Posted by: amyedwards | February 18, 2013

The Game’s Not Over

Let’s face it – cheerleaders get a bad rap!  I mean, they get very little recognition for their contribution to the game.  Most (except maybe the 13 year old boys) barely even notice their presence on the sidelines.  When they are acknowledged, it usually isn’t for the hard work they’ve put in that week – the grueling workouts, the memorized routines, the hours of practice, or their love for the team.  No matter the sport, it’s really all about the player – his background, his stats, his love of the game, his future.  At first glance, it doesn’t seem fair.

But a true cheerleader doesn’t mind.  She knows her place is on the sidelines, out of the limelight.  She understands that her job is to encourage and support the one for whom she cheers.  She delights in rallying others in that support, and she finds true happiness and fulfillment in seeing the beneficiary of her effort succeed.  That’s her role and whether or not anyone else notices, she plays a vital part in the game.

I’ve been thinking on this topic more recently.  The fact is, my days of cheering at basketball and football games are long since behind me.  But am I not called to continue as someone’s cheerleader?  Sure, it comes natural for me to encourage, support and vocalize the pride I have in my children.  I’m their mother.  I always want them to succeed.  And I’d like to say that I’m the same with my husband, but truth be told, that doesn’t always come as easily to me.  I haven’t always been his biggest fan, offering my support and encouragement in all he sets out to do.  Even in a good marriage, it sometimes requires a conscious effort.  But while I will always see room for improvement with my own family, my thoughts this week have been centered more on my need to  invest in the lives of people outside the safety net of my little home.

When a friend is struggling in this joy we call parenting, does she know I’m cheering her on?  When one tells me she wants to write a book, does she know I believe in her ability to do just that?  When another is striving to reach a personal goal, do they know I’m pulling for them?  All day, every day!  When a stranger needs someone to talk to, am I readily available and happy to listen?

Are we intentional in seeking out those who need encouragement or are we content in our happy-go-lucky world to watch the game play out in front of us but never be a part of it?  I believe we are called to more and the blessings are our’s for the taking if we set aside our own desires to be in the limelight and make ourselves available.

Jonah 2:8

Those who cling to worthless idols, forfeit the grace that could be theirs. 

Who are you cheering on today?  Are you purposefully seeking for someone in need of your support?  Have you taken the time recently to thank your biggest fan?

The game is not over.  Let us not delay any longer.   We can have a vested interest in the outcome.

 

 

Posted by: amyedwards | February 13, 2013

Heaven Sent

Last week, our family had the blessed privilege of hosting a complete stranger in our home.  I know it sounds crazy, but the opportunity presented itself and something within me wanted so badly to do it.  I love people and I knew this man would have some stories to tell.  You see, this was no ordinary man.

His name is Jack Fussell and he’s running from Savannah, GA to Monterey, CA to raise support and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Foundation.  He’s a 62 year old gentleman with a smile to give everyone he comes across.  He is absolutely the happiest person I’ve ever met – and that’s even after running 350 miles in just the few weeks preceding our encounter.

I had high hopes for the evening once I found out it was happening.  Chanch laughed at my thoughts of all of us sitting around the dinner table listening to his story.  After all, it’s hard enough to get our kids to sit still to eat!  And if you know Chanch, he’s not a talker.  But Jack made it easy!  His personality is infectious.

We found out Jack would be running all morning and would arrive at our house some time around 1:30.  All he carries with him fits into a jogging stroller he affectionately calls “Wilson”.  I spent his first hour with us frantically trying to pick up the house.  That’s what happens when you have unexpected company, right?  Poor fella had no idea what he was getting himself into . . . three crazy kids, one jumping dog, a very lived-in house, a quiet man of the house, and a lady who knows without a doubt that hospitality is not her spiritual gift.  Jack was quite the sport.  He let me pick up shoes, change his sheets, scrub his bathroom, and didn’t seem to mind my rudeness.  He was happy to answer all of our many questions and, although I encouraged him to go rest, he seemed to be content with my little family.

My thoughts were that we would offer him a warm bed to sleep in (albeit in a kid’s bed), some hot meals, and a little company if he wanted it.  In return, my hope was that we would hear some cool stories and I could work it all into a learning experience for my kids.  Jack did not disappoint and he gave us so much more!  He was so gracious to want to know our story – to engage our family. He showed a genuine interest in our lives, asking questions of my children; looking at the scrapbook of our RV journey to California; and treating us like family.  Unbeknownst to him, he was more influential that he could imagine.

Chanch was a little uneasy at first with the entertaining part.  He’s a man of few words until he gets to know someone.  But once Jack told him that he used to own his own business in refrigeration, there was plenty to talk about.  Throughout the evening I heard Jack pour out wisdom, speaking such truth to Chanch with regard to business. The timing could not have been better.  We had been wrestling with recent business decisions, and the conversation he offered seemed to answer our doubts. And he had no idea.  Each time he would say something monumental, I wanted to kick Chanch under the table.

And then there was the advice he gave Colby.  He began speaking to Colby about the fears that he has to face head on each day during his journey to California.  He was so gentle when speaking with Colby about fear and how you have to learn to handle it properly.  That even when facing your fears, you’ll still be afraid. But you survive them.  You come out on the other side knowing you made it.  Better words could not have been spoken to my little Colby who struggles daily with his own anxieties.  Again, he did not know.

Jack left us after breakfast the next morning.  We were all sad to say goodbye, but none more than me.  In a very short time, I grew to absolutely love this stranger on a journey.  Words cannot describe the impact he had on my family in the short number of hours he spent as our guest.

But there’s no need to speak of him in the past tense.  We will continue our newfound friendship with Jack Fussell for a lifetime, because to know him is to love him.

Jack Fussell, Sr.

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers,

for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing.

Hebrews 13:2

Posted by: amyedwards | February 10, 2013

A Front Row View

We recently celebrated my Noah’s 11th birthday.  It’s hard to believe that the boy who made me a Mommy is already 11 – just a couple of years from being a teenager.  When he was just a baby, each new milestone was a bit difficult for me.  Sure, I celebrated all of his firsts.  First words, first steps.  Heaven knows, his first full night’s sleep.  And of course, the big First Birthday!  But I found myself always a little sad when it was over.  That first was over – he would never have it again.  I remember expressing the feeling to my sister-in-law, whose kids were older.  In all of her experience and wisdom, she shared with me that there would always be new firsts.  Each stage of life brings new firsts and they are all just as special.  The first time they say their ABC’s; write their name; read a sentence to you; etc.

I have to say, 11 years and 2 additional kids later, I couldn’t agree more.  I have so enjoyed every stage of life for my kids and cherish the memory of all of their firsts.  Of course, the older they get, the fewer firsts they seem to have.  Or maybe you just have to look a little harder for them.  Recently, Noah decided he wanted to compete in his school’s talent show.  I encouraged him to do so, but told him it would take some hard work.  Then I sat back and watched.  He called his friends to wrangle them in, decided on a song, worked on choreography, set up practice times, decided on costumes, and ultimately pulled off a second place win!

I was so proud of the responsibilities he took on.  It was so great to see the leadership qualities he has being put to good use.  He came up with a plan and followed through until the end.  He proved to this Mom that he isn’t just growing older, he’s growing up.  And how blessed am I to get to watch it all from the best seat in the house!

Noah's 1st Birthday

 

Posted by: amyedwards | January 8, 2013

Making a Difference

I’ve been thinking more and more about this topic recently. Maybe the new year has brought it on.  Or maybe it’s the economy these days. Or maybe it’s the example others have set. One thing is for sure, I want to be deliberately looking for ways to make a difference, to BE a difference in others’ lives this year – big or small.

My husband’s brother, David, was recently the recipient of a kidney from a live donor.  You may remember that a kidney disease runs in my husband’s family.  His dad had a transplant numerous years ago.  You can read his story here.

David’s story is very similar. He was told his kidney function had dropped to such a level that he needed to be added to the transplant list.  His wife, Pam, received the news while working at youth camp. She mentioned it to a new friend she was rooming with. That friend went home and told her parents David’s need. Little did Savannah know, God was already working. You see, her dad, Mr. Hembree, had heard a radio program about live donors and had made the decision that he wanted to give a kidney – he just didn’t know who the recipient would be.  He secretly began the testing required and was not surprised to find out he was a perfect match for David Edwards. He had only had a conversation with David once at church, so they were practically strangers.  Why would a man risk his own health to give a stranger a kidney?  Mr. Hembree’s answer was simple:  “Why would God create us with two kidneys and we only need one to live, if he didn’t want us to give the other one away?”  Well, when you put it like that . . .

Mr. Hembree has chosen to make a difference. David will not have to go on dialysis where he would sit in a chair 4 hours a day, three times a week. He will not have to be on a list for years, waiting for the perfect match. He will be at his kids’ ballgames, school events, etc.  His life has been touched by a stranger. Someone willing to put himself aside and be a part of God’s plan.

As we enter a new year, how will God use you?

How will God use me?

http://www.healthwatchmd.com/2012/12/a-kidney-transplant-patient-receives-a-lifesaving-letter/

Posted by: amyedwards | January 2, 2013

A Fresh Start

This blog depresses me.  The entries within it are supposed to inspire, to encourage.  Hopefully, that still holds true for you.  But for me, when I look at it, it makes me sad.  There was a time that I loved blogging.  I may not have been as consistent as some are, but for a time, I wrote on a regular basis.  I enjoyed writing, whether it was a “Sunday Stirring”, “Keepin’ It Real”, or something about my kids.  I felt good about it.  I felt like I was doing something worthwhile and hoped that my words would have value to my children in the future.  And I didn’t just write, but I read.  There were numerous blogs that I looked forward to.  And I was inspired and encouraged by their entries. 

Not long ago I was introduced to a blog.  I must admit, I don’t think I’ve ever followed a man’s blog before, but this one left me wanting more. The writer is an older gentleman, so there aren’t really posts about his children.  No recipes. No housewife woes.  But it is packed full of encouragement, hope and growth.  

And inspiration! I enjoy this – even if I’m the only one who reads it. I want to get back to it!  It makes me sad to see that I stopped.  And for what? So a fresh start is what I’m after.

And that fresh start has just begun!

Posted by: amyedwards | February 10, 2011

Say It Isn’t Snow!

I’m a huge fan of snow for lots of different reasons.  Who doesn’t like the fluffy, white stuff falling from the sky.  It’s absolutely beautiful and a blast to play in.  But I’ve always said, if it’s going to snow, I want there to be enough to make it worth the time and effort it takes to get the kids all bundled up to go out in it.  Let’s face it, my little ones aren’t going to stay out in the cold very long anyway, but if they are having a good enough time, they just might stay out longer than it took me to locate somewhat appropriate snow clothing and get it all on them.

Last year’s snow was perfect!  The snow was great for building snowmen and sledding down hills.  I even got in on the fun.  And it lasted for just a couple of days – just long enough for everyone to have time to enjoy it, but life not be at a standstill.  This year, on the other hand, was quite different.  We started on Christmas day with snow.  It wasn’t really enough to enjoy playing in, but did add an extra special spark to Christmas since it’s the first time in over a hundred years since Georgia had a white Christmas.  But on January 10th, just as the kids were going back to school after 3 weeks out, snow came again.  And.it.stayed!!!  We had snow for an entire week.  The kids missed another week of school and practically everything shut down.  I’d like to say it afforded us some great family time, but the truth is — we all got pretty tired of each other.  The first day of snow was very powdery, so it wasn’t much fun for playing in and you couldn’t even build a snowman.  The next day, the light, icy rain came and sealed everything.  It was bitterly cold and just not fun to play in.  Wet, wet, wet!!!  By the third or fourth day, things had warmed up just enough and we were able to make better use of our “sleds” for a short time and Noah even pieced together a snowman.

The snow eventually melted and life went back to normal.  I can’t say I was sad to see it go!  The kids went back to school (after missing again for MLK day that next Monday) and I was left with a dirty fireplace, lots of laundry, and an empty pantry.

Posted by: amyedwards | January 25, 2011

Catching up . . .

I’ve been wanting to get back into blogging for a bit now, but when you haven’t blogged since May of last year it’s kinda hard to find a starting place.  There are lots I should have shared from last year and hated leaving it out by just starting fresh this year.  So what better way to catch up than a Year in Review post – well, a half-year that is.  Let’s see how this long-winded girl can break this down into a readable post – even if I’m the only one who ends up reading it :)

Summer vacation is a good place to start!  This year, our family decided to try a beach we used to go to years ago.  In fact, the last time we went to St. Petersburg Beach was the summer before Noah turned 1!  At that time, we were still doing the  extended family vacation thing.  You know where you caravan down with the rest of the extended family, you all stay at the same condo, you all eat at the same meals, etc.  Yeah, not my idea of vacation.  I mean, we created some memories together, but I can’t say they were all good.  And I digress!  We started thinking about where we would go and decided to give St. Pete another try.  We all had a great time with great weather, but have decided that St. Pete is just not the family fun atmosphere we desire.  Myrtle Beach it is NOT!  Blue hair retirement community it most certainly is.  Pop joined us again this year and it was definitely nice to spend the quality time with him.  And we celebrated Addilyn, Colby and Pop’s birthdays while we were there!

Family Photo

We returned from vacation just in time for school to start.  This was a big day for our family!  Not only was it Addilyn’s first day of preschool, but we had also made the decision to take the boys out of the Christian school they had always gone to and start them in public school.  It was not an easy decision, but an obedient one.  The Lord had impressed upon us that it was time to get out of our comfort zone and pay more attention to the needs around us.  The money we spent for a Christian education each month could be better used to minister to others.  God has since given us confirmation after confirmation that His will is always best!  We’ve been able to help several ministries financially, Noah’s behavior improved greatly, and Noah’s stuttering has lessened as he is under less pressure.  Funny how I never noticed that we were forcing him to be someone God did not create him to be.  The boys adjusted nicely at Bay Creek and Addilyn is loving preschool at Victory.   I’m so proud of all 3 of them!

September marked 2 years since Ladrene passed away.  We still miss her every day and each time I look out my front door, I’m reminded of her.  After she passed away, our sunday school class at church purchased a tree to be planted in her memory.  Sweet friends of ours from small group came over to plant it for us and prayed with us to dedicate it in her memory.  This year, I noticed just how beautiful it has grown to be and couldn’t help but think of the beautiful life she lived.

Addilyn and Colby  both received new bicycles for their 4th and 6th birthdays.  Addilyn lasted all of about 2 weeks with training wheels before she was begging to have them removed.  This Momma wasn’t quite ready for my baby to be riding freestyle!  We delayed her for as long as we could, but when she tired of hearing “We’ll do it another day!”, she took a different approach.  When all else fails, ask big brother.  He’s usually quite content to give her what she wants – especially if it means he gets to be the hero!

Somewhere around the time that I quit blogging, I took up crafting and craft blogs.  Before I knew it, I had broken out the sewing machine and was trying my hand at all kinds of projects.  There are so many fun things out there to try, but so little time to do it.  But I was determined to make some Halloween costumes by recycling some things around the house.  That worked great for Addilyn and Colby’s costumes, but no so well for Noah since he’s a bit older.  Not to mention the fact that every year he wears his costume for about 30 minutes and then he’s had enough.  Bad enough to feel like you’ve wasted your money, but I wasn’t going to waste my time too.  During a cleaning rampage just before Halloween, I nearly threw out our Twister game.  The kids never actually play with it, instead they just get it out and then they can’t fold it back up neatly.  Just as I dropped it in the trash it dawned on me that Addilyn needed a costume.

Colby has just gotten into Legos, so a large box, some red spray paint, and some red Solo cups were the perfect combination for a one-of-a-kind costume.  He got tons of attention throughout the night and he ate it up!

Just before Christmas, we sought out to have the dreaded family picture made.  Seeing as how my attempts at the perfect picture never quite work out, I thought it best to let the professionals give it a whirl.  A friend of mine was just getting started in the business and was so happy to take on the project at no cost to us as she was busy building her portfolio.  I was really wanting a different look than the regular studio shots, and I was so happy with the end result.

Addilyn was in her first preschool Christmas program, and what a little Angel she was!

Unfortunately, on Christmas Eve our family had to say goodbye to our beloved Bones.  Our once rescued dog of 4 years had never thought too fondly of men, but had more recently become attracted to the idea of biting.  We had already visited the vet with concerns of his anxiety, but things weren’t getting any better – no matter how hard we tried.  The final straw was when Bones decided to take a bite out of a delivery man’s leg.  We knew we could no longer take any more chances and it was time to say our goodbyes.  We were sad to see him go but knew it was the right thing to do.

So much for the saying “. . . as slow as Christmas.”  Wasn’t it just 15 short posts ago that I was talking about Christmas 2009?  Seriously though, why is it that when you are a kid Christmas seems to never come, but as an adult it is always just around the corner?  The truth is, I love Christmas!  But I must admit that I had a really difficult time getting into the spirit of things this year.  I was sick with some sinus difficulties and a nagging cough for a couple of months prior to Christmas, so that may have had something to do with it.  I’m not really sure the reason, but whatever it was, it held me back.  My house didn’t have nearly the decorations up, I couldn’t get excited about shopping, and making plans were always done at the last minute.  None of that seemed to affect the excitement my children had!  Addilyn was convinced that Santa was going to bring her an American doll that looked like her; Colby wanted Legos and a guitar; and Noah had been asking for an Xbox 360 for a couple of years.  And they were not disappointed!

The boys were also surprised with a special gift – their first guns!  And they couldn’t wait to use them.  So we headed to my sister’s house for a little target practice on Christmas day.

While the boys were enjoying their new guns, Addilyn and I snuck away for a great time with our American dolls.  Daddy was sweet enough to buy Mommy a look-alike American doll for Christmas so that she and Addilyn could build some amazing memories together.  Addilyn was thrilled that Mommy had one too!  So it was off to the American Girl store we would go to get our dolls’ ears pierced, their hair fixed, and enjoy a nice dinner together – just the 4 of us!

And that’s our 2010 – or at least the last half of it.  And I’m not sure who is more excited that it’s over – me or you!  I, for one, am looking forward to starting 2011 with a bang and a blog!

 

Posted by: amyedwards | June 13, 2010

Good Excuse!

If you’re wondering why I don’t blog any more often than I do:

I can’t keep Addilyn away from the Photo Booth.  As you can see, her favorite thing to do is crawl up in my lap while I’m perusing the internet and start the camera.  So next time you wonder where I am and why I’m not blogging, I’m having fun with my girl!

Posted by: amyedwards | May 25, 2010

Aaah, now I get it!

We were driving down the road when I heard the following conversation:

Colby (5):  Addilyn, today is tomorrow.

Addilyn (3):  No, today is today.  (For the record, that’s what I was thinking too with a puzzled look on my face.)

Colby:  No, Addilyn.  Remember yesterday when we were playing store?  I told you that I don’t have to go school anymore and that tomorrow we could play with the cash register all day.  Well, today is tomorrow.

Aaah, now that makes perfect sense to me!

Best Buddies

Best Buddies

Posted by: amyedwards | May 17, 2010

Mother of the Year – NOT!!!

 

So today’s writing is a Keepin’ It Real post!  Nothing warm and fuzzy about this one!  Nothing even funny about it!  In fact, it has taken me a couple of weeks to write it because frankly, it’s not something I really want to share.  But the fact is, this blog is for my children.  One day, when they have children of their own, I hope they will go through this book of writings and see that mom was not just fun and loving, but that she was normal!  She made mistakes – sometimes big ones!  And maybe they’ll learn from them before they are repeated.  So here’s the ugly truth:

A couple of weeks ago, Noah was upstairs in the playroom for quite a long time.  He enjoys going there sometimes to escape the little ones, so I didn’t think anything of it.  He typically watches some TV after he comes home from school or sometimes he talks on the phone with his friend.  (I know, right?  He’s an 8 year old boy!  I don’t understand it, but he enjoys it and it doesn’t hurt anything!)  A bit later, he came downstairs all excited to give me a Mother’s Day card he had created for me.  He had put so much time and energy in it and was so happy to surprise me with it.  I read his sweet words and said thank you, putting it off to the side.

About an hour later, we were in the car heading to dinner.  I was talking to Noah and noticed this green stuff ALL OVER the undersides of his arms.  When I asked him what was all over him, he proceeded to tell me that it was ink from my scrapbook markers.  I’m pretty sure that flames shot out of my ears at that point.  Why?  Because he has been told REPEATEDLY to stay out of my scrapbook stuff!  There are very few things in this house that I call mine, but I lay claim to the scrapbook stuff.  And I don’t like to share!  Nothing is ever returned to the right place (not that I’m that organized); the mess left behind is never cleaned up; and lids are never completely replaced on the markers (you know – push until you hear the click!).  UGH!!!

The scrapbooking mom who prides herself in preserving special memories for her children went off the deep end and ripped him a new one!  “Why can’t you ever obey?  I’ve told you repeatedly to stay out of my things, but you just can’t obey.  You have no respect for anything I say!  How many times have I told you to stay out of my things.  You’ll never get it, will you?  And on, and on, and on . . . “

I will never forget the look on that sweet child’s face while he shook his head.  He didn’t speak a word, but he didn’t have to.  The look of disappointment spoke volumes.  It was at that moment it dawned on me that just an hour before that same child had brought me a surprise Mother’s Day card.  A big, beautiful card decorated with what else but a green marker.  And sitting behind me in the car was a child with the back sides of his arms covered in ink that had not completely dried while he continued to create!  And then came the realization that a single scrapbook marker cost less than even a store-bought card would have cost, but no price can be put on a card made by my child – just for me!  A card made with no prompting from dad or a teacher at school.  A card made by a little boy who loves his mom and wanted to tell her so!

Did he disobey?  Yes.  Should he have asked first?  Probably so.  Would I have said yes had he asked?  Not likely.  Is a scrapbook marker worth the broken spirit of my child?  Absolutely not!

No “Mother of the Year” awards here!  Just a huge apology to a sweet little boy and a desire to be better than that.  And for those of you who know me well, you know there has been guilt and self-condemnation to follow.  And now there is a big, yellow card with green marker proudly displayed on my mantle, just under the Thomas Kinkade.  And it may be there for a while!

image

Thank you God for my sweet Noah.  In a wonderfully difficult way he teaches me more about You every day.  Thank you for Your forgiveness, Your grace, Your mercy and especially Your patience with this Mom who loves so much, but fails so often.

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