Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Be careful what you ask for

I went to a retreat this past weekend with five other girls from my church in Fort Payne, Alabama.  It was in the mountains and there was rock climbing and rapelling and canoeing and zip lines and night hikes.  We had a worship service in a cave.  I have absolutely no words to describe it.  To hear 100 women singing with the natural acoustics provided by the cave....It is the closest thing I can imagine of what a choir of angels must sound like.

(This band is called Owing Adam.  They have amazing talent)

Women spoke to our group of women about women's issues.  One of the speakers was talking about how hectic our lives are (can I get an AMEN?).  She said that finally she had prayed that the Lord would just clear her schedule.  I thought --- that is the most ingenious thing that I had ever heard!  WHY haven't I ever thought of that?  It was such a weight lifted.  It was a breath of fresh air.  YES!  A prayer that was the answer to my prayers!

With that being said, we knew that August to December was going to be brutal in our house.  And so it is.  We walk around in a daze from the blur of our days/weeks.  We are both exhausted.  Papa is so exhausted he is not only walking around in a daze but doing it with the sniffles, so I spiked our good southern sweet tea with echinacea and elderberry and astralgus root.  Two gallons of immune boosting goodness so hopefully he will get to feeling better and to keep the rest of us from falling like dominoes.  Homecoming, tests, sniffles, hay, cheer practice, church, work, practice for festivals, football games, iffy heating element in the dryer, internet people coming on Friday, loading horses and tack for pony rides for a little boy's birthday on Friday.  Saturday is the opening day of bow season.  Papa will be hunting and then in the hay field.  I will be cheering for my cheerleader from 11-12.  Singing at a festival from 1-2:30.  Then we will be driving an hour away to watch our boy march at halftime at his football game because it is the only Saturday game he has and the only one Papa will get to see because he has class on Thursday night. 

Lord.......clear my schedule.

I have been repeating that prayer over and over and over and over.  So, guess what happened?  My car died.  As in, I am borrowing a vehicle to get back and forth to work.  DIED.  (We suspect it is the alternator.)  I guess when I asked for my schedule to be cleared, I should have been more specific. Instead, I just laughed and said, "Well, that's one sure fire way to do it."

Never doubt the Lord's sense of humor and timing.



Monday, September 12, 2011


I have posted several times about how crazy hectic our schedule is. With everything going on, Papa and I are on the go most of the time from 5:00 a.m. until 11:00 ish p.m. every day, and we stay exhausted. With that being said... 

I play in the church band with the director of our AWANA program.  It just so happened one Sunday that the AWANA meeting was right after our band practice.  He asked if I was going to the meeting and I told him that really didn't have any plans to.  

This is what was going through my head - I work every day, take classes two nights a week, play in the church band, go to cheer practice and football games, have to keep up with household chores, laundry, breakfast, lunch, supper, do homework, write papers... How in the WORLD could I possibly squeeze anything else into my schedule?  For real!

He said to me - "You have got to be here anyway...Come on, we will find somewhere for you."  UGH.  Okay, so I go to the dang meeting.  I am assigned to the TNT group.  3rd and 4th graders.  The biggest group.... with LOTS of rowdy boys, not to mention my daughter and all of her friends.  Now mind you, I am rather fond of these kids, but I am immediately panic ridden.  Sheesh.  I am internally whining.....why didn't I just ask to be put with the sweet little babies or something?

In the days leading up to this past Sunday....I have had this overwhelming sense of dread.  WHY am I doing this?  I don't want to teach AWANA.  I sing. I play guitar.  That is what I do.  That is my gift and contribution.  I do not and repeat do NOT teach 3rd and 4th graders.  We have plenty of teachers in our church.  That is what they do.  Not me..... you get the idea, right?

Last night we rounded up our 28 kids (more are sure to come, it was just the opening ceremonies last night).  I was staring at the faces of all these children thinking, "What have I done?  I must be out of my mind."  Then one of the other teachers tells the children that we are going to divide them up into classes.

What happened next shook me to the core of my very being.

Almost every single child in that room started yelling that they wanted to be in my class.  To the point that I felt really bad for the people who actually willingly signed up to teach these kids.  It was almost pandemonium.  We finally got them settled down and then they started chanting, "Geee-na!  Geee-na!  Geee-na!"  My face was flushed.  I was embarrassed. I felt ashamed.  I felt like I just wanted to weep in the middle of the class.

Have you ever had a moment where you knew right on the spot that you were being taught a lesson in humility and that the Lord was quite obviously putting you in your place?  As I choked back tears I made some lame joke about them thinking that I was going to be bringing them food every week or something.  I was then paired up with a lady from my Sunday School class, and we were given a class of ten girls, my daughter included.

I had argued with myself.  I tried to plead my case to the AWANA director.  I tried to reason with God.  I don't want to. I don't have time to.  I am not your guy.  Excuse after lame excuse and for what?  A room full of excited kids that wanted me to be their teacher.  A room full of children who showed me that I was where I was supposed to be, voluntarily or not.  I don't think I have ever had another in-your-face type experience of that magnitude.  Last night was not the 'still small voice' that we are told to listen for.  Last night it was LOUD and clear.

I had just told the AWANA director yesterday morning (concerning a completely different situation) that the Will of God was like a runaway freight train and our options are #1 - jump on and ride  #2 - get run slap over or #3 - get left behind..... and there was absolutely nothing that could be done to stop it.

I think I will jump on and ride.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Full Circle

It seems like just yesterday I was marching in my first field show in college.  I remember the smell and feel of the thick, soft, freshly cut and lined grass. I remember all the hours spent practicing and all the sweat and sunburn.  I remember the excitement and anticipation of lining up to take the field with my smile plastered to my face and my hair tightly braided in my sparkling uniform while the air was thick with the smell of grilled hamburgers and popcorn.

It also seems like just yesterday I cried with a heavy heart and then prayed, prayed and prayed for a tiny, sick, two pound baby in the NICU that God let me keep here with me and love for all these years.

Last night I found myself on that same exact field.  For the very first field show.  And I could smell the hamburgers and popcorn.  And excitement was in the air with the anticipation of the first show.  The first game.  The band lined up to march onto the field.  There were sparkly uniforms and plastered smiles.  Only that excited kid wasn't me this time.  It was MY excited kid. And this time I was a spectator watching from the stands.   And I was so excited for him.  And proud.

My my how things come around full circle. 

I sure do love that kid.

My cup runneth over.

~~ Gena

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ten things.

The list making is nice.  That way I can #1 - fulfill my OCD tendencies of listmaking #2 - I can blog without being neurotically lengthy #3- I don't feel the burden of a big long blog post.  So here goes:

1.  I have a follow-up appointment (and x-ray no less) for the a) kidney stone removal surgery a month ago and b) the kidney stone(s) still hanging out in my urinary tract, which are driving me to the brink of madness.

2.  I am on the brink of madness.

3.  I have used all of my free Route 44 Sonic cherry limeade coupons and have fallen into deep despair.  (Only kidding)

4.  Consuming eight glasses of water each day should receive some sort of honorable mention in the newspaper.

5.  My husband is going to sell and ship hay to ranchers in Texas.  As bad as our summer has been, theirs has been far worse.

6.  Our daughter scored 100% in GEOMETRY and MEASUREMENT on her state MCT test.  This is amazing because #1 - she does not like math and #2 - it is very atypical for a little girl.

7.  I love math and was very good at it.

8.  This weekend I am installing a new closet system with some actual shelving (WOOT!) instead of just the closet rod so that I can [hopefully] dig out from underneath the wardrobe that is slowly taking over the house.

9.  Our hectic fall schedule is already exhausting and I am already ready for finals and the end of the semester.

10.  This past Saturday I got an official hunting license.  I am now a hunter.  (Ha!)

~~ Gena

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On the cover of the Rolling Stone

Well, not really.  However, I did recently have words with the rolling stone.  Not the magazine..... the ones in my kidneys.

Three to be exact.  One in each kidney and one lodged right at my bladder that was too big to pass.  And, because of its location, I was not eligible for the lithotripsy procedure.  Nope, they had to manually fish it out.

Let me just state for the record that the actual kidney stone did not hurt as bad as all the horror stories.

The aftermath of the surgery, however, is an entirely different story altogether.

Bladder spasms.  If you have never had them consider yourself blessed and highly favored.  They absolutely just do not make enough pain medication to make them better.

However..... a week post-op and three days tablet free (thankfully!) I hope I never have to repeat this episode again. UGH!

*disclaimer - I will also not be taking all those calcium supplements recommended because of my prior hysterectomy.

Yes, I will be having a water with lemon, please.
And cranberry juice
And beer on a more regular basis.

~~ Gena

Monday, August 1, 2011

Summertime in Mississippi!

Gotta love those dog days of summer:

I think I will have ice cream for lunch today.


Thursday, July 21, 2011


It is raining.  We haven't had rain in over two weeks.  I thought my garden was fixing to die a slow, painful death and now there is beautiful, glorious rain.

I am grateful.


Thursday, May 19, 2011


Tonight my son will graduate from high school. I have been quite nostalgic all week thinking about the past 17 years and 13 years of school.

Jacob was a 26 week preemie.  We were told he would not live through the night.  When he did, we were told he probably wouldn't make it past three days.  When he did, we were told that IF he lived he would more than likely have severe hearing and vision impairments and learning disabilities.  

To date, his only hearing impairment is a teenage syndrome known as "selective listening."  And he did finally end up having to have contacts last year.

Because I am nostalgic today I will share.....

Jacob always loved Disney movies.  He could look at all of the black VCR tapes without the jackets and tell you which movie was which by the time he was a little over a year old.  

I am a classical music nerd and by the time he was 18 months he could listen to classical music and tell you the names of the pieces.  "Moldau, Mommy!"  

Jacob never liked playing in the mud or with tonka trucks.  He liked his "guys."  "Mommy, have you seen my guys?"  Action figures.  Oh the action figures I have bought over the years.  And he LOVED swords.  I have said on numerous occasions that if I had the money I had spent on plastic swords and light sabers I could retire.  If you ask Jacob today what the number one rule of the house is he will tell you.... "No sword fighting in the house."  Said rule is a direct result of chotchkies that were lost in some of his more epic battles.

Jacob was diagnosed ADHD at 5.  And let me tell you that is ADHD with a giant capital H.  School was very difficult for both of us.  I spent hours upon hours of sitting at the table and trying to do homework with a kid whose mind was somewhere else 99.99% of the time.  His brain ran ninety to nothing and sitting still long enough to do schoolwork at school or at home was almost impossible.  Exasperated is a good word to describe how I felt with him most of the time.  Jacob was a happy, lovable kid, but he was HARD.

In 6th grade Jacob joined band.  His band director was someone that I went to school with and was in band with in school and in college.  Jacob absolutely loved him.  Jacob loved band.  Jacob would eat, sleep and breathe band.  And Lord of the Rings.  And Harry Potter.  And Yu-Gi-Oh.  And Pokemon.  And Star Wars.  But band was almost a complete turnaround for him.  It was amazing.  And I was grateful.  He also discovered his love for writing and was in a creative writing class after school with a teacher that claimed Jacob was a genius and begged me to keep him in the writing class even if she had to transport him herself.

In 6th grade he also had a major personality conflict with his math teacher.  He also failed math that year, which meant he couldn't pass the 6th grade.  I tried to work something out with the school.  I cried, I fought, I argued, I pleaded. Finally, I just filed for mediation with the State Department of Education and got him into summer school.  He loved his summer school teacher, who ended up being his 7th grade math teacher as well.  She said that Jacob having to go to summer school was pointless because he knew how to do everything that she gave him.  He knew how to do his work, but most of the time he just wouldn't do it.  Every year we would hold our breath at the end of the school year to see if he could pull his grades up enough to pass.  And every year we would try and tell him that next year was going to be different.  I fought and rallied for him for 10 years to try and keep him motivated.  So in the 9th grade, his teachers called a conference  to tell me that he was going to fail Biology I and Algebra I.  They asked me what I wanted to do.  As hard as it was, I told them to let him fail.  I had fought for him long enough; he had to do it on his own.  I told him that I was done.  It was time he stepped up to the plate.  10th grade he stepped up to the plate.  10th grade was a lot better and he made honor roll for the first time ever.

The we moved 50 miles away to a different school district his junior year.  He was devastated.  He didn't want to leave his friends.  He didn't want to leave his school that had grown up in with almost 400 kids in his class to go to a school with kids he had never met and a school that will graduate somewhere around 40 this year (I think their biggest class ever was like 46).  He didn't want to leave the band that had 120 kids in it that went to State Championship every year to be part of a struggling little band that had 10 instrumentalists.  

It was one of the best things that could have ever happened to him.

He will graduate tonight.  A member of the Beta Club.  The Art Honor Society.  The Spanish Honor Society.  He will have cords for Art and Beta Club and for being a faithful blood donor.  He was the drum major of his struggling little band.  He was on the high school golf team.  He was on the rocket team.  He organized and spoke at See You at the Pole events.  He was Student of the Month.  

He is also very involved in our church.  He will go on a mission trip this summer.  He will be a camp counselor at band camp.  He has a part-time job.  He teaches a class of 3rd and 4th graders at AWANA.

He is an awesome kid.  Everyone and I do mean EVERYONE loves him.  He loves God. He loves golf.  He loves Ole Miss.  He loves band.  He loves his Nanny.  He loves texting.  He loves music.  He loves ice cream.  He loves vegetable soup.  He likes to eat the heart out of an onion with a piece of cornbread.  He doesn't really care much for vegetables, so I learned to hide them in his food.  He loves Oakleys.  He loves G-Shock watches.  He loves Under Armour.  He loves Toms.  He fights with his sister.  He does his own laundry.  He helps around the house without me having to ask him.  He is very routine.  He goes to bed at 9:00 every night because that's what he does.  The only thing that he knows how to cook is ramen and grilled cheese sandwiches.  His laugh is contagious.  His smile is beautiful.  He is beautiful and perfect in every way and I am so very proud of the man that is growing into.

I have said that after all the heartache and tears and torture of trying to get him through school that I was going to dance a jig when he graduated and have the biggest shindig these parts have ever seen.  I have said a hundred times that I was not going to cry as I sit here all teared up trying to type.

Jacob is going to school on scholarship to the local community college.  After that, he plans to transfer to Ole Miss.  He wants a degree in English.  He has also talked at great length about Seminary.  He feels that the Lord has called him into the Ministry.  I have told him that if the Lord has called him, he most definitely needs to go.

I guess if I cry, I cry.  Jacob has earned my proud tears, and he most certainly deserves them.  As far as my happy dance, I may just have to do that for principle.  As far as the shindig.... I think we will just enjoy a happy time with our family over my mom's chicken salad and firecrackers.


He still loves swords....

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Innocent Purse

I love Innocent Crush.  Really and truly.  So much so that I have the entire set.  Yikes.

I want a quilt in the red colorway and I want a quilt in the blue colorway.  Or maybe just a quilt that has the red on one side and the blue on the other.

So far I have throwpillows for the sofa.  But I had to do something with my scraps, so......

Nothing fancy about it, really.  Just my scraps sewed together with some ta dot handles.  Oh, and the bottom is ta dot, too!  I wasn't even going to do a blog post but my sweet cousin Mary over at The Tulip Patch said I should post it so here it is:

I do so love that bag.

Oh, and excuse the mess on my desk.  :)


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Blogging Blues

Ever get in a rut?  Well, I guess that's where I have been for the past couple of months.  My last post was on December 9, 2010, and before that it was Thanksgiving.  Hm.  What's been going on in Gena's Garden since December 9, 2010?  

Well, we managed to finish everything for the Nativity Ride with .47 seconds to spare.  Papa made fabulous functional angel wing frames. I quilted wings out of white sheets and leftover scraps of batting.  We made square necked tunics out of white sheets and I stitched gold greek-key ribbon around the neckline.  Papa made all of the armor, too.  He is amazing.

And as it ended up..... it rained for the nativity ride.  So instead of a hay ride like we had planned, we had to load everyone in the church bus.  We read scripture to the children at each scene and then we would sing Christmas songs in order to allow our angels and other characters time to make it to the next scene and set up.  Papa even got to be a wise man! :)  All was going well until there was a big bolt of lightening and I realized that my firstborn was now standing outside on an aluminum ladder strapped into a metal harness with a 10 foot wingspan wielding a huge sword hoisted high into the air like He-Man as he proclaimed "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."  

Needless to say the term "lighting rod" instantly came to mind and I was ready for the Nativity Ride to be done.  But, it all came together and was just lovely and the children enjoyed it and all the youth and other characters had a great time.  Maybe next year it will stay dry and I won't be so nervous.

Christmas was lovely.  I got to be off work Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  Then I was off work for New Year's Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  We worked the rest of the week and then it snowed, which meant I got to be off on Monday again.  Rock out.  We sledded, ate chili and snow cream, and made a snowman.  I know it's little, but it was toward the end of the day and we were cold.

We actually had snow on the ground for a WEEK.  That's right, a week of snow in rural Mississippi.  Who would have thought?

Other than that, life has been pretty run-of-the-mill around our house.  

Hannah has her last basketball games this weekend, so we are fixing to go into preparation for softball mode, although I have to say she was a basketball playing FOOL at the last game.  I just can't believe how much she has improved since the beginning of the season.  I am so proud of her progress.  She even ate the gym floor twice and was playing with blood running down her knee.  Eesh.  That my GIRL!

Lately, Papa has busied himself with designing and building and welding a 2 wheel horse cart.  I don't have any pictures to post yet, but I think he is going to paint it today so it should be ready by the weekend.  His creativity matched with his ingenuity and determination  People ask me all the time, "Is there anything you CAN'T do?"  If they only knew...... how silly my little sewing projects and cheesecakes look next to a moving, functioning vehicle crafted by hand from metal scraps. Good grief.  It reminds me of that episode of Saturday Night Live with Paul Simon where they are stranded on an island and it's Christmas.  Paul Simon's gift to Victoria Jackson was a potholder woven from palm fronds and some seashells he found on the beach. Victoria Jackson then gives him a watch and describes how she smelted the cogs for the watch out of copper she mined from the mountains and then killed a wild boar and soaked the hair in resin to make the watch hands.  Ha.  That is me and Papa.  I am basket weaving palm fronds and he is smelting a chariot. :)

As for me, I have actually finished a couple of projects.  I made a plain ole lap quilt out of some layer cake precuts.  Nothing fancy, but it is sure warm.  I also quilted a top that I pieced last year from a Moda Candy Kisses layer cake.  Again, nothing special.  Just precuts and straight line quilting.  But I have to say that it is the warmest blanket ever.  I absolutely love it and it is currently folded and hanging on the back of my rocker in the living room and I use it daily!

This morning I finally took the scissors to my Innocent Crush.  I am going to make some throw pillows for the living room before I start in on a quilt.  I can't make up my mind what kind of quilt I want to make out of all that delicious fabric, so I will start with pillows and go from there.

The strips that were leftover from where I cut my blocks are going to be a new purse, I think.

I am also working on a table for the Valentine's Banquet at our church.  The Banquet is to raise money for the kids to go to camp and my girl is finally old enough to go this year.  The table hostesses provide everything but the food.  Now, for those of you who know me, froo-froo decor is not on the list of things that I am good at, so it has really been a struggle for me to pull it all together. The other part of the banquet, however, involves me baking and preparing desserts and providing the musical entertainment.  Now THAT is right up my alley. Woot!

I will be sure to post pics and do better about keeping the blog updated. Hehe.