Monday, July 31, 2006

Three Days to Go

My summer job comes to an end on Thursday. After that I will have a little vacation time before I get back into full swing for the school year. First I will have to endure a week of meetings (ugh!). On August 21, I will welcome a new batch of bright-eyed, nervous seventh graders into my classroom, and a new adventure will begin. Have a mentioned that I love being a teacher?

After a year of trial, romance, heartache, joy, and so much more; Chris and I will celebrate our first anniversary this next weekend. Can you believe that it’s really been a year? We’ll be taking a trip to Gatlinburg next weekend where we had our honeymoon. Returning to the scene of the crime! Last Saturday night, we shared a romantic dinner at Stoney River as a sort of pre-celebration for our anniversary. We were even rewarded with a free desert, an absolutely delicious cappuccino crème brulle, after I mentioned to the waitress that we were celebrating. Chris and I are shamelessly in love and sometimes irritatingly so, but I would rather that be the case than to be the opposite. I suppose we can get some sort of reprieve from judgment being that we are still newlyweds. Still if I use my parents as a model, I can hope to be in love like this for decades to come!

Here's us a little over a year ago:

Aren't we cute?

On Sunday afternoon, we went to visit Paw Paw, my dad’s father, who is now home from the hospital. I wrote about him and his health struggles in an earlier post. While he was in the hospital, he actually died and was gone for eight minutes before coming back. Of course you know that is highly unusual. They actually call him Miracle Man at the hospital, and I wonder what purpose God still has for him to fulfill. Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed our time with him. A few times he became overly excited in talking to us, and we had to get him to calm down and catch his breath. I think he was so excited to see us and really just to have company. Both Chris and I took hold of his hands and prayed with him before we left; I can’t adequately describe for you the sweetness of those moments. I hope that I will have a chance to go see him again soon and take him a pot of homemade soup.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Babies on the Brain

Yeah, so I have baby fever. But is it any wonder? I’ve been married for nearly a year, and I’m (gasp) 32. And there have been so many conversations about babies lately; I can’t seem to escape it (not that I really want to). Anyway, it comes down to this: God has a plan, and I trust His plan. Chris and I aren’t really in the position to have children at this time. We don’t have any place to put a baby in our cozy little apartment, and our financial situation certainly cannot support another person. There are a lot of details I would like to work on before a baby comes along. Still I know that you can’t wait until all the factors are right; they never will be. Thus I return to my faith in God’s plan. If He gives us a child; He will also give us a way to take care of that child.

People have told me that I would be a good mother. Two people made that comment just today. I really hope so. Chris is convinced that our first child will be a girl. I hope that he’s right, but I hope that she’s part of a set of twins. We have twins on both sides of our family, so it’s a distinct possibility that we could be blessed with our own set. Again, that’s where God comes in.

Right now our only baby is Bella, our pony-sized dog. Really, she’s rather large. Our nephew Jack actually took a little ride on her a few weeks ago! She’s very rambunctious when other people are around, but she’s the perfect companion when Chris and I are here alone. Right now she’s on the floor behind my chair keeping me company. She likes to be near us, and that’s fine with me.

Here's an old picture of Chris holding our baby Bella!(This was taken before Chris and I were married, and Bella was a bit smaller then.)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Therapy Train

“Therapy is expensive; popping bubble wrap is cheap! You choose.”

I love quotes. I thought the above one was not only amusing but also ridiculously true. Really, how many of you have actually felt some sort of strange release by popping bubble wrap. There is something cathartic about it. I am not in any way diminishing the merit of professional therapy when it is truly needed. However, I think that there are many cases where we should be able to help one another. That’s what truly living in community is about, but most of us don’t make the time or don’t take the time to really help others. And we don’t take the time to help ourselves. We let the every day stresses of life get to be too much.

This morning I woke up about an hour before the alarm went off. There were so many thoughts swirling around in my head, any number of them threatening to take away any peace that the previous night’s sleep had brought. I thought about waking Chris up to talk to him about it, and I thought about praying. But mostly what I did was lie awake and worry. How foolish! At 5:30 Chris and I were on our morning walk when I told him about this, and he gently reprimanded me for not waking him just as I reprimanded him the other night when he awoke with a horrendous migraine and neglected to wake me so that I could take care of him. Either of us would gladly forgo any amount of sleep in order to help the other.

So I started thinking of other things that are therapeutic without the hefty price tag. I’m not talking about things to do in order to escape from life; I mean things that really are progressive and helpful. Of course talking to a loved one, a friend, is at the top of that list. Exercising, painting, writing, and praying: these are all good. Are there other ones? I guess the point I like best in the quote above is that it’s your choice. We don’t have to stay in despair or even in a bad mood.

The story below has nothing to do with therapy; it’s just something that has been on my mind for the last couple days. I didn’t want to wait to write about it later. So, here it is….

When I was in college I used to sit on my friend Margaret’s back porch and listen to trains in the distance and wonder who might me on them. I guess we don’t really have many passenger trains, but people do still “jump” trains. Several of my friends told me during college that they had snuck on trains and ridden for hours or days just to see where it would take them. I can sit on my own balcony now and listen to the trains that travel by on the tracks that are quite close by. There’s something exciting and romantic while also remaining dark and mysterious about trains to me. It appeals to my imagination, and I can go far in that. One night while Chris and I were still just dating we had gone on a particularly long walk and chose to cross some trains tracks on the way home. We ended up walking on the tracks for a while until we heard a train coming behind us quite a ways off. While it was far away, it was not far enough for us to make it to the next road, and there was really nowhere to go to get away from the tracks. On either side of the tracks were deep ditches. We stepped off to one side and sat on the gravelly slope while the train raced by just a few feet behind us. It was an exhilarating and terrifying experience. Opposing thoughts and feelings combated in my mind: pictures of overturned trains that I had seen, the four boys in Stand By Me trying to outrun the train on the bridge, the image of the something being slung from between the wheels and the tracks and gashing me in the head or worse like in Final Destination, the song “Nothing Like a Train” by my favorite band Vigilantes of Love, the thrill of wind on my back, the roar of the wheels against the track, the steady pressure of Chris’s hand against my own, the question of what made me decide to walk down the tracks in the first place, and the hope that soon I would be happily strolling back to my home. I made it, and now I love trains even more.

Here comes another train now....

Thursday, July 20, 2006

At least the ending is happy….

I hate feeling trapped. My personal brand of claustrophobia doesn’t have to do with elevators or small closets but with situations where I don’t feel like I can make a quick getaway. When I arrive at a new place, my brain involuntarily maps a way out for me in case I need to take it. This also works in social situations or when I feel like I don’t have a choice in a matter. I think that may have a lot to do with my wanting so desperately to switch the office and the bedroom. I am not saying that we won’t be doing that this weekend; it could still happen. What I’m trying to say is that I feel so much better about being in my current bedroom because I have a choice in it. I guess before I just felt like that’s the way things had to be. It was logical. Of course you take the master bedroom and leave the small one for the office. Eh, I know I’m rambling. But hopefully you see my point.

I like choices.

I guess I will just have to let you know what happens with the mini-move.

Right now I don’t feel like I have a lot of choices in wardrobe. I’ve gained weight, and once again I have those feelings of being trapped. And I feel so embarrassed. I know that’s because we live in a society where looks are ultra important, and people who are overweight are viewed as lazy. I always worry that people are going to see me as lazy, and so I work really hard not to be viewed that way. Wow, how’s all this for being transparent? Anyway, for the weight gain, I know that part of that is because of being so sick this last year, and we couldn’t figure out why it was happening nor was it ever really solved. However, I’m doing much better health-wise and am now combating the extra pounds, but I don’t feel like I’m doing such a great job. And I see pictures of myself before, like when Chris and started dating. (There’s a pair of jeans I wore then that I am anxious to get back into.) I felt so great about myself then, and I want to feel that way again. So, I’m working out, drinking a lot of water, and trying to eat sensibly. I guess it’s just not happening quickly enough for me. And I need some encouragement.

I really feel like I need to end this post on a positive note…. This has been a long pause, only a few dots for you, but for me….Oh, I know. My dad came by my work today quite unexpectantly. He was smiling and looked so handsome. He asked me what I had brought for lunch. I told him I had a Healthy Choice meal in the freezer, and he asked me if that’s what I really wanted for lunch because he was going to run out to do a couple errands and come back. So, I ordered the California chicken salad from O’Charley’s, and he brought is back for me. So sweet of him! And this is my favorite salad; really, it’s delicious. You should try it. How’s that for positive?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I have lived in the same apartment building for six years. For the first five I lived with my wonderful, crazy, beautiful roommate Christina. (For those of you who know her, you know just what I mean. Spending time with her is always a delight.) When I got married in 2005, I moved across the hall to be with my husband. Yes, I married the boy next door! We are contemplating doing a little moving this weekend, just within our current apartment. I have tried in the last year to be comfortable, to get used to, our bedroom. Yet I still feel ill at ease there. So, we’ve decided to take the smaller bedroom for our own and use the larger bedroom as the office/storage/gym/Bella’s room. I know that might seem crazy to some, but I think that I will end up being happier that way. Interestingly enough Chris and both sets of our parents see this as a good and advisable idea; I didn’t see that coming. However, with Chris starting his own business, he will need more office space in the apartment, so there’s really more than one reason to switch rooms. I truly wish and fervently pray that soon we will be able to move out of this apartment altogether, but I also realize how many blessings have come to me from living there.

Those blessings are:
•I met Christina who has become one of my best friends and was able to stand up with me at my wedding.
•I met Chris. We never would have met otherwise, and he has been one of the most profound, beautiful, and unexpected gifts I’ve ever received.
•I would have died. Strange statement I know. But I wanted to stay in the apartments I was in before I moved to the ones I’m in now. I tried to stay. God wasn’t allowing it. A few months after I moved, a raging fire burned my old apartment building burned to the ground in the middle of the night, a night that I happened to take a sleeping pill, a night that my old roommate would have been out of town. I would not have wakened; I would have died. There are blessings in disguise.
•I really like the pool. It’s rarely busy; there are usually only a couple other people there. Often we even get to have it to ourselves.
•It’s only eight minutes away from my work.
•We live in a great neighborhood for walking, either in the neighborhood or in the park across the street from us.

We are looking forward to other blessings, specifically the blessing of a house. I have a picture of a cottage on our bulletin board. It’s the perfect little house for us, enough space to entertain in and grow into should God bless us with children and a big front porch to put rocking chairs on for cool spring and fall evenings. Apartments have always felt to me like transitional places or like a small cage for a bird that must keep her wings tucked. She can flutter from perch to perch, but there is no real freedom. So, I pray daily for a new home for my little family. Another dream of mine….

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Magical Moments

In the movie Phenomenon, George, played by John Travolta, wins the heart of a woman because he takes interest in her and her work. She makes chairs, and, without her knowledge, he buys them all when no one else will. Moments like that take me in and call me up to something romantic and magical… and then I remember that real life is rarely like that.

Today, I was feeling a bit low. I can’t really explain here what all was going on in my head, but it just wasn’t positive. Then I came home from work and spent a couple hours doing laundry, iron, and mopping the kitchen floor. Just as I was finishing my first run over the floor with the mop, I heard Chris coming in the door behind me. I managed to sigh a greeting and continued to work on the tiles. He just stood by the door. Finally, I leaned the mop against the wall and turned around.

He was holding a bouquet of roses. Beautiful yellow roses tipped in red with a bunch of babies breathe all around. “I thought you could use some flowers,” he said. I took the flowers from him, wrapped my arms around him, and remembered that romance really does exist.

These are much prettier than the picture, but I thought you might like to get an idea of what they look like.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The making of an artist….

I’ve always fancied myself to be an artist, or at least to have the heart of an artist. I’ve been a writer since I can remember. I’ve always hammed it up around the house and tried to be involved in theater through school and church. I live in a world of wild imagination, most of which gets no farther than my own mind. After taking a folk art painting class last fall, I am now excited about painting. A few weeks ago I posted a picture of a blank canvas; very soon I hope to post a picture of the finished product. Today I spent quite a bit of time sketching out ideas for future paintings.

I am by no means saying that I would ever be recognized by anyone else besides myself as an artist. If art is not appreciated by anyone else but the creator, then it is worthwhile. I enjoy exploring my imagination. I enjoy throwing color on a canvas and or words on a page and watching as what seems like chaos transform into something cohesive, something with a pleasant flow.

Do you want to know one of my wildest dreams? I want an old building to turn into a theater and coffeehouse. It would be full of original art and antique furniture with exquisite details. I would direct and/or produce plays, and bands would come to share their music. It would be a place where art would flourish, where life would thrive. It would be a place of beauty, where life could be explored and appreciated and shared.

In one of my many stories I’ve described this place, and it may continue to only exist there. I need to finish that story. It may be the only place that I’m able to really share that dream with others. And even if I never get to truly realize the dream of owning a place like I’ve described above, I will continue to dream about it. It’s so important to dream, even if those dreams only exist in one’s mind. I remember Steven Spielburg quoting someone else when he said, “The old dreams were good dreams. They did not come true, but the important thing is that I had them.”

One who never dreams never really lives. I plan to live.

Theme Park Nostalgia

On Saturday we returned the boys to their parents in Kentucky and stayed to go to Six Flags and an arena football game with them. Neither Chris nor I ride many rides, but we were happy to be hanging out with my brother and his family. I was explaining to my nephew Brent about how adults often have just as much fun watching kids have fun as the kids have in having the fun. I know that’s a strange concept for kids; I didn’t get it either when I was his age. Anyway, I think that we all had a good time at Six Flags. I haven’t been to a theme park in more years than I care to recall. I was very happy to see that they had really tall fans with misty water to help to cool everyone off. When did they start doing that? Great idea. The really annoying thing is that I had a headache all day yesterday, and instead of easing up, it just became continually worse until all I could do was collapse into bed. I tried very hard to refrain from letting my discomfort affect anyone else yesterday, and I think it worked out alright. And I did still manage to ride a few rides and have fun with everyone.

My brother, sister-in-law, and I all worked at Opryland in Nashville when we were teenagers. I actually still have my name tag. It’s extremely sad that it doesn’t still exist, especially since that’s where they met. Now a very large, somewhat pretentious mall stands in the spot, and Wayne and Laura can’t take their kids to the park and show them where they met and began to fall in love. I was thinking that some day that will happen to the apartments where Chris and I live. They are fine now, but they don’t really seem to be structures that will stand the test of time. Those units are individually owned, and someday a bunch of people will lose a lot of money when those buildings have to go. Chris and I rent, so we won’t really be out of anything except for years of rent payments that could have gone to pay on a mortgage. But our time to own a house has yet to come….

Anyway, back to Opryland. I loved working there. It was only for one summer, and my job consisted mostly of scooping ice cream in the Mayfield ice cream parlor. However, the best part was the fact that I could stay in the park when I finished my shift and play with my work friends. We would wander around flirting with boys, snagging free food from our friends, and hopping on the rides with wild abandon. Oh, to be young(er) and to be able to ride a roller coaster over and over with no side effects. It’s strange how those memories are so vivid even now. A little of the Grizzly Rampage still stands; I don’t know why they didn’t take it down. As for the rest of the park, I can only visit there in my dreams.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Boy Time!

We’ve had my three oldest nephews with us for the past few days, and before that I was too busy with all of the Fourth of July festivities to post anything. So, here I am today. There’s too much going on in my head to narrow in on one topic and write anything of consequence. Since Wednesday morning, I’ve taken the boys swimming four times, fixed enough food to feed an army, let them play about a dozen hours of video games, taken them to play Glow Golf, gone grocery shopping, and watched several movies. Yesterday Chris did not get home from work until around 8, and he was terribly missed. However, he’s taking the entire day off today. The boys love having him around; there’s a lot that can be said for the value of the male bonding that goes on between them.

Today promises to be eventful. I started the day by making Mickey Mouse waffles and turkey bacon for everyone. Now the boys are in the process of getting cleaned up so that we can go to the Frist Museum today. They have an Egyptian exhibit with mummies, perfect for boys. After that we’re going to have lunch at Jason’s Deli where they have ridiculously large loaded baked potatoes and free ice cream, also perfect for boys. The afternoon/evening will consist of swimming, a trip to the dog park, building a fire in one of the fire places of a pavilion in the park in order to make s’mores, and video game playing. Somewhere in there Chris has to take Bella to his parents’ house and switch vehicles. On Saturday we will return the boys to their parents, go to Six Flags, see an arena football game, and return home on Sunday.

As you can see, we have been and will continue to be busy. I need caffeine!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Exploring the Beauty

I’ve been thinking about heaven quite a bit lately. Not only has it often come up in my reading, but also, my grandfather, Paw Paw, had surgery last Monday, June 28, and has yet to awaken. In all honesty, my prayer is that he doesn’t wake up. I would much rather that he continues on the journey to heaven. I suppose that might seem odd, but I know that he has experienced far too much pain in the last couple years, and I know that the pleasure of heaven will far outweigh his suffering on earth.

Of course, that begins to bring to mind the mystery of exactly what heaven is like. Most people get the picture of an eternal church service, everyone wearing white and halos, angels playing harps and singing with achingly beautiful operatic voices. That’s interesting… for about ten minutes… if that. Where’s the vibrant color and creativity? What about all of those people who don’t like opera? What about those of us that really prefer not to wear white? I’m impressed that the streets are gold. That’s cool, but I don’t really get excited about gold. Is that really all that heaven is? No. Emphatically NO!

Everything that is lovely and fun and pure and spectacular about earth will be there. God is creative. He’s the one who came up with the Garden of Eden, hundreds of varieties of dogs, the Rockies, the process of metamorphosis for the butterfly, the seasons, sex, Niagra Falls, the Grand Canyon, snowflakes, deliciously juicy fruits, and so many other wonderful things. We are made in His image, and because of Him people like Van Gogh, Monet, Mozart, Renoir, Shakespeare, and many other artists were able to share glimpses of beauty with us.

God’s creativity is limitless. So why do we have such a bland idea of heaven?

I hope that while I am here on earth I will be able to explore more, to find a small hint of heaven on earth. I long to explore the Grand Canyon, to camp out there and to feel the wildness of the place. I want to visit some exotic island, one without the deep scar of tourism. I want to drink in the beauty of strange flowers I’ve never even imagined and watch the horizon as the sun sinks into glorious shades of crimson, burnt orange, and fiery yellow. I want to find a waterfall hidden deep within the woods and listen as it sings a song to the trees and rocks witch surround it -- and perhaps even discover that it has a message for me as well. I want adventure.

This life doesn’t afford most of us with very much adventure. Maybe I won’t be able to do all the things that I dream of. I know that I won’t be able to; I have pretty big dreams and an even bigger imagination. However, I know that if I don’t get to do all those things in this life, heaven will afford me with even bigger adventures and even grander dreams come true.

Will I grieve when Paw Paw passes? You better believe it. He will leave a void in the lives of those he leaves behind, but I will not be sad for him. His real adventure will have just begun!