It’s Official: Summer Has Begun!

We started summer off with a bang! We took the entire family on a week long cruise through the Western Caribbean. It was a blast! We started off the cruise by landing in Key West, Florida. My aunt Dottie lives there, so we had no reason to pay for an excursion. We had our very own private tour guide. It was a blast! I was truly surprised at all the charm in this town. I snapped all kinds of photos of quaint homes that I wanted to remember and dream about living in some day, but some turd head stole our camera on the trip, so the number of photos I have on our trip are borrowed from others and very limited.

While in Key West, we visited Mallory Circle, ate lunch at a local Colombian restaurant, ate a slice of famous Key Lime pie,

and went to the southernmost tip of the United States.

We did all of this while visiting with cousins and an aunt I haven’t been able to spend quality time with in years. It was truly an unforgettable experience. Thank you Dottie, Cy, Shelly, Jael, and Jade for showing us around the Keys. We love you, and yes, I promise to come back and visit again very soon!

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Published in: on June 6, 2010 at 5:25 am  Comments (4)  

Ignorance is No Defense

A couple of months ago my family listened to J. Tom Morgan speak on teens and the law. He is the author of a phenomenal book called Ignorance is No Defense. It is a must read for any teen living in the state of Georgia. It was eye opening to learn of the laws that affect teens as early as the age of 13.

While out shopping in November, my husband and I stumbled upon a watch shop in the mall roped off with crime tape. As we tried to maneuver around it, we noticed an athletic shoe store across from it had been roped off as well. We assumed it had been a Black Friday robbery or shoplifting event. There were policemen all around, and they were frantically blowing their whistles and shooing away onlookers. This infuriated me for many reasons.

On the way back down the escalator in front of the scene, I expressed my irritation at the police officers to a lady in front of me. I really wanted them to stop blowing their whistles at everyone. I felt it exaggerated the reality that the area is becoming more and more  ghetto; I also that the police were attempting to hide this fact from unsuspecting dwellers of the community. The lady proceeded to fill us in on the details of what was going on.

Apparently the police were blowing whistles and shooing people away because they didn’t want people staring at a puddle of  blood. Sure enough, as we descended down the stairs, you could see a red puddle on the ground. Apparently there had been a gang stabbing amongst some teens who appeared to range in age from 12-16. After listening to J. Tom Morgan, I knew that if the victim passed away, these teens wouldn’t stand a chance in a Georgia court. They would be tried for murder as an adult. My heart became so heavy that I was weeping before I even made it to my car.

What has happened to our youth? It breaks my heart to know that young people in my community have to join gangs in order to feel they are accepted and belong. I want to do something to help, but what? I have reached out in my own neighborhood, but I know it’s not enough. How does a community stop activity like this after it has started? What does a community do to prevent this behavior before it starts? For now, all I know to do is pray and hope for answers to come. Until then, I will continue reaching out to the younger children in my community in hopes the trend can be stopped before it begins in our next generation.

Published in: on January 8, 2010 at 9:51 pm  Comments (3)  

Resolutions. To do or not to do?


Ever since I was a little girl I would attempt to make New Year’s resolutions. A couple of years ago I even wrote them down and sealed them in an envelope so that I could read them a year later. In that envelope was a resolution to be back into a bikini by summer. I’m still sporting a conservative one piece. I guess there’s room for improvement in my success rate.

Last year life came at us hard. The weakened economy hit our home full force, kids were going wacko with hormonal changes, and I was trying my best to remain sane while working like a mad woman. I don’t believe I ever took time to make a resolution of any kind last year, yet I made some amazing changes. I have grown a lot as a person this last year. I learned a lot about faith. And love. Family and friends. I’m eager to continue growing in this manner, so I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions.

This year I’m still trying to zero in on a few to make that are doable and profitable. I still haven’t made my mind up. There’s so much I could be working on spiritually, physically, professionally, and emotionally. This morning at church, the minister speaking challenged me to go home and tackle four tasks: Define my values. Determine my priorities. Discover my life purpose. Discipline my mind.

The struggle is this. I am having a harder time with this than I care to admit. These are issues I should already be pretty sure of. My husband tried to breach this topic with me a month or so ago, and I shrugged him off. Yes, I was too busy to discuss such heavy issues at the time, but I think my shrugging was related to a bit more. I don’t think I completely understand and know what my values and priorities are. I am not sure what my life purpose is, and I know I am not disciplining my mind as much as I should.

Don’t get me wrong. I know what all of these things should be, but I’m not living up to them. I used to be certain of my values, had very determined priorities, and pretty much knew my purpose. And I was disciplined like no one else. But something happened to me over the years. Life’s curve balls made me look at things differently, and I think I lost a bit of who I am at the core. And I’ve not reconfigured all of who I am and what I believe in. Why? I’m not sure. Laziness? Lack of faith? Discouragement from past obstacles I’ve encountered? Fear? For whatever reason, I can tell I’m avoiding the challenge today in the same manner I was a month ago.

So, I think I will resolve to discover and understand my values, priorities, and purpose. I also resolve to discipline my mind so that I’m not afraid to take a long, deep look at myself. I know I have to work on my attitude. I’ve allowed myself to become quite the cynic at times, and I don’t want my cynicism to turn into bitterness. I had already resolved to change my attitude and how I view things in life. My hope is that as I work on improving my attitude, I will discover more important things about myself so that I can get my values and priorities in line. I guess this is a good start.

Are there any other resolutions I’ve made? Well, I resolve to keep off the weight I worked so hard to lose by beginning to run, and I resolve to tone up what fat is left. After all, I still want to be in a bikini by summer. Maybe I should write that one down and seal it in an envelope.

Now it’s your turn. What resolutions did you make?

Published in: on January 4, 2010 at 5:09 am  Comments (2)  

Goodbye 2009…

I am really going to miss you. You started out harsh and tough, but in response, I toughened up, survived you, and have so many good memories to boot! I don’t believe I have ever worked harder, loved more passionately, or made connections to my community the way I did this past year. I will miss you.

Just some highlights of 2009:

I finished my master’s degree!

Chris and I have both had some major changes to our careers, and what mixed blessings those have been!

I learned to laugh and love like never before in the midst of our trials. Boy, we had some amazing trials this year, but I look back at them with tears of joy. God is so good!

Maddie started high school.

Noah survived his first year of middle school, and he has had a successful start to his second year.

Maddie began driving, and I’m still alive:)

We started our neighborhood watch! It took over a year to get enough participants, but by golly we made it!

I learned a lot about myself and my family. We are so much stronger than I had given us credit for.

I take none of my blessings for granted. I have seen so many tough circumstances be miraculously turned around this year. Prayer is such a powerful thing, and God is faithful, even when we’re not.

Happy New Year!

Published in: on January 1, 2010 at 12:49 am  Comments (1)  

Weeknight Concerts and Memorable Moments

About a year and a half ago I stumbled upon a musician that quickly became a favorite. Not many know of him, although songs like Sweet Pea and Skipping Stones are often heard on television and in movies. It only took one listen to the song  Careless, and I was an instant fan. I am not one to care about attending concerts, but I knew that if Mr. Lee ever toured through Atlanta I was going to attend. After receiving a tip from a fellow fan that Mr. Lee was coming to Atlanta, I had secured concert tickets in less than five minutes. It was risky: the concert took place at eight o’clock on a week night, and as much as I hate to admit it, this girl needs her beauty sleep. But I HAD to go, and I am so glad I did.

I am not sure what my favorite performance was. It may have been the impromptu song he sang about things I cannot discuss without blushing, it may have been Shout out Loud, it may have been Southern Girlbut what I know is this: Amos Lee was at least ten times better sounding (and looking)  in person! And according to concert goers of other musicians, this is not the norm. Thank you Amos for a great night; I was wide awake the entire performance. I cannot wait for you to come back and perform again. And if you’ve never heard of Amos Lee before, then I am proud to have introduced him to you.

Published in: on May 25, 2009 at 5:38 pm  Comments (3)  

Neighborhood Watch: Part ???

Last summer my husband and I tried to initiate a neighborhood watch program in our neighborhood. This was no easy task, and before I knew it summer was up and school had begun. Neighborhood watch efforts quickly screached to a halt. For a while, it seemed that most unethical behaviors did too. I guess drug dealers and drug buyers feel the need to hibernate as much as the rest of us. But then spring came. The sun came out, temperatures began to rise, flowers began to bloom, and business began to boom. Literally!

Due to a weakened economy, houses are beginning to empty, and they are just sitting. No for sale signs, no for rent signs, nothing. Just vacant homes with lawns for ill-intending teens and young adults to loiter on. Last week I let my emotions get the best of me and shooed away some young people from a nearby vacant lot. Later I prayed about the best way to handle future situations of this sort, and I realize that I must reach out with firmness and love.

A police search involving about twenty officers (several in bullet proof vests) around a nearby home has caused me to resurrect my neighborhood watch efforts. I am trying more aggressively than ever to solicit help in reaching the neighbors we haven’t been able to reach. At last count we had almost 50% of the neighborhood willing to participate in the COPS program. We must have 75%. This means we’re almost 2/3 of the way there. Some people who were on board last time have since moved, so that means we have a little back paddling to do, but I feel confident we can do it. Please remember my neighborhood in your prayers tonight. We need all the “intervention” we can get!

Published in: on April 30, 2009 at 6:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Change…

Change is an interesting thing. For some of us it can be really scary. For others it is a challenge, warmly embraced. And for some, it’s a combination of the two. It is interesting to watch how others react in moments of change.

I am an oddity when it comes to dealing with change. Some changes I am able to embrace, yet others send my heart to flying and my palms to sweating. Yet lately, I have begun to notice that I am learning to remain more calm in the midst of storms. Those that know me understand what a testimony this is.

It’s funny, I have been through a lot of changes in the last two years. I got married, left the town I grew up in, and moved to a much, much larger city. I started a new job, watched my husband change jobs, watched my children grow and change very quickly in many different ways, and yet I am still sitting amongst even more changes. The funny thing is, I am becoming conditioned. Palms aren’t so sweaty, heart palpitations aren’t so frequent, breathing isn’t so heavy. I’m actually able to rest, believe, and have faith.

And who says there’s not a God? Without him none of this “calmness” would be possible:)

Jer 29:11 (NIV) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Published in: on April 29, 2009 at 6:39 am  Comments (1)  

Sleepless Nights, Waffles, and Spring Break


This week is my spring break. It is more like a spring “catch up” break, but I’ll take it as it is. On my endless to do list are two very important tasks: sleeping in and staying up late. It’s funny, but doing both makes me feel like a rebel. I remember my husband and I having a discussion about this character trait in me when we were dating. I told him I hated alarm clocks because I felt like they were bossing me around. (And no, I do not have control issues, despite what others may tell you!).

Last night I could not sleep. I was tired and restless, but no matter how hard I tried, sleep wouldn’t come. And then my stomach began to growl. I’m sure you’ve all experienced this feeling. I mentally did a kitchen inventory, looked over at my husband, and he offered a simple solution: a visit to the Waffle House. My conscious wouldn’t let me leave Noah behind, so I went into his room and asked him if he was game. He rolled over and looked at his alarm clock. It was after 12:30. He rubbed his eyes, looked up at me, and asked, “NOW?”

“Yes.”

“You’re pulling my chain aren’t you?”

“No.”

It didn’t take much more convincing, and the three of us were in the car on our way to fresh waffles, eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns. It was yummy, and it was exactly what I needed. Once home, I climbed into bed and sleep quickly fell upon me.

Ahhh… The joys of spring break. Life should consist of more moments like this.

Published in: on April 9, 2009 at 6:43 am  Comments (3)  

April is Autism Awareness Month

April 2 is National Autism Day, but the entire month of April is Autism Awareness month. How many of you know someone affected by this disorder?

According to Fraser, “Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the U.S., affecting 1 in 150 children. Every 20 minutes, a child is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism is more common than juvenile diabetes, childhood cancer and AIDS combined” (You can read the full article here.) In the last year and a half, I have been forced to conduct a lot of research on Autism, especially Asperger Syndrome. It is a fascinating condition, and if you know a child on the spectrum, you will most likely agree with me. Please become more informed this month. So many people do not understand autism and the effect it can have on people’s lives.  Most Aspies are misunderstood. Please join me and help me celebrate our differences.

Published in: on April 1, 2009 at 5:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Noah is 12!

Tomorrow Noah will be 12. It is so hard to believe. The past year has been rough for him (and the rest of us), but he has pulled out of it like a champ. He came home with a report card a few days ago containing all As and Bs!!! Conduct grades were all Es and Ss!! I could not be prouder of how hard he’s working.

Here’s to a wonderful new year. In one year my baby will be a teenager. Sigh.

Published in: on March 25, 2009 at 5:03 am  Comments (4)