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You are my favorite mammal

Because you give the best hugs.

Because you would stay up late digging a garden for me in the dark.

Because you are almost always right.

Because you eat our tomatoes, even though you hate tomatoes.

Because you are so patient with the Sprout.

Because you roughhouse with the Goose.

Because your heart is still full of adventure.

Because you tolerate decorative pillows.

Because you encourage my creativity.

Because you make me want to think more, and harder, about more things.

Because you walk around the house with a baseball bat when I hear a noise in the middle of the night.

Because you get my humor.

Because I want to spend time with you more than anyone in the world.

Because you are a faithful friend, son, believer, worker.

Because I want to spend three times three times three times three times three times three more years being married to you.

Happy Anniversary.

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So, this dress that my mom sewed.

You know my abiding love for handmade, passed down things. This dress, sewn with pieces of lace from my mother’s wedding veil, from my grandmother, and 100 year old lace from a close friend – well, it is at the head of that category.

There are significant bits (literally) sewn all over the dress – more than I will belabor here. All that to say, it made my heart so happy for Sprout to have and wear it.

We had such a sweet celebration with family, close friends, food – we are blessed to be the recipients of so much genuine love.

Our Sprout got sprinkled on Sunday morning at church. She was THAT CHILD who squirmed and squeaked and spoke her mind the entire time we were on stage.

A good reminder that she is in need of the cleansing blood of Christ.

It is such a real thing. In every moment of every day, I NEED the blood of Christ. For the strength to attempt to exhibit the fruits of the spirit to my family. For the power to make tough decisions. For the perspective to know that my approval is not based on others’ opinion of me. For the reminder that my own efforts are worthless in and of themselves, and for the grace that allows me to fail over and over.

And yet. how. hard. is. this. to. remember. To be real. More real than the orange juice I am drinking right now. It is so much easier to fall back on my own justifications, ala ‘I’m doing a pretty good job.’ And then my need of His blood is exposed all over again.

Praying that our Sprout would understand this early, and that it would be part of who she is. This is the blessing that FCL shared in front of the church Sunday morning, written for her.

Our prayer is that you will be blessed with wisdom to discern good from evil, so that you will taste and see that the Lord is good. We pray you will grow in that wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and in favor with man. That you will not seek the approval of man or be conformed to the world, but instead let your adorning be the precious beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. That you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord – yet know that, even when you don’t, nothing can separate you from His love and that God is greater than your heart. We pray that you will share in the sufferings of Christ and count it all joy. That you will learn to be content. That you will run with endurance the race God sets before you, fighting the good fight of faith in the strength of His might. That you will never fear, save the Lord, and that you will know the voice and see the face of the Good Shepherd. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Oh, and there was a gown. Baptism is obviously not about the gown. But oh, this gown. Sewn by her grandmother. It requires a whole other post.

I’ve been thinking about who I want to be in 2011. I’m guessing the Julia Child/Martha/Jenna of J. Crew’s “Jenna’s picks”/my mom hybrid may not pan out for me all at once.

I want to be intentional with my time. I am realizing that entire weeks can go by when the only thing I accomplish is clean laundry. And that’s ok. But, I also want to make sure I’m becoming someone who is honorable, resourceful, wise, creative, and godly, and that I have outlets and time set aside for development in each of those spaces.

I resonate with the simple weekly goals laid out in this amazing blog I read:

1. Home Organization- cleaning out a closet, sorting the growing stack of stuff that needs to be filed on our desk, etc. Taking an organizational project and finishing it each week.

2. Project Completion- finishing a creative or home project. Keeping the creative juices moving each week.

3. Something for Someone Else- writing letters, spending time with our elderly neighbors, volunteering. I want our kids to grow up in a home where an others-focus is part of the norm.

4. Each Kid-  I only have one sprout right now, but as she gets older, this means helping her learn/do one thing that is important to her, to show her that I value her…and the same with any other sprouts that may come along. Right now that looks like “I value you, so you can spit up butternut squash in my hair all you want.”

Also, if I had this alarm clock, do you think it would be easier for me to get up at 6 am every day, make breakfast, and pray?

I think it would.

Other odds and ends:

Read more cookbooks. Starting with this one.

Read through my Bible.

Locate the best flea markets/thrift stores.

Learn to knit and needlepoint. Goal: homemade knit stockings by next Christmas.

Re-configure the front yard so that it doesn’t look like a crazy cat lady still lives in our house. Not that there’s anything wrong with cat ladies [ahem, CLAIRE].

Sew clothes for the sprout.

Grow more of what we eat.

Host dinner parties.

Spend more time with my closest friends. Let them see my dirt.

And of course, be laid back about all of the above, keeping what fits and letting the rest roll on off of my shoulders.

I used to be in possession of an old wooden plaque that said, in all caps, ‘PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE.’ It was once my mother’s, passed down when I left for college where it hung above the bedroom door each place I lived until I lost it in the move when I got married. Bad timing to lose it. Not that FCL requires a great deal of patience; rather, I see my own impatience, failings, and sin so much more clearly against the mirror of marriage.

Anyway, that plaque used to fall off of the doorframe and hit me in the head at opportune times. I needed it today. My husband, my daughter, and my dog put up with largely unprovoked testiness brought on by a series of small, silly things.

I accidentally peeled paint off of the kitchen wall. FCL and I totally missed each other in a conversation. The Sprout is teething. My calendar is too full. Our house is a disaster zone of half-unpacked bags, half put-away Christmas decorations, and toys. The Goose is constantly underfoot. Maybe it’s just that I hate taking down Christmas decorations. I’m sure that’s it.

We made bacon omelets for dinner. FCL opened the lid on the carton of our new brown eggs and laughed, calling me into the kitchen and said, “I think you have a word from the Lord.” On the inside of the lid was written “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

It’s appropriate that He spoke to me through an egg carton. Much more efficient than  skywriting and more likely to get read than a fortune cookie. I am so richly blessed, and He continues to give me new days in which to experience Him, His creation, and His grace upon grace. AND His mercies are new every morning. For me.

What a perspective-shifting reminder of the goodness and mercy extended to us [and available to appropriate!] from the Lord.

Now if only I can remember that tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

 

 

I’m sure I could belabor a play by play of ‘baby’s first Christmas’ in this space. But wouldn’t you rather see a recounting of Lucy’s second Christmas?

Ok, maybe not. But I’ll show you this first.

Someone is in denial about her weight.

The peace was soon broken as the Goose ran full speed into the Christmas tree with a box on her head. It’s possible the box part can be attributed to yours truly.

She got some consolation after the traumatic tree incident.

And some hand holding.

And then… our Survivor Dog embarked on Possum Quest 2010. She pranced around with this prize in her mouth for about an hour until the men trapped it in a garbage can and disposed of it at another part of the farm.

The next day involved snow, deer, and a squirrel incident.

We took four or five pictures, and Lucy is frolicking in the background of every single one.

In conclusion, her Christmas was very merry indeed. As was ours.

Onward to 2011.

Here’s a brief photo-essay on a few of last week’s festivities.

A Thanksgiving prayer that puts all in perspective:

O Lord, we thank Thee for this food,

For every blessing, every good.

For earthly sustenance and love

Bestowed on us from heaven above.

Be present at our table, Lord.

Be here and everywhere adored.

Thy children bless and grant that we

May feast in paradise with Thee.



If you know my family, this looks about right. We’re looking forward to holiday festivities with the Graham side later this month!

I don’t know that it’s true for every girl, but my experience has been the older I’ve grown, the more I’ve come to appreciate and treasure my mom and grandmothers. First living on my own, then learning (present tense!) to be the kind of wife my husband can be proud of, and now as a parent and the keeper of our home, I find myself increasingly re-visiting their habits, traditions, rhythms of daily life.

My mom, my grandmothers, my aunts — each is a uniquely different model of strong, smart, Godly womanliness, and I’m fortunate to know them. Recently, I’ve had a chance to reflect back on the life of my mother’s mother and appreciate her attitudes and accomplishments. It was our first holiday without her, and I missed her.

Even though she’d been ill for many years, I learned from her until the very end. Whether identifying a particular plant from my yard or encouraging me to cherish and serve my husband, she was a living example of a Titus 2 woman.

So, as we gathered in Jackson for Thanksgiving, she was missed (as was her husband, my Poppa, who dined with friends in Birmingham). But, she was present. It was her recipe for dressing that we enjoyed with our meal (key ingredient: sage) and her hand-stitched tablecloth on our table.

When we returned to Birmingham and I unpacked all of our Christmas boxes, I found a trove of her Christmas decorations, given to me when I first moved to town. It’s her tree skirt around our tree and her vintage matchbooks that light our candles.

I proudly use her 1949 Singer sewing machine, and it works as well today as I’m sure it did the day Poppa first bought it for her. Her sewing kit is so extensive that in two years of sewing projects, only last week did I have to purchase my first spool of thread. Every time I open it, I smile — it carries a scent that is exactly as I remember her.

All that to say, one of the things I so appreciate about the women ahead of me in years and wisdom — and something I want to be intentional about fostering — is the legacy of that which is shared and passed down.

Recipes, handmade quilts, letters, plants (plants from both of my grandmothers’ yards make their home in our garden here in Birmingham), lives that have been lived cheerfully in the service of others — I am now the beneficiary of these things into which they chose to invest their time.

It’s an encouraging example, as FCL and I try to create unique traditions for our new little family. The temptation to live frenetically is great, the busy-ness of life crowding out the gentler pace of things that require time; it is oh so helpful to have living and tangible reminders in my life and home of the lifestyle I want to cultivate, the kind of woman I want to be.

In the last three days, I:

dragged an entire woodpile into my house to “artfully” (emphasis on air quotes) arrange it in my non-working fireplace.

filled multiple wheelbarrows full of dead pumpkin vine for the garbage men — backyard expunged of jack and the beanstalk.

cleaned the bowels of our dishwasher. It smelled the way I imagine a colonoscopy might smell. Afraid I’d be stripped of my homemaker badge if I posted a picture. Of course, homemaker badges are probably going for pennies on ebay, but still.

gave our dog a mustache shaped chew toy.

I’m sure all of this is vital for my Sprout’s development and education. It’s very possible that — nature OR nurture, she is going to be a quirky kid.