G-Daddy & The Birdhouse

birdhouse

So a few months ago, my dad (G-Daddy) was watching Austin for the day. He thought Austin might have fun working on a “project,” so my dad decided to build a birdhouse with Austin.

Before Austin got there, G-Daddy cut boards to size, sanded them, stained them and had everything organized for Austin. He cleaned up his workshop, and had all the pieces laid out so it would be a simple process. He knew that the attention span of a 7-year-old was limited so he was trying to maximize the resources and minimize the work time.

So Austin ventured into the shop with G-Daddy and proceeded to nail about three nails (using a nail gun) to put the finishing touches on his birdhouse.

When we got home, Ervin and I marveled over the house and how great it looked. I told him, “I’m so glad you got to build this with G-Daddy.”

Austin: “Mommy, I’m going to be honest with you…. G-Daddy really didn’t do that much.”

I guess it’s all about perspective! 🙂

 

On Daddies

Now I’m a giant
Got a son of my own
He’s always trying
To go everywhere I go
Do the best I can to raise him up the right way
Hoping that he someday wants to be
Like his old man

ervandaustin

 

There are a million ways I could tell you that you are a great father. I knew before we married that you were. I had the ability to watch you be a daddy to Erin. And – oh how she loved you. She was 100% Daddy’s girl. You were her safe haven, her rock, the one she always knew she could count on.

erverin

She grew up into a beautiful and confident young lady. Already changing the world and only 20 years old. For anyone to make a difference, they must first know they are loved. And – oh, how you love her.

And then came Austin. So different from her. But so much like her, too. And you jumped in with both feet. You went from tea parties, books, band concerts and soccer games to – well, Austin.

He is wild and opinionated…so opinionated….and funny and more than a handful.

ervaustin4

So now you run ninja warrior obstacles, and answer a million questions a day, and constantly look up sports stats – because he needs to know every single stat of every single sport.

You give hundreds of hugs and thousands of kisses. You watch countless football and basketball games with him, cheer him every day as he runs an obstacle course in our yard  because he wants to be an American Ninja Warrior. You teach him about God and Jesus and doing the right thing.

The past 5 Father’s Days – you have been volunteering as a nurse at Camp Hawkins. A summer camp for children with developmental disabilities. Every summer, I bring Austin up, so he can volunteer, too. But mostly I want him to see you. I want him to see what a good man does – he loves Jesus, he helps others, he gives up a day that could be all about him to serve those who often feel marginalized.

Every day you are setting the example for him on what it means to be a good man and giving Erin the template for what she should look for in a man who loves her. It is important work being a daddy. Probably the most important thing you’ll ever do.

I just want you to know, I think you’re doing a great job. Better than great.

Thank you for loving our kids. Thank you for being an example. Thank you for walking this path with me. Thank you for being a daddy.

ervaustinerin

Happy Father’s Day, honey. We love you.

My Life Boat

jennalice

Several years ago, I went to a yoga class and was one of two students in the class.  It was hot yoga.  And it seemed like a good idea at the time.

For almost a year, I went to this class and it was just the two of us – me and Jen – and our yoga instructor. As you sometimes do when you’re the only two in the class – we started chatting. We figured out we were both boy mamas.  Our boys were the same age. (Score!) Our husbands were the same age. (Because that’s important for grown-ups) She and I were the same age – and all that was kinda cool. I decided we should definitely be friends.

I had just moved back to Newnan, after getting married – and while I was so happy to “be back home,” it was still a little bit of a culture shock for Ervin and me – since all of our friends lived in Atlanta. We needed local “friends” but were having a hard time finding them. All the folks our age typically had older kids and all the parents of Austin’s friends were usually much younger than us…we didn’t really “fit-in” any life groups from church as the “newlywed class” was a bunch of 20 somethings and the 30-something class were folks who had been married 15+ years…so, when this girl in the yoga class friended me on Facebook, I stalked her profile like a professional to find out all I could about her.

Because we needed friends.

After “liking” everything she posted for months. Jen took a chance and invited me to her book club. I stressed for a week about what to wear, what dish to bring, and worried her friends wouldn’t like me.

The night of book club I panicked about what underwear to wear. My husband asked “Exactly, what kind of book club is this?!?!”

I explained that if the house caught on fire and we had to run out in the streets in our underwear (Because all of our clothes could burn off – duh!) that I wanted to be wearing nice underwear. He assured me the house probably wouldn’t burn down unless I volunteered to cook.

There was no fire. Book club was a success. A friendship was born.

bookcluba

For the past several years, Jen has become my go-to-girl. When Ervin was in nursing school and working nights – she opened her house to me and Austin every weekend so we could let Ervin sleep in peace. She introduced me to a phenomenal group of women through the book club – all of whom have become important people in my life.  She has kept Austin for me in a pinch, showed up with a full meal when I was too sick to cook, made me homemade tiramisu for my birthday.

For my 40th birthday, she actually contacted Scott Steiner’s agent – the wrestler I obsessed over when I was a teenager (another blog for another time) – and asked him to attend my 40th birthday party.  Scott Steiner wanted $2,000 for an appearance – apparently there are some limits to Jen’s love for me – so instead, she had every single girl in our book club wear a Scott Steiner mask to my party.

bookclub40

She has encouraged me, laughed with me, grown with me, pushed me. We have traveled together, mourned together, practiced yoga, and solved the world’s problems sitting on her back porch.

During some really hard times, she has been the lifeboat I have climbed into time and time again. A safe harbor in the middle of my life that I didn’t realize I needed until I found her.

Today is her birthday. She will celebrate with little fanfare and no professional wrestlers. But she is worthy of all of it and more. Happy birthday, Jen! Thank you for being my life boat.

Sail on, girlfriend.

Wherever You Go

w2

 

Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.

-Ruth 1:16-17

Nine years ago, on a perfect June Day in a small chapel in the middle of a beautiful campus dedicated to healing hurting children- I spoke these words to Ervin – and he to me – cementing our vows to stick with each other through thick and thin.

At the time, I thought it was beautiful to speak words directly from The Bible as our wedding vows. I loved the symbolism of using ancient words to form a modern marriage.

I meant those words with all my heart when I married him nine years ago. I was so in love, so smitten, I really would have followed him anywhere.

I think during the first few years of marriage – I took those words very literally. We moved a few times. It wasn’t huge moves. Just changing houses and zip codes across town. So where he went; I went. Where I lived; he lived.

Marriage is easy! We’re going! We’re lodging!

Today, when I read these words, I realize they mean something so much more than what we said nine years ago.

Today, it means this…

I will go with you while you chase your dreams. I will stay up late nights and help you edit papers, and stand on the sidelines while you go back to school. I will juggle a small child and unending weekends while you work to establish a new career in the middle of your life. I will adjust my schedule and expectations when you become an RN in the ER, because it is your calling.

I will go with you when you throw yourself into ministry. I will support you when you pour all of your love and hope into children who aren’t ours. I will love you when you are depleted and don’t have anymore to give. I will volunteer in your ministry because it matters so much to you. And I will pour love and hope into these kids who aren’t ours. I will juggle a little boy countless weekends while you go to speak, share, and raise awareness, because it is your calling.

I will go with  you even when the path is dark and seems hopeless. I will go with you when I want to give up, when you want to give up. I will go with you in sadness. In despair. I will go with you through your dark times and heartache.  I will go with you when we don’t know what the next step is – when we are afraid to take the next step. I will leap into the darkness with you knowing we will either be given something solid to stand on or find our wings to fly.

I will go with you in rainstorms to comedy clubs. I go with you to our youngest one’s first day of school and our oldest one’s last day of college. I will go with you to doctors appointments – to sit in the waiting room for 5 hours – just so you know I’m there. I will go with you into a million houses until we finally walk into the one we call home. I will follow you through a thousand ordinary days to create one extraordinary life.

Where you  go, I will go….

On our wedding day the song Bubbly by Colbie Cailliat was our recessional. I loved it because I felt like it spoke to exactly how I felt on the day we said “I do.”

How he made me feel bubbly and silly and tingly.  And – oh – how he still does.

I heard the song on the radio for the first time in a long time just the other day. It made me smile – but it struck me that I had never noticed – the last line of her song is:

Wherever, wherever, wherever you go.

Our wedding started and ended with the same promise: Where you go, I will go.

It’s just as simple today as it was back then. It just means more now.

9 years

Wherever, wherever, wherever you go.

Purple Flowers

A few weeks ago a couple of coworkers and I decided to gather every Monday morning in our conference room at 10AM and pray specifically for our staff and residents at the Children’s Home. No fanfare. No fancy devotion. Just honest prayers voiced together.

This one particular Monday, I knew of a situation with one of our residents. Something heartbreaking had happened and so I shared what little information I had with my coworkers.

I have to be a bit vague here, but the staff on campus had decided to have a time of prayer in their chapel for the resident a little later in the week – as a way to process and heal. The only thing I knew about the situation was that the color purple was important to this resident. Right before my co-workers and I prayed – I told them that I felt impressed that I should buy some purple flowers and place them on the altar for this child’s prayer service. I thought it might bring a small measure of comfort to see a favorite color- perhaps give the child a small shred of hope.

My heart hurt for this child – as I was sure they felt their prayers were not answered. I, too, have struggled these past two years with feeling like God hasn’t answered some of my prayers. These “unanswered prayers” can weigh so heavy on us. I didn’t want this child to feel that weight or lose hope or faith.

So we prayed for the child and a situation we couldn’t change. We prayed for God’s healing. We prayed for restoration. We prayed for hope.

When we finished praying, I looked up, and our receptionist was walking through our lobby with the biggest bouquet of PURPLE flowers you have ever seen.

We put those flowers on the altar later that week.

These flowers reminded me that God has not forgotten this hurting child. And He has not forgotten me. And for anyone needing something to hold on to today – He hasn’t forgotten you, either.

My prayer is that God will send you purple flowers exactly when you need them.