Category Archives: Atlanta

Effortless.

A few years ago I used an exercise DVD with several types of exercise. One of my favorites was a beginner’s ballet routine. I followed it so many times–not that it turned me into a ballet dancer, but it did program some of the instructor’s words in my mind. Sometimes I still hear them.

One of the things she said about ballet was, “So the arms make it appear effortless at the top, while the legs are working hard at the bottom.” The beauty of this has intrigued me quite a lot because ballet is, in fact both very hard work and an elegant art of gentle movement.

Last night was one of those times I heard those hard-effortless words in my mind, but this time it had nothing to do with  ballet. Instead it was a picture of the dance of mothering.

We are in the middle of upheaval right now since we discovered mold in our house.  The boys and I left home and lived in SC for nearly a week and Virginia for a little over two weeks while Steve worked on getting rid of the mold in three rooms in the evenings and weekends after work.

We came home two weeks ago to our main living area crammed with the contents of other rooms waiting to be cleaned and sorted. Most of the living room furniture is in temporary storage and Steve and I are sleeping in the guest room while the master area is torn apart.

We definitely were reacting to the mold that is still in the house and tried to keep those parts of the house closed off as much as possible. Still we didn’t feel feel well at all.

This past weekend we all moved into a hotel for a weekend, so Steve could tackle the next three rooms–a closet and our master area.  Our friends Eric and Linda so generously came up to spend the weekend with us. Eric helped Steve work on the house on Saturday and we got to enjoy time together.

Although the men got a lot of work done on the house, it wasn’t ready for us to move home on Monday like  we had been expecting. We hadn’t taken our school books with us, so I planned a field trip to keep us from losing a school day.  I planned to go to a nature reserve a few miles away, and they even happened to be hosting a  homeschool day.  Then it started raining.

I searched a little more and decided to take the boys to a train museum about a half an hour further north. It turned out to be a great, low key place for us and we all enjoyed our time there.

We killed a little time at a library close by, ate a little food then started toward home. I’d heard about a really great Christmas light display, and thought we could drive through on the way home. At that point I was so t.i.r.e.d., but how hard can a drive through be?

It was fantastically fun, only we ended up needing to get out and walk around.  Finally everyone was packed back into the car and we were driving HOME after a long weekend away. I didn’t know what to expect at home, and besides for the mold there are lots of big things on our minds these days.

The boys were happy and there was Christmas music playing.  Zac was sitting beside me, and his eyes were sparkling. He let out a long happy sigh.  “This has been the best day of my LIFE.”

In that moment I recognized the contrast between my experience and his. And those words from long ago came back, “So the arms make it appear effortless on the top while they legs are working hard on the bottom.” They felt very true to my mothering in that moment.

In a sense mothering had been [working hard]

All day I’d been fighting to find joy while hard things pressed against me.  I had also been thinking about how to make the change in plans work for us, how to incorporate school, how to keep this day happy for the boys even when it felt hard to me. I needed to redirect whining, find snacks, and keep boys safe on the street. I’d been looking out for places to eat that would work for our diets and places to go to fill our time without requiring a lot of energy from me because I wasn’t feeling great.

while also [making it look effortless]

All day we had been sleeping in, eating lots of good food, going to new places, stopping to play at a playground we passed, finding a bridge to run through, hanging out as long as we wanted in the museum’s educational play room, never rushing, visiting a great light display, listening to holiday music, and coming home and drinking hot chocolate.

Of course there’s a little bit of heart between the arms and legs for us, too–the times when they hear me recognize a problem and ask God to help us or when we talk about asking Jesus to help us find happiness or when we take our fears to Him.  But mostly I love that the boys don’t really see the ugliness of life, yet.

Maybe because there’s so much hard stuff in our life I know our children will see and feel sacrifices and brokenness a lot. Obviously we want to engage them in processing it well, but I also want the boys’ childhood to be carefree.  While there is all kinds of turmoil in our world and we’re working our way through it, they can lean back in their seats with stars in their eyes and see it as the best time in their lives. Effortless.

 

I’d love to hear what you have to say. Leave a comment here.

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Golden.

14 Sept-0153_WEBOne night Zac and I took a walk at sunset and were treated to such a pretty show.

Sometimes only one of the boys walks with me. They feel really special to have a little outing with mama all to themselves. They chatter and tell me their deep thoughts.

These pictures were taken in October, but I loved the golden sunset so much, I still wanted to post them.

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Walking up the street from our house toward the park:14 Sept-0136_WEB

At the top of the bridge we cross, we can see the skyline to the left. To the right we watch trains coming and going. MARTA runs every fifteen minutes and the freight trains go through several times a day.

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The sunset cast a golden glow on the city–absolutely beautiful!   14 Sept-0171_WEB

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We crossed the bridge and walked to the park. It was warm, but cool, so we just sat and looked at the sky. 14 Sept-0185_WEB  A few bats came out for the night (look closely and you can see tiny black dots close to the lights). Bats are Ian’s favorite animal, so now we’re excited whenever we spot them. 14 Sept-0192_WEB

This is Our World

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This is our neighborhood where over 40% of people live at or below the poverty level (compared to 17% statewide and 15% across the country)

This is a world where more than 90% of families are single parent  families.

The median annual income is $22,000.

Medical care and school systems are very poor, and the crime rate is one of the worst in the entire southeast.

There are some nice houses in this area.  Back in the day it was a nicer area.  Drugs have ravished this community.

If it were possible to take a nice house here and place it in a neighborhood just five miles from here where there are better school, retail within walking distance, better medical care, and more safety, the value would increase by 3-4 times.

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There are impoverished neighborhoods much like this all across the country. The needs are so deep and so extensive. They aren’t the most beautiful, clean, or safe places to live; but they are full of people who are created in the image of God, children who need an advocate, adults who need someone to help them find their way–all people who need Jesus.

There’s this catchphrase that I’ve heard quite a lot in the blogging world.

Do for one what you wish you could do for the world.

For a long while it was just that to me–a nice inspirational line.  As I began to feel my complete inadequacy here–especially in times when I couldn’t do anything at all–it gave me a bit of courage.  We can all be a part of life giving change if we offer the little we have to give. God can take that small investment of love or money or time and use it exponentially for His glory.

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Do for one what you wish you could do for the world.

End of Summer Fun

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There’s nothing like the end of summer to make you really enjoy a good swim.  When you’ve started back to school already, and the days aren’t blistering hot you know those swimming days will be over way too soon.

Michelle and her family came to see us in September, and as usual we packed the time full of fun–partially because there is always such a huge list of things we’d like to do together and partially because the boys will bounce off the walls if we don’t. =D

So there was lots of swimming–three times, at least–and roller blading and playing with Legos and a visit to IKEA, a picnic, an IMAX movie on sharks (the look of wonder on the boys’ faces was just priceless.  Ian sat with his hand over his open mouth for the first 10 minutes and Liam’s mouth was open at least half that long).

What else? Well, there was some downtime and shopping–oh, yeah, Michelle and I must’ve broken a record for time spent in one Goodwill.  Haha.  Our cart was loaded with treasures, and we nearly clothed her family for the winter.

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One evening we walked the Beltline and hung out at the skatepark for awhile.  The Beltline has become one of my favorite places in the city. It’s several mile long paved path that is perfect for being active along with other Atlantans.

 

 

 

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An Arrest at Our House

 

The evening was calm–we had a friend over for dinner and we enjoyed lots of fresh vegetables from the country our friends had brought up the day before.  Later our family was all hanging out in the living room reading, writing, or playing a part in Ian’s bat party when there was a loud knock on our back door.

Steve and I both looked at each other thinking, “Whaaaaat?!”  Our back yard is fenced in and the front door is so obvious that it wouldn’t make sense for someone to bypass it to go to the back.  The boys all three ran toward the kitchen to go see who was there since visitors are always exciting to them.

Neither Steve nor I is naturally fearful, but we both had a check in our spirits and simultaneously told the boys to wait.  Steve went to see who was there.  The knocking on the kitchen window was louder now.

Being curious, I looked into the kitchen and remember seeing the top of a head and a wad of cash in the hand of someone jumping up and down while talking with Steve through the closed window.  At first I thought it was someone begging for help, but the cash didn’t make much sense.  I couldn’t even tell if it was a child or an adult.  Steve would normally open the door or window, but this time he was keeping them closed making the situation seem like a little suspicious.

The boys were getting a little scared and I started thinking of lots of possibilities.  I didn’t know if this person was alone or with others. Was he armed? We all huddled in the bathroom which is the only room without windows.  I prayed loudly and confidently claiming the power of God to protect us.  I didn’t feel anxious, but my legs were like jelly.  I was holding Paxton and the other two boys were clinging tightly to me.  We prayed that God would give us a picture of the angels protecting us.

After we felt calmer we walked out again to see what was happening. (I’m too curious!) To try to get a better picture of what was going on, I looked out the front window to see if there was a broken down vehicle or anyone else.  Instead I saw policemen searching.  Ooooh….

We’ve gotten to watch a few police chases on our street before, so suddenly I knew what must be happening.  I ran out onto the porch and told them there was a man behind our house.

{Insert Steve’s perspective: I hurried to the kitchen to find a man desperately banging on the window yelling, “You gotta help me! The cops are after me!” I asked him why and he kept repeating that I needed to help him. He pulled out a wad of cash, then his necklace which he claimed had real gold, begging me to hide him. I kept asking him why he was running from the police. He finally said that he had beaten a man. Not knowing if that was the truth or how dangerous he was I told him to wait there and I would come around the house to meet him. I was not going to open the door and allow him inside with my family. I don’t think I have ever seen a look of desperation like his when he realized that I was not opening the door. He heard the police who had arrived by that time. He began beating on the window, trying to pry it open. Unbelievably he did not attempt to open the back door which was only a few feet from him, unlocked.}

Steve had walked to the front of the house expecting to go outside and talk with the man, but he didn’t want to open the back door and give the man a chance to come inside.  By the time Steve was walking to the front door, I’d already told the police the man was in the back and they were swarming our back yard.

We looked out the windows to watch what would happen.  A policeman noticed and asked Steve if our crawl space door had been open earlier.  It hadn’t been.  They immediately drew their guns and called for him to surrender then went inside to arrest him.

Juxtaposition:

our safe little world, our cozy house, our innocent boys, our focus on godliness, and

this dangerous world–also ours because we live in it, but not ours because we aren’t a part of it–where there is fear and crime and hatred and looking out for oneself more than others  

excitement

There was a sense of relief once the man running was in handcuffs, but for me there is also a sense of sadness at seeing a man’s freedom stripped from him.  I know it’s only fair and it’s a result of a lack of freedom in his heart.  Still I appreciate that the police treated him with respect–something I’ve observed more than once during arrests.

The search wasn’t over after the arrest.  The man had been pulled over for a traffic violation, but fled the scene instead of stopping.  Because of that, the police were suspicious he was driving a stolen vehicle. They continued searching our area until at least 11:00 when they finally found the vehicle.

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One neat part of this evening is how our neighbors pulled together.  Our neighbor who we talk with most had seen the man running down the hill across from us and tried to call to warn us.  We stood outside chatting with her and Steve also talked with some other neighbors, too.  It’s so neat to see little bits of connection happening over time, so that when something like this happens we rally together trying to look out for each other.

Zachary was also quite pleased that Bear played a role in the arrest.  Someone had seen the man jump over our back fence.  Our back yard is divided into two sections.  A small part of it is our back yard, and the rest is over grown and Bear’s territory. Just beyond that are a couple vacant lots that are very overgrown and perfect for hiding.  Apparently he jumped into Bear’s section, saw the dog and jumped right over the fence into our back yard.  From there he was easily cornered.

And my favorite detail in this story~ The boys had a difficult time settling down to sleep after all that excitement.  Even though the police are “the good guys” it can be unsettling for little ones to see so many guns and so much action right outside their windows.  They weren’t fearful anymore after we’d battled through it earlier, but just unsettled even though it was really late and they were tired.

We asked friends to pray for peace of mind and sleep free from nightmares for them, and so many people covered us with prayers. Within minutes all three boys went from restless to sleeping.  They all three slept very well and woke up happy and free this morning.  God’s care for us is so amazing every time!

Since living here I have been thankful so many times that fear is not a huge struggle for me. I have other battles, but because of our surroundings it’s a big blessing to not be easily afraid.  The only niggling fear I have now is that we assisted in the arrest and obviously the man arrested knows where we live.  It’s the kind of thing we need to commit to the Father and trust that He will continue protecting our family.  We would so appreciate you also praying about both protection and peace of mind.

We are still new enough to the city that this feels rather big and exciting to us. We are so thankful that we are all safe.