Thursday, December 25, 2008

Here I am sitting in my p.j.s at 2:15 in the afternoon on Christmas Day. And it's not 'cause I'm lazy. Buck and I woke up children at 7:15 and started the Christmas rituals.
Baking cinnamon rolls.
Reading the gospel account of the first Christmas.
Prayers and gifts offered to Jesus.
Buck sang his beautiful new song accompanied by his mandolin.
Opening mountains of presents spread before the tree. Our families are so generous.
Buck scurries to work, because God knows, the air traffic needs his guidance.

Turkey roasts in the oven, and it smells heavenly.

After the plethora of presents have been enjoyed, I send children to find spaces for new things in their rooms.
The boys burn the remains of crumpled wrapping paper and torn boxes.
I also ask them to thoughtfully pack for our trip tomorrow.
Next up is the laundry and lots of it, because one son had a fiberglass fiasco falling from the attic on his clothes two days in a row. All of his clothes are being washed for a second time.
We also are preparing for our animal care while we are out of town. Buck does not look forward to returning early from our trip to find our elderly cat's whims concerning the litter box. It's hit or miss, and lately it's more miss as he ages. He actually sits in the box and poops over the side. Insert eye roll here for the many times a week I must mop that floor. I've done so already once today.

Yesterday, I woke up irked knowing Buck would be working all day yesterday and most of today. It's much more fun to bear the load of preparing a feast and sharing the loveliness of the day with my husband, who always knows just how to make everything fun. Yet every year he must instead go to work on the holiday, and I fight an internal war against private sulking over the hours he's gone. I prayed yesterday morning and found a peace I hadn't ever felt before in offering this unhappy wrinkle in my Christmas plans as my gift to Jesus. I also determined to have my children in on the feast preparations. They all diligently worked along side me in the kitchen last night making of pies, fudge, dips, sides,and dough.

It may sound silly, but Peace, Pooh Bear and I have been interspersing games of gooey egg toss (thanks a million, Clay!) from Mast General Store throughout the many duties of the day. It's been a hoot. Tater and Wise One took a ride on their fancy and shiny new bicycles. I'm not sure if I'll ever see Wise One again, because he's broken into the giant box chock full o' Adventures in Odyssey he's never heard before given freely to us by a sweet friend. Pooh Bear is utterly engrossed in Felicity, her first (and probably only) American Girl Doll. Tater is listening to tunes on his new ipod purchased by his siblings for him from Craig's List. I expect Peace will remain scarce as he enjoys his new gadget.

No funk or blues here, even for me. I'm am glad of this new experience of peace in the offering of this time away from Buck.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Homeschool to High School

Peace finished his first semester of high school and the other three children have finished a semester of homeschool. Public high school had our family on pins and needles at times, but Peace has earned his first four high school credits with flying colors. We're hoping next semester will go more smoothly than the first. As with all classes, it all depends on the teacher. Makes me worry about my three children in home school. Wink.

Because Buck and have I been Peace's primary teachers for the last eight years, I worried my son might not be prepared in many ways for such a big leap. I breathe a huge sigh of relief that my worries were unfounded. Peace is a solid person who can hold his own, even through adversity, in a freshman class of five hundred.

I've learned some things in this high schooling process about teenagers. If you have been a mom of a teenager, you will know exactly what I mean when I talk about myself only holding so many teenager points at a time. The amount of points is proportionate to the power the teen feels. A teen can been made to feel powerless by injustice. These points can get sucked away from a parent by a difficult circumstance from another source for the teen. I've found the worse the problem outside our family, the less he has to give to the family. At times, Peace would come home from school with zero teenager points from impossible situations, and Buck and I would scramble for strategies to deal with a terrible grump. It has been my observation that most homeschool parents hold most of the teenager points most of the time, while school kids may have theirs torn from them.

Then why send our guy to school?

I do not love math or science, and I don't want to pass this apathy on to my science and math lovin' son. Buck has the passion but does not have time to learn and teach those subjects while being a dad to all. We tried homeschool cooperatives, but once a week teaching just wasn't enough to equip for an entire week of essential learning without parental study and preparation. It works for many homeschoolers to set their motivated children to sail, but this son has always needed more than a book and an assignment to accomplish academic studies.

Does this make high school outside of homeschool worth giving up so many teenager points? I say, "Yes" for us. The teachers he has encountered so far all thankfully love their subjects even if they are not meant to be teaching. Peace has come up against some tough circumstances with one teacher in particular and several students which have revealed the good stuff of which he is made. He's shown amazing self control and strength of character. I know I've said so before on my blog, but I admire Peace as a person.

I think the hardest lesson I've learned and I still haven't figured out all the way, is to let circumstances play out when I don't have any teenager points left. Peace says his big lessons have been how to figure out what a teacher wants, and that sometimes even that isn't enough (a bitter pill to swallow). Another downside is that he's traded a bit of his love of science due to something a little less than the ideal classroom experience. He liked both the teacher and most of the course, but there were far too many students and not enough time for the teacher to give needed feedback. I'm just used to Peace glowing after taking in new science concepts, but the shine has worn off a bit.

Peace actually thanked me for helping him "grow up" this semester when I picked him up from his last day of finals. What mom gets to hear those words during the teens? Yep, I'm lucky.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wise One turns twelve today.

Here's my best advice- try not to have three of four children around the holidays, especially if they are not all the same gender. Girl and boys have very different ideas about parties. Wise One has spent the night with a friend on his birthday to escape a gaggle of giggling little girls about to invade our home for Pooh Bear's party.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pooh Bear is eight today. Where has the time gone?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I asked Buck for permission to post this. He doesn't mind the enormous amount of humor I find in his idiosyncrasies.

A few nights ago at 2:18 a.m., Buck bolted upright in the bed. Then he dashed to the bathroom. I soon after heard some loud thuds and I called out, "Buck?"

When he didn't answer I collected my sleepy self and lunged in the dark toward the bathroom calling, "Buck?" again more urgently.

Was he's unconscious? Should I wake up the kids and drag his body to our van? Should I just call 911? At this point he weakly answered, "Yeah?"
I got to the bathroom door and found him standing up looking mighty confused. He rubbed a red spot on his head.

"Did you faint, love?" I asked.
"I think so," he muttered.
"Do you understand why?"
"Can you explain it to me?"

To enjoy and appreciate his answer, you must understand that Buck is not a fan of medical procedures. In fact, the thought of taking his blood pressure renders him incapacitated. He's also passed out entirely while having a simple x-ray.

So, why did he lose conciousness in the bathroom a few nights ago?

He sheepishly replied, "Well, I dreamed I was having a severe medical problem, so I ran to the bathroom to make sure it was just a dream. But I was probably thinking too much about the medical problem, so I felt light-headed..."

Don't worry. Buck is totally able to man-up when push comes to shove when the kids or I am hurt. This happens only when he's considering, even dreaming of the effects of treatment on himself.

Monday, December 08, 2008

one word meme

Meme found at Thicket Dweller's
Where is your mobile phone? desk
Where is your significant other? here
Your hair colour? red
Your mother? trip
Your father? home
Your favourite thing? husband
Your dream last night? unremembered
Your dream goal? love
The room you're in? warm
Your hobby? reading
Your fear? hurry
Where do you want to be in 6 years? independent
Where were you last night? home
What you're not? flawless
One of your wish-list items? countertops
Where you grew up? Kentucky
The last thing you did? lunch
What are you wearing? slacks
Your TV? off
Your pets? plenty
Your computer? Dell
Your mood? reflective
Missing someone? yes
Your car? van
Something you're not wearing? girdle
Favourite shop? market
Your summer? difficult
Love someone? abundantly
Your favourite colour? blue
When is the last time you laughed? yesternight
When is the last time you cried? yesternight

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Homeschool Conversation

Me: (on a fill in the blank) One uses it to fish.

Pooh Bear: A catcher!

Me: What's the name of the catcher?

Pooh: A fishing pole.

Me: What's at the end of a fishing pole?

Pooh: A pole, silly.

Me: The other end?

Pooh: A string.

Me: At the end of the string?

Pooh: A worm.

Me: Worms just squiggle away. How do you catch the fish?

Pooh: Oh yeah, on the hook!

Me: (I wipe the sweat from my brow)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Eleven years ago,the state of Tennessee recognized that our son Tater became a Vyne. Buck says God knew this before the foundations of the world.

Happy Adoption Day, our precious son.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


QUICK! I need ideas. My daughter wants the traditional Sound of Music birthday party in two weeks. Oh dear, oh dear, dear me.
We're gonna make some of the favorite things like blue satin sashes, snow flakes, and ask for presents to be wrapped in brown paper tied up with string. Pooh Bear insists on jam and bread instead of cake. She nixed my idea of wedding cake (ya know, Maria does get married). Maybe I can sneak in some crisp apple strudel. Will party guests be dreadfully disappointed or humor my daughter's whim? My boys agreed to dress up like Nazi's, carry flashlights, and blow whistles for some good old hide 'n seek. Pooh Bear wants to wear a habit. My husband must learn to play Edelweiss on mandolin and lead a sing-along. And we can play musical chairs to the soundtrack. How about a yodeling contest? We do have a goat herd already, but I'm not sure if they cooperate if we added strings to them for puppets. My niece thinks I could teach the "So, long farewell dance. Too ambitious? Also we thought of making clothes out of draperies somehow, but...

And do children, besides mine, even know about musicals besides High School Musical anyway? Oh dear, again.

Any more incredibly creative ideas? I sure could use them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Vyne's are piling into the van this afternoon to head to the mountains to be with family. Looking back, I couldn't be more thankful. Last year, my mother requested we come spend Thanksgiving with her thinking she might not ever be whole again after brain surgery. I'm delighted that she is healthy, whole and healed from those traumatic days.
Here are some other things for which I am thankful:
Great and healthy kids.
Family on both sides who love and support us.
Living in heaven on earth on our pretend farm.
My best friend and husband who stands right beside me every step of the way.
Healthy animals (for the most part).
The best kind of friends.
An abundant garden.
Fresh eggs.
Well running vehicle.
Warm house.
Ample clothing.

There is more, but I'll have to stop for now.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Yesterday I stopped in at Office Depot looking for something my son will needs next semester. I searched the aisles for the item myself with no luck though I found many similar items.

I passed by a Super Geek on my way to the help desk pondering whether or not to ask him. His scholarly glasses covering scrunched black eyes and lack of fashion prowess indicated a certain knowledge of all things gadgety. I myself was wearing black sweat pants which are entirely too short with a very unmatching green sweater.Did I mention my white and red running shoes? So, it's not like I have any room to criticize what not to wear... and on top of my dressing inadequacies, I certainly don't emit a copious amount of brain waves which benefit the planet. Anyhow, Super Geek looked engrossed in an important technological discussion on his black headset with another employee across the store, so I marched up to a handsome young man behind the help desk. You know, eye candy for someone about 20 years younger than myself.

"Hi," I say.

"Hey," he answers with a confident smile on his face, in a friendly customer service tone, making good eye contact.

"I'm looking for a very nerdy calculator which I know absolutely nothing about. It's called something Nspire, and it's for people who can actually perform higher mathematical equations than myself," I announce.

"Oh, that I wouldn't know nearly as much about that as Matt. Let me call him." Yep, he contacts Super Geek to help me out.

Super Geek is called to me but cannot stand to make eye contact. He walks toward the aisle I'd previously visited without a word. He searches the rack, and says without enthusiasm, "Not here. We had 'em when school started, but they're all gone."

"Um, could I order one?" I suggest.

"From here? Why don't you go to the dealer or something," still in dead pan.

"Like Texas Instruments?" I inquire.

"Prolly something like I don't know. You could order one at the desk I guess," he mutters.

"K, thanks," I offer as he suddenly walks off in another direction.

And there, my friends, is a lesson in how to not to close a deal. I checked and sure enough, one can order them from Office Depot.

That calculator is the most expensive one I've ever seen. What was Super Geek thinking? Maybe he was seriously contemplating some math problem in his brain I couldn't begin to solve.

Note to self: All that, "Please look in my eyes when we are talking" with my children hopefully will make a difference in their future.

Monday, November 17, 2008


It's something of a miracle, but you might not understand. I only know that change happens from the inside out, and I so rarely am allowed glimpses inside the heart of my son.

Here's the miracle. The phone rang. It was for my boy, and he sat down on my bed to chat with a friend while I typed on my computer close by. I heard, "Yes, we have a football, but it belongs to my dad. I'll ask him if we can use it."

This is the point I felt a lump forming in my throat. I turned my head, so my son wouldn't notice the salty drops about to spill from my stinging eyes. What's so darn touching about his statement? Enough to bring me to tears? Isn't it a common thing for children to ask to borrow something when it doesn't belong to them?

Not for him.

From his rough start as a foster child, he's claimed sole ownership to whatever he saw or touched in our home no matter whom it belonged to. He owned the world and we other mortals simply occupied his space. Our family has pulled together through good counsel to gently coax him to another way of being more a part of us rather than living separately. His comment above is evidence that something, no matter how small, has shifted.

In one of our counseling sessions with him this summer, my son stated what seemed to be a heart felt, "I want to really be part of this family." At the same moment of his declaration, a small butterfly came from nowhere and landed on our son's heart. No one spoke, but we smiled deeply at one another. After the butterfly took flight from her rest on my child's chest, one of the counselors whispered, "I wonder if that was a sign?" As if on cue, the little yellow butterfly returned a second time on my son's shirt over his heart. Of course, we all savored the moment.

I'd call our road rocky with this son, but isn't it lovely that there have been butterflies and other miracles along the way?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I was in the mood for some inspiration this morning, so I asked Eleanor Roosevelt for some help.

Here's what we came up with together.

A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.

Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.

She always knows just the right thing to say doesn't she?

Friday, November 07, 2008

I'm walking a new and delicate tightrope as a parent as I learn about this beast known as the teenager. I figure I've got it easy, having three boys with which to try my ever-changing bag o' tricks first before my girl hits the years beyond twelve. If the mood swings of my sons are any indication, I'm in for big trouble when she hits hormones. I'm finding my boys have upped my game of thinking on my feet and remaining centered at all times.

I took in a couple of very interesting facts at my conference a few weeks ago. The first felt real and so very true- teens believe they are living their own personal fable. No one could ever loved as deeply as they have. No one has ever wanted to make the basketball team more than they have. No one could possibly understand their unique circumstances enough. The second also got me nodding briskly in agreement- teens have an imaginary audience watching them all the times. They believe everyone is observing them in particular, and it truly is all them.

The fables arising from my boys are sometimes precious and other times annoying. I love the fact that all three believe they can do or be anything. Watching the Olympics, I heard their remarks like, "I could do that!" I adore it when my children say, "My coach says I could be top in the state if I applied myself." The annoying part can be when don't make the effort. I must remind myself that sampling many things instead of a single focus can be a great thing as well at this developmental stage of personal mission. Peace cracked me up the other day that his "science fan club" made up a myth about him living on the farm which was the setting for E.B. White's Charlotte's Web. Teens can be fantastic storytellers.

The part about the imaginary audience has hit all three boys as well. It took only a few weeks for Peace to drop his public bird calling with the event of entering high school. Tater constantly talks about the girls who can't take their eyes off him. Wise One hushes our family members in public situations when he feels embarrassed at some perceived spectacle we're making.

I'm blessed to say that though my kids attend and absolutely enjoy social events, we still have loads of fun, maybe even the most fun, together. I wonder what the day will be like when their wings ache to fly from this nest to make their own? I'm getting glimpses of such things when Peace throws an "I certainly know how to do this better than you ever could" barb my way. I've been learning how to step quietly and deliberately out of his way in this case and escape to a fulfilling task for myself till he is practically desperate (and humbled) for my help, or he simply finds his own way. Thus the tightrope analogy at the beginning of this post.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Taken yesterday before our hike to Fall Branch Falls, my new favorite place on earth.
The first time I voted, I voted for Dukakis. Oh my, that's embarrassing to admit.

Every election since, I've voted for the winner until last night. Even though I didn't get my way, I am so very proud to have a black leader as a President Elect. I'm proud to live in a country where anything is possible, and the vote is a way for us to speak out. I'm astounded at the peaceful transfer of power in a democracy.

Barak's "government for the people and by the people" message resonated with me four years ago as I watched him speak at the DNC. His elegance and eloquence captured me, yet we all know his roots are much more like an everyman. I pray his less privileged upbringing keeps him connected and grounded to everyday people. I also pray for his safety and for wisdom in leading this country.


Monday, November 03, 2008

I wouldn't dream of telling you who to vote for in tomorrow's election, but I will beg you to vote. I heard on NPR that 40 million Americans do not bother. Please don't be one of them.

How can such apathy exist? After all, our right to vote has been bought at a steep price.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The adventures of the last week have left me spinning, dizzy from the fun and learning.

First, I abandoned Buck and took the children to Dyersburg, TN. Never heard of it? I hadn't either until my dear friend Mac moved her family there. We piled our eight children together in her lovely new home on the lake and had a blast. Five of the children are stinky teenaged boys with Wise One as the eleven year old exception. Every time I opened the door to the boy's room to check on them, I gasped for lack of fresh air among the stifling body odor from boys who tromped through the woods and paddled canoes all weekend with little regard to personal hygiene. Mac and I forced a parade of showers a few times. The girls played dolls and led canoe adventures to mysterious islands as well.

We had one expensive fatality. Mac asked Peace to keep his cellphone with him, so we could literally call the mob of young men in for dinner. At some point, Wise One caught Peace off balance in the canoe, and Peace fell into the lake rendering his cell phone useless forevermore.

Mac cooked an awful lot for the masses and let me rest many times over the visit. We held a weenie and s'more roast over a fire in the crisp autumn air. She and her husband grilled a celebratory sabbath meal of shark, swordfish, and steak on our last evening. We shared prayer and communion together.

Mac also helped me pull together a bit of remaining choreography for a dance I prepared for the conference the following weekend. She and I figured out a dance language together some years ago, and it didn't take long to sew up the details I lacked for a lovely presentation.

Our group also visited Reelfoot Lake. It's a lake which was created by an earthquake and the Mississippi River flowing backwards for the first known time in history from the disruption of the tremors into a newly formed indention in the earth. Cool stuff, huh?

Parting was sweet sorrow, but our children demanded we schedule another visit for spring or summer.

We had an evening to at home to get Peace rested for his final cross country meet. That day I spent packing for my conference called "Weaving our Gifts". I enjoyed many workshops, a few lectures, and presented my own workshop as well. Our dance was well received in Sunday worship. Maybe sometime I'll blog about the meaningful information on teenagers I learned.

Buck has gently brought me back to real life with lots of care and nurture for me and our young people. What a gift to have someone keeping us on track and afloat.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Heading out of town today for more than a week with one stop at home for a cross country meet. Hope all of you in bloggy world have a great one.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Last night, Tater found a brand spanking new clutch of eight chicks with a broody hen. She was sitting on six more eggs, and this morning there are three more tiny babies. Doesn't this momma hen know that two days before the fall weather dips down into the 50's at night is not the time to bring new chicks into this world? Buck and Tater put the proud hen, eleven peeping and adorable chicks, and the three remaining smooth eggs into a rather crowded box. Once Buck put the heat lamp on, the babies gravitated right to it. I wonder, since the timing is so off, if this bunch will make it.

Gorgeous photo taken by Tater

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I've wanted to write just the right words about this week's experience. However, nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositional phrases prove inadequate to convey the amazement I've felt as my son's friend lingered a few days, enough for Tater to say, "Goodbye" and was gone in a flash, like a bright flash of lightening across a black night sky. Yes, Tater was afforded the privilege of touching, smelling, talking to his unconscious friend the day before Zach entered his final rest.

The evening of his death, Zach's parents surprised us all by attending a prayer service given in support of their struggle. When the couple arrived, the children- Zach's friends, swarmed to cling to Sally and Shawn. Sally was 10 kid deep in a sobbing throng in all directions when the director asked for us to pray prayers of comfort for her. After the second sweet prayer, a strong voiced Sally stopped everyone suddenly in their tracks with something like this, "Just so you know, I already have the comfort of the Lord. I am covered with His peace. I know you have been praying for Zach, and prayers maybe did not seem to have the outcome you may have wanted. I know you wanted Zach back. I wanted him so much myself, but we have a good God. And His plan was different. I ask that you, children, not doubt God. I suppose you'll need to question Him because we are still human, but know that He is good. Zach is with Jesus in such a beautiful and better place. Please run to God and not away from Him, because Zach wants you with him one day. So, if we could please pray for these hurting children to be comforted, that is what I'd like us to do now." And as you can imagine, that is precisely what we did. Many children, including two of mine, witnessed the horrible accident. One young person hung on the zip line for several minutes while Zach was taken down from the line beside. Another young man shared his regret for letting Zach have his place in line ahead of him. A camp staff member will have to live with his mistake. Others live in unshared pain. I'll be praying for all concerned for a while to come.

Church staff and volunteers have led the middle and high schoolers through many days of grief together. A grief counselor spoke to parents and youth. I loved that our children's pastor distinguished between feeling and truth in a session with the kids. He called attention to the fact that all feelings are very real, but they may not always be true. The leader had them call out things they had thought and felt but they knew were not God's truth, "God doesn't care. He didn't love Zach. God doesn't protect. God took Zach away. I'm not safe." Then he had then voice true words about God, "Good. Loving. Kind. Compassionate. Safe. Strong." Very powerful.

Instead of a funeral, the family and church held a celebration of Zach's life. They requested no black clothing. Nineteen dozen crisp yellow sunflowers adorned our reception area.

Now it's back to the life of a mother for me and the student roles for my brood. Though I imagine we'll never be the same.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Sometimes the veil between death and life is so very thin like a piece of yellowed tissue paper tossed in the corner of an attic. The young man, Zachary Weimer, has passed through that fragile veil to be in the Arms of God.

No words. Just tears and prayers.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I find myself fighting tears for the tenth time today. The sun has set, and there has been no peaceful resolution to the day's unsettling news. A friend of Tater's was airlifted from camp after an accident on the zip line. I'm told that though he wore a helmet, his skull is fractured, and he remains unconscious.

Yesterday I faintly remember an irk inside me as I filled out the medical information for the zillionth time for my own sons who are also on the camping trip, "Why do I have to always fill these things out. Nothing ever happens, and I have to round up my insurance numbers for nothing."

Yes, things do happen. We are not guaranteed another breath past this one. Every day, every moment is a gift.

The young man was taken to a hospital which I am intimately acquainted with though it is two solid driving hours away. It's where my Aunt Nell died, my Aunt Francis endured several serious surgeries, and my cousin Nadine was taken after she fell suddenly into her constant vegetative state. I've slept in the same chairs this boy's parents very likely occupy tonight as they pray their son will soon wake. I've eaten too many free dinners hosted by local churches while waiting for news of recovery or progress. I've run the breath holding gauntlet to my car through chain smokers just outside the trauma doors.

It is a mercy that this child has not awakened in one sense- the pain of a fractured skull must be unimaginable. But what his parents wouldn't give for one wink, a stir, one word, a stroke of a single finger. How dare the sun go down before he rouses?

My heart breaks. My soul prays. We want you back whole and soon, friend.

Updates can be found in the journals here if you type in his name: ZacharyWeimer (no spaces).

Quiet Morning

The youth minister at our church lobbied hard for Peace to come to fall camp this weekend and won. Wise One tagged along as well. Tater and Buck scattered early to help a young man in our scout troop with his eagle project. Pooh Bear and her overnight guest much prefer the outdoors, so I'm inside a perfectly quiet house all. by. myself. I hear only the hum of the dryer tumbling my Saturday morning fresh sheets. I head out Friday to teach in Atlanta again, so I've got work to prepare.

I'm praying just now for my dear friend Jo who has been commissioned by her fancy church in Belle Meade to introduce Catechesis of the Good Shepherd to a simple church in Soweto, South Africa for the next two weeks. May her excellent work be received with joy. May her precious heart for children to connect to Jesus be imparted to the South African church. God bless all those with her, including her guide, Desmond Tutu's daughter. Let the work of their hands please God and bless His name.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

This year has taken the Vyne family in unexplored directions.

I haven't found the right words to blog about a particular ongoing struggle with one of our children, Tater. Buck and I continue to lay down our lives on his behalf, and I have to say I'm disappointed with the results for him but not for Buck and I. Tater experiences life differently, through the jaded lens of early pre-adoption trauma which has crippled him emotionally. As a mother, I know that if his perspective doesn't change, he will be one of those people who has to learn the hard way. And I am painfully aware that the hard way will not be pleasant to watch as a mom.

Pooh Bear remains steady and on a good path. We plod through reading one baby step at a time, and she's coming along slowly as she always has. Her love for dance grows with her Thursday class. She thoroughly enjoys an entire day at school on Tuesdays through a friend's home school enrichment program. Pooh has quickly made friends there as she does wherever she goes. Lately, I'm mulling over future navigation of a daughter through the wily road of becoming her own person among a den of challenging girl peers who exercise exclusion. It's in nearly every circle I've encountered as a woman. May God bless Pooh Bear with the kind of centering friendships I've had to get through those tight places.

Wise One exhibits the signs of growing up while still clinging to boyhood amidst teen-aged brothers. His best friend, Peace, has flown off to high school and a whirl of school activity leaving Wise One to forge new relationships. He has three particular buddies he prefers. Wise One has made leaps and bounds in physical and mental development through occupational and visual therapy this year. Many "gaps" I'd been concerned about in learning are now filled in. Just to give you a glimpse into his sweet soul, Buck found five Bibles under his bed this summer. Wise One remains most interested in his incredible relationship with God.

Peace is loving his first year of public high school after seven years of homeschooling. Though he's learning organizational and study skills he'd never been challenged with before, he's doing well in every class. It is a college prep school, and I couldn't be more pleased with the high academic expectations. I'm busting with pride sometimes when Peace talks about standing up for the underdog or putting the g'nosh on trash talk around him. He works very hard on cross country team as well. It's something to juggle a sport and the everyday challenges of homework for the first time. Peace has finally hit the maturity marker of needing to make tough decisions of setting priorities, and he's making good choices.

Buck is hanging in there with the mighty strength of a man. He's been an amazing husband and father.

The whole "keeping a school schedule after seven years of my own time", has kicked my tail. Six a.m. comes all too early. I actually wake up in the night thinking about the support Peace needs for the coming day, "What's Peace going to need to ask from his teachers when he misses school for his meet Friday?" Homeschooling the other three children and needing a nap at 2:00 in the afternoon isn't quite working out the way I hoped. I've found myself in a hard place spiritually with all the activity of doing and not so much time for just being. How can this constant motion please God? Yet He made me a mother with many needs to continually meet. Any advice?

There it is- the Vyne family update.

Monday, September 29, 2008

My Aunt sent this video to me. I am probably NOT going to show it to my sons, so they won't get any ideas at dinner.

Sunday, September 28, 2008



When I arrived in Atlanta this past weekend, Piper asked, "How full is your gas tank after your drive?"

"Fairly low. I didn't fill up before I came, and it's a long drive," I replied nonchalantly.

Little did I know that Atlantians must spend a good part of their days now in search of a fuel station which actually has very expensive petrol in its tanks to sell. Apparently the population of five million created far too much pollution and recently legislation kicked in which mandates a less lethal emissions from a cleaner mix of fuel. Piper's husband took his sweet little boys on a ride in my car on a crazy hunt for a station with product and stayed in a line for 1/2 an hour to fill my tank for me while Piper and I taught. God bless him! I passed at least 10 gas stations tooling around from training to Piper's and none were open either Friday or Saturday.

Here in the Greater Knoxville area, we had one or two days of a rush to the pumps which seemed like a fleeting blip on the big screen of life- the cause attributed to conversion to a new mixture of some kind including more ethanol. As a pretend farmer, I'm am bugged and honestly worried that a food source for humans and animals forms the wave of this present future.

My Atlanta weekend experience amounted to something far more eye opening. I heard more chat about alternate fuel sources in my two days further south than if I'd have struck up a conversation with Al Gore himself. I suppose this tactic of unavailability would change Americans gas guzzling habits quicker than a jack rabbit hopping from a hungry fox. And I don't have wiggle room to bash others about fuel consumption, because as I've said before- I live in heaven and drive everywhere else. The drive to my son's high school is 45 minutes one way. When I ponder moving back anywhere closer to the city though, I cringe and gasp for air at the thought. I'd have...neighbors. Gulp. And I'm the world's worst neighbor. My current neighbors, cows, don't mind my reclusive and introverted nature a bit.

Buck sent me this link concerning the gas crisis in Nashville, and it had me howling. It's rated R for language and might not make any sense unless you know a bit about Nashville.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Peter goes to Bollywood

My dear husband likes to surprise and delight me by giving me new music. He knows exactly what will make me happy and burns a cd. Today, Buck slid a new cd into my hands which we both were sure to begin a long new tunes love affair for me with Peter Gabriel's Big Blue Ball album.

A hundred years ago in 1986, I was asked to a Peter Gabriel concert by an unsavory character during the "So" tour. I liked Gabriel's sound and was curious about his presentation, so I was left with a dilemma of attending the event with someone I considered a sociopath. I conjured a plan B which included but was not limited to psyching myself up to leap out of a speeding car if necessary to brave the performance. I am so glad I did, because I will never be the same. The music and delivery moved me beyond words, so I cannot possibly do it justice with words. From the opening notes, an African band led a journey into an unfathomable array of musical and visual experiences twined together by an artist like no other, Gabriel. There were thousands in the audience, but I felt a complete immersion into the depth of the moment- forgive my sappiness here- as if Gabriel was singing just to me. I totally lost all sense that I had come with a companion. I remember hoping the guy wouldn't chat with me afterward, so I could linger in that space of contentment created during the concert. In a few short hours, I moved from liking Gabriel's stuff into a sincere fan, and I've stayed there all these years.

When I popped Big Blue Ball into my van's cd player this morning, the first song convinced me I had a delicious new love. The next few songs assured me my first impression was not all that accurate. It's much more of a World Music endeavor than songs delivered by Peter himself. I truly like cross cultural arrangements, but I was hoping for quality time with that raspy meaningful lyric only Gabriel can produce. I'll have to be somewhat satisfied with the few Gabriel gems planted among the Egyptian, African, Spanish, Hungarian collage of other artists.

I came up with my own alternate title. No, not Frankie goes to Hollywood- Peter goes to Bollywood. You might get me within listening the first four songs...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I got a prescription for reading glasses at my last eye exam. Anyone out there surprised? It's a symbol of descent into, I don't know, elderlyness. I also plunge my toes into the cushiest slippers around my house, because my feet hurt from plantar fasciitis most of the time. I don't like loud music anymore(except David Crowder, of course). Next thing you know, I'll start popping Geritol, because I'm already taking B complex for energy. How do I stave off the rushing flood of ailments I was so certain would never happen to me? I experimented with keeping the flavor of youth close to my tongue this morning.

On my very slow run at the start of the day, I determined to skip like a giddy five year old girl no matter who was around when an Irish song come across my ipod- just during the jig parts of the music. I haven't skipped in a long time. Have you? I decided not to look into the eyes of passerbys, so as not to heap their possible disapproval on my child-like experience. I let myself ponder how much I loved childhood and it's freedoms. Nothing like giving in and seizing the joy of movement if only for a fleeting moment. I really can still skip a bit even with a bum knee, and it made me happy as a long hot shower after a full day weeding an overgrown garden.

I wonder what other forgotten trick I can still do? What makes you content as you grow older? I'd like to know.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Announcing a new real life friend's blog:

Wisdom Pursuit

This woman and I share many every day experiences, and I know the fresh perspective and insight she can offer.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

So, have you ever been to a high school cross country meet? I hadn't until recently, and I am enlightened on yet another sport's quirks. I've never been to a golf tournament either, but I think I gather, for the first time, how the crowd moves to optimum watching spots during the course of the game. Fortunately, I am not shy to ask about such things to strangers as the experienced mothers of other runners explained where exactly to stand or walk to catch a glimpse of the young people as they plow by huffing and pouring sweat. Some runners look completely composed, while others look like it may be their last moment among the living.

On rainy or muddy days, the runner's bottom halves become spattered with polka dots and splashes of muck feet to thigh as they clomp down the natural worn paths.

The real shocker of the event comes at the end. I observed an interesting man, just past the finish line, who had a very specific job. His sole purpose was to grab fainting runners by the arm and force them to remain upright until the faltering athletes made it to the open field some distance away from the finish. Otherwise, the next strong finishers would have had to leap over a dog pile of entirely exhausted bodies. And yet another surprise awaited spectators in the open field just past the end- many of the runners threw up (oh, yes, everywhere) and collapsed in an pained heap at the next available spot in the grass. I watched one young man wheeze and gasp in an asthmatic attack limping about with his mother. It all reminded me of the some kind of strange steaming battlefield minutes after the conclusion of a relentless attack- all moaning and agony.

Makes me curious about the completion of the Boston Marathon. Is it a wall of ambulances rushing fatigued and half dead people off toward oxygen and ice baths? At least marathoners get pavement instead of turf.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The most inspiring story I've heard all week concerned the Spanish explorer from the 1500's, Cortes. He was a man with a serious plan; he sought the treasure of Mexico. Though many other military leaders and countries had set their minds on prying the great gold riches from these strong natives, no one had ever been successful. That is until Cortes plotted an unheard of scheme. He formed an army, sailed to the shore of Mexico, gathered all his soldiers, and ordered the ships to be stripped of anything valuable. Then he commanded something extraordinary and quite unexpected, "Burn the ships!" I suppose this is where "do or die" became literal. With no possible means of retreat, the soldiers were forced to victory.

What do I want more than anything? It's certainly not gold.
The whole "burn the ships" thing makes me wonder about my faith. Do I run for the prize set before me every day as if I can surely scoop up the laurel wreath on my red curly head for a victory lap? No hesitation, no turning back, no giving up? Or am I living more of some lame back-up plan? Am I in or out? I consider the ships I need to burn today.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Buck thinks he knows who the nation is leaning toward in this election from standing in the check out line perusing this week's copy of US Magazine.

Buck explained the emphasis of the publication on Michelle Obama's beautiful fashions and style. On the other hand, the same reading material stressed former co-workers who found Sarah Palin difficult to work with.

Everyone knows the presidency is about depth and substance, so I'm quite sure it was a compliment to Sarah to bring out skeletons from her career closet. And what an obvious slam to Michelle, that her clothes, not the content of her character, were noteworthy.

Michelle, I'm sorry the press is being so utterly unfair to you. Perhaps the political tide will turn your way soon.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Our entire household is totally digging the Coldplay Viva la Vida and the Switchfoot Oh,Gravity CD's. Maybe it's because everyone is just very so glad I'm off my John Mayer kick. He still rocks.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Got a new dog Saturday through rescue. She's another Great Pyrenees who is to be a doggy friend and running mate to our previously rescued Pyr, Ripley. Of course, we named her Sarah Palin. We aren't sure if she has any young daughters who are pregnant, or if she can moose hunt. We're pretty sure she likes icy cold weather, and we hope she's a winner.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

fan club

so, tonight i'm studying vocab with peace for a quiz tomorrow. he comes to the word
"coquette", and i ask, "peace, who's the flirtiest girl you know to help you remember the definition of this word?"

peace replies after some thought, "mom, I don't know any girls like that."

i internally grin, because he's not so cognizant of the feminine gender besides the ones he considers friends. i've been told by a few sweet older girls that he's so very obviously crush material, but i have my doubts. he does not try in any way to impress anyone. i'm red-faced to say it, and i socially die a little each time he does it; peace still makes a mourning dove bird calls with cupped hands when he's walking in public.

after another pause peace continued our conversation, "well, there is the peace fan club..."

"what?? what fan club? you have a fan club?"

"uh huh," he mutters.

i grill him with my eyes squinting and wagging my pointer finger, "come on. you are joking me,"

"no, i'm not. in honors physics there is a group of girls who call themselves peace's fan club," he defends himself.

get out! it could be some tortuous mean girl joke, which fortunately he'll totally miss, or peace has something girls like: a scientific mind.

we'll just see won't we?

maybe i should start sniffin' his backpack for perfume.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Real Church

Softly the rain caresses the tin roof in the beloved silence.
Noone need speak though there is a small hungry crowd.
Together we are moved in the Presence.
Tears fall, but we cannot know all behind the workings and the whys.

A shout, “Let it rain” breaks the quiet.

Melody creeps into the sacred moment.
It starts to rise and build, like the spire on a cathedral.
Still no words are necessary as we hold the song in our flowing hearts.
The music begins to thunder and crash under the Weight.
I've experienced nothing like it before, and it is a wonder.

Lyrics become essential suddenly in the swell, “Let it rain.”

Time stands still.

We cry out together, “Let it rain!”
One proclaims, "Lift up your heads, oh ye gates, that the King of Glory may come in!"

We drink deeply from the Well.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Where do Hardin Valley Academy students go to smoke?

Outside the Fire Department right in front of the school, of course.

The irony!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My son's high school English teacher, Ms. W. has been corresponding via email to parents. In her last email, she assured parents that we are not to be embarrassed of grammar mistakes when emailing with her. I arrogantly thought to myself, "Oh, brother. I'm a writer, and I can write simple emails without grammatical errors. Why is it so difficult for other parents?"

Then I ate crow. Big black feathers and all.

Ms. W. sent a reply to my email with the text I'd written still attached at the bottom. I felt the blood rise to my face as I examined the multitude of question marks strewn throughout my note to the teacher. Suddenly, I felt a need to explain to Ms. W. that I have absolutely no control over the misplaced punctuation- that my computer randomly inserts these questions marks, and it's not something I do to create literary intrigue and mystery.

A word to the wise: smugness never pays.

It's official. We now have two teenagers living, I mean consuming every bit of food in our cupboards.

Happy Birthday, Tater.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Mother Responds to Another School Shooting

In light of my post on "A Call to Anguish" yesterday, I have prayed fervently for the victim of the school shooting, the shooter, the students, the families, and the administrators this morning at Central High in Knoxville. Yes, my son attends now a Knox County High School, which added urgency to my petition. Other high schools were put on lock down. I'll find out this afternoon, if Peace shared in that lock down experience. Occasionally he calls me during lunch, and I hope he does today.

Sometime around when Buck and I decided to put our son in public school, a friend casually mentioned lock down as a possibility. I freaked that day saying, "What the heck is lock down? What are students asked to do? Why exactly does the school lock down? What do parents do in the case of lock down when I can imagine all they can think about doing is driving to snatch their children from the jaws of death?" Thankfully, our conversation gave me time to get answers to those questions before today.

As I listened to the news this morning, parents were rushing to Central High School to find their children, yet they were being turned away. The perimeter of the school had been sealed. A nearby church across the road opened a shelter to take families in as they waited, and the school officials gave updates there. Buck dropped off Peace around the time we heard the first report. The shooting occurred in the cafeteria, the place where students hung before school began. I wondered about the students who witnessed this callous act of murder. How will they feel about returning to the cafeteria or even school at all in days to come? A witness said something like this, "The shooter walked into the cafeteria right up to his victim, shot a boy in the chest, and walked out leaving the victim in a growing pool of blood with no remorse."

I thought about the hesitant hands, mops, buckets which have cleaned or will clean up that crimson crime scene. I considered the vulnerable and frail humanity of the principal, and the work of healing of a multitude he or she will have to undertake in the next while. I mulled over the fear of parents asking themselves, "Could it be my son?" I hurt for the parents who have lost the child they once held in their arms, diapered, and bathed. I speculated about the police persons on duty handling hostile, angry, and scared crowds. I pondered the teachers who have gone home this morning shaking their heads in wonder instead of carrying out lesson plans.

None of it makes sense. None. We live in such a sad and violent world. We are not guaranteed out next breath,and we should not take life for granted. It's as fragile as a candle easily snuffed out. I cry out to the One who holds all these things in His Hands for mercy and justice.

On another note. I do not regret for a second putting my son back in school this year, even after today's serious events. We prayerfully decided to home school him all these last years and prayerfully decided his star would shine brightest with inspiring everyday teachers who love the subjects they teach. We'll treasure Peace even more as we pick him up this afternoon, as we should.

Buck burns through another year



Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My buddy Jake keeps handing me CD's at the gym to listen to in my car. Maybe he gives me them, because the words have moved him. Maybe Jake thinks I need to hear them.

I do.

The CD's are of old sermons he's found valuable. Sermons outside of church service are not exactly my cup of tea. Until now. The recordings are not high quality or even necessarily from this decade. However, the common theme running in all of them challenges me to trade in culture and my own good ideas and live a radical life of faith. Not because it's the right thing to do, but because Jesus is worthy.

Today's sermon titled "Call to Anguish" by David Wilkerson brought up concerns I have felt to be profoundly true but have not given voice. He states that the best prayer comes out of genuine anguish. He asks us not to look for the easy road, but the path of pain to find the heart of God. It's something I heard in my own morning prayers concerning myself today- that I have been seeking an easy road rather than Jesus as my greatest desire. I've been walking around practically sulking about life lately until I made this confession this day. Isn't stunning to have something like that reinterated in the very same day through a random sermon? Wilkerson says after a baptism of anguish, the voice of God and His Will becomes faster to discern. I have to agree that if I become passionate about a prayer cause, I get to God's justice and heart far more rapidly than items on an everyday prayer list.

You can download the sermon here.

Others Jake has recommended and I have totally dug are here and here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Got a surprise visit from a childhood friend, her children, and her lovely parents this morning. I spent a great deal of time with these folks at their home while we were in elementary school. They are still as kind and funny(!) as they were then. When my family decided to move as I entered fifth grade, I mourned the loss of M.B., her parents and siblings as neighbors more than anything else in that move.
M.B. and I attended fourth grade together, and I am sure I spent every waking moment possible with her. I wonder how many meals they fed me as a ten year old? Looking back, I learned much about families from them.
Our children played together like old friends too. Isn't that sweet?

Friday, August 15, 2008

I've read this list before, and thought better of posting it. Not today. Today it happens to make me laugh.

And I need a good laugh.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Here's the lastest news from the Vynes.

My oldest son, Peace, began public high school Monday after the last seven years of home school. I'm driving an insane amount to his particular high school, but I believe it will be worth it. Peace is loving it. He's already working harder and taking more initiative than I've ever seen. He organized his notebooks and began developing his own homework-and-things-to-keep-up-with list. He's gone above and beyond his homework assignments, a trend I hope will continue. He wrote a short but strong paper for English yesterday. He's reading his science book for fun! His art teacher has already asked him to teach some of the origami portion of class coming up soon. I can't believe art class began with paper masks. If my son's art star will shimmer and shine, it's in 3-D paper art. Peace knows a fair amount of students from scouts (especially leadership camp), church (including the mission trip to NYC this summer), soccer, and home school cooperatives. Apparently a number of other home schoolers have jumped ship for this same unique opportunity of a new academy oriented public high school option.

The funny thing is that I thought finally school would be free after years of shelling out the big bucks for home school books and materials. I've written over $200 in checks for his sundry public school fees. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining, since we're out of county without paying tuition. I'm just surprised at the expense.

Wise One, Pooh Bear, and Tater began hitting the books a few weeks ago for home school. Man, have I seen some necessary backtracking as a result of not working with Pooh Bear this summer. You'd think she's never read most of her sight words from last year. I'm praying her skills will return quickly, so we can make appropriate strides this year. One item of good news is that Wise One's assignments have him stepping up and stretching himself as needed. I don't know what to say about Tater at this time. His brokenness gets in his way of school so often, God help him.

Personally, I quietly struggle with things I dare not blog. I want this particular public forum to bless and never tear down already difficult relationships. Just so you know, I am not alone in hard stuff. I do have some big fans including my husband,my mother,and dear friends who champion my cause and hold me up through the pain.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Wise One and I watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics last night. In a word?




And one more?


Did you watch? What was your favorite part? The little girl flying with the kite may have been mine. However, the people who operated the printing blocks and the modern dancers painting with their bodies on the scroll amazed me. And what about those 15,000 magnificent costumes? No doubt about it. This opening ceremony beats all for me.

And, oh! Doesn't it totally rock that a 41 year old American woman is contending for gold in the 50 Free? We're practically peers (except that she's a real live Olympian and I'm a pretend farmer mom). I wonder is she has four children?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008



Twenty years ago today, I married my man.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Once John Ortberg asked author Dallas Willard how to bring new spiritual life to himself. John reported that Dallas' reply was “shocking in its simplicity.” Dallas Willard spoke quite deliberately while looking John square in the eye, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life, for hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our world today.”

Oh, God, that I could live this principle. Even just for today.

Monday, August 04, 2008

This morning I woke up so anxious. I began to worry about how in the world I will be able to do all the things this year has for me to complete. I'll be driving my oldest to and from high school quite a ways away from home. In between, I will also home school the other three. Then there is the matter of feeding my family and keeping our home. I also have dates I need to work out to be out of town to teach on my great love- children's spiritual formation.

What does it prosper me to wake up and worry? I went for a run and looked for peace. It came when I remembered a CD I needed to return of a sermon by a man from India who does missions in the 10/40 window. His words about Christian families in remote parts of China tearing the one Bible they have for their church body into pages and passing them around to one another reminded me of something essential. What is planning the school year for my children compared to this? My whole life is full of opportunity, choice and abundance.

I am amazed at how quickly I get down and discouraged, because a plan isn't working out just the way I thought it should. Boy, do I need to keep perspective on this privileged life I lead.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Arguing junkie continued

Hi, my name is Truevyne, and I haven't argued for 2 days. On Tuesday, the master debater caught me at a weak moment, and I engaged in a few minutes of a futile meaningless battle. I won't let this discourage me as I press on toward my goal of argument-free parenting.

Here's how it works. I keep a bag of tools I recently learned from our fabulous therapists. The tools are recorded on index cards, and each morning I look over them.

Tool Number 1: Ask more questions and give less directives.
It's number one for a reason. Asking questions creates problem solvers who eventually won't need to argue anymore.

Secretly pretend you are playing jeopardy and put every request in question form.

Do you think whining and complaining is going to get me to...?
Why do you think I'm asking you to...?
What do you think I'm thinking?
What do you think I want you to do?
What are you supposed to be doing?
How's that working for you?
What will you need to be ready for soccer? What is the one thing you always forget?
Which would you rather do? Wash dishes or clean the table and floor?
Which part of what you are doing is respectful?
Would you like to get started on that in five minutes or seven?
How many times do you think you'll need to ask me that question tonight?
It's time to get ready for bed. What are the things you'll need to do for that?
How long do you think it will take you to finish your homework tonight? Would it be fun to set a timer to see if you can beat your time from another night?
Can you trust me to take care of that?
Nobody likes folding laundry. Can you do it anyway?
Would you like to fold laundry first or do your homework?

If these questions ellicit arguments, I just say, "Let me know when you are ready to..." and I walk away. If the child follows I ask, "Do you think following will get you what you want?" Or use tool number 2.

Tool Number 2: Loving Responses
When my son tries to pin me down for a row, I have memorized a number of phrases in response. These I use a loving response with kindness and sincerity in my voice, NO sarcasm (unless I've fallen off the wagon).

Nevertheless, I need you to...
The world is full of surprises.
Remind me again, where do you need to be?
I don't have time to argue just now. If you still want to argue, I have time at 4:00 this afternoon.
Thanks for telling me how you feel.
Thanks for letting me know.

And my all time favorite...

I love you too much to argue, dumplin'.

Tool Number 3: Journaling

Let the child journal the argument to look over together LATER when the conflict isn't so hot. Many times, my child thinks what he wrote earlier in the heat of the moment is ridiculous.

Tool Number 4: Crosstalk

Ask respectful and concerned questions of another adult like, "When do you think Junior will be ready to take responsibility for forgetting to feed the dog? I wonder if it will be today or tomorrow?" or "Do you think Junior would like to join us on our family outing or sit and watch us play when we get there?"

Don't ask other children, because sometimes children will respond in a mean way.
Seriously, I crosstalk to my cat when my husband is not around. "Patches, do you think my son will ever want to do what I've just asked? Don't you hope so?"

I'm interested to hear if anyone out there tries any of this stuff. The therapists advised us to pick one thing to work on for the day in the beginning.

Occasionally, stop by and ask me about my arguing sobriety. It'll keep me on my toes.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


This morning I sat comfortably in my seat during worship at my church, while a man loaded and unloaded a shotgun into another congregation fifteen miles or so at a church down the same road. My son was warming up for his swim meet finals about three miles from the scene of this horrific crime. Maybe you heard about this on the news. Last I heard, one long-time usher deliberately put himself in the line of fire to protect and was killed. This evening, a 63 year old woman died from her wounds. Four more congregants were critically wounded. The children of the church were putting on some kind of musical on stage when the deadly shooting began. Pray for their little hearts, and for those who have lost or had a loved one seriously hurt.

And before it begins, but maybe it already has, I'd like to call for others not to criticize these folks have somehow or another gotten what they deserve. I'm begging for compassion and an outpouring of love to be the remedy for this heartbreak.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Kicking a very old habit

I've been strung out for all 14 years of my parenting on a consuming life-sucking habit. All my children have discovered my addiction and have slowly deconstructed me by abusing this weakness. It's not like I wanted to, but you know, it just felt like I was doing something. However, I was only feeding the growling monster of my obsession.

Hi, my name is Truevyne, I am a an arguing junkie. There. I've said it. I somehow believed that if I argued with my children, they would forsake their childish ways and step up to the maturity plate. Are you laughing at this ridiculous statement? I am now that I've been coming clean.

One of my children is a master of contention. In fact, his preschool teacher (and friend) informed me after his first day, that my son would either become a lawyer or lead some kind of rebellion. I've had a over a decade of perfecting my debating skills. Never the less, I find I am the loser every. single. time.

I've learned some incredibly valuable tools to kick my habit over the past few weeks.
Wanna know something about those tools?

Wisdom on a t-shirt

Working hard beats talent when talent won't work hard.

Friday, July 25, 2008

For the Grandparents

Tomorrow (might not be up so soon), Sunday, and/or Monday, check out your grandson's city wide meet results in:
Boys 11 & 12 50 Freestyle
Boys 11 and 12 200 Medley Relay (he's part Tellico Village/TVST)
Boys 11 and 12 50 Breast
11 and 12 200 Freestyle Relay (again his score is part of TVST)

He qualified for the finals in all four events which has never happened before for anyone on our team as far as I know. He got 11th place overall in free and breast. The relay teams he swam with came in 14th or so.

Peace couldn't swim due to ear infection. Wise One missed too many meets to participate in city due to bronchitis, camp, and grandparent visits.
Pooh Bear swims tomorrow, but she will not make any finals, though I know she'll swim her little girl heart out.

Monday, July 21, 2008


He must have been 17 or 18 when I first met him six years ago or so- a young man who sang his heart out while he played the keyboard. I didn't know him well or for very long, but I did know when he led worship at my church, I connected with God at a deep level. Something about Jason's youth, his strong and honest voice, and his hardcore love of Jesus made him stand out to me like a red silk ribbon on a fancy Easter hat. He was the first I ever heard belt out "My Glorious", and I've never been pleased with any other artist who attempted, including Delirious. My sons were much younger then, and I didn't take the time to hope or pray that my children would turn out like Jason when they got older with all his gifted passion focused in worship. I thought of that just now- now that I know they'll never be able to meet him for themselves.

My world started spinning when I heard the newscaster say that Jason Hovater's life was being celebrated today after giving his life for his country as a soldier in Afghanistan. I couldn't get my breath for a moment taking in his pretty sweet wife, Jenna, as she talked confidently, no tears, about the incredible person of Jason.

Once I'd run into to the pair as they were working on landscaping outside the church with Jenna's dad. They practically dripped with sweat and were covered head to toe in dirt. Never the less, I could see adoration in Jason's eyes looking over at Jenna, but I didn't know they married until tonight. I knew she meant it when the newscaster said Jenna's young love for Jason would never die.


Jason Hovater is gone at the age of 24. I know for a fact that this one is heaven's gain and our loss. I'll be looking for you, Jason, on the other side. And it will be truly Glorious.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What every 42 year old woman really wants for her twentieth anniversary if she is truly romantic with sore knees, hips, and loves to exercise outside.

Friday, July 11, 2008

40 Day Fast

Can a nation be saved?

Imagine oppressed, abused, and discarded children finding hope and destiny, then rising to free the very nation in which they've been enslaved.

Consider a seven year old Camdodian girl rescued from captivity in the sex slave trade becoming healed and whole, following her destiny into adulthood to build a business which employs others brought out of the same bondage.

Think of hundreds, thousands of boys and girls being delivered, loved back to life from such a dark desolate place, embracing God's call on their lives, and turning the tide of a corrupt nation towards redemption.

How could such a thing ever be possible?

Only through prayer.

And Robert Craig knows something about prayer. In fact, Robert worked with Mike Bickle to establish the International House of Prayer, a prayer watch which runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week since September 1999 in Kansas City. That's eight years of prayer without ceasing, folks. Does that dwarf your personal prayer life and stun your brain like it does mine?

Robert also knows something about building business. He holds an International Business Degree from Cal State Fullerton and has launched many small businesses. He's been part of the corporate world as well while working as chief financial officer for an environmental company. His long term plans include offering these gifts of expertise to the Cambodian children as they reach maturity and enter the marketplace.

Now Robert and Anita and their three children wait on the Lord's timing to move forward and start a House of Prayer in Cambodia and perhaps a rescue orphanage to fulfill the vision God has given Robert for the children trapped in the sex slave trade. In fact, the Craig family is in Cambodia on this very date of the 40 Day Fast scoping the treasures the Lord has planted there for them to discover on their journey.

What do the Craigs need the most? You won't be surprised at the answer.


Pray for:
- Ending of the sex slave trade
- Personnel and financial resources to fulfill vision
- Safety

Has the Lord written similar ministry on your heart? Contact the Craig's on their website-

Interested in learning more? Check out the same website. Register and get to know something of the country of Cambodia, the Craigs, and their work.
Robert also runs a Facebook site here It is my honor to fast and pray for these folks today for such a worthy and God-driven call to action.

You also might want to check out what my 40 Day Fast partner, Valerie, has to say about migrant workers.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I remember those first few weeks after my oldest child’s birth. It seemed I could not take my eyes off him. I was amazed at how tiny he was, and how tightly he could be bundled in that little receiving blanket. Wrapped up just as tightly were all the hopes and dreams I carried for him. I found myself asking, who is this child? My experience is probably common. We look at each new life and ask “What will she be when she grows up? Am I holding the next Frank Lloyd Wright or Madame Curie in my arms? Will he marry? Will she choose to be a mother, too?” The possibilities for their future seem endless.

In his letters, the apostle John refers often to the people of the early churches as “my dear children”. He goes on to say in his third letter, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” Isn’t this really the very best we can imagine for our children? The greatest of all the many possibilities for their lives? What would our lives look like, what would we do differently each day if this was true for us? What if seeing our child walking in the truth was a joy greater than seeing him or her chosen as varsity team captain, going to Harvard on a full academic scholarship, or even winning the Nobel Peace Prize. No greater joy. Nothing better, more important, more worthwhile. May this be our goal, our highest good, and the motivation for all we do for our children.

Joanna Williams
Director of Children's Christian Formation
St. George Episcopal
Nashville, TN

40 Day Fast

I've been working on my post on July 11 for the 40 Day Fast with great anticipation.
Read today's posts here and here.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

How's it going with my adopted son? That's a long slow road, but we are on it. How has the internal work I've been doing with him impacted our family? Here's a scenario from yesterday concerning Pooh Bear. As the baby and only girl of our family, she's not so interested in growing up and handling things herself, so we're working on those skills.

She's been involved in a camp this week and missed Thursday when the camp t-shirts were given out. We searched through the leftovers, and to Pooh's horror, the smallest size was an adult small. She's about the size of an orange oompaloompa, so the enormous shirt will not flatter her on performance day. She pitched a nice fall-on-the- floor-in-a-heap-crying-fit when she imagined herself on stage swallowed by a mass of powder blue cotton.

Pooh Bear:"Mommy! This will make me look awful. Can we go somewhere and find other sizes?"

Me:"Miss Kim sent us here to look. Since these have the camp name and date, I know they are the only ones like them around town."

Pooh Bear: "I'll feel so stupid wearing this in front of everyone! It will go to my knees like a dress, but it's supposed to be a t-shirt. Find me a new shirt!"

Me: "Wow, honey. You sound mad! And look, you're crying. Are you sad too?"

Pooh Bear:"Yes!"

Me:"I don't have anything to do with the t-shirts, so you'll have to tell Miss Kim you are mad or sad that there aren't anymore your size. See what she says."

Pooh Bear: "I can't do that! I don't know what to say."

Me: "That's easy. Miss Kim I'm so sad, because the only t-shirts left are way too big for me." The lights are on for me. I knew if I didn't make her say this to Miss Kim she'd have stewed all day and taken it out on the rest of the family in grumpiness. It's where unresolved anger goes for her and really anyone else.

Pooh Bear: "I can't!"

Me: "I'm sitting down in this chair and waiting until you tell Miss Kim what you are upset about."

Pooh Bear tried to whine to me about it, but I refused to interact with her. I looked straight ahead with an accepting face. She moved onto Miss Kim. She spilled tears, and I saw the two embrace. Miss Kim looked with great compassion at Pooh Bear, and she suggested that we try to shrink it in hot water. Mr. Randy said she could sleep in it as pajamas. The change in Pooh Bear's demeanor was instant. I could literally see relief and peace come over her, and she practically skipped to our van with the giant shirt hanging from her arm.

Oh, this letting children solve their own anger in the moment is powerful. I could have said those same things about shrinking the shirt and pj's with much less effect. She found resolution and peace with the person with whom she'd lost it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thomas Merton Quote- oh how it fits my day

If there is no silence beyond and within the words of doctrine, there
is no religion, only religious ideology. For religion goes beyond
words and actions, and attains to the ultimate truth in silence. When
this silence is lacking, where there are only the "many words" and
not the One Word, then there is much bustle and activity, but no
peace, no deep thought, no understanding, no inner quiet. Where
there is no peace, there is no light. The mind that is hyper-active
seems to itself to be awake and productive, but it is dreaming. Only
in silence and solitude, in the quiet of worship, the reverent peace of
prayer, the adoration in which the entire ego-self silences and abases
itself in the presence of the Invisible God, only in these "activities"
which are "non-actions" does the spirit truly awake from the dream
of a multifarious and confused existence.

-- Thomas Merton
Honorable Reader: Reflections on My Work
(a collection of introductions Merton wrote for
editions of his work published in other languages)
edited by Robert E. Daggy
New York: Crossroad, 1989; p 115
I find the Gospel to be counterintuitive which may be a reason I am so drawn to it. I don't particularly like the reactions which come so naturally to me- revenge, lashing out, negative judging thoughts of others, being incredibly self scrutinizing. Thank God for a way around myself to the person I want to be. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I do not linger in those places I do not want to stay. I can wake up each new day hopeful that I am created in the image of a Good and Kind God. I can live in that Image myself.

Yesterday, I had this conversation with my son. Here's a little background before I begin. His adoption issues have created in him a rejection of self. He runs like his pants are on fire from pain and lashes out with whatever verbal whip he can find lying around at anyone following after him trying to catch his broken heart. He has no sense that pain can bring positive change, so he lives in a solitary world of denial and disconnected fantasy. He does not own his anger, because he's so very afraid of further rejection, especially from me his second mother. He'll clinch his fists, stomp his feet, turn red in the face, and yell, "I'm not angry!"

Me: (I sat with a present wrapped with a bow on my lap but never referred to it) So, what do you think about anger, buddy? What comes to mind?

Son: I don't like it at all. What's in the box?

Me: You'll find out later about the box. Why don't you like anger?

Son: Anger hurts other people
Me: How about you? Does it hurt you.

Son: Yes.

Me: So do you believe anger is all bad, nothing good about it?

Son: Yes!

Me: Oh, my dear one. I am so sorry. It's a mother's job to teach children all about anger, and I see that I have failed you terribly.

Son: What ARE you talking about?

Me: I must have never told you that anger is a gift from God. I'm so sorry.

Son: What?!

Me: God created everyone with a capacity for all kinds of feelings to help us. Anger is a wonderful tool God gave to each person. It's just like a sword. How can we use a sword to hurt?

Son: (totally engaged because he's real boy who can't resist any conversation about weapons) They can cut people. Wound.

Me: Yes, anger can cut and wound when we are careless with it. How can a sword be a good tool?

Son: It can protect!

Me: Yes! I used my anger to protect you when you were a baby. Though I will always love your mother, she lived a very dangerous lifestyle, and when I heard about her jumping out a window to escape the police, I became very angry. What do you think I thought of when I heard that story?

Son: About her jumping out a window with me as a baby. I could have been killed.

Me: I couldn't let that happen, so I insisted that you be adopted to a safe home.
Is there ever a time to yell in anger?

Son: No.

Me: How about, "Don't run into the street! A car is coming!"?

Son: Yes, but I never do stupid stuff like that.

Me: Oh, honey. For you, yelling, "I'm angry!" might save your life.

Son: What? No way.

Me: Remember how you and I have long conversations and it takes 15 minutes for you to get to "I was angry, because you wouldn't let me go to my friend's house, so snuck your phone to text him"? What if you just yelled, "Mom, I'm angry! You never let me do anything!"?

Son: No. I shouldn't yell.

Me: You're gonna have to practice using the gift of anger even if it feels wrong. Texting without permission is manipulation, and that is a much more self destructive and dangerous than expressed anger. Telling or screaming at me, "I'm angry" instead of taking your anger out sideways would a huge leap forward from manipulation. If you have to yell it, so be it. I'm going to have to practice not flinching and allowing you to feel something you have been afraid of for a long time. In fact, when you yell, "I'm angry" you're getting hugs and cheers. I need you to practice, so we'll both be ready. You need to see my eyes looking at you and loving you in the hard times. Try it.

Before he began, I warned my other children, "Hey, guys. _____ will be yelling at me, but we're just practicing. It's all good." Laughs and hugs all around after he belted out, "I'm angry, because you won't give me poptarts!" Inside the present I had on my lap at the beginning of the talk is the word "anger" and a coupon for a trip for ice cream as soon as he is able to implement this skill for real. He's dying to know what's inside the box.

I wonder if this might sound like utter nonsense to you, but I believe it's a key to my son's heart. I wasn't joking when I said I failed him, and now we're learning how to make amends together.
Check out what Amy says about literacy, and what April has to say about what rocks her world.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Beginnings of the 40 Day Fast

Brant has something to say about where God lives.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I don't want to say too much so as to honor my son, but I wanted to record a conversation between us today. I mentioned this is our summer to wrestle his adoption issues to the ground with him. I am quite literally studying and administering intensive therapy methods concerning bonding, and the raging tiger trapped within my beloved son has sprung from its' steel cage onto my weary back. He and I are spending huge chunks of our day in "time in". It's quite the opposite of "time out". When he's not peaceful, his consequence is to spend time with a pleasant and centered me. Staying pleasant and centered in a thunder storm of emotion brings me to my knees, again quite literally.

Today he started explaining to me that he has come to understand what all this "time in" means.

"Mom, it's like the main character in Eragon, in the book Eragon, who must stay on a stump until he learns all there is to life, because this is the method of his teacher. Eragon's kind of like me, learning by observing all the things around him. His teacher watches to evaluate Eragon's potential. You're watching to see my potential."

Ah. My little grasshopper. You are onto something big.

Reflection- not punishment. Space to be and feel deeply. Modeling respect. Hope. Healing.