Wednesday, October 20


Us kids traveled home for the weekend to surprise mom and dad. We snuck in late Friday night and then spent all day Saturday looking at pictures, playing games, talking, eating banana pancakes and delicious t-bone steaks (not at the same time, of course). The best part is that they didn't even have a clue about our made the party even better.

Lots of memories.

The party masterminds.

The newlywed travelers. :)

They eventually warmed up to each other. :)

No party is complete without Jim's salsa and a good game of Apples to Apples.

We ended the night with cake and a milk toast. :)

Congratulations on 32 years, Mom and Dad!

You have raised us to love the Lord and love each other. You have taught us so much about forgiveness, hard work, laughter and the unconditional love that brings us home over the years. You've made a lot of sacrifices. You've comforted a lot of bruises and broken hearts. You've helped us dream big. You've taken us on trips and instilled a love of seeing the world. You've surprised us and loved on us. You've taken time to listen and share your advice. Thanks for believing God through all the good times and bad. Thanks for believing in each other. Thanks for believing in us. We love you. :)

Monday, October 18

Rain Garden

So, two Sundays ago, a few of us spent time planting a rain garden. Have you ever heard of a rain garden? I hadn't. Apparently, after the floods this past spring, the city of Nashville incurred some fines for the water table levels. In other words, as the water rose, the sewer water had mixed with the city water...and well, you can guess the rest.

The good news is that the money from the fines was used to plug back into making Nashville a greener city. One of the places the money went to was an organization that has the goal of planting 200 rain gardens at elementary schools during this 2010-2011 school year. We were one of the schools to participate.

Some interesting facts about rain gardens:

1. Their main function is to return water to the water table.

2. Since water is intended to go into the ground, not storm drains, water is redirected from those drains into the gardens. Rain gardens help prevent the overflowing of sewers, which ultimately keeps our human waste out of our streams.

3. The water is absorbed into the garden, helping the native plants grow tall and strong.


Working by hand to turn up the soil.



Although our rain garden is a welcome addition to the school courtyard, it does seem, well, a bit small in comparison the larger city problem. But add this one to many others around the city and the effect is greater and greater.

There's something about getting your hands dirty and working with the ground. There's something about knowing that you are making a difference for the community you live in. The sun was hot that day, we only had one shovel, and with the absence of a hose we had to transport water in a large garbage canister. But our job was a success. I feel way more appreciative knowing that I got to be a part of the process. Thanks to our landscaper I am now way more aware of how plants can be used to make our growing, changing, developing world a better place.

Did you know that a lot of plants that are planted around parking lots have a purpose? Their leaves soak up the oils from the ground and as the sun shines on them the oil is broken down in a natural way. I was amazed by that one fact alone...and there were many more passed around that day.

Also, I learned something interesting about transplanting plants. When you take them out of the pots they are transported in, you have to break up their roots. If you do not break them up, they will continue to grow in a circular pattern like they did in the pot. This will cause the plant to become unhealthy and eventually won't be able to take root in the new ground. The landscaper made a point of saying how mean it sounds to break up the roots, but ultimately it was for their good. It made a point to me as well....I have very often felt that my roots were being broken up...but in the end it turned out for my best.
There are lessons everywhere to be learned.

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities
—his eternal power and divine nature—
have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,
so that men are without excuse.
Romans 1:20

Tuesday, October 12

Project: AK-47

So, for the last month or so I have been spending Tuesday afternoons putting together merchandise orders for an organization call Project: AK-47. Basically, it's an organization that raises awareness and funds, helping to free children around the world from living as child soldiers.

Right now, when people make a donation of $10, they receive dog tags with a child's name, age, and country imprinted on them. As I have packaged these orders, I have been reading the dog tags. Some of these boys and girls are as young as six years old. I think of my little first graders. I can't even imagine.

Here is one story out of the many: Neso's story

If you are not at all aware of what goes on in places like Burma, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, check out this website: . When you realize the gravity of what is really going on, your life will never really be the same.

"WEAR THEIR REALITY." Project: AK-47's dog tags for child soldier advocacy from PROJECT: AK-47 on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 3

Good Southern Cooking

I ate dinner at Monell's last night down in Germantown. This is the type of restaurant where there are 12 chairs around a large dining table and all the food is shared family style. "Passing to the left" is the rule and there is more than enough food in every dish that is passed.

If your party is small enough, you will end up sitting with other families. It is definitely the teacher in me, but I looked around and thought about how proud Dr. Martin Luther King would have been. This is a place where all different worlds are placed in a setting of fellowship and passing the bread. After a few minutes of acclimating to the table, stories and smiles begin passing between strangers. Seeing the light come to people's eyes as they connect for the first time is one of my favorite things in life.

There is no need to choose from a menu, the choices for dinner are already set each night. Last night it was pulled pork, meatloaf, fried chicken, green beans, turnip greens, cornbread, biscuits and gravy, peach preserves, baked apples, corn pudding, potatoes, fried pickles, banana pudding, sweet tea. It was kind of like Thanksgiving in October. Yum. :)

I sat at the table and felt thankful. Thankful to have been invited to spend time with my roommate's newly growing family. Thankful to be able to play with cutest little 2 year old and his 7 month old brother. Thankful to be eating a good meal. I have never really gone to food for comfort. If anything, I am the opposite. I eat a lot of cereal and frozen meals when left on my own. But last night it was a be eating home style, southern food, to be surrounded with old and new friends, to be out on the town and part of a community.

For a few moments, I couldn't help but look back and remember about 2 years ago at this time when I sat with a family I called my own, in a restaurant much like this. It was a day I'll never forget. I was in love and part of a family who that very morning had turned to the Lord. My heart overflowed and it hasn't stopped since.

We cannot see the future of our lives, but we can be thankful the moments we are given. I am thankful to have been a part of those moments in the past. I am thankful for new moments like last night. Life goes on. All things are new. Life will come back one meal at a time, one family at a time, one day at a time.