Sunday, June 19, 2011


Okay, so now it looks like I got a bum deal on my third solo car purchase.  It appears that the transmission has completely died on my "new-to-me" car that I have official owned "as-is, no warranty" for 16 days.  Lexus of Knoxville estimates the cost to fix it at $5003.86.  Nice, huh?  Yeah, I thought so too.  But hey, it's just a car. 

God has been reminding me all week how blessed I am!  I have the most incredible children in the world, each one unique and delightful in ways I can't begin to count.  My husband is working his tail end off to make life better for us.  My sisters and my parents are all in town, healthy and supportive of my crazy dreams!  We love each other more than words can say.  My roof doesn't leak and my belly is full.  My friends are the best I could ever hope for - so what if I have a little car trouble...okay, A LOT of car trouble?!

After the tragic news about the passing away of Addie's 5th grade classmate, I received some horrible news about one of my former 8th grade students.  Tyler Bradley passed away unexpectedly last Wednesday.  He was only 19 years old.  Tyler was one of my favorite students.  When I had him, he lived for girls and football - not necessarily in that order!  He always had a mischievious grin on his face and a little "rascal" twinkle in his eye.  Yet just beneath the surface was a little boy who longed to be loved and accepted.  Sometimes he tried a little too hard to be funny; he said things that come out wrong sometimes and several of his peers found him arrogant or cocky, but all it was was his heart's desire to be loved. 

I remember that on the last day of eighth grade, Tyler picked up a pair of scissors and cut off a lock of his curly brown hair and told me I'd better keep it forever because he was "gonna be somebody" someday.  Then what happened?

How could a young man with so much going for him find himself without hope?  How could he get so far off track that he saw no other option than to take his own life?  Was there anything I, or anyone else, could have done to prevent him from making the decision to permanently stop his suffering? 

God, give me eyes to see and ears to hear what You see and what You hear!  Use me in this world to reach out to lost and hurting people, especially those who try to hide their pain.  Grant comfort to his family- to his mother and brother.   Use his life to make a positive difference in the lives of those he left behind.

Thank you for Tyler.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be his teacher.  Help me to be a better teacher for knowing him.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Little Cabin in the Woods

Well, my week in the mountains has come to an end, but what a great week it has been!  Monday, Sam and Addie and I had a great trip up and we were soon joined by Lori, Natalie, and Lauren.  We headed to Gatlinburg for a little walk about town.  Dinner at Blaine's and an adventure in the Mirror Maze was capped off with a trip to a nostalgic candy store.  Sam and Addie opted for root beer and wild cherry drops.  Lauren got a little stressed about not being in bed at her usual bedtime, but she did a great job hanging in there with the wild girls. 

Back at the cabin, the girls bedded down on the sofa bed while Lori took the upstairs bed.  Sam and I had some mother/son snuggle time and we were all sawing logs by 12.  Sam woke me up at 4:00 by yelling, "You LIED to me!"

Tuesday morning Grandmom joined us for a hike to Abrams Falls.  We had a lot of laughs in spite of how uncomfortable I was when nature called.  Of course the highlight of the trip was the Cades Cove soft serve ice cream as a reward for surviving the wild.

We all headed back to the cabin, exhausted, but satisfied. Lori, Natalie, Lauren and Grandmom all headed back to K-town which left Sam, Addie, and me to fend for ourselves. We had a laid back evening with Bagel Bites for dinner, America's Got Talent and The Voice for our evening entertainment.  All three of us snuggled in the big bed downstairs and although I was a little apprehensive about staying there without another adult, morning came quickly and we packed up Addie and headed to Knoxville.

My lunch with Hallerin was fabulous as it always is and I left filled up and encouraged, ready to run after God with my life and seek His direction instead of my own.  Hallerin's idea for 11.1.11 is as simple as 1 + 1 = ? and I can't wait for him to bring a powerful message of what it really takes to impact lives for eternity!

Sadly, Addie received word that a little girl from her 5th grade class had passed away, so she and I went to the funeral home to meet Taylor and comfort Courtney's mother as she grieved the loss of her little girl.  This was Addie's first time to see the body of someone she had known.  She was a little unsettled by it, but knew that the body was not Courtney and she could tell that Courtney was gone.

Tanya brought Spencer over to spend a few days with Sam at the cabin with us.  Once Tom got home, we followed each other up to Pigeon Forge Pizza Hut for a LONG dinner of pizza and wings.  Back at the cabin, Tom worked, and I made popcorn and cookies for the boys.  Addie had already gone to Elkmont with Taylor.

Tom left early Thursday morning, so the boys and I headed into town for bumper boats, putt-putt and go-carts topped off with Powerade slushies and a bag of ice for me!   Jackie and Livy came up about 2:00.  We went back to town for another round of putt-putt and dinner at Calhouns.  The kids have played corn hole and frolicked in the hot tub.  Life is definitely good.

Friday morning we headed to Gatlinburg for a little people watching and shopping.  Lunch as the Old Mill Restaurant was scrumptious and now we're headed out for a play.  Tomorrow brings soccer in Chattanooga and life picks up its pace again back to the real world!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sunshine, Smiles, Popsicles and Sandals

Well, Addie and I are excited!  Our long awaited Chacos arrived today just prior to our departure to "our" cabin in Pigeon Forge.  We loaded up our new wheels and miraculously made it to the cabin faster than we anticipated.  We were delighted with the updates - a new superBIG deck complete with hot tub and comfortable chairs!  We also feel much safer now that a security gate has been installed at the bottom of the driveway.  It can get a little freaky at night when I'm the only adult around)!  Too many Friday the 13th movies at an impressionable age I suppose...

Sam and Addie and I made a quick run to Walmart before Lori, Natalie and Lauren arrive.  Lauren told Addie she was bringing along her Bible just in case we decide to do a Bible study, so we may have to make the most of our "Girl Time + Sam" and see what the Lord has to teach us while we're out of the rat race for a few days.

It's just not the same around here without my #1 daughter, Chelcie Brooke, so I hope she'll decide to make an appearance.  Drew and Tom may come up on Thursday.  I dream of the day my entire family can spend some time together for the simple purpose of enjoying each other.  Addie is headed to the Elkmont campground on Wednesday, so I've only got two days with her here.  It gets crazy sometimes.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Prodigal Son and "Substitute Preacher Boys"

While Scott is on sabbatical, NorthStar Church has been blessed with "substitute preacher boys." Today, we heard from Buddy Sexton.  I'm ashamed to admit that when I know Scott isn't going to be preaching, I'm sooo tempted to rationalize not going to church.  Then I remind myself that Church should not be about me.  Church is all about Him.  I was distracted by the Nadal vs Federer French Open Final, but somehow managed to turn the TV off and take a shower in time to make it to the 11:00 service.  I didn't see anyone I knew when I got to church so I sat alone, but it turned out to be a good thing because God had something to teach me that I may have missed had I been distracted by familiar faces around me.

Like most effective speakers, Buddy opened his message with something funny.  He shared a story about an older lady who had recently learned to text message.  She looked at texting as another way to minister to people and generously communicated with others in an effort to encourage them.  Unfortunately, she misunderstood the acronym "LOL" to mean "Lots of Love" when it actually means "Laughing Out Loud."  Just imagine the responses she received when she sent "Lots of Love" to folks who missed church or who had recently lost a loved one.  I couldn't help thinking of Kris Jones and her sweet, optimistic outlook on life!  "I'm not a loser - I'm a WINNER!"
Buddy also made the comment that sometimes fish don't know they're wet, so he wanted to share with the NorthStar congregation that God is at work in our church.  Great and miraculous things are happening here.  As he prayed for us, he asked God to "awaken sleepy hearts," and I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit that I needed to avoid the Snooze button today in church, so I paid attention...and took notes!

The passage from which Buddy shared came from Luke 15.  He started here:
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 

Then he shared that there were two main groups of people following Jesus.  The first group was described as "tax collectors and sinners" and the others were the "Pharisees."  The main text of the sermon focused on the familiar story of the Prodigal (wasteful) Son.
Here's the text:
 11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.    13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
   17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
   “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
   21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
   22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
   25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
   28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
   31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

The highlights of the message for me were as follows:
  • Sinners want to come to Jesus, but they do not want to come to our churches.  Big Questions:  Why?  What can we do about it?
  • "Welcome" in the context of this story means to "excitedly anticipate something as Simeon anticipated the birth of Jesus.
  • If my personal identity is wrapped up in what I do or what I have, then God will sometimes take those idols away from me in order to break me and sanctify me. I know this to be true in that the past two years at Sarah Moore Greene have humbled me more than I ever would have believed I needed to be humbled...but I did.  Buddy gave examples:  Just look at how short her skirt is!  That is SO inappropriate!  or Can you believe they spend their money on flashy things like that?!  We've got money too, but we don't spend it like THAT!  Did you see how much make-up she had on?!  etc., etc.  He then drew the parallel between the way we judge people just like the Pharisees did.  If we're all swimming from San Francisco to Hawaii and someone is 2 meters behind me, I'm NOT ahead of him!  We're BOTH going to drown before we get there! 
  • When Jesus shared the story of the two sons and their loving father, He was sharing a parable of sinners, Pharasees and our loving Father, Jesus Christ.  The heart of the father is full of compassion.  The wayward son's heart is full of sin.  The faithful son's heart had changed from a focus on a sweet, loving relationship with his father, to a strict set of rules to be followed.  
  • The older son's job was not to reap his father's harvest. (entitlements?  God owes me because I..., I DESERVE this..., etc.)  The older son's job was instead to reproduce his father's heart.  BIG IDEA - It's not my job to receive heavenly treasures/blessings; it IS my job to reproduce the heart of Jesus in my life.
  • Buddy shared some of his personal stories about his father.  Apparently, it was a rowdy guy who liked to drink, gamble, and hang out with those who enjoyed the same.  But one day his father won "a huge wad" of money through gambling and took it to a single mother who had recently lost her home.  Then Buddy shared something that was so profound to me.  He said, "I can stand up here and be a seminary graduate, "Mr. Substitute Preacher Boy," but I've never given a huge wad of cash to someone I didn't know just because they needed it!"  
  • Verse 20:  When the son was far away, the father ran to him.  The father wanted everyone to know that when he brought him home (in HIS robe, wearing HIS ring) that the son BELONGS to the father.  --Oh how true this is of our Father's love for us!  
  • The enemy constantly reminds us of our failures, our "foreign countries" where we go to do bad things we know we shouldn't do, our shortcomings, and our disappointments BUT Jesus knows all of it and says we are HIS!
  • Verse 31:  EVERYTHING I have is yours.
  • A little taste of heaven is to be with the One who ALWAYS knows me most, and ALWAYS loves me most.
  • What brings God joy?  Getting back his child.  To the "Pharisees/us" He asks, "Why didn't you go get him?"
  • My job is to replicate the heart of my Father.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summer Adventures and Moo-Fest, 2011

Sam's sure to be winning entry

Addie's sure to be winning entry
Preparing the winning entries

Getting tatted up

They got in a little trouble in McMinn County

Finished this fabulous book today - highly recommended read!

Don't be fooled by the C-O-L-D.  Note the outside temp is 102 degrees!
I love these two sooo much!

Moofest, 2011.  Cross that one off my "bucket list."  Got 'er dun today!  Athens, Tennessee will never be the same after being invaded by Sam and Addie Crawford.  Even temperatures in the high 90's couldn't stop us from seeing for ourselves what all the fuss is about!  Now we know.  I'll just let the pictures tell the story and spare you the details.

Never let it be said that Crawfords will pass up a free Krispy Kreme doughnut - Nuthin' doin!  We also made an appearance at National Doughnut Day yesterday to scarf up a "hot doughnut now!"

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"Get Yer Feet Offa My Dash!" (Blind Side)

For the past two days I've been on a quest.  It's been grueling, challenging, enlightening, confusing, and at times it has been humorous.  As with many of the things I do, I've found many reasons to smile through the pain, and sure enough- it was worth it in the end! 

I bought a car today.