschool. I figured we’d wait until I was done with the school year and then we’d start working on things again in the summer. I’ve never gotten a house ready to sell and I think it’s a lot scarier than buying a house. When you’re buying, everyone is willing to do the work for you. A real estate agent shows the houses, a loan officer makes the loan, inspectors inspect and all we had to do was make decisions…and sign papers. I liked the buying side much better. Except I was so nervous I didn’t sleep for a month. Bah! It makes me want to get through this, move somewhere and park it for the rest of my life.

A week from tomorrow, assuming we have all the supplies, our bathroom is getting ripped out. We’ve talked about it since the first time we saw the house and now it seems that it’s actually going to happen. I’ll be at my parent’s house because the laundry room has to be emptied too so that the flooring can be replaced. I probably don’t need to tell you that there’s no room for people in the house when we have to empty a room and store things inside the house. It would be really nice to have a garage.

I think that most often, it’s the times that I’m uncomfortable that brings the most growth. I’m very uncomfortable right now and I realize how much I like/need for things to be calm and normal and predictable. I think I’m just a little surprised at how uncomfortable this whole thing has made me. I thought I was more adventurous than that. I always picture myself as strong, kind of like a sunflower. They don’t need much. They’ll grow pretty much anywhere. But in reality I’m more like an orchid. If there’s too much water, I wilt. If there’s not enough, I wilt. Too much sun? Wilting. Not enough sun? Hear that? It’s me…wilting. I am very, very thankful that “His strength is made perfect in our (my) weakness.”

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Here are some photos of the remodeling fun…

Chloe has gotten big enough that she was a really big help. Taping things up went much faster…

Halle helped too but mostly she was there for our dose of cuteness.

What is seriously not cute is the outlets.

Previous owners had painted over the outlet and cover, leaving behind this mess. The simple solution was to buy outlet covers that are intended to be painted or wallpapered over.

At $2.50 a piece, we felt it was worth spending a little extra to not have to replace 4 outlets. And even though they can be painted, I don’t intend to. I think the white looks fine.

Now to tackle another closet…