Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

As I sit here on this beautiful Christmas eve, I think of all that I have been given throughout my years.  Outside as a cold, crisp, white snow builds upon my grass, my heart is warmed by the love that has been given unconditionally by so many of those around me.  Inside, it is warm and cozy as I hear Santa coming through the house, and I remember those that are alone and shivering on this Christmas Eve.  I type while a variety of emotions swirl through my heart. 

I think of my sweet children dreaming in their beds.  I long for the feelings I had as a child anticipating the miracle of a Christmas morning.  I wish for the love that I felt with family tonight for all those in the world that have a hole in their heart.  I pray for health and happiness for all of my family, friends and loved ones across this city, state, and country.  I rejoice for the God that gave up His Son for me and my house; and as a small amount of repayment for a gift that can't be repaid, we WILL serve the Lord. 

Merry Christmas to all of you!  I pray that your day will be blessed with love and kindness.

As I crawl into my bed, these words will chorus through my head...

O Holy Night~
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Monday, December 20, 2010

We have a friend...



The thought manifests as the word. The word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit. And the habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care. And let it spring from love, born out of concern for all beings. ~Buddha

The Committee and I have a friend that is down and out.  He's near and dear to our heart.  He was in our wedding...he stood up for us on one very important day and said he believed in us.  He's one of us, whether he likes it or not. 

Anyway, he's had a rough month.  Repeatedly, things haven't gone his way.  He's given up half of his heart this December, and then just this week his whole house was ransacked.  It's been bad.

He needed a friend.  We needed to be a friend.  He needed to feel loved.  We needed to love.  And most of all, we needed to set the example for our boys that the Curlee Hairs love through thick and thin.  We needed to show them that in times of need, we are called to be stronger than the sick, sad feeling that others have in their life.  We want them to grow into men that step up and put out a hand to let those around us know that we will give until we can't give anymore.  It's what we do.  It's what God asks us to do.  It's what is expected.  It's what we did this last Friday.

We can't make everything right for this dear friend, but we can hope that things will turn around.  We can pray that he knows that we are here for him.  We can love him no matter what.  It's what we do.

Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well. ~Vincent Van Gogh

Friday, December 17, 2010

Assumptions

You know what they say happens when we make assumptions?  You know we make fools out of you and me.  How quickly we find this to be true the minute we jump out there with a generalized thought.  We all do it everyday.  We are positive something should be one way, when in fact, there is a 50/50 chance it will be another way.

Just imagine, a new mother walking down the street with a young child.  We all assume her life is one way, full of hope and joy, when in fact, it could be totally different.  We are not sure what is going on with her.  Or the woman that has just found out that she is expecting.  Oh, how quickly we assume that she needs to know every tidbit of advice that quickly flows off of our tongue.  Why can't we stop assuming about ourselves or others?

I always assumed that as a mother, things would fall into plan naturally.  Ha!! What happens to our soul when we assume our life should be one way, and we just don't seem to get there on our own??  We instantly become deflated.  We hang our head and our heart soon will drop too.  We begin to feel as though we can't get it all done...we aren't functioning like we assume everyone else is out there...we run ourselves around and around until we can't tell where we stop and where we begin. 

Each day, I have to remind myself that this month isn't about packing in all of the activities or buying as many gifts as possible.  We assume that December is supposed to be about Christmas...the Christmas that Black Friday or cyber-Monday has inspired.  How foolish we are to assume this. 

Christmas is a necessity. 
There has to be at least one day of the year
to remind us that we're here for
 something else besides ourselves.  ~Eric Sevareid

 
I keep telling myself that this month is about a baby born in a stable.  It's about a bright star that drew three wise men to the miracle being born.  It is about a mother not sure why she was chosen to be given a blessing.  It is about a father trusting that there was a God bigger than him with a better plan than his own.  They were following a faith that would endure.  I'm sure they weren't assuming that their faithful journey would be easy.  In fact, this young family's journey had just begun , and it would prove to be painful all along the way.  This is a month that is not about me and my plans.  It is about more than me, more than my family, more than my Christmas list.  It's about assuming the best, but realizing that assumptions don't always hold true.

{I love that this song helps me to imagine what this night was like for Mary}

Even though there are twinkling lights on every street corner, trees beautifully dressed with presents underneath, and kitchens filled with glorious smells, there are still people that are hurting and missing out on the miracle of Christmas.  Let's all reach out a hand to share our faithful journey, that is not always easy, with one another.   Never underestimate the difference your touch, your note, your vote, your voice, your call, your email, your influence, your listening ear, your giving, or your acts of service can make in the life of someone who is overcome with life’s mess and pain.  This year I pray I can rejoice and make this Christmas about the gift of a baby born to us in an unassuming stable rather than the latest shiny thing on my wish list.

Isaiah 9:6-7"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this."


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holy-ca-moly!

This past weekend, my mom, my three oldest boys, and I went to Memphis for some fun!  We were able to visit with grandparents, old friends, and walk down memory lane.  It was a wonderful break from our everyday life here in middle Tennessee.  I loved it!

But, let me tell you what I did not love.  We left Memphis at 1:45 pm on Sunday afternoon.  We knew that we might pass through some snow.  But, we had no idea what was waiting ahead for us.  We were about 2 hours into a normal 3 hour trip to Nashville when cars started to move at a snail's pace.   We were certain that things would move along shortly.  The snow was really starting to build up.  We were initially stopped at 4:35 pm.  We never moved more than a few feet until 11:44 pm.  It was crazy!!!

But, as awful as it was, it really wasn't all that bad.  Sure, we all had to tinkle in cups.  We all had to exist on marshmallows and capri-suns.  But, we didn't run into a ditch, run out of gas, or have our battery die.  We had fully charged cell phones, tons of apps to enjoy, and cozy sleeping bags for the boys.  And most importantly, we had our sense of humor.

We were able to giggle in the face of uncertainty.  We saw how much worse it could be by the cars that were wrecked all around us.  We decided to continue to plug along until we just couldn't any more.  We took it slow.  We didn't panic.  We made it home at 2:00 in the morning.  We realized that it wasn't the best situation, but it also wasn't the worst.

Isn't that what life is all about?  Sometimes you are in the best situations, sometimes you are in the worst, and most of the time you are somewhere in the middle of the two.  I know I have to take life one day at a time and try to live in the present as much as possible to make the most of each day.

It was a crazy Sunday.  But, we all made it home safely and that is truly all that matters!

Ahh...
home
sweet
home!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sister

If you don't understand how a woman
could both love her sister dearly and
want to wring her neck at the same time,
then you were probably an only child. 
~Linda Sunshine

Today is about my sister.  You see, I dedicated a whole blog entry to my brother on his birthday.  It was easy to remember to do it.  He was turning forty...becoming an old man...moving into the range of a mid-life crisis.  But, then my sister's birthday rolled around, and nothing.  I wrote nothing.  I simply forgot. 

My sister and my oldest son share the same birthday.  I spent my day focusing on his sweet day.  I called her, but really nothing more.  Oh, you can believe she had something to say about that!

So, today is all about her. 

It's all about how she has always been a strong person dedicated to those around her that she loves.  Every single day of the school year, she selflessly goes to school giving all of herself to a roomful of special needs children that struggle with the most simple of tasks.  She never really complains about the physicality of her job.  She's a bird of a person.  It must take its toll on her body.  But, she doesn't mention it.  She goes about her life.

She is utterly devoted to her children.  No task is too big for her for her boys.  She was born to mother.  She is willing to put aside all of her needs to focus on them.  She was born in my family, and for this, I am beyond glad. 

We are several years apart.  Our personalities are different.  We grew up in different times within our family.  But, we are able to span the differences to reach out to one another.  We are able to understand one another and offer kind words.  We are able to "be" for one another and that is enough.  Love you Loring.  Hope today is happy for you! 

To the outside world we all grow old. 
But not to brothers and sisters. 
We know each other as we always were. 
We know each other's hearts. 
We share private family jokes. 
We remember family feuds and secrets,
family griefs and joys. 
We live outside the touch of time. 
~Clara Ortega

Friday, December 10, 2010

Creature of Comfort

I am a creature of comfort.  I like comfortable things.  Such as: mashed potatoes, warm corduroys, my cozy bed, rubbing my dog's soft ear, a warm shower, a beautiful flower grown in my yard,  my flannel pillowcase, and snuggling on a lazy Saturday morning. I don't live a very hard life.  I am able to take time out to relish the gifts and luxuries that I have.


However, I am starting to have a very short fuse for things that do not comfort me.  Such as: friends that complain over the minutiae, politicians that can't think for the affluent, the poor and everyone in between, those who can only see their own problems rather than focus on what is going on in our world, or people who turn out to be different than what you initially thought.  

It is hard to be let down.  It is difficult to leave that comfortable spot because something wasn't what it seemed.  I am starting to choose not to fall prey to these prickly situations.  I am avoiding the drama whenever possible.  It's not who I am anymore.  I'm no longer in it to win it, to endure the junk or clutter in relationships.  As one of my dear friends has always said to me, "I'm not always taking applications for new friends." 
I would like to think that I am older and wiser...but I know that is a lie, for I'm not very old and far from wise.  I tend to think that I am able to see what's important to me, what matters the most.  I am able to make time for most any and everything, but it is getting harder and harder to want to make time for that junk and clutter that I find around me every now and again.  A tremendous mother of four once told me that it was just too hard to put up with the excess when you already have so much going on in your house.  Maybe, my wagon is already full enough without the excess drama.

I don't really have a solution to this problem today.  I know the human race is not going to change all that much.  It's just where I am at this day and time.  It's who I am right now in my life.  I like comfort.  I want to be in my comfort zone.  It makes me happy.  It is where my heart is.  And today, I'll just follow my heart. 


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Life = A Mess


The Committee.  He's true to his word, he's true to his beloved, and he's beyond grown-up.  You see, I explained myself, the Rat's Nest, to you very early on.  I told you a bit of how I'm that mess and jumble of hair that never seems to get worked out.  I was not exaggerating.  You might be thinking...She's a true grown-up...She's got four children...She has a house...She stays home to take care of everyone. Oh, how wrong you would be! 

I am so far from a grown-up it is almost laughable.  It is not that I strive to be Peter Pan-ish.  No, I want, with all my might, to be responsible and full of grown-up-ness.  But, it isn't in me.  I'm a third child.  I never was one to see the truth in birth order, until I had four children of my own.  The third little miracle seems to float through the world on an emotional roller coaster living on a wing and a prayer.  I'm not that far off from that description.  Generally things go as planned (at the last minute!), but then there are those times (very frequently) when things seem to morph into their own progression.  The situation at hand becomes out of control in the blink of an eye without any effort from me. 

But, life for The Committee is just the opposite.  Almost everything he does is planned and executed as previously organized.  He's beyond responsible; I continually drop the ball.  He is always planning; I tend to only plan social occasions.  He is always following through; I lack stick-to-it-iveness.  We are opposites in most things.  But, somehow, thanks be to the Lord, we work. 

In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away. 

We are able to complement one another in the many ways that we are different.  We are able to meld together to get things done, not always late and not always early.  We can see our differences and appreciate them in one another.  It seems that the more that I know about him, the more I love about him.  Whereas, the more that I know about our world, the more lost I seem to be.  It is just the opposite for The Committee, the more he sees, the more he knows.  

I think the only way that we could have gotten to this place in our life is through God's grace.  Through His favor, my husband and I came together.  Something changed in me during the first few weeks that we knew each other.  I seemed to know a little bit more each day that this person was made for me.  We have worked hard to become better people and parents of four little people that are a combination of all of our strengths and weaknesses.  My life has never been better.  Through the faith that we have, our family is able to get through our days trusting in Him to deliver us to a better place.  My husband is the other half of my heart, and the love that I have for him grows more each day.  Happy Birthday, sweet man.  To you, I give all my love forever!

John 1:16 ~ From the fullness of His grace we have received one blessing after another.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Let There Be Peace

Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.  As a young girl, I would sing this song each year in our school Christmas pageant.  It always evokes sweet memories of innocence and simplicity for me. 

As I was driving around running errands today, I heard this song on the radio sung by a young child.  I was instantly taken back to the days of my youth.  I thought how easily the words rolled off my tongue as I sang along.  I also began to think how easily the words were said with very little meaning. 
It made me think, is peace beginning with me?  What am I putting out in the world?  And if peace is supposed to begin with me, where am I supposed to start?  Should I think big?  Or would it be better if I took baby steps toward my goal of peace? 

Well, I am much to tired and cold on this December night to think about starting with a bang.  I know, go big or go home, but I just can't go big tonight.  So, I will begin to think about baby steps.  What about here in my home? 

Just tonight, I huffed and puffed when answering the Straight Hair.  He turned to me and said, "I'm sorry you are tired tonight, Mommy."  Eeeekk...that's not the best foot forward on my walk in the footsteps of peace.  If I'm not showing my boys peace and responding in kind words, I might as well not put my feet on the floor in the morning.  So there's a place to start...Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me here within the walls of my home.

Where can yo start?  How will peace begin with you?  Feel free to leave some thoughts....

Take a listen...Let there be Peace on Earth: The Choirboys

Friday, December 3, 2010

Better Late Than Never

I truly would be remiss if I let this thankful season of Thanksgiving get by me without mentioning a word of thanks.  We had a wonderfully, busy holiday season.  It was filled with great friends, family, and food...the full trifecta!! 

We started the holiday with seven little friends spending the night for a sleepover.  I've never had a sleepover before, and I must admit I was a bit nervous if I would make a good sleepover "mama."  But, come to find out, we did pretty well.  It was tons of fun for all of us...the boys especially, but I will say that The Committee and I mostly enjoyed watching our boys interact with their friends...I could easily be a stalker mom because I love to watch my kids in everyday situations!! 


{Even The Tiniest Hair is getting into the mix.}

 {The kids had never seen Twister before}

{The Committee dominated everyone in a game of four-square.}

Then, we went on to my sister's new house in East Tennessee for a family Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.  The day was gorgeous...the weather, the food, and the fellowship.  My family was so excited to get there to see her family and roam around their beautiful new home.  We were able to spend the day with my father and stepmother.  It was a treat, as we do not get to see them as often as we would like.  We were thrilled for the blessings that have been placed in my sister's life over the past year.  They moved to Knoxville on a dream, and God has made sure to make everything in their life wonderful...for right now, as my mom says for we never know what tomorrow will hold.  It was a great day that we will all remember.

Then, on Saturday, we welcomed my husband's family to our home along with my sister's family and my mother.  It was another gorgeous day.  All of my boys were able to run wild with their cousins on both sides of the family.  The jumped, wrestled, and laughed their way through the day.  There is nothing sweeter for me than standing in my kitchen window and looking out to see my children frolicking with friends and family in our yard.  These carefree moments for my children cross-off any hardship or stress of providing a good life for me and The Committee.  I would sacrifice any physical want in order to see them be children enjoying all of God's blessings.

Thou who hast given so much to me, give me one more thing… a grateful heart! ~George Herbert

It was truly a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  It was a holiday that I was and will be thankful for for quite a while.  

These precious days made me think how thankful I am for the small messes around my house because of the little people that make them.  I am beyond thankful for the marriage spats that I have with The Committee because it means that I have a loving husband that comes home to me each night.  I am thankful for the "stressful family moments" because it means that I have family surrounding me in my life.  I am thankful for the sleepy mornings because I am blessed to be given a baby that needs me to tend to him.  I am thankful for the worries for our future because I am blessed to have a God that I trust in and can confide in to watch over my life.  I could go on and on...but, for someone who once worried and stewed over the insignificant is now realizing that I am beyond blessed to focus on the simple...my friends, my family, and my faith. 
I am beyond thankful!!

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy



Monday, November 22, 2010

Living to Laugh

I love to laugh.  I do.  I really, really do.  I love to giggle, snort, and guffaw over silly things, funny things, even sad things sometimes.  I love to be with good friends that get inside jokes.  I love to laugh with my kids.  I love to hear stories from my mother and then mock her and laugh with her.  The Committee can always make me giggle and smile.  We even have a running argument amongst us...who is funnier? 

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.  ~e.e. cummings

I truly believe this quote.  I have been in a cranky mood the past few days.  I wonder to myself why?  Then I think, I haven't heard a whole lot of laughter going through my house over the past few days.  I have heard and said some snappish words, but have not been a part of joy and giggles.  I have been too busy bogged down by things that are not that serious at all.  Things that really should only be periphery items.  You know, these worries should be on the periphery of my concerns...not the center of my world.  But that happens sometimes, doesn't it?  All of sudden, we are focusing on the non-important rather than the important...Loving, Laughing, and Living. 

I watched this today (on http://www.chattingatthesky.com/) and all of a sudden, a smile was on my face, my body was dancing ever so subtly, and something was changing a bit in my psyche.  


Every once in a while, we have to shed the seriousness and let it all pass by to enjoy the day.  I need to take advantage of happiness and joy that is offered to me each new morning.  I need to overlook the clutter that has formed in my mind.  I need to move around the junk and feel the love, bathe in laughter, and really live in my wonderful life.  
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nora Ephron and The D Word



I really enjoy Nora Ephron's writing, especially her screenplays.  We've all seen her movies...maybe just didn't realize it...Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, Silkwood.  Google her...you'll see, you'll know her.  Well, she also writes articles for various publications, including Huffington Post. 

Today's article is called the D Word.  It really is quite intriguing.  I'm from a divorced set of parents.  I know friends and family meembers who are going or have been through divorce.  It's all around us.  Read this today and thought I'd share Mrs. Ephron's perspective...it's pretty good.

Well, just read the fine print, and I could get into really big trouble for reprinting.  So, if you are familiar with divorce and want to read what she says, check it out here...

www.huffingtonpost.com/nora-ephron/the-d-word_1_b_779626.html

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Willing to Serve

Yesterday, the Curlee Hair boys and I ventured out on the campaign trail.  We volunteered for a college buddy of The Committee.  We were hopeful he would win his election, but he did not.  He was running as a democrat, and as you know, the dems did not fair well yesterday. 

The Curlee Boys did just as well...they did not fair very well on the campaign trail.  After about 30 minutes, they were ready to pack it in and head home.  Once we got to the election spot, they waved to passing traffic and held signs for about 2 minutes.  They spent the remaining 28 minutes digging in the dirt pile located directly behind us.  They found pieces of broken colored glass, rocks...a.k.a. dinosaur bones, and sticks.  It was quite the chaotic event for them.  After listening to the whining, I just couldn't take it any more and ran them over to their grandmother's house, where they were declared the worst campaign volunteers ever!

It wasn't so much that I was looking for perfection.  No.  When I signed us up to stand at the school where local voters were assigned to vote, I was hopeful to expose them to the American dream.  The dream that anyone that is willing to serve, can step up and run for election by U.S. citizens to serve those same U.S. citizens.

It is not that I am hoping the boys will run for political office one day.  However, I am hoping that they will be willing...willing to serve others in their community, willing to volunteer their time to help somebody of integrity reach their personal dream, willing to put aside differences to make their community be a better place, willing to look another in the eye and say, "Yes, I will do my best to help you and your children.", willing to lend a helping hand down to those that have fallen, and willing to be a proud citizen of this country remembering what others have gone through to give us the freedoms we now enjoy. 

I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. 
~Edward Everett Hale
 
I'm not sure that 2 minutes of holding a campaign sign and 28 minutes of digging in the dirt outside of a voting precinct taught the three older boys all of these lessons.  But, hopefully over time and with more community events, each boy will grow to see the difference we can all make in our neighborhoods and communities.  I hope you will too! 

10 Ideas for Helping Your Community (that we can all do!)Volunteer your time and effort with one or more of these community service ideas.
1. Reach out to a neighbor in need. Every neighborhood has people or families in need, from elderly or handicapped shut-ins to struggling single-parent households.
 
2. Perform an act of random kindness. Buy healthy snacks for your office or the teachers at your child's school. Pay the tolls for several people behind you. Give an umbrella to someone stuck in the pouring rain. Learn more ideas here: Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
 
3. Mentor children at your local school. library, or neighborhood center. All organizations that deal with children need adults of any age to work with the children in a variety of ways, from after-school tutoring to recreational and sports activities.
 
4. Serve at a local soup kitchen or food bank. There is no greater gift than helping feed those in your community who are down on their luck and would go hungry if not for the service provided to them.
 
5. Donate blood. You can help save the life of one or more people simply by giving a pint of your blood at your local blood bank or during bloodmobile visits to your community, school, or office. (And if you can't give blood, help organize a blood drive for those you can donate!)
 
6. Volunteer at the local animal shelter, rescue group, or humane society. The animals are part of our communities too, and many of these shelters and rescue organizations need much help to achieve their missions.
 
7. Visit a volunteering-related Website to find multiple opportunities to serve. One of the greatest benefits of the Internet is the amount of Websites that can help connect people with local organizations that desperately need help. Find these volunteering sites on our sister site, QuintCareers.com: Volunteering and Nonprofit Resources.
 
8. Pick up trash along the road, at a local park, or along the banks of a river, stream, or lake. Many times there are organized efforts to clean some of these locations, but there is nothing stopping any of us from picking up litter when we see it. And smokers? Put the butt in the trash, not on the ground.
 
9. Help build a home with Habitat for Humanity. Working with Habitat not only literally builds the community, but also helps welcome a needy family who would not have a home without the help from people in the community. No building skills are necessary to volunteer.

10. Contact your local United Way, Red Cross, or Salvation Army for discovering new service opportunities. These and other local aid organizations are clearinghouses for many opportunities to serve in your local community, making a difference in the lives of your neighbors.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

If not now, then when?


I have this problem...I rush and rush and don't really take the time to stop and smell the roses.  I'm not paying a bit of attention to where we are going as a family.  It always seems as if someone needs something or wants my help around here.  I take care of them.  I take care of me.  But, I don't really stop to savor the everyday blessings in between.  I mean, I am blessed beyond measure and rarely drop to my knees to say, "Thank you God for all that I have been given!!"


The Tiniest Hair is almost eight months.  I really can't believe it.  Time has flown by without us noticing.  Because of a lack of viable bedrooms for him, he is still sharing a room with his father and me.  I've never had one of our babies in a room with us this long.  I usually ship them off to their own by the time they are sleeping well so that that everyone involved will sleep better.  While this does seem like a sensible plan, I did not realize the sweet things I have been missing. 

You see, each morning, Tiny Hair wakes up without a wail or scream.  Instead, he slowly wakes up making the most delectable little cooing sounds I have ever heard.  He sometime squeals loudly just to hear himself.  The Committee and I don't move as not to spook or stop him.  Instead, we listen to our tiniest little creature explore his abilities. 

Just recently, however, he has mastered sitting up.  He loves to slowly wake up and then sit up to play in his crib.  If he thiks he is alone, he is content to play for a while.  Each morning, I peek over my pillows and covers to see his pudgy little tummy curled over his diaper.  His head is usually bent staring at his feet.  He slowly glances over to me and instantly lights up.  His eyebrows incline quickly and his lips curl.  His smile is the best early morning reward for me. 

A couple of years ago, I went to see Amy Grant in concert with the Memphis Symphony.  She said that each morning she would lie in bed and repeat Psalm 118:24, "This is the day the LORD has made; let me rejoice and be glad in it" until she would believe it and let it shape her day.  It made total sense to me, as some days it is hard to believe that I will be rejoicing placing my feet on the ground and going about my daily business. 

But, when I see this sweet face light up by just looking at me, it is so hard not to rejoice at the gifts that have been bestowed upon me.  When he coos or squeals, I think about how he is exploring his world in his own way.  I have been given this little person that has grown from cells in my tummy to an angel here in my home.  I move quickly throughout my day without savoring his presence.  If I don't slow down now and bask in this day that has been made by Him, then when?  When will I rejoice and be glad in it?  Each day is a gift to be opened.  I should love the memories I am creating these days, rather than looking back on the memories in several years when all is quiet and love what little I am able to remember.

The Tiniest Hair is too precious to overlook.  He is a blessing the LORD has made; let me rejoice and be glad in him!

A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, paychecks smaller, homes happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone

So Father, give me the strength
To be everything I'm called to be
Oh, Father, show me the way
To lead them
Won't You lead me?


To lead them with strong hands
To stand up when they can't
Chasing things that I could give up

I'll show them I'm willing to fight
And give them the best of my life
So we can call this our home
Lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone

Father, lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone
 ~Lead Me by Sanctus Real 
Feel free to watch the video @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLr6G8Xy5uc&ob=av2n


At the beginning of the week, I heard the song lyrics listed above as I was driving the boys' bus to school one afternoon.  It really struck a chord with me.  You see, The Committee has been traveling for business the past two weeks.  At first, I thought "I can do this!"  This attitude quickly turned into, "What has happened to my strength and independence?"  I couldn't get over how quickly I came apart. 




I found that I did not have a bit of energy to share at the end of the day.  It was as if I woke up each morning like the ole-timey egg timers with the sand sliding through the skinny part into the wider basin in the bottom.  Once the sand ran out, this egg was about to crack.  There wasn't any extra sand in my jar.  I was done.  But, I still had boys to feed, bathe, love, and lead to bed.  It was eye-opening.

I found myself thinking of the lyrics above...
So Father, give me the strength...
To be everything I'm called to be...
Father, lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone. 

Throughout this week, I have spent a great deal of time thinking of the women in my life that are raising/raised their children day in and day out all alone.  My mother was single from my early years.  She gave us all that she had to give without her own parents in her backyard.  I have the luxury of having her just down the road to help me each day to raise my children (and let me tell you what a luxury it is!!).  She gave up her life and friends in West Tennessee to move here with us to be a daily part of our lives.  I am beyond grateful for this act of love.  

My sister-in-law has raised her two girls, until recently, in a single parent household.  She was able to hold a full-time job (with crazy hours) all while being everything to her two young girls that are quickly becoming young women.  It is more than I am able to fathom.

I have many dear, dear friends who are sending their husbands out of town each week for business without a light at the end of the tunnel.  It is a way of life for these strong ladies.  I have the most respect for these women that are able to keep the world turning for their families without interruption.



So, as I go down my road, I am thankful for all of the help, guidance, and inspiration that I am able to receive each day.  I will reach down inside offering the best part of my life to those around me making sure that no one is left hungry for love.  I am beyond thankful this evening, as The Committee is on the way home from the airport, that I have many people leading me so that I don't have to do this alone. 

I. Am. Blessed.



Friday, October 15, 2010

The Price of Sacrifice...



Recently, I read The Ocean Between Us, by Susan Wiggs.  It was a really great book about a Navy family that sends the father of their family out on deployment and how this affects the entire family unit.  The mother in the book was expected to be so much to so many.   I loved it, plus the romance in it is endearing to me!  :) 

The book really spoke to me about the things that I take for granted and what military families endure at the cost of our American freedom.  As I go throughout my day, I may complain about one insignificant hardship or another... overlooking the fact that my husband is coming home to my bed that night rather than a bunk many time zones away.   

If you sit down and think about the price these families pay, it will speak to your soul.  There are so many things that must be accomplished alone, all while fighting the niggling fear of injury.  I truly can't imagine!

Today, I stumbled upon a friend of a friend's facebook post.  She just welcomed her husband home from a year's deployment this week.  I had to share this because it was so amazing to read.  An everyday family living a commendable life here in Middle Tennessee.

Lessons Learned from This Deployment.....

~ The first week is still ALWAYS the worst.

~ Anyone that takes for granted the freedoms they live everyday should be required to witness the bedtime prayers of a four year old little boy who’s Dad is deployed. 

~ My prayers include thanking God for a “normal” day and praying the next one will be just as boring. 

~ I am thankful for the friends who check in on me in the middle of the night, and can tell by the response from a text that I just need to hear a voice. 

~ I have amazed myself at how little amount of sleep I can have and still function. Thank you, God for caffeine. 

~ When Clift used to come home, the house was spotless, the laundry was caught up and the kitchen was stocked with all his favorite foods. This time around I was just grateful that everything that was breathing when he left was still breathing when he came home. 

~ You are only as tall as the shoulders you stand on. And, you are only as strong as the ones you cry on. 

~ My kids are the strongest, most resilient little people I have ever known. I’ve seen them suck it up, and I’ve seen them let it out. They are true examples of sacrifice. 

~ Apologies aren’t necessary, but forgiveness is. People will give you their opinions on how to do things better, what you’ve done wrong and right, what you should or shouldn’t do and how they would change the world if they were in charge. It can hurt your feelings, it can crush your spirit, and it can destroy you if you let it. Understanding they have no clear concept of what your life is like is essential. Bitterness breeds bad days. Forgiveness allows you to love them anyway and move on. 

~ Getting a tattoo didn’t hurt half as bad as I thought it would. 

~ One day at a time is thinking too far ahead....it's about the moment.

~ My children are expert counters. They’ve counted months, weeks, days, hours & time differences. And they know if I’m counting to 10, they should hide. 

~ Always close the sunroof. You never know when there will be a flood.

~ Love notes from your daughter can often be the glue that keeps the whole day from falling apart. 

~We live in a bubble. 

~The fact that celebrity “issues” are bigger news stories than military casualties always has and always will annoy me. 

~ It's the little things that makes me happy. Like being able to wash my hair AND shave 
my legs all in the same shower.

~ Pick your battles. Toy Story Cowboy boots go with just about anything, including Elmo swimming trunks. 

~ I have the GREATEST people in my life. My circle is huge and my friends never cease to blow me away.

~ I am “assembly required” retarded.

~The phone company will accept a check made out to the lawn guy, but the lawn guy won't accept a check made out to the bug man. 

~ Prayer is my daily vitamin. 

~ I can play sports, shoot guns, bows & arrows, but I CANNOT play “airplanes”. Carson has made that clear. The first attempt I almost killed him. 

~ I have INCREDIBLE “stand in the gappers”. 

~ This is been one of the most challenging years of my life. Yet, I wouldn’t do anything differently.

~ I have made it....again. Conquered every doubt, fear and question that I’d get through it.  And once again, am stronger for it. 

~ I AM BLESSED.

Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” Ephesians 6:13-18 The Message

Wow!  Hope that helped you to realize what these families have to face each time a new soldier is sent off to battle.  Hug those around you and thank God for your blessings.  Amazing words, Bria!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Unconditionally Loved

Recently, I have been torn up over the amount of teenage suicides in our country.  I read The Huffington Post and New York Times on my Kindle each day to try to keep up with national news.  I know it seems lame, but I just don't have a chance to watch the national news anymore.  It seems as though our televisions are tied up with other less pressing shows on Disney or Nickelodeon. 

Anyway, back on track...Both of these publications have been spending a great deal of ink highlighting the current rising trend of teenage suicide as a result of bullying.  Oh, how my heart breaks when I read this.  We have all been teenagers caught up in the heat of the moment never knowing when the tide is going to rise or fall. 

I have four boys in my home that will all be in their teenage years at one time starting about 5 years from now.  If only I could repeat the same things to them every morning as they walk down the stairs to scarf down some sort of cereal and run out the door to school.  By doing this, maybe I can protect their precious little souls from self-doubt or physical injuries from those around them.  This is what I would say...

Good morning my dear child.

One day, you will no longer be a small child that I can protect.  You will grow from a Curlee boy into the beginnings of a Curlee man.  You will need to discover the world on your own.  I will need to let you go out into the world to find your way and see what life has to offer you.

But, before you go, please consider these words...you are loved unconditionally by your father and me.  Unconditionally means that there are no words or actions that can make us stop loving you with our whole heart.  We will never turn our back on you, regardless of what you say or do.  The most important thing to us is you and your well-being. 

You will certainly find yourself in areas of distress for some reason or another throughout your adolescence and adulthood.  We all have at one time or another.  Not one adult around you has gotten to where they are in their life without traveling through a rock-bottom valley in search of life's meaning.  Remember, we ALL make mistakes.  It is the lessons we learn from these mistakes that mean the most.  Don't let your mistakes define you.  Don't let hateful words define you; you are so much more than a word.  Don't get bogged down in what could have been.  Strive for what can be...and follow that dream to the end. 

On our refrigerator, we have our house rules...
Always be honest.
Count your blessings.
Bear each others burdens.
Forgive and forget.
Be kind and tender hearted.
Comfort one another.
Keep your promises.
Be supportive of one another.
Be true to each other.
Treat each other like you treat your friends.
And most importantly, LOVE one another deeply from the heart.

These rules did not just happen to find their way to our fridge by accident.  No, just the opposite.  I searched for rules for our family that would characterize who we are and how we are supposed to act and treat one another.  But, these rules were not meant to pertain only to the Curlee Hairs.  Just the opposite...I want you to remember them always and carry them with you out into the world.  I want every action to be driven by the words...LOVE deeply from the heart.  If your heart is driving your words, thoughts, emotions, and actions, you can never go wrong.

Oh, I know that you will be wronged and do others wrong throughout your life.  We all have.  But, to bear these mistakes and make amends for them is how you show love to one another.  It is the stuff that character is made of.  Hate and contempt can be so easy to fall back on, but it is putting the love out there that takes work.  Choose the love over the hate. You will never regret that choice...ever!  

Matthew 5: 44 ~  But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

Each time you feel hatred or anger for another person, pray for their life, their well-being, their happiness.  It is not possible to hate another person in the presence of God.  Let go of the anger that will encompass your whole being, and watch how God can work in your life.  This is of the utmost importance in being a man of character. 

As you have grown and started school, I have repeatedly told you how easy it is to try harder on your next spelling test, play a little bit better in the next football game, run faster when racing your brother, but you can't ever have a second chance to erase unkindness to one another.  Sure, you will be given a chance to say your sorry, but you cannot erase the actions or words that you put out in the world.  You must always be a little kinder than necessary...it never hurts, and usually will help!

If throughout your young-adulthood, you find yourself lost or confused seek someone out.  I would hope it would be your father or me, but I am also realistic to know that it won't always be us that you turn to for help.  If not us, then someone.  Don't try to take the world on alone.  Don't try to re-invent the wheel.  Borrow wisdom from another...it's not plagiarism.  Find someone you can trust...or better yet, someone that we trust.  Consider them a mentor.  Bounce ideas off of them.  Listen to their thoughts...and then, follow your own heart. 

Throughout my life and your father's life, we have not always been the winners and not always the losers.  We are usually somewhere in between the two.  It is okay not to always be the most successful...just do your best...that will always be enough for us.  We trust you.  We love you.  We always want the best for you. 

Don't ever give up.  Don't ever think that suicide is an answer to any problem you have.  You may think that whatever has occurred, will ruin your life.  I am here to tell you it won't.  It might change your life greatly, but you can always be a glory to God.  You will come out on the other side, and we will help you to find your way.  Trust our love.  Trust your gut.  Trust in God.  Trust in kindness.  And most importantly, LOVE one another deeply from the heart.  Let love lead the way for you.  Don't let someone else define who you are.  Let your character define who you are. 

You are the last thing I think of when I go to sleep at night and the first thing when I wake up in the morning.

What do you say, think I'll have time to get all that in every morning over a light breakfast of cereal?  Oh, how I wish I could say that to all of my boys every day and see if it delivers us to a better place on the other side of this scary place called "adolescence"!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Come on out and face the world...

The sweet Tiniest Hair has started to roll...and roll, and roll, and roll some more.  He's not sure where he is going, how he got there, or even how to get out of the spots he gets himself into.  Oh, how sweet it is to see him discover new things. 

At least once a day, he gets himself rolling across our bedroom floor, and he finds himself underneath our bed.  He gets madder than a wet hornet when this happens.  He's not sure how he got there and he really isn't sure how to get out.  He just seems stuck like a stick in the mud!

Don't we all have days like this?  We end up somewhere we weren't supposed to be, and we don't have any idea how to get out.  Maybe it was a poor choice of our own.  Or, perhaps we were coerced or pushed into this new environment.  It seems as if the world has stopped turning on the axis, and it might not ever get going again.

What do we do?  How do we handle our jumble of emotions?  Do we look the problem head on or do we dive under that bed to hide for the rest of the day?  Do you stew about how to get out? 

I can say that I am a bed-diver most of the time.  I'm somewhat nonchalant about solving problems and start most days praying that I don't get stuck in any that day. 

What if I was able to sacrifice all of my worries and trust that all will be right?  What if someone is taking care of me by His plan, and I'm trying to reroute the plan to meet my needs? 

I plan to have faith that this is the way of the world.  This is the way of my world.  I plan to come out from under that bed one inch at a time.  I want to find my way to make things right and face the new day.  I want to watch the sun rise knowing that my trust lies in Him.  I can be taught to walk in this path, and have faith that He will pull me out from underneath that dark bed and set me in a world filled with bright light and warms days.  Just like the Tiniest Hair, my tears will dry as soon as my path is set right.  I will rely on His word and trust in His way.

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, Straight Hair!

Six years ago today, I was leaving the delivery room to roll in to watch the UT vs. Georgia game in my hospital room with my sweet, second baby boy.  Happy, happy birthday little bear.  I'm so thankful He chose me to be your mommy!!


The Straight Hair
our true "middle-child" - on the straight and narrow at all times, always focusing on the task at hand, aims for completion and praise, questions everything, needs his daddy's kudos every day, wants dessert after every meal, looks far older than his actual age, longs to understand life's perpetual questions, wears his heart on his sleeve at all times, a gentle giant, so much like his father in all things it can be overwhelming, pushes me to be a better mother everyday.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Last Day the Straight Hair is a Nickel

Tomorrow the Straight Hair turns 6!

 
A day in his life...

  • Lunch eating mac-n-cheese and bottomless ice cream cones with one aunt, one set of grandparents, and our family...$28
  • Picking out a new ninja + sword Halloween costume...$25
  • Going into PetSmart to get a new Betta fish, fish bowl, and fish food...$18
  • Stopping by his grandmother's house for a quick visit...free
  • Wandering through the kitchen tonight saying to the Committee and me, "Today was a really fun day!"...PRICELESS
 
As they say in the hokey-pokey, "And that's what it is all about!"  Well, that comment from the Straight Hair is certainly what my life is all about. 

 
The past two weeks have been fall break for the Curlee Hairs.  We had hoped to go to the beach with the boys for the first time, but we just couldn't rustle up enough spare change to make it work. So, we had a "stay"cation here in town.  

 
You see, I would like to give my family the moon on a silver platter every day if I could, but sometimes we have to just be content with being a happy family without big plans.  I tell the boys all the time that families of six don't always get to take big trips.  As much as I would love to hop in the car or a plane and go to fabulous destinations, we just don't have the funds at the end of the month.

 

 
So, I am bound and determined to have the boys enjoy time with one another here at home and around town.  We have had a great time.  I want to instill in them contentment to just be themselves while loving their God, family, and friends.  If that's how we live everyday, then everything else will fall into place!

 
Today, was one of those days.  We had planned to just go with the flow and venture down toward Murfreesboro around lunchtime.  We were looking for a birthday present that was not muy dinero, but would have some staying power.  So, we decided to expand our family by one for the Straight Hair.  We are now the proud owners of Jake, the Betta Fish.  He's a pretty awesome little guy...just what we need...low maintenance and a guaranteed long life (PetSmart will take him back if he doesn't live 3 months).  Perfect!  The Wild Hair has already proclaimed, "I love Jason the fish!"  Clearly, he did not get the memo that the fish's name is Jake.  But, oh well!! 

 
So, the last day in year five for the Straight Hair was a good one.  That's enough for me.  I think when I lay my head down on the pillow tonight, I can rest easy knowing we all lived above the line today.  Not half bad for a family of nine (two parents, 4 wild boys, 2 old, cozy dogs and one bright, new fish), not bad at all!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

All for the Hall


Last night, my mom and I went to Keith Urban's production, All for the Hall.  It had been a crazy day around my house.  I managed to get all the kids bathed and ready for dinner.  The Committee came home to watch the rowdy boys.  I hightailed it out the door, and met Mom up at Kroger to head down to Bridgestone Arena.  I really had no idea what to expect.  Wow!!  I was very pleasantly surprised.

Keith Urban put on a show that would raise funds for the Counrty Music Hall of Fame.  He invited all sorts of folks to play on stage with Vince Gill and himself.  We saw Allison Krauss, Billy Currington, John Mayer, Martina McBride, Miranda Lambert, Charlie Pride, Alan Jackson, and the ever-entertaining Dolly Parton.  It was a great, fun night filled with tons of people watching! 

One line from Allison Krauss's song caught my ear.  I could listen to her sing all day.  Her voice is always so clear and refreshing.  She sang...

I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

I don't know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.I don't borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to grey.
I don't worry o'er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.And today I'll walk beside Him,For He knows what is ahead.
Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
Every step is getting brighter
As the golden stairs I climb;
Every burden's getting lighter,
Every cloud is silver-lined.
There the sun is always shining,
There no tear will dim the eye;
At the ending of the rainbow
Where the mountains touch the sky.
I don't know about tomorrow;
It may bring me poverty.
But the one who feeds the sparrow,
Is the one who stands by me.
And the path that is my portion
May be through the flame or flood;
But His presence goes before me
And I'm covered with His blood.
 

None of us really knows about the tomorrows of our life.  None of us can predict the valleys we will travel through on our way to the next peak.  I need to remind myself daily as I get out of my bed and put my feet on the floor ~ Many things about tomorrow...I don't seem to understand...But I know who holds tomorrow...And I know who holds my hand.

It sounds hard.  It will probably take a great amount of trust to let things go...letting the worry flow off my shoulders and trust that my future is laid out for me.  I don't have the time to worry.  I'm only given this one life, and I'm going to do all I can to enjoy it.  When I lay down my head at night, I want to be able to think I had a full day filled with love and joy and no regrets!

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

--- inaccurately attributed to
 
Ralph Waldo Emerson