Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tater Tots and Other Yummies

Tater Tot (aka) Asher Tate

I love this boy. Of course, he is my son, but as he has hit the 4 1/2 mark, I can recognize that he has some incredibly specific personality traits. Of course he is cute and funny. But he is so much more.

Even at the age of 4 1/2, I can see that Asher is:


When Shawn gets hurt, Asher's face cringes up like mine does and his first instinct is to take care of his brother. He immedaitely offers comfort and kisses. Yes, he might have picked this up from me initially.... but this characteristic is now all his own. I've seen Asher comfort his classmates. It touches me to near tears, every time.

Hard Working

Asher loves to help. He helps Joe cook dinner almost every night that Joe cooks. And since his daddy is a chef, Asher is being taught some things that are unique. When Nana tells Asher she needs him in her yard picking up sticks, leaves, etc.... Asher is raring to go. He doesn't give up....he just keeps going. Recently, Asher passed up an opportunity to go to a neighborhood carnival with my Aunt Judy, because he preferred to help her mulch her garden. And best of all, sometimes Asher sneaks up to the bonus room and puts away every last toy and then he comes to tell me that he cleaned it up for me. He loves praise, and I give him tons. I do believe praise inspires good work. Not money, not awards..... just good ole sincere praise.


Lately, Asher has been on this kick of telling me the reasons he loves me so much, and telling me that he appreciates me and daddy. He'll say, "mommy, the things i love so much about you are that you keep my clothes clean and you make our house pretty". He doesn't make big mention that I only do this twice a month.... instead, he acts like I do it everyday, and he appreciates it. He tells me he loves his teacher, Miss Ashley because she teaches him things. And he loves Daddy because Daddy lets him cook. Nowhere does he mention frivolous things. Instead, he is pointing out that he appreciates the things that we do that add value to him, and that equip him to be valuable. He might not be thinking about it that way... but that's the truth.


This last trait is a hard one. Passion can be perceived as a good or a bad thing. I've been accused of being passionate my whole life. Sometimes, that word was not delivered with love. And I'll own up to's true. I have learned to control the heated passion that wants to fight for what's right, in the moment, without being constructive. But, I am still passionate. Asher has similar tendencies. Of course, the good, excited, sweet, precious, tender side of being passionate about something is good. But.... Asher got to go swimming with our wonderful neighbor yesterday. Asher absolutely loves Grayson, who is also 4 1/2. When Asher was brought back home (I was working)... Asher through a temper tantrum. Although he didn't articulate it, I know that his little heart was breaking. He didn't want a good thing to end. He was described to me as being a "terror" by my mom who received him. Truly, he was just being terrorized by his incredibly strong desire to not have his time with Grayson be over. I do not condone temper tantrums, but I understood where this one came from. He got my passion.

If I could, I'd throw a temper tantrum right now over starving children and orphans in the world. I'd throw a temper tantrum over friends who have betrayed me. I'd throw a temper tantrum over my absent/bitter father. I'd throw a temper tantrum over the economy and how it has stifled our finances. I'd throw a temper tantrum over hypocrisy in the church. I'd throw a tantrum and knock the teeth out of a professor at Belmont who did something unethical to my oldest son. I have the passion inside of me to light cities on fire and free the captives. I have the passion in me to write a letter to the president for making an off color comment about the Special Olympics. I have the passion in me to cut off relationships that don't have balance.

Asher may have gotten this from me. My prayer is that we can help him learn to filter his feelings in such a way that he can be constructive, instead of destructive. But I am thrilled that he is passionate. The benefits of having a burning heart far outweigh the pain.

I love to look Asher in the eyes, cup his precious face, and tell him, "Asher, you are such a wonderful boy". I believe this phrase is transforming him into a special boy with an incredible heart.

I am so thankful for the children God has given me.

Friday, May 29, 2009

And The Winner Is............

I am noticing so much these days, between people. This is a competitve world filled with many people having competitive spirits. Some of us are competing for recognition. Others, compete for praise. Some, compete for love. Many, many, many, compete for power and authority, titles, ranks, and money.

What are we trying to win? Really? What is it?

If I sell more houses than my colleges, I will win recognition, stature, clout, credentials, money, popularity. If I win more friends on facebook, then I win more friends on facebook. If I win an argument, I win....what? If I win the lottery, I win more responsibility, more expectation, more friends, and probably even more family, along with more criticism and judgement.

If I win a contest, I've made someone else feel bad for losing it. If I win a trophy, or a ribbon, or a plaque, I win documenation that I did something well or I even did something better than others.

If I win American Idol, I get to be owned by Simon, Fox, and whoever it is that gives the winner a lousy deal, and a shot at fame. If I win fame, I win the scrutiny of the public eye, paparazzi, critique, and a spot of Oprah's couch.

I don't want to be the winner. I don't want to be better than you, out-perform you, out-sing you, have more money than you, have a nicer car than you, live in a bigger house than you, have more friends than you....I don't care. I wish nobody cared.

Life isn't about winning. The bible says we are supposed to encouarage one another in love. It doesn't say we are supposed to work hard to outdo each other and gain more recognition. The Bible says we are to humble ourselves and serve others, and be good stewards with our money, our resources, our tools, gifts and talents. Nowhere does it say that the winners go to Heaven. Nowhere.

Wouldn't it be nice if all of the world and every individual and every heart existed on a level playing field, and no one felt inferior or superior?

That place, my friends, is Heaven.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I feel like I am spending an awful lot of my life these days, just processing.

My Dad, whom I am not in contact with, was an amateur photographer. I remember as a child, that he had a bedroom in our house that he used as a "photography studio" and a music room. Sometimes, he would let me hang out with him in the dark room and watch him develop film. I remember that the chemicals smelled bad. I remember that there was always a lot of anticipation over what the final outcome would be. I remember that before a photograph was fully developed, that it would be cloudy, hazy, out of focus, and unidentifiable. Eventually though, after the process of processing (HA), things would be clear. I could fully see the end result, identify every detail, and enjoy the clairty of a moment in time that was captured. Ironically, most of those photographs were of me. So I would literally watch myself develop. I watched as myself, would come into focus.

I hope my Dad is enjoying those photos, by the way. He opted to keep memories of my childhood instead of allowing a mature adult relationship to "develop". I digress....

Back to me...... life is processing all around me. Things are developing. Today, I feel like I am sitting in the dark room waiting for it all to become clear. I am watching as I see hints of myself, my family, and my life....come into focus. I am praying for good and positive things. As odd or even untruthful as this might sound, I genuinely appreciate that God is allowing a muddied, unclear focus for I believe it is all for His glory, and He will use me somehow. He will use my whole family. I am trying to love Him with all my heart and delight in Him at all times. I believe He is creating a new heart in me that will make this possible.

But I'll admit....I'm antsy. What are you doing Lord? What are you doing with me and where am I going and how will I get there and when will I get there and how will I know when I'm there and are you with me and will you stay with me and never leave and will you show me your path, in case I have veered off?

I believe that God is enormous and magnificent. I believe that He is all power and glory and love. I believe He is in control and that He has a plan.

I'm eager to see it in focus. No gray.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What did Tennessee?

She saw what Arkansas!


That is the corniest joke in the world, but because my family is from Arkansas and I live in Tennessee, we've told it a million times.

Me and my many cute boys are going to Arkansas in the morning, to visit family and hang out all weekend. Asher has been asking to go back, ever since we went last summer. He is PUMPED!

I can't wait for everyone to see Shawn. Last Memorial Day weekend, Shawn was just starting to stand on his own, but wasn't walking. Now, the kid runs like lightening. Some of the family will be meeting him for the first time.

It's the one time each year that I get to see the people who share some of my DNA. I have no siblings. This visit is special to me. I love it.

Have a happy holiday weekend, and remember to remember what Memorial Day memorializes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Simple, is so much simplier than complicated.

My brain hurts...have had a headache all week.

Shawn has double-ear infections. Hoping the anti-biotics ease his pain before the weekend trip.

I'm getting good at juggling.

My friends' son who had brain surgery yesterday is doing remarkably well. He is going home today and his life is changed for the better. God is glorified.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Living In The Land of "I Never"

I am not in the mood to blog, but I have to.

We all know the old saying, "never say never". Well, I'm beginning to think that if I say, "I never", then I am really saying, "God is gonna make me...". So, I feel like I can comfortably suggest that I might not ever, say "I never" again.

Sometimes, I say "I never" because I simply WON'T.

Sometimes, I say "I never" because I don't believe I can.

Sometimes, I say "I never" because I don't have the power.

Here are some loverly examples....real ones:

(1) After driving a 6-cylinder car for so long, I'd never drive a (slow) 4-cylinder car again.
~Guess who is driving a 4-cylinder car? Yup, me.

(2) I'll never marry a man who can't dance. Dancing is such great therapy and such a great way to connect with a person, I could never marry someone who doesn't have rhythm.
~Guess who is married to the most rhythmically challenged white man? Yup, me

(3) It is irresponsible to vote for a President based on ONE sole issue. I would never make my decision to vote based on ONE issue.
~Guess who changed her mind at the last minute, due to ONE nagging issue? Yup, me.

(4) I will never fly anywhere that requires me to cross the ocean. I am clausterphobic and the thought of being on an airplane more than 3 hours causes me to seize. I will never fly across the ocean.
~Guess who flew 27 hours to Zimbabwe, because God sent her? Guess who endured one flight that was 16 hours? Yup, me. And guess who is ready to go again?

I have said "I never" many times in my life. These 4 examples just happen to be fresh. I realize I married Joe almost 8 years ago, but I am reminded more and more recently with the little boys dancing around our living room, that my husband has 2 left monkey feet. And his 2 left monkey feet might have found their way into Asher's DNA. Asher might find his rhythm some day.... never say never.

I am writing this, because I am starting to search some other things I've made the "never" claims to, and wondering if God is going to prove me wrong, again. I've shared them with Joe and we're both kinda scratching our head...wondering...

I believe that if we are Christians, and we are focusing on Christ as the center of our lives, that we should be genuinely willing to set aside the "I never" in our vocabulary. Or be aware, that your "I never" may have just sentenced you to that which you have no desire to do, to live, or to experience in your life.

If God sends you into the land of "I never"... it is in your best interest to be obedient, and go.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It Isn't Rocket Science!

No, it isn't rocket science. It is brain surgery.

I've used the expression many times when I have tried to figure something out that should be simple..... "I should be able to do this, it isn't brain surgery". I guess we say that because brain surgery is far beyond most of our qualifications, whereas, we should be able to figure out how to play with a toy designed for a 3 year old.

This week, one of my dearest friends on the planet and her teenage son are not playing with toys. They are not trying to solve a puzzle or construct a model airplane. This week, Chris is having brain surgery.

5 years ago, the family was in a car accident at a new, awkard, unclear intersection. Christ was ejected from the vehicle, and in all honesty, the fact that he is alive is remarkable. Not only is he alive, but after months of therapy and rehab, Chris relearned how to walk and talk. This entire experience has been difficult and at times, heart-wrenching for the family. They have also celebrated many joys and accomplishments. On Tuesday night, Chris will graduate from high-school.

I can recall seeing Chris walk into church for the first time after he completed his rehab. That was before his momma was one of my best friends. I was overcome with tears and a brief session of sobbing. Since that time, his walk and his speech have so greatly improved....he is made of remarkable strength and determination. He has never given up on anything he has desired to do.

Chris' biggest challenge today is that he does not have control over the movement of his (left?) hand and arm. This makes even tying his shoes a challenge. For almost 2 years, the idea of having his brain stimulated in surgery to correct this problem has been denied. Finally, he will have his chance. The day after he graduates high-school, doctors will work diligently to repair what is not communicating properly between his brain and his left arm and hand. This could make the difference in his future career, and even whether or not he can live independently.....or rather, whether he can wear shoes with shoelaces.

If you are praying this week, please remember to say prayers for Chris and for the doctors God has gifted to perform his surgery. Please pray for such a blessed outcome that Chris will be able to hold his arm steady, and that he will desire to lift his hands to the Lord in praise. Please pray that Chris be aware of God's presence and the immeasurable span of God's love. There would be nothing better than a full recovery and all glory given to Chris' creator.

I will write an update about the success of Chris' surgery as soon as I know. Thank you for your prayers.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sharing the Darkness

Hi. It's just little'ole me. How are you doing? Seriously, I'd love to know.

I'll be honest. I'm not doing so hot. I am struggling with the reality that I am overweight. I think the sadness I experienced in Zimbabwe, combined with the stress I surpressed over Shawn's surgery for 3 months prior, caused me to need to eat more. I have gained weight. I think I have stopped gaining by now, but I have not started losing. I'm trying to get started.

We are struggling in this economy. I am completely hating the financial aspect of all of this. We used to have savings. Now we don't. We owe more than we ever have before. And there is nothing else to cut back. It is unpleasant. I have a lot of real estate clients and so I am prayerful that things will turn around.

On top of these things, there is also this thing in my spirit that keeps telling me there is a change ahead for us. God is doing something. I don't know what. But I feel pretty confident that He is doing something that is going to rattle us and shake us up. I think we are going to be surprised, but not completely shocked. I know this sounds crazy, but I'm just feeling it, and have been for a few months now. I'd like to tell you I have more info than that, but I don't. Not yet.

The stress, anxiety and fear that I keep snatching back into my grips is not healthy. I know that I need to surrender it all, and I do work hard at this. I am actually trying less to be in control than you might think. I'm not making plans. I'm not trying to manipulate anything into going my way....because I don't even have a way and don't want a way. I feel like I do have a helmut on, and a life-jacket, ready for anything....but still dreading it. A helmut for the impact that might hurt. A life-jacket for the potential drowning. You know....none of that really sounds fun, but coming out the other side and looking back will be a doubt.

Joe is awesome. He is really taking his relationship with Christ very seriously and He is serving in obedience, in ways that are new to him. What I love the most about this is that God brought Joe to this place of faith....not me. I haven't influenced him or made any suggestions....he is just doing it. That gives me hope. I need him to be a spiritual leader over me. I need for him to ralley around our little unit and lead us into God's will. I even need him to suffer.....not in a bad way.....but just in the way that lets me know that I am not carrying the burden alone in my heart and mind. Joe has always been so laid back and even. He wouldn't know a crisis if it smacked him upside the head. I think that is changing. A crisis to rock his world, that is ordained, appointed and allowed by God himself could literally be a priceless treasure to us this side of heaven.

I don't know where we are going or when we will get there. But I believe Jesus is already there, and He is waiting for us, leading the way, making it possible. I'll be so happy to know where that is, and can share it with everyone.

Until then, it is dark. It feels like a cave, with no light and no way out. But I know that isn't true. I do believe that the darkness is so necessary for the light to shine to its brightest capacity. I've seen it and lived it before. God is good.

My hearts desire to be authentic and transparent. If I don't share the depth of my darkness with you, then I'm not being obedient to that calling in my life. The Christian life is not about judging others, being critical, or gossip with a holier than thou attitude. The Christian life is about living the way Jesus did, and being constantly aware of His purpose, His glory, and this journey to Heaven, and all that we can bring along. It is also about obedience, of course.... dying to the sin in our lives and taking up the cross. I was never promised an easy life, financial security, or my own ability to make plans. But I was promised joy and peace that surpasses all understanding. And I have that.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Village

Asher has quite an imagination. As I sit here typing, I can hear him upstairs in our bonus room making sound effects. Occasionally, I hear something drop, or clang, or bang, or crash. He is such a mess boy! He has had a fascination with trains since his "hello world" debut. It helps that we even have a train that comes through our community. We can hear it far off in the distance, just enough to get excited about it, but not so much that it disturbs us. We lift him high above the fence so he can see the top of the train on its journey to the station.

Asher has many toy trains and train tracks. He is constantly designing a track, and utilizing un-track-related toys to enhance his structure. It really blows my mind. I believe that he could have a future as a metropolitan tram-system plan designer. But then again, he could also have a promising future as a wall artist, or a brownie taste-tester. I can promise you he has no future as a back-up dancer. And he probably would not survive in an environment where he must be quiet and respectful of other people's space. sigh

Recently, Joe walked into the bonus room, expecting to find a new track design covering every inch of the floor. Instead, Asher had been hard at work constructing a village out of books. A massive village, with houses and stores and churches and schools and parks and playgrounds. When I was summoned upstairs to take a look, I literally lost my breath at the site.

I love that no matter what Asher does, he seems to be focusing on the big picture. He takes it all in and includes everyone. His imagination involves community and extends to the masses. I think he is such a cool kid. And not to mention, everything he builds, he says he built it for Shawn to tear it down. After all, Shawn is incredibly gifted at knocking things over and throwing the pieces across the room. Come to think of it, Shawn may have a bright future as a wrecking ball operator!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I am Momma

And I am beyond grateful. I had Spencer when I was a teenager, and he grew up with me. That experience was excruciating at times, when I would be faced with failure or fear, but without him in the perfect moment in time, I might not even be here. And that is the truth. I praise God that He made me be a mommy and that he allowed me to be a mommy, even at such a young age.

I have said it a thousand times and ya'll are tired of hearing it, but Asher and Shawn could not be more delicious. It is difficult to even type this because my heart is pounding so hard and my eyes are struggling to see around water welling up and glazing over my eyeballs. If I swallowed right now, the entire neighborhood would hear me. I am ecstatic to have my children. I have never deserved them. God has given me many second chances. My opportunities are Asher and Shawn. I know that they are not mine forever. They are on loan from our great Father. I can have them for as long as they are here and under my wing, or for as long as I am here. If I'm blessed in kingdom proportions, Shawn will grow old with me. However it goes down, on the last day of my life.......if I get to go out shouting, I will be shouting about Spencer, Asher, and Shawn.

I am Momma.

Happy Mother's Day to every incredible mother that I know. Hi Mom!

Friday, May 8, 2009


I had an unusually glorious time killing numerous ants in my house this morning. And by numerous, I mean, hundreds. They were plotting and planning around the hearth of the fireplace, no doubt chased in by the monsoon we've been having over the past year weeks. There were too many and the task was overwhelming, so I did some plotting and planning of my own. I retrieved the pancake syrup from the pantry and poured 2 small puddles on the hearth. Soon, every ant in a 10 mile 3 foot radius was lapping it up. Squish.

I do not normally enjoy smooshing God's creatures.

I hope no one smooshes me.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What I Do Do

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone important, speaking intellectually, a mile a minute and then suddenly you start to tell that person what you do in a certain situation, and you start the explanation by saying, "What I do, do......" and it totally sounds like you're talking about "Doo Doo"?

I didn't do that, or anything....I was just wondering if you do do that. I would never do something that ridiculous. Of course not.

So anyways.... here are some things that I don't do:
~eat mayonaise
~get pedicures
~speed (much)
~exercise enough
~listen to my mother with both ears

Here are some things I do do:
~drink lots of coffee
~work really hard
~hug and kiss my sweet little boys so much that they think it is totally okay to hug and kiss other sweet little boys
~read my bible
~dream of going back to Africa to love on some orphans

And I promise...I'm trying to blog more. I might make this "do do" thing a weekly treat. Yeah....that sounds yummy!

Friday, May 1, 2009

"It's A Good Day For The Trees"

It is so dark and dreary outside now. With rain pouring down so hard on the car while I'm driving myself and the kids on a 20 mile trek back to our home, thunder and lightening leading the way....from the backseat of the car, the sweetest Asher Tate said, "Mommy, it's a good day for the trees."

What sweet words!

Asher could have said any number of negative things about the rain, how he wouldn't get to play outside, or how the thunder scares him, or even complain about how long it was taking us to drive home. But instead, his focus was on the positive...."it's a good day for the trees."

We're not alot unlike trees. We come in all different shapes, sizes and varieties. We're planted, often in places we have no choice about. We thirst for something nourishing and life giving. We crave the light of the sun and how it makes us feel. We are seeking a flock.....for us it is friends and family. For the tree, it's the birds of the air. We provide shelter for our children and our families. The tree provides shelter for squirrels, cats, people, and other critters.

And most of all, we all have those dry, treacherous days where we are just praying that the heavens will open up and pour out all over us...quench our thirst and drown us in nourishment.

Today, it is not just the tree that has been poured on. I have been poured on. I have been loved, fed, nourished, and I have been allowed to bloom and flourish. I am so grateful for the rain in my life when it comes. Momentarily, it seems dark and dreary, but quickly I am renewed.