Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Country vs. Suburbia

When my husband and I moved 5 years ago, we left a large city and moved to a small town. We chose to live just outside that small town on about 7 acres of land. There are great advantages to living in a metropolis, but there are things I love about our simple country life, as well. So, here I go to discuss the pros and cons of country and city life. . . Hang with me, though, and don't go out and buy a country home before you read my second list - especially the part about animals. . . Okay here goes. . .

Reasons why I love my country life:
1.) Wide open spaces - Something about driving down the little road to our home brings songs like Wide open spaces (Dixie Chicks) and I want to live where the green grass grows (Tim McGraw) to mind. It is spacious and serene. You can breathe deeply of the fresh country air. And, my boys can run and yell and laugh as loud and as hard as they want at anytime day or night. And, that is a good thing, a great thing. I love to watch them run, hard, across the grass. It just feels good.
2.) The Animals - Now this will also be a negative. . . We have a neighbor (down the road, turn left, & up a big hill) with 7 horses or as JCT refers to them, "ney neys." We regularly see deer, turkey, and rabbits. Canadian Geese mate at our pond every spring. Which reminds me, our pond is stocked with brim and bass. On occasion we have seen beaver and foxes. And, animals are so fun for little boys!!
3.) The sounds & smells- Summer nights here are alive with noise. Frogs croaking, crickets chirping, etc. We were gone for a week once this summer, and as we unpacked our car upon our arrival home, the sounds of the country were pure music to my ears. And, there is a smell here, a good smell, that is home to me. I smell it as soon as I open the car door after a long road trip. It is pure heaven to me. And, I have to mention my favorite country smell. . . the overwhelming smell of the wild honeysuckle that grow in the woods around our house.
4.) The stars - I could teach an astronomy class for homeschoolers in my front yard on any clear night. I love it. We have only one street light - way down the street from us. So, night is a thick blanket of black sky, and it seems every star in the universe is visible. After Erik and I put the boys to bed, we take a walk around the yard. It is pure peace to my soul.
5.) Quiet - Our street is quiet, really quiet. No lie, if we are laying in bed at 10:30 and a car drives down our road, my husband jumps out of bed and looks out the window to see who it is!! No one on our street (besides us, on occasion) stays out past 10. Another thing that I love is that we know eachother. As a neighborhood, we know eachother well. We keep an eye on eachother's houses. As the boys play in the evening, our whole family stops and waves everytime a car drives by to welcome another neighbor home after a day at work. It really is a nice sort of place to live, our simple sweet country home.
Okay, so here is the rest of the story. . .

Reasons why I'd love to run to suburbia. . .
1.) Starbucks chai latte - I have to drive approximately 30 miles to indulge in one of these.
2.)Animals - Okay, here goes, if anything will scare you out of living in the country the next few sentences will do the trick. Shortly after we moved here, I encountered 3 scary animals in a mere 24 hours. I almost made Erik pack up and move me (but, I'm glad I didn't). Okay, it began one afternoon when I saw a snake in the backyard. Erik had said that if I saw a snake I should kill it with a hoe. So, I quoted 2 Tim. 1:7 and went to get the lethal hoe. (Did I mention that I was raised in city limits?) Okay, now my primary goal here was not really so much to kill the snake, but rather to be able to tell this story valiantly to my husband over dinner. "Oh, honey, I forgot to tell you what I did today. . ." So, I raised the hoe above my head, and with all my might, I hit that silly snake. The only problem is that I guess I wasn't strong enough to actually sever the snake, so I just made him mad, really mad, stabbed him in the back mad! As soon as the hoe hit his back, he sat up - like the cobras you see on animal planet, and he hissed. So, I dropped the hoe, said, "You win," and ran in the house as fast as I could!! A few hours later Erik and I had a run-in with a wounded bird caught in our breezeway. We thought it was a bat(remember the pitch black nights - we couldn't see), so I, of course was screaming at the top of my lungs while he fumbled around looking for the right key! If those 2 weren't bad enough, the story goes on. We went inside, discussed moving me to the city, and then went to bed. The next morning I got up to tinkle. All was well until I stood up. Through my sleepy eyes, I saw something in the toliet, but I couldn't make out what it was. So, I turned on the light, and I saw it, the last straw, he was going to have to move me to the city. . . It was a mouse, yes, a mouse, in my toliet, dead, floating, with his little ears, etc. I showed him to my husband. Erik said he came up through the septic system. I said I didn't want a septic system any more. I don't want animals in my toliets, especially disease-infested rodents. Oh, my. . . Thankfully, I can honestly say none of these things have happened since. I may have seen one other snake, but no wounded birds or rodents.
3.) Mega-churches with awesome pastors - All my city-friends have great churches with awesome praise & worship and teaching. I get fed mainly off the internet and through Bible studies. My country church does however have wonderful potluck dinners, and the organist can really rock!! :-)
4.) Easy access to workout facilities - My workout includes pushing my boys in a jog stroller up to see the "ney neys." And, if you have ever seen the hill I have to climb to get there, you'd know that this definitely qualifies as a workout!!
5.) Target, Pottery Barn, a wide variety of restaurants, zoos, etc. We have to drive a good distance for these things, and that at times can be quite disturbing.

But, all in all the simple life suits me. I'm quite content to stay here as long as God would have us to stay. "Bloom where you're planted" is a quote I try to live by, and in the sweet country earth, blooming has come naturally for me!!


Or is it 2+1+1+1=5?? Either way, a new member will added to our family next May!! We are tickled to death!! My two boys had due dates in February (Joshua the 17th and James Christofer the 25th), but both came on February 4th. Don't ask me how that happened - completely unplanned. We are praying that this baby will NOT be born on February 4th - that would be much too early!!! I am so excited about having a spring baby!!

There is something so unique and wonderful about being pregnant, about seeing two lines on that silly little stick!!! It is knowing that within you God is at work weaving, molding, creating a precious little life. What an honor that he allows us the privilege of participating in the creation process with Him. I love being pregnant. I really love being pregnant. And, I have awful varicose veins during pregnancy, but it is so worth it!! I can't wait to feel the flutters!! The magic of the moment is as awesome today as it was the day I found out that I was pregnant with Joshua. A new life - thank You, Lord!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hair Question - please help!!!

I have been growing my hair out for over a year now to donate to Locks of Love. All of the sudden in the shower this morning, I had a revelation!!!! I could give my hair to Cecilia!! I got so excited just at the thought!!!! Here is the problem/question: Does anyone know if this is possible?? And, if it is how do I go about starting the process? I don't have much time. She will start chemo in a month or so. . . Thanks so much!!

I am really enjoying you all and your comments!! What precious women you are!!

Baby Praise. . .

I don't think there is anything sweeter in a mother's ear than the first time her baby utters the most beautiful word in any language. . . Jesus. Ohhhh, what that does to my soul!! And, when they begin to sing praises to Jesus. . . It warms my heart to the very core, and I know it does His, as well. This to me is more meaningful than my baby's first word. I remember the first time I heard both of my boys utter my Savior's name. Music to a Mama's ears. . . After all that is what it's all about, this whole parenting thing, passing on the legacy of Christ. There is just something so precious about those baby voices singing to their Maker.

As I was cleaning up after lunch yesterday, I heard it. It was soft and somwhat broken but clear, nonetheless. James Christofer, my 18 month old, was singing these words: "Oooohhhhh, how I wuv Desus. . .Ooooohhhh, how I wuv Desus. . ." We sing it every single night to him, but this is the first time his lips have uttered praise of his own admission. I just stood there listening for a minute, imagining Jesus' smile, and then I got down on the floor to help him with the rest of the words! Beautiful day!

This brings me to a funny Joshua story. . . He was 2 when he said these things, but I will never forget them. He came up to me one day and said, "Mommy, sing the egg song." I tried so hard to think of a song with eggs in it, but I couldn't. So, I said, "I don't know what song you mean." To which he replied, "You know the EGG song." "Sing a little for me. . ." I requested. He began singing, "We egg-zalt Thee. We egg-zalt Thee." It is amazing what they hear. He thought that song was about eggs!! :-)

But, the story goes on. . . Another day around that same time, he was sitting in his high-chair eating applesauce while I was cleaning up the dishes. He started singing, "Applesauce, applesauce where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away. . ." (At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light. . .) I nearly dropped the dishes and fell on the floor laughing!! And, the more I laughed the more he sang!! Aren't little ones the best!!!! This is another bedtime song of ours and so is the egg song!! Don't you know Jesus gets the biggest kicks out of our children!!

From the lips of children, He has ordained His praise. . .

You all are TOO sweet. . .

Okay, I am almost completey computer iliterate so have patience with me!! I think blogging is going to teach me a lot about my computer, and that is a very good thing!! I wanted to comment on your comments, but I wasn't sure how to direct them to your individual comments. Does that make sense??

Anyway, thank you, thank you, thank you for your comments!! I feel so warmly welcomed! Talk about hospitality!! Give me a week or so, and I will mosey on over to your blogspots to get to know you!! I can already tell that I am going to like this hobby a lot!!!

I, also, wanted to give you all a quick update on my precious sister-in-love, Cecilia. She had a completely normal PET scan yesterday!! This is a huge answer to prayer!! It means that the cancer is not anywhere else below the neck. She still has to have a brain MRI and an MRI of the tissue behind her breast implants. But, the prognosis is great!!! My dad said that when my brother called to give him the good news Kelly (my brother) was crying so hard that Dad couldn't even understand him!!! They are hugely relieved and praising God!! Now, she still has a long road ahead, so please keep her in your prayers. Since the cancer is in her lymph system, she will have to have TAC (hard chemo) for 4-6 months. She may have to have radiation, but this will depend on what they find out from the MRIs. She will have to undergo one surgery to remove more lymphnodes for testing (please pray for little or no lymphedema), and possibly another surgery to remove the tissue behind her breast implants. So, as I said the road is long, but it is much easier to take with such a good prognosis!!!!! :-) Thank You, Jesus!!!

I am already brainstorming of things that I can do for her once the chemo starts. I live 8 hours away, so I can't be there. If you have any ideas of sweet things I can do or send to her during each of her treatments, please let me know. I really want to encourage her and make her feel super uplifted and embraced by God and our family.

Thanks again so much for welcoming me!! I am excited to get to know you all!!!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I love a rainy day!

Ahhh!! It is rainy outside, and it is not just sprinkling. . . No, it is my favorite kind of rain. You know those afternoon thundershowers with distant rolling thunder and calm soothing, soul cleansing rain. I am at peace. I don't like violent storms with scary lightening. We lived in Florida for one year, and it was that year that I developed a healthy fear of lightening.

Today's kind of rain is ideal. It started rainy as we finished our lunch. By the time I got the boys upstairs to put them down for their naps, the rain and rolling thunder had begun and it was almost as dark as night in their rooms. I sang to both boys at the same time today. Holding James Christofer, I sang standing beside Joshua's bed where he lay, eyes closed, under the covers. It was perfectly peaceful, a soothing prelude to sleep. And, now that they are asleep, I am enjoying a cup of hot coffee with French Vanilla Creamer, of course, in front of my computer. Does life get better than this? For me, this is a dream afternoon.

I don't know why I love rainy days so much, but for as long as I can remember, I have. I tend to be a little Type A, so maybe it is simply that I don't feel compelled to overachieve on rainy days. I am content to sit back and enjoy the sound of the rain and thunder. Some of my favorite memories of Joshua's first year are of sitting on the front porch rocking him to sleep while it rained. Rain does something to my soul. It awakens a peace within me. It makes me slow down and rest. I rarely go out on rainy days - with children that is just a messy experience I avoid if at all possible. So, rainy days are slow, stay at home days, and I love them!

We have a large pond in our back yard, and I love to watch the raindrops hit the top of the water. At first when it is just beginning to rain, each drop causes ripples on the pond. Then, as the rain pours down the pond erupts into millions of small splashes covering nearly every inch of the pond. Our home is surrounded on three sides by woods, so I love to watch the rain and wind move the through the trees. And, for some reason the deer and turkey come out when it is raining. My boys love to watch the wild animals walk through our backyard.

I promise, I am not a depressed or lonely person, but I do love rainy days. Like a dry plant, something about the rain revives me, and it just feels good. My boys love the rain, too. But, this is because I let them play in the puddles outside the front door from time to time. This is a win/win situation. They get to splash and play together while I get to rock, relax, and enjoy the rain.

On a lighter note, Joshua informed me of a weather phenomenon that I was not previously aware of. . . This morning he informed me that rain was "when God tinkles." I tried to explain to him that God was spirit, and He doesn't have to tinkle. . . but I don't think he got it.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Poe poes

"Poe poe", this is the Dukes family's word for, you know, that part of the body that boys have and girls do not. That is the nicest way I can think to explain it. Anyway, I am the only girl in this home, and therefore, I am the only one without a poe poe. The males in this house, and I think everywhere, take a certain liking to this particular body part. Somehow it is elevated above other body parts. Even my 18 month old, when I change his diaper, cannot keep his hands above his belly button. When I open his diaper, his hands instinctively go immediately, before I can catch them, down there. It is like some sort of magnetic field outside his control. And, then he looks up at me eyes shining, smiling from ear to ear, and says, "Poe Poe!" What is that? I just don't get it.

But, last week Joshua said something that made me laugh. I rarely get to use the bathroom without an audience. This particular day I had only one onlooker - my 3 year old son. He was staring at me thoughtfully. And, then with pained expression, he very seriously asked, "Mommy, did someone just tear your poe poe off? Did someone just get some scissors and cut your poe poe off?" It was one of those mommy moments where your child is completely serious, but you cannot help laughing out loud. So, for the one hundred millionth time I explained that Mommy does not have a poe poe. "Mommy is a girl, and girls do not have poe poes. Daddy, Rain (our dog), Joshua, and James Christofer are boys, so you all have poe poes. But, mommy is a girl, so I do not have a poe poe. That is the way God made me." He just stared at me with that same pained expression as if God had somehow cheated me. And, then, the conversation ended with his looking sweetly at me, and saying, "Oh, I'm sorry, Mommy."

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Cecilia's Cup

I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to write in my first post. I was consumed with words and thoughts all day. Just counting down the hours until the boys went to bed, and I could unleash my thoughts into cyberspace. I couldn't wait to embark on this new adventure - blogging (what a funny word). But, things didn't happen quite as planned. . .

Shortly after I tucked my youngest into bed, a phone call came that changed everything. My brother's wife, my sweet sister-in-love, Cecilia, has cancer again. The surgeon called them this evening, yes, Sunday evening, to let them know. Cecilia, my hero, was diagnosed with breast cancer the first time at age 32. She had a double mastectomy and after several months gained the prestigious title of Cancer Survivor. This all happened in 2003. I will never forget how emotional it was watching her walk in her pink t-shirt during the Survivor parade at the Little Rock Race for the Cure only months after her diagnosis! She is such an inspiration to me, beautiful, beautiful girl.

Sometimes when I receive unhappy news I respond immediately, and sometimes it takes some time to let it soak in. For example, a few weeks ago while we were on vacation, my mom called to let us know that Cecilia had found a knot under her arm, a lymphnode. My reaction was immediate. Tears burned my eyes before I could even respond. I just bent over and leaned on my husband. But, tonight I responded completely different. Erik took the call, but I knew immediately what was being said. I simply sat on the couch with my face in my hands and went somewhat numb. I just sat there for probably 10 minutes, maybe more. Honestly, I wasn't really praying or thinking, just sitting, staring. I really don't remember what happened next, but I do remember when it finally sunk in. Out of the deep dark evening sky came a single thought, a single word, and that word was frail. We are frail. And, with that word came a multitude of emotions and tears. As I sat there heartbroken, the words to a song by one of my favorite song writers of all time - Rich Mullins, came to my mind. "We are frail. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. . . we must be awfully small and not as strong as we think we are." We are frail. We are made in His imagine, but unlike Him we are needy, we are weak. We are in need of a Savior. We are in need of redemption, of mercy, of grace, of healing - physical and spiritual. We are needy. Breath by breath we, in all our frailty, need Him. He makes the weak strong, and He is the lifter of our heads.

I had originally planned to write about my life verse - Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure. I was going to write about how I am embracing the cup (life) He has blessed me with, etc. But, now all I can think of is the cup placed before Cecilia tonight during a phone call with a doctor. Contemplating the possible contents of that cup is a bit too much for me to bear right now. They have 2 young girls (1st and 4th grade). No doubt they will watch their mother take this cup with the strength and grace of a true woman of God because that is exactly who Cecilia is. But, it is so hard to take. A very Godly friend of mine recently reminded me that even Christ was given a cup that He didn't want to take. "Father, if it be Your will, take this cup from me." She went on to remind me that though our cup may be more than we can bear He never asks us to bear it alone. He will endure it alongside us. Those words, thank you, Sarah, have been a healing balm to my heart tonight.

Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure. What a comfort to know that nothing is overlooked by Him. That He knows our cup; He measures our cup. And, He holds our hands while we drink deep of it. What a Savior, what a friend!

Now I don't know what Cecilia's cup holds, but I do know Who holds Cecilia. Isaiah says He carries His lambs close to His heart. And, she is that sweet lamb resting safe on His breast. May she feel that love tonight. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know that her lot is secure. . . safe and secure. Safe in the nailed scarred hands of Jesus. She is safe in His embrace no matter what this cup may hold. And, that is what matters most.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Testing. . .

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My photo
Hi! I live in a sweet country home overflowing with love, laughter, and little ones. I have been blessed to journey these days beside a man that I love, respect, and admire. He is my soul-mate and best friend. Together we are seeking to raise our seven children to be lovers of God, to be wise and discerning, and to be all that our sweet God created them to be. I am in the goldfish and cheerio stage of life, but I am keenly aware that these days are slipping right through my hands. This blog is my attempt to keep our memories safe for years to come.


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