Saturday, September 28, 2013

I Am From

I am from old quilts, from Gone with the Wind, and toy trucks. 
I am from the Saint Cloud Manor of home is whenever I’m with you. 

I am from the splintered oaks and the lush pecans, 

Whose long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own. 

I’m from Pentecostal revival and Baptist guilt from Joan Estelle and Irish roots. 

I’m from strong will and soft grace, 
and from maybe a little too much liquor to wash it all down. 

I’m from worthless and worthy.  
And  “Just a little talk with Jesus.” 

I am from voicing the voiceless, loving the unlovable and seeking God first. 
From best friend husband and Mother of two boys. 

I’m from Christmas presents on Christmas Eve’s eve. 

I’m from Arkadelphia and Scotland/England/Ireland mutts. 
From gravy steaks and fried potatoes. 

I’m from Mary Sue in the 1950s -- Fun and fancy free in the city. 
Black and white snapshots of hidden hot springs and late nights.   

Stashed away in a box, lost in the clutter.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Why blog?

It's hard to figure out why I want to blog. Is it to work on my writing skills? Is it to share my stories? Or is it just because I want to write a book some day and all the good bloggers have book deals?

But what makes a good blog? What's so special about the blogs you read? Why do you keep coming back?

I realize this is a short post and sort of a cop out for my seven day challenge. But, I'm really interested ... What do you think makes a blog successful?

Maybe the answer is in posting photos like this?

Yeah. Probably not.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Breathing (On nine years of marriage)

* Today my dear husband and I celebrate nine years of marriage. I’ve written in the past what our life and love looks like, and today I do the same.


The other night we had a friend over, and she wanted to know, “How do you know he’s the one.” I listened and you listened and it was like we were both swirling the thought around in our heads. How did we know? What was the THING that made us know that this love was one meant to last a lifetime? Then I just went ahead and said what I was thinking out loud, I said:

“Because you can’t breath without him.”

And that’s the truth. There is no special thing you do. It’s not flowers or gifts, or even that you make me laugh or that you never make me cry. It’s that when I wake up each morning and you are there beside me. I can breath.

When I grow babies and nurse them and teach them and God knows you change diapers and do more than help but actually parent, I can breath.

When I have to go to work at the job that’s a calling but so conflicting with my calling to be your wife and a mother. You support me, stand by me, push me to be the best. It helps me breath.

When I’m overwhelmed and exhausted and don’t think I can do ONE MORE DAY. You tell me to breath … and I do.

There’s no magic formula, there’s no secret code. There may not even be such a thing as soul mates or “made for one another.” But, you, my dear husband, are my life support.

Without you -- I drown. Without you -- I suffocate. And it’s hard to realize this because I AM a strong woman. But, I don’t want to have to see what I would be like without you. Because I think I’m a strong woman, because of you.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for helping me breath. Thank you for breathing Holy Spirit air into my lungs when my faith is weak and my heart is heavy.

 This is how I know you are the one:

Because without you … I can’t breath.

Happy Anniversary!

*This is part of Conversion Dairy's seven blogs in seven days challenge.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hey Jude ... It's You!

Hey Jude,

Hi. It’s me. Your Mom. You turned three in May and because I’ve been so busy, I’m writing this in July. Hey … listen, you get two kids, a full time job and all kinds of other things and then give me a hard time okay?

And, you are probably the type of kid who is going to give me a hard time. Let’s be honest, I believe you’ve inherited your mother’s personality. It seems we have a bit in common when it comes to making sure we get exactly what we want. You have the eye on the prize at all times, and if motivated enough I believe you could probably go ahead and move mountains. I love that about you.

In the last year I’ve been amazed at how much you’ve grown. You’ve gone from toddler to full-out little BOY! And boy -- are you all boy! You pretty much love to be outside at all times. You love to take your dog for walks and play in the backyard. Living in Florida we love to sit outside in the spring and fall, but you get annoyed with us when it’s too hot in the summer months.

You love pirates. For your birthday this year we had a pirate birthday party. We met three of your closest friends at Disney World and had birthday cake at one of the restaurants (a pirate Mickey cake) and then only rode the rides you wanted to ride. You LOVED it! I think your friends had a good time too.

You are always learning and doing new things. You can pretty much count to 10 now (sometimes you skip 7 and 8) and you can sing your ABCs. You know all your colors and shapes and can memorize most books that we read to you (we found this out because you have started “reading” sometimes to your little brother). You went to Co-Op last year and learned most of these things, and in a few weeks you will start PreK-3. I can’t believe how grown up you are becoming! You are also doing SO much better about sleeping through the night. We are THRILLED with that development milestone!

Some other great things you about you is that you love wrestling with your Dad. Your favorite pretend games include playing pirates, super heroes, dinosaurs, and doctor. You’ve got a BIG imagination. You love for us to read to you and to tell you made up stories. You also love to jump from the coffee table to the couch (and even though I don’t like you doing it … I still let you). Another amazing thing about you, is that you now know all the words to “Hey Jude” and you love to sing it … especially the Na Na Na’s.

I am just as in love with you as the first day I met you. Your dad and I are so proud of you and love having conversations with you. Some days are hard, we won’t lie, but at the end we always remind ourselves of what a sweet, smart, loving, amazing little boy you are. We are lucky to be your parents.

So, Jude. Happy third birthday baby boy. This year was a big change with you becoming a big brother. But, I know, when you look back, you will mark it as one of the best years of your life. Mom and Dad love you and we can’t wait to see how much you will grow in the next year!


This is part of Conversion Dairy's seven blogs in seven days challenge.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Life Goes On ...

No better time but the present to sing the words of Obli-de, Obli-da ... Yes the story of Molly and Desmond and their anthem of "Life goes on," is pretty much where we are with this blog, dear friends.

It's been a whirlwind of a year or so. I got pregnant, opened up The Community Hope Center (a nonprofit working to provide services to homeless families in Osceola County), and then had a baby.

Life is/was crazy. So, in an effort to join Jen over at Conversion Dairy I'm doing the seven blogs in seven days challenge and using this opportunity to start this blog back up. So I will be writing for the next seven days to do just that.

Today serves as your one year recap.

On my 30th birthday about a year ago, I was a Mom of one amazing little boy who has a little over 2 years old. I was also *just* pregnant with my second child. Being pregnant in the middle of trying to open up a county-wide initiative to help homeless families while continuing to provide ministry within the church setting was challenging but pretty amazing. As my due date approached, the grand opening of the Center kept getting closer and closer. We had the grand opening of The Hope Center on April 12th. Three hundred and fifty people attended the event, and although it went amazing ... it put me into labor.

Luckily, the doctors were able to stop the contractions ... but our little Desmond Luke Downey was born 10 days later on April 22, 2013.

Can I just say he is the BEST BABY EVER! Those who followed my blog know that with Jude we had a pretty tough go at it. He was sick a lot, never slept, and we dealt with A LOT of feeding issues. With Luke, the only small issue we had was he had some major reflux that caused us a small scare, but once we got it under control he's been awesome.

Amazing things about Luke include the fact that he pretty much already sleeps through the night. He hardly ever cries, and he's the calmest, most smiley, baby ever. He's a pure joy (not that Jude wasn't, it's just really really different).

So, today Luke turned 3 months and I went back to work. The Center was under great leadership with my awesome staff and I had a great maternity leave. I've got lots of goals that I want to achieve as a mom, as a person, and as an executive director. So, I plan on using the next seven days to update you on several things and writing several milestone letters that I haven't gotten around to posting.

So stay tuned.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

On Easter Morning Reflections (A sermon from last year's Sunrise Service)

"Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, "I’ve seen the Lord.""

Mary Magdalene by He Qi
There are four accounts of the morning after Jesus was resurrected, all four include Mary Magdalene, but John’s account is the only one that includes that John, himself, saw what had happened. I can imagine Mary walking toward the tomb that morning. It was dark when she left the house. I think about the days before for her journey to the grave, the last time she’d seen Jesus he was hanging on the cross,  she’d heard that Joseph and Nicodemus had hurriedly buried him in a nearby tomb, that they had wrapped him and placed spices with him, but she wanted to make sure it was right, she prepared herself to see Jesus dead body before her, and she was looking to bring dignity and worth to her Lord’s body, to make things proper. I can hear Mary’s thoughts as she walked to the tomb, her heart must have been so heavy, all hope lost or so it seemed. Her Messiah, her friend, her teacher is dead. All that they had worked for seemed for nothing, and it was dark … yes it was oh so dark.
Mary enters the garden that morning and walks to the cave. Her first impression is shock. All the way to there she’s been worrying about how she’s going to move the stone away, and there the grave stands … open.

She slowly looks in and sees that Jesus is not there. Now, this is where those four accounts come into play. All the others say Mary goes away with the others and tells the disciples what they have seen, but in this account, Mary runs! I imagine her racing frantically back to the village. I can see her slamming the front door open, shaking Peter and John violently to wake up … HE’s GONE! HE’S NOT THERE! THEY’VE TAKEN HIM! GET UP!

Then they start running. As fast as they can, John makes sure to mention that he gets there first … just like a man to brag about how fast he can run when we are talking about the most pivotal moment in salvation! Anyway, Peter and John walk into the tomb, it’s empty. Their minds are blank, they believe something has happened but they don’t know what, and my imagination runs wild here, Mary standing at the doorway, “What is it?” What do you see?” John and Peter, slowly tuning -- walking away. Mary stays behind and just weeps.

Those tears must have been so bitter. It’s over, it’s really over. All hope is lost. Even Peter and John have left. There’s nothing here, not even a body to hold and cling to. There is only darkness.

Oh it’s dark, so very very dark.

Then, out of nowhere angels are there and a man appears. He walks up to Mary, speaks, and she jumps. She’s startled out of her self pity, the world still exist around her, someone is intruding on her sorrow here … he looks her in the eye and says, “Why are you crying, Who are you looking for?” Mary’s eyes are bloodshot and red, she’s been crying for hours, maybe that’s why she doesn’t recognize this man, she begs, “Are you the gardener? Have you moved him? Where is he? WHERE IS MY LORD?!”

And that’s the moment. The moment we figure out what’s happened, this man looks deep into those fearful eyes and he whispers, “Mary.”

Her heart leaps out of her chest! She screams, Rabbi!! She’s so excited that she grabs him, and he has to rebuke her to not touch him, the time for friendship and celebration has not yet come … and instructs her, now GO! RUN! Tell the others …

For Mary, it’s not dark anymore … there’s light.

And that light shines for us this morning. It’s in the water and the wind, in the sky, and in that sunrise that we’ve been blessed to witness. And that light, it’s right here with us. You see, this story is about hope. It’s about a second chance for humanity and the world. Jesus’ resurrection points to a new beginning that teaches there’s never a place that’s too dark, that Jesus can’t overcome. There’s never a road that Jesus won’t travel with us, there is no place, in Heaven and or on Earth, in death or in life, that God can’t penetrate with a single ray of hope. Christ’s victory over death marks a turning point in the world, and in our own lives. It’s a story about starting over. It’s a story about rising above sin and death to be made new. It’s a story of fulfilled promises and everlasting life!

For us, it’s an opportunity to start again. Wherever we are on our journey. We’ve all walked the path of hopelessness. We’ve been through the dark. And it was, oh so dark.

But today there is light.

Because just as the sun rose that first morning, it rises for us and we can stand tall knowing that, like Mary, we may have walked somberly toward a tomb, but, because of Christ, we can run in the other direction toward a living God, SHOUTING – MY LORD IS NOT HERE – HE IS RISEN!!