Thursday, August 22, 2013

Third Graders

It really only takes two days to fall madly in love with third graders.  I mean, who can resist those cute smiles and precious hearts.  I'm glad God chose to let me share a year with each of them  About two weeks ago, I had only 5 students enrolled in third grade.  I prayed and asked God to give me 10 by the day school started.  

He gave me four more. 

This pic reminds me that I am still a third grader too.  I guess I make ten.

Thanks God. 

Every year these two get further and further from third grade.


Looking forward to all that this year holds for all of us.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mendota Gratitude

Our drive up through the mountains and the beautiful scenery and seeing the "strip" of rain in the distance....God's handiwork.

Huntin' Club lunch and how we met the Stone family and how she wanted to hug Caroline's neck.  

Meeting Jessie at the quick stop on the way into Mendota.  How gracious and kind he was and how he wanted to "escort" us a better way.

Pulling in to this sanctuary of delight and tranquility and plopping down with Eva immediately for conversation and laughter.

How Rebecca kept her new/old camera attached to her catching a picture at every turn... "This place is so beautiful!"

Driving into Mendota in the sunshine after a day full of rain.

Quilt Square barns.

Oth fishing with Andy and how they talked and talked of hunting and trapping and fishing and all the things they love.

Mary and the Dairy Farm and her country drawl and her darling spirit.

Driving from here to there with Eva... and how she knows EVERYBODY in every house on every corner, on every street.

Cobb Salad, "Place and Bake" cookies, and late night laughter with Seinfeld.

An unexpected girls trip to Tennessee Quilts and stopping for pictures all along the way.  

A breakfast stop at the Rally Mart for biscuits and how everyone already knows each other in this tiny little mountain town and wanted to know who we were too.

How all of us girls wanted to talk at once because there is so much to say when you have so much in common.

How Eva introduced me to everyone as her "cousin" even though I am just an "in-law-cousin-twice removed" by marriage.

Stopping for pictures at the Carter Fold and learning all the stories of the sites along the way.

This fabulous quilt store!

How Eva bought a stack of vintage prints and how we sat in the evening and cut them into squares for her first quilt.

Peachy Teas and Frenchy Fries at Pals.

The drive back through Bristol, by the speedway and hopping into "Short Sheets" only to discover the entire line of the storybook prints for 30% off the already marked down price!!!

How the owners just moved to Bristol from Greenville and have family in Anderson.  Our conversation about quilting.

All the sights and sounds of the mountainside; deer in the apple orchard, fawns frolicking about, skunks and groundhogs, honeybees and crickets...all the squawking birds.... it's delightful!

Mike and Eva and their gracious hospitality and delight to let us enjoy it all at their homestead for the weekend.

Making homemade salsa.

Watching the afternoon rain with a coke and conversation.

Grilling out with grassfed beef and home-grown Yukon gold potatoes.... and homemade peach pie.  Yum!

An afternoon golf cart drive.

The girls sharpening their driving skills....

...this one drives a car in less than a year!  (Yikes!)

All the swinging bridges.

How he waited for the rain to stop so he and Andy could fish.

Riding bikes down the dirt road.

Meeting Neth, Oth's adopted brother from Ethiopia.  His gentle spirit, love for service and obvious heart for the Lord.  His delight to be the first "kill" in the greatly anticipated evening skunk hunt!

Our little guest suite above the garage.  

How the girls suited up to feed the bees.... with excitement and a little fear.

How Eva coached them in and out.

Victory over fear!  (A memorable experience, for sure!)

 Visiting this tiny church on the side of a mountain.... full of history and people who were glad we were there.

 How it just so happened that Laura Cash (Johnny Cash's daughter-in-law) was in town for the weekend and shared some tunes for the service.  As the two time winner of the National Fiddle Contest, she can make that fiddle sing.  What an unexpected treat!

A Sunday afternoon visit with Aunt Barbara (Nana's oldest dear and sweet) and her boys.

How Jonathan opened his little Sandwich Shoppe just for us and prepared homemade sandwiches and scrumptious tomato soup.  How we sat around and talked for 2 hours(!) visiting and catching up. 

For a weekend filled with memories... that will surely last a lifetime.

Please visit Eva's blog, Rivercliff Cottage, for her words about our trip and pages full of Mendota memories!  She shares lots of "wonderful" here

Friday, August 2, 2013


Somewhere around this time last year, my oldest started talking about what she wanted for Christmas.  It was nothing i-related or even material-related.  She wanted to go on a missions trip.  That's all she wanted.  I thought it was a little "phase" and she would soon be asking for the "stuff."  

It was not a phase.  In fact she bugged us well into the holidays and we assured her on Christmas morning that we were praying about an opportunity in the future to allow her to go.  After all, she's was only 13 at the time!  

As the holidays rolled passed, she talked daily of her desire to serve in our community.  When she brought up how a friend went to the prison with her dad each week, I decided to call AIM.  (I am not ready for the prison.)

We started volunteering each week.  We would race over after school on Wednesdays and pack produce for the next days' clients.  It was our favorite day of the week.
I remember after only one week of service, the girls were hyper-sensitive about waste in our home and how "floppy" carrots are still perfectly edible.

Initially, I thought this was going to be a great opportunity for the girls to learn to serve in our community and see a world outside of theirs and grow compassion in their hearts for those who live life very differently than they do.
And yes, it has.  But I had no idea how God would stir my heart.

This summer we have been given the privilege of serving at AIM in another capacity.  Every Friday, we take lunchables and other goodies to the children in a small community in our area. It's an hour of our time and it takes hardly any effort.  It's not about the time.  It's not about the effort.  It's really just about opening our eyes to His kingdom.   

Not coincidentally, I picked up a book this summer to read, mainly because the author's blog makes me laugh out loud.  The book has caused a stirring in my heart that I pray will never cease.  
She says, "I want to belong to a community known for a different kind of beauty, the kind that heals and inspires.  I can't help but remember Jesus, and how God made sure to mention He was plain and simple by human standards.  There was nothing physically attractive about Jesus.  He wasn't rich or notorious, well-dressed or handsome.  At first glimpse Jesus was forgettable, neither standing out for beauty or charisma.  Maybe this is why the widow and marginalized and sick and outcast flocked to Him.  He was approachable in every way."

 "Jesus' kingdom continues in the way that it was launched; through humility, subversion, love, sacrifice, through calling empty religion to reform and behaving like we believe the meek will inherit the earth.  We cannot carry the gospel to the poor and lowly while emulating the practices of the rich and powerful.  We've been invited into a story that begins with humility and ends with glory; never the other way around."  (from Jen Hatmaker's book, "7")

 His kingdom is beautiful in every way.  

I'm just grateful for the opportunity to open my girls' eyes to it's beauty...
...and mine.