Gift of Memories

Just the other day I had an intentionally quiet morning. Everyone was at school or work, and I was standing in front of my photo wall sipping my coffee and soaking in all the faces. Each captured memory means something significant to me. As my eyes landed on each picture, I let my mind go back to that particular season of life, that very moment framed on the wall. It was sweet; I thanked the Lord for this beautiful life He’s given me. I texted Josh to say how grateful I am to walk through life’s ups and downs with him by my side.

I just finished a book by John Eldridge—get your life back. He wrote a chapter on Memory and the gift it is to us. I loved every word of it! It helped articulate the frustration I have with the well-meaning older ladies that would tell me not to blink when they saw me with my three toddlers or the old lady in the grocery store that told me before I knew it they would be out of the house. I didn’t like the pressure I felt with their statements. But now I am the older lady wanting to tell the young mom to soak it in because it goes by so fast. I usually withhold my words and let them grocery shop without the guilt of my words meeting their thoughts of wishing they were alone in those aisles or my words leaving that young mom with frustration in her heart over the dilemma of how exactly to not blink.

Here’s how Eldridge put it—

“But there’s something more, something touchingly merciful about memory. It has to do with the common occurrence of loss so near to us, so constant, that we’ve grown completely numb to it—or numbed by it: our inability to make time stand still, even for a moment. No sooner have we stepped into some wonderful life experience—a birthday, a wedding, that Christmas morning when you were six years old and the pond had frozen and you got your first pair of skates—but in the next breath it is completely swept away in the unceasing river of time, swept far downstream and out of reach.

Every precious moment will suddenly be last week, last month, last year before you can blink.”

It’s true. I cannot make time stand still. But I can snap a photo, and I can frame that photo and hammer (yet another) hole in my wall and hang that framed memory up. I can slow down my days and remember good times that God has given our family, remember God’s faithfulness time and time again. The glance backward gives me the hope that other good times will come or will challenge me to not miss the moments God has me in right now, for they will soon be over. And God is with me in all of it. Some may see my photo wall(s) and think it’s a bit overboard, excessive, unnecessary, cluttered even. And I can admit it is a lot to take in, but I wouldn’t dare want to not have these photos hanging in my home!

Eldridge also brilliantly says that the intentional use of memory is a cure for our “what have you done for me lately” attitude towards God. So true and so convicting.

The gazillion photos on my walls.

The huge vases of sea shells from past vacations in my room.

The paintings of the church and building we held our wedding reception in.

The framed city and state locations we have lived.

Maybe my photo wall is more than just a rebellion from growing up in homes that were usually for sale and therefore needed to have blank walls. Instead, these photos are to me “Ebenezers.” In the Bible, Samuel named a place of victory, Ebenezer and said, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (I Samuel 7:12). I dare say we need more reminders of God’s faithfulness and sweet goodness in our lives. The world we live in is rough and dark and can leave us weary—sometimes even to the point of wondering where God is and if He actually cares for us. We need to make time to remember and turn those times into praise so that hope will have a steady home in our hearts.

Snap the photo. Print it out. Frame it and hang it for all to see.

Open the gift of memories. 💗

Psalm 77:7-15

Molly is 17!

Did Molly-in-the-Middle get our leftovers on her birthday? Maybe. But we did make it home to meet the group for her birthday dinner that she planned.

I left a new pair of shoes for her since I would be gone. But that was about the extent of it. We gave her cash and paid for dinner, of course.

Thankfully, sweet Bethany baked and brought some delicious cookie bars that we were able to share. Molly is #1 in our eyes🤩

In all seriousness, Molly is unique, fun, independent, creative, and always so helpful! As a fellow middle child, I am well aware that her placement in the family is God-ordained. Middle children, they say, are some of the most well-adjusted adults. 🤣 (My sisters are rolling their eyes if they are reading this.) But Molly is awesome. We love her and are going to soak up this year with her!!!!!

She took her own first day of school pic. Josh took one of her and Mack. He wondered why that was bad. It wasn’t Mack’s first day. 😑

Love watching this girl grow and mature! She is a blessing to our family. Happy 17th Birthday!

New Season

Though Josh nor I feel old enough to be taking our child to college, this is what we found ourselves doing on August 18th.

Ruby and I drove to Virginia on Tuesday evening, spent Wednesday together running a few errands and registering her car with the school, and Josh met us that afternoon. Thursday morning we got up early and started moving her in.

Liberty has upper classmen dispersed at each dorm with smiles and huge red bins to load up your stuff. They do it all, and we just walk up to the room. It was very nice!

Ruby can’t understand all that has gone in to her being in this exact spot in this season. The Lord has ordered her steps, and we are deeply grateful! It’s such a comfort as a parent to rest in this truth and to continue to trust God with Ruby. He has provided so abundantly.

Getting her room all put together was fun! And she was happy with how it all turned out. Josh was so helpful, as usual. Such a great dad.

Leaving Ruby there went well. She did not shed a tear. And neither did we. It’s hard for me to be anything but super excited for her—I would love to go to a college like this!!! It could also be the fact that we had to get back for Molly’s birthday dinner, and then we had some things to do for Mack’s Friday night football game. This season of life is so full. Trying to take it all in, but sure I’m missing some of it.

Since leaving we have had only one face time call and a few texts. The girl has jumped in with both feet! She met girls on her hall, walked around downtown, went to an ice cream place with her hall, got her books at the bookstore, went to bingo night, went to the gym to learn football chants and cheers, and went to church and lunch this morning. Classes start Monday!

❤️💙We love you, Ruby!💙❤️ Praying you will grow and mature and walk in all the purposes God has for you. Call me some time.

Summer 2022

We are winding down a strange summer around here. Molly is back home from her summer internship. Mack continues to practice football every day. Ruby is doing some babysitting and watching Gilmore Girls and reading all the Hoover books as she awaits her move-in day to Liberty University. Josh stays busy with work and fine tuning his archery skills. I feel like I’m floundering in the most annoying, yet seemingly unavoidable ways.

I had hoped Ruby and Mack might endear themselves to one another this summer, but that hasn’t really shaken out. They like to argue, evidently. One day I believe they will be close friends. Just not today. 😊

Pictures, anyone?

Molly’s summer was one she will remember forever! So. Much. Fun. And so. Many. Amazing. People. Thank the Lord for making a way for her this summer. I would get pictures from friends who had spotted Molly around town or in church. There was not a lack of things to do and people to hang out with for Molly in Woodstock! But man, we are glad she is back home.

Mack spent a good bit of time hanging out with Josh and me. They’ve done a lot of fishing and football. He got his learners permit. Ruby got her 18 year old adult license. I spruced up our teeny tiny guest room. Most of the summer Molly’s room was used for storage—clothes Ruby didn’t want, dorm room supplies and packages that arrived almost daily—so I spent time in there cleaning before Molly came home in late July. We had some new landscaping installed in the front yard, which was unexpected. I was thinking about Josh and me planting some ivy. No one liked that idea, so this next plan got implemented in a flash. And I actually like how it turned out.

I truly want to spend some more time on here typing out words rolling around in my mind rather than just updates and photos. But there seems to be more pressing things to do—especially as this summer quickly comes to a close. Stay tuned for Ruby’s move in to college, Molly’s first day of her senior year and Mack’s first day of his new school. 🤪

Ruby’s High school Graduation

This morning I took my coffee to the back patio to sit in the morning sun and do at least a few minutes of reflection on Ruby’s graduation before the others woke up or came to the house from their hotels. Josh joined me and solemnly said, “So far, nothing has made me feel as old as having a child graduate high school.”

I could have bawled my eyes out if we were alone, but I just didn’t really have the time for that…not yet anyway. But what he said is true. Time is a strange thing. I’m not one for cliches and dwelling on things we cannot change—like how many hours in a day there are. But the saying is true that the days are long but the years are short.

My consolation is that I was there for the vast majority of the 24 hours that made up the very long days of Ruby’s 18 years. And I am now here to be able to say that those same 18 years have flown by.

And I keep showing up to do all the mom things that seem (sometimes painfully) unacknowledged. I am (sometimes painfully) aware that so much is changing so very quickly and there’s not a darn thing I can do about it. I am (sometimes painfully) aware that I am by myself a lot these days. I help, assist, plan, dole out money and turn around (sometimes painfully) to an empty house. It’s a good thing Josh and I still love and like each other very much!

But before I get too emotional about all the changes in our home, I should say clearly that we are so proud of Ruby! She graduated! From a sweet little kindergarten graduate to a full grown high school graduate, she has been a joy to parent. I love how God made her and can see so much of both of her grandmothers in her. Confident, clear, well-spoken, a leader, bold, witty, loyal, head strong, smart and beautiful!

Super grateful for these two making the trip to be here with us! Sisters are a gift. I love them so much!
Cousins and PawPaws!

So there’s no more days left in “Ruby’s Graduation Countdown.” This chapter has officially closed. And a new chapter begins!

And Josh and I will continue to cheer her on and support her and pray for her every step of the way! We are so proud of you, Ruby Elizabeth!

Graduation Party!🥳

These four girls had a shared Graduation Party! It was so fun for all of us.

Random Observation—Mack and Josh are standing exactly alike and us girls are all touching similarly. So funny.

Grateful to times of sweet celebration!